• MOST OF TODAY’S BIGGEST COMPANIES “LEVERAGED EXISTING ASSETS TO CONQUER NEW, HIGH GROWTH MARKETS” previously served by others who never saw it coming: Google – expanding from internet search to mobile phones; Amazon – a bookseller now leading digital content distribution; Netflix – from mailing DVDs to video streaming and entertainment content: Uber – a passenger taxi service now delivering food; Linked-in – from advertising & postings to talent recruiter; Red Bull – energy drinks to media content production; FujiFilm – camera chemicals to cosmetics; Apple – iTunes to the iPhone; SpaceEx/Google/ Virgin/Facebook – all now launching satellites & balloons to disrupt the global communications infra-structure. These ‘disrupt adjacency’ evolutions have set the stage for constant and accelerating change.  [PETER DIAMANDIS.COM – Oct 25, 15]
  • “FOR ALL THE BLACK ROBES AND CEREMONY, THE AMERICAN LEGAL SYSTEM often operates more like a factory assembly line than a citadel of individualized justice. 95% of criminal prosecutions end in plea deals, and many defective product claims settle in mass pacts that benefit attorneys more than putative victims.” ‘Class Action’ tort lawsuits get aggregated through a ‘claim-brokering’ marketplace where clients are “recruited thru internet & TV advertising, then bundled and traded among attorneys like so many securitized mortgages.” To finance the cost of client acquisition and litigation, funding is raised from investors including hedge funds, pensions, endowments, foundations, and wealthy risk-takers, effectively treating the claims of thousands of personally injured people as commodities. Aggregator law firms generally charge “a robust 40% contingency fee which is divided in some fashion among the various participants in its ever-shifting syndicate.” Unsurprisingly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce condemns this process as “likely to encourage frivolous and abusive lawsuits… which perverts the justice system and puts the interests of lawyers & financiers ahead of plaintiffs.” [BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK – Nov 2, 15]
  •  THE STORY ON MEAT: Apocalyptic headlines may be overkill, but health experts have warned about meats being linked to cardiovascular disease for decades. Now a respected agency of the World Health Organization has determined that processed meat is “firmly” linked and red meats “probably cause” cancer.  Worldwide, some 85,000 annual deaths are attributed to meat  and research now suggests that risk of colorectal cancer increases by 18% when as little as 50 grams of processed meat is ingested daily – equivalent to one hot dog, or two slices of ham, or five slices of hard salami, or six slices of bacon. The average American consumes almost six pounds every year of processed meat, including also sausages, pepperoni, bologna, pastrami, corned beef, jerky and chicken nuggets; many consume that much in a month.   [TIME – Nov 9, 15]
  • HUMANS ARE “HARDWIRED TO FIND PATTERNS IN UNRELATED EVENTS… When faced with events we cannot understand, it’s natural for our brains to create a narrative – even if it means casting the world in terms of ‘us versus them’ to potentially dangerous ends.” The result, in these days of constant (mostly unverified) internet reports, photos, surveys & polls, is that people with “similar mind sets” get connected and evolve ‘conspiracy’ theories: Supposedly half U.S. citizens believe that 9/11 facts have been concealed; some 40% believe that ‘climate change’ – whatever the source – is fiction; a third believe that alien life exists and our government is hiding the evidence. While “society tend to treat conspiracy theorists as quacks or cranks,” they are real and constantly increasing in size & clout. [TIME – Nov 16, 15]
  • THERE’S STILL TIME FOR 2015 INCOME TAX PLANNING! Top Single rates are now: FEDERAL 39.6% above $423K plus additional .9% Medicare tax on wages over $250K, plus 3.8% on net investment income over $250K = 44.3% (along with 15.3% payroll tax on wages to $117K).  CALIFORNIA rates are 12.3% at $526K taxable income plus 1% surcharge above $1 million.
  • THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK: “Good judgment is the result of experience; Experience is the result of bad judgment.”

               “A gun is like a parachute.  If you need one, and don’t have one, you’ll probably never need one again.”