Topley’s Top 10 – November 29, 2021

1.Some Covid Favorite Stocks Corrected Well Over -20%

@Charlie Bilello

2.Classic Performance Chase in ARKK…$3B Monthly Flows at Top of Performance.

Morningstar–ARKK inflows set records at end of 2020

YTD-ARKK -15% vs. S&P +25%

3.Tesla Notional Daily Options Volume Higher Than Rest of Stock Market Combined.

Morgan Housel


4.KWEB-China Internet ETF Forming Huge Base on Chart….$43 Clear Break to New Lows

5.Americans Increasingly Support Nuclear Energy

Energy: Americans increasingly support nuclear energy.

The Daily Shot

6.How Big is Amazon? Hiring more seasonal workers than Nike has employees.

At the end of last year Amazon reported that it employed almost 1.3 million people, with rougly 950,000 employees in the US alone. That means that roughly 1 in every 150 American workers gets a paycheck from Jeff Bezos and co..

During the holiday period, that number goes up even more.

This year Amazon announced it would take on 150,000 seasonal employees to help fulfill the demand of the final few months of the year — something the company has pretty much always done.

That 150,000 may not be the biggest seasonal hiring Amazon has ever done, but for some context it’s essentially the equivalent of hiring the entire workforce of Nike… twice.

Most of the roles are somewhere in Amazon’s enormous supply chain; delivery, warehouse work and fulfillment — and it’s not the only company hiring. Walmart plans to hire a similar number and Target needs 100,000. Hiring that number of people, at a time when the labor market is really hot (re: the great resignation) and supply chains are already creaking, might not be as easy as it used to be.

7.Historical Diamond Prices

How to find diamond price history from 1960 to 2019 ? – The original Graph

Compare Historical diamond trade price trend evolution and performance graph statistic. View changes from 1960 to 2019 in data chart, diagram Graph statistics: compare and analyze the performance development of over 58 years changes:

Index data tracking the historical diamond prices changes up to actual prices.

Diamond prices increases about 14% each year since 1960!

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Get your free copy of the Historical diamond prices graph, email please Copyright Ajediam

2018 Price for an extremely rare 1.00 Carat EX EX EX, H&A, Super Ideal Cut, Flawless, Girdle thickness medium Fluorescence none

Yearly increase of diamond prices and value +14.47% from 1960 to 2019 or equal to yearly compound interest of 4.3% Past performance does not guarantee the performance of the future.

8.Household Formation Spikes During Covid

John Burns

Household formations surged last year as people sought life with fewer housemates.
2nd home living surged as well.
Some of this is permanent and a pull forward of households we expected to form in future years.
We are wrestling with what household formation will be next year. There are so many variables to consider!

9.Corporate Tax Revenue Hit an All-Time High in 2021

William McBride

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now estimates that the federal government received $370 billion in corporate tax revenue over the past year (fiscal year 2021), matching the record high level from 2007. This is a 75 percent increase over the previous year’s total, reflecting a rebound in corporate profits and the broader economy.

This year’s robust corporate tax collections calls into question efforts by the administration and congressional Democrats to increase the corporate tax rate and raise other corporate taxes based on claims of relatively low tax collections following the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in 2017. In fact, corporate tax collections this year are about 25 percent higher than the $297 billion collected in 2017, prior to passage of TCJA. Likewise, as a share of GDP, corporate tax collections are higher this year (1.63 percent) than in 2017 (1.52 percent).

In addition, the rebounding economy has boosted individual income tax collections to an all-time high of $2.052 trillion for the fiscal year. Payroll tax revenue came in at $1.308 trillion, close to last year’s total, and other receipts came in at $317 billion. In total, federal tax collections reached $4.047 trillion in fiscal year 2021, an all-time high in nominal terms.

As a share of GDP, total federal tax collections hit 17.8 percent this year, which is higher than almost any year (2015 is the exception) since the Bush tax cuts in 2001, and substantially higher than the 16.3 percent of GDP that was collected on average between the passage of the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and the TCJA in 2017.

10.Jeff Bezos made decisions at Amazon based on 5 key principles, according to a former board member

Zahra Tayeb

A new book reveals the rules Amazon founder Jeff Bezos used to make the company a success.

  • Tom Alberg, an ex-Amazon board member, wrote the book, which detailed Bezos’ “Day 1″ philosophy.
  • It also discussed how Bezos overcame the company’s early struggle to attract investment.

Jeff Bezos led Amazon to mammoth success by using a particular set of principles when he needed to make important decisions for the company. The principles were discussed in a new book, “Flywheels: How Cities Are Creating Their Own Futures,” by Tom Alberg, a former board member at Amazon.

Alberg – now a managing director of Madrona Venture Group, a Seattle-based venture firm he founded – was an early investor in Amazon.

Back in 2019, Alberg said no one wanted to invest in the company’s first funding round because they expected what was then a fledgling online books startup to be “murdered” by Barnes & Noble, Insider’s Ashley Stewart reported.

Bezos ultimately convinced Alberg to invest because he had a thorough, focused business plan and strong initial results, Alberg wrote in the book.

Now that it’s a trillion-dollar company, Alberg said he’s often asked: “Why is Amazon so successful?”

Drawing on his experience of watching the tech mogul make decisions, Alberg set out to explain the principles Bezos stuck to at work.

“The most important is customer obsession,” Alberg wrote in the book. He added that, according to Bezos, too many companies focus on their competitors as opposed to their customers.

As Bezos explained to a Congressional Committee, “customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied. A constant desire to delight customers drives us to constantly invent on their behalf,” Alberg wrote. Bezos sometimes made decisions that could harm Amazon’s bottom line but benefit the customer, he added.

The second principle is “constant invention and innovation.” Per Alberg, invention is closely related to customer satisfaction. “Customer satisfaction and innovation are powerful touchstones when making decisions,” he wrote.

Making decisions is much easier when you ask “what is the best decision for the customer?” and “is there a way to invent our way to a solution?” Alberg wrote.

The third principle championed by Bezos is operational excellence, according to Alberg. Some examples include “two-pizza teams,” one-click shopping, single-threaded leaders, and working backward.

The “two-pizza rule” is one of Bezos’ more creative strategies, which is aimed at not losing an entire day to unnecessary meetings. It’s potentially a key to the founder’s success, Insider’s Áine Cain and Shana Lebowitz reported.

So, how does it work? The more people you pack into the meeting, the less productive the meeting will likely be. The idea is that most people will end up agreeing with each other rather than voicing their own opinions and ideas. The solution? Never have a meeting where two pizzas couldn’t feed the entire group.

Thinking long-term underscores the fourth principle for Bezos’ decision-making process at Amazon, according to Alberg. That can range from launching a new business or investing in new technologies. One example Alberg notes is Bezos’ early adoption of AI.

“When businesses were just beginning to recognize the possibilities of machine learning and AI, Jeff told the board that he intended to use AI in every part of the business,” he wrote. Bezos then began to hire AI experts and train his existing engineers to use it.

Amazon subsequently created and made AI tools available to customers on Amazon Web Services — one of the company’s subsidiaries — that they could use in their business to even compete against Amazon, according to Alberg.

The fifth principle, and perhaps the overriding one, is his “abiding optimism of the future and how we are only in Day 1,” Alberg wrote. Bezos’ “Day 1” philosophy is based on the broader idea that although the internet and Amazon may seem mature and in successive phases to many, Bezos believes, we are still at the beginning.

“It is his ultimate expression of optimism about what the future will bring,” Alberg wrote.

These principles are “no secret,” Alberg added. “But you have to live by them all of the time, and most businesses are unwilling or unable to do so.”

Topley’s Top 10 – November 22, 2021

1. Investment Banking Fees Set for Blow Out Record Year.

This was just first half chart

How did equity markets fuel fees for investment banks?

Equity markets captured the limelight, surging by 50 percent globally in the first half to raise $686bil globally – the biggest opener since records began.

The market for initial public offerings (excluding special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) surged to more than three times their 2020 level, to surpass $200bil. This was another first-half yearly record, as companies that had held off during the height of the pandemic rushed to the IPO window.

U.S. exchanges saw a 237 percent increase in IPO activity, while China-domiciled IPOs doubled to reach an all-time high of $60bil

2. India Biggest IPO Ever PAYTM

BIGGEST IPO– Warren Buffett-backed Paytm crashes 27% after milestone IPO for India.  Paytm, which started trading in Mumbai on Thursday, spoiled the party: Its shares opened below the 2,150 rupees ($28.60) issue price, before closing down 27% at 1,564 rupees ($21).  The flop reflects fears about Paytm’s business. The company, which is now worth almost $14 billion, lost hundreds of millions of dollars last year and seems far from ready to turn a profit. It’s also up against growing competition from some of the biggest tech firms in the world.

From Dave Lutz at Jones Trading-The digital payments company raised 183 billion rupees ($2.5 billion) in its initial public offering. It’s the largest ever in the country when measured in local currency – With backing from investors such as Warren Buffett, Masayoshi Son and Alibaba (BABA), Paytm is one of India’s best funded startups

3. Shale Break Even.

WSJBy Jinjoo Lee–Broad-based inflation in both input materials and labor are partly to blame for today’s rising costs. Another reason is that shale producers no longer face the same intense pressure to cut costs and they have plucked the low-hanging technological fruit. Average break-even costs had stalled as early as 2017, well before the pandemic-induced shock to oil markets.   “In the early innings of the shale boom, efficiencies were a lot easier to find. It’s been harder to find newer efficiencies,” notes Kunal Patel, economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

4. First Mover Advantage in Crypto ETFs…XBTF and BITS Hit Market.

NYDIG Letter–If we use the GBTC discount to NAV of -20%, the level it was trading at before the ETF conversion filing, as the baseline level for no expectation of conversion to an ETF and compare it to the discount today, we can calculate a market-implied probability of conversion. With GBTC’s listing application hitting the Federal Register on 11/8/21, the last day for approval or denial from the SEC is 240 days later, 7/6/22. An arbitrageur could trade the possibility of approval by purchasing shares of GBTC at the current discount, -15%, short an equivalent amount in bitcoins, and covert their shares into bitcoins as the ETF is listed and cover the short. With a 2% annual management fee on holding GBTC, about 6% annualized carry cost from shorting bitcoin, the current discount to NAV of -15% implies a 70% chance of disapproval and a 30% chance of approval. This would represent a 19.2% annualized rate of return to arbitrageurs if the approval were to happen, or 5.8% in expected value space.

In other ETF developments, two new futures-based ETFs began trading this week, the VanEck Bitcoin Strategy ETF (XBTF) and the Global X Blockchain and Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITS). The latter fund invests in a blockchain-equity-based ETF in addition to bitcoin futures. Both new funds have a lower management fee than the two ETFs currently trading (BITO and BTFD), 0.65% vs 0.95%. We will be watching to see if fees are a meaningful driver of demand for investors. So far, neither fund has raised significant assets, once again showing the advantage of being the first mover in the alternative asset space.

5. Crypto Stocks Update.

Sideways channels break one way or another

RIOT sideways channel

MSTR Sideways Channel.

COIN Starting a sideways channel

6. Global Crypto Adoption Index-Chainalysis

7. Pandemic Winners and Losers.

The good

Some stocks boomed, and then kept booming. Etsy, the online marketplace for vintage gifts and homemade crafts saw its share price rise during the early days of the pandemic — and they haven’t looked back since, gaining 555% since 2020. DocuSign, which lets organizations manage contracts and agreements electronically (no need to sign in-person), has also had a pretty smooth ride, up 257%.

But no company was the face of “pandemic winner” more than Zoom. The video-conferencing site has seen the shine come off pretty dramatically since last year, as expectations got ahead of the company’s economic reality, but even so it’s hard to put Zoom in any other bucket than “the pandemic was good for business”.

The bad, then good

Few sectors got hit as hard as travel. Online travel company Expedia saw its shares shed almost 60% of their value, but they’ve since made a roaring comeback, as lockdowns have faded and we booked all those vacations we missed out on. Airbnb had a similar experience, going through a brutal restructuring for its employees, before business picked up and the company managed to get its IPO done. Since then it’s up 38%.

Live Nation Entertainment, which is the parent company of Ticketmaster and other live event platforms, also managed to weather the storm, gaining 57% since the start of 2020, despite the turbulence of the early pandemic.

The ugly

Airlines, like American Airlines and Delta, still aren’t back to where they started, with many taking on debt or issuing equity to get them through the tough times of reduced air travel. Then there’s Peloton, which has done an even more extreme version of Zoom. Technically, shares are still up 60% on where they were at the start of 2020, but with everything moving in the wrong direction at their recent results, and the company still burning cash, that might not last.

8. merica’s Ritz Codes: Where the Wealthy Reside

By  Fang Block Follow

Illustration by Elias Stein

The pandemic has been rough on New York City, even at the tippy-top. A year ago, it boasted six of America’s top 20 priciest Zip Codes, according to an annual ranking by New York real-estate data provider PropertyShark. This year, for the first time ever: not one.

Generally, the U.S. luxury real-estate market has proved resilient, with median home prices in the top-10 priciest Zip Codes surpassing $4 million for the first time. Furthermore, 30 of the poshest 100 posted a median price higher than $3 million, compared with just 15 in 2020, notes PropertyShark, based on transactions closed between Jan. 1 and Oct. 22.

California accounted for 70% of America’s most expensive Zip Codes, with 37% in the Bay Area alone. Atherton’s 94027 was ranked the most expensive Zip for the fifth year running. The area’s median sales price in 2021: $7.5 million. Also for the fifth year in a row, San Francisco had the highest concentration of pricey Zip Codes of any city, seven of the top 100. New York City and Los Angeles tied for second, with six each.

Boston’s 02199 (think Prudential Center) became the second most expensive Zip, with a median sales price of $5.5 million. Close behind came Sagaponack (think Long Island’s Hamptons), 11962, at $5 million.

New York State had 17 of the top-100 Zip Codes, three fewer than last year. Gotham’s top two were Manhattan’s 10013 and 10007 (Tribeca and Soho), at No. 22 and 25, with sales prices of $3.2 million and $3.1 million, respectively. One casualty: 11231 (Brooklyn’s Red Hook and Carroll Gardens).

9.The suburbs are winning in commercial real estate — and not just in the U.S.

By Joy Wiltermuth

Cities with expensive office space before the pandemic — like London, New York and San Francisco — are still struggling

Commercial real-estate prices in cities around the world have climbed overall since the start of the pandemic, but it is a less rosy picture for London and many U.S. central business districts, according to a third-quarter Real Capital Analytics report.

Demand for industrial and logistics-related properties helped lift commercial real-estate prices 7.3% across major world cities, particularly in Melbourne and Los Angeles, in the third quarter from a year ago, according to the monthly RCA CPPI composite index, which tracks office, retail and industrial and is transaction-based to reflect repeat sales.

But in the City of London and key business districts in Chicago, New York City and San Francisco, it continues to be a struggle nearly two years into the COVID-19 crisis, especially when comparing property prices with their broader metro areas, (see chart).

For property investors, London isn’t calling.


The chart shows that in seven of 17 markets analyzed by RCA, pricing levels in central business districts were lower than before the pandemic.

ReadNew York City’s office buildings lost 17% of their value in the pandemic

And in five regions where prices punched higher, they still lagged gains in broader metropolitan areas, in part due to ongoing remote work in suburbs and higher concentrations of retail and office properties in big-city centers.

The opposite setup has been a boon for Germany, where “instead of a single focal point, its core office investment markets are themselves decentralized, spread out across top-tier cities,” according to the RCA report.

The shifting fortunes of big-city buildings comes despite a rebound in U.S. stocks SPX, +0.39% and booming corporate profits, but also as financial conditions continue to be easy for borrowing via low global rates. While the U.S. bond market was closed for Veterans Day on Thursday, the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, 1.630% was last spotted near 1.56%.

The other thing to consider is that London and other markets experiencing negative price growth since late 2019 were “some of the most expensive office markets in the world by occupancy costs,” before the pandemic began, the report said.

See: Shorter leases? Top real-estate executives Durst and Jones talk about the future of the office

10. 9 Phrases Smart People Never Use in Conversation

By Travis Bradberry | September 26, 2017 | 

Emotionally intelligent people know certain phrases are off limits in casual conversation because people can take them the wrong way. In this article, originally published on LinkedIn Pulse, Dr. Travis Bradberry shows you which nine phrases to avoid.

We’ve all said things that people interpreted much differently than we thought they would. These seemingly benign comments lead to the awful feeling that only comes when you’ve planted your foot firmly in your mouth.

Related: 10 Phrases to Drop from Your Vocabulary

Verbal slip-ups often occur because we say things without knowledge of the subtle implications they carry. Understanding these implications requires social awareness—the ability to pick up on the emotions and experiences of other people.

TalentSmart has tested the emotional intelligence (EQ) of more than a million people and discovered that social awareness is a skill that many of us lack. We lack social awareness because we’re so focused on what we’re going to say next—and how what other people are saying affects us—that we completely lose sight of other people. This is a problem because people are complicated. You can’t hope to understand someone until you focus all of your attention in his or her direction.

The beauty of social awareness is that a few simple adjustments to what you say can vastly improve your relationships. To that end, there are some phrases that emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid in casual conversation. The following phrases are nine of the worst offenders. Avoid them at all costs.

1. “You look tired.”

Tired people are incredibly unappealing—they have droopy eyes and messy hair, they have trouble concentrating and they’re as grouchy as they come. Telling someone he looks tired implies all of the above and then some.

Instead say, “Is everything OK?” Most people ask if someone is tired because they’re intending to be helpful (they want to know if the other person is OK). Instead of assuming someone’s disposition, just ask. This way, he can open up and share. More important, he will see you as concerned instead of rude.

2. “Wow, you’ve lost a ton of weight!”

Once again, a well-meaning comment—in this case a compliment—creates the impression that you’re being critical. Telling someone that she has lost a lot of weight suggests that she used to look fat or unattractive.

Instead say, “You look fantastic.” This one is an easy fix. Instead of comparing how she looks now to how she used to look, just compliment her for looking great. It takes the past right out of the picture.

3. “You were too good for her anyway.”

When someone severs ties with a relationship of any type, personal or professional, this comment implies he has bad taste and made a poor choice in the first place.

Instead say, “Her loss!” This provides the same enthusiastic support and optimism without any implied criticism.

4. “You always…” or “You never…”

No one always or never does anything. People don’t see themselves as one-dimensional, so you shouldn’t attempt to define them as such. These phrases make people defensive and closed off to your message, which is a really bad thing because you likely use these phrases when you have something important to discuss.

Instead, simply point out what the other person did that’s a problem for you. Stick to the facts. If the frequency of the behavior is an issue, you can always say, “It seems like you do this often” or “You do this often enough for me to notice.”

Related: The Do’s and Don’ts of Tough Conversations

5. “You look great for your age.”

Using “for your” as a qualifier always comes across as condescending and rude. No one wants to be smart for an athlete or in good shape relative to other people who are also knocking on death’s door. People simply want to be smart and fit.

Instead say, “You look great.” This one is another easy fix. Genuine compliments don’t need qualifiers.

6. “As I said before…”

We all forget things from time to time. This phrase makes it sound as if you’re insulted at having to repeat yourself, which is hard on the recipient (someone who is genuinely interested in hearing your perspective). Getting insulted over having to repeat yourself suggests that either you’re insecure or you think you’re better than everyone else (or both!). Few people who use this phrase actually feel this way.

Instead, when you say it again, see what you can do to convey the message in a clearer and more interesting manner. This way they’ll remember what you said.

7. “Good luck.”

This is a subtle one. It certainly isn’t the end of the world if you wish someone good luck, but you can do better because this phrase implies that they need luck to succeed.

Instead say, “I know you have what it takes.” This is better than wishing her luck because suggesting that she has the skills needed to succeed provides a huge boost of confidence. You’ll stand out from everyone else who simply wishes her luck.

8. “It’s up to you” or “Whatever you want.”

Although you might be indifferent to the question, your opinion is important to the person asking (or else he wouldn’t have asked you in the first place).

Instead say, “I don’t have a strong opinion either way, but a couple things to consider are…” When you offer an opinion (even without choosing a side), it shows that you care about the person asking.

9. “Well at least I’ve never…”

This phrase is an aggressive way to shift attention away from your mistake by pointing out an old, likely irrelevant mistake the other person made (and one you should have forgiven her for by now).

Instead say, “I’m sorry.” Owning up to your mistake is the best way to bring the discussion to a more rational, calm place so that you can work things out. Admitting guilt is an amazing way to prevent escalation.

In everyday conversation, it’s the little things that make all the difference. Try these suggestions out, and you’ll be amazed at the positive response you get.

Related: 11 Things Smart People Don’t Say

Travis Bradberry

Travis Bradberry


Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the co-founder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His best-selling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry is a top LinkedIn Influencer and he has written for, or been covered by, NewsweekBusinessWeekFortuneForbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

Topley’s Top 10 – November 17, 2021

1.Magnificent 8 Largest Cap Weightings in S&P Skewing Fundamental Measures.

YARDENI RESEARCH. The Magnificent 8 are the eight stocks in the S&P 500 with the highest market capitalizations. They are Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, Netflix, NVIDIA, and Tesla. They are all in the S&P 500 Growth index. Collectively, their market cap has soared from $1.2 trillion at the start of 2013 to a record $12.0 trillion during the November 5 week. Over this same period, their market-cap share of the S&P 500 has risen from 8.9% to a record 30.0%.

Their forward P/E was about 15 in early 2013. Since mid-2020, it has been volatile around 40. The forward P/Es of the S&P 500 with and without the Mag-8 currently are around 21 and 18.

Our conclusion: LargeCaps are not overvalued excluding the Mag-8, which may be fairly valued too given their superior ability to grow their earnings.

2.EV Startup Lucid Overtakes GM an F Valuation in One Day

3.Visualizing the Global Electric Vehicle Market

VisualCapatalist The following content is sponsored by Scotch Creek Ventures.

4.Investment Grade Bonds -2% in 5 Days.

LQD chart 3rd lower low and 3rd pullback to 200day Since October.

5.Breakdown of CPI Report.

Charlie Bilello @charliebilello

Here’s a breakdown of price increases in the latest CPI report:

  • Gasoline: +49.6%
  • Gas Utilities: +28.1%
  • Used Cars: +26.4%
  • Meats/Fish/Poultry/Eggs: +11.9%
  • New Cars: +9.8%
  • Electricity: +6.5%
  • Overall CPI: +6.2%
  • Food at home: +5.4%
  • Food away from home: +5.3%
  • Transportation: +4.5%
  • Apparel: +4.3%
  • Shelter: +3.5%

6.Crypto….43% of Men 18 to 29 Have Invested.

7.Wages Accelerating for Lower Income Workers.

Liz Ann Sonders Schwab

8.Vaccination by Country

From Dave Lutz at Jones Trading

9.Russian’s Astronauts on Space Lifeboat.



Russia Trash Talks in Space


The most dangerous thing in space right now isn’t aliens or cowboy Bezos—it’s more than 1,500 pieces of trash from a Russian satellite that was obliterated yesterday, which forced seven crew members on the International Space Station (ISS) to take shelter in space’s version of a lifeboat.

What happened: In an antisatellite (ASAT) missile test Monday morning, Russia blew up its own satellite, creating a cloud of space debris that careens by the ISS every 90 minutes. The US State Department called Russia’s actions “dangerous, reckless, and irresponsible,” and NASA said the explosion will “significantly increase the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts” aboard the space station.

Some background: Antisatellite missile tests have been around since the dawn of the space race (the US launched the first one in 1959), but Russia, the US, China, and India have never used them against each other’s satellites. Still, these tests are usually considered “political moves” for countries to show that they could mess up your satellite if they wanted to.

In space, blowing things up doesn’t make them go away

There are currently millions of pieces of space debris—many from past missile tests—orbiting Earth at about 22,000 mph, and they pose significant risks for satellites that are critical for American military operations and a number of everyday commercial activities here on Earth, like banking and GPS.

  • According to NASA, a 1-centimeter paint fleck in space can do the damage of a 550-pound object traveling 60 mph on Earth.

Bottom line: As an increasing amount of economic activity relies on objects in orbit, space trash is bad for business.—MM

10. 9 Common Traits In The Lives Of Stoic Leaders-The Daily Stoic


By: Stephen Hanselman

For I believe a good king is from the outset and by necessity a philosopher, and the philosopher is from the outset a kingly person.” — Musonius Rufus, Lectures, 8.33.32–34

Stoic ethics were grounded in rejecting the valuing of external things and focusing instead on valuing our reason and choices in the pursuit of virtue (arete, or human excellence) alone. Their emphasis on the building of character left shining examples in the lives of the great Stoic leaders, who continually strove to have their traits of character reflect the four cardinal virtues of temperance (sophrosune), courage (andreia), justice (dikaiosune), and practical wisdom (phronesis). Here are 9 of the most common traits of character shared by Stoic leaders (see Arius Didymus’ Epitome of Stoic Ethics, 5b, translated by Arthur J. Pomeroy, for a full list of Stoic traits).

Good Judges of Value

“The wise man knows exactly what value should be put upon everything.” — Seneca

The first characteristic of great Stoic leaders is that they are excellent judges of the value (axia) of things.

Zeno of Kition, the founder of the school, had learned this great lesson from Crates of Thebes, the Cynic philosopher who was a student of Diogenes of Sinope. Diogenes’ father oversaw the minting coins in his native land, and he devalued the currency by reducing the actual content of silver in them. This earned Diogenes and his family an exile that brought him to Athens where Diogenes turned an insight about the true worth of currency into a core philosophical principle—that we should never grant more value to something than it is really worth. Zeno built Stoicism on this fundamental idea that the worth of external things is never greater than the moral worth of our own character.

Centuries later Epictetus, the former slave turned one of Stoicism’s greatest teachers, would continue to emphasize this core character trait with his students. He taught his students that with every impression we should think of ourselves as an assayer—one who is testing a coin for its actual precious content. The word he used repeatedly for this testing of impressions was dokimazein (to assay, or check the quality of the mineral content of coins). A skilled merchant, he would say, could toss a coin on the table and simply hear the difference between something of real value and a fake—just like a musician immediately spots the sour note in a performance.

That internal assayer, what Epictetus called our ruling reason (hegemonikon, the ruling part), was essential for everyone and most especially for leaders. What we choose to value, how much importance we assign to things, determines where we direct our activity and the results that follow. Bad leaders fail at this most fundamental task, which is why Epictetus put it like this:

“When it comes to money, where we feel our clear interest, we have an entire art where the tester uses many means to discover the worth…just as we give great attention to judging things that might steer us badly. But when it comes to our own ruling principle, we yawn and doze off, accepting any appearance that flashes by without counting the actual cost.”

Great leaders don’t get worked up by every impression, good or bad, that flashes on their radar. Instead, they take the time and all means necessary to test the actual truth and worth of the matter at hand. Soundness of judgment depends on this.

Sound Aim and Preparation

“What is quite unlooked for is more crushing in its effect, and unexpectedness adds to the weight of a disaster. The fact that it was unforeseen has never failed to intensify a person’s grief. This is a reason for ensuring that nothing ever takes us by surprise. We should project our thoughts ahead of us at every turn and have in mind every possible eventuality instead of only the usual course of events.” — Seneca

Also under the virtue of practical wisdom (phronesis), the Stoics tried to develop soundness of aim (eustochian) and careful preparation. Antipater, the fifth leader of Stoic school, used the image of an archer to talk about how a good leader goes about their work. After assessing the true value (axia) of things, we must set our aim correctly on something of true worth—for ourselves and for others in our care. This requires great training and practice, and just like an archer who spends much time and effort to develop a good aim, they also work to learn all the external factors of wind, temperature, humidity, which aren’t in anyone’s control and can affect whether we hit the target or not. Preparation in all these areas increases our chances of hitting the target.

Even so, we often will miss the target—sometimes by a lot. Preparation isn’t only about getting the skills needed to succeed, it’s also about contemplating failure in advance. A good leader spends time preparing for the worst as well.

Seneca was an ardent practitioner of premeditatio malorum, the premeditation of bad things. He urged us to always do the same:

“Here’s a lesson to test your mind’s mettle: take part of a week in which you have only the most meager and cheap food, dress scantly in shabby clothes, and ask yourself if this is really the worst that you feared. It is when times are good that you should gird yourself for tougher times ahead, for when Fortune is kind the soul can build defenses against her ravages. So it is that soldiers practice maneuvers in peacetime, erecting bunkers with no enemies in sight and exhausting themselves under no attack so that when it comes they won’t grow tired.”

After SenecaEpictetus would talk about the need for a “hard winter training” (cheimaskesai), like Rome’s soldiers would practice when on break from the battlefront in Winter. Epictetus had learned physical disciplines that build character from his teacher Musonius Rufus, who practiced similar deprivations and hardships to build his resilience. Our aims, skill development, and constant review of what can go wrong–all of this is preparation: “We must undergo a hard winter training and not rush into things for which we haven’t prepared,” Epictetus urged his students.

If we don’t prepare for the worst, the Stoics teach, we simply aren’t prepared.

Shrewdness and Ingenuity

“If anyone can refute me—show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective—I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.” — Marcus Aurelius

When Arius Didymus, one of the two Stoic advisors to the emperor Augustus, wrote about the various aspects of the virtue of wisdom (phronesis), he included two facets that really stand out: shrewdness (anchinoian, a readiness of mind, quick wittedness) and ingenuity (eumachanian, inventive skills, problem-solving prowess). Stoic wisdom wasn’t up in the clouds. It was more about the practical knowledge that would immediately let you know what to do and avoid, and, when stuck, how to work your way out of the situation.

Aristo, one of the early rebels in Stoicism, was one who highlighted the trait of shrewdness the most—he believed in throwing out all the rulebooks and that a well-prepared Stoic would simply immediately know what to do. The right course of action would just pop into his head. Just like a sea captain facing a great wave, a leader won’t go running to the ship’s manual for guidance in a pinch. But in the real world, things play out over a longer period of time and get a lot more dicey and difficult than that, and so orthodox Stoic teaching always used a lot of practical rules and reminders, including stories of great exemplars in difficult situations, to help cultivate the ingenuity that would help navigate tough seas.

Aristo was tricked by Persaeus, the student and personal scribe to Zeno, who had one twin brother deposit a sum with Aristo and later sent the other twin to collect the money. When Aristo discovered he had given the money to the wrong brother, and that Persaeus had refuted his claimed infallibility, he was dumbstruck. Shrewdness always needs the balance humility.

Marcus Aurelius taught that we should keep all our decisions and actions “under reservation” (hupexhairesis), meaning that whatever judgments we’ve made and course we’ve steered, we have to be ready to annul that judgment and set a new course if circumstances prove our initial assessment incorrect. A good leader is always ready to admit they are wrong, and, as Marcus wrote to himself, no one has ever been harmed by the truth. Marcus always stove to maintain the view from above,” something he got from Plato, to avoid being lost in the minutiae of the moment. The universe is change, and life is opinion, he wrote. We must be ready to revoke the opinions we hold that put us in a bind, especially when a truer opinion awaits our discovery. The ingenuity to do this is what turns obstacles into opportunities—not only for success in our endeavors, but for growth as a leader.

Tough on Themselves, Understanding of Others

“Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.” — Marcus Aurelius

If humility helps increase the trait of ingenuity in us, the Stoics teach, we will always do better if we keep our focus on correcting our own conceitedness and self-deception, rather than focusing on the faults of others. Heraclitus, who had influenced Zeno and Cleanthes (who wrote a four-volume commentary on his work), and all the Stoics after them, said that “self-deception (oiesis) was an awful disease and eyesight a lying sense.” The Stoics took this teaching to heart—focusing on how our blindness to self-deceptions is really the root-problem we need to focus on. Besides, what we often think we see clearly as the problem with others is mistaken.

This is one of the first traits the Stoics sought to cultivate under the virtue of self-control (sophrosune)—by learning to keep an eye on our own deceptions and errors first. And here the Stoics offer a simple program. First, be strict with your own fallibilities. Next, be more lenient with what you perceive as the failings of others. Great leaders are excellent at practicing these two things. Marcus would constantly remind himself:

“Whenever you take offense at someone’s wrongdoing, immediately turn to your own similar failings, such as seeing money as good, or pleasure, or a little fame—whatever form it takes. By thinking on this, you’ll quickly forget your anger, considering also what compels them—for what else could they do? Or, if you are able, remove their compulsion.”

That’s a great exercise for anyone with responsibilities for managing a group. When it comes time to needing to correct someone, Marcus always invoked kindness: “If someone is slipping up,” he wrote, “kindly correct them and point out what they missed. But if you can’t, blame yourself—or no one.” This is how philosophy should work in practice. As Seneca put it, philosophy is a way of scraping off our own faults, not railing at the faults of others.

Even when a reprimand or punitive action must be taken with someone in your care, there is a kind path. Epictetus loved to share a story about the Stoic governor of Crete and Cyrene:

“When Agrippinus was governor,” Epictetus would recount admir­ingly, “he used to try to persuade the persons whom he sentenced that it was proper for them to be sentenced. ‘For,’ he would say, ‘it is not as an enemy or as a brigand that I record my vote against them, but as a curator and guardian; just as also the physician encourages the man upon whom he is operating, and persuades him to submit to the operation.’ ”

Good Stoic leaders hold themselves to a higher standard, and when handing down judgments on others, they do it as curators, guardians, or as a doctor trying to save someone—never in anger or superiority.

Modesty in Speech, Dress, and Lifestyle

“How much more philosophical it would be to take what we’re given and show uprightness, self-control, obedience to God, without making a production of it. There’s nothing more insufferable than people who boast about their own humility.” — Marcus Aurelius

Another area of self-control (sophrosune) that shows in the character traits of Stoics has to do with modesty in speech, dress, and lifestyle. Zeno was famous for this, and Cleanthes was too. Both men avoided bragging about their accomplishments and would use self-deprecating humor to defuse situations. The early Stoics kept strict diets of simple fare and dressed only in the simplest clothing. Cleanthes was famed for not even wearing an undergarment!

Their modesty extended from speaking, to eating, to dress and lifestyle. This helped keep their focus on self-mastery by not giving in to the ornate ways of speaking, eating, dressing, and living that preoccupy the time, energy and resources of most people. How many meetings are about the power suits, scarves, and accessories of their attendees, rather than the substance of the conversations at hand? How many business lunches are about the gastronomical one-upsmanship and stories of other equally extravagant meals enjoyed in exotic locations?

Stoic leader tries to avoid this. Having their focus on correcting their own faults first, and not being distracted by the lifestyles that others promote, they remain always in a position to consider only what is choice-worthy or what is to be avoided. This brings an orderliness and propriety to everything they do. When we think of great leadership, it always has the simplicity and elegance that comes from not being weighed down by all those other things.

Taming the Tongue: Listening More Than Talking

“Better to trip with the feet than the tongue.” —Zeno

This modesty in speech made Stoic leaders expert listeners. Zeno had said that we have two ears and one mouth because that’s the ratio of listening to speaking we should adhere to in life. He also said it was better to trip with the feet than with the tongue. Cato, whose words could move the entire senate and people of Rome, famously said that he would only speak when he was convinced what he was about to say wasn’t better left unsaid.

In Epictetus Encheiridion 33, he lays down a whole series of prescriptions for behavior, including remaining silent for the most part in meetings, and when speaking to use as few words as necessary. He also is noticeably clear on a point that many need to hear today—that we should avoid using foul language at all costs and reprimand anyone who may happen to lapse into it.

The Stoics also believed, especially with friends and family, in frankness (parrhesia). Their character prized free, open, and direct speech to address matters of importance. For the Stoics, part of building a character anchored in self-control is about removing coarse language and the kind of character and lifestyle that goes with it, and replacing it with a more constructive and helpful directness.

Kindness, Fellowship, and Fair Dealing

“Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being…Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy.”

For a Stoic leader, the virtue of justice (dikaiosune) shows itself in several related character traits. Broadly, the virtue meant knowing how properly apportion things as they are due. Even with respect to the gods, they saw our practice of justice showing itself in reverence and piety—giving the gods their due. Turning to people, they tried to develop kindness, as we have seen, as a balance to their own strictness with themselves. Related to kindness, they believed in honesty (chrestoteta), good fellowship (eukoinonesian) and fair-dealing (eusunallaxian) in business. All these facets of character were part of the Stoic conception of justice.

Antipater was the first Stoic to debate business ethics with his teacher, Diogenes of Babylon. Diogenes took a caveat emptor, buyer beware, position in terms of what needed to be disclosed in business transactions. Other than not breaking the law, Diogenes believed it didn’t matter what you left out for the other party to discover later. Antipater said that if your sewer system were broken on your house, the interests of the family buying it would obligate you to tell the truth. Why should your gain be the source of someone else’s financial ruin? Antipater believed that we can’t ever let our self-interest cause injustice to the interests of our fellow human beings.

Later, Hierocles would create a model of behavior that tried to make this insight a kind of Stoic Golden Rule. We should see our circle of concern or self-interest as connected to an ever-widening circle of the interests of others: our family, neighborhood, city, country, and world. No matter how far out on the circle we go, there is an unbreakable connection between our self-interests and the concerns of others. Consequently, we should always be working to draw these circles closer to us. We can begin at home, by treating family as we would our self, friends as we would family, fellow citizens as we would friends, and foreigners as fellow countrymen.

In our time, Jim Collins would talk about the concept of a Level 5 Leader—someone who is always taking the larger interests of the organization and its stakeholders into account in every decision and action they take. It’s a vision of a more just leadership that the Stoics worked hard to develop.

Marcus Aurelius himself, the most powerful Stoic who ever lived, looked to the lives of previous Stoics like Thrasea Paetus and Helvidius Priscus whose leadership inspired him to create a just state based on laws of equality, freedom of speech, and individual liberty. Cleanthes’ great poem The Hymn to Zeus, imagined a whole universe governed by the divine law of justice. Marcus was trying to make that cosmic order characteristic of his reign and the Roman state. He would write that “the fruit of this life is a good character and acts for the common good.”

Bravery Is Serving The Common Good

“I’ll accept whatever happens. And because of my relationship to other parts, I will do nothing selfish, but aim instead to join them, to direct my every action toward what benefits us all and to avoid what doesn’t. If I do all that, then my life should go smoothly.” — Marcus Aurelius

In the many generations before Stoicism came to Rome, there was a strong tradition of conveying the virtue of bravery in more classic martial terms—just as soldiers will face terrible odds on the battlefield and endure the most difficult of conditions, so we should conduct ourselves in everyday situations no matter how difficult. By the time Panaetius had met Scipio Aemilianus, it was clear that the young leaders of Roman society needed something else. By this time, generals and magistrates had come to see their appointments as primarily means of winning personal honor and financial gain. A bravery framed only in a victor taking the spoils mentality was destroying Roman society, just as it is our own today. Panaetius knew that when dealing with what’s expedient in public life, it’s easy to get lost and do things which are cowardly and unjust. In his second book of his great work on duties, Concerning Appropriate Actions, he emphasized that when dealing with the expediencies of politics you must always keep justice in mind.

For this reason, Panaetius shifted his writings about bravery to focus on what he called megalopsuchia, the greatness of soul that young leaders needed. This shift moved the emphasis away from service to personal ends to the service of the common good. With this new focus on magnanimity, Panaetius also talked about mercy, kindness, and being helpful to others. He believed that everyone has an inborn desire to lead and serve, and that while we all can’t be the brave Scipio on the battlefield, we can use the virtue of bravery and perseverance (andreia) to serve others.

Nowhere is this shift toward magnanimity and a new kind of resilience for the common good better expressed than in the life of Panaetius student, Publius Rutilius Rufus.

Rutilius was a towering figure in his day. Serving with Scipio Aemilianus on the battlefield in Carthage and Numantia, his bravery was renowned. He began his public service and eventually became responsible for training Rome’s troops—revising the entire training regimen and vastly improving the quality and effectiveness of the Roman military. Marius, the great general who ended up serving as consul a record seven times, preferred the troops trained by Rutilius above all others.

Many young leaders would be happy to accept that kind of public personal honor as enough and keep their head down. Not Rutilius. He saw the nefarious means that Marius and his cronies used to gain office and siphon money from the state. When a Stoic sees something, they say something. This is true bravery. Rutilius launched an attack on Marius and on the equestrian class tax farmers who were bilking the Anatolian population of their money. In exchange for this greatness of soul aimed at correcting the injustices of the state, Rutilius himself was brought up on the same charges and convicted of them in a kangaroo court, stripped of his estate and exiled. The only dignity left to him was choosing the location of his exile, which he immediately made Smyrna—the very place he was wrongly-convicted of defrauding. The Smyrnans welcomed him with a grant of citizenship, which he denied while living happily among them. When Sulla superseded Marius and became dictator of Rome, he offered Rutilius a pardon and a return from exile, to which Rutilius replied “I would rather have my country blush for my exile than weep at my return.”

Rutilius learned well from Panaetius the full meaning of bravery—service for a larger, common good—and spent his last days in Smyrna writing a history of Rome and receiving prominent visitors like Cicero.

Character Is Fate

True good fortune is what you make for yourself. Good fortune: good character, good intentions, and good actions — Marcus Aurelius

Finally, Stoic leaders all exemplified an intense focus on character in carrying out their duties for the common good. They believed a good character was created by a pursuit of all the virtues in each of our actions. They didn’t let the power and fame of position distract or ruin this deeper work.

Marcus Aurelius, the most powerful leader of his day, put it best:

“Make sure you’re not made ‘Emperor,’ avoid that imperial stain. It can happen to you, so keep yourself simple, good, pure, saintly, plain, a friend of justice, god-fearing, gracious, affectionate, and strong for your proper work. Fight to remain the person that philosophy wished to make you. Revere the gods, and look after each other. Life is short—the fruit of this life is a good character and acts for the common good.” 

By: Stephen Hanselman, co-author of The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Livingand Lives of the Stoics, which is available for pre-order and is set to release on September 29!

Topley’s Top 10 – November 16, 2021

1.Bond Market Not Worried About Inflation

Irrelevant Investor– Inflation is terrible for bonds because rising prices hurt fixed payments. In theory, if the bond market were worried about inflation, rates would increase. That isn’t happening.

How Much Does Inflation Cost?Posted November 15, 2021 by Michael Batnick

2.Hedge Funds Selling Tech and Buying Financials.

The Daily Shot Blog Equities: Hedge funds have moved into financials and further out of tech/communication stocks amid a flatter yield curve.

3.Current Forward Price to Sales Ratio and Forward Returns.

Current price to sales ratio and Forward Returns

4.2021 Private Equity Transactions will Break 2006-2007 Previous Record.

Private Equity in a Changing Environment
By Prakash Melwani, Senior Managing Director and Global Chief Investment Officer of Blackstone Private Equity
PE performance in a post-lockdown world Private equity activity has reached record levels this year: by year-end 2021, PE firms will have announced approximately $1.1 trillion of transactions globally, which exceeds the previous full-year record of approximately $800 billion set in 2006 and 2007.1 Several factors explain this elevated activity: optimism about post-COVID earnings growth, abundant and attractive financing, and owners selling their companies ahead of anticipated tax increases.

As Figure 2 shows, the PE industry has increasingly focused on growth sectors, including tech, fintech, life sciences, and healthcare IT. Growth investments increased to over 40% of all PE transactions in 2020 as companies in these sectors experienced faster growth after COVID accelerated changes in spending patterns that were already underway. In 2021, the absolute value of growth investments has continued to grow, but dealmaking in COVID-affected sectors has also increased as investors anticipate a return to normalcy.

Figure 2: Sponsor Acquisition Aggregate TEV
(US$ in billion)

Source: Citi GAM, as of September 15, 2021. Includes North American deals over $500 million. Excludes energy and power. Growth sectors consist of tech, fintech, life sciences, and healthcare

5.Softbank -45% Correction but Holds 200 Day Moving Average.

Softbank holds 200day moving average and bounces

6.Precious Metals Up and Energy Down…Commodities this Month

Precious metals, traditionally considered inflation hedges, have taken off (silver & gold among top performers in S&P GSCI MTD); conversely, natural gas continued its October decline, -12% so far in November (production is forecast to soon climb to 6y high) ⁦


7.90% of Americans Have Heard of Crypto and 16% Have Invested.

BY TYLER DURDENOver the last few years, cryptocurrencies have moved from extreme niche to more widespread adoption, shrugging off skeptics and ‘bankers’ along the way, as the vast majority of U.S. adults have heard at least a little about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ether, and 16% say they personally have invested in, traded or otherwise used one, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Coinbase Co-Founder Raises Largest VC Crypto Fund Ever To Bet On Ethereum, Token Economy

8.Rents are 41% of CPI…Surge to 15 Year Highs

LPL Research

9.The pickleball explosion


Kendall Baker, author of Sports

Pickleball — a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong — surged in popularity over the past two years. But the sport’s rapid rise is much more than a pandemic-fueled fad.

State of play: Pickleball participation grew by 21.3% between 2019 and 2020, prompting the Economist to declare it “the fastest growing sport in America.” 4.2 million Americans now play at least once a year.

  • Demand for courts is exploding, with cities building new facilities and private clubs replacing tennis courts.
  • Professionalization has expanded, with newly-launched Major League Pickleball joining the APP and PPA tours. Country clubs are also hiring their own pros to teach members.
  • Commercialization is happening fast, with equipment/apparel brands like Recess and publications like In Pickleball banking on the sport’s continued rise.
  • A youth movement is underway, as more schools add pickleball to physical education classes. Most “core” players (play 8+ times per year) are still 65+, but most “casual” players are now in the 8–34 age range.

What they’re saying: “Pickleball is the only sport where my whole family — from my kids to my parents — can play together and have an absolute blast,” says Dave Fleming, 54, a senior pickleball pro.

  • “At the same time, people are starting to recognize that it can be played at a crazy high level, in huge venues, in front of tons of fans.”
  • “Celebrities are playing. Athletes from other sports are playing. It was just on the ‘Today’ show. It’s an incredibly exciting time.”

Courtesy: USA Pickleball

How to play: Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island (near Seattle) by three dads, including future Rep. Joel Pritchard.

  • Games are generally played to 11 (win by two) on a surface roughly a third the size of a tennis court (20 feet x 44 feet) with whiffle balls and paddles. You can play doubles or singles.
  • Points are only scored by the service team. Volleying is allowed as long as it’s not on the service return or the return of that return — and as long as it’s not in “the kitchen,” a seven-foot-deep area on each side of the net.

Between the lines: While tennis remains a country club tradition, pickleball’s low-profile and relative ease makes it more accessible — a sport that almost anyone can pickup fairly quickly.

  • “If you’ve ever swung any sort of a racquet before, you can become competent in an hour,” Stu Upson, CEO of USA Pickleball, tells Axios.
  • That’s part of why it gained traction during lockdown, when families — desperate for outdoor activities — put up courts on their driveways and streets.

Of note: Pickleball hasn’t fully shaken the elitist image often associated with racquet sports. It’s become popular in the Hamptons and is, naturally, all the rage in Hollywood.

“Leonardo DiCaprio plays every day … George Clooney says his wife, Amal, routinely torches him on their home court in L.A. … ‘Survivor’ winner Tyson Apostol has parlayed his reality-TV fame into a career as a pickleball influencer … This year’s Sun Valley Conference, also known as the ‘summer camp for billionaires,’ featured pickleball.”

Craig Coyne, Vanity Fair

What’s next: The world’s best pickleball player, Ben Johns, makes roughly $250,000 a year, but most pros can’t sustain a living (next month’s USA National Championships has a total purse of $90,000).

  • That could change if participation growth keeps up. After all, more players means more fans means more media means more sponsors means more prize money.
  • Bold prediction: “In a few years, I think you’ll see tennis players on the cusp of the pro tour opting to pursue pickleball as a viable career,” says Fleming.

🎥 Watch: How to play pickleball

Correction: This story was updated to include a more accurate definition of “the kitchen.”

10.What Is Luck?

Do life events happen to you or do you make them happen?
Barbara Blatchley Ph.D.


  • People who believe in luck tend to see life events as something they don’t directly control.
  • Believing in luck can be a way to defend against the chaos of life.

2021 is shaping up to be another transformational year as we slowly emerge from the pandemic and try to get our lives back something resembling normal. Stories about people who were infected by the virus and survived are appearing in newspapers, magazines, and online. A recent article in Vox documents how some survivors of the pandemic have described feeling out of control and helpless in the face of the disease.[1]

And, sadly, many have also described feeling guilty for having survived when others didn’t. Survivors, as well as people who never got sick at all, often attribute their survival to luck. This made me wonder: Do people typically feel lucky they survived COVID-19 or unlucky to have been exposed to it? Deciding if one is lucky to have escaped or unlucky to have been affected in the first place can be a difficult thing to do. So what exactly is luck?

Defining luck

People who believe in luck describe themselves as either lucky or unlucky as if luck were a stable and enduring personality characteristic. However, researchers who study luck usually see it very differently.

Luck in psychology is usually thought of as an attribution. An attribution is a decision we make about the cause of an event or the reason for something happening in the world. Because we’re social animals, the “event” we’re focused on is very often other people. We are deeply invested in figuring out why people do what they do.

When we go looking for factors that cause an event, we tend to attribute causality to our own skill, our effort, the difficulty of the task or to luck. Skill and effort are internal, relatively stable, personal factors that can be controlled by the person doing the attributing. The difficulty of the task and luck are external to us, unstable and less controllable.

Attributions of luck

Imagine you’re a student, taking a course in something brand new to you—let’s say a course in statistics. You get the results of the first exam back and you see a large red “F” on the page. How do you explain the cause of this event? Researchers say that your attribution will focus on three basic features of the situation: the locus and stability of the cause, and the degree of control we have over that cause. The locus of a cause refers to whether we see the source of the cause as an aspect of our own personality and behavior (an internal locus) or as coming from the situation we are in (an external locus.) So, if you say to yourself, “I flunked the test because I blew it off and went out partying instead of studying,” that’s an internal attribution—an explanation based on an assessment of your own behavior.

If you then say, “I’ve always been a good student, I just have to apply myself next time,” then you see your internal attribution as a stable one. And, if you go on to say, “I can join the study group that was just organized on my dorm floor or go see the tutor for the class before the next exam,” then you’re saying that the cause of your poor grade on the first exam is internal, stable and that you have some control over it. This student is not likely to attribute his or her grade to luck.

Now imagine that your response to the poor grade on the exam is to say “Wow, the teacher really hates me! She graded my exam way too harshly. She was probably ticked off about something when she graded my exam—maybe next time she’ll be in a better mood.” Then your attribution is external (based on the situation, not on your own abilities), unstable and outside of your control. This student is much more likely to say that he or she flunked because of bad luck.

The attribution explanation of luck works in some situations, but it doesn’t work in all of them, and, worst of all, it doesn’t really match up with the way that most people talk about luck in daily life.

Two researchers in the Netherlands asked gamblers, a group of people who should be familiar with luck and being lucky, what they thought about luck.[2] To their surprise, not one gambler mentioned cause and effect relationships, or luck being something that was external or out of their control. On the contrary, the gamblers said that some people were just luckier than others (implying that luck is an internal characteristic of some people) and that luck was also something that existed out there in the universe somewhere, external and separate from humanity. The trick was to recognize when luck was available, and when it could be used, when you might get it to linger beside you by rubbing your lucky rabbits’ foot or using your lucky dice, and when luck was running out.

Luck has a multitude of definitions, varying not just across individuals but also across situations. Sometimes we see ourselves at the mercy of chance. Other times, we see luck almost as our birthright. We often believe in luck and in our own personal luckiness as a defense against the whims of fortune. Ascribing survival during the pandemic to luck is an example of this defense against randomness in the universe.

Topley’s Top 10 – November 10, 2021

1.85% of U.S. High Yield Market has a Yield Below the Current Rate of CPI Headline Inflation vs. Historical Less Than 10%

Nearly 85% of the US High Yield market has a yield below the current rate of CPI headline inflation

David Schawel


2.U.S. Junk Bonds Set $432 Billion Record in Rush to Beat Rates

Paula Seligson

(Bloomberg) — U.S. high-yield bond sales reached an annual record of $432.4 billion on Tuesday as companies rush to lock in low coupons while they still can.

Cheap funding costs have unleashed a prolonged pile-on of debt issuance, and borrowers have been hurrying to take advantage of the opportunity before the Federal Reserve eventually raises interest rates. That could come sooner than expected amid inflation pressures, though Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is still preaching patience as of last week.

This dash has taken 2021’s issuance beyond 2020’s high mark $431.8 billion, which topped a prior record set in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Funding markets are wide open,” said Nichole Hammond, a senior portfolio manager at Angel Oak Capital Advisors LLC. “Credit fundamentals are improving with decent economic growth and there is still strong demand for income yielding assets.”

3.Coal Prices in China Down Over -50%

Joe Weisenthal The Stalwart

4.Investors Throw Cash at Any ETF With ‘Inflation’ in the Name…18 Products See $35B YTD Flows.

Katie Greifeld

(Bloomberg) — Endless demand to protect portfolios from rising prices is fueling an indiscriminate boom in one corner of the $7.2 trillion U.S. exchange-traded fund market.

Every single ETF with the word “inflation” in either its name or description has posted inflows so far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg — a rare degree of one-way conviction among the investing masses.

The 18 products — spanning asset classes and with strategies designed to outperform when prices rise — have so far lured $35.5 billion in new cash, the data show. That equates to 37% of their assets, making their organic growth rate more than three-times faster than the industry overall.

5.Total Internet Users vs. Total Crypto Users

Zerohedge Blog

6.One Popular Covid Trade Goes Full Circle

Tutoring company Chegg that exploded during Covid back to pre-virus price.

7.Vanguard Tracking to Overtake IShares in ETF AUM

Vanguard now pretty comfortably over $2 trillion in U.S. ETF assets but the pace of growth has been incredible, currently eating 2% market share from iShares every six months

Athanasios Psarofagis


8.U.S. casinos have best quarter ever, fueled by online and sports bets

Caesars in Atlantic City, N.J. (FOX 5 NY File Photo)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) – The nation’s commercial casinos won nearly $14 billion in the third quarter of this year, marking the industry’s best quarter ever, and pushing U.S. casino revenue past what it was for all of 2020, according to figures released Tuesday.

The figures from the American Gaming Association, the casino industry’s national trade group, show U.S. casinos are poised to have their best year ever in 2021 as more consumers feel comfortable visiting casinos amid the COVID19 pandemic, and as online and sports betting revenues continue to grow.

U.S. casinos are on pace to break the annual record of $43.65 billion, set in 2019, the group said.

Bill Miller, the association’s president and CEO, noted that the second quarter of this year also broke records.

“Two straight quarters of record gaming revenue is an incredible accomplishment in any context, let alone after the most challenging year in industry history,” he said in a statement. “Our recovery is not a flash in the pan, but rather a sustained result of our leadership in responsible reopening, world-class entertainment offerings and widespread favorability.”

The nation’s non-Native American casinos won $13.89 billion in July, August and September of this year. For the first three quarters of this year, U.S. casinos have won nearly $39 billion, surpassing the total for all of 2020, and exceeding the total for the first three quarters of 2019 by 18%.

Jane Bokunewicz, director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute at New Jersey’s Stockton University, said pent-up demand among pandemic-weary customers played a big role in the industry’s resurgence as restrictions were lifted.

“After a year of restrictions and quarantines, people were anxious to get out and enjoy in-person experiences again,” she said. “The casino industry responded quickly to implement clean and safe protocols providing a welcoming environment to people seeking safe social activities.

9.States with the Highest and Lowest Wage Increases Since 2010

The Daily Shot

10.The Discipline of Action

As a kid, Demosthenes—one of the greatest orators of history and someone the publicly-minded Stoics would have studied carefully—was sickly and frail with a nearly debilitating speech impediment. He was the awkward child no one understood and everyone laughed at.

Stuck in his young mind was the image of a great orator, a man he’d once witnessed speaking at the court at Athens. That a lone individual could keep a crowd hanging on his every word for hours—it inspired and challenged Demosthenes, who was well aware this confident speaker was in many ways the opposite of him.

So he did something about it.

To conquer his speech impediment, he would fill his mouth with pebbles and practice speaking. He rehearsed full speeches into the wind or while running up steep inclines. He shaved half his head so he’d be too embarrassed to go outside and have no choice but to stay inside and practice with his voice, his facial expressions, and his arguments. He even locked himself underground in a dugout he’d built to study and educate himself.

All this training would pay off. Just like that confident speaker whose image he long held in his mind, Demosthenes earned the ability to command a crowd and would become the voice of Athens, it’s great speaker and conscience. make him one of the greatest orators of Athens.

Some academic would at some point ask Demosthenes what the three most important traits of speechmaking were, his reply says it all: “Action, Action, Action!”

Whether your dream is to be a great orator, a great writer, a great entrepreneur, a great athlete—the road to realizing that dream is exactly that: a road. And just like you travel along a road in steps, accomplishing anything is a matter of steps. And taking steps means taking action.

This seems obvious. That action is the critical variable in achieving your goals and dreams. But not to LOA believers. According to one LOA guru, Esther Hicks, “You did not come into this environment to create through action.” Uh what, that is literally the only way to create things. Hicks and her followers believe that to take action is to doubt the Universe’s powers of manifestation. Better to show your unquestionable belief in the Universe through your inaction.

This is obviously the antithesis of the way the Stoics lived. “You have to assemble your life yourself,” Marcus Aurelius wrote, “action by action.”

The Daily Stoic.