More on Economics & Investing
10 months ago
The direction of the economy is as follows.
What quarterly bank earnings reveal
Big banks know the economy best. Unless we’re talking about a housing crisis in 2007…
Banks are crucial to the U.S. economy. The Fed, communities, and investments exchange money.
An economy depends on money flow. Banks' views on the economy can affect their decision-making.
Most large banks released quarterly earnings and forward guidance last week. Others were pessimistic about the future.
What Makes Banks Confident
Bank of America's profit decreased 30% year-over-year, but they're optimistic about the economy. Comparatively, they're bullish.
Who banks serve affects what they see. Bank of America supports customers.
They think consumers' future is bright. They believe this for many reasons.
The average customer has decent credit, unless the system is flawed. Bank of America's new credit card and mortgage borrowers averaged 771. New-car loan and home equity borrower averages were 791 and 797.
2008's housing crisis affected people with scores below 620.
Bank of America and the economy benefit from a robust consumer. Major problems can be avoided if individuals maintain spending.
Reasons Other Banks Are Less Confident
Spending requires income. Many companies, mostly in the computer industry, have announced they will slow or freeze hiring. Layoffs are frequently an indication of poor times ahead.
BOA is positive, but investment banks are bearish.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, outlined various difficulties our economy could confront.
But geopolitical tension, high inflation, waning consumer confidence, the uncertainty about how high rates have to go and the never-before-seen quantitative tightening and their effects on global liquidity, combined with the war in Ukraine and its harmful effect on global energy and food prices are very likely to have negative consequences on the global economy sometime down the road.
That's more headwinds than tailwinds.
JPMorgan, which helps with mergers and IPOs, is less enthusiastic due to these concerns. Incoming headwinds signal drying liquidity, they say. Less business will be done.
I don't think we're done. Yes, stocks are up 10% from a month ago. It's a long way from old highs.
I don't think the stock market is a strong economic indicator.
Many executives foresee a 2023 recession. According to the traditional definition, we may be in a recession when Q2 GDP statistics are released next week.
Regardless of criteria, I predict the economy will have a terrible year.
Weekly layoffs are announced. Inflation persists. Will prices return to 2020 levels if inflation cools? Perhaps. Still expensive energy. Ukraine's war has global repercussions.
I predict BOA's next quarter earnings won't be as bullish about the consumer's strength.
1 year ago
Mystery of the $1 billion'meme stock' that went to $400 billion in days
Who is AMTD Digital?
An unknown Hong Kong corporation joined the global megacaps worth over $500 billion on Tuesday.
The American Depository Share (ADS) with the ticker code HKD gapped at the open, soaring 25% over the previous closing price as trading began, before hitting an intraday high of $2,555.
At its peak, its market cap was almost $450 billion, more than Facebook parent Meta or Alibaba.
Yahoo Finance reported a daily volume of 350,500 shares, the lowest since the ADS began trading and much below the average of 1.2 million.
Despite losing a fifth of its value on Wednesday, it's still worth more than Toyota, Nike, McDonald's, or Walt Disney.
The company sold 16 million shares at $7.80 each in mid-July, giving it a $1 billion market valuation.
Why the boom?
That market cap seems unjustified.
According to SEC reports, its income-generating assets barely topped $400 million in March. Fortune's emails and calls went unanswered.
Website discloses little about company model. Its one-minute business presentation film uses a Star Wars–like design to sell the company as a "one-stop digital solutions platform in Asia"
The SEC prospectus explains.
AMTD Digital sells a "SpiderNet Ecosystems Solutions" kind of club membership that connects enterprises. This is the bulk of its $25 million annual revenue in April 2021.
Pretax profits have been higher than top line over the past three years due to fair value accounting gains on Appier, DayDayCook, WeDoctor, and five Asian fintechs.
AMTD Group, the company's parent, specializes in investment banking, hotel services, luxury education, and media and entertainment. AMTD IDEA, a $14 billion subsidiary, is also traded on the NYSE.
Why AMTD Digital listed in the U.S. is unknown, as it informed investors in its share offering prospectus that could delist under SEC guidelines.
Beijing's red tape prevents the Sarbanes-Oxley Board from inspecting its Chinese auditor.
This frustrates Chinese stock investors. If the U.S. and China can't achieve a deal, 261 Chinese companies worth $1.3 trillion might be delisted.
Calvin Choi left UBS to become AMTD Group's CEO.
His capitalist background and status as a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum don't stop him from praising China's Communist party or celebrating the "glory and dream of the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese nation" a century after its creation.
Despite having an executive vice chairman with a record of battling corruption and ties to Carrie Lam, Beijing's previous proconsul in Hong Kong, Choi is apparently being targeted for a two-year industry ban by the city's securities regulator after an investor accused Choi of malfeasance.
Some CMIG-funded initiatives produced money, but he didn't give us the proceeds, a corporate official told China's Caixin in October 2020. We don't know if he misappropriated or lost some money.
A seismic anomaly
In fundamental analysis, where companies are valued based on future cash flows, AMTD Digital's mind-boggling market cap is a statistical aberration that should occur once every hundred years.
AMTD Digital doesn't know why it's so valuable. In a thank-you letter to new shareholders, it said it was confused by the stock's performance.
Since its IPO, the company has seen significant ADS price volatility and active trading volume, it said Tuesday. "To our knowledge, there have been no important circumstances, events, or other matters since the IPO date."
Permabears awoke after the jump. Jim Chanos asked if "we're all going to ignore the $400 billion meme stock in the room," while Nate Anderson called AMTD Group "sketchy."
It happened the same day SEC Chair Gary Gensler praised the 20th anniversary of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, aimed to restore trust in America's financial markets after the Enron and WorldCom accounting fraud scandals.
The run-up revived unpleasant memories of Robinhood's decision to limit retail investors' ability to buy GameStop, regarded as a measure to protect hedge funds invested in the meme company.
Why wasn't HKD's buy button removed? Because retail wasn't behind it?" tweeted Gensler on Tuesday. "Real stock fraud. "You're worthless."
Sofien Kaabar, CFA
1 year ago
How to Make a Trading Heatmap
Python Heatmap Technical Indicator
Heatmaps provide an instant overview. They can be used with correlations or to predict reactions or confirm the trend in trading. This article covers RSI heatmap creation.
The Market System
Bullish trend: The market tends to make higher highs, which indicates that the overall trend is upward.
Sideways: The market tends to fluctuate while staying within predetermined zones.
Bearish trend: The market has the propensity to make lower lows, indicating that the overall trend is downward.
Most tools detect the trend, but we cannot predict the next state. The best way to solve this problem is to assume the current state will continue and trade any reactions, preferably in the trend.
If the EURUSD is above its moving average and making higher highs, a trend-following strategy would be to wait for dips before buying and assuming the bullish trend will continue.
Indicator of Relative Strength
J. Welles Wilder Jr. introduced the RSI, a popular and versatile technical indicator. Used as a contrarian indicator to exploit extreme reactions. Calculating the default RSI usually involves these steps:
Determine the difference between the closing prices from the prior ones.
Distinguish between the positive and negative net changes.
Create a smoothed moving average for both the absolute values of the positive net changes and the negative net changes.
Take the difference between the smoothed positive and negative changes. The Relative Strength RS will be the name we use to describe this calculation.
To obtain the RSI, use the normalization formula shown below for each time step.
The 13-period RSI and black GBPUSD hourly values are shown above. RSI bounces near 25 and pauses around 75. Python requires a four-column OHLC array for RSI coding.
import numpy as np def add_column(data, times): for i in range(1, times + 1): new = np.zeros((len(data), 1), dtype = float) data = np.append(data, new, axis = 1) return data def delete_column(data, index, times): for i in range(1, times + 1): data = np.delete(data, index, axis = 1) return data def delete_row(data, number): data = data[number:, ] return data def ma(data, lookback, close, position): data = add_column(data, 1) for i in range(len(data)): try: data[i, position] = (data[i - lookback + 1:i + 1, close].mean()) except IndexError: pass data = delete_row(data, lookback) return data def smoothed_ma(data, alpha, lookback, close, position): lookback = (2 * lookback) - 1 alpha = alpha / (lookback + 1.0) beta = 1 - alpha data = ma(data, lookback, close, position) data[lookback + 1, position] = (data[lookback + 1, close] * alpha) + (data[lookback, position] * beta) for i in range(lookback + 2, len(data)): try: data[i, position] = (data[i, close] * alpha) + (data[i - 1, position] * beta) except IndexError: pass return data def rsi(data, lookback, close, position): data = add_column(data, 5) for i in range(len(data)): data[i, position] = data[i, close] - data[i - 1, close] for i in range(len(data)): if data[i, position] > 0: data[i, position + 1] = data[i, position] elif data[i, position] < 0: data[i, position + 2] = abs(data[i, position]) data = smoothed_ma(data, 2, lookback, position + 1, position + 3) data = smoothed_ma(data, 2, lookback, position + 2, position + 4) data[:, position + 5] = data[:, position + 3] / data[:, position + 4] data[:, position + 6] = (100 - (100 / (1 + data[:, position + 5]))) data = delete_column(data, position, 6) data = delete_row(data, lookback) return data
Make sure to focus on the concepts and not the code. You can find the codes of most of my strategies in my books. The most important thing is to comprehend the techniques and strategies.
My weekly market sentiment report uses complex and simple models to understand the current positioning and predict the future direction of several major markets. Check out the report here:
Using the Heatmap to Find the Trend
RSI trend detection is easy but useless. Bullish and bearish regimes are in effect when the RSI is above or below 50, respectively. Tracing a vertical colored line creates the conditions below. How:
When the RSI is higher than 50, a green vertical line is drawn.
When the RSI is lower than 50, a red vertical line is drawn.
Zooming out yields a basic heatmap, as shown below.
def indicator_plot(data, second_panel, window = 250): fig, ax = plt.subplots(2, figsize = (10, 5)) sample = data[-window:, ] for i in range(len(sample)): ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 2], ymax = sample[i, 1], color = 'black', linewidth = 1) if sample[i, 3] > sample[i, 0]: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 0], ymax = sample[i, 3], color = 'black', linewidth = 1.5) if sample[i, 3] < sample[i, 0]: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 3], ymax = sample[i, 0], color = 'black', linewidth = 1.5) if sample[i, 3] == sample[i, 0]: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 3], ymax = sample[i, 0], color = 'black', linewidth = 1.5) ax.grid() for i in range(len(sample)): if sample[i, second_panel] > 50: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'green', linewidth = 1.5) if sample[i, second_panel] < 50: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'red', linewidth = 1.5) ax.grid() indicator_plot(my_data, 4, window = 500)
Call RSI on your OHLC array's fifth column. 4. Adjusting lookback parameters reduces lag and false signals. Other indicators and conditions are possible.
Another suggestion is to develop an RSI Heatmap for Extreme Conditions.
Contrarian indicator RSI. The following rules apply:
Whenever the RSI is approaching the upper values, the color approaches red.
The color tends toward green whenever the RSI is getting close to the lower values.
Zooming out yields a basic heatmap, as shown below.
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt def indicator_plot(data, second_panel, window = 250): fig, ax = plt.subplots(2, figsize = (10, 5)) sample = data[-window:, ] for i in range(len(sample)): ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 2], ymax = sample[i, 1], color = 'black', linewidth = 1) if sample[i, 3] > sample[i, 0]: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 0], ymax = sample[i, 3], color = 'black', linewidth = 1.5) if sample[i, 3] < sample[i, 0]: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 3], ymax = sample[i, 0], color = 'black', linewidth = 1.5) if sample[i, 3] == sample[i, 0]: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 3], ymax = sample[i, 0], color = 'black', linewidth = 1.5) ax.grid() for i in range(len(sample)): if sample[i, second_panel] > 90: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'red', linewidth = 1.5) if sample[i, second_panel] > 80 and sample[i, second_panel] < 90: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'darkred', linewidth = 1.5) if sample[i, second_panel] > 70 and sample[i, second_panel] < 80: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'maroon', linewidth = 1.5) if sample[i, second_panel] > 60 and sample[i, second_panel] < 70: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'firebrick', linewidth = 1.5) if sample[i, second_panel] > 50 and sample[i, second_panel] < 60: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'grey', linewidth = 1.5) if sample[i, second_panel] > 40 and sample[i, second_panel] < 50: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'grey', linewidth = 1.5) if sample[i, second_panel] > 30 and sample[i, second_panel] < 40: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'lightgreen', linewidth = 1.5) if sample[i, second_panel] > 20 and sample[i, second_panel] < 30: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'limegreen', linewidth = 1.5) if sample[i, second_panel] > 10 and sample[i, second_panel] < 20: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'seagreen', linewidth = 1.5) if sample[i, second_panel] > 0 and sample[i, second_panel] < 10: ax.vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'green', linewidth = 1.5) ax.grid() indicator_plot(my_data, 4, window = 500)
Dark green and red areas indicate imminent bullish and bearish reactions, respectively. RSI around 50 is grey.
To conclude, my goal is to contribute to objective technical analysis, which promotes more transparent methods and strategies that must be back-tested before implementation.
Technical analysis will lose its reputation as subjective and unscientific.
When you find a trading strategy or technique, follow these steps:
Put emotions aside and adopt a critical mindset.
Test it in the past under conditions and simulations taken from real life.
Try optimizing it and performing a forward test if you find any potential.
Transaction costs and any slippage simulation should always be included in your tests.
Risk management and position sizing should always be considered in your tests.
After checking the above, monitor the strategy because market dynamics may change and make it unprofitable.
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1 year ago
7 ways to improve public speaking
How to overcome public speaking fear and give a killer presentation
"Public speaking is people's biggest fear, according to studies. Death's second. The average person is better off in the casket than delivering the eulogy." — American comedian, actor, writer, and producer Jerry Seinfeld
People fear public speaking, according to research. Public speaking can be intimidating.
Most professions require public speaking, whether to 5, 50, 500, or 5,000 people. Your career will require many presentations. In a small meeting, company update, or industry conference.
You can improve your public speaking skills. You can reduce your anxiety, improve your performance, and feel more comfortable speaking in public.
“If I returned to college, I'd focus on writing and public speaking. Effective communication is everything.” — 38th president Gerald R. Ford
You can deliver a great presentation despite your fear of public speaking. There are ways to stay calm while speaking and become a more effective public speaker.
Seven tips to improve your public speaking today. Let's help you overcome your fear (no pun intended).
Know your audience.
"You're not being judged; the audience is." — Entrepreneur, author, and speaker Seth Godin
Understand your audience before speaking publicly. Before preparing a presentation, know your audience. Learn what they care about and find useful.
Your presentation may depend on where you're speaking. A classroom is different from a company meeting.
Determine your audience before developing your main messages. Learn everything about them. Knowing your audience helps you choose the right words, information (thought leadership vs. technical), and motivational message.
2. Be Observant
Observe others' speeches to improve your own. Watching free TED Talks on education, business, science, technology, and creativity can teach you a lot about public speaking.
What worked and what didn't?
What would you change?
How interesting or dull was the topic?
Note their techniques to learn more. Studying the best public speakers will amaze you.
Learn how their stage presence helped them communicate and captivated their audience. Please note their pauses, humor, and pacing.
"A speaker should prepare based on what he wants to learn, not say." — Author, speaker, and pastor Tod Stocker
Practice makes perfect when it comes to public speaking. By repeating your presentation, you can find your comfort zone.
When you've practiced your presentation many times, you'll feel natural and confident giving it. Preparation helps overcome fear and anxiety. Review notes and important messages.
When you know the material well, you can explain it better. Your presentation preparation starts before you go on stage.
Keep a notebook or journal of ideas, quotes, and examples. More content means better audience-targeting.
Videotape your speeches. Check yourself. Body language, hands, pacing, and vocabulary should be reviewed.
Best public speakers evaluate their performance to improve.
Write down what you did best, what you could improve and what you should stop doing after watching a recording of yourself. Seeing yourself can be unsettling. This is how you improve.
5. Remove text from slides
"Humans can't read and comprehend screen text while listening to a speaker. Therefore, lots of text and long, complete sentences are bad, bad, bad.” —Communications expert Garr Reynolds
Presentation slides shouldn't have too much text. 100-slide presentations bore the audience. Your slides should preview what you'll say to the audience.
Use slides to emphasize your main point visually.
If you add text, use at least 40-point font. Your slides shouldn't require squinting to read. You want people to watch you, not your slides.
6. Body language
"Body language is powerful." We had body language before speech, and 80% of a conversation is read through the body, not the words." — Dancer, writer, and broadcaster Deborah Bull
Nonverbal communication dominates. Our bodies speak louder than words. Don't fidget, rock, lean, or pace.
Relax your body to communicate clearly and without distraction through nonverbal cues. Public speaking anxiety can cause tense body language.
Maintain posture and eye contact. Don’t put your hand in your pockets, cross your arms, or stare at your notes. Make purposeful hand gestures that match what you're saying.
7. Beginning/ending Strong
Beginning and end are memorable. Your presentation must start strong and end strongly. To engage your audience, don't sound robotic.
Begin with a story, stat, or quote. Conclude with a summary of key points. Focus on how you will start and end your speech.
You should memorize your presentation's opening and closing. Memorize something naturally. Excellent presentations start and end strong because people won't remember the middle.
Bringing It All Together
Seven simple yet powerful ways to improve public speaking. Know your audience, study others, prepare and rehearse, record yourself, remove as much text as possible from slides, and start and end strong.
Follow these tips to improve your speaking and audience communication. Prepare, practice, and learn from great speakers to reduce your fear of public speaking.
"Speaking to one person or a thousand is public speaking." — Vocal coach Roger Love
1 year ago
A Simple Guide to NFT Blockchains
Ethereum's blockchain rules NFTs. Many consider it the one-stop shop for NFTs, and it's become the most talked-about and trafficked blockchain in existence.
Other blockchains are becoming popular in NFTs. Crypto-artists and NFT enthusiasts have sought new places to mint and trade NFTs due to Ethereum's high transaction costs and environmental impact.
When choosing a blockchain to mint on, there are several factors to consider. Size, creator costs, consumer spending habits, security, and community input are important. We've created a high-level summary of blockchains for NFTs to help clarify the fast-paced world of web3 tech.
Ethereum currently has the most NFTs. It's decentralized and provides financial and legal services without intermediaries. It houses popular NFT marketplaces (OpenSea), projects (CryptoPunks and the Bored Ape Yacht Club), and artists (Pak and Beeple).
It's also expensive and energy-intensive. This is because Ethereum works using a Proof-of-Work (PoW) mechanism. PoW requires computers to solve puzzles to add blocks and transactions to the blockchain. Solving these puzzles requires a lot of computer power, resulting in astronomical energy loss.
You should consider this blockchain first due to its popularity, security, decentralization, and ease of use.
Solana is a fast programmable blockchain. Its proof-of-history and proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanisms eliminate complex puzzles. Reduced validation times and fees result.
PoS users stake their cryptocurrency to become a block validator. Validators get SOL. This encourages and rewards users to become stakers. PoH works with PoS to cryptographically verify time between events. Solana blockchain ensures transactions are in order and found by the correct leader (validator).
Solana's PoS and PoH mechanisms keep transaction fees and times low. Solana isn't as popular as Ethereum, so there are fewer NFT marketplaces and blockchain traders.
Tezos is a greener blockchain. Tezos rose in 2021. Hic et Nunc was hailed as an economic alternative to Ethereum-centric marketplaces until Nov. 14, 2021.
Similar to Solana, Tezos uses a PoS consensus mechanism and only a PoS mechanism to reduce computational work. This blockchain uses two million times less energy than Ethereum. It's cheaper than Ethereum (but does cost more than Solana).
Tezos is a good place to start minting NFTs in bulk. Objkt is the largest Tezos marketplace.
Flow is a high-performance blockchain for NFTs, games, and decentralized apps (dApps). Flow is built with scalability in mind, so billions of people could interact with NFTs on the blockchain.
Flow became the NBA's blockchain partner in 2019. Flow, a product of Dapper labs (the team behind CryptoKitties), launched and hosts NBA Top Shot, making the blockchain integral to the popularity of non-fungible tokens.
Flow uses PoS to verify transactions, like Tezos. Developers are working on a model to handle 10,000 transactions per second on the blockchain. Low transaction fees.
Flow NFTs are tradeable on Blocktobay, OpenSea, Rarible, Foundation, and other platforms. NBA, NFL, UFC, and others have launched NFT marketplaces on Flow. Flow isn't as popular as Ethereum, resulting in fewer NFT marketplaces and blockchain traders.
Asset Exchange (WAX)
WAX is king of virtual collectibles. WAX is popular for digitalized versions of legacy collectibles like trading cards, figurines, memorabilia, etc.
Wax uses a PoS mechanism, but also creates carbon offset NFTs and partners with Climate Care. Like Flow, WAX transaction fees are low, and network fees are redistributed to the WAX community as an incentive to collectors.
WAX marketplaces host Topps, NASCAR, Hot Wheels, and cult classic film franchises like Godzilla, The Princess Bride, and Spiderman.
Binance Smart Chain
BSC is another good option for balancing fees and performance. High-speed transactions and low fees hurt decentralization. BSC is most centralized.
Binance Smart Chain uses Proof of Staked Authority (PoSA) to support a short block time and low fees. The 21 validators needed to run the exchange switch every 24 hours. 11 of the 21 validators are directly connected to the Binance Crypto Exchange, according to reports.
While many in the crypto and NFT ecosystems dislike centralization, the BSC NFT market picked up speed in 2021. OpenBiSea, AirNFTs, JuggerWorld, and others are gaining popularity despite not having as robust an ecosystem as Ethereum.
1 year ago
From oil to attention.
Oil has been the most important commodity for a century. It's sparked wars. Pearl Harbor was a preemptive strike to guarantee Japanese access to Indonesian oil, and it made desert tribes rich. Oil's heyday is over. From oil to attention.
We talked about an information economy. In an age of abundant information, what's scarce? Attention. Scale of the world's largest enterprises, wealth of its richest people, and power of governments all stem from attention extraction, monetization, and custody.
Attention-grabbing isn't new. Humans have competed for attention and turned content into wealth since Aeschylus' Oresteia. The internal combustion engine, industrial revolutions in mechanization and plastics, and the emergence of a mobile Western lifestyle boosted oil. Digitization has put wells in pockets, on automobile dashboards, and on kitchen counters, drilling for attention.
The most valuable firms are attention-seeking enterprises, not oil companies. Big Tech dominates the top 4. Tech and media firms are the sheikhs and wildcatters who capture our attention. Blood will flow as the oil economy rises.
Attention to Detail
More than IT and media companies compete for attention. Podcasting is a high-growth, low-barrier-to-entry chance for newbies to gain attention and (for around 1%) make money. Conferences are good for capturing in-person attention. Salesforce paid $30 billion for Slack's dominance of workplace attention, while Spotify is transforming music listening attention into a media platform.
Conferences, newsletters, and even music streaming are artisan projects. Even 130,000-person Comic Con barely registers on the attention economy's Richter scale. Big players have hundreds of millions of monthly users.
Even titans can be disrupted in the attention economy. TikTok is fracking king Chesapeake Energy, a rule-breaking insurgent with revolutionary extraction technologies. Attention must be extracted, processed, and monetized. Innovators disrupt the attention economy value chain.
Attention pre-digital Entrepreneurs commercialized intriguing or amusing stuff like a newspaper or TV show through subscriptions and ads. Digital storage and distribution's limitless capacity drove the initial wave of innovation. Netflix became dominant by releasing old sitcoms and movies. More ad-free content gained attention. By 2016, Netflix was greater than cable TV. Linear scale, few network effects.
Social media introduced two breakthroughs. First, users produced and paid for content. Netflix's economics are dwarfed by TikTok and YouTube, where customers create the content drill rigs that the platforms monetize.
Next, social media businesses expanded content possibilities. Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit offer traditional content, but they transform user comments into more valuable (addictive) emotional content. By emotional resonance, I mean they satisfy a craving for acceptance or anger us. Attention and emotion are mined from comments/replies, piss-fights, and fast-brigaded craziness. Exxon has turned exhaust into heroin. Should we be so linked without a commensurate presence? You wouldn't say this in person. Anonymity allows fraudulent accounts and undesirable actors, which platforms accept to profit from more pollution.
A new entrepreneur emerged as ad-driven social media anger contaminated the water table. TikTok is remaking the attention economy. Short-form video platform relies on user-generated content, although delivery is narrower and less social.
Netflix grew on endless options. Choice requires cognitive effort. TikTok is the least demanding platform since TV. App video plays when opened. Every video can be skipped with a swipe. An algorithm watches how long you watch, what you finish, and whether you like or follow to create a unique streaming network. You can follow creators and respond, but the app is passive. TikTok's attention economy recombination makes it apex predator. The app has more users than Facebook and Instagram combined. Among teens, it's overtaking the passive king, TV.
Now we understand fossil fuel externalities. A carbon-based economy has harmed the world. Fracking brought large riches and rebalanced the oil economy, but at a cost: flammable water, earthquakes, and chemical leaks.
TikTok has various concerns associated with algorithmically generated content and platforms. A Wall Street Journal analysis discovered new accounts listed as belonging to 13- to 15-year-olds would swerve into rabbitholes of sex- and drug-related films in mere days. TikTok has a unique externality: Chinese Communist Party ties. Our last two presidents realized the relationship's perils. Concerned about platform's propaganda potential.
No evidence suggests the CCP manipulated information to harm American interests. A headjack implanted on America's youth, who spend more time on TikTok than any other network, connects them to a neural network that may be modified by the CCP. If the product and ownership can't be separated, the app should be banned. Putting restrictions near media increases problems. We should have a reciprocal approach with China regarding media firms. Ban TikTok
It was a conference theme. I anticipated Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner to say, "We're watching them." (That's CEO protocol.) TikTok should be outlawed in every democracy as an espionage tool. Rumored regulations could lead to a ban, and FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr pushes for app store prohibitions. Why not restrict Chinese propaganda? Some disagree: Several renowned tech writers argued my TikTok diatribe last week distracted us from privacy and data reform. The situation isn't zero-sum. I've warned about Facebook and other tech platforms for years. Chewing gum while walking is possible.
Is TikTok the attention-economy titans' final evolution? The attention economy acts like it. No original content. CNN+ was unplugged, Netflix is losing members and has lost 70% of its market cap, and households are canceling cable and streaming subscriptions in historic numbers. Snap Originals closed in August after YouTube Originals in January.
Everyone is outTik-ing the Tok. Netflix debuted Fast Laughs, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, Snap Spotlight, Roku The Buzz, Pinterest Watch, and Twitter is developing a TikTok-like product. I think they should call it Vine. Just a thought.
Meta's internal documents show that users spend less time on Instagram Reels than TikTok. Reels engagement is dropping, possibly because a third of the videos were generated elsewhere (usually TikTok, complete with watermark). Meta has tried to downrank these videos, but they persist. Users reject product modifications. Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner posted a meme urging Meta to Make Instagram Instagram Again, resulting in 312,000 signatures. Mark won't hear the petition. Meta is the fastest follower in social (see Oculus and legless hellscape fever nightmares). Meta's stock is at a five-year low, giving those who opposed my demands to break it up a compelling argument.
TikTok's short-term dominance in attention extraction won't be stopped by anyone who doesn't hear Hail to the Chief every time they come in. Will TikTok still be a supermajor in five years? If not, YouTube will likely rule and protect Kings Landing.
56% of Americans regularly watch YouTube. Compared to Facebook and TikTok, 95% of teens use Instagram. YouTube users upload more than 500 hours of video per minute, a number that's likely higher today. Last year, the platform garnered $29 billion in advertising income, equivalent to Netflix's total.
Business and biology both value diversity. Oil can be found in the desert, under the sea, or in the Arctic. Each area requires a specific ability. Refiners turn crude into gas, lubricants, and aspirin. YouTube's variety is unmatched. One-second videos to 12-hour movies. Others are studio-produced. (My Bill Maher appearance was edited for YouTube.)
You can dispute in the comment section or just stream videos. YouTube is used for home improvement, makeup advice, music videos, product reviews, etc. You can load endless videos on a topic or creator, subscribe to your favorites, or let the suggestion algo take over. YouTube relies on user content, but it doesn't wait passively. Strategic partners advise 12,000 creators. According to a senior director, if a YouTube star doesn’t post once week, their manager is “likely to know why.”
YouTube's kevlar is its middle, especially for creators. Like TikTok, users can start with low-production vlogs and selfie videos. As your following expands, so does the scope of your production, bringing longer videos, broadcast-quality camera teams and performers, and increasing prices. MrBeast, a YouTuber, is an example. MrBeast made gaming videos and YouTube drama comments.
Donaldson's YouTube subscriber base rose. MrBeast invests earnings to develop impressive productions. His most popular video was a $3.5 million Squid Game reenactment (the cost of an episode of Mad Men). 300 million people watched. TikTok's attention-grabbing tech is too limiting for this type of material. Now, Donaldson is focusing on offline energy with a burger restaurant and cloud kitchen enterprise.
Steps to Take
Rapid wealth growth has externalities. There is no free lunch. OK, maybe caffeine. The externalities are opaque, and the parties best suited to handle them early are incentivized to construct weapons of mass distraction to postpone and obfuscate while achieving economic security for themselves and their families. The longer an externality runs unchecked, the more damage it causes and the more it costs to fix. Vanessa Pappas, TikTok's COO, didn't shine before congressional hearings. Her comms team over-consulted her and said ByteDance had no headquarters because it's scattered. Being full of garbage simply promotes further anger against the company and the awkward bond it's built between the CCP and a rising generation of American citizens.
This shouldn't distract us from the (still existent) harm American platforms pose to our privacy, teenagers' mental health, and civic dialogue. Leaders of American media outlets don't suffer from immorality but amorality, indifference, and dissonance. Money rain blurs eyesight.
Autocratic governments that undermine America's standing and way of life are immoral. The CCP has and will continue to use all its assets to harm U.S. interests domestically and abroad. TikTok should be spun to Western investors or treated the way China treats American platforms: kicked out.