Techies Have Chance Encounters and Brainstorm — and If They Don’t, Innovation Suffers

What your genome says about college completion, and how likely a crash is after a credit boom

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Research tracking tech company employees’ smartphones around Silicon Valley (pre-COVID-19) suggests that chance encounters at coffee shops, the gym, etc.  — significantly increase innovation. If they left the area, which pair of companies would be missed more in this regard?

Apple and Google.
Apple and Oracle.
Google and Oracle.
Apple and Genentech.
Oracle and Genentech.

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By comparing patterns in complete genomes from 3 million people, researchers identified 3,952 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, or “snips,” in the trade) that correlate with years of schooling. Combined into an index, that is:

Only about as predictive as knowing the mother’s years of schooling.
More precisely predictive.
Even less predictive.

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Credit booms, also known as easy money, seem to recur frequently these days but historically were quite unusual. Looking across 17 countries from 1870 to 2015, a study finds a large increase in credit:

Slashed the risk premium — excess return investors get above that for risk-free investments — by 75%, and increased the likelihood of a crash by 25% above normal levels.
Slashed the risk premium by 50%, while doubling the chance of a crash.
Slashed the risk premium by 25%, while increasing the chance of a crash by 75%.

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What happens when a CEO takes a controversial stance? Walmart’s CEO, in the wake of two mass shooting in August 2019, said his stores would further restrict sale of guns and ammo. Three other retail CEOs were among those signing a letter to the Senate demanding action to curb gun violence. Researchers found an immediate 3% dip in traffic across the stores.

The chains never regained the lost traffic.
It all came back in about two years.
It came back in about 10 weeks.

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Dollar stores, ubiquitous in rural and suburban America, and blamed for running small groceries out of business, also, when entering a market:

Cause fresh produce sales to decline by 12% to 15.3%.
By 4% to 7.4%.
By 0.8% to 1.4%.