Sunday, May 3, 2009

An Eclectic Electric Car sighting in our neighborhood


Much attention to energy efficient alternative cars focus on the all-electric Tesla Roadster and Model S sedan, the controversial Chevrolet Volt from General Motors, along with a variety of hybrids from many well known manufacturers.


This past week, I encountered Myers Motors NmG in San Francisco. This three wheel one seater has a top speed of 70-75 miles per hour and supports a driving range of about 50 mile. The vehicle started its life in 1996 built by Corbin Motors of Hollister, California. Legend has it that Domino's Pizza had plans to use it as a delivery vehicle. In the end, Corbin Motors filed for bankruptcy in 2003 with Tallmadge, Ohio based Myers Motors bringing the project back to life in 2004. You may have seen a variation of the NmG (No More Gas) in the Austin Powers film Goldmember.

The economics of electric cars are still evolving and investments continue. This past September, MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway invested $230 million for a 10% stake in China's BYD Auto's e6 all-electric automobile which has a driving range of about 250 miles on a single charge.

(Note: About 1 1/2 years ago, I had the good fortune to ride in a pre-production Testa Roadster – WOW – what an amazing ride!)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sixth Sense: A new information technology interface

For those familiar with Tom Cruise's use of technology in "Minority Report", that future is coming closer to reality. This video, from TED 2009, presents Sixth Sense based on work by Pattie Maes' media lab at MIT, lead by graduate student Pranav Mistry. The use of a wearable device with a projector presents a new way to interact with our environment. (length 8:42)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Investing for "the Long Run"?

In a Feb. 25, 2009 Financial Times piece Insight: The flight of the long run by Peter Bernstein , he comments that "The unknown today seems more than usually unknown. Then my whole point remains the same. The long run is an impenetrable mystery. It always has been."

He also cites John Maynard Keynes' observation about the future: "We simply do not know."

Amen to those ideas!

Monday, February 9, 2009

U.S Personal Savings Rate, along with the S&P 500 (1980-2008)


After reviewing data related to changes in US Personal Saving as a percentage of disposable income over several years, it seemed interesting to compare that trend with the performance of the S&P 500 over an extended period.

The chart presented here is based on quarterly data from 1980 through 2008. The red line is the S&P500, while the blue line is the saving rate (the high: 12%, the low: -0.5%).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

S&P 500 Realized Volatility (1928-2008)


If the 1930s are a guide, volatility could persist. The volatility index for the S&P 500 (VIX) closed at 47 today.
(To enlarge the image, please click on it.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Woody Brock: Our Economic Challenges

The following video, from December 2008, is a presentation by Woody Brock, President and Founder of economic think tank, Strategic Economic Decisions at an Asset Allocation Summit conference in Vienna.

Video quality is poor (a bit out of sync), but the content is very good!

Dr. Horace “Woody” Brock specializes in the “Economics of Uncertainty” (originally developed by Kenneth J. Arrow of Stanford University) to forecast and assess risk in international markets. Dr. Brock earned his B.A., M.B.A., and M.S. from Harvard University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University (mathematical economics and political philosophy). He studied under Kenneth J. Arrow, Professor of Economics, and John C. Harsanyi, Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, both winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics.