Time to get smarter in less than 10 minutes.

Welcome to our weekly series, “Smarter in 10 Minutes.” This weekly series is aligned with our mission to empower investors through education and is curated by Matt Topley, a 25yr+ vet in the business who currently runs Lansing Street Advisors.

Matt wakes up “Jocko style” every morning and shoots out a daily newsletter (I’m a loyal reader!). The weekly “Smarter in 10 Minutes” is a lower frequency version of his daily newsletter.

1.American’s Cash in Bank Has Never Grown This Fast Before.

From Dave Lutz at Jones Trading 

2. Venture on Track for $30B in Crypto Investments 2021

Venture capitalists have bet big on crypto start-ups in 2021, investing more than $27 billion globally as of late November, more than the previous 10 years combined, according to PitchBook.

Many of the investments were made by the venture capital arms of crypto companies, businesses whose continued growth will depend on the ecosystem expanding.

Found at Abnormal Returns blog www.abnormalreturns.com

3. Last 2 Quarters…U.S. Companies Highest Profit Margins Ever.


https://ritholtz.com  The Big Picture Blog 

4. IPO Market Returns Cooling Off–Half of 2021 IPOs Trading Below Listing Price.

From Dave Lutz at Jones Trading-Half of this year’s big IPOs are trading below listing price – Dealogic data show 49 per cent of the 43 IPOs that raised $US1 billion or more this year in London, Hong Kong, India and New York are trading below their issuance prices, FTreports.  By comparison, among large IPOs that listed in 2019, about 33 per cent were below issuance price a year after hitting the market, while 27 per cent of those priced in 2020 were in the red after 12 months of trading.

Chart, bar chart Description automatically generated

5. 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.

2021 corporate tax collections 2021 corporate tax revenue estimates pandemic 2021 federal tax collections


 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 roughly 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. Real Estate Friday

Housing Constructions Costs +13.3% Year Over Year. Construction costs spiked out the wazoo.

The index for construction costs of singled-family houses spiked 13.3% year-over-year in October, the worst year-over-year increase since 1979, and by 18.5% in the two years since October 2019, according to data by the Commerce Department. Construction costs have jumped year-over-year by the double-digits every month since May. This excludes the cost of land and other non-construction costs:

In terms of the index in the chart below, not the year-over-year percentage change, you can see the spike in construction costs taking off in June 2020 (black dot), and has been relentless ever since.

During the housing bust, construction costs fell 11.5% from the peak in April 2007 through May 2010, and then didn’t really move much for another two years. The opposite is happening now:

Construction Costs Spike Most in 42 Years–By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.


Household Formation Spikes During Covid …Increased household formation means the need for increased living space-homes and apartments.

chart, histogram

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!

Current Conditions Update for Homes ….84% of Top 50 Markets Rated Strong or Very Strong.



Record Low Inventory of Homes for Sale


@mikesimonsen https://twitter.com/mikesimonsen

8. Hockey Stick World Population Growth…Now in Downtrend.

 The Hockey Stick Curve

For even more context, let’s zoom way out by using a timeline that goes back to when woolly mammoths still roamed the Earth:


The Growth Rate is Shrinking

Because of demographics and falling fertility rates, the growth rate of the global population has actually been on a downward trend for some time.

As this growth rate gets closer to zero, the population curve has become less exponential like we saw in the first graphs. Population growth is leveling out, and it may even go negative at some point in the future.


9. The Most Expensive Cities in the World 2021 …Tel Aviv #1


This is now the world’s most expensive city to live in: EIU (cnbc.com)

10. 10 Bad Habits You Really Need to Break

By Travis Bradberry | February 19, 2019 | 

@criene via Twenty20

You are the sum of your habits. When you allow bad habits to take over, they dramatically impede your path to success. The challenge is bad habits are insidious, creeping up on you slowly until you don’t even notice the damage they’re causing.

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” –Warren Buffett

Breaking bad habits requires self-control—and lots of it. Research indicates that it’s worth the effort, as self-control has huge implications for success.

Related: Why Self-Control Is So Important

University of Pennsylvania psychologists Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman conducted a study where they measured college students’ IQ scores and levels of self-control upon entering university. Four years later, they looked at the students’ grade point averages (GPA) and found that self-control was twice as important as IQ in earning a high GPA.

The self-control required to develop good habits (and stop bad ones) also serves as the foundation for a strong work ethic and high productivity. Self-control is like a muscle—to build it up you need to exercise it. Practice flexing your self-control muscle by breaking the following bad habits:

1. Using your phone, tablet or computer in bed.

This is a big one that most people don’t even realize harms their sleep and productivity. Short-wavelength blue light plays an important role in your mood, energy level and sleep quality. In the morning, sunlight contains high concentrations of this blue light. When your eyes are exposed to it directly, the blue light halts production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and makes you feel more alert. In the afternoon, the sun’s rays lose their blue light, which allows your body to produce melatonin and start making you sleepy. By the evening, your brain doesn’t expect any blue light exposure and is very sensitive to it.

Most of our favorite evening devices—laptops, tablets and mobile phones—emit short-wavelength blue light brightly and right in your face. This exposure impairs melatonin production and interferes with your ability to fall asleep as well as with the quality of your sleep once you do nod off. As we’ve all experienced, a poor night’s sleep has disastrous effects. The best thing you can do is to avoid these devices after dinner (television is OK for most people as long as they sit far enough away from the set).

2. Impulsively surfing the internet.

It takes you 15 consecutive minutes of focus before you can fully engage in a task. Once you do, you fall into a euphoric state of increased productivity called flow. Research shows that people in a flow state are five times more productive than they otherwise would be. When you click out of your work because you get an itch to check the news, Facebook, a sport’s score, or what have you, this pulls you out of flow. This means you have to go through another 15 minutes of continuous focus to reenter the flow state. Click in and out of your work enough times, and you can go through an entire day without experiencing flow.

3. Checking your phone during a conversation.

Nothing turns people off like a mid-conversation text message or even a quick glance at your phone. When you commit to a conversation, focus all your energy on the conversation. You will find that conversations are more enjoyable and effective when you immerse yourself in them.

4. Using multiple notifications.

Multiple notifications are a productivity nightmare. Studies have shown that hopping on your phone and email every time they ping for your attention causes your productivity to plummet. Getting notified every time a message drops onto your phone or an email arrives in your inbox might feel productive, but it isn’t. Instead of working at the whim of your notifications, pool all your emails and texts and check them at designated times (e.g., respond to your emails every hour). This is a proven, productive way to work.

5. Saying “yes” when you should say “no.”

Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression, all of which erode self-control. Saying no is indeed a major self-control challenge for many people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them. Just remind yourself that saying no is an act of self-control now that will increase your future self-control by preventing the negative effects of over commitment.

6. Thinking about toxic people.

There are always going to be toxic people who have a way of getting under your skin and staying there. Each time you find yourself thinking about a co-worker or person who makes your blood boil, practice being grateful for someone else in your life instead. There are plenty of people out there who deserve your attention, and the last thing you want to do is think about the people who don’t matter when there are people who do.

7. Multitasking during meetings.

You should never give anything half of your attention, especially meetings. If a meeting isn’t worth your full attention, then you shouldn’t be attending it in the first place; and if the meeting is worth your full attention, then you need to get everything you can out of it. Multitasking during meetings hurts you by creating the impression that you believe you are more important than everyone else.

8. Gossiping.

Gossipers derive pleasure from other people’s misfortunes. It might be fun to peer into somebody else’s personal or professional faux pas at first, but over time, it gets tiring, makes you feel gross and hurts other people. There are too many positives out there and too much to learn from interesting people to waste your time talking about the misfortune of others.

“Great minds discuss ideas, average ones discuss events, and small minds discuss people.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

9. Waiting to act until you know you’ll succeed.

Most writers spend countless hours brainstorming their characters and plots, and they even write page after page that they know they’ll never include in the books. They do this because they know that ideas need time to develop. We tend to freeze up when it’s time to get started because we know that our ideas aren’t perfect and that what we produce might not be any good. But how can you ever produce something great if you don’t get started and give your ideas time to evolve? Author Jodi Picoult summarized the importance of avoiding perfectionism perfectly: “You can edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank page.”

10. Comparing yourself to other people.

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When you feel good about something that you’ve done, don’t allow anyone’s opinions or accomplishments take that away from you. While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain—you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.

By practicing self-control to break these bad habits, you can simultaneously strengthen your self-control muscle and abolish nasty habits that have the power to bring your career to a grinding halt.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.


The Six Mindsets for Better Problem-Solving.

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