Basis Points – September 10, 2020

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Above the Fold

The Future of United States’ Superpower Status

Since the former Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, America’s military dominance has remained relatively unchecked. By many counts, the United States still wields the world’s most powerful armed forces, but that dominance is being threatened by both China and Russia to an extent. The pandemic has not only triggered an economic slowdown domestically, but trillions in unexpected stimulus spending that could influence the recalibration of budgets to the detriment of national security. 

The United States’ highly dominant role as a shot-caller in world affairs and global economic influence may also be at risk according to some experts. Recently, the newly appointed General Charles Q. Brown warned that the Air Force (which is still the strongest in the world) needs to accelerate innovation and growth or face dire consequences. Brown believes that our adversaries are equipping and advancing themselves technologically just as fast, if not faster than we are. 

The answers aren’t clear-cut and obviously the outcome of the November elections will have an impact on the short- and intermediate-term progression of our military and diplomatic position. Regardless of your political stance, most pundits agree that America will have to do more to maintain its position of superiority in the coming decades. 


Three Things

  1. Fitness Speakeasies and Other Pandemic Phenomena – Just as prohibition triggered a slew of underground drinking establishments, hardcore fitness fanatics are operating illegal workout facilities in empty office spaces, garages and even residential basements (no masks required). There also have been reports of pop-up bars and nightclubs in inconspicuous buildings where patrons are encouraged to ride-share and arrive at different times so as not to attract attention. It’s a classic example of how increased demand and little supply can create economic opportunity, even if the risks are high. 
  2. Apple Fires Back at Fortnite – The iPhone maker filed a massive counter-suit accusing Fortnite maker Epic Games Inc. of duplicity and greed. Both Apple and Google removed the popular game from their app stores last month after Epic’s new intra-game purchasing system cut both software companies out of a major revenue stream. Apple is also seeking damages for what it describes as unfair business practices. 
  3. House of Cards Wavering at Netflix – Cindy Holland, a near 20-year veteran and well-respected head of global television, is leaving the company. Holland approved and helped develop some of Netflix’s most popular series including “Orange is the New Black,” “Stranger Things” and “House of Cards.” As the company restructures its upper management, Ms. Holland’s role will be eliminated and replaced by Bela Bajaria, who will oversee all original content on the streaming network.

Did You Know?

Facts on Aging

According to the World Health Organization, there is no “typical” when it comes to an older person. Research has shown that biological aging and a person’s age are only loosely associated. The agency notes that there are many 80-year-olds with physical and mental capacities similar to 20- or 30-year-olds. Genetics play an obvious role, but diet, exercise, stress and environmental factors such as pollution and even social interaction have strong influences that start at birth and build over time. The sooner you can improve these factors, the better chance you have at retaining youthful capabilities; and some ailments commonly associated with certain ages can be dramatically slowed and/or delayed. 

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