Category Archives: How to

The F-35 At 20: How Its Successes, And Failures, Shaped The Aerospace Industry

The takeaway from the last 20 years, according to aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia, might well be, “You succeeded, but please don’t try that again.”
By Valerie Insinna – On Friday, Oct. 26, 2001, executives and employees from the nation’s two biggest defense primes gathered in boardrooms and sprawling production facilities to watch a Pentagon press conference. At stake: the Joint Strike Fighter competition, which would decide who would dominate the next 40 years of the defense aerospace industry — and rake in hundreds of billions in profits.

It was a moment five years in the making. The Pentagon wanted to buy a single stealth aircraft for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps capable of three distinct operational requirements: conventional landings on a runway, landing on aircraft carriers, and performing short takeoffs and vertical landings.

It awarded contracts to Lockheed Martin and Boeing in 1996 to build competing prototypes, known as the X-35 and X-32. By July 2001, Lockheed’s X-35 had proven it could execute a short, 500-foot takeoff, fly at supersonic speeds and then vertically land in a single flight. While Boeing’s X-32 also demonstrated supersonic flight and vertical landings, it did not accomplish them in the same flight.

For the engineers that had designed and developed the two planes, emotions were running high as a group of white-haired defense acquisition officials approached the podium of the Pentagon press briefing room.

And just like that, the competition was over. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Don’t rely on central banks to fight climate change
By Jeff Cockrell – In late August, five members of the US House of Representatives issued a statement urging President Joe Biden not to reappoint Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, when his term expires in February 2022. The group, which included Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Democrat of New York), cited two concerns with Powell’s leadership: the Fed’s relaxation of banking regulations and its lack of action “to mitigate the risk climate change poses to our financial system.”

Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow members of Congress are not the first to suggest that central banks—whose policies have traditionally focused on objectives such as price stability and low unemployment—have a role to play in fighting climate change. The British Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has encouraged the Bank of England to conduct its bond purchases with borrowers’ carbon emissions in mind. Many central banks themselves have also accepted some responsibility for fighting climate change: the European Central Bank says it is “committed to taking the impact of climate change into consideration in our monetary policy framework.”

But Chicago Booth’s Lars Peter Hansen cautions that monetary policy is a weak substitute for fiscal policy, which is far better suited to address climate change through tools such as carbon taxation and investment in green technologies. Asking central bankers to step in where fiscal policy makers can’t or won’t risks exposing central banks to reputational damage and a loss of political independence, he argues. more>

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Meet General Electric’s flexible power transformer

By Ben Geman – A Mississippi utility is installing what’s being billed as “the world’s first large flexible transformer” — an Energy Department-backed project aimed at boosting grid resilience and smoothing integration of renewables.

Driving the news: GE Research and Prolec GE, working with the Mississippi power company Cooperative Energy, this morning are announcing the launch of a six-month field demonstration at a big substation in Columbia, Mississippi.

Why it matters: The “flexible” transformer has advantages over traditional models customized to specific voltage levels and other conditions, the companies and DOE said.

The big picture: The companies, which released this video promo, said it can better withstand extreme weather and is also an easier and faster replacement when extreme weather has damaged a traditional transformer. more>

The looming harm of tax harmonization

By Akvile Jaseviciute and Bhuvam Patel – The OECD’s proposals to harmonize international tax regimes were generally welcomed by governments without considering potential benefits of tax competitiveness. Blinded by their wish to stop multinational corporations from moving their business to jurisdictions with more favorable tax regimes, few considered the practical implications of OECD’s plans. Currently, OECD countries have divergent tax regimes – the 2021 edition of the International Tax Competition Index produced by the Tax Foundation ranked countries regarding tax competitiveness. Estonia earned the top spot in the ranking because of its relatively low corporate tax rate, while Italy and France fared poorly due to features like punitive wealth and financial transaction taxes. We hence question, why countries with favorable tax systems should be held back by a harmonized but uncompetitive tax regime?

OECD Proposal Problems

Current OECD proposals on tax harmonization focus on ending the perceived tax ‘unfairness’ while providing little practical benefits. The first Pillar aims to set tax brackets universally on companies making global sales above €20 Billion and profit margins of more than 10%. However, in practice, large companies often place the taxpaying burden on other stakeholders – employees or investors. Therefore, instead of benefiting the most vulnerable, the proposal could be detrimental to workers as companies choose to cut wages instead of letting their revenues shrink. If insufficiently considered, such an outcome could further disadvantage low qualification workers, which are already significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. more>

The Time for a Digital-First Strategy Is Now

Bringing your core, ecosystem and edge strategies together is necessary for market survival.
Equinix – Volume 5 of the Global Interconnection Index (GXI) confirms that the pandemic triggered a tectonic shift in increased demand for digital services and accelerated the need to digitize business models by several years. For digital leaders, experiencing years of growth in a matter of months increased their advantage as many implemented their digital-first strategies. For organizations taking a follower approach, where digital transformation was still mostly bound to physical limitations and fixed dependencies, and followers found themselves losing control over business throughput, supply chain, customer engagement and potentially their position in the market.

Digital-first means digital business and technology strategies must become indistinguishable with sustainability central, to close any organization performance gaps, expand opportunity and gain material reforms on digital transformation efforts. As part of this transformation, your digital infrastructure is designed to enable the business to be a disruptor and not one of the disrupted. more>

Updates from McKinsey

The 2021 McKinsey Global Payments Report
By Alessio Botta, Philip Bruno and Jeff Galvin – Last October, when we published McKinsey’s 2020 Global Payments Report, it was already clear that the pandemic’s economic impact would lead to the first decline in global payments revenues in 11 years.

One year later, the picture is unexpectedly positive—on the payments front—despite challenges. Payments revenue did indeed decline—to $1.9 trillion globally—but by less than we anticipated last fall. Indicators point to a nominal but geographically uneven rebound in 2021, bringing revenue back into the range of 2019’s record high. From there, McKinsey projects a return to historical mid-single-digit growth rates, generating 2025 global payments revenue of roughly $2.5 trillion.

The relatively muted 2020 topline numbers mask some important countervailing effects, however, which are poised to reset the scale of opportunity for payments players for years to come. The pandemic accelerated ongoing declines in cash usage and adoption of electronic and e-commerce transaction methods. Revenue gains in these areas were offset by tightening of net interest margins earned on deposit balances. All these trends are expected to outlast the pandemic. The contraction of net interest income—combined with technology breakthroughs and the impact of open banking and fintech innovation—has spurred the creation of revenue models that within five years will offer adjacent opportunities as large as the core payments revenue pool. more>

Car Makers Reap What’s Sown During Chip Shortage

By George Leopold – Despite optimistic predictions that auto makers have seen the worst of ongoing semiconductor shortages, sources closer to the technology supply chain maintain things will get worse before they get any better.

Industry consultant Semiconductor Intelligence downplayed auto industry assertions about the second quarter representing the “trough” of IC supply chain disruptions. Citing a growing list of auto production cutbacks stemming from the chip shortage, the market tracker countered in recent weeks that “the shortage of semiconductors for automotive applications is getting worse.”

It cited production cuts at Ford, GM, Hyundai, Toyota, the merged Fiat-Chrysler-Peugeot group called Stellantis and Volkswagen. more>

With extreme weather events and other disasters on the rise, how well are Americans prepared?

By Drew Desilver – Powerful stormswildfiresheat waves and other extreme climate-related events are projected to become more common and affect more people. According to a recent Washington Post analysis, nearly a third of Americans live in a county that was struck by a weather disaster this past summer, and around two-thirds live in places that experienced a multiday heat wave. In an April Pew Research Center survey, half of Americans said their area had experienced extreme weather over the past year.

Human-caused climate change will make extreme weather events more frequent and more damaging in the coming decades, according to the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. While the nations of the world struggle to agree on how to address the root causes of climate change, there are various ways people can prepare to deal with the immediate effects on a household level.

This analysis examines the prevalence of four specific tools to endure extreme weather in the United States: flood insurance, air conditioning, portable generators and home insulation. (As we’ll see, some of these tools may have their own climate impacts.) more>

Five Ways to Build a New Macroeconomics

What is taught in today’s graduate programs as macroeconomics is entirely useless for the kinds of questions we are interested in.
(evonomics.com)By J.W. Mason –  Jón Steinsson wrote up some thoughts for this panel about the current state of macroeconomics. He begins:

There is a narrative within our field that macroeconomics has lost its way. While I have some sympathy with this narrative, I think it is a better description of the field 10 years ago than of the field today. Today, macroeconomics is in the process of regaining its footing. Because of this, in my view, the state of macroeconomics is actually better than it has been for quite some time.

I can’t help but be reminded of Olivier Blanchard’s 2008 article on the state of macroeconomics, which opened with a flat assertion that “the state of macro is good.” I am not convinced today’s positive assessment is going to hold up better than that one.

Where I do agree with Jón is that empirical work in macro is in better shape than theory. But I think theory is in much worse shape than he thinks. The problem is not some particular assumptions. It is the fundamental approach.

We need to be brutally honest: What is taught in today’s graduate programs as macroeconomics is entirely useless for the kinds of questions we are interested in.

I have in front of me the macro comprehensive exam from a well-regarded mainstream economics PhD program. The comp starts with the familiar Euler equation with a representative agent maximizing their utility from consumption over an infinite future. Then we introduce various complications — instead of a single good we have a final and intermediate good, we allow firms to have some market power, we introduce random variation in the production technology or markup. The problem at each stage is to find what is the optimal path chosen by the representative household under the new set of constraints.

This is what macroeconomics education looks like in 2021. I submit that it provides no preparation whatsoever for thinking about the substantive questions we are interested in. It’s not that this or that assumption is unrealistic. It is that there is no point of contact between the world of these models and the real economies that we live in. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Who is right about inflation?
The US Fed and consumers have very different expectations about the future
By Brian Wallheimer – Inflation chatter started heating up this spring, along with inflation itself. In April 2021, the US Consumer Price Index, which measures how fast prices change, rose at a 4.2 percent annual rate, more than double the usual target rate. Then in May, the inflation rate soared to 5 percent. With the worst of the pandemic seemingly easing, US consumers were apparently venturing out again and spending at a fast clip.

The figures took inflation watchers off guard. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page noted that Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell had wanted some inflation but would likely be surprised by the force of April’s numbers, saying, “Powell’s inflation ship has come in, albeit more rudely than he probably wanted.”

Financial journalists and investors, always looking for signs of how the central bank will react to signs of inflation or deflation, kicked into high gear, trying to anticipate the timing of any Fed actions.

But consumers—who actually drive inflation—seemed unfazed, apparently already operating with the understanding that prices were rising fast, and would continue to do so. Homeowners remodeling their homes during the pandemic were aware of historically high lumber prices. Home cooks felt the impact on food prices. Buyers of both new and used cars saw prices surge due to a shortage of computer chips. more>

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