Tong Xiang

Tong Xiang

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Tong Xiang

Your first question is whether or not protectionism is likely to continue and escalate. This is such a difficult question for me to evaluate–how do we probabilistically evaluate the political risk to the cashflows of a business? Any sort of political predicting seems to be arbitrary, and even the most high-profile political “analysts” aren’t able to predict political outcomes correctly (Nate Silver’s pointed this out at fivethirtyeight.com).

Earlier this semester, we examined how a multinational power generation company handles political risk on its balance sheets. How do these companies predict the impact of risk onto their cashflows, and then decide the highest ROI investments to make to diversify or combat these risks?

For instance, how does a company make a reasonable decision whether or not to split its capital between funding lobbyists versus building new factories abroad? Two different types of spending that would affect the balance sheet differently, and likely be funding managed by different departments, but ultimately are to serve the same purpose of mitigating political risk.

Tong Xiang

I’m so curious about the long-term impacts of protectionist immigration policy are to labor markets, and long-term, to country-level degrees of economic growth. It’s easier to in-source supply chains than it is to source and development new talent in-country.

Tong Xiang
On December 1, 2017, Tong Xiang commented on Planes Can’t Soar in Soaring Temperatures :

Jets contributes more to climate change than all the cars on all the world’s roads. (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2010/sep/09/carbon-emissions-planes-shipping)

Instead of expecting industries to voluntarily reduce their carbon footprint, should gov’t increase the tax burden of air travel to fund carbon reduction efforts? If this tax burden ultimately falls on passengers, is this smart policy?

(I’m sure we’ll get into this in BGIE next semester.)

Tong Xiang

I love that there’s smart innovation in waste management.

One question this brings up for me: what other efficiencies could develop from the act of bringing IoT technologies to the frontend of waste collection?

For instance, could adding recycling separation to the waste bin produce more efficiencies to the recycling supply chain than as it currently occurs, at the end of the supply chain?

My second question: it seems like these trash bins would potentially become thousands of different entry points to a city’s network. What types of security risks do cities face when they introduce hundreds of thousands of new entry points on the edge to their network?

Tong Xiang

Hi, Mark!

Good post. Your two recommendations for Facebook are to: a) open source their recommendation algorithm, and b) for Facebook to provide reporting into what content people actually consume.

While these are creative suggestions, it seems unlikely that either of these approaches will be aligned with Facebook’s business model. Without API access, Facebook doesn’t allow any third party apps to be integrated with their backend, so tweaking their algorithm in an open-source way won’t be possible.

Facebook currently does allow users to understand how they’re classified for ad and news targeting here. Check out a great Nytimes writeup on this here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/24/us/politics/facebook-ads-politics.html?_r=0

Unfortunately, the arms race of ad targeting and sales seems likely for users to receive content that they won’t engage with. If Facebook sees itself as having an obligation to reduce political polarization, it’ll need to make ad product targeting decisions that don’t align with its bottom line–a commitment to display content that likely won’t have high engagement.

The million dollar question: does Facebook have this obligation? Is this a role for the FCC to regulate into existence, a la its broadcast rules from the 1950s?

Tong Xiang

I’m also fascinated by startups that provide a greater degree of information transparency to areas of knowledge that were formerly very difficult or expensive to access (i.e., legal documents, financial statements, industry reports) or very subjective (industry experts, people who have had a very specific experience.)

Like Oseberg, these startups can capture a lot of value by automating the data collection and sharing process. I wonder what types of effects these companies have on their respective markets as a whole?

For instance, Quora has made it a lot cheaper to access the highly subjective advice and experiences of venture capitalists, while VCs are able to locate curious entrepreneurs on the platform. What happens when the information costs of an industry go down?