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The Sunday Drive - 08/06/2023

👋🏼 Hello friends,

Greetings from Saratoga Springs, NY! It’s a gorgeous summer weekend here in upstate New York. Let's take it easy and enjoy a leisurely Sunday Drive around the internet. 



🎶 Vibin'


A great song is always a great song, but sometimes when it’s been around long enough to have seen many interpretations - especially when performed live, it just has a life of its own. James Taylor’s Steamroller is one of those songs. This week I’m vibin’ to this fun version performed live in Boston, MA.


💭  Quote of the Week‌


"You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains."
– Steve Jobs


📈  Chart of the Week


Economic doomsayers have predicted that since the U.S. population isn’t growing, and as the the country ages, our labor force will shrink. That much is true. True also is that without growth in the productivity of our labor, we can’t have meaningful economic growth.

The Chart of the Week shows that labor productivity has begun to recover from its pandemic related decline. If this continues, it bodes well for GDP growth and corporate earnings in 2024. Coupled with a continuation in the moderation of the rate of inflation and the potential for lower interest rates next year (even if somewhat politically motivated in an election year), broader and stronger equity market performance in late 2023 and into 2024.

🚙 Interesting Drive-By's


This week we have articles on return to office policies, rolling recessions, reading books, and coding without code:

🤔 We’re now Finding Out the Damage from Mandated Return to Office - from Fortune

We’re now finding out the damaging consequences of the mandated return to office. And it’s not a pretty picture. A trio of compelling reports—the Greenhouse Candidate Experience report, the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED), and Unispace’s Returning for Good report—collectively paint a stark picture of this brewing storm.

Unispace found that nearly half (42%) of companies with return-to-office mandates witnessed a higher level of employee attrition than they had anticipated. And almost a third (29%) of companies enforcing office returns are struggling with recruitment. In other words, employers knew the mandates would cause some attrition, but they weren’t ready for the serious problems that would result.

Meanwhile, a staggering 76% of employees stand ready to jump ship if their companies decide to pull the plug on flexible work schedules, according to the Greenhouse report. Moreover, employees from historically underrepresented groups are 22% more likely to consider other options if flexibility comes to an end. [link]

📉 U.S. Hit by Rolling Recession - from the Capital Group

What happened to the widely predicted recession that was supposed to wreak havoc on the U.S. economy this year? It happened. Just not all at once.

Different sectors of the economy have experienced downturns at different times. Thanks to this rare case of a “rolling” recession, the U.S. may not experience a traditional recession at all this year, or next, even with the dual pressures of elevated inflation and high interest rates. [link]

📚 How to Read: Lots of Inputs and a Strong Filter - from Morgan Housel

Years ago I heard Charlie Munger say “Most books I don’t read past the first chapter. I’m not burdened by bad books,” and it stuck with me.

Reading is a chore if you insist on finishing every book you begin, because the majority of books are either a) adequately summarized in the introduction, b) not for you, or c) not for anyone.

Slogging through to the last page of these books – a habit likely formed early in school – can turn reading into the equivalent of a 10-hour work meeting where nothing gets done and everyone is bored. And once you see reading through that lens, your willingness to pick up another book wanes.

Which, of course, is tragic. “The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them,” said Mark Twain. [link]

💡 Coding without Code - from Rob Hoeijmakers

ChatGPT's Code Interpreter breaks the barrier between coding and non-programmers. Explore this real-life journey of a blogger unearthing the power of AI in data management. [link]

👋🏼 Parting Thought


In thinking about the Fortune article in the Drive-by above which discusses, among other things, employee turnover resulting from Return to Office policies, I wonder just how much of the wage pressure we’ve seen in the last few years is a function of just that - turnover.

The math says that when an employee changes jobs, they usually end up making more money than if they’d stayed in their existing position. To the extent that corporate Return to Office mandates have essentially encouraged employee turnover, then those policies could very well be a major to contributor to recent inflation trends.

If you have any cool articles or ideas that might be interesting for future Sunday Drive-by's, please send them along or tweet 'em at me.

Please note that the content in The Sunday Drive is intended for informational purposes only, and is in no way intended to be financial, legal, tax, marital, or even cooking advice. Consult your own professionals as needed.

‌I hope you have a relaxing weekend and a great week ahead. See you next Sunday...

Your faithful financial provocateur,