Musk Poured PayPal Money into SpaceX and Tesla

(p. A15) Mr. Musk’s first success was X.com, an email payment company. It merged with Peter Thiel’s Confinity to form PayPal–and avoid competition. They had the market to themselves for a long time because fraud, especially from Eastern Europe, was so rampant on early internet payment platforms. They solved the fraud problem and enjoyed an uncontested market, eventually selling for $1.5 billion to eBay .
Then Mr. Musk headed further into the future. He took the nine-figure payout from PayPal and pushed ahead with SpaceX, Tesla and Solar City. Literally his last $20 million went to Tesla in 2008. “I was tapped out. I had to borrow money for rent after that,” he later recalled.
. . .
[Google’s Larry] Page reportedly once told a venture capitalist, “You know, if I were to get hit by a bus today, I should leave all of it to Elon Musk.” He later explained to Charlie Rose he liked Mr. Musk’s idea of going to Mars “to back up humanity.” Good luck with that. But then again, I would love to see them try.

For the full commentary, see:
Andy Kessler. ”Elon Musk’s Uncontested 3-Pointers; What does the Tesla and SpaceX founder have in common with Stephen Curry?” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Feb. 26, 2018): A15.
(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed words, added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Feb. 25, 2018.)

Stronger Labor Market May Increase Productivity

(p. B3) . . . the provocative conclusion of new research from the McKinsey Global Institute, the in-house think tank of the consulting giant, . . . suggests we should change how we think about the advancements that make society richer over time. It implies that as the economy returns to full employment, an outburst of faster growth in productivity — and hence economic growth — is a real possibility.
. . .
For years, McKinsey researchers have tried to understand what drives productivity growth from the ground up. They’ve studied how innovations that enable a company to make more goods and services per hour of labor spread across the economy.
The latest wrinkle is that the researchers now believe that productivity growth depends not just on the supply side of the economy — what companies produce and what technologies they use to do it — but also significantly on the demand side. That is to say, productivity advancements don’t happen in a vacuum just because technology is available. They also happen because companies need to increase production to match demand for their goods, and a shortage, either of workers or of materials, forces them to think creatively about how to do so.
. . .
. . . consider how this dynamic might apply in the restaurant industry (or retail, or tourism).
The basic technology for self-serve kiosks has been around for years. But when the unemployment rate was at its post-crisis highs, employers could have their pick of good workers at relatively low prices. Now, with the jobless rate at 4.1 percent, good workers are harder to find. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, companies have been more open to installing technology that may have a significant upfront cost and require reworking how a restaurant is organized, but allow more sales without hiring more workers.

For the full commentary, see:
Neil Irwin. “Why Researchers Believe a Productivity Boom Is Now a Real Possibility.” The New York Times (Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018): B3.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has a date of Feb. 21, 2018, and has the title “The Economy Is Getting Hotter. Is a Productivity Boom Next?”)

The McKinsey report discussed above, is:
Remes, Jaana, James Manyika, Jacques Bughin, Jonathan Woetzel, Jan Mischke, and Mekala Krishnan. “Solving the Productivity Puzzle.” Report McKinsey Global Institute, Feb. 2018.

Regulations Threaten Precision Medicine Innovations Against Cancer

(p. A15) The federal government is threatening to limit treatment options for doctors fighting cancer.
. . .
At issue is whether reimbursements will be available to most physicians, hospitals and patients for a diagnostic technology known as next-generation sequencing. A cornerstone of the emerging field of precision medicine, NGS tests analyze molecular changes that occur in cancerous tumors and show up in biopsies.
. . .
Under the proposed policy, only one of hundreds of laboratories that currently offer NGS testing would meet all the new reimbursement requirements. The policy would in effect force clinicians and institutions to send all NGS testing to a single vendor, Foundation Medicine .
This is unfair to cancer patients. The proposal would result in a monopoly, allowing price manipulations, decreasing quality, and potentially contributing to market failure. It would turn the entire genomic-testing industry upside-down. The FDA is already unable to keep up with advances in precision medicine. Restricting access to cutting-edge molecular testing would stifle growth in precision medicine at approved testing sites nationwide. The limits could prevent desperately needed innovation, setting back progress in genomic testing and oncology by at least a decade.

For the full commentary, see:
Olivier Elemento. ”A New Regulatory Threat to Cancer Patients; Washington may impose needless limits on genetic testing.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Feb. 26, 2018): A15.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Feb. 25, 2018.)