An Update On My Information Consumption Pattern





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Jerry's Weekly Newsletter

May 2 · Issue #17 · View online

I'm Jerry, a software engineer, YouTuber, and blogger. Every weekend I write about some thoughts, life lessons, and interesting things I came by for the week. I'd love for you to join.

Dear friends,
Remember how I said I would be paying for news a few weeks back? Well, now that I’ve got two weeks of experimentation in, I’m sharing my learnings as well as how I’m tweaking my information consumption pattern.
Reading The News Takes A Long Time
I don’t know how Warren Buffet manages to read 6 newspapers a day (Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, USA Today, Omaha World-Herald, American Banker). Maybe since he’s got a lot of time on his hands and doesn’t have a full-time job like me.
I’ve been reading the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) cover-to-cover on a daily basis, and it takes about 2 hours on average for me to finish. I didn’t even have time in my day to get to my other subscriptions, namely Financial Times (FT) and South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Key Insights Gained
The knowledge I gained from reading WSJ has been really good though. I’m starting to get a better idea of how markets move through the WSJ’s reporting on Fed forward guidance, top business news, key government legislation, and market behavior.
It’s actually really cool to know what’s going on and be able to do further research in areas I want to deep dive into.
I have found that even though I’m mostly interested in the tech sector, having a peripheral view of other industries is useful too. For example, the semi-conductor shortage allows me to guess that either of the following will happen:
  • Foundries will invest big in manufacturing to ramp up chip production
  • Chips consumers will start taking development in-house (like Tesla and Apple)
  • Chip consumers will adjustment their hardware to fit more generally to multiple chip producers in order to eliminate the bottleneck of depending too heavily on one manufacturer
Key legislation also informs me of the direction of the economy. Joe Biden, now known as the $6 Trillion Man, just keeps proposing to spend more and more money.
  • The $1.9T bailed out citizens and businesses. In my view, it’s a bit much since only the citizens really needed it, but oh well. It did allow Southwest to report a profit (the only US airline to do so, even though the others got money too).
  • The $2.3T infra plan, which is still being proposed, has about ~$800B of actual infrastructure spending (roads, public transit, electric grid) and $1.5T on other stuff. That other stuff, if this gets passed, will pump a lot of money into R&D and clean energy. This tells me that clean energy companies will get a lot of free money. It’s possible this may help them compete against old energy, but it’s also possible it’ll make clean energy less innovative since they’re under less pressure.
  • Finally, the $1.8T poverty plan, which just got announced on Wednesday, offers tax breaks to families and even gives free 2-year community college. Will be looking forward to seeing if both the infra and poverty plan gets passed and how much is the final number.
  • Biden’s way of financing these is to “raise tax on businesses and the rich”. This includes raising the corporate tax to 28% (from 21%), raising capital gains tax to >40% (from 20%), capping real estate capital gain deferrals, and the like. While I’m sure this can fund the $6 Trillion Man’s projects, it will make investors more scared to invest, which could potentially negatively impact the economy.
And of course, knowing how the Fed will regulate the economy is also important. Jerome Powell, head of the Federal Reserve, just issued guidance this past Wednesday that they won’t tighten money just yet. They want to see unemployment rates drop further and want inflation to remain at around 2%. That tells me:
  • Capital will still be easy to access in the meantime
  • The economy still has room to grow as more people re-enter the workforce
  • The supply of labor will help companies get better talent
Listening Works Better For Me
I discovered that the Financial Times and WSJ both have podcast shows. The FT covers more than enough for me on global news, so I’ve opted to cancel my FT trial period and just listen to the global headlines. The WSJ podcast nicely supplements the newspaper as well, and they also have a tech-specific one too.
I like listening because it allows me to multi-task, for example, exercising and/or walking while listening. Two birds with one stone. Or doing chores, like cleaning or washing dishes.
My Information Consumption Pattern
On my short 2-mile morning run, I’ll listen to Robinhood Snacks podcast on weekdays. On weekends, I’ll pick whatever I haven’t finished listening to and hope it lasts long enough.
In my morning, I’ll read the WSJ newspaper cover-to-cover. I’ll start by scanning the headlines, and I usually end up reading all of those articles. For now, I’m reading almost all the stories, but I’m starting to get a good idea of which ones I should skim and which ones I should just ignore. If I want to know more than what the title said, I’ll dive deeper.
Roughly every 2-3 hours, I’ll go outside for a 10-minute walk to reset my brain and get some stand-time in. I’ll listen to the FT News (~10 min episode released per weekday), the WSJ News (2 ~10 min episodes released per weekday), and the WSJ Tech News (~10 min episode released per weekday).
In the evening, I’ll read parts of a book, usually before dinner. Sometimes I’ll also read before I go to bed.
And there you have it. This obviously isn’t final and is simply a snapshot of my information consumption right now. Right now, I’ve covered steps 1 & 2, which include learning about the market, and understand how the government regulates the economy.
Eventually, I’ll need to explore how to keep an eye on emerging startups, which are the disruptors of tomorrow. That will come later.
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