The world’s craziest financial contract allowed people to go back in time and invest in the future

Originally posted on Quartz:

The French like to invest their savings in life insurance, and Max-Hervé George’s father probably thought he was being wise by buying his son a policy, worth 50,000 francs (now roughly €8,000), when he was seven years old. Little did he realize just how wise that decision was.

George’s policy, a Fixed Price Arbitrage Life Insurance Contract with the insurer L’Abeille Vie, allowed him to re-allocate his investments into different funds every Friday (link in French). He was able to switch funds before the next week’s prices were published, regardless of the fact that the market had moved in the interim.

Essentially, George could invest at last week’s prices knowing what was going to happen in the future. Between 1997 and 2007, his family earned annual returns of 68.8% on the contract. They should have at least €100 million ($112 million) by now.

The blogger Jason Kottke compared the contract to Grays Sports Almanac

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Ernest Hemingway’s Private WWII-Era Spy Network

Originally posted on Longreads Blog:

During World War II Hemingway organized a private spy network, which he jokingly called the Crook Factory, and gathered information about Nazi sympathizers on the island. But in a secret, 124-page report on Hemingway, the FBI—which feared his personal prestige and political power—expressed resentment at his amateur but alarming intrusion into their territory, and unsuccessfully attempted to control and vilify him.

In October 1942 the local FBI agent told J. Edgar Hoover that the American ambassador had granted Hemingway’s request “to patrol certain areas where German submarine activity has been reported” and had given him scarce gasoline for this purpose. Hemingway thought that his boat, the Pilar, fully manned and heavily armed but disguised for fishing, would attract the attention of a German submarine. The sub would signal the Pilar to come alongside in order to requisition supplies of fresh water and food. As the sub approached, Hemingway’s…

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1,500 applied for that penguin post office job in Antarctica

Originally posted on Quartz:

Turns out that there are plenty of people who want to spend five months in the bitter cold, sleeping little, isolated from the world, and are “happy not to shower for up to a month, live in close proximity to three people and 2,000 smelly penguins.”

In the two weeks since February 16,  1,500 people have applied for four positions—that’s 375 applicants per spot—to be an assistant at the southernmost post office in the world in Port Lockroy, Antarctica. In 2014, the total number of applicants was a whopping 82. Inquiries skyrocketed after a documentary about the outpost aired on the BBC and PBS, according to the organization that runs it, the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.

In addition to the cold and stinky conditions, the job is not an easy one. The assistants have to run the base’s museum and shop, monitor the 2,000 gentoo penguins that hang…

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SF’s real income inequality issue isn’t hipsters priced out of homes — It’s the homeless

Originally posted on PandoDaily:

San Francisco

As the tech boom continues to bring more and more attention to San Francisco’s socioeconomic issues, a well-trod narrative has emerged: Tech companies have brought more and more upper-middle class workers to the Bay Area where housing — affordable or otherwise — has been limited by geographic and legislative pressures. Inevitably, already-high housing prices go up, while landlords adopt creative ways to push long-time residents out of their homes to make way for the new tech gentry. The result is that San Francisco, long a destination for outsiders and artists, has become a more difficult place than ever for all but the most generously-paid professionals to live. Evidence of this narrative is everywhere, from mainstream media outlets to the mission statements of various anti-eviction organizations.

But the reality of long-time residents getting priced out of their homes is only one component of the economic stresses placed on San Francisco communities. And an extensively-researched…

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Sharing Is Everything But Caring In The Sharing Economy

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Editor’s Note: Christopher O. Hernæs is Vice President of Strategy, Innovation and Analysis of SpareBank 1 Group, Norway’s second largest financialinstitution. He was previously a partner at Core Group, where he worked with strategy development and innovation for Technology, Media, Telecom and financial services.

One of the hot topics so far this year is what will become of P2P services and the sharing economy. Last year Airbnb became the largest hotel chain in the world, Uber expanded abroad with large protests from incumbents in the taxi industry and P2P-lender Lending Club got listed on Wall Street.

At the same time pwc estimates the sharing economy to generate revenues up to $335 billion by 2025, and Uber alone is valued at $ 41 million. The millennial generation has also expressed a lack of trust in incumbents and is craving an alternative, and would rather trust peers over brands. With predictions of…

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