How might the economic world be turned upside down as we go from a post-industrial society to a world driven by intellectual property? What if manufacturing no longer was the driver for economic well-being because that is not where the profit is? What if the trade deficit was not as large as the numbers suggest? This week we examine a lot of interesting what ifs while we look for the connections between the steam engine and Napster. All these questions and more should provide us with a little food for thought and maybe even some clues about the Next New Thing.
I started this week speaking in Bermuda and end up in speaking in San Francisco, writing much of this letter as we fly over the fruited plain and purple mountain majesties. Looking at the scores of mangers and funds at the two investment conferences, one an industry conference for hedge funds and the other the Money Show for retail investors, brings into sharp focus one of the main problems facing investors: where (and how) can we find an edge? If everyone knows about something, if everyone is already there, then how can there be any profit?