April 30, 2020
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Good morning! This Thursday, tech earnings keep beating expectations, Lyft's slashing jobs, and Salesforce built an AI economist. Want Index in your inbox each morning? Subscribe here.
As of 4:20 a.m. PDT: Nasdaq Futures: 0.28% | Euro 600: -0.46% | Nikkei: 2.14% | Hang Seng: 0.28%
The resounding theme across yesterday's crop of earnings results was optimism. Facebook, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Tesla and eBay all reported better-than-expected revenue, showing that tech is proving to be more resilient than was feared.
Facebook's results signaled that the ad market is holding up, too. The company said that though revenue dipped in March, it's been "approximately flat" year-on-year so far in April.
eBay, meanwhile, said total sales were up 20% year-on-year each week in April.
But not everyone's unscathed: The smartphone market may be doing even worse than feared.
One of the many ways in which economics differs from other sciences is that it's pretty hard to do experiments. You have to implement a policy to know if it works, and you'll never really know what would have happened if you hadn't tried. If only there were a really sophisticated AI that could solve that problem for you! Salesforce thinks it's made one: It claims its AI Economist "can improve the trade-off between equality and productivity by 16%." I'm skeptical, but if this does actually work, it could usher in a delightful new era of technocratic policy making. Who needs politicians, anyway?