Introducing Cryonics: Putting Death On Ice

There is a potent thread winding its way through generations of human culture. From Ancient Egyptian rituals to Kurzweil’s Singularity, many paths have sprung up leading to the same elusive destination: immortality.

Today, as Visual Capitalist's Nick Routely notes, the concept is as popular as it’s ever been, and technological advances are giving people hope that immortality, or at very least radical life extension, may be within reach. Is modern technology advanced enough to give people a second chance through cryonics?

Today’s infographic, courtesy of Futurism, tackles our growing fascination with putting death on ice.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

THE PROSPECT OF IMMORTALITY

Robert C. W. Ettinger’s seminal work, The Prospect Of Immortality, detailed many of the scientific, moral, and economic implications of cryogenically freezing humans for later reanimation. It was after that book was published in 1962 that the idea of freezing one’s body after death began to take hold.

One of the most pressing questions is, even if we’re able to revive a person who has been cryogenically preserved, will the person’s memories and personality remain intact? Ettinger posits that long-term memory is stored in the brain as a long-lasting structural modification. Basically, those memories will remain, even if the brain’s “power is turned off”.

DESCENDING INTO THE DEEP-FREEZE

There are three main steps in the cryogenic process:

1) Immediately after a patient dies, the body is cooled with ice packs and transported to the freezing location.

 

2) Next, blood is drained from the patient’s body and replaced with a cryoprotectant (basically the same antifreeze solution used to transport organs destined for transplant).

 

3) Finally, once the body arrives at the cryonic preservation facility, the body is cooled to -196ºC (-320.8ºF) over the course of two weeks. Bodies are generally stored upside-down in a tank of liquid nitrogen.

THE ECONOMICS OF CRYOPRESERVATION

At prices ranging from about $30,000 to $200,000, cryopreservation may sound like an option reserved for the wealthy, but many people fund the procedure by naming a cryonics company as the primary benefactor of their life insurance policy. Meanwhile, in the event of a death that doesn’t allow for preservation of the body, the money goes to secondary beneficiaries.

Even if we do eventually find a way to reanimate frozen humans, another important consideration is how those people would take care of themselves financially. That’s where a cryonics or personal revival trust comes into play. A twist on a traditional dynastic trust, this arrangement ensures that there are funds to cover costs of the cryopreservation, as well as ensure the grantor would have assets when they’re unthawed. Of course, there are risks involved beyond the slim possibility of reanimation. The legal code in hundreds of years could be vastly different than today.

If you created a trust for specific purposes in 1711, it is unlikely it would function in the same way today.

 

– Kris Knaplund, Law Professor, Pepperdine University

COLD HUMANS, HOT MARKET

At last count, there are already 346 people in the deep freeze, with thousands more on the waiting list. As technology improves, those numbers are sure to continue rising.

Time will tell whether cryonically preserved people are able to cheat death. In the meantime? The cryonics industry is alive and well.

How Much Is Equity Research Actually Worth? Probably Less Than You Thought

Over the past several months, investment banks all across Europe have scrambled to put a price tag on their equity research after years of giving it way as a ‘freebie’ in return for trading commissions.

Of course, for wall street’s titans of finance, you know, the same guys who will look you straight in the eyes and tell you that they know with relative certainty the precise value of the synthetic CDO squared they’re selling you, we figured this would be a relatively simplistic task. Therefore, you can imagine our surprise now that the market has established a fairly wide bid-ask spread with JP Morgan on the low end at $10,000 and Barclays on the rich side at $455,000.

Luckily, since wall street’s finest don’t seem to have a clue, Bloomberg Gladfly has decided to take a look at some comps to help shed some light on the true value of equity research.

First, of course, it’s important to define what institutional clients are actually buying when they sign a research contract.  As Bloomberg points out with the chart below, and contrary to popular belief, equity research demand actually has very little to do with analyst forecasts and trade ideas but rather is dependent upon which banks provide the greatest access to those highly coveted management 1x1s.

The dirty little secret on Wall Street — and why it’s so difficult to price research — is that star analysts aren’t really valued for their research at all. Ask any money manager, hedge fund or research shop, and they’ll tell you it’s all about the contacts.

 

Many senior analysts spend only 10 percent of their time conducting research and writing reports. Teams of junior associates (or sometimes robots) maintain financial models and blast out notes. Some use pre-recorded voice mails to alert clients to new research.

 

Gadfly estimates that between 50 and 70 percent of a senior analyst’s time is spent on corporate access. Things like arranging lunch with a CFO or connecting a client with a lawyer, supplier or other industry expert to delve into what the data doesn’t. For this reason, analysts are often required to log the number of phone calls, meetings and events arranged each month.

 

The final 20 percent of an analyst’s time is spent on pre-IPO research, conferences and bespoke projects, such as flying a drone over a retailer’s parking lot to track how full it is; scoping the laundry outside apartment blocks; or conducting so-called channel checks to see how much oil’s being pumped through a particular pipeline.

So, what does that mean for the ‘value’ of equity research?  Well, Bloomberg figures those actual ‘research’ reports that flood your inbox all day long are worth basically nothing while the corporate access component of ‘research’ (i.e. those annual trips to Miami Beach where 24-year-old hedge fund analysts get to interview CEO’s between binge drinking sessions at Story) should be valued at roughly the same price as an expert network service.

Access to independent research network Smartkarma starts at $7,500 a year per user for a Spotify-like subscription that opens the door to reports from more than 400 analysts. Customers can also buy additional packages of analysts’ time, similar to the way lawyers or consultants get paid.

 

We reckon the closest approximation to corporate access is so-called expert networks, companies that maintain a stable of industry experts to match with fund managers and other financiers when they need quick access to esoteric information.

 

Industry leader Gerson Lehrman Group Inc. charges $100,000 a year, with the heaviest users paying millions of dollars, according to the Financial Times.

 

As for bespoke research projects, Morgan Stanley said it plans to charge $2,500 an hour for private meetings with its stock analysts, almost twice the rate of some of the best corporate lawyers. Partners at big management consulting firms such as Deloitte LLP or McKinsey & Co. charge clients anywhere from $800 to $1,300 an hour, according to career consulting guide Rocketblocks.

Then again, maybe those hedge fund managers could just ask young Trevor Worthington IV to stay home from Miami Beach and read a 10-K for free…just a thought.