The Pentagon will deploy U.S. forces to the Middle East on the heels of the attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced...Defenseread more
Chinese trade negotiators suddenly canceled a visit to meet U.S. farmers after they wrapped up trade talks in Washington this week.Marketsread more
Blackstone Executive Vice Chairman Tony James says he's less optimistic now than before that the U.S.-China trade war could be resolved, but even a smaller deal could help...World Economyread more
President Trump also said he is "not looking for a partial deal" with Beijing, moving away from his suggestion last week that he would consider an "interim deal."Politicsread more
Progress on trade talks will determine how far market will move above new highs.Trader Talk with Bob Pisaniread more
"Sure, the trade war's taking its toll on business ... it's just not taking its toll where it was supposed to," Jim Cramer says.Mad Money with Jim Cramerread more
Joe Biden called on President Donald Trump Friday to release the transcript of a call with a foreign leader that is the subject of a whistleblower complaint. Biden described...Politicsread more
For investors taking a breather from the chaos in August, buckle up as the market is about go crazy again, Goldman Sachs warned.Marketsread more
Palantir Technologies is targeting a valuation of at least $26 billion in a private fundraising round, the first for the Peter Thiel-backed data analytics startup in four...Wall Streetread more
Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker linked to Steve Bannon, saw at least $1.6 million in donations from his nonprofit sent into the coffers of his independent production...Politicsread more
When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan wrote a letter to their newborn daughter last month, they called themselves "optimists."
It's a popular concept in Silicon Valley, where founders view themselves as improving the world through innovative disruption. And, according to a study from Stanford University, it's a philosophy rooted in 19th-century America, when an enterprising group of American businessmen revolutionized the economy via the railroad.
"They believe that the more things change, the better things get," said Gregory Ferenstein, a freelance journalist who co-authored the study, in an interview. Ferenstein wrote the paper with David Broockman and Neil Malhotra, who both teach political economy at Stanford.
The study surveyed the political attitudes and policy preferences among wealthy technology entrepreneurs. It found that the elites of Silicon Valley are difficult to categorize using today's political labels. They're neither particularly left or right and can't neatly be described as liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. Nor are they all libertarians in the mold of PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel.
Ferenstein, a former online political editor who's spent the past five years tracking politics in the tech industry, said there's a general view that government's influence should be small and limited to areas like improving housing, education and job training.
"They're not a fan of government running things," Ferenstein said. "They believe passionately in the principles of capitalism" and in a "competitive meritocracy," he added.
They oppose regulation but do believe the government should help redistribute wealth through tax policy. In general, if the government gets out of the way and lets technology proliferate, the world will be a better and more connected place.
In June, Zuckerberg changed Facebook's corporate mission statement, saying then that building "meaningful communities" will "strengthen the social fabric, bring the world closer together."
Similarly, 160 years ago U.S. businessmen like Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt, Charles Crocker and Leland Stanford set about linking the cities of the American continent by railroad.
A pre-Civil War school of thought called the Young America movement was born, celebrating America's spirit of innovation. Just as the leaders of Facebook and Google want to use technologies like drones and satellites to spread the internet, the Young Americans believed in building out this new infrastructure as widely as they could.
But that economy produced businessmen so wealthy they were eventually resented and viewed as industrialists and robber barons. And the railroad helped facilitate the destruction of Native American societies, the near extinction of the bison and the prosecution of a war with Mexico that garnered vast amounts of new land but created deep divides.
Today's tech leaders -- Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin -- are among the wealthiest people in the world. They also attract plenty of disdain for putting scores of companies out of business, creating greater wealth disparities and threatening to uproot humans with machines.
But they're optimists. The way they see it, the expansion of internet technologies will make the world a better place despite the disruption along the way.
The findings of the working paper were recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. The New York Times reported on the study earlier in the week.