$3.7 BILLION HEDGE FUND: 'Perhaps we need to put our phones down and get back to work'

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Cellphone addiction, particularly among millennials, may be hurting the labor force and the economy at large.

That's according to a $3.7 billion New York hedge fund, Tourbillon Capital Partners.

"Perhaps we aren't in secular stagnation. Perhaps we need to put our phones down and get back to work," founder Jason Karp wrote in the firm's third-quarter investor letter, a copy of which was obtained by Business Insider.

"At the risk of sounding like an old-man curmudgeon and a Luddite, I believe this to be a massive problem for society at large," Karp added. "All businesses globally, where employees have smartphones, are not getting as many true labor hours as we think."

Karp lists several concerns, including that millennials and teens are addicted to their smartphones and computers. Millennials check their phones over 150 times per day compared with about 30 times for the average adult, Karp wrote, citing Facebook data. Meanwhile, the average human's attention span has dropped.

"Undoubtedly, access to such time-saving technologies has dramatically increased our potential productivity," Karp wrote. "But what if we are spending those saved hours on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the like. As much of the above data shows, we unfortunately are spending those hours on our phones."

That's making people less productive at work, and it might be keeping wages down, according to Tourbillon. Since the financial crisis, wages have been growing, but at a slow pace, federal data shows. That's even as wages surged in the latest figures, reported earlier this month.

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Here's more from the Tourbillon letter:

  • "In an odd way, the democratization of the smartphone has led to increased 'wealth' and decreased hours work despite the economic data showing no such drop in hours worked."
  • "There are enormous implications for this, both long and short. This ability to consume leisure and goods so easily has forever altered our attitudes toward convenience and avoiding hassle."
  • "While most employers think they are paying their employees for 10 hours of labor a day, they are, in fact, only getting 8 or fewer hours of actual labor. Perhaps the lack of rising wages and anemic growth in most sectors is not a function of any true stagnation, but really it is because people have chosen to consume far more leisure during the workday. ... When true hours worked equals what the employers are paying for, wages will rise, slack will be reduced and our increased productivity will really be evident once and for all."
  • "Even 18 years ago, when I joined the workforce, it was far more difficult to consume leisure at work. If I wanted to see what a friend was up to, I had to call him (and others could see or overhear). Or I would visit them at night or on the weekends. ... Getting groceries, doing errands, planning big things had to be done on weekends or outside the office. Not anymore."

Tourbillon's master fund was up 9.1% net of fees for the third quarter, compared with 3.3% with the S&P 500, according to the letter. Year to date through October 30, the fund was down 7.4% net of fees, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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Gift guide: Best wireless Bluetooth speakers
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Gift guide: Best wireless Bluetooth speakers

B&O PLAY A1 Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker - $239.00

With a1 portable Bluetooth speaker, music lovers can now hold decades of Bang & Olufsen sound technology and experience in the palm of their hand. This ultra-portable wireless speaker delivers crisp ambient sound in a compact 1.3 lb package. Grab it and go wherever life takes you.

NudeAudio Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Speaker - $99.95

The portable speaker begs to keep you company whether you travel over mountains, through city streets, or just into the backyard. The protective silicon sleeve keeps these speakers shockproof, waterproof, and sand proof.

JBL Pulse 2 Portable Splashproof Bluetooth Speaker - $160

This speaker offers wireless Bluetooth streaming,  6000 mAh rechargeable battery, noise and echo cancelling speakerphone, and customizable light show. Splashproof JBL uses ambient light to amplify the listening experience.

Amazon Echo - $179.99

Echo provides hands-free voice control for Amazon Music—just ask for your favorite artist or song, or request a specific genre or mood. You can also search for music by lyrics, when a song or album was released, or let Alexa pick the music for you. 

Libratone ZIPP WiFi + Bluetooth Multi-Room Wireless Speaker - $299

Each ZIPP delivers mind-blowing 360 degree FullRoom sound no matter where in your home you take it (inside or out). Enjoy your music and audio content streamed to your ZIPP wireless speaker using your home WiFi network, or directly from your device using Bluetooth. 

Audioengine B2 Premium Bluetooth Speaker - $299.00

Experience award-winning Audioengine stereo sound, including a hand-built wood cabinet, Bluetooth aptX and extended wireless range.

JBL Clip 2 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker - $51.46

The JBL Clip 2 is an ultra-light, ultra-rugged and ultra-powerful portable speaker. Completely waterproof, the JBL Clip 2 provides 8 hours of playtime, allowing you to take your music wherever you go, be it land or water. 

Logitech X100 Mobile Wireless Speaker - $19.99

This speaker is the go anywhere portable speaker that delivers rocking sound. Simple and intuitive; wirelessly stream music from any Bluetooth enabled device up to 30 ft away, for 5 hours. Easily manage phone calls and volume control from your device. 

Princeton Audio Site:1 Premium Tonewood Bluetooth Speaker - $349.99

The elegant Site:1 is a portable, hi-fidelity speaker handcrafted for those who value sound quality and sound of ownership. The American-made, purely tone wood cabinets emanate pristine, crystal-clear sound designed to produce your music the way it was meant to be heard.

MAQE SOUNDJUMP Aluminum Wireless Bluetooth Speaker - $129.99

One of the most compact speakers on the market packing 6000 mAh of power, the simple magnetic removable battery enables you to power your world with music for days at a time – additional battery units available so your world keeps turning even when you forget to charge.

Dreamwave TREMOR Wireless Rugged Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker - $299.99

Dreamwave's Survivor Bluetooth speaker is great for camping, as it can also jumpstart a car, charge up a phone and even light up the night with its built-in LED. 

Beats Pill 2.0 Portable Speaker - $78.64

Beats Pill wireless speakers bring the party with you wherever you go. The Pill is lightweight, portable, and wireless enabled, meaning you can change tracks from your phone or take that call with Bluetooth conferencing.

AirSense Smart Air Monitor and Two-Way Speaker - $149.95

Airsense is a smart air monitor and purifier. Equipped with the top of the line air sensors, it will inform you about the air quality, temperature, and humidity in your baby's room. The monitor will alert you about volatile organic compounds (VOC) that might be in the air. Air quality indicator lights will change the color if the air quality changes. You will be able to pick custom colors you prefer for the lights. The monitor also features two-way speakers and alarm.

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