Fintech stands to have a profound impact on the financial services industry, but how that impact will take shape was the key topic during Wednesday’s “Transformation of Finance” panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Morgan Stanley Chairman and CEO James Gorman conceded that regulation still crowds on his inbox, but stressed the importance of keeping an eye on fintech. “If you are not focused on how some of these innovations are disrupting different parts of the financial system and how you can embrace them and use them to win business, not just defensively, then you are not doing your job,” Gorman said.

Deutsche Bank Co-CEO John Cryan said technology will revolutionize payments so dramatically that he predicts cash won’t exist in 10 years because it is “terribly inefficient and expensive.” Cryan added that he expects block chain technology to be used not only for financial transactions, but also for digital identity purposes. (read more…)

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016 kicked off with an evening program Tuesday in Davos. Here are some of the highlights:

UBS sees automation helping the rich getting richer: The theme of this year’s gathering in Davos is the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” UBS Chairman Axel Weber was on topic as he revealed the findings of a report that forecasts automation playing an increased role in the global discussion about income inequality. “Automation will continue to put downward pressure on the wages of the low skilled and is starting to impinge on the employment prospects of middle-skilled workers. By contrast, the potential returns to highly skilled and more adaptable workers are increasing.” Read the full report from UBS.

Has Davos become too passé for BRIC leaders to bother?: This New York Times piece looks at the evolution of emerging markets – both as an asset class and as a hot topic at events like Davos. (read more…)

The Associated Contractors of America released their 2016 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook Report today, and the results were fairly optimistic although the majority of respondents expect about the same dollar volume of projects they compete for this year to be in line with last year. That said, 63% of the more than 1,500 firms from around the country who participated in the survey indicate they’ll increase their workforce by up to 25%, while only 6% see layoffs on the horizon. In addition, many will up their investment in information technology. (read more…)

Virtually every meme and parody video making its way around the internet this week seems to have something to do with Star Wars – The Force Awakens … except one.

The band at First Round Capital went the pop music route for their holiday video and nailed it with an epic parody that spoofs a montage of videos from artists like Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, Maroon 5, Drake and Jason Derulo, among others.

The parody features First Round Capital staff and employees of numerous start ups re-enacting the videos for pop hits like Uptown Funk (remember all the dancing in the street?) and Sugar, which featured Maroon 5 crashing the weddings of some of their fans.

If you listen closely, you will enjoy the best part of the video: The First Round Capital crew changed all the lyrics to make them relevant to the start up and venture capital world. (read more…)

Three construction-focused economists discussed the state of the US construction economy in a panel presentation/webinar presented by CMD iSqFt at Greenbuild on Thursday.

Where the construction economy is now compared with where it was

“The US economy is where it’s at,” Alex Carrick told me in an interview prior to the panel discussion. He noted that the monthly foreign trade deficit, on a seasonally adjusted annual rate, has dwindled from a range of minus $600 billion to minus $800 billion to a range between minus $400 billion to minus $600 billion, a very positive sign for the GDP. (read more…)