The talking heads on TV give such a convincing story about what the future holds that its hard not to believe them. But pinning them down to a time-frame and discrete future event is often next to impossible, so you can never determine whether they were right or wrong. When such talking heads are pinned down, their track-record turns out to be very poor, according to Philip Tetlock in his latest book “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction“. This makes sense as they are picked more for their entertainment value, than their track-records.
Another excerpt from my book. Any feedback welcome! This bit is about derivatives:
What these examples [Great Depression, breakdown of Bretton Woods, the creation of the euro and 2008 crisis] show is that systems work for a while, but never endure. There is a constant need to reform, tinker and experiment. And with the world becoming ever more complex, institutions need a way to lock in some form of certainty. Derivatives can provide that. By far, the most common derivative is the interest rate swap, which allows one to switch from floating interest rates to a fixed interest rate (or vice versa). Your mortgage uses this! Continue reading “What To Do In A Complex World? (2 min read)”
With the dominance of market thinking, it is hard to argue against the exchange of some good or service between two consenting adults of money. However, Michael Sandel, Harvard Professor of Government, argues in “What Money Can’t Buy” that there are limits.
To give a sense of how pervasive markets are, he outlines the types of things that can now be bought and sold:
A prison cell upgrade ($82 a night)
The services of an Indian surrogate mother to carry a pregnancy ($6,250).
The right to immigrate the US ($500,000)
The right to shoot endangered rhinos ($150,000)
Stand in line overnight in Capitol Hill to hold a place for a lobbyist to attend congressional hearing ($15-$20 per hour)
Buy the life insurance policy for an elderly person, pay the premiums and then receive the death benefit when they die.
I attended the annual Power Shift conference at Oxford’s Said business school earlier this week. It’s led by the excellent Professor Linda Scott and focuses on women and the world economy. While there was so much great content, here are the 4 things that stood out for me:
1) There’s an app to tell you how women-friendly a business is! Amy-Willard Cross has come up with an awesome app called the “Buy Up Index“(available on iPhone and Android). You type in a company and it grades the company across four categories: employees, ads, leadership and other. I typed in “Nike” and found that they score an “A” overall. They got “A”s for all categories except ads, where they got a “B” (let down by their Hurley brand, which mainly shows male surfers). Check it out. Continue reading “4 Things I Learnt About Women Recently (2min read)”
In economics, there has always been a big debate about what drives economic growth. In the end, economists have assumed that positive “shocks” to an economy just kind of happen. However, there have been some thinkers who looked inside the black-box and focused on entrepreneurship. Continue reading “The 3 Type Of Individuals That Transform Economies”
One thing is clear in life: there will times of success and there will be times of loss. When I think of the economy, I think of market bubbles and their collapse. When I think of my personal life, I think of times of being “in the zone” and times when I feel I have lost something or someone dear to me. So how to get one’s head around all of this? Continue reading “Dealing With Success And Loss”
In 1763, the Berlin Academy offered a prize of the best essay on the application of mathematical proofs on metaphysics. Immanuel Kant, the thinker who later revolutionized philosophy came second. So could have beat him? Continue reading “The Immortality of Risk”
Doomer, prepper, primitivist, romantic, survivalist, millennialist, catastrophist* : these are all types of people that believe one way or another that civilisation as we know it is coming to an end. Many take the next step and join or set up communities that would survive such an outcome. Dylan Evans was one such person. In 2006, he quit his job as an academic and sold his house to fund the “Utopia Experiment” – a post-apocalyptic styled community in the Highlands of Scotland. Continue reading “No Place Like Utopia”