Whenever there are politically motivated mass murders (like the Brussels attacks) or an impending war, there are calls for more funding for intelligence services. Yet, there is a limit to what they can achieve in their current configurations. The image of slick omniscient intelligence agencies in movies and echoed by conspiracy theorists is likely way off the mark.
In any conventional history of capitalism, we are taught that the Dutch were one of earliest innovators in financial markets (before the baton was passed to the Brits, then the Americans). Indeed, they appear to have invented securitisation in the 1600s. And if we wanted to look even further back, we are told that the 12th century financiers in the Italian cities of Genoa and Venice were the earliest capitalists.
Of course I’m not, but surely others are. Hang on, if the “other” is me twenty years ago – were the attitudes I had back then bigoted? (hmm, no comment). Or twenty years hence, will I look back at my perspectives today, and think how regressive they were?!
I’m tempted to think that I’ll always have the perfect attitudes, but I’m not so sure when I look at the views of some of the past greats like Gandhi, Lincoln, and Churchill: Continue reading “Am I Racist?”→
As for working all hours of the day or excess travel, this can seriously affect our sleep. This in turn has a major impact on our general health and decision-making abilities. Lack of sleep leads to greater pangs of hunger, more inclination to diabetes, higher blood pressure, poorer immune systems and higher stress levels. Not a great starting point for good decision making.
The retaliatory use of US and EU financial sanctions on Russian individuals show the importance of finance in geo-political relations. It shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise as the largest increases in government debt tend to occur around wars. The financial system, then, is critical to raise these funds, and later find ways of paying it down.
Indeed, after the Second World War, most involved countries saw their government debt levels shoot higher. One way to pay the down down was to use financial repression, which is the most direct link between the state, war and the banking system. Continue reading “Banking On War And Peace (2 min read)”→
In my experience technology has always overpromised and underdelivered. At work, the IT projects I’ve been part of have almost always over-run and not delivered the promised functionality. Outside of work, my smartphone’s battery dies too soon and voice recognition comes up with the strangest answers.
Jane Jacobs (1916-1996) was an expert on urban planning and the economics of cities. She was an activist who helped protect Greenwich Village in New York from being overhauled by an expressway running through Little Italy and SoHo and was arrested in the process. Through her work, she became an expert on the intersection between regulation and business and developed a framework to think about the moral dimensions of each. These were outlined in her excellent book “Systems of Survival”
The US is the oft-cited innovator. But upon closer inspection, it seems it is only the technology sector, and more specifically Silicon Valley, where the US is the undisputed innovator. So could China create the equivalent of Silicon Valley? To answer this, we need to understand the roots of Silicon Valley. Continue reading “Can China Innovate? (2min read)”→
The official verdict on the 2008 crisis in the US-government commissioned 663-page “The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report” was :
“ While the vulnerabilities that created the potential for crisis were years in the making, it was the collapse of the housing bubble—fueled by low interest rates, easy and available credit, scant regulation, and toxic mortgages— that was the spark that ignited a string of events, which led to a full-blown crisis in the fall of 2008.”