Macroeconomics, Geopolitics & Asset Management

Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change

  1. All technological change is a trade-off: culture always pays a price for technology.
  2. The advantages and disadvantages of new technologies are never distributed evenly among the population: there are always winners and losers in technological change.
  3. Every technology has a prejudice and predisposes us to favor and value certain perspectives and accomplishments. “The medium is the message.” - Marshall McLuhan
  4. Technological change is not additive; it is ecological. The consequences of technological change are always vast, often unpredictable and largely irreversible.
  5. Media [technology] tend to become mythic, accepted as it is, and is therefore not easily susceptible to modification or control.

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race

There are at least three sets of reasons to explain the findings that agriculture was bad for health.

  • First, hunter-gatherers enjoyed a varied diet, while early fanners obtained most of their food from one or a few starchy crops. The farmers gained cheap calories at the cost of poor nutrition, (today just three high-carbohydrate plants – wheat, rice, and corn – provide the bulk of the calories consumed by the human species, yet each one is deficient in certain vitamins or amino acids essential to life.)
  • Second, because of dependence on a limited number of crops, farmers ran the risk of starvation if one crop failed.
  • Finally, the mere fact that agriculture encouraged people to clump together in crowded societies, many of which then carried on trade with other crowded societies, led to the spread of parasites and infectious disease. Epidemics couldn't take hold when populations were scattered in small bands that constantly shifted camp. Tuberculosis and diarrheal disease had to await the rise of farming, measles and bubonic plague the appearance of large cities.

Besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases, farming helped bring another curse upon humanity: deep class divisions. Hunter-gatherers have little or no stored food, and no concentrated food sources, like an orchard or a herd of cows: they live off the wild plants and animals they obtain each day. Therefore, there can be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others. Only in a farming population could a healthy, non-producing elite set itself above the disease-ridden masses.

Causes of Death - Real vs. Media

Warren Buffett’s “20 Slot” Rule: How to Simplify Your Life and Maximize Your Results

“I could improve your ultimate financial welfare by giving you a ticket with only 20 slots in it so that you had 20 punches—representing all the investments that you got to make in a lifetime. And once you’d punched through the card, you couldn’t make any more investments at all.”

Useful Biases

  • Allergic to nonsense bias: An overactive nonsense detector that asserts extreme skepticism when confronted with financial salesmanship.
  • Enjoyment bias: An inefficient investing strategy that you enjoy will outperform an efficient one that feels like work because anything that feels like work will eventually be abandoned.
  • Reasonable ignorance – intentionally limiting your diligence in order to avoid decision paralysis in a world where everything, if you dig deep enough, is more complicated than it seems.
  • Historical discounting – the recent past is the most relevant, because the importance of what happened in the far past decays as the cultural and legal forces that triggered a specific event change over time.

What makes a CEO 'exceptional'?

Exceptional CEOs are twice as likely to hive been hired outside the company.

Strategic moves taken in first 2 years of tenure, share of exceptional CEOs vs. all CEOs:

  • +58% Strategic review
  • +19% Cost-reduction program
  • -3% Merger or acquisition
  • -4% Geographic expansion
  • -23% Management reshuffle
  • -40% Business/product launch
  • -48% Organisational redesign

Betting on Things that Never Change

Every sustainable business is accompanied by one of a handful of timeless strategies:

  • Lower prices
  • Faster solutions to problems
  • Greater control over your time
  • More choices
  • Added comfort
  • Entertainment/curiosity
  • Deeper human interactions
  • Greater transparency
  • Less collateral damage
  • Higher social status
  • Increased confidence/trust