Coddling of the American Mind and other links

Coddling of the American Mind: A fantastic book, Here is the video interview with Jonathan Haidt from the Agenda:

Some quotes from the book:
“Paranoid parenting is a powerful way to teach kids all three of the Great Untruths. We convince children that the world is full of danger; evil lurks in the shadows, on the streets, and in public parks and restrooms. Kids raised in this way are emotionally prepared to embrace the Untruth of Us Versus Them: Life is a battle between good people and evil people—a worldview that makes them fear and suspect strangers. We teach children to monitor themselves for the degree to which they “feel unsafe” and then talk about how unsafe they feel. They may come to believe that feeling “unsafe” (the feeling of being uncomfortable or anxious) is a reliable sign that they are unsafe (the Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: Always trust your feelings). Finally, feeling these emotions is unpleasant; therefore, children may conclude, the feelings are dangerous in and of themselves—stress will harm them if it doesn’t kill them (the Untruth of Fragility: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker).”

“A. Place clear limits on device time. Two hours a day seems to be a
reasonable maximum, as there does not appear to be evidence of
negative mental health effects at this level. For younger children,
consider banning the use of devices during the school week entirely,
in order to delay for as long as possible the incorporation of devicetime
into daily routines.
B. Pay as much attention to what children are doing as you do to how
much time they spend doing it. In chapter 7, we presented the
principle that social network sites and apps should be judged by
whether they help or hinder adolescents in their efforts to build and
maintain close relationships.38 Talk with your children about the apps
that they and their friends use and how they use them. Which ones
are essential for their direct communication? Which ones do they
experience as triggering FOMO (“fear of missing out”), social
comparison, and unrealistically positive presentations of the lives of
other kids? Read Twenge’s book iGen (as a family, if you can) and
then bring your teenager into the discussion of how to minimize the
potential hazards of heavy device use. These devices and apps are extremely appealing and addictive, so it may be difficult for children
to self-regulate. You may need to use a parental-restrictions app39 or
the parental-restrictions setting on your child’s devices to manage and
monitor usage.40 And pay attention to what you are doing, too. Is your
device use reducing the quality of your time with your child?”

Interesting take on the fall of the Simpsons:

Some Older Wisdom from Douglas Rushkoff:

Old but I really enjoyed Lanier’s book recently:

Economic Links:

I”m just reading GaveKal’s new book: Clash of Empires: Currencies and Power in a Multipolar World. Here are some GaveKal links:
“The global growth environment remains lackluster, and the risk is that it will deteriorate from here. As a result, you need to “pay up” for what little growth you can find. And the only obvious area where you can find growth is in technology, partly because so many tech companies enjoy quasi-monopoly situations thanks to scale and network effects. In fact, being a massive company
is no longer a hindrance to growth, because you can now operate on a global scale and capture monopoly rents.”
“Assuming that the US-China standoff is not merely a trade war but the start of a new cold war then
the shift in the US-China relationship will cast a long shadow over financial markets. As reviewed
above, the new cold war could end up being:
-Bearish for US technology stocks
-Bearish for the US dollar
-Bullish for Russia
-Bearish for Chinese growth
-Bullish for renminbi bonds
In short, for a world that may be going through a dramatic shift, one wants to be long the assets that
no-one today owns, like Chinese and Russian bonds, and underweight those that everyone and their
dogs are overweight like the US dollar and US technology stocks.”

Teddy Vallee’s historical post on bonds using intermarket and liquidity indicators:

NOSPINFORECAST The Employment Situation: Sample report from a great economic analysis firm

ITR on Canada

Links for April 2019

We’ve talked about Data as Labour before and Bunz seems to be leading the charge:

See some video’s from RadicalXchange:

Great article on Andrew Yang:

“But the decidedly nonpartisan Yang hasn’t been hanging around on the outskirts of Congress or in a governor’s mansion waiting for his shot. He’s not in the field because he wants to make a name for himself and become a Democratic-party fixture going forward. He’s there because he thinks he actually has the substance to speak to our current moment. Plenty of people agree that we’re facing cultural disintegration, he says, but too few are proposing an actual plan for recovery.”

Another interesting candidate highlighted by Glen Weyl:

More on Hashgraph as an alternative to Blockchain:

Economic Links:

Updates on the economic cycle from ITR economics:
“While the International Monetary Fund and other observers have been relatively upbeat and are only now revising their forecasts downward, Zulauf has been expecting a slowdown in the second half of 2019 for a couple years.

“I think the consensus is moving closer to my view,” he said. “Right now, the consensus believes the world economy is bottoming out. I think that is a little bit too early.”

Instead, he expects more negative surprises ahead into Fall or later this year, which will likely produce a shock. Nominal GDP in essentially all major economies around the world could decline substantially.

He expects the U.S. could see a decline from over 5 per cent to maybe 3 percent in nominal terms. China is already at 3 percent real growth and around 2 percent inflation, and those figures could decline further as well.

“The current optimism that things are bottoming out by those who have been wrong for quite some time is premature,” Zulauf said. “I think the consensus will be disappointed again in the second half, and that will have implications for the corporate sector’s earnings situation.””
“After ugly macro data this winter, a spring rebound – led by employment and housing – is underway. A recession in 2019 looks unlikely. ”

Nordea View May 2019_Amended.pdf

Check out the notes on Felix Zulauf’s presentation:

Macrovoices Variant Perception Update Podcast
Variant Perception Simon White Chartbook

Juliette Declercq Macrovoices Podcast Chartbook May 2nd



“Yet it would be naive to deny the long awaited real estate correction has started.

You don’t need to see more graphs about Canadian consumer indebtedness. We all know what they look like. The story is so well told it’s pointless to repeat any part of it.

A correction was coming, the only question left unanswered was timing.

Well, I think it’s now obvious that we are in the midst of that adjustment.

The only help I can offer is to point out that real estate cycles are long. Really long. The mistake will be assuming it will be over quickly. It won’t.

And my favourite trade?

I love buying the short end of the yield curve in Canada against selling the US equivalent tenor.

Probably the easiest way to play it is a long BAX DEC 2019 vs ED DEC 2019 spread:”

Economic/Market Narratives:

MMT has blown up in the news media. I’ve thought about doing a post with MMT related links, instead i’ll post some key ones here. In the future, we will likely see an even larger fiscal impulse since monetary policy is limited with interest rates so low. Good or bad, a macro investor needs to consider the scenarios and consequences.


When Money Dies: The Economics of Inflation (MMT)


“I would like to reaffirm one point. There are two parts to MMT; how the modern fiat-based economy works and then the policies that are advocated to maximize output under these conditions.

You might not like the political parts of MMT. I am not trying to convert anyone. Nothing is more annoying than when your best friend discovers some keto-diet and spends all day extolling its benefits.

But I will let you in on a little secret. When I wrote my original MMT piece – “Everything you wanted to know about MMT (but were afraid to ask)”, I was shocked by the individuals who reached out to me. Really impressive people who had spent time examining MMT and concluded that it was extremely useful in their analytical thinking. They sent me papers they had written, notes they had taken from their meetings with these MMT professors and analysis they had created in their attempt to better understand the modern economy and markets. The quality of these people and their thinking astounded me.

It’s easy to dismiss MMT as the ravings of the far-left, but if you do so, you are mixing economics with politics. MMT theory is extremely useful in understanding how the economy actually works. You might not like it. You might wish it were different. But I think the hallmark of a great trader/investor is to stay open-minded. In that vein, I think the MMT framework is a most useful tool for macro trading.”

“As traders/investors our job is not to decide the best way to organize society (we leave that to the much smarter politicians and economists), but to construct portfolios that will perform best under the existing circumstances. If you want to rail against MMT, then you are free to do. But I happen to believe you are missing a valuable tool for understanding how the economy and markets behave in the post gold-standard fiat-based world.

If in the coming years politicians adopt MMT policies, your outrage will do your portfolio little good. Therefore you might as well try as best you can to unemotionally analyze the implications of these potential policy implementations.

So without further ado, let’s try to determine how best to adapt to the MMT possibility.”

“The conclusion is simple: MMT proponents know nothing about economic history, do not understand the nature of money, which is not a state monopoly but a common good, and believe unquestioningly in their theories without pursuing them to their logical conclusions.”

“A clash of generations
Analyzing theories like MMT to determine whether they represent good policy is futile for investors. Even if it turns out to be bad policy, the consequences won’t be felt for years, and investors should instead focus on the likelihood of its implementation, and its fiscal effects.

Here are two perspectives on MMT that represent some out of the box thinking. Srinivas Thiruvadanthai, Director of Research at the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center, wrote a Twitter thread that framed MMT as a generational conflict between Baby Boomers and MIllennials:

‘My pet theme: inflation is everywhere and always a political phenomenon in the current context of clash of generations, between Millennials and Boomers. In a way reflected in AOC vs Schultz.

The Boomers are entering retirement and sitting on assets that are richly valued. Inflation is poison in more ways than one. In fact, rising wages are poison because it cuts into their living standards. They want sell down their big houses and downshift.

The same thing happened in Japan but was decisively won by the retirees because they were preoponderant. In contrast, the Millennials are more or less the same size as the Boomers. So, the clash won’t be so decisively settled.

Ironically, Boomers when they were in the same position as Millennials today, i.e in the 1970s, won the battle decisively because they were dominant demographically. That is one reason why we had inflation.

The point being economic theories don’t have as much influence as people think. People use them to rationalize whatever policies favors them. Part of the reason for MMT gaining strength is it appeals to a constituency and the increasing divergence of interests.’

As Millennials grow older and participate in the political process, their influence will grow. Over time, they will flex their political muscles, and the implementation of MMT will deliver the inflation that will favor their generation at the expense of the older Boomers. Whether that happens in 2020, or in the years beyond, is an open question. The midterm election of 2018 saw more Millennials participate in the political process, and expect that generation’s political power to grow as time goes on.”

Ray Dalio on MMT

Ben Hunt (@EpsilonTheory) tweeted at 10:36 AM on Sat, Jan 19, 2019:
QE is a stagflation machine for market-world, where we’ve inflated prices for fin’l assets and crushed productive corporate growth.

MMT will be a stagflation machine for real-world, where we will inflate prices for goods/services and crush productive private sector growth.

VP on MMT:

Ben Hunt’s interesting articles:

In You Are Here, I wrote that the investment Zeitgeist is changing in three ways.

-Deflationary expectations, now 40+ years old, are becoming inflationary expectations.
-Cooperative and multi-play games in both international politics and domestic politics, now 70+ years old, are becoming competitive and single-play games.
-Modern capital markets, now 150+ years old, are becoming political utilities.
Time to add a fourth.

-Capitalist productivity, now 200+ years old, is becoming capitalist financialization.
What is financialization?Financialization is profit margin growth without labor productivity growth….Financialization is the zombiefication of an economy and the oligarchification of a society.


“The reason companies aren’t investing more aggressively in plant and equipment and technology is BECAUSE we have the most accommodative monetary policy in the history of the world, with the easiest money to borrow that corporations have ever seen. Why in the world would management take the risk — and it’s definitely a risk — of investing for real growth when they are so awash in easy money that they can beat their earnings guidance with a risk-free stock buyback? Why in the world would management take the risk — and it’s definitely a risk — of investing for GAAP earnings when they are so awash in easy money that they can hit their pro forma narrative guidance by simply buying profitless revenue? Why in the world would companies take any risk at all when the Fed has eliminated any and all negative consequences for playing it safe?”

That’s from Gradually and Then Suddenly, written in July 2017. It’s worth your time.


And then take this to heart.

-What are the Narratives (story arcs) I am being told?
-What are the Abstractions (categorizations) presented to me?
-What are the Metagames (big picture games) I am playing?
-What are the Estimations (the roles of chance) shaping outcomes here?
-Am I acting to promote Reciprocity (potentially cooperative gameplay)?
-Am I acting in a way that reflects my Identity (autonomy of mind)?”

This is older but referenced in the above article, and relates to investment outcomes:

The Three Horsemen of the Investing Semi-Apocalypse

-The Fed keeps on raising interest rates and shrinking its balance sheet, ultimately causing a nasty recession in the US and an outright depression in emerging markets.
-China drops a trade war atom bomb by letting the yuan devalue sharply, sparking a global credit freeze that makes the 1997 Asian crisis look like a mild autumn day.
-Italy and its populist government play hardball with Germany and the ECB in a way that Greece could not, leading to a Euro crisis that dwarfs the 2012 crisis.
The Fourth Horseman of the Investing Apocalypse

-Inflation is not a cyclical blip and inflationary expectations are not “controllable” by the Fed without taking politically suicidal actions. They don’t commit political suicide, and the world enters a new inflationary regime.”

It’s the only question that long-term investors MUST get right in order to minimize their maximum regret. You don’t have to get it right immediately. You don’t have to track and turn with every small perturbation in its path. But you MUST get this question roughly right.

Am I in an inflationary world or a deflationary world?

For the past 30+ years, we have been in a non-inflationary world. For the past 10 years, we have been in a deflationary world. I don’t mean that prices in lots of things haven’t gone up. I don’t mean that inflation hasn’t been a monster in many places. What I mean is that inflation expectations have been declining for 30+ years, and they have been rock-bottom for the past ten. What I mean is that for a decade now, all of our investment behaviors – and by all of us I mean everyone from the smallest individual investor to the Chair of the Federal Reserve – have been predicated on the belief that a) there’s no chance of future inflation for bad reasons (a currency that has lost the confidence of the world), and b) there’s no chance of future inflation for good reasons (robust economic growth). Instead, the most pervasive and powerful piece of common knowledge in investing is simply this: we are on a long gray slog to Nowheresville, a future of too much debt and not enough growth, a pleasant enough if thoroughly meh world.


Here’s what preparing your portfolio for an intrinsically inflationary world requires:

Zombies and Oligopolies: We are headed towards a world with increasing zombie firms due to low interest rates (described above) while simultaneously there are oligopoly structures and a lack of competition in many sectors.
“The difference with the Asian or the 2008 crisis is that this time the excess risk is hidden under central banks’ balance sheets and will continue to do so.
So, if risk is hidden under a perennial money supply-growth carpet, why should we worry? Because the endgame is not likely to be a 2008-style bang, but a slow, painful and unstoppable zombification of the global economy. As the evidence of stagnation rises, governments get more nervous. What do they do? Stop the monetary madness? Allow high productivity sectors to thrive? Promote deleveraging and prudent investment? No. More white elephants, massive unproductive spending at the expense of taxpayers and savers in what is likely to be yet another massive transfer of wealth from salaries and savers to governments with fancy names.
Investors are forced into riskier assets for lower returns and the crowding out of productive sectors in favour of government and crony subsidised sectors accelerates, sending money velocity lower, productivity growth collapses and mainstream economists hail the financial repression madness with the excuse that “there is no inflation”, while citizens all over the world complain and demonstrate -rightly- against the rise in cost of living. Intensifying financial repression under the “there is no inflation” excuse is the most ludicrous mantra ever. It is like running a car at full speed down a highway under the premise that “we have not crashed yet”.
Many economists defend the zombification of economies under a false social premise. The argument is the following: What is bad about following the example of Japan? It has low unemployment, its debt is cheap and the economy survives rather well. It is a social contract and debt does not matter.
Everything is wrong with this argument. Japan’s low unemployment has nothing to do with monetary and fiscal policy and everything to do with demographics and lack of immigration. Japan’s low cost of debt is not a blessing. It is the result of using the savings of citizens to perpetuate an almost-Ponzi scheme that does not prevent the country from spending more than 20% of its budget on interest expenses. The idea that it is irrelevant because the Treasury buys more bonds tells us how insane we are defending such policies. It is a massive kick-the-can policy transferring the risk to the next generations. It is no wonder that Japanese citizens don´t spend or invest as much as their central planners would want them too. They are not stupid. They know that the government is going to confiscate wealth via monetary and fiscal means at some point. This endless debt machine makes the economy less dynamic, and stagnation is guaranteed. But the strength of the Yen and the low cost of Japanese debt are only supported by the high level of international reserves and strong financial flows of the country. Japàn keeps its imbalances because it is one of the few that has undertaken this concerted policy of zombification. This cannot be transferred to the rest of the world, because the result would not be Japanese-style stagnation but Argentina-style crisis chain.”

Source: WSJ

“Canada’s economy is in the throes of a zombie outbreak and it’s threatening to devour the country’s productivity.

That, more or less, is the conclusion of a new report from Deloitte, which found that at least 16 per cent of publicly traded firms here could be classified as “zombies” — defined as mature firms more than 10 years old that lack sufficient revenue to cover interest payments on their debt.

The concept comes from a 2017 report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that explored how inappropriate insolvency structures in Europe kept companies intact when a competitive marketplace would have forced them to liquidate or restructure.

In Canada, Deloitte looked at 2,274 companies listed on the TSX and TSX Venture Exchange from 2015 to 2017, and found that 350 firms fit the definition.”

Source: FP, Deloitte

Age of Monopoly/Oligopoly:

Only 30 percent of Canadian firms consider any form of innovation to be extremely or very important, according to a recent survey, and just 15 percent would assume significant financial risk to pursue it. Why? Because they don’t have to. Trying to surpass rivals and attract more customers isn’t something you knock yourself out to do when there’s not much rivalry. Six companies dominate the Canadian banking industry. Four companies dominate the Internet service provider market. Three companies dominate English-language television broadcasting, the supermarket industry and wireless telecommunications. A duopoly dominates the airline industry. And so on. (How we can win – Page 65)

Since the early 1980s, market concentration has increased severely. As we’ll document in this book:
-Two corporations control 90% of the beer Americans drink.
-Four airlines completely dominate airline traffic, often enjoying local monopolies or duopolies in their regional hubs.
-Five banks control about half of the nation’s banking assets.
-Many states have health insurance markets where the top two insurers have an 80–90% market share. For example, in Alabama one company, Blue Cross Blue Shield, has an 84% market share and in Hawaii it has 65% market share.
-When it comes to high-speed Internet access, almost all markets are local monopolies; over 75% of households have no choice with only one provider.
-Four players control the entire US beef market and have carved up the country.
-After two mergers this year, three companies will control 70% of the world’s pesticide market and 80% of the US corn-seed market.
The list of industries with dominant players is endless.
It gets even worse when you look at the world of technology. Laws are outdated to deal with the extreme winner-takes-all dynamics online. Google completely dominates internet searches with an almost 90% market share. Facebook has an almost 80% share of social networks. Both have a duopoly in advertising with no credible competition or regulation.
Amazon is crushing retailers and faces conflicts of interest as both the dominant e-commerce seller and the leading online platform for third party sellers. It can determine what products can and cannot sell on its platform, and it competes with any customer that encounters success. Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android completely control the mobile app market in a duopoly, and they determine whether businesses can reach their customers and on what terms.
Existing laws were not even written with digital platforms in mind. So far, these platforms appear to be benign dictators, but they are dictators nonetheless. – Myth of Capitalism

These other FinancialSense Videos have been taken down unfortunately:


Some great timelapses

I saw this fantastic timelapse of the northern lights and thought i’d post it along with the original timelapses that inspired me to start shooting the landscapes, skies and stars….

“SOUTH POLE AURORA VIDEO: Imagine living and working in darkness, 24 hours a day for 6 months out of every year. Robert Schwarz does just that. He’s a professional telescope operator for the Keck Telescope Array at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. And his hobby is astrophotography. For the past 14 winters, he has been taking pictures of the south polar night, witnessing scenes unlike anyplace else on Earth. His work is highlighted in a newly-released video entitled “South Pole | Night In Antarctica.”
A longtime contributor to, Robert Schwarz is a pioneer in cold-weather astrophotography. At the South Pole, temperatures routinely drop below -70o C. Modern DSLR cameras are not made for such temperatures. LCD displays freeze instantly, mirror mechanisms get stuck, batteries fail, and time-lapse sequences often end after only 30 or 40 frames. To mitigate these problems, Robert has developed heated camera housings and motorized trackers with insulation, allowing his optics to follow the pirouette of the stars overhead even in deep Antarctic cold.

Cinematographers Christoph Malin and Martin Heck created the video using a year’s worth of Schwarz’s unique footage. They’re looking forward to more. Right now, Robert is traveling to the South Pole for a record-setting 15th “overwinter,” and of course he’s taking his cameras. Stay tuned!

Adventure Is Calling from Shane Black on Vimeo.

Adventure Is Calling II from Shane Black on Vimeo.

Good luck in 2019 and a timelapse

Happy new year and good luck in 2019!

I just finished my annual timelapse compliation, check it out below and put quality to maximum:

Also I found Josh Wolfe’s Lux Capital annual dinner presentation regarding entrepreneurship, technology, progress and people fascinating and inspirational (albeit understandably a little self-promotional).  I think a lot progress will also come from the adoption of good market/economic ideas, which will be the subject of a future post.



AI working for the people or against the people

AI and technology can be used for good or bad. Currently some AI use cases involve monitoring the population and invading privacy. For example, look at this glimpse into China’s social credit system, an Orwellian nightmare:

Another big use case is addicting people to their devices through design to sell more advertising and capture their valuable attention (what Albert Wenger calls the new scarcity). We’ve posted links to podcasts by Tristan Harris before talking about the arms race in technology to capture your attention. This slide from the Internet Trends presentation shows how people are using their devices more and more:

Source: Mary Meeker, Internet Trends

Here are some interesting video/links on flipping AI and technology on its head to serve the interests of the people. Why not monitor the government for corruption, in service of individuals? Why not create an AI sidekick or bot for individuals that monitors their weaknesses and does tasks like purchase the cheapest possible item. These seem like much better projects than some of the current ones….. (video)
“We can use the technology in many different ways. I mean for example we now are using AI mainly in order to surveil individuals in the service of corporations and governments. But it can be flipped to the opposite direction. We can use the same surveillance systems to control the government in the service of individuals, to monitor, for example, government officials that they are not corrupt. The technology is willing to do that. The question is whether we’re willing to develop the necessary tools to do it.”

“YNH: The system in itself can do amazing things for us. We just need to turn it around, that it serves our interests, whatever that is and not the interests of the corporation or the government. OK, now that we realize that our brains can be hacked, we need an antivirus for the brain, just as we have one for the computer. And it can work on the basis of the same technology. Let’s say you have an AI sidekick who monitors you all the time, 24 hours a day. What do you write? What do you see? Everything. But this AI is serving you as this fiduciary responsibility. And it gets to know your weaknesses, and by knowing your weaknesses it can protect you against other agents trying to hack you and to exploit your weaknesses.”

“So we think about this is like the whole framework of humane technology is we think this is the thing: We have to hold up the mirror to ourselves to understand our vulnerabilities first. And you design starting from a view of what we’re vulnerable to. I think from a practical perspective I totally agree with this idea of an AI sidekick but if we’re imagining like we live in the reality, the scary reality that we’re talking about right now. It’s not like this is some sci-fi future. This is the actual state. So we’re actually thinking about how do we navigate to an actual state of affairs that we want, we probably don’t want an AI sidekick to be this kind of optional thing that some people who are rich can afford and other people who don’t can’t, we probably want it to be baked into the way technology works in the first place, so that it does have a fiduciary responsibility to our best, subtle, compassionate, vulnerable interests.

NT: So we will have government sponsored AI sidekicks? We will have corporations that sell us AI sidekicks but subsidize them, so it’s not just the affluent that have really good AI sidekicks?”

World After Capital By Albert Wenger – bots to serve the people

Update 2019-03-16:
Will-I-Am wrote a great article in the economist:
We need to own our data as a human right—and be compensated for it

AI odds and ends:
“But there is an alternative: an emerging class of business models in which internet users are also the customers and the sellers. Data creators directly trade on the value of their data in an information-centric future economy. Direct buying and selling of information-based value between primary parties could replace the selling of surveillance and persuasion to third parties. Platforms would not shrivel in this economy; rather, they would thrive and grow dramatically, although their profit margins would likely fall as more value was returned to data creators. Most important, a market for data would restore dignity to data creators, who would become central to a dignified information economy.”

Syllabus for Glen Weyl’s very interesting course:

AI winter update: I’ve posted quite a few optimistic videos about autonomous driving so i’ll even it out with this reality check. Some great links in this piece.

“While on the self-driving car subject, one of the main criticisms of my original AI winter post was that I omitted Waymo from my discussion, them being the unquestionable leader in autonomy. This criticism was a bit unjustified in that I did include and discussed Waymo extensively in my other posts [1], but in these circumstances it appears prudent to mention what is going on there. Luckily a recent very good piece of investigative journalism shines some light on the matter. Apparently Waymo cars tested in Phoenix area had trouble with the most basic driving situations such as merging onto a freeway or making a left turn, [1]. The piece worth citing from the article:

‘There are times when it seems “autonomy is around the corner,” and the vehicle can go for a day without a human driver intervening, said a person familiar with Waymo. Other days reality sets in because “the edge cases are endless.”’

Some independent observations appear to confirm this assessment. As much as I agree that Waymo is probably the most advanced in this game, this does not mean they are anywhere near to actually deploying anything seriously, and even further away from making such deployment economically feasible (contrary to what is suggested in occasional puff pieces such as this one). Aside from a periodic PR nonsense, Waymo does not seem to be revealing much, though recently some baffling reports of past shenanigans in google chauffeur (which later became Waymo) surfaced, involving Anthony Levandowski who is responsible for the whole Uber-Waymo fiasco. To add some comical aspect to the Waymo-Uber story, apparently an unrelated engineer managed to invalidate the patent that Uber got sued over, spending altogether 6000 dollars in fees. This is probably how much Uber payed their patent attorneys for a minute of their work…

Speaking of Uber they substantially slowed their self-driving program, practically killed their self driving truck program (same one that delivered a few crates of beer in Colorado in 2016 with great fanfares, a demo that later on turned out to be completely staged), and recent rumors indicate they might be even looking to sell the unit.

‘Generally the other self driving car projects are facing increasing headwinds, with some projects already getting shut down by the government agencies, and others going more low-key with respect to public announcements. Particularly interesting news came recently out of Cruise, the second in the race right after Waymo (at least according to California disengagement data). Some noteworthy bits from the Reuters article:

Those expectations are now hitting speed bumps, according to interviews with eight current and former GM and Cruise employees and executives, along with nine autonomous vehicle technology experts familiar with Cruise. These sources say that some unexpected technical challenges – including the difficulty that Cruise cars have identifying whether objects are in motion – mean putting GM’s driverless cars on the road in a large scale way in 2019 is looking highly unlikely.

“Nothing is on schedule,” said one GM source, referring to certain mileage targets and other milestones the company has already missed.”

“Now I could not care less about results in game domains, since as I stated multiple times on this blog [1, 2], the only problem really worth solving in AI is the Moravec’s paradox, which is exactly the opposite of what DeepMind or OpenAI are doing, but I nevertheless found this media misfire hilarious.”

Data should be seen as labor rather than capital (Glen Weyl):

Economic Links – Oct 2018

Its been a crazy volatile week in the markets, thought i’d post some relevant articles and videos.

A few notes first:

-US monetary policy is tightening while US fiscal policy is stimulative. US is running the largest fiscal deficit at the peak of the business cycle, which has never been done before.

-US Leading indicator is still above zero, although is declining. The World LEI is declining and below zero.


-Inflation is a big wildcard. The subject of a future post. Deflation first and then inflation? or vice versa…



Videos and Links: 

Alex Chausovsky recently delivered ITR’s most up-to-date economic outlook at the @MeasControl event. Check out some of the highlights!

-ITR’s long term outlook: “The real problems with debt won’t come until interest rates go significantly higher, as in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Until that happens, worries about business debt levels are overstated. While the problem is forming now, the consequences will come about 10 years from now. Higher interest rates on ascending debt levels play quite well into our forecast of a Great Depression beginning around 2030 (the details of which are in our book, Prosperity in the Age of Decline).”

Hedgeye: How to survive the quad 4 hurricane. Check out their growth/inflation quadrant work!’/a6*)9k/market-edges-week-of-9-23-2018


Fat-pitch weekly:
“Summary: US equities are down 10% from their all-time highs just 5 weeks ago. The trend in equities has turned bearish, and that is not something that should be taken lightly. The evidence pointing to a major top being formed has further increased. But the set up for higher prices, at least before a significantly lower low, appears to be very strong. This is not a certainty, but it is a high probability.”

Financial Sense Investment Strategy Conference 2018:
Updated Conference videos:

I especially liked their characterization of the market a few weeks ago as ‘Flash Crashes and Flash Bubbles’

GaveKal links:
GaveKal: Are we still in a bull market? via Jesse Felder

“What caught my eye this week? Louis updated his Four Quadrants Framework chart and said, “For the last 30 years the world has broadly been at the bottom of our four quadrants, oscillating between disinflationary busts and disinflationary booms. We are now at a strange moment: most of the world is moving from disinflationary boom to disinflationary bust; but the US is moving towards an inflationary boom. This divergence doesn’t make portfolio construction easy.” He concluded, “A similar situation more or less prevailed in 1998-2000 and did not end happily.”

Here is the updated chart:”
-GaveKal Update 2: Quarterly Outlook:

Daniel Lacalle on the Biggest Bubble of All

Ray Dalio on Debt Cycles

How the economic machine works – Ray Dalio

Business Cycle Frameworks:

Update: 2018-10-29 Interesting debt rollover timing
Source: JP Morgan


Source: WSJ

“Canada’s economy is in the throes of a zombie outbreak and it’s threatening to devour the country’s productivity.

That, more or less, is the conclusion of a new report from Deloitte, which found that at least 16 per cent of publicly traded firms here could be classified as “zombies” — defined as mature firms more than 10 years old that lack sufficient revenue to cover interest payments on their debt.

The concept comes from a 2017 report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that explored how inappropriate insolvency structures in Europe kept companies intact when a competitive marketplace would have forced them to liquidate or restructure.

In Canada, Deloitte looked at 2,274 companies listed on the TSX and TSX Venture Exchange from 2015 to 2017, and found that 350 firms fit the definition.”

Source: FP, Deloitte

Links for September 2018

The Coddling of the American Mind by Jonathan Haidt

“This week, on Hidden Forces, Jonathan Haidt joins us for a conversation on trigger warnings, safe spaces, and how good intentions and bad ideas are setting up the iGeneration for failure. Jonathan and Greggory Lukianoff’s latest book, The Coddling of the American Mind, is now available in bookstores nationwide. ”

“Studies show that unstructured play time is crucial for the healthy development of a child. So, why have parents been forcing more and more structure onto their children? @JonHaidt @glukianoff discuss the science behind the need for more independence.”

Also see his interview with Sam Harris:

“Bradley Campbell @CampbellSocProf Sep 6
The Three Great Untruths, from @JonHaidt and @glukianoff’s new book The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure”

D.A. Wallach: music, medicine, cancer screening, and disruptive technologies. Interesting conversation begins around 50min on music and continues into medicine. (EP.06) :

Microtrends Squared

“Mark Penn, author of Microtrends Squared, The New Small Forces Driving the Big Disruptions Today, joins the podcast to breakdown the trends that are driving the modern world. Microtrends and countertrends often make up only one percent of the American public, but create massive social movements capable of changing the commercial, political and social landscapes.”

Thinking About Thinking: My Interview with Tyler Cowen — On this episode of The Knowledge Project, I chat with Tyler Cowen, economics professor, author, and creator of the wildly popular blog, Marginal Revolution. We tackle lots of interesting topics, including tech advances, the changing labor market, and upgrading your thinking process to accommodate the information age.

Exponential Energy trends:

Elon Musk:

Bineural beats (use stere headphones for full effect, good for meditation):

Most likely to succeed: Preview of a great documentary on education

A different take on the US housing bust, unlike the credit boom/bust narrative:

The FIRE/ERE movement gets some mainstream coverage:

Cullen Roche’s reaction:
“The FIRE movement – a good set of goals and aspirations that are probably unattainable or unrealistic for most of us.”

Coverage of ‘Bullshit Jobs’ and the connection to increasingly intangible work:,

Its getting better