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A Few Things: A Meaningful Life, Uranium, Chaos Under Heaven, Investing In The Future
September 19, 2021
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Each week, I write an email that mixes technology, markets and worldly wisdom picked up from a +21 year finance career.
“You have to have time to think. It’s so easy to get so busy that you no longer have time to think and you pay a huge price for that.”
- Charlie Munger
“Any idiot can face a crisis; it's this day-to-day living that wears you out.”
- Anton Chekov
“Choosing a spouse and a choosing career: the two great decisions for which society refuses to set up institutional guidance.”
- Alain de Botton
A. A Few Things Worth Checking Out
1. An average human only gets about 4,000 weeks of life on Earth (4,000 / 52 = 77). It’s terrifying how short that makes life feel. Since my 30’s, I’ve had this nagging sense of not having enough time. Have you?
Recognising our mortality makes time management even more important and, from this well of insecurity and fear, the recent productivity movement has sprung.
The usual to do lists, morning routines, time-saving habits all have their place in a happy life but an obsession with these routines and drivers can, pretty quickly, end up being counterproductive as the habits formed tire us out even more, lead us to be disappointed when we break them and, most importantly, make us focus on trying to achieve far more than we ever possibly can.
That final point is the crux of a recent book from Oliver Burkeman titled Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals.
His take is that despite knowing we have limited time left on this ball of rock, the key to better time management isn’t doing more – it’s doing less.
Drawing on the insights of philosophers, psychologists, and spiritual teachers, Burkeman delivers a beautiful and profound guide to time and time management, especially designed for busy people who feel as if they’re never doing or achieving enough. It introduces tools for constructing a meaningful life by embracing mortality and finitude.
The 3 big takeaways:
A. Learn to say NO! Find and focus on what is truly important to you in the long run.
B. Rather than making to do lists, make do not do lists (this has helped me a lot)
C. Find time to just be idle, no tasks, no goals, just be (this is HARD for me)
Since you are busy, you will probably want to listen to his podcast episode on Modern Wisdom.
Another great book on this subject is Essentialism by Greg McKeown.
2. The Uranium story continues to play out. A few things worth looking into.
B. Sprott held a webinar titled - Uranium: A Key Element for a Net-Zero Carbon Future
C. Harris Kupperman was on the Market Huddle podcast discussing Uranium (last 20 mins)
3. The financialization of America continues.
4. Over the weekend, I shared a few lessons & strategies I picked in my career on Twitter, it ended up going viral.
B. Chaos Under Heaven
Just finished reading Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven this week and heard him speak in London 2 weeks ago.
Josh is a foreign policy and national security columnist for The Washington Post and political analyst for CNN. His favourite subject and the focus of his book is China.
A few big take aways:
1. We live in a multi-polar world: The discussion is regularly framed as the US-China relationship but that is the wrong way to think about it. Instead, it’s about the international response to China. Countries all over the world are dealing with many of the same challenges. China is too deeply intertwined with the US and its allies for this to be how USSR and the Cold War played out.
2. We lost the bet: For the past 40 yrs a bet was wagered in US relations with China. At the end of Obama’s administration, it was acknowledged that that bet had been lost.
The bet: through cooperation with China and integrating them into our systems and institutions, that they would eventually become liberalised economically and, ultimately, politically.
Under Xi Jinping, China decided to go a different way.
Rather than the West trying to shape them, increasingly their engagement is directed at shaping our systems. It’s clear that, from day one, Xi is seeking to shape the world in a way that accommodates China.
Part of the reason the US lost the bet is our hubris. We thought that the US could shape China’s development in China. The US doesn’t have that ability to shape China or other countries in its image.
3. Resetting the relationship: Trump tried to reset the US-China economic relationship. His thesis was that the US was getting screwed by China on trade. He had a firm idea of what he wanted to do on China but he never directly communicated it to the American people. Everything that we saw from the Trump administration is communicated via someone else in Trump’s administration.
Rogin identified 5 factions within the US, ranging from the super-hawks to hardliners to the Wall Street clique.
4. Biden’s Turn: The Biden administration arrived against this backdrop. Biden's administration can be divided into 3 camps: those who seek a continuation of the Trump policy; the optimists - who don’t want sanctions imposed on China; and in the middle, the political team, which includes Biden. The political team usually wins.
Rogin’s bet is that we head further towards autarky and decoupling for both US and China to protect themselves economically from the other, but nothing that looks like what we had with USSR.
5. The Big Day? We are headed to the G20 Summit in Rome on October 30th. This could be when we see a big shift in US policy towards China.
You can catch him discussing his book earlier this year.
He was also on the Joe Rogan show:
C. The Tech and Crypto Section
1. One weekend and two magazine covers for cryptocurrencies and DeFi. Is this a sign of the top or does the main stream just not understand crypto?
2. Patrick O’Shaughnessy’s Business Breakdowns featured: Sky Mavis, the gaming studio behind Axie Infinity. This is a game isn’t even officially released on any app store, and is still in its alpha test stage, and yet has more than a million daily active users, clocking in $10m USD of revenues on its marketplace A DAY.
3. Re-sharing Cathie Woods discussion on the Bankless podcast discussing “Investing in the Future” since its packed with goodies. Here are 3 big takeaways (paraphrasing the Bankless team):
A. DeFi is hollowing out the banks and the banks know it
Cathie listens to J.P. Morgan’s earnings call as a way to get a feel for the broader climate of the banking sector, and she was astounded to learn that loan growth during the economic recovery…was negative.
Because crypto! Given yield growth and demand in DeFi is absolutely exploding, even if that only causes a minor loss in revenue for the banks, this loss still has a meaningful impact on growth expectations for the entire banking industry. Stock price is set on the margin. Marginal growth rates matter.
And what if the regulatory pressure we’ve seen lately is because the banks are scared. What if DeFi’s threat to the banking sector is reverberating back as regulatory threats towards DeFi?
Cathie’s implying this may be the case.
It wouldn’t be surprising given the banking system is one of the most entrenched incumbents there is…
B. ETH staking could become the new “risk-free rate”
Chris Burniske asked Cathie is she could “envision a future where Ethereum’s risk minimized rate offers a new baseline for valuing internet assets?”
This is the idea that ETH’s staking rate might be used as a new benchmark for digital asset portfolio performance, but Cathie took it further by contrasting the reliable yield of staked ETH versus the ‘unhinged’ monetary policies of central banks.
This is elevating ETH beyond just an internet-native economy, and toward the status of a global macro force, akin to the U.S. bond market.
3. DeFi will accelerate innovation in non-crypto sectors
Part of ARKs core thesis about why the future is so much closer than the market thinks is that the growth in each technology platform has the power to accelerate growth in all others.
Cathie identified Ethereum’s capital coordination powers with ‘The DAO’ collecting $150M of $ETH in 2016, and has been an outspoken proponent about how DeFi offers ‘friction-free finance’.
What happens to the pace of innovation when financial and capital coordination tools are made free and open?
"For me, success is not a public thing. It's a private thing. It's when you have fewer and fewer regrets."
- Novelist Toni Morrison on the measure of success
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