A Few Things: Ian Bremmer on The Power of Crisis, The Pursuit of Happiness, Spotting Frauds, How To Read More, Crypto For Institutions
July 1 2022
I am sharing this weekly email with you because I count you in the group of people I learn from and enjoy being around.
“A sage is not afraid of lack of knowledge: he is not afraid of hesitations, or hard work, but he is afraid of only one thing — to pretend to know the things which he does not know. You should study more to understand that you know little.”
- Michel de Montaigne
“Once we realise that imperfect understanding is the human condition there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes.”
- George Soros
“You adapt, evolve, compete or die.”
- Paul Tudor Jones
In case you missed it, here is last week’s email.
The rest of the library going back to 2019 is here.
A. A Few Things Worth Checking Out
1. The amazing Ian Bremmer (president and founder of Eurasia Group) was on the Hidden Forces podcast. Ian Bremmer is the author of ten books, including his latest, “The Power of Crisis,” in which he argues that we are unprepared for a trio of looming crises in the areas of pandemic response, climate change, and the next technological revolution.
Because of the ongoing war in Ukraine and its effect on global commodity markets, their conversation leads with a discussion about climate policy. The discussion focuses specifically on the war in Ukraine, what it reveals about our vulnerabilities as we try transition towards more sustainable, carbon-free forms of energy production, and how to balance our national security concerns while still ensuring that we can meet the long-term climate goals set out in the 2016 Paris Agreement.
In the second part of their conversation, Ian continues the discussion about energy markets, eventually pivoting to a much broader conversation about the upcoming elections in 2022 and 2024, and specifically why there seems to be a persistent leadership deficit in American politics today and what we can do to change that. They also discuss media reform and what we can do as individuals and in some cases as influencers with large followings to have more constructive and good-faith conversations around the issues that matter to all of us.
This was a good graphic on the polarisation across media. Where do you sit?
His daily World in 60 Seconds is good honest analysis of recent events.
2. Laurie Santos is a Professor of Psychology and the Head of Silliman College at Yale University. Since 2018 she’s been teaching Psychology and the Good Life, which is one of the most popular courses at Yale and at one point included approximately a quarter of the school’s undergraduates.
She was on the Knowledge Project podcast discussing the Pursuit of Happiness.
Ideas from her on how to be happier:
A. Take a little time every day to count your blessings. Writing them down works even better.
B. Be present. Be mindful. Put the screens, devices away for an hour. Try meditation if that works for you.
C. Spend time with happy people. Better yet call a friend, your mom or grandmother.
D. Talk to strangers, make a connection. Don’t be lonely.
E. Limit your choices. Having too many options makes us unhappy.
F. Focus less on an end goal and do things for their intrinsic rewards. Trying to achieve some goal robs us of the joy of just doing that activity.
G. Get better sleep.
Here she is in a 4-min video outlining her work:
3. Wirecard was a $30bn market cap German tech darling. But it was all a fraud. Dan McCrum broke the story for the FT, with a push from HF manager John Hempton.
Dan McCrum was on the Odd Lots podcast discussing: How to Spot a Fraud When Everyone is Against You.
4. This has been one of the hardest 6 months in the stock market. This picture says a lot about what worked and a lot that didn’t.
5. One of things I hear from smart markets people is that asset prices will go down further, but the recession will be shallow largely because the consumer is in great shape.
and rising home prices have been a key part of that too.
So what now?
I hope this meme from Twitter will be wrong.
B. How To Read More
Many people ask me my 'trick' to digest more books, podcasts, blogs. Here are a few things that have worked well for me.
1. Marrying someone smarter than me, who picks up a lot of my slack and allows me the time to read and learn. This one is critical.
2. Make Time - learning is probably the most important thing we do as humans, but we are usually too busy to do it. A solution is to schedule time….I picked up this trick from a Munger story where he used to schedule time in his diary in the morning to do what was important to him, before the world intruded…
If you can't make the time, do a little 80/20 analysis on your life to discover what are the 80% of things you are doing leading to only 20% of the outcomes. Get rid of them or outsource them. The last trick on time, is that it is everywhere....on the train, waiting for a meeting, out for a walk, driving a car.....Time is everywhere.
3. Read the RIGHT things - Once you have made time, you need to know what to focus on. This article from 2015 was a life changer. I'll summarise it for you....Most information is useless, because most information / reading we do is of the ephemeral kind (its NOISE). Think: newspapers, magazines, blogs, recent best sellers...Most of that knowledge has an expiry date on it. Then there is the other type of reading, the enduring kind. Think: old classics, history, essays, biographies.
Read things where the knowledge isn't just relevant today, but the type of knowledge that will be relevant in ten years time. That is the knowledge that compounds.
Would love to hear about your learning habits.
C. The Tech and Crypto Section:
1. A number of crypto lending businesses are hitting the wall hard: Celsius, BlockFi, Genesis. Matt Levine at Bloomberg had a great article on what was happening behind the scenes in these businesses.
2. Ted Seides at Capital Allocators has a great new Crypto for Institutions podcast series. These were two episodes that stood out:
Frameworks and Investing at Scale, Chris Dixon at a16z
The Future of Crypto, Olaf Carlson-Wee, Polychain Capital