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Ask HN: What are you reading to make sense of the economy?
337 points by 8611m 51 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 303 comments
With so much happening so suddenly, what are you reading to make sense of the Economy and markets.



Making sense in what fashion, to what end? Investment opportunities? Proposed public policy changes? Where to look for a job?

To a large degree the economy is unknowable. That's why you can get two economists in a room and receive seven opinions. Don't get me wrong; there's good value there. It's just that economics is an odd mix of philosophy and math. On my more cranky days I call it astrology for people who know calculus.

If the economy were knowable to the degree that some economists claim to know it, they'd all be billionaires. So my advice is to scope down your question to something a bit more workable.


Economist here. Mostly agree with this sentiment.

I listened to the National Association of Business Economists webinar yesterday presenting survey expectations for Q2. To say there was difference in opinions is an understatement. Opinion ranged from barely any impact to 50% GDP loss (annualized, so 1/4 of that for a quarter).

You hear economists say things like "guns and butter do well in recessions." The same idea applies here: what do people need during this time? That is what creates the market.

Outside of that, my only thought is don't pay attention to the short run volatility of the stock market as an indicator for long run economic outcomes.


I like what I heard Tyler Cowen say a long time ago: a degree in economics is a great way to learn about a lot of ideas that sound good but don't work. (I'm paraphrasing, of course)

I thought his point was great. There's some well-trodden ground in economics. If you learn nothing more but where the alligators are, you're probably going to do a lot better on that trip through the swamp you plan on taking. If nothing else, it tends to elevate the conversation.


Let's be a bit more specific here before people get the wrong idea. Economics doesn't work for predicting the stock market. Other than that, it works just fine. The principals of supply and demand and huge host of other issues are just fine and work great. It just doesn't translate to predicting equities.


It doesn't translate to predicting anything, stock market included. Economics is an art, not a science. Society is the petri dish on whch experiments are carried out, and even in the smallest experiments, you can't really isolate environmental variables like you can in say in a physics experiment. Every economic theory is prefaced with "all other things remaining equal", which should invalidate them right then and there.

It's ultimately a study of the impact of the decisions societies make, and even then, the metrics it uses are often poor indicators of quality of life. Apartheid South Africa was the continent's bread basket on the basis of its mining output and high GDP per capita. But that wealth was concentrated in the hands of the white minority and not used to improve infrastructure and education for the colonized majority. That was badly needed to fuel long-term growth and build an economy that wasn't dependent on commodities prices.


> You can't really isolate environmental variables like you can in say in a physics experiment.

Astrophysics is kind of in the same boat. You can't really set up a proper test and control - you're forced to do what you can with the datasets that are available.


This confounds multiple factors.

As W. Brian Arthur has observed, vrtually all of economics ultimately boils down to questions of policy. There is effectively no theoretical (as opposed to policy-oriented) economics, let alone a truly experimental sort. This applies not just to orthodoxy, but many heterodoxies as well.

The notion that science is of necessity experimental is fundamentally false. Experiments are useful, but the core of science is that it is observational, you might call it experiential, with hypotheses and observational tests (of which experiments are one subclass) being used to form theories and models.

The scope of, say, experimental cosmology, meterology, geology, paleontology, evolutionary biology, and ecology are ... fairly small. Though not entirely nonexistent. Famous proofs, or validations, of Einsteins theory of general relativity were observational, based on star positions during solar eclipses and of Mercury's orbit. Neither of which lend themselves readily to laboratory experiments.

Similarly, simulations are a powerful tool in many disciplines.

Geology is an interesting case on several counts.

It's among the oldest of the natural sciences, dating back thousands of years, to at least ancient Greece (Theophrastus, 372–287 BCE, Peri Lithon). It has been almost entirely observational, rather than experimental. As recently as the late 18th century, the Earth was thoght to be unknowably old (James Hutton, I believe), and through the 20th, informed and scientific views differed by orders of magnitude. It wasn't until the 1st decade of the 20th century that early radiometric dating suggested even approximately the right range. The actual. value, plus or minus 1%, wasn't determined until the 1950s. And the central organising principle of a study dating back 2,400 years wasn't. finally accepted until 1965, having been proposed in modern form in 1912. That is, it's only 55 of 2,200+ years that geologists have formally had the foggiest notion of how their study actually works.

And even. still, in one major application, earthquake prediction, the field remains conspicuously incapable, at least where timing is concerned. Criminally so according to Italian courts: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/italian-scientist...

We've an exceptionally good idea of where earth movements are likely to occur, what landforms are especially vulnerable, and what construction methods most resilient. But precise timing eludes us -- at human scales events are effectively random.

Economics prides itself on its reliance on maths, dating to Alfred Marshall, to which I can only commend this Reddit thread:

https://old.reddit.com/r/AskEconomics/comments/bevb7u/why_is...

Economics, my own course of academic study, remains mired in wishful thinking, false models, self-serving theory, and rejection and suppression of well-grounded alternative or additional concepts. It specifically rejects thermodynamics (Georgescu-Roegen, Daly, Ayres, Hall, Keen, and others), evolution (Veblen), complexity (Arthur and others), and limits (John Stuart Mill, William Stanley Jevons, Kenneth Boulding, Meadows et al, and others). Even where at leaast some elements of the mainstream have resumed rational behaviour, policy and public discourse frequently have not.

Epistemic progress and ideology are all but incompatible. If not entirely. Until economics entirely rejects ideology it will not progress. Given its foundations in moral philosophy and the inherent self-serving dynamics of wealth -- "Wealth, as Mr Hobbes says is power" notes Smith. in one of the shortest and clearest sentences of Wealth of Nations, a book generally given to neither -- this seems a formidable challenge.


> The principals of supply and demand and huge host of other issues are just fine and work great.

The principals of supply and demand are vague and flexible enough to be completely devoid of meaning.


Perhaps I am just dim, but I find your comment to be vague enough to be lacking meaning.

The principles of supply and demand are not vague at all, but they have limitations. They are necessary to understand economic behaviour, but rarely in the real world are they sufficient.


Respectfully, demand and supply are colloquial terms identifying two sides in an exchange.


All of macroeconomics is also what economics doesn't work fine at modelling.

Economists are famously bad at preventing or predicting recessions.


Tyler is a gem.


I believe this sentiment is mostly a symptom of the extreme prevalence of charlatans who use economics as a marketing tool rather than a social science.

Economics is really just accounting, statistics and psychology. But mostly accounting. I think people get really worked up about the “unknowable” parts and fail to see that accounting can open up tremendous insights if we only take the time to understand it well.

If you want to learn about economics for some specific money-making purpose, you’ll probably end up with an incomplete view that frustratingly fails to describe reality most of the time. On the other hand, if you approach the subject simply with an open mind seeking understanding, you will be richly rewarded with deep insights about the structure of society and the human condition.


After reading quite a lot about economic policies it sounds a lot like some sort of engineering - you have some levers/gadgets that you can use, but you have to understand the consequences of each of them and how the interact with the "real world" of companies and people participating in the economy.

Sure, people being certain about what's going to happen and when is akin to snake oil, but using good insight and tools to try and control how people are affected by something like a pandemic seems to me to be the role that economists need to play.


That's the Keynesian view where you can move a lever (cause) and measure the changes (effect).

Unfortunately, there are way too many variables, interactions, etc, etc to have any real confidence in those measures. It's further complicated by the idea that the normal tools (primarily interest rate & money supply delivered via subsidies, etc) are beyond their "normal" operating ranges.

When the Fed rate was 5% and loans were 8%, lowering rates encouraged borrowing. When the Fed rate is 0.25% and loans are 3-5%, qualified people can get all the money they want.. now what? Do they give money to people who can't pay it back (mortgage crash) or spend it on "shovel ready projects" which take 12-18 months to get started?

Alternatively, when consumer spending makes up 70%+ of the economy, consumer confidence is probably the single most important metric.

This is less engineering and more psychology at scale.


That's the Keynesian view where you can move a lever (cause) and measure the changes (effect).

Thats not Keynesian economics at all! Or rather it's a view that people from schools of thought completely opposite to Keynesian also believe.

Does anyone not think this? Eg, Quantitative Easing: does anyone (Keynesian or not) think it does nothing?


Everything does something but it's hard->impossible to directly map cause to effect. The problem is there are numerous causes and effects all playing out at once and they all interact.

Or to put it another way: it's the three-body problem extended to millions->billions of bodies which use psychology+perception as the main force instead of gravity.


also there Nth order effects which are confounding subsequent moves. This is why any idea that a certain party of president leads to good/bad economies is nearly impossible to tell, it could just be a lagging indicator from previous one(s)


That’s why I say it’s mostly accounting—you have to convert reality into quantities before you can engineer it, and accounting is the set of rules for measuring and manipulating those quantities. The difficulty lies in the fact that unlike physics, where units are essentially hard-coded into the fabric of reality, the unit in accounting is money which is a social construct.


My favorite fight between two economists - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTQnarzmTOc


This is actually a sequel to the first "Keynes vs Hayek rap battle"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0nERTFo-Sk


Yes it is ... I like the second video better but I should have mentioned the first as context.


That was excellent.


We certainly need more educational materials like this - especially in this time of social-distancing. I'm on the board of a small Christian high school and the teachers and students need materials that can be shared via Zoom/Teams/etc. A video like this starts the engagement for everyone and makes it easier to have the follow-on discussion. Plus it's entertaining but the message actually highlights the two mind-sets pretty well!


Economists do not claim to know the economy, much less to the point of becoming rich. They are far more likely to insist that nobody can know such thing. You must be thinking of somebody else.


Hardly. Economists may believe in the idea, for example, that you can't time the market, but I have yet to meet an economist who doesn't have very strong ideas about the types of policies or interventions that are good for bad for the economy, and again it often feels like you get 10 economists in a room and you get 10 different diverging opinions.


First, strong opinions are not knowledge. In the event that one economist forgets that, the other nine will remind him of it. But that's hardly the case right now. There's a lot of discussion on what should be done right now on the part of economists, but it's very clear that nobody is quite sure of what to do. Which is why there is so much discussion in the first place.

Second, knowledge about the economy, specially such that all could become "billionaires", is empirical knowledge and knowledge of particulars such as knowledge of when to time thr markrt. Economists have some conjectural and general knowledge regarding some policies which leads the profession to develop something akin to a consensus on certain issues (10 out of 10 is really a gross exaggeration), such as rent controls. But there has never been a proposition in economics which hasn't found defenders against any supposed consensus, specially nowadays, with the incentives to publish surprising results, and most are conscious of it. The issue with the comparison with any sort of divination is that economists do not claim to be good forecasters.


>but I have yet to meet an economist who doesn't have very strong ideas about the types of policies or interventions that are good for bad for the economy

I have yet to met a person on the street who doesn't have strong opinions about what economic principles should be implemented.

>it often feels like you get 10 economists in a room and you get 10 different diverging opinions.

I don't understand why this is a bad thing. Progress is made by exploring diverging theories.


Distinguished Professor of Economics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and winner of the Nobel in Economic Sciences Paul Krugman would disagree with you. He's full of economic pronouncements going as far as when markets are going to crash (immediately) and their specific cause (Trump elected).

You can make the case that as a columnist, he's encouraged to make predictions but most Keynesians believe in direct cause -> effect of policy decisions based on a handful of metrics that properly describe the economy as a whole.


Krugman walked that back and apologized and reflected on the fact that he to is human and liable to let his emotions get a hold of him.


Does the point not stand though?


I just call it history. All these models describe what happened before. And that's all they do.


No they don't. They guess at what happened before.


Then there's the "to what end" part. What decisions are you trying to make with economic advice? Because unless if you're going to make a decision with that information, all it's going to do is freak you out for no benefit.


>If the economy were knowable to the degree that some economists claim to know it, they'd all be billionaires.

The number of professional economists who focus on investing, or even "the economy", is much smaller than most people imagine.


Philosophy, Math maybe some mysticism as well? Beyond that you can't even have a productive discussion about the economy without framing the discussion in humanity and what purpose a society serves. For example if we push forward UBI are we doing that for productivity? human happiness?

With our current crisis trying to discern what worldview policy is trying to force the economy to serve helps me understand decisions, especially with regard to things like inflation, consumer confidence, greed/fear, etc.


Agree 100%. The whole reason why market economies - economies based on the decentralized mechanism we call "prices" - work better than any other economic system is because they're decentralized. If one person or group of experts could know the current wants/needs of millions of individuals, we wouldn't need prices and that person/group could predict the direction of the economy.

Similarly, say all you care about is predicting a recession since that's going to risk your job/business/personal finances etc. As far as I know, there's no way to predict a recession until after you're already in one. Sure, a yield curve inversion has preceded every recession in the past ~50 years, but (1) that's only ~5 recessions (2) the inversion has taken place up to 33 months prior to recession and (3) as the Great Recession taught us once again, just because something has been true for many years in the past (housing prices always going up) doesn't mean it'll hold true in the future.

Macroeconomic forecasting is by and large nonsense. The PhD chief (macro)economists from big banks you see on CNBC will, at best, identify some recent trends that could cause the economy to change if said trends continue and, at worst, prognosticate. I wouldn't describe myself as an "economist" since I only hold a bachelor's of science in economics, but the prognosticators do a tremendous disservice to themselves and to the practice of economics.

So should you ignore all economic news and analysis?. No. You might be able to make some vague, general, long-term forecasts, like how I believe that the US economy will remain a major economic power 20 years from now (hence why I'm comfortable squirreling away cash into S&P 500 Vanguard index funds) and that Amazon will probably be a major company for most or all of that period, but I don't pretend to know whether inflation will be below 2% for any fraction of that period, if self-driving cars will replace Uber drivers, or if China's per-capita GDP will exceed that of the US.

You have to be careful to identify what's not knowable even when everyone else believes that something is knowable. When I did debate in high school (circa mid-late 2000s), we had a topic on whether the US government should increase investment in alternative fuels. Many arguments in favor relied on the assumption that oil prices would continue to rise. Some experts debaters cited even suggested the world had already reached "peak oil." Judges were receptive since they were paying $4.00/gallon for gas. Now, of course, if oil is a finite resource and our consumption/drive habits remain the same, oil prices will have to rise eventually without alternative fuels. But few people, including me, (at least few people who got media attention) realized that the then-high oil prices were both (1) inducing previously cost-prohibitive US oil extraction and (2) weakening the incentive of OPEC's members to keep production low. That was a lesson to me: conventional wisdom about the economy, even "wisdom" from "experts" in a segment of the economy, can be wildly inaccurate.

P.S. hot take: while it's clear that humans can and have changed the climate, it's not clear what the tangible effects will be... so while some investment in mitigation may be warranted (especially with respect to obvious pollutants), we should be careful not to incur massive costs today on the assumption that say, Miami will definitely be underwater in 50 years.


>That was a lesson to me: conventional wisdom about the economy, even "wisdom" from "experts" in a segment of the economy, can be wildly inaccurate.

Conventional wisdom is wrong about all kinds of things, all the time. "Forecasts have been wrong, therefore forecasting is pointless" is the wrong lesson to take.


Both of your statements are true. However, I feel it would be a misrepresentation or, at least, a misunderstanding to say I suggested that "forecasts have been wrong, forecasting is pointless."

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your reply or I wasn't clear in my original post. The history of failure of expert consensus forecasts is one reason why we should be highly skeptical. That's why I said such a forecast, and you yourself quoted, "...can be wildly inaccurate" and not, as you suggest I said "...is pointless."

Macroeconomic forecasting is indeed pointless, but for a different reason. Some might say it's pointless because the economy is a (1) complex and (2) chaotic system. The economy is indeed complex and chaotic, but so is the weather... and we can forecast the weather with accuracy and precision macroeconomic forecasters drool over. The economy has two additional and overlapping factors making forecasting effectively impossible: (3) two-way causality between the forecast and the economy (the forecast is based on the predicted behavior of individuals and individuals will change behavior depending on the forecast) and (4) the free will of humans.


   It's just that economics is an odd mix of philosophy and math.
   On my more cranky days I call it astrology for people who know calculus.

This is the quote of the year, as far as I'm concerned.


"All" you have to do is watch "How the economic machine works (in 30 minutes)" by Ray Dalio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHe0bXAIuk0

Read his insights and watch his interviews. That's a good basic start. Everything more then that: Nobody really knows.

I have read countless of books, but one thing you have to know:

It is a market - period. Something has value just because another person wants to buy it (at a given price). That's basically all there is. If you think that some asset is worth more in 10 years then it is now - buy it.

The "markets" go heavily up and down currently. That's just because different people price in the current health crisis in different ways.


For a longer term read I'd recommend Hill & Myatt, the Economics Anti Textbook. It's a fair introduction to Economics 101 but at the same time provides more in depth critique than an introductory book usually would, of where Economics 101 fails, and how it tends to get over-applied in policy.

Ha Joon Chang, Economics: the Users Guide and 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism (don't dismiss it as an anti-capitalist treatise, it's not) are also good, lighter weight (unlike Hill & Myatt no maths) but give an overview of the different schools of economics and what can be drawn from each.


A great follow up in the "New York billionaires explain basics of the economy" curriculum:

William Ackman: Everything You Need to Know About Finance and Investing in Under an Hour | Big Think [0]

Covers the money making, Wall Street side

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEDIj9JBTC8


I found this recent interview [0] of his by TED to be quite insightful.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrxYhv2O3wU


I got about halfway through Principles when it came out and eventually gave up on it (had newborn twins at the time).

Was having a slow morning here so your comment led me on an hour and a half of checking out that video and some of his other content.

His videos seem a lot more approachable than the book.


I wish there was a book (or even video lectures) that goes more in depth, but with the same style as that video.


Not in the same style, but this is the research that the video summary is based upon. https://www.principles.com/big-debt-crises/

It's free


It helps to know what "making sense" means to you? If it means "Will my job be safe for the next 12 months", the reading will be different.

If it means "What 10-15 stocks are poised to give me great returns in the next 5 years", the reading will be different (this would be sector reports, 10-Ks etc)

If it means "how can I ensure that another economic shock won't destroy my wealth or plans for FIRE", the reading will be different.

FWIW, I am finishing up a book called "Contagion" [0] (not the fiction one ) and should start reading "Pale Rider" [1] about the 1918 pandemic. I've found that history offers guidance and opens your mind to possibilities thus offering solace.

[0] https://www.amazon.in/Rules-Contagion-Outbreaks-Infectious-D...

[1] https://www.amazon.in/Pale-Rider-Spanish-Changed-World-ebook...


For a second I thought you were mentioning Pale Horse, Pale Rider


Not reading per se, but I've listened to Marketplace podcast [0] almost daily for years at this point, and I find it invaluable for economic news and interpretation -- especially now.

Also recommend Marketplace's podcast Make Me Smart [1], which is an informal deep dive on a single subject. It's nominally a weekly podcast, but they're now releasing a 10-minute daily version.

Finally, NPR's Planet Money [2] and their daily podcast The Indicator [3] are entertaining and education as well.

[0] https://www.marketplace.org/ [1] https://www.marketplace.org/shows/make-me-smart-with-kai-and... [2] https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510289/planet-money/ [3] https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510325/the-indicator-from-plane...


Honestly, I find Marketplace's obsession with politics annoying. IDK if they just have an easier time sourcing interviews from government officials because public radio or something, but it feels like even in times of non-distress they lean heavy on policy and lean on actual markets.

Look at the non-COVID Make Me Smart topics as an example:

- Housing policy - Corporate social responsibility - food policy to fight global poverty - the equal rights act - facebook and US elections - regulating the internet with section 230 - an interview with a senior politico editor about the school-skills-jobs pipeline - why private equity needs to be regulated

That said, I do appreciate the Marketplace interviews with 'regular small business owners' Marketplace has been doing lately. Ranchers, Mississippi freighters, factory operators, etc.

In terms of other podcasts, Bloomberg's Odd Lots podcast[1] is a nice long form podcast with subject matter experts. Their guests also likely have a political agenda, but you at least get exposed to the inner workings of a market. A recent pair of podcasts provides a good example: a few months ago they talked with a guest about an unusual feature of Korean retail banking, the structured note. They provide investors--primarily retirees--a fixed 7.8 percent return if the market doesn't drop by a huge margin. Otherwise, investors are stuck with the return of the underlying benchmark (which is down a huge margin). Well, last month exactly that exact tail risk scenario triggered, and they brought the guest back on to further discuss how this compares with previous bank crisis episodes.

[1]: https://www.bloomberg.com/podcasts/odd_lots


"I find Marketplace's obsession with politics annoying" Same - seems shallow.


Consider a subscription to the British newspaper The Economist. It began publication in 1848 in protest against the British corn laws. The writing is superlative written with a rather sly sense of humor.

In particular, they collect and graph enormous amounts of data to augment their articles. It's much better than random posts found on the internet.


I think the economist is great in how broad the coverage is, it's a great way to keep up with what's happening around the world. But it tends to have a very ideologically driven narrative, I think of it as basically neoliberal propaganda, so I always read it with a hefty helping of salt.


It isn't neoliberal propaganda, it is just editorially neoliberal. Having some particular editorial voice does not make something propaganda. Similarly, there are many magazines that are editorially progressive or socialist or any number of things, and are also not propaganda. Maybe this is all you meant, but if so, I don't think it is a useful definition of the word "propaganda".


Very well written indeed, unfortunately owned by globalists since 2015 (check out the ownership change, if you are interested [1])

I had been an avid reader for 30 years, cancelled my subscription around 2015-2016, and I was not even aware of the new ownership at the time, I just sensed the change of their ideological orientation and did not like it one bit.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economist_Group


What? They bought up another company in 2015. Not the other way around. Why would that even be a bad thing?


Please read carefully.

The Agnelli family owns 43.4%, members of the Rothschild family own 21%, other big corporate/rich families interests own the rest. Lots of "Sirs", "Ladies" and "Baronesses" on the board of directors, as you can see below.

From the Wikipedia page:

Pearson PLC held a 50% shareholding via The Financial Times Limited until August 2015; at that time Pearson sold their share in the Economist. The Agnelli family's Exor paid £287m to raise their stake from 4.7% to 43.4%, while the Economist paid £182m for the balance of 5.04m shares which will be distributed to current shareholders.[2] Aside from the Agnelli family, smaller shareholders in the company include Cadbury, Rothschild (21%), Schroder, Layton and other family interests as well as a number of staff and former staff shareholders.[2][3]

The current members of the board of directors of The Economist Group are: Rupert Pennant-Rea (Chairman), Zanny Minton Beddoes (editor-in-chief of The Economist), Lady Suzanne Heywood, Brent Hoberman, Sir David Bell, John Elkann, Alex Karp, Sir Simon Robertson, Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Chris Stibbs and Baroness Jowell.[12]

Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild publicly supports many politicians including Hillary Clinton.


Isn't your thesis that this situation changed in 2015? I don't know for sure, but I always assumed the Economist has always been run by a bunch of Sirs and Ladies... I have read and quite liked the magazine for a couple decades and they have seemed consistently elitist, pro-market, and globalist during that time. It is something I like, that they have a strong identifiable editorial perspective, unlike newspapers that have some claim to neutrality, which mostly makes their biases harder to delineate and more arguable.


Whether it is the Sirs/Ladies, or the Elkanns or the Rothschilds, they are interested in continuing the current status quo, enriching the 1% that they belong to, at the cost of everyone else.

The Economist used to be pro-small-business free market. At some point they started justifying outsourcing as "free trade", which benefited big companies like Apple, etc. and stagnated or starved small businesses (and the productivity/innovation that comes from it), not to mention labor providers (even highly educated ones, such as software engineers :-))

This has proven to be quite bad for the US and Europe (except the 1%, whose interests The Economist represents through ownership) - and it may get even worse when money-printing will stop working at some point.


You are missing my point: this has always been their editorial stance. It may have always been a reason not to read them if you're not into it, but it's not a new reason.


As I mentioned I had been a subscriber for 30 years.

And no, I am not missing your point. There was a clear change in direction a few years ago - as I mentioned, I sensed it, but was not aware of the ownership change at the time.

You either did not notice or you just started reading them - good for you. Enjoy.


You may be right, but I don't see it. I have been reading since about 2005 and I don't recall seeing a strong stance against outsourcing at any point in that time. It would have struck me as surprising if I had, since they are broadly in favor of free trade, and outsourcing clearly fits the bill (even if you put it in scare quotes).

I don't really disagree with you about any of the points you're making, which means I often or usually don't agree with the Economist on these points, I just think it's a weird critique of the Economist to accuse them of being globalist, free trade, neoliberals; to me it's like, yeah, they are the Economist... It seems like accusing Jacobin of being socialist.

Maybe this change happened before 2005? I'd be interested in seeing some receipts. Are there some anti-outsourcing articles from way back that I've missed?


I noticed the change as well, but didn't think to investigate. Thanks for surfacing this information.


so where do we go now?


I'm confused by this thread: I've been reading the Economist since quite awhile before 2015 and I don't think its editorial stance has changed significantly; it has always been pro-globalism, pro-trade, pro-market, generally what I'd describe as neoliberal. If anything, the shift I detected in their views was toward more government intervention and regulation, coming out of the great recession. I'm very skeptical of the idea that there was an inflection point toward globalism in 2015.

So to answer your question: if you want what the Economist gives, you don't need to go anywhere else.


Where to begin? I’ve been reading about economics for about 15 years, and I have to say that this crisis has brought a level of clarity about certain economic truths that I never would have seen otherwise.

First: accounting. I got an MBA five years ago and accounting was my favorite subject because it is behind everything that a business does. Accounting is the instrumentation that allows humans to organize their activity across tremendous scale and complexity and still be confident that they are producing value (making a profit). In the modern economy, accounting is everything. Try reading Jerome Levy’s “Where Profits Come From” to check your accounting chops: https://www.levyforecast.com/assets/Profits.pdf


Interesting take on accounting - I've never understood why anyone competent would be drawn to it.


Should be the top comment. Accounting is everything. It is the physics of the economy.

There is a common fiction to money matters that everyone has to share- whether or not they know it- and the language in which that fiction is written is accounting.


"There is a common fiction to money matters that everyone has to share- whether or not they know it- and the language in which that fiction is written is accounting."

Poetic.


I'm surprised no one has mentioned Basic Economics[1] by Thomas Sowell.

It's a fairly detailed book but it's worth the time. If you're too busy to read a whole book, you might want to take a look at "Economics in One Lesson" [2] by Herny Hazlitt.

The foundation for economic education[3] has some great articles too about economics and public choice.

[1]https://www.amazon.com/Basic-Economics-Thomas-Sowel/dp/04650... [2] https://fee.org/media/14946/economicsinonelesson.pdf [3] https://fee.org


Real Vision Finance by Raoul Pal and others. They are a subscription based macro-finance and economic analysis platform with some of the highest quality interviews I've ever seen on this subject. Raoul and his team are great synthesizers and do a great job at pulling in people from different disciplines and specialties. They release daily updates and have an interview catalog going back several years. They have many free videos on their YouTube channel but I pay for the subscription and it's been well worth it. Check out their YouTube channel:

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCBH5VZE_Y4F3CMcPIzPEB5A


The only school that has any explanation for this is the Austrian School of Economics. Their theory of the business cycle is the reason they successfully predict every crisis to the tee (except for timing, no one can do that), while other economists are just blown away in surprise that it even happened.

Mises and Hayek wrote big and hard to read books about it, but two that explain this to the layman are "Meltdown" by Tom Woods[0] and "How An Economy Grows And Why It Crashes" by Peter Schiff[1]. The first is an explanation using the 2008 crisis, and the second is a very amusing yet educating economy lesson told as a kids' story.

Another book that can help grasp this, although I wouldn't read it first, is "The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself" by James Grant.

If you're interested in the actual business cycle theory, Tom Woods explained it briefly while promoting Meltdown. Explanation starts 14:03:

https://youtu.be/NBwJm68FkMc?t=844

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Meltdown-Economy-Tanked-Government-Ba...

[1] https://www.amazon.com/How-Economy-Grows-Why-Crashes/dp/B004...


The Austrian School seems to have been wrong about the last 15 years' money printing causing inflation. In particular, the general Austrian school would have predicted a lot more inflation by now. The prediction on this has fared so poorly that the last 15 years has given rise to a school nearly diametrically opposite to the Austrian school: modern monetary theory. (My understanding of the Austrian response to this is some amount of semantic contorting: "well... let's define inflation this way and there is inflation... or will be... lots of it!")

Also, current consensus, of course among mainstream economists, is that countries that more believe the Austrian school, like Germany, has caused unneeded pain on themselves/their neighbors by advocating of austerity versus stimulus during downturns. If you want the mainstream steelman against the Austrian school, you can search Paul Krugman's take on them.


This kind of rebuttal to the Austrian school is often based upon a misguided idea of monetary neutrality. Inflation does not happen everywhere in the economy at the same time - this is called the Cantillon effect and is a central pillar of Austrian Business Cycle Theory.

You are right, there is very little inflation in the consumer price index (at least nominally), but there is a significant amount of inflation in assets and other parts of the economy that are relatively close to the central bank/printing press. Inflated Silicon Valley salaries, maintained by an influx of VC money bidding up the price of labour, are a great example of this.


I think there is a lot of inflation if you measure it properly. We say inflation is low because we adjust for quality. So they say sure, a car costs more now than in 2000 but it has more features so if you adjust for quality it is cheaper. Same goes for other goods like computers, smartphones, etc. The problem is, the cheaper versions of these goods don't exist anymore, because the more expensive version is effectively required to not handicap yourself.

Similarly, things like housing, healthcare costs, schooling costs, etc. are not well captured by the inflation metric, but have grown wildly in the last few decades.

The purchasing power of the average person is probably worse now than it was in 2007 if you look at what people actually have to spend money on versus the artificial basket of quality adjusted goods used to measure inflation.


The government changed the way they measured inflation to purposefully downplay it. For example, if they were measuring the cost of Levi's jeans, and they went up too high, they would replace them in their index with cheaper non-name brand jeans to show that inflation didn't occur.

And same thing goes with groceries. When ice cream used to be a pint, it's now 14 oz. They have decreased the size of things like food packages over the last 15 years, and I don't think that's taken into consideration in the inflation index. Recently they decreased the size of orange juice by 15% but kept the price the same. That is the definition of inflation.


I recently read of an alternate measure of inflation called the "Cost of Thriving Index" which aimed to capture the astute point you're making. See page 18 of this document:

https://media4.manhattan-institute.org/sites/default/files/t...

I'm not economist but I've found this captures the feeling that although we're more productive and wealthier, it still feels harder to get ahead and live an average life.


Are you aware of the stock market, housing market, bond market, precious metals? Asset price inflation absolutely is happening. The FED up until now was able to keep the CPI increases fairly low even though they were creating trillions of dollars, because the money was locked into assets. This has had a severe effect on anyone in the market for these assets that have risen.


How do the assets lock up money?

The stock market, no matter how enormous it's market cap, doesn't lock up any money. When I pay through the nose for Tesla stock, the other fellow then has some money that he either has to spend or park somewhere.


Leverage and subsidies. The money did not exist to begin with, hence the FED balance sheet and gov't debt.

The money is funneled into these assets by regulatory incentives 401k, HUD, federal student loans, etc. The seller's money goes toward that as well.


I still don't understand. After all those assets have increased in price, the money is still not 'locked up'.


I forgot to mention that China sells us consumer goods at a very low price, keeping CPI down. With the dollars we give them for their goods they purchase US companies, bonds, and real estate. This pushes up prices of the assets they purchase. If the Chinese did not devalue their currency, americans would not be able to afford their products and we would see a rise in the CPI.


Cheap Chinese goods are indeed a boon to the rest of the world. Very nice of China.


I though that, from the Austrian perspective, the stock market would be one of the last things to see inflation. Are not suppose the prices of stocks reflect the aggregate infinite wisdom of the market?


If the money supply was increased across the board this would likely be the case. However, the FED bank no longer operates in the way it was statutorily mandated originally. The FED purchases assets that inflate the stock market indirectly. The Federal subsidies and regulations combine with this to keep the money propping up the assets mentioned(gold only because of it being a historic hedge).


If you're talking about the U.S. that's mainly due to our reserve currency status and nothing else. And the money printing has driven certain sectors higher even in the face of low / stagnant growth. Stocks, real estate, etc being some of them.

But you gotta understand that we export a great deal of our inflation. One day those dollars will come home to roost, but until then, Germany's balance sheet looks a hell of a lot better than the U.S.'s. going into this recession. Our deficit is already $3 trillion this year and climbing rapidly, with debt levels reaching their highest in relative terms since World War 2. And we haven't even scratched the surface of this deep recession yet.


The American Dollar was the world's reserve currency in the 1970s as well. They still managed high inflation.

The subdued American inflation despite QE has a more technical and contingent explanation: the Fed started paying Interest on Excess Reserves (IOER) in 2008. Ie they reward banks for keeping the money they are printing out of the economy.

Most of the time since then, the interest on short term US government bonds hasn't been much higher than the interest on excess reserves. So there hadn't been much aggregate economic impact when the Fed bought government bonds with new money.

The banks slightly preferred excess reserves over government bonds, because they regulators preferred them.

The QE was 'sterilized' by IOER.


We decoupled from the gold standard in 1971, so there was quite a bit of digestion that had to occur with the switch to fiat. I agree the Fed has acted to keep a lot of money out of the economy but our M1 money supply is still only just over $4 trillion. However, if you look at dollar denominated debt in the world it is probably more than $100 trillion...so ironically there's more demand for dollars than there ever has been (as those debts must be paid in dollars), which has caused deflationary pressure on the USD.


That sounds like a very ad hoc explanation, what about Japan then?


Supply and demand applies to money and velocity of money matters. The velocity of money in Japan has declined along with the aging population. This is a problem we face in the U.S. as well. So you can't just look at M1 money supply in isolation to determine if market will show inflation or deflation in prices.


Krugman's going to supply your steelman? Sorry, no. Krugman has a Nobel, but when he writes (at least for the last decade or two), he does so primarily as a propagandist, and secondarily (if at all) as an economist.

There's plenty of actual mainstream economists that can give you steelman responses to Austrian Economics. Don't go get them from Krugman. You won't get good steel from him; it will have too much straw in it.


Who would you point out as a steelman? I'd love to find a proper, thorough critic of the Austrian school.


Ah, um, well... I don't actually have one in hand. There have to be some (I assume), but I can't point you to one. My point was, Krugman may have a response, but don't think of it as a steelman response.


"is that countries that more believe the Austrian school, like Germany"

As a german, this is news to me. Austrian school stands mostly for a free market without or as little as possible state interventions and regulations: a idea very frowned upon here generally and usually rather associated with the US


> Their theory of the business cycle is the reason they successfully predict every crisis to the tee (except for timing, no one can do that), while other economists are just blown away in surprise that it even happened.

A prediction without timing is no prediction at all.


Also, I fail to see how an economic theory can predict a depression caused by a pandemic...


This crisis was not caused by the Corona virus. It is only the pin that burst a bubble that was already there, and if no virus would have happened, something else would have burst it. Austrians see the depression as a necessary correction, and the bubble as a problem.

I actually sat down for a few hours to calculate what would have happened if this pandemic happened in the 50s, and no one could work (especially true since there was no internet). Seems like people saved enough for a year at home, on average. Today people are so levered up not only do they not have savings, they have to pay back debt.


There’s no way we can assume that the coronavirus was a pin to a bubble.

Look at the unemployment claims chart. This has never happened before in the entire 20th century. That’s not a pin. That’s a collapse in employment.

It doesn’t really matter whether or not people have savings.

Economic recessions don’t mean “people don’t have their savings anymore.” They’re a reduction in economic activity. That doesn’t have to happen because people are literally out of money, it can happen because people are unwilling to spend as much as they used to.

Take the best-off person right now as an example. They still have a job, working from home. They have 6-12 months of emergency fund. Despite all this, are they going to buy anything but essentials right now? Plus, in many cases, they don’t have a choice. They’re not allowed to pay for their gym membership. They’re not allowed to take dance classes. They’re not allowed to go on vacation.

They’re sitting at home buying groceries and nothing else just like the person with no savings.


Less a pin to a bubble, more a wrecking ball to a house made of sticks

Effectively shutting down more than half of all business is slightly more than bursting a bubble. It is world war II scale event, with exception that there is no war that could take all the unemployed hands to the front and to producing weapons.


> Effectively shutting down more than half of all business is slightly more than bursting a bubble. It is world war II scale event,

But let's not forget that this wasn't caused by the virus itelf, it was consciously decided by politicians to trade an (unknown in magnitude) risk for a huge recession.


That seems a bit semantic given that even cartel run Favellas quarantined and they are money over life. It is a bit "I didn't murder the person I kidnapped, they committed suicide." Technically true but the responsibility is the same as if they had.


Are you seriously using (some) Favellas as a benchmark for reasonable assessment of a pandemic? Some people are scared. It won't affect the inherent risk associated with the virus.


This pandemic is more like a cruise missile than a pin.

I've been saying for a few years that a recession is coming but I'm not going to pretend I thought it would be started by an event like this. Recessions are simply a natural part of the business cycle and after such a long 'boom' period there was certain to be one eventually.


==Seems like people saved enough for a year at home, on average. Today people are so levered up not only do they not have savings, they have to pay back debt.==

Odd that you don’t mention wages. Seems like middle-income wages are stagnant while housing, healthcare and education get more and more expensive. Not hard to see how that would cut into household budgets and encourage debt.


We are de facto not in a bubble. Market growth over the last decade has been steady and healthy. A long term bull market does not define a bubble.


The Fed artificially lowered the interbank rate to zero percent for ~7 years after 2008, bought other treasuries across the yield curve, and bought trillions in mortgage backed securities. This created an environment that disincentivized saving and encouraged borrowing for both individuals and businesses alike. The market growth over the past 10 years was completely fueled by this artificially cheap credit. The economy was already extremely fragile before the coronavirus hit due to how over leveraged everyone was.


> A long term bull market does not define a bubble.

No, but inverted yield curves do.


The only thing that defines a bubble is the post fact realization that it burst.


A P/E ratio of 94.33 for Amazon is surely a bubble.


P/E ratio is only meaningful for companies with little or no revenue growth. For companies with very strong revenue growth, like Amazon, revenue growth is financed with earnings, which creates a misleadingly high P/E ratio. Investors know this. For these companies, it is more useful to look at metrics like market cap/revenue to determine if they are overpriced, which at 3-4x for Amazon is in a very healthy range. Simple metrics like P/E ratio tell you little about the health of a company when taken out of context; a low P/E ratio is often a sign of a failing company.

As more of the largest companies in the market exhibit strong revenue growth, it drives the P/E ratio of the broader market higher without implying anything about the underlying equities.


Why? Has Amazon stopped growing, does it have 100% market share, are competitors closing up?


Isn't that the whole essence's of Nassim's Taleb work? He actually makes the opposite claim, that a model that doesn't takes extreme events into the equation is not worth anything at all.


I predict it will rain after a sunny day.

Some day.


Then you should buy umbrellas, and not listen to people saying it'll be sunny forever.


> The only school that has any explanation for this is the Austrian School of Economics.

I doubt it’s the only ‘school’ that has an explanation. That there are cycles in the economy isn’t a very strong statement. Nor does it seem to apply here because this is a different cause than one underpinning a typical business cycle.

Until this virus is wrestled to the ground somehow (e.g. distancing, sterilization, vaccine, herd immunity, etc...), we’ll continue to see mitigating effects which distort the picture of normalcy pre-2020.


Well, they have a proven track record of predicting crises in a very precise manner. You can just browse YouTube to see it.

See other comments of my explaining the virus is a pin that burst a bubble already there.


No one sane thinks it will be sunny forever, and there is great economic cost in carrying around a bunch of umbrellas when the sun is shining overhead.


You should take a look at mainstream suggestions during 2006-07.


You should take a look at austrian suggestions 2009-2019.


Then there is alot of insane people, and a lot of them are in government. That's why we need to have this conversation.


It definitely is. The Austrians are very prepared for this crisis, and it seems like it was useful to some people shorting in 2006-2008.


The Austrian school predicted a disease-related economic crisis?


The Corona virus is just a pin to a bubble that's there for years. See my other comment explaining this.


In what ways are they more prepared for this crisis than anyone else?


Most Austrians I've heard see this to be a dollar crisis:

US has huge debt -> No US politician will ever default on it -> They will print money to pay it -> Dollar loses value.

That's fairly simplified but I hope you get the point. Since they see this as a dollar crisis, they are busy buying gold, silver, gold stocks, and assets in countries that have dollar-denominated debt.

I'm going to add my 2 cents here and say that in my opinion, if the Corona situation will be solved quickly enough, or at least be perceived to be solved by the public, a rush of optimism will allow the fed to inflate the bubble and postpone (and worsen) the depression.


The best theory I've seen for crash cycles is:

1. The establishment encourages making credit widely available in order to pacify the less well off who would otherwise demand a better deal out of the social contract.

2. This leads to unsustainable debt, as people are forced into borrowing to meet basic needs with no means to pay it back.

3. Eventually this comes to a head as people begin to default, causes a cascading chain through the economy as people are unable to meet their obligations, leading to crash.

4. At which point, governments step in and debt is forgiven, correcting the imbalance created in step 1.

Seemed to make a lot of sense to me. And the interesting thing is that it suggests a solution: replace widely available credit with direct wealth redistribution and you end up with the same net effect (as the debts are being forgiven in the end anyway), but without the destructive boom-bust cycles.


The establishment you describe in step 1 is the government. Wall street could not do what they do now without government involvement. They will run out of money, and have to suffer the losses of the bad loans they make, instead of relying on the Fed to save them by depreciating the money of regular working people.


Agreed. Although one might note that those involved in wall-street are highly likely to be amongst those voting for conservative governments that are enacting these policies.


Both aisles, conservatives and leftists, support Cronyism with their actions. It was the Bush adminstration that came up with the plan the save Wall Street, and it was Obama's that passed that plan, in one form or another.


Agreed that cronyism is a problem across the political spectrum. Supporting cheap debt, and its use as a tool to prop up political support for otherwise uneven wealth distribution is something else though. Letting organisations like Wall Street pay for their stupid risks is one way of dealing with the problem. But IMO not particularly workable one due to all of the colateral damage it would inflict on ordinary people. We need to prevent this behaviour before it happens. That means making our economy less reliant on finance.

I would argue that there has been no truly left government in either the US or the UK (where I live) since Reagan/Thatcher introduced this style of economics in the 80s.


The way I see it, it's the cheap money problem. Big businesses with lots of capital are incentivized to borrow cheap money and make stupid investments with that borrowed money.


> 2. This leads to unsustainable debt, as people are forced into borrowing to meet basic needs with no means to pay it back.

People borrow for much more than basic needs and they do so voluntarily without anyone forcing them. This does not substantially affect your logic, but I think lots of the blame for mismanaging debt lies at the people in debt themselves.


Hmm... they do, but this is actively incentivised with low interest rates, which directly inventivise borrowing, and also have secondary effects, such as easily available mortgages leading to increased house prices, which leads to further borrowing.

You can also see this in student loans. Sure, people volutarily choose to take them out. But this is because they live in a society where access to a lot of jobs is gated on having a degree, and degrees are so expensive that a loan is the only option more often than not.


> People borrow for much more than basic needs and they do so voluntarily without anyone forcing them.

People can be forced without there being an "anyone" to do the forcing. Being underemployed in some expensive city, unable to make your next car payment that you need to get to your job doesn't require an "anyone" to force that person into a loan at gunpoint. They're still being coerced into that decision, even if there isn't an "anyone."


How does step 2 work? Are the creditors fools?


Lol, I'm not as familiar with some of the other economists, but these days I'm always amused by the bloviating of Peter Schiff when I hear him on TV.

The biggest thing I find incomprehensible is this belief that when a recession or crisis hits, you have to let pretty much everything go to shit so the bad firms can get wiped away and better, more innovative firms can take their place. On the face of it, that is very reasonable, and I certainly worry about the moral hazard of bailout after bailout.

But at the same time, Schiff seems to incomprehensibly believe that our political systems live in a world separate from our economic ones. There is just no way the populace at large in a liberal democracy would stand for a deep recession/depression without demanding the government do something to soften the blow. There is even less of a chance of that happening with a command-control/fascist type economy. This fantasy that he believes that people would just stand idly by thinking "thank God the free market is clearing out the detritus!" while they lose their jobs is laughable at this point.


A very simplified version of Austrian economics boom and bust cycles would be that central banks provides money too cheaply which leads to non productive investments resulting in a first a boom and then a bust when those investments don't pan out. Worth noting is that empirical evidence for this is slim at best. I think a better explanation for the 2008 crisis is that commercial banks mismanaged risk of mortgage backed securities. And I have a hard time seeing the current crisis having anything to do with cheap money


You should check out corporate debt levels over the last 10 years.


The response of governments around the world doesn’t look like it’s been informed by Austrian economics, and in places which have implemented some kind of policy derived from MMT (esp. Australia) things have been looking pretty good. What would Austrian economic policy have done differently and better?


Maybe I'm don't understand it properly, but it seems to me that Austrian economics would predict hyperinflation and high interest rates in Japan the last twenty years when the opposite have happened.

As you say Modern Monetary Theory models predict Japan and, also, the missing depressions in Australia.


Their central bank practically nationalized the entire economy:

https://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/economic-synops...

As for Australia they are heading into a deep recession as we speak and who knows if it will be a depression or not but given the state of the world, odds are reasonable.


I’m on the same team as you, but this is dangerous advice to take because that’s not the world we live in. Don’t buy gold because you expect the sky to fall tomorrow. In 20 years? Yeah, we’re pretty fucked. But right now? Markets can always stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.


> Markets can always stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.

That's very true. People will read and decide for themselves.


I disagree that ABC is the only school of thought that has an explanation. Almost every economic school of thought can discuss decreases in aggregate demand and aggregate supply. Not every school of thought may have theories regarding the drivers thereof, which is a feature ABC spends a lot of time on, but some do and most can assess and even build predictions for anticipation.

As an example where ABC will go off the rails, our current crisis is not one build up due to overage in inventory, a favored ideal rationale for ABC to explain the business cycle. Much more explanatory, surprisingly, is Keynesian animal spirits.


The thrust of ABC is that artificially cheap credit, induced by the central bank, causes malinvestment. Interest rates are signals of risk. When you artificially lower interest rates, people take on more debt than they normally would and invest in capital improvements that only make sense in a low interest rate environment. When the central bank attempts to raise those interest rates to the natural level, or there’s a large change in consumer preferences that causes a drop in aggregate demand, all of those over leveraged business fail en masse, which results in layoffs, reduced production, and falling asset prices. It has nothing to do with inventory.


It does. What do you do with the capital malinvestment? Build up inventory consumers don't want or aren't paying enough for, resulting in layoffs, lost revenue, etc.

The central bank is not the only interest rate driver, as the last 5 years have shown, especially for rates of long tenure bonds. But, regardless of drivers, malinvestment certainly does occur.


I don't think the Austrian School explains what's happened so far, but may help explain some of what is to come. Everything we've seen so far is simply the result of people not being able to operate their businesses. What we will soon see is businesses closing down and probably mass default on debt.

I do believe that the Keynesian economics that has been practiced for the last few decades has left the global economy woefully unprepared and venerable. Low interest rates have fuelled massive asset price inflation and encouraged governments, businesses, and individuals to take on far more debt than is prudent.


Keynesian economics has been practiced for the last few decades? Where? They don't call it the neoliberal period for nothing.

If you are talking about the QE programs, that's what Keynesian economics would call "pushing a string". Keynesian would be fiscal policies, not monetary policies.


> Keynesian would be fiscal policies

Well most governments around the world have been running deficits (the US to the tune of~$1T annually) since the last recession. I consider that to be some pretty serious fiscal stimulus.


Most governments have been running deficits since forever, not since the last recession, after all, if there is economic grow, new money have to be created, and all money is originated in government spending.

But that's just a reality of how the economy works, that doesn't mean necessarily that Keynesian policies are followed (beyond the automatic stabilizers that are certainly Keynesian in design). Keynesian policies would be to try to offset a fall in aggregated demand by increasing fiscal spending, and that have been taboo since the 80's


> Most governments have been running deficits since forever

I don't think that's a fair assessment. The US has certainly been running deficits for a long time but the deficits of the last 10 year have been much larger (as a percentage of GDP) [1]. Some other countries [the exception not the rule] have been more prudent with their finances. In my part of the world New Zealand has been running a surplus since 2015 and prior to COVID-19 starting Australia was due to have a small surplus this year for the first time since the GFC.

> Keynesian policies would be to try to offset a fall in aggregated demand by increasing fiscal spending

I guess you can argue that spending hasn't been Keynesian enough.

[1] https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/government-budget


>>"Some other countries [the exception not the rule] have been more prudent with their finances"

I'm going to dispute that this have something to do with "prudence".

If an economy grows (bigger GDP), that means that more money is spent in the economy. That money have to come from somewhere otherwise there will be not grow (1).

New Zealand have a positive commercial balance, that's where the money is coming from. Obviously, not all the countries can be net exporters at the same time.

If the USA government were running a surplus instead of a deficit, they will not be being more prudent, but less. Running that surplus would mean that the GDP doesn't grow or that the private debt increase (after all, money has to come from somewhere). Private debt is a lot more dangerous that public debt.

On the other hand, if New Zealand government, with a positive commercial balance, has an economy a full utilization (I don't know if that is the case) and run a deficit, they will create inflationary pressures on the economy.

(1) - http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=21287


Predict every crisis to the tee? Citation needed. Reminds me of the economists have "predicted nine of the last five American recessions."


According to Wikipedia, inverted yield curves are good predictors for economic recession.

After about 12 months in average from when the inversion stars, the recession will start itself. >"All the recessions in the US since 1970 (up through 2018) have been preceded by an inverted yield curve (10-year vs 3-month). Over the same time frame, every occurrence of an inverted yield curve has been followed by recession as declared by the NBER business cycle dating committee.[12] The yield curve became inverted in the first half of 2019, for the first time since 2007." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yield_curve


> they successfully predict every crisis to the tee (except for timing

What does this mean?


They describe the source of the problem, the way it will affect the market, and the extent of the effect, usually.


I'm sad that economic cycles are considered a natural law, rather than something to be mitigated or designed away.

FWIW, Richard D. Wolff doesn't accept crashes as a given. He advocates worker self-directed enterprises as a mitigation. Having done some workplace democracy (am a huge fan), I regard his effort as more aspirational than prescriptive, but it's nice to have people floating new ideas.


"The only school that has any explanation for this is the Austrian School of Economics. Their theory of the business cycle is the reason they successfully predict every crisis to the tee (except for timing, no one can do that), while other economists are just blown away in surprise that it even happened."

Mises is a big joke. Never made it past assistant professor. Never worked a day of his live in private enterprise. His theories describe barter economies in the middle ages; alas this quite well. Due to his lack of understanding of the principal nature of capitalism he offer no insights into economics.

"Credit expansion can bring about a temporary boom. But such a fictitious prosperity must end in a general depression of trade, a slump."

Ludwig von Mises

Von an outstanding an deep insight, not. While not explicit mentioning it, he suggests that this is a bad thing. Trick question: What kind of boom does not bring a credit expansion with it? His quote is just a tautology and offers no insight. Yes, the boom/bust cycle is an inherent feature of capitalism.


1) Steal manhole cover 2) Sell to junkyard for drugs 3) Take drugs whilst waiting for it to be replaced 4) Repeat


Behavioral Economics - Thaler Kahneman Tversky et Al.

If you are referencing to the fallout from covid, it's essentially the effect of global commerce coming to screeching halt.

As CEO of GS said, no one has a clue on what's going to happen in Q2 and beyond, and if they say they do, they are BS'g.

It's a Black swan event. Most forecasting models are ineffective. Whether it would be a V, U, L recession is anyone's guess. As it all depends on how politicians react, ie. How late they are to lockdown and how long they will be in that state. Which perhaps is outside the realm of traditional economics. Hence my suggestion.


It's NOT a black swan event.


Not the OP but we've last had a pandemic of such proportions 100 years ago, and back then the world was not as inter-connected and inter-dependent as it is right now. Even during WW1 and WW2 industry and the economy itself were working (sometimes at full capacity), a fact that it is not happening right now. We've never had half of the planet's population in some sort of lockdown, that is the definition of a "black sawn event".

Yeah, one could say that things could have been better prepared (I'm in that camp), but one can never truly prepare for half of the working population being put on indeterminate leave on such great a scale.


Black Swan events are unknown unknowns. White swan events are known unknowns. Pandemics are White Swan events.


So by your reasoning, a large asteroid discovered to hit earth a month from now would be a white swan event, because we always knew it could happen.


An asteroid is definitionally a Grey Swan. Very unlikely to happen, and of great impact, but still considered possible. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/grey-swan.asp

COVID-19s impact wasn't nearly unpredictable or unprecedented enough to be defined as a Black Swan imo. I did know many people both in real life and online who were concerned about it before the impact, considerably different from e.g. 2008 financial crisis.


Thomas Sowell - he has many great books about economical principles - "Basic Economics" itself is extremely educational, and is regularly updated with examples of recent History.


Haven't read his econ book, but really loved Cosmic Justice. The guy is brilliant.

Beyond that, if you want something kind of fringe but real time, ZeroHedge is interesting. Lots of chaff, but some of the wheat is insightful.


Thanks for the recommendation of Cosmic Justice, I was not aware of that book of his. Will definitely have a look!


The markets and the economy move so fast now I prefer content which updates very regularly. A lot of material is simply outdated.

Real vision[0] has some really good content. It's not super easily digestable for someone not in professional finance but I think finance is just too complicated to simplify and not lose a lot of nuance. I'm trying to learn and have to look up a lot of stuff but it has been fun. I think they have 1 month trial for $1. I recommend Raoul Pal's recent video "The Unfolding" as a starting point.

I also think Macro Voices[1] podcasts are very solid. Again not very easy content but experts in various fields help to make sense of the bigger picture. You can choose a bit depending on what you're interested in (gold, bitcoin, bonds etc).

It's worth noting that NOBODY knows what is really going to happen, all you can do is try to get informed opinions and set probabilities. If you're looking for investment advice trying to time the market or sectors, I would stop looking. The uncertainty does not favour amateurs in my opinion.

[0]https://www.realvision.com/tv/home

[1]https://www.macrovoices.com/


Nassim N. Taleb, author of BlackSwan books. His thinking about risk/probability is timeless. Frequently publishes links to his papers and debunks the BS-peddlers on his twitter: https://twitter.com/nntaleb


I liked Taleb's "The Black Swan" but find his Twitter persona grating. He displays an attitude of, "anyone who doesn't agree with me is dumb". I think the opposite is needed now. Complex and difficult issues are better approached with humility, and a frank and open discussion of uncertainty.


There was a particularly childish fight between Taleb and Nate Silver about a year ago on Twitter. I couldn't stand following either of them after that and I haven't looked back.


Wasn't there a similarly childish fight between Taleb and Pinker, too? That kind of thing is embarrassing. I haven't read Taleb but I enjoy the occasional Pinker and don't want to see him engaged in pointless ego fights.


I used to think highly of Pinker, but IMHO in his discussions with Taleb he lost credibility. The discussions were not pointless ego fights, but Taleb exposed some of Pinker's main claims as pseudoscience and Pinker haven't really recovered.


On Twitter, for him, it is a completely justifiable approach, and he would be correct 99.99% of times.


I don't mind arrogance on public personas[^] who are very good at what they do. Think Steve Jobs arrogance. Think José Mourinho "I'm the special one" in 2004. I read it as putting your (reputational) neck on the line. "I'm so sure of this assertion that I'm risking my reputation here.". Taleb is one such brilliant mind.

The downside to arrogance is that it will tank your reputation if you fail. This may be too early in History, and too politically charged to use as an example, but think Trump.

[^] on personal interactions, though, I find arrogance a repellent trait.


He's only arrogant to people covertly arrogant.


Sorry, are you referring to Kaleb or Trump? thanks


A perhaps more important downside to arrogance is that hubris leads to blindness. One can be so blinded by the light of one's own brilliance that one fails to see beyond it. Intellectual humility, therefore, is the recognition of our limitations and helps us remain open to new information.


I like Taleb and really enjoyed Anti-Fragile and The Black Swan. His personality doesn't bother me too much, but I do think those two books could be 1/3 the size.


After reading through the comments, I'd like to approach from a different angle.

Summary: you better of learning more about human behavior, and how we operate on a daily basis then reading every book on economy.

When I heard in 2008 as a kid, that the world is in a financial crisis because the investors are scared, I had no idea what is going in. I was like, those people are grown man, how come they fear something they do all the time? And why does investors mood correlates to financials? How can a grown man have a fear of investing as an investor, it was odd at a time for me. Then I went ahead and played outside like nothing is happening.

I've read a lot of books just about everything, like on every topics i could get my hands on. Some of em are: Thinking, Fast and Slow, The power of habbit, Deep Simplicity, Intelligent Investor and much more, not exclusively from hackernewsbooks.com.[0]

I always arrived at the conclusion of the market is eventually run by people(no shit). At some point in time people come up with the idea of having a stock exchange or whatever you want to call it. Without people it would be non-functional, non-existent. So if you want to know about the working of market, you better of reading about humans, human mind. What drives us, why we do things, fears, and so much more. And the best thing about this is that you can see for yourself, it feels I am doing a research, but on myself. There is not a single silver bullet in this topics of course, but one book I most often hear is Thinking, Fast and Slow, mentioned before, its really worth to read it!

Sometimes its driven by fear, like right now. In 2008 it was greed (yeah its usually not just one thing, but you get the idea). So at the why and how, I usually end up with human behavior. And since you cant determine what someone is going to do, feel or think, you cant really tell what is going to happened next, or in the future. But after reading more and more about humans, it gets a little bit clearer as you read more books and connect the dots. And you are going to experience everything for yourself. You can be your own research subject. The past couple of years I've been doing that and I really enjoying it.

[0]: https://hackernewsbooks.com/book/thinking-fast-and-slow/8e66...


We will never agree in what makes sense explaining economy because it's a political question. The first thing to do, in my opinion, is to accept that.

For me, personally, after trying to make sense for a while using the mainstream narrative, the only thing that worked was Modern Monetary Theory. Their explanation of the banking system is based in how it really works (mainstream textbooks don't), the sectoral balances framework (1) gives you a tool to think in terms of aggregate demand and their theory explain things that mainstream have problems with (like public debt ratios and inflation and interest rates relationships). There is a textbook available(2).

1.- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sectoral_balances 2.- http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?page_id=33139


I'm keeping an eye on initial jobless claims and BLS unemployment statistics. I'm concerned that it's a cascading effort as fewer workers means less spending means less earnings means fewer workers and the cycle continues. Obviously the government has levers to try to ease the pain (lower interest rates, pass stimulus bills), but it's not yet clear how sufficient these levers will be.


Yeah, that's a recession. But we'll probably see a lot of helicopter money going forward, and some sort of global New Deal in many countries after the virus is gone.


Capital and Ideology - Piketty

very approachable for an intimidatingly huge book


You will see mentalities lean more towards a cell based distrubution system over a global one and by that, production spread more with many countries waking up to being dependant upon others and looking at it as if they are at war with a country that makes all the guns in the world style thinking will play out politicaly more.

So a shift away form outsourcing, at least outsourcing out of country in full as has been the case in many area's of production alone.

Equally, resource/asset stripping may well be rife in the fallout with the ability to buy up companies cheaper and be instances in which those value of assets changing quicker than the company values them. They may own some unused warehouses that on the books been almost written off and yet perfect venue for manufacturing boom.

But so many things so high up in the air, you can never see a true picture of tomorrow, but can get some idea's and those ideas will change and flesh out in the long-run. But it's the overall trends and psychology is probably as useful a skill in predicting the markets than maths in today's times. Which kinda shows how up in the air everything is.

Only thing for sure, soon as one company comes up with a cure, you will see a jump in that companies share price, even if they was to do it all for free.


This isn't an answer to the question.


I’ve only read the odd HN posts and AP news articles. That being said, there might be interesting things on these places that were part of an article about how more and more people were resorting to getting financial advice from online sources.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Frugal/

https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/

https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/

https://www.reddit.com/r/investing/

https://www.reddit.com/r/stocks/

Oh, this was the article https://qz.com/1707479/reddit-has-become-a-guide-to-personal... (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22478854).

Then there are the recent HN posts to Lyn Alden’s work: https://news.ycombinator.com/from?site=lynalden.com .



Matt Levine's Money Stuff is also helpful and usually entertaining.


Not having much luck myself, I don't think anyone knows how to make sense of it. Its either going to be worse than the great depression or no big deal.

Have been scanning HN a lot for anything related to the economy and found little except for this post.


At this point I don't think anyone credible believes it will be no big deal.


A big shout out for "Good Economics for Hard Times", by two MIT profs who recently won the Nobel Prize in Economics. Why did two academic Economists who specialize in the developing world write a book for the general public? From the book's preface: "We got tired of watching at a distance while the public conversation about core economic issues - immigration, trade, growth, inequality, or the environment - goes more and more out of kilter. ... Also ... as we thought about it, we realized the problems facing the rich countries in the world were actually eerily familiar to those we are used to studying in the developing world - people left behind by development, ballooning inequality, lack of faith in government, fractured societies and polity, and so on."


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson


This website from Ray Dalio is excellent. https://economicprinciples.org/

Read Debt the first 5000 years from David Graeber.

Read Money in the Modern Economy from the Bank of England. https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.bankofengland.co.uk...

Why these? You have to understand money and credit. Economics ignores money and credit which would be like physics ignoring atoms and gravity.


I personally really like The Economist to get a good sense of what's going on globally.


I agree, though readers should be aware of their bias towards free-markets, liberal democracies and globalization.


What you said is broadly right, but it's always nuanced.

Yesterday they disavowed economists who are apologists for price-gouging on life-essential goods, such as masks, whose production cannot quickly respond to pricing signals.


I disagree that it's nuanced, it's very blatant. Listen to coverage involving Bernie Sanders before he dropped out to hear it. But as long as you realize it, it can still be informative.


I’ve studied Economics. It took me a while to realize that it’s far from a deterministic science despite all the fancy math and models (my first clue should have been that it’s in the department of “Social Sciences”, doh!). I wish more of my time was spent learning chaos theory, probability, and systems thinking, rather than solving Lagrange multipliers by hand. I have learned a lot more from reading Nassim Taleb’s books than I ever did in those years in college. So if you want to make sense of the economy, start with learning how much of it doesn’t make sense. Start with Nassim Taleb’s books (any book of The Incerto will suffice).


>my first clue should have been that it’s in the department of “Social Sciences”, doh!

Because judging a subject based on it's faculty classification is oh-so-scientific. Economics is a scientific study of social phenomenon; where else would you like it to be placed?


The Fed gets a lot of hate, and heck, even economists get a lot of hate, but a good place to start learning about macroeconomics is by understanding what the Fed is doing and why they are doing it. The Age of Turbulence and the Courage to Act are autobiographies written by two former Fed Chairmen, which is the highest rank in the Fed. Greenspan and Bernanke likely get negative publicity, but they wrote books for the layman to understand their decisions. The Courage to Act goes into detail about what Bernanke and co did during the Great Recession and at least gives you context for the decisions which can help you determine if what they did was for “Wall Street”, “Main Street” or everyone.

You’ll likely be surprised at what facilities are at the disposal of this pseudo public institution, and it’s certainly interesting. The Fed collects inordinate amounts of data from each of its branches, and in times of crisis, as the books elaborate on, it seems they mostly go off the cuff with custom solutions to large scale solutions. Anyways, it helped me understand the US economy better. Greenspan’s book has more info on global policies.


Best discussions on the economy I have found are on Macrovoices[0] podcast and Realvison[1] TV Both are macro focused and take as a given the audience is trying to make money or at least preserve assets. It's been an amazing few years listening to all the interviews and working over the ideas in my own head then seeing things play out in the markets and economy.

[0] https://www.macrovoices.com/ [1] https://www.realvision.com/


Debt: the first 5000 years by David Graeber. It’s a fantastic piece that takes a step back from the present moment and asks how the economic debt system developed and how other people in other times have done things.


+1 The first few chapters were eye opening


What were the ideologies that shaped the economic systems in which we live you ask? Welp do I have a book for you, friend:

Capital and Ideology by by Thomas Piketty

Spoiler alert Since way back inequality was baked-in as a featue.


These twitter accounts:

https://twitter.com/LukeGromen

https://twitter.com/LynAldenContact

https://twitter.com/darenpa72

blog:

https://www.lynalden.com/

Common thread is topics around currency dynamics, and US Dollar reserve currency affecting..many things: trade, markets, geopolitics.


It's hard to under-emphasize the long term impacts of the Fed's actions to print (not literally print but buy assets (treasuries, corporate bonds, and even amazingly public EQUITY) in exchange for cash), and the impact it will have on the USD - the global reserve currency.

Anyone who claims to know for certain what the impact will be, is a fool or a liar. We are in unprecedented monetary policy times.

Maybe USD is cementing it's position as the global currency standard, maybe this will spell the demise of the USD and the US' economic collapse, or maybe not much will change at all. There are arguments for all three to be true.


>Anyone who claims to know for certain what the impact will be, is a fool or a liar.

Why do you need to know for certain?

If you're trying to make money, or even just "get by", you look at probabilities of possible outcomes and make your best guess on how to approach the problem. A mentality of "no one knows for sure, so it's pointless" is oddly unscientific. You only need to be "right" some of the time.


I would go through these three videos : - Ray Dalio for one view https://youtu.be/PHe0bXAIuk0 - Yanis Varoufakis for another https://youtu.be/zi-dXc0bKUM - Charles Mackay for an ancient, wise and entertaining read : https://youtu.be/FxgRbnh2ouE


+1 for Varoufakis, he has a very deep understanding of the system, having seen its ugly details very close up in the eurocrisis, and he has an excellent clarity in explaining it all


https://voxeu.org/ for "research-based policy analysis and commentary from leading economists".


This is a bit of a self-promotional piece, but I put together a simple website that extracts sentences related to COVID-19 and economics/finance news: https://chimerais.com/covid19

I try to write a blog post once or twice a week as well, but this is more for myself -- just to actually force myself to synthesize everything going on. Happy to share if anyone is interested.


Perry Mehrling - The Money View. He has a course on coursera [1]. It’s the best explanation I’ve seen of how the economy works. It’s a bank centric view and focuses on balance sheets for analysis. Highly recommend it.

[1] https://www.coursera.org/lecture/money-banking/a-money-view-...


Wikipedia. Just yesterday I was explaining my layman's understanding of econ, namely that money itself is zero-sum, so the prices of goods and services float on the free market according to how much people are willing to pay for them.

Central banks inject money into the economy, inflating the economy, reducing costs across the board. This acts as a wealth transfer from wealth holders to wealth producers, by that I mean businesses.

Normal inflation happens in a healthy economy, in an unhealthy one like this one, they dust off the lever known as QE. In a QE environment, the central bank injects money directly into the economy by buying up government bonds and other financial instruments.

This coupled with fractional reserve banking means that the banks can make a whole lot more loans, flooding the system with liquidity so that money can start moving again.

I had implied that QE increases the money supply, and so was corrected and told that it was actually the money base that was increased. On to Wikipedia I went to upgrade my knowledge.

There I found out that the concept of money base is referring specifically to the amount of money banks can lend on using fractional reserve banking. So while nominally it's referring to the amount of hard currency in circulation, that 'in circulation' part is key, it's not just the amount of 'real' money out there.

Economics shouldn't be mysterious, one's first stop should be Wikipedia to understand the boring concepts. If you want to know how it got that way, the Wikipedia articles on the history of the banking system are pretty good.

It's dry, boring stuff. But you need to know it if you want to understand how the world works.


>>"This coupled with fractional reserve banking means that the banks can make a whole lot more loans, flooding the system with liquidity so that money can start moving again."

That's not how it works.

First, never mind how much money banks can lend, if there is nobody asking for credit. You can't create demand for credit by QE.

Second, private banks are not limited in their capacity for creating credit by the quantity of reserves available. If central banks are going to keep their interest rate target they have to facilitate any demand of reserves by private banks.

It's impossible for a Central Bank to control the quantity of money and the interest rate, they have to choose one, and they choose the interest rate.

As I said in another post, I was totally confused about how it works until I started to read the Modern Money Theory version of all this.

Here, explained by the Bank of England (pdf):

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-...


Khan Academy’s economics and finance videos are excellent for learning the fundamentals.

Ray Dalio’s talks on YouTube, and his most recent TED talk are great for context around economic downturns.

Real Vision and Anthony Pompliano’s podcast are good for deep dives into what’s going on with a bit of an alternative take.


Some podcast recommendations:

-Freakonomics (https://freakonomics.com/) has been making some good episodes about different aspects of the current crisis. The latest episode is about the food supply market, the one before is about the $2 trillion aid package.

-Planet Money (https://www.npr.org/sections/money/), which was created in 2008 to help make sense of the finantial crisis, is obviously focused on the crisis. Expect 20-30 minute episodes about economic topics in the news (some of the latest episodes include "The Big Small Business Rescue" and "The Economics Of Hospital Beds")


Ray Dalio. Start with his articles on LinkedIn. He has a recent book if you really want to dig in.

Dalio runs the world's largest hedge fund and it's entirely focused on predicting what the macroeconomy will do, based on studying the last thousand years or so of economic history.


Definitely Keynes. Much of the fundamentals hasn’t made much sense earlier, but it does now.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Maynard_Keynes


I'd argue the Keynesian response to the last crisis is what has left us so overleveraged and poorly prepared for this one.


What Keynesian response? A Keynesian response would be a fiscal response to a fall in aggregate demand by governments, not a monetary one by central banks.


That's the old problem that those who call themselves, and between them, keynesians ignore the first part of fiscal responsibility on good times.

According to tome better read than me it doesn't help that Keynes ideas floated during his writings so many contradictory ideas can be read and/or inferred from it.


There's an excellent graphic novel (Economix) which gives a good broad overview of "the economy". It's very accessible.

https://economixcomix.com/


I'm interested in pointers on this in general, not just wrt the current climate.


FWIW, if you're in New Zealand you can follow economic news updates from www.interest.co.nz.

It's an impressive aggregation of data and journalism. But boy could their site do with some improvement... Could be some work in it?

There's a comments section under every article, and a motley community of dedicated "common 'taters". Plenty of workers, business owners, property darklords, doomers, prospective first home buyers, trolls, and even a few wise farmers. I find it helpful to guage the vibe of what is happening on the ground. Deep down, I think what's really needed is a forum.



I have really enjoyed simple economics texts.

I highly recommend Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. It is a very approachable book that can be read in one sitting.

It illustrates the seen and unseen effects of action from Frédéric Bastiat.


I read many books and came to realization that I don't understand how economy around me is going to turnout. Yes, I know few things about economy but whatever I know has no predictive power.

So I kept it aside, I bought a piece of land and now I setup hydro and solar pvs, to generate my own power.

I am growing my own food (mostly potatoes, tomatoes, beans, raising few hens for eggs) and I've shelter, that's pretty much all I need.

So now I don't care about economy going down or smth, yes I might lose money which is in economy but it isn't going to affect my livelihood.


You may want to have a look at five world-leading, freely available general references (from World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Merryll Lynch, United Nations and Deutsche Bank... look for their latest updates following this crisis), which I used as an intro for my recent booklet about Economy https://www.tenproblems.com/2020/02/24/ten-problems-for-econ...


Many are plugging books here, so I will plug: The Money Problem by Morgan Ricks

It provides a solid overview of different views of what is money, what is banking, and in what ways does the financial system impact the real economy? - These are all contested points in economics.

He goes on to lay out a different design to a monetary system, that he believes resolves the main fragility in our current system - panics on short term debt. It's a good read for someone who enjoys system design as much as they do financial/monetary economics.


A very interesting one that's helped me understand a lot right now is Goliath by Matt Stoller. He frames todays economy in a similar light as the 1920s. Very compelling and interesting.


Living in Argentina, the political landscape has far more impact on the economy than in most other countries.

What I read here are:

- Newspaper titles (only read the content if something is really interesting)

- Twitter, following a few key people, both with a political and economical background

- Discuss with friends about economy topics

I know there's much noise in all that, but same as with politics, I don't think you'll be able to fully make sense of the economy unless you dive deep into it for many years, and even then you'll only get a partial view on many things.


Capital - Piketty


For general principles, I recommend

https://www.amazon.com/Principles-Economics-7th-Gregory-Mank...

I started with vulgarisation but it didn't lead me very far. This is a reference textbook used by economics students around the world. It's surprisingly entertaining and teaches you the basic concepts of macro and micro economics.


I have been reading A Farewell to Alms - Brief History of Economics [1]. Largely answers questions around why Industrial revolution happened when it did despite all the institutions existing well before that.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Farewell-Alms-Economic-History-Prince...


Right now I enjoy reading The Coming Plague https://www.amazon.com/Coming-Plague-Emerging-Diseases-Balan... Written 1995, but incredibly actual. Shows that most of epidemics are function of political will and economy and vice versa.


I'm reading absolutely nothing. I'm staying away from the markets and my investment accounts. Right now we're down from the trump bump; atleast last week we were. My 401k and college fund (index fund) for my kid are all in the shitter.

Therefore, my best advice for you is to hoard cash (3-12 months expenses), cut expenses and try not to freak the fuck out right now


How can you suggest to be in cash when they are literally printing trillions with no sign it will slow down?

I know that a lot of it is supposedly not going to make it into the real economy. But if there is one thing for sure, it's that the government is going to behave recklessly and fuck it up.


The inflation target is still 2% despite the easing. I'm not aware of any indicators showing it'll exceed that, but it's easy to funnel your cash into TIPS or similar if needed. If the lockdown continues and the recession deepens the more valuable cash will be. If it ends soon and the economy rebounds you're out the opportunity cost.


Three things:

1. Economics in one Lessons. One of the most powerful books I've read on the economy. Will help you rethink and see deeper 2. Dao of Capital. Book by Mark Spitznagel -- goes into tail risk hedging, and his counter-intuitive investment thesis. He made 4000% over Covid 3. Dalio's essays -- from "The changing world order" to "Debt Crises"


John Ralston Saul's The Collapse of Globalism.

Published ~2005, it (arguably) makes sense of the previous several decades of western economics.

https://www.johnralstonsaul.com/non-fiction-books/the-collap...


I just read the blurb and summary on the page you linked to.

It might be an interesting read, but the main thesis seems false? Globalism has done just fine.

> Elsewhere, the world looks for answers to African debt. the AIDS epidemic, the return of fundamentalism and terrorism. all of which perversely refuse to disappear despite the theoretical rise in global prosperity.

Most of these don't look so intractable any more, even if we haven't solved them, yet.


> Most of these don't look so intractable any more, even if we haven't solved them, yet.

who's we ?


Humanity.


Currently nothing, ran out of books to read and amazon is taking forever to ship them, despite the hefty shipping fee I paid(currently two weeks from Austria to Bulgaria which is just over 1000 km away)... Rant aside, all of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's books are a very good choice for anyone that hasn't read them.


Kindle?


Not available there I'm afraid.


Start with some basic reading such as Mandelbrot's Misbehavior of Markets and Taleb's books, then move on to articles and recent video interviews with Nouriel Roubini, Raoul Pal, and Neil Howe, and finally be sure to take in some modern thinking from the likes of Venkatesh Rao at RibbonFarm.


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