Tag Archives: Economic History

OUR 2020 RESULTS

Our net weighted average return in 2020 was +18.23%. Since 2015, we have generated a net weighted average return of +54.39%.

2020 was a challenging year. We were forced to navigate an all-out panic in financial markets while weighing the staggering human costs of the Covid-19 pandemic. Shortly after what turned out to be the market lows of the year in March we wrote the following:

“The most significant reasons as to why markets have rebounded are 1) the massive rescue package passed by the US Congress, and 2) the massive balance sheet expansion by the Federal Reserve. The amount of money with which the richest country in the world is ready to attack this crisis is without comparison in the history of the world. And what you learn in capital markets is that you don’t fight against the guys that make the bullets.”

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Why The Industrial Revolution Didn’t Happen In China

Here’s a link to an interview from the Washington Post with Joel Mokyr of Northwestern University who is the author of “A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy.”

LINK: Why the Industrial Revolution didn’t happen in China

One of the primary themes of the discussion is how China chose order over competition, and, as such, lost its long held technological primacy.

The practical application of scientific knowledge, and the willingness to challenge old orders of thought, stand out as the main catalysts behind Europe’s industrial inception and advancement.

While many currently question whether the world can possibly continue to advance economically at the same pace as in recent history, Mokyr concludes the interview with the following commentary:

There’s a debate about the extent to which everything that can be invented has been invented. Have we picked all the low hanging fruit, can we continue to grow the way we did? I take a very optimistic view. I think if you want to summarize the future of technology, the short summary is, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

The reason I say this is because science advances in part because people have the tools to work on problems. In the scientific advances of the 17th century, the microscope, the telescope and the barometer play a very important role. Now, if you ask what science has to work with today, it boggles the mind. We have microscopes that see the sub-molecular level. We have telescopes that see galaxies nobody dreamed existed. We have labs full of computers. A computer can find nanoscopic needles in a hay stack the size of Montana. The question is not, “What do computers do for our research?” The question people ask today is, “How the hell did anyone do anything before we had computers?”

We are going to make so much more progress, simply because we have more powerful tools. As science advances, it will push our capability of controlling nature further. Now, the problems also get harder. We are dealing with issues like climate change and desertification. But our capability of solving them is going even faster, which is why I’m optimistic. read more

“Those were the days my friend…” (Part 1)

“The Rise and Fall of American Growth:The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War” by Robert J. Gordon is attracting a considerable amount of attention.

I have yet to read it, but it’s on my reading list. That being said, some of the arguments within the book that the various reviewers tend to address seem far too linear. Consider the growth of a child versus that of the US economy. Certainly, there are certain major milestones that cannot be eclipsed: learning to walk (transportation innovations), learning to talk (communication innovations), toilet training (each reviewer mentions indoor plumbing…). This may be so, but is it not the things we do afterwards, when we are in possession of these fundamental skills/endowments, that start to make things truly interesting?

Part 2 will follow once I’ve read the book…

Here are some reviews:
“The Economist” Review

Larry Summers’s Review

Paul Krugman’s Review read more