Bryan Caplan is an economist and professor of economics at George Mason University, research fellow at the Mercatus Center, adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and blogger for EconLog. Bryan has written several books–his newest being “The Case against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money.” His main goal for the book is for people to forget education propaganda, look at what is right in front of them and examine what they have learned first hand.
From a young age Bryan always wondered, “Why do I need to learn this stuff? I am never going to use it.” The further he got along in school the more passionate he became about that belief. Yet it wasn’t until he started studying economics that he found there were other like-minded people who thought how he was thinking.
What is the problem with everyone getting a college degree? To stand out you now need to get another degree. Credential inflation has only gone up. People are spending too many years studying subjects that do not interest them, just to graduate and never use that information again. They get multiple degrees to do a job that would have only taken a high school diploma 30 years ago. It has been ingrained in so many that the education system enriches lives. However, the wall between formal education and practical education is ever growing. Bryan doesn’t hate education, he just believes people need to be more realistic about their interests and learning capabilities.
Michael and Bryan finish up discussing Bryan’s new books coming out about poverty and immigration policy.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Equality without losing quality
College vs. no college
Problem solving vs. memorization
Integrating more play in schools
53% of Millennials expect to become a millionaire at some point in their life. That is a lot of optimism without a lot of math. Building off that survey Michael quotes some research from a man named Ned Davis titled “Was I too Correct for My Own Good.” Ned is more pessimistic than the Millennials. He see’s the present economy as an uphill battle for making money rather than Millennials who think the money will just fall from the tree’s.
If you can stand outside the crowd and accept the notion of failure you have a great opportunity to succeed over the course of a lifetime. Imagining you are going to make a million dollars without a process is obtuse. Have a good process and stick with it. Michael ends with wisdom from “The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety” by Alan Watts.
Harvey Silverglate is an events attorney with 51 years of experience practicing in courts throughout the country. Harvey is the co-founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education where he serves as the current Chairman of the Board of Directors. He is also author of “Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.”
What is Harvey’s current view on the President? He is not a Trump supporter, but does not agree with Robert Mueller and how the legal system is systematically trying to pin him. What Trump has done may be politically unpalatable to some, but he is not doing anything illegal. Harvey uses Mueller to show how an overreaching prosecutor bent on getting his agenda done–get’s it done. Justice, for the most part, has nothing to do with the American legal system today.
Harvey feels we are in an era where people look at the law in an objective way rather than with passion. Colleges pump out politically correct lawyers afraid of standing for what they believe in. Harvey is fighting to reverse that trend.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Why do people love preliminary polls? How did we get to the point where people believe polls are the end all? Prediction in a world that has become chaotic and unpredictable is a waste of time. Is it media that has perpetuated it? Focusing on the actual election day results, or in trading terms – the price, allows you to not be preoccupied with surrounding noise.
Michael replays an interview he recently had on Porter Stansberry’s podcast. Porter is a value investor and Michael, of course, comes at trading from a trend following perspective.
Trend following strategy
Timur Kuran is an economist, professor of economics and political Science, Gorter Family Professor in Islamic Studies at Duke University and author of “Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification.” His work spans economics, political science, history, and legal studies.
Timur is responsible for coining the term “preference falsification.” So what is preference falsification? It is the act of misrepresenting ones wants because of social pressures. There is a movement going through colleges where students feel they are being suppressed. They don’t feel they can express themselves because of fear they may be called a racist, sexist, etc. Despite America being seen as a country of freedom and self-expression, 90% of students feel they cannot speak freely or engage with professors and other students in lively debate.
What was the a-ha trigger moment that pushed Timur toward working on preference falsification? It happened while he was a PhD student studying economics. While learning about different theories, he looked around the classroom and knew not all of the students agreed or accepted the theories being taught. He felt uncomfortable himself challenging his professor and knew there was more to how he was feeling and how his classmates seemingly felt. This stayed in the back of his mind throughout his PhD program and he decided that after graduation he would start working on his new theory.
Timur uses the 2016 U.S. election between Clinton and Trump as an example of preference falsification. Trump showed he wasn’t afraid to take on the establishment, no matter how high up they may be. He challenged the media, a war hero, and other politicians and made them look like victimizers. Trump understood “the thinkable” and “the unthinkable.” By tapping into unthinkable thoughts that had never been articulated by other politicians, Trump gave hope to millions of people who otherwise may have discounted him. Timur also uses the 2011 Egyptian uprising as well as the caste system in India as other examples.
Aaron Brown is a finance practitioner, expert on risk management and gambling, speaks frequently at professional and academic conferences and author of “Red-Blooded Risk,” “The Poker Face of Wall Street,” and co-author of “A World of Chance.” He was Chief Risk Manager at AQR Capital Management and one of the original developers of value at risk.
At 8 or 9 years old Aaron would read the newspaper everyday just to see the sports and Wall Street numbers. Over time, he started to see patterns in those numbers and felt he might be able to make money off it. He came across a book at his library that mathematically proved he could “beat the house.” At age 14 Aaron knew he could walk into a poker game and walk out with his opponents money. He gambled into his early 20’s until he realized the real money to be made was on Wall Street.
How does Aaron define being a quant? Someone who makes calculations and then bets on those calculations. Clients are drawn to Aaron because he is known for being able to solve problems most cannot. That being said, he only takes on problems where he knows there is a solution. When hired, Aaron disrupts systems mainly because he operates on the opposite side of Wall Street. He unveils flaws in systems – disrupting sales and creating more work for developers.
Michael and Aaron finish up discussing, “What is a black swan event?” It is a low probability, high impact event because it was unexpected. Drawing from Nassim Taleb’s wisdom, “People over estimate the last event happening again and underestimate the next crisis.”
Cyrus Farivar is a Senior Tech Policy Reporter at Ars Technica, radio producer and author of “Habeas Data: Privacy vs. the Rise of Surveillance Tech.” Cyrus sees the privacy battle as an ever winding, never-ending road. Privacy is hard, national security is hard, law enforcement is hard but Cyrus is optimistic we can strike a good balance between all three.
Do we really know the extent to which we are being watched? Probably not. Surveillance technology affects us all – for better or worse. For example, nearly half of Americans are in facial recognition data bases. In addition, most Americans have a drivers license, identification card, or passport – putting just about every adult into a government system.
Does this mean privacy is dead? Not necessarily. Some things will continue to be private. Cyrus lays out some companies that build their whole business model around keeping the information of their clients secure from any outsiders – whether it be a private citizen or the government.
Having heightened security and better technology has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Obvious disadvantage? Loss of privacy. What is one advantage? Law enforcement can not only use surveillance to catch bad guys, but it can also be used to keep themselves in check. Just about every person has a phone with great video technology. Everything is recorded and everything can be seen. Michael and Cyrus end the conversation discussing the controversy around aerial surveillance and private use of drones.
@Naval is an angel investor Michael follows on Twitter. Michael shares a Twitter post he had titled: “How to Get Rich Without Getting Lucky,” weaving in his commentary throughout. The bullet points:
1. Seek wealth, not money or status. Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep. Money is how we transfer time and wealth. Status is your place in the social hierarchy. 2. Understand that ethical wealth creation is possible. If you secretly despise wealth, it will elude you. 3. Ignore people playing status games. They gain status by attacking people playing wealth creation games. 4.You’re not going to get rich renting out your time. You must own equity - a piece of a business - to gain your financial freedom. 5. You will get rich by giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get. At scale. 6. Pick an industry where you can play long term games with long term people. 7. The Internet has massively broadened the possible space of careers. Most people haven't figured this out yet. 8. lay iterated games. All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest. 9. Pick business partners with high intelligence, energy, and, above all, integrity. 10. Don't partner with cynics and pessimists. Their beliefs are self-fulfilling. 11. Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable. 12. Arm yourself with specific knowledge, accountability, and leverage.
13. Specific knowledge is knowledge that you cannot be trained for. If society can train you, it can train someone else, and replace you. 14. Specific knowledge is found by pursuing your genuine curiosity and passion rather than whatever is hot right now. 15. Building specific knowledge will feel like play to you but will look like work to others. 16. When specific knowledge is taught, it’s through apprenticeships, not schools. 17. Specific knowledge is often highly technical or creative. It cannot be outsourced or automated. 18. Embrace accountability, and take business risks under your own name. Society will reward you with responsibility, equity, and leverage. 19. The most accountable people have singular, public, and risky brands: Oprah, Trump, Kanye, Elon. 20. “Give me a lever long enough, and a place to stand, and I will move the earth.” - Archimedes 21. Fortunes require leverage. Business leverage comes from capital, people, and products with no marginal cost of replication (code and media). 22. Capital means money. To raise money, apply your specific knowledge, with accountability, and show resulting good judgment. 23. Labor means people working for you. It's the oldest and most fought-over form of leverage. Labor leverage will impress your parents, but don’t waste your life chasing it. 24. Capital and labor are permissioned leverage. Everyone is chasing capital, but someone has to give it to you. Everyone is trying to lead, but someone has to follow you. 25. Code and media are permissionless leverage. They're the leverage behind the newly rich. You can create software and media that works for you while you sleep. 26. An army of robots is freely available - it's just packed in data centers for heat and space efficiency. Use it. 27. If you can't code, write books and blogs, record videos and podcasts. 28. Leverage is a force multiplier for your judgment. 29. Judgment requires experience, but can be built faster by learning foundational skills. 30. There is no skill called “business.” Avoid business magazines and business classes.
All fundamental data, insights, and prediction, reduces to price. Price is the foundation for all trading. Michael caught a reminder of this in a recent twitter debate with Elon Musk. A NBC reporter challenged Musk on his insights and wanted him to come by the news room to have an interview and see his “process”. Michael reads the debate between the reporter, Musk and Scott Adams (creator of the Dilbert comic strip). Michael weaves his commentary and insights throughout.