w167 | Tweets I Liked, Trevents, Upside of Stress, Rodriguez
I got back this weekend from traversing the Namibian desert. It was my second time, and it is an experience I recommend.
It was probably as good a place as any to be while the sterling fell dramatically, central banks intervened, and who knows what else. Gratefully, the Internet connection limited what I could follow. The upside of a holiday away from the noise is that when you come back, you realize that you don’t need the immediacy so much. Also, you can get through a week of email backlog in a couple of hours and reflect on your bar for a Zoom call (rising).
Tweets I Liked
Good Reads: Trends
What’s Going On: Macro
Book Review: The Upside Of Stress
Song of the Week: Sugar Man
Tweets I liked
Just a grab bag.
When leaders announce what they believe and what they will do, it’s best to believe them.
Great thread on metrics from the growth Not Boring. Super impressive.
Good Reads: Trends
Trends Are Bad, Events Are Worse, But ‘Trevents’ May Surprise Us. An opinion piece by Niall Ferguson. Here in Bloomberg. I liked his opening paragraphs on why trends aren’t covered in the news (rehash of Steven Pinker):
“Journalism by its very nature hides progress,” Pinker argued in a recent interview, “because it presents sudden events rather than gradual trends … the press is an availability machine. It includes the worst things to happen on Earth at any given time.” But, he adds, “human progress is an empirical fact.”
He then went into doomsday mode on every fiscal, demographic, and political event/trend you can imagine in the current situation:
The real issue I have has to do with the trends, not the news. To put it bluntly, I am struggling to see that good trends outnumber bad.
He closed with an interesting analysis and invention of the term ‘trevent’:
It is more that trends are often optical illusions, born of extrapolating lines from the recent past into an uncertain future or of imagining nonexistent cycles of history. In history, it is not so much that the trend is your friend; more that you can’t prevent the trevent.
And yet there may just be a different and more positive way to look at the world today. Perhaps, on reflection, there is a conceptual error at the heart of the distinction between “events” and “trends.”
Good Reads: Macroeconomics
The fed is hosting an emergency meeting on Monday morning (here). Maybe it’s a precaution. Maybe there are liquidity concerns about Credit Suisse or Deutsche Bank, as has been speculated. No real information has been made available.
Investors and Policymakers: Heed the Lesson of the UK's Fiscal Blunder.
The panic selling you are now seeing that is leading to the plunge of UK bonds, currency, and financial assets is due to the recognition that the big supply of debt that will have to be sold by the government is much too much for the demand. That makes people want to get out of the debt and currency. I can't understand how those who were behind this move didn't understand that.
It suggests incompetence.
Mechanistically, the UK government is operating like the government of an emerging country it is producing too much debt in a currency that there is not a big world demand for. I hope, but doubt, that other policymakers who are doing similar things (i.e. spending more money than they are taking in so that they need to sell a lot of debt they won't find adequate demand for at current low or negative real interest rates) will recognize that they are risking a similar outcome—and that investors will see this too.
Book Review: The Upside of Stress
The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is good for you, and how to get good at it.
By Kelly McGonigal
The book's premise is that the common narrative that ‘stress is bad for you’ is wrong.
That’s the wrong mindset regarding stress. We should see stress as something to embrace. ‘Feeling burdened rather than uplifted by everyday duties is more a mindset than a measure of what is going on in your life.’
One of the more compelling parts of the book is the demystification of the scientific studies about the ‘terrible impacts of stress on the body.’ The evidence for that narrative comes from rat studies where they practically drown the rats and have them harassed for hours by cats daily to the point of mental destruction. The author says this is trauma, not stress, which makes sense.
Why is stress good?
Stress is positively correlated with having meaning in your life. “The higher a nation’s stress index, the higher the nation’s well-being.” Linking stressful events to values that give your life meaning. This helps one think of stress as giving one power, control, and freedom over their life. You can develop a mindset where you see yourself as someone who overcomes difficulties.
Stress releases chemicals that help us perform well. Having a mindset when you feel anxious that pushes you towards excitement is better than wanting to be calm - because if you are excited, then you’ll likely perform better.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Could it be a blog? Probably. Is it also a Ted Talk? Yup, here. Reading the full book provides a greater appreciation for the research reasoning and increases the likelihood that you will adopt the mindset lessons.
Song of the Week: Sugar Man
Video of Rodriguez performing Sugar Man live.
What’s the difference between achieving worldwide acclaim and fading quickly into obscurity? Who knows. Perhaps very little. Rodriguez was an artist from Detroit who produced his first album, Cold Fact, in 1970. At the time, several record labels thought he would be the next Bob Dylan.
Rodriguez’s music career never took off, and he worked in construction for 30 years. However, unbeknownst to Rodriguez or anyone in the US, the album went platinum in South Africa and became the anthem of resistance in the Apartheid era.
The story is told in Searching For Sugar Man, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2013. I like the album and LOVE the documentary, The trailer for Searching for Sugar Man is here.
“Sugar Man” by Rodriguez
Sugar man met a false friend
On a lonely dusty road
Lost my heart when I found it
It had turned to dead black coal
Silver magic ships you carry
Jumpers, coke, sweet Mary Jane
Thanks for reading, friends. Please always be in touch.