Markets
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Episode 74
Featuring Peter Boockvar
A discussion about recent Fed comments, the prospect and performance of financial stocks, concerns about liquidity, the government shutdown, trade, China, marijuana stocks, Tesla, and what Demetri believes is the resurgence of democratic socialism as a powerful force that markets will need to contend with in 2020.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Peter Boockvar. Peter is Chief Investment Officer for Bleakly Advisory Group and a regular on CNBC, where he provides market commentary about fed policy, market trends, economic data, stocks, bonds, etc.

 

Every now and again, Demetri brings people from the media onto Hidden Forces in order to get their take on the markets and to hear their interpretations about the latest data, news, and information. The purpose of this is to gain a better understanding of how the news media is constructing the very narratives that given reason to what we’re seeing and what we can expect to see in the coming weeks and months.

 

There has been a significant shift in how the financial press has been talking about markets recently. Even the words that they have been using to describe developments that could otherwise be viewed in a positive light are being characterized in bearish terms. Demetri asks Peter for his interpretation of some of the recent economic data, including the latest manufacturing numbers out of Germany, as well as the recent anecdotal data provided by Apple in their 1,400-word letter to investors, which lead to a 10% drop in their stock price (their worst, one-day performance in five years). The two discuss recent comments by Fed chairman Powell, the prospect and performance of financial stocks, concerns about liquidity, the government shutdown, trade, China, marijuana stocks, Tesla, and what Demetri believes is the resurgence of democratic socialism as a powerful force that markets will need to contend with in 2020.  

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Peter Boockvar is the Chief Investment Officer of Bleakley Advisory Group, a $3.5B wealth management firm. He is also Editor of The Boock Report. He previously was the Chief Market Analyst for The Lindsey Group, a macro economic and market research firm started by Larry Lindsey. Prior to this, Peter spent a brief time at Omega Advisors, a New York-based hedge fund, as a macro analyst and portfolio manager. Before this, he was an employee and partner at Miller Tabak + Co for 18 years where he was recently the equity strategist and a portfolio manager with Miller Tabak Advisors. Peter graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.B.A. in Finance from George Washington University.

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Crypto
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Special Episode
Featuring Haseeb Qureshi
Haseeb Qureshi of MetaStable Capital, joins us to discuss the recent 51% attack against Ethereum Classic, its implications for exchanges that continue to list smaller market-cap cryptos like ETC, Dash, Monero, etc., and what it means for the debate between proof-of-work and proof-of-stake.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Haseeb Qureshi of MetaStable Capital about the recent 51% attack against Ethereum Classic, its implications for exchanges that continue to list smaller market-cap cryptos like ETC, Dash, Monero, etc., and what it means for the debate between proof-of-work and proof-of-stake.

 

On January 5th, 2019, the digital currency exchange Coinbase detected a deep chain reorganization of the Ethereum Classic blockchain. In order to protect customer funds, they immediately paused interactions with the ETC blockchain. Coinbase reported the 51% attack on January 7, 2019, but a few people on Twitter had already become aware that something wasn’t right with ETC. Pierre Rochard, an emerging thought-leader in the Bitcoin space, asked ETC developer Donal McIntyre on Twitter:  “Was there a deep reorg on Ethereum Classic yesterday?… 75 blocks deep I hear, with a double-spend.” Donal McIntyre replied: “Well ETC is still small and has many enemies so an attack with sufficient GPU power may be plausible, but I will check with others in the ecosystem.”

 

Cryptocurrencies that are not dominant in their respective mining algorithm, especially ones for which hashing power can be easily rented out, are more vulnerable to being 51% attacked than are other cryptocurrencies with larger market-caps that are not ASIC-resistant. According to Charlie Lee, founder of Litecoin, “ETC has less than 5% of the total Ethash hashrate and is 98% NiceHash-able. 1-hr attack costs $5k,” making it particularly vulnerable according to these two metrics.

 

Reports of the amount stolen in the attack range from the low six-figures to over one million dollars worth of ETC. Perhaps what is most remarkable is that this is only the latest 51% attack against a smaller-cap currency where the attack did not materially impact the price of the cryptocurrency in question.

 

Demetri and Haseeb explore the reasons why the price of ETC was largely unaffected, what this latest attack means for the listing (or delisting) of similarly sized cryptocurrencies, and how this is sparking a larger debate about the efficacy of proof-of-work vs. proof-of-stake as mechanisms for securing a cryptocurrency.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Haseeb Qureshi is a partner at MetaStable Capital, a leading cryptocurrency hedge fund. Haseeb was formerly a software engineer at Airbnb and Earn.com and teaches a seminar on cryptocurrencies at the Bradfield School of Computer Science. He's collaborated with researchers from Cornell on analyzing blockchain frontrunning attacks and previously made a living as a top-ranked professional poker player.

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Finance History
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Episode 73
Featuring Daniel Peris
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Daniel Peris about the history of financial theory, how certain theories like MPT, CAPM, efficient markets, etc., became the dominant paradigm by which investors have come to understand risk, and what happens when happens when everyone is using them.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Daniel Peris, a Senior Portfolio Manager at Federated Investors in Pittsburgh where he oversees the firm's dividend-focused products. He is the author of three books on investing, most recently: "Getting Back to Business: Why Modern Portfolio Theory Fails Investors, and How You Can Bring Common Sense to Your Portfolio." Before transitioning into asset management, Peris was a historian focused on modern Russian history. He is the author of a book and several articles on the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s.

 

Today’s conversation is about the evolution of financial theory, beginning with the rough and tumble world of 19th-century finance with its stock syndicates, market corners, and curb exchanges. Where big personalities like Daniel Drew, James Fisk, and Jay Gould conspired and fought to take from Joe Public, and from each other, the riches afforded to them by laissez-faire capitalism and the industrial revolution.

 

The discussion is broken into two parts. The first deals with the world as it was before 1929 with its unregulated, unstructured, and highly inefficient markets. The second part explores the world after the Great Crash, where a confluence of forces – economic, demographic, institutional, and intellectual – supported the procurement and distribution of a new set of financial theories that promised to explain away uncertainty and guide the allocation of risk in the pursuit of profits.

 

As inheritors of this new world, we cannot help but function under the fallacies of its paradigms. One of these fallacies is the notion that economies are independent phenomena that operate, by and large, according to a certain set of physical laws. Most people will acknowledge that our economic and financial models are imperfect, but most people also think of them as being somewhat analogous to models developed in the natural sciences. Because of this false comparison to physics (equilibrium) and nature (normal distributions), people often remain unaware of the centrality of politics in theories of the economy. Economies are not independent phenomena that answer only to the laws of nature. They are political and social phenomena that exist within a political system. Theories of the economy that do not take into account the system within which they operate are flawed...in some cases, significantly so.

 

Austrian theories of money and credit, for example, are better at describing how the banking system operates in a laissez-faire society, whereas Modern Monetary Theory is better at describing how it works in our current, fiat-based system of unrestrained credit growth. What often happens is that devotees of these different schools are actually advocating for a specific set of policies, under the pretense that their views are scientific and that their policies derive logically from some objective view of how an ideal economy operates, when in fact, they are based on political values and societal ideals. The MMT school is full of progressive social-democrats who want governments to play a larger role in the economy, whereas the Austrian school is full of conservative libertarians who want less government. This sorting along political lines is not a coincidence. Investment theories operate rather differently than theories about the economy, in that there is no argument in the investment world about what matters most. It’s profits.

 

In light of this fact, the discrepancies between various investment theories require alternative explanations that do not rely on political ideology or moral sentiment. It would seem sufficient to declare that the widespread adoption of theories like Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT), the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH), Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), etc., was enabled by the growth of a large middle class with excess income available for investment that had not directly experienced the boom and bust of the Roaring 20’s and accelerated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974. Entrepreneurially minded financial industry professionals saw an opportunity, but this opportunity required a more streamlined approach to investing and one that would put themselves, and their clients, at ease.

 

The need to bring order to the chaotic world of prices has encouraged the adoptions of systematic investment strategies that claimed the ability to quantify risk. When it comes to investing other people’s money, having a more coherent, easy-to-understand theory that provides the illusion of control is a very valuable tool. From an evolutionary point of view, it is no wonder how theories purporting to quantify risk and target reward proliferated so quickly. It was in everyone’s interest that they do so.

 

How these theories came together to form the dominant, ideological template of risk-adjusted-return measured against exposure to the broader market is the essence of today’s episode. Its significance can be found in the implications associated with equating diversification with correlation: trading idiosyncratic risk for systemic risk and what happens when everyone is doing it.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

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Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles
Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles

Daniel Peris, Ph.D., CFA, is Senior Vice President and Senior Portfolio Manager at Federated Investors, Inc., in Pittsburgh. Before transitioning into asset management, Peris was a historian focused on modern Russian history. He is the author of two prior books on investing, The Strategic Dividend Investor, and The Dividend Imperative, as well as a study of early Soviet history.

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Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

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Politics
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Episode 72
Featuring Senator Bob Kerrey
Politics
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Episode 72
Featuring Senator Bob Kerrey
Demetri speaks with Senator Bob Kerrey, about the economic, cultural, and political transformations that have overtaken American society throughout the course of his life and career. The two also discuss his experience serving on the 9/11 commision, as part of the show’s overtime segment available to subscribers.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with former US Senator and Governor from the great state of Nebraska, Bob Kerrey. Senator Kerrey currently serves as Managing Director at Allen & Company. He is also Executive Chairman of the Minerva Institute for Research and Scholarship. Senator Kerrey also served as one of the ten members of the 9/11 commission, tasked with investigating the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.

 

In this conversation, Senator Kerrey shares stories of his experience growing up in 1950's and early 1960’s America, his service in Vietnam, and the life-altering injury that sent him down a path of service, first as Nebraska’s governor and later, as its senator. We discuss both the cultural, as well as the political transformations that have overtaken American society throughout the course of his life, as well as how the media and social media have altered the political landscape and introduced new challenges to governing and elections that are altogether new. We discuss the tremendous wealth divide currently present in the country, the role of the 2008 crisis and its aftermath in furthering that divide, and the emergence of populism, both on the left and on the right, as a powerful new force that is shaping American politics in ways that we are only just begging to appreciate.

 

We also discuss Senator Kerrey’s work on the 9/11 commission, the role that the Saudi government played in orchestrating the September 11th attacks, as well as Demetri’s questions about why the Bush administration and the media refused to hold the Kingdom accountable for its involvement. This part of the conversation can be accessed as part of our premium subscription, available through the overtime tab on our website.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Play
Episode 4
Featuring Gary Edgerton
Episode 4
Featuring Gary Edgerton

Bob Kerrey is Managing Director at Allen & Company. He is also Executive Chairman of the Minerva Institute for Research and Scholarship, supporting The Minerva Project, an exceptional liberal arts and sciences education.

 

From 2001 to 2011 Kerrey was President of The New School, a university founded on democratic ideals and daring educational practices. On his watch, The New School experienced unprecedented growth in enrollment, faculty, scholarships, capital projects, research, and international engagement.

 

From 1989 to 2001 Bob Kerrey represented Nebraska in the Senate, where he promoted equity for rural communities, led in farm and environmental legislation, strengthen taxpayers’ rights, led in restructuring our intelligence agencies, and partnered with local leaders to build projects of lasting value to Nebraskans.

 

His public service since leaving the Senate includes the 9/11 Commission, the advisory board of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association, co-chair of the Concord Coalition, and a member of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

 

Prior to his Senate service, Bob Kerrey served one term as Nebraska’s Governor. Before entering politics he was a businessman who helped build a chain of restaurants and health clubs employing over 1000 people.

 

Kerrey served as a U.S. Navy SEAL during the Vietnam War. For his service, he received the Medal of Honor. While in Vietnam, he was wounded, permanently disabled, and received from this injury a great gift: sympathy for those who are suffering and an appreciation for the capacity of government to save your life.

 

Senator Kerrey earned a BS degree in Pharmacy from the University of Nebraska. He is married to Sarah Paley and lives in New York. They have a 16-year-old son, Henry, and the senator also has two children from his previous marriage, Ben and Lindsey Kerrey, and four grandchildren.

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Investing
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Special Episode
Featuring Howard Marks
Investing
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Special Episode
Featuring Howard Marks
In this Christmas Day special, Demetri shares twenty-five minutes of never-before-heard audio from his conversation with Howard Marks, but not before announcing the long-awaited-for launch of the Hidden Forces subscription. Subscribers can gain access to overtime segments, transcripts, and rundowns from each and every episode.

In this Christmas Day special, Demetri Kofinas shares twenty-five minutes of never-before-heard audio from his conversation with Howard Marks, but not before announcing the long-awaited-for launch of the Hidden Forces subscription service. Subscribers can gain access to overtime segments, transcripts, and rundowns from each and every episode. Subscriptions require creating a Patreon account, but can be accessed directly through the Hidden Forces website via subscription tabs located within any particular episode.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

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China Relations
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China Relations
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Episode 71
Featuring James Mulvenon
James Mulvenon is an expert on Chinese military affairs, cyber issues, and commercial espionage. He has been investigating and writing about Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, for years, which makes him the ideal person to speak to about the recent arrest of the company’s CFO and its implication for US-China trade talks.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with James Mulvenon, Vice-President of Defense Group Inc.’s Intelligence Division and Director of DGI’s Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis. Dr. Mulvenon is an expert on the Chinese military and Chinese cyber issues and has published widely on Chinese military affairs, party-army relations, C4ISR, and nuclear weapons’ doctrine and organizations. He’s a regular commentator on the Chinese military, cyber warfare, and Chinese industrial espionage, all of which we discuss in today’s, hour-long conversation.

 

This episode was prompted by the recent arrest of telecommunications giant Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou during her transit through Vancouver airport on December 1st, 2018. Meng is currently out on bail, awaiting the service of a formal extradition request from the United States on charges related to Huawei’s alleged evasion of Iranian sanctions. James has been investigating and writing about Chinese commercial espionage, and in particular about Huawei, for years, which makes him the ideal person to speak to about this ongoing, diplomatic drama and its implication for US-China trade talks. Will Trump’s hard-nosed, no-holds-barred negotiating style work to level the playing field between these two countries? More importantly, is it time to acknowledge that our multi-decade long effort to integrate China into the neo-liberal world order has failed and that a new strategy must be developed to deal with a more obstinate and adversarial China? Considering the important role played by information technology in the 21st century, any strategy for confronting China must also deal with the country’s cyber capabilities and its use of commercial espionage in the service of champion companies like Huawei. These are just some of the topics we consider in today’s conversation.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

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Episode 43
Featuring Elizabeth C. Economy
Episode 43
Featuring Elizabeth C. Economy

James Mulvenon is currently General Manager of SOS International’s Special Programs Division and was previously Vice-President of Defense Group Inc.’s (DGI) Intelligence Division and Director of DGI’s Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis (CIRA). Dr. Mulvenon is an expert on the Chinese military and Chinese cyber issues, and has published widely on Chinese military affairs, party-army relations, C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers,


intelligence, and reconnaissance), and nuclear weapons doctrine and organizations.
Among his professional affiliations, Dr. Mulvenon is a founding member and current President of the Cyber Conflict Studies Association, is presently a member of the National Committee for U.S.-China Relations, and was a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations between 1999 and 2004. He is a regular commentator on both the Chinese military and cyberwarfare in major U.S. print and TV media.


Dr. Mulvenon's book, Soldiers of Fortune (Sharpe, 2001) details the rise and fall of the Chinese
military's multi-billion dollar international business empire. His more recent publications include Chinese Industrial Espionage: Technology Acquisition and Military Modernization (co-authored with William C. Hannas and Anna B. Puglisi; Routlege, 2013) and “PLA Computer Network Operations: Scenarios, Doctrine, Organizations, and Capability,” (in Roy Kamphausen, et al. Beyond the Strait: PLA Missions Other Than Taiwan, NBR, 2009). Dr. Mulvenon holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and attended Fudan University in Shanghai from 1991-1992.


Dr. Mulvenon has testified before the Commission before and is the lead researcher on a forthcoming report sponsored by the Commission on cloud computing in China.

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Investing
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Investing
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Episode 70
Featuring Andrei Shleifer
This episode centers on the subject of beliefs: how they impact markets and how economists and financial practitioners like Andrei Shleifer are attempting to model them using data about people’s expectations, assumptions, and attitudes in order to make better informed investment and policy decisions.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Andrei Shleifer, professor of economics at Harvard University. Dr. Shleifer is the most cited economist in the world according to RePEc’s database. Throughout the course of his career, Andrei Shleifer has worked in the areas of comparative corporate governance, law & finance, behavioral finance, as well as institutional economics. He has published seven books, including, A Crisis of Beliefs: Investor Psychology and Financial Fragility with his co-author Nicola Gennaioli.   

 

Demetri’s conversation with Andrei centers on the subject of beliefs: how they impact markets and how economists and financial practitioners are attempting to model them using data about people’s expectations, assumptions, and attitudes in order to make better-informed investment and policy decisions.

 

The first half of the episode is devoted to exploring the mechanics of the 2007-2008 credit crisis, and the role played by structured products and derivatives, off-balance sheet vehicles, money market funds, GSE’s, and a policy of ultra-low interest rates that fueled over-confidence in the power of regulators and in the sustainability of the status quo. In the second half, Dr. Shleifer provides us with a more formal approach to thinking about Hyman Minsky’s instability hypothesis and how market participants can draw radically different conclusions about that same data when their beliefs about the world change dramatically.

 

Given the destabilizing forces of populist politics, trade tensions, and changing geopolitical fault lines, the ability to draw valuable insights from data about expectations and beliefs is invaluable for any investor or policymaker looking to gain a sense of market sentiment: where it stands and where it might be going.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

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Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles
Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles

Andrei Shleifer is John L. Loeb Professor of Economics at Harvard University. He holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a Ph.D. from MIT. Before coming to Harvard in 1991, he has taught at Princeton and the Chicago Business School. Shleifer has worked in the areas of comparative corporate governance, law & finance, behavioral finance, as well as institutional economics. He has published seven books, including The Grabbing Hand (with Robert Vishny), Inefficient Markets: An Introduction to Behavioral Finance, and A Crisis of Beliefs: Investor Psychology and Financial Fragility (with Nicola Gennaioli), as well as over a hundred articles.

 

Shleifer is an Editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and a fellow of the Econometric Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Finance Association. In 1999, Shleifer won the John Bates Clark medal of the American Economic Association. According to RePEc, Shleifer is the most cited economist in the world.

 

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Philosophy
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Episode 69
Featuring Rebecca Goldstein
The question, “what makes life worth living?” is one that has concerned humanity since time immemorial. This week, we search for answers by considering what some of our most ancient and celebrated philosophers and poets had to say on the question of life's mattering.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with renowned philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein, about the philosophy of mattering and what makes human life worth living.

 

The question of “what makes life worth living,” is something that human beings have been grappling with since time immemorial. Perhaps, nowhere did this question pose a more existential imperative than in ancient Greece, which provides the setting for this conversations. The show begins with an anecdote from “The Histories of Herodotus,” where the ancient historian recounts the story of King Croesus, the late ruler of Lydia, who governed the lands of western Anatolia in the mid-sixth century B.C. At the height of his reign, Croesus was visited by Solon, the lawgiver who had just laid the foundations for Athenian democracy. "Stranger of Athens,” inquired Croesus, “we have heard much of thy wisdom and of thy travels through many lands, from love of knowledge and a wish to see the world. I am curious therefore to inquire of thee, whom, of all the men that thou hast seen, thou deemest the most happy?" Croesus, expecting to hear the sound of his own name sung from Solon’s lips, was angered by the Athenian's reply. Solon proceeded to extol the virtues of otherwise “ordinary” men who lacked the trappings of wealth and power that Croesus so readily possessed. Seeing the king’s dissatisfaction, Solon responded with words that would come to haunt not only Croesus but which would obsess the whole of Athenian society for decades to come: «μηδένα προ του τέλους μακάριζε». Solon’s message was clear: Let me see your life’s ending. Only then I can know if you lived a good and happy life. Only then I can know if you lived a life worth praising.

 

Not long after Solon’s visit, Croesus’ kingdom was invaded and conquered by Cyrus the Great, ruler of the Persian Empire. Condemned to death, it is said that Croesus yelled out Solon’s name three times from the flaming pyre atop which his body burned. It was not until that moment that he understood the message that Solon had so dutifully delivered. Croesus believed himself to be the happiest man, because of all the material wealth and power he had accumulated. But we cannot judge the happiness or the worth of a human life until it is over. A good life requires a good death, and learning how to live requires that we wrestle with our own mortality.

 

The question of “what makes life worth living” therefore, was another way of asking: “what justifies life’s suffering?” Unlike for the Christians who succeeded them, there was, for the Greeks, no easy answer. It’s why they would congregate every spring in the amphitheater to laugh and cry and work out their grief over the pitiless predicament of human existence. 'Fairness’ was as foreign a concept to the Greeks as fate is to us. The stories of Croesus, Minos, Oedipus, Agamemnon, and the like were not only reminders of how the fortunes of the fated turn; they were also evidence for the futility of relying on present circumstances for evaluating the merits of existence. It is no surprise, therefore, that this obsession with deriving meaning from one’s own life independent of the whims of tempestuous Gods or of fated circumstance manifested itself in Greek philosophy. Its open-endedness posed an existential imperative then, as it does today.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein is a philosopher and novelist. She is presently Visiting Profesor of Philosophy at New College of the Humanities in London, England. She graduated from Barnard College and received her Ph.D. in philosophy of science from Princeton University. She has published seven works of fiction, the latest of which was 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction, and three of non-fiction: Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel; Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity; and Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away. She also delivered the Tanner Lectures in Human Values at Yale University in 2012, which have been published as The Ancient Quarrel: Philosophy and Literature. She has been awarded visiting fellowships at Yale University, the Santa Fe Institute, the Radcliffe Institute, and Dartmouth College.

 

Her books have won numerous awards, both for fiction and scholarship, including, in 1995, a MacArthur, and in 2006, the Koret International Jewish Book Award in Jewish Thought for her work on Spinoza. In 2005, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 2006, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship, in 2008 she was designated a Humanist Laureate by the International Academy of Humanism, and in 2011 was named Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association and Freethought Heroine by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. In 2015 she was given the National Humanities Medal by President Obama in a ceremony at the White House.

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Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.

Markets
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Episode 68
Featuring David R. Kotok
David Kotok discusses a wide-range of issues currently facing the global economy including trade, the US Dollar, European monetary policy, corporate bonds, as well as what markets he thinks are most at risk from interest rate tightening and as protectionist measures introduce new anomalies into the American economy.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with David Kotok, co-founder and CIO of Cumberland Advisors. David Kotok’s articles and financial market commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and other publications.   

 

This is a fascinating conversation that spans a wide-range of issues currently facing the global economy, as well as subjects and themes stretching as far back as 5th century Athens. Demetri asks David Kotok for his opinion on a series of topics including trade, the US Dollar, European monetary policy, as well as what markets he thinks are most at risk as the Fed continues down its path of tightening and as protectionist trade measures introduce new anomalies into the American economy. Kotok also shares his experience investing during the turbulent years of the 1970s and how the lessons he learned during that decade can be applied today.

 

David also gives his outlook for credit markets, specifically the riskier areas of the corporate bond market that include leveraged loans and middle market lending. Investors will find this conversation helpful, as they adjust their strategies to protect themselves against some of the non-linear impacts of government policies while still positioning themselves and their clients to profit from the rising tide of economic growth.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Play
Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles
Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles

David R. Kotok co-founded Cumberland Advisors in 1973 and has been its Chief Investment Officer since inception. He holds a B.S. in economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. in organizational dynamics from The School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.

 

Mr. Kotok’s articles and financial market commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg Radio, Fox Business, and other media.

 

Mr. Kotok has served as Program Chairman and currently serves as a Director of the Global Interdependence Center (GIC), whose mission is to encourage the expansion of global dialogue and free trade in order to improve cooperation and understanding among nation states, with the goal of reducing international conflicts and improving worldwide living standards. Mr. Kotok chaired its Central Banking Series and organized a five-continent dialogue held in Cape Town, Chile, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Milan, Paris, Philadelphia, Prague, Rome, Santiago, Shanghai, Singapore, Tallinn, and Zambia (Livingstone). He has received the Global Citizen Award from GIC for his efforts.

 

Mr. Kotok is a member of the National Business Economics Issues Council (NBEIC), the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) and served on the Research Advisory Board of BCA Research. Mr. Kotok has served as a Commissioner of the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) and on the Treasury Transition Teams for New Jersey Governors Kean and Whitman. He has also served as a board member of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and as Chairman of the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. He has authored or co-authored four books, including the second edition of From Bear to Bull with ETFs and the newest book Adventures in Muniland.

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Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

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Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.

Economics
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Episode 67
Featuring Bill Janeway
A new sort of political economy, driven by the disruptive forces of globalization, financialization, and the information revolution, has made ideological approaches to economic thinking obsolete. In this episode, Bill Janeway proposes a new model for how to think about capitalism at the frontier of technological change.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Bill Janeway about capitalism in the innovation economy. Janeway is a senior advisor and managing director of Warburg Pincus, where he was responsible for building the investment firm’s information technology investment practice. Bill is also a co-founder and member of the board of governors of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

 

In 1948, the same year in which Claude Shannon’s revolutionary paper on information theory was first published in the Bell Labs Technical Journal, economist Paul Samuelson released what would become, the best-selling economics textbook of all time.

 

Though no one can measure the creative impact of Shannon’s ideas in shaping the next 70 years of innovation and progress in the information sciences, Samuelson’s work is perhaps equally noteworthy for the destructive impact it had on three generations of capitalists, policy makers, and academics. The legacy of the neoclassical synthesis is one of economic theories built on models that borrowed recklessly from the physical sciences, canonized in the works of Samuelson’s Economics.  

 

The failure of neoclassical economics with its dynamic stochastic equilibria and Gaussian-based models like VaR and MPT - peddling false promises of mean regression - have forced academia to rethink the entire edifice upon which our understanding of markets and the economy have been built.  A new sort of political economy, driven by the disruptive forces of globalization, financialization, and the information revolution, have made ideological approaches to economic thinking obsolete. In this climate, what Bill Janeway calls “the mission-driven state,” has been rendered illegitimate as an economic actor, disrupting the process of capitalism itself, as well as the credit cycle from which paradigm-shifting innovations are born.

 

Still, ideas matter. The failure of modern macroeconomic models, to account for the Global Financial Crisis was a precondition for the type of creative destruction that we have seen applied to problems of markets and the economy in recent years. Developing a new framework for understanding the role of government, the power of markets, and the forces driving both is crucial if we hope to survive the changes of the 21st century.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Play
Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles
Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles

Bill Janeway is a Senior Advisor and Managing Director of Warburg Pincus. He joined Warburg Pincus in 1988 and was responsible for building the information technology investment practice. Previously, he was executive vice president and director at Eberstadt Fleming. Dr. Janeway is a director of Magnet Systems and O'Reilly Media. He is an Affiliated Member of the Faculty of Economics at Cambridge University.

 

Dr. Janeway is a co-founder and member of the board of governors of the Institute for New Economic Thinking. He is a member of the board of directors of the Social Science Research Council and of the Field Institute for Research in the Mathematical Sciences and of the Advisory Board of the Princeton Bendheim Center for Finance. He is a member of the management committee of the Cambridge-INET Institute, University of Cambridge and a Member of the Board of Managers of the Cambridge Endowment for Research in Finance (CERF). He is the author of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators, and the State, the substantially revised and extended new edition of the book initially published by Cambridge University Press in November 2012.

 

Janeway received his doctorate in economics from Cambridge University where he was a Marshall Scholar. He was valedictorian of the class of 1965 at Princeton University.

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Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

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Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.

Bill Janeway | Venture Capitalism and the Future of the Innovation Economy
History
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Episode 66
Featuring Brian McCullough
Brian McCullough joins us for a conversation on, the history of the World Wide Web. The conversation spans the earliest days of the web beginning with the browser and Netscape’s historic IPO that kicked off the greatest stock market mania since 1929. Additional topics include Google, Amazon, Napster, Microsoft, and more.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with serial technology entrepreneur and host of the Internet History Podcast, as well as the Techmeme Ride Home, Brian McCullough. Brian is also the author of HOW THE INTERNET HAPPENED, published by Liveright, a subsidiary of W.W. Norton. In 2014 he was the co-founder of a startup human named Penelope, and in 2016 he launched Maxwell into beta.

 

In March of 1989, CERN scientist Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal to develop a distributed information system for the laboratory. “Vague, but exciting,” was the comment that his supervisor, Mike Sendall, wrote on the cover, and with those words, gave the green light to what would become the information revolution.

 

Before the end of 1990, Berners-Lee would define the Web’s basic concepts: the URL, http, and html, writing the first browser and server software. For the next two years the web would remain largely inaccessible to all but the most niche academics and hypertext enthusiasts. “…there was a definite element of not wanting to make it easier, of actually wanting to keep the riff raff out," recalled Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape. His own big idea in the winter of 1992 was the let the riff-raff in.

 

That opening came in the form of the Mosaic browser, which brought with it two key implementations: the support for images, and, more importantly, compatibility with Microsoft Windows, which at the time accounted for more than 80 percent of the world’s operating systems. Shortly after Mosaic launched in January of 1993, the number of websites in existence could be measured in the hundreds. By the end of 1994, that number had surpassed tens of thousands, and Mosaic was adding as many as 600,000 new users every month. Berners-Lee may have been responsible for creating the web, but it was Marc Andreessen and his team of misfits and geeks at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, surrounded by empty pizza boxes and soda cans, that took the web mainstream.

 

Andreessen and his team eventually left Mosaic behind to found Netscape, taking it public in August of 1995, kicking off a 5 year mania of creative energy and enthusiasm that would see the creation of the first search engines, e-commerce platforms, and weblogs. More than seventeen million new websites were created before the end of the 20th century.

 

In five short years, the Internet craze kicked off by the commercialization of the browser culminated in the bursting of the most spectacular stock market bubble seen since 1929. That story – one predicated on a revolutionary technology and enabled by the dreams, ambitions, and avarice of a generation unrestrained by the prudence of their parents and untouched by the failures of the past – is a history that, until this day, has remained largely untold.

 

This week, on Hidden Forces, Brian McCullough joins us for a conversation on, search engines, e-commerce, web portals, social networks, and the history of the information revolution.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Play
Episode 4
Featuring Gary Edgerton
Episode 4
Featuring Gary Edgerton

Brian McCullough has been in the Internet game since 1998. He was the founder or co-founder of the following companies: WhereAreTheJobs.com, WhoToTalkTo.com, and ResumeWriters.com. Host of the Internet History Podcast and Techmeme Ride Home, he was named to a 2016 TED Residency. He is the author of HOW THE INTERNET HAPPENED, published by Liveright, a subsidiary of W.W. Norton. He is an Arsenal fan; Gator fan; England fan. In that order. In 2014 he was the co-founder of a startup human named Penelope, and in 2016 he launched Maxwell into beta.

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Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.

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How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone | Brian McCullough
China
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Episode 65
Featuring Dinny McMahon
It is difficult for Westerners to appreciate the scope of China’s development, and this is because of the way in which the country allocates capital and generates credit. In this conversation, we examine how the Chinese model may be leading to the greatest economic and political crisis in modern history.

In this week’s episode, Demetri Kofinas speaks with China expert Dinny McMahon, who spent ten years as a financial journalist in China, including six years in Beijing at The Wall Street Journal and four years with Dow Jones Newswires in Shanghai. Demetri and Dinny discuss how Chinese malinvestment, massive debt burdens, and a population that is aging faster than anywhere else in the world has created the conditions for the worst economic and political crisis in modern history.

 

It has often been argued that the Chinese economic model may offer the best prototype for how humans should organize politically, in the 21st century. For Westerners, it’s difficult to appreciate the scope of China’s development, and this is because of the way in which the country allocates capital and generates credit.   

 

Unlike western economies, which are built around liberal, democratic norms of free-market capitalism, China’s economy operates more like a one-billion person, multinational conglomerate. This model has allowed the Chinese economy to grow rapidly; it has done this by leveraging massive amounts of capital that it reinvests into real estate projects and spare industrial capacity, with the expectation of ever-increasing economic growth. This leverage can be witnessed, most clearly, in the rapid growth of the country’s private and public debt.

 

Bank liabilities in China have grown at an astonishing rate over the last twenty-five years. From 2009 to 2011 alone, assets in China’s banking system have expanded by 77 percent - a total of 7.6 trillion dollars over just a three-year period. The impact of China’s loan growth can be seen in the sky rocking prices of Chinese real estate, the overcapacity of Chinese factories, and the pollution of China’s once pristine environment. Cognizant of these excesses, Chinese officials have been trying to reform the country, by reigning in investment and stemming corruption. But even the best efforts of Chinese authorities cannot fix the country’s broken demographics. China’s population is aging faster than anywhere else in the world. In 2015, the country had seven and a half working-age adults to support every senior citizen. In fifteen years, that ratio will drop to 4:1 and by 2050, there will be only two adults to support every man and woman in retirement.    

 

It is the fear of Chinese officials that the country will grow old before it grows rich, falling victim to the so-called middle-income trap, mired in debt and saddled with decades of malinvestment, air pollution, idle factories, and broken promises.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

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Episode 43
Featuring Elizabeth C. Economy
Episode 43
Featuring Elizabeth C. Economy

Dinny McMahon spent ten years as a financial journalist in China, including six years in Beijing at The Wall Street Journal, and four years with Dow Jones Newswires in Shanghai, where he also contributed to the Far Eastern Economic Review. In 2015, he left China and The Wall Street Journal to take up a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a think tank in Washington DC, where he wrote China's Great Wall of Debt. Dinny is an Australian who currently lives in Chicago, where he works at MacroPolo, a think tank focused on Chinese economic issues.

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Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

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Dinny McMahon | Debt, Dysfunction, and the End of the Chinese Miracle
Algorithms
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Algorithms
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Episode 64
Featuring Hannah Fry
Mathematician and public educator, Hannah Fry, joins Demetri for a discussion about our often-uncomfortable partnership with machines. It is a conversation meant not only to help further our understanding of how algorithms function, but also to give us a deeper appreciation for where we fit in this increasingly changing world.

This week on Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with mathematician and public educator, Hannah Fry. Dr. Fry’s mathematical expertise has led to the development of several documentaries on the BBC, where she also hosts her own, long-running Radio 4 program: The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry. Already a two-time author, Hannah is out with her third and latest book, Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms.   

 

Since the turn of the twentieth century, algorithms have assumed the power previously associated with pontiffs or the divine right of kings. In an instance of late 20th century lore, the great Chess Champion Garry Kasparov, reflecting upon his historic loss to IBM’s Deep Blue described the algorithm that defeated him in less than twenty moves, as having ‘suddenly played like a God for one moment’. Kasparov’s experience – that of having been unnerved by the intelligence and obstinate posture of an otherwise lifeless machine – has not remained confined to the narrow dimensions of his chess board. In the 20 years since his loss, increasingly intelligent algorithms seem to be overtaking our world and making humanity obsolete in the process.

 

But in the age of the algorithm, there are those like Hannah Fry, who believe that our place has never been more important. She believes that we should stop seeing machines as objective masters. Instead, we need to start treating algorithms as we would any other source of power; questioning their decisions, scrutinizing their motives, and holding them accountable for their mistakes.

 

As computer algorithms increasingly control and decide our future, ‘Hello World’ is a reminder of a moment of dialogue between human and machine. Of an instant where the boundary between controller and controlled is virtually imperceptible. It marks the start of a partnership – a shared journey of possibilities, where one cannot exist without the other. In the age of the algorithm, that’s a sentiment worth bearing in mind.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Dr Hannah Fry is an Associate Professor in the Mathematics of Cities at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL. She works alongside a unique mix of physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, architects and geographers to study the patterns in human behaviour - particularly in an urban setting. Her research applies to a wide range of social problems and questions, from shopping and transport to urban crime, riots and terrorism.

 

Alongside her academic position, Hannah is an experienced public speaker giving conference keynotes and taking the joy of maths into theatres and schools. Hannah’s mathematical expertise has led to the development of several BBC documentaries including City in the Sky (BBC2), Britain's Greatest Inventions (BBC2), Climate Change By Numbers (BBC4), Calculating Ada: The Countess of Computing (BBC4), Horizon: How to Find Love Online (BBC2) and The Joy of Data (BBC4). Hannah regularly appears on radio in the UK including on her long running BBC Radio 4 show The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry.

 

Hannah has published popular maths books The Mathematics of Love: Patterns, Proofs, and the Search for the Ultimate Equation (Simon & Schuster/ Ted) and The Indisputable Existence of Santa Claus (Penguin Random House/Transworld). Her third title, Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms (Penguin Random House/Transworld UK; W. W. Norton & Company US), is on sale now wherever books are sold.

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Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

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Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.

Hannah Fry | Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms
Investing
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Episode 63
Featuring Howard Marks
Demetri Kofinas speaks with legendary value investor Howard Marks about the greatest challenge facing the next generation of value investors. Howard serves as the co-chairman and co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, a leading investment management firm responsible for over 120 billion dollars in client assets.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with legendary value investor Howard Marks. Howard serves as the co-chairman and co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, a leading investment management firm responsible for over 120 billion dollars in client assets.

 

This week’s conversation centers on the market cycle, its origins and impact. Howard shares his philosophy on risk management, asset bubbles, contrarianism, and what he calls second-level thinking – an approach thinking about value that puts price front and center. The two also explore how markets and the economy have changed over the last fifty years and how the drivers of a secular bull-market in finance may already have come to an end. They explore how a new-normal economy, characterized by low-returns on capital is unleashing political and social forces that have yet to be fully appreciated, let-alone priced into financial assets. Howard Marks shares his views on what it means to be a contrarian investor, how he thinks about risk management, and what his philosophy is around value investing. He also reflects on what his fifty years in finance have taught him about human psychology, herd behavior, and what he calls “bubble-thinking.”

 

Finally, Demetri asks Howard what he sees as the greatest challenge facing the next generation of investors. He reflects on the rotation of money out of active and into passive investment vehicles, theories of secular stagnation, and shares his opinion on what skills he believes investors will need in order to survive and thrive in the next market downturn.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

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Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles
Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles

Howard Marks, serves as the co-chairman and co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, a leading investment management firm responsible for over 120 billion dollars in client assets. Since the formation of Oaktree in 1995, Mr. Marks has been responsible for ensuring the firm's adherence to its core investment philosophy; communicating closely with clients concerning products and strategies; and contributing his experience to big-picture decisions relating to investments and corporate direction.

 

From 1985 until 1995, Mr. Marks led the groups at The TCW Group, Inc. that were responsible for investments in distressed debt, high yield bonds, and convertible securities. He was also Chief Investment Officer for Domestic Fixed Income at TCW. Previously, Mr. Marks was with Citicorp Investment Management for 16 years, where from 1978 to 1985 he was Vice President and senior portfolio manager in charge of convertible and high yield securities. Between 1969 and 1978, he was an equity research analyst and, subsequently, Citicorp's Director of Research. 

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Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.

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Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.

Tesla
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Tesla
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Episode 62
Featuring Lawrence Fossi
Lawrence Fossi started writing about Tesla three years ago under the pseudonym Montana Skeptic. As one of Tesla’s most thoughtful critics, his identity was eventually discovered and used by Elon Musk to phone his boss and threaten legal action unless Montana was silenced. This is Montana’s first public appearance, on-camera.

In Episode 62 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Lawrence Fossi, known by his pen name as Montana Skeptic. Lawrence is the portfolio manager for a family office with over one billion dollars under management. A graduate of Yale Law School, he has 30 years of experience as a commercial trial attorney. Fossi started writing about Tesla three years ago under the pseudonym Montana Skeptic. He quickly developed a reputation as one of Tesla’s most thoughtful critics until earlier this year, when he was "doxed" and his identity discovered. Elon Musk used this information to phone his boss, threatening a lawsuit unless Montana was silenced. This is the first time that Lawrence Fossi has appeared on camera for an interview on this subject or any other. 

 

It was announced yesterday afternoon that the Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Elon Musk, CEO and Chairman of Silicon Valley-based Tesla Inc., with securities fraud for a series of false and misleading tweets about a potential transaction that would have taken Tesla private. The SEC’s complaint alleges that “in truth, Musk had not discussed specific deal terms with any potential financing partners, and he allegedly knew that the potential transaction was uncertain and subject to numerous contingencies.” Steven Peikin, Co-Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, was quoted as saying: “Corporate officers hold positions of trust in our markets and have important responsibilities to shareholders. An officer’s celebrity status or reputation as a technological innovator does not give license to take those responsibilities lightly.”

 

It has been reported that Elon Musk turned down a settlement offer by the SEC that would have included a 2-year ban on serving as Tesla chairman, a fine for both Musk and Tesla, and a requirement that Tesla adds two new independent directors. Musk would not have been required to admit wrongdoing, and he could have remained CEO. In a statement to CNBC, Musk said, “This unjustified action by the SEC leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed. I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency, and investors. Integrity is the most important value in my life and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way.”

 

A statement issued late Thursday from Tesla and its Board states that “Tesla and the board of directors are fully confident in Elon, his integrity, and his leadership of the company, which has resulted in the most successful U.S. auto company in over a century. Our focus remains on the continued ramp of Model 3 production and delivering for our customers, shareholders, and employees.”

 

In their conversation, Lawrence Fossi and Demetri Kofinas explore the insanity that has become the Tesla story. According to Lawrence, Tesla cannot be understood as a business enterprise it must be understood as the new religion of our day. Elon Musk is the minister of this great church and his congregation is deeply faithful. Unless you acknowledge that there is a religious aspect to this where we are saving the earth and we are engaged in a Manichean struggle with these evil fossil fuel companies you are going to have a hard time understanding Tesla.

 

Difficult as it may be to understand Elon Musk and the religious cult that has become Tesla, we must try anyway. There are many lessons to be learned from how millions of people were so easily led to believe that missions to Mars, hyperloops, and electric semis could be commanded into existence by nothing less than the fantastical pronouncements of a modern day carnival barker.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Lawrence Fossi, known by his pen name, Montana Skeptic, breaks his silence for the first time on camera after having been forced to terminate his twitter handle on account of legal threats made by none other than Elon Musk. The impetus for Elon’s threats were Fossi’s critical writings about the company going back to November of 2015, as well as his growing popularity on social media, among a community of skeptics and short sellers. A graduate of Yale Law School, Lawrence has 30 years of experience as a commercial trial attorney and is currently the portfolio manager for a family office with over one billion dollars under management.

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Elon Musk and the Fall of the Church of Tesla | Lawrence Fossi
Tesla
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Episode 61
Featuring Gordon Johnson
Demetri Kofinas speaks with equity research analyst Gordon Johnson, about a possible Tesla bankruptcy amid the recently announced criminal probe into its CEO Elon Musk, by the Department of Justice. Topics include collapsing demand for the Model 3, possible accounting fraud, and an analysis of new competitors in the EV marketplace.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with equity research analyst Gordon Johnson, about a possible bankruptcy of Tesla amid the recently announced SEC fraud charges levied against its CEO Elon Musk. The two also discuss the ongoing criminal probe of its CEO Elon Musk, by the Department of Justice, and the impact that it may have on the company's stock price. 

 

Gordon Johnson has been called the biggest bear on Tesla by Bloomberg and CNBC, and has the lowest price target on the street for the electric car manufacturer. He’s also been recognized for his accurate stock picks in numerous publications including Bloomberg, Barron’s, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Financial Times, and TheStreet.com.  

 

Tesla and Elon Musk were the subject of back-to-back episodes we did with Charley Grant and Mark Spiegel in the first two weeks of April 2018. At that time, we knew that the company had ended 2017 with $3.4 billion in cash and equivalents while having raised an additional $550 million from bonds backed by lease payments in February of this year. Tesla was also losing $28,000 on each car sold with long-term debt and battery purchase obligations standing at $31.4 billion and run-rate interest expense of nearly $600 million per year with a debt-to-equity ratio of 243% as of December 30th, 2017.

 

Tesla has since released its second quarter results, posting losses of $17,600 per car delivered. These numbers are expected to improve in the third quarter due to much higher sales volumes of the Model 3 along with sales of ZEV credits that the company stored but did not use in Q2. The run-rate interest expenses for Tesla stand at $654 million per-year. The company has reported $2.236 billion in cash of which $942 million is in the form of customer deposits.

 

In our conversation with Gordon Johnson, we begin with a discussion of the ongoing drama at Tesla, including a recent timeline of the most critical events surrounding the company:

 

On August 1st, Tesla reports the largest quarterly loss in its history showing a GAAP loss of $717 million and free cash flow of negative $812 million. But shares rise on Musk’s claims of positive cash flow and profit in the second half of 2018, and signs of more consistent Model 3 production. In this Q2 release Tesla claimed that it would be GAAP profitable in Q3 & Q4 baring a “force majeure.” I’ve asked Mark Spiegel for his take on this and his response is: “I’ve run numbers every which way I can and the best I can come up with for Q3 is a GAAP loss of around $100 million.”

 

On August 7th, Elon Musk tweets that he is “considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share,” and then follows up by saying “funding secured.”

 

On August 12th, Azealia Banks shares an Instagram story about how her experience at Elon Musk’s house resembled the movie “Get Out,” suggesting that Elon was possibly on drugs during the August 7 tweetstorm.

 

On August 13th, Elon Musk follows up on his “funding secured” comments with a press release that attempts to provide context for the August 7 tweet.

 

On August 15th, Charlie Gasparino reports that the SEC has started a probe into violations made by Elon Musk.

 

On August 15th, ex-Tesla employee and whistleblower Martin Tripp tweets photos that he alleges came from inside the company showing battery scrap, trailers containing battery waste, and documentation of punctured battery parts in Model 3 vehicles. Tesla denies that any punctured battery parts made it into vehicles.

 

On August 16th, a Tesla ex-security employee files a whistleblower complaint with the SEC, accusing the electric vehicle maker of spying on employees, hiding significant theft of raw materials, and alleging drug dealing at company.

 

On August 16th, Elon conducts a tearful interview with the New York Times.

 

On August 20th, (or thereabouts) reports emerged that Lucid Motors (a silicon valley electric car startup) is in talks with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund for a reported $1 billion in funding.

 

On August 24th, Elon Musk released a public statement about his decision to keep Tesla public.

 

On September 6th, Elon Musk does “the Joe Rogan Experience,” smoking marijuana during the show.

 

On September 7th, Tesla’s chief accounting officer Dave Morton resigns after a month on the job. In a statement from Tesla’s recent 8K filing, Morton says he left Tesla because of “the level of public attention placed on the company.” Dave replaced the previous CAO, who left in March, on apparently no notice.

 

On September 7th, Tesla’s Chief People Officer Gaby Toledano announces she is leaving the company after announcing a leave of absence in August. She was at the company for only a year, beginning in May of 2017.

 

On September 8th, it is reported that Justin McAnear, vice president of worldwide finance and operation, is parting ways with Tesla. McAnear has confirmed that his last day at Tesla will be Oct. 7 according to a statement obtained by CNBC.

 

On September 17th, British diver and cave explorer Vernon Unsworth sues Elon Musk for libel in a California district court. The lawsuit comes two months after Musk calls Unsworth a “pedo guy” on Twitter, following an interview in which the Brit denigrated Musk’s attempt to build a mini-submarine that could rescue a group of Thai boys trapped in a cave. Though Musk later deleted and apologized for the tweet, he doubled down on his accusations of pedophilia a month later.

 

On September 17th, it is reported that Lucid Motors closed a $1 billion deal with Saudi Arabia to fund electric car production.

 

On September 17th, reports emerge that the justice department has opened a criminal probe into Tesla over public statements made by Elon Musk.

 

Despite the non-stop bad news emanating from the company, the Tesla' stock price has been largely unaffected. Gordon Johnson believes that this resilience in Tesla’s stock may be coming to an end. Not only does he believe that Tesla is facing major quality control issues, but it is also his contention that demand for the electric car may already be collapsing.Add to this criminal charges that may be pending against Elon Musk, and one can begin to see a path towards bankruptcy emerging at Tesla.

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

 

Gordon Johnson has more than 8 years of experience as an equity research analyst and was recently ranked by Bloomberg among the top stock pickers in the solar space since initiating coverage in 2008. Prior to focusing on the solar sector, Mr. Johnson covered semiconductor technology and solar companies at Lehman Brothers. He received a BA with a major in both Finance and Economics from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. Mr. Johnson has been recognized for his accurate stock picks in numerous publications including Bloomberg, Barron’s, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Financial Times, and TheStreet.com. Gordon has also had numerous appearances on Bloomberg T.V. and CNBC.

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Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

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