When the economics go bad, we become vulnerable to bad ideas.
After the 2007-2008 financial crisis (from which Europe never recovered, just look at the stock performance of their banks) the idea of diversity took root and is spreading throughout the corporate world.
The premise of it can be summarized as follows: nobody would possibly say that young girls and boys differ only in some physical attributes; there is clearly way more to it.
Nevertheless, the theory goes, as they enter adult life they become exactly that - same.
In a broader sense, we are moving from women and men complementing each other, to competing with each other.
Christine Lagarde, ex-IMF boss, currently running the European Central Bank, went as far as saying that the investment bank Lehman Brothers, which collapsed during the financial crisis, would perhaps be still around if it was “Lehman Sisters”.
No Lady, it wouldn’t – spike in repo rates killed Lehman, as it killed another giant investment bank, Bear Stearns.
For me diversity is one of the great fruits of liberalism. The trouble is, that we’re now trying to make the fruits the foundation of it.
Then there are trends that look promising, but the issue is how to handle the outcome. Take AI (Artificial Intelligence), which is basically software that writes itself. An example of how it works was a chess match between Gari Kasparow and IBM’s Deep Blue machine.
Kasparow won the first game, but the machine learned, reprogramed itself and won the second one (IBM didn’t allow Kasparow a re-match after.)
Problem with AI as it advances is that it will replace human work. This is what Elon Musk had to say about it:
There will certainly be a lot of job disruption because what’s going to happed is robots will be able to do everything better than us. Something like 12% of all jobs are in transportation. Transport will be one of the first things to go fully autonomous.
This dilemma led to the invention of Universal Basic Income (UBI), and that is a bad idea, basically giving people money for staying at home. It’s diminishing and demoralizing.
Fortunately, some bad ideas fade away before they manage to absorb too much of our energy. One example is Blockchain. It came into being as the backbone of Bitcoin, and it was touted as the beginning of a new era, a breakthrough comparable to industrial revolution or the internet. To borrow Eddie Murphy’s line from “Trading places” – unbelievable, first Moses and now this!
Blockchain is basically a distributed ledger that updates all records simultaneously, coding any volume of information into defined length of characters called hash, just as with document files that can be “zipped”. An obvious application would be keeping municipal records for example, and so some cities on the US East Coast tried for about a year and finally dropped it frustrated, in a “life is too short for this” kind of attitude.
If Blockchain was not useful for such a basic application, then it’s really not worth thinking about.
Let’s finish with a good idea.
As we’re moving towards Worldwide Income and Wealth tax, it is useful to know that most developed countries signed the CRS (Common Reporting Standard), allowing them to see and tax your assets worldwide, with two notable exceptions: USA and Thailand. US will not snitch on its citizens, and Thailand wants to be a nice place for retirement.
For Europeans concerned about the staying power of the Euro, and the Eurozone itself, and for people who simply don’t like being followed, moving some of the liquid assets to the US seems like a good idea.
Simply put, the US is the best place to have a bank account now.
* Note: Literary website NFReads posted an interview with me about my book "The Traveler". Below is the link:
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler