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Highlights from The Price of Tomorrow by Jeff Booth: “The only thing driving growth in the world today is easy credit, which is being created at a pace that is hard to comprehend.”

I start a lot of books these days but quit somewhere in the first act. But I finished Jeff’s new book The Price of Tomorrow in a relatively frenzied week, because he makes a compelling argument and writes in an easy manner. The book has provided me a framework to analyze and understand a critical topic (the global economy) — the ideal outcome of a great nonfiction book. Other books which have yielded similar outcomes include The Power of Habit and Alain de Botton’s writings, specifically Religion for Atheists.

Daily Habits Checklist #113
Wednesday July 08, 2020

Life in Vietnam has largely returned to normal. I’m very thankful for that. But I remain worried about (read: Twitter addicted to) the goings-on in the rest of the world. In particular, America seems to be undergoing the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. It seems like the country has moved past […]

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I’m also reading Albert Wenger’s book in progress, World After Capital, which diagnoses the same problem (an excess of capital driving inequality and decreasing productivity growth and perverting economic incentives), but proposes a different set of solutions.

Bahrain 2020. Lexus shines in a market losing 23% in first half
Wednesday August 05, 2020

Bahrain Auto new vehicles have been reported heavily negative in the first half 2020 with total figures at 11.703, down 23.6%. Toyota controls over 34% of market share, while Lexus increased sales 9% advancing on the third step of the podium Q2 2020 Light Vehicles sales figures BAHRAIN light vehicles market is mirroring the economic […]

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Good stuff.

Here are my highlights from Jeff’s book:

With digital technologies we have universal machines at zero marginal cost. All of a sudden the idea that we might be like horses, and have fewer and fewer uses, doesn’t seem quite so impossible.Yes we humans can be incredibly creative and think of new things to spend our time on. But the operative question for people selling their labor is not if they can think of something to do, but if they can get paid for it. Not just get paid something, but enough to cover all of one’s basic needs.As my friend Thuan Pham, the chief technology officer of Uber, recently said to me over breakfast, “I am a firm believer that talent is distributed evenly around the world, but opportunities are not.”>The only thing driving growth in the world today is easy credit, which is being created at a pace that is hard to comprehend.in the United States, the top 5 percent of the population now holds more than two-thirds of the wealth, while the remaining 95 percent of the population fights for their share of the other third. Just three people—Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett—account for more wealth than 50 percent of the population.Deflation, put simply, is when you get more for your money—just as inflation is when you get less for your money.In 2000, the total debt in the world was approximately US$62 trillion. At the same time, the world economy in 2000 was about US$33.5 trillion. Since 2000, the world economy has grown from US$33.5 trillion to about US$80 trillion, but to achieve that growth, the total debt has grown to over US$247 trillion as of the third quarter of 2018, according to the Institute of International Finance. In other words, it has taken approximately $185 trillion of global debt to achieve $46 trillion of global growth.But when a business continues to spend more than it earns, or invests its debt in things that do not provide an economic return, the debt becomes a weight on future growth as current dollars need to be allocated to pay the servicing cost of the interest or payments.Dalio concludes that in the end, “Policy makers always print. That is because austerity causes more pain than benefit, big restructurings wipe out too much wealth too fast, and transfers of wealth from haves to have nots don’t happen in sufficient size without revolution.”Owners of assets and those who have access to debt and leverage have been tremendous winners. So have technology companies that are using it to create monopoliesAs the theorist Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes in Antifragile, “we notice what varies and changes more than what plays a larger role but doesn’t change. We rely more on water than on cell phones, but because water does not change and cell phones do, we are prone to thinking that cell phones play a larger role than they do.”Flanders notes that the United States actually used to regulate where spitting was allowed on trains, stations, and on platforms. A 1917 conference of boards of health, held in Washington, D.C., mandates that “an adequate supply of cuspidors shall be provided” in train cars. Today, both the word “cuspidor” (meaning spittoon) and the object have virtually vanished (though Supreme Court Justices still get one). Its disappearance is not because some technology went obsolete. It is because our behavior has changed.Deflation is being caused by technology and, because of that, it will ride the same exponential wave that technology does. That means that the rate of deflation (without printing more money) will only accelerate from here.And when culture does change, the precipitating events can be surprisingly random and small. As the writer Charles Duhigg describes in The Power of Habit, one of the landmark events in the evolution of gay rights in the U.S. was a change, by the Library of Congress, from classifying books about the gay movement as “Abnormal Sexual Relations, Including Sexual Crimes,” to “Homosexuality, Lesbianism—Gay Liberation, Homophile Movement.”Consumer spending or personal consumption (C) Investments (I) Net exports (X) Government spending (G) The mathematical formula to calculate the components of GDP (Y) is simple: Y = C + I + X + G.We should ask whether those same assets would have gone up over the last twenty years if there hadn’t been $185 trillion of new capital injected into economies over that time. When that stops, which it eventually will, things will change very quickly.By nature, though, quantitative easing also causes currency devaluation, even if that’s not what it’s specifically intended to do. The government doesn’t actually have more assets; it’s just representing its assets with more units of currency, which means each unit of currency is worth less—like cutting a pizza into twelve slices instead of eight, or dividing an estate between ten heirs rather than nine.

China 2020. Toyota is the best performer in a recovering market
Saturday June 13, 2020

Chinese Auto Market is recovering after the huge fall reported in the first quarter 2020 and following a -10% in April, finally in May the year-on-year data grew up in double digit. Volkswagen Group, market leader and heavy penalized in Q1 is recovering, while Toyota is the best performer this year, with YTD sales down […]

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Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.