Monthly update: Glimpsing the future and taking it easy
Sep 25, 2021 9:06 am
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Here's what had my attention in September...
📈 This month in the economy
On my website I've written a short article about why I believe interest rates will stay low for a long time yet (regardless of inflation).
This is important because there's a common belief that inflation always leads to higher interest rates, and our current "transitory" inflation is looking decidedly non-transitory. Rate rises then? Not necessarily...
🤖 This month in the future
I have the advantage of being part of networks and groups that are early to every new and exciting technology – an advantage that I then squander by reflexively writing everything off as "silly" until everyone else has finished getting rich from it.
True to form, after 18 months of rolling my eyes when everyone started talking about "yield farming", NFTs and DAOs, I've finally seen the light when it comes to Decentralised Finance – or DeFi.
DeFi is basically a new infrastructure for financial services (like lending/borrowing, currency exchange and insurance) that's mediated by technology rather than a central authority. In theory, this means a better, faster experience and more choice for users, with far lower fees.
For example: why pay an insurance company a chunky premium to support their thousands of staff then worry they won't pay out your claim, when some computer code could do it cheaper (no employees) and be programmed to pay out automatically when certain conditions are met?
At the moment the real-world use cases are limited and the tech hoops you have to jump through are too intimidating for non-geeks. But having got over my cynicism and played around with it a bit, it really feels like the future – especially when contrasted with going into a bank branch, which I did last week for the first time in years and felt like I'd travelled back in time.
Most of what's being excitably talked about in this space will come to nothing – but it will spawn innovations that will turn into something significant later.
If you want to understand more about this whole area, a couple of good introductory articles are:
- This short, balanced piece in The Economist
- This explainer on Etherium – one of the core pieces of technology
And if you're already a DeFi degen and want to chat about it more, get in touch!
🏖 This month in relaxation
This month, for the first time in well over a year, my wife and I had a couple of nights away. For various boring reasons our plans got gradually downgraded from "a week in the sun abroad" to "a Hilton a few stops down the Jubilee" line – still though, we had a great time.
But then, I'd spent weeks ahead of time getting excited about it, and building it up in my mind. I was primed to have a great time, and determined to have a great time. So...to what extent did I have an especially great time because I was actively working to make it happen?
Sure, some events are just flat-out better than others: lounging around and ordering room service is always going to be more enjoyable than going to the dentist or cleaning the kitchen. But is it possible to have a better day just by hyping yourself up for whatever you're doing, and making a deliberate effort to enjoy it?
(Related to this is the common advice to phrase everything as "I get to" rather than "I have to" – which always seemed a bit cheesy and contrived to me, but may be worth trying.)
And conversely, is it possible to have a bad day just because you've decided in advance that it'll be rough – so you're primed not to enjoy it and to interpret any event negatively? I think I'm guilty of this sometimes.
It's something I'll be working on. And fortunately, I get to visit the bank again this week so I can put it to the ultimate test.
🍿 This month in media
📺 The White Lotus is a comedy/drama/possible murder mystery. It's deeply weird and far from being a comfortable watch, but strangely compelling. (I haven't finished it yet, so no spoilers please.) It's also worth watching purely so you can read the brilliant recaps on Vulture.
🎭 Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey is the strangest biography I've ever read – both in terms of its style, and the bonkers life he's had. I barely knew who he was before starting it, but it didn't matter – his stories are extremely entertaining regardless. Make sure you listen rather than read, because he narrates it himself and much of the magic is in the delivery.
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