FFR-Delta 3b

Asset prices are more sensitive to very low interest rates than most suspect

Global interest rates are now at historical lows. Conversely we are seeing record prices for asset prices be they share prices of listed companies, privately held Internet startups, art, collectible cars or real estate. The theoretical value of an asset is the net present value of the discounted future cash flows it can generate. The lower the acceptable internal rate of return (IRR) an investor accepts, the less future cash flows are discounted and the greater an asset can be valued. The impact of the decrease in interest rate by central banks on asset prices has a time lag. When… Read More

How Technology Could Help Fight Income Inequality

I have had the pleasure of meeting professor Tyler Cowen a few times and always left my meetings impressed by his intellect. He writes the popular economics blog: Marginal Revolution. He just wrote a great article for the New York Times on how technology could help fight income inequality. He specifically focuses on the potential decrease in health care and education costs that automated diagnostic systems and online education could bring. He also speculates that general worker productivity could increase as computers become simpler allowing more people to work with them. China and India might also start generating… Read More


LeWeb 2013 Interview of Arnaud Montebourg

Loic Lemeur asked Jeff Clavier and me to react to Arnaud Montebourg’s presentation at LeWeb and ask him a few questions. I suggested France might adopt some measures that would make the economy more efficient, while preserving the French progressive social model, but I fear he misunderstood the question. It’s a pity given that France has so much potential: a talented, creative and productive labor force, a reasonably large market, good entrepreneurs and angels. There is a real opportunity for France to take a page from the Nordic countries: capitalizing the retirement system, promoting labor market… Read More

No Limits to Growth

Over the course of the last few years I resolved the cognitive dissonance between my short term pessimism about the economy and my personal optimism about humanity, the technology world I inhabit and about my life and of that of my friends in general. I realized that over the long run, as painful as recessions are and as long as sovereign debt crisis take to play out, the overall tidal wave of technology driven productivity growth is bound to transform our lives for the better. This will happen sooner than most suspect and can be accelerated by applying best practice… Read More

The Economy: An Optimistic Thought Experiment

Over the past few years the economist in me has been profoundly pessimistic about the short and medium term economic destiny of the developed world, a view that is profoundly at odds with my fundamentally optimistic nature (see Cognitive Dissonance be damned, I am a pessimistic optimist). I can very well imagine catastrophic or merely unpleasant scenarios for the coming decade. In fact, they are the most likely outcome of the situation we find ourselves in. However, all this talk about doom and gloom got me wondering whether we… Read More

Is the Euro zone crisis by design?

A few months ago, I started writing an analysis of our global economic situation that I wanted to present in the form of an optimistic thought experiment. That article has become so long and complicated that it has essentially turned into an economics PhD dissertation. I have shelved it for a while pending a major culling, simplification and rewrite. I still hope to publish it in the coming months. While doing research for the section on the Euro zone crisis, I came across an article I helped write for Niall Ferguson in 2003 where I argued that the European Union… Read More

Must read article on America’s 21st century collapse!

I just came across this very well thought through article on everything that could go wrong for the US in the 21st century should we continue down the current path. It covers all aspects of the problem: consumer debt, government debt, tax policy, education policy, immigration policy, political dysfunction, etc. It should be required reading for all politicians, policy makers and voters! Read it at: http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-how-a-22nd-century-textbook-will-describe-the-collapse-of-america-2011-10?op=1Read More

The Ultimate Startup: Creating a New Country

My good friend Auren Hoffman posited that existing nation states would benefit from a little bit of creative destruction and competition to maximize the welfare of their “customers“: http://blog.summation.net/2010/06/the-ultimate-startup-creating-a-new-country.html. In light of the importance of governance on countries’ economic success I wholeheartedly agree. Bad governance has repeatedly destroyed countries or slowed their growth. We have had many dramatic examples from Mugabe’s destruction of Zimbabwe over the last 15 years to Argentina’s decline from one of the richest countries on a GDP per capita basis to a poor country over the course of the 20th century due to the… Read More