Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Arthur Demarest, on Collapse

I am big fan of Odd Lots, a podcast hosted by Tracy Alloway and Joe Wiesenthal. They are editors at Bloomberg.

Their latest episode is an interview with Arthur Demarest, an anthropologist at Vanderbilt who spends most of his time living in a tent at an archaeological site in central America.

Because he does what he does, Demarest has deep insights into what civilizations look like before they collapse.

One of his ideas is that florescence, which we see in the pyramids of the Maya, and in the art and architecture of the Renaissance, is often a sign of trouble, not health. Grand projects of this kind historically have preceded, and often contributed to, collapse. A related point of his is that even as highly specialized, hyper-connected economies create wealth, they are much more vulnerable to catastrophic disruption than simpler ones.

Demarest made similar points in an interview two years ago. So, no, this is not about politics.

Recommended listening.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Warren Buffett's Post-Election Views

New interview of Warren Buffett by Poppy Harlow, from CNN.

The topic is the economy, and the world, after the election of Donald Trump as president.

Buffett has his concerns; he supported Hillary Clinton, and it is clear that he would have preferred that we had her finger on the nuclear button rather than Trump's.

On balance, however, Buffett is reasonably optimistic. He compares Trump to Harry Truman. Truman was not a great businessman, yet he still made a very good president.

Worth watching.