Climate Apocalypse or Prosperous “Fossil Future”? A Climate Heretic Speaks Out

Laurence Articles

Suppose everything we think we know about carbon and climate is wrong? Here’s the conventional wisdom: The use of hydrocarbons as fuels is responsible for climate change that is manifestly harmful, making drastic reductions in the use of fossil fuels a practical and moral imperative. To begin to remedy the problem, we need to electrify almost everything, reduce energy consumption …

Private Credit Is Having a “Golden Moment” – Buy or Sell?

Laurence Articles

According to Jonathan Gray, the president of Blackstone, this is a “golden moment” for the private credit asset class. After quoting Gray, the Financial Times’ Robin Wigglesworth (not a Harry Potter character) noted that “BlackRock’s alternatives investment supremo, Edwin Conway, is ‘confident about (its) future’. Apollo’s Marc Rowan sees ‘a good time for the private credit product set’.” Scarcely concealing …

Conference Roundup: The End of the Dollar, or Not

Laurence Articles

It’s hard to read the news without being reminded that the 80-year-plus reign of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency is over…or threatened…or just wobbly. Exhibit 1 shows the gradual downtrend in the dollar reserves held by the world’s central banks.

Henry Kissinger on the Promise and Threats of AI

Laurence Articles

At this horrible moment in history, it’s reassuring to find out that serious thinkers have longbeen reflecting about national and global security and the way that AI interacts, or mightinteract in the future, with military and strategic matters. Thus, The Age of AI (And Our HumanFuture), by Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, and Daniel Huttenlocher, is keenly relevant eventhough the book …

“Size” Matters…But Pay More Attention to Scale

Laurence Articles

Vaclav Smil, the 80-year-old Czech-Canadian scientist whom Bill Gates cites as his favorite author, rarely disappoints. Smil’s 2022 book, How the World Really Works, is a superb paean to the physical world and its primacy in our lives — warning us that idealistic techies are wrong when they claim that teraflops and petabytes are what matters. As the economist and …

Harry Markowitz and the Philosopher’s Stone

Laurence Articles

With Stephen C. Sexauer “I know some things,” he said. “I can, you know, do math and stuff.” – Harry Potter, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling Most investors believe we “know some things” — and that we can do some “math and stuff.” But the question is: Do we know what we need to …

Can Evolutionary Biology Inform Investing?

Laurence Articles

I wanted to write Pulak Prasad’s What I Learned About Investing from Darwin, or something very much like it, 40 years ago. My first published article, written in 1982, began: “The economy of man was Charles Darwin’s inspiration for his theory of natural selection.” I then quoted Darwin: I happened to read…Malthus on Population, and being well prepared to appreciate …

Henry Kissinger on the Promise and Threats of AI

Laurence Articles

At this horrible moment in history, with Israel waging a war on multiple fronts and Ukraine fighting for its independence. it’s reassuring that serious thinkers have long been reflecting about national and global security. They are considering the way that AI will interact with military and strategic matters. Thus, The Age of AI (And Our Human Future), by Henry Kissinger, …

The Folly of Trying to Control Technology

Laurence Articles

Technological progress in the last two centuries, and especially in the recent past, has beennothing short of amazing. So why are we so unhappy? Why aren’t we all rich? Why are we sounequal in material success? Why is social unrest just as wrenching as it was in earlier, poorertimes? When Daron Acemoglu speaks, I listen. Well on his way to …

Why Are Elephants So Smart and Buildings So Short?

Laurence Articles

We can and do build very tall skyscrapers. But they are impractical money losers because so much floor space is taken up by elevators. A new book explains the interplay between size and scale, and what it means for our economy and investments. Vaclav Smil, the 80-year-old Czech-Canadian scientist whom Bill Gates cites as his favorite author, rarely disappoints. Smil’s …

The Dilemma That Isn’t: Bonds versus Bond Funds

Laurence Articles

Should investors build their own portfolios of bonds, or buy shares of bond funds? Is there an economic difference or just one of appearance? Are directly held bonds safer because they mature, and you get your money back? How should one decide? Let’s ask the experts. Their differing views frame the question. Then, I’ll provide my answer. “You get your …

Alternatives for the Masses?

Laurence Articles

As a long-standing supporter of the “endowment model,” I’ve spent decades balancing my enthusiasm for active management and alternative investments against my theory- and evidence-based belief in indexing. But my advocacy of alternatives has been targeted to institutions and ultra-high net worth investors. The recent embrace of so-called liquid alternatives by ordinary Americans seeking to fund their retirement is deeply …

The Folly of Trying to Control Technology

Laurence Articles

Technological progress in the last two centuries, and especially in the recent past, has been nothing short of amazing. So why are we so unhappy? Why aren’t we all rich? Why are we so unequal in material success? Why is social unrest just as wrenching as it was in poorer times? When Daron Acemoglu speaks, I listen. Well on his …

Would Charles Darwin Have Been a Good Investor?

Laurence Articles

Pulak Prasad is a successful investor in the Indian market, where he grew up. But he is also an amateur evolutionary biologist. His new book illustrates a powerful – and often money-making – link between the disciplines of investing and evolution. I wanted to write Pulak Prasad’s What I Learned About Investing from Darwin, or something very much like it, …

Why Joel Kotkin’s Fear of American Neo-Feudalism Is Unfounded

Laurence Articles

Joel Kotkin, an urban geographer, demographer, and prolific futurist, argues in a new book that the United States is headed toward “neo-feudalism.” The original feudalism of the Middle Ages bound most individuals into a fixed position in the social hierarchy. Kotkin sees something similar emerging in our future. But his evidence is unconvincing. Rather than feudalism, we are headed toward …

Artificial Intelligence Is Less Than It Seems, and Will Not Save or Destroy Us (But I Could Be Wrong)

Laurence Articles

With commentary and an afterword by Fred Mueller. Will artificial general intelligence (AGI) transform the experience of being human, opening up possibilities of knowledge, achievement, and prosperity that we can now barely conceive? Or is AGI an existential threat to humanity, something to be feared and restrictively confined? Erik J. Larson, in a fascinating book entitled The Myth of Artificial …

Alternatives for the Masses?

Laurence Articles

As a long-standing supporter of the “endowment model,” I’ve spent decades balancing my enthusiasm for active management and alternative investments against my theory- and evidence-based belief in indexing. But my advocacy of alternatives has been targeted to institutions and ultra-high net worth investors. The recent embrace of so-called liquid alternatives by ordinary Americans seeking to fund their retirement is deeply …