This week we have Nick Weaver on the show. Nick’s a regular Lawfare contributor, senior staff researcher at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California, and as you’ll see, quite the Bitcoin skeptic. Nick walks Ben through what exactly Bitcoin is, answering whether the platform is really a financial opportunity of historic proportions, the massive criminal problem law enforcement officials have suggested, or something else entirely: a waste of everyone’s time and money. He also outlines some of the design flaws he sees in Bitcoin and why those flaws, which many in the Bitcoin community view as important features, will actually lead to the platform’s eventual downfall. It’s a discussion of Ponzi schemes, the limits of the blockchain, and the future of international currency transactions.
Baltimore native David Rubenstein is a founding figure in private equity, a prolific philanthropist, and author. From leveraged buyouts to his patriotic philanthropy to his leadership roles within institutions like the Smithsonian, Kennedy Center, and the National Gallery of Art, David has spent much of his life evaluating what makes institutions — and people — succeed.
He joined Tyler to discuss what makes someone good at private equity, why 20 percent performance fees have withstood the test of time, why he passed on a young Mark Zuckerberg, why SPACs probably won’t transform the IPO process, gambling on cryptocurrency, whether the Brooklyn Nets are overrated, what Wall Street and Washington get wrong about each other, why he wasn’t a good lawyer, why the rise of China is the greatest threat to American prosperity, how he would invest in Baltimore, his advice to aging philanthropists, the four standards he uses to evaluate requests for money, why we still need art museums, the unusual habit he and Tyler share, why even now he wants more money, why he’s not worried about an imbalance of ideologies on college campuses, how he prepares to interview someone, what appealed to him about owning the Magna Carta, the change he’d make to the US Constitution, why you shouldn’t obsess about finding a mentor, and more.
In Episode 221 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Jim Grant, the founder of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer: a legend in the business of investor education and financial media. What separates Jim from millions of his fellow financial journalists, commentators, and authors is the historical perspective that he brings, informed not just by the immense volume of books and periodicals that he’s consumed over the course of his lifetime, but primarily by the wisdom of his own lived experiences and lessons learned from the experiences of others that he’s had the privilege to know and interview over the course his life.
Given the ongoing controversy around inflation—its causes and consequences—we couldn’t think of anyone better to talk to than Jim Grant. Jim has been warning his readers about the unintended consequences of overly-accommodative Fed policy and dollar debasement for as long as we have known him and he is uniquely positioned to provide us with the historical context to understand where we find ourselves in the present cycle. What we came to this conversation wanting to know from Jim, as someone who has lived through at least 3 major credit cycles, is if in fact he feels that this inflation is not transitory. If in fact, he thinks that we are in the process of up-anchoring inflation expectations and what this means for the Fed’s policy options, with important implications for assets like stocks, bonds, cryptocurrency, etc., whose prices have depended on the free-flow of credit that becomes less readily available in an environment of rising consumer and producer prices.
This is a phenomenal conversation that will help you integrate the history of inflation and what we know about its causes into the unique circumstances of our modern political-economy, which is characterized by historically high debt levels, aging demographics, and technology-driven deflation, in a way that can make you a better, more thoughtful investor.