As Howard Marks said: this year gave us one of the greatest pandemics of all time, the greatest economic contraction since the depression, the greatest oil price decline, and the greatest central bank intervention of all time. With almost 8 billion humans all bouncing off each other- every year is epic. But hot damn, 2020- EPIC. This post will outline the things that were top of mind for no gradient in 2020.
Top of Mind
- “If you were to pick one time to be born and one place to be born and you didn’t know what your sex was going to be, … intelligence…special talents… you would not pick 1720… 1820… 1920… you would pick today, and you would pick America.” – Warren Buffett
- I’m pro America because I see it as the nation best suited to push humanity forward. But before I’m an American I’m a human. Which is why I love technologies like the internet and cryptocurrency. These networks transcend national boundaries and connect humans directly all over the world.
- So long as humans can transact freely in ideas, culture, and commerce, we are going to thrive. But we must fight to protect our ability to do so.
- China is an existential threat to free people and free nations everywhere. Uyghurs Muslim internment, erosion of Hong Kong’s democracy, Covid-19 disinformation- the Chinese Communist Party is a human rights disaster. Xi Xinping is a thug. Like minded free nations must ally against China.
- Humanity evolves when it increases the things it can do without thinking. What happens when trust can be verified with cryptography without a central third party. This is cryptocurrency. It is and will continue to be transformative.
- Of course humanity concocted a scientific feat to develop a vaccine so quickly. Put our backs against the wall and we DO.
- Regulation is coming for Big Tech. As Ben Evans says: in the same way finance, healthcare, and energy companies have regulation, so too will large technology companies.
- The Covid-19 pandemic could have been so much worse. What if we had Ebola level death rates? This won’t be the last pandemic but it surely will prepare us for the next one.
- We need more clear thinkers in the crypto space. Far too many simply say the same thing over and over “Fiat dead, money printing bad, Bitcoin go up.” We need more nuance. We need more discussion around the actual technology and how it can improve.
- Apple’s new M1 chip is the greatest advancement to the desktop and laptop computing space in over a decade. Just when we thought that sector of the industry had no more tricks up its sleeve. I haven’t been this excited about consumer tech since the Samsung Galaxy S III and iPhone 4 days.
- The pie has to keep getting bigger. People, we can keep talking about how to split the pie via taxes. But at the end of the day, if the pie doesn’t keep getting bigger, that’s when things fall apart. And the only thing that will make the pie bigger is innovation. We must build.
- Almanack of Naval and the Psychology of Money were the two books I gave to others the most this year. Read them.
- Wind and solar are not enough for base load electricity. The wind ain’t always blowin’ and the sun they say ain’t always shinin’. This is a huge advantage fossil fuels have. We need an order of magnitude advancement in energy storage tech to allow wind and solar to replace fossil fuels. We need more investment in nuclear energy. It’s clean and it solves the base load problem. The green movement should be pushing for it.
- The hate for Tesla and Elon Musk confounds me. He’s actually moving the needle against climate change but oh, you think he’s a dick. I guess the dying walruses up north will have to wait. And Tesla open sourcing all their patents don’t impress you much? Come on.
- Fighting climate change at the federal level in the United States is a joke. That may change with the Biden administration. I’m a big fan of a revenue neutral carbon tax. The right likes it because it doesn’t allow the government to pick winners and losers. The left likes it because it prices the negative externality of burning shit. It has bipartisan support, let’s give it a shot.
- President Trump did everything in his power to steal the election. American institutions held up. The system worked.
- Trump desecrated the United States but it’s a fun exercise to acknowledge where he was directionally right. He was right to demand our NATO allies spend their commitment of no less than 2% of GDP on defence. He was right to be a China hawk. The way he went about handling both of these things was a disaster.
- Joe Biden has been in politics for 1/5th life of the United States. We are a young country.
- During President Trump’s tenure the house, senate, AND executive branch flipped. The last time this happened was 1892.
- Only the fourth time an incumbent president in a century didn’t win.
- Careful dogging the “average American.” They built the United States.
- Signal, the encrypted messaging app, is a north star for what software can be.
- On a weekly basis I continue to inform myself through The Economist, Stratechery, and Ben Evans.
Stay thirsty my friends.