- Immoderate Greatness
Do great civilisations collapse because they have become great? Is the decline & fall of civilisations inevitable? Is the lifetime of a civilisation about 10 generations, say 300 years?
If that is so, what’s the role and purpose of politicians, reformers, scientists, philosophers, inventors, artists etc.? Do they help prolong the lifetime of civilisations a little, before the ultimate collapse?
The fall of Roman, Mayan & many other civilisations were isolated instances. We are a globalised and inter-connected world now. Are we headed towards an inevitable global collapse?
If our collapse is inevitable, how should we live? What should be our priorities? Should we chase wealth & power? Should we even try to set right the world? Should we chase personal selfish goals? Or should we just relax & have fun?
2. The Psychology of Investors
Most investors delude themselves. We are far from rational. More ideas we have, more we act, higher is the cost and lower the returns. We believe we know things we really do not know. We are generally overconfident.
Developing expertise in picking stocks is doubtful, despite the few exceptional individuals we look up to. We are myopic. We overweigh immediate consequences than delayed. We keep losers and avoid selling them because we don’t want to acknowledge failure. We want to avoid pain. We feel the pain of loss more intensely than the pleasure of gain.
We get the sense, after the fact, that an event was predictable, and so we think the world is predictable. Our stock pick soars. We are ecstatic. We knew it will. Why? Because it has soared. In hindsight, we are able to explain everything. We deny real uncertainties. We are irrational.
3. Are we polymaths?
Are we naturally polymaths? Do modern education, culture & work environment nudge us to specialise? Why?
Most disciplines are inter-linked. Shouldn’t we indulge in all our interests & inclinations? Isn’t that more satisfying? A jack of all trades may be a master of none, but isn’t he better than a master of one?
Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Rabindranath Tagore & many others did not specialise. Perhaps they consciously avoided specialising. Shouldn’t we as well?
4. Boring Good People
Good people, whose activities were known and whose lives were comfortable and without secrets. Predictable daily routines. Boring careers. Yet a man is killed. Shot twice. Inspector Maigret is disturbed but relentless. Vintage Paris. Simenon seldom bores.
5. Financial Secrecy
The world’s most admired & respected countries – Switzerland, US, Singapore, Japan & HK among others – seem to host financial dark underbellies of gigantic proportions. What are they hiding and why?
Is that how they grew…extracting, exploiting, usurping?
“An estimated $21 to $32 trillion of private financial wealth is located, untaxed or lightly taxed, in secrecy jurisdictions around the world. Secrecy jurisdictions – a term we often use as an alternative to the more widely used term tax havens – use secrecy to attract illicit and illegitimate or abusive financial flows.”