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Financial Conflict Plus…

If you are new to these essays, welcome! My name is Paul. I am a writer and investor. I wrote the book Raising a Thief about being a parent. You may have seen my writing in The Wall Street Journal. For many years I was at Bridgewater Associates, an investment firm. My goal is to share content that shifts your perspective about how the world works, things you won’t learn at school. Feedback:

Ego, Self-Doubt, Survival

I made a bad trade this week, which has led me to reflect on risk taking in general. The interesting thing with managing money is that unlike in other spheres of life— parenting, many forms of work, spirituality—you can keep score and track the quality of your thinking. In the sixteen years I’ve been tracking my investment results, $1 grew to around $3 averaging around 8% per year with low volatility. While more has gone right than wrong, I remember the trades that are wrong more acutely than the ones that were right. I think this is wiring, at least for most people. I don’t recall most of the time I’ve spent behind the wheel of a car, but the few times I’ve been in car crashes I recall quite vividly.

Independence and Integration

We are wired to believe people in authority are there because they are wise.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

If you are new to these posts, welcome! Things I Didn’t Learn in School is a mixture of macro/geopolitical essays based on my years as an investor and micro/life story podcasts. You can support our team (yes, it’s a team!) by subscribing, which helps pay for research and the team and also gives you transparency into how I translate these essays into a portfolio. To those of you that already subscribe, thank you and tell me how we can be of more service. Enjoy!

Timing A Turn

Readers: I am looking for someone to do part-time administrative work, reach out to me if you know someone great. Also, I know we are all deluged with information, so if this helps you cut through the noise (my goal) help me grow this by forwarding it to friends and let me know what topics I can help you by addressing. Enjoy!

The Dictatorship of Reality

Note to readers: in addition to these posts and the podcast, I write books. Just before I publish a new book, I test it with beta readers. If you are interested in being one, give me a shout. The first book, Raising a Thief, was non-fiction. Book #2 is fiction.

Oz, Tornados and Limits

If you are new, welcome! The idea behind these posts is to connect big picture macro and little picture micro. Macro is history, technology and the economy. Micro is emotion and personal journey. I’m trying to integrate often siloed worlds. My first book, Raising a Thief, and podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify are micro. These posts are macro but it is all one thing—making sense of what is going on around us. Most of this content is free. It takes a team to build this and I thank all my paid subscribers for your support. Enjoy.

The Hedgehog vs. The Fox

Frameworks are mental shortcuts that, while inaccurate, organize reality. An ancient but useful one is the distinction between the hedgehog and the fox. “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing,” wrote the ancient Greek poet Archilochus. Hedgehogs rely on one trick to survive—playing dead—while foxes employ many. Similarly, some thinkers rely on a single idea used again and again to make sense of reality while others shift tactics and frameworks.1 On social media and in politics, hedgehogs do well. But if the goal is understanding and preserving wealth, it is helpful to find your inner fox.

Lessons We (Re) Learn in Ukraine

The modern world is confusing because cause and effect is obscured. What exactly is the series of inventions, supply chains and business relationships that made the Apple computer I write this on come into existence? Connections are revealed when the normal flow is disrupted. You never noticed how much you rely on your thumb until you cut it. The war in Ukraine is just such a (tragic) disruption. Below are less lessons than reminders of forces that have always been there but are now made obvious.

Policy Error Vortex

Of the almost 8 billion people we share this earth with, very few have much power over others. At this moment, however, three people have inordinate impact over our lives and wealth—Putin, Powell and Xi. Each took a big bet with a deeply flawed assumption. While each is pursuing their own agenda, together their actions are now triggering a self-reinforcing downward vortex of policy error. In response, I anticipate higher interest rates and declines in the price of many stocks and houses.