Book review: How the World Became Rich: The Historical Origins of Economic Growth, by Mark Koyama and Jared Rubin.

This is a well-written review of why different countries have different wealth, i.e. mostly about the industrial revolution.

The authors predominantly adopt an economist’s perspective, and somewhat neglect the perspective of historians, but manage to fairly present most major viewpoints.

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This week we saw two interesting bank collapses: Silvergate Capital Corporation, and SVB Financial Group.

This is a reminder that diversification is important.

The most basic problem in both cases is that they got money from a rather undiverse set of depositors, who experienced unusually large fluctuations in their deposits and withdrawals. They also made overly large bets on the safety of government bonds.

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I recently noticed similarities between how I decide what stock market evidence to look at, and how the legal system decides what lawyers are allowed to tell juries.

This post will elaborate on Eliezer’s Scientific Evidence, Legal Evidence, Rational Evidence. In particular, I’ll try to generalize about why there’s a large class of information that I actively avoid treating as Bayesian evidence.

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AI looks likely to cause major changes to society over the next decade.

Financial markets have mostly not reacted to this forecast yet. I expect it will be at least a few months, maybe even years, before markets have a large reaction to AI. I’d much rather buy too early than too late, so I’m trying to reposition my investments this winter to prepare for AI.

This post will focus on scenarios where AI reaches roughly human levels sometime around 2030 to 2035, and has effects that are at most 10 times as dramatic as the industrial revolution. I’m not confident that such scenarios are realistic. I’m only saying that they’re plausible enough to affect my investment strategies.

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Book review: Investing Amid Low Expected Returns: Making the Most When Markets Offer the Least, by Antti Ilmanen.

This book is a follow-up to Ilmanen’s prior book, Expected Returns. Ilmanen has gotten nerdier in the decade between the two books. This book is for professional investors who want more extensive analysis than what Expected Returns provided. This review is also written for professional investors. Skip this review if you don’t aspire to be one.

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A conflict is brewing between China and the West.

Beijing is determined to reassert control over Taiwan. The US, and likely most of NATO, seem likely to respond by, among other things, boycotting China.

We should, of course, worry that this will lead to war between China and the US. I don’t have much insight into that risk. I’ll focus in this post on risks about which I have some insight, without meaning to imply that they’re the most important risks.

Such a boycott would be more costly than the current boycott of Russia, and the benefits would likely be smaller.

How can I predict whether the reaction to China’s action against Taiwan will be a rerun of the response to the recent Russian attack on Ukraine?

I’ll start by trying to guess the main forces that led to the boycott of Russia.

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I previously sounded vaguely optimistic about the Baze blood test technology. They shut down their blood test service this spring, “for the foreseeable future”. Their web site suggests that they plan to resume it someday. I don’t have much hope that they’ll resume selling it.

Shortly after I posted about Baze, they stopped reporting numbers for magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. I.e. they only told me results such as “low”, “optimal”, “normal”, etc. This was apparently was due to FDA regulations, although I’m unclear why.

I’d like to believe that Baze is working on getting permission to report results the way that companies such as Life Extension report a wide variety of tests that are conducted via LabCorp.

At roughly the same time, Thorne Research announced study results of a device that sounds very similar to the Baze device (maybe a bit more reliable?).

Thorne is partly a supplement company, but also already has enough of a focus on testing that I don’t expect it to use tests primarily for selling vitamins, the way Baze did.

I’m debating whether to invest in Thorne.