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Podcast title Hidden Forces
Website URL https://www.hiddenforces.io
Description Demetri Kofinas interviews some of the most brilliant minds in science, technology, finance, politics, and culture as he uncovers the underlying forces driving the most powerful changes we see in the world.
Updated Mon, 17 Jun 2019 08:04:34 +0000
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Category Business
News & Politics
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Episodes

1. Ash Carter | Inside the Pentagon: Life at the Center of American Military Power
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In Episode 90 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with former United States Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Secretary Ash Carter served as head of the US Defense Department during President Barack Obama’s second term in office. Before his time as Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter served in the number two and number three positions at the Pentagon.

As you can all imagine, it was a privilege for Demetri to have a cabinet secretary on the podcast, particularly someone with Secretary Carter’s breadth of experience and scope of responsibilities. His newly published memoir, “Inside the Five-Sided Box: Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon” offers an insider’s look at what it was like to head the largest department in the government with its millions of staff members and near trillion-dollar budget.

Demetri begins this conversation by asking Secretary Ash Carter about his experience serving under Barack Obama, the unique challenges of dealing with Congress, and the exigencies of protecting the citizenry from threats, both at home and abroad. Secretary Carter also addresses some of the constitutional conflicts that arise from NSA surveillance and targeted assassinations of enemy combatants or terrorist suspects operating outside of traditional warzones and military theaters.

In this episode, Demetri attempts to identify and do away with many of the assumptions that are embedded in much of the language and in many of the conversations around US foreign policy. This is meant as an honest and informed exploration about the nature of American power and what it means in practice. How we might begin to think about international relations in a gig-economy where people are increasingly working contractually on projects with team members located in just about every corner of the globe?

Also, Dr. Carter has thought extensively about the future of warfare in the 21stcentury, including the role of autonomous weapons, artificial intelligence, and cyberwarfare, topics that he and Demetri discuss in this episode as well.

The overtime to this week’s episode includes an hour-long excerpt from Demetri’s yet-to-be-released recording with renowned political scientist and historian of American foreign policy Stephen Walt. You can gain access to that recording, as well as obtain a copy of the transcript and rundown to this week’s episode through the Hidden Forces patreon page at Patreon.com/HiddenForces.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Subscribe & Support the Show at http://patreon.com/hiddenforces

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



2. Genetic Engineering, Biohacking, and the Future of the Human Species | Jamie Metzl
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In Episode 89 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Jamie Metzl about the cutting edge of genomic science, synthetic biology, and big data. The two also discuss US-China relations, North Korea’s nuclear program, post-Soviet Russian history, Iraq, Iran, and so much more.

Jamie Metzl is described by Wikipedia as “an American technology futurist, geopolitical expert, and writer.” He’s also a novelist, entrepreneur, and media commentator. He’s authored six books, including one with his former boss Richard Clarke, who he worked for at the US State Department and while serving in the National Security Council. Richard Clarke, who was National Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism during the late Clinton and early Bush administrations, became a political target after publishing a 2004 memoir about his service in government that was highly critical of the Bush administration’s counter-terrorism efforts before 9/11. He also testified before the 9/11 Commission, which was discussed during the overtime of Episode 72 with Senator Bob Kerrey, who served on the 9/11 Commission. Listeners who are subscribed to our Patreon overtime feed can hear Jamie and Demetri discuss geopolitical history and current affairs, including a discussion about US-China relations, North Korea’s nuclear program, post-Soviet Russian history, Iraq, Iran, and much more.

The focus of this full episode, however, is on the consequences stemming from innovations happening in the fields of genomic science, synthetic biology, and big data (designer babies, biohacking, de-extinction, etc.). This is an honest and open conversation about the ethics and prudence of human innovation, and how it’s creating a world that feels alien to many of us. Jamie Metzl also speaks about the social, political, and economic implications of a world where wealthy, well-connected elites or nations with authoritarian governments are able to get their hands on these technologies before the general public.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Subscribe & Support the Show at http://patreon.com/hiddenforces

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



3. Eve Ensler | The Apology: a Conversation about Strength, Vulnerability, and Social Change
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In Episode 88 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Tony Award-winning playwright, author, performer, and activist Eve Ensler, about her latest book (The Apology), as the two share their life experiences in a deep discussion about gender roles and the responsibility of men in our changing social and cultural landscape.

Eve Ensler has been waiting much of her life for an apology. Sexually and physically abused by her father as a girl, Eve has long grappled with his betrayal and its effects for her whole life. In this deeply personal and open conversation, Demetri and Eve discuss chapters from the book, what it was like for Eve to grow up, how she dealt with her pain and trauma, and what lessons may exist for all of us.

Demetri and Eve also share personal life experiences, openly discuss the challenges men and women face and engage in a frank conversation about what will be required from all of us in order to move our society and our politics forward.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Subscribe & Support the Show at http://patreon.com/hiddenforces

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



4. Complex Systems, Inexplicable Models, and the Future of Prediction | David Weinberger
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In Episode 87 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with philosopher David Weinberger about the science of prediction, its evolution, and its future.

The two begin by exploring classical approaches developed by early philosophers and mathematicians in the ancient world and upon which advancements were later made by enlightenment thinkers and experimental scientists.   

The models developed in this tradition have, until now, provided explanations for phenomena, which are used to make predictions about the future states or trajectories of these and other phenomena that adhere the same laws of action or motion.   

What is new today is the evolution of what are known as “machine learning algorithms,” many of which provide superior predictions to those generated by conceptual or working models, but which often times cannot provide explanations for these predictions. They are, in this sense, block-box oracles.   

This represents a fundamental break with the sort of epistemological approach taken by the ancient Athenian philosophers who demanded that beliefs be justified by reasoned arguments or those of empirical scientists who relied upon falsifiability of testable hypotheses. In other words, whereas traditional approaches to science have necessitated the development of theoretical models of the world that can be tested empirically through the act of making falsifiable predictions, these new approaches are capable of generating predictions without a means by which to understand the causes at play.    

What are the implications of this new science? If predictions provided by highly intelligent machines become consistently more accurate across all domains of study, would we prefer to accept these inexplicable solutions over less accurate ones whose methodology we understand? At the limit, if we were to implement every prediction of every MLA, would we arrive at a fated, perfectly knowable world? If machines become the equivalent of Delphi’s Oracle, what will be the value of doing science? The scientific method, after all, is the means by which we have been able to navigate and understand the material world, in material terms. Does this re-open humanity’s door to the preoccupation with the mystery of conscious experience, which cannot be explained through the scientific method of objective, empirical analysis?  

These are the questions we explore in this week’s episode with David Weinberger and Demetri Kofinas.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Subscribe & Support the Show at http://patreon.com/hiddenforces

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



5. TSLAQ and the Crowdsourced Short Sale of the Century | TeslaCharts
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In Episode 86 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with TeslaCharts, one of the leading members of the online community known as TSLAQ, a group of largely anonymous Twitter users who exist to expose the reality behind the Tesla façade.

TSLAQ is a hive-like collective of financiers, accountants, Ph.D.’s, lawyers, pilots, and members of just about any other occupational discipline you can imagine. What unites them all is Tesla, or more specifically, their outrage at a CEO who they believe to be a carnival barker running the biggest fraud in corporate America. In the words of TSLAQ’s most prominent member Mark Spiegel, Elon Musk is responsible for “the biggest single stock bubble in this whole bubble market.”

According to an article about TSLAQ published for the LA Times, Russ Mitchell writes, “the channel has emerged as a crowd-sourced stock research platform,” where “contributors divide up research duties according to personal interest and ability, with no one in charge.” The “major aim” of this collective, writes Mitchell, “is to change the mind of Tesla stock bulls and the media.”

Activist investing and short selling have been around for as long as anyone can remember, but short sellers have traditionally aligned with intrepid, up-and-coming journalists and prominent media outlets in order to “talk their book” and change public opinion about the stock by sharing their proprietary research into the company. Jim Chanos was famous for having worked to expose the fraud at Enron through various media contacts like Bethany McLean, while simultaneously shorting the company’s stock. In other cases, such as with SEC whistleblower Harry Markopolos, “No One Would Listen.”

What is unique in this case is the emergent nature of the network behind TSLAQ. It is not proprietary, nor is anyone in control. TSLAQ is not a conspiracy of short-sellers. Rather, it is the spontaneous manifestation of a disparate collection of disaffected people united together by their commitment to exposing an increasingly dangerous fraud that they believe is being perpetrated against investors and the general public.

In this episode, we bring light to this phenomenon and help to educate you about its history, its impetus, and its prospects for bursting what may be the greatest stock bubble in our entire bubble market.

As always, episodes of Hidden Forces are for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as the basis for financial decisions. All views expressed by Demetri Kofinas and podcast guests are solely their own opinions and should not be construed as financial advice.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



6. The End of "The Everything Bubble” | Kevin Smith and Otavio Costa
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In this Special Episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Kevin Smith and Otavio Costa of Crescat Capital, in a continuation of our recent markets coverage, with a particular focus on specific indicators that could validate a bear market hypothesis.

It has been difficult not to feel anxiety and trepidation while looking out across the Value-Price Continuum during the last few years. Many of us understand that our economy no longer functions as advertised. Financialization of the US economy over the past four decades has skewed the relationship between price and value in favor of price, specifically in favor of higher prices. The unprecedented support that monetary authorities provided financial intermediaries and asset holders during the last bear market has created noticeable price distortions and has raised serious questions about the usefulness of traditional indicators in assessing asset values. It is also unclear how meaningful traditional economic data like GDP and unemployment are in the face of ever-higher nominal public/private debt levels and aging populations.

We have experienced three intermediate corrections during this secular bull market. Most notably, the periods between the summers of 2011 – 2012 and 2015 – 2016, which proved to be head-fakes for investors who were expecting the market to enter bear territory. With the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite climbing above their all-time closing highs last week, will this last year’s declines prove similarly inconsequential, leading us ever higher in an unusually prolonged bull-market?

Kevin Smith and Otavio Costa make their case for why this market rally is different and how they are positioning Crescat Capital and its investors for the bear market to come.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



7. Great Financial Crisis Ten Years On: Past Role and Current Risks from China | Anne-Stevenson Yang
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In Episode 85 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with China expert Anne Stevenson-Yang about the imminent dangers facing global financial markets in the event of a break in the renminbi-dollar peg. 

In the years leading up to the Great Financial Crisis, it was generally understood that the Chinese were artificially depressing the value of the RMB vis-à-vis the USD, in order maintain an abnormally large current account surplus that would be recycled into western financial markets in the form of government securities, equities, real estate, etc. By recycling so much of the proceeds from trade back into foreign markets, the CCP managed to maintain a lower exchange rate than it otherwise would be, were it to convert those dollars back into renminbi. In other words, China was suppressing the value of its currency. Bob Wittbrot calls this recycling process the “Boomerang Greenback.” This dynamic worked extraordinary well until the world went into recession around the time of the great financial crisis, which marked a peak in China’s current account. The CCP also met the crisis by expanding bank lending, easing credit, and fueling investment even further. In addition, by maintaining interest rates and the cost of capital well-below the rate of inflation during China’s multi-decade boom, the CCP has managed to keep households’ share of the economy at low enough levels to induce an overall high-savings rate for the country (by having less disposable income than would otherwise be expected for an economy this size, the average Chinese citizen spends less on consumption than he or she otherwise would, absent financial repression). This has been an additional shot in the arm for investment.

At some point post-2008 (judging from their foreign exchange reserves, this appears to have started somewhere around the start of 2014) China went from artificially suppressing the value of its currency to artificially supporting it. Unlike a country like Thailand, however, whose currency peg famously broke under the speculative attacks of foreign investors during the 1997-98’ Asian Financial Crisis, the Chinese have managed to avoid such a scenario on account of maintaining a closed capital account (exercising tight capital controls). Coupling that with a current account surplus, the CCP has been able to obtain the hard currency it has needed in the last 5 years or so in order to buy the various inputs required to run their economy and keep the cycle going.

The problem is that China generated a tremendous amount of money and credit since the GFC, in particular, and therefore risks a major devaluation in the value of the RMB should the country no longer be able to get the foreign exchange reserves it needs through a sustainable current account surplus. They are, at the moment, running a negative current account, a negative fiscal balance (of roughly 9% of GDP), their foreign exchange reserves are declining for the first time ever, while the country’s external debt has doubled in the last five years, increasing by an average of $70 billion per quarter since the beginning of 2017. More than half of this debt is short-term, which means it needs to be constantly rolled over. Up until the Fed paused it’s tightening cycle, the rising interest rates coupled with new tariffs on Chinese goods were creating a pincer-like effect on China’s economy and on its ability to maintain its peg, forcing it to fund more of its dollar needs through borrowing at ever higher interest rates.

China cannot maintain a credible peg between the RMB and the USD when its money supply is growing, by some calculations at more than 10x that of the United States over the last 10 years. This is a fundamental problem of accounting. If China were completely self-sufficient – if it had access to sufficient energy, food, base metals, etc. within its own borders – then its inability to obtain dollars would not be an issue. The problem is that it is desperately short these commodities as inputs for its manufacturing and domestic consumption. The recent drop in the price of oil helped them out a bit, but it has been rising again, just as China’s oil imports are surging. The recently surpassed the United States as the world’s largest crude importer. For a nation with dwindling foreign exchange reserves, this is not a good trend. And, it isn’t even clear what the real FOREX numbers are in China. Official foreign exchange reserve put that number at $3.2 Trillion, but US treasury tick data shows that China owns a little bit less than $1.2 trillion in US Treasuries, which according to some people, suggests that their overall FOREX position is closer to $2 Trillion.

Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit fell to $49.4 billion in February, the lowest level since June 2018, and well below what economists had expected. A 20.2% drop in imports from China was the main driver behind the nearly 3.4% improvement in the trade deficit in February, data from the Commerce Department showed. The trade deficit has narrowed for two straight months now.

There seems to be a growing sense of awareness among many in China that all is not well with the country’s capital account. We have seen numbers suggesting that illicit capital has been flowing out of China (whether we are talking about precious stones, Bitcoins, or other means available to the wealthier citizens of China) in noticeably higher amounts since the mini-devaluation in August 2015. This is consistent with what we often see in countries ahead of a devaluation, default, or some other financial disturbance. Do China’s wealthy know something we don’t?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



8. Johann Hari | Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and Anxiety
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In Episode 84 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with celebrated author Johann Hari about his book “Lost Connections” and the silent epidemic of depression and anxiety that is pervading our society and burdening the lives of so many people.

Lost Connections begins as a chronicling of Johann’s search for answers to the causes of his own depression, but becomes an investigation into the reasons for its increasing prevalence in the lives of others.

In the introduction to the book, Johann tells us that some one in five U.S. adults is taking at least one drug for a psychiatric problem and that nearly one in four middle-aged women in the United States is taking antidepressants at any given time. Addictions to legal and illegal drugs are now so widespread that the life expectancy of white men is declining for the first time in the entire peacetime history of the United States, and these statistics are not exclusive to Americans. When scientists test the water supply of Western countries, they always find it laced with antidepressants, because so many people are taking and excreting them that they simply can’t be filtered out of the water we drink every day. We are literally, as Johann writes, awash in these drugs and we have come to accept that a huge number of the people all around us are so distressed that they feel they need to take a powerful chemical every day just to keep themselves together.

This is an extremely sensitive issue because so many people suffer under the burden of depression, but unlike other disabilities, this one is particularly difficult to talk about. No one wants to be seen as a downer or weak, even though more people are starting to understand that depression is not a sign of weakness. But what is it a sign of?

Certainly, there are people in this world who are predisposed towards various forms of mental illness, including severe, sometimes debilitating depression. However, it is difficult to comprehend how the epidemic – the rising rates of depression and anxiety – can be explained in biological terms and treated in pharmacological ways. Johann Hari would say that this epidemic is not a malfunction caused by a biological deficiency. He would say that they are the natural response to a deficiency in how we live.

This point, in particular, resonates. The Indian philosopher Krishnamurti, famously said that “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” On the surface, things have never been better. This is literally the best time to be alive in all of human history by almost any metric, and yet, if you look between the cracks you find people struggling. Some of them are depressed, others are just overwhelmed, grieving, or lonely. It isn’t just people in poverty who are struggling. This is a society-wide phenomenon. We see it in our politics, but we also see it in our culture. What do we value in our societies today? Who are the heroes that we idolize? If an alien species were to visit earth, what would be the appeal we would make to save our lives?

It’s not a coincidence that there has been an outpouring of interest in questions of ethics, moral philosophy, and epistemology. What are we to infer from the resurgent public curiosity in psychedelics if not that they may hold the key to revelation – the revelation of some elemental truth about life that we seem to have forgotten in our haste to remake the world and ourselves along some artificially manufactured, commercially sanitized avatar of a human life.

Joseph Campbell, the great mythological scholar and mystic once said, “I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” Could this epidemic be a reflection of our struggle to fulfill the demands of a culture whose values are no longer compatible with the needs of a human life? As Johann Hari writes in the final paragraphs of his book, while addressing his younger self, “You aren’t a machine with broken parts. You are an animal whose needs are not being met. You are not suffering from a chemical imbalance in your brain. You are suffering from a social and spiritual imbalance in how we live. This pain is not your enemy, however much it hurts, and Jesus, I know how much it hurts. It’s your ally – leading you away from a wasted life and pointing the way towards a more fulfilling one. You can try and muffle that signal or you can let it guide you, away from the things that are hurting and draining you, and towards the things that will meet your true needs.”

Those of you who are regular listeners to this show know that we’ve devoted more time and attention to the subject of life – it’s properties, its merits, and how we come to know and understand it – as we move into a new paradigm of human experience at the frontier of technological futurism. No one knows exactly where this is all going. We are all still figuring it out, but it seems that this is an important piece of that puzzle.

There are limits to human adaptability, and we should be careful not to accept explanations simply because they come wrapped in a story of scientific certainty or commercial authority. People aren’t machines. Your life matters. Your pain matters. Listen to it. It may have something important to teach.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



9. Raghuram Rajan | The Future of Capitalism and the Global Economy
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In Episode 83 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Raghuram Rajan, about the future of capitalism and the global economy amid rising rates of populism and disintegration in the global order.

Raghu Rajan was named by Euromoney magazine as Central Banker of the Year in 2014 while serving as the 23rd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Dr. Rajan has also held the position of Chief Economist at the IMF and is currently a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is the author of several books, including his most recent, The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind.

In this conversation, Demetri engages Raghu on a wide range of issues, from central banking and interest rate policies to geopolitics, populism, and the systemic risks facing the global economy, including a discussion about leveraged loans, junk bonds, and emerging markets. The two talk about the demographic challenges confronting countries around the world, particularly developed nations with large unfunded liabilities and debt levels that exceed, in many cases, one-hundred percent of gross domestic product. They go into great detail about the Chinese political economy and the challenges it faces amid prospects for slower growth, while simultaneously exploring the challenges it creates for the United States amid a disintegrating global order. Demetri asks Raghuram Rajan if he thinks that the market’s confidence in central banks’ abilities to stem deflation is misplaced or if extraordinary measures, including the outright monetization of government deficits and bailouts of non-financial companies, will come into play during the next downturn. He also gets the former Governor’s opinion on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), regulations, immigration, and how to reform education for the 21st century.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



10. Nicholas Christakis on the Evolutionary Origins of Ethics, Morality, and a Good Society
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In Episode 82 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Dr. Nicholas Christakis about the evolutionary origins of ethics, morality, and a good society.

A renowned sociologist and physician, Dr. Christakis was named to Time Magazine’s 2009 list of the 100 most influential people in the world. He is known for his research on social networks and on the socioeconomic, biosocial, and evolutionary determinants of behavior, health, and longevity. He directs the Human Nature Lab and is the Co-Director of the Yale Institute for Network Science, as well as the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University.

Listeners to this show will recall our prior episode with social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, where we discussed a 2015 incident at Yale, involving Dr. Christakis, who was accosted and berated by a horde of belligerent students for approximately two hours over the contents of an email sent by his wife, an esteemed childhood educator, in what was one of the earliest examples of a bizarre phenomenon of public shaming and moral outrage that has overtaken college campuses in recent years.   

Though Demetri and Nicholas do discuss that experience, as well as this larger move to moderate or in some cases, shut down speech entirely, the episode focuses on the professor’s book, which is an exploration of the evolutionary origins of a good society. Their conversation explores the biological foundations of culture-making and the features that define the social landscape that we have evolved to create. Dr. Christakis highlights some of the profound similarities that can be seen, not just cross-culturally, but across time and space. He shares research into what is known about some of the earliest groups of hunter-gatherers, impromptu societies formed by the survivors of shipwrecks, as well as the deliberately constructed communes of 19th-century transcendentalists.

Nicholas Christakis also explains the biological origins of romantic love, examines polyamorous cultures like those of the Na people of the Himalayas, and compares human societies with those of chimpanzees, elephants, and whales.

This is an episode full of fascinating stories, statistics, and scientific research that weave together insights from the fields of evolutionary psychology, moral philosophy, and genetics. It is a conversation that cuts right to the heart of society’s resurgent interest in human origins, social norms, and moral values.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



11. Loonshots: Crazy Ideas that Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries | Safi Bahcall
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In Episode 81 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Safi Bahcall, a physicist, biotech entrepreneur, and the author of “Loonshots,” a book about how to nurture the types of crazy ideas that win wars, cure diseases, and transform industries.

In the early days of World War II, the Third Reich’s commander of submarines Karl Dönitz submitted a memorandum to the German Navy, advocating for a system of submarine warfare that would devastate allied supply lines, merchant vessels, and warships. For a nation with a second-rate navy, this was asymmetrical warfare at its finest. With the implementation of the plan, known as “Rudeltaktik,” allied losses began to rise rapidly, from 750,000 tons of cargo lost in 1939 to 7.8 million in 1942. Every month, U-boats were sinking ships faster than the Allies could build them, and the losses kept mounting. By early 1943, food supplies to Britain had dwindled to two-thirds of normal levels. Less than three months of commercial oil reserves remained: The British were on the verge of defeat.   

At just the time when all hope seemed lost in the Battle for the Atlantic, an American physicist by the name of Alfred Loomis appointed to assemble and lead a team of the country’s best engineers and physicists, presented the Army with the first of two timely innovations. When mounted on Americas’ B-24 Liberator bombers these tiny boxes with their microwave antennas could detect the periscopes of surfaced submarines, through daytime cloud cover or fog of night. By the spring of 1943, these long-range bombers, equipped with Loomis’ microwave radar and pulsed-radio navigation were fully operational and actively patrolling the Atlantic. What ensued was a massacre.  

In the month of May alone, Allied bombers operating through fog and darkness and who could now see the once invisible German submarines lighting up their oscilloscope screens, sank 41 U-boats nearly one-third of the German commander’s total operational fleet and more in one month than in any of the first three years of the war. Allied shipping losses, in 90 days, decreased by 95 percent: from 514,000 tons in March to 22,000 tons in June. The lanes to resupply Europe had been opened making way for the ground invasion at Normandy only a year later. The Allies turned what had appeared by all accounts to be an imminent loss into the first great Allied victory of the War, all because a small group of scientists working out of an anonymous building at MIT, had the crazy idea to use an unproven technology to turn a German hunting ground into a turkey shoot for the allies and their microwave configured, B-24 bombers that were busy lighting up the Atlantic.  

This week, on Hidden Forces, we explore how to nurture the types of crazy ideas that win wars, cure disease, and transform industries, with our guest Safi Bahcall.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



12. Tesla Financial and Legal Woes as SEC Seeks to Hold Elon Musk in Contempt | Ed McCabe
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In this Special Episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Ed McCabe about the latest woes plaguing Tesla after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently alleged in a federal filing that its CEO Elon Musk, violated a settlement with the agency when he tweeted in February about the electric carmaker's 2019 production targets. Midway through the episode, the two are joined by Lawrence Fossi, known by his pen name as Montana Skeptic, and the three continue their conversation for the rest of the episode and into the overtime segment.

When considering the performance of Tesla’s stock in the face of sober calculations, one cannot help but be reminded of Benjamin Graham’s famous quote: "In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run it is a weighing machine.” For anyone looking to weigh the merits of Tesla’s valuation, he or she would be best served by obtaining a degree in forensic accounting. For anyone looking to understand how or why the stock has remained as high as it has while the company has been busy liquidating assets, shutting down distribution points, and restructuring operations in order to keep the electricity running, he or she will likely need to rely upon the expertise of cultural anthropologists and theologians.

The immediate danger for Elon and Tesla is one of insolvency and lifeless demand. On a personal level, it was recently reported that Musk’s banker, Morgan Stanley, who likely holds most or all of his margin debt, extended itself further last December by making mortgage loans on five of Musk’s California mansions. Elon took out $61 million in mortgages: four in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles and one in the Bay Area. The loans, signed in the final days of 2018, represent about $50 million in new borrowing. Considering Tesla’s deteriorating financial position in the face of cratering demand, massive mismanagement, and continued disarray in its manufacturing and logistics operations, it is instructive to know that the CEO may conduct his personal finances with comparable degrees of recklessness and malpractice. If Tesla’s share price continues to decline, Musk will eventually need to post more collateral, which means approaching the Tesla board and asking it to waive its pledging limits of company stock. Assuming the board gives him the waiver and the stock continues to drop, Morgan Stanley will be forced to begin selling collateral to recoup some of the outstanding loan. This could cause the bottom to fall out very quickly, for both Tesla, as well as Elon Musk.

As far as demand is concerned, the picture has gone from alarming (going off a publicly available spreadsheet that tracks VIN numbers) to downright nightmarish (the rushed slashing of the Model 3 price). Pictures of lots stacked with ownerless Model 3’s have been circulating on the Internet for months. There is also a theory that the number of Model 3’s being returned to Tesla is much higher than is being reported and that this helps to explain the persistent gap seen since September between the number of Model 3’s Tesla claims to have delivered and the number showing up as registered. The theory is that this is the result of a strategic decision on the part of Tesla to delay registering newly sold cars for 3-4 weeks in order to provide an opportunity to resell the car with a “clean” title to unsuspecting new buyers. On top of all this, Tesla’s list of executive departures continues to grow by the day with the VP of Engineering, the General Counsel, the VP of Global Recruiting, and the Chief Financial Officer among the company’s latest casualties.

In short, Tesla appears to be in the midst of an informal restructuring and liquidation process being driven on the fly by a Shakespearean CEO whose personal finances and singularly large ego are so fragile that nothing seems capable of standing in his way.

As always, this episode of Hidden Forces is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as the basis for financial decisions. All views expressed by Demetri Kofinas and podcast guests are solely their own opinions and should not be construed as financial advice.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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13. Neural Interfaces and the Future of Human-Computer Interaction | Thomas Reardon
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In Episode 80 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with CTRL-labs CEO Thomas Reardon, about his company’s ground-breaking innovations in neural interface design, computational neuroscience, and machine learning that turn science fiction into reality.

Thomas Reardon’s career is no less impressive than his most recent endeavor to displace the graphical user interface and revolutionize immersive computing. He is a founding Board Member of the World Wide Web Consortium and famous for having created Internet Explorer at Microsoft, which, at its peak, represented 96% of all web browsers in existence. Over one billion people on earth have used Reardon’s software to access the Web. After leaving Microsoft, Reardon decided to go back to school, receiving his undergraduate degree in Classics from Columbia, gaining fluency in Latin and Greek. He followed that up with a Ph.D. in Neuroscience split between Columbia and Duke.    

It’s hard to capture the paradigmatic nature of the innovations stemming from the work being done at CTRL-labs without seeing it for yourself. Anything that I can say is insufficient to capture the awe of watching someone type on a screen without moving his fingers, use her intentions to pick up and finely control objects in three-dimensional space or play a video game while remaining visually motionless. The implications of this technology are perhaps, rivaled only by the practical genius of its implementation. By focusing their attention on translating only the final, neuronal output of our brain’s commands as expressed through electrical impulses sent directly to our muscles, the team at CTRL-labs has managed to create a device that can capture the brain’s intentions non-invasively, through the use of a simple armband that you can wear like an article of clothing, a wristwatch, or a fancy bracelet. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this technology turns yesterday’s future into today’s reality, blowing wide-open the world of immersive computing and expanding our sense of possibility beyond our wildest imagination.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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14. Surveillance Capitalism in the Age of the Unprecedented | Shoshana Zuboff
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In Episode 79 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Shoshana Zuboff, about the rise of “Surveillance Capitalism,” a pernicious new economic logic, which robs us of our experiences, dispossess us of our sanctuaries and makes our lives increasingly unlivable.

In 1609, while in search of a rumored, northeast passage to Asia on behalf of the Dutch East India Company, the English explorer and navigator Henry Hudson, landed on what is modern day New York City.

Though written accounts exist of Hudson’s encounters with local tribes, native accounts have been handed down to us through oral tradition, often transcribed much later by missionaries and settlers. In 1765, a Moravian missionary who lived for many years among the Delaware and Mohican tribes recorded a native account of the first meeting:

“A long time ago, some Indians who had been out fishing, where the sea widens, spied at a great distance something remarkably large swimming or floating on the water. It was agreed among those who were spectators, that as this phenomenon moved towards the land, it would be well to inform all the Indians on the inhabited islands. Chiefs, from scattered tribes who arrived in numbers, concluded the strange appearance to be a large canoe or house, in which the great Supreme Being himself was coming to visit them.“

Such descriptions by native peoples of their first encounters with white settlers were common throughout the Americas. The first man to bring news to the great Aztec King Montezuma of Spanish ships described what he saw from the Gulf coast as “towers or small mountains floating on the waves of the sea.” In other accounts, natives looked from the shore and thought the awesome, approaching ships were giant, white seabirds or floating islands. There are even theories that the Arawak - the first tribe to encounter Columbus’ ships off the coast of Hispaniola - could at first, see only their ripples across the horizon. They were unable to picture what was for them, unprecedented. Unimagined. Alien.

What all these people had in common was that they were unable to name, let alone recognize a force of creative destruction so vast and boundless that it would make their worlds unrecognizable, their homes uninhabitable, and their lives unlivable. They were unable to see the ships and their crew for what they were – the vessels of conquerors, pillagers, and looters of unsullied lands. Unable to name them, they welcomed them, agents of their own annihilation.

This week, on Hidden Forces, we explore the unprecedented force of surveillance capitalism – how it threatens to dispossess us of our experiences, our sanctuaries, and our very lives.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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15. Matt Taibbi | The News Media and Manufacturing Consent in the 21st Century
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In Episode 78 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Matt Taibbi, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and winner of the 2008 National Magazine Award, about his latest book, Hate, INC.

Matt Taibbi is someone who truly needs no introduction. His polemical, but also highly illustrative and expository writing stands apart from his contemporaries, and the significance of his contributions, particularly to the public debate during the 2008 financial crisis cannot be understated. He served as an interpreter for what was, in his own words, “a crime story that most people mistakenly thought of as an economic story.” His attacks on those he identified as being chiefly responsible for the crisis were relentless, and in a media environment tenanted and owned by government apologists and banking sycophants, they were noticeably ruthless and unforgiving. In an article he penned in the spring of 2010 titled, “The Great American Bubble Machine,” Taibbi referred to the investment bank Goldman Sachs as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

Fortunately for Goldman Sachs, Matt Taibbi has since turned his attention towards the media itself, embarking on an ambitious project to update Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent, for the 21st century, as a serialized book that he’s been releasing through sub-stack. The majority of this conversation deals with the subject of that book, which is a sort of operational manual for those looking to understand how journalists and the media shape social reality.

When Manufacturing Consent was first published in 1988, the media landscape was still largely dominated by print and broadcast television. We’ve since gone through two, major technological disruptions, first with cable, and then with the Internet, both of which altered the traditional pathways through which governments and big business try to shape and control public opinion. Matt and Demetri discuss these changes at length, including the amplification of “flak” through social media, the new orthodoxies of groupthink, as well as an exploration of victimhood hierarchies as understood through Herman and Chomsky’s “worthy vs. unworthy victims” framework.

Finally, Matt Taibbi and Demetri discuss the circus that is the media’s political coverage, including some amazing stories from Matt’s time on the 2016 campaign trail, as well as a scathing critique of his old buddies at Goldman Sachs, who are back in the news over their role in a scheme to defraud the Malaysian government and its citizens of billions of dollars through the use of a state-owned investment fund known as 1MDB. If you want access to this part of the conversation, as well as a transcript of the full episode along with this week’s 14-page rundown, which includes an updated outline of the propaganda model and a timeline of important events in the evolution of the news business, head over to HiddenForces.io or subscribe directly through our Patreon page at Patreon.com/hiddenforces. Subscribers instantly gain access to our entire library of content, including nearly 80 transcripts, close to 60 rundowns, and overtime segments going back to the end of December 2018.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

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16. Cal Newport | Digital Minimalism: Choosing Life in a Hyperconnected World
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In Episode 77 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Cal Newport about his latest book, Digital Minimalism and the act of “choosing life” in a hyperconnected world.

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” writes, transcendentalist author and essayist Henry David Thoreau, in the first chapter of Walden titled, “Economy.” “But men labor under a mistake...the improvements of ages have had but little influence on the essential laws of man's existence.” In an effort to uncover those “essential laws” Thoreau went to the woods: “I wished to live deliberately,” he says, “to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear;”

What is often missed in Thoreau’s reflections from his 2-year excursion into the woodlands of Concord, Massachusetts, is the rigor with which he calculated, measured, and weighed those “essential facts of life.” Philosopher Frédéric Gros calls Thoreau’s “New Economics,” a theory that builds on the following axiom, which Thoreau establishes early in Walden: “The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” “The striking thing with Thoreau,” Gros argues, “is not the actual content of the argument. After all, sages in earliest Antiquity had already proclaimed their contempt for possessions…what impresses is the form of the argument. For Thoreau’s obsession with calculation runs deep…he says: keep calculating, keep weighing. What exactly do I gain, or lose?”

In the century and a half since its publication, Thoreau’s economics – his methodology for apprehending the cost of a thing by weighing and measuring it against the dearness of life’s value – has been supplanted by allegiance to growth at all costs. But unlike the “mass of men” about which Thoreau writes in the mid-19th century, today’s society is burdened by more than just the labor of miscalculation. In today’s hyperconnected, surveillance economy, the mass of humanity has lost autonomy over that calculation, ceding authority to the commands of a new technocracy that governs the behavioral forces of our primitive biology through platforms scientifically engineered for addiction, supervision, and control.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

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17. MAGA Hat Kid and a Modern Morality Play Gone Wrong | Robby Soave
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In Episode 76 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Robby Soave, the journalist at the center of what has become the biggest national news story in America, eclipsing the thirty-five-day-long government shutdown that ended today.

This conversation centers on a drama that began unfolding over the previous weekend and which has continued into this week. It concerns a group of Catholic school students from Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School, who were thrust into the national spotlight for seeming to have denigrated and mocked the dignity of a native American man who was solemnly beating his drum at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during MLK weekend and on the day of an Indigenous Peoples March in the nation’s capital.

This story hit all the trigger buttons. The protagonists were a group of adolescent, white, privileged, Catholic schoolboys from Kentucky wearing MAGA hats who were smirking at and mocking an individual from what is perhaps the most marginalized group in American society. The oppressors were taunting the oppressed. Here it was in all its despicable glory, and the media and millions of people across social media ate it up. They swallowed it hook, line, and sinker and these students were all but crucified by both sides of the political spectrum before all the facts had been collected and laid bare.

Were it not for our guest, Robby Soave, and his timely reporting about what actually transpired at the Lincoln Memorial this past Friday, the 18th of January, this news cycle may have ended and these Covington Catholic High School kids could very well have been expelled, their applications to colleges denied, and their families attacked before anyone would learn the truth of what really happened.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

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18. Hyperbitcoinization and Other Arguments by a Bitcoin Maximalist | Pierre Rochard
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In Episode 75 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Pierre Rochard, a self-ascribed Bitcoin Maximalist who co-founded the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute and who has been a researcher, investor, and software developer in the space since early 2013. In addition to developing Bitcoin software, Pierre is an outspoken advocate for Bitcoin's decentralized governance, the operator of one of the largest Lightning Network routing hubs, and the host of the Nodded Bitcoin Podcast.  

This conversation is broken into two parts. The first deals with fundamental questions concerning bitcoin’s base layer protocol, the supply schedule, governance, decentralization, utility, and challenges to layer 1 scalability. Included in this first part is a fascinating conversation about anarcho-capitalism and the role of Austrian economics and theories of hard money in the bitcoin community with comparisons made between bitcoin and gold.   

The second part of the conversation, which is available as a 40-minute overtime segment for our subscribers, consists of a prolonged series of discussions on hyperbitcoinization, including the mechanics of a speculative attack by bitcoin against the US dollar and other fiat currencies. Also discussed are the existential threats posed by governments and how Pierre believes that bitcoin will manage to overcome all of them on its path towards becoming the global currency standard in the 21st century. Demetri ends by asking Pierre for his predictions and forecasts, not only for bitcoin but for the market more broadly, including a conversation on how he’s positioning himself for the start of the next bull phase in crypto.  

Additional topics include monetary theories of value, the Lindy effect, Gresham’s law, and layer 2 solutions for scaling bitcoin as a viable medium of exchange.

As a reminder, all information provided in this podcast is for informational purposes only and should not be viewed as financial advice, nor should it be relied upon as the basis for financial decisions.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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19. Forward Guidance: Investor Concerns and Market Trends for 2019 | Peter Boockvar
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In Episode 74 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Peter Boockvar. Peter is Chief Investment Officer for Bleakly Advisory Group and a regular on CNBC, where he provides market commentary about fed policy, market trends, economic data, stocks, bonds, etc.

Every now and again, Demetri brings people from the media onto Hidden Forces in order to get their take on the markets and to hear their interpretations about the latest data, news, and information. The purpose of this is to gain a better understanding of how the news media is constructing the very narratives that given reason to what we’re seeing and what we can expect to see in the coming weeks and months.

There has been a significant shift in how the financial press has been talking about markets recently. Even the words that they have been using to describe developments that could otherwise be viewed in a positive light are being characterized in bearish terms. Demetri asks Peter for his interpretation of some of the recent economic data, including the latest manufacturing numbers out of Germany, as well as the recent anecdotal data provided by Apple in their 1,400-word letter to investors, which lead to a 10% drop in their stock price (their worst, one-day performance in five years). The two discuss recent comments by Fed chairman Powell, the prospect and performance of financial stocks, concerns about liquidity, the government shutdown, trade, China, marijuana stocks, Tesla, and what Demetri believes is the resurgence of democratic socialism as a powerful force that markets will need to contend with in 2020.  

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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20. ETC 51% Attack and What It Means for Proof-of-Work and Crypto Exchanges | Haseeb Qureshi
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In Special Episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Haseeb Qureshi of MetaStable Capital about the recent 51% attack against Ethereum Classic, its implications for exchanges that continue to list smaller market-cap cryptos like ETC, Dash, Monero, etc., and what it means for the debate between proof-of-work and proof-of-stake.

On January 5th, 2019, the digital currency exchange Coinbase detected a deep chain reorganization of the Ethereum Classic blockchain. In order to protect customer funds, they immediately paused interactions with the ETC blockchain. Coinbase reported the 51% attack on January 7, 2019, but a few people on Twitter had already become aware that something wasn’t right with ETC. Pierre Rochard, an emerging thought-leader in the Bitcoin space, asked ETC developer Donal McIntyre on Twitter:  “Was there a deep reorg on Ethereum Classic yesterday?… 75 blocks deep I hear, with a double-spend.” Donal McIntyre replied: “Well ETC is still small and has many enemies so an attack with sufficient GPU power may be plausible, but I will check with others in the ecosystem.”

Cryptocurrencies that are not dominant in their respective mining algorithm, especially ones for which hashing power can be easily rented out, are more vulnerable to being 51% attacked than are other cryptocurrencies with larger market-caps that are not ASIC-resistant. According to Charlie Lee, founder of Litecoin, “ETC has less than 5% of the total Ethash hashrate and is 98% NiceHash-able. 1-hr attack costs $5k,” making it particularly vulnerable according to these two metrics.

Reports of the amount stolen in the attack range from the low six-figures to over one million dollars worth of ETC. Perhaps what is most remarkable is that this is only the latest 51% attack against a smaller-cap currency where the attack did not materially impact the price of the cryptocurrency in question.

Demetri and Haseeb explore the reasons why the price of ETC was largely unaffected, what this latest attack means for the listing (or delisting) of similarly sized cryptocurrencies, and how this is sparking a larger debate about the efficacy of proof-of-work vs. proof-of-stake as mechanisms for securing a cryptocurrency.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

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21. Quantifying Uncertainty: A History of Financial Theory and its Implications | Daniel Peris
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In Episode 73 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Daniel Peris, a Senior Portfolio Manager at Federated Investors in Pittsburgh where he oversees the firm's dividend-focused products. He is the author of three books on investing, most recently: "Getting Back to Business: Why Modern Portfolio Theory Fails Investors, and How You Can Bring Common Sense to Your Portfolio." Before transitioning into asset management, Peris was a historian focused on modern Russian history. He is the author of a book and several articles on the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s.

Today’s conversation is about the evolution of financial theory, beginning with the rough and tumble world of 19th century finance with its stock syndicates, market corners, and curb exchanges. Where big personalities like Daniel Drew, James Fisk, and Jay Gould conspired and fought to take from Joe Public, and from each other, the riches afforded to them by laissez-faire capitalism and the industrial revolution.

The discussion is broken into two parts. The first deals with the world as it was before 1929 with its unregulated, unstructured, and highly inefficient markets. The second part explores the world after the Great Crash, where a confluence of forces – economic, demographic, institutional, and intellectual – supported the procurement and distribution of a new set of financial theories that promised to explain away uncertainty and guide the allocation of risk in the pursuit of profits.

As inheritors of this new world, we cannot help but function under the fallacies of its paradigms. One of these fallacies is the notion that economies are independent phenomena that operate, by and large, according to a certain set of physical laws. Most people will acknowledge that our economic and financial models are imperfect, but most people also think of them as being somewhat analogous to models developed in the natural sciences. Because of this false comparison to physics (equilibrium) and nature (normal distributions), people often remain unaware of the centrality of politics in theories of the economy. Economies are not independent phenomena that answer only to the laws of nature. They are political and social phenomena that exist within a political system. Theories of the economy that do not take into account the system within which they operate are flawed...in some cases, significantly so.

Austrian theories of money and credit, for example, are better at describing how the banking system operates in a laissez-faire society, whereas Modern Monetary Theory is better at describing how it works in our current, fiat-based system of unrestrained credit growth. What often happens is that devotees of these different schools are actually advocating for a specific set of policies, under the pretense that their views are scientific and that their policies derive logically from some objective view of how an ideal economy operates, when in fact, they are based on political values and societal ideals. The MMT school is full of progressive social-democrats who want governments to play a larger role in the economy, whereas the Austrian school is full of conservative libertarians who want less government. This sorting along political lines is not a coincidence. Investment theories operate rather differently than theories about the economy, in that there is no argument in the investment world about what matters most. It’s profits.

In light of this fact, the discrepancies between various investment theories require alternative explanations that do not rely on political ideology or moral sentiment. It would seem sufficient to declare that the widespread adoption of theories like Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT), the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH), Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), etc., was enabled by the growth of a large middle class with excess income available for investment that had not directly experienced the boom and bust of the Roaring 20’s and accelerated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974. Entrepreneurially minded financial industry professionals saw an opportunity, but this opportunity required a more streamlined approach to investing and one that would put themselves, and their clients, at ease.

The need to bring order to the chaotic world of prices has encouraged the adoptions of systematic investment strategies that claimed the ability to quantify risk. When it comes to investing other people’s money, having a more coherent, easy-to-understand theory that provides the illusion of control is a very valuable tool. From an evolutionary point of view, it is no wonder how theories purporting to quantify risk and target reward proliferated so quickly. It was in everyone’s interest that they do so.

How these theories came together to form the dominant, ideological template of risk-adjusted-return measured against exposure to the broader market is the essence of today’s episode. Its significance can be found in the implications associated with equating diversification with correlation: trading idiosyncratic risk for systemic risk and what happens when everyone is doing it.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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22. Bob Kerrey | a Contemporary Political History of Policy and War
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In Episode 72 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with former US Senator and Governor from the great state of Nebraska, Bob Kerrey. Senator Kerrey currently serves as Managing Director at Allen & Company. He is also Executive Chairman of the Minerva Institute for Research and Scholarship. Senator Kerrey also served as one of the ten members of the 9/11 commission, tasked with investigating the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.

In this conversation, Senator Kerrey shares stories of his experience growing up in 1950's and early 1960’s America, his service in Vietnam, and the life-altering injury that sent him down a path of service, first as Nebraska’s governor and later, as its senator. We discuss both the cultural, as well as the political transformations that have overtaken American society throughout the course of his life, as well as how the media and social media have altered the political landscape and introduced new challenges to governing and elections that are altogether new. We discuss the tremendous wealth divide currently present in the country, the role of the 2008 crisis and its aftermath in furthering that divide, and the emergence of populism, both on the left and on the right, as a powerful new force that is shaping American politics in ways that we are only just begging to appreciate.

We also discuss Senator Kerrey’s work on the 9/11 commission, the role that the Saudi government played in orchestrating the September 11th attacks, as well as Demetri’s questions about why the Bush administration and the media refused to hold the Kingdom accountable for its involvement. This part of the conversation can be accessed as part of our premium subscription, available through the episode page on our website.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

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23. Howard Marks Overtime and Subscription Launch Announcement!
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In this Christmas Day special of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas shares twenty-five minutes of never-before-heard audio from his conversation with Howard Marks, but not before announcing the long-awaited-for launch of the Hidden Forces subscription service. Subscribers can gain access to overtime segments, transcripts, and rundowns from each and every episode. Subscriptions require creating a Patreon account, but can be accessed directly through the Hidden Forces website via subscription tabs located within any particular episode

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

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24. Chinese Commercial Espionage and the Arrest of Huawei’s CFO | James Mulvenon
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In Episode 71 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with James Mulvenon, Vice-President of Defense Group Inc.’s Intelligence Division and Director of DGI’s Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis. Dr. Mulvenon is an expert on the Chinese military and Chinese cyber issues and has published widely on Chinese military affairs, party-army relations, C4ISR, and nuclear weapons’ doctrine and organizations. He’s a regular commentator on the Chinese military, cyber warfare, and Chinese industrial espionage, all of which we discuss in today’s, hour-long conversation.

This episode was prompted by the recent arrest of telecommunications giant Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou during her transit through Vancouver airport on December 1st, 2018. Meng is currently out on bail, awaiting the service of a formal extradition request from the United States on charges related to Huawei’s alleged evasion of Iranian sanctions. James has been investigating and writing about Chinese commercial espionage, and in particular about Huawei, for years, which makes him the ideal person to speak to about this ongoing, diplomatic drama and its implication for US-China trade talks. Will Trump’s hard-nosed, no-holds-barred negotiating style work to level the playing field between these two countries? More importantly, is it time to acknowledge that our multi-decade long effort to integrate China into the neo-liberal world order has failed and that a new strategy must be developed to deal with a more obstinate and adversarial China? Considering the important role played by information technology in the 21st century, any strategy for confronting China must also deal with the country’s cyber capabilities and its use of commercial espionage in the service of champion companies like Huawei. These are just some of the topics we consider in today’s conversation.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

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25. Andrei Shleifer | Crisis of Beliefs: A New Model of Investor Psychology
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In Episode 70 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Andrei Shleifer, professor of economics at Harvard University. Dr. Shleifer is the most cited economist in the world according to RePEc’s database. Throughout the course of his career, Andrei Shleifer has worked in the areas of comparative corporate governance, law & finance, behavioral finance, as well as institutional economics. He has published seven books, including, A Crisis of Beliefs: Investor Psychology and Financial Fragility with his co-author Nicola Gennaioli.   

Demetri’s conversation with Andrei centers on the subject of beliefs: how they impact markets and how economists and financial practitioners are attempting to model them using data about people’s expectations, assumptions, and attitudes in order to make better-informed investment and policy decisions.

The first half of the episode is devoted to exploring the mechanics of the 2007-2008 credit crisis, and the role played by structured products and derivatives, off-balance sheet vehicles, money market funds, GSE’s, and a policy of ultra-low interest rates that fueled over-confidence in the power of regulators and in the sustainability of the status quo. In the second half, Dr. Shleifer provides us with a more formal approach to thinking about Hyman Minsky’s instability hypothesis and how market participants can draw radically different conclusions about that same data when their beliefs about the world change dramatically.

Given the destabilizing forces of populist politics, trade tensions, and changing geopolitical fault lines, the ability to draw valuable insights from data about expectations and beliefs is invaluable for any investor or policymaker looking to gain a sense of market sentiment: where it stands and where it might be going.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

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26. Rebecca Goldstein | Why Philosophy Isn’t Going Away: a Conversation on What Matters Most
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In Episode 69 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with renowned philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein, about the philosophy of mattering and what makes human life worth living.

The question of “what makes life worth living,” is something that human beings have been grappling with since time immemorial. Perhaps, nowhere did this question pose a more existential imperative than in ancient Greece, which provides the setting for this conversations. The show begins with an anecdote from “The Histories of Herodotus,” where the ancient historian recounts the story of King Croesus, the late ruler of Lydia, who governed the lands of western Anatolia in the mid-sixth century B.C. At the height of his reign, Croesus was visited by Solon, the lawgiver who had just laid the foundations for Athenian democracy. "Stranger of Athens,” inquired Croesus, “we have heard much of thy wisdom and of thy travels through many lands, from love of knowledge and a wish to see the world. I am curious therefore to inquire of thee, whom, of all the men that thou hast seen, thou deemest the most happy?" Croesus, expecting to hear the sound of his own name sung from Solon’s lips, was angered by the Athenian's reply. Solon proceeded to extol the virtues of otherwise “ordinary” men who lacked the trappings of wealth and power that Croesus so readily possessed. Seeing the king’s dissatisfaction, Solon responded with words that would come to haunt not only Croesus but which would obsess the whole of Athenian society for decades to come: «μηδένα προ του τέλους μακάριζε». Solon’s message was clear: Let me see your life’s ending. Only then I can know if you lived a good and happy life. Only then I can know if you lived a life worth praising.

Not long after Solon’s visit, Croesus’ kingdom was invaded and conquered by Cyrus the Great, ruler of the Persian Empire. Condemned to death, it is said that Croesus yelled out Solon’s name three times from the flaming pyre atop which his body burned. It was not until that moment that he understood the message that Solon had so dutifully delivered. Croesus believed himself to be the happiest man, because of all the material wealth and power he had accumulated. But we cannot judge the happiness or the worth of a human life until it is over. A good life requires a good death, and learning how to live requires that we wrestle with our own mortality.

The question of “what makes life worth living” therefore, was another way of asking: “what justifies life’s suffering?” Unlike for the Christians who succeeded them, there was, for the Greeks, no easy answer. It’s why they would congregate every spring in the amphitheater to laugh and cry and work out their grief over the pitiless predicament of human existence. 'Fairness’ was as foreign a concept to the Greeks as fate is to us. The stories of Croesus, Minos, Oedipus, Agamemnon, and the like were not only reminders of how the fortunes of the fated turn; they were also evidence for the futility of relying on present circumstances for evaluating the merits of existence. It is no surprise, therefore, that this obsession with deriving meaning from one’s own life independent of the whims of tempestuous Gods or of fated circumstance manifested itself in Greek philosophy. Its open-endedness posed an existential imperative then, as it does today.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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27. The US-China Trade War: Global Markets in a Multi-Polar World | David Kotok
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In Episode 68 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with David Kotok, co-founder and CIO of Cumberland Advisors. David Kotok’s articles and financial market commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and other publications.   

This is a fascinating conversation that spans a wide range of issues currently facing the global economy, as well as subjects and themes stretching as far back as 5th century Athens. Demetri asks David Kotok for his opinion on a series of topics including trade, the US Dollar, European monetary policy, as well as what markets he thinks are most at risk as the Fed continues down its path of tightening and as protectionist trade measures introduce new anomalies into the American economy. Kotok also shares his experience investing during the turbulent years of the 1970s and how the lessons he learned during that decade can be applied today.

David also gives his outlook for credit markets, specifically the riskier areas of the corporate bond market that include leveraged loans and middle-market lending. Investors will find this conversation helpful, as they adjust their strategies to protect themselves against some of the non-linear impacts of government policies while still positioning themselves and their clients to profit from the rising tide of economic growth.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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28. American Zeitgeist | Commentary on Politics, Culture, and the Winds of Change
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In this week's episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas conducts an impromptu monologue after a last-minute rescheduling of his interview with a prominent, former US senator, governor, and member of the 9-11 commission.

He reflects on some of the subjects he intended to cover with his guest, including the role of the Saudi government in the 9-11 attacks. He also spends a good amount of time exploring the spirit of the last 4 decades in America, as he considers what future generations will say about the new millennium. 

This is an unusual episode, in so far audiences get a look at Demetri's "headspace" before an interview, and how preparing for it causes him to reflect on subjects that concern all of us. 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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29. Bill Janeway | Venture Capitalism and the Future of the Innovation Economy
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In Episode 67 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Bill Janeway about capitalism in the innovation economy. Janeway is a senior advisor and managing director of Warburg Pincus, where he was responsible for building the investment firm’s information technology investment practice. Bill is also a co-founder and member of the board of governors of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

In 1948, the same year in which Claude Shannon’s revolutionary paper on information theory was first published in the Bell Labs Technical Journal, economist Paul Samuelson released what would become, the best-selling economics textbook of all time.

Though no one can measure the creative impact of Shannon’s ideas in shaping the next 70 years of innovation and progress in the information sciences, Samuelson’s work is perhaps equally noteworthy for the destructive impact it had on three generations of capitalists, policy makers, and academics. The legacy of the neoclassical synthesis is one of economic theories built on models that borrowed recklessly from the physical sciences, canonized in the works of Samuelson’s Economics.  

The failure of neoclassical economics with its dynamic stochastic equilibria and Gaussian-based models like VaR and MPT - peddling false promises of mean regression - have forced academia to rethink the entire edifice upon which our understanding of markets and the economy have been built.  A new sort of political economy, driven by the disruptive forces of globalization, financialization, and the information revolution, have made ideological approaches to economic thinking obsolete. In this climate, what Bill Janeway calls “the mission-driven state,” has been rendered illegitimate as an economic actor, disrupting the process of capitalism itself, as well as the credit cycle from which paradigm-shifting innovations are born.

Still, ideas matter. The failure of modern macroeconomic models, to account for the Global Financial Crisis was a precondition for the type of creative destruction that we have seen applied to problems of markets and the economy in recent years. Developing a new framework for understanding the role of government, the power of markets, and the forces driving both is crucial if we hope to survive the changes of the 21st century.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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30. Brian McCullough | How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone
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In Episode 66 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with serial technology entrepreneur and host of the Internet History Podcast, as well as the Techmeme Ride Home, Brian McCullough. Brian is also the author of HOW THE INTERNET HAPPENED, published by Liveright, a subsidiary of W.W. Norton. In 2014 he was the co-founder of a startup human named Penelope, and in 2016 he launched Maxwell into beta.

In March of 1989, CERN scientist Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal to develop a distributed information system for the laboratory. “Vague, but exciting,” was the comment that his supervisor, Mike Sendall, wrote on the cover, and with those words, gave the green light to what would become the information revolution. 

Before the end of 1990, Berners-Lee would define the Web’s basic concepts: the URL, http, and html, writing the first browser and server software. For the next two years the web would remain largely inaccessible to all but the most niche academics and hypertext enthusiasts. “…there was a definite element of not wanting to make it easier, of actually wanting to keep the riff raff out," recalled Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape. His own big idea in the winter of 1992 was the let the riff-raff in.

That opening came in the form of the Mosaic browser, which brought with it two key implementations: the support for images, and, more importantly, compatibility with Microsoft Windows, which at the time accounted for more than 80 percent of the world’s operating systems. Shortly after Mosaic launched in January of 1993, the number of websites in existence could be measured in the hundreds. By the end of 1994, that number had surpassed tens of thousands, and Mosaic was adding as many as 600,000 new users every month. Berners-Lee may have been responsible for creating the web, but it was Marc Andreessen and his team of misfits and geeks at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, surrounded by empty pizza boxes and soda cans, that took the web mainstream.=

Andreessen and his team eventually left Mosaic behind to found Netscape, taking it public in August of 1995, kicking off a 5 year mania of creative energy and enthusiasm that would see the creation of the first search engines, e-commerce platforms, and weblogs. More than seventeen million new websites were created before the end of the 20th century.

In five short years, the Internet craze kicked off by the commercialization of the browser culminated in the bursting of the most spectacular stock market bubble seen since 1929. That story – one predicated on a revolutionary technology and enabled by the dreams, ambitions, and avarice of a generation unrestrained by the prudence of their parents and untouched by the failures of the past – is a history that, until this day, has remained largely untold.

This week, on Hidden Forces, Brian McCullough joins us for a conversation on, search engines, e-commerce, web portals, social networks, and the history of the information revolution.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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31. Dinny McMahon | Debt, Dysfunction, and the End of the Chinese Miracle
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In Episode 65 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with China expert Dinny McMahon, who spent ten years as a financial journalist in China, including six years in Beijing at The Wall Street Journal and four years with Dow Jones Newswires in Shanghai. Demetri and Dinny discuss how Chinese malinvestment, massive debt burdens, and a population that is aging faster than anywhere else in the world has created the conditions for the worst economic and political crisis in modern history.

It has often been argued that the Chinese economic model may offer the best prototype for how humans should organize politically, in the 21st century. For Westerners, it’s difficult to appreciate the scope of China’s development, and this is because of the way in which the country allocates capital and generates credit.   

Unlike western economies, which are built around liberal, democratic norms of free-market capitalism, China’s economy operates more like a one-billion person, multinational conglomerate. This model has allowed the Chinese economy to grow rapidly; it has done this by leveraging massive amounts of capital that it reinvests into real estate projects and spare industrial capacity, with the expectation of ever-increasing economic growth. This leverage can be witnessed, most clearly, in the rapid growth of the country’s private and public debt.

Bank liabilities in China have grown at an astonishing rate over the last twenty-five years. From 2009 to 2011 alone, assets in China’s banking system have expanded by 77 percent - a total of 7.6 trillion dollars over just a three-year period. The impact of China’s loan growth can be seen in the sky rocking prices of Chinese real estate, the overcapacity of Chinese factories, and the pollution of China’s once pristine environment. Cognizant of these excesses, Chinese officials have been trying to reform the country, by reigning in investment and stemming corruption. But even the best efforts of Chinese authorities cannot fix the country’s broken demographics. China’s population is aging faster than anywhere else in the world. In 2015, the country had seven and a half working-age adults to support every senior citizen. In fifteen years, that ratio will drop to 4:1 and by 2050, there will be only two adults to support every man and woman in retirement.    

It is the fear of Chinese officials that the country will grow old before it grows rich, falling victim to the so-called middle-income trap, mired in debt and saddled with decades of malinvestment, air pollution, idle factories, and broken promises.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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32. Hannah Fry | Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms
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In Episode 64 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with mathematician and public educator, Hannah Fry. Dr. Fry’s mathematical expertise has led to the development of several  documentaries on the BBC, where she also hosts her own, long-running Radio 4 program: The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry. Already a two-time author, Hannah is out with her third and latest book, Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms.   

Since the turn of the twentieth century, algorithms have assumed the power previously associated with pontiffs or the divine right of kings. In an instance of late 20th century lore, the great Chess Champion Garry Kasparov, reflecting upon his historic loss to IBM’s Deep Blue described the algorithm that defeated him in less than twenty moves, as having ‘suddenly played like a God for one moment’. Kasparov’s experience – that of having been unnerved by the intelligence and obstinate posture of an otherwise lifeless machine – has not remained confined to the narrow dimensions of his chess board. In the 20 years since his loss, increasingly intelligent algorithms seem to be overtaking our world and making humanity obsolete in the process.

But in the age of the algorithm, there are those like Hannah Fry, who believe that our place has never been more important. She believes that we should stop seeing machines as objective masters. Instead, we need to start treating algorithms as we would any other source of power; questioning their decisions, scrutinizing their motives, and holding them accountable for their mistakes.

As computer algorithms increasingly control and decide our future, ‘Hello World’ is a reminder of a moment of dialogue between human and machine. Of an instant where the boundary between controller and controlled is virtually imperceptible. It marks the start of a partnership – a shared journey of possibilities, where one cannot exist without the other. In the age of the algorithm, that’s a sentiment worth bearing in mind.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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33. Howard Marks | Mastering the Market Cycle: Getting the Odds on Your Side
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In Episode 63 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with legendary value investor Howard Marks. Howard serves as the co-chairman and co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, a leading investment management firm responsible for over 120 billion dollars in client assets.

This week’s conversation centers on the market cycle, its origins and impact. Howard shares his philosophy on risk management, asset bubbles, contrarianism, and what he calls second-level thinking – an approach thinking about value that puts price front and center. The two also explore how markets and the economy have changed over the last fifty years and how the drivers of a secular bull-market in finance may already have come to an end. They explore how a new-normal economy, characterized by low-returns on capital is unleashing political and social forces that have yet to be fully appreciated, let-alone priced into financial assets. Howard Marks shares his views on what it means to be a contrarian investor, how he thinks about risk management, and what his philosophy is around value investing. He also reflects on what his fifty years in finance have taught him about human psychology, herd behavior, and what he calls “bubble-thinking.”

Finally, Demetri asks Howard what he sees as the greatest challenge facing the next generation of value investors. He reflects on the rotation of money out of active and into passive investment vehicles, theories of secular stagnation, and shares his opinion on what skills he believes investors will need in order to survive and thrive in the next market downturn.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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34. Elon Musk and the Fall of the Church of Tesla | Montana Skeptic
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In Episode 62 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Lawrence Fossi, known by his pen name as Montana Skeptic. Lawrence is the portfolio manager for a family office with over one billion dollars under management. A graduate of Yale Law School, he has 30 years of experience as a commercial trial attorney. Fossi started writing about Tesla three years ago under the pseudonym Montana Skeptic. He quickly developed a reputation as one of Tesla’s most thoughtful critics until earlier this year, when he was "doxed" and his identity discovered. Elon Musk used this information to phone his boss, threatening a lawsuit unless Montana was silenced. This is the first time that Lawrence Fossi has appeared on camera for an interview on this subject or any other.

It was announced yesterday afternoon that the Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Elon Musk, CEO and Chairman of Silicon Valley-based Tesla Inc., with securities fraud for a series of false and misleading tweets about a potential transaction that would have taken Tesla private. The SEC’s complaint alleges that “in truth, Musk had not discussed specific deal terms with any potential financing partners, and he allegedly knew that the potential transaction was uncertain and subject to numerous contingencies.” Steven Peikin, Co-Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, was quoted as saying: “Corporate officers hold positions of trust in our markets and have important responsibilities to shareholders. An officer’s celebrity status or reputation as a technological innovator does not give license to take those responsibilities lightly.”

It has been reported that Elon Musk turned down a settlement offer by the SEC that would have included a 2-year ban on serving as Tesla chairman, a fine for both Musk and Tesla, and a requirement that Tesla adds two new independent directors. Musk would not have been required to admit wrongdoing, and he could have remained CEO. In a statement to CNBC, Musk said, “This unjustified action by the SEC leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed. I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency, and investors. Integrity is the most important value in my life and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way.”

A statement issued late Thursday from Tesla and its Board states that “Tesla and the board of directors are fully confident in Elon, his integrity, and his leadership of the company, which has resulted in the most successful U.S. auto company in over a century. Our focus remains on the continued ramp of Model 3 production and delivering for our customers, shareholders, and employees.”

In their conversation, Lawrence Fossi and Demetri Kofinas explore the insanity that has become the Tesla story. According to Lawrence, Tesla cannot be understood as a business enterprise it must be understood as the new religion of our day. Elon Musk is the minister of this great church and his congregation is deeply faithful. Unless you acknowledge that there is a religious aspect to this where we are saving the earth and we are engaged in a Manichean struggle with these evil fossil fuel companies you are going to have a hard time understanding Tesla.

Difficult as it may be to understand Elon Musk and the religious cult that has become Tesla, we must try anyway. There are many lessons to be learned from how millions of people were so easily led to believe that missions to Mars, hyperloops, and electric semis could be commanded into existence by nothing less than the fantastical pronouncements of a modern day carnival barker.

As always, this episode of Hidden Forces is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as the basis for financial decisions. All views expressed by Demetri Kofinas and podcast guests are solely their own opinions and should not be construed as financial advice.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



35. Collapsing Demand at Tesla amid Elon Musk SEC Fraud Charges | Gordon Johnson
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In Episode 61 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with equity research analyst Gordon Johnson, about a possible bankruptcy of Tesla amid the recently announced SEC fraud charges levied against its CEO Elon Musk. The two also discuss the ongoing criminal probe of its CEO Elon Musk, by the Department of Justice, and the impact that it may have on the company's stock price.

Gordon Johnson has been called the biggest bear on Tesla by Bloomberg and CNBC and has the lowest price target on the street for the electric car manufacturer. He’s also been recognized for his accurate stock picks in numerous publications including Bloomberg, Barron’s, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Financial Times, and TheStreet.com.  

Tesla and Elon Musk were the subject of back-to-back episodes we did with Charley Grant and Mark Spiegel in the first two weeks of April 2018. At that time, we knew that the company had ended 2017 with $3.4 billion in cash and equivalents while having raised an additional $550 million from bonds backed by lease payments in February of this year. Tesla was also losing $28,000 on each car sold with long-term debt and battery purchase obligations standing at $31.4 billion and run-rate interest expense of nearly $600 million per year with a debt-to-equity ratio of 243% as of December 30th, 2017.

Tesla has since released its second-quarter results, posting losses of $17,600 per car delivered. These numbers are expected to improve in the third quarter due to much higher sales volumes of the Model 3 along with sales of ZEV credits that the company stored but did not use in Q2. The run-rate interest expenses for Tesla stand at $654 million-per-year. The company has reported $2.236 billion in cash of which $942 million is in the form of customer deposits.

In our conversation with Gordon Johnson, we begin with a discussion of the ongoing drama at Tesla, including a recent timeline of the most critical events surrounding the company:

On August 1st, Tesla reports the largest quarterly loss in its history showing a GAAP loss of $717 million and free cash flow of negative $812 million. But shares rise on Musk’s claims of positive cash flow and profit in the second half of 2018, and signs of more consistent Model 3 production. In this Q2 release, Tesla claimed that it would be GAAP profitable in Q3 & Q4 baring a “force majeure.” I’ve asked Mark Spiegel for his take on this and his response is: “I’ve run numbers every which way I can and the best I can come up with for Q3 is a GAAP loss of around $100 million.”

On August 7th, Elon Musk tweets that he is “considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share,” and then follows up by saying “funding secured.”

On August 12th, Azealia Banks shares an Instagram story about how her experience at Elon Musk’s house resembled the movie “Get Out,” suggesting that Elon was possibly on drugs during the August 7 tweetstorm.

On August 13th, Elon Musk follows up on his “funding secured” comments with a press release that attempts to provide context for the August 7 tweet.

On August 15th, Charlie Gasparino reports that the SEC has started a probe into violations made by Elon Musk.

On August 15th, ex-Tesla employee and whistleblower Martin Tripp tweets photos that he alleges came from inside the company showing battery scrap, trailers containing battery waste, and documentation of punctured battery parts in Model 3 vehicles. Tesla denies that any punctured battery parts made it into vehicles.

On August 16th, a Tesla ex-security employee files a whistleblower complaint with the SEC, accusing the electric vehicle maker of spying on employees, hiding significant theft of raw materials, and alleging drug dealing at the company.

On August 16th, Elon conducts a tearful interview with the New York Times.

On August 20th, (or thereabouts) reports emerged that Lucid Motors (a silicon valley electric car startup) is in talks with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund for a reported $1 billion in funding.

On August 24th, Elon Musk released a public statement about his decision to keep Tesla public.

On September 6th, Elon Musk does “the Joe Rogan Experience,” smoking marijuana during the show.

On September 7th, Tesla’s chief accounting officer Dave Morton resigns after a month on the job. In a statement from Tesla’s recent 8K filing, Morton says he left Tesla because of “the level of public attention placed on the company.” Dave replaced the previous CAO, who left in March, on apparently no notice.

On September 7th, Tesla’s Chief People Officer Gaby Toledano announces she is leaving the company after announcing a leave of absence in August. She was at the company for only a year, beginning in May of 2017.

On September 8th, it is reported that Justin McAnear, vice president of worldwide finance and operation, is parting ways with Tesla. McAnear has confirmed that his last day at Tesla will be Oct. 7 according to a statement obtained by CNBC.

On September 17th, British diver and cave explorer Vernon Unsworth sues Elon Musk for libel in a California district court. The lawsuit comes two months after Musk calls Unsworth a “pedo guy” on Twitter, following an interview in which the Brit denigrated Musk’s attempt to build a mini-submarine that could rescue a group of Thai boys trapped in a cave. Though Musk later deleted and apologized for the tweet, he doubled down on his accusations of pedophilia a month later.

On September 17th, it is reported that Lucid Motors closed a $1 billion deal with Saudi Arabia to fund electric car production.

On September 17th, reports emerge that the justice department has opened a criminal probe into Tesla over public statements made by Elon Musk.

Despite the non-stop bad news emanating from the company, Tesla's stock price has been largely unaffected. Gordon Johnson believes that this resilience in Tesla’s stock may be coming to an end. Not only does he believe that Tesla is facing major quality control issues, but it is also his contention that demand for the electric car may already be collapsing. Add to this criminal charges that may be pending against Elon Musk, and one can begin to see a path towards bankruptcy emerging at Tesla.

As always, this episode of Hidden Forces is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as the basis for financial decisions. All views expressed by Demetri Kofinas and podcast guests are solely their own opinions and should not be construed as financial advice.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



36. Bruce Schneier | Cyberattacks and Survival in a Hyperconnected World
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In Episode 60 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Bruce Schneier, about cyberattacks, cyberwar, and survival in a hyperconnected world.

Cyberattacks constitute one of the most urgent threats facing collective humanity according to Bruce Schneier. History has proven him right. In the summer of 2017, a weapon of cyberwar was dropped onto a world without borders, where the heavy artillery and nuclear warheads that defined the battlelines of the 20th century have been rendered useless. The attack, known as NotPetya, is estimated to have cost its victims ten billion dollars in damages. This is a fraction of the six-hundred billion dollars that the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimates to be the annual cost of cybercrime, constituting nearly 1% of global GDP.

Cyberattacks cost the world a fortune, but these costs are remain manageable. Still, they they pass largely unnoticed. The public, lacking context, remains blind to the gathering threat, unable to appreciate the gravity of a cyber 9/11. Until now, cybercrime and cyberterrorism on the Internet has been measured in terms of dollars and cents. Soon, we will be measuring the cost of these cyberattacks in terms of flesh and blood.

The 20th century has seen its share of industrial innovation and forward progress, but for the most part, these changes have been discrete. Things have gotten bigger, faster, and cheaper. Still, no one ever expected a train to become a toaster or a pacemaker to magically transform itself into an aisle of books. The composition of an object – its component parts – did not exist independently of its use case. A key used to open a locker couldn’t be repurposed to start a car, nor could a refrigerator open the door to a power plant or to the halls of congress.  

In today’s world, where everything is a computer, everything is vulnerable. When those things are connected to the Internet, everyone is exposed. Cyberattacks are inevitable, but that doesn’t mean that we are defenseless.

This week, on Hidden Forces, Bruce Schneier describes the dangers posed by cyberattacks and how we can learn to survive in spite of them.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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37. Grant Williams | Quantum Uncertainty and Spooky Correlations at the Zero-Bound
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In Episode 59 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Grant Williams about the crisis brewing in emerging markets, the collapse in cryptocurrencies, and the palace intrigues of Elon Musk. All of these phenomena exhibit the common feature of “quantum weirdness at the zero-bound,” where the laws of classical economics break down, space-time preferences collapse, and quantum entanglements lead to spooky correlations that threaten the very fabric upon which markets are made and prices discovered.

Grant Williams is perhaps known best for industry leading, long-form conversations with some of the most brilliant fund managers, short sellers, and financiers from around the world. He is also the founder and editor of the popular financial newsletter, “Things that Make you go Hmmm,” as well as a co-founder of Real Vision. Grant began his career working in the City of London in 1985, joining the trading desk of John Galvanoni at Fleming & Company. Not long after, Grant moved to Tokyo, where he was busy trading the Nikkei from 1986 until its epic collapse in 1989. A financial journeyman, Grant has never ceased to travel, moving from one city to the next for the last thirty-five years. In 2013, Grant Williams and Raoul Pal came together to set the seeds for Realvision, a subscription media company that aims to become the Netflix of financial media.

This is an episode full of laughter, history, and creative wisdom. It’s a conversation you will not want to miss.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



38. Jonathan Haidt | Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces, and the Coddling of the American Mind
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In Episode 58 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Jonathan Haidt about how trigger warnings, safe spaces, and microaggressions are setting up the iGeneration for failure on America’s college campuses.

In the Fall of 2013, the President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Greg Lukianoff, noticed that something odd was happening on America’s college campuses. Words were increasingly being seen as dangerous.

A series of strange reports began to emerge of undergraduates asking for threatening material to be removed from the college curriculum. By the Spring of 2014, The New York Times began reporting on this trend, including demands that school administrators disinvite speakers whose ideas students found offensive. But what was most concerning, beyond the sensitivity and the heckling, were the justifications being put forward by these undergraduates. They were claiming that certain kinds of speech interfered with their ability to function, jeopardizing their mental health and making them “feel unsafe.”

In one case, students at Columbia University argued that professors teaching core curriculum classes, which included the works of Ovid, Homer, Dante, Augustine, Montaigne, and Virginia Woolf, should issue “trigger warnings” when reading or assigning passages that might be interpreted as threatening. All of this prompted the publication of an article by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt that made the cover of the Atlantic Magazine in the summer of 2015. The article was titled “The Coddling of the American Mind.” In it, the two chronicled what they believed was happening on college campuses, including the emergence of what are termed, “trigger warnings,” “microaggressions,” and “safe spaces.” Little did Greg Lukianoff or Jonathan Haidt know that in the two years following the article’s publication, all hell would break loose at America’s universities.   

In the fall of that year protests over issues of racial injustice erupted on dozens of campuses around the country. Amid these protests arose, however, a series of bizarre incidents leading to the resignations of several highly regarded professors and deans at some of the country’s most progressive universities. This included the physical assault of a professor at Middlebury College by the name of Allison Stanger, who was required to undergo six months of physical therapy and rehabilitation.

Perhaps the most bizarre case, however, is that of Evergreen State College in Washington State. In the spring of 2017, the college announced a “Day of Absence” where white students and faculty were expected to stay away from the school. In a letter of protest, biology professor Bret Weinstein refused to leave the college campus, leading to a series of frightening incidents of unrest where campus police became concerned for Weinstein’s physical safety, eventually leading to his resignation in September of last year.

This week, on Hidden Forces, Jonathan Haidt joins us for a conversation on trigger warnings, safe spaces, and how good intentions and bad ideas are setting up the iGeneration for failure.

Jonathan and Greggory Lukianoff's latest book, The Coddling of the American Mind, is now available in bookstores nationwide. 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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39. Joseph Lubin | ConsenSys and the Nature of the Firm in a Decentralized Economy
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In Episode 57 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Joseph Lubin about the progress being made at Consensys and precisely how Joe believes that Ethereum will overcome the scalability challenges that have plagued its network since the earliest days of its founding.

For the last few years, many blockchain enthusiasts have been eagerly anticipating the release of what many have referred to as “the Netflix moment.” In other words, blockchain enthusiasts expect to see a killer application running atop Ethereum, or some other distributed ledger, that will be adopted by the mass consumer. One of the criticisms of this view is that comparisons between the mid-to-late 1990’s and the current era in blockchain technology are overblown. It took twenty years of Internet protocol development and tweaking before Tim Berners-Lee gave us the World Wide Web in 1989. It wasn’t until 1998 that Netflix released its online, DVD rental store. When asked about the comparison between 90’s Internet and today's blockchain technology, Joseph Lubin makes the point that there isn’t going to be one moment when the scalability problems are “solved.” According to Joe, the process of scaling a complex, permissionless database is "always ongoing." To his point, ConsenSys alone employs close to 40 engineers who are working just on the Ethereum base layer protocols, clients, and enterprise scaling solutions. The company is closely aligned with a variety of efforts currently being undertaken to scale the ethereum network, including sharding, proof-of-stake, Casper CBC, Casper FFG, and a number of layer two solutions including state channels and plasma. Demetri has already devoted an entire episode to exploring some of these layer one solutions in great detail with Vitalik Buterin and Vlad Zamfir. That said, Joseph Lubin offers an additionally interesting perspective on some of the layer two protocols, which he thinks can solve many of ethereum’s throughput limitations without requiring applications to reconcile directly on the main chain for every transaction. Demetri and Joe spend a good deal of time exploring the challenges of building layer two solutions in more depth, including the counterparty risk problem created from the use of state channels.

Additional topics include SEC regulations, artificial intelligence, and questions about specific applications in the areas of news, music, and team organization. Demetri asks Joseph Lubin about Ujo Music, Civil, OpenLaw, as well as something called TMNT or “Traditional Management Nullification Tools,” which enables a different organizational approach to team and systems management that more closely resembles an organism than a corporation.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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40. Hedera Hashgraph and the Second Internet Revolution | Tom Trowbridge
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In Episode 56 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Hedera Hashgraph President Tom Trowbridge about the latest news from the company that made its splash on the Hidden Forces podcast less than one year ago.

In the Fall of 2008, equity markets were in free fall. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq Composite were all on their way towards making lows not seen since the mid-1990’s. Stock valuations would collapse by more than fifty percent, prominent investment banks filed for bankruptcy while others fled into the rapacious arms of their competitors or under the safe umbrella of Congress and the Federal Reserve.

At the same time as Schumpeter’s ghost was rattling his chains on Wall Street, Satoshi’s white paper was making the rounds on a cryptography mailing list in some obscure corner of the Internet. “I’ve been working on a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party,” he wrote, directing the several hundred recipients to his paper, "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” “Merchants must be wary of their customers,” he writes, “a certain percentage of fraud is accepted as unavoidable. These costs and payment uncertainties can be avoided in person by using physical currency, but no mechanism exists to make payments over a communications channel without a trusted party.” This last bit was only partly true. It was Satoshi’s paper, after all, that made it untrue. Though few realized it at the time, the Bitcoin whitepaper marked the beginning of the Internet’s second act. In the ten years since its publication, we have seen an explosion of interest, development, and investment in protocols built from Satoshi’s underlying blockchain technology, designed to execute commands across a distributed, trustless network of computers. Ethereum led the way with its pioneering Virtual Machine, able to execute smart contracts across a permissionless network, and since, several competing ledgers have cropped up, each claiming some advancement over prior versions.

But what if, in their bid to create a faster horse, developers and investors alike have missed a crucial turning point in the evolution of the Internet. Satoshi’s white paper, brilliant as it was, never claimed to be the blueprint for a world computer. As the bitcoin network has grown, so too have the costs of its transactions, and this is because adding blocks takes time. Deciding what chain to build on requires the network to agree on which chain is the longest, and when chains are growing too fast, it’s hard to tell the difference. In the last several years we’ve seen an explosion of brainpower devoted towards creating workarounds to the scalability problem, but we’ve also seen a quiet, committed effort at building alternatives that aren’t saddled with blockchain’s limitations.

Perhaps the most interesting of these alternatives is hashgraph, built as a directed acyclic graph, it’s fundamental innovation is not in its architecture, but in its consensus. Even to those who see promise in hashgraph, the technology can often seem like magic. One might describe its consensus protocol as nothing more than a compression algorithm for the casting of votes. What would have once taken an impossible amount of time, can now be accomplished in a matter of seconds. A voting algorithm for a global network. It was Claude Shannon, the father of information theory, who stated it most clearly: “The fundamental problem of communication is that of reproducing at one point either exactly or approximately a message selected at another.”

In its first iteration, the Internet solved the problem of communication across a network without the need for a trusted third party, but making definitive statements about that communication has always required an intermediary. In order to harness the full power of the Internet, we need to do for data processing, computation, and storage what the existing suite of Internet protocols have already done for communication. A revolution for a new generation. The Internet’s second act.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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41. Ryan Selkis | Token-Curated Registries: Building the Information Database for a New Financial System
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In Episode 55 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Ryan Selkis about how his company, Messari, is bringing a new level of data gathering and analysis to the crypto space by building what are known as token-curated registries.

Information has become, quite literally, the currency of the digital age. Yet, even before the advent of cryptocurrencies, investors have always understood information to be a valuable asset. “The most valuable commodity I know of is information,” said the iconic Wall Street villain Gordon Gekko. However, information is a commodity, only in so far as it derives its value from the computational efforts of those who seek to process it. In a world of informational abundance, the quality of our computations, not their quantity, determine the scale of our harvest.

Ryan Selkis believes that harvesting, processing, and storing data about the crypto economy can be done better. His team at Messari is building an open data library, as well as a set of curation tools that will help researchers, investors, and regulators make sense of the industry.

Ryan has stated outright that the “Bloomberg of crypto will be a network, not a centralized company.” This is where his work on token-curated registries factors in.

“Token-curated registries are decentrally-curated lists with intrinsic economic incentives for token holders to curate the list's contents judiciously,” wrote Mike Goldin, in a 2017 article titled “Token-Curated Registries 1.0.” You could say that if Wikipedia and Bitcoin had a baby, the child would be a TCR. Such databases could theoretically replace all commercially curated, owned, and operated, libraries on earth, by offering a new set of economic incentives that harness the networks and expertise of the planet’s seven-and-a-half billion people.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Ryan Selkis joins Demetri Kofinas for a conversation about information, cryptocurrency, and how Messari is working to build the database for a new financial system.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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42. Barry Eichengreen | The Legacy of the Great Moderation: Currency, Populism, and Credit
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In Episode 54 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with economic historian Barry Eichengreen about his experience studying currency pegs and exchange rate mechanisms, as the two explore how the legacy of globalization, trade liberalization, and the great moderation laid the foundation for the challenges facing the modern economy.

Barry Eichengreen has made a career of studying the history of money and the role that currency has played in the international order. Currency regimes are not fixed in stone. Our current system of floating exchange rates backed by the petrodollar has only been with for the last forty years. Before it, the Western world existed on the gold exchange rate mechanism of Bretton Woods, which lasted for less than thirty years, and whose dissolution lead to a period of high inflation and unemployment that challenged the economic models of the time and put the American economy and political establishment through a decade of frustration, uncertainty, and unrest.

However, In the years after the stagflation of the 1970’s and the deregulation of the 1980’s, a period of moderation swept across the Western World. The cost of capital declined, as inflation steadied and markets rose. Developing economies hitched their wagons to the industrialized West, pegging their currencies to the US Dollar, which was seen as the coinage of a New World Order. The Euro project, once a gradual process of integration, was fast-tracked under Maastricht and the reunification of the German Reich. Communist China, humbled by the fall of the Soviet Union and motivated by the riots in Tiananmen Square, set itself down the path towards becoming the growth engine of a new sort of global economy. At the time, many adopted Francis Fukuyama’s phrase, “the End of History,” to describe this period of optimism in the establishment of a neoliberal world order that they hoped would last for the rest of time.

Alas, the grand ambitions and lofty ideals of the Washington consensus proved premature. The rush of capital from Western countries into Eastern ones precipitated a series of financial crises beginning in Asia, and ending on the balance sheets of America’s legendary financial institutions, leading to a government-engineered bailout of the country’s investment banks. Eventually, the high-flying stock market of the late 90’s popped in spectacular fashion, and thus began a series of monetary countermeasures, rate cuts, and wealth effects that would lead, inexorably, towards the Great Financial Crisis, a watershed moment in the history of markets whose consequences we have yet to fully reckon with to this very day.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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43. Gillian Tett | an Anthropologist's Field Guide to Wall Street and Silicon Valley
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In Episode 53 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Gillian Tett, Managing Editor of the Financial Times US about her experience at the paper and how her background in anthropology has helped her identify financial bubbles in technology and the economy.

“It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” said the famous Yankee captain, Yogi Berra, and yet, this hasn’t stopped us from trying. Attempting to predict the future is a sport as old as civilization itself. Oracles and wishing wells litter the landscape of humanity’s past. Yet, in a world whose outcomes are no longer determined by the forces of nature, ordaining the future has become a matter of market introspection. Learning how to cultivate a sense of objectivity, empathy, and cultural awareness can be the difference between staying ahead of the curve or falling far behind it.

Gillian Tett has managed well by this measure. The Managing Editor of the Financial Times US is trained as a cultural anthropologist who applies her knowledge of human cultural practices, values, and norms towards trying to identify key trends in finance and the economy. In this almost hour-long conversation with Demetri Kofinas, Gillian shares stories about how her experience covering financial markets, as well as her background as a cultural anthropologist, has helped her to spot financial bubbles in technology and the economy.

Prior to the crisis, Gillian Tett and her team of capital markets reporters were some of the only financial journalists to cover the arcane world of credit derivatives. Since 2008, she has been one of the most important journalistic voices in all of economics and finance, moderating panels and conducting interviews at the most prestigious conferences and private gatherings around the world.

Our conversation begins in Tajikistan, where Gillian studied local wedding rituals as part of her doctorate in cultural anthropology. She would later draw a useful comparison between Tajik wedding rituals and what she was seeing in the space of credit derivatives (specifically, the innovations happening at JP Morgan). The conversation quickly shifts to the 2008 financial crisis, and what the now managing editor of the Financial Times learned from her experience covering the panic of ’08-’09. This was a period in which central banks engaged in extraordinary measures aimed at shoring up the global financial system for fear that if they did not, a banking collapse would ensue. Fortunately, the system survived, but not without leaving some lasting scars…

The rest of Demetri’s conversation with Gillian Tett is an exploration of the current financial landscape. Where have the risks accumulated post-2008? Much of today’s investment capital has accumulated in technology stocks and in technology-related companies. Private placements have boomed, and pre-IPO valuations have skyrocketed. Unicorns like Uber, Theranos, and a litany of cryptocurrency ICO’s have shot straight to the moon. The growth of wealth and income inequality since 2008 can be seen in these sky-high valuations.

Sovereign balance sheets have also exploded as a legacy of the crisis, but little has been discussed about the growth in corporate debt over the last six to eight years. Not only is the amount of corporate debt important, but the form that debt has taken is telling. Hampered by new regulations, as well as the memory of the last crisis, banks have curbed back their lending only to see bond make up the difference, buying up new offerings across the risk curve. Emerging markets have been a big beneficiary, not only of the appetite for high-yield debt but also, of loose monetary policy. The dollar carry-trade has become a powerful funding mechanism for emerging market economies and companies, which are now at risk of a dangerous snap back as the Fed continues to tighten, raising interest rates and shrinking the size of its balance sheet. Volatility remains low, but with prices having made all-time highs across various asset classes, geopolitical tensions between the United States, Russia, and China may prove the straw that breaks the market’s back. Additionally, the developing trade war with China, as well as the protections measures taken against Canada and Europe may finally create the type of consumer price inflation that the Fed has been begging for. You know what they say? Be careful what you wish for…

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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44. Simon Winchester | a History of Precision Engineering and the Making of the Modern World
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In Episode 52 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Simon Winchester about the value of precision (and imperfection) in the modern age.

Few things are as responsible for the making of the modern world as precision engineering; yet, it is largely invisible to us. We live our lives in a customizable fashion, expecting the world to conform to our expectations, wants, and desires. And yet, below this surface layer of personalization and complexity exists a world of exactness so precise that it evades our capacity to notice it. It is this world of increasing perfection, uniformity, and repetition that Simon Winchester writes so eloquently about.

This conversation is neither a salute to precision nor a rebuke of perfection. It is a commentary on both the genius brought to bear by humanity in reshaping the world, as well as an homage to the craftsmanship and personal touch that has given it meaning.

Our endless striving for that which is flawless is most human. Yet, try as we might, we cannot rid the world of all its imperfections. Humanity, after all, is by its very nature hopelessly, beautifully, fatally flawed. "To err is human," said Alexander Pope. Forgiveness is divine.

In chronicling the history of precision engineering, Simon Winchester, has not only found something forgivable in humanity's shortcomings but indeed, something worthy of honor and celebration.

In his book, “The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World” Winchester asks whether a wish for perfection is actually essential to modern health and happiness, whether it is “a necessary component of our very being?” He answers with a resounding, “no.”

Yet, the problem, as Winchester articulates it, is not simply an existential one. It is a technical one as well.

For proof, we’ve only to look to our jet engines, where microscopic errors can quickly cause cascading problems that lead to catastrophic loss of life. In fact, this is exactly what happened in 1989 on a United Airlines flight, when a microscopic metallurgical defect in the titanium disk caused the engine to fail. 112 people died as a result. Unfortunately, such tales aren’t relegated to the annals of history. Many similar events have occurred in the decades since. If the past is any guide, then as our technologies continue to multiply (we made 13 trillion transistors each second of 2015) and shrink in size, we can expect the threats associated with them to become larger and more pronounced.

In today’s episode, Simon Winchester joins host Demetri Kofinas for a conversation that is equally a discussion of the significance of exponential technologies, an investigation into the kind of world we want to build, and an exploration of what it means to have a life well lived.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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45. Mind-Body Philosophy: Solving the Hard Problem of Consciousness | Patrick Grim
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In Episode 51 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Patrick Grim, a world-renowned philosopher, and bestselling author, about the roots of human consciousness.

Recent advances in science and technology have allowed us to reveal — and in some cases even alter — the innermost workings of the human body. With electron microscopes, we can see our DNA, the source code of life itself. With nanobots, we can send cameras throughout our bodies and deliver drugs directly into the areas where they are most needed. We are even using artificially intelligent robots to perform surgeries on ourselves with unprecedented precision and accuracy

But despite all the advances that we’ve made, there’s one part of our biology that remains largely in the shadows: the human brain.

We know that the brain is a material object. It is composed of gray matter, neurons, and trillions of synapses. What we don’t understand, and what philosophers and neuroscientists have been trying to figure out for quite some time, is how our consciousness (our thoughts, emotions, experiences, and everything that makes us who we are) can be explained by these few pounds of matter.

Ultimately, it is a problem that’s centered on the relationship between mind and body. Formally, it is known as “the mind-body problem.” Put succinctly, it’s the problem of trying to explain the relationship between the mental realm and the physical realm - between the material and immaterial. It is also known more commonly by David Chalmer’s phraseology “the hard problem of consciousness.”

Although Rene Descartes is often credited as being the first thinker to worry about the connection between mind and body (or mind and matter), the question is actually a far older one. In fact, it extends at least as far back as Plato and Socrates, and it is characterized by three primary schools of thought.

Materialism says that the cosmos, and all that is contains, is an objective physical reality. As a result, philosophers who subscribe to this school of thought assert that consciousness, and all that it entails, arises from material interactions. As such, the material world (our flesh, neurons, synapse, etc.) is what creates consciousness.

Idealism says that the universe is entirely subjective and that reality is something that is mentally constructed. In other words, consciousness is something that is immaterial and cannot be observed or measured empirically. Since consciousness is what creates the material world, according to this school of thought, it is unclear if we can ever truly know anything that is mind-independent and beyond our subjective experience.

Dualism essentially holds that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical in nature. In this respect, the mind and the body exist, but they are distinct and separable.

Although most modern philosophers subscribe to the materialist view, determining, and ultimately understanding, the nature of human consciousness using an empirical methodology is a remarkably difficult task. The primary issue with accomplishing the aforementioned is that empirical science requires things to be measured objectively. And when it comes to consciousness, everything is subjective.

So, what can science say about human consciousness? Can it say anything at all?

In this week’s episode, Patrick Grim joins host Demetri Kofinas for an exploration of the roots of human consciousness and an examination of what the world's greatest philosophers think about the relationship between the mind and body.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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46. The Hard Problem of Currency: Are Stablecoins Possible? | Nevin Freeman
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In Episode 50 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Nevin Freeman, the founder of a new stable-value cryptocurrency project, about the hard problem of currency.

2018 is the year of the stablecoin, or so says Nevin Freeman, the founder of a new stable-value cryptocurrency project based in the San Francisco Bay area. In order to understand what stablecoins and how they work, we first need to understand money.

In order for something to qualify as money, it has traditionally needed to function as both a store of value, and as a medium of exchange for goods and services. The medium of exchange component of money allows it to function as a vital coordination mechanism for society, allowing humans and international governments and organizations to collaborate on a massive scale. Money is thus an intrinsic part of our capitalist infrastructure and, without currency, many of our most important institutions and organizational structures would collapse.

Yet, our system of money and credit is not without its share of problems. Middlemen, financial intermediaries, and other central organizations often charge exorbitant fees for their services. These same intermediaries often function as “gatekeepers,” permitting or preventing access to financial counterparities at their discretion. The mismanagement of our financial system by such institutions has become a major source of systemic risk, the brunt of which is disproportionately carried by those at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

Cryptocurrencies offer a possible solution to many of the most prominent problems associated with fiat currency systems. However, there are significant roadblocks on the path to widespread adoption. As we mentioned, in order to qualify as money, a currency needs to both the medium of exchange and store of value functions. This becomes difficult to do when currency volatility can wipe out 50% of your net worth in a single day or double the cost of your company’s inputs overnight.

It is no secret that crypto markets are remarkably volatile. Even the most prominent cryptocurrencies - Bitcoin and Ether - fluctuate wildly. Unfortunately, it’s impossible for a decentralized currency to function as an effective store of value if its price varies by as much as 15% on any given day and in any given direction. Even if the cryptocurrency in question were rarely to drop in price, upside volatility can create a speculative feed-back loop that discourages anyone from actually using it as a medium of exchange. Why would you pay someone’s salary in bitcoin if you expected the currency to be worth more after you sold it? In this sense, even a highly volatile asset with little downside risk that serves as a great store of value can still be a poor medium of exchange.

Until cryptocurrencies are able to function as both a store of value and as a medium of exchange, they are unlikely to become truly mainstream or see real-world adoption. Yet, as previously mentioned in the case of bitcoin, a cryptocurrency’s capacity to store value directly undermines it’s use as a medium of exchange. How do we resolve this paradox?

This is where stablecoins come in. They aim to solve the problems of our volatile crypto markets by establishing price-stable cryptocurrencies that are pegged to some other stable asset, for example, the US dollar. Notably, these pegs are not determined by supply and demand. Instead, stablecoins effectively “price themselves” by making a standing promise to fulfill any buy or sell order at a set price, regardless of changes in demand for the currency by market participants. In traditional currency pegs and exchange rate mechanisms, currency boards manage the value of the peg by overseeing the promise to buy or sell at a preset conversion price. So, how does a currency peg work in the case of stablecoins?

Here is an overview of how the most prominent stablecoin projects on the market promise to do this today:

Traditional asset-backed stablecoins: In short, under this system, each unit of the particular stablecoin is backed by a corresponding unit of fiat currency. Let’s use the US dollar as an example. According to this system, a third-party issuer sells tokens for one dollar each. The issuer then keeps all the dollars taken in from these sales in an account. If an individual holding a unit of the stablecoin wishes to cash out, the third party gives a US Dollar to the holder and removes a unit of the stablecoin.

The problems with this method loom large. First, there’s the obvious fact that, at any moment, the organization or individual issuing the stablecoin can abscond with all the money that’s supposed to be in the bank account. Second, a government or other centralized organization could freeze the aforementioned account of the issuer, which would grind the project to an abrupt halt. In short, there’s a lot of risk and a lot of trust needed for this method to function properly.

Collateralized Debt Stablecoins: Under this system, instead of attempting to back units of a stablecoin one-to-one with a fiat currency, the stablecoins hold a ratio greater than one-to-one of a crypto asset (or more commonly, various kinds of crypto assets). The way this works is rather simple. An individual who holds a crypto asset can deposit this asset into a smart contract, which creates a stablecoin for them. 

The peg (the value of the stablecoin) is primarily maintained by the promise of future redemption for collateral if the stablecoin price diverges from the target for too long or the value of the collateral begins to drop. In either of these cases, all of the stablecoin holders can trade their coins for $1 worth of the collateralized crypto assets. In theory, speculators will step in to buy stablecoins below the target price based on this promise of future redemption and that will keep the price stable all of the time. The primary problem with this system is that that the underlying collateral is, by its very nature, volatile. As a result, in order to ensure itself against significant price drops, the system needs to hold a significant amount of collateral (often two-to-one, or even more). This is also a much more complex system, making it difficult to implement in a way that is efficient.

Future Growth-Backed Stablecoins: According to this system, the value is maintained by neither fiat or cryptocurrency holdings. Instead, a central account is created that uses algorithms to maintain the stability and manage the supply of the cryptocurrency in the face of fluctuating demand. It accomplishes this by increasing the number of stablecoins when the price goes up and decreasing the number when the price goes down. The increase in stablecoin supply is meant to reduce the market price of the coin to its target level. Conversely, when the price of the stablecoin drops below its target price, the system will reduce the supply of stablecoins and increase the price of the coin so that it returns to its target level. The primary issue with this method is tied to speculators. If they happen to lose interest in purchasing or actively begin to short the stablecoin, then the peg eventually breaks because the entire mechanism becomes worthless.

At the moment, it remains unclear which system, if any, will work. History has not been kind to currency boards, and the challenges of implementing a purely digital version of a currency peg has never before been tried until now.

In order to better understand the nature of stablecoins, and the promise that they have, Nevin Freeman joins us for a conversation about money and the fundamental properties of currency.

Ultimately, this is an exploration of how we can make cryptocurrencies a true store of value, while at the same time enabling these decentralized currencies to function as real and viable mediums of exchange.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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47. Vitalik Buterin and Vlad Zamfir | The Ethereum Roadmap and Solving the Blockchain Scalability Problem
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In Episode 49 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Vitalik Buterin and Vlad Zamfir about the future roadmap for Ethereum.

If contracts are the foundation of modern civilization, then our record systems are the infrastructure that keep this foundation from falling apart. These features allow our society to establish and verify identities; give value to goods and services; create and enforce laws; govern interactions between individuals, organizations, and nations — in short, they secure our social, economic, and political policies and allow us to maintain the social order.

But there is a problem with these systems, and they are beginning to buckle and crack.

The information age vastly accelerated the pace of society, allowing individuals to dramatically expand their circles of influence. People can now exchange goods and services (or even enter into contracts) with strangers on the other side of the globe instantaneously. Government agencies and international organizations can maximize processes by storing and retrieving information online. However, these processes are fraught with challenges.

Without the presence of intermediaries, digital transactions have thus far been impossible to verify or enforce. Mediators and middlemen provide accountability on the one hand, in return for higher centralization on the other. This centralization creates opportunities for companies like Facebook and Google to make billions of dollars mining and selling our data. It also presents lucrative opportunities for malicious actors looking to capitalize on our insecure digital infrastructure. The digital records kept by banks and government institutions are frequently the subject of cyber attacks, putting this same data at risk.

As the first decentralized digital currency, bitcoin promised to solve some of these issues; however, bitcoin's use cases have remained limited to a very narrow set of financial transactions. In response, Vitalik Buterin created Ethereum. In his 2012 white paper,  Vitalik outlined an ambitious vision of the future — one that would endeavor to solve the problems associated with our contracts, transactions, and records by creating a new, decentralized layer for data processing and computation on which society could run.

Whereas Bitcoin’s aim was to erect a platform for unmediated digital payments, the goal of Ethereum’s blockchain-based architecture is to entirely dismantle traditional power structures and methods of control. It attempts this by allowing decentralization to saturate all levels of society through the use of an open, distributed ledger that records transactions between parties in a more trusted way way.

In Ethereum blockchain, contracts are embedded within digital code, which are stored in transparent, shared databases. In theory, it makes intermediaries like bankers and lawyers unnecessary and allows individuals to transact freely. Ethereum increase access, transparency, and accountability, without relying on third-parties to secure the ledger.

Ethereum blockchain has opened the door to a new type of economy, yet challenges remain — specifically, challenges to scale.

The most prominent of these scaling challenges has been transaction throughput. Currently, the Ethereum network can process no more than fifteen transactions per second (TPS). This is major barrier to widespread adoption and it has prevented the blockchain from being able to support the type of network traffic that would result from the popular use of any decentralized application (dApp). In response, Vitalik, Vlad, and other key members of the Ethereum have put forward a roadmap for scaling the Ethereum network.

From sharding to Plasma to Casper, in this week’s episode, host Demetri Kofinas is joined by Vlad Zamfir, one of is the world’s leading Ethereum researchers, and Vitalik Buterin to discuss the future of Ethereum, the problems it faces on the path to widespread adoption, and the solutions that promise to carry us into a decentralized digital age.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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48. Annie Duke | Making a Sure Bet: Optionality, Decision Making, and How to Embrace Uncertainty
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In Episode 48 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Annie Duke and about how we can make smart decisions and ensure our long-term success.

We make millions of decisions over the course of our lives. Most of these seem to be small and of little consequence, and so we make our choices and act with little care or thought. Other decisions require more care and consideration, as their significance will, for better or worse, have a lasting impact on our life: What job offer to accept, what life partner to choose, how to invest in retirement.

When faced with these truly important decisions, many people become crippled by their fear and doubt. What if it’s a bad prediction? What if I am missing information, and so my choice is wrong? Often, such fears have a cascade effect, they trickle down and impact our ability to make even the smallest judgement, leaving us paralyzed.

However, there is a way to increase the likelihood that we’re making a sure bet.

According to Annie Duke, a World Series of Poker champion and the author of Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts, regardless of whether the choice is small or large, the key to solid decision-making rests in our ability to shift our thinking from a need for absolute certainty to “a goal of accurately assessing what you know and what you don't.” In other words, people need to look at every decision as though it were a bet.

Ultimately, Duke argues that by adopting this way of thinking — by assessing how sure we are of something, tracing the possible outcomes, and analyzing the odds of failure — we can ensure long-term success for ourselves, our loved ones, and our business partners.

Calling on her degrees in behavioral and cognitive psychology, and her years of experience in professional poker, throughout the episode, Duke speaks with host Demetri Kofinas about how we can eliminate fear and unproductive emotions from our decision-making processes, embrace uncertainty, and make better decisions.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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49. Claude Shannon: The Story of How One Man Created the Information Age | Jimmy Soni
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In Episode 47 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Jimmy Soni about the father of Information Theory, Claude Shannon, and Shannon’s foundational work, A Mathematical Theory of Communication.

The 20th century is known as the information age, and for a good reason. It is a period that is dominated by knowledge and data. It’s an era in which the economy is no longer driven by traditional industries — such as construction, manufacturing, or agriculture — but by advanced information technologies that store, retrieve, transmit, and manipulate data.

This revolution finds its roots in Information Theory. And remarkably, it is a theory that was developed by one man: Claude Shannon.

Before Shannon, society had a rather immature understanding of what information was. Information was understood as something immaterial and intangible. It was not seen as something that could be touched or manipulated. It was assumed that the only way to send information (intelligence, as it was then referred to) across a greater distance was to “boost” the signal by using more power. This was a notoriously imperfect system, as it increased the amount of “noise” that was received and made the message more difficult to discern.

In his foundational work, A Mathematical Theory of Communication, Shannon solved this issue and presented a completely new way of understanding information. He showed that information isn’t insubstantial, but something that we can measure and manipulate — something that has physical characteristics and can be quantified. Shannon also created a diagram which showed that all information has certain, set components — such as a source, a transmitter, a recipient, and so on. As such, not only did he show that information is something that can be made material, through his work, Shannon proved that all information (be it a radio signal, a photo, or a song) can be governed through a set of common laws.

In short, he turned information into something that can be computed and reliably transmitted, laying the foundation for the digital revolution.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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50. The Quest for the Nobel: Cosmology, Physics, and the Search for the Origins of the Universe | Brian Keating
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In Episode 46 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Brian Keating, astrophysicist and author of Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science's Highest Honor.

When we think about competition, we don’t typically think about scientists. Instead of seeing these individuals as adversaries competing for fickle prizes or glory, we see them as impartial explorers of the cosmos. We see them as the selfless gatekeepers of knowledge.
This view, as we are coming to learn, is more than a little askew.

The darker sides of science — the prejudices and egos and dubious incentives — are realities that we are forced to face almost as soon as we start investigating what it is that drives scientists in their pursuits.

And they are realities that Brian Keating knows all too well.

Keating is an astrophysicist at UC San Diego's Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences. He is also credited as being the driving force behind BICEP2, the most powerful cosmology telescope ever made. BICEP2 was tasked with answering some of the biggest questions in physics, such as how our cosmos came to be and what the universe was like at the beginning of time. Specifically, the telescope was created to detect the unique B-mode polarization signature of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), a byproduct of the cosmos’ first moments of expansion.

For a time, Keating and his team believed they had detected this signature. The work almost won Keating the Nobel Prize in Physics. Almost.

In this episode, Keating joins host Demetri Kofinas to walk us through the history of experimental cosmology and trace its course to modern science. He starts with an examination of the early geocentric models of the universe and shows how the scientific revolution, and the introduction of empiricism, altered the course of history and set us on the path to modern physics. The episode culminates with a discussion of what it is that drives scientists in their pursuits. From wealth to fame, from a genuine desire to understand the origins of the cosmos to an egotistical desire to wage war on religion, Keating outlines some of the most remarkable discoveries in physics and how biases and incentives are slowing innovation and shredding the fabric of modern science.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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51. Daniel H. Pink | Biological Clock: Why “What” You Do is Just as Important as “When” You Do It
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In Episode 45 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Daniel Pink, the highly acclaimed author of numerous, best-selling books including his latest, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

Timing is everything, so it’s kind of surprising that most of us don’t give it any serious consideration. We think about what things we want to do. We think about who we want to do these things with. When we want to do something is generally our final consideration — if we consider it at all.

Take college students, for example. They must take classes in art, math, history, science, and a host of other fields. Each year, just before the semester begins, students flock to their computers and plot out the class schedules that will govern their lives for the next five months. Their top considerations are when their friends are taking classes, how they can avoid getting up early, and how they can ensure their classes are all on the same day so that they get a few extra days off.

This is a bit of a problem.

As Daniel Pink notes in his latest book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, there is a biological reality to our daily rhythms. This means that, at certain times, we are better at problem solving. At others, we perform better when it comes to creative endeavors. It may seem counterintuitive, but we each have a biological clock that has a material impact on our lives. Put simply, the time that we choose to do something alters our performance, influences our wellbeing, and shapes our overall experience. So if we are making decisions about when to do things on an impulse or according to whatever happens to be convenient, in many ways, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

However, there is a solution to this problem. It’s known as “chronobiology,” and it allows us to make fact-based decisions about when we should do things. By using chronobiology — by following the natural patterns found in our biology — we can help ensure that we are at our peak performance when we attempt any given task.

But how can we tell what our natural cycle is? How do we know if we are making good when-based decisions? In this episode, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Pink about the science of perfect timing and why when we do something is just as important as what we do and how well we do it.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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52. Collective Achievement: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams | Sam Walker
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In Episode 44 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Sam Walker, author of The Captain Class, about how our love affair with athletic performance is about more than rivalry.

People love sports. As we love watching the teams we adore try and fight their way towards victory. Their wins are our wins, and we celebrate these triumphs with feelings of joy that are difficult to match or even describe. Their losses are equally ours, and the pain of those losses can feel like a personal failure.

Much has been said about the psychology of sports, about those things that draw us in and keep us spellbound. However, scientists have failed to locate exactly what it is that draws us towards sports or, equally, what draws us towards the teams we love.

Is it the rivalry and the satisfaction that comes through conquest and the defeat of the opposition? Is it the fun, the entertainment, or the freedom that sports give us to let go of the stress and struggles of daily life? Is it a kinship felt towards a particular player? According to Sam Walker, author of The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World's Greatest Teams, the answer is a resounding “no.”

Human beings naturally gravitate towards communal displays of athletic performance. We crave friendly competition. But according to Walker, our love affair with such exhibitions isn’t really about rivalry or entertainment.

Rather, as our lives become increasingly intermediated by computer interfaces, spectator sports provide one of the few remaining ways of experiencing the elegance and power of the human body. Herein lies the secret of our love affair with sports: In a world that is constantly changing, sports are a window into the into millions of years of evolution – the impulses, characteristics, and behavioral urges of our ancestors. Team sports, in particular, give us a front row seat to the unfolding drama of the human experience and the evolutionary forces that have shaped human selection.

Over the course of this episode, Walker speaks with host Demetri Kofinas about what he has learned about the forces that shape the world’s greatest teams. The conversation is, in some sense, a search for the DNA of greatness.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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53. The Rise of Xi Jinping and the Dawn of a New Imperial China | Elizabeth C. Economy
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In Episode 43 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Elizabeth Economy about the emergence of a new imperial China and the rise of Xi Jinping.

We may be witnessing the birth of a new imperial China, one that was brought about by the charismatic machinations of the nation’s leader, Xi Jinping. At the present juncture, it’s not exactly clear what Xi’s excessive centralization of power means or how his disruptive new policies will impact the rest of the world, but we can say one thing with certainty — international power dynamics are already starting to shift in response.

Xi’s tenure truly began in 2012, when he became the General Secretary for China’s Communist Party, which is the sole governing party in China. Today, he also serves as the head of the state and the head of the military. Taken as a whole, these are all of the most important leadership positions in the Chinese government. If that’s not enough, earlier this year, in a highly controversial move, Xi did away with presidential term limits. So, he may be president for life.

Because of the near-total control that Xi wields, he is able to keep both his adversaries in the government and the citizens he presides over on a tight leash.

He eliminates his dissenters using divisive anticorruption campaigns, he oversees massive propaganda operations rooted in fabricated news and events, and he denies his people access to information by censuring the internet behind a Great Firewall.

Although many Western nations may balk at such practices, they have their benefits. Ultimately, Xi’s illiberal maneuverings often allow China to outcompete nations that cling to liberal values. This fact forces world leaders to content with a question that cannot be ignored: Can liberal nations keep pace with Xi’s imperial policies and ensure that power structures remain stable?

In today’s episode, Elizabeth Economy, author of The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State, joins Demetri Kofinas for an extensive exploration of Jinping’s top political, economic, and foreign policy priorities and the impact that his policies will likely have on the rest of the world.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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54. Remaking the Future: Why Education in African Countries is Crucial to Our Survival | Fred Swaniker
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In Episode 42 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Fred Swaniker about the future of African leadership and education in the 21st century.

By the year 2050, the human population will increase by a staggering 2.4 billion. According to data from the UN World Population Prospects, the figures are cause for great concern. Researchers worry that our planet may not have the carrying capacity to sustain a population of this size; however, their primary concern stems from the fact that a majority of the increases will take place in the world’s most depressed areas. In fact, experts predict that approximately 50% of the increase will take place in African countries. Put another way, by 2050, a quarter of the world’s population will live in Africa.

Some may contend that there’s no real cause for concern — 2050 is still decades away and that we have plenty of time. This leaves out the crucial fact that in just seventeen years, Africa will have the largest workforce in the world.

By giving these individuals the tools and resources necessary to succeed, we can help ensure that they become valued and productive members of society. By ensuring that they have the opportunities necessary to participate on the world stage, we can secure for future generations an era of unimaginable innovation and prosperity. The alternative? The mass unemployment, starvation, poverty, and displacement of over a billion people — a global catastrophe the likes of which we’ve yet to witness in the modern age.   

The difference between the abundance narrative and the scarcity narrative rests on one simple thing: Education and the leadership skills that it fosters. Seventeen years is just 6,000 days away. Time is short, and it’s passing remarkably fast. We must act now. And we are.

Fred Swaniker is the co-founder of three organizations that aim to catalyze a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa: the African Leadership Academy, the African Leadership Network, and the African Leadership University. His paradigm-shifting approach to education is transforming how we conceptualize learning. But more than that, through his work Swaniker is empowering a generation and creating a revolution in Africa.

In this episode, Swaniker talks with host Demetri Kofinas about the difference between financial poverty and poverty of the spirit, the importance of faith and determination, and why our future depends on empowering Africa.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



55. Jim Holt | Metaphysics, the Philosophy of Science, and Why the World Exists
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In Episode 41 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Jim Holt about the philosophy of science, ethics, and metaphysics.

Jim Holt is on a quest to understand the fundamental nature and meaning of our universe. What is infinity? Is time real? Why does the world exist? These are the most important questions that humanity has ever pondered. When attempting to answer such large, existential questions, it’s not enough to use observational evidence alone. This is where metaphysics comes in.

Unlike the hard-nosed, falsifiable propositions that form the foundation of empirical science, metaphysics poses questions for which definitive answers are hard to come by. Aristotle famously heralded the field as “the first philosophy,” since it explores those questions which are generally accepted as being the most basic and vital.

In short, this branch of philosophy seeks to explain the nature of being, reality, and the meaning of existence. Since metaphysics is not based on falsifiable propositions, it is is not bounded by the constraints of formal logic or scientific truth. As a result, finding conclusive answers to the perennial questions that it poses may well be impossible.

Still, something about these questions jabs at us. Why? Perhaps it is in our nature to question everything, even those things for which answers do not exist. Or perhaps the act of engaging in ontological arguments is itself the goal. In either case, in our answer-based culture, exploring the philosophy of science and metaphysics is a necessarily humbling experience. It forces us to contend with the mystery of our own existence, and it presses the limits of our explanatory powers.

In his latest book, “When Einstein Walked with Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought,” Jim Holt explores the nature of logic and truth. And in this episode, he joins host Demetri Kofinas for an hour-long conversation on the philosophy of science and metaphysics. Over the course of the discussion, we explore the questions that have concerned philosophers for more than two thousand years — questions that remain unanswered.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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56. Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms | Crowdsourcing and the New Power Reshaping Business, Politics, and Society
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In Episode 40 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms about the forces reshaping politics, business, and society.

There is no question that our world is experiencing a dramatic shift in power. On the surface, this is to be expected. After all, to quote Friedrich Nietzsche, power is "a sea of forces flowing and rushing together, eternally changing." Yet, for nearly all of human history, power was held and jealously guarded by a select minority of individuals. Although control could be seized by new parties through uprisings, such attempts have only been successful when made by nobles or military leaders. Real power has been out of the reach of the vast majority of people since time immemorial.

Today, this is no longer true. 

Thanks to the rapid advancements being made in science and technology, the locus of power is shifting faster than ever before, and it is undergoing a fundamental transformation that has never before been witnessed. Power, in the modern age, is becoming open and distributed. Power is now being allocated to the crowd.

We see this fact nearly everywhere we look. Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding methods such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter are replacing traditional, centralized methods of sourcing materials and raising funds. But the best example of this crowdfunding can be seen in the growth of cryptocurrencies and the recent surge in ICOs (initial coin offerings). Likewise, political conversations, and the various social changes that spring from them, are increasingly being driven by the demands of the crowd. Campaigns such as the Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter, and #Metoo have all found their roots in social media, where supporters spontaneously organized, act, and then dissolved back into the voluminous crowd. Of course, not all the examples are positive ones. Terrorist organizations now also use crowdsourcing methods to get new recruits from countries that they cannot otherwise travel to or access.

Yet, for good or ill, the tide of this new kind of power is sweeping over all of us.

So, how is this battle between old and new power shifting who governs us, altering how we work, and revising how we think and feel? And what can the distribution of power in the 21st century tell us about how the future is going to unfold? In their book, “New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World and How to Make It Work for You,” Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms explore these questions. Throughout the narrative, they investigate the nature of modern power and try to help readers understand this new world and our role in it. In this episode, Heimans and Timms join host Demetri Kofinas for a timely exploration of these topics.

Ultimately, this conversation is an attempt to better understand whether or not our newfound ability to mobilize the mass of humanity is a net positive development for the aims of egalitarianism and progress.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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57. Elon Musk and the Cult of Tesla: Are We Seeing a Bubble Bursting in Tech? | Mark Spiegel
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In Episode 39 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Mark Spiegel about how Elon Musk may very well be the personification of a bubble in tech.

When asked to name a hero of the modern age, most people don’t have to think long before giving their answer. Elon Musk is the man who sits at the helm of this era’s most disruptive industries. Through SpaceX, Musk is democratizing space and leading humanity into an era that’s dominated by privately held companies — an era in which anyone can, quite literally, reach for the stars. His Boring company is set to revolutionize travel by making vacuum-powered, ultra-high-speed transportation systems a reality. And Elon Musk is even transforming that which is most immutable: the human brain. In 2016, Musk founded Neuralink to develop implantable brain-computer interfaces and meld the human mind with machines. Then, of course, there is Tesla, the electric car company that has shaken the foundations of the fossil fuel industry and given society its first self-driving vehicles. Or, has it?

The cult of Elon Musk surpasses anything we have seen in decades. Even Steve Jobs did not command as much adoration from his congregations of the faithful. And yet, something is rotten in the state of Denmark…

Tesla sits at the intersection of a number of powerful forces: the ready availability of cheap financing, the growing wealth and income gap, and the preponderance of technology in popular culture. In this sense, Tesla is about more than just electric vehicles or the car manufacturing business. It is a poster child for the financial excesses, stock price manipulations, and cult-like followings of Silicon Valley.

And as the Federal Reserve continues to tighten by raising interest rates, companies like Tesla, which have relied on cheap financing in order to fund their businesses, are feeling increasing pressure. Exhibit A: the company’s stock, which was besieged by speculative shorts and heavy selling in March of this year. Tesla’s stock recouped more than half of those losses shortly thereafter but, serious questions remain about the company’s path towards profitability. Indeed, does it even have one?

Even if Tesla can raise the capital it needs from investors over the next six months, can it manage to overcome the major production challenges that have plagued the Model 3? What happens when Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes, and Porsche each come to market with their own electric vehicles, some of which are cheaper than Tesla’s suite of electric cars? Finally, what about Elon Musk?

The famous short seller Jim Chanos, who took down Enron in the early 2000’s for defrauding its investors, has made similar claims against the popular Silicon Valley car executive. And Chanos isn’t alone in his rebukes. Mark Spiegel, Managing Member and Portfolio Manager of Stanphyl Capital Partners, has also been openly critical of Elon Musk, whom he believes is committing securities fraud by misleading investors about the capabilities of Tesla's present and future products and financial prospects.

In last week’s episode, we asked about the path towards profitability for Tesla. In this week’s episode, host Demetri Kofinas is joined by Mark Spiegel, who questions the credibility of Elon Musk as CEO of the electric car company. We examine whether Tesla can survive the onslaught of bad publicity amid a rocky period for capital markets and for the company’s stock. Ten years from now, will we look back at Tesla as the poster child for this latest bull market?

As always, this episode of Hidden Forces is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as the basis for financial decisions. All views expressed by Demetri Kofinas and podcast guests are solely their own opinions and should not be construed as financial advice.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

 



58. Tesla Bankruptcy: Has the Road to Profitability Closed for Good? | Charley Grant
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In Episode 38 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Charley Grant about whether or not Tesla can avoid an inexorable spiral towards bankruptcy.

Tesla is a kind of wonderchild. It entered the stage in the summer of 2003 with the aim of accelerating the arrival and adoption of electric vehicles. The company was founded by several Silicon Valley luminaries, most notably Elon Musk. Since its founding more than fifteen years ago, the company has transformed the way the world thinks about energy and electric cars. Despite the fact that electric vehicles have yet to see widespread adoption, they have become surrounded by a level of fanfare that is enjoyed by few other innovations.

Yet, the road ahead of Tesla is becoming increasingly uncertain and difficult to navigate.

The availability of cheap financing is showing signs of tightening amid an environment of rising interest rates. This has put a strain on companies like Tesla, which have relied heavily on credit markets to support their cash-intensive businesses. In fact, according to Stanphyl Capital’s Mark Spiegel, “Tesla’s interest expense is now at a run-rate of nearly $600 million a year, which in Q4 amounted to $4,884 per car sold.” This means that fully one-third of the company’s gross profit goes towards servicing its debt.

But more to the point, the willingness of debtors to continue to fund these losses looks increasingly doubtful, leaving equity markets as the next best source from which Tesla is likely to raise capital.

Yet, problems of funding remain. The company’s stock price has dropped more than twenty-five percent in less than a month. The volatility of Tesla’s stock makes the question of how many new shares Tesla can afford to issue less clear by the day.

And if Tesla’s financial woes were not enough, the broader equity markets may be in the processes of peaking (or may have already peaked), adding additional roadblocks to the electric car maker’s ability to raise capital.

Time, in other words, is not on Elon's side. As such, at this stage, the single most important question any investor in Tesla must be able to answer is, “what is the path towards profitability?” Charley Grant, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal who has been writing critically about Tesla since 2015, thinks there isn't one. In this episode, Grant joins host Demetri Kofinas to discuss why he thinks Tesla may be on the inexorable road towards bankruptcy.

As always, this episode of Hidden Forces is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as the basis for financial decisions. All views expressed by Demetri Kofinas and podcast guests are solely their own opinions and should not be construed as financial advice.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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59. Josh Wolfe | Investing in the Future: Meditations on Passion, Randomness, and Optionality
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In Episode 37 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Josh Wolfe, co-founder of Lux Capital. Lux Capital is a venture firm that specializes in the hard sciences, supporting scientists and entrepreneurs who pursue counter-conventional solutions to the most vexing puzzles of our time. Josh is also a founding investor and board member with Bill Gates in Kymeta, which makes cutting-edge antennas for high-speed global satellite and space communications. He is a Westinghouse semi-finalist and published scientist who previously worked in investment banking at Salomon Smith Barney and in capital markets at Merrill Lynch. In 2008, Josh Wolfe co-founded and funded Kurion, a contrarian bet in the unlikely business of using advanced robotics and state-of-the-art engineering and chemistry to clean up nuclear waste. He is a columnist with Forbes who has lectured at MIT, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, NYU and been invited to The White House and Capitol Hill to advise on nanotechnology and emerging technologies.

The fields of science, technology, and investing are not new territory for Hidden Forces listeners. These are subjects that we have covered at length with previous guests, including Geoffrey West, Ray Monk, Robert Johnson, Christopher Cole, and Tim O'Reilly. Rarely, though, do we find ourselves in conversation with someone like Josh Wolfe, who has made a multi-billion dollar business of investing in and around ground-breaking technologies and innovations in the hard sciences. Some of these breakthroughs include artificial intelligence, advancements in medicine and biotechnology, gene editing, energy technology, and much, much more.

In an effort to help us understand how he capitalizes on these breakthroughs, Josh Wolfe shares his unique perspective on investing with us, as well as his methodology for learning about the forces shaping our unknown future. What role does art play in informing our understanding of the world? How do we gain direction for our work from the insights provided to us by our passions? What information can we glean from the substance of our curiosities? How important are the presence of internal strife and discontentment in propelling us towards success? Can we learn to nurture our contrarian impulses in the face of our instinct to follow the herd?

In a philosophical discussion that ranges from the material to the immaterial, Josh Wolfe inspires us to reckon with the paradox of our own humanity. Are we simply animals born in an indeterminate world whose mysteries we are helpless to uncover? Or, are life's greatest mysteries - the nature of reality and the hard problem of consciousness - open to same types of empirical analyses and reasoning that have propelled our species forward since the earliest days of human enlightenment?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas
Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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60. Leemon Baird | Hedera Hashgraph: A Revolutionary New Public Ledger and Governance Framework
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In Episode 36 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas interviews Leemon Baird about the launch of Hedera Hashgraph, a public ledger built atop the hashgraph consensus protocol that aims to serve as the trust layer of the modern Internet.

Hedera implements a suite of solutions that we have never seen before in a public ledger. Its method of governance is unique. Its open review approach to software development challenges the paradigm that has dominated the world of cryptoeconomics for the past decade. Its approach to database sharding allows for massive increases in throughput and its approach to proxy staking incentivizes ownership without the burden of having to stand your own node.

Is the technological superiority of hashgraph enough to secure its success as the utility protocol of the future, or will blockchain developers reject a model of governance that demands stability over the right of any one individual to copy the code and fork the ledger?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



61. Banking on Bitcoin | Solving the Problem of Credit Using Distributed Applications
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In Episode 35 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Alex Mashinsky. Alex is the founder, and CEO of Celsius, a next generation lending wallet that aims to be the ‘Killer App’ of the bitcoin and cryptocurrency revolution. Celsius attempts to overcome the limitations of a traditional banking system by leveraging technology and rethinking lending for the 21st century. A serial entrepreneur, Mashinsky is the founder of seven New York City-based startups with over three billion dollars worth of exits to his name. He is a serial inventor with over 35 patents, relating to exchanges, VOIP protocols, messaging & communication. Alex Mashinksy is also one of the inventors of Voice Over Internet Protocol with a foundational patent dating back to 1994.

In their conversation, Demetri attempts to understand the mechanics behind the Celsius Network, as well as how the company intends to manage risk, execute short sales on behalf of institutional clients, and lower borrowing costs for its users. Who are Celsius' main competitors, and how does its lending wallet differ from the competition? How are loans issued on the Celsius network? How does the CEL token work, and how does it incentivize the network to service its customers and not some financial middleman? What is the revenue model for this network? How does Celsius generate income from lending, short sales, and staking? What are some of the unintended consequences that could arise from a securitization market in cryptocurrencies? What are the risks associated with hoarding utility tokens in a proof-of-stake system? Could Celsius and other networks become central points of attack for malicious actors looking to destabilize the Ethereum once it moves from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake? Finally, what is the timeline for Celsius' new wallet and how soon will crypto holders be able to rely on it as a real source of credit and interest-bearing income?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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62. Brian Kelly | Investing in Cryptocurrency: a Financial Markets Perspective on Bitcoin
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In Episode 34 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Brian Kelly, CEO of BKCM LLC, a digital asset investment firm. He is an experienced Global Macro investor with over twenty-five years’ experience in financial markets and a CNBC contributor who appears regularly on Fast Money.

Our most recent episodes with Chris Burniske on modeling cryptoassets and with Ari Paul on cryptocurrency trading methodologies introduced two foundational frameworks to our audience. This week's episode with Brian Kelly affords our audience the opportunity to explore both of these perspectives (theory and execution) in a single conversation. Brian Kelly is uniquely qualified to talk about the financial side of cryptocurrencies, but he also provides valuable perspective on how the media is covering this space.

Brian begins his conversation with Demetri by recounting his introductory experience to bitcoin, how he made his first investments, and what he learned in the year he wrote his book “The Bitcoin Big Bang.” The two explore familiar topics like the problem of scalability, exchange and regulatory risk, cash-settled futures and ETF’s, and how bitcoin may fare to gold during a systemic financial crisis. Is there any way to measure the intrinsic value of a given cryptocurrency? Can permissioned blockchains compete with public ledgers, or will cryptocurrencies come to dominate the future of software? Besides bitcoin and Ethereum, what are some of the more interesting cryptocurrency investment opportunities out there? Brian and Demetri also cover the recent spike in financial volatility amid this rising interest rate environment. Lastly, they consider how the rise of systemic trading strategies and passive investment vehicles like ETFs may accelerate (or not) a future market downturn.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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63. Bill Browder and the Fall of Glasnost: A Tale of Murder and Corruption in Russia
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In Episode 33 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Bill Browder about how his wealth was plundered by Russian oligarchs and placed in the hands of Vladimir Putin.

This is the story of Bill Browder and the end of glasnost. It stands as a microcosm of how the USSR attempted, and failed, to reform itself. However, in order to truly tell the tale, we must begin with another man: Mikhail Gorbachev.

Mikhail Gorbachev came to the stage at the end of the 1980s with a policy of glasnost, which can best be translated and explained in English as “openness.” Practically speaking, the policy was focused on ending the nation’s endemic corruption by making the government transparent. Or at least, by making the government a little more transparent. Gorbachev hoped that such a policy would thwart the schemes of the bureaucrats who enjoyed complete control of the economy and redistribute power more evenly. Unlike his predecessors, Gorbachev also had a far stronger focus on noninterference.

Ultimately, these policies led to the thawing of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the decline of the role of the Communist Party in government. These are also the policies that led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As a result, saying that Gorbachev changed politics in Russia would be a dramatic understatement. By the time he left office, he’d revolutionized global power dynamics.

However, the promises of openness and noninterference quickly died in the Russia state and reform was never realized. Instead, Gorbachev’s destabilization of previously entrenched power structures quickly led to the traumatic redistribution of wealth into the hands of a tiny kleptocracy.

This is where Bill Browder enters the story, and where the tale of the plundering of Russian industries and resources truly begins.

Bill Browder is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, which was the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005. That year, he was refused entry into the country and had $4.5bn in assets liquidated. The reason? According to Browder, the government was attempting to punish him for exposing corrupt practices.

Then, in 2009, his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died in prison after he uncovered a $230 million fraud committed by officials in the Russian government. That is was when Bill Browder went to war.

Over the last decade, he has been leading a campaign to expose, and ultimately end, Russia’s endemic corruption and excessive human rights abuses. His work led to the passage of the "Magnitsky Act" in the United States and, since that time, many countries have passed similar legislation. The work also made him an enemy of Vladimir Putin and the Russian state, which has issued several warrants and placed him on Interpol's arrest list.

Today, Bill Browder joins host Demetri Kofinas to tell his story and discuss what his tale—a story of high finance, corruption, and murder—portends for the future of this powerful nation.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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64. Ari Paul | How the Top Crypto Funds Are Trading and Investing in Cryptocurrency
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In Episode 32 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Ari Paul about the inner workings of hedge funds focused exclusively on the cryptocurrency space.

Over the course of the last year, cryptocurrency has dominated our society. The price of the most popular digital currencies surged, increasing in value by well over 1000% in a matter of weeks. We saw similar rises in initial coin offerings, with the number of token offerings increasing from just seven a month in January 2017 to more than forty a month by the end of the year.

This crypto euphoria fueled the formation of several cryptocurrency hedge funds which, according to their various founders, aim to bring the professional trading and portfolio management of Wall Street to the emerging class of digital asset. Although this work promises to open the crypto space to an entirely new class of traders, there are many questions regarding how these funds work and how reliable they are. For example, how are crypto fund managers managing risk? What sorts of benchmarks are crypto funds using in order to measure performance? And how does a cryptocurrency investor seek alpha in an already uncorrelated market? To answer these questions, and help shed some light on the emerging world of crypto hedge funds, we turned to Ari Paul.

As a portfolio manager who oversaw risk at the University of Chicago’s endowment investment office and the Chief Investment Officer at BlockTower Capital- a leading crypto hedge fund that raised over $140 Million in 2017 - Ari Paul is uniquely qualified to discuss the most interesting and creative investment opportunities for making money in cryptocurrencies. His positioning also means that he is intimately familiar with many of the risk factors that populate this new and fledgling market.

Over the course of the discussion, Ari Paul speaks with host Demetri Kofinas about the skepticism surrounding market values, how we can protect ourselves from counterparty and exchange risk, and how hedge funds like BlockTower Capital are making it easier for someone who may not be intimately familiar with blockchain technologies or the inner working of specific cryptocurrencies, participate in this new digital economy.

Demetri also asks Ari what the benchmarks for crypto funds like Blocktower are and how they measure performance. The challenge in the cryptocurrency space, according to Paul, Is that there are really three benchmarks: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies in general, as well as the broader equity markets. Seeking Alpha in an already uncorrelated asset class, therefore, presents a slew of new risk factors that aren’t present for traditional hedge fund managers. Ari Paul also gives his opinion on how the flood of institutional capital might alter these correlations, what a consolidation in cryptocurrencies might look like, and if we are verging near a collapse in valuations.

The two also take a look at cash-settled futures markets, consider the use of put and call options, and explore ways in which investors can better protect themselves from counterparty and exchange risk. Finally, they examine some of the most interesting and creative investment opportunities for making money in cryptocurrencies and what the average investor can do in order to take advantage of them.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod



65. Chris Burniske | How Do You Value a Cryptocurrency? Cryptoeconomics and How to Build a Financial Model for Valuing Cryptoassets
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In Episode 31 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Chris Burniske about how to value a cryptocurrency. Chris is a co-founder of Placeholder, a New York venture firm that specializes in cryptoassets. Before Placeholder, Chris Burniske pioneered ARK Invest's Next Generation Internet strategy, leading the company to become the first public fund manager to invest in cryptocurrency. He then transitioned to focus exclusively on cryptoassets, paving the way for Wall Street to recognize it as a new asset class. His commentary has been featured on national media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Fortune, and Forbes.

With the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrency having surpassed $800 billion by the start of 2018, it was only a matter of time before Wall Street would stand up and take notice. The establishment of a cash-settled futures market for bitcoin in late 2017 is one of many bullish signs for the long-term viability of cryptoassets. It has also opened the door to further institutional capital and crypto-focused hedge funds with hundreds of millions of dollars to deploy. The opportunities for profitmaking are too lucrative to ignore, but the flood of institutional and private capital into the cryptocurrency space is also fueling a speculative mania. The newness of this asset class and its lack of historical price data make proper valuations even more challenging. So, given these constraints, the question remains, how do you value cryptocurrency?

The answer lies at the intersection of macroeconomics and financial modeling. Chris Burniske and Demetri Kofinas start by laying out a taxonomy for cryptoassets that breaks them into three categories: cryptocurrency, cryptocommodities, and cryptotokens. In their conversation, they explore how one can learn to differentiate between the different currencies, DApps, and tokens. How does one judge the merits of a white paper, the seriousness of the dev team, and the enthusiasm of early adopters? How important is governance? How can volatility in the underlying token impact the robustness of the software? How do supply schedules determine future values? What are some of the most reliable, early indicators of success or failure for a cryptoventure? These are just some of the questions that Demetri and Chris address in this highly informative and timely conversation.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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66. Tim O’Reilly | We Can Predict the Future Only by Learning to Map the Present
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In Episode 30 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas asks the question, "how can we learn how to predict the future?" According to his guest, Tim O'Reilly, learning how to predict the future starts with building better maps.

Tim O'Reilly has played a seminal role in creating the framework through which an entire generation has come to know and understand the modern Internet. If you have ever used terms like “open source” or “web 2.0,” you are relying on the language cultivated by Tim O'Reilly, through his innumerable conferences, gatherings, and intimate conversations. His work has reshaped how people in the computer industry think about technology. He is the founder, CEO, and Chairman of O’Reilly Media, and his most recent book, WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us, forms the basis for much of this conversation.

The need to explore is a fundamental driver of human progress. Without it, we would never have ventured off the plains of Africa, conquered the seas, or landed men on the moon. How has humanity managed to navigate the unknown? The process of exploration is one of mapmaking. Maps are not some relics of a bygone era. Maps are not artifacts that exist naturally in the world. Maps are products of the human mind. Mapmaking is the process through which our brains structure time and space; they help us put order around experience. Maps are the expression of human perception. If we want to navigate the world better, and if we want to learn how to predict the future, then we need to build better maps. Tim O'Reilly helps us do just that.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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67. The Iranian Protests and the Forces Driving Change Across the Middle East | Hooman Majd
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In Episode 29 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Hooman Majd about how to interpret the Iranian protests within the wider political, cultural, and financial dimensions of the greater Middle East.

The ongoing Iranian protests have delivered the worst scenes of unrest since millions took to the streets over a disputed presidential election in 2009. During the tensions that occurred a decade ago, protesters claimed that widespread election fraud resulted in the state erroneously reelecting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as president of Iran; however, the most recent protests are about far more than an election — and it is about far more than just Iran.

Although many reports have noted that the protests were triggered by growing anger stemming from economic hardships, such as increasing unemployment and income inequality, the root cause of the unrest goes far deeper. The unrest in Iran cannot be entirely separated from the larger forces moving through the Middle East. In order to understand the nature and scope of the present problem, we need to consider the socioeconomic and political forces operating in both Iran and the Middle East at large. Few are better equipped to discuss this topic than Hooman Majd.

Hooman Majd is an Iranian-American writer and political commentator. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, as well as The Ayatollahs’ Democracy and The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay. He joins us today to discuss how we can interpret and locate the Iranian protests within the wider political, cultural, and financial dimensions of the Middle East.

Over the course of the conversation, Hooman Majd and host Demetri Kofinas discuss how the Iranian protests fit within the western-oriented framework of thinking about Iran, and how much of what Iran is experiencing is the result of forces that are reshaping the oil-reliant and politically volatile economies of the region.

Ultimately, the conversation investigates the source of the ongoing protests, and what these demonstrations express about the current state of Iranian society, its economy, and its politics, in order to provide a framework for understanding the larger forces operating across the Middle East.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas
Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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68. Industrial Society and Its Future | Machine Intelligence, Encryption, and the Will to Power
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In Episode 28 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas lays out his vision for a future driven by the emergent forces we have been covering in 2017. He reads passages from Ted Kaczynski’s “Industrial Society and its Future,” as well as from Bill Joy’s “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us.” He plays clips from interviews with Barack Obama, Tim Cook, and Jamie Dimon, as he considers how power, privacy, and control, all factor into the emerging technological landscape.

What is the goal of the machine? What do we seek to accomplish with our technologies? What are the benefits and the costs associated with the technological, political, and economic forces of the modern age? 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas
Editor: Stylianos Nicolaou

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69. Gary Shilling | Regulatory Reform and the Impact of the Trump Tax Plan on the U.S. Economy
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In Episode 27 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with economist Gary Shilling, who famously called the bottom in what has become a 36-year bull market in US Treasuries, about the ramifications of Donald Trump’s economic policies, the role of cryptocurrencies, and the prospect for stocks, commodities, and the dollar in 2018.

Few would reasonably argue that regulatory reform is not needed in the United States. The issue for politicians and policymakers has always been one of balance and practicality. The turbulence of the 1970’s produced a slew of regulatory measures like wage and price controls that proved disastrous for the economy. Likewise, the financial deregulation of the 1980s and 1990s rolled back investor protections that had served to safeguard customer deposits and prevent excessive interconnectivity in the banking system.

In the context of the current economic expansion, one must consider the impact that deregulation and higher after-tax income will have on an economy already in its ninth year of economic expansion. With corporations and businesses standing to benefit most from tax cuts proposed by Senate and House Republicans, what do individual tax-filers stand to gain from the Trump tax plan? Are there benefits to rolling back some of the financial regulations passed in reaction to the fallout of the great financial crisis of 2008? What does the employment picture look like for the US economy? How do job prospects and wages fare in the face of rising asset values and growing debt burdens? If Gary Shilling is right and treasuries remain in a bull market, what does this mean for the fate of stocks, commodities, and the US dollar in 2018? Will the price of oil continue its recent rise, or may some combination of weak demand and oversupply hamper prices? How will the Federal Reserve’s ongoing tightening affect the economy and are we destined to see an inversion of the yield curve for 10-year US Treasuries? Gary Shilling also gives us his two cents on bitcoin, and why he thinks the cryptocurrency is massively overvalued.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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70. Climate Science, Climate Models, and Climate Change. What Is Driving The Earth's Warming? | NASA's Gavin Schmidt
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In Episode 26 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with NASA's Chief Climate Scientist and Head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Gavin Schmidt. The two cut through the controversy surrounding climate change and dive right into the heart of climate science. They parse through the data, explore the climate models, and consider the impact that further warming could have on humanity in the decades to come.

What is driving the warming of our planet? What is causing the acidification of the oceans? What is shrinking the ice sheets? What is causing the rise in sea levels, the decrease in snow cover, and the melting glaciers? Is there a causal connection between human activity and the prolonged droughts, intense heat waves, and raging wildfires we have seen in recent years? What are the feedback mechanisms of climate change? How do we measure the impact of losing reflective layers of ice, exposing permafrost, or releasing vapor into the atmosphere? What does the cooling of the upper atmosphere tell us about the cause of global warming? Could changes in solar activity, sunspots and cosmic rays, and their effects on clouds be to blame for climate change? How will humanity respond to more extreme weather events – hurricanes, droughts, floods, and forest fires – as our populations grow and the density of our coastal regions increases? And is there anything we can do, to prepare?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas
Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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71. Lacy Hunt | What Are The Global Macro Forces Driving The 21st Century? The Demographics of Deflation and Financial Repression
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In Episode 25 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Lacy Hunt, Executive Vice President of Hoisington Investment Management Company. For nearly 14 years, Dr. Lacy Hunt was Chief U.S. Economist for HSBC Group, one of the world’s largest banks. He was also Executive Vice President and Chief Economist at Fidelity and held the position of Senior Economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Global Macro is an investment strategy based on the interpretation and prediction of large-scale events. Many such events are driven by chronic conditions, including debt deflation, structural demographics, and low savings rate. What role have governments played in amplifying and perpetuating the impact of these forces by bailing out financial markets and flooding the banking system with cheap money?

In order to answer this question, we must rely on a panoply of data, statistics, and econometrics – bank lending, money velocity, monetary aggregates, disposable income, liquidity coverage ratios, and credit spreads. How will we navigate the next recession, having wasted the last 8 years chasing the shadows of wealth through buy-backs, stock appreciations, and financialization? Where will the demand come from in a consumer-led economy still fighting the forces of debt-deflation with diminishing savings rates and rising interest expenses? How will we manage our unfunded liabilities, mortgage payments, rents, and college tuitions, with such poor structural demographics? And how does all of this tie back to the resurgence of populism and the escalation of geopolitical tension in a world bound together by our liabilities but torn apart by the specter of conflict, the failures of diplomacy, and the expediency of war? 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas
Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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72. Jeffrey Rosen | Constitutional Law In The 21st Century – Privacy, Personhood, and Freedom
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In Episode 24 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Jeffrey Rosen, the nation's most widely read and influential legal commentator. Their conversation examines the landscape of constitutional law in the 21st century. How do we interpret a more than 200-year-old document in an age of empire, terror, and technological futurism? How do theories of mind apply to the laws of personhood? How will our criminal justice system evolve along with our notions of agency and free-will? How do we interpret the First Amendment in an age of synthetic news and artificial intelligence? Where do the Bill of Rights and the Constitution stand on the question of genetic engineering and designer babies? Can the Fourth and Fifth Amendments protect our right to privacy and freedom from self-incrimination in an age of mass surveillance? How does constitutional law inform the practices of corporations and publishers? Can this enduring document safeguard our liberty, autonomy, and freedom, in the digital age?

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas
Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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73. Heather Berlin | a Theory of Mind and the Neural Basis of Consciousness
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In Episode 23 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Dr. Heather Berlin about the neural basis of consciousness. The two consider a theory of mind based on a materialist perspective on reality. Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all things, including mental aspects and consciousness, are results of material interactions. If this is the case, then where do our thoughts and our feelings, come from? Who is in charge of our volitions and our desires? What is the neural basis of depression, anxiety, and psychosis? What is the substantive source of human creativity, inspiration, and genius? Is there really nothing more to the experience of consciousness – to life itself – than the observable firing of billions of neurons jumbled together in an atomic stew consisting almost entirely of empty space?

Dr. Heather Berlin is a cognitive neuroscientist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Berlin practices clinical neuropsychology at New York Presbyterian Hospital. She is the host of the PBS series Science Goes to the Movies, and the Discovery Channel series Superhuman Showdown. Heather Berlin co-wrote and stars in the critically acclaimed off-Broadway and Edinburgh Fringe Festival show, Off the Top, about the neuroscience of improvisation. She has made numerous media appearances including on the BBC, History Channel, Netflix, NatGeo, StarTalk, and TEDx. Heather Berlin received her Ph.D. from the University of Oxford and Master of Public Health from Harvard University.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas
Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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74. Mance Harmon | the Hashgraph Consensus Algorithm: A Panel Discussion With The Founders Of The Future Internet
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Members of the hashgraph consensus algorithm's founding team, including the CEO of Swirlds, Mance Harmon, speak with Demetri Kofinas about the future of the Internet. In this blockbuster event, blockchain developers, entrepreneurs, and fans of Hidden Forces ask questions to the founders of hashgraph about their revolutionary technology. Leemon Baird, Mance Harmon, and the rest of the Swirlds team claim to have built an entirely new distributed ledger technology that is better (orders of magnitude more efficient), faster (300,000+ transactions per second pre-sharding), safer (asynchronous byzantine fault tolerant), and fairer (mathematically proven fairness with consensus time stamping) than the blockchain.

This is the second installment in a series of interviews, panel discussions, and conversations that Demetri Kofinas has had with the founders of Hashgraph. Hashgraph is a consensus algorithm that appears to have solved the problem of scale in distributed information management. It is a distributed ledger technology that may do for information processing and storage, what TCP/IP and broadband has done for communication. This is a revolution unlike any we have seen since the earliest days of the World Wide Web.

This event took place at the Assemblage NOMAD in New York City. It was a packed house with over 200 people in attendance from the blockchain and fintech communities who were eager to learn about how hashgraph is going to change the future of the Internet.

You can listen to Demetri's interview with the inventor and founder of Hashgraph, Leemon Baird, as well as read the transcript to that conversation on our website.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor: Stylianos Nicolaou

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75. Lemon Baird | the Future Is Not Blockchain. It's Hedera Hashgraph
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In Episode 22 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Leemon Baird, the inventor of Hedera Hashgraph, a new, distributed ledger technology poised to disrupt the entire ecosystem of blockchain-based applications and cryptocurrencies.

Leemon Baird is the Co-founder and CTO of Swirlds Inc. With over 20 years of technology and startup experience, he has held positions as a Professor of Computer Science at the Air Force Academy, Adjunct Professor at multiple other prestigious universities, and as a senior scientist in several labs. He has been the co-founder of several startups, including two identity-related starts-ups with successful exits. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University faster than any student in school history (2 years, 9 months), has multiple patents and over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals on computer security, machine learning, and mathematics. He regularly keynotes on these topics at conferences.

In this conversation, our audience will get a first-hand look at what may become the future of the Internet. Hashgraph is a revolutionary new distributed ledger technology with patented properties. The claims are that it is fast (100,000's transactions per second pre sharding), fair (mathematically proven fairness with consensus timestamping) and secure (asynchronous Byzantine fault tolerant). These properties could expand decentralized use cases to complex markets, auctions, crypto-currency micropayments, live games (even MMOs), and much more.

The company has secured early funding and has been adopted by credit unions, payment providers and is currently in due diligence phases with large banks.

Demetri will be moderating a panel with the CEO and Founding Team at The Assemblage (114 E. 25th St. New York, New York 10010) this Thursday, Oct. 19, from 7:00-9:30 pm. Seating is limited. You can RSVP here.   

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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76. John Borthwick | Design Philosophy, Superintelligence, Relativism, and Simulation
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In Episode 21 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with John Borthwick about design philosophy, superintelligence, relativism, and simulation. John Borthwick is CEO and Co-founder of Betaworks, a startup platform that builds and invests in companies across the social, data-driven media Internet. The Betaworks platform combines three areas of expertise. The first is a studio for building products like Giphy, Dots, Bitly, and Tweetdeck. The second is an investment fund for early-stage start-ups related to the areas in which the company is building (investments here include: Tumblr, Kickstarter, Medium and Gimlet). Lastly, there is "camp": a thematic accelerator program for start-ups in frontier technology such as Bots, AI, and Verbal Computing. In this manner, John Borthwick and his team at Betaworks combine art and science in their design philosophy, as they create extraordinary companies and work with exceptional people across the technological landscape.

In their conversation, Demetri and John blur the line between man and machine. “Computers are no longer that 'other' thing, that 'other' object. The line between machines and humans is becoming indistinguishable," says John Borthwick. The two reconsider our place as observers and users of technology in this increasingly intermediated universe of digital experience. They reimagine consciousness and explore a theory of mind that questions our notions of humanity, our sense of identity, and our assumptions of free will. How do we develop a design philosophy for our machines without losing sight of our humanity? Who are we designing our world for? And, what do we hope to achieve as we dissolve into this immersive technological future of superintelligence, disembodied consciousness, relativism, and simulation?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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77. Public Intellectuals, Thought Leaders, and the Marketplace of Ideas | Daniel Drezner
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In Episode 20 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with political scientist Daniel Drezner about public intellectuals, thought leaders, and the marketplace of ideas. Dr. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and the author of “Spoiler Alerts” for the Washington Post. His latest book, The Ideas Industry, explores the balance that must be struck between public intellectuals and thought leaders in a properly functioning marketplace of ideas.

What is the state of intellectual thought in American society? Where does one go in order to find good information? How does one measure the value of an idea if he or she cannot determine its veracity? How have the foundations of Western intellectual development like empiricism and reason been turned into political footballs? Why has trust in institutions eroded? Why has the credibility of journalists, scientists, and experts been brought into question? How has the wealth gap, partisanship, and information overload created a landscape welcoming to thought leaders, but hostile to the very types of public intellectuals that would have been celebrated less than 50 years before?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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78. Geoffrey West | Computational Biology, Socioeconomics, and a Unified Theory of Sustainability
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In Episode 19 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with theoretical physicist Geoffrey West about his work studying biological systems, infrastructure, and the socioeconomics of cities. Dr. West's primary interests have been in fundamental questions in physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles, their interactions, and cosmological implications. Geoffrey West currently serves as distinguished professor at the Santa Fe Institute, where he served as President from July 2005 through July 2009. Prior to joining SFI Dr. West was the leader, and founder, of the high energy physics group at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is also the author of SCALE, a remarkable, and timely book, whose substance and theory we explore today.

In today’s conversation, we explore some of the most remarkable insights coming out of the field of computational biology. This is an interdisciplinary cohort consisting of theoretical physicists, biologists, and mathematicians who are all working together to create models that explain the origins, requirements, and limits of life. What do our models tell us about nature’s design for humanity? Are there limits to growth? What accounts for the decrease in metabolic rate as size/mass increases? How do physical systems and networks scale in size within the confines of the Earth’s physical space? What are the universal costs associated with our cities and our lifestyles? What accounts for their resilience? What is the significance of our thirst for more power as defined by the amount of work we do over time? What can interest rates and human time preferences tell us about our relationship to nature? What role do we play in the universe’s inexorable procession towards entropy? How much time do we have left?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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79. Samuel Bowles | The Origins of Economic Man and the Moral Economy
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In Episode 18 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Samuel Bowles, about economic man and the moral economy, exploring some of the latest insights from the field of behavioral economics with insights about how incentives and prices convey information and shape perceptions of value in the economy. Dr. Bowles is a Research Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, where he heads the Behavioral Sciences Program. His studies on cultural and genetic evolution have challenged the conventional economic assumptions of an economic man motivated entirely by self-interest. The author of nearly twenty books, Samuel Bowles has most recently written The Moral Economy: Why Good Incentives Are No Substitute for Good Citizensand A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution. 

In today’s conversation, we follow the archeological record of economic man. We pursue the path towards rational expectations and utility maximization. We take the road from Aristotle, paying heed to his ethics, and to his conviction that the test of a good constitution, is a good citizenry. But, with the collapse of Rome and Europe’s descent into darkness emerge ideas of life as brutish and man, as wicked. Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan and Niccolò Machiavelli's Prince, were written to appeal to the lowest, most unimpressive motives of man's animal nature. Later, political economists like Bernard Mandeville and Adam Smith would take this notion further. They sought to harness the industries of avarice, converting man's self-interest towards the public good. The invisible hand emerged, and with it, notions of separability. Homo Sapiens existed in one realm, and economic man in another. The beneficent, moral being on the one hand, and the selfish, utility maximizing agent on the other. Laws were built upon this framework. Ideas of the marketplace were developed. Incentives and regulations were crafted, in what economists call Mechanism Design. What have we learned in the years since that have challenged the foundations of these neoclassical assumptions? What has come of rational expectations and utility maximization? What are some of the insights of behavioral economists, moral philosophers, and evolutionary psychologists that task the fitness of economic man? What types of systems can we design that are better suited towards the citizens of Aristotle’s legislator than to the aberrations of modern economic man?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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80. Robert Johnson | Political Economy, Technocracy, and the New Gilded Age
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In Episode 17 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Robert Johnson, about the political economy, inequality, and the failings of our technocratic institutions. Dr. Johnson serves as President of the Institute for New Economic Thinking and is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Global Finance Project for the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in New York. Robert Johnson served for many years as a Managing Director for George Soros at Soros Fund Management and was part of the famous team of speculators that broke the bank of England in 1992, forcing the pound out of ERM. He served as Chief Economist of the US Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of Chairman William Proxmire, and before this, as Senior Economist of the US Senate Budget Committee under the leadership of Chairman Pete Domenici.

Black Wednesday was almost 25 years ago to the day. How has global finance, international trade, foreign exchange, and financial deregulation changed the landscape of speculation in the years since? How has a decline in productivity, a collapse in marginal costs, a rise in total debt, along with an aging demographic laid the groundwork for a rise in populism? What is the role of experts, and how has faith in technocrats and academics declined in recent years? How do we defend our liberal, democratic institutions absent convincing academics, trustworthy politicians, and inspirational leaders? How do we get the money out of politics when politics is so beholden to money? How do we reform a corrupt government that is in bed with Wall Street – a government that is beholden to multinational corporations and co-mingled with industrial military companies whose very profitability is dependent on multi-billion dollar federal contracts? It is time for us to become educated on how our political economy works, because if we don’t have the knowledge to call out “the experts,” then we are powerless to affect the very changes that we seek to induce.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor: Stylianos Nicolaou

Engineer: Ignacio Lecumberi

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81. The Chinese Financial System and the Prospects for a Hard Landing in China | Anne Stevenson-Yang
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In Episode 16 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Anne Stevenson-Yang. Anne is the co-founder of J Capital Research, which conducts ground-up, primary research for institutional money managers on stocks, the Chinese economy, and the Chinese financial system. She is also the author of the recent book China Alone: China's Emergence and Potential Return to Isolation, in which she sets out her views on the Chinese economy and political system, arguing that China historically repeats a cycle of expansion and retreat.

In today’s conversation, we take a trip around the world to the land of China. Our conversation concerns itself with the contemporary changes in Chinese society that came after the death of Chairman Mao. What was life like in China before Nixon and Kissinger made their famous visit in 1971? Why did modernization and reform in China begin after 1978? Who was responsible for the opening in China? What was the role of Deng Xiaoping, and why is he remembered as "the architect” of a new brand of thinking that combined socialist ideology with pragmatic aspects of market economics - a system the Chinese call "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics?”

What changes did the Chinese experience between 1979 and 1989, during the implementation of the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping? How did these reforms culminate into the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989? What was the Chinese government’s reaction to the uprisings? The Chinese response differed significantly from the Soviet reaction to the fall of the Berlin Wall in the same year. The Chinese government decided to follow a different path after the massacres in Tiananmen Square, by turbocharging economic development. Explicit targets were set for GDP growth. There was selective liberalization of the Chinese economy, particularly in Chinese real estate. China placed a huge emphasis on building its manufacturing industries and on acquiring hard currency through exports. The Chinese financial system remained highly centralized and China's currency, the renminbi, carefully controlled. All this was used towards re-investment with an almost single-minded commitment to hitting the government's GDP targets.

Some have called the rise of China in the late 20th century a miracle. It is more appropriate to call it "the Chinese miracle." The size of the Chinese economy has increased more than 25-fold in the last 25 years. Thirty years ago, the Chinese economy measured in at less than 5% of US GDP in exchange terms (perhaps as low as 2%). By 1992, the Chinese economy was only 6% of US GDP. By 2000 China weighed in at roughly 12-15% of US GDP. Today, China boasts a Gross Domestic Product that is roughly 60% that of United States. Loan Growth in the Chinese financial system has averaged 16 percent in the last 20 years. Loan growth in China reached an all-time high of 35% percent of GDP in June of 2009, amidst the greatest economic contraction since the Great Depression. Total debt in China recently surpassed 300% of GDP. This makes the finances of Western nations like the United States, France, and the United Kingdom seem frugal by comparison. In the first 7 years since the financial crisis, bank liabilities in the Chinese financial system grew by nearly $15 trillion dollars. This is the near equivalent of the consolidated size of all US commercial banks. China has used more cement in 3 years of massive overbuilding than the U.S. employed in all of the 20th Century. Hundreds of thousands of meters of unsold residential real estate sit empty around the country. There is a massive amount of industrial overcapacity in China. Chinese ghost cities have become almost as cliche as the fake Paris', Venice, and Dubai's created within mainland China. The Chinese economy is in terrible need of a recession. But the Chinese government cannot afford the recession that it desperately needs. Nevertheless, it cannot avoid the crisis that has been building in the Chinese financial system. How will the citizens of China, its trading partners, emerging markets and developed economies react when the reckoning finally arrives. How much longer can the Chinese government continue to postpone the inevitable?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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82. Genomics, Machine Learning, and the Future of Big Data in Medicine | Eric Schadt
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In Episode 15 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Dr. Eric Schadt. Eric Schadt is founder and CEO of Sema4, as well as Dean of Precision Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. During the course of his 20-year career, Dr. Eric Schadt has built genetics and systems biology groups at Merck. He built the computational biology group at Rosetta. He has served as co-founder of Sage Bionetworks and as Chief Science Officer of Pacific Biosciences. He now serves as the founder and CEO of Sema4. He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers in leading scientific journals, and he has contributed to a number of discoveries relating to the genetic basis of common human diseases such as diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s.

In today’s conversation, we explore the information technology of biology – DNA – the world of genomics, where big data looms large. We begin by mapping the territory of the human genome and exploring the pathways of disease. We look to understand the ways in which complex genetic combinations express themselves as phenotypes such as height, bone structure, intelligence, and personality. How are these traits coded for? What are the instructions our body uses to repair a damaged cell? What blueprint does it consult before trying to grow new arteries? How does it know to regulate our appetite or when start us down the path of puberty? What happens when these instructions are damaged? How can the smallest difference in the order of life’s code make all the difference for our success, our happiness, and even our survival?

50 years have passed, between the discovery of the double-helix and the mapping of the first human genome. What progress have we made in the 15 years since? How has our ability to sequence new genomes created a paradigm shift in medicine? What is the role of big data and artificial intelligence in finding the correlations needed in order to treat malignancies and prevent diseases? What is the promise of genomics? What are the perils of big data in medicine? What stands between us and some superhuman future?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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83. The Measure of All Things: Phenomenology, Design, and the Human Experience | Christian Madsbjerg
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In Episode 14 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Christian Madsbjerg. Christian Madsbjerg is the founder of ReD Associates, a consultancy group focused on helping companies bridge the qualitative divide between themselves, their products, and their customers. The anthropologists, sociologists, economists, journalists, and designers who make up ReD employ the methods of social science to study human behavior. Instead of minimizing complexity, they embrace the non-linearities illuminated through human experience, helping companies reinvent themselves and their products from the bottom up.

In today’s conversation we examine the world from the perspective of human experience. This is what philosophers call “phenomenology.” Rather than objectify reality, we will revel in its subjectivity. Rather than discount our senses in favor of hard data, we will discount the data in favor of our experience. Experience matters. Reality is messy. Data is fuzzy. The problem of consciousness is hard. Try as we might to fit the world to our models, reality has a stubborn way of eluding even the most disciplined researcher. The most experienced traders don’t make decisions off of a spreadsheet. They use their intuition. The same intuition that you use when deciding who you can trust, if the price you are paying for something is too high, or if there’s something off about a room, or a scene, or a story you’ve just heard. To discount the authoritative wisdom that comes from lived experience is to discount the very question that has lead you down the path of inquiry. It is to discount everything that makes life meaningful. And if we want to understand the world around us – why we do what we do – then that journey must begin and end, with the human experience.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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84. Jim Grant | A History of Interest Rates and Why They Matter for Your Financial Future
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In Episode 13 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with James Grant. James Grant is a legend of the financial newsletter industry. Once the editor of the yield column in Barron’s, he would leave in 1983 to found Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, two years after the sacred risk-free rate touched just under 20%. This is a level that seems nearly impossible to fathom in today’s world of near-zero and even negative, interest rates. Having observed, reported, and opined on markets for almost 50 years, James Grant represents a bastion of experience and wisdom.

In this episode, we stop to listen. We stop to remember a time, in which the extraordinary measures and unprecedented actions of our monetary and fiscal authorities would have seemed unimaginable. We take a hard look at money. How does this shadow of wealth find its value? How is the rate of interest determined, and what is the role of financial markets in facilitating the discovery of that value? What happened, in 2008 and what are the consequences, realized and yet to be discovered, of those very extraordinary and unprecedented actions taken by governments around the world to douse the flames of deflation? What was done in order to contain the contraction and to prevent the discovery of prices? What does the future hold in 2017? What investments does one make, and where might one find opportunity in these oceans of uncertainty?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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85. Steve Keen | Can Five Hundred Years of Economic Theory Help Us Predict the Next Financial Crisis?
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In Episode 12 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with economist Steve Keen. Steve is Professor of Economics at Kingston University in London and one of a handful of economists to correctly anticipate the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. Professor Keen is also the popular author of “Debunking Economics,” as well as the timely book, “Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis?” 

In today’s conversation, we tear up the textbook of contemporary economics. We dispense with equilibrium. We embrace irrationality. We internalize economic externalities and drop assumptions about the world that do not comport with the reality of lived experience. We begin our history of economics with the physiocrats, enlightenment thinkers of the early 18th century who concerned themselves with the question: “where does stuff come from?” We move through the classical period of economics, exploring the philosophies of Adam Smith and David Ricardo. We stop to question the assumptions of the Newtonian minded neoclassicists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who saw fit to squeeze a complicated world into a set of simple models. Where did our ideas of rational preference, utility maximization, and market equilibrium come from? How have these ideas been debunked by the events, insights, and theories of the last 100 years? What was the role of John Maynard Keynes and his Keynesian revolution? Where did he and the Austrian Friedrich von Hayek meet? Where has the evolution of economics taken us since World War II? What is the role of banking in the economy? How is money created? How does it circulate? What is the role of credit? How might this almost Godly instrument of wealth creation have become a source of global instability and financial distress? Finally, Steve Keen and Demetri explore the landscape of the modern economy. They look at China, with its ghost cities and massive state-directed banking system. They explore Australia, Canada, and South Korea, as possible sources for the next financial crisis and consider possible solutions for society, as well as the individual.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor: Stylianos Nicolaou

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86. Philosophical Mathematics and the Incompleteness of Formal Systems | Ray Monk
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In Episode 11 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Ray Monk. Ray Monk is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southampton in the UK, where he lectures on logic, philosophical mathematics and the philosophy of Wittgenstein. He is presently a visiting Miller Scholar at the Santa Fe Institute. A prolific biographer, professor Monk has written books on the philosophers and mathematicians Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, as well as the theoretical physicist and director of the Los Alamos Laboratory during the Manhattan Project, Robert Oppenheimer.

In their conversation, Demetri and Ray explore the mysterious and paradoxical world of mathematics. What are the foundations of mathematics? Where did mathematics come from? How did this seemingly infinite body of knowledge arise from virtually nothing? What are Euclid’s axioms? What are Plato’s forms? What did the Pythagorean mystery cults worship? How did our notions of mathematics evolve from the time of the Ancient Greeks? What were Immanuel Kant’s insights about how we experience the phenomenal world? What did he believe about the nature of reality and the role of mathematics in structuring perception? What was Russell’s paradox and why did Bertrand Russell ultimately fail in his attempt to create a formal system of mathematics built off of logical axioms and postulates? What was it that Kurt Gödel uttered in 1931 that shattered our confidence in the very foundations of mathematics? What did his theorem of incompleteness prove about the limits of mathematical knowledge and the uncertainty of formal systems? Finally, what was the great insight of Ludwig Wittgenstein about why the paradoxes exist in mathematics? What did he have to say about the limits of language and expression? And what are the implications of all of this, for the existence of God?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor: Stylianos Nicolaou

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87. Diplomacy, Politics, and Foreign Policy. Anarchism for the 21st Century | Carne Ross
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In Episode 10 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Carne Ross. Carne is the founder of Independent Diplomat, which advises dozens of democratic countries and political groups on using diplomacy to achieve their foreign policy goals. In his former capacity as a British diplomat, Carne worked on the Middle East, the global environment, weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. He served in British embassies within Germany, Norway, Kosovo, Afghanistan and the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York, where he was Britain’s Middle East expert. Carne was also chief speechwriter to the British foreign secretary. Carne Ross resigned from the UK Foreign Service in 2004, after testifying and giving secret evidence to the UK’s first official inquiry into the Iraq war. Author of two books on world political affairs, Carne is a frequent commentator on international affairs on the BBC, NPR, CNN, Al Jazeera and elsewhere. Carne has also written for the New York Times, the Financial Times, The Nation and many other publications.

Carne helps us explore the world of modern diplomacy, from the end of the Cold War and the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, through the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, all the way to the Syrian Civil War and the rise of ISIS. We consider the limits of modern diplomacy and how national politics constrain our capacity for addressing global problems. We address the legitimacy of the state and question our relationship to authority. How much are politicians, technocrats, and global elites responsible for the populism and outrage on display in the Western world? Is there a better way forward, and what can history and technology, teach us about the possibilities for new forms of self-governance and organization in the 21st century?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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88. Sebastian Mallaby | A History of the Federal Reserve and the Chairmanship of Alan Greenspan
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In Episode 9 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas explores the history of the Federal Reserve under the chairmanship of Alan Greenspan with biographer Sebastian Mallaby. Sebastian is a writer, commentator, and chronicler of financial and economic history. He is the Paul A. Volcker senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and a contributing columnist for the Washington Post. His interests cover a wide variety of domestic and international issues, including central banks (the federal reserve), financial markets, and the intersection of economics and international relations. Some of his books include More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite, The World’s Banker, and The Man Who Knew: The Life & Times of Alan Greenspan, Winner of the 2016 Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award.

Alan Greenspan is one of the most consequential and yet, least understood figures in American history. He was a libertarian turned technocrat. He was a self-described “side-man” who, nevertheless, managed to place himself front and center during one of the most crucial periods in the remaking of American finance. His early days in politics were spent as an active supporter of the Republican Barry Goldwater. In his later years, he became a fixture in the Ford administration. Later, he took on the role as an advisor to Ronald Reagan. Alan Greenspan’s role in public policy long predates his almost 20-year tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve System. His chairmanship lasted from the crisis of 1987 all the way through to the peak of the American housing market in 2006. How responsible was he for the prosperity of the 1990s? How much is he to blame for the catastrophic, financial meltdown of 2008? Most importantly, what can the story of Alan Greenspan teach us about the limits and dangers of human intervention, foresight, and power?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou



89. Life, Death, and Rebirth: What I Found When I Lost My Mind
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In this SPECIAL EPISODE of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas plays part of a documentary about him, created by CBC Radio One’s “The Current.” The documentary is based on of an article published by Demetri dealing with his experience of, and subsequent recovery from, severe dementia and anterograde amnesia caused by a Craniopharyngioma.

Demetri is the very fortunate survivor of a brain tumor for which he underwent both surgery, as well as radiation therapy in the summer and fall of 2013. He lived with his brain tumor for four years before it began to cause him serious symptoms, most notably, dementia and anterograde amnesia. After his surgery in June of 2013, Demetri experienced an unprecedented reacquisition of memories previously thought to have been lost forever. The tumor had not disrupted the formation of new memories, but rather the retrieval process. Once the surgery removed pressure from his hippocampus and other cognitive areas of the brain, Demetri was able to reacquire and reassimilate those lost memories into his life. This documentary was originally produced by Leif Zapf-Gilje.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

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90. Combating Cyberterrorism and Cybercrime in the 21st Century | Josh Corman
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In Episode 8 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with cybersecurity expert and cyber safety advocate, Josh Corman. Josh is the founder of I am The Cavalry, an advocacy group actively engaged in addressing some of the most pressing issues of public safety and threats to human life on the Internet today. He is also the Director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council. Josh Corman is part of the 2016 Cybersecurity Task Force commissioned by the United States Congress to address the growing risk to our hospitals, medical infrastructure, and connected devices, from cyber-attacks.

Gone are the quaint, innocent days of the early Internet, with its pesky Trojan’s, Macro Viruses, RATs, slammer worms, and blaster worms. Today’s cybersecurity landscape features a wide assortment of easily accessible and robust attack tools that exploit software bugs like Shellshock and Heartbleed. This is a cybersecurity landscape littered with DDoS and PDoS attacks like the Mirai Botnet and the recently released Brickerbot. The use of ransomware tools like CryptoLocker and SamSam have become billion-dollar criminal industries. Cybercrime is estimated to cost the global economy hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars a year. Yet, we accept the losses as the simple cost of doing business. But what about when the cost of these crimes escalates from dollars and cents to flesh and blood? What are the risks to our industrial control systems? What about our aviation and emergency response infrastructure? What are the vulnerabilities in our connected devices, cars, and hospitals? The threats posed by cyber criminals, terrorists, and hackers are no longer fringe concerns. They strike at the heart of our increasingly interconnected, exposed, and vulnerable society. In this episode, we explore what to do about them. 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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91. W. Brian Arthur | Complexity Economics, Complexity Science, and Chaos Theory
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In Episode 7 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with one of the pioneers in complexity science, W. Brian Arthur. Brian Arthur has long been associated with the Santa Fe Institute, having served on its board of trustees and its board of science. He has been described by Fortune Magazine, as “one of the country’s leading economic thinkers,” and he is best known for his pioneering work on the operation of high-technology markets. He is the author of numerous papers and books, including The Nature of Technology: What it is and How It Evolves, and Complexity and the Economy, a collection of papers on economics and financial markets examined from the perspective of complexity theory.

In this episode, Brian Arthur educates us on the emerging fields of complexity science and chaos theory. The history of complexity science is replete with the works of mathematicians, physicists, philosophers, ecologists, and biologists. It is a field defined by the imperfections of the natural world. In this conversation, Demetri and Brian Arthur stray far from equilibrium. They cover the booms and the busts of Joseph Schumpeter. They examine the information-laden price signals of Friedrich Hayek. They circle the chaotic orbits of Joseph Ford. They scale the infinite fractals of Benoit Mandelbrot. Demetri asks Brian Arthur about information theory, cryptography, and quantum potentiality, while examining the mystery of why markets and life are so volatile.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor: Connor Lynch

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92. Space Warfare and the Weaponization of Outer Space | Joan Johnson-Freese
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In Episode 6 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Joan Johnson-Freese about space warfare and the weaponization of outer space. Joan Freese is a professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College. She’s been a faculty member at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies and the Air War College, which emphasizes the employment of air, space, and cyberspace in joint operations. Professor Freese has also served on the Space Studies Board of the National Academies of Science and has often testified before Congress on matters of space warfare and space security. She is the author of multiple books on space warfare and space security, among them, Heavenly Ambitions: America’s Quest to Dominate Space, The Chinese Space Program: A Mystery Within a Maze, and her latest book, Space Warfare in the 21st Century.

In this episode, we go into outer space. We don’t just stay in the low earth orbit (LEO) of the international space station, but move all the way to high (HEO), geostationary orbits (GEO) more than twenty-six thousand miles (35,786 km) above the Earth’s equator, where some of our most valuable and vulnerable satellites operate. We look at what the United States, China, and Russia are doing in the area of space warfare. We look at what our militaries are doing to weaponization outer space. We learn about ASAT’s, Kinetic Orbital Strikes, and Kinetic Kill Vehicles. We learn that any significant use of anti-satellite technologies could create a wall of space debris around earth orbit so thick, that we would be unable to launch anything into space including satellites, our space station, and any space missions to Mars and beyond for generations. Any and all satellite communications would go dark. Global distribution networks – including our food supplies, energy, and transportation – would grind to a halt. The global banking and financial system would collapse. Our communication infrastructure would be devastated. The implications of space warfare are catastrophic, and yet, the public is largely unaware of the dangers orbiting right above our heads. It’s high time we take notice.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

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93. Christopher Cole | How Do We Profit from the Unknown? Financial Volatility at the Edge of Crisis.
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In Episode 5 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Christopher Cole about political and financial volatility. Chris is the founder of Artemis Capital and the portfolio manager of the Artemis Vega Fund, which seeks to profit from periods of financial volatility, dislocation, and systemic crisis in financial markets. His core focus is systematic, quantitative, and behavioral based trading of financial volatility derivatives.

What is volatility? What accounts for the unprecedented levels of mean reversion in implied volatility that we have seen in financial markets? What accounts for volatility persistence? Demetri and Chris compare spot (historic) volatility to implied (forward) volatility. They look at volatility-of-volatility (vol-of-vol). Christopher Cole presents his opinion that modern portfolio and system rebalancing strategies actually dampen financial volatility. Demetri sees these strategies as increasing volatility in the long-term, which Chris agrees with. Christopher also makes the further point that stocks are overvalued when looked at from enterprise value to EBITDA, Case Schiller PE, Price to Book, Price to Sales, etc. He also believes that financial volatility could come from either the left or right tail of the distribution. We could have inflation or deflation, according to Christopher. His objective is to profit regardless of whether we get a move upwards or downwards in prices. What is the best way to carry volatility and go long uncertainty?

The concepts discussed in this episode may appear complicated, but they are really rather simple. What listeners need to remember is that volatility is just change. Volatility reflects uncertainty, and we live in uncertain times. This episode is about learning how to embrace this uncertainty. It is about learning how to embrace change. It is an episode about learning how to profit from risk by capitalizing on the unknown.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor: Connor Lynch

Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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94. Television History and Culture in America (1946-2009) | Television Historian Gary Edgerton
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In Episode 4 of Hidden Forces,host Demetri Kofinas speaks with famed historian of television culture, Gary Edgerton. Professor Edgerton is Dean of the College of Communication at Butler University. He has published eleven books and more than eighty book chapters, journal articles, and encyclopedia entries on a wide assortment of media and television culture topics. He is also co-editor of the Journal of Popular Film and Television. His award-winning book, The Columbia History of American Television, was named the 2008 John G. Cawelti Award winner for Outstanding Scholarly Inquiry into American Cultural Studies by the American Culture Association. 

In their conversation, Demetri and Gary discuss the history of television as a technology and storytelling medium that fundamentally transformed American society and culture from the end of World War II until the present day. They explore the ways in which the growing aspirations of Americans – their changing norms, their victories, as well as their tragedies – played themselves out on their flickering, analogue screens. They consider the various ways in which American society dealt with the tragedy of Vietnam through shows like MASHand the A-Team. They explore the coming of age story through shows like MacGyver, Nightrider, and The Wonder Years. Gary comments on the significance of protofeminist programs like I Love Lucy and later, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The two discuss Baywatchand The Cosby Show, as examples of the power of international syndication. The subject of racism in America is also discussed through the example of shows like Amos ‘n’ Andy, as well as All in the Family. Demetri and Gary also discuss some of the more technical innovations of television, including the origin of the “close-up” as a tool for aiding character development and its successful implementation in the popular soap operas of the day. Finally, Gary Edgerton provides his thoughts about how television has (and will continue) to transform itself in the digital age of the 21stcentury.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor: Connor Lynch

Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



95. Art, Finance, Technology, and the Development of the Postmodern Self | Philosopher Mark C. Taylor
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In Episode 3 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with philosopher and theologian Mark C. Taylor. Mark is Chair of the Department of Religion and Co-Director of the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life. A leading figure in debates about postmodernism, Taylor has written on topics ranging from philosophy, religion, literature, art and architecture to education, media, science, technology and economics. He has authored 30 books, among which include Journeys to Selfhood: Hegel and Kierkegaard, About Religion: Economies of Faith in Virtual Culture, Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World without Redemption, The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture, and Speed Limits: Where Time Went and Why We Have So Little Left.

In this episode, we cover topics in religion, finance, art, and technology. Most importantly, we take this journey as individuals, exploring the paths blazed for us by Martin Luther and his Protestant Reformation. We build on the works of Ockham and Thomas Aquinas. We learn about economic philosophers like Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek, who addressed the problems of non-linearity, information networks, and how complex systems create order from chaos. We look at how technology, for all its benefits, still leaves something to be desired. Perhaps this stems from a fundamental contradiction in its application to the human experience. Lastly, we ask, “what is it all for? What does it all mean? Where are we going, and why the great hurry?”

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor: Connor Lynch

Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod



96. Jim Rickards | Can Complexity Science, Bayesian Inference Theory, and History Help Predict the Next Financial Crisis?
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In Episode 2 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with New York Times bestselling author and financial commentator, Jim Rickards. Jim is the author of multiple New York Times bestsellers including The Death of MoneyCurrency Wars, and The New Case For Gold. His latest book is The Road To Ruin: The Global Elites' Secret Plan for the Next Financial Crisis. He is the editor of the Strategic Intelligence newsletter and a member of the advisory board of the Center for Financial Economics at Johns Hopkins. He's an adviser to the Department of Defense and the U.S. intelligence community on international economics and financial threats and served as a facilitator of the first-ever financial war games conducted by the Pentagon.

Jim and Demetri explore financial history stretching back to some of the earliest economic philosophers. They recall the deregulation of US financial system from the time of Bretton Woods, through the financial panics in Asia in the late 1990s to the Financial Crisis of 2008. Jim Rickards address one of the economics professions' greatest weaknesses, namely, the desperate need for better modeling. What can complexity theory, Bayesian analysis, and behavioral psychology tell us about our world? How can these theories help improve or replace our broken models? The two end with projections about the future. Jim gives his rationale for why he believes the next crisis will be larger and could run deeper than what any of us might imagine. 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor: Connor Lynch

Engineering: Ignacio Lecumberri

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @hiddenforcespod



97. How will Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Automation Impact the Future of Work? | David Kirkpatrick
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In Episode 1 of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with journalist and tech guru David Kirkpatrick. David is the author of “The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World," and the founder of Techonomy Media, which produces some of the best conferences at the intersection of technology, business, academia, and government. David is also a contributing editor to Bloomberg Television and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Nothing is off the table in this conversation. In fact, we run the table. In our inaugural episode of Hidden Forces, We take listeners on a whirlwind technological tour of the 21stcentury. Demetri and David explore some of the most pressing challenges in artificial intelligence, the future of work, the surveillance state, cyber-attacks, blockchain technology, black box algorithms, etc. Demetri also asks David if he thinks we might be living in a simulation. You won’t want to miss that one!

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor: Connor Lynch

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @hiddenforcespod



98. Hidden Forces Launch Trailer
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What drives the changes we see in the world? What are the underlying forces that influence our lives? What causes markets to rise and fall? Why does life sometimes imitate art? Why do we seem to disagree more than ever before in our politics? What determines what you see on Facebook? What makes something beautiful?

My name is Demetri Kofinas, and I've spent the better part of my life asking these questions. I built my career in media obsessing over them. For me, this has always been a quest to discover the true nature of my world, where I come from and where I’m going. This is about uncovering and understanding the mystery of a world that is so rich and beautiful in its design and function, that to not wonder at its magnificence is to miss something profound.

If you also find yourself asking these questions or if they inspire you to wonder more about the reality you are living in, about where things come from, how they came to be, how they work and what it all means for you, then this is the show for you.

Subscribe now and be the first to hear when we launch.

https://www.hiddenforces.io