Below are some of my favorite resources describing the build-up to the crash of 2020. Individually and together, they suggest what investors and citizens should know to make sound financial, personal, and moral decisions in the years ahead.

Capitalism (1600-2020)

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, Nancy Isenberg
Caste, Isabel Wilkerson
The Case for Reparations, Ta-Nehisi Coates
The 1619 Project, NY Times
Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher
Piketty’s ‘Capital in the 21st Century’: An Introduction, Stephan Kaufmann and Ingo Stutzle
From Dawn to Decadence, Jacques Barzun

Capitalism, despite its many benefits, is inherently exploitive. Historically, it has always depended on genocide, slavery, war, and depletion of natural resources. Capitalism functions like a living organism, an addiction, or a crash-only software program. For capitalism to be viable, society and government must keep it in check.

Neoliberalism (1970s-2020)

The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy, Dani Rodrik
The Big Short, Michael Lewis
Hypernormalisation 2016, Adam Curtis
Requiem for the American Dream, Noam Chomsky
Literary Criticism: A Concise Political History, Joseph North
Crowds and Party, Jodi Dean
Farewell, neoliberalism: An interview with Wolfgang Streeck, Kingsreview

Neoliberalism was an experiment to see if aggressive globalization, financialization, and the willful destruction of the social safety net would lead to prosperity. It instead destroyed living standards across the globe to favor an elite financial class. The rise of identity politics and the social victories of minority groups during this period partially obscured the extent of the damage.

The California ideology (1990s-2020)

The ‘logic’ of fake news, Philip Mirowski
Platform Capitalism, Nick Srnicek
Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear, Ted Chiang
The Ecology of Attention, Yves Citton
Two-Faced: The culture of platform capitalism, Daniel Joseph
Malware is choking the world, Venkat Rao
The Rise of the Thought Leader, David Sessions
Tech and the Fake Market Tactic, Anil Dash
Freedom isn’t free, Wendy Liu
Cyber-Proletariat: Global Labour in the Digital Vortex, Nick Dyer-Witheford
The Internet of Women, Moira Weigel
How To Kill Your Tech Industry, Marie Hicks
The New Octopus, K. Sabeel Rahman
I Was The Head of Google’s International Relations, Ross LaJeunesse
Gesamtkunstwerk, Mark Gibson

The Californian ideology was a seductive conviction that networked technologies generally, and social media specifically, could foster prosperity outside of the consumerist paradigm. For the most part, these technologies instead have fueled and accelerated neoliberalism.

The everything bubble (2016-2020)

The Myth of Diversification: Risk Factors vs. Asset Classes, Sebastien Page
Average Stock Market Returns Aren’t Average, Alex Tabarrok
There They Go Again… Again, Howard Marks (July 2017)
Yet Again, Howard Marks (September 2017)
The Three-Body Problem, Ben Hunt (December 2017)
One Hundred Years, Mark Gibson (November 2017)
The Global Economy is Partying Like it’s 2008, Desmond Lachman
The Economy Is Humming. Bankers Are Cheering. What Could Go Wrong?, Landon Thomas
The ‘everything bubble’ is about to burst, but is the world prepared?, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The Stock Market is Shrinking…, Jeff Sommer, NYT (August 2018)
What Happens to Startups in the Next Recession?, John Loeber
How Western Civilization Could Collapse, Rachel Nuwer
The Seven Worst Words in the World, Howard Marks (September 2018)
China’s Empire of Money is Reshaping Global Trade, Bloomberg
Predicting the Future of Venture Capital, Neil Devani (November 2018)
Money Machines: An Interview with an Anonymous Algorithmic Trader, Logic Magazine
Nothing Ventured, Nick Serpe

The bubble bursts (2019-2020)

Rapid build-up (Early 2019)

Slowbalisation, The Economist (January 2019)
Weirding Diary 1, Venkat Rao (January 2019)
Growing up, Mark Gibson (April 2019)
U.S. Officials Meet in Secret Over Junk-Loan Frenzy, Bradley Keoun (June 2019)
Will the Global Debt Bomb Explode Again?, Robert J. Samuelson (July 2019)
Why Stocks Are Hitting Record Highs as Economic Fears Rise, Stephen Grocer (July 2019)
We’re All MMT’ers Now, Ben Hunt (July 2019)
The Stock Buy-Back Swindle, Jeremy Useem (August 2019)
How Shrinkflation is Playing Havoc with Economists’ Models, The Economist (August 2019)
More Than Half of All Stock Buybacks Are Now Financed by Debt, Larry Light (August 2019)
Banks Are Paying People to Borrow Money. That’s Alarming News…, David J. Lynch (August 2019)

Alarm bells and weird signals (Late 2019 and early 2020)

Companies Securitize Everything As Investors Reach For Yield, Claire Boston (August 2019)
The WeWork IPO, Ben Thompson (August 2019)
Weirding Diary 10, Venkat Rao (September 2019)
On the Great Jihad and other possible futures, Epsilon Theory (September 2019)
A Crack Just Emerged In the Financial Markets…, Matt Egan (September 2019)
The Right Price of Money, Ben Hunt (September 2019)
Neither, and New: Lessons from Uber and Vision Fund, Ben Thompson (September 2019)
Why the Repo Market $400B Bailout is So Unnerving, Alexander Saeedy (October 2019)
The Rich Really Do Pay Lower Taxes Than You, David Leonhardt (October 2019)
World Economy Is Sleepwalking Into a New Financial Crisis, Warns Mervyn King, Larry Elliott (October 2019)
Yeah, It’s Still Water, Ben Hunt (October 2019)
America’s Public-Sector Pension Schemes are Trillions of Dollars Short, The Economist (November 2019)
A Cycle of Addiction, Peter Cecchini (November 2019)
Against Economics, David Graeber (December 2019)
Debt is Coming, Alex Danco (January 2020)
Ireland’s Shock Poll Result was a Vote Against the Success of Globalization, Fintan O’Toole (February 2020)
Indie Fragility, Venkatesh Rao (February 2020)
The Best Explanation of Middle-Class Finances You’ll Ever See, Christopher Ingraham (February 2020)

COVID-19 outbreak (March 2020)

Market Meltdowns, Fred Wilson (March 2020)

Coronavirus: The Black Swan of 2020, Sequoia Capital (March 2020)
Fed Rates at 0% Now Seen Within Months…, Bloomberg (March 2020)
Something’s Wrong: Stock Sell-Off Exposes Weak Links in Financial System, Uri Berliner (March 2020)
Coronavirus kills its first democracy, Ishaan Tharoor (March 2020) 
Startups are pummeled in the ‘Great Unwinding,’ Erin Griffith (April 2020)

The economy at the start of 2020, even before the COVID-19 outbreak, was due for both cyclic and structural corrections. Manipulated interest rates, a sociopathic tax bill in the US, the specter of a “bail-in” should financial institutions crash again, the lack of traditional asset diversification, rising geopolitical tensions, and the shredding of the biome and social fabric had pushed the economy into a sub-critical state. The COVID-19 outbreak popped the “everything bubble” and very likely took  what remained of neoliberalism with it. The story of life and business during and after COVID-19 continues on our new resource page, The Great Work

After neoliberalism (2020+)

PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future, Paul Mason
Digital Proudhonism, Gavin Mueller
How Will Capitalism End?, Wolfgang Streek
Radical Markets, Eric A. Posner and E. Glen Weyl
Walkaway, Cory Doctorow
Investing Without People, Howard Marks (June 2018)
Jeremy Rifkin on How to Manage a Future of Abundance, Art Kleiner and Juliette Powell
Are We on the Verge of a New Golden Age?, Carlota Perez, Leo Johnson, and Art Kleiner
Whose Side Are We On? Liberalism and Socialism Are Not the Same, Wolfgang Streeck
Universal Basic Income is Silicon Valley’s Latest Scam, Douglas Rushkoff
Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work, Nick Srnicek & Alex Williams
The Courage of Hopelessness, Slavoj Žižek
Inside the Omidyar Network…, David Callahan
The Factory is Alive, Christina Agapakis and Natsai Audrey Chieza

The resources above inspire me. They disagree with each other about what’s worthy, but they provide some tentative answers about what might be next, or should be next. Imagining a new world is a vital part of bringing it to life.

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