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Rank #87 in Investing category

Business
Technology
Investing

Hidden Forces

Updated 14 days ago

Rank #87 in Investing category

Business
Technology
Investing
Read more

Demetri Kofinas interviews some of the most brilliant minds in science, technology, finance, politics, and culture as he uncovers the hidden forces driving the most powerful changes we see in the world.

Read more

Demetri Kofinas interviews some of the most brilliant minds in science, technology, finance, politics, and culture as he uncovers the hidden forces driving the most powerful changes we see in the world.

iTunes Ratings

643 Ratings
Average Ratings
598
22
4
9
10

This is a really high quality podcast

By DudeOnRun - Jun 01 2020
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He clearly works hard, gets awesome guests and asks substantial questions. Bravo

Intelligent

By polchinski4 - May 28 2020
Read more
If you’re smart, then you will like this

iTunes Ratings

643 Ratings
Average Ratings
598
22
4
9
10

This is a really high quality podcast

By DudeOnRun - Jun 01 2020
Read more
He clearly works hard, gets awesome guests and asks substantial questions. Bravo

Intelligent

By polchinski4 - May 28 2020
Read more
If you’re smart, then you will like this

Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

Cover image of Hidden Forces

Hidden Forces

Latest release on Jan 18, 2021

Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 14 days ago

Rank #1: 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

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

Feb 25 2019

1hr 6mins

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Rank #2: Raoul Pal | The Fourth Turning: Generational Theory and the Future of Global Money

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In Episode 96 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with investor and co-founder of Real Vision, Raoul Pal about the future of global money in a multi-polar world, including a discussion about Bitcoin, Libra, debt, demographics, and much more.

The inspiration for this conversation derives from a theme captured in William Strauss and Neil Howe's Generational Theory, also known as the Fourth Turning, where the authors describe a four-stage cycle of social moods associated with recurring generational archetypes, which they call "turnings.” These include: "The High", "The Awakening", "The Unraveling," and "The Crisis." The question we explore in this conversation is: “are we at the fourth turning, and if so, what does this mean for the type of change we can expect to see in the coming decades?” 

All of this leads to a discussion about digital currency in a multi-polar world where the power of governments to maintain the global order is diminished and where corporations and the private sector may gain an opening to provide alternative forms of money in support of global trade and commerce. Where does bitcoin fit in this world? What about alternative protocols and currencies? Will governments even allow them? Can they stop them or will they welcome them and does this point the way towards a path that will lead inexorably towards truly global money?

As always, subscribers to our Hidden Forces Patreon page can access the overtime to this week’s episode, which includes a continuation of our conversation about digital currencies, but also a discussion about central bank policy at the Fed, the ECB, and the BOJ, as well as a discussion about economic indicators and what Raoul relies on most for his own projections about where we are in the business cycle.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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

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

Jul 29 2019

1hr 3mins

Play

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Rank #3: 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

Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Mar 26 2018

1hr 23mins

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Rank #4: Kyle Bass | The Present Danger: America, China, and the Second Cold War

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In Episode 110 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Chief Investment Officer of Hayman Capital Management and founding member of the “Committee on the Present Danger: China,” about the gathering threat posed to Western, liberal democracies and open societies by the Chinese Communist Party. Kyle explains how the CCP and its state champions have been using US capital markets to fund the development of China’s armed forces, the threats posed by a Chinese operated 5G network, as well as concerns about the acquisition and use of Americans’ genomic data by the Chinese government. Kyle also goes into detail about his thesis on Hong Kong, its peg to the USD, as well as the fragility of its banking system. Additional topics include the “reeducation camps” and reports of organ harvesting in Xinjiang, the Chinese social credit system, the Federal Reserve Repo market, and Kyle’s outlook for the macroeconomy. 

The second part of this discussion is available to Hidden Forces Patreon subscribers. You can access that part of the conversation, as well as the rundown and transcript to this week’s episode by subscribing to one of our three content tiers. All subscribers also gain access to our overtime feed, which can be easily be added to your favorite podcast application.

Hidden Forces is listener funded. We rely on your support to keep the program free of corporate sponsors.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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

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

Nov 18 2019

55mins

Play

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Rank #5: 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

Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Nov 27 2017

1hr 1min

Play

Rank #6: 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

Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Apr 24 2017

22mins

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Rank #7: 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

Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Apr 10 2017

1hr 38mins

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Rank #8: 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

Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

May 07 2018

56mins

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Rank #9: Mike Green | The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Rise of Passive Investing & the Fall of the Free Market

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In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with investor Mike Green. Mike Green most recently served as the discretionary portfolio manager for Thiel Macro, LLC, an investment firm that manages the personal capital of Peter Thiel. He's been a student of markets, and market structure in particular, for nearly 30 years. His research into and analysis of the shift from actively managed portfolios and investment funds to systematic passive investment strategies has been presented to the Federal Reserve, the BIS, the IMF and numerous other industry groups and associations. His intention has been to alert regulators to the clear and present danger that he feels these strategies pose to the stability and viability of global capital markets.

It is important to note that while the post-2008 period has seen a flourishing of more complex, behavioral approaches to economics that reject notions of equilibrium and mean-reversion, there has simultaneously been a doubling down among investors on passive strategies that see markets as stochastically predictable, efficient, and always mean-reverting. These approaches do not incorporate new information like price data or value metrics in their transaction functions. Most importantly, they do not incorporate the impact of their own buying or selling behavior. Indeed, according to Mike Green, “the incentive of these target funds, from a regulatory and lobbying standpoint, is to demonstrate that they don’t exist.” 

The forces of automation driven by our diminishingly available brain space, along with the need for generating higher yield seem to have overwhelmed investors’ understandings about how the world actually works. This imperative to deliver yield above what the market can bear on a reasonably, risk-reward basis, combined with the cognitive overload that investors and clients are experiencing in their daily lives may be leading us down a path of self-destruction.

This unease is captured in what Mike Green calls "the uncanny valley," a term most closely associated with the robotics design space. It is used to describe the aesthetic confusion one feels while encountering an android whose human resemblance is noticeably disturbing. Similarly, in markets today, many of us know that something is wrong but can't quite put our finger on what it is. Indeed, some of the best active managers in the business have given up trying to figure it out.

The purpose of today’s episode is to help shed light on the source of this unease and to set the foundation for the second part of our conversation, which has been made available to Patreon Audiophile, Autodidact, and Super Nerd subscribers. In the overtime, Demetri drills into the specifics of Mike’s thesis regarding the implications of passive investment strategies that have ballooned in popularity over the last 25 years making up forty-seven and twenty-seven percent respectively of assets under management in equities and bond funds at the end of 2018 – up from less than five percent in 1995. Mike also shares information about how he and his partners are managing their clients’ portfolios in order to mitigate the risks posed by these structural changes, as well as how they’ve sought to monetize the opportunities that these same flows represent.  

You can access the second part of today’s conversation, along with the transcript and rundown through the Hidden Forces Patreon Page. All subscribers are granted access to our overtime feed, which can be easily added to your favorite podcast application.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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

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

Dec 16 2019

1hr 12mins

Play

Rank #10: 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

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

Oct 02 2018

1hr 8mins

Play

Rank #11: David Weinberger | Complex Systems, Inexplicable Models, and the Future of Prediction

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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

May 20 2019

1hr

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Rank #12: Peter Zeihan | Disunited Nations: The Scramble for Power in an Ungoverned World

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In Episode 124 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Peter Zeihan, a geopolitical strategist who combines an expert understanding of demography, economics, energy, politics, technology, and security to help his clients prepare for an uncertain future. Before founding his own strategy firm, Peter helped develop the analytical models for Stratfor, one of the world’s premier private intelligence companies. He’s also a critically-acclaimed author whose first two books — The Accidental Superpower and The Absent Superpower — have been recommended by Mitt Romney, Fareed Zakaria and Ian Bremmer. His latest book, “Disunited Nations: The Scramble for Power in an Ungoverned World,” hits bookstores tomorrow.

This is one of the most educational conversations that we have ever recorded on Hidden Forces. The episode is meant to provide you with a comprehensive overview of Peter Zeihan’s work and outlook on the subjects of foreign affairs, economics, and geopolitics. The goal is to help you understand just how abnormal our world has been for the last 70 years and what a return to a more “normal world” is going to look like. America’s withdrawal from the world has consequences for governments, business people, retirees, and especially for anyone who is living or invested in countries that have been the primary beneficiaries of the American lead international Order of the past three generations.

In the first hour, Peter lays the foundation for what this new world is going to look like, how it differs from the world we’ve inhabited since the end of World War Two, and what sorts of forces will be driving the changes that we can expect to experience over the next few decades. Towards the end of the episode we start to get into specific countries and regions, exploring the types of changes that we can expect to see economically, politically, geographically, and militarily in the not-too-distant future. 

The future that Peter lays out is one of both risk and opportunity, and we explore many of these opportunities in the second half of this episode, including those dealing with Turkey, Argentina, and perhaps, most importantly, the United States and what Americans and their nation’s regional partners can expect to experience in the scramble for security, resources, and power in the world to come.

You can access the second hour, as well as the transcript and rundown to this week’s episode through the Hidden Forces Patreon Page. All subscribers also gain access to our overtime feed, which can be easily added to your favorite podcast application. 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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

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

Mar 02 2020

1hr 7mins

Play

Rank #13: 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

Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Oct 23 2017

1hr 22mins

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Rank #14: 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

Apr 09 2018

1hr 4mins

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Rank #15: 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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Jan 07 2019

1hr 3mins

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Rank #16: 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

Apr 15 2019

1hr 17mins

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Rank #17: 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

Feb 12 2018

1hr 6mins

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Rank #18: 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

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

Dec 04 2018

1hr 7mins

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Rank #19: 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

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

Sep 04 2018

1hr 1min

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Rank #20: 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

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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Feb 18 2019

1hr 21mins

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