Saturday, 30 November 2019

Publications, November

November is over  Almost Christmas! This month saw lots of work with my editing service, but I still managed to churn out some interesting stuff:

Notes On Liberty: (see all my posts here)
  • [1] 'You're Not Worth My Time', where I offered some opportunity-cost thoughts on the idea that the perspectives and experiences of random people I meet are valuable. I estimated that I have some 60,000 hours left in life for curious intellectual endeavours: given that the full treasure trove of humanity's work on philosophy, economics, or literature, I simply don't think your half-drunken rant about "bankers", "inequality" or "climate change" is going to cut it. Your unique "perspective" is probably not worth my time. 
  • [2] 'Intellectuals You Should Know About', a piece long in the making, where I originally just wanted to point out one or two intellectuals whose work I believe most people would benefit from – and then it spiralled out of control, ending with 11 different well-known and wonderful writers. Brandon's response was appropriate and added some people I also admire ("why didn't I think of them?!"). If you're wondering what to read for the holidays (or books to gift your loved ones), these two overview posts contain some tips. 
American Institute for Economic Research (all my pieces here)
  • [3] 'The Real Reason Nobody Takes Environmental Activists Seriously', this piece has everything: fire and fury, bitterness, hypocrites  and turtles!
  • [4] 'What's the Difference Between Michael Burry and Alexander Fordyce?', a follow-up to 'If You Are Early, You Are Wrong' where I elaborate what I mean by *being wrong in financial markets*. I do this by comparing the famous Big Short investor Michael Burry with the very unknown Scottish 18th century investor and banker Alexander Fordyce. They both predicted similar things and put their money behind their conviction. Both were right on paper, but only one escaped hailed as a successful forecaster and investor. 
    • Re-shared at RealClearMarkets, for what I think is my eight appearance on this great site. 
    • Strange comment/twist by Dan Hugger
  • [5] 'Why We Are Getting More For Less', where I review Andrew McAfee's great book More From Less. Completely contrary to common knowledge, economic growth does not rely on us extracting more and more resources from the planet. Indeed, for the past twenty years, the U.S. and UK and most European countries have decoupled their use of resources from their economic growth; our economies keep growing, but our use of materials, metals, agricultural land etc is falling. Surprise! Capitalism is not "wrecking the planet"; it's saving it. 
  • [6] 'Don't Hand Over Your Money to Uncompetitive Banks', which included some anecdotal stuff on how high-street banks screw you over  not only on the up-front fees, but by using seriously uncompetitive rates when exchanging your funds into a different currency. There are solutions.
  • [7] 'The Great Redistribution: Who Benefits from Ruthless Capitalism?', a pretty cool piece where I emphasized three recent instances in which low-interest rate policies and ruthless capitalists benefits consumers  and almost exclusively consumers as these firms happily run their businesses at a loss: the much-lamented venture cap sector, with the plethora of unicorns (most of which are operated at a loss); the airline Norwegian's recent low-cost offering; and the online broker Charles Schwab's recent move to zero-commission stock trading. What these ruthlessly competitive capitalists do is handing over wealth and resources to us consumers. Thank you, kindly!
  • [8] 'An Unexpected Climate Hero: Equity Markets', my reading of EBRC economist Ralph De Haas and ECB economist Alexander Popov's article working paper 'Finance and Carbon Emission'. It turns out that economies financed by relatively more equity than debt are associated with lower per-capita CO2 emissions. Cheekily summarized: stock markets are climate heroes. 
    Mises Institute (see all my pieces here)
    • [9] 'Why Behavioral Economics Isn't Very Useful', where I outlined two of my objections to behavioral econ: dressing up the very equation you just objected to, but added a mere variable ("inequality aversion") and drawing conclusions on universal human behavior based on artificial experiments or bait-and-switch techniques that compare apples and oranges
    • [10] 'When Nassim Taleb Channels Ludwig von Mises', another one of those Twitter-interactions that turn into an actual article; when reading Taleb I kept being reminded of Mises - the unapologetic, almost ruthlessly logical, treatment of various topics; the beautiful prose, the profound topics. Very similar. Though, I discuss instances of how Taleb is similar to Mises rather than when. 
    • [11] 'Some Fundamental Differences Between Ludwig von Mises and Nassim Taleb', the necessary counterpart to [10]: Taleb is clearly not a Misesian, and the difference between them are as important as the similarities. 
    Finally blowing that old record number of publications/months out of the water! Yes! Let's see what December has in store.

    Thursday, 31 October 2019

    Publications, October

    Following last month's exciting change of lifestyle (I launched my freelancing business full-time  check it out!), October has been the first real month of trying my wings. So far, they seem to work.

    Here are all the publications:

    Notes On Liberty: (see all my posts here)
    American Institute for Economic Research (all my pieces here)
    • [3] 'The Mythology of Cantillon Effects', a piece, long in the making. For a while, Austrians' emphasis on so-called "Cantillon effects" (= monetary redistribution) has bothered me a while. I finally found enough time to go through Cantillon's original writing. It turns out not only does every monetary system have Cantillon effects, but Cantillon himself was analyzing an increased money supply coming from gold mines  not money-printing central banks. 
    • [4] 'Gresham's Law Is Not the Reason for the Corruption of Democracy', where I discussed the actual origin of Gresham's Law and the real meaning (no, it doesn't mean anything 'bad' drives out anything 'good'). 
    • [5] 'Yield Curve Inversions Don't Improve Investment Outcomes', a piece that I could have audaciously named "Fama-French vs Harvey"  but then only literature-savvy financial economists would have gotten it. I reported the results that esteemed financial economists (one of which a Nobel Laureate) Eugene Fama and Kenneth French found while investigating the infamously scary inversions of the yield curve: negative relative returns, for 1-, 2-, 3- and 5-year across close to all strategies. In plain English: even if yield curve inversions predict recessions (questionable), switching from stocks to bonds earns you lower returns than simply staying invested in stocks. There is no outperformance by obeying yield curve inversions. 
    • [6] 'The Limits to Hostile Takeovers' So-called Hostile "take-overs" get a bad rap; greedy capitalist investors buy up a company and do all kinds of horrible things to it (like take it apart and sell its subdivisions!), somehow "obviously" destroying wealth in the process. If that's true, I always wondered, why would anybody ever sell? 
    • [7] 'The Rise of Edinburgh, Financial Empire', where I (rather favourably) reviewed Ray Perman's latest book, The Rise and Fall of the City of Money. How could I not like it, 336 pages filled with Scottish financial history?! Banks, insurance companies, financial crises, colourful characters and easy prose. Highly recommended for anyone wanted to get a fairly comprehensive outline of Scottish banks, the 1690s to the present.
    Mises Institute (see all my pieces here)
    On par with my July record of 9 publications in a month, October was as good as can be expected considering the time I spent on editing and proofreading. Next month is going to blow that record out of the water!

    Monday, 30 September 2019

    Publications, September

    September was filled with interesting topics (Finance-Finance-Finance-Climate-Monetary History, which pretty much sums up my intellectual life) and at least one interesting development: I have now launched my freelancing business full-time!

    In addition to my writing, I offer copyediting services, proofreading and research assistance. I'm on all the major sites (Fiverr, UpWork, Freelancer) but the easiest way to get in touch with me is to drop me a line at or reach out on Twitter (or contribute to my work via Buy Me a Coffee). All things finance, banking, and money – research reports, blogs or dissertation and manuscripts for journal articles, I'm your guy.

    Despite all the editing work I did this month, I managed the following publications:

    Notes On Liberty: (see all my posts here)
    American Institute for Economic Research (all my pieces here)
    Mises Institute (see all my pieces here)
    While 6 publications is less than the July record of 9, it's still decent all things considered. Overall, a pretty successful month!

    Saturday, 31 August 2019

    Publications, August

    August was an intense and heavily concentrated month all writings this month at AIER and Notes On Liberty. Almost exclusively financial history, money and bitcoin!

    Notes On Liberty: (see all my posts here)
    • [1] 'On Translating Earnings From the Past', I illustrated the troubles all economists and economic historians are faced with: how do we show how much a certain sum (income, wage, price) was really worth in the past? is a great resource, but be aware of what you're comparing and getting at. 
    • I started a new series that I manage at Notes, 'Financial History to the Rescue', where I attempt to show how a lot of monetary writing on bitcoin does a very poor job in its generalized claims for monetary change. Not to mention erroneously invoking monetary/financial history. The impetus came from the very inspirational debate between Saifedean Ammous and George Selgin at the Soho Forum at the beginning of this month. A few days after the debate, the deep dark corner of the cryptosphere descended upon me. That was fun. Two pieces on Notes: 
    American Institute for Economic Research (all my pieces here)
    Overall, a pretty successful months! It seems like September has some pretty exciting things in store, which I'm definitely looking forward to.

    Wednesday, 31 July 2019

    Publications, July

    July was busy pero busy! 3-weeks conference touring across the U.S. and so writing has been somewhat on the back burner. Fortunately, a lot of left-over writing was published this month and so made up for the dearth of production. Also, my pre-Harwood Graduate Colloquium reading summaries have all been comming out at AIER, so in total there's been a bunch of Joakim-esque stuff.

    But the most exciting development was how my 'Mr. Darcy's Ten Thousand a Year' keeps reaping its rewards. Not only did I get tons of good feedback, mentions in various blogs and a re-publication in the Mexican magazine Letras Libres but it was recently picked up by HackerNews (of all places!) which drove a ton of people to read it.

    Adam Smith Institute: (all my pieces here)
    Notes On Liberty: (see all my posts here)
      American Institute for Economic Research (all my pieces here)
    Mises Institute (all my pieces here)
    Nine articles in a month is, all things considered, pretty decent work. Some of that, however, is simply overflow from June. Nevertheless, we'll see what the future has in store. 

    Sunday, 30 June 2019

    Publications, June

    June was both an eventful month and a rather slow month. On the upside, I saw my first publication for the ASI, hopefully just the first of many. Regretably, I didn't put out as many pieces as I had previous months - it's quality, not quantity, ok? In my defense, I probably wrote as many pieces as I usually do, and so there's a bunch in the pipeline spilling over into July.

    Here's the summary: 

    Adam Smith Institute: (all my pieces here)
    Notes On Liberty: (see all my posts here)
      American Institute for Economic Research (all my pieces here)
    Mises Institute (all my pieces here)
    I'm looking forward to the month of July, filled with conferences, exciting events and lots of more writing!

    Friday, 31 May 2019

    Publications, May

    May has been an interesting and an altogether decent month. My Mr. Darcy piece got translated into Spanish and published in the Mexican magazine  Letras Libres; together with my other Financial Instrument piece from April, it remains the most read piece on Notes for the last month admittedly during two rather slow months among my fellow Note-writers.

    Notes On Liberty: (see all my posts here)

    American Institute for Economic Research (all my pieces here)
    Mises Institute (all my pieces here)

    Thursday, 16 May 2019

    Publications, March-April

    Notes On Liberty:

    (see all my posts here)
    I had a splendid month on Notes (especially April), where 3 of my 4 articles were the most read for the months; my Mr. Darcy piece even hit a #7 (and climbing!) over the last year.
    • [3] 'Mr. Darcy's Ten Thousand a Year', one of my favourite pieces of all time illustrating the 18th and 19th century use of financial planning as seen through Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice
    • [4] 'Two Financial Instruments that made the Modern World', a kind of follow-up to my Mr. Darcy piece where I illustrated exactly how Bills of Exchange worked and how money was moved from London to Amsterdam via netting of outstanding merchant credits. The piece hasn't been picked up anywhere (as far as I know...?), but at least I received tons of praise on Twitter 
    • [5] 'A Short Note on Fraudulent Banking', a little entry into the FRB=Fraud debate where I responded to erroneous counter-arguments to what I (mistakenly) thought were pretty original points of my own. 

    American Institute for Economic Research

    (all my pieces here)
    • [6] 'Safe Banks Are Probably Not What You Want', another Joakim-classic: teaching economics (oh, well - finance) through the use of popculture: this time through the movie Margin Call. One of the most read articles on AIER that week.
    • [7] 'Yes, You Can Sell What You Do Not Own', preceeding the 'Short Note' piece above, I laid out two well-established phenomena (insurance + airline overbooking) that effectively functions as fractional reserve banking in the real economy.

    Mises Institute

    (all my posts here)

    Wednesday, 27 February 2019

    Publications, February

    Notes On Liberty: (see all my posts here)

    American Institute for Economic Research (

    Mises Institute (, all my posts here)

    Friday, 26 January 2018

    This Time Is Different - But Only When I Want It To Be

    "This time is different" is an infamous saying at the top of a bull market, where whatever is currently hot and exciting is believed to be completely different from what went before it: old-school valuations no longer apply, old-school metrics are the wrong standard to compare against etc. These kinds of beliefs can be found in most (financial) manias throughout history. Let me now draw a connection to an often unrelated topic, Fear of Automation to illustrate the madness most people seem absorbed by. 

    Thursday, 14 December 2017

    Whenever People Say 'Unsustainable'

    There are many words in the field of economics, economic history and their associated political/philosophical discourse that make my "rant-alarm" go off. And by rant-alarm, I mean the irresistable urge to argue, to expose this person's mistaken thinking and/or ridicule his/her insane ideas (which, by the way, almost always happen to end with "and the state should tax/regulate/ban/invade...") Some prime example here are climate change, rationality, resources, 'neoclassical' economics (or neoliberal anything, my God!) investment – and more recently housing bubbles and bitcoin.

    Sunday, 10 December 2017

    Innovation, Intangibles and a Farewell to Nostalgia

    Yesterday I attended the Adam Smith Institute Forum 2017 in London, a welcome burst of exciting energy and interesting ideas. A few hundred enthusiastic young souls, curious about the ASI, progress and of course the speakers themselves, gathered for an intense 8 hours of lectures, debates, panels and discussions. What makes the ASI Forum distinct is how it intentionally tries to keep speeches short (Ted-Talk style 10-15 minutes) and then lumps often-quite different speakers together for a panel section, where questions came from the lively twitter-feed (#ASIForum, and we managed to trend in London for a while). Here's a brief summary of three speakers and the fruitful discussions they provoked (of course, there were tons more, leaving my brain somewhat exhausted and overwhelmed).

    Monday, 4 December 2017

    Some Doubts on the Bitcoin Mania

    Summary of article 2017-12-02 (Swedish summary available here). Apologies for talking about what everyone else is talking about these days  including random students, grandma and taxi-drivers (always a sure-fire indicator)

    Part of my charm is my skeptical-10th-man-negative-nellie attitude. I enjoy telling people they are wrong; what the substantive dispute is matters less. In terms of the Bitcoin hype (revolution, rally, mania, bubble, whatever your term of preference is...) that means remaining skeptical and critical. Having a background in the field of economics that seriously concern itself (read: obsessed) about money, monetary thinking and the meaning of transactions makes it easier both to embrance and to reject Bitcoin; it allows you to see its potential and its beauty, and it makes it utterly clear what its current failures are.

    Tuesday, 14 November 2017

    The Myth of the 'Social'

    I have a fair number of (left-wing) friends who like to point out the "inherent" or "hidden" value judgments of most mainstream economics. Of course, believing they're advancing some fairly original or recent revelation they smugly retreat, confident in their intellectual (read: moralsuperiority. Let me return the favour.

    Monday, 23 October 2017

    On Speculation

    One of the most overused words with awful connotations is the notion of Speculation. It produces images of reckless bankers ruining the livelihoods of common people, sending economies into deep recessions while satisfying nothing but the evil speculator's greed and occasionally enhances their wealth. Add some random slur about how George Soros broke the Bank of England and something about hedge funds, and the stereotype is complete: speculation is evil and should be banished. 

    Tuesday, 17 October 2017

    Shit Historians Say

    One of the things I hate about many historians is their insane tendency to simply say things. That is, with no evidence at all and no attempt at convincing me of their position, they simply assert things. Sometimes it’s entire arguments, but more commonly it happens when they’re trying to evaluate or derive causal relationships. Let me give three examples I came across recently  – and if I looked around I’m sure I could find enough material for literal bookshelves on the topic.

    Friday, 6 October 2017

    Bubble Territory and Stockholm Property Markets

    Housing prices are one of these never-ending topics of our generations: everyone is aware of them, everyone is exposed to them, everyone worries about them. Of course, when a ton of people with very little economic understand try to analyse and understand certain economic phenomena, they are bound to make serious errors. So yet again I decided to have a quick look at the fundamental driver of Stockholm housing prices, and why the hysteria surrounding this (and many other current topics, see Austerity or Inequality) is much overrated. This, as much of my writing, came out of frustration with Chicken Little-style doomsday predictions – this time from the otherwise quite brilliant ZeroHedge

    Friday, 29 September 2017

    On the Nature of Wealth

    In my mailbox the other day there was a flyer from Save the Children, a charity whose work for all I know is admirable and successful in improving the lives of poor families in the world's most destitute areas. The flyer discussed a certain failed sub-Saharan country in the following way, economic illiteracy on par with Oxfam:
    The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the world's richest countries, but with one of the poorest populations.
    I bursted out laughing and then spent the rest of that evening finding some interesting numbers (BBC has reported similar things in the past). Credible statistics for countries such as DRC is an issue all in its own, but I'm gonna use what I found at the World Bank anyway to illustrate a conceptual point about the nature of wealth.

    Tuesday, 19 September 2017

    Some Summer Readings

    This intense summer with readings, Deflation-research and Mises Institute fellowship took a turn for slow-motion after both roadtrips/travels and family time. That didn't stop Life of an Econ Student from going forward with what really matters: reading, and reading broad and wide and way beyond the limits of familiar territory. As John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty:
    He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion.

    Wednesday, 19 July 2017

    The Sassy Mises, vol. 2

    It's time for a repeat of our favourite pastime: exploring the amazing world of our dear friend Ludwig von Mises and his snappy, sassy comments about his academic life  particularly his intellectual opponents. I remain dedicated to compiling some of the best examples of absolutely stunning and entertaining Mises quotes; this hillarious exercise in Misesian delight may very well be my proudest achievement. But less me, and more Mises  please!

    Thursday, 13 July 2017

    Why We Read Dead Economists

    One of many accusations of the economics discipline is that it spends too much time on the ideas of rich white men, long since buried. In our world ruled by moral and intellectual relativism and group identities, such an accusation is serious indeed. We can ridicule such positions all we want, and Mises does an excellent job of it in chapter 3 of Human Action, but there may be still some merit to the accusation. Beyond relativism, how serious is the charge: are we reading too many dead economists?

    Sunday, 9 July 2017

    Are Swedish Tuitions Fees Actually Higher Than in England or Australia?

    University fees and the UK Labour Party's bold attempt to scrap them was a popular talking point during the UK's recent election. In general, the argument for entirely government-funded universities is popular, both among university students and constituents at large, in the UK as well as Australia and U.S. Many people who learn of my Swedish origin seem well-informed about Sweden's generous support for students and for not charging tuition fees even for top-universities. They're seldom as well informed about what it actually means  or that costs of attending university is probably lower in both England and Australia. Let me show you how.

    Thursday, 6 July 2017

    Trade Deficits and The Worst Magazine in the World

    The British magazine The Economist has reached a new low. Founded as an explicitly free-trade magazine by the Scot James Wilson in 1843, organised against the protectionist Corn Laws, it has come a long way from advocating truly free trade – or any sensible economics for that matter. This week’s edition features Germany, and what its editors label “The German Problem: Why Germany’s Current-Account Surplus Is Bad For The World

    Wednesday, 28 June 2017

    Keeping Up With The Miseses, Rothbards, Schumpeters and McCloskeys

    Two days ago I graduated from the beautiful University of Glasgow with a degree to my name and tons of knowledge in my head. Many years ago, a very different, dedicated and self-proscribed politically-aware youngster set out to understand what people were talking about in financial magazines  what this thing called 'The Economy' was  and he decided to push through struggling instances of a nonsensical economics classes for the reward of a piece of paper with the 9 letters E-C-O-N-O-M-I-C-S written on it. Now that I've got that, almost spot-on my 26th birthday, I realized that some comparisons are in order. There are certain academic giants on upon whose shoulders I one day would be honoured to stand. Then: how am I currently measuring up against them?