Genius

Scientists, scholars and academics have yet to define genius, yet the concept is rightly applied to those exceptional individuals who, through their art, their science or their enterprise, create unique changes in our thinking, or our broader-world. Genius carries a certain mystical quality, distancing it from even that which we call exceptional. Those to who the term is applied are often seen as outliers, perhaps even crazy- but their minds have created the structures, technologies,…

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The Economics of Happiness

By: Vikas Shah, Originally Published at AllAboutAlpha.com Factory farming is a brutal endeavour.  In this environment, chickens (and other animals) are given a variety of feeds and chemicals (stimuli) designed to make them grow as big as possible as fast as possible and hence maximise output.  In truth, factory farms probably will output more product than their organic counterparts, but in the process the animals are kept in horrendous conditions where the combination of feeds and…

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Is It Time to Re-Design our Markets?

By Vikas Shah (Originally for AllAboutAlpha.com) Modern markets are hugely complex environments.  CME Group for example, trades over 3 billion contracts (with a notional value of over U$1 quadrillion) each and every year.  Alongside this, many of the world’s largest companies such as Google, Alibaba and Amazon (with market capitalisations of U$380bn, U$240bn and U$141bn respectively) have built entire business models solely around the provision of markets.   Every day, markets also have to match tens…

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Delegation

In entrepreneurship, delegation is often seen as perhaps something akin to a four-letter-word. I have met countless founders over the years who have been nothing short of insistent that they should know every last detail about every part of the business. We’ve all met the sort before, the archetypal ‘micro manager.’ The problem remains however, that as businesses scale… the want to know everything may not leave you, the ability surely will. A key part of every entrepreneur’s toolkit therefore has to be the ability to delegate.

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Why Economics is Failing

“Macroeconomics has not done well in recent years…” writes Nobel Laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz, “The standard models didn’t predict the Great Recession; and even said it couldn’t happen. After the bubble burst, the models did not predict the full consequences.”  In a hugely relevant recent paper titled “Reconstructing Macroeconomic Theory to Manage Economic Policy,” he explores how modern macro and microeconomic theories simply aren’t appropriate for our world today. As Stiglitz notes, the loss in…

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Entrepreneurship as Experimentation

Each and every year, I have the pleasure of judging at the Rice Business Plan Competition.  Tens of thousands of enterprising students from around the world compete, with a handful making it to the finals in Houston, Texas.   At this incredible event, student entrepreneurs pitch to the crème-de-la-crème of global investment professionals (VC’s, angels, and more) and eventually make it through a series of rounds to a final where they stand to win some serious…

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Could Crypto-currency Disrupt Money?

Money is a strange phenomenon. Our modern notion of it mean that (in essence) it is intrinsically useless apart from as a medium of exchange. Our government, regulators, law and communities agree that phenomena (whether a physical banknote or an electronic ledger such as a bank account) have certain value, in certain units and certain denominations. From a cultural perspective however, things are not quite so clear. As society advances (technologically and socially) we find…

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Could Random Trading Prevent Stock Market Bubbles & Crashes?

  Many of recent history’s most significant market events have manifest in what was (previously) the extreme of the market.  These “bubbles” and “crashes” follow power laws, meaning that (in theory) they could reach any size and fundamentally threaten the functionality of the entire financial system. Typical central-bank and policy responses to these financial avalanches (or cascades) have been to create or constrain liquidity in the market, and the terms of that liquidity; thus creating an…

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The End of Paper Money

It’s quite conceivable that the grandparents (or even parents) of the future will be  made to feel even more archaic as the young of that generation look at them quizzically and state “…are you serious? You used to use bits of paper as money?!” Money is a cultural abstract.   It is the social, cultural and legal consensus of what a given society- at a given time- considers as being money.    When economies are working well-…

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The Mania of Boom & Bust

The perception that we learn from our mistakes is just one in a long-list of cognitive and behavioural biases that exist in the human mind. As WIRED reported in 2009, “Researchers from MIT have shown that the brain learns more after a success than a failure. This study indicates, contrary to previous research, that neurons in the brain are able to keep a memory of recent success and failures during learning and performed better after…

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