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Good Reading -- March 2020

Sources/links in original:

I hope this email finds everyone in good health during a difficult time. Most of this material was collected during February, which seems like ancient history. Late February got busy so I thought I'd just wait and combine everything with more material from March. Well, we all know what happened in March, and in any case I haven't read much new or interesting material that wasn't related to the ongoing health crisis. I'm intentionally avoiding any virus-related reading on this list because I imagine everyone is inundated by now, but if you need a few recommendations let me know. Inbound suggestions are always welcome too. Be well. -- Phil Quoted

  • "Looking back, there wasn’t one moment when I decided to abandon my principles. Rather, it was a series of small steps." -- Former Pimco CEO Doug Hodge, writing about his involvement in the "Varsity Blues" admissions cheating scandal. Hodge plead guilty to felony fraud and money laundering charges and was sentenced to nine months in prison, a $750,000 fine, and 500 hours of community service.

  • Related: The Pyschology of Human Misjudgment

Facts and Figures

  • Births in the United States fell to 3.79 million in the twelves months ended July 2019, while deaths rose to 2.83 million. The birth-death gap fell below 1 million for the first time in decades, while net immigration of ~595,000 is down by approximately half since 2016. (Source: US Census Bureau)

  • U.S. life expectancy at birth rose in 2018 for the first time in four years to 78.7 years. (Source: CDC)

  • Approximately 25% of all U.S. metro areas lost population in the decade ended 2019, and half of all U.S. counties ended the decade with fewer people than they had in 2010.


  • The Weather Machine: A Journey Inside the Forecast -- As some of you know, I have a side hustle doing meteorological color commentary. OK, fine, that's a huge stretch, but I do have an unexplained fascination with the subject. I often get asked for a weather-related book to recommend, and this new one isn't bad. I wanted more, but most people will probably find this to be a fair and reasonable treatment.


  • The Great Buenos Aires Bank Heist -- So crazy it seems like pure fiction...

  • WeWork: how the ultimate unicorn lost its billions -- We were verging on WeWork overdose a few months ago, but when you stop to think about this story is also so crazy it seems like pure fiction.

  • Everyone knows that private markets are better than public ones -- Again, this seems like ancient history, but we'll see if or how this perspective changes in 2020 and beyond.

  • Credit Suisse Global Investment Returns Yearbook -- Always a favorite.

  • McKinsey Global Private Markets Review -- There are a few interesting numbers buried here.

  • 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2020 -- Some really interesting stuff on this list from the MIT Technology Review.

  • "What they hell are we doing lending money to a guy like this?" -- Roger Lowenstein, trenchant as usual, in reviewing a new book that looks interesting: "Each era seems to have a bank emblematic of its excesses — in the 1980s, it was Drexel Burnham Lambert, the junk bond king; in the 2000s, it was Lehman Brothers.The 2010s were different. No towering financial collapse marred the landscape; no Madoff or Enron blighted the business page. Yet never have good times felt so bad. In these early months of the next decade, America is prosperous but malcontent, solvent but anxious. Enrich...has found, perhaps, the perfect vehicle for this murky, un-transparent moment. Name a banking scandal and Deutsche Bank was in the thick of it — interest rate manipulation, Russian money laundering, currency dealings with rogue states, the collapse of Italy’s (and the world’s) oldest bank, hidden derivative losses, a high-level suicide. It would have been perfect had Deutsche bankrolled a shunned real estate mogul and made him king — and of course, they did that too, the one bank that lent to Donald Trump long after he had a reputation for stiffing its peers and for stiffing Deutsche itself."

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