Today we’re talking history—a period of history most, even universities, gloss over: The period in the West commencing after the fall of the Roman Empire and leading up, more or less, to the Renaissance: The Dark Ages. Or should I say Light Ages?
We’ve got historian Seb Falk to tell us why the Dark Ages is a misnomer, and in fact some great innovation and technology occurred in this era, not to mention advancements in science. Seb’s book, The Light Ages, is a wide-ranging history of medieval science, told through the life of one extraordinary monk, John of Westwyk. The book follows the twists and turns of John's life as a yeoman and novice, scholar and exile, crusader and astronomer—it’s an engaging story and I picked up much the process. You might even think of Westwyk’s spirit as similar to the aspiring stock analyst, questing for the secrets of market behavior.
Seb teaches medieval history and the history of science at Cambridge University, and specializes in astronomy, navigation and mathematics from their ancient origins to modern developments. And it’s this technological part of things I found most interesting—Seb calls the Astrolabe the “smartphone” of its era, as it allowed practitioners to know the date and time from anywhere, was aesthetically designed and served as a symbol of status (so much like today’s iphones). And it’s got a literary history—Geoffrey Chaucer, of Canterbury Tales fame, himself wrote a treatise on how to use one. Seb’s book prompted me to buy an astrolabe (in fact you can get a good one for less than 50 dollars on Amazon), and I’m in the midst of learning to use it.
But so much more than that—advances in astronomy, mathematics, and much else happened in the “Light” Ages, and serves as a reminder that today’s technology will one day, too, be outmoded and apparently barbaric. Investors should take note, developments in how we measure the world will change how we see it, and with so much data today you can see the parallels between how our beliefs are shaped by what we can measure.
Enjoy this one—Seb is a gifted speaker, writer, and storyteller, and we had a lot of fun talking. And make sure to follow us on social media on Twitter @wellreadpod and Instagram at @wellreadinvestorpod or just google the Well Read Investor to see what I’m reading, reviewing, and talking about week in and out.
This week we have Arnold Kling on the show to discuss his book The Three Languages of Politics: Talking Across the Political Divides. Now in its third edition, it’s a short little guide to navigating ideology and tribalism in today’s politics.
Politics is of tremendous importance to investors—it defines the rules by which we operate, individual and company alike. So we must pay attention to politics as it has meaningful impacts to entire economic systems let alone individual industries. But when it comes to how markets move we have to leave ideology at the door. Markets do well and poorly through time with Republicans and Democrats alike in power; favoring one side or the other leads to investing mistakes. What matters ultimately is what politicians do, not what they say. There’s always tons of talk about grand ideas and huge programs—but the truth is they rarely come to fruition in the way lofty rhetoric envisions on both sides. Even more, politics is a global issue for investors, not just a US one. So thinking critically about not just your own ideology, whatever that might be, but out the nature of these conflicts in general is of great usefulness.
Ok, we’re on Spring Break! We’ll take a couple weeks off and come back to you in May with more challenging and exciting authors to make you a well-read investor. Until then, we wish you a wonderful and healthy spring, and as always, may all your reading profit your mind and your money. Take care.
This week we’re discussing Leave Me Alone and I’ll Make You Rich: How the Bourgeois Deal Enriched the World, with authors and professors Deirdre McCloskey and Art Carden.
Since we started the podcast now more than a year ago, we’ve had esteemed guests from a variety of fields, but having Diedre McCloskey on is special. In my humble opinion, she’s one of the best living economic historians, and a tremendous writer whose led a fascinating life. The book we’re discussing today is an accessible, highly literary, and often humorous entry into her perspectives—a sort of cheat sheet version of her essential work she calls the Bourgeois Trilogy, a magisterial and highly literary set of three books aiming to explain human freedom as the driving catalyst for accelerating world prosperity in the era commencing with the Enlightenment, the industrial revolution, and beyond. And the addition of Professor Art Carden to this mix is also a treat—both are witty, amazingly well read, and forceful in their views, which can be at times controversial but always inviting of other perspectives.
And on that note, if you like what you’re hearing make sure to follow us on social media. We’re on Twitter @wellreadpod and Instagram at @wellreadinvestorpod or just google the Well Read Investor to see what I’m reading, reviewing, and talking about week in and out.
We spoke with comedy writing legend Gene Perret about how comedy works, and a lifetime spent writing jokes for the likes of Bob Hope, Carrol Burnet and Phyllus Diller, to name just a few. But he spent a significant portion of his career writing books and teaching about comedy as well. He’s on today to speak about his book, The New Comedy Writing Step by Step. Which is still considered by many to be a standard textbook for comedy writing. He’s earned three Emmy Awards for his work on The Carol Burnett Show. He wrote for Bob Hope from 1969 until the performer’s retirement, serving the last 15 years as his head writer. Gene’s television career includes producing Welcome Back, Kotter, Three’s Company, and The Tim Conway Show. The list goes on: Mama’s Family, All in the Family, Laugh-In, and many others.
If you like what you’re hearing make sure to follow us on social media. We’re on Twitter @wellreadpod and Instagram at @wellreadinvestorpod or just google the Well Read Investor to see what I’m reading, reviewing, and talking about week in and out.
We delve into current events and market drivers with members of Fisher Investments’ Investment Policy Committee. This episode examines the lessons that 2020 taught investors, why having a clear macroeconomic perspective was key for navigating markets in 2020, and why the reality of the economic recovery doesn’t match some common perceptions. Ken Fisher, founder of Fisher Investments, also discusses his thoughts on why political gridlock could be a tailwind for stock markets in the US and the rest of the world.
Host Naj Srinivas, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, is joined by Aaron Anderson, Senior Vice President of Research; Michael Hanson, Senior Vice President of Research; Jeff Silk, Vice Chairman and Co-Chief Investment Officer; and Ken Fisher, founder of Fisher Investments and Co-Chief Investment Officer. The episode features excerpts from Fisher Investments’ recent client-exclusive Capital Markets Update session.
Private Investigator and author Tyler Maroney, and host of the Well-Read Investor, Mike Hanson discuss what investors can learn from The Modern Detective.
Oscar nominated screenwriter Randall Wallace and host, Mike Hanson, discuss building the character to leads to a Braveheart Life.
The start of a new year is a natural time to think about putting renewed effort into your family finances and investments. In this episode of Market Insights, host Naj Srinivas talks with Carrianne Coffey (head of Fisher Investments’ International Private Client Group) to discuss some family finance and investing strategies you can implement in 2021. More than just the typical checklist, Carrianne explores how big (yet often overlooked) decisions like asset allocation can set you up for success. They discuss how a well-stocked emergency fund can not only help protect your budget, but also your investments. They also reveal why you need to rethink your family’s finances as a “team sport” rather than a solo venture.
William Goetzman, Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management Studies and Faculty Director of the International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management, discusses his book, Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible.