Breaking News #14: Harvard Material

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Join Ben Hunt, Matt Zeigler and Jack Forehand as we break open the news to reveal the Nudging language behind the headlines. Media bias is real, but not in the way you think.

Harvard has some of the most stringent admission standards of any university. Most people will never have the opportunity to receive a degree from this elite institution. But that doesn’t mean you can’t obtain your “graduate certificate” in fields like Museum Studies, Social Justice and Digital Storytelling all for the bargain price of $12,880 from the Harvard Extension School. Of course, Harvard won’t accept these credits in its main programs and you can’t get any federal loans for it, but you can tell your friends that you attended one of the world’s elite institutions. In this episode, we discuss how things got to the point in our higher education system where programs like this exist and what can be done to fix it. We also cover the declining Narrative of electric vehicles, the challenge of measuring inflation, Vivek Ramaswamy’s master plan, 90s alternative music and a lot more.

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  1. Harvard Extension existed in the 70’s, and served as kind of a community college and occasionally AP prep-worthy stuff. MIT had something equivalent at the time that offered drafting & electronics initial training. Both were wonderful programs at the time, when considered as good no-commitment introductory training.

    There still are some gems out there in certificate world - one of my favorite examples would be the University of New Hampshire (UNH)'s violin making program (UNH Violin Craftsmanship Institute | Professional Development & Training), which I think started decades ago when someone in the UNH extension school contacted a German master violin maker about references … and he recommended himself, thinking summer in New Hampshire might be interesting. Add in violin bow making, instrument repair, and outreach to the musician & luthier communities, et voila! A reasonable program at a reasonable cost. Also, while it does not follow any sort of a traditional formal master/apprentice program, the program helps to maintain interest and accessibility to a skill set that remains as relevant as musical instruments remain relevant.

    Compare and contrast with really new UNH programs in tech topics such as computer animation. Some digging around in how those programs are managed reveals that UNH bought educational packages from companies that develop hardware chips and software used in computer animation - UNH did not develop the programs on its own. Most likely, schools which offer such programs in trendy tech stuff such as animation are getting a cut with minimal overhead. (The price is heart-stopping as well, something like USD $11,000 for a one semester certificate. Not a degree, a certificate. They do offer a 25% discount, for Qualifying Students™.)

  2. Ugh. Had not thought about Clinton’s current age v. ages of current presidential candidate.

  3. Avatar for jewing jewing says:

    From a generational perspective, it is incredibly interesting that the 3 Baby Boomer presidents (Clinton, Bush 43, and Trump) were all born in 1946, right at the outset of that generation.

    And one might argue that Obama was born right at the outset of Gen X (or as a late Boomer).

    Biden is the exception to the past 30 years of presidents, having been born towards the tail end of the Silent Generation.

  4. I re-watched the segment on Ben explaining Inflation (Maps and Territories) a couple of times
    Thank you Ben for the new way at looking at this, it was fascinating.
    As a retired but fully immersed (because I like the macro/portfolio management “game”) and former Institutional PM for over 3 decades it was absolutely insightful

  5. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    That means a lot coming from you, Pete! Thank you!

  6. Like the best professors, you have the ability to take a complex subject and make it better understood to both lay people and pros alike. Thanks Ben.

    Given the “Victory Lap” 60 minutes Powell interview, CNBC interviews with PM’s this morning as well as market action on Friday, all in complete acquiescence to the “Goldilocks” mentality and keeping in mind your take on the Inflation outlook;
    It appears to be a Great time to be in search for Inflation protection assets that are out of favor and thus cheap

  7. So @MZeigler3 mentioned Hot Topic and the mid 90’s alternative movement, which is just right in my wheelhouse. The notion of a highly sanitized, corporate-approved rebellion got me to thinking about another version that’s been so deeply institutionalized that we hardly even notice it anymore.

    Cannabis. Or rather Cannabis :tm:. We used to have all kinds of better names for it, but none of those were good for the ‘brand’ so we all had to adopt the most boring version available. Lame.

    Weed smokers were not, as a rule, open about their habit. Within the crowd that shared their affinity for the jazz cabbage they’d be free to discuss what they liked and how often they’d partake. But to the outside world it wasn’t necessarily something that would be advertised let alone celebrated. It was at first a counterculture, and then a subculture, and now is merely another piece of the cosmic background radiation of Western culture. It’s just so…boring. Yay Cannabis!

    And snobbish. My God is it snobbish. The cannabis people saw what fragmentation did to the beer market—the spawning of a million small breweries making an incomprehensible number of products and walling off those who didn’t wish to sit through a PhD lecture in organic chemistry in order to understand what they’re drinking—and said “hold my joint.” If you peruse the website of a local cannabis retailer you’ll find all manner of different types of delivery mechanisms, strengths, and even chemical compositions, each meant to be tailored to your specific needs. As if the thing missing from getting high was a detailed flowchart. It’s like a parody of what would happen if McKinsey & Co got ahold of the business in its infancy and was tasked with building a use case from the ground up.

    At an rate, the whole industry has been co-opted by the most boring people on the planet and now it’s just another form of approved rebellion, and instead of lashing out against The Man you’re handing over your money directly to The Man, all in service of your own ‘personal health’. I could probably write a 3,000 word treatise on the subject if anyone thinks that would be worthwhile.

  8. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Bring it, DY! I think it would be very worthwhile and would love to publish.

  9. you absolutely should write this. Cannabis is a fascinating example of this narrative structure/restructuring playing out!

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