Epsilon Theory In Full
The soul of Epsilon Theory is our long-form content, a library of hundreds of pieces written by Ben, Rusty and others over the course of the last 5+ years. These are the print-and-take-home-for the weekend notes that made Epsilon Theory what it is today.
A Gilded Age isn’t an age of prosperity. It is an age of the narrative of prosperity, and narratives of prosperity are always top-down political narratives.
There is but one way to tear down top-down political narratives: action.
A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.
– William Blake
Our narratives of COVID-19 are all lies.
They are lies of a particular sort, political narratives that have a nugget of truth within them, but are told with bad intent. They are told this way because it works. Because the nugget of truth hides a deeper, unpleasant truth. And a Big Lie.
The systemic risk question you need to ask yourself today is the same question you needed to ask in 2008.
What is the micro-level truth of the potential real-world shock, and does that micro-level truth threaten the common knowledge surrounding a levered business model and securitized asset class of enormous size?
We’re going to change the world, you know … you and me.
It won’t happen the way you think, because you think that someone is going to lead you. You think that someone is going to organize you. You think that someone is going to give you a top-down, political Answer in the form of something to march for or somebody to vote for.
Nope. We’re going to create a million points of failure for the system of sociopathic oligarchy. We’re going to create points of failure AT SCALE.
How? With the Narrative Machine.
This is not a chronicle of errors and mistakes made during COVID-19.
This is the story about the inevitable, simultaneous failure of each of the institutions designed to operate in our interest.
It is the story of how we respond to fragility with resilience.
We are led by high-functioning sociopaths, in our politics and our economy, and nowhere is this more apparent than in our war against COVID-19. It’s not a left/right thing. It’s not a Republican/Democrat thing. It’s a power thing.
Enough. It’s time for the Pack to howl.
Empathy + Minimax Regret is the answer. Because 2 + 2 = 4.
Yes, this is a personal note. That’s what this war is for all of us … personal.
I’m angry that I have to write this note about the airline industry and how to structure the bail-out of United, Delta, American and Southwest. But I must, because the raccoons and the high-functioning sociopaths are looking to get their private losses socialized and their private gains locked in.
Bailout the airlines and their rank-and-file employees? You bet.
Bailout the CEOs and Warren Buffett? Not a chance.
The structurally bullish will warn us against failure of nerve. The traders will warn us against hesitation. The structurally bearish will warn us about being unable to shift into a defensive shape. But what we should be worried about now is a lack of imagination.
In 1995 we crossed a line in music.
In 2009 we crossed that line in markets.
In 2016 we crossed that line in politics.
Music charted the way back. Let’s listen to its lesson.
New from ET contributor Pete Cecchini …
We talk all the time about the informational efficiency of markets. What if the real dimension we should focus on is narrative efficiency?
The CDC’s Don’t Test, Don’t Tell policy came crashing down last night. So did Trump’s “buh, buh the flu” and “Yay, Containment!” narratives.
Now let’s get to work preparing for the fight to come.
Not in panic. Not in fear. But with resolve, sacrifice and righteous anger for those who would use us instrumentally for their own political ends.
Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.
Containment has failed.
And so now we must fight.
That means doing everything possible to bolster our healthcare systems BEFORE the need overwhelms the capacity.
That means calling out our leaders for their corrupt political responses to date, and forcing them through our outcry to adopt an effective virus-fighting policy for OUR benefit, not theirs.
To date, WHO leadership has simply been part of the Chinese narrative machine.
It’s more than a disgrace. It’s more than a humiliation of the people who do good and important work through WHO.
It’s a betrayal of the entire world.
China is fighting nCov2019 exactly like the US fought North Vietnam … with policy driven more by narrative control than by what’s best to win the war.
That was a disastrous strategic mistake for the US then, and it’s a disastrous strategic mistake for China today.
Because the danger of powerful memes, cartoons and narratives is not that they demand our acquiesence. It is that they demand our participation.
There is a median narrative theorem that can serve as a central pillar of a NEW approach to social choice theory, an approach less pedantic in its assumptions about human nature and less naive in its assumptions about modes of social power.
The median narrative theorem generates powerful predictive hypotheses about elections, hypotheses that predicted Trump’s Republican primary victory in 2016 and – if current data holds – predicts Sanders’ Democratic primary victory in 2020.
There are many roads to serfdom, and they have all become faster and more perilous. We are walking down one of them now.
The Long Now has severed the tether between taxation and spending – the most important macroeconomic policy relationship in our social lives as both investors and citizens.
Here’s what that means.
And here’s what we’re going to do about it.
It is our second time now to turn the lens we apply to other news sources to our own creative output. Here is a Very Epsilon Theory retrospective on 2019.
Fiduciary standards, prudent man rules and client sensibilities compel us toward fervent pursuit of “alignment.” There’s just one little problem: we can never be aligned with our agents.