It goes without saying that 2020 was a year like no other when it comes to the markets. A historic crash, and then a raging recovery, all set against the backdrop of a pandemic and deeply depressed economy. One implication of this is that trading strategies based on historic rules and patterns didn't perform particularly well in this environment. On this episode, we speak with Corey Hoffstein, a fund manager at Newfound Research, which employs trend following and momentum signals in its trading. He talks about what worked and didn't last year and what that says about overall market structure.
The coronavirus crisis snarled global shipping in early 2020 as borders were closed, but lots of people expected it to improve as vessels returned to position. Instead, more than a year later, the shipping crisis has only gotten worse and standard container rates on some transpacific routes have more than quadrupled, leading to yet another headwind for economies in the midst of fragile recoveries and global trade. On this episode, we speak to economist, historian, and author Marc Levinson. He talks about where all this transport disruption is coming from, what it means for global trade, and whether it will lead to a big rethink of the shipping industry.
The U.S. was once a manufacturing leader in semiconductors. That's no longer the case, given the rise of contract manufacturing and outsourcing, the dominance of Taiwan Semiconductor, and Intel's own design stumbles. But how did it come to this? And can it be reversed by government policy? On this episode we speak with Willy Shih, a longtime tech industry veteran and a professor at the Harvard Business School, to answer these questions.
One of the surprising developments in the last year was the boom in SPACs. The so-called blank check companies raised more money in 2020 than they had in the several years prior combined. But why? Why did a year that saw a pandemic and economic devastation turn into such a boon for what has historically been a speculative financing vehicle? On this Odd Lots, we speak with Larry Wieseneck, a longtime capital markets veteran and Co-President of the investment bank Cowen, who breaks down why the stars all align for the surge in SPACs.
We're in a rare moment where chess is popular in the United States. There are two big factors driving it. One is the smash hit Netflix show "The Queen's Gambit." The other is the rise of Twitch streaming, as gamers play online for thousands of fans. On this episode, we speak with Hikaru Nakamura, a popular chess streamer, about the economics of this new environment for chess.
It's been pointed out that, after the Black Death in Europe, real wages surged because there was such a shortage of labor in the aftermath. But what was the structure of the economy that allowed this transfer of power to workers in the first place? On this episode, we speak with Patrick Wyman, historian and the host of the Tides of History podcast, to get the real story of Europe's post-pandemic economy during the 1300s.
Economics is all about improving living standards, but rarely does the dismal science deal with social justice or talk about how a lack of it could actually hinder growth. In this episode, UBS Global Chief Economist Paul Donovan discusses how prejudice and labor markets are intertwined, and why discrimination can restrict development. Donovan describes how historical technological advances have often increased racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice as people sought out scapegoats to blame for lost jobs and wealth. He also describes how the current 'fourth industrial revolution' is fomenting more blame, and what economists can do about it. Odd Lots listeners are eligible for a 25% discount on the hardback or eBook edition of Paul Donovan’s new book, Profit and Prejudice: The Luddites of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, via the Routledge website by using the offer code “OL25” at checkout.
Dec 31, 2020
2020 has been an absolutely extraordinary year for the economy. In March, we saw the fastest economic contraction in history with an extraordinary surge in unemployment. Now, as the year closes out, we've had a housing boom, an extraordinary rise in financial assets, and unemployment has fallen much faster than most people expected. We spoke about this with Jan Hatzius, the chief economist at Goldman Sachs. We talked about the lessons learned, inflation, the outlook for 2021, his sectoral balances framework for analyzing the economy, and MMT.
Dec 28, 2020
1 hr 1 min
This past summer, the business intelligence software company MicroStrategy made waves when it put some of its extra cash into Bitcoin. Then, as Bitcoin ran up, it bought more, and the stock has now soared thanks to the bet. But what's the reasoning behind the move? We speak with MicroStrategy’s CEO, Michael Saylor, on why he thinks Bitcoin is the best reserve asset for any company.
Dec 24, 2020
1 hr 18 min
We talk a lot about quantitative trading on the podcast, but typically from a rather big picture perspective, and not at the level of actually building the systems needed for trading and data analysis. On this episode, we speak with Camille Fournier, the head of Platform Engineering at Two Sigma, the financial services firm that, among other things, runs a large hedge fund. Fournier, previously the CTO at Rent the Runway, discusses how her job works, the challenge of managing software engineers, and how tech within a financial services company is different than tech within a consumer-facing startup.
Dec 21, 2020
1 hr 9 min