Slope of Hope Blog Posts

Slope initially began as a blog, so this is where most of the website’s content resides. Here we have tens of thousands of posts dating back over a decade. These are listed in reverse chronological order. Click on any category icon below to see posts tagged with that particular subject, or click on a word in the category cloud on the right side of the screen for more specific choices.

Brief History of Doom

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Banner ads on websites don’t normally work on me, but about a week ago, as I was over on ZH, there was an ad for a book called Brief History of Doom which instantly grabbed my attention. Even though I had written a similar book, Panic Prosperity and Progress, you can imagine that any book about financial ruination is going to seize my interest, so I bought it.

I enjoyed the book, and I’d certainly recommend it. I will say that the most enjoyable part of the book for me was the introduction, which ran about the length of a regular chapter. That’s where the author lays out his core arguments. In a nutshell, his main point is that the growth of private debt in a country, particularly when that debt exceeds 150% of GDP, is a reliable (>80%) predictor of financial catastrophe.

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Blockchain Book

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OK, finally, at long last, a book about blockchain I like and understand! Its name is Blockchain Basics, and it’s precisely what I’ve been seeking: a perfect match between technical explanation and pragmatic understanding. It isn’t too dry, it isn’t too simplistic – – like the porridge of old, it’s just right. I just wanted to pop out one last post today to recommend this book.

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Life After Google

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About a week ago, long-time Sloper Dutch suggested I check out a book by well-known economist and technology author George Gilder named Life After Google. Based on the strength of this recommendation, I purchased it right away, and I spent the entire weekend reading it. I wanted to share my thoughts about it with you. Before I do, I’m going to be lazy and provide the summary of the book from the Amazon site:

The Age of Google, built on big data and machine intelligence, has been an awesome era. But it’s coming to an end. In Life after Google, George Gilder—the peerless visionary of technology and culture—explains why Silicon Valley is suffering a nervous breakdown and what to expect as the post-Google age dawns.

Google’s astonishing ability to “search and sort” attracts the entire world to its search engine and countless other goodies—videos, maps, email, calendars….And everything it offers is free, or so it seems. Instead of paying directly, users submit to advertising. The system of “aggregate and advertise” works—for a while—if you control an empire of data centers, but a market without prices strangles entrepreneurship and turns the Internet into a wasteland of ads.

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Double Eagle

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Over the long Easter weekend, I wanted to share a few excerpts from my financial history book, Panic, Progress, and Prosperity. Here’s today’s piece:

The stunning bull market in precious metals in the late 1970s, followed by its swift collapse, has a fascinating and remarkable history. The roots of the event date back to the dark days of the Great Depression, when President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102 which outlawed the “hoarding” (that is, the ownership in almost any form) of gold by any person or other entity within the United States.

Prior to this order, gold was intricately intertwined in the nation’s currency. U.S. dollars were convertible into gold on demand, and this convertibility had helped constrict the velocity of money severely. Roosevelt recognized that inflating the money supply was essential to turning the economy around, so he took the extraordinary step of criminalizing private ownership of gold as one of the steps to decouple the precious metal from the nation’s currency.

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OPEC Begins

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Over the long Easter weekend, I wanted to share a few excerpts from my financial history book, Panic, Progress, and Prosperity. Here’s today’s piece:

No other commodity in the modern age has affected the world stage as much as oil. As a basis for any modern economy, crude oil is second only to water as the liquid perceived as vital to life, and the global political stage – particularly since 1970 – has been largely shaped by the price movement of oil in the financial markets. No wars have been fought over corn, pork bellies, or gold. In modern rhetoric, oil has been made the figurative equal of blood.

The popular perception of OPEC is that it is an all-powerful cartel of Middle Eastern countries that has unilaterally set the worldwide price of crude oil to maximize profits, to the chagrin of industrialized Western countries beholden to its decisions. The truth is far afield from this set of common assumptions.

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Swamp Land

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Over the long Easter weekend, I wanted to share a few excerpts from my financial history book, Panic, Progress, and Prosperity. Here’s today’s piece:

The growth of the middle class and the availability of the car also created a land boom peculiar to American history – that of Florida. Between 1920 and 1925, the population of the state grew from 968,470 to 1,263,540, and most of this was prompted by an urgent desire to acquire property that was believed to be an almost sure-fire certain investment.

In the end, it would be discovered that Florida was not perfect, and that between the heat, mosquitoes, and hurricanes, Florida had problems just like anywhere else in the country. But to a nation relatively naïve about the potential paradise in the panhandle, the allure of a tropical splendor in the continental U.S. was too much to resist.

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