We focus on the law of unintended consequences, and how making rules often creates the opposite outcome from the desired results. The analysis starts with the Cobra effect, and then extends to a discussion of the Wells Fargo account scandal, dYdX trading farming, Divergence Ventures executing Sybil attacks, and Federal Reserve insider trading. We touch on the concepts of credit underwriting and token economies, and leave the reader with a question about rules vs. principles.
Luxury and fashion markets are structurally different from finance or commodity markets in that they seek to limit supply in order to generate value. This increases price and social status. We can analogize these brand dynamics to what is happening in NFT digital object markets and better understand their function as a result.
We’re not cool. That’s why we’re in finance.
But people want to be cool. As highly social and intelligent animals, we want and need to belong, differentiate against each other, and negotiate for status. We create signals and hierarchies to create pockets of relational capital, which we then cash in for real world benefits.
Such mammalian realities are contrary to the economic rendering of the homo economicus, the abstracted rational agent making choices in financial models. In 2021, our financial models are waking up and instantiating themselves, becoming Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), spun up by DeFi and NFT industry insiders, and implemented into commercial actions onchain.
In this conversation, we talk with Robert Leshner of The Compound Protocol about the early days of crypto and how a fascination with Ethereum smart contracts drove him to build one of the largest DeFi projects to date.
Additionally, we explore the nuances of lending and interest rates, consumer privacy software and data monetization, floating interest rate pools of capital across different token pairs, DAO evolution and its influence on mechanism design, the role Compound plays in chain interoperability, and the discovery of yield farming as a means for user incentivisation.
I look at how spending $8 billion can either buy you $3 billion of revenue from Ingenico, or the private valuation of Robinhood and/or Revolut. Would you rather have a massive cash-flow machine, or a venture bet on a Millennial investing meme? To articulate this question in more detail, we walk through the impact behavioral finance has had on economic rational actor theories, and why quantitative financial modeling often similarly fails to capture the underlying tectonic plates of industry. It may not be wrong to bet on Millennials. We talk about what identity economics (ala identity politics) means for market value and how to think about generational change.
Chlöe Swarbrick, a 25-year old climate MP was presenting her climate change case to the New Zealand parliament, and was heckled by an older audience member. Without missing a beat, she acknowledged and dismissed the challenger with a pithy “Ok, Boomer.”
The recording has since gone viral, inspiring everything from merchandise to Vogue articles. While the incident isn’t the source of the phrase “Ok, Boomer”, today it is the most well known manifestation. So what does the phrase mean? If you are inclined to more colorful language, see Urban Dictionary. But the meaning is obvious on its face — Gen Z is dismissing utterly and without consideration the judgment and protestations of society's elders on multi generational issues like economics, climate change, and social norms.
Capital One recently suffered a data breach resulting from poor security practices that exposed 100 million credit card applications and accounts. They expect the breach to cost the company $150 million. Two years back, Equifax lost 140 million identities, again from poor security practices. At the time, I said that according to GDPR this should cost them $150 million. They have since settled for about $600 million -- though some of that seems to be in-kind services coverage like free credit monitoring (lol!). Separately, Facebook has settled for a $5 billion fine associated with the Cambridge Analytica privacy "breach".