as we slowly return from lockdown in the upcoming weeks, we find ourselves faced with the consequential challenge of picking up the pieces of a pandemic-stricken economy. the world we return to will look different from when we last left it, many will find their former occupation fading in relevance (like the horse carriage industry after the Model T) while new pockets of opportunity open in their wake. with uncertainty in these job markets we are in a unique time for many to forgo the fragile illusion of stability of these jobs and instead pursue a strategy of seeking alpha.
alpha in the context of finance, measures the active return on an investment relative to the market (beta) as a whole. alpha is a pocket of hidden value, a shot in the dark while beta is a global index sluggishly responding to external forces. when the marginal returns of pursuing a beta strategy fall amidst an inefficient volatile market, it arguably becomes less risky to swing for the fences. when the world moves the market faster than its existing players can catch up, the logic skews from slowly adapting with them on the inside to swiftly surpassing them from the outside. on some level, seeking beta in tumultuous times is either a bet against market change or a bet on the speed of bureaucratic execution — neither of which tends to be reliably true.
with an imminent shuffle in the global markets, empires born in formerly prosperous conditions will come crumbling down. the new empires that rise from their ashes won't come from a return to the status quo. they are by nature sui generis — rising through means unseen in the past. it follows then that you can cannot adapt to a new order unless you poke around at the fringe. seeking alpha means questioning prevailing conventional wisdom, revisiting propositions previously written off as implausible and confronting biases. alpha can manifest itself anywhere on the spectrum of bootstrapping a side project, working in an overlooked domain (eg: consumer social, nuclear, defense) or undertaking a bold, radical vision for the future (a new seasteading type project). if there was ever a time to run such an experiment, now would be as good a time as ever.
What I’ve been consuming recently
BAP book (h/t half of anon frog twitter)
launched a cool thing last week. also randomly been playing a lot of online chess recently lol drop your chess.com @ im bored