Notes from Quar is a series that features diaries, playlists, musings from members of the Rhizome community while under COVID-19 quarantine. Here, Brud founder Trevor McFedries shares content from the far corners of the econ-web and other miscellanea.
Los Angeles, CA
This is actually my second attempt at writing something for Rhizome. My first attempt included some predictions and some opinions on what was unfolding all around us. In short it was a “take” and quite frankly it feels like we have enough “takes” in this moment. So instead of spouting off about unknowns and my half baked ideas, I’m gonna share some things I’m curious about, and my path to that curiosity.
For the last five years, I’ve been deeply interested in the machinations of “business” and managing organizations. The interest was almost certainly a reaction to spending the majority of my twenties DJing, producing music and writing code for a living. In all of those professions I was instructed to delegate the “business” and “management” work to others and focus on the creative and the technical. From the beginning it felt strange that my “creative” peers had an internalized contempt for “business” and “business” seemed worth understanding at the most basic level. So I started learning, and then I started a business.
Stepping into entrepreneurship and running our transmedia studio Brud has been incredibly difficult and incredibly rewarding. I’ve gained a set of skills and insights that will forever inform my life and especially my creative work. It has also led me to a familiar place: while I now feel I have a foundational understanding of organizations, I have simultaneously developed a deep curiosity for economics and capital markets.
In discussing this newfound interest with creative peers there seemed to be an even more entrenched allergy to economics and finance. While we could all agree that the financialization of our economy was something we despised, we couldn’t talk through how it had come to be with any granularity. We had vague descriptions of what a better world could look like and plenty of platitudes about seizing the means of production but no one understood commodity derivatives or bond swaps.
All of that is to say that below is a list of some things I’ve been enjoying over the last couple of months and referencing while sheltering in place. Some of the links are econ adjacent and some decidedly not so. I hope you’ll enjoy these and treat them as jumping off points. I’m very much looking forward to a world of creative, compassionate people leveraging their economic know-how to build a better future for all of us.
I am a sucker for finance-bro-turned-doomer types and Ben is my favorite. He’s always on twitter ranting and being angry as hell while sharing some nice, little finance nuggets. His takes have really helped me better understand the mechanics of “too big to fail” finance land and he’s definitely the best of the philosopher, poet, mathematician, astronomer avatar twitter crew.
“To all the people that worked for me and whose money I took, you’re fucking welcome.” You’re probably gonna hate Chamath, but he does a really great job in these two podcasts w/ Kara Swisher outlining the Venture Capital ponzi scheme and what the fallout of this Covid moment means for the macroeconomic environment and that venture ponzi.
New Models Episode Intros by @LilInternet
I am just so thankful for Dan, Carly and Julian over at New Models. I imagine if you’re on this website, you’re probably familiar with them, but they aggregate the most important news and critique on the internet and produce my favorite podcast. Recently that podcast has had some brilliant intros via Julian’s warped and magical brain.
Here’s a favorite:
In case you missed it, WallStreetBets had a little moment in the sun just before everything went to hell. Nothing sums up WSB better than its official tagline - “Like 4chan found a Bloomberg Terminal.” And that is exactly what it is, a bunch of young adults raised on 4chan reveling in the financialization that ruined their lives by gambling their tuitions away one option trade at a time. The subreddit is largely useless these days but the spinoff Discords are insane and wonderful. It’s also fun to listen to zoomers talk about their $100,000 paydays trading volatility ETFs on Twitch like they’re playing Overwatch. Links below <3
As far as I can tell Peter’s job is to have a deep understanding of potential global conflict and then advise big funds how to trade against that knowledge. The podcast describes him with this blurb “Peter is a geopolitical strategist who combines expertise in demography, economics, energy, politics, technology, and security to assess an uncertain future.” The listen is a lot of fun because Peter is clearly very passionate about what he does, it can be equally unnerving. The podcast that hosted Peter is called “invest like the best” and has done a great job getting insightful guests on the show, if you enjoy this pod I’d recommend subscribing.
Paddy Hirsch and Investopedia are who I turn to when I have questions about the basics of capital markets. There are always some cutesy anecdotes used to express some otherwise boring concepts and the series is put on by American Public Media which you may know from their awesome radio program Marketplace.
This is easily my favorite account on Instagram right now. (RIP Puppycodes). Memes, cringe, potential admin reveals and they have even been able to aggregate TikToks that capture some of the magic that Vine had. In all the account feels like a reflection of something fun happening right now where political types, internet 1.0 olds and gamers are converging to build something that feels like the chaotic internet I grew up on.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive
I don’t know anything about cars or racing but I’m obsessed with this series at the moment. So much drama packed into every race and I feel like I never see things this brazenly rich and macho anymore. The whole series is a lot of fun and one of the coaches for the Red Bull racing team is married to Ginger Spice. Truly something for everyone.
Trevor McFedries is the founder of Brud. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.