It’s finally the end of the most eventful year for decades. With such dramatic changes rippling through every part of the economy, there has been a lot to keep track of and think about, especially how the world will look after COVID-19. This week I’m briefly reviewing all the editions of Trajectory published in 2020, almost all of which asked what will some of the legacies of the COVID-19 pandemic be?
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Top 10 Most Interesting Reads of Year
Saving Democracy From the Managerial Elite: The central challenge of democracy in the 21st century.
The Perverse Panic over Plastic: Is plastic use really that bad?
Sickeningly Sweet: Evidence is growing that sugar and cancer have a special relationship.
Coronavirus Ushers in the Globalization We Were Afraid Of: The global order has been fragmenting for well over a decade. The Covid-19 pandemic may be the tipping point that shifts us into a new more unstable and disunited global order.
Coal industry will never recover after coronavirus pandemic, say experts: Interesting second-order effect from the pandemic
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate: A deeply timely letter signed by over 150 intellectual luminaries defending the need for open debate in the face of growing illiberalism in public life in the West
America and China Are Entering the Dark Forest: A nuanced analysis of the state of US and Chinese relations.
The thick skin bias in judgments about people in poverty: A fascinating study that shows a bias in society to believe that those living in poverty feel pain less strongly than richer people.
US-China rivalry: Pentagon invests US$12.7 million in rare earth producers to reduce reliance on China: Rare earths are critical components in electronic manufacturing and increasingly critical to national security in the increasingly digitized world
Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class: How luxury beliefs signal social status and intersect with Veblen’s theories of social life
The Future of How We Make Things
The world is in the early days of a fourth industrial revolution. This revolution will connect the global manufacturing sector to the internet, further automate production but most importantly enable us to produce in a way that has never been possible before — mass personalization.
The magic of combinatorial optimization
Optimizing the systems that underpin the global economy - factories, powerplants, supply-chains and more - will be critical to combating climate change. Luckily the tools of combinatorial optimization combined with computing power make this possible at scale for the first time.
Silicon Valley Meets Mesopotamia
Machine learning is transforming archaeology. Everything from site discovery and identification, artifact classification and document translation will be disrupted by new machine learning-driven approaches to archaeology. The next few decades will see a significant acceleration in the pace of archaeological discovery.
A Selection of critical stories on the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020
Published on March 18th just as the world woke up to the impending tsunami of the COVID-19 pandemic, this piece included a selection of articles that captured the zeitgeist of the moment and our understanding of the pandemic at the time.
Remarkably so many of the things that have happened since were already known by the world at the time or underway including Moderna Phase 1 vaccine trial, thoughts on an impending collapse in public markets and the norm-breaking actions of the US government to try stave of economic disaster.
A tidal wave of small business bankruptcies
A total economic lockdown is a nightmare scenario for small businesses that many will not survive. Every additional week of lockdown pushes millions more Americans into unemployment and thousands of small businesses closer to bankruptcy. The mass bankruptcy of small businesses will have profound consequences for years to come.
Reshoring, the shortening of supply-chains and a a new globalization
Reshoring, the shortening of supply-chains and a a new globalization
The Covid-19 pandemic has shattered the mystique of global supply-chains and shown their vulnerability. It will accelerate a trend towards moving previously outsourced manufacturing capacity back onshore in the US, Europe and Japan. Globalization will look fundamentally different after 2020.
Covid-19 Threatens to End University as We Know It
There are 4,000 universities in the United States that generate over $650 billion in revenue and educated 20 million people annually. A perfect storm involving declining revenues and state funding are putting many of these universities at risk of bankruptcy. Many will not survive. Is this the end of University Inc in the United States?
Vaccines, antibodies and the race to immunity
A global arms race to identify, test and manufacture an effective vaccine for Covid-19 is bringing the brightest minds in medicine, public health, manufacturing and supply-chain around one goal. From the Brazil to Russia and the United States to China over 179 vaccine candidates are being tested. This week we’ll look at the vaccine candidates that are showing the most promise.
Mail-in Voting and a disputed 2020 US Presidential Election
The 2020 US presidential election will be unprecedented and remembered for the massive surge in mail-in voting and the potential impact it will have on the result. But mail-in votes will be counted slowly in the days following the election. As these votes are counted and the results change in the days after November 3rd, the risk that the result is contested, called fraudulent and even that the election will be branded as stolen by either side represents a constitutional crisis of the highest order. The 2020 US Presidential election may be the most high-stakes election in US History.
How dirty money moves across the Global Financial System
It has been an open secret for some time that the global financial system is awash with dirty money. The recent leaks of the FinCEN files illustrates this problem in detail. Despite efforts to strengthen financial security and anti-money laundering safeguards, dirty money flows in the financial system continue to worsen. This two-part series will delve into the problem about money laundering and what can be done about it.
The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, Beneficial Ownership and Panama Papers
Last week in Trajectory #20 we discussed President Donald Trump’s tax returns, the revelations from the FinCEN files and explored why global anti-money laundering controls are failing to do their job. This week we’ll dig into an even bigger and more incendiary leak - the Panana Papers - and look at the reforms these leaks have sparked, including The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 that’s passing through Congress right now.
One year into the raging COVID-19 pandemic: hope.
A year into the COVID-19 pandemic the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine announcements have given us all reasons for hope and clear sight towards ending the COVID-19 pandemic. This week we look at the vaccine candidates in more depth, analyze the role of the US Government’s Operation Warp Speed Program and determine when we might return to normalcy