21st-century capital

Seldom does a book create such buzz as Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century” and rarely has a book faster been lauded as one of the decade’s defining books on economics. Much of the silence on this blog can be explained by engaging with Piketty’s magnum opus. I wanted to wait before posting anything before I would see the French economist speak at Columbia yesterday. What follows are some notes on the book and on issues beyond.

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Thomas Piketty (left), with panelists Suresh Naidu, Victoria de Grazia and Thomas Edsall

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Integral architecture

As forewarned, I am going to jot down further notes from inspiring readings that have made me enter 2014 on a more thoughtful note. After pondering a radical article on the failure of “green capitalism”, herewith unsorted reflections on Peter Buchanan’s “Big Rethink” on architecture, published on Architectural Review over 2012 and 2013.

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Montreal real estate development

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Green capitalism

A few articles have got me thinking over the past couple of weeks. Ideologically, they have made this year kick off on a slightly “disorienting” foundation. Of particular note have been a long piece on ecology as well as a series on architecture. Yet also polemics on work ethic and class have been pondered long after putting them aside. Herewith a few scribbles.

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Man walking in front of Shimizu HQ, the most eco-friendly office in Japan, so they say…

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Hiatus, update

It’s been a while since I last posted anything. There is really no sole reason to blame for this hiatus – just a variety of things coming together. To make use of the diary aspect of blogging and to bridge the time until my focus returns, herewith some personal updates and thoughts just ahead of the holidays.

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Zooming along the Den-en-toshi Line

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Global Frontiers Inc.

One of my favourite aspects of working in emerging market fund management was the frequent travel across the world for on-the-ground research. I would meet thoughtful people and return home with lateral insights, helping our team invest more profitably at less risk. A former business contact of mine set up a business that designs such trips for institutional investors. I joined him a few weeks back.

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Impact investing

Triggered by a visit to a recent meet up here in New York, I have been thinking about the impact investing industry. In one way or another, much of my finance career had something to do with it. The question now – is it the future and worth much more of my personal focus? I can’t help but being skeptical of the industry. Some pointers on why below the jump.

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For lack of a better photo (?) – Kashgar cattle market, western China, 2004

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New York

Welcome to New York City! We arrived here a few days ago and are slowly settling in. In what has become tradition since Japan, my instincts immediately led me to two iconic 1950s buildings on Park Avenue. Jotting down some observations is one thing, yet I feel that exploring this city may need some more structure this time.

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Some NY startups

New York is a veritable Silicon Valley rival. I stumbled upon this great list of about 600 NY-based startups. To get a feel for what’s happening in my new home I clicked through all of their websites. Herewith some of the tabs I kept open.

Finance

Kapitall is a venture that attempts to break down the barriers to investing. It uses simple and intuitive interfaces that make investing in the stock market accessible to those normally left out. Its mission is simple, it aims to cut out the complexity (e.g. make investing as simple as drag and drop) while still allowing for intelligent investing. In the end, there’s a clear business case as well – Kapitall has an attached brokerage.

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