By Bilal Hafeez 11-06-2019
In: podcasts | Other

5 Podcasts Worth Listening To

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An Intra-West Debate (Exponent, 55mins). I’m a big fan of the Taiwan-based Ben Thompson. He’s a techie and on this podcast, he delves into the US-China tech war. I wouldn’t skip much of this podcast. For Western countries, Thompson reveals that there is a genuine national security issue regarding the use of Chinese tech. And it’s not a Trump issue, it will endure. Further, China’s chip and advanced tech knowledge pales by comparison with US companies, so it has more to lose from open hostilities. On the other hand, China is central to global supply chains, meaning that Western countries ignore China at a significant risk. There remains an open question as to whether the US is trying to de-link its economy from China.

Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meetings Q&A part two (The Investors Podcast, 40mins). This episode, reviews and analyses Warren Buffet’s answers to questions asked at his recent gathering. The first question was on what market would Buffet focus on if he started today. The podcasters rightly highlight the part of Buffet’s answer that emphasises a focus on areas where you could gain most knowledge on and becoming a voracious reader. After minute seven, the topic moves on to corporate governance, index investing and AI. Those parts can be skipped. Then around minute thirty,

the podcasters spend some time talking about how to value high-growth loss-making firms. I found that to be a useful discussion given recent IPOs of such companies like Uber. It would seem understanding a company’s moat becomes essential.

Jeff Bezos’ Shareholder Letters. All of them. (Founders, 1 hr 47mins) A longer though worthwhile podcast. It extracts the main points from every single Bezos Shareholder Letter since 1997! Although varied, the underlying thread in each is a relentless focus on customers rather than competitors and products. Also, Bezos is very long-term focused and thinks deeply about decision-making in the face of uncertainty (particularly where numbers are not available – this segment starts at minute thirty-five). I would say this way of thinking is fairly unique as most CEOs focus on quarter-to-quarter performance and seem beholden to quantitative metrics.

[UK] Constitutional Breakdown (Talking Politics, 46 mins). This is an excellent podcast on all the problems with the UK political system. It argues that the piecemeal changes to the UK political system, from joining the EU to devolution, the fixed terms act, and even the referendum itself have resulted in a dysfunctional system. There could even be a possibility of the UK having no Prime Minister if (say) Boris Johnson cannot command his own party.

Summer Reading Special (Economics In Ten, 42 mins) Two economists give their top ten book recommendations for the summer. They provide a good, varied selection, though the ones that I’ll be reading are Dr Strangelove’s Game: A Brief History Of Economics Genius; How Bad are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything and Illegal: A graphic novel telling one boy’s epic journey to Europe. For those that don’t have the time to listen to the whole podcast, here’s their full list of their recommendations:

  1. Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why
    We Do What We Do, and How to Change
  2. Tim Hartford, Fifty Things that Made the
    Modern Economy,
  3. Paul Strathern, Dr Strangelove’s Game: A
    Brief History Of Economics Genius
  4. Michael Lewis, The Fifth Risk: Undoing
  5. Mike Berners-Lee, How Bad are Bananas: The Carbon
    Footprint of Everything
  6. Caroline Criado Perez, Invisible Women: Exposing
    Data Bias in a World Designed for Men.
  7. Akala, Natives: Race and Class in the
    Ruins of Empire
  8. Ha-Joon Change: 23 Things They Don’t Tell You
    About Capitalism.
  9. Colfer and Donkin, Illegal: A graphic novel
    telling one boy’s epic journey to Europe.
  10. John
    Le Carre, The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life