Am so psyched that The New Yorker published this explainer about the inner workings of the hedge fund. It’s about Casanova, a French doctoral dissertation dating back to1900, and how…


How the ‘Technoking’ imbues assets with value in the same way medieval kings would

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk poses on the red carpet of the Axel Springer Award 2020
Photo: Britta Pedersen/Pool/Getty Images

Where does money come from, and how did it get that way?

Most people assume that it all started with bartering, but the barter theory, popularized by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations — which supposes that human societies traded goods for one another before developing currency — has been widely disproven. No example of a pre-currency barter economy has ever been discovered anywhere on Earth.

Quite the opposite, in fact. The late 19th-century European anthropologists and ethnographers who conducted field studies among what were then perceived to be the “primitive tribes” of Africa, Asia, Australia, and Oceania reported…


Time itself is now for sale

The world’s first tweet is now for sale as an NFT, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced last week. In an article about the news for CNN Business, writer Jazmin Goodwin details how NFTs (that is, non-fungible tokens) have become a way to buy and sell what were once unique and ephemeral spots of time—not only Jack Dorsey’s primal tweet (bids for which have now reached $2.5 million), but videos of famous dunks by Lebron James, and innumerable other “moments” that bear commodification.

Time itself is now for sale, and it surprises us not at all.

In ancient Europe, a visit…


By the time Covid is done, will the days of the Foodie have gone to the dogs?

For the past thirty years, Paul Freedman and I have followed the origins, growth, and proliferation of American food culture. Paul is a Medievalist, and has written one of my favorite food books of all time, along with a recent best-seller. He is arguably America’s foremost expert on restaurants. I have worked on a different track, more focussed on food politics and food insecurity.

We have benefited as food studies became a part of academic departments, as chefs became international celebrities, as food media grew from a niche to a mainstay of cable television and the internet, and as food…


Before there was such a thing as a market economy, metals defined money. Sparkling rocks belie an ugly history, but one worth re-visiting as the precious metals sector of the market reaches for a new era of dominance.

The Rape of Proserpina, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, executed between 1621 and 1622.

Bloomberg News recently reported that “industrial metal prices are powering to the highest in years,” sparked by upcoming legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions for vehicles, post-pandemic demand for home electronics, and an across-the-board desire by manufacturers of all stripes for next-wave batteries. …


The first-ever options trader discovered a key insight about the nature of risk — and how to profit from it

Thales of Miletus (640–546 BC), the philosopher, astronomer and geometer who identified water as the original substance and basis of the universe. Original Artwork: Engraving by Ambrose Tardieu, Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

An epic amount of ink has been spilled over the past few weeks about Reddit’s WallStreetBets and wild trading of options for meme stocks like GameStop. Much of this ink describes meme stocks as a unique phenomenon with little or no precedent. But the history of the financial markets is actually filled with precedents for meme stocks. Sure, nobody was buying stock in video game retail companies in ancient Greece. But believe it or not, the very first option trader in ancient Greece blazed a trail followed by Gamestonkers. …

Frederick Kaufman

Professor of journalism, magazine writer, author of The Money Plot: A History of Currency’s Power to Enchant, Control, and Manipulate.

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