In today's excerpt – the gold standard. In recent political debates, there have been calls for a return to the gold standard. This standard states that holders of paper money can redeem it for gold, and banks – especially the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank – are required to match a certain fixed percentage of its currency in circulation with gold held in reserve to meet that redemption obligation. The gold standard was in effect when the U.S. Federal Reserve was chartered in 1913, but has been abandoned since that time. The most important effect of a gold standard is to prevent the government from printing extra money and thus devaluing all currency and bringing inflation. This goal – preventing government profligacy – is why certain politicians (most recently Ron Paul and the Tea Party members), continue to call for a return to the gold standard.
In today's excerpt – the accelerating pace of change. I began my career in financial services in the late 1970s. In my first decade in that industry, there were only a handful of new products introduced, and the number of new computer products offered to support our industry by then-dominant IBM was equally small. Today, there are new financial products introduced every day and an uninterruptible explosion of new technology offerings. In fact, when graphed, the pace of change in an increasing number of industries is moving forward at an exponential rate – doubling every one to two years.
In today's excerpt – thanks to the work of Daniel Kahneman and others, we now increasingly view our cognitive processes as being divided into two systems. System 1 produces the fast, intuitive reactions and instantaneous decisions that govern most of our lives. System 2 is the deliberate type of thinking involved in focus, deliberation, reasoning or analysis – such as calculating a complex math problem, exercising self-control, or performing a demanding physical task.
In today's excerpt – a disruption in history. Most people assume that history is a gradual continuum from the past to the present, each century being a little better and a little more populous than the prior one, with certain notable exceptions such as the so-called "dark ages". In fact, the growth of the world's population and the improvements in man's technologies were slight until the most recent 200 plus years – the period after the industrial revolution - and have exploded since. As a manifestation of this, the world's population was well under one billion in 1800, reached roughly two billion in 1900, and now stands at a staggering seven billion (though that population growth is now decelerating).