"Keep some perspective. Not every problem is a Crisis, Plague, Epidemic, or Existential Threat, and not every change is the End of This, the Death of That… Don’t confuse pessimism with profundity: problems are inevitable, but problems are solvable... It’s not just a rhetorical aspiration to say that ideas can change the world; it’s a fact about the physical makeup of brains.” - Stephen Pinker, Enlightenment Now
Science Fiction Fact
Amidst all the negative news on Covid, it is worth pointing out that the US economy (GPD) and stock market (S&P 500) have reached new highs toward the end of 2021. Granted, much of this is likely driven by the near 40% increase in the US money supply (M2) since Covid's arrival, as we noted earlier ("Fun Fact, Serious Consequences"). On a more positive note, there were some remarkable advances during 2021, such as:
Nuclear fusion became realistic. The promise of nuclear fusion has long been considered the "holy grail" of clean energy: a virtually limitless source of energy that doesn't produce greenhouse gases or radioactive waste. It is a natural, ubiquitous power source. It is literally what causes the sun and stars to shine. The problem is that fusion has long been technologically impossible, and thus considered a fantasy. That changed in 2021. In August, the NIF set a new record for energy released from nuclear fusion – smashing it’s earlier 2018 record by 23-fold. Then, in September, an MIT-designed project created the most powerful magnetic field in history, thereby removing the greatest barrier to making nuclear fusion a practical reality. Major fusion projects are now under construction in France and China.
AI accelerated discovery in life sciences. After finding the solution to "protein folding", one of biology's greatest challenges, Google's Deepmind made its AlphaFold system available - for free - to the entire world. Their team notes, "This breakthrough demonstrates the impact AI can have on scientific discovery and its potential to dramatically accelerate progress in some of the most fundamental fields that explain and shape our world."
The world got vaccinated. Within a single year, almost 60% of the global population received a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine (and 50% were fully vaccinated). This astounding achievement follows 2020’s breathtaking feat of Pfizer and Moderna developing the vaccines within a single year.
These were just a few of the breakthroughs in 2021. There were many others. Heck, Captain Kirk even traveled into actual space courtesy of Jeff Bezos. There will surely be challenges and rough patches ahead, yet we enter 2022 with a hopeful and optimistic perspective. Our New Year’s resolution is to look forward, not backward, and attempt to (prudently) maximize our clients’ lifetime exposure to serendipity. The Fielder team sends its best wishes to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2022 ahead! Cheers,
Frank Byrd, CFA Steve Korn, CFA
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