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What prevented interest rates in the U.S. from going negative in 2021?

The reason interest rates in the U.S. didn’t go negative in 2021 was because of two monetary tools that the Fed used. The first tool was the Fed paid interest on the reserves that the banks hold at the Fed and the second tool was reverse repos. 

1. The banks bank at the Fed whereas you and me bank at banks like BOA, Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo. The money that the banks hold at the Fed is called reserves. The Fed paid an interest rate of .1% on these bank reserves. This put a floor under the interest rate because it discouraged banks from lending at an interest rate of less than .1% since the Fed’s chance of defaulting is close to zero, and it doesn’t make sense for a bank to lend to someone that has a higher chance of defaulting than the Fed for a lower interest rate.

2. Reverse repos allowed the Fed to essentially pay money market fund participants an interest rate of 0%. Money market funds are a big source of funding and liquidity. This is where the cash that you and me have in our brokerage accounts is mostly located. In a repurchase agreement, also known as a repo, a party sells securities (usually treasury bills) and then buys them back at a later date for a slightly higher price. The difference in price is the interest rate. Repos are usually only overnight transactions but they can be for a longer period. A reverse repo is the seller side of the repurchase agreement.  A repo is a form of lending and a reverse repo is a form of borrowing. The Fed was the borrower. It used reverse repos to borrow money so it could pay 0% interest, which created a place for money market funds to put their money. This also acted as a floor to interest rates because, as mentioned earlier, it doesn’t make sense for a money market fund participant to lend to someone that has a higher chance of defaulting than the Fed for a lower interest rate.

Here is a list of counterparties that the Fed can do reverse repos with:




One British Thermal Unit (BTU) is the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of liquid water by one degree Fahrenheit at the temperature that water has its greatest density (around 39 degrees Fahrenheit). One BTU is approximately equal to the energy released by burning a match.  




The Central Processing Unit (CPU) in a computer runs the operating system and applications; the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) generates graphics, but due to its ability to process many pieces of data at the same time, GPUs help accelerate Artificial Intelligence (AI) and High Performance Computing (HPC) workloads; and the Data Processing Unit (DPU) performs network data processing, security, and storage. 



Congress gave the Federal Reserve the power to create money in two ways: 

1. By making deposits into the accounts that banks hold at the Fed. The Fed can make these deposits through QE and lending operations. REPOs are one example of lending operations.


2. Printing physical currency ($20 bills, $100 bills, etc.)

This kind of money created by the Fed is called Base Money.


The kind of money that is created by the banking system is called M1 and M2.

The third kind of money is money that is created by foreign central banks and pumped into the U.S. 

Source: Richard Duncan Economics


According to Strategic Economic Decisions, the cumulative growth of inflation-adjusted financial asset wealth in the US was -43.5% from 1966 to 1980. The cumulative growth was so low because this was a period of time with very high inflation. 




Policy makers have levers that they need to use to navigate through debt crises. 


These levers can help policy makers navigate debt crises by bringing the debt and debt service levels down relative to the income and cash flow levels that are required to service them.

There are 4 types of levers:

1. Austerity (spending less)

2. Debt defaults/restructurings

3. The central bank "printing money" and making purchases (or providing guarantees)

4. Transfers of money and credit from those who have more than they need to those who have less

Source: Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises by Ray Dalio


There are three factors that determine the growth rate of an economy over the long-term.

Those three factors are:

  1. the size of the workforce

  2. factories, transportation infrastructure like roads and highways, communication networks and all the other capital stock in the economy

  3. how effectively the first two are being combined (productivity)




Most applications and web apps that we use have a frontend and a backend.

The frontend consists of the use interface that we see and interact with each time we are using the app.

The backend consists of the part of the app that you can’t see but is running behind the scenes to help the app operate. It is the logic and data of the app that is usually running in a database with Application Program Interfaces running on top of it.

Both the frontend and the backend work together to help you use and carryout whatever function you’re trying to accomplish on the app.



The Buddha wrote about a systematic examination of the 5 things that constitute a human being's experience in his seminal sermon, Discourse on the Not-Self.


These 5 things are referred to as the aggregates in Buddhist philosophy and they are:

1. Feelings

2. Physical Body

3. Consciousness

4. Mental Formations

5. Perceptions

These 5 things are a human's 5 layers of existence that make up our experiences. 




Personal savings for Americans soared from its historical average of 7% to almost 34% in April 2020.


And from March 2020 to November 2020, personal savings for Americans were $1.56 trillion higher than they were in 2019 (an increase of 173%) due to the CARES Act which increased unemployment insurance and sent stimulus payments to all who qualified. 

The Payroll Protection Program, which was also a part of the CARES Act, also helped increase the personal savings rate because it prevented a collapse in income for business owners in the amount of $143 billion.


So after-tax income for Americans was $1 trillion higher from March 2020 through November 2020 than it was in 2019 which is an increase of 8% from last year. 


And some of these transfer payments from the CARES Act did of course go towards spending and paying down debt but they also went towards savings as bank deposits rose by 19% and currency in circulation increased to $260 billion since March 2020.

The lockdowns and mandated business closures likely contributed to more savings as well since they limited the number of opportunities for people to spend.



The lithium battery in an electric vehicle weighs about 1,000 pounds and while there are many different kinds, a typical electric battery contains the following:


25 pounds of lithium

30 pounds of cobalt

60 pounds of nickel

110 pounds of graphite

90 pounds of copper

About 400 pounds of steel, aluminum, and many different plastic components 



There are 3 different ways for a company to go public: IPO, direct listing or a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Vehicle). 

IPO - 7 key steps which are: 1. Picking the underwriter 2. Filing an S-1 form 3. Road Show 4. Underwriter handpicks the IPO price  5. Underwriter handpicks the allocation of the shares 6. Market based opening from NYSE or NASDAQ  7. Open trading

Direct Listing - 5 key steps which are: 1. Picking the underwriter 2. Filing an S-1 Form 3. Road Show 4. Direct Listing 5. Open Trading

SPAC-  10 keys steps which are: 1-7. IPO (see steps for IPO process above) 8. Board begins to look for acquisition targets and has 2 years to complete an acquisition otherwise they need to return the money to the investors 9. SPAC acquires target company (who can't be publicly-traded) through a "reverse merger"  10. Target company is merged into the SPAC and begins trading on the market as the target company and the SPAC no longer exists

Source: and


DNA is divided into 46 pairs of chromosomes (23 pairs from the mother and 23 pairs from the father) in the nucleus of most cells in the body. All other apes like gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans have 24 pairs because 2 medium-size chromosomes in some ancestral ape fused to form one chromosome at some point in hominid evolution. The human genome departed from the ape genome several million years ago which resulted in new mutations and variations over time. 

DNA encodes about 20,687 genes in total. This is 1,796 more than worms, 12,000 less than corn and 25,000 less than rice or wheat. It turns out the sophistication of the gene networks results in the difference between human and breakfast cereal and not the amount of genes. 

Sequences of DNA at the end of chromosomes called telomeres are designed to protect the chromosomes from fraying and degenerating just like the little bits of plastic at the end of shoelaces are designed to protect the shoelaces from unraveling.

Source: The Gene An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee


The Federal Reserve started its operations in 1914 and for the first 100 years of its existence (between 1914 and 2007), the Federal Reserve created $900 billion in total.  Over the next 7 years (2007-2014) they created an additional $3.5 trillion and then over the following 5 and a half years (2014-6/10/20) they created an additional $2.8 billion bringing the Fed’s total assets to $7.2 trillion.

Source: Cash Flow Ninja Podcast with Richard Duncan episode 609 and


A bathtub of water and a laptop battery won't do much by themselves but if you take that bathtub of water and that same amount of lithium that goes into a laptop battery and you mix it together in a fusion (nuclear) power plant then you will end up with 200,000 kilowatt hours of electricity which is about 30 years of UK's per capita electricity consumption.  The fusion process, which converts hydrogen to helium, releases about 10 million times more energy than what is released when burning the same amount of hydrogen.



It was discovered in 2015 that the reason elephants don't get cancer is because they have 20 copies of a cancer-killing gene called TP53. In contrast, humans only have 1 copy of this cancer-killing gene. The job of this cancer-killing gene, TP53, is to destroy a possible tumor when DNA is damaged by coding for a protein to either repair the cell or kill it.

The cause for cancer are genetic mutations and according to some scientists, it takes about 10 important mutations to turn a normal cell in a human to a cancer cell. Environmental factors such as smoking, eating a bad diet, and sitting in the sun too long can also contribute to the cause of cancer as well. 

Source: National Geographic - Your Genes 


We humans share 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees and bonobos. 

If you were to take all the DNA out of all your cells and string it together, it would measure about twice the diameter of our solar system. 

The amount of proteins an allele produces determines whether a gene is recessive or dominant.

About 1% of the total DNA carries instructions to make proteins; the rest is so-called junk DNA. 

There are approximately 20,000 genes in the human genome.

Humans share 7% of their genes with the E. coli bacterium.

Sometimes a chromosome has a missing part or extra parts. Both can cause a variety of disorders.

Source: National Geographic - Your Genes 


Genes reside on chromosomes - long, filamentous structures buried within cells that contain tens of thousands of genes linked together in chains.


Humans have forty-six such chromosomes in total - 23 from one parent and 23 from another.


The entire set of genetic instructions carried by an organism is termed a genome (think of the genomes as the encyclopedia of all genes, with footnotes, annotations, instructions, and references).


The human genome contains about between 21 and 23 thousand genes that provide the master instructions to build, repair, and maintain humans. 

Source: The Gene - An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee


All of the gametes in a female's eggs possess X chromosomes meanwhile the male's sperm contains about half X chromosomes and half Y chromosomes therefore it is the male's sperm that ultimately determines the sex of a baby.


If the male's sperm that combines with the female's egg has an X chromosome then it will form a female fertilized egg.


If the male's sperm has a Y chromosome instead then it will form a male. 



Life as we know it requires three things. Compartmentalization - you need a little membrane around your cell; Metabolism - you take in food, eat it and let that make you do things; and Replication - you need to have some information about who you are that you pass down to future generations. 

Sean Carroll thinks that we are kind of close to starting life from non-life. In the lab, compartmentalization seems pretty easy, it's not hard to make lipid bilayers that come into little cellular walls pretty easily. Metabolism and replication are hard but replication we are close to. People have made RNA life molecules in the lab. Metabolism is harder but progress is being made. 

Source: Sean Carroll on Lex Fridman's Artificial Intelligence Podcast


As a society today (November 2019), humans create around 2.5 exabytes of new data each day.


An exabyte is one quintillion bytes, which is a one with 18 zeroes after it.


Or to put it another way, one exabyte is one billion gigabytes.


My current phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, has 64 GB of storage capacity so that would mean that I would need 15.625 million Galaxy Note 8s to store just one exabyte of data. 





What is DNA and where is it inside our bodies? DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material inside humans and almost all other organisms.


It is found in the cells of our bodies and nearly every cell has the same DNA.


A small amount of DNA can be found in the mitochondria but most of our DNA is located in the cell nucleus.




What is aging and why do we die? Aging is the build up of genetic errors.


This means that cells eventually become slower, sluggish, they go through senescence and eventually die.


And that is why we die. We die because of the buildup of mistakes in our genome or our cellular activity.


And the aging in our cells takes place in the mitochondria.


Therefore, if these mistakes in the mitochondria could be cured it is possible we could become immortal. 

Source: Michio Kaku on the October 2019 Artificial Intelligence Podcast with Lex Fridman


In 1900, 28% of Americans died before age 5; in 2019, it's about half of 1%. 




The reason Silicon forms the basis of most of the electronics we use today (mobile phones, computers, etc.) is because it is a simple and abundant element on Earth which makes it very affordable and also because it is a semiconductor.


Since it is a semiconductor, it can conduct electricity under some conditions and act as an insulator in others.


Its electrical properties can be modified through a process called doping also.


These make it an ideal material for making transistors that amplify electrical signals. 



The moon goes around the earth, the earth goes around the sun, the sun goes around the center of the milky way, and the milky way goes around a black hole.

Source: Michio Kaku's "The Future of Humanity" Google Talk on April 10, 2019


There used to be a lot of wonder about why female sexual climax exists at all since women don't need an orgasm to conceive but this was eventually figured out.


Science discovers that the purpose of a female orgasm is to help a women select the best sperm to produce the healthiest offspring which would greatly increase the odds of the infant surviving.


Researchers found that women have the most orgasms with men whose bodies are most symmetrical since this is a marker for immune competence and strong genes.

Source: Psychology Today: Celebrating 50 Years Issue (August 2017)



Daniel Kahneman found that peoples' memories don't record events exactly as they happen.


They engage in several energy saving mental shortcuts instead by time-sampling their experiences and encoding events according to how they feel at the peak of the event and at the end.


This feeling of how we feel at the peak of an event and how we feel at the end of an event govern how our memories remember it.


Therefore, how happy we are with our lives is a judgement we make based not on actual experience but on remembered experience time-sampled at the peak of our life and at the end. 

Source: Psychology Today: Celebrating 50 Years Issue (August 2017)


Psychologist Martin Seligman made a giant discovery in understanding how depression works.


He learned that when animals are exposed to a shock from which they can't escape they don't even bother trying to escape later on when they are free to do so and likely to succeed.


After the animals were unable to control their environment, they learned that any actions they take make no difference and according to Martin, this exactly parallels the symptoms exhibited by depressed individuals.

Source: Psychology Today: Celebrating 50 Years Issue (August 2017)


AI functions today by a set of step-by-step mathematical rules called algorithms which tell a computer how to complete a certain task and can be written so that the machines learn on there own. 


Artificial Intelligence (AI) falls into different categories and two of those categories are Artificial Narrow Intelligence (Weak AI) and Artificial General Intelligence (Strong AI).


Weak AI is the only kind of AI that exists in the world today (September 2019) in any real way. 


It focuses on specific problems like feeding Google maps the best route to take to get to work or playing you in a game of Chess or having Siri look up the state capital of New York. 


Strong AI is more of a hypothetical intelligence that could think the way a human does. It could quickly and efficiently upgrade its thinking on its own.


Unlike Weak AI which does exist in the world today, Strong AI doesn't exist yet but may sometime in the future. 

Source: Popular Science: The New Artificial Intelligence Issue



According to estimates released by J.P Morgan in late June [2019], passive strategies now control 60% of U.S. equity assets while quant funds control 20% - a staggering 80% combined.


Passive titans Blackrock and Vanguard now oversee $12 trillion, up from less than $8 trillion just five years ago.


And based on a recent report by Thomson Reuters, algorithmic trading systems are now responsible for 75% of global trading volume. 




The waves that carry signals for the internet are the same kind of waves used for radio, TV, visible light, x-rays, and gamma rays.


The difference between these waves is frequency and wavelength. Radio and TV use longer, lower frequency waves than you can see. X-rays and gamma rays are shorter and higher frequency. 



The first mechanical clock was invented in the 14th century in Europe.


It is an invention that we all take for granted because it's been around so much longer than we have.


Before the clock was invented people relied on 2 bell-ringers to keep track of time mostly for workers to know when it was time to go to work and time to go home.


The bell-ringers' wages were financed by local guilds so sometimes workers would be worried that the bell-ringers were bribed by the guilds to extend the workday. And before there were bell-ringers, most workers were essentially tied to their master's land as slaves or serfs because of the difficulty to keep track of time.


It wasn't until the escapement was invented which allowed for the invention of the clock due to its ability to transfer energy to the clock's pendulum at a steady rate that workers had a much better source to rely on for their work hours. 


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