As we enter the dog days of summer, most global markets trade near their previous month-end levels. However, this semblance of placidity is misleading. Volatility, as measured by the VIX index, hit a two-month high on July 19, as markets sold off aggressively. Energy stocks have been particularly volatile, trading 10% lower on the month. However, they remain a very impressive 38% higher on the year!
The increased volatility was a result of a few factors. COVID-19 cases are becoming an increasing concern in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, causing investors to rethink the expected GDP growth for the remainder of 2021. American inflation numbers are also higher than expected, which adds to concerns that the U.S. Fed may raise interest rates sooner than expected. As a result, this could cause GDP growth to slow.
While the volatility of the price of oil and energy stocks were affected by these factors, it didn’t help that OPEC, the consortium of many of the world’s largest oil producers, announced it would begin pumping an additional 400,000 barrels of oil a day, starting in August. It will also add an additional 400,000 barrels each subsequent month until year end.
That being said, after its initial, yet fairly steep, market decline, oil prices have strengthened and continue to provide optimism for investors.
Looking forward, many of the trends that began turning (energy prices, value stocks, REITs, and commodities) continue to look strong. However, COVID cases and vaccination rates will likely play an outsized role in determining how the markets fare over the last five months of the year.

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The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro: A wonderfully written novel on the life of a most particular 20th-century butler. Big thank you to Heather for the recommendation!
Talking To Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell: The mark of a good book, I believe, is if it makes you think or reassess your beliefs. This book made me do both. It was also educational, entertaining, and chalk-full of fascinating stories. Talking To Strangers explores how although we may have preconceived notions about strangers, they’re often wrong. Our biases can work against us, especially in certain situations. But while this is the book’s main point, other layers and nuances are revealed as it progresses.
The Bed of Procrustes by Nassim Taleb: A short book of aphorisms based on Taleb’s research and philosophies.

How America Fractured Into Four Parts by George Packer: A long and thought-provoking Atlantic article on the four segments the U.S. populous has split into.

The Velocity of Skill Development: Quickly Closing the Gap by Farnam Street: “Focused repetitions give you feedback. Feedback makes you better. Each repetition builds upon the ones you’ve already done. This is how greatness happens. A series of tiny gains, imperceptible in moment, aggregate into massive differences in the end. You almost can’t help but get better if you apply these four things to your situation.”
Five Investing Powers by Morgan Housel: Five important perspectives to have in order to be a successful investor.
How a Coastline 100 Million Years Ago Influences Modern Election Results in Alabama: A graph that shows how important, and incredibly enduring, the effects of geography can be.
Curiosity Depends on What You Already Know by Zack St. George: Interesting article on how our current knowledge base often, perhaps predominantly, determines the new areas we “choose” to explore. Makes one question the degree of free will we actually possess...
A Toronto couple bought a massive old church for $240,000. Now they live there by Iris Benaroia: Now this is something you don’t see every day.
Where the Tech Talent Pool is Growing by Axios: My three takeaways: Toronto is now North America’s third largest tech talent pool (behind San Francisco and New York); how much faster the tech talent pool in the Canadian cities listed (Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton) are growing in relation to most American ones; and that some of this outpaced growth is due to a U.S.-to-Canada “brain drain”.
Chariots of Fire: It’s been two, perhaps three, decades since last watching Chariots of Fire. Still a great movie.
Dead Poets Society: “O Captain! My Captain!” It’s also been years since I last watched Dead Poets Society. It held up better than I’d expected, or even hoped for.
The Remains of the Day: After finishing the book (see above), Tanya and I watched the movie. We both thoroughly enjoyed it, but, as is so often the case, I felt the book to be superior.
Wandavison: If you’ve followed the theatrical releases of the Marvel Universe, you’ll want to watch this. And don’t worry if the first few episodes seem...a little odd. It will make sense in the end.
How China Turned the Desert in Green Forests: I find terraforming projects like these hugely impressive.
The $100BN Railway in the Desert: Another grand and impressive project - this time in the Middle East.
Free Speech, Safety, and The Letter by Ezra Klein with guest Yascha Mounk: By far the most thoughtful discussion I’ve heard on free speech!
Matt Ridley: Infinite Innovation [The Knowledge Project Ep. #107]: “To some extent, I’m trying to get away from this word creativity, which tends to imply that a special sort of juice runs in the vein of inventors that doesn’t run in the vein of ordinary people. If you look at the careers of people like Thomas Edison or Jeff Bezos, or talk to any great innovators today, they all emphasize the importance of trial and error, failure, of getting things wrong and starting again. And they also emphasize the importance of collaboration.”

“You cannot do anything with knowledge unless you know where it stops, and the costs of using it.”
- Nassim Taleb
“People prefer their sources of information to be highly correlated. Then all the messages you get are consistent with each other and you’re comfortable.”
- Daniel Kahneman
“We think we can easily see into the hearts of others based on the flimsiest of clues. We jump at the chance to judge strangers. We would never do that to ourselves, of course. We are nuanced and complex and enigmatic. But the stranger is easy. If I can convince you of one thing in this book, let be this: Strangers are not easy.”
- Malcolm Gladwell, from Talking to Strangers
“Man needs so little...yet he begins wanting so much.”
- Louis L’Amour
Matthew Lekushoff
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