For a book that is highly critical of the latest incarnation of capitalism that is financial innovation, I was surprised to see it reviewed by the website Seeking Alpha. Two million people subscribe to the site’s financial news and many more visit it to gain better understanding of financial markets. In layman’s terms, Alpha is a measure of how well a certain stock, bond, or sector performs against expectations set for it by analysts. So when I read the title of the review “Seeking Alpha with Memenomics”, I had an inclination that the reviewer has a good grasp on the macro memetics of capitalism. Here the review in full:
Seeking Alpha With Memenomics By Range Chiever
Feb 11, 2014 10:06 PM
I just finished reading Said Dawlabani’s “Memenomics- The Next Generation Economic System”, and I am still buzzing. Or maybe that is my first cup of Death Wish coffee. In my investing lifetime there has been a handful of works that greatly advanced my investing intellect. Books and articles from Peter Lynch, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger come to mind. This book may top them all. You see, investing is all about seeing value where others don’t. If one sentence could articulate what seeking alpha is about, that would be it.
However, I would recommend this book to only a small subset of souls who happen to mix economics with their psychology. This is not exactly peanut butter and chocolate. To really understand the message it requires a basic understanding of the works of Clare Grave’s Spiral Dynamics or at least a decent understanding of the study of human development.
The book reframes the economic history of the United States as a process of developmental growth from the early 20th century up through the financial disaster of 2008 and then to today.
His assessment of the crash in 2008 through a cultural development lens is something that has been swirling in my head for half a decade. He integrated and articulated many key points into a beautiful story that resolved many conflicts I was struggling with. I’ve always scoffed at folks who said that the Government bailout was not the best course of action during the crisis. He has changed my mind.
So, how can an economics book about personal and cultural development possibly help your investing prowess? Well, once you understand that the US economy is evolving and developing along a path of greater development, it is easier to see the general direction of the economy and maybe more importantly, spot those companies which are poised to benefit from this development.
Said used two companies to illustrate highly evolved corporations of the future. They are Google and Whole Foods Market. Much to my delight, these were two companies that I added to my portfolio in early 2009.
It’s impossible to explain the context in the book required to understand the praise for these two companies. In his terms, it is the appreciation of People, Profit and Planet as opposed to almost all other companies where Money Only Matters. It’s like the friend who calls only when he needs something compared to the friend who calls because he genuinely likes you.
He does differentiate between the two as well. Google is a disrupter in the evolving technology field and Whole Foods while steeped in an age old industry is finding ways to differentiate itself. He outlines characteristics, from WF’s restriction on executive pay and team based culture to Google’s democratization of knowledge and their unique venture finance arm. There is so, so much more and if this interests you at all, you must read the book.
I have renewed vigor today in my search for alpha. It reminds me of the time I first read Peter Lynch’s One Up on Wall Street or the several hour binge session of Warren Buffet’s annual letters to shareholders. I am posting today looking for a few souls out there that might have a similar view or plowed into this untouched jungle with machete in hand.
Disclosure: I am long WFM, GOOG.