Links for Thought -- March 30, 2012

A Template for Understanding: How the Economic Machine Works... (Bridgewater) -- This is a MUST READ, and I mean that to the fullest. Ray Dalio and Bridgewater lay out a more complete, robust and accurate assessment for how an economy works than anything we see in the financial presses.  Plus the write-up is concise and written in layman's terms so that anyone and everyone can extract real value.  Reading this report should be a prerequisite for ANY candidate who runs for office, maybe then our economic rhetoric would be a bit more complex, but way more rational? One can dream!

Google Cloud: Coming Soon to Robots Near You (Seeking Alpha) -- To date, the robotics story has primarily been hardware driven, based on innovation in mimicking human movements and/or actions based on necessity. Now the rapid advance in software is adding a whole new dimension and setting the stage for the dawn of widespread adoption of robotics. While on the topic, check out this awesome video of a robot that can jump over 30 feet if need be! 

World's Changed Man, World's Changed-China Edition (Financial Times) -- This is from earlier in March, but still just as relevant.  Throughout the month, each market downtick was more a reflection of concerns over China than Europe.  That's quite the change from this past summer.  What are the consequences?  Well one might be the end of the big commodity bull that's lasted over a decade.  Can the commodity bull persist if China slows?  Does this bode as a positive, or a negative for the US?  These have been the questions that I spent the majority of my attention on this past week.  I should have some charts and analysis within the next two weeks.

Insane in the Membrane (Outside Magazine via Readability) -- This is a fascinating long read on the history of Gore-Tex and the state of the waterproof, breathable fabric market.  There is an intense battle being waged for market dominance that includes some interesting twists and turns.

How the Natural Gas Craze Will Impact Clean Energy (GigaOM) -- This is an issue I have spent quite a bit of time contemplating myself.  Is natural gas a transitory or enduring shift in terms of efficiency, cost and environmental cleanliness?  If so, what are the consequences for clean energy on each of those variables as well?  We seem to be at a big inflection point in the adoption of both.  Is this an "either or" proposition, or can both succeed?  There are way more questions than answers right now, and in these answers lies considerable opportunity.

Why Minsky Matters (EconoMonitor) -- In my book, Minsky is the most important economist today.  Yet, there's a bit of a debate going no amongst the new age Keynesians as to how exactly Minsky is relevant.  Here is L. Wrandall Wray's analysis as to why Minsky is so damn important.  It's slightly wonky, but a must read for anyone interested in macroeconomics.

Praise is Fleeting, but Brickbats We Recall (NY Times) -- Really fascinating psychological analysis of how the mind processes negatives in contrast to positives.  We tend to recall negatives more frequently and with more clarity and this has to do with how the brain works.  Understanding psychology generally speaking is very important in improving as an investor.

I usually close with one of my nature pictures, but today I will leave you all with this awesome video presentation taking advantage of the power of the iPad: