“A choice architect has the responsibility for organizing the context in which people make decisions.” ~Richard Thaler
I’ve spent nearly two decades helping people with their finances. The most common feedback I receive is, “I never knew about this. I wish someone taught me this before.” This is where the motivation came from to start my website. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of personal finance blogs and websites. There’s significantly less economic websites and blogs, but there are still many. The motivation behind this website is to combine the information from economic websites and the recommendations from personal finance sites to help you navigate your way through the Financial Genome.
You can read more about the motivation for this site on my About page. The inspiration came from my interest in visual graphics of economic data. The chart below specifically caught my eye. It’s a couple of years old now, but it shows the consolidation of the companies involved with the world’s mass-food production. They key takeaway of the picture is that only about 10 companies control the world’s commercial food production. That was fascinating to me, and I wanted to tell everyone. So, I started a website.
For now, this website is a simple blog. I have a full-time job, I’m married, and have kids, so I’m limited to publishing one article a month. I’d like for this site to develop into an interactive website where people can explore any aspect of the Financial Genome. For example, if you were interested in food production, you could navigate through the picture above and all the stock symbols and other financial information of those companies. This would show you other fascinating data such as ~11% or $18.4B of Coca-Cola’s stock is owned by Berkshire Hathaway—the company managed by the famous investor Warren Buffet.
The motivation isn’t just to show you the financial aspect of the world around us. I’d also like to explore how different people can exert influence on the financial genome around us. For example, in the picture below, someone graphed out the conspiracy-theory fueled obsession with the Bilderberg Group. This group is rumored to control the world using their massive wealth, power, influence, political affiliation, and positions. It’s difficult to see, but you can do a Google image search for “high-res Bilderberg Group” and zoom in.
I mentioned that this Bilderberg Group is conspiracy-theory fueled because according to normal news stations, this group is just an advisory council that meets regularly in lavish settings. It reminds me of an award show for the wealthiest people in the world. Some of the people involved in our generation’s biggest conspiracies attend these meetings, such as the Rothschild family (believed to be the wealthiest family in the world ever by conspiracy theorists). So, if you wanted to research these conspiracies you would have to sift mostly through mainstream media. The picture below gives you a good indication of who actually owns the mainstream media.
In this picture, the bigger circles own the smaller circles. The internet and television are the primary sources people get their information, so basically Disney, NBC, and CBS own most of the world’s televised media. You can find similar graphics showing who owns just the news websites. Some of these companies are public companies with public shares being traded and owned and some are private companies. Wealthy people can own controlling interests in these companies and control the information we use to research these same people. It’s not just individual companies or people I’d like to track either.
Countries and governments control large amounts of commodities, companies, and political interests. These are done primarily through Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs). The graphic below is a quick snapshot of the growth of SWFs since 2000. Some of these SWFs are bigger than countries, in terms of assets under management.
My end goal is to have a website and/or app that combines the tracking services of personal finances sites such as Mint while overlaying your specific impact to the financial genome all the way up to a Sovereign Wealth Fund. What could you do with this information? The primary goal is to allow people to make better decisions. Not all entities in the Financial Genome are nefarious, but many are self-serving. I’d like to expose all your options so you know how the impact of your decisions. Borrowing a term, I read in the book, “Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness,” I’d like to improve the choice architecture in the Financial Genome.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2019
I’ll unlikely be able to increase article production beyond one a month, so you can expect at least one a month. I’d like to refine my stock tracker so it’s more interactive. The motivation of the Financial Genome Project was not to be a solo affair. I’d like to start creating a team of people creating content and developing interactivity of the website. I hope you find the information interesting, and that you support the project by Liking the posts and Sharing it with your friends on all the social media platforms. Thanks for all your support in 2018!