By Eric Peters, CIO of One River Asset Managemetn
“In 18 incidents, described in 21 reports, observers reported unusual Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) movement patterns or flight characteristics. Some UAP appeared to remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernible means of propulsion. In a small number of cases, military aircraft systems processed radio frequency energy associated with UAP sightings.”
- ODNI, Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena
“Sociocultural stigmas and sensor limitations remain obstacles to collecting data on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP),” wrote the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. "Narratives from aviators in the operational community and analysts from the military and Intelligence Community describe disparagement associated with observing UAP, reporting it, or attempting to discuss it with colleagues.” Nothing new there.
Throughout human history, those comfortable in the consensus have shown utter contempt for the lonely voices who threaten to upend the prevailing worldview. And yet, without those courageous enough to speak their truth, we would live in a perpetual Dark Ages. Such is the depth of our fear of change that we persecute the brave few, even as they drag us into a better future, kicking, screaming.
It is too early to know whether these UAP represent anomalies of earthly origin, or an extraterrestrial intelligence. But for some mysterious reason, we appear finally prepared to consider the latter.
How we react to news is often more interesting than the events themselves. Contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence would simultaneously represent the greatest risk and opportunity in human history – far surpassing the arrival of Columbus in the Americas.
So why are we seemingly unperturbed by today’s possibility? Perhaps collapsing faith in institutions leaves us distrustful of anything we are now told. Maybe, our growing acceptance of ever wilder conspiracy theories has numbed us to anything, everything. Or possibly, we are already processing such profound change in politics and policy - which produced successive years of 15% US federal deficits, fully funded by the central bank, even as inflation soars and we expand infrastructure spending - that we have no remaining mental space for another alien.
But no matter, back here in our earthly existence, it is a reminder to us traders and investors that no matter how momentous the change, it only matters for markets when for some mysterious reason it starts to matter.
Back and Forth
In a week when the US military released its report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, it is awfully hard to find the energy to write (or read) any more about today’s fiscal/monetary singularity. So I’ll keep the boring crap short: Two weeks ago, the Fed surprised markets by pulling forward its plans to escape today’s inflationary policy vortex by a quarter or two. Over-leveraged traders puked. This past week, markets more or less realized there is no escaping such a strong gravitational policy pull. This back and forth will be with us for years.
“The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost, gently pushing aside branches that block the path and trying to tread without sound,” wrote Liu Cixin in his brilliant sci-fi novel, The Three Body Problem, exploring the complex risks and rewards of first contact with alien intelligence. “Even breathing is done with care. The hunter must be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. If he finds another life - another hunter, angel, or a demon, a delicate infant to tottering old man, a fairy or demigod - there’s only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them.”
“The inhabitants are all unprovided with any sort of iron, and they are destitute of arms, which are entirely unknown to them, and for which they are not adapted; not on account of any bodily deformity, for they are well made, but because they are timid and full of terror,” wrote Christopher Columbus in 1492. “But when they see they are safe, and all fear is banished, they are very guileless and honest, and very liberal of all they have. No one refuses the asker anything that he possesses; on the contrary they themselves invite us to ask for it. They manifest the greatest affection towards all of us, exchanging valuable things for trifles, content with the very least thing or nothing at all.”
“Thus it pleased God to vanquish their enemies and give them deliverance,” wrote William Bradford in 1630, his first-hand account of an early battle, having arrived on the Mayflower. “And by His special providence so to dispose that not any one of them was either hurt or hit, though their arrows came close by them and on every side of them; and sundry of their coats, which hung up in the barricade, were shot through and through. Afterwards they gave God solemn thanks and praise for their deliverance and gathered up a bundle of their arrows and sent them into England afterward by the master of the ship and called that place the First Encounter.”