EMIL KALINOWSKI: Welcome to Real Vision's Daily Briefing. We are coming to you live from London in the Cayman Islands. My name is Emil Kalinowski. But much more importantly, we're joined by with Izabella Kaminska. Izabella, in the summer of 2020, were you approached by a source who said, "We are sitting on the precipice of biological warfare, and nobody in the media will cover the story"?
IZABELLA KAMINSKA: Yes, I was, indeed.
EMIL KALINOWSKI: Now, stick with me, ladies and gentlemen, we're not going to be focusing on biological warfare. But we're going to be talking about information, how we consume it as investors as well as how it's disseminated. And I can't think of the better person to talk to than Izabella.
Now, Izabella, you pursued this story. You went back through, you found intrigue from the Cold War biological research facilities from around the world, dual use technology, it was a great story. But I believe it was never published until very, very recently. Tell us a little bit about how people probably know you, what position you're in right now, and a little bit of the background of the story.
IZABELLA KAMINSKA: I'm formerly the editor of FT Alphaville at the Financial Times. And I'm now heading up my own venture, The Blind Spot, the -blindspot.com. I've recently gone independent, and I guess Alphaville was the place where we could experiment a lot with the type of reporting we did. And it was for a long time, I would say, and I think I still maintain that it was the best place in journalism to work. And we really were able to push the envelope on all sorts of interesting ways of doing journalism.
But I think times have evolved. I think, recently, this last week, even the New York Times put out an opinion piece saying-- even the New York Times said that there is an issue with free speech in America, and the journalistic field there. And I don't think it's that different in the UK, frankly, and a lot of people will maybe jump to conclusions. I don't think it's a malevolent conspiracy or anything like that.
What I do think is that there is a certain risk aversion going on within newsrooms. And that story is a good example of it because the idea of covering the Wuhan lab leak origin, or sorry, the COVID origin story from the perspective of potentially it being a lab leak was totally taboo. And for months and months, anyone raising it would be dismissed as a potential conspiracy theory person.
And there's a reluctance, I think, that fed through all newsrooms. I don't think it was like the FT was particularly unique in that situation. I personally was of the opinion that there was-- I was watching the story independently. And on Alphaville, it wasn't really my patch, it was just something I was looking at. And I was thinking, is there a way to do it, maybe from the pharma side of things?
And I increasingly realized that there was a lot of very much public domain evidence and relevant facts that were being overlooked by the broader media, I couldn't really understand why. And I thought it was very strange that there was this stigma going on. I did my own informal inquiries. And I think within newspapers, there's also structural issues.
A story like that falls, it's very hard to sometimes figure out who has any, I guess, command over a story like that, whether it's the investigations desk, whether it's the pharma desk. It really depends on how the newsroom is carved up and organized. Alphaville was certainly not the place that would usually come at that story, and I guess the pecking order within any institution, it really depends on where you are in that pecking order whether you can push for a story to be done or not.
I did what I could to try and vocalize the idea that we should be covering the story, at least investigating it. I thought there was enough evidence, or at least enough interesting material that warranted investigation at the very least, even if it was to debunk it. I thought it was important to look at, given there's a story about [?]. And yeah, and I think there was just a general reluctance to look at it. And then eventually, when the story broke back in May 2021, everyone suddenly then leapt on the story.
But even then, there was a reluctance to tie the background into the current situation, or how it fitted into the broader picture of biosecurity and the investments that have been made across the board. It's a background story, there's been lots of books written about it. There's so much rich material, but of course, we all have a very limited memory about certain things and tying everything together wasn't being done.
And I thought it was a bit strange that that wasn't the case, which is why I have finally put everything together. And I've published it on my site, a year's worth of research, including the background, and including how we got to the gain of normalization, a gain of function research, the outsourcing to China, the risks, the associated risks, and the norms that emerged in that space.
If you're interested in reading that, please do subscribe to The Blind Spot. It has been a year's worth of work and it is expertly sourced, and I have endeavored to ensure it is as level headed. Incredibly, I did try to go to the best sources. And hopefully, it is worth a read.
EMIL KALINOWSKI: It is worth a read, Izabella, I enjoyed it very much. And as you said, you started out by focusing on what might have happened out of Wuhan and the COVID pandemic. But the work you did was outstanding for just something that happened right now, setting the context for biological warfare labs, research labs, how can we tell the difference? In the Ukraine, the news came out from authorities on the Russian side, and then on the Western side, and there's misinformation or disinformation, how can we decipher which one is the truth?
What is the truth? We're not going to delve into those details. But your piece helped me put everything in context, and better appreciate the nuance and be a little bit even more askance whenever I hear it or see a quick hit piece by a fact checker. Your piece required a lot of research, just to put it all into context. If you have anything to say about that, let me know. Otherwise, we can move on to more financial media topics.
IZABELLA KAMINSKA: Let's move on. But I'm glad you enjoyed it. And I'm glad that I think that that context is out there because I think it's important. All I will say is that I think the key thing about that story is ambiguity and ambiguity continues to dominate the field of biological warfare, which is unlike any other mass weapons scenario, mass weapons of destruction scenario, whether it's nuclear or chemical warfare, it's much easier to have proof of malevolent intent in those other fields.
Biological warfare is far more nuanced and there's so much more ambiguity. And I think that is my key takeaway, and I don't draw any conclusions. I just think it's important to have all the facts so that you don't rush to conclusions.
EMIL KALINOWSKI: You have taken a step outside of the mainstream media. You're not the only one, I have noticed that lots of individuals from the mainstream media are leaving. I can think of some of them off the top of my head, but because we're live, I'm going to blink on many other names, but Barry Weiss, Harry Lake and I've already blanked. I'm already panicking, Izabella. They're leaving for reasons I think that might be similar to what you explained as well. But most, if not everyone, is from the mainstream sociopolitical point of view. That's why they're leaving.
Let's home in on the financial side, the business media, the financial press. Is it the same? Can we apply the same lessons that we applied broadly to the mainstream media and say, they don't want to upset advertisers, they want to they don't want to set the authorities? Is that same thing happening in the financial press or are there different incentives there that we need to think of as investors?
IZABELLA KAMINSKA: I can't speak for the motivations of my superiors at the FT. I can only speak about what I experienced in my own perception of things. And I am still incredibly-- I'm pausing a little bit because I want to be diplomatic. But it's not just that I want to be diplomatic, I think the FT is still one of the most excellent news resources out there. There are some outstanding reporters that really do amazing work.
I think the issues in some institutions, maybe more so at the FT than say at the New York Times, are bureaucratic behind the scenes forces that creates a risk aversion at the middle management side or in the editorial filters. And I can understand why that is. And I can see why in the broader context of what's going on, it might be very logical to be politically correct, or whatever.
But my view is that in finance, financial markets can't afford to be-- they have to be realistic about what's really going on in the world. And you're going to lose money if you don't take a very broad-brush view, a dispassionate view, I think as well. You can't afford to get embroiled in all the emotional stuff that is going on these days. And I feel like that maybe the FT and maybe some other financial newspapers as well have lost sight of that because of the pressures, the economic pressures as well to satisfy click count and getting as broad an audience as possible.
And when you're trying to chase clicks and chase subscribers, you do end up maybe following stories that you think the market wants rather than what are really reflective of the situation out there. Because the reality is in finance, as I keep saying, capital allocation wins wars as well. It's not just boots on the ground. And it's all very well to have white propaganda, so to speak, to boost the morale of your own site, and I get why that happens, and I get why that's important.
But if you start believing as a financial investor in your own white propaganda, and say, it leads you to suspect that you're doing much better in the war when you really are, well, that might then cross over into underinvestment in defense stocks, and undersupply of defense equipment that you need. And then you lose the war because of misallocation of capital.
You as an investor, I think, you have to be pretty dispassionate about it. You have to be neutral, and you have to be frankly, aware of both sides of the propaganda table, because if you're not, there are consequences. That's my general feeling. And I think that some of the financial papers are a little bit-- they're losing sight of that. Because unlike, say, in the Iraq war, or in any of the other last big wars that we've experienced, news then was much more segmented.
You wouldn't necessarily, like the popular press, like the BBC, or whatever, that was your day-to-day media outlet. And that could afford to push white propaganda very forcefully, because the FT or the more highbrow press was a select market. And the two groups didn't-- like the FTC wasn't chasing that broad-brush market, and it wasn't interacting on social media in the same way that it does now.
And I think that that is why these days, if you want proper financial insight that can help you make good decisions as an investor, you might have to move away from the mainstream press and to the smaller publications like mine, sorry, to self-promote a little bit, because actually, that small scale allows you to speak more freely. And if you can speak more freely and more pragmatically and more dispassionately without getting like crucified on the internet about things, then you can be more truthful about the situation.
Your low profile actually, in some ways helps-- obviously, if you become Joe Rogan, then there's a diminishing return on that front but in that sweet spot where you're providing actionable intelligence but you're not like getting the heat from the crowd, I think that's a really interesting and valuable position to be with in the financial commentariat space.
EMIL KALINOWSKI: I feel like we're going back in time to the London Coffee Shop of yestercentury and the pamphlets. Okay, we're going to do exactly what you just said, Izabella. Now for the audience, ladies and gentlemen, we're going to answer some of your questions later. We're also going to show a video from Real Vision. But right now, we're just going to take a little trip through the mainstream headlines.
And Izabella, you said, we need to know as investors what's really going on in the world. Maybe this is what's really going on in the world. You let me know which articles which thoughts you want to comment on or let us know if something's not being covered that you think should be coming to our attention. Right now, I pulled open Bloomberg, here's just a couple of headlines, you jump in anytime. Powell says Fed is ready to raise rates faster if needed.
Apple suffers widespread outage hitting iCloud music maps, Nike heads for biggest quarterly drops since 2008. The Financial Times, Powell's Fed prepared to move more aggressively to tighten policy. Bloomberg also, oil surges with growing supply fears as EU considers a Russian ban. Let's see. Wall Street Journal, Fed will consider more aggressive rate increases. Trading economics, oil jumps as EU considers ban on Russian imports. Powell signals further and faster hikes if necessary.
10 Year US Treasury yield hits 33-month high. Anything in there that jumps out at you either by omission or commission that you want to talk about?
IZABELLA KAMINSKA: No, I think the commodity story remains absolutely front and center of what investors should be paying attention to. I think it feeds right into the inflation story. And I'm continuously surprised by how so much of the economic commentary at the space fails to account for the very sensitive connection between commodity pricing and commodity availability and liquidity. And one thing I'm permanently surprised by is that there seems to be this perception that we can still print our way out of this problem.
And I keep saying, well, you can't because there's a supply side issue with commodities. And if there's a shortage, there's a shortage. There's just nothing that you can print-- you can print money till the cows come home, but it's not going to help you acquire those commodities, because all things being relative, everything will reprice. The shortages are what is driving this issue.
And that's really similar to the situation say in other hyperinflationary scenarios. I thought another thing that is worth talking about is just the relative calmness of the stock market in relative terms. Like why hasn't it sold off more, and I think that again, I know you, Emil, are more-- well, Jeff Snider, your colleague in other fields, more skeptical about this, but I do think that equity prices go up in an inflationary environment, especially losing control of the money market, so to speak, because that's the place you get the most value from.
And when you look at historical markets that have suffered from hyperinflation or inflation, I'm not saying it's going to be hyperinflation, but it's certainly inflation. I think it's very clear that the stock markets do relatively well in that scenario, and so you wouldn't expect stock markets to go down. And I actually think quite the opposite, you will continue to see them go up in the current framework.
In commodities, meanwhile, as they get constrained on the financing side, we will see the opening up of massive arbitrages that can't be closed, unless prices continue to escalate higher, because you need to bring those commodities home. You will have to basically pay up through the nose in a potential negative feedback loop that just forces banks to raise interest rates on and on and on. And that is, to me, a really vicious circle that we have to be very mindful of.
As for the EU or other major markets putting out a ban on Russian commodities or oil, again, I think we need to really consider the idea of mutual assured economic destruction. I'm not at all convinced, and I find it very strange that even talking about this is sometimes perceived to be treacherous, but I genuinely am not convinced that the West can withstand the consequences of what we are enforcing on Russia.
And I don't think we, in the West, have the same capacity to withstand the shocks that say the Russians do, at least because they have been through a massive financial crisis a couple of times in recent memory. The average person of my age in Russia will have some muscle memory of what happens in a total financial collapse. That means they're probably more resilient to it, they're probably more likely to have a contingency.
I think, even if we in the long term can overcome this, I think the shock for us in the short term is going to be much harder, because the higher you are, the further you have to fall. These comparisons that I keep hearing, oh, Russian GDP is only so much and blah, blah, blah, compared to the West, that might be true. But I also think that the shock that has been induced on the commodity sides is completely underappreciated, because commodities are a form of-- I compare it to the oxygen that is needed to power your circulation and keep you alive, it doesn't take a lot of oxygen to basically kill you if you're deprived of it.
And that is similar with commodities, and the overall circulation of economic finance and the liquidity. The liquidity, the finance is irrelevant. You just constrain commodities a little bit, and it can send a shock through the entire system that impacts the whole economy. And in that context, I think having a smaller GDP in some ways makes you more resilient than if you have a big GDP. Those are my very knee-jerk thoughts on those headlines.
EMIL KALINOWSKI: Excellent thoughts, Izabella. And I like particularly the angle you bring up about asking questions here in the West. And then the feedback from some people in the media is that it's treacherous, that maybe you're a Putin apologist, or that you're on the KGB payroll. I know, I was accused of that, which I responded, I haven't been paid by the KGB for years.
IZABELLA KAMINSKA: Yeah.
EMIL KALINOWSKI: Let me interrupt for just a moment. It doesn't just apply to the West and the media, the leaders of these countries may also be facing the same thing. I bring this up I know, because we have a video available that we're going to play for the audience right now. This video is available to our Essential Plus and Pro members on Real Vision. And it's going to show-- the context is what information is Putin receiving, and if he's not receiving the right information, because maybe it's considered treacherous to tell him information that may not