About

I write about technology and globalization for Gavekal, a global macro research firm in Hong Kong. The pieces below are a record of my cultural experiences and my pieces on global trade.

I’ve previously worked at Flexport, Shopify, the Huffington Post (where I was assistant to Radley Balko), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a few other places. I graduated from the University of Rochester with a double-major in economics and philosophy. The best way to learn about my interests is to scroll through the “writing” section immediately below, and the “books I like” section in the header of this menu.

I currently live and work in Hong Kong. I’ve previously lived in Kunming, Toronto, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Rochester, Freiburg im Breisgau, San Francisco, and Manhattan. I’m a Canadian citizen who wants to visit the rest of the Commonwealth, especially New Zealand. In the States, I’d most like to see Utah and Texas. Someday I’d like to return and live in Germany.

Some of the things I’m into: big ships; Strauss, Wagner, and Verdi; coffee; agglomeration effects; Stendhal and Proust; mushroom picking (an excellent source of lessons of risk and reward tradeoffs); René Girard; science fiction; walking around in new cities; and everything else categorized below.

I like to get coffees and hear from people, do reach out: danwyd@gmail.com And say hi on Twitter: @danwwang

Writing

Shorter pieces published here, current favorites are marked with (*):

Some of the longer posts published here:

Published reporting, both about cases that were petitioned to the Supreme Court. The first was granted review:

Three pieces I wrote for Flexport:

Three pieces I wrote for Shopify:

I spent four months living in Germany. (Freiburg, in Baden-Württemberg; by the Black Forest, close to Stuttgart, Strasbourg, and most of the major cities in Switzerland.) Here are a few posts about these travels:

Reflections:

Books I Like

The books I liked since around the time I started college. I try to excerpt the ones I like best.

What should I read next? Email me! danwyd@gmail.com

  • Stendhal, The Red and the Black
  • Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Excerpts)
  • Melville, Moby-Dick
  • Cowen, In Praise of Commercial Culture
    • The book that convinced me to study economics. (Notes)
  • Wharton, The House of Mirth
    • I enjoyed this much more than Age of Innocence.
    • The title is from Ecclesiastes 7:4: “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.”
  • Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty
  • Ross, The Rest is Noise
    • Runs through the personalities of the 20th century. My favorite book on music.
  • Epstein, Simple Rules for a Complex World
  • Proust, Swann’s Way, trans. Lydia Davis (Excerpts)
  • Thiel & Masters, CS 183 notes & Zero to One (related essay)
    • If you must pick one, read the lecture notes. The radicalism of the ideas were mainstreamed for the book.
  • Schelling, Micromotives and Macrobehavior, The Strategy of Conflict
  • Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom
  • Laozi, Dao De Jing (Excerpts)
    • A book about humility.
  • Mann, 1491
  • Cowen, Discover Your Inner Economist
    • The best of the pop-econ books. (Harford comes next, then Frank, Wheelan, and Landsburg. All of these are better than Freakonomics, which won’t teach you very much about economics at all.)
  • Mallaby, More Money Than God (related essay)
  • Gertner, The Idea Factory
    • History of the place that labs that developed radar, transistors, satellites, cell phone telephony, and more.
  • Adelman, Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman (Notes)
  • Stendhal, The Charterhouse of Parma
  • Ridley, The Rational Optimist
    • A wonderful book about the scientific achievements that’s given us better nutrition, longer lifespans, and easier access to energy, etc.
  • Plato, Dialogues
    • In particular Crito and Phaedo.
  • Cowen, The Great Stagnation & Average is Over (Excerpts)
  • Wolfe, Bonfire of the Vanities (Excerpts)
  • Fontane, Effi Briest (trans. Ritchie Robertson)
    • There’s so much nuance; the most exciting plot detail isn’t even described, only discussed afterwards.
  • Balzac, Cousin Bette
  • The Gladwell books
    • The best is definitely David and Goliath (Excerpts).
    • Go ahead and disagree with his inferences, but where else would you find packed together so many great stories you haven’t heard of, and wouldn’t hear of if not for him?
    • If you still object to his ideas, read him because he’s a great writer.
  • Ford, Lights in the Tunnel
  • Zweig, Beware of Pity
  • Doherty, Radicals for Capitalism
    • Details the rise of the American libertarian movement. Serious study, but the personalities are so crazy that it’s fun to read.
  • Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Excerpts)
  • Frank, The Economic Naturalist
    • Short stories about the economic way of thinking.
  • Isaacson, Steve Jobs
  • Shakespeare: Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Merchant of Venice, Othello
  • Packer, The Unwinding
    • (Excerpts, with a focus on the Thiel story)
  • Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Rand, Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead
  • Duffy, The World as I Found It
    • A novel about the interactions of Russell, Wittgenstein, and G.E. Moore. Very fun.
  • Kafka, The Castle, The Metamorphosis, assorted short stories
  • Williams, Stoner
  • Harford, The Undercover Economist
    • Best parts were the sections about price discrimination.
  • Nabokov, Lolita
  • Caplan, The Myth of the Rational Voter
  • Zola, Germinal
  • Taleb, The Black Swan
  • Landsburg, The Armchair Economist
  • Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea
  • Wharton, The Age of Innocence
  • Haidt, The Righteous Mind
    • Kevin Simler put it best: “How humans actually, empirically, think about morality.”
  • Cowen & Grandin, Thinking Differently (Notes)
  • Baker, Days of Fire (Notes)
  • Lewis, The Big Short
  • Arrison, 100 Plus
  • Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • Monroe: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship
  • McCloskey, Bourgeois Virtues & Bourgeois Dignity
    • First 50 pages of the Apology in Virtues is most worth reading.
  • McArdle, The Up Side of Down (Excerpts)
  • Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
  • Conrad, Heart of Darkness
  • Knausgaard, Min Kamp Vol. 1
    • Uncomfortable, mesmerizing.
  • Lewis, Liar’s Poker (Excerpts)
  • Wapshott, Keynes Hayek
  • Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers
    • The first economics-y book I read; I spent two years of undergrad wondering when we were going to cover Thorstein Veblen.
  • Thaler & Sunstein, Nudge
    • Super well argued, I couldn’t continue to be a knee-jerk skeptic.
  • St. Aubyn, Patrick Melrose series (Excerpts)
  • When I was little I read most of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I really liked them, but haven’t picked any of them up again.

(Chronological from here…)

  • Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
    • A lot of science wrapped in a thrilling story.
  • Cumings, The Korean War (Excerpts)
  • Glover, Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century
  • Cowen, An Economist Gets Lunch
  • Cirincione, Bomb Scare
  • Kaplan, Wizards of Armageddon
  • Lewis, Boomerang
    • More fun than The Big Short, not quite as good as Liar’s Poker.
  • Roberts, The Storm of War
    • Really engrossing read on key battles and personalities in WWII.
  • Flynn, Gone Girl
  • Brecht, The Threepenny Opera
    • Translated by Ralph Manheim, try to go see it in original German.
  • Herman, How the Scots Invented the Modern World
  • Rilke, Duino Elegies, trans. Stephen Mitchell
  • Wolfe, The Right Stuff (related essay)
  • Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness
  • Judt, Memory Chalet
    • Excellent essays on growing up in ’50s/’60s Europe.
  • Mann, The Magic Mountain, trans. J.E. Woods
    • First 150 pages or so are stultifying, but it picks up. The ruminations on death/dying make it worth it.
  • Glass, Music Without Words: A Memoir (related essay)
  • Sebald, Austerlitz
  • Stephenson, The Diamond Age
    • I tweeted: “Wow, does anyone mix fun and deep as well as Neal Stephenson can?” Maybe I just don’t read enough science fiction, but Stephenson’s world is so fun and immersive. Plus, you feel like you’re learning a lot.
  • Palaver, René Girard’s Mimetic Theory (related essay)
  • George, Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping
    • I love ships and ships love me back. This is pretty much the perfect nonfiction book: many, many interesting facts weaved into a narrative story; and it’s slim, and doesn’t go overboard with too much detail.
  • Benford, The Wonderful Future that Never Was (related essay)
  • Watson, The German Genius (related essay)
  • Wharton, Ethan Frome
  • The Box, Marc Levinson (I now work at a company that arranges for air and ocean freight)
  • Dick, The Man in the High Castle
  • Scurlock, King Larry: The Life and Ruins of a Billionaire Genius
  • Parsons, The British Imperial Century
  • Stargardt, The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939–1945
    • The war from the perspective of the German population. One interesting fact: A quarter of Goebbel’s budget was spent on theatre, which was about as much as he spent on propaganda, and more than twice as much on film.
  • Pomeranz and Topik, The World That Trade Created
  • Chang, Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China
  • Koestenbaum, The Queen’s Throat
    • A remarkable book; this is how you write about opera.
  • Yip & McKern, China’s Next Strategic Advantage: From Imitation to Innovation
  • Vance, Elon Musk
  • Tombs, The English And Their History (related essay)
  • DeWitt, Lightning Rods
  • Herman, To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World
  • Liu, The Three Body Problem (related essay)
  • Liu, The Dark Forest
  • Foldenyi, Melancholy (related essay)
  • Liu, Death’s End
  • Kroeber, China’s Economy: What Everyone Needs to Know
  • Shepherd, Hitler’s Soldiers: The German Army in the Third Reich
  • Gewirtz, Unlikely Partners: Chinese Reformers, Western Economists, and the Making of Global China
  • Brown, CEO China: The Rise of Xi Jinping
  • Studwell, How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World’s Most Dynamic Region
  • McPhee, La Place de la Concorde Suisse
  • Cowen, The Complacent Class (related essay)
  • Harford, Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives
  • Smil, Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing

Miscellany

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