1Getting Back to First Principles

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

—Mike Tyson

Banking isn’t rocket science, but as it turns out, rocket science is a great analogy for the future state of banking. Putting men on the moon is, to date, perhaps the greatest endeavour mankind has committed to. It inspired generations and, until we successfully put boots on the surface of Mars, will likely remain the single most significant technological and scientific achievement of the last 100 years. Getting men to the moon required massive expenditure, incredible advances in engineering, a fair bit of good old fashion luck and the “right stuff”.

Before the US could get Neil Armstrong all the way up to the moon, they needed the right stuff in a different area—in figuring out the science.

At the end of World War II there was a very serious plan that would set the foundation for the entire Space Race and Cold War. It was the race for the best German scientists, engineers and technicians of the disintegrating Nazi regime. The predecessor to the CIA, the United States’ OSS (Office of Strategic Services), were instrumental in bringing more than 1,500 German scientists and engineers back to America at the conclusion of World War II. The highly secretive operation responsible for this mass defection was codenamed “Overcast” (later to be renamed Operation “Paperclip”). The primary purpose of this operation was denying access to the best and brightest Nazi scientists to both ...

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