28 November 2010

"Happy Thanksgiving from Nassim Taleb"

Kids Prefer Cheese | Angus | Happy Thanksgiving from Nassim Taleb

He sees 25 years into the future, people! And it's not good:
'The great top-down nation-state will be only cosmetically alive, weakened by deficits, politicians’ misalignment of interests and the magnification of errors by centralised systems. The pre-modernist robust model of city-states and statelings will prevail, with obsessive fiscal prudence. Currencies might still exist, but, after the disastrous experience of America’s Federal Reserve, they will peg to some currency without a government, such as gold.'
Yep, it's the middle ages with coffee-makers for us."
The end of the nation-state sounds ... pretty awesome.  Seriously. Let's make this happen.  (See also Cowen's "politics vs. finance".*)

On the other hand...
Is anybody besides me getting real tired of this guy?
Yeah, I've been tired of him since I knew who he was. Which is odd in a way, because I actually agree with a lot of what he says, but he grates for some reason.
Yes, asset returns have too fat of tails to be correctly modeled by a normal distribution. Thanks, pal. We already know that. It doesn't make you a prophet.
Agreed.  It's no secret we need to move past Gaussianism. Theoreticians have got to get off their fetishistic addiction to bell curves.

I value theory, but I feel like saying it's worthwhile at least partially discounting any theoretical result about modeling that  can't be backed up with a (solidly verified and validated) monte carlo sim.  It's not like we're scavenging for CPU cycles, which makes all this chalkboard derivation less valuable than it was a couple decades ago.

* "In a nutshell, we're watching the most pitched, highest-stakes, most determined battle between politics and finance which has been staged. I am expecting finance to win. It's not just about PIGS and the future of the eurozone, it's settling a very general question about the relative power of politics and finance. Either way, it is an event of momentous importance."

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