the-independantLong article in The Independent Nassim Taleb: ‘The Black Swan’ author in praise of the risk-takers, some excerpts:

 

“If you take risks and face your fate with dignity, there is nothing you can do that makes you small; if you don’t take risks, there is nothing you can do that makes you grand, nothing.”

“I’m a capitalist but one who is smallist and localist, and who favours businesses where owners are still in charge. We also need to look after the less well-off – so they have skin in the game too. Inequalities of wealth lead to a dispersion in wealth for all.”

“Small is powerful. We should be breaking up the big bureaucratic corporations; use anti-trust laws as Roosevelt did in the US.”
His reasoning is deliciously simple: “It’s much easier to bullshit at the macro-level than it is to bullshit at the micro-level.”

“No public servant or politician should profit more from private business than they earned before. You know who are the worst? Robert Rubin (ex-US Treasury Secretary who made $120m at Citibank) and your Tony Blair. It’s outrageous how they have profited.”

“Top-down knowledge is an illusion. Education without erudition is nothing. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg didn’t finish college. Too much emphasis is placed on formal education – I told my children not to worry about their grades but to enjoy learning.”

For him, the ancients had the right notions of justice. “You know Hammurabi’s Code? Well, he was the Babylonian king whose laws were based on an ” eye for an eye” – or lex talionis. So, if a builder built a house and the house collapsed and caused the death of the owner of the house – the builder was put to death. And so on.”

Much has been written about what the paradoxical Taleb doesn’t like. So what does he enjoy? “Aah,” he says, pondering while getting into position for our photographer, whose south London accent he admires, and wishes he had had while trading options: “Walking, anywhere, around cities or the country, running (in five-finger shoes), sitting in cafés listening to chatter, parties, working in my study in the New York suburbs, listening to the birds, to the noises of the countryside, the mathematics of Steve Wolfram, Andalucian music, philology and the history of the Mediterranean and now the Maghreb. That’s my new obsession.” Watch out.

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Nassim Taleb talks to Margareta Pagano in The Independent about banking, Babylon and birdsong

Posted on

June 26th, 2013

Category

General, Writing