Writing

A reader has sent in a copy of Nassim’s Lecture notes from when he was teaching a course at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA in 2005. The course/lecture series are titled: Randomness, Decisions, and Human Nature (SOM 797R – SYLLABUS).

Unfortunately all the links within the PDF are missing, if anyone has a copy with all the working links to studies, research papers, books, articles, images, etc, please let us know!

>> Check it out here.

Nassim has just posted on his Facebook Page a 3-page PDF titled: Why It is No Longer a Good Idea to Be in The Investment Industry.

A spurious tail is the performance of a certain number of operators that is entirely caused by luck, what is called the “lucky fool” in Taleb (2001). Because of winner-take-all-effects (from globalization), spurious performance increases with time and explodes under fat tails in alarming proportions. An operator starting today, no matter his skill level, and ability to predict prices, will be outcompeted by the spurious tail. This paper shows the effect of powerlaw distributions on such spurious tail.

Unique Coverage/Mentions Around the Web:

The Wall Street Journal (MarketBeat Blog): Nassim Taleb: Stay Out of the Investment Industry
TIME.com (Investing): Nassim Taleb: In the Investment Biz, Luck Trumps Skill, So Take Your Talent Elsewhere
CNBC: Nassim Taleb: Stay Out of Finance!
Business Insider: NASSIM TALEB WARNS: Stay Out Of The Investment Industry.
Streetcoup: Nassim Taleb: Aspiring Money Managers Will Fail
reddit: “Black Swan” Author Nassim Taleb: Stay Out of the Investment Industry
Mindful Money: Nassim Taleb – Why you should avoid the investment industry

Nassim Taleb on Twitter (‏@nntaleb):

WSJ TOTALLY misreprsntd: my paper NOT abt “lucky fool” (old) but about the effect of fat tails and globalization; only @felixsalmon got it

Felix Salmon: The secret to success in the arts

More here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The Green Lumber Problem, outlined in Nassim Taleb’s upcoming book Antifragile, is essentially misunderstanding which facts are relevant vs those which are not in regards decision making under uncertainty.

From Nassim:

 

“In one of the rare noncharlatanic books in finance, descriptively called What I Learned Losing A Million Dollars, the protagonist makes a big discovery. He remarks that a fellow called Joe Siegel, the most active trader in a commodity called “green lumber” actually thought that it was lumber painted green (rather than freshly cut lumber, called green because it had not been dried). And he made a living, even a fortune trading the stuff! Meanwhile the narrator was into theories of what caused the price of commodities to move and went bust.

The fact is that predicting the orderflow in lumber and the price dynamics narrative had little to do with these details —not the same ting. Floor traders are selected in the most nonnarrative manner, just by evolution in the sense that nice arguments don’t make much difference.”

Here is a public discussion about the topic on his Facebook Page (Facebook account not required).

Nassim recently did a short opinion piece in the The New York Times Room for Debate area titled Throw Out the Probability Models (April 2012).

It covers his typical Black Swan message that we cannot predict these certain class of rare but consequential events and so we need to become robust to them rather then relying on forecasts. The economic models that we use to calculate the probability of these rare events needs to go out the window.

“What goes out of the window? The entire discipline of modern finance and portfolio theory (the theories named after Harry Markowitz, William Sharpe, Merton Miller), the model-based methods of Paul Samuelson, much of time series econometrics (which don’t appear to predict anything), along with papers and theories that are based on “optimization.” These bring fragility into the system.”

Click here to read full piece here together with a reader discussion taking place in the comments section.