[Medium] Lebanon: from Ponzi to Antifragility

About two years before the recent collapse, at a dinner, a then (slow thinking) member of the Lebanese parliament kept bugging me for an economic forecast. There was already some anxiety in the air. My answer was that we were facing imminent financial disaster, but that it was not necessarily bad news, long term. Why? Because such a total collapse could lead to natural responses that are better than the one we would have spontaneously, going from patching bad stuff to patching worse stuff. The lira was artificially kept too strong for any industry to survive and the financial system (the Ponzi) was sucking up all the money and destroying the economic substructure. But my point was that the (unavoidable) collapse would lead to an adaptation, the weaning from chronic foreign “loans” and, possibly, a huge bounce. De-financializing the country was a necessity, and people never do that spontaneously. Nothing was going to be fixed without a collapse. Was I optimistic? pessimistic? He was trying to figure out what I was saying and couldn’t get it as it did not fit his elementary static classification.

Continue reading on Medium: medium.com/@nntaleb/lebanon-from-ponzi-to-antifragility

[YouTube] Ellipticality (Technical)

Modern financial theory assumes that distributions are elliptical. We show what happens if the assumption doesn’t hold. And the assumption doesn’t hold.

Diversification does NOT reduce risks in the financial market; it causes near-certain long term blowups under any leverage.

Nature.com Paper: Tail risk of contagious diseases

Pasquale Cirillo & Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a sobering reminder of the extensive damage brought about by epidemics, phenomena that play a vivid role in our collective memory, and that have long been identified as significant sources of risk for humanity. The use of increasingly sophisticated mathematical and computational models for the spreading and the implications of epidemics should, in principle, provide policy- and decision-makers with a greater situational awareness regarding their potential risk. Yet most of those models ignore the tail risk of contagious diseases, use point forecasts, and the reliability of their parameters is rarely questioned and incorporated in the projections. We argue that a natural and empirically correct framework for assessing (and managing) the real risk of pandemics is provided by extreme value theory (EVT), an approach that has historically been developed to treat phenomena in which extremes (maxima or minima) and not averages play the role of the protagonist, being the fundamental source of risk. By analysing data for pandemic outbreaks spanning over the past 2500 years, we show that the related distribution of fatalities is strongly fat-tailed, suggesting a tail risk that is unfortunately largely ignored in common epidemiological models. We use a dual distribution method, combined with EVT, to extract information from the data that is not immediately available to inspection. To check the robustness of our conclusions, we stress our data to account for the imprecision in historical reporting. We argue that our findings have significant implications, including on the extent to which compartmental epidemiological models and similar approaches can be relied upon for making policy decisions.

Link to the Paper – Tail risk of contagious diseases

Bloomberg: Black Swan Author Spars With Quant Legend Over Tail Risk Hedges

“Black Swan” author Nassim Nicholas Taleb and quant investing pioneer Cliff Asness have engaged in a vitriolic Twitter dispute over the esoteric world of tail-risk hedging that descended into personal insults.

The spat began when Taleb sent a pair of tweets accusing the $143 billion AQR Capital Management LLC of issuing flawed reports that say tail-risk hedging doesn’t work.

Link to Bloomberg article: Black Swan Author Spars With Quant Legend Over Tail Risk Hedges

[YouTube] Tutorial: Simple Trick to see the effect of Power Laws

A simple tutorial explaining how in the presence of power laws (with low exponent) most of the body of the distribution becomes noise. Once you establish that a variable is in the power-law class, some necessary consequences come out. To debunk that history is dominated by tail events, you must show it does not follow a power law.

Note: If viewing this as an email please click through to the post to view content.

The only man who has a clue about the Coronavirus Pandemic

Link to original article – Taleb: The Only Man Who Has A Clue

Note: If viewing this as an email please click through to the post to view content.

Bloomberg: Nassim-Advised Universa Tail Fund Returned 3,600% in March

A tail-risk hedge fund advised by Nassim Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” returned 3,612% in March, paying off massively for clients who invested in it as protection against a plunge in stock prices

The fund, managed by Universa Investments of Miami, had a year-to-date return of 4,144% through the end of last month, according to an investor letter from President and Chief Investment Officer Mark Spitznagel that was obtained by Bloomberg. He said Universa was able to cash in many of its positions, locking in the gains, while also keeping in place protection against more equity sell-offs, “one of the tricks of the trade.”.

Link to Bloomberg article: Nassim Taleb-Advised Universa Tail Fund Returned 3,600% in March

Note: If viewing this as an email please click through to the post to view content.