[Bloomberg Podcasts] Nassim Taleb on What Bitcoiners, Anti-Vaxxers, and Deadlift Maxis All Get Wrong

In this Bloomberg Odd Lots podcast episode, hosts Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway have a wide-ranging conversation with Nassim Taleb, well-known author of Antifragile, The Black Swan, and Fooled by Randomness. Taleb has been engaging in public debates on Twitter with various communities such as Bitcoiners, anti-vaxxers, venture capitalists, and deadlifters. The discussion covers topics such as Taleb’s clash with these communities and what they’re getting wrong about his ideas, as well as his newfound passion for cycling and how to reduce tail risk in one’s own life. Join us for this engaging conversation on finance, economics, and markets.

Nassim is in Belgrade to speak at LibertyCon 2019

Nassim’s Lecture is titled Fractal Localism: On the scale and dynamics of bottom-up societies (conversation with Branko Milanovic)
5-7 April 2019
Belgrade at the Kolarac Concert Hall
…Link to more details

Medium Post: The Merchandising of Virtue

I will always remember my encounter with the writer and cultural icon Susan Sontag, largely because it was on the same day that I met the great Benoit Mandelbrot. It took place in 2001, two months after the terrorist event, in a radio station in New York. Sontag who was being interviewed, was pricked by the idea of a fellow who “studies randomness” and came to engage me. When she discovered that I was a trader, she blurted out that she was “against the market system” and turned her back to me as I was in mid-sentence, just to humiliate me (note here that courtesy is an application of the Silver rule), while her female assistant gave me the look, as if I had been convicted of child killing. I sort of justified her behavior in order to forget the incident, imagining that she lived in some rural commune, grew her own vegetables, wrote on pencil and paper, engaged in barter transactions, that type of stuff.

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Randomness of Correlation & Its Hacking by Big Dataists

This tutorial presents the intuitions of the randomness of sample correlation (spurious correlation) and the methodologies in derivations. Some later sections are somewhat technical as Nassim rederived an old equation with more precise functions (in order to apply to fat tails) and showed the distribution of the maximum of d variables with n points per variable.
This paves the way to the real scientific work on random matric theory under fat tails and the failure of Marchenko-Pastur.

Medium: Peace: Neither Ink nor Blood

One of the problems of the interventionista –wanting to get involved in other people’s affairs “in order to help”, while genuinely wanting to do good, results in disrupting some of the peace-making mechanisms that are inherent in human’s affairs, a combination of collaboration and strategic hostility. As we saw in the prologue, the error continues because someone else is paying the price.

I speculate that had IYIs (intellectuals yet idiots) and their friends not gotten involved, problems such as the Israeli-Palestinian one would have been solved, sort of –and both parties, especially the Palestinians would have felt to be better off. As I am writing these lines the problem has lasted seventy years, with too way many cooks in the same tiny kitchen, most of whom never have to taste the food. I conjecture that when you leave people alone, they tend to settle for practical reasons.

People on the ground, those with skin in the game are not too interested in geopolitics or grand abstract principles, but rather in having bread on the table, beer (or, for some, nonalcoholic beverages such as yoghurt drinks) in the refrigerator, and good weather at outdoors family picnics. Also they don’t want to be humiliated in their human contact with others.

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Nassim: “Trump makes sense to a grocery store owner”

While in Jaipur, Nassim was interviewed for The Hindu. In that interview, he explains his support for Trump:

In Skin in the Game, you seem to build on theories from The Black Swan that give a sense of foreboding about the world economy. Do you see another crisis coming?

Oh, absolutely! The last crisis [2008] hasn’t ended yet because they just delayed it. [Barack] Obama is an actor. He looks good, he raises good children, he is respectable. But he didn’t fix the economic system, he put novocaine [local anaesthetic] in the system. He delayed the problem by working with the bankers whom he should have prosecuted. And now we have double the deficit, adjusted for GDP, to create six million jobs, with a massive debt and the system isn’t cured. We retained zero interest rates, and that hasn’t helped. Basically we shifted the problem from the private corporates to the government in the U.S. So, the system remains very fragile.

You say Obama put novocaine in the system. How will the Trump administration be able to address this?

Of course. The whole mandate he got was because he understood the economic problems. People don’t realise that Obama created inequalities when he distorted the system. You can only get rich if you have assets. What Trump is doing is put some kind of business sense in the system. You don’t have to be a genius to see what’s wrong. Instead of Trump being elected, if you went to the local souk [bazaar] in Aleppo and brought one of the retail shop owners, he would do the same thing Trump is doing. Like making a call to Boeing and asking why are we paying so much.

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