Nassim Taleb [Princeton Uni. presentation]:: Fragility and “Anti-fragility” [resilience]
Monday, 7 May, 2012 1 Comment
I am a fan of Nassim Taleb and, even though I never studied Maths beyond school, I understand what he is saying. And, more importantly, WHY! For me, he is “the contrarians contrarian”.
For the sake of clarity, when NNT refers non-linear systems these are complex systems…like a business.
Although NNT delivers this presentation as if someone else had prepared it…in an unfamiliar language… the message is pretty clear. The fact that much of it runs contrary to “conventional wisdom” is no bad thing. In fact, with the growth in his personal popularity, following on from the success of his excellent books and the advent of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, it is reassuring that those who have questioned aspects of the thinking that has underpinned the Financial Sector for so long, are no longer so easily dismissed as radicals, nutters or heretics. It is only with a growing number of informed-thinkers on this and related subjects, that we have any chance of reaching a, much-needed, “tipping point” from where we can begin to repair the damage done…instead of adding to it!
It is incredible to think that it took the virtual collapse of global banking for powerful, career “yes men” to begin to, publicly, question long-held beliefs. But even more remarkable that so little has changed as a result.
In the Q&A session at the end of the presentation NNT refers to a recent article in the New York Times. The full article is here but this is a brief extract:
…the broad principles of economics survive such expurgation. We should just ignore much of what has happened in the past half-century of trying to be too sophisticated with quantitative and probability-based models, ending up in dangerous pseudo-science
As a final thought, bearing in mind the location of this presentation and the criticism levelled at the banking system, I hope you appreciate the irony of this “famous” statement as much as I do:
“Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men’s views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the US, in the field of commerce and manufacturing, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it”