Nassim Taleb gives us Bob Hope & carries a "AA" rating!!!

Bob Hope

Cover of Bob Hope


Like him or not no-one can deny that NNT doesn’t have (and demonstrate) just what a quick mind he has. Interviewers or fellow panellists have to be careful not to test his, equally quick, temper. But what I have really come to enjoy in recent years is the more frequent use of his quick wit. Like the man himself it is sharp…even “spikey”.

Acerbic Aphorisms: whilst he may have some way to go before rivalling the late Bob Hope, his back catalogue of one-liners is growing. They are a cocktail of humour and wisdom. Are served “dry” and you do NOT want to be on the wrong end of too many of them as a nasty headache is assured!

“It is much easier to scam people for billions than for just millions.”

“The difference between banks and the Mafia – banks have better legal-regulatory expertise, but the Mafia understands public opinion.” Read more of this post

2010 Report Updates: FS cannot function without trust

This is a “headline” so obvious that it may well be a contender for non-news item of the decade…


So you would be entitled to assume that strategists within major banks and insurers would be busily scurrying around frantically innovating new products and services that simply ooze customer value. Frankly, anything that rebuilds trust and engenders loyalty, in an effort to undo the reputational damage done in recent years.

Yeah right. Customers aren’t really that important…yet!

I commented upon Edelman Trust Barometer & “Which?” reports earlier in the year – found at the following link:

Transparency – Trust – Trends – TRANSFORMATION

I know I have been going on about this for a long time now BUT, from the distinct lack of any change of attitude or strategy, it appears that the customer message has not been taken on board. Further evidence of the arrogance of FS and, in my humble opinion, a very serious mistake. As we enter, what will be, a difficult and painful period for UK (and beyond) the realisation that the perpetrators of so much of the financial misery have “escaped”, unscathed –  apart from a lot of Governmental and Regulatory rhetoric, will lead to a public backlash! Of course this has most serious implications for Government as society suffers.

FS firms who wait before offering truly innovative solutions and reintroducing customer value – instead of stripping it our for themselves and for their distributions channels – will only confirm, to the informed observer, that they have failed to learn any lesson from past, inglorious, failure.

To adapt the words of Warren Buffett “If value is what you take price is what you will pay

Read more of this post

Low probability: HIGH impact events

buiding-collapseIf you think I am exaggerating the risks then PLEASE do tell me but, first, you may want to give it some thought.

A few years ago, “disasters” – whether natural or man-made – that involved a large number of fatalities, affected whole countries (or regions) were, to many, just news items to view at dinner time or discuss over a beer. They tended to happen to people unknown to you and so far away that perhaps the scale was lost on you.

Even the newsreaders only change their tone and put on the “sad faces” if ”…among the victims were (?) Britons”. I wouldn’t necessarily say that Live Aid changed things but it certainly helped “prick the social conscience”.

We (in UK) should consider ourselves fortunate that we have not  DIRECTLY suffered as a result of  tsunamis – volcanoes – earthquakes – droughts. Hungary HAD a proud track record of zero toxic sludge, The Gulf of Mexico for oil spills that last for weeks and Chernobyl for explosions! These and other events, such as the virtual collapse of global banking, Somalian Pirates, Terrorist attacks, flu pandemics and striking Chinese workers may not be happening on your doorstep…I wouldn’t want to live on that street(!)…but the point is that the inter-connectedness that brings global trading and opportunity has “baggage”.

Low probability: high impact events (Black Swans) can destroy the complex infrastructure of inter-connected systems and networks that have taken years to build. Systemic risk has the ability to hit, almost, without warning and to gather in momentum as it attacks the least robust and resilient enterprises.

Past experience of events helps us assess, mitigate, manage, price, aspects of risk but we have insufficient data to assess and quantify the probability of losses arising out of systemic risk…

A model-free Complexity analysis from Ontonix is the first step toward protecting against systemic risk. Our unique technology extends the risk horizon beyond that of conventional risk management techniques.

Our goal is to make decision-makers aware of the fact that since complexity can be measured, it can be managed.


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Revisited: Nassim Taleb at Harvard

Do yourself a favour and spend 10 mins.

Whist NNT is pretty efficient at getting his message across, because he tends to talk to audiences involved with the Financial sector, an awful lot of his interviews tend to reach a limited audience.

In this short video he is addressing students involved with social sciences and telling them (as usual) how it is. NOT how they, their parents and many, many others believe it is based upon what has gone before.

Spelling out the catastrophic dangers of assuming too much based upon probability when complexity and uncertainty are the “new games in town” in this new modernity.  

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