black swans

Greek god. Philosopher. Adonis. The only person on earth who has earned the right to have an opinion about anything. All appropriate characterizations of one Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and the way at least three-quarters of all living homo sapiens have described NNT in their conversations with friends and in their diaries. And while his many admirers have surely studied him in great detail in the hopes of one day having the opportunity to unlock his heart or simply bask in his reflected glory for a moment or two, not everyone has a comprehensive list of the things that rev Taleb’s engine and, more importantly, that tick him off. Luckily, a recent profile by Chronicle writer Tom Bartlett has produced a near-complete guide to the likes and dislikes of Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Read it, print it out, carry it in your pocket– but really, consider taking the time to commit it to memory. Your chance may only come along once and you don’t want to fuck it up by fumbling around your notes because you can’t remember what his thoughts are on “bourgeois bohemian bonus earners” or fruit. Read more »

Have you ever gazed upon classical Greek philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb and thought to yourself, “That man has a body from the gods. I could never hope to match him in brains, but what about brawn? If only I could obtain the details of his diet and fitness regimen”? Well, friends, today is your lucky day. Despite still being on his second tour of self-imposed quiet time, Taleb granted several interviews to publications reviewing his new book, “Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder,” and, naturally, the topic of his physique came up, specifically the various ways he keeps it in such enviable shape. (He also touches on the exercises that led to him having a brain three times the size of the typical astrophysicist, though please note that these should be appreciated but not be attempted by average humans, who could hurt themselves quite badly.) Read more »

Several years back, in response to the news that Ben Bernanke would be reappointed Fed Chairman, Nassim Nicholas Taleb made an announcement that he would be retreating from society. “What I am seeing…is too much for me to bear,” Taleb wrote. “I am not blaming Bernanke (he doesn’t even know he doesn’t understand how things work); it is the Senators appointing him who are totally irresponsible…I need to withdraw as immediately as possible into the Platonic quiet of my library, work on my next book, find solace in science and philosophy, and mull the next step…I will only (briefly) emerge from my hiatus when the publishers force me to do so upon the publication of the paperback edition of The Black Swan. Bye, Nassim.” NNT reintroduced himself to the world at some point in 2010 or 2011 but now, apparently, he has once again decided to pick up his black swans and leave, as people getting in touch with him to star in their movie, blurb their book, or pick his large and intimidating brain recently learned. Read more »

Nassim Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” said he favors investing in Europe over the U.S. even with the possible breakup of the single European currency in part because of the euro area’s superior deficit situation. Europe’s lack of a centralized government is another reason it’s preferable to invest in the region, said Taleb, a professor of risk engineering at New York University whose 2007 best- selling book argued that history is littered with rare events that can’t be predicted by trends. A breakup of the euro “is not a big deal,” Taleb said yesterday at an event in Montreal hosted by the Alternative Investment Management Association. “When they break it up, there will be a lot of fun currencies. This is why I am not afraid of Europe, or investing in Europe. I’m afraid of the United States.” [Bloomberg]

Update: NNT says he’s not looking forward to a Euro break up at all actually, and that a “tawdry” Bloomberg reporter took his words out of context.

Earlier today, we discussed the upcoming bonus season and the fact that, for those who are employed by banks, it’s looking to be something of a disappointment. Numbers are estimated to be down 20-30 percent on average from last year, with fixed-income being hit the hardest. For many, it’s cause for some preemptive JO&C’ing at the desk this morning and some curling up into the fetal position this afternoon. According to Black Swan author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, however, you drying those eyes, picking yourself up off the floor and thanking your lucky stars you’re getting anything ’cause if he were in charge? You’d get no-thing. Read more »

At this point, Nassim N. Taleb has explained many times (1) what caused the financial crisis and (2) what will cause the next one. This is actually pretty simple stuff and as he’s sick of repeating it, we’ll summarize:
(1) the Nobel Prize Committee, and
(2) knowing things.

We learned the second part when Taleb dropped by the U.S. Congress last week to warn them away from the dangerous trap of setting up an Office of Financial Research to collect statistical data from banks and try to analyze it to reduce risk. Taleb’s prepared testimony included some polite objections to this plan:
Read more »

  • 14 Jul 2011 at 3:21 PM

Nassim Taleb To Unload Infinite Wisdom On G-20

Though his schedule is extremely packed, Nassim Taleb, who knows everything there is to know about risk while Ben Bernanke knows nothing, has agreed to co-author a paper with the IMF’s Monetary and Capital Markets department “for the G-20 to develop ways to apply his method for identifying tail risks, or the chances of low probability, high-impact event.” Topics discussed will presumably include but not be limited to destroying the Nobel prize before it can destroy us.

“With Nassim Taleb in Moscow. Dr Black Swan and Dr Doom,” Dr Doom tweets, referring to himself in the third person. Read more »