Posts filed under “Mathematics”
Michael (Jeff Goldblum): I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They’re more important than sex.
Sam (Tom Berenger): Ah, come on. Nothing’s more important than sex.
Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?
You can never underestimate the absurdity of the after-the-fact rationales people come up with to explain and justify market action.
Why? Us primates seem to prefer narratives over numbers; We like a good story, the preference is for anecdotes over data, for a “feel good” explanations as opposed to cold hard facts. They can pitch a good story over the phone to clients and prospects. With numbers and data, not so much.
Its why Wall Street tends to be a house of mirrors — any good explanation gets adopted and passed down the food chain to explain a position or investment posture, invariably AFTER THE FACT.
It is important to understand the difference between investing from a thesis or broader theme — Gold rallying due to low rates; Alternative Energy as a result of $100+ oil — versus an after-the-fact justification for existing holdings. One is a credible, defendable approach, and the other is just so much sales blather. The amazing thing is why anyone would believe the latter, and why so many ignore the former.
Our case in point is the absurdly foolish Green Shoots compost. As we have detailed since this nonsense first started spreading earlier this year, the data simply did not support the notion of a 2nd half recovery. Not only below the headlines, but the actual releases. It was hope, not facts, that led the way. Second derivative improvements are not the same as expansion.
Of course the market rally off of the lows was telegraphing that the economy was recovering! Never mind what it was saying at the all time highs in October 2007, four months after the Bear Stearns hedge funds collapsed.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Beware Economists who rely on stock markets to forecast economic activity . . .
Green Shoots Are For Suckers (April 17th, 2009)
Green Shoots Everywhere ? (June 16th, 2009)
Getting Worse More Slowly (April 8th, 2009)
In college, I was pretty blown away by this book. So when I stumbled across the MIT openware course on Douglas Hofstadter’s Pulitzer Prize winner, Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, I just had to share it: Here’s the MIT course description: What do one mathematician, one artist, and one musician all have in…Read More
The good news is that Housing Starts and Building Permits each increased for the month of May. And in a statistical shocker, the monthly gains for May 2009 were (surprisingly) greater than the margin of error for both Starts at 17.2% (±14.4%) and Permits at 4.0% (±1.7%) over April. The stunning news was the 45.2%…Read More
Today’s must read article is a front page NYT story by David Leonhardt. It looks at the process by which boom time surpluses were turned into boom time deficits, and then even greater crash deficits. The two economic takeaways from the piece fits into some of the nonsense I have been criticizing here: 1) President…Read More
Interesting article about bringing “Wall Street-like analysis” to the advertising industry. That unfortunate choice of words does not mean what it appears to at first blush. By “Wall Street-like analysis,” I do not believe the writer meant to imply that 1) the analysis was conflicted, 2) there was in inherent bias in it; 3) the…Read More
Nassim Taleb is going to open The Big Picture Conference: Capitalism After Crisis with his vision of what went wrong with the financial system and what needs to be done to create a new one that is no longer fragile and subject to the kind of shock we’re still living through. Capitalism 2.0: Building a…Read More
Nassim Taleb suggests ways to make economic life closer to our biological environment: smaller companies, richer ecology, no leverage. The risk takers of the economy should be entrepreneurs, not bankers; Companies shouls be born and die every day, without making the news. In other words, a place more resistant to black swans. Ten principles for…Read More
Fascinating discussion on how basic math discussions have been bastardized: “Numbers lack warmth. Cold as last year’s love, they sit counting their fingers. Think of numbers and what do you see? Dust and ledgers and the yellow fingers of a parched accountant. No longer. Numbers have had the mother of makeovers. No ordinary scrubbing up,…Read More