Posts filed under “Really, really bad calls”
No, you are not going to die from Ebola.
To quote a wag on Twitter, “More Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died from Ebola.”
But the latest scare does have a small positive: It provides me with yet another opportunity to lecture you about how incredibly dumb your lizard brain is. (It’s also an opportunity to castigate the media for turning a minuscule threat into a full-blown conflagration, but that’s shooting fish in a barrel).
How serious is the danger of Ebola infection?
Despite the nonstop media coverage, it’s important to note that this doesn’t matter to 99.999 percent of Americans. Back in May, we noted the things that are most likely to kill you — or your investments — are not the things most of us typically obsess about.
We fear the awesome predatory perfection of the great white shark, and have made the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” “the longest-running cable television programming event in history.” This seems somewhat disproportionate, given that 10 people a year die from shark attacks — out of more than 7 billion people. If you want to fear a living creature, than logic suggests it’s the mosquito — they kill more human beings than any other animal on the planet. Man, be it through wars or murder or wanton disregard or simple benign neglect, comes in a distant second.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, unintentional injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide. (That was for 2012, the most recent year we have complete data for.)
We seem to be much more concerned about things like terrorism than we are mundane things like heart disease, cancer or car accidents. Yet those three were in the top 10, while more Americans were killed by toddlers than by terrorists.
“We are in the business of making mistakes. The only difference between the winners and the losers is that the winners make small mistakes, while the losers make big mistakes.” -Ned Davis I began my career in finance on a trading desk. You learn some things very early on in that sort of…Read More
The bond market seems to have had its own flash crash this week. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond dipped briefly below 2 percent, as panicked equity sellers looked for a safe place to park their cash. Treasuries, of course, are the world’s option of choice, the safest and most liquid port during…Read More
Over the years, I have discussed how little I care for predictions (see “The Folly of Forecasts“). We have chatted about how poor Wall Street is at making forecasts, wondered why they keep at it and revealed the secret to making better predictions. But the bottom line is that you humans are terrible at forecasting…Read More
One of the things I like to do in all of my musings is to find some thing or person who is wrong about an investing-related subject, then trying to figure out where they went awry. On occasion, small pearls of wisdom can be derived from this analytical process, as in this discussion on narrative….Read More
The human capacity for making bad decisions about technology seems to be limitless. In many ways, this parallels bad approaches to trading and investing: Lots of unfounded rumors, emotional decision-making, poor risk-reward analysis, an inability to perform simple math. The spasms of technology silliness surrounding the iPhone 6 are just the latest in a never-ending…Read More
Another classic from Jason Zweig’s archives: On this day in 1988: Buy Stocks? No Way! hollers a headline in Time magazine. Wild horses couldnt’ drag me back into stocks. Rather than gamble in this market, I might as well go to Las Vegas, retail investor Curtis Beusman tells Time. Eleven months after last years…Read More
Cassandra Does Tokyo is a former hedge fund manager and ex NY Trader, who is now living abroad. This was originally published on September 23, 2014 ~~~ When people prattle-on about tax, it is mostly made from ground-level, with a focus on tax rates. When my most rabid libertarian friends weigh in on the subject,…Read More
Today is an auspicious anniversary, though it’s one I suspect many people may not recall. On Sept. 23, 1998, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and William McDonough, then president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, managed to orchestrate the rescue of the hedge fund Long Term Capital Management. It was a strange…Read More