Thursday, July 7, 2011

Reader Dagny Taggart Sends Along an Interview With N. N. Taleb

Reader "Dagny Taggart" sent me an email today inviting me to visit her blog, and also invited me to send along this recent interview of Nassim Nicholas Taleb with "Time Magazine".  Thanks Dagny!

Mr. Taleb wrote The Black Swan in 2007, the year when the trees started falling on Wall Street (in August 2007 two hedge funds from Bear Stearns failed, the clear-to-all that our financial system had BIG TROUBLE just ahead).  IIRC, it was in his previous book (Fooled by Randomness, I have read both of his books, and they are both excellent works) where Taleb defined what a Black Swan is: an unpredictable, low probability event with a big impact.  The most well known example of a Black Swan was 9/11.  Few predicted this event, almost everyone would have considered it of low probability, but it had a huge impact all around the world.  Who predicted this on September 10, 2001?

Taleb (remember this was 2007) also describes the rise of Google as a Black Swan.  When I first went on the Internet (via AOL in 1995), few would have predicted that this kind of company would arise.

The term "Black Swan" is sometimes incorrectly used.  Jim Willie's latest (public) "Hat Trick Letter" last week listed some 30 - 40 risks now putting our financial markets in even more peril.  But, these risks are KNOWN!  So, by definition, they are NOT Black Swans, sorry Jim.

Furthermore, there are even White Swans, one of which is the Internet itself (at least most people would say that it is), in that it seemed unlikely (say, in 1987) that such a thing would arise, few predicted it would work out more or less like it has, and it too has had a big impact on the world.  And there are Gray Swans, use your imagination!

There is some good news!  Near the start of this video you will see that he apparently has a new book coming out soon!

And please visit Dagny's blog:

I wonder what that "55k" means...?      :-)

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