Posts Tagged ‘Nassim Taleb’

The Buttonwood Gathering – View from the Top

This was an interesting event!  

On May 17th 1792, twenty-four stock brokers met under a buttonwood tree outside 68 Wall Street and agreed to set up the New York Stock and Exchange board. The tree was a symbol of Wall Street, but also, it was where people originally met to trade, to discuss and to argue.

The Economist has done an excellent job of keeping the tradition alive by bringing together top global financial executives, policymakers, global regulators and opinion leaders to discuss and debate proposed guidelines for the financial community, seeking to bridge fundamental financial issues with macroeconomic and geopolitical viewpoints.

As I mentioned yesterday, I usually don’t like conferences but not only did I find myself sitting between BOE Governor Mervyn King and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz but we got to watch my favorite economics rap video together and even met the guys who created it from EconStories, who have lots of good videos on their site (of a more serious nature). 

The conference itself does not take itself too seriously.  Even Nassim Taleb was able to make a few jokes while explaining to us why the financial system is irrevocably screwed up unless we give it a major overhaul.  Taleb’s main points were:

  • People are inherently greedy.
  • The Financial Crisis was caused by and increase of hidden risks that was encouraged by the rules set forth in Basel II
  • Multiple exposure to low-probability, high-risk events accumulate to high probability of bad outcome (Taleb’s "Black Swan").
  • Bonus packages and compensation encourage very bad risky behavior. Stock options that offer potential upside and no downside encourage the maxing of risk-taking by potential beneficiaries.
  • This leads to a banking system where all the traders get rich and all the investors become poor.
  • There is a general,.chronic underestimation of risk and business schools reinforce this bad behavior.
  • Regulation gives investors a false sense of security. 
  • Capitalism must be symmetrical – bonus without penalties (clawbacks, etc.) must be eliminated.

When I am at one of these conferences, I like to watch the audience reaction to what is being said.  Here we have a gathering of the World’s movers and shakers and sometimes the reaction to what is being said is more important than the thing that is said.  For instance, my note on Taleb’s comment that regulations give investors a false sense of security is that
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Paul Farrell Explains Why The Fed-Wall Street Complex Will Self Destruct By 2012

Paul Farrell Explains Why The Fed-Wall Street Complex Will Self Destruct By 2012

Courtesy of Zero Hedge 

Some rather scary predictions out of Paul Farrell today: "It’s inevitable: Wall Street banks control the Federal Reserve system, it’s their personal piggy bank. They’ve already done so much damage, yet have more control than ever.Warning: That’s a set-up. They will eventually destroy capitalism, democracy, and the dollar’s global reserve-currency status. They will self-destruct before 2035 … maybe as early as 2012 … most likely by 2020. Last week we cheered the Tea Party for starting the countdown to the Second American Revolution. Our timeline is crucial to understanding the historic implications of Taleb’s prediction that the Fed is dying, that it’s only a matter of time before a revolution triggers class warfare forcing America to dump capitalism, eliminate our corrupt system of lobbying, come up with a new workable form of government, and create a new economy without a banking system ruled by Wall Street." And just like in the Hangover, where the guy is funny because he’s fat, Farrell is scary cause he is spot on correct.

Handily, Farrell provides a projected timeline of events:

Stage 1: The Democrats just put the nail in their coffin confirming they’re wimps when they refused to force the GOP to filibuster Bush tax cuts for billionaires.

Stage 2: In the elections the GOP takes over the House, expanding its strategic war to destroy Obama with its policy of “complete gridlock” and “shutting down government.”

Stage 3: Post-election Obama goes lame-duck, buried in subpoenas and vetoes.

Stage 4: In 2012, the GOP wins back the White House and Senate. Health care returns to insurers. Free-market financial deregulation returns. Lobbyists intensify their anarchy.

Stage 5: Before the end of the second term of the new GOP president, Washington is totally corrupted by unlimited, anonymous donations from billionaires and lobbyists. Wall Street’s Happy Conspiracy triggers the third catastrophic meltdown of the 21st century that Robert Shiller of “Irrational Exuberance” fame predicts, resulting in defaults of dollar-denominated debt and the dollar’s demise as the world’s reserve currency.

Stage 6: The Second American Revolution explodes into a brutal full-scale class war with the middle class leading a widespread rebellion against the out-of-touch, out-of-control Happy Conspiracy sabotaging America from within.

Stage 7: The domestic class warfare is exaggerated as the Pentagon’s global warnings play out: That by 2020


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Nassim Taleb Says The Financial System Is Now Riskier Than It Was Before The 2008 Crisis

Nassim Taleb Says The Financial System Is Now Riskier Than It Was Before The 2008 Crisis

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 15: A Black Swan sits in the water as Nicolas Ivanoff of France competes during the Red Bull Air Race Training day on April 15, 2010 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images for Red Bull Air Race)

Nassim Taleb is out making waves once again, this time at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit in Johannesburg today, where he said he was “betting on the collapse of government bonds” and that investors should avoid stocks. To be sure this is not a new position for Nassim, who in February had the same message, when he said that "every single human being" should be short U.S. treasuries. Indeed since then bonds have gone up in a straight line as the bond bubble has grown to record levels, and with the ongoing help of the Fed, is it any wonder. The only question is when will this last bubble also pop.

More from Bloomberg:

“I’m very pessimistic,” he said at the . “By staying in cash or hedging against inflation, you won’t regret it in two years.”

Treasuries have rallied amid speculation the global economic recovery is faltering, driving yields on two-year notes to a record low of 0.4892 percent today. The Federal Reserve yesterday reversed plans to exit from monetary stimulus and decided to keep its bond holdings level to support an economic recovery it described as weaker than anticipated. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index retreated 16 percent between April 23 and July 2, the biggest slump during the bull market.

The financial system is riskier that it was than before the 2008 crisis that led the U.S. economy to the worst contraction since the Great Depression, Taleb said.

Will the Black Swan author be correct? Perhaps (and given enough time, certainly), although as virtually everyone is expecting a dire outcome in both the public and private sector, courtesy of the untenable balance sheet, the surprise will most certainly have to come from some other place. And with even The Atlantic now posting cover stories on the Iran war spark, it is increasingly less likely that geopolitics will be the issue. Is every possible dire outcome priced in? If so, Taleb should focus his formidable intellect on answering just what the market is missing.


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Nassim Taleb: The Government Debt Is Becoming A Pure Ponzi Scheme"

Nassim Taleb: "The Government Debt Is Becoming A Pure Ponzi Scheme"

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 15: Black Swans sit in the water as Matt Hall of Australia competes during the Red Bull Air Race Training day on April 15, 2010 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images for Red Bull Air Race)

In an interview conducted with Business Week, Nassim Taleb discusses his view of the biggest black swan in the market currently, and isn’t shy to call government debt a "Pure Ponzi scheme." – When asked where he the biggest potential source of systemic fragility is, he responds: "The massive one is government deficits. As an analogy: You often have planes landing two hours late. In some cases, when you have volcanos, you can land two or three weeks late. How often have you landed two hours early? Never. It’s the same with deficits. The errors tend to go one way rather than the other. When I wrote The Black Swan, I realized there was a huge bias in the way people estimate deficits and make forecasts. Typically things costs more, which is chronic. Governments that try to shoot for a surplus hardly ever reach it. The problem is getting runaway. It’s becoming a pure Ponzi scheme. It’s very nonlinear: You need more and more debt just to stay where you are. And what broke Madoff is going to break governments. They need to find new suckers all the time. And unfortunately the world has run out of suckers." Alas, Taleb is wrong: Ponzi or not, today’s UST auction will likely once again come at a multi year high Bid To Cover as the suckers (especially those who recycle Fed discount window money) just refuse to go away.

Some other excerpts:

Q: The new edition of The Black Swan includes what you call "10 principles for a Black-Swan robust society." One of them is: "Citizens should not depend on financial assets as a repository of value and should not rely on fallible ‘expert’ advice for their retirement." Can you explain what you mean?

Taleb: The problem is that citizens are being led to invest in securities they don’t understand by people who themselves don’t quite understand the risks involved. The stock market is probably the best thing in the world, but the true risks of the stock market are vastly greater than the representations. And this leads to extremely strange situations in which, say, someone has a bakery, is extremely paranoid about suppliers, very careful about risks, and protects his business with appropriate insurance. Then, at some point,…
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Debt Slashing Only Solution Says Black Swan Author

Debt Slashing Only Solution Says Black Swan Author

Courtesy of Bondsquawk 

“We have no other solution but to slash debt,” Nassim Taleb, author of ‘The Black Swan’, told CNBC Thursday. He discusses the outlook for the global economy with Bob Long, CEO, Conversus Capital.

(Source: CNBC)


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Taleb Says Focus on Specific Trades in Selloff Misguided

Just a minute or two on the silly theory, then Nassim Taleb discusses the economy more generally. – Ilene 

Taleb Says Focus on Specific Trades in Selloff Misguided

Bloomberg

May 13 (Bloomberg) — Nassim Taleb, a professor at New York University and author of "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable," talks with Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker about the May 6 stock market selloff and his investment strategy. Taleb also discusses the drivers for the financial crisis, the U.S. economy and the performance of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. 

Nassim Taleb: 

"When a bridge collapses, you don’t look at the last truck that was on it.  You look at the engineer.  You go look for structural…flaws."  (In regards to Universa’s trade that’s been connected to the market collapse.)

"The crisis of 2008 wasn’t a black swan event."

"A black swan is something that depends on the observer… For the turkey, Thanksgiving is a black swan, but not for the butcher."

 


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Roubini: “The US Economy Is Unsustainable”

Roubini: "The US Economy Is Unsustainable"

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

Red Bull Air Race Perth - Training Day

Yesterday Nassim Taleb said that his primary concern about an upcoming "Black Swan" is a failed Treasury Auction. This is precisely what Zero Hedge has been concerned about for the past year, although we feel that this event will likely be at least marginally telegraphed, either in the form of Direct Bidders taking down close to 50% of each auction (with the Primary Dealers monetizing the balance), and an accelerated flattening of the yield curve. Last night, Roubini, who has apparently thrown away the mantle of moderation and is back to his gloomier ways, said that he worries "that with a trillion deficit this year and next year, 2012, and for as far as the eye can see, eventually, not this year, but the next year, the markets are going to wake up and say, this is unsustainable." In other words whether via the Treasury market, or some other way, at some point the balance will shift from one where the market still believes that reserve currency is enough of a backstop to prevent the collapse of the US, to a regime where incremental bailouts will be seen as negative. That moment will be true black swan, and the beginning of the end of the great US experiment.

Back to Roubini, who in his last night’s interview with Fox Business’ Neil Cavuto is about as bearish as we remember him from the doom and gloom days of early 2008.

On Greece being the tip of the iceberg:

“In my view what is happening in Greece is just the tip of an iceberg.  With private debt in many parts of the world, we socialize these private losses.  Now with large budget deficits in Europe, in Japan, in the United States.  The bond market vigilantes have woken up in Greece, in Portugal, in Spain.

At some point they’re going to wake up in the U.K., in Japan, in the United States.  We’re running a 3.5 budget deficit.  It is obviously over time not sustainable.”
 
On why there has not been any market discipline:

“The Fed has near zero rates.  There is low growth.  There is still deflation.  So for a number of reasons, interest rates are still low.  That is why there is no market discipline. This is unsustainable.  There is going to…
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Did a Big Bet Help Trigger ‘Black Swan’ Stock Swoon?

I wouldn’t call this a "black swan" event any more than Jon Stewart would call it a "perfect storm." Felix Salmon - it’s a silly theory – Nassim Taleb Didn’t Cause the Crash makes a better argument below. – Ilene  

Did a Big Bet Help Trigger ‘Black Swan’ Stock Swoon?

Red Bull Air Race Perth - Training Day

By SCOTT PATTERSON And TOM LAURICELLAWSJ

Shortly after 2:15 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, hedge fund Universa Investments LP placed a big bet in the Chicago options trading pits that stocks would continue their sharp declines.

On any other day, this $7.5 million trade for 50,000 options contracts might have briefly hurt stock prices, though not caused much of a ripple. But coming on a day when all varieties of financial markets were deeply unsettled, the trade may have played a key role in the stock-market collapse just 20 minutes later.

The trade by Universa, a hedge fund advised by Nassim Taleb, author of "Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable," led traders on the other side of the transaction—including Barclays Capital, the brokerage arm of British bank Barclays PLC—to do their own selling to offset some of the risk, according to traders in Chicago.

Then, as the market fell, those declines are likely to have forced even more "hedging" sales, creating a tsunami of pressure that spread to nearly all parts of the market.

The tidal wave of selling fed into a market already on edge about the economy in Europe. As the selling spread, a blast of orders appears to have jarred the flow of data going into brokerage firms, such as Barclays Capital, according to people familiar with the matter…

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Nassim Taleb Didn’t Cause the Crash

By Felix Salmon

Of all the silly theories about the cause of Thursday’s stock-market plunge, I’m not entirely sure why the WSJ has decided to give particular credence to the idea that it can all be traced back to a single $7.5 million trade for 50,000 options contracts. Lots of options trades of that size take place every day, and just because this one happened just before the market fell doesn’t mean it was the cause of the crash.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the crash was fundamentally the fault of weak market structures, especially in the smaller electronic exchanges. It wasn’t a fat finger, it wasn’t cyberterrorism, it wasn’t the sale of 16 billion


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The Parallel Reality: Nassim Taleb and Elizabeth Warren

The Parallel Reality: Nassim Taleb and Elizabeth Warren

Posted by TraderMark at Fund My Mutual Fund 

A lot of good videos out there this week; have been trying to catch up to some of them.

I often kid about the virtual world we are told to believe in of late – I use The Matrix Red Pill / Blue Pill from time to time, which amazingly seems to represent a lot of what is going on in the real world.

The term redpill was popularized in science fiction culture via the 1999 movie The Matrix. The movie relies on the premise that an artificial reality that is advanced enough will be indistinguishable from reality and that no test exists that can conclusively prove that reality is not a simulation. This ties in closely with the skeptical idea that the everyday world is illusory. In the movie, a Redpill is the term used to describe a human who has been freed from the Matrix, a fictional computer-generated world set in 1999. Bluepill refers to a human still connected to the Matrix.

… for example, when people fear for the major banks viability, create a stress test; let the banks negotiate the terms of the stress test, change the accounting rules so toxic assets no longer have to be marked to their current market value, smile for the camera, and sing happy songs. Everything is ok. And if everything is not ok, well that is fine too – the taxpayer money will always sit outside the door waiting to go inside. Which implicityly feeds on itself – invetors know its ok to invest because the government will save them, which allows the government to not to have to save them as private money floods in. See how circular it is? Free market capitalism I believe they call it. This seems to be what we see inside the Matrix.





Outside the matrix is where some of the blogosphere sits and I am reaching the point where I am not sure if those of us inside the matrix (blue pill) or outside (red pill) are the crazy ones. The madness of crowds seems to be


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Phil's Favorites

Disney teams up with Secret Cinema - watching movies will never be the same again

 

Disney teams up with Secret Cinema – watching movies will never be the same again

Secret Cinema’s production of Moulin Rouge. Secret Cinema

Courtesy of Sarah Atkinson, King's College London and Helen W. Kennedy, University of Nottingham

Disney’s recent deal with the immersive experience company Secret Cinema signals a new era for the cinema industry. New film titles from the Disne...



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Zero Hedge

2 California Community College Students Exposed To Mystery Coronavirus Patient; S.Korea Nears 1,000 New Cases In 48 Hours: Live Updates

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Summary:

  • Nigeria confirms first case
  • South Korea reports 256 new cases
  • WHO says outbreak in Iran likely worse than official numbers suggest; outbreak could go in "any direction"
  • Cali monitoring 8400, 28 cases in the state
  • China reports 327 new cases and 44 new deaths on Thursday
  • Dozens of hospital staffers who treated US coronavirus patient with 'unknown' origin being 'mon...


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Kimble Charting Solutions

Financial Crisis Deja Vu: Home Construction Index Double Top?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Most of us remember the 2007-2009 financial crisis because of the collapse in home prices and its effect on the economy.

One key sector that tipped off that crisis was the home builders.

The home builders are an integral piece to our economy and often signal “all clears” or “short-term warnings” to investors based on their economic health and how the index trades.

In today’s chart, we highlight the Dow Jones Home Construction Index. It has climbed all the way back to its pre-crisis highs… BUT it immediately reversed lower from there.

This raises concerns about a double top.

This pr...



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Insider Scoop

A Peek Into The Markets: US Stock Futures Plunge Amid Coronavirus Fears

Courtesy of Benzinga

Pre-open movers

U.S. stock futures traded lower in early pre-market trade. South Korea confirmed 256 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, while China reported an additional 327 new cases. Data on U.S. international trade in goods for January, wholesale inventories for January and consumer spending for January will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Chicago PMI for February is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET, while the University of Michigan's consumer sentime...



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Biotech & Health

Could coronavirus really trigger a recession?

 

Could coronavirus really trigger a recession?

Coronavirus seems to be on a collision course with the US economy and its 12-year bull market. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Courtesy of Michael Walden, North Carolina State University

Fears are growing that the new coronavirus will infect the U.S. economy.

A major U.S. stock market index posted its biggest two-day drop on record, erasing all the gains from the previous two months; ...



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The Technical Traders

SPY Breaks Below Fibonacci Bearish Trigger Level

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Our research team wanted to share this chart with our friends and followers.  This dramatic breakdown in price over the past 4+ days has resulted in a very clear bearish trigger which was confirmed by our Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling system.  We believe this downside move will target the $251 level on the SPY over the next few weeks and months.

Some recent headline articles worth reading:

On January 23, 2020, we ...



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Promotions

Free, Live Webinar on Stocks, Options and Trading Strategies

TODAY's LIVE webinar on stocks, options and trading strategy is open to all!

Feb. 26, 1pm EST

Click HERE to join the PSW weekly webinar at 1 pm EST.

Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

This week, we also have a special presentation from Mike Anton of TradeExchange.com. It's a new service that we're excited to be a part of! 

Mike will show off the TradeExchange's new platform which you can try for free.  

...

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Chart School

Oil cycle leads the stock cycle

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Sure correlation is not causation, but this chart should be known by you.

We all know the world economy was waiting for a pin to prick the 'everything bubble', but no one had any idea of what the pin would look like.

Hence this is why the story of the black swan is so relevant.






There is massive debt behind the record high stock markets, there so much debt the political will required to allow central banks to print trillions to cover losses will likely effect elections. The point is printing money to cover billions is unlikely to upset anyone, however printing trillions will. In 2007 it was billions, in 202X it ...

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Members' Corner

Threats to democracy: oligarchy, feudalism, dictatorship

 

Threats to democracy: oligarchy, feudalism, dictatorship

Courtesy of David Brin, Contrary Brin Blog 

Fascinating and important to consider, since it is probably one of the reasons why the world aristocracy is pulling its all-out putsch right now… “Trillions will be inherited over the coming decades, further widening the wealth gap,” reports the Los Angeles Times. The beneficiaries aren’t all that young themselves. From 1989 to 2016, U.S. households inherited more than $8.5 trillion. Over that time, the average age of recipients rose by a decade to 51. More ...



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Digital Currencies

Altcoin season 2.0: why bitcoin has been outgunned by crypto rivals since new year

 

Altcoin season 2.0: why bitcoin has been outgunned by crypto rivals since new year

‘We have you surrounded!’ Wit Olszewski

Courtesy of Gavin Brown, Manchester Metropolitan University and Richard Whittle, Manchester Metropolitan University

When bitcoin was trading at the dizzying heights of almost US$2...



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ValueWalk

What US companies are saying about coronavirus impact

By Aman Jain. Originally published at ValueWalk.

With the coronavirus outbreak coinciding with the U.S. earnings seasons, it is only normal to expect companies to talk about this deadly virus in their earnings conference calls. In fact, many major U.S. companies not only talked about coronavirus, but also warned about its potential impact on their financial numbers.

Q4 2019 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Coronavirus impact: many US companies unclear

According to ...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

 

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

Courtesy of  

The repo market problem isn’t the problem. It’s a sideshow, a diversion, and a joke. It’s a symptom of the problem.

Today, I got a note from Liquidity Trader subscriber David, a professional investor, and it got me to thinking. Here’s what David wrote:

Lee,

The ‘experts’ I hear from keep saying that once 300B more in reserves have ...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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