Swans On The Trailhead

Part 1

On the heels of yesterday’s silly Easter-egg hunt, today the Cowboy wants to follow a trail of a different kind.  By the way, the object of yesterday’s hunt was to find the beginning.  Don’t work too hard.  Think simple, not complex.  Just follow the trail.

Nassim Taleb has a column in today’s FT (here without registration) that is being promoted extensively by the newspaper and will inevitably get lots of play.  Taleb is the author of the economics bestseller and seemingly prescient book on the “long tail” of statistical distributions – in other words, those very unlikely events that can, and sometimes do, occur.  Taleb raises a number of very controversial points, so one can expect to see his column discussed widely.

The Cowboy disagrees with many of Taleb’s recommendations, but he does like the way Taleb takes a holistic view of the global economic system.  It’s easy to get lost in the weeds and forget about the big picture.  It’s also easy to expect that things must always progress the way they have.  History – even recent economic history – however, shows us otherwise.  Think back to Bretton Woods, the abolition of currency pegs, abolition of Glass- Steagall restrictions on bank ownership in the U.S, and the beginnings of the current crisis.  Things, even big things, do change.

In his article, Taleb shakes things up and makes you think about everything, taking little as a given.  That broad perspective is healthy, in the Cowboy’s estimation.  So, Taleb’s column provides a good forum for discussion even if his specific recommendations seem fairly misguided, as they do to the Cowboy.  But that’s all the Cowboy is going to say about that today.

(to be continued)

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Published in: on April 8, 2009 at 20:29  Comments Off on Swans On The Trailhead  
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