Woes on Wall Street, Black Swans

I woke up this morning and opened my browser, and found the Dow down 500 points, to less than 11,000. Lehman Brothers is filing for protection against bankruptcy (Chapter 11, the lesser of the two evils.) Merrill Lynch sold itself to Bank of America for the bargain basement price of $50 billion. AIG needs about $40 billion to stay afloat, and is having a hard time finding it. The soveriegn funds are shying away from US investments. We have have turned a corner here. I put a big chunk of money into Euros just before the summer. Glad I did.

I also received the newsletter The Edge (see below), this time with Nassim Taleb railing agains the Quants. The Quants are the people in the banking industry and in regulation that use statistics (quatifiable methods) to make their decisions. The problem, Taleb says, is that they don’t use the tools correctly, or they use the tools for personal gain at the expense of the institution they are working with. It seems statiticians, true statiticians, are a lot more circumspect when making analyses on data that is less than quantifiable, what Taleb terms the Fourth Quadrant. A good read for scary times.

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