Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nassim Nicholas Taleb and I Make Peace

I finally received an email reply from Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He wrote, "you are off the hook" I checked, and the innaccurate (and insulting) material that he had on his website about me has been removed. I thank him for reconsidering the matter and correcting the situation. While I have been critical of him on several counts, I am largely in agreement with his analysis of the current situation and the broader problem of "black swans," or to use the more conventional terminology of Keynes and Knight, fundamental uncertainty. I also repeat that his books contain much interesting information and are fun to read.

Regarding barbell investment strategies, there is no single one that necessarily will do well all the time, and Taleb has stated that. He has indeed more fundamentally made the point that we all must keep this profound degree of uncertainty in mind. I also remind that there are many different forms that barbell strategies can take, and that one might be doing well even as others might not be doing well. In any case, I welcome an end to this feud that probably should never have occurred in the first place.


Brian said...

I agree with him about the need to watch for "Black Swans", but I think he is a little bit too arrogant for my taste. When Prof. Engel said that his book should discuss Extreme Value Theory, Taleb snarked at him and said it does. But in reality, he never cites Gumbel. There are many other quibbles I have with him. But its good that he finally removed his comments about you off of his website. I wish he'd do the same for others. said...


I have stated my agreement with many of your points, although I did not get into the matter of Gumbel and extreme value theory. Some of the people he criticizes on his website I think are fully deserving of it (Greenspan and Merton, in particular), but there are some others I think he comes down way too hard on, and who should either not be there at all or should have substantially more nuanced remarks made about them (Tyler Cowen is one). However, I guess I am going to leave it to those others to argue with him about their treatment on his website.

BTW, a lot of people read that website, and over on Economists View not too long ago, somebody jumped all over me because of what he had read about me on Taleb's website, and had decided based on it that I was a totally conventional economist who had no idea of any problems with the economy, blah blah. I dumped all over the idiot who came out with that, but it will be nice not to have to deal with such nonsense in the future from ignorant morons.