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No more black swans

Posted in Finance by Pankaj Gudimella on April 8, 2009

Here are the ten principles for a black swan proof world from Nassim Taleb in FT.

1. What is fragile should break early while it is still small.
2. No socialisation of losses and privatisation of gains.
3. People who were driving a school bus blindfolded (and crashed it) should never be given a new bus.
4. Do not let someone making an “incentive” bonus manage a nuclear plant – or your financial risks.
5. Counter-balance complexity with simplicity.
6. Do not give children sticks of dynamite, even if they come with a warning.
7. Only Ponzi schemes should depend on confidence. Governments should never need to “restore confidence”.
8. Do not give an addict more drugs if he has withdrawl pains.
9. Citizens should not depend on financial assets or fallible “expert” advice for their retirement.
10. Make an omlette with the broken eggs.

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The financial oligarchs

Posted in Finance by Pankaj Gudimella on March 27, 2009

Big banks, it seems, have only gained political strength since the crisis began. And this is not surprising. With the financial system so fragile, the damage that a major bank failure could cause—Lehman was small relative to Citigroup or Bank of America—is much greater than it would be during ordinary times. The banks have been exploiting this fear as they wring favorable deals out of Washington. Bank of America obtained its second bailout package (in January) after warning the government that it might not be able to go through with the acquisition of Merrill Lynch, a prospect that Treasury did not want to consider.

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The challenges the United States faces are familiar territory to the people at the IMF. If you hid the name of the country and just showed them the numbers, there is no doubt what old IMF hands would say: nationalize troubled banks and break them up as necessary.

Excellent piece from The Atlantic. More here.