What Nassim Taleb can teach us: The importance of having skin in the game..

Prof. Jeff Deist points to lessons from Nassim Taleb.

Most advice from the economic elite causes least amount of damage to them when the advise goes wrong:

Nassim Nicholas Taleb does not suffer fools gladly. Author of several books including The Black Swan and Antifragile, Taleb is known for his incendiary personality almost as much as his brilliant work in probability theory. Readers of his very active Medium page will experience a formidable mind with no patience for trendy groupthink, a mind that takes special pleasure in lambasting elites with no “skin in the game.”

“Skin in the game” is a central (and welcome) tenet of Taleb’s worldview: we increasingly are ruled by an intellectual, political, economic, and cultural elite that does not bear the consequences of the decisions it makes on our (unwitting) behalf. In this sense Taleb is thoroughly populist, and in fact he correctly identified trends behind the Crash of ’08, Brexit, and Trump’s election. He understands that globalism is not liberalism, that identity and culture matter, and most of all that elites don’t understand how randomness and uncertainty threaten the inevitability of a global order. 

Thus Taleb argues the intelligentsia are not only haughty when they plan our future, they are also clueless: fragility abounds, and threatens to crash the Party of Davos. Hubris results from unearned wealth and prominence, coupled with a blindness to the Black Swans lying in wait.

🙂

This lack of skin in the game is called Stiglitz Syndrome:

Taleb does see a role for government, and supports consumer protection laws against predatory lending as one example. But he also purportedly supported Ron Paul in the 2012 presidential election, and has indeed mentioned Hayek as an influence regarding the dispersal of knowledge in society. He’s also applied special venom to several worthy targets in professional economics, including Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, and Paul Samuelson. Taleb labels as “Stiglitz Syndrome” the process whereby public intellectuals suffer no financial or career consequences for being spectacularly wrong in their predictions.

This is especially galling to a man who correctly called (and in fact became wealthy as a result of) economic crises in 1987 and 2008. In both instances, Taleb had “skin in the game” as a market trader. His own money and reputation were on the line, unlike the court economists in the New York Times.

Despite these Syndromes, it is puzzling why media keeps rushing to “just one vibe” from these experts who are “spectacularly wrong in their predictions.”

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