Black Swan Author Nassim Taleb Has Run Out of Highly Improbable Things to Say


How can you tell that we might just possibly be reaching a bottom and starting the hard slog back to normality? When the howling wolves of doom run out of new things to say. So imagine our delight today to see, in the FT, renowned pessimist and Black Swan author Nassim Taleb tackling the now-tedious subject of Wall Street bonuses. You’ll never guess what he thinks!

The whole incentive system was — get this — completely messed up and drove traders to pursue short-term gains in favor of long-term wealth.

Well, thanks, man. There ought to be a sign under that argument like the one at McDonald’s: One billion served.

To be fair, Taleb does add his own spicy condiment to the argument, a wacky suggestion that, like Roman soldiers, bankers “accept punishment in the event of failure.” Didn’t they, uh, kill Roman soldiers who failed in battle? We here at the Downturnaround are not major fans of bankers these days, either, but we think that’s a touch extreme. Maybe we just make them flip burgers.

How bank bonuses let us all down [FT]