"James Simons Interview- Numberphile"

He changed his profession because of the St. Louis distributor.

Charles Pennington explains:

A helpful colleague alerted me that the business about the "St. Louis distributor" starts around minute 44:00. Short story is that Simons found himself the owner of a computer company of some sort in St. Louis, then was faced with having to have meetings with the "distributor from St. Louis", which he finds distasteful.

Stefan Martinek writes: 

Some interesting parts:

28:30: "Trend is an anomaly in data"

29:30: "There are no elaborate equations, some sophisticated math in the area of the last part – how to min. volatility of the whole"

It would be great to see a track record and run it against some benchmarks.

Paul Marino writes: 

Thanks for the video, Rocky.

Is it bullish or bearish that he wasn't chain smoking cigarettes throughout? Has he quit? I find it fascinating how people smoke when it doesn't compute with their life like doctors, firefighters, billionaires. 

Anatoly Veltman writes: 

It seemed half-way through Jim pulled something out of front pocket, and then (I speculate) came an editorial cut. Is your query due to personal experience? I, for one, wouldn't ask that on this site, although I was awestruck with the same thing in this clip.

I had the good fortune to sit on Jim's right shoulder during a five-hour (you immediately know it was ethnic Russian household) lunch. I was so uncomfortable because I haven't had one puff in 30 years so I asked, "Jim, I thought American males didn't smoke?" Jim didn't take more than two seconds to repartee: "you know, you're right on the whole, but the lower classes still do". Later he was less apologetic: "I just enjoy cigarettes too much to stop". I'm a little dumbfounded in this clip Jim credited his dad with bankrolling his investment debut. Can someone pinpoint the minute Jim commented on Madoff? I missed the sound bite.

Paul Marino writes: 

I had heard that he was a chain smoker for decades, still smoked as of last summer.

Not trying to demoralize him, I smoked for years myself, it is a tough habit to break, but in New York you're surprised by the type of smoker as I had mentioned earlier plus the city's war on tobacco, sugar, etc. At $13 a pack I guess you need to be a billionaire or doctor to afford to smoke these days here. 

anonymous writes: 

You could always tell when Simons was at a math department tea by the smell of cigarette smoke. No Smoking allowed in university buildings, but who is going to tell that to the guy who built the place?





Speak your mind

5 Comments so far

  1. anonymous on June 25, 2015 8:17 pm

    One of the interesting things to note is that Mr. Simons carefully said Commodities markets USED to trend.Also the anomalies his firm has found are not obvious, otherwise they would be quickly arbitraged away. I find it very interesting that one of the anomalies he mentions is trendfollowing, I guess the cats out of the bag and his researchers have noticed a rapid deterioration in that anomaly with BIllions of dollars chasing it.

  2. Ed on June 26, 2015 10:40 pm

    The returns are so volatile in trend following year to year it guarantees that the big investment will occur at peaks and exits happen after losing 30-40%. When the good year does come, it is on a miniscule capital base. It could be that the “trend” is a lure allowing speculators to win on small money and ultimately lose with big money to the hedgers - perhaps serving the larger purpose of facilitating production and trade via risk transfer.

  3. Anonymous on June 29, 2015 8:19 pm

    hmmm although I would take what he said with a pinch of salt .. could be spouting some of this stuff (like aforementioned commodities trending [past tense] with a view to putting competitors on a wild goose chase. as he says he believes in utter secrecy .. unlike VN who wrote two books and created a blog talking about various methods.

    I found it amusing that he, 1) talked about everyone in the firm “sharing” as partners .. still he cleaned out $14bn over the years .. I doubt many of his PhD employees did so too, as in animal farm all animals are created equal but some are more equal than others. I also admired his taste in Persian rugs.

  4. luckyskum on July 4, 2015 12:31 am

    Rentech 30 yr performance worst year was 30% net of fees in 2008.

    In the words of alec baldwin: how much you make?

    Nuff said.

  5. Ferdinand on July 9, 2015 5:09 pm

    I.R.S. Cracks Down on Hedge Fund Tax Strategy


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