Apr

8

 The stool pigeon was often tied up to a stool to attract other pigeons to be shot. Perhaps the President has seen such used as a decoy in his duck hunting forays. Are there activities in our markets that attract us to our death. I remember during Oct 19, 1987, I noticed a 0.25 move from the open at 11 am in stocks and bought massively based on what turned out to be an erroneous print. Often since then I have seen markets hit new lows like bonds the preceding 2 months to this, and then rise to astronomic heights. Similarly for the grains last year that took a temporary bit of change from Mr. Grain at the corn 5 buck level before doubling in one of the greatest bull moves in history. Recently it was gold that plummeted below 1542 before rising a fast 40 bucks in the next two days. Are these general quantitative tendencies? It would seem asymmetric as a rise tends to peter out much more gently than a decline. Does it relate to the necessity of abandoning all hope before rebirth can occur, as in Isiah's Job. How does it relate to romance and markets per se? Inquiring minds find it interesting.

The thoughts are engendered by a reading of the excellent book Six Sources of Collapse by Charles Hadlock. The book contains a mathematical practitioners insights into dealing with collapse as a consultant for Arthur D Little for over 25 years. It contains chapters on the futility of predicting unpredictable things, crowd and herds, evolution and collapse, instability, chaos, non-linearity and networks. Great diagrams and easily accessible mathematical examples provide a framework for each chapter. It's everything that a good accessible mathematical treatise on a important problem should be.

The one weakness is that it is a bit naïve about markets, but much less so than the ponderous and impractical and self aggrandizing treatments that have come down the lakes from the derivatives expert. Hadlock has the excuse of not being a practitioner in markets, and it's counterbalanced by his truly systematic hands on knowledge about environmental disasters and waste disposal. The kind of book that every young mathematician interested in applications should have. Highly recommended.


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