Thursday, January 29, 2009

What is Nassim Taleb smoking?

[Nassim] Taleb had some fighting words for Wall Street that surprised many in the room. He said, “I was happy when Lehman went bust,” explaining how he had shorted the company and literally danced when he heard the news. (The dinner was off the record, but Mr. Taleb and some of the others said they were so passionate about the issues that they could — and in Mr. Taleb’s case “should” — be quoted.) He went on to say, “I hate traders” and explained that the business of creating and trading derivatives is solely about finding a way to take advantage of clients.
How did you put your short on, Nassim, if you loathe traders? And weren't you a big trader a few years ago, before shutting your hedge fund down:
Mr. Taleb's previous fund, Empirica Capital, which used similar tactics, shut down in 2004 after several years of lackluster returns amid a period of low volatility. The strategy may face another test after the current bout of market turmoil.
DISCLOSURE: I am a trader.

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