Sep 22, 2008

Nassim Taleb on survival of the least fit traders

We tend to think that traders were successful because they are good. Perhaps we have turned causality on its head; we consider them good just because they make money. One can make money in the financial markets totally of out randomness.

Both Carlos (the economist) and John (the quant/statistician) belong to a class of people who benefited from a market cycle. It was not merely because they were involved in the right markets. It was because they had a bent in their style that closely fitted the properties of the rallies experienced in their market during the episode. They were dip buyers. That happened, in hindsight, to be the trait that was the most desirable between 1992 and the summer of 1998 in the specific markets in which the two men specialized. Most of those who happened to have that specific trait, over the course of that segment of history, dominated the market. Their score was higher and they replaced people who, perhaps, were better traders.

~ Nassim Taleb, Fooled by Randomness, 2nd Edition, pp. 89-90

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