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Magic, Maths and Money's Blog

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Ethics and actuaries: issues and opportunities

May 17, 2019 Comments (0)

I was invited by the “London Markets Actuarial Group”, made up of general insurance actuaries, to speak at an ethics workshop. This post is about some observations I have from this experience. My observations are critical. This does not mean I believe actuaries are not well-intentioned, rather there might be gaps in their understanding that inhibit clear ethical reasoning. The purpose is to highlight how ethical assumptions are always questionable and it is by asking questions that an...

Mathematician, heal thyself

April 29, 2019 Comments (0)

I attended the second “Ethics in Mathematics” conference held at the University of Cambridge and organised by Maurice Chiodo. I had come across Maurice about twelve months ago when I was working with a Norwegian academic on the issue of ethics in maths. Maurice has developed into the Henry Oldenburg or Maurice Fréchet, though I suspect being a central node in a network is not as career enhancing for Maurice as it was for Oldenburg and Fréchet because the concern is ethics. In my experience...

Anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools

May 31, 2018 Comments (0)

This post is my response to the warning from the former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of the dangers of "doing nothing" to combat anti-Semitism. The concern raised by Lord Sacks is that anti-Semitism appears widespread in the far left, as well as in its normal home in the far right. I will write about what I think I understand, meaning I will not venture into the issues relating to actions of the state of Israel. None of my best friends (that I know of) are Jewish though I have yet to meet...

The Golden Rule

March 20, 2018 Comments (0)

There are two versions of the Golden Rule. The standard is “ Do to others what you want them to do to you” and appears in most developed religions. Colloquially it is “Those that have the gold, make the rules”. Someone raised this distinction on my work in financial ethics by asking “Are you saying participants in financial markets should be benevolent in how they price instruments?” They answer rhetorically with the observation that the reality is that the markets are motivated by greed and...

Mathematical Finance

March 2, 2018 Comments (0)

I wrote this piece for the National Institute for Economic and Social Research's Rebuilding Macroeconomics project.There are three types of mathematicians: those that can count and those that can’t. This aphorism challenges the public perception of mathematics as being concerned with calculation and is liked by mathematicians because it enables them to highlight what mathematics is concerned with, which is identifying and describing relationships between objects. A more sophisticated...

Antifragility and justice

August 7, 2017 Comments (0)

p { margin-bottom: 0.25cm; direction: ltr; line-height: 120%; text-align: left; }a:link { color: rgb(0, 0, 255); } Towards the end of last week I noticed a flotsam on my Twitter feed coming from a storm involving NN Taleb and the prominent British classisist Prof Beard. The origins were in a BBC schools animation that depicted a Roman soldier as dark skinned. This elicited a response on Infowars that the BBC was re-writing history. I was interested in this because that week my family had...

Why mathematics has not been effective in economics

July 27, 2017 Comments (0)

p { margin-bottom: 0.25cm; line-height: 120%; } There are three types of mathematician: those who can count and those who can't. It takes a few seconds to get this joke the first time you hear it, and every once and a while when I tell it to a class one student will raise a hand and asked for the 'third type'. Its a good joke because it challenges assumptions, here the assumption is that mathematics is concerned with arithmetic, which is just a minor branch of number theory. At the end of...

Political and Financial Crises

June 23, 2017 Comments (0)

My book, Ethics in Quantitative Finance, was motivated by the wish to understand the relationship between mathematics and financial ethics in the aftermath of the Credit Crisis (GFC).  While the GFC occured a decade ago, the topics discussed in Ethics in Quantitative Finance are still relevant today as the UK endures a "Great Political Crisis", a year after voting to leave the European Union.  Had someone drawn a connection between mathematics, ethics and politics for me in 2006 I...

Egyptian and Mesopotamian approaches in economics

June 12, 2017 Comments (0)

My previous post was born out of my frustration that some feel that there is a 'clash of cultures' that will inevitably lead to conflict between east and west/Islam and Christianity.  My view is that within Europe, the Middle East or China there are tensions between liberalism and authoritarianism with any society being susceptible to becoming dominated by either strand.  Every individual needs to decide whether to place there faith in authoritarianism or liberalism, a decision which...

A Financial Approach to the 'Clash of Cultures'

May 22, 2017 Comments (0)

Noah Smith has posed a question that resulted in a tweet thread Question for historians: Has anyone written of a unique, deep-rooted enmity between Europeans and Middle Easterners? https://t.co/O5pJP1BkFl— Noah Smith (@Noahpinion) May 17, 2017 He later highlighted a book on the question of the ‘east-west divide’.  Noah’s question seems to have been prompted by discussion of the activities of Stephens Bannon and Miller in attacking Islam. I read this book laying out the thesis of a...