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Magic, Maths and Money's Blog

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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...

Where do experts come from?

February 28, 2017 Comments (0)

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Some implications of the Bank of England comparing itself to the MetOffice

January 7, 2017 Comments (0)

At some point over the Christmas break I was cursing the fact that I was finding  it difficult to find a weather map.  That is a weather map with isobars and fronts marked on it not one with icons of cloud, rain and sun.  My favourite subject as a final year physics student was Atmospheric Physics: I was fascinated by how the differential equations delivered different weather, particularly cloud formations, based on different inputs.  Underpinning this academic interest my...

Quaker bankers: building trust on the basis of sincerity, reciprocity and charity

February 8, 2016 Comments (0)

This post follows discussions of the norms sincerity, reciprocity and charity in financial markets. It suggests that the success of Quaker finance, that funded the British Industrial Revolution (the Darby's of Coalbrookdale, the Stockton and Darlington Railway) was based on trust built on the norms. A full argument is in a working paper Discourse Ethics for Debt Markets.Trust is defined as “a firm belief in the reliability, truth or ability of someone”. Accounts of how trust is...

Sincerity - the subjective rationality of markets

January 22, 2016 Comments (0)

The Vietnamese have a proverb: two women and a duck make a market. This simple saying highlights the inter-subjective nature of markets, there is an asset (the duck) who’s price is determined through the discussion of two subjects. The foundation of this paper is in the claim that financial markets should be perceived as centres of communicative, as opposed to strategic, action. This claim rests on recognising a distinction between markets based on market-makers (in England, ‘jobbers’) and...

Why did Shakespeare portray the Merchant of Venice as Christ-like?

December 21, 2015 Comments (0)

I have been interested for a few years in the idea that Antonio, the eponymous Merchant of Venice, is the personification of agape, Christian love, in Shakespeare's play.  While the argument I offer here in the week before Christmas has its basis in Christian doctrine as an atheist and a pragmatist I think the case is equally valid for secular pragmatists in emphasising the need to temper facts with values in order to escape the 'iron cage of rationality'.Shakespeare’s The Merchant of...