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As others before me, I was also led to Triana's book by the works of N.N.Taleb - that's how misleading an introduction is.
Triana's tome fails on so many levels that's imbarassing. "Lecturing Birds
" is poorly written and poorly edited (how else would one explain constructs like "impossibly impossible", "intisically intrinsic" "abstractionism"?). It is also incredibly long winded and particularly effective in driving me to impatience. Uncharacteristically - for myself - I found that, by the middle of his book, I was checking the first sentence on every paragraph to decide if it was worth reading or if it could be skipped without detriment to the general comprehension - skipping was almost always safe. However irritating, these are not the worst failures of the book.
Coming to the subject from brilliant works such as Taleb's books, or articles such as "Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street" (Wired) or "Trillion Dollar Bet" (NPR's NOVA series), I was expecting similar insights. I came away from the book more or less convinced that Triana is using his "kill the quants" rant as a smoke screen to hide the total systemic failure of the contemporary economic system. Persuaded, as I am, that quant analysis may have failed at its task, and that it bears a nontrivial responsibility of hte recent economic crisis, I find that Triana's obsessive fingering of the quants as the sole culprits very conveniently forgets to mention that bankers took ridiculously risky and leveraged positions because they wanted to do it in the first place. Had they gotten astrologists rather than quants, they'd have used astrology as an excuse to take those same positions. Let's not forget that 1929 happened in the days of the good old fashioned common sense that are so dear to Triana's heart.
My take: read Taleb. For a reason why "good ole common sense" cutis it just about as VaR, read "This Time is Different". Do not bother with this boring book. That is, unless you want to put up with more than 350 pages of prose like this:
"Deliciously paradoxically, the Nobel could end up diminishing, not fortifying, the qualifications-blindness and self-enslavement to equations-led dictums that, fifth-columnist style, pave the path for our sacrifice at the altar of misplaced concreteness."
 


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