Sunday, April 3, 2011

Some background I

Moral: Wherein we go back further than three hundred, or so, years ago, in order to show from whence the residue (apologies to Weierstrass) that keeps bubbles afloat.


Earlier, we looked at our-basis and how that affects our economic selves. That is, what ought to be behind how we treat our beans (current and future)? Too, how is it that the best-and-brightest get us into so much trouble? How is it that they chase after a chimera (albeit, for some, there are rewards indeed - as they get to pilfer, essentially)?

Aside: 3+ years ago, there were predictions of looming failure (we were finding the fiction in finance). There were revelations coming about of trashy tranching. We knew that the idiots had leveraged our futures, but we did not know it had been to the hilt. And, no one got slapped or jailed or even reprimanded (beyond the rogue table). Why? We'll explain that. Too, we learned some of the ways that the finance people are not class acts: George's rant, not fair, culprits, dead peasant. What we saw were people playing with our beans without getting fingered as culprits. No, looking at Jamie's attitude now, it was just business as usual.


Let's start from a real early time and leap forward. We'll go back and forth like that for a few posts. George Berkeley is the motivation, somewhat.

Ala Robinson and Poincaré, this is an appeal to the intuition. At the same time, we will not be too inconsistent (nod to Emerson). However, as the argument expands, the intent is to approach completeness as much as we can. Yet, science (the enlightened type) says that we cannot; noting, of course, that those with an operational view don't care.


By the way, finance professors, where are these types of basics covered? You know, emphasizing greed (unethics, if you would) is not it (examples abound)?


Let's go way back to Zeno (love that guy), namely his arrow paradox.

Aside: if philosophical topics are a turn-off, please read on for a just little. Why? We'll only touch on these things briefly.

The key to this notion is that it's age-old, yet the puzzle continues even to the present day. And, we intend to show that financial engineering has not resolved this issue as it ought.

For those who do not understand why all the energy gets put behind arguments of this kind, we all know that the arrow arrives at its point (with intended consequences if it's path is truth - as in, as anticipated by the slinger of the arrow - er, archer). That's taking the operational stance, somewhat. And, it really is how things get done.

Aside: Philosophers and ilk can deal in the abstract, as someone puts food on their tables. The rich can be idle, as the multitude want to, and must work. Finance folks reap ill-begotten gains because they are allowed to, as others do the real work and suffer from want. At the core of the economy are a whole lot of people doing the remarkable, under dire circumstances and straits, on a daily basis. Has any economic/finance hotshot, or system, ever looked out for the people (and, I do not mean any collection of that thing called the corporate entity to which the Court gave personhood)?


Except? Notice how things are going toward the benefit of the geeks and wizards? Why? The pervasive use of the growing computational prowess seems to be unlimited.

Yet, know this, please. At the core of computing is something very much akin to vertigo (the really insightful people know this). Too, the resolution of this deep problem rests upon the backs (and, insights, intuition -- albeit trained, and good sense) of people.

Topsy-turvy is how it has been characterized. Quasi-empiricism, by necessity, is not a bad thing to use for this.

Quants, show me any of you who are insightful in this sense. Please.


Now, coming forward, the computational progress rests upon the work of a whole lot of mathematicians, scientists, engineers, and experimenters. Tis true even now, to wit, the profusion of apps (and related effort) upon frameworks that have come out of ideas that were outside of corporate mindset (to wit, social media and much more).

It is to the basic, and residual, effects that we are going to put our attention here.


But, we have to set the context such that we can build a picture that makes sense and that suggests how to proceed.

Is this not what we see within the economic realm? Things start, bubble, and then collapse (see
George Berkeley - ghost of departed quantities, indeed)
, as we are all so aware of, given the past few years. And, the effects will linger a long time. Does it have to be that way?


In order to build the right mindset, we jumped back to Zeno. We'll now jump forward to George Berkeley (mentioned above) who argued the idealist position. Now, don't get upset with George (after all, we have a University, in California, named after him), as I've heard a philosopher of science argue that the table that we were sitting at did not exist. Of course, he was using the modern parlance and talking boundary conditions. Too, I have heard modern versions of Zeno's thinking casted as jokes for engineers.

Where we are going with this is that there is a strong, trainable, human intuition that has been given no (or little) attention in business schools (actually, the western world's view has thrown this out, for the most part -- except that it has not, rather only a few are allowed to dabble -- we'll get into the necessary role of the autodidact, to boot).

Aside: A few years ago, most enrollments were in computer science. Then, it went to finance. Say what? I thought, at the time. What the hell is there in finance that is so intriguing? Oh, I must have been sleeping to miss out on the shenanigans (give me a break; who would have thought that this idiocy would even gain the light of day?). What is the goal of many students? I saw Business Week with a review (only a couple of years ago) that characterized MBA pursuers. Essentially, it said this: CEOs, we're after your jobs; everyone else, we want to make lots of money (implied: get the hell out of the way).

Of course, the argument for those who agree with this is that the high tide lifts all boats (did we not hear that a lot? Simultaneously, the set of enriched grew their assets rapidly whilst the majority sank into poverty and want. The middle class? Squeezed out, for the most part).

The trouble: each of these succeeding cycle is putting us deeper into the crapper. The past 1/2 century has seen effects multiplied on the event of a downturn. Without due attention, it'll only get worse (ah, let the banks self-police, it was said).


So, what is behind a lot of belief, and energy, that goes into bubbles (besides, of course, the aeration by the FED and the like)? We'll get back to that next time, after March Madness is over.


06/05/2012 -- We have the cause wrong?

09/21/2011 -- On Wealth and the CEO MVP.

08/30/2011 -- Essentially, we have financial piracy.

05/17/2011 -- Golden sacks (leftmost mug), by Rolling Stone and Daily Ticker.

05/03/2011 -- With George B being mentioned several times, we need to address, more fully, the notions of adequality and what it means (Katz & Katz, Robinson) in the context of modern computation and its open problems related to certain types of applications.

04/19/2011 -- Some basics need attention, to boot.

04/04/2011 -- We will get technical with things like linear logic. The numerants (opposites of the innumerants - remember the discussions of innumeracy?) have over-laid upon themselves, and us, a choking cloud of numbers that will strangle out our very human essence if we do not wake up and smell its gaseous emanations.

04/04/2011 -- Gross seems to know the bankers well. Note that Big Ben (from our pockets) gave them (while sacking the savers) oodles of free money.

04/03/2011 -- For preparation, be sure to look at the 5 issues to be addressed.

Modified 09/21/2011

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