Thursday, April 16, 2009

Let's Take a Break for a Sec

Two students in a class I'm teaching are writing papers on the financial crisis. After doing some research on their own, they asked me for some articles. I gave them two:
  • Michael Hudson's May, 2006 Harper's Magazine prediction of the housing crisis
  • "Quants Gone Wild," a little-known piece by William Bodine and Christopher Nagel of the business faculty at Concordia C0llege-New York. It deserves a wide readership for three reasons. It traces the origins of today's credit crisis back to new valuation methods developed on Wall Street in the 1970's, with J. P. Morgan leading the way. It faults hopelessly complex computer-driven risk models that were simply beyond human understanding, including that of the Wall Street CEO'S who profited most from their use. Finally, it ends magnificently, with a touch of zen (or whatever):
  • A couple closing thoughts: don’t run with the lemmings; don’t be overly impressed with things you don’t understand; drink some green tea and take time to write a Haiku as we witness a staggering capital meltdown from the consequences of uncontrolled financial engineering in derivatives currently estimated at US $500 trillion globally.

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