More Tooleb Tweets, Again

Nasim Tooleb’s Twitter is always good for source material.

Except that the link between interest rates and asset class appreciation is weak, or at least not strong enough to say definitely that lower rates means higher prices. Consider Japan’s multi-decade stagnation and long-term bear market despite having among the lowest rates in the developed world for much of the 2000s, until only starting in 2012 making a comeback. The US housing market boomed, at least on nominal basis, in the ’90s, as did tech stocks and the stock market overall despite very high interest rates (4-8% vs. 0% now). Same for the ’80s, which has even higher interest rates. The 2000s housing boom in the US began in 2001 or so but continued until 2006, years after the fed began aggressively raising rates to 5% in 2006 from 1% in 2003. Commodity prices also surged from 2003-2008 as the fed was raising rates.

Low rates are a tailwind, but how much is hard to quantify or disentangle from other factors. Some of it is probably cultural: Japanese are much more inclined to save compared to spendthrift Americans.

Uhhh….except that delta was only constrained because the more contagious omicron took over, not because the vaccines ‘killed’ delta. The end result is more Covid daily cases than even in July 2021 despite mass vaccinations. At this point, even the liberal media has stopped saying that vaccines prevent the spread of Covid, but only lessen symptoms and prevent hospitalizations. Saying something saved or prevented ‘millions’ of anything is a vague, useless quantifier (the difference between $1 million and $999 million is the difference between being in the top-57-million in the world (number of millionaires) in personal wealth vs. the top 2,700 (number of billionaires alive in the world)). But all media outlets cite figures of 500,000 or so lives saved (assuming such a figure can even be accurately quantified), not millions, so Taleb again cannot even get basic stuff right that can be easily checked. This is not about being pro or anti-vaccine, but just looking at the data and comparing Taleb’s claims to information that is publicly known.

If by ‘developing his equations on his own’ he means rendering centuries-old statistics formulas with Mathematica and then taking personal intellectual ownership of them, I guess you could say that, but I am sure it also demonstrates a major case of Dunning Kruger on his part too. It’s obvious he has a greatly inflated sense of his ability. When I say I am one of the best alive at investing and financial/economic forecasting, I have the results to back up that claim. If I said I was as great as Terrance Tao at math, of course that would be absurd. I have long maintained that Taleb suffers from a sort of cognitive dissonance. He claims to reject academia, yet he knows that his large Twitter following of mostly dull, average-IQ people does not confer the same value and weight as having his findings received by academics.

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