An excellent recent episode of the BBC Radio 4 math/current affairs show "More or Less" dramatized "The Parable of the Ox," a short article by John Kay originally published in the Financial Times (
paywalled, alas, or I'd link to it available from Kay's site). Fans of James Surowiecki's Wisdom of the Crowds will know the first part of this story -- wherein the average of several guesses about the weight of an ox was more accurate than the guesses of any of the experts in the crowd. What this podcast and the article adds is a coda about how the use of "guesses" (or stock trades) as a way of weighing the ox quickly departed from guesses about the weight of the ox (or the value of a firm) and turned into guesses about other peoples' guesses about other peoples' guesses -- a financialized system that soon has no connection to the real economy or the real ox. And it ends, predictably enough, when the ox dies.
The Parable of the Ox [More or Less]
The parable of the ox [John Kay]
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is suing Breitling Energy Corporation of Dallas, Texas, and its CEO, “Frack Master” Chris Faulkner, for fraudulently spending $80 million dollars of investors’ money on fancy dining, luxury cars, strippers, sex workers, and all the other fixins of a jet-setting sociopath’s lifestyle.
Volkswagen AG’s settlement with half a million U.S. regulators and diesel vehicle owners over polluting vehicles is valued at more than $15 billion cash, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters Monday. A separate report from AP puts the figure around $14.7 billion. If that’s accurate, the settlement will be the largest ever automotive […]
Arriving in my inbox at a steady clip this morning: a series of phishing emails aimed at Bitcoiners, promising that the sender has found a bug in “the Bitcoin client” and promising “Pay 0.07 BTC today, get 10 BTC for 15 hours.”
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