books pdf The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable By James Owen Weatherall –

A Harvard Scholar Challenges Popular Beliefs To Argue That Mathematical Models Can Provide Solutions To Current Economic Challenges, Citing The Pivotal Historical Contributions Of Physicists To Wall Street While Explaining That The Economic Meltdown Of Was Based On A Misunderstanding Of Scientific Models Rather Than On The Models Themselves , First Printing

5 thoughts on “The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable

  1. Narada Narada says:

    About some of the scientists who went into finance, and some of the ideas they brought to bear on the subject The book, however, has many problems One is that a lot of the material is covered at length elsewhere fortune s formula and the eudaemonic pie come to mind , and the author does not see fit to cite this work Nor does he cite Mandelbrodt s the misbehavior of markets, despite a considerable portion of the book being devoted to Mandelbrodt s work on finance.Second, the autho s hero worshipping approach is quite annoying many of the people covered are well known for their considerable talents in marketing themselves, and the author swallows the pitch hook, line, and sinker For on this, check out the low star reviews of Sornette s 2009 book and no, Mandelbrodt DID NOT discover fractals they were studied by Julia before Mandelbrodt was born.Thirdly, the author does not appear to be a practicing financier, since his comments on finance proper are quite shallow.

  2. Douglas Winslow Cooper Douglas Winslow Cooper says:

    This very readable book might better be called The Physicists of Wall Street, as it tells about the geniuses who have given us improved understanding of the casino called the stock market French physicist Louis Bachelier over a century ago modeled the market as being a random walk, a drunken lurching, with steps that followed a normal Gaussian distribution The equations and implications implications he deduced went nearly unnoticed for five decades, when the great M.I.T economist Paul Samuelson was alerted to them, only to find that much of his own recent work had been scooped by Bachelier, whom Weatherall considers the Isaac Newton of economics.Who cares Those who invest daringly in the market, beyond my own favorite, the buy and hold strategy, which has worked well for Warren Buffett Options, futures, warrantsthese derivatives based on stock prices are much sensitive than the stocks themselves to changes in the environment and changes in the traders world views Fortunes have been made and fortunes lost, some of the latter due to the bubbles that the fizz of the physicists helped create The normal distribution was not quite right Physicist Maury Osborne found the log normal made sense it never went negative, fit the data better, had larger and accurate probabilities for some extreme events Eventually, Benoit Mandelbrot showed that distributions that gave even larger probabilities for extreme events had longer, fatter tails were needed and still could under predict market collapses Nassim Taleb in The Black Swan and Antifragile maintained that the truly unusual cannot be predicted, only hedged against.Some physicists in the market have become billionaires, so they know things most of us do not One strategy has been to use computers and sophisticated algorithms, usually closely held secrets, to move a bit faster than the market to get in ahead of the ups and out ahead of the downs This works when in the normal trading regime Clever hedging with stocks and warrants etc can also deliver nice returns in normal times There may be clues that warn of impending crises, as physicist Didier Sornette has shown, but most of us may be wise to follow Prof Taleb s injunction to put the bulk of our investments in safe, conventional alternatives, speculating with a small fractionand generally betting that disaster has been under estimated.Economists tend to be skeptical of physicists in their playground Some humility is appropriate on both sides Still, it was Nobel prize winning economists who rode Long Term Capital Management into bankruptcy, apparently partly due to relying on the normal distribution, rather than something a little complicated and closer to reality.Weatherall s book has extensive notes and references and a couple of figures, but no equations The stories are well told, with a mix of interesting personal and technical information Lots can be learned, just don t bet the farm.I really liked this book, but I am a retired physicist We transcend humility.

  3. folderol50 folderol50 says:

    This book starts out interesting, as the author discusses the early history of mathematical finance culminating in the success of early hedge fund pioneers such as Thorp However, the thread is mostly lost in the 2nd half amidst rambling discussions of two physics applications chaos theory to crash prediction, and gauge theory to inflation , which are dubious to say the least It would have been much interesting for this reader to learn exactly what it is that most physicists are actually doing on Wall Street now, and how those activities make so darn much money Why couldn t he track down former employees of Jim Simons, or ultrafast trading algorithm designers, or physicists working as risk modelers at banks, and tell us what they do

  4. DaddyFixIt DaddyFixIt says:

    Weatherall s book is very timely because it covers one of the least understood aspects of the 2007 2010 financial crisis the change on Wall Street from hiring well bred young Ivy Leaguers to hiring mathematicians and physicists Weatherall s early chapters on the pioneers of quantitative methods in finance are very well done, and he explains clearly the basic issues in applying such methods to finance The second half of the book, however, becomes a polemic and Weatherall doesn t explain what went wrong in the 2000s except to say that he disagrees with Nicholas Taleb s Black Swans In particular, I don t understand how he could write a book on this subject and devote only one sentence to James X Li s application of copula functions, which were the engine underlying CDOs and were a classic case of work imported from academia to Wall Street and, further, his sentence is wrong.

  5. Edoardo Angeloni Edoardo Angeloni says:

    This book is an intelligent explication about the financial phoenomena The author so follows several models of important economists, whom have tried to read inner those aspects Particularly it is interesting as the fractal mathematics had had the possibility to arrive at this level of knowledge, in a better way than the tradition related to the Black Scholes theorem.Economists as Taleb and Krugman, with mathematicians as Poincar, Mandelbrot, Lvy, represent the foundaments of a new science which knows the economy in similar way of quantum physics.Quantum mathematics and this new economics must be given by exact axioms, and that will be the next job of mathematics.