Friday, July 1, 2011

Review of The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms by Nassim Taleb

Nassim Taleb's recent The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms was basically a mandatory purchase for me because he is an interesting enough "philosopher of investing" that I read all of his books.

Taleb's arrogance often takes him over-the-top, but in those cases it is better to appreciate his ridiculousness than to get upset about it. He, Marc Faber, and the other Treasury bears have been wrong (ok, "too early") for almost two years now, but you have to forgive him just because of the way he expressed himself last year:

"So long as you see the picture of, what's his name, Bernanke, and he still has that job, you gotta run to make sure that you are short" Treasury bonds.
As if he has never heard of the Federal Reserve. I have reverse engineered the brilliant PR strategy of Taleb and Hugh Hendry, and you will all be hearing more from me soon!

Which reminds me of one of his aphorisms that is directly applicable to the European Union:
"Nothing is more permanent than 'temporary' arrangements, deficits, truces, and relationships; and nothing is more temporary than 'permanent' ones."
Another one involves the idea, true, that restaurants get you in with food so they can sell you liquor. So do movie theaters just want to sell you egregiously overpriced refreshments. I have discovered that there is a huge edge in not drinking and not snacking at the movies.

Perhaps ten percent of the aphorisms leapt out at me.  Besides a very skeptical investment philosophy, I like the Taleb lifestyle: more time reading.

3/5 - but as he says, "the test of whether you really liked a book is if you reread it".


GilBurt said...

I read your post. it was amazing.Your thought process is wonderful.

CP said...

One star Amazon review:

Some of what he said makes sense.

* If my detractors knew me better they would hate me even more. (I know him better now)
* Writing is the art of repeating oneself without anyone noticing (I noticed)