The Smartest Guys in the Room

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Why listen to guys who were just lucky?

If Taleb is correct, we should be suspicious of lucky people who offer financial advice. And, be especially suspicious of their economic advice.

I like to follow the quarterly list of economists’ predictions in the Wall Street Journal. At the end of each quarter they compare their predictions. You seldom see any economist get it right more than once. They are guessing. An educated guess to be sure, but still they are guessing and they all tend to guess in the same way.

Then there are the hedge and investment fund managers. Most managers stick to one of several known strategies, generally the ones they see other people doing. Rarely do they stick their necks out and do something different. There’s comfort in being wrong if everyone is wrong. But occasionally they get it right and pull out enough money to last forever and I congratulate them for that. But does that meant they are qualified to give economic or financial advice if they’re just lucky?

It’s my opinion that most of these people are blinded by their own success. Especially those that have pulled large amounts of personal wealth out of the system. There is a tendency of these people to universalize their own experience. That is, they believe the lessons they learned should be applied to the world as a whole and we would all be much better off. Or, if they happen to have an economic philosophy, they will attribute that to their success, and therefore, their brand of economic philosophy should be applied universally.

Maybe they confuse their good luck with success. Maybe their philosophy had nothing to do with their success.

These people are now pushing a lot of advice on our government leaders, but … Why should we listen to them? Many of these experts are the ones who lead us off the deep end.

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