The Physics of Wall Street

A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable

Author: James Owen Weatherall

Publisher: HMH

ISBN: 0547618298

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 304

View: 4098

A look inside the world of “quants” and how science can (and can’t) predict financial markets: “Entertaining and enlightening” (The New York Times). After the economic meltdown of 2008, Warren Buffett famously warned, “beware of geeks bearing formulas.” But while many of the mathematicians and software engineers on Wall Street failed when their abstractions turned ugly in practice, a special breed of physicists has a much deeper history of revolutionizing finance. Taking us from fin-de-siècle Paris to Rat Pack–era Las Vegas, from wartime government labs to Yippie communes on the Pacific coast, James Owen Weatherall shows how physicists successfully brought their science to bear on some of the thorniest problems in economics, from options pricing to bubbles. The crisis was partly a failure of mathematical modeling. But even more, it was a failure of some very sophisticated financial institutions to think like physicists. Models—whether in science or finance—have limitations; they break down under certain conditions. And in 2008, sophisticated models fell into the hands of people who didn’t understand their purpose, and didn’t care. It was a catastrophic misuse of science. The solution, however, is not to give up on models; it’s to make them better. This book reveals the people and ideas on the cusp of a new era in finance, from a geophysicist using a model designed for earthquakes to predict a massive stock market crash to a physicist-run hedge fund earning 2,478.6% over the course of the 1990s. Weatherall shows how an obscure idea from quantum theory might soon be used to create a far more accurate Consumer Price Index. The Physics of Wall Street will change how we think about our economic future. “Fascinating history . . . Happily, the author has a gift for making complex concepts clear to lay readers.” —Booklist

The Physics of Wall Street

A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable

Author: James Owen Weatherall

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

ISBN: 0547317271

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 286

View: 8757

A Harvard scholar argues that mathematical models can provide solutions to current economic challenges, explaining that the economic meltdown of 2008 was based on a misunderstanding of scientific models rather than on the models themselves.

The Physics of Wall Street

A Brief Story of Predicting the Unpredictable

Author: James Owen Weatherall

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

ISBN: N.A

Category:

Page: 304

View: 2678

After the economic meltdown of 2008, many pundits placed the blame on “complex financial instruments” and the physicists and mathematicians who dreamed them up. But how is it that physicists came to drive Wall Street? And were their ideas really the cause of the collapse?In The Physics of Wall Street, the physicist James Weatherall answers both of these questions. He tells the story of how physicists first moved to finance, bringing science to bear on some of the thorniest problems in economics, from bubbles to options pricing. The problem isn’t simply that economic models have limitations and can break down under certain conditions, but that at the time of the meltdown those models were in the hands of people who either didn’t understand their purpose or didn’t care. It was a catastrophic misuse of science. However, Weatherall argues that the solution is not to give up on the models but to make them better. Both persuasive and accessible, The Physics of Wall Street is riveting history that will change how we think about our economic future. “Weatherall probes an epochal shift in financial strategizing with lucidity, explaining how it occurred and what it means for modern finance.”—Peter Galison, author of Einstein’s Clocks, Poincare’s Maps Wall Street has long attracted talented business-school graduates; only in recent years has it also drawn analysts with doctorates in physics, mathematics, and statistics. That change is the focus of this fascinating history by a young University of California, Irvine, professor. Weatherall’s narrative mixes familiar names (Blaise Pascal, Pierre de Fermat, Paul Samuelson, Fischer Black, Myron Scholes) with more obscure figures like Gerolamo Cardano, Louis Bachelier, and Didier Sornette. Many key concepts will be familiar from the financial press: e.g., random walk theory, delta hedging, dynamic hedging, and black box models. Happily, the author has a gift for making complex concepts clear to lay readers. Weatherall understands the temptation to blame the quants for the 2008 market crash but urges that the danger comes when we use ideas from physics, but we stop thinking like physicists. Thinking like physicists means recognizing that every model is based on simplifying assumptions and that model building requires a constant iterative process of testing and improvement. Using that process, Weatherall argues, quants can offer useful insights and tools for both economic policymakers and financial speculators.

The Physics of Finance

Author: James Owen Weatherall

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9781780720876

Category: Prediction theory

Page: 286

View: 4249

"He takes us on a lively journey from fin-de-siècle Paris to Rat Pack-era Las Vegas, from wartime government labs to Yippie communes, showing how some of the finest scientific minds of the last century came to construct the sophisticated models on which modern securities trading is based"--Back cover.

Models.Behaving.Badly.

Why Confusing Illusion with Reality Can Lead to Disaster, on Wall Street and in Life

Author: Emanuel Derman

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 1439165017

Category: Science

Page: 240

View: 9847

Now in paperback, “a compelling, accessible, and provocative piece of work that forces us to question many of our assumptions” (Gillian Tett, author of Fool’s Gold). Quants, physicists working on Wall Street as quantitative analysts, have been widely blamed for triggering financial crises with their complex mathematical models. Their formulas were meant to allow Wall Street to prosper without risk. But in this penetrating insider’s look at the recent economic collapse, Emanuel Derman—former head quant at Goldman Sachs—explains the collision between mathematical modeling and economics and what makes financial models so dangerous. Though such models imitate the style of physics and employ the language of mathematics, theories in physics aim for a description of reality—but in finance, models can shoot only for a very limited approximation of reality. Derman uses his firsthand experience in financial theory and practice to explain the complicated tangles that have paralyzed the economy. Models.Behaving.Badly. exposes Wall Street’s love affair with models, and shows us why nobody will ever be able to write a model that can encapsulate human behavior.

Genius

The Life and Science of Richard Feynman

Author: James Gleick

Publisher: Open Road Media

ISBN: 1453210431

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 532

View: 5010

New York Times Bestseller: This life story of the quirky physicist is “a thorough and masterful portrait of one of the great minds of the century” (The New York Review of Books). Raised in Depression-era Rockaway Beach, physicist Richard Feynman was irreverent, eccentric, and childishly enthusiastic—a new kind of scientist in a field that was in its infancy. His quick mastery of quantum mechanics earned him a place at Los Alamos working on the Manhattan Project under J. Robert Oppenheimer, where the giddy young man held his own among the nation’s greatest minds. There, Feynman turned theory into practice, culminating in the Trinity test, on July 16, 1945, when the Atomic Age was born. He was only twenty-seven. And he was just getting started. In this sweeping biography, James Gleick captures the forceful personality of a great man, integrating Feynman’s work and life in a way that is accessible to laymen and fascinating for the scientists who follow in his footsteps.

Pricing the Future

Finance, Physics, and the 300-year Journey to the Black-Scholes Equation

Author: George Szpiro

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 0465022480

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 298

View: 3732

Financial economist Szpiro tells the fascinating stories of the pioneers of mathematical finance who conducted the search for the elusive options pricing formula. "Pricing the Future" retraces the historical and intellectual developments that ultimately led to the widespread use of mathematical models to drive investment strategies on Wall Street.

Forecast

What Physics, Meteorology and the Natural Sciences Can Teach Us about Economics

Author: Mark Buchanan

Publisher: A&C Black

ISBN: 1408827379

Category: Business cycles

Page: 261

View: 6557

A groundbreaking book that uses physics to show how instability is inherent in economic markets, just as thunderstorms are a part of the weather.

Louis Bachelier's Theory of Speculation

The Origins of Modern Finance

Author: Louis Bachelier

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 9781400829309

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 208

View: 9798

March 29, 1900, is considered by many to be the day mathematical finance was born. On that day a French doctoral student, Louis Bachelier, successfully defended his thesis Théorie de la Spéculation at the Sorbonne. The jury, while noting that the topic was "far away from those usually considered by our candidates," appreciated its high degree of originality. This book provides a new translation, with commentary and background, of Bachelier's seminal work. Bachelier's thesis is a remarkable document on two counts. In mathematical terms Bachelier's achievement was to introduce many of the concepts of what is now known as stochastic analysis. His purpose, however, was to give a theory for the valuation of financial options. He came up with a formula that is both correct on its own terms and surprisingly close to the Nobel Prize-winning solution to the option pricing problem by Fischer Black, Myron Scholes, and Robert Merton in 1973, the first decisive advance since 1900. Aside from providing an accurate and accessible translation, this book traces the twin-track intellectual history of stochastic analysis and financial economics, starting with Bachelier in 1900 and ending in the 1980s when the theory of option pricing was substantially complete. The story is a curious one. The economic side of Bachelier's work was ignored until its rediscovery by financial economists more than fifty years later. The results were spectacular: within twenty-five years the whole theory was worked out, and a multibillion-dollar global industry of option trading had emerged.

How I Became a Quant

Insights from 25 of Wall Street's Elite

Author: Richard R. Lindsey,Barry Schachter

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 9781118044759

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 386

View: 6812

Praise for How I Became a Quant "Led by two top-notch quants, Richard R. Lindsey and Barry Schachter, How I Became a Quant details the quirky world of quantitative analysis through stories told by some of today's most successful quants. For anyone who might have thought otherwise, there are engaging personalities behind all that number crunching!" --Ira Kawaller, Kawaller & Co. and the Kawaller Fund "A fun and fascinating read. This book tells the story of how academics, physicists, mathematicians, and other scientists became professional investors managing billions." --David A. Krell, President and CEO, International Securities Exchange "How I Became a Quant should be must reading for all students with a quantitative aptitude. It provides fascinating examples of the dynamic career opportunities potentially open to anyone with the skills and passion for quantitative analysis." --Roy D. Henriksson, Chief Investment Officer, Advanced Portfolio Management "Quants"--those who design and implement mathematical models for the pricing of derivatives, assessment of risk, or prediction of market movements--are the backbone of today's investment industry. As the greater volatility of current financial markets has driven investors to seek shelter from increasing uncertainty, the quant revolution has given people the opportunity to avoid unwanted financial risk by literally trading it away, or more specifically, paying someone else to take on the unwanted risk. How I Became a Quant reveals the faces behind the quant revolution, offering you?the?chance to learn firsthand what it's like to be a?quant today. In this fascinating collection of Wall Street war stories, more than two dozen quants detail their roots, roles, and contributions, explaining what they do and how they do it, as well as outlining the sometimes unexpected paths they have followed from the halls of academia to the front lines of an investment revolution.

The Buy Side

A Wall Street Trader's Tale of Spectacular Excess

Author: Turney Duff

Publisher: Crown Business

ISBN: 0770437176

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 308

View: 5459

"A former trader at the Galleon Group traces his high-adrenaline career through the trading underworld to reveal Wall Street's after-hours subculture of sex, drugs and cutthroat financial competitiveness as well as the ways trader personalities have played a key factor in securing lucrative deals in the city's most exclusive nightspots."

The Quants

How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It

Author: Scott Patterson

Publisher: Crown Business

ISBN: 9780307453396

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 352

View: 9644

With the immediacy of today’s NASDAQ close and the timeless power of a Greek tragedy, The Quants is at once a masterpiece of explanatory journalism, a gripping tale of ambition and hubris, and an ominous warning about Wall Street’s future. In March of 2006, four of the world’s richest men sipped champagne in an opulent New York hotel. They were preparing to compete in a poker tournament with million-dollar stakes, but those numbers meant nothing to them. They were accustomed to risking billions. On that night, these four men and their cohorts were the new kings of Wall Street. Muller, Griffin, Asness, and Weinstein were among the best and brightest of a new breed, the quants. Over the prior twenty years, this species of math whiz--technocrats who make billions not with gut calls or fundamental analysis but with formulas and high-speed computers--had usurped the testosterone-fueled, kill-or-be-killed risk-takers who’d long been the alpha males the world’s largest casino. The quants helped create a digitized money-trading machine that could shift billions around the globe with the click of a mouse. Few realized, though, that in creating this unprecedented machine, men like Muller, Griffin, Asness and Weinstein had sowed the seeds for history’s greatest financial disaster. Drawing on unprecedented access to these four number-crunching titans, The Quants tells the inside story of what they thought and felt in the days and weeks when they helplessly watched much of their net worth vaporize--and wondered just how their mind-bending formulas and genius-level IQ’s had led them so wrong, so fast.

The Theoretical Minimum

What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics

Author: Leonard Susskind,George Hrabovsky

Publisher: Basic Books

ISBN: 0465038921

Category: Science

Page: 256

View: 608

A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2013 If you ever regretted not taking physics in college--or simply want to know how to think like a physicist--this is the book for you. In this bestselling introduction, physicist Leonard Susskind and hacker-scientist George Hrabovsky offer a first course in physics and associated math for the ardent amateur. Challenging, lucid, and concise, The Theoretical Minimum provides a tool kit for amateur scientists to learn physics at their own pace.

The Next Convergence

The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World

Author: Michael Spence

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 9781429968713

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 320

View: 1437

A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book for 2011 With the British Industrial Revolution, part of the world's population started to experience extraordinary economic growth—leading to enormous gaps in wealth and living standards between the industrialized West and the rest of the world. This pattern of divergence reversed after World War II, and now we are midway through a century of high and accelerating growth in the developing world and a new convergence with the advanced countries—a trend that is set to reshape the world. Michael Spence, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, explains what happened to cause this dramatic shift in the prospects of the five billion people who live in developing countries. The growth rates are extraordinary, and continuing them presents unprecedented challenges in governance, international coordination, and ecological sustainability. The implications for those living in the advanced countries are great but little understood. Spence clearly and boldly describes what's at stake for all of us as he looks ahead to how the global economy will develop over the next fifty years. The Next Convergence is certain to spark a heated debate how best to move forward in the post-crisis period and reset the balance between national and international economic interests, and short-term fixes and long-term sustainability.

The Heretics of Finance

Conversations with Leading Practitioners of Technical Analysis

Author: Andrew W. Lo,Jasmina Hasanhodzic

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons

ISBN: 9780470885369

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 331

View: 1746

The Heretics of Finance provides extraordinary insight into both the art of technical analysis and the character of the successful trader. Distinguished MIT professor Andrew W. Lo and researcher Jasmina Hasahodzic interviewed thirteen highly successful, award-winning market professionals who credit their substantial achievements to technical analysis. The result is the story of technical analysis in the words of the people who know it best; the lively and candid interviews with these gurus of technical analysis. The first half of the book focuses on the technicians' careers: How and why they learned technical analysis What market conditions increase their chances of making mistakes What their average workday is like To what extent trading controls their lives Whether they work on their own or with a team How their style of technical analysis is unique The second half concentrates on technical analysis and addresses questions such as these: Did the lack of validation by academics ever cause you to doubt technical analysis? Can technical analysis be applied to other disciplines? How do you prove the validity of the method? How has computer software influenced the craft? What is the role of luck in technical analysis? Are there laws that underlie market action? What traits characterize a highly successful trader? How do you test patterns before you start using them with real money? Interviewees include: Ralph J. Acampora, Laszlo Birinyi, Walter Deemer, Paul Desmond, Gail Dudack, Robert J. Farrell, Ian McAvity, John Murphy, Robert Prechter, Linda Raschke, Alan R. Shaw, Anthony Tabell, Stan Weinstein.

Why Stock Markets Crash

Critical Events in Complex Financial Systems

Author: Didier Sornette

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 1400885094

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 448

View: 9375

The scientific study of complex systems has transformed a wide range of disciplines in recent years, enabling researchers in both the natural and social sciences to model and predict phenomena as diverse as earthquakes, global warming, demographic patterns, financial crises, and the failure of materials. In this book, Didier Sornette boldly applies his varied experience in these areas to propose a simple, powerful, and general theory of how, why, and when stock markets crash. Most attempts to explain market failures seek to pinpoint triggering mechanisms that occur hours, days, or weeks before the collapse. Sornette proposes a radically different view: the underlying cause can be sought months and even years before the abrupt, catastrophic event in the build-up of cooperative speculation, which often translates into an accelerating rise of the market price, otherwise known as a "bubble." Anchoring his sophisticated, step-by-step analysis in leading-edge physical and statistical modeling techniques, he unearths remarkable insights and some predictions--among them, that the "end of the growth era" will occur around 2050. Sornette probes major historical precedents, from the decades-long "tulip mania" in the Netherlands that wilted suddenly in 1637 to the South Sea Bubble that ended with the first huge market crash in England in 1720, to the Great Crash of October 1929 and Black Monday in 1987, to cite just a few. He concludes that most explanations other than cooperative self-organization fail to account for the subtle bubbles by which the markets lay the groundwork for catastrophe. Any investor or investment professional who seeks a genuine understanding of looming financial disasters should read this book. Physicists, geologists, biologists, economists, and others will welcome Why Stock Markets Crash as a highly original "scientific tale," as Sornette aptly puts it, of the exciting and sometimes fearsome--but no longer quite so unfathomable--world of stock markets.

A Man for All Markets

Beating the Odds, from Las Vegas to Wall Street

Author: Edward O Thorp

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

ISBN: 1786070294

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 400

View: 4080

Mathematics professor. Professional gambler. Tech inventor. Hedge fund heavyweight. Bestselling author. One of a kind. Edward O Thorp worked his way up from nothing to become a professor at MIT. Using one of their early computers for his calculations, he invented card counting, making huge winnings at blackjack, roulette and baccarat in Las Vegas and brushing shoulders with mobsters along the way. Thorp then went on to Wall Street, where he began a hugely successful career in the stock market, attracting the attention of global investors such as Warren Buffett. He used statistical techniques to find and exploit pricing anomalies in the securities markets and built a significant fortune, earning him the nickname 'The Godfather of Quants'. For the first time, Thorp shares his incredible life story, explaining how he made his money and giving advice to the next generation of investors.

The Wisdom of Finance

Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return

Author: Mihir Desai

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

ISBN: 0544911202

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 256

View: 8004

"A fascinating new perspective on modern finance," --Oliver Hart, 2016 Nobel Laureate in Economics "Lucid, witty and delightfully erudite...From the French revolution to film noir, from the history of probability to Jane Austen and The Simpsons, this is an astonishing intellectual feast." --Sebastian Mallaby, author of The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan In 1688, essayist Josef de la Vega described finance as both “the fairest and most deceitful business . . . the noblest and the most infamous in the world, the finest and most vulgar on earth.” The characterization of finance as deceitful, infamous, and vulgar still rings true today – particularly in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. But, what happened to the fairest, noblest, and finest profession that de la Vega saw? De la Vega hit on an essential truth that has been forgotten: finance can be just as principled, life-affirming, and worthy as it can be fraught with questionable practices. Today, finance is shrouded in mystery for outsiders, while many insiders are uneasy with the disrepute of their profession. How can finance become more accessible and also recover its nobility? Harvard Business School professor Mihir Desai, in his “last lecture” to the graduating Harvard MBA class of 2015, took up the cause of restoring humanity to finance. With incisive wit and irony, his lecture drew upon a rich knowledge of literature, film, history, and philosophy to explain the inner workings of finance in a manner that has never been seen before. This book captures Desai’s lucid exploration of the ideas of finance as seen through the unusual prism of the humanities. Through this novel, creative approach, Desai shows that outsiders can access the underlying ideas easily and insiders can reacquaint themselves with the core humanity of their profession. The mix of finance and the humanities creates unusual pairings: Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope are guides to risk management; Jeff Koons becomes an advocate of leverage; and Mel Brooks’s The Producers teaches us about fiduciary responsibility. In Desai’s vision, the principles of finance also provide answers to critical questions in our lives. Among many surprising parallels, bankruptcy teaches us how to react to failure, the lessons of mergers apply to marriages, and the Capital Asset Pricing Model demonstrates the true value of relationships. THE WISDOM OF FINANCE is a wholly unique book, offering a refreshing new perspective on one of the world’s most complex and misunderstood professions.

The Myth of the Rational Market

A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street

Author: Justin Fox

Publisher: Harper Collins

ISBN: 0060599030

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 416

View: 6576

The financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent Great Recession demolished many cherished beliefs—most significantly, the theory that financial markets always get things right. Justin Fox's The Myth of the Rational Market explains where that idea came from, and where it went wrong. As much an intellectual whodunit as a cultural history of the perils and possibilities of risk, it also brings to life the people and ideas that forged modern finance and investing—from the formative days of Wall Street through the Great Depression and into the financial calamities of today. It's a tale featuring professors who made and lost fortunes, battled fiercely over ideas, beat the house at blackjack, wrote bestselling books, and played major roles on the world stage. It's also a story of free-market capitalism's war with itself.

Wall Street

A History

Author: Charles R. Geisst

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780199723072

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 416

View: 4445

In the seven years since the publication of the first edition of Wall Street, America's financial industry has undergone a series of wrenching events that have dramatically changed the nation's economic landscape. The bull market of the 1990's came to a close, ushering in the end of the dot com boom, a record number of mergers occurred, and accounting scandals in companies like Enron and WorldCom shook the financial industry to its core. In this wide-ranging volume, financial historian Charles Geisst provides the first history of Wall Street, explaining how a small, concentrated pocket of lower Manhattan came to have such enormous influence in national and world affairs. In this updated edition, Geisst sums up the recent turbulence that has threatened America's financial industry. He shows how in 1997 thirty NASDAQ market makers paid a record $1.3 billion fine for price irregularities in stocks. He makes sense of the closing of the bull market, and explains a major change in the accounting rules for mergers that caused monumental losses for companies like AOL Time Warner. And he recounts how in the aftermath of the speculative fever that swept Wall Street in the 1990's, the scandals at Enron, Tyco, Worldcom, and Conseco represent a last gasp of mergermania and a fallout from a bubble-like market. Wall Street is at once the story of the street itself, from the days when the wall was merely a defensive barricade built by Peter Stuyvesant, to the modern billion-dollar computer-driven colossus of today. In a broader sense it is an engaging economic history of the United States, the role Wall Street played in making America the most powerful economy in the world, and the many challenges to that role it has faced in recent years.