Being fallible in investing and not hanging onto a wrong idea

By | Fallibility, Investing

(Extracted from Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb)

One of the best traders I have ever encountered in my life, Nigel Babbage, has the remarkable attribute of being completely free of any path dependence in his beliefs. He exhibits absolutely no embarrassment buying a given currency on a pure impulse, when only hours ago he might have voiced a strong opinion as to its future weakness. What changed his mind? He does not feel obligated to explain it. The public person most visibly endowed with such a trait is George Soros. One of his strengths is that he revises his opinion rather rapidly, without the slightest embarrassment. The following anecdote illustrates Soros’ ability to reverse his opinion in a flash. The French playboy trader Jean-Manuel Rozan discusses the following episode in his autobiography (disguised as a novel in order to avoid legal bills).The protagonist (Rozan) used to play tennis in the Hamptons on Long Island with Georgi Saulos, an “older man with a funny accent,” and sometimes engage in discussions about the market, not initially knowing how important and influential Saulos truly was. One weekend, Saulos exhibited in his discussion a large amount of bearishness, with a complicated series of arguments that the narrator could not follow. He was obviously short the market. A few days later, the market rallied violently, making record highs. The protagonist worried about Saulos, and asked him at their subsequent tennis encounter if he was hurt. “We made a killing,” Saulos said. “I changed my mind. We covered and went very long.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *