What I Learned from Losing $200 Million

I’d lost almost $200 million in October. November wasn’t looking any better. It was 2008, after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. Markets were in turmoil. Banks were failing left and right. I worked at a major investment bank, and while I didn’t think the disastrous deal I’d done would cause its collapse, my losses were quickly…

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With all the mug punters of the world seemingly going all a flutter in their neither regions over Bitcoin and all the talk about how volatile it is, I thought I would take a quick and dirty look at how volatile it is in comparison with other instruments and whether the current level of volatility…

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How to beat the bookies by turning their odds against them

Mathematicians had already developed bookie-beating models that attempt to predict sporting outcomes, but they are hard to devise and don’t perform consistently. So Lisandro Kaunitz at the University of Tokyo and his colleagues tried a more direct approach: using the bookmakers’ odds against them. The team studied data on nearly half a million football matches…

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Why Doing Good Is Good for the Do-Gooder

The past few months, with a series of disasters seemingly one on top of another, have felt apocalyptic to many, but the bright side to these dark times has been the outpouring of donations and acts of generosity that followed. From Hurricane Harvey flooding Houston to Hurricanes Irma and Maria ripping through the Caribbean to…

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The Ignorance of the Crowd

In 1907,  Francis Galton asked participants at a county fair to estimate the weight of an ox. While most individuals guessed rather poorly, the median guess was within 1 percent of the ox’s true weight. It’s not a mysterious finding, as some people guess high and others guess low. When the group gets large, these cancel out and…

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The Ways We Con Ourselves

I support a particular hospital charity that each year or so runs a home lottery and every year I enter. To date I have won a digital camera, an iPod, an Apple TV, a tonne of chocolate, wine (brilliant for a non drinker but good for presents) and a host of other goodies. In fact…

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Why Less Instant Gratification Leads to More Joy

The line stretched as far as my 10-year-old eyes could see. I had never seen a line that long for anything—let alone a movie. It was 1991. My father and I were standing outside on a cold Istanbul afternoon waiting for tickets to see Terminator 2. He had promised to take me to see the hottest…

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