The Black Swan

Sat 30 November 2013 by Thejaswi Puthraya

A "Black Swan" event is one that brings about a major upset to existing facts. Until the late 18th century, people always assumed "white" swans but were shell shocked to discover "black" swans in Australia. Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined this term to explain such high impact events.

Through past events in the financial markets and the narrative around them, he exposes loopholes in our prediction abilities and how "one" black swan caused irreperable damage. He also quotes examples out of the finance to show how badly we are equipped at making predictions.

It's an interesting book with a little bit of subtle humour in the examples but towards the end it spirals into a name calling exercise. Don't expect style or finesse in the book, read it if you want to see how "experts" can get things wrong and how you can hedge yourself against life's "black swans".