Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Space and Time

Be super careful what you count. Not everything can be reduced to numbers. It is essential to be able to jump to an alternative reality free from the constraints of space and time. A reality that is still. Where you can breathe. Financial Mathematics is built around reducing decisions to Risk and Return. Around concepts like Time Value of Money and Opportunity Cost. “Net Present Value” is meant to be a framework for decision making. You set up the inflows and outflows into the future and discount them back at a required rate of return. Then you choose. The fundamental flaw in all of this is that neither Risk nor Return can be reduced to numbers. We see what we want to see, and models will show us whatever we most want to see. The world is complex, ambiguous, and random. By the time the numbers are out, it will be too late. Even then, there is so much noise our choices still boil down to judgment calls. Numbers give the illusion of control. Confidence gives the illusion of understanding. No one can, or does, know. What we can do, is build the ability to cope. We can value every moment without discounting it, and connect what comes before to what comes next. Not making anything so important that we lose everything. Making space and time.

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