WARNING: Physics Envy May Be Hazardous To Your Wealth!
AbstractThe quantitative aspirations of economists and financial analysts have for many years been based on the belief that it should be possible to build models of economic systems - and financial markets in particular - that are as predictive as those in physics. While this perspective has led to a number of important breakthroughs in economics, "physics envy" has also created a false sense of mathematical precision in some cases. We speculate on the origins of physics envy, and then describe an alternate perspective of economic behavior based on a new taxonomy of uncertainty. We illustrate the relevance of this taxonomy with two concrete examples: the classical harmonic oscillator with some new twists that make physics look more like economics, and a quantitative equity market-neutral strategy. We conclude by offering a new interpretation of tail events, proposing an "uncertainty checklist" with which our taxonomy can be implemented, and considering the role that quants played in the current financial crisis.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by arXiv.org in its series Papers with number 1003.2688.
Date of creation: Mar 2010
Date of revision: Mar 2010
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Web page: http://arxiv.org/
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2010-03-28 (All new papers)
- NEP-HPE-2010-03-28 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
- NEP-PKE-2010-03-28 (Post Keynesian Economics)
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Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
- Physics envy?
by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-04-26 14:24:00
- An attack on "Old-Fashioned Economics"
by Mark Thoma in Economist's View on 2010-04-29 07:33:00
- In which I â??attack old-fashioned economics,â? i.e. utility maximization
by Nick Krafft in open economics on 2010-04-28 00:35:05
- Investor Warning: Physics Envy May Be Hazardous To Your Wealth!
by Miguel in Simoleon Sense on 2010-04-28 02:24:55
- links for 2010-05-01
by Jim in Our Word is Our Weapon on 2010-05-02 03:02:37
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"Ambiguous Volatility and Asset Pricing in Continuous Time,"
CIRANO Working Papers
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