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SSRN-Too Big to Fail, Hidden Risks, and the Fallacy of Large Institutions by Nassim Taleb

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Too Big to Fail, Hidden Risks, and the Fallacy of Large Institutions


Nassim Nicholas Taleb
NYU-Poly Institute; London Business School

May 2, 2009


Abstract:     
Large institutions are disproportionately more fragile to Black Swans.
This paper establishes the case for a fallacy of economies of scale in large aggregate institutions. The problem of rogue trading is taken as a case example of hidden risks where rogue traders and losses are considered independently and dependently of the institution’s size. Both independent and dependent loss and hidden positions are shown to lead to the paper’s conclusion, that size and economies of scale have commensurate risks that mitigate the advantages of size.

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