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Risk Control: Nassim Taleb Versus Reality

What do you mean by “fake low volatility?

You know the funds of Bear Stearns that blew up in the subprime crisis? They were funds that never had a down month. A lot of people who blew up in subprime did not have a down month—ever. And people rushed to invest in them because they were low volatility. And then they blew up.

Typically, I never get close to anything that has no volatility, unless it’s justified, like Treasury bonds. If you go to a balance sheet, you can see why there is low volatility, whether it is genuine. The company can have a barbell. The company can have very, very low leverage. Or you might discover that a company is doing the equivalent of selling remote options, and the company can lose a lot of money in one blow.

Let’s link it to make it more intuitive: In general, I can say that a system that has very, very low volatility is likely to blow up. Take the example of Syria. Syria had no political volatility for 40 years, and look what happened.

Forests that never have fires are likely to be completely eradicated by fires when they happen. Forests that have regular fires are much more stable.

via Risk Control: Nassim Taleb Versus Reality.

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