Emanuel Derman

Counterintuitive, but true

May 9, 2012

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago (Economists on the Skids) about the clear testability of counterintuitive ideas about mechanics and the much less clear testability of counterintuitive theses in economics.


May 4, 2012

Thinking aloud:

As I understand it, all money is really an IOU created and issued by someone. When McDonald’s gives you coupons, you’re taking their credit; similarly with Frequent Flier Miles, and similarly with a bank that lends you U.S. dollars. All of these institutions are creating money, their own currency.

Economists on the skids

May 2, 2012

Economists keep battling it out.

Martin Wolf in the latest FT comes across with heartfelt empathy for the difficult life of a central banker, someone whose limitless narrow power over the economy doesn’t extend to troubled individual consumers. Wolfe is against austerity but recognizes the political difficulties.

The business of universities is … education? Excellence? Job placement?

April 30, 2012

Every day I seem to come across new articles or incidents concerning universities that indicate the increasing strength of the tidal forces pulling at them and their denizens:

No more inhibition

April 20, 2012

When I used to blog for Wilmott, I used to be a frivolous uninhibited person. But now, I’ve noticed, the gravitas of Reuters, and the fact that every post has to go through their editorial staff who have standards to uphold and probably don’t want to get sued either, has inhibited me. I think twice or even three times about writing unweighty garbage. Will it be long and significant enough? I don’t want to sound stupid.

The End

April 16, 2012

When the era of rationality finally dawned, it became clear to everyone that love doesn’t last. Furthermore, everyone agreed that humans spend too much of their youth immersed in and distracted by the misery of courtship and the agony of unfulfilled sexual attraction, and so much of their middle and old age in the sadness of waning attraction and regret. No one in the era of rationality was in favor of unavoidable human pain. So, when the entire human race decided that the complications caused by lust weren’t, in the end, worth it, they concluded that people would live much more calmly and pleasantly in a society where sexual competition was absent. It soon became clear that humans would be better off if everyone simply stopped reproducing.

Professionalism and its discontents

April 10, 2012

“I must accept that my body cannot do too many things at once. I must learn to say, ‘No.’ I must take care to get sleep. I must think of myself. I must do things that are fun. I must get the ‘musts’ out of my life.”

Partner$ in crime

April 4, 2012

I don’t understand money too well, the idea of it, what exactly it is. For a class I’m teaching I just read an enlightening British book on that subject, Where Does Money Come From?, recommended to me by Perry Mehrling, the author of a biography of Fischer Black. (Perry is giving a talk at Columbia on The Inherent Hierarchy of Money in a seminar I run next week.)

My blind date with Rina Kolick

March 23, 2012


Spiller Alert: This post may contain TMI about Miracle Workers and Bodily Fluids. You can stop now.

The best revenge?

March 19, 2012

I just returned from a one-week vacation in the Yucatan, doing pretty much nothing except staying on the beach, my all-time favorite activity perhaps owing to having grown up in a beachfront city. I was pretty tired when I went down there, and I began to wonder what life would be like if I hadn’t worked for a living.