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Nassim Nicholas Taleb

in Economist of the Month

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb (born 1960) is a Lebanese-American essayist, scholar, statistician, and risk analyst, whose work focuses on problems of randomness, probability, and uncertainty. His 2007 book The Black Swan was described in a review by the Sunday Times as one of the twelve most influential books since World War II.

Taleb spent 20 years as a derivatives trader specializing in

  • hedging nonlinear risks,
  • managing payoffs under complicated probability distributions,

before starting a full-time career in research in the field of risk management and applied probability.

Before becoming a researcher, he held senior positions with major financial institutions: Credit Suisse First Boston, UBS, BNP-Paribas, Indosuez (now Calyon), Bankers Trust (now Deutsche Bank). He also worked as an independent pit trader and ran his own derivatives firm for 6 years.

Taleb has also been involved in risk-based policy making, advising the IMF, and the UK Prime Minister on model error and the detection and mitigation of tail exposures. He has also been hired the RAND corporation and various branches of the U.S. government and has testified twice for the United States Congress.

Taleb holds a PhD from the University of Paris and an MBA from the Wharton School. He is the author of the Incerto, a 4-volume essay on uncertainty (Antifragile, The Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness, The Bed of Procrustes), and Dynamic Hedging (1997), a technical clinical book on derivatives, in addition to Silent Risk, a freely available technical book (and reexpression of the Incerto) in applied probability theory.

Taleb’s books have more than 100 translations in 35 languages. Since starting his academic career, he has written more than 35 scholarly papers on risks and probability. In 2011, he was listed among the Bloomberg 50 most influential persons in the world (policy makers, bankers, corporate leaders) in Finance.

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