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The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable

ISBN: 9780547317274 | 0547317271
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pub. Date: 1/2/2013

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After the economic meltdown of 2008, many pundits placed the blame on "complex financial instruments" like derivatives, and the physicists and mathematicians who dreamed them up. But a young academic named James Weatherall quickly began to question this narrative. Were the physicists really at fault? In this important and engaging book, Weatherall tells the story of how physicists came to Wall Street and how their ideas changed finance forever. Taking us from fin-de-siecle Paris to Rat Pack-era Las Vegas, from wartime government labs to Yippie communes, Weatherall shows how physicists successfully brought their science to bear on some of the thorniest problems in economics, from options pricing to bubbles. But modelswhether in science or financehave limitations; they break down under certain conditions. And in 2008, sophisticated models fell into the hands of people who didn't understand their purpose, and didn't care. It was a catastrophic misuse of science.The solution, however, is not to give up on models; it's to make them better. And Weatherall reveals the people and ideas on the cusp of a new era in finance. The Physics of Wall Streetis riveting history that will change how we think about our economic future.


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