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FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Quants: The new alchemists

The weird and wacky world of quants provides me with plenty of amusement this week. It all started off when I was sent a story about one FX pointy head who made the bold claim: “My model is one of those which prints money”.

I had to track him down. “Do you know where he is now and what he was like?” I asked one of his former colleagues. “He was one weird dude. He used to have some odd website, which was all about him. Very strange indeed. I’ve no idea where he is now. The House of tall stories, I guess,” was the colleague’s response.

Five minutes later, I’d found pointy head. And it was in someone else’s house.

He told me that he’d already received a lot of stick for the article. I pointed out that he was probably about to get a lot more. The pointy-headed one then said that if I published his name and/or divulged where he was working, he’d get the sack. As readers well know by now, I’m all heart – I wouldn’t want to spoil his Christmas, so he remains anonymous.

What was interesting though was that despite me telling him he’d been naïve, he didn’t think he’d said anything outrageous. Good models, he maintained, were capable of metaphorically printing money.

And lo and behold I immediately came across another quant whose models are so successful that he can afford to spend over $1 million trying to get a no-hoper in the US presidential race heard in debates.

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