‘What Could Go Wrong?’ Charts

It's a long story, but I have a deeply ingrained aversion to what I call "What could go wrong?" charts. You know the ones I mean. They're the charts you see on Twitter (sorry, "X") that get all the retweets. And also all the "likes" from the pitiable community of would-be macro mavens duped into believing that everybody with "ex-Goldman" in their social media bio actually worked at Goldman and gullible enough to pay thousands of dollars a year to every Tom, Dick and Harry peddling a "research"

Join institutional investors, analysts and strategists from the world's largest banks: Subscribe today for as little as $7/month

View subscription options

Or try one month for FREE with a trial plan

Already have an account? log in

Speak your mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

2 thoughts on “‘What Could Go Wrong?’ Charts

  1. As a lay person with a long time interest in mathematics, I was surprised to see Nassim Taleb pop up in Mathematicians of the Day” for September 12 on the St.Andrews University Maths History web site (https://mathshistory.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Taleb/). H’s readers might find this brief biography interesting, especially the last paragraph quoted here:

    “I no longer care about the financial system. I gave them my roadmap. OK? Thanks, bye. I’ve no idea what’s going on. I’m disconnected. I’m totally disengaged. People read 3 million copies of ‘The Black Swan’. The bulk of them before the crisis. And people love it. They agree with it. They invite me to dinner. And they don’t do anything about it. You have to pull back and let the system destroy itself, and then come back. That’s Seneca’s recommendation. He’s the one who says that the sage should let the republic destroy itself. [It used to frustrate me.] Now it doesn’t.”

    My feelings exactly.

  2. Generally, I pay little attention to charts of any kind. While they are often very visual but you can’t actually Do anything with them. There are no numbers on them and trying to determine any thing you can put in an equation for analysis is like trying to read an old-fashioned cheap slide rule. I had a very good one and in my youth I could read three decimal points on it. Charts, especially those flipped upside down with different scales on each side, solely designed to appear shocking in order to sell someone’s point of view point of view are typically garbage. Give me the table, the actual input data that made the chart. I’ll do my own analysis. One of the types I really hate is the type that’s invisible, as in: If you drink oat milk you’ll decrease your risk of toenail fungus by 38%, or some such. The real data is, those who don’t drink the product get the fungus at a rate of 13/100,000 pop. Those who do drink it get the fungus at a rate of 8/100,000 pop. Whoopee. Maybe even true. The chart would be huge but show a meaningless change. Drug companies use this canard all the time.

NEWSROOM crewneck & prints