Skin In The Game - Hidden Asymmetries in Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb


Nassim Nicholas Taleb

  Startup, Management, Leadership, Performance

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Importance of having skin in the game

Taleb traverses the idea of disincentive undesirable behaviour by allowing decisions makers to be more accountable by revealing them to the adverse outcomes of their actions. Examples of these are bankers, bureaucrats, journalists and academicians.

Wall Street bankers and politicians are constantly criticized by leftist academics and journalists for perpetuating inequality, but Taleb’s demand is not for equality, but instead, for symmetry. This can be achieved by holding decision-makers accountable by exposing them to the downsides of their choices and actions. 

Doing so will preserve the marketplace and not destroy it with regulations but will instead make sure the rules are the same for everyone. The equality of opportunity approach requires a foundation to build on. In this case, Taleb says is symmetry in terms of incentives or disincentives. Once incentives are aligned with actions and the downside is unavoidable, economic systems will become more strong. 

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Decision makers should have downside too

Decision makers need to have risk attached. Most rulers took personal risk.

Decentralisation ensures we have fewer decision makers who are immune to the risks of their decisions. It reduces large structural asymmetries.

Bob Rubin trade - others took his risk and paid for his losses. Government interference in general trend to reduce skin in the game.

Hedge funds are decentralised and owner-operators have more skin in the game.

Interventionists don't learn as they are not the victims of their mistakes. You can never fully convince someone they are wrong, only reality can.

Systems learn by removing parts. By selecting those less prone to a certain class of mistakes and eliminating others. Experience of the system is different from that of an individual. It is grounded in filtering.

Side effects of specialization. Separating labor from fruits of labour. Maker and user are now separated. Coffee cup ledge in NY north metro.

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