Lessons From Monkey Business

Economists are scientists. They take data. They run statistical tests. Then, they boil down human behavior to elegant mathematical models: G+I+Xn+C =GDP, MRS=-p1/p2 etc. However, as sophisticated as these models may be, they don’t always work in practice.

Several years ago, the returns of two portfolios compiled by a brie eating, Armani wearing analyst at Merrill Lynch and an innocent monkey throwing darts at a page of the Wall-Street Journal were compared, and the differences were negligible. The Subprime mortgage, created by intelligent Ivy League graduates fluent in computer programming and financial modeling, shattered the global economy and literally brought the house down. Your browser may not support display of this image.