Saturday, October 18, 2014


The Atlantic article linked below is telling on a number of levels. Even though the artist who conducted the "performance art" project didn't didn't do enough trials, with a proper set of rigid control protocols, to really establish a strong body of proof, the mere fact that their was any success at all in this is interesting.

As the author clearly states, the assumption here is that there are patterns in the way stock prices fluctuate; patterns that the educated broker, or well trained rodent, can determine and make money on. That there may well be perceivable patterns from time to time does not change the fact, however, that this is still an irrational, and thus chaotic, system.

The problem that any found patterns present, even if they are discovered, is that they quickly become part of the feed back loop of perception and reaction; itself a process of variation as not every observer will interpret the pattern in quite the same way thus altering slightly the vector and volume of the response. All of which is simply to say that the observer affects what is observed.

More important, however, is the relationship between intrinsic value, so called "rational markets", and perception.

It has always seemed to me that the only really competitive area of Capitalism these days is that which seeks to control meaning and the formulation of perception. And the only rational thing going on here, and coldly so, is the deliberate attempt to influence meaning, and thus perception.

The main assumption of the invisible hand is that it will always reward (as in value) entities that perform well, and punish those that do not. That this axiom is stated with language that, as any lawyer knows, is subject to wide ranging interpretations, depending on more than one layer of context, isn't always appreciated as much as it should be.

And so we come to see at least one reason why lawyers have been known to be associated with vermin of one type or another. Which is also to suggest that playing the meaning game can make rats out of even the best of us. Those who have had a taste of being on top of the meaning garbage pile are especially prone to want to keep the pile growing, and keeping their place on top.

What you end up with is not only an elite who are the arbiters of what is valuable, but of who should remain the experts in control in maintaining it. Kind of like an economic supreme court, only this is a court more in the context of kings, princes and princesses.

The Atlantic article:

The Artist Who Trained Rats in Foreign Exchange Markets