Covid-19 is not a black swan, according to statistician and rick analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who coined the term for an unpredictable, rare, catastrophic event, in his best-selling 2007 book of that title. It was wholly predictable, a white swan, according to a piece in The New Yorker.
Governments “did not want to spend pennies in January; now they are going to spend trillions.” The warning appeared in a January 26th paper Taleb co-authored with Joseph Norman and Yaneer Bar-Yam, when the virus was mainly confined to China.
Economists, officials, journalists, and executives — the naïve empiricists — who think tomorrows will be like yesterdays, are mistaken, he says. They ignore events that seem statistically remote but contribute most to outcomes, by precipitating chain reactions.