Friday, 13 February 2009

Sociologists do models, kinda

From Reflexive Modeling: The Social Calculus of the Arbitrageur by Daniel Beunza and David Stark:
Modeling entails fundamental assumptions about the probability distribution faced by the actor, but this knowledge is absent when the future cannot be safely extrapolated from the past...

By privileging certain scenarios over others, by selecting a few variables to the detriment of others, and in short, by framing the situation in a given way, models and artifacts shape the final outcome of decision-making. This ... is the fundamental way in which the economics discipline shapes the economy, for it is economists who create the models in the first place...

...models can lead to a different form of entanglement. In effect, models can lock their users into a certain perspective on the world, even past the point in which such perspective applies to the case at hand. In other words, models disentangle their users from their personal relationship with the actor at the other side of the transaction, but only at the cognitive cost of entangling them in a certain interpretation.
Despite the focus on relatively uninteresting models (merger arb), this is an interesting paper for anyone interested in how traders really use models.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Charles Butler said...

David, the link doesn't go anywhere.

11:31 pm  
Blogger David Murphy said...

Thank you Charles: I've fixed it. It is slighly annoying that you have to remember to put the http:// in the link reference...

8:01 am  

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