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How to prevent financial meltdowns, according to the Library of Mistakes

Quartz: “Down a narrow alley in Edinburgh, Scotland, there is a tiny library in an old, stone building. The single room houses about 4,000 books, most of them purchased second-hand, and all aiming to chronicle the history of business and finance. Its founder, Russell Napier, calls it the Library of Mistakes. “All of us make decisions not knowing the future, and therefore we’re prone to mistakes…If we study these mistakes, we might be able to work out where they come from and create less of them,” says Napier, a financial advisor and a contributing columnist for the Toronto Star. It’s the kind of approach that might have avoided trillions of dollars in losses over the course of centuries, up to the recent collapse of Terra, an algorithmic stable coin. This single incident cost investors $45 billion. For Napier, the models and computer code that dominate the financial system now tend to obscure the lessons of history: “It’s a distillation. When you make whisky, you distill stuff and you throw the rest away. Well that’s what the mathematicians have done; they’ve distilled it, they’ve got this essence, and they’ve thrown the rest away. We’re trying to bring it back in.”…

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