Lets take a bizarre example.
I will study you. I will analyse all available data on you. I will go back the last 5 years. Check all your purchases. Map all your income. Your career and education. Your hobbies. Your social media accounts.
And then I will predict exactly what your life will look like for the coming 30 year. I will calculate your income increases. Your career. Your financial positions. Your wealth.
And I will not be alone. I will hire a team of analysts, mathematicians and psychologists to help me.
And I will summarize our findings in a spreadsheet.
What do you think about that?
What is that you say?
You think I cannot even predict what your future will look life 5 years from now?
If you ever made some sort of to do list you know how difficult it is to predict even your own actions for the coming month.
Yet there are people out there who think the can do it. And not only for you, but for 100s of Millions of people at the same time.
And they get paid a huge amount of money for it.
Who are those people?
For my master thesis I interviewed a real estate guy. Not a sales guy or a manager. The guy owns large rental homes in The Hague. His clients are ambassadors and Shell board members. At the time he owned between 100 and 120 properties. He never knew exactly sure how much at any given moment.
A serious guy.
I interviewed him on which valuation methods he used to determine the rents. His answer translates as making your finger wet and stick it up the air to feel how the wind blows. He just knew.
My academic flagship calculation was a printout of an IRR (Internal Rate Of Return). It contains an overview of all the costs, and future income prognosis, realistic reservations for maintenance etc.
He studied it intensely. “I understand this model and it looks interesting”, he said. “But as soon as an airplane hits the world trade center”… He took the paper and threw it in the trash-can. I was shocked.
You see, I had been working at a prestigious real estate company responsible for building the nicest shopping malls in Europe. They had been bought by Morgan Stanley. And IRR calculations became the foundation the entire business was managed on. There were guys who were just calculating these rates of return. Full time.
I left that company in 2008 for a journey around the world. By then the plans were to reach for the sky. Venturing into new countries. Getting a new office building – the best and most beautiful building in The Netherlands.
When I came back for a visit in 2009 the company was edging the cliff. The financial crisis had hit really hard. 40% of the staff was already fired and more were on the way. It was a blood bath.
And nobody saw it coming.
It wasn’t in the spreadsheets…
(Although we already signalled in late 2007 that the banks became very difficult providing loans. This indicated rotten balance sheets and should have understood this warning signal).
The world today is run by economists with spreadsheets. The calculate how much pension you will get in 40 years. How much your purchasing power you will have in 10. How much they can borrow on your behalf while keeping “inflation” at an acceptable level.
I have shown it is not possible. I have shown it is downright dangerous.
The financial world acknowledges this fact. They understand that there are aspects of life that can not be calculated. Low possibility events, but with extreme consequences. This is called a “Black Swan”.
But yet these spreadsheet calculations determine every government action and the board room of every major financial institute in the world.
“Yeah, but what do you suggests, no calculations at all? – that is just stupid”
Off course not smartypants, you can’t manage what you can’t measure.
But on an individual level you must be aware that this plays a huge impact on your life.
Your savings account, tax payer money and retirement funds are managed by well paid economists sitting in fancy office buildings tweaking spreadsheets around (and in some case snoring coke of the toilet seats during lunch breaks).
And these people make mistakes on a daily basis.
With your money.
And to protect you the government has forced you to put a major chunk of your life’s worth into a collective pension fund.
Do you want that?
I simply do not understand how someone else will be more careful with my money than I, while they have incentives to make a lot of transactions and conspire with Wolfs of Wall Street.
I have decided to take life into my own hands?
Check here to read an alternative on how you become a digtal nomad and not pay taxes anymore.
A number of “Black Swan” events that I think will be coming our way in the short run check this.