Book Review: Skin in the Game

The Book ‘Skin in the Game’ is written by Nassim Taleb,who is mainly responsible for explaining the concept of  ‘Black Swan’ to the world.

Taleb’s first book ‘Fooled by Randomness’ is one of my favourite books and it left an indelible impression on me .

As such, I was quite curious to read his latest book.

The Book can be summarised in just a few lines.

Most things in life can be explained by ‘Skin in the Game’ i.e. when a person has a stake in both the upsides of a decision outcome as well as the harm/downsides if the decision is a wrong one.

Any person who gives an opinion/view and is not held responsible for it, has no ‘skin in the game’ and is possibly a fraud or a charlatan.

Some experts who come on TV  fall in this category.They give advice/targets for stocks/markets etc and yet suffer no consequences if their call turns out to be wrong.Its only the viewers who suffer.

Similarly,in India, you find colossal mismanagement in Govt and PSU companies and banks,as their employees have no ‘skin in the game’.They get their salaries,pensions and benefits irrespective of outcomes.

The Book contains many anecdotes and examples from the Classics….this may be boring to a person who is not  a history buff.

The Book covers a wide ground of topics (the author seems to have an opinion on everything) from employment to incentives to education to war to policy making etc etc.

Some interesting insights from the Book are :

Don’t tell me what you “think”, just tell me whats in your portfolio

Bureaucracy is a construct in which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his actions.

You will never fully convince someone that he is wrong, only reality can

The market is like a large movie theater with a small door.And the best way to identify a sucker is to see if his focus is on the size of the theater rather than that of the door.

The author considers himself to be somewhat of a Renaissance man…so there are traces of arrogance and pomposity in his writings.He loves to shock as some of his topics indicate (for e.g Is the Pope an atheist?)

I found it to be an entertaining read but it might be difficult going if you are not a Taleb fan.

3 replies on “Book Review: Skin in the Game”

I would have thought that for a pro like you; selling Calls, collecting premium and watching them expire worthless would have been a better past-time currently on the bourses. But reading’s intoxicating as well, so Cheers to you while you’re at it!

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