*Pricing the Future*

The author is George G. Szpiro and the subtitle is Finance, Physics, and the 300-Year Journey to the Black-Scholes Equation, A Story of Genius and Discovery.  Excerpt:

As the scion of a WASP family, [Fischer] Black headed straight to Harvard for his undergraduate studies.  He didn’t even apply to any other college.  Once there, he took a wide range of courses, including psychology, anthropology, sociology, mathematics, physics, logic, biology, and chemistry.  Strangely missing in this eclectic selection was anything related to finance, although he mentioned to his parents that he was considering “even economics.”  He also experimented with psychedelics and — ever the scientist — took notes about his mental state every half hour.  Once Black got arrested by the Cambridge police for demonstrating…but not again bigotry, racism, or world hunger.  He was jailed for demonstrating against Harvard’s decision to issue degrees in English rather than Latin.  Behind bars, his bluster soon vanished and when a Harvard dean came to check on the detainee’s conditions, Black quickly accepted the opportunity to get out.

I can’t remember the last time I learned so much about the history of economic thought, and on an important matter at that.  This book is a real contribution.  It doesn’t have the fancy or seductive writing style that you find in many popular science books nowadays, but it rates high in terms of substance.


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