Tyler Cowen interviews investment strategist Cliff Asness, who earns his geek cred in quant style:
Even the most insane billionaire cannot afford a hundredth of what frigging Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne have. It’s infuriating.
I’ve done well. I’m not the most insane out there. But if I wanted to go build a Batcave at my house, it would take approximately 600 times my wealth, and everyone would know about it.
I also enjoyed this light-hearted passage:
Cowen: Now, I think I’m interested in this issue, as I think you are. Extreme performances or performers, and it’s measured most readily in sports. So Gretzky is a kind of extreme outlier. In basketball, you could say Kareem Abdul?Jabbar who would be in the series as an outlier. Maybe Michael Jordan.
In sports or some other area of your choosing, which is the extreme outlier which strikes you as the most amazing? And you just say, “oh my God, I can’t believe there’s a Wayne Gretzky,” or a fill?in?the?blank-there for me, other than Gretzky.
Asness: I have no sense if this is actually accurate. But actually, no one could measure this. It can’t be accurate. You’re not going to believe what I’m going to say. Cirque du Soleil.
Cowen: Please explain.
Asness: When I sit there and watch Cirque du Soleil, which both my wife and I like, I literally walk out and go, “nobody can do this.” And I don’t think they are cheating.
Cowen: They’re not cheating, right?
Asness: But watch it again. It’s like a Looney Tunes show, where Daffy Duck dives from up there into a little thing of water down here, and he doesn’t die. I don’t know how they do it.
Everything else, the crash of ’87 was a 20 standard deviation event. Nothing. Wayne Gretzky, pretty good. The Cirque du Soleil people —
Cowen: Off the charts.
Asness: This story was from Vegas, and it’s not staying in Vegas. But, I was in Vegas, and I was exercising. I know you find that hard to believe, but I was.
The Cirque du Soleil people were in the gym, and you don’t want to ever do that. It is one of the most demeaning, humbling experiences.
Asness: They exercise exactly as?—?they did this thing where they just keep leaping over each other, and they go around in a circle, and they did it for like half an hour. And I’m sitting there on the StairMaster on a three.