Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Book Review: Keeping Up With the Quants

When all you have is a six-step formula, even a philosopher running naked through the streets of Athens, genitals flapping furiously in the breeze, can be shoehorned to fit into your pet paradigm.

Don't. Buy. This. Book.

Credit is however due to the authors for turning what should have been nothing more than a lengthy blog post into a book with all of 200-odd double-spaced pages. It does help when you can liberally quote blog posts and other more-or-less unrelated text snippets as well, not to mention repeat your six-step mantra every opportunity you get. No credit to you if you were unlucky enough to have bought the book rather than borrowing it from the library like I did.

While on the subject of inducements to buy, here's a pro-tip for aspiring authors: liberal application of maalish, in the form of quotes for your book from popular figures (Larry Summers excluded; the page containing his words of wisdom alone is enough grounds for taking the book to the shredder and torturing it slowly, while giving it false hopes by periodically pretending to put it back on the bookshelf) can persuade these quoters (don't bother; it's not a real word) to provide some more quotes to adorn the back of the dust jacket.

One might argue that the book is targeted at senior executives who don't know quantitative analytics, but if a senior executive reads gems like "Since data itself does not tell us anything, we need to analyze it in order to decipher its meaning and relationships" and a light bulb goes off in his brain, it's time to short his company's stock, folks.

The book does have some good things, stuff like when to use which statistical technique, references to other material, and so on, but as I mentioned earlier, nothing that can't be said in a crisp blog post.

Oh, and providing free advertising for NCSU's MSA program? You've got to be kidding me.