Do you know why investment banks and hedge funds and insurance companies actually work? If you just said "LAWYERS" or "THE FED WINDOW," you are technically correct. But on a more fundamental level, it's because there are thousands of Ivy League children assiduously doing math all day. These firms are the nation's number one consumer of nerds, and that is why, in the end, great amounts of money are made. (Though it's never the nerds that get the big bonuses, which is a shame.) So when businesses try to rip off a model—for instance, the fine people who mixed viatical settlements with derivative instruments, that is to say, who buy life insurance policies and spread them among investors, hedging against death—they often fail because they don't have enough kids doing math. This is what happened to "Life Partners Holdings Inc., which, by the way, really gay name much? But yeah, they got hosed on the math because their "life partners" (LOL!) just keep not dying: "In policies old enough to provide a measure, the insured people usually haven't died within the life expectancy Life Partners gave its clients, and often were still living beyond double or triple their projected span." Bam! Math does it again.
Tuesday, December 21st, 2010