Dangers of debt

“Black Swan” author Nassim Taleb at the Royal Society:

Debt is a product of overconfidence. The more confident you are, the less it makes sense to use equity. The problem is that we– humans– cannot be trusted with knowledge because we tend to be overconfident …Religions…don’t like debt. It’s not without a reason. You had debt jubilees, cancellation of debt from Babylonian times… Debt was not necessarily a good thing….Debt is something that’s very toxic and can hit you very quickly, which is why I don’t like leveraged buyouts…so you need to protect people from themselves.

You can express overconfidence with equity, without harming yourself too much…The debt bubble we have now is still here.

He gives some annoyingly persuasive arguments for a conservative approach to public policy. I don’t find any transcript, but there is an mp3 from Radio National, and the Royal Society offers both video and audio.  It’s worth listening just to hear him say “Silly Con Valley.”

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