How would you feel if you outperformed the market, year after year?
Would you become convinced that the good times were here to stay, that nothing could possibly go wrong?
And how would you then feel if everything suddenly collapsed around you?
Quants - quantitative analysts - were the maths geniuses let loose in Wall Street's candy store, and this gripping narrative of talent and ambition follows their dizzying rise from the bottom of the Street's pecking order to its pinnacle. Their ascent was predicated on the belief that they had invented - and were fine-tuning - brilliant and impregnable computer programs that would always beat the market. Unfortunately, as the events of 2007 and 2008 showed all too clearly, these programs turned out to be ticking timebombs.
The story actually begins in the 1950s, when a successful maths-professor-turned-gambler named Ed Thorp realised that skills learned at the Vegas tables could also be applied to the financial markets. He soon acquired followers and imitators who, over the next few decades, assumed positions of ever-greater power and influence. Clever, eccentric, often larger than life, they achieved extraordinary success and massive wealth. The Quants follows them from obscurity to boom and then to bust, explaining why they were so self-confident, and how they got it so disastrously wrong.show more