Reinhart and Rogoff: was Excel the problem?

There’s a bit of a furore going on at the moment: it turns out that a controversial paper in the debate about the after-effects of the financial crisis had some peculiarities in its data analysis. Rortybomb has a great description, and the FT’s Alphaville and Tyler Cowen have interesting comments. In summary, back in 2010 […]

Unintended consequences

Facebook bans at work are apparently linked to increased security breaches. It seems that strict policies on social networking sites are “actually forcing users to access non-trusted sites and use tech devices that are not monitored or controlled by the company security program.” People are very adaptable, and often very determined. If you stop them doing […]

Software risks: testing might help (or not)

It’s good to test your software. That’s pretty much a given, as far as I’m concerned. If you don’t test it, you can’t tell whether it will work. It seems pretty obvious. It also seems pretty obvious that a) you shouldn’t use test data in a live system, b) in order to test whether it’s […]

Confidence and causality

Ok, it’s a bit trite, but human behaviour is really important, and a good understanding of human behaviour is a goal for people in many different fields. Marketing, education and social policy all seek to influence our behaviour in different ways and for different purposes — that’s surely what the whole Nudge thing is all […]

Fiddling the figures: Benford reveals all

Well, some of it, anyway. There’s been quite a lot of coverage in on the web recently about Benford’s law and the Greek debt crisis. As I’m sure you remember, Benford’s law says that in lists of numbers from many real life sources of data, the leading digit isn’t uniformly distributed. In fact, around 30% […]

It’s not enough!

A very interesting column  from the FT’s Andrew Hill today, arguing that risk controls and processes on their own aren’t enough. “The $2.3bn trading scandal at UBS … makes me wonder whether corporate boards have fully appreciated the risks of relying on risk managers.” “Companies that put all their trust in risk controls – human […]