Monday, August 2, 2021


The good, the bad, and the mimetically quotable.

Positive Mimesis

I’m very excited to be a guest on the Epsilon Theory podcast later this month. Ben and Rusty are two of the most thoughtful guys around; I’ve been following their work for a while. Here is how they describe the importance of Epsilon (ε):

“We should be looking outside the confines of factor-based investment analysis. We can’t squeeze much more juice out of the alpha fruit, and we know that beta gives no sustenance to the active investor. But what about epsilon? What about ε? We pejoratively call this an “error” term, and the goal in any applied econometric exercise is to make this term as small and inconsequential as possible. That makes perfect sense if we are trying to predict the future states of, say, decaying nuclear particles, where it seems unlikely that there is any agency or causal process outside of the particles themselves (i.e., outside the physical universe). But it makes no sense at all if we are investigating a social phenomenon such as a financial market, where strategic human behavior and decision making play a crucial role, but a role largely exogenous to the observed characteristics of the financial universe.

It’s the epsilon term that I want to explore, because it includes anything that cannot be expressed easily in econometric terms – things like strategic decision-making and shifting behavioral preferences.”

Mimesis is part of epsilon, but I have long wondered if there is some way to measure it more directly. Some stocks are clearly more mimetic than others (“meme” stocks), just like some people are. I think the answer lies in a rigorous exploration of the correlation between price action and a stock’s frequency of mention/sentiment/narrative on social media. Or at least that would be a good start.

I’m in the early stages of putting together a 3-year project to study this—contingent on some funding and getting the right people involved. If you’re interested, please drop me a line. Interestingly, the thirteenth letter of the Semetic abjads is Mem (also spelled Meem, Meme, or Mim). So a name for this new variable, if we are able to measure it with some meaningful accuracy, won’t be hard to find. May have already found it.

Negative Mimesis

Mimetically-driven reactions to the Delta variant—in every direction. Par for the course since the start of the pandemic.


The crisis of the modern world is thus above all a loss of faith in the other. The rise of egalitarianism goes hand in hand with a loss of credit.”

—Benoît Chantre, French literary critic, collaborator of René Girard (Battling to the End) and author of the upcoming book The Last Law, out next year, which I had the opportunity to read in advance. I recommend it highly.

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P.S. If you write a blog and are willing to post something about Wanting, I’ll send you a free copy of the hardcover. To take me up on that, shoot me a text (202-918-3743) or an email. (



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