Wednesday, December 10, 2014


There are a lot of reasons to hate Antifragile: the author comes across as arrogant, is verbose and uses obscure vocabulary, and goes out of his way to repeatedly insult large segments of the population. Nevertheless, I think the book is a useful read in that it helps the reader think about and understand a very useful mental model.

A lot of things die or are weakened by volatility. A glass in an earthquake, an over-levered firm in a recession, and a fad over time are all examples of things that are fragile. We spend a lot of time/effort/money trying to prop up fragile systems. Bail-outs of firms are a good example of that. Instead, we may better spend our resources building systems that are anti-fragile. Letting firms fail makes the economy antifragile, for example.

Nature provides us some great examples to emulate, for it is the ultimate antifragile system. While each individual organism or object is fragile, it contributes to the antifragility of the entire system.

While there are a lot of pearls of wisdom within the book, there is also quite a bit of pettiness. Every other page seems to include some shot at various groups including bankers, Harvard, socialists, MBA's, or any one of the numerous groups the author appears to look down upon. But the author's own controversial reputation may be self-serving, since controversy (a form of shock, or volatility) only increases the revenue of a writer, which is an antifragile profession!



Hey Saj,
Merry xmas and a kick ass new year
Truly glad to be a small part of your journey as an investor and human being since December 2009.
It gives me absolute pleasure o have invested my time on the Barel Karsan blog for almost half a decade now.
I Hope someday soon enough you'll be able to parlay the proceeds of what is de facto public service into something even bigger and intrinsically gratifying

As far as anti fragile is concerned, it has sparked somewhat of an obsession in my life.I suspect( as i am limited to doing only that since time is the ultimate arbiter) it is going to be the biggest life changing book since Snowball.I'm actively considering opening an international brokerage a/c with interactive brokers to take advantage of the deep and diverse options that Western financial exchanges offer.It seems to be the only acceptable decision on where next to meet my destiny ,now that college is over and the decisions of what to do in my financial life assume paramount importance.This is overconfidencd is obviously induced by the current bull market as well as "the legend' of longleaf fund impressed upon me by repeated readings of the Big short by Michael Lewis.
In short, I'm very very biased
Call me sentimental but it occurs to me that the Blog posts have gotten shorter and shorter each year.Ordinarily i consider myself a fan of brevity as well as simplicity.
I am hopelessly in love with these twin virtues of the cerebral life ,whether it relates to my investing process ,my fitness regime or truly any complex situation which involves the analysis of diverse interrelated factors which are quite heterogeneous from individual to individual.
it saddens me that you've abandoned your earlier( relatively) long winded style of writing which was responsible for gifting me with a lot if not most of my education as a value was the foundation of my investing principles as tweaked and adapted them to the culture of the financial markets of my home country of India.This blog,the instrument you chose to share your rich inner perspective of books,thinkers,practitioners and individual securities inspired me ...made me believe that it was possible to endure the twists and turns that financial markets subject upon us.I'm led to believe that this freedom was allowed to you by your adroit refusal to formally join the securities market.
Im essentially quite glad you ignored my stubborn naivety borne out of earning barely a high school diploma ,as i impressed upon you repeatedly to start your fund back then.
It's a choice that allowed you immense optionality as a blogger and the world is a richer place for it.
I understand the pressures of juggling family and professional life combined with seeking alpha and Barel Karsan make it next to impossible to expect a return to the form of blogging you practiced in earlier years. I do appreciate the fact that you're soldiering on .Believe me,it shows.


just wish this post could've done a bit more justice to Anti fragile Barel karsan style.The way Saj Karsan circa 2011 would respect.The way he would analyse and present his own opinion of things vis-a-vis the authors instead of the glorified expanded version of twitter mentality this post seems to represent.The way he would cut through complicated strands of information with his razor sharp arsenal of hard won mental models.The one who was man enough to admit and ruthlessly analyse his mistakes in chinese net nets and as a byproduct illuminating the minds of amateur investors like i upon potential pitfalls of blindly going all in into NCAV stocks. The one who was able to identify and presumably profit from the core misperceptions that the market held against GameStop, Best Buy etc.
I hope he will emerge again like an anti fragile Phoenix from the fire of time and resource constraints.
Perhaps he'll consider working around it with infrequent but longer soulful posts like a logical progression of the days in the aftermath of the Subprime Crisis
Maybe he will even forgive an old spoilt Misanthropic reader who took too long to contribute his fair share to the community that sprung around this blog.
Wishing him and Karsan Fund an eventful passionate year of robust long lasting profits
Yours gratefully,

Saj Karsan said...

Good to hear from you again, Rayhaan. The other day I was wondering why I hadn't heard from you. Congrats on your matriculation.

I like to do things that I enjoy doing. When the blog first started, it was enjoying some high traffic and revenue growth which made me want to write more. Lately, traffic and revenue have stabilized, and so I just write when I want to, and spend more time doing other things I like. I'm glad you have enjoyed the posts.

I look forward to hearing about your foray into the Western financial exchanges!