February 9, 2012
The Science Fiction of Financial Markets
A lot of us feel when we look at the Dow Jones plunging [that] we’re in the grip of some alien force that slips human control. — Novelist Robert Harris
The stock market in May 2010 seemed to “come alive” when it swooned 1,000 points within minutes, Harris said in a bone-chilling radio interview that’s worth a listen for Main Street investors.
His new thriller, “The Fear Index,” which the London Telegraph called “unputdownable,” is about a hedge fund manager. But in the interview, Harris expressed his desire to take readers beyond the business reporter’s technical explanations for the market’s wild swings up or down. A solitary, $4 billion trade, the media widely reported, caused the 2010 Flash Crash that left an impression on the novelist. As Europe teeters on recession, it’s anyone’s guess how the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock market index has managed to soar more than 7 percent since Jan. 1.
Wall Street experts may be able to make sense of a hair-trigger market, but Harris’s sci-fi explanation is appealing to the rest of us. He invokes the imagination – or, perhaps I should say, the artificial intelligence lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
To hear Harris’ interview on National Public Radio, click here.