No sooner does The Epicurean Dealmaker clear his throat about the future of his blog than Nassim Nicholas Taleb accuses him, in a tweet, of cowardice. (Imagine the duels that Twitter would have sparked in the gay old days!) According to TED, Taleb slapped the glove thus:
Hello; is it from lack of courage that you conceal your identity? No skin in the game? Are you a coward or am I mistaken?
Unlike certain public intellectuals who may have accumulated enough wealth through investing and writing bestselling books to enjoy the freedom of reading in bed for two years and stomping belligerently about the landscape lifting heavy stones, I have not. I continue to work as a trusted advisor to corporations and financial sponsors so I can support my family, my childrens’ schools, and the innumerable other wine merchants, bartenders, and cigar vendors who have attached themselves to me over the years. Unfortunately, this noble objective seems to be incompatible with ridiculing the follies and foibles of public figures within and without my industry, not to mention attacking the seemingly endless supply of dull, stupid, and irretrievably wrong commentators and journalists poisoning the well of public thought, while wearing my own name. Add to this the institutional paranoia of compliance and regulatory officials within employers like my firm, who suffer myocardial infarctions at the very thought of an investment banker like me communicating with the public in a non-approved, unsurveilled fashion, and you perhaps begin to see why my diffidence is less absence of courage than simple discretion.
For you see, Mr. Taleb, you are mistaken about the game in which I have put my skin at risk. My game is not to be a public intellectual. My game is to be an investment banker. In that game, believe me, I am all in. That being said, I have a brain, and judgment, and a clever pen, and I am not afraid to use them to advance arguments in the intellectual realm which I believe deserve to be heard. Just because I am not a combatant in the public arena under my own name, that does not mean I cannot fight there. If others are afraid to confront me because I wear a mask, I count that against their own courage, not mine.
Some day, no doubt, TED’s identity will be known to all who care to know it. And with that will come the identity of his employer(s) and his clients. (Precious few will care about the latter by that time.) All of this information would be just so much baggage to today’s readers of The Epicurean Dealmaker. It is very clear that the entries at TED are dispassionate (if sometimes impassioned) distillations of observations made over long experience, personalized by the literary persona that TED assumes when he writes them. He is the very opposite of a troll.
It would probably be easiest simply to assume that TED is whomever you happen to think he is at the moment, and that he has worked on every deal in the Wall Street history of the past quarter-century.