The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences is one of those pieces of writing whose title really sums up the whole thing – basically it does what it says on the tin. It started life as a lecture and was subsequently published in the mathematical literature in 1960. It is about something that a lot of people have noticed. It is really quite surprising how often a mathematical idea developed for a particular purpose, or for no other purpose than simple pleasure in the exercise of the mind, turns out to be a useful tool later for something completely different.
I love banking bail outs, and so should you. What would life be like without them? Without bail outs bankers would have to behave like the rest of us, and where is the fun in that? Of course, banking could be a pretty straight forward job. You look after people’s savings by investing them in profitable enterprises. The savers get a return on their money, the enterprises thrive and a little way down the road society as a whole is richer. It is not very different to laying bricks or running a shop really. A bit of common sense and some hard work; you make a nice living and do your bit to improve life for everyone else.
But be honest, wouldn’t that just be so dull! It is a lot more fun to lend out more money than you actually have to lots of very risky projects which pay a good return.
Imagine you are running a world superpower, but you are a bit strapped for cash. Your enemies all seem to be well funded, and you can’t keep up with them. Who do you turn to?
I wrote this review of the Cash Nexus a long time ago before Niall Ferguson was all that famous. I wasn’t very good at writing reviews back then. But to be fair, he wasn’t all that great at writing them either.