About

Cathy O’Neil lives in New York City. She hopes to someday have a better answer to the question, “what can a non-academic mathematician do that makes the world a better place?”

If you want to talk to Cathy directly email her at cathy.oneil at gmail dot com.

  1. Philip Jacob
    June 14, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Good luck Cathy! As with everything you do, I’m sure this blog will help others, inform and entertain.

  2. Aaron
    June 16, 2011 at 9:03 am

    This is how you post a comment.

  3. June 23, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    You are a righteous math babe and now a blogger to boot. Keep up the good work!

  4. June 26, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Here by recommendation of Japheth; thanks for the thoughtful conversation about hedge fund culture. Looking forward to reading more.

    (Japheth, was the Ani DiFranco reference intended? I didn’t know you had it in you!)

    • June 26, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      Hey Ben,
      Unintentional, but I do feel righteous about it.
      Thanks for pointing it out!
      Japheth

  5. October 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Nice to see another female mathematician out there! Great post! @Data_Nerd

  6. Judy Walker
    January 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Hi Cathy! Sara Billey just publicized your blog at the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics. I didn’t know about it before but I’m looking forward to getting caught up on it. I still have your PhD thesis sitting on my bookshelf by the way….
    –Judy

  7. Paul Boisvert
    February 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Hi, Cathy,
    Great blog! I’m a Comm. College math teacher in suburban Chicago, typical bald white male, and your take on issues of women in math fully dovetails with my own experience. I thought I’d just give you a couple additional perspectives, if you’re interested.

    In my classes, I have students write a “math autobiography” at the start, telling me their past experiences in math. The single most common trope is that of women saying “I loved math up until ___ grade”, with 5,6, or 7 most often in the blank, though sometimes up to 8 or 9, “when Mr. X, my new teacher, refused to answer our questions or help us, thought we were dumb, but passed us anyway.” Of course, the sequential nature of math means these students are now unable to understand or catch up in later grades, and rapidly come to hate math, with good reason. A single bad (usually male) teacher has much more effect in math than in, say, English or history. The real locus of effective educational change in this country in math and in all aspects of critical thinking has to be at the K-12 level, where intellectual skills are as likely to be dulled as honed by allowing opportunity for real creativity and enthusiasm.

    Secondly, you are rightly suspect of the “nature” side of the nature vs. nurture argument–but, in my opinion, not strongly enough. Evolutionary biology is a side-interest of mine, and particulalry the political misuses of bad science involving “biological superiority” claims. I first got into this several decades ago via the book “The IQ Controversy”, which I highly recommend. It showed that claims that minorities (largely blacks) had hereditarily lower IQ’s were both empirically false (unsubstantiated by properly controlled scientific evidence, or, worse, involving outright fraud) and conceptually incoherent. Ever since, I carefully follow similar claims about other inherent biological superiority, including, of course, that of men in math, to see if the same critique applies–and it simply always does. You could be quite confident of being right in simply saying that any such claims are almost certain to involve data that have not been adequately controlled for, and to never give them any credence in advance. Your point about the null hypothesis is thus extremely apt–but, frankly, there is virtually no real (adequately controlled) evidence at all even challenging the null hypothesis.

    The main reason for this is simply that culture is a far more pervasive and uncontrollable influence than virtually any scientists allow. Even a two-year old has had over ten-thousand hours of absorbing cultural data non-stop every waking moment–for Summers to claim his kids demonstrate any of his claims just shows that he doesn’t understand controlled scientific experiments. It is virtually impossible to do an adequately controlled scientific experiment in any realm that involves culture in any way–which is every important realm!

    In The IQ Controversy, Noam Chomsky makes a different point, which is worth considering as well–it wouldn’t matter if math (though he refers to IQ) skills WERE completely hereditary or biological, if we established a just society. Swimming “skills” are fairly biological, but no one finds it problematic–because society does not use swimming ability as an unjust criteria to differentially reward or oppress people. Average group differentials in swimming ability lead to no general unhappiness, and don’t prevent any individual from deploying their particular skills as they wish–we need to establish the same sort of society regarding all intellectual skills. If fewer (or more!) women then display math skills, so what, even if they are biologically based, as long as all who have them can develop them to the extent they wish.

    Finally, your take on the collaborative nature of math is slowly becoming more common practice, at least in my classes. I let students do hands-on review problem sets before tests, and they can work together. Women have always been more likely to do so in pairs and small groups, for obviousl cultural reasons, but nowadays my male students take advantage of that almost as much, as opposed to “lone wolf” types struggling through it themselves. At least, this is true up through 1st Semester Calculus, which has lots of pharmacy, pre-med, and other non-math, non-engineering students in it who will never take Calc 2, and which is about 50-50 male/female. It’s true that Calc 2 reverts to more traditional form genderwise, but even there the trend is towards more women, and more males who work in collaborative fashion. It is still true there, though. that I occasionally have women who wish to work “alone”, not out of anti-social tendencies, but just because they really, really like the “challenge” and satisfaction of getting it on their own–a feeling I am extremly familiar with… :)

    At any rate, keep up the truly excellent work–your blog is now, along with NC and a few others, a highlight of my net surfing!

    Best regards,
    –Paul Boisvert
    Oakton Community College

    • February 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm

      Thanks for your wonderful and thoughtful comments. I’m tempted to make this another post, what do you think?

      Cathy

    • macdundas
      March 13, 2014 at 11:48 pm

      Hi Paul. You might find the series of videos at this link challenges some of your assumptions: reddit.com/r/TheRedPill/comments/1vuho8/the_documentary_that_made_scandinavians_cut_all/
      Malcolm

  8. Kokuanani
    February 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Just discovered your blog, Cathy, and love it.

    I note that you teach at a “math camp” in the summer. Even though one of my prior, brief “careers” was teaching 7th & 8th grade English, my real love is math. [I was a math major in college until "chased out" by disparaging comments about women in the field. This was the late 60s.]

    I’m currently assisting a 3rd grade teacher in our local school, in particular working with the slowest learners on mastering their “math facts.”

    Two questions for you: can you suggest books, materials, web sites, etc. that provide guidance to folks like me who are attempting to tutor in this area? Obviously I use the teacher’s materials, but I’m interested in what else might be out there.

    Second: I’ve always thought that someone should establish a Tutor For America program to recruit and train folks to work in public schools. I’m thinking about having folks tutor on a small scale [an hour or two per day/ a day or two per week], nothing like the larger commitment that’s required by TFA. I’m particularly mindful of this because of the larger number of folks who will be retiring and looking for some way to contribute.

    I would emphasize the “train” part of that equation, since I have a number of misgivings about Teach for America, the main one being their apparent belief that “we can just throw a bunch of ‘bright’ kids into the schools and they’ll provide more for the students than the current crop of ‘crappy’ teachers.”

    Anecdotally, a friend whose daughter is just getting her degree from Tulane in elementary education reported to me that the parishes around New Orleans have fired their “regular” teachers and brought in TFA people, because they can save so much money in doing so. Obviously no job there for this young person who desperately wants to teach.

    And, re the discussion re Harvard grads above, doubt that Harvard is pushing its folks to enter teaching as a “meaningful” career. [My MAT is from there.]

  9. Frank Miata
    February 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks for the update on the Met panel. I saved $25 and got your insights on the panel too. I am depressed by your conclusions about the market smarts of those guys, minus Soros, Also, LARRY SUMMERS, no. How lame is that? Obama hasn’t a clue. Now I’m really bumed out.
    Still, I like your hard edge approach to these guys….

  10. Eva
    April 16, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Thought you or your readers might be interested in this, since it’s about data-driven aid: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/972584134/what-works-in-development-10-meta-analyses-of-aid. (More at http://www.aideconomics.com/.) We’ve only got another couple of weeks left so any attention it could get would really help.

  11. April 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Just discovered you! Awesome.

    But can you link me to an actual list of the states that allow jail time for debt collection? I can’t find it ANYWHERE . .just the common reference that a third do.

  12. April 27, 2012 at 9:45 am
  13. citizenreno
    May 3, 2012 at 1:24 am

    LOVE NOTE
    Hey, Cathy, I just wrote here and now its gone after the log-in process, but if it is just in purgatory, and you get two, forgiveth moi.
    I feel like I ran into a column or a blog post or article of some sort very recently written by a conservative, pos. a Repub congresswoman, about fed gov student loan help as the reason for higher admission costs. I only skimmed it, cause the vibe pissed me off since I thought she was advocating for no gov’t help for college tuition, but that was b4 I saw you piece on collage or even college debt.
    If you want me to try to find it, I will. If you know all about it already, I will anyway.
    Love and kisses,
    reno
    on whose show, Money Talks, at Dixon Place Mondays @ 7:30 pm you will be this coming Monday, 5/7 dixonplace.org 212 219-0736

  14. c&jtrout
    May 5, 2012 at 12:36 am

    i am a partialy disabled 58 yr old out of work 2 years now . when i was growing up dad always said its a good idea to have more than one trade . i have 3 . certified and current in all . auto mechanic . cabinet maker . shop floor fabrication welder . the auto field is dying because of lack of interest for experienced workers . the government stepped in 1996 and made all the manufactures standardize the diagnostic software . the cabinet making is dead because of the economic crash in the housing and building trades . and people no longer care if the whole cabinet is made out of wood .( just the doors and facing stiles ) . the fab welder trade is dead because most of the heavy equipment and machinery is made over seas and shipped here .

    i would like to know if the OWS movement is gaining traction . as more skilled blue collar trades poeple find a common ground here ?

  15. Steven Bernstein
    May 5, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Hi Cathy. I just wanted to say thank you. I watched you on Frontline just now and really appreciate your honesty and frank talk. It is important for people to understand how the choices of the past 30 years led up to the financial crisis. You broke it down well. Best of luck to you!

  16. May 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Cathy, Just watched you on Frontline and I so appreciate everything you are doing. I feel a great sense of hope, especially due to the insider working groups you mentioned. I teach part-time at UMD and I am sending a link to your interview to my classes. I consider it a must-watch video. If I needed any more assignments, I’d turn it into one!

  17. Some Guy
    May 8, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Just watched the Jan 18 Frontline interview and wanted to say hi. I’m a quant of sorts and until now a despiser of OWS. You actually know what you’re talking about. Wow.

    You say we can reform banking, just as we did in the great depression. It seems to me every reform has to be reformed. How about if we just let it go wild? No government intervention whatever. Let it bleed. Let banks fail and investors get burned. Disband the SEC and Federal Reserve. Too Libertarian?

    • August 7, 2012 at 6:36 am

      Let’s do it! For like a day. Then let’s get some people with balls and handcuffs in place.

  18. UncleMookie
    May 15, 2012 at 7:39 am

    I am oddly compelled to chime in another “Wow” after seeing the Frontline interview – oddly, because I don’t feel (dare I say it?) “smart enough” to even participate beyond lurking within your blogsphere!!!

    As one of those “people persons” who graduated from a fairly un-glam state college in CA with a fuzzy studies degree, landing work in corporate education, I had the opportunity to work with CapitalOne Financial between ’00-’02. I got my share of eye-rolling from better educated peers, but frankly I didn’t “get” what these smug, highly-recruited whizkids were actually DOING until years later.

    I’ve been intimidated by math all of my life, but adore mixing it up with intelligent, opinionated folks like those flocking to this site. The attraction/repulsion tickles me to no end and frankly, you simply rock it.

    You have a new follower in me. While I’m overwhelmingly challenged with much of the content, I certainly feel your intelligent and spiritual underpinnings and that comfort and inspires me.

  19. May 15, 2012 at 10:00 am

    This is the place to say how much I love your blog? Because god, I love your blog. Like, almost as much as I love math. (And I love me some math.)

    Keep up the great work, superstar. You make my world a better place.

  20. Dale Richards
    May 15, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Hi Cathy,

    I’m just gonna ask if you’re okay with advertisements on your site? :)

    Cheers,
    Dale

  21. citizenreno
    May 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Dunno how my Jamie Dimon comment got posted twice – apologies.
    Reno

  22. May 18, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    OK, Cathy, here’s your love-note: I fucking LOVE you!! Email me? joandelilah@my-domain-name.com I have some thoughts I’d like to share :)

  23. LotusJones
    May 24, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Hello Cathy,
    After listening to the extended video of your Frontline interview I knew your blog was going to be goldmine.
    A couple of years before the crash I resolved to get smart about the financial world, but at the end of my WSJ and The Financial Times subscriptions I realized my mental runway was not long enough for most of what was being discussed to land. Hopefully after reading everything posted on your blog I’ll be a bit smarter and be able to sort the wheat from the chaff. OWS has a 1/2 hour show on WBAI everyday. A show devoted to the work of your working group would give the program a nice shot in the arm. I’m going to recommend that the Program Director contact you and you can take it from there. As understanding increases, opportunities for exploitation diminish. The work you are doing is proof that generosity is truly the mother of all virtues.

  24. May 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    SOME GUY wrote: “You say we can reform banking, just as we did in the great depression. It seems to me every reform has to be reformed. How about if we just let it go wild? No government intervention whatever. Let it bleed. Let banks fail and investors get burned. Disband the SEC and Federal Reserve. Too Libertarian?”

    Meant to be my reply to the above, sorry for my indefinitiveness:

    Umm, that would be very much like once again allowing any “patent” medicine back on the market, no matter how poisonous, then letting “the market” decide which ones should be outlawed after some level of death is reached. Only with financial chaos, the level of deaths may be far higher!

  25. g andexler
    June 3, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I just watched your interview on Frontline. thanks..

    g

  26. June 8, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    No need to post this. I’m wondering if you can suggest a good place to look for jobs outside of academia for mathematicians. Pretty much everything I know is all geared towards MathJobs + academic positions.

  27. June 12, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I just read the wonderful article (and very helpful comment thread for) “Math contests kind of suck”. I teach 8th grade algebra in Silicon Valley. I’m in the awkward position of needing to teach to the Math Olympiads for my regular (not honors) algebra students. Do you have any suggestions for going about that or sources that might talk about it? Thank you very much!

  28. karen
    June 20, 2012 at 11:05 am

    This is a love note. LOVE YOU

  29. Clark Thornton
    June 28, 2012 at 12:21 am

    How does one become a mathbabe? I’m a guy, so I guess it would be mathdude. Clearly, you have to be very smart, which I’m not, although I’m studying calculus as a hobby. What next, analysis? Abstract algebra? Number theory? Am I dreaming? I am just a “B” math student, but I love integration by parts.

  30. Ernie
    July 7, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Hi, Cathy. I recently left a long post for you, and it included a link to http://www.washingtonpost.com/5-misconceptions-about-the-financial-crisis-and-its-aftermath/2012/06/15/gJQAoK2EfV_story_2.html
    Washington Post, Allan Sloan Friday June 15, 2012: “Taking Stock Five Years After the Meltdown” As a result of your interview for Frontline, and your sharing the OWS group responsible for reviewing Volker, I countered with the Hoenig Rule as espoused by Allan Sloan. If your group is supportive of Hoenig, I’d be willing to help OWS in some volunteer fashion to get Hoenig enacted. Hope this post doesn’t get lost! Thanks – Ernie

  31. formlecerveau
    July 9, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Greetings Cathy, I’m quite excited to finally get set-up here.Your performance on PBS hit like lightning or a hungry bullfrog’s tongue ; you appeared healthy,keen,hefty,hibernian and alluring.First thought was “Gotta find more”! Your guests and contributors seem erudite and well-versed on current topics. Certain to be interested ,hope to enjoin and help. A certain type of human warmth circulate quickly and affects all – feel you have that brand of radiating.
    I Love You Too ~ John

    • July 9, 2012 at 11:39 am

      Ummm… thanks, but I’m not sure whether “hibernian” is a compliment.

      • formlecerveau
        July 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm

        Maybe,depends if you can pay your bar-tab ? Meant as a friendly adjective , not as perjorative.

  32. formlecerveau
    July 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Dear Cathy , yesterday I attempted reading the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform And Consumer Protection Act” with little success at understanding and zero knowledge what will protect the consumer.My question : Are there any clear defined strategies from the Senate Banking Committee,”Occupy” – etc. , the financial industry or anywhere to realistically lessen the “bite” you and many others maintain causes harm to economies , global- wide ?
    Wish to say how highly I esteem you and others on your great altitude in the math and business worlds. L.U.B. You ~ John

  33. barryrsmith
    July 12, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Hello Cathy: I teach at a small liberal arts college (~1700 students) with a successful and (relatively) sizable mathematical sciences department (my department has ~7-8% of all students). This includes majors in mathematics (including ed.), cs, and actuarial science. Most of our majors are in actuarial science, because a recently deceased faculty member spent decades building a quality program with word-of-mouth eventually bringing us more and better students. All of our actuarial students must pass exams before graduation and 100% of our graduates complete paid internships and land actuarial jobs immediately out of college.

    I am a new faculty member, and I dream of continuing this growth and success. I am intrigued by data science — you have already posted about things someone should know to be a data scientist and about your indecision about whether there should be such programs. If you think it worthwhile, I would love a refinement of these ideas in a post about 1) some sort of clarification of the definition of “data science”, and how it is different, if at all, from business analytics, etc., or 2) what you think an undergraduate degree should entail at a minimum. I would hope that mandatory internship(s) would allow students to be introduced to actual big useful data, but perhaps companies are too concerned with security to let a summer intern have at it? It sounds like there are too many skills required of a seasoned professional to fit into a reasonably-sized major. But I wonder if there is some underlying list of fundamentals you can think of that could constitute a feasible and coherent program that would lead to success in a graduate program or immediate work in data science. Also, is there or do you think there will be, like in actuarial science, some credentialing program that will allow people a structured path to continue down while developing more of the necessary skills after graduation?

    Thank you for your consideration.

    P.S. I’m also a number theorist. Go number theory!

  34. Theodore Rossi
    July 14, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Dear Cathy,

    I recently saw your interview on Frontline. I was very much impressed with your analysis and with your oh-so-true comments. I am also sympathetic to your desire to ‘clarify’ – to break things down and demystifiy all the jagon and idle talk that passes itself off as serious yet which is, frankly, evidence of poor thinking – if any at all. And this poor thinking that is masked in seriousness is evidence, moreover, that the culture is in a dire place. Much more to say, but, for the meantime, bravo.

    Théo in Paris

  35. Vince Gay
    July 15, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Cathy. I’m a fellow Karaoke fan who also discovered you on Frontline. It goes without saying that TED is flawed, since you would be a major TED star if it wasn’t.

    I’d be interested in your reaction to two TED talks:

    One talk argues for greater focus on statistics in the teaching of pre-college math. I must say I’m appalled at how few people have the most basic understanding of statistics.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/arthur_benjamin_s_formula_for_changing_math_education.html

    The other talk is about the dangers of hyper-specialization in the liberal arts. Lack of hyper-specialization strikes me as one of your strengths: For example, you seem able to hold mathematical AND ethical considerations in your mind at the same time. I believe this has been outlawed in several states.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/liz_coleman_s_call_to_reinvent_liberal_arts_education.html

    I hope I get to thoughts on these topics. Until then, have fun at math camp.

  36. July 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Cathy, and others on this blog articulating your passions for American economic discourse, you might be very interested in attending a program taking place tomorrow Tuesday 7/24 at 6:30p at Museum of the City of New York.

    Cornell University professor Louis Hyman is author of the new book, “Borrow: The American Way of Debt,” which examines how the rise of consumer borrowing in the 1920s, just before the Great Depression, altered our culture and economy. Tomorrow evening, Professor Hyman will explore New York’s role as a center of this financial innovation, which allowed lending to grow more and more profitable, but in turn, displaced funds available for business borrowing—a reconfiguration that set our economy on an unsustainable course. He will offer an historical perspective on the temptation to live beyond one’s means; and offer suggestions for change moving forward. Reception to follow.
    Reservations required. $6 Museum members; $8 students/seniors; $12 adults.

    Museum of the City of New York is located at 1220 Fifth Avenue, corner of 103rd St, in Manhattan.

  37. August 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks Cathy

    Great blog and posts. I am also looking into the JUMP program/website that you also mention for my kid.

    Regards
    Carlos

  38. August 4, 2012 at 10:24 am

    The connection between Wall Street, academia and mathematics is complex. One element of that connection may well be a foundational error in mathematics (that has not been rooted out by academia, so you could say that it is supported by academia), which could possibly bring the most natural explanation of some of Wall Street’s chief idiosyncrasies. The foundational error is detailed in my preprint introduced at http://limitstomaths.com . The connection may simply be that an error in foundation may permit errors (including biases, and high cartel like behaviors) everywhere else to manifest more straightforwardly. The intriguing message for the future, however, is that all systems involving the globalization of a coherent pressure — just like the boiling of water, leading to the infinite phase transition from liquid to gas phase in a finite global volume — have, evidently, a characteristic of self-transformation.

    There is definitely something here, and since this seems right up your alley at the intersection of mathematics and the real world, I would love to have you investigate and comment! : )

  39. charles monneron
    August 7, 2012 at 3:39 am

    The “Le Monde” article you extracted lead me to think that you can read french. As I came across that piece of news http://www.liberation.fr/depeches/2012/08/06/deux-jeunes-mathematiciennes-francaises-recompensees-par-le-prix-poincare-2012_838048 , I thought you would find it cool. This is as “hard math” as you can get, and two women – is it politically correct to say “babe” ? – laureate. Even more interesting is the fact that they are not outsiders, but well-connected insiders. Maybe one day “mathbabe” will attract the reaction “so what ?”. Not yet there, but progressing.

  40. August 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Hi there Cathy! just discovered your blog via Ruth Milkman who interviewed you recently and was mega enthusiastic. I liked what i read a lot eg about the ‘Bailout’ book by Neil B. I ‘m from London, and co-edit a spicey magazine call ‘Red Peppper’ (www.redpepper.org.uk) I wondered if you’d like to write a piece about ‘Bailout’ for the magazine to get it – and your blog – a wider readership in the UK? i’M IN nyc TIL sAT am. So could meet for a quick coffee or meet on Skype..
    wot do you think?
    ciao Hilary (Wainwright)

  41. Andrew Jackson
    September 11, 2012 at 3:56 am

    Hi,
    I am Andrew Jackson, a financial writer. Today I came across your site (http://mathbabe.org ) and enjoyed reading some of your articles.
    I just want to know do you allow guest posts? I would like to write for your blog on some relevant topics that is still to cover on your blog.
    I will make sure that my articles will be completely original to serve the quality. I do believe your readers will enjoy reading it.
    It will be a thrilling experience for me if my article finds a place in your blog.
    Please let me know about your decision.

    With best regards,
    Andrew Jackson

  42. supercruncher
    September 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    loved ur post on three letter agency and mathematicians. I happen to know someone who did some consulting in that space, via an organisation that was aquired…not sure if they see problems any different from, other math problems..

  43. Liam McDermott
    September 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Hi Cathy…I just got done reading your article “Economist don’t understand the Financial System” an I thoroughly enjoyed it. My name is Liam McDermott and I used to be an institutional Eurodollar and Energy broker. I also dealt in market data. I have been off the street for a number of years, but I have recently written an original economic theory based on placing serial numbers onto electronic dollars. I have been having difficulty getting it out there because of my lack of academic credentials. You seem to be someone who is more open minded, so I wanted to share it with you to see what you think. If you enjoy it and would like to contact me my email is liamalan@gmail.com. Thx!
    Serial Number Transparency
    If American’s vote to force Congress to assign individual serial numbers to electronic dollars, the global economy will undergo a renaissance.
    All private and business bank accounts retain the exact same amount of cash, but by placing individual serial numbers on these electronic dollars they become “real” in the same sense that paper ones are. Trillions of “derivative dollars” currently present on large investment banks Off Balance Sheet books become worthless because they are derived and by definition, not real. The remaining pool of money is clean, reliable and transparent. Since this new pool of money is much smaller, the value of each individual dollar is greatly increased.
    In order to protect the purity of this new pool of money, the Federal Reserve will no longer be able to arbitrarily create money. The majority of Americans would be outraged to learn that the Federal Reserve Bank is actually a private corporation, owned and operated by twenty one, MOSTLY FOREIGN banks. These banks currently use the Fed to create cash for themselves while paying interest to themselves. The Fed operates cloaked in secrecy, with total autonomy, creating money with no oversight from the Federal Government. Serial numbers would make the 7.7 trillion dollars the Fed fabricated out of thin air for their 2008 bailout disappear, restoring the value of the dollar to its pre-crash levels. Serial numbers wrest control of the American Dollar from the clutches of unregulated foreigners and places it back in the hands of the American people whom it is supposed to represent.
    When banks need more cash they would now petition Congress. Bankers would present their case for a cash auction and it would be put to a vote. Banks would now pay interest to the government for their cash, lessening the burden of the American Taxpayer. The economy will be well served by having a static amount of cash to represent the goods and services it has the ability to produce. As the capacity of the economy grows, more money would be injected into the system by Congress reflecting an increase.
    Banks’ secret electronic trading platforms now would be replaced by open outcry trading pits, effectively ending backroom market manipulation. A system of three main pits where brokers openly trade equities, debt and commodities would be outfitted with cameras broadcasting real time, worldwide for free. This will ensure all market participants equal access to information. Imagine the world’s greatest reality show that everyone can bet on from home.
    Politician’s campaign dollars serial numbers will make all of their allegiances instantly visible. Regardless of where on the political spectrum they lie, every American has a right to know what his candidate is going to do once elected. A politician’s true agenda is shaped in the interests of their contributors, not their constituency. Democracy is muddled into a sham when it lacks this transparency.
    Serial numbers will cripple the finances of terrorist and criminal organizations by stopping electronic black money flows. Any illegal activity would become an all cash business. While this would not end crime, it would destroy enterprise criminal corruption, while at the same time making money real for honest people who really work for their money.
    This new form of naked capitalism will insure pure liquidity through pure transparency. Regulation will come about organically, based on the simple fact that everyone can see what everyone else is doing. Serial numbers enable the American economy to work the way it was intended, honestly, transparently and with equal access to information.
    The American Dollar is based on accountability whether it is on a computer server, or printed on a bill in your wallet. No institution should have the power to create, manipulate and devalue the dollar bill for which millions of people have put in an honest day’s work. A true American, capitalist democracy demands its financial, political and criminal framework to be illuminated by serial numbers.

    • Robert J York
      February 27, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Liam, your ideas sound sound enough; however, if as you state the system is perhaps rigged to manipulate macro monetary policy, then in a practical, tangible view it may be highly implausible that the system will ever voluntarily stop doing it without a violent and protracted revolution.

      What’s your ideas on this issue?

  44. jeremiah757
    September 22, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Say, you’re a math babe. Are you familiar with Per Bak’s sandpile theory? Do you think that steadily adding $40 billion per month to the Fed’s balance sheet could lead to a catastrophe, in the mathematical sense?

  45. Amanda
    September 29, 2012 at 5:52 am

    I watched the Frontline video on Wall Street parts 1-4 and all of the interviews. I am sure to revisit. I am just highly impressed with your decision to make a vocational modification…Wow. All of the interviews were some of the best expose I’ve seen on this historical period. I felt the bubble pressure and did not put faith in some fund manager I did not know and took action. I’d rather use my money than crap out on the Wall Street casino table. Thank u. After all, isn’t gambling really for those who can afford the loss?

  46. October 7, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Hi Cathy I was hoping to ‘interview’ you (via email) for my “Math-frolic” blog (see 10/6/12 posting), only to discover I can’t find email contact info for you. Please contact me if it is possible to send you a set of questions for possible response.

  47. papicek
    October 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    So I get maybe 25% of everything you write (my strength lies in the CS end of things), always worth a visit here. Thanks for the time & effort.

    Be well.

  48. N
    October 16, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Hi Cathy, wondering if you had seen this? Stop and Frisk recorded: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7rWtDMPaRD8
    Turned my stomach. hat tip ginandtacos.com

  49. Otto
    November 9, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Hey Cathy! I’m Ottp. Oops. I spelled my name wrong. DELETE. Hmmm… typing DELETE does not delete. Anyway, I’m just checking things out although I really haven’t read much yet. See you for pancakes!

  50. Michelle Blackmore
    November 14, 2012 at 12:42 am

    Hello Admin,

    I am Michelle, a financial writer. I write on various finance related topics. I came across your site “http://mathbabe.org” while browsing through the Internet to find a suitable website for writing articles. It is highly resourceful with rich and quality contents, and has a vivid presentation.

    I would be highly privileged if you allow me to write for your website. The article will be completely free of charge and all I want is just a back link for my site. I assure you that it will be an absolutely unique and relevant content so that it proves useful for your readers. I hope you consider this proposal and shall wait for your reply.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Michelle Blackmore
    Email: blackmore.michelle@gmail.com

  51. Danny 4rm Accounting
    December 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Hi. I just my completed studying for my undergraduate degree in accounting but I’m very interested in anything involving math and computers. I learnt computer programming and a great deal of calculus on my own,and I’d like to learn as much as I can about data science too.
    I think your blog will be useful to me in this regard.
    Thanks.

  52. December 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    You ask for topic suggestions for your blog. Here’s an idea I came up with but did not adequately pursue. A potential solution to the expanding Medicare/medicaid problem.
    http://sep.stanford.edu/sep/jon/medicare.html

  53. January 2, 2013 at 8:21 am

    a non academic mathematician can make the world a better place by not participating in all data mining horse rubbish used for tracking, over marketing, and coerce preloading people to shop shop and shop some more

    • January 14, 2013 at 10:10 am

      so so right/ do not BUY it POLLUTES China.

  54. January 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    “About mathbabe” actually causes me think a tiny bit extra.
    I really enjoyed every individual section of it.
    Regards ,Bennie

  55. January 14, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Love is a mathematical wonder that keeps growing into infinite energy of caring,giving,joy,intelligence,logic,righteousness,justice and FAIR.

  56. January 17, 2013 at 9:47 am

    iF YOU ARE SINCERE IN WANTING TO CHANGE THE WORLD FOR THE BETTER Nancy Jamison , I DO HAVE SOLUTIONS. I AM AN INVENTOR AND DESIGNER IN MANY,MANY AREAS, SOCIAL INVENTIONS ARE FAIR FOODS.ORG OR SEATS OF CONSCIOUSNESS, socboston.org., I COULD USE HELP IN AREAS OF PHYSICS,MEDICAL NEEDS,BUSINESS TO MAKE MONEY TO FINANCE CHANGE. WE NEED TO BUILD A DIFFERENT,CARING BUSINESS WORLD.THE OLD WILL DIE ON IT’S OWN.WE ARE OVERDUE.I APOLOGIZE FOR MY SELF CENTERED GENERATION ONE MORE TIME,SHAME ON US.I AM 62,A SIXTIES,SEVENS,EIGHTS,NINES,TENS,TO NOW.I HAVE SEEN TO MUCH SELFISHNESS IN AMERICA.WE ARE SO ABUNDANT,HOW COULD WE HAVE LET OUR WORLD DOWN. I BELIEVE IF WE FACE THIS FACT WE COULD TURN IT AROUND. LETS GET BUSY EVERYONE,PLEASE DON’T WAIT TO LATE.

  57. Emeka
    February 15, 2013 at 5:08 am

    I just listened to the Econ Talk podcast with Ross Roberts. A lot of your comments rings true to me as a former Wealth Manager.
    At the time I left the business (wealth management) in 2009 I had so much mistrust for all the info we were receiving and been asked to sell to unsuspecting customers.
    Am currently based in Abuja, Nigeria having lived and work in Southern California for 15 years.

  58. February 24, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Great mission statement “what can a non-academic mathematician do that makes the world a better place?”, good to know there is more of us. Looking forward to follow your journey

  59. Liam McDermott
    February 27, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Thank you for your response Robert.
    The beautiful thin about America is that it is a democracy. We all have the power to change the system in non-violent means. I am currently making a documentary on my theory and money creation. It is my hope that once people are made aware of the situation, we will be able to garner the political will to change the system. I used to work in institutional trading on Wall Street. I have pitched this idea to many people over there and gotten an overwhelmingly positive response. If I can convince the people on Main street to agree with me as well, all we have to do is vote people into power that agree with our position.
    Take care.

  60. cypherdoc
    March 4, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    If you folks are interested in monetary freedom, look into Bitcoin. For the first time, The People can be in charge of their own money.

    Enjoyed the interview on EconTalk as well. Very impressive.

  61. May 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Non academic mathematician! Interesting to know. And of course it’s a very nice blog.

  62. May 30, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Hey, Cathy!

    Check this post about DSGE models out; I’d love to get your comments. I’ll share mine as a reply.

  63. July 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Cathy,

    You fit a very odd niche in the world – woman interested in math and blogging about it. That’s awesome.

    Cheers.

  64. Higby
    August 5, 2013 at 9:40 am
    • Nancy Jamison
      August 5, 2013 at 10:08 am

      tell becky come home run fairfoods i live her,are you back?

  65. Brandon Marlowe
    September 17, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Heard about you on NPR on Santa Monica, CA today. How do I get a hard copy of the new book?

  66. Richard Orodwich
    October 23, 2013 at 7:56 am

    On Being a Data Skeptic

    Before reading this book, I would have classified myself as a skeptical cynic on the subject of data. But now I think I am a data heretic. Although this book points out important factors to consider when working with data, if taken in its entirety the recommendations could be summed up in one conclusion “trust no data”. Considering the fact that data is not facts and adding to this the non-transparent manipulations and assumptions we apply to data, it remains surprising that we can derive any semblance of reality from data.

    Data and data analysis is story telling. We tell stories with data. In my experiences most of the data story telling is fictional, something I refer to as “datatainment”. Much of what is being written about the subject of data such as big data and data science is a story and also fictional. It reminds me of the liar’s paradox; “this sentence is false”. What is the truth?

    The most important factor to consider when working with data is do you trust those who are presenting the story about the data. Are those involved in selecting and manipulating the data trustworthy? Look at the history of these people; their experiences and their motivations. Is the story they are telling with data trustworthy? Is it fiction or fact? Do they substantiate their arguments or are they bloviating. Are they transparent about what the data means, what assumptions were made and the way their models manipulate the data?

    Of course once you consider the factors outlined in the book and these factors you too may become a data heretic.

  67. November 18, 2013 at 3:58 am

    I love your article on correlated trades: the past three or four years have been a disaster for trend following partly for exactly this reason.
    http://tradersplace.net/forum/thread/279/back-test-to-the-future/view_2515/

  68. December 13, 2013 at 3:22 am

    Hi Cathy… you probably know already, but to be on the safe side I will post this anyway.

    There is a news community (modeled after Hacker News) dedicated to Data Science: http://www.datatau.com/?from=@

  69. Ralph Braskett
    December 25, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Cathy:
    your insight in the WNYC article about NYC neighborhoods & how almost rich people feel when comparing themselves to others. So in NYC, everybody with incomes under 200,000
    is Middle Class if they live in the up&coming neighborhoods + most of Manhattan?

  70. Rich
    February 4, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Cathy,
    I love your Doing Data Science book; I’m using it to teach my teenage son some tools.

    Not to nit pick; but I think there is a type on Page 108 in the “Thought Experiment” section; The entire sentence from “represent each image” to “between 0 and 255″ is repeated twice.

    Keep up the good work.
    RIch

  71. Thomas Ball
  1. November 23, 2012 at 11:01 am
  2. February 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm
  3. June 25, 2014 at 7:39 am

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