Troubled Assets in Backgammon

by Douglas Zare
1 January 2010

Douglas Zare

What can backgammon players learn from the financial crisis of 2008-2009 which led to the worst worldwide recession since the Great Depression? The same mental errors which led to the failures of so many banks and companies show up in chouettes and your private struggle against the bots. We're all human, and humans are vulnerable to certain types of mistakes.

One problem (out of many) in the financial crisis was questionable loans. Sometimes banks made loans to individuals and institutions who would repay them with high probability -- as long as there wasn't a recession. When the crisis hit, many of these loans went bad at the same time. It's not uncommon for such loans to be made in good times, and some of those were not bad gambles, just ones which lost. Those were not necessarily different in this recession from past recessions which were more mild.

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