Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

Waiting for Armageddon


The US presidential election is now just 4 days away. It seems to me that people are not taking the danger seriously. In particular, last week, in the hour after the FBI started its intervention to bring on the apocalypse (more work for them, I suppose), it was reported that the S&P500 stock index fell by about 1%. If we suppose that the FBI’s announcement made a Trump victory 2% more likely, that suggests an expectation that Trump would wipe 50% off the value of the stock market. Yet that doesn’t seem to be incorporated into the current value of the markets. It’s almost as though investors are in denial: When forced to focus on the Trump danger they rate it apocalyptic, but as soon as the news quiets down — within minutes — they go back to treating the probability as 0.

I’d like to believe Sam Wang’s projections, that the election result is all but certain for Clinton. Nothing is all but certain, least of all the future. Nate Silver’s reasoning, leading to about a 2/3 chance for Clinton, seems to me very sound: Trump will win only if he wins about half a dozen states where he has about a 50% chance. That sounds like about a 2% chance, except that they are unlikely to be independent. The reality is likely to be somewhere between 2% and 50%. Where it is, is almost impossible to judge. I’m slightly more hopeful than that because I believe in the power of Clinton’s organisation. But how much more?

But even 2%, for the risk of a crybaby fascist as president, is far too much. It’s not clear to me how the US can come back from this disaster, even if Trump loses.

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