Single-Period Portfolio Optimization and Something About Controlled Substances

Simply, we seek to describe models that improve the odds of making better decisions.


A COUPLE OF YEARS AFTER I JOINED STATE STREET, MARK Kritzman asked me to stop by his office, where he handed me a mysterious piece of paper. It was handwritten, full of incomprehensible equations, and had arrived by fax, which was antiquated even in 2002.

A comment had been written sideways in the document’s margin. It read, “And therefore, Mark, both you and Markowitz are wrong.”

The author turned out to be economist Paul A. Samuelson, who had been debating portfolio construction with Harry Markowitz for years. This salvo was a response to an article in which Mark described ...

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