How the very things we create to protect ourselves, like money market funds or antilock brakes, end up being the biggest threats to our safety and well-being.
We have learned a staggering amount about human nature and disaster - yet we keep having car crashes, floods, and financial crises. Partly this is because the success we have at making life safer enables us to take bigger risks. As our cities, transport systems, and financial markets become more interconnected and complex, so does the potential for catastrophe.
How do we stay safe? Should we? What if our attempts are exposing us even more to the very risks we are avoiding? Would acceptance of danger make us more secure? Is there such a thing as foolproof?
In Foolproof, Greg Ip presents a macro theory of human nature and disaster that explains how we can keep ourselves safe in our increasingly dangerous world.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2015 Greg Ip (P)2015 Hachette Audio
This book is at a popular level, i.e., not a book on how to calculate risk. But it does a tremendous job walking through the basics and the thinking, spiced with plenty of history vignettes. This spans macro financial risk, products, insurance, all sorts of topics. The author seems to wander from one to another of these, but I don't mind. We can see how a smart strategy, at first, can become futile as more and more people, so to speak, crowd into the trade, and change the profile of risk involved. E.g.,m as explained here, "portfolio insurance" and credit default swaps worked great until enough players crowded in, and suddenly they didn't work anymore. Behavior changes when people feel too comfortable or safe -- which is to say, they fail to monitor the changing environment, and therefore misprice their risks. I find this area fascinating -- two other books to check out along these lines (in print) are 'The Crisis of Crowding' by Ludwig B. Chincarini (on finance), and 'When All Else Fails: Government as the Ultimate Risk Manager' by David A. Moss.
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