Snappy Comeback to the Latest Criticism of VaR

Last week, the Swiss pulled their peg, and swissie soared. Part of the fallout—surprise, surprise!—is criticisms of value-at-risk. This time The Economist is leading the charge, writing: … Another likely casualty is the ‘value-at-risk’ models banks use to calculate the maximum they might lose on any given investment or transaction. But banks’ value-at-risk models don’t […]

A Revelation

I have written about it before, and I am sure I will write about it again. … how financial risks that devastate firms aren’t random occurrences, as if the gods on Olympus toss dice to determine a company’s fate. No. There are causes. And these are usually traceable to human frailties. Most often, the specific […]

List Of Risk Management Failures

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Nowhere is George Santayana’s famous admonition more applicable than in the field of risk management. As a reminder of all the ways things can go wrong, I maintain an informal list of prominent risk management failures. I just updated the list and thought I […]

What The 4 T’s Overlook

If you have been active in risk management for a while, you have probably heard of the 4 T ‘s. These—at a very high level—are the four possible responses to risk. Conveniently, each begins with the letter T: Tolerate Treat Transfer Terminate They appear in various risk management standards. They pop up in books, articles […]

Nickels In Front of Bulldozers

There is an old saying on trading floors: Watch the trader who makes consistent money. He is the one who is going to blow up. In his book When Genius Failed, on the 1998 failure of hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM), Roger Lowenstein shares a compelling analogy for this: Picking up nickels in front […]

Upside Risk, Downside Risk

Risk has two components: exposure, and uncertainty. If either is absent, there is no risk. But some people insist there must be a third component: downside. Let me explain. If you are uncertain about some consequential event, the set of possible desirable outcomes is sometimes called your “upside risk”. The set of possible adverse outcomes is […]

Conflict Over Risk Management: A Case Study

Conflict is a recurring problem for financial risk management. At your own firm, are risk managers dismissed as “risk police”? Are risk committee meetings contentious? Do traders hoard information? If you answered “yes” to some of these, you may have a serious problem. I just returned from London where I conducted a two-day strategic planning […]

The real problem with financial models is the role they play in marketing.

Don’t Blame the Modelers

With the markets in turmoil, I have little time to comment publicly, and breaking through to be heard above the clatter is all but impossible. Reporters seeking sound bites don’t help. From: Tansy Harcourt To: Glyn Holton Sent: October 1, 2008 Subject: Consulting Hi Glyn, I’m a journalist in Australia for the Australian Financial Review. […]

The Case for Incoherence

Imagine you are stranded on a desert island. For fresh water there are three natural springs, but it is possible one or more have been poisoned. To minimize your risk, what is your optimal strategy for drinking from the springs? You might: select one of the three springs at random and drink exclusively from it, […]

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