recentpopularlog in

jerryking : panics   12

We can only tackle epidemics by preparing for the unexpected
MAY 28, 2018 | FT| Anjana Ahuja.

"[Chance] Fortune favors the prepared [mind]"

Other pathogens on the WHO’s hit list for priority research include Ebola and the related Marburg virus; Lassa fever; Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever; Mers coronavirus; Sars; Rift Valley fever; Zika; and Disease X.

Many of these are being targeted by the billion-dollar Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, with a mission to develop “new vaccines for a safer world”. Cepi is backed by several national governments — including those of Japan and Norway — the Wellcome Trust, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The coalition has just announced that, following events in Kerala, it will prioritise a Nipah vaccine.

Disease X, incidentally, is the holding name for a “black swan” — an unknown pathogen that could glide in from nowhere to trigger panic. Preparedness is not all about facing down familiar foes. It is also about being ready for adversaries that have not yet shown their hand. [expand our imaginations. The next catastrophe may take an unprecedented form----Simon Kuper]
black_swan  catastrophes  chance  disasters  disaster_preparedness  epidemics  flu_outbreaks  panics  pathogens  preparation  readiness  unexpected  unknowns  viruses 
may 2018 by jerryking
Mental bias leaves us unprepared for disaster
August 14, 2017 | Financial Times | Tim Harford.

Even if we could clearly see a crisis coming, would it have made a difference?

The 2004 storm, Hurricane Ivan, weakened and turned aside before striking New Orleans. The city was thus given almost a full year's warning of the gaps in its defences. The near miss led to much discussion but little action.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the city, evacuation proved as impractical and the Superdome as inadequate as had been expected. The levees broke in more than 50 places, and about 1,500 people died. New Orleans was gutted. It was an awful failure but surely not a failure of forecasting.

Robert Meyer and Howard Kunreuther in The Ostrich Paradox argue that it is common for institutions and ordinary citizens to make poor decisions in the face of foreseeable natural disasters, sometimes with tragic results.

There are many reasons for this, including corruption, perverse incentives or political expediency. But the authors focus on psychological explanations. They identify cognitive rules of thumb that normally work well but serve us poorly in preparing for extreme events.

One such mental shortcut is what the authors term the “amnesia bias”, a tendency to focus on recent experience (i.e. "disaster myopia" the human tendency to dismiss long-ago events as irrelevant, to believe This Time is Different and ignore what is not under one’s nose). We remember more distant catastrophes but we do not feel them viscerally. For example, many people bought flood insurance after watching the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina unfold, but within three years demand for flood insurance had fallen back to pre-Katrina levels.

We cut the same cognitive corners in finance. There are many historical examples of manias and panics but, while most of us know something about the great crash of 1929, or the tulip mania of 1637, those events have no emotional heft. Even the dotcom bubble of 1999-2001, which should at least have reminded everyone that financial markets do not always give sensible price signals, failed to make much impact on how regulators and market participants behaved. Six years was long enough for the lesson to lose its sting.

Another rule of thumb is “optimism bias”. We are often too optimistic, at least about our personal situation, even in the midst of a more generalized pessimism. In 1980, the psychologist Neil Weinstein published a study showing that people did not dwell on risks such as cancer or divorce. Yes, these things happen, Professor Weinstein’s subjects told him: they just won’t happen to me.

The same tendency was on display as Hurricane Sandy closed in on New Jersey in 2012. Robert Meyer found that residents of Atlantic City reckoned that the chance of being hit was more than 80 per cent. That was too gloomy: the National Hurricane Center put it at 32 per cent. Yet few people had plans to evacuate, and even those who had storm shutters often had no intention of installing them.

Surely even an optimist should have taken the precautions of installing the storm shutters? Why buy storm shutters if you do not erect them when a storm is coming? Messrs Meyer and Kunreuther point to “single action bias”: confronted with a worrying situation, taking one or two positive steps often feels enough. If you have already bought extra groceries and refuelled the family car, surely putting up cumbersome storm shutters is unnecessary?

Reading the psychological literature on heuristics and bias sometimes makes one feel too pessimistic. We do not always blunder. Individuals can make smart decisions, whether confronted with a hurricane or a retirement savings account. Financial markets do not often lose their minds. If they did, active investment managers might find it a little easier to outperform the tracker funds. Governments, too, can learn lessons and erect barriers against future trouble.

Still, because things often do work well, we forget. The old hands retire; bad memories lose their jolt; we grow cynical about false alarms. Yesterday’s prudence is today’s health-and-safety-gone-mad. Small wonder that, 10 years on, senior Federal Reserve official Stanley Fischer is having to warn against “extremely dangerous and extremely short-sighted” efforts to dismantle financial regulations. All of us, from time to time, prefer to stick our heads in the sand.
amnesia_bias  biases  books  complacency  disasters  disaster_myopia  dotcom  emotional_connections  evacuations  financial_markets  historical_amnesia  lessons_learned  manias  natural_calamities  optimism_bias  outperformance  overoptimism  panics  paradoxes  perverse_incentives  precaution  recency_bias  short-sightedness  single_action_bias  Tim_Harford  unforeseen  unprepared 
august 2017 by jerryking
Why Warren Buffett Keeps Framed Reminders of Awful Moments in Economic History
Olivia B. Waxman
Jan 26, 2017

"I wanted to put on the walls days of extreme panic in Wall Street just as a reminder than anything can happen in this world," he says in this clip provided exclusively to TIME, from the upcoming HBO documentary Becoming Warren Buffett. "It's instructive art."
Warren_Buffett  Berkshire_Hathaway  web_video  panics  economic_history  art  unpredictability  unthinkable  imagination  uncertainty  HBO  documentaries  artifacts  reminders 
february 2017 by jerryking
Winton Capital’s David Harding on making millions through maths
NOVEMBER 25, 2016 | Financial Times | by Clive Cookson.

Harding’s career is founded on the relentless pursuit of mathematical and scientific methods to predict movements in markets. This is a never-ending process because predictive tools lose their power as markets change; new ones are always needed. “We have 450 people in the company, of whom 250 are involved in research, data collection or technology,” he says. That is equivalent to a medium-sized university physics department....Harding's approach to making money is to exploit failures in the efficient market theory...the problem with the EMT is that “It treats economics like a physical science when, in fact, it is a human or social science. Humans are prone to unpredictable behaviour, to overreaction or slumbering inaction, to mania and panic.”...The Winton investment system is based instead on “the belief that scientific methods provide a good means of extracting meaning from noisy market data. We don’t make assumptions about how markets should work, rather we use advanced statistical techniques to seek patterns in huge data sets and base all our investment strategies on the analysis of empirical evidence...Harding emphasises the breadth and volume of investments involved, covering bonds, currencies, commodities, market indices and individual equities. The aim is to exploit a large number of weak predictive signals, he says: “We don’t expect to find any strong relationships between data and the price of the market. That may sound counter-intuitive but if there are strong relationships, someone else is going to be exploiting those. Weak relationships are where we have a competitive advantage.” Weather strategies are one feature of Winton research, including analysis of cloud cover and soil moisture levels to predict the prices of agricultural commodities. Other important indicators, for which maths can uncover value not fully reflected in market prices, include seasonal factors and inventory levels across supply chains....When I ask Harding about the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence to guide investment decisions, he bristles slightly. “There is a sudden upsurge of excitement about AI,” he says, “but we have used techniques that would be described as machine learning for at least 30 years.”

Essentially, he says, quantitative investing, self-driving cars and speech recognition are all applications of “information engineering”....he heads off to a lecture by German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer, who runs the Harding Centre for Risk Literacy in Berlin
communicating_risks  mathematics  hedge_funds  investment_research  financiers  Winton_Capital  physics  Renaissance_Technologies  James_Simons  moguls  quantitative  panics  overreaction  massive_data_sets  philanthropy  machine_learning  signals  human_factor  weak_links  JumpMath 
november 2016 by jerryking
Beware the Tech Bubble—But Stay Calm - WSJ.com
By Farhad Manjoo

Dec. 29, 2013

two-step guide for reaping the best from tech while staving off the next bout of irrational exuberance. Think of it as my year-end gift to you, a clip-and-save guide for preventing a new tech bubble.

Step 1: Worry. If you're an investor, employee, founder, tech journalist or in some other way connected to the tech business, worrying about the bubble is your best defense against the bubble. Worrying keeps you sharp. Worrying keeps magical thinking at bay. As in the 1990s, the tech industry is pushing grand, society-transforming novelties on the rest of the world. If you're not worried that some of these claims are crazy, you're not paying attention.

Step 2: Don't panic. Don't let your anxiety become all-consuming. If you study the last dot-com boom, you'll see profound differences between what happened then and what's happening now. Unlike in the 1990s, today's public markets have yet to fully buy in to the boom; it's difficult to take a tech company public, and a newly public company can expect to be judged harshly by the press and investors if it shows any sign of weakness. This factor—the stock market's demand for results—is an enormous difference from the last boom. And it is reason enough to hold off on any panic.

Now, I know that my plan—worry, but don't panic—sounds like a glib, easy way to deal with tech's rise. As a columnist, I strive for firmer, less squishy opinions. I want to say, "Hey, keep partying, there's no bubble!" or "Everyone hide, doom awaits, the end is nigh!"

But unfortunately, the truth is more nuanced and complicated. People with an interest in tech should be on guard against the bubble at the same time they are open to the transformative powers of tech.
Silicon_Valley  technology  bubbles  IPOs  skepticism  paranoia  happy_talk  Farhad_Manjoo  keep_calm  wishful_thinking  worrying  panics  tech-utopianism  pay_attention 
december 2013 by jerryking
How to make money from mass hysteria
July 16, 2011 | The Globe & Mail | by AVNER MANDELMAN.

If you do want to take a flyer on a stock, wait for a public panic in something likely to survive, such as a blue-chip stock, or the world as a whole. Risk only a very small amount of your capital (1 or 2 per cent, maximum) and put a stop-loss order below the purchase price to limit your losses. Finally, set a target above the purchase price - and a time limit.

These two elements - price and time - are as important for a successful speculation as the right panic. Here's why:

Price For most investors, the maximum loss that your stop-loss order should allow should be 5 to 8 per cent, and the target price should be at least double this amount. (If you're buying a $10 stock, and your stop-loss order kicks in at $9.50, your target should be $11 or so.)

What this means is that if your purchase continues to sink, your loss is limited, but if the price rises, your gain will be limited too.

The iron rule here is: If either of these two prices are reached, you're out. No debate.

Over time, a 2:1 gain-to-loss ratio will make you money even if your calls are correct less than half the time.
panics  Avner_Mandelman  contrarians  howto  investing  manias  discipline  blue-chips 
october 2012 by jerryking
Why Panic Passes Him By - WSJ.com
October 15, 2008 | WSJ | By PAUL B. CARROLL who reviews
The Snowball
By Alice Schroeder
(Bantam, 960 pages, $35)

Why Panic Passes Him By
All you wanted to know about Warren Buffett – and more.

While much of Mr. Buffett's methods can't be duplicated -- genius is genius, after all -- "The Snowball" usefully emphasizes a few core Buffett imperatives: taking a close look at an investment's intrinsic value, making a brutal evaluation of its risks, and calculating a margin of safety. The book also underscores the importance of learning from failures. The Buffett-Munger approach is to "invert, always invert. Turn a situation or problem upside down. Look at it backward. What's in it for the other guy? What happens if all our plans go wrong? Where don't we want to go, and how do you get there? Instead of looking for success, make a list of how to fail instead."
Berkshire_Hathaway  book_reviews  books  Charlie_Munger  failure  genius  intrinsic_value  investing  investors  lessons_learned  margin_of_safety  off-plan  panics  Plan_B  post-mortems  risk-assessment  thinking_backwards  thinking_tragically  Warren_Buffett  worst-case 
june 2012 by jerryking
The 21st century's Hiroshima ProQuest
Aug 6, 2005 | The Globe and Mail pg. A.17 | Preston ManningThe same science that can be used to develop genetically-based cures for human diseases can also be used to produce mutated smallpox bacteria or influenza viruses even more virulent than their predecessors and highly resistant to any known treatment. And if the sun of human progress should again become obscured by the storm clouds of war -- war itself transformed by the increasing scope and sophistication of terrorism -- how long will it be before the plan for utilizing mutated viruses and terrorist-induced pandemics as instruments of mass destruction appears on the underground blackboard of some terrorist cell capable of implementing it?

The third pebble

What exactly is the most disruptive and lethal dimension of the "dark side" of the life sciences -- the genetic equivalent of the first A-bomb -- and how might this destructive force be delivered to target populations to accomplish the political purposes of those desiring to unleash it?

While a terrorist attack on military or civilian populations utilizing such techniques would have immediate impacts on public health, the greater damage to human life and society will most likely be through the panic and terror that such a biological attack or pandemic will trigger throughout the general population. And this panic won't be transmitted by air, water, or utility system, but by the mass-communications network of 21st-century society, in particular the electronic media of radio, television, the Internet, cell phones, and personal computing devices. It is the electronic mass media that will most likely prove to be the B-29s of the age of genetics and bioterrorism.
life_sciences  genetics  viruses  ProQuest  Preston_Manning  21st._century  terrorism  threats  WWI  WWII  bioterrorism  panics  mass_media  virulence  pandemics  digital_media  dark_side 
october 2011 by jerryking
The Unwisdom of Crowds
12/22/2008 | The Weekly Standard Vol. 014, Issue 14 | by
Christopher Caldwell. Financial panics still require what Walter
Bagehot prescribed--that practical men violate their own principles.
Common sense is often not much use in a financial panic. This was the
great discovery of Walter Bagehot, the prolific 19th-century essayist
and journalist, who was editor of the Economist from 1860 to 1877. (His
name rhymes with gadget.) in the so-called Anglo-Saxon world, Bagehot's
book still provides the bedrock of policy thinking during financial
emergencies, including our present one.
bailouts  banking  banks  capitalism  economics  economy  finance  financial_crises  financial_history  financial_journalism  panics  policymaking  politicaleconomy  prolificacy  Walter_Bagehot 
october 2009 by jerryking
What, me worry? (1)
September 30, 2005 | Globe & Mail | by Doug Steiner.
Tsunamis, asteroids, central bankers - how do you protect one portfolio
against all those risks? Systemic versus personal risk.

"Unfortunately, risk is rarely that clear cut. It comes in many forms, and we all think of it in different ways. Many of us have trouble putting risks into appropriate categories. We often mash all of them together or worry too much about spectacular calamities. To get a handle on things, you need to create a proper hierarchy of anxieties and then deal with them in an orderly fashion.

Many academics split risks into two buckets. Systemic risk is general risk--risk that affects large groups of people, such as the stock market crashing or a hurricane wiping out a city. Personal risk relates to individuals making choices, such as trying to balance on a balcony railing after downing three or four martinis."
Doug_Steiner  category_errors  risk-assessment  systemic_risks  personal_risk  insurance  panics  natural_calamities  risk-mitigation  risks  disasters 
march 2009 by jerryking
reportonbusiness.com: What? Me worry?(2)
September 26, 2007 From Friday's Globe and Mail by Doug Steiner

....after opening the most recent monthly statements from my asset-dieting RSPs, I haven't been smiling. And I've had to give myself advice about market risk-again. "I turned the October, 1987, crevasse into a hill of savings years ago. My strategy? Solve the following complex equation: Cash In - Cash Out = Savings. If you include a time element in the equation for retirement, it looks like this: Future Savings - Future Spending = Not Living Only On CPP. "....Here is some good and rational advice: If you have equity investments and this worry thing is really getting to you, take a breather. Think about shifting all your savings into good old Government of Canada treasury bills for six months. Want a little more action? Add some ETFs that track stock market indexes to your portfolio-that will give you market volatility similar to what you had when you were sleeping well before the markets went berserk.

But the best rational advice I can give you is to learn the discipline of setting risk limits and sticking to them. That will allow you to live with any volatility in the markets. It really is that simple.
Doug_Steiner  markets  risk-perception  calm  risk-assessment  panics  self-discipline  volatility  risk-limits  ETFs  retirement  risks  GoC 
march 2009 by jerryking

Copy this bookmark:





to read