investing in resiliency

In 1964, as the financial revolution was gathering steam, an MIT economist named Paul Cootner published a collection of essays called The Random Character of Stock Market Prices. Based largely on an obscure dissertation by a forgotten frenchman, it laid the foundations for a new era of financial engineering. Yet among the papers included was…

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In a 2015 TED talk, Bill Gates warned that “if anything kills ten million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes.” He went on to point out that we have invested enormous amounts of money in nuclear deterrents, but relatively…

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When the physicist Richard Feynman took the podium to give the commencement speech at CalTech in 1974, he told the strange story of cargo cults. In certain islands in the South Pacific, he explained, tribal societies had seen troops build airfields during World War and were impressed with the valuable cargo that arrived at the bases. After the troops left,…

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In a 2015 poll, 30% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats supported bombing Agrabah, the fictional hometown of the Disney character Aladdin. In a similar vein, a 2014 poll found that the less people knew about where Ukraine is located on a map, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene militarily. To make matters worse, another study done by…

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In 2011, technology pioneer Marc Andreessen declared that software is eating the world. “With lower start-up costs and a vastly expanded market for online services,” he wrote, “the result is a global economy that for the first time will be fully digitally wired — the dream of every cyber-visionary of the early 1990s, finally delivered, a…

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When we think of great leaders their great successes usually come to mind. We picture Washington crossing the Delaware or Gandhi leading massive throngs or Steve Jobs standing triumphantly on stage. It is moments of triumph such as these that make indelible marks on history’s consciousness. While researching my book, Cascades, however, what struck me most…

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There’s a passage in Ernest Hemingway’s 1925 novel, The Sun Also Rises, in which a character is asked how he went bankrupt. “Two ways,” he answers. “Gradually, then suddenly.” The quote has since become emblematic of how a crisis takes shape. First with small signs you hardly notice and then with shocking impact. That’s certainly how…

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I recently took part in an online open forum for thought leaders. While we were discussing a wide range of topics, including the economic and social impact of previous crises, somebody came out and said, “You know, when this is all over we’re probably going to have another #Occupy movement.” It was an apt observation.…

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