Archive for June 2017

How to manage Risk in Uncertain Times

June 8, 2017

The biologist Holling saw that natural systems went through phases.  One view of those four phases is:

  1. Rapid Growth
  2.  Controlled Growth
  3. Collapse
  4. Reorganization

The phase will usually coincide with an environment that encourages that sort of activity.  The fourth phase, Reorganization, coincides with an Uncertain environment.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, many aspects of our economies and our societies have drifted in and out of the Uncertain environment.  We have been living in an historical inflection point.  The post WWII world, both politically and economically may be coming to an end.  But no new regime has emerged to take its place.  Difficult times for making long term plans and long term commitments.

And that describes the best approach to risk management in Uncertain times.  Avoid long term  and large commitments.  Keep short term, stay diversified.  Returns will not be great that way, but losses will be small and the change of a devastating loss smaller.

Sooner or later things will clarify and we will move out of uncertainty.  But one of the things that keeps us in an uncertain stage is the way that people act as if somehow, they have a right to something more certain.  Most often they are hoping for a return to a controlled growth phase.  When the careful are rewarded modestly.  Some long for the return to the boom phase when a few are rewarded greatly.

But right now, it makes the most sense to not count on that and to accept that we will uncertainty for some time to come.

For more on Uncertainty see these posts

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