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Once More, Understanding Systemic Financial Risk

William Leiss:  RiskBlog 1 March 2012 Once More, discount Understanding Systemic Financial Risk Satyajit Das and Systemic Risk [PDF]   Andrew Palmer’s recent essay on financial innovation in The Economist, “Playing with fire” [25.02.12: http://www.economist.com/node/21547999] has received a lot of attention.  … Continue reading

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Environmental Release of Genetically-Engineered Mosquitoes: The Latest Episode in Frankenstein-Type Scientific Adventures

The subtitle for this essay is merely descriptive – not at all intentionally provocative – and is meant to be taken literally. By “Frankenstein-type” I mean, not the scientific work itself, but rather the arrogant and thoughtless act of a scientist in releasing a novel entity into the environment without adequate notice or prior discussion with the public, whether accidentally (as in the case of Mary Shelley’s story) or deliberately. Should this practice continue, as I suspect it will, almost certainly there will eventually be a very bad ending – for science itself. Only remedial action by other scientists themselves can head it off, and so far such action is noteworthy by its absence. They will regret this omission.
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Complexity cloaks Catastrophe

“Complexity cloaks Catastrophe” William Leiss (17 January 2012) Complexity cloaks Catastrophe – PDF Good risk management is inherently simple; adding too many complexities increases the likelihood of overlooking the obvious. Leiss, “A Short Sermon on Risk Management” (http://leiss.ca/?page_id=467)   The quoted phrase … Continue reading

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Nature is the biggest bioterrorist

“Nature is the biggest bioterrorist”: Scientists, viagra the Risk of Bioterrorism, pills and the Freedom to Publish William Leiss (22 December 2011) [Nature is the biggest bioterrorist] – PDF The quoted sentence in the title is attributed to R. A. … Continue reading

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Germany as Saviour or Demon: Political Risk in the Eurozone and the Burden of History

Germany as Saviour or Demon: Political Risk in the Eurozone and the Burden of History [Germany as Saviour or Demon] – PDF William Leiss (9 December 2011)   Introductory Note: These reflections were inspired by the insightful article published on … Continue reading

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Gutman and Marcuse and Heidegger

In a conversation with Laureano Ralon and Roman Onufrijchuk, I recall the great gift bestowed on me by the opportunity to study with great teachers, in particular the historian Herbert Gutman and the philosopher Herbert Marcuse.  Questions about  the eight … Continue reading

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Hoaxes and Hobgoblins

This past September we learned of The University of Calgary’s embarrassment over the discovery that oil industry funds had been moved through its research accounts to carry out non-research activities dealing with climate change issues.[1]  These funds were used to … Continue reading

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Death by Debt

Here are extracts from Chapter 3 of my book, physician The Doom Loop in the Financial Sector, and Other Black Holes of Risk (University of Ottawa Press, 2010), pp. 101-2: Thus, by the middle of 2010 six of the seven … Continue reading

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European Debt Crisis in three acts

The Online English Edition of Der Spiegel has a brilliant analysis of the European debt crisis that is not to be missed. Read “The Ticking Euro Bomb” (October 5-7, no rx 2011): Act I: Part 1, advice Section 1:  “How … Continue reading

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Political Risk in the Middle East: The Emergence of Turkey

In case you missed the important and perceptive article by Doug Saunders, in Saturday’s Globe and Mail (“Why the West quietly cheers Turkey’s Rise,” 17 September 2011, A16: http://tinyurl.com/3sucw5d), here is a short summary: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan … Continue reading

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Two United States Government Reports On the Gulf Oil Spill

Summaries – and links back to the originals – on the reports on the oil spill. Gulf Oil Spill Reports copy

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Prolonging the Agony: Europe’s Sovereign Debt Crisis

When will the senior political and financial leaders in European countries come to their senses? When will they concede that their current policies to contain the debt crisis are not working and cannot be made to work? How long are … Continue reading

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Three new papers on Risk

Three papers on risks associated with the long-term storage of high-level radioactive waste in Canada, mind commissioned by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization: Go to http://www.nwmo.ca/conceptofrisk Paper #1: How should matters of risk and safety be discussed? The first paper … Continue reading

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Risk Blogs – Summer 2011

The following series of short essays was written in the period June – August 2011 and posted on my website: www.leiss.ca. Similar pieces will be added to the series on a regular basis. If you are interested in them you … Continue reading

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Financial Risk Management: Duping the Rubes

Before 2008 financial industry professionals arranged to deceive local government officials around the world about the risks inherent in their “structured” products, pilule costing the citizens those officials worked for huge losses they could ill afford. Much of this sad … Continue reading

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Difficult Risk – Risk Tradeoffs: Political vs. Financial Risk in the EU

There was an important article by Jack Ewing and Liz Alderman in the August 10 edition of The New York Times, thumb entitled “Some in Germany want Greece to temporarily exit the Euro Zone.” This article takes up issues that … Continue reading

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Fat Tails and Climate Change: Catastrophic Failures in Risk Management, 5

The phrase “fat tails” became familiar to some people after the storm broke in 2008’s global financial crisis. A fat tail refers to the probability and consequences of a possible event that is outside the bounds of our normal expectations, … Continue reading

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Risk Management Cases: Drilling for Shale Gas

Environmental risks associated with drilling for shale gas, prescription and the extraction process known as “hydraulic fracturing” [“fracking”], are receiving a good deal of attention in Canada, the United States, and elsewhere. The state of New York has had a … Continue reading

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Financial Risk: The World turned Upside Down

Here’s the latest from the Greek debt crisis: “Europe is seeking to avoid a default at all cost because it could also initiate payment of credit-default swaps, there with unpredictable results. There is little public information on which financial institutions … Continue reading

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Catastrophic Failures in Risk Management, 4: The Terrorist Attack on Air-India Flight 182

The month of June 2011 marks the first anniversary of the release of Air India Flight 182: A Canadian Tragedy, illness the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182, … Continue reading

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