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Risk Management: A Maturing Discipline
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Centuries ago, bandits and pirates threatened traders. Now hackers are engaged in vandalism and commit electronic larceny. The media are full of news about the perils of human-made and natural hazards. The nuclear power plant accidents at the Three Mile Island facility in Pennsylvania in 1979 and at Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1987 show the new risks posed by human-made hazards and the seriousness of these threats. Destructive natural hazards exist as well. Hurricane Andrew caused damages of around $22 billion; and the floods in the midwestern United States in 1993 and the earthquakes in California in 1993 and in Kobe, Japan, in 1994 had devastating effects. In addition, terrorist activities have become more dangerous over the years, as demonstrated by the 1993 and 2001 bombings of the World Trade Center in New York, and the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. A review of the past along with an assessment of the growing array of risks shows that the impact of risks (in terms of financial losses) has increased. This is not only a consequence of the increased numbers of risks we are confronted with; the severity and frequency of disasters has increased as well. The financial losses from natural perils, such as floods, forest fires, and earthquakes, are not only a function of the number of events, as natural disasters occur with a certain average frequency as in the past. However, each catastrophe seems to be worse than the one that came before it. The ultimate reason is obvious: as more and more people live close together, business has become more capital intensive, and our infrastructure is more vulnerable and capital intensive as well. With the increased growth of capital investment in infrastructure, manufacturing capacity, and private ownership of real estate and other goods, the risk of financial losses increased substantially.
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1.2 RISKS: A VIEW OF THE PAST DECADES
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Recently, there have been a number of massive financial losses due to inadequate risk management procedures and processes (Figure 1-2). The failures of risk management in the world of finance were not primarily due to the incorrect pricing of derivative instruments. Rather, the necessary supervisory oversight was inadequate. The decision makers in control of organizations left them exposed to risks from derivative transactions and institutional money. Risk management does not primarily involve the correct pricing of derivative instruments rather, it involves the supervision, management, and control of organizational structures and processes that deal with derivatives and other instruments. Many cases in which managers focused on the correct pricing of financial instruments and neglected the other dimensions show the dramatic consequences of this one-dimensional understanding of risk management. In Switzerland, the pension fund scheme of Landis & Gyr
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F I G U R E 1-2 6
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Overview of the Most Important and Obvious Accidents of the Past Decades.
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1,000,000 Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI); 500,000
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100,000
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Credit Lyonnais; 24,220 10,000
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Losses, $ million
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Banco Ambrosiano and the Vatican Bank; 1300 1000
LTCM; 3500 Sumitomo; Metallgesellschaft AG; 2600 1500 Greenwich, CT; Orange County, CA; 3000 Mirror Group Pension Fund; 1600 Cendant; 2800 912 Barings Bank; Bre-X; 1200 1328 Drexel Burnham Lambert; 1300 Daiwa Bank; 1100 Deutsche Morgen Grenfell; 805.2
Kidder Peabody & Co.; 350
Bankers Trust; 177 NatWest 117.65
Smith Barney; 40 Jardine Flemming; 19.3 Griffin Trading Company; 9.92
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Risk Management: A Maturing Discipline
resulted in the loss of a substantial part of the fund s assets. Robert Maxwell swindled the Mirror Group s pension fund for 480 million. Daiwa lost more than $1 billion. Barings lost 850 million. Kidder Peabody lost more than $300 million. Orange County, California, lost more than $1 billion. This list of accidents, frauds, and willful swindles in the world of finance is never-ending. The reasons include behavioral risk, pricing risk, an incorrect understanding of products and services, and simple credit and market risks. Risk is not a one-dimensional, welldefined concept. Rather, it is a shifting concept whose meaning varies according to the environment in which it is used. Thus far, the term risk has been used in this discussion to mean exposure to adversity. In this loose sense, the term risk has been adequate for the explanation of the history of risk. Now, risk and its associated terms have to be analyzed and defined more precisely, and the context in which these terms are used must be outlined. Each activity or area of knowledge has its own individual concept and terms. The terminology of risk, like many simple terms in everyday usage, takes on different meanings in specialized fields. The term risk shimmers with all the colors of the rainbow; it depends on how we define it. Risk is often linked with uncertainty and insecurity. Statisticians, economists, bankers, and academicians try and try again to develop a common understanding and definition of the term risk. But at present there is no agreed definition that can be applied to all areas; the concept of risk that is suitable for the economist can not be used by the social psychologist or the insurance mathematician. This book does not attempt to develop a concept for all areas of knowledge. The discussion is limited to economics and finance. However, there are some concepts that are shared with the fields of insurance, mathematics, and statistics, as many products and services in the economic and financial field are based on calculations that include risk. In the insurance industry, risk means either a peril insured against (e.g., flood damage) or a person or property protected by insurance (e.g., a driver and vehicle protected against financial damages from personal injury or collision by car insurance). For the moment, however, the term risk will be applied here in an abstract way, to indicate a situation in which a certain exposure exists. Therefore, risk is not strictly related to loss for present purposes, as this again would be one-dimensional and would unnecessarily restrict the discussion.
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