I’m very pleased to receive a book that’s just been delivered (apologies to the courier Cabbage just barked at fiercely). It’s Freaks of Fortune: The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in America by Jonathan Levy. It’s about the developing concept of risk in 19th century America, and the development of risk-management institutions.
The blurb makes it sound fascinating – the argument seems to be that personal freedom meant assuming personal risk – and then offloading it to an insurance company or futures market. So this sounds highly relevant to the post-crisis debate. It also reminded me of course of the magnificent Against The Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter Bernstein. Risk is such an important concept, and one our brains find it so hard to think about, as Daniel Kahneman spelled out in Thinking, Fast and Slow. Slow, probablility-calculating thinking takes a lot of effort and energy. Time for some chocolate….
I’ll write about Freaks of Fortune when I’ve had chance to read it – meanwhile, here is a taster by Jonathan Levy from the Chronicle of Higher Education.