risk management

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I just can’t resist this one. Vista Equity Partners is paying around $100 million less than expected for Tibco Software Inc because Goldman Sachs got the number of shares wrong in the spreadsheet that did all the calculations. OK, $100 million isn’t much in the context of a $4 billion deal, but it’s an awful lot […] Read more

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… but some are more wrong than others. It’s emerged that a risk calculator for cholesterol-related heart disease risk is giving some highly dubious results. So completely healthy people could start taking unnecessary drugs. It’s not clear if the problem is in the specification or the implementation: but either way, the results seem rather dubious. […] Read more

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I’ve been recently been working with the Centre for Risk Studies in Cambridge on some extreme scenarios: one-in-200, or even less likely events. It’s been an interesting challenge, not least because it’s very difficult to make things extreme enough. We find ourselves saying that the step in the scenario that we’re working would never actually […] Read more

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We all know that feeling: people are talking about something as if they expect you know what it is, or understand it, and you’re going to look really stupid if you admit ignorance. It’s a common phenomenon in all sorts of fields, not least when technical matters are concerned, as discussed in this article. Not long […] Read more

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High tech risks are out there, and are potentially serious, but low tech risks don’t go away, and may be just as serious. For example, we learned recently that Edward Snowden managed to get hold of peoples’ user ids and passwords, giving him unauthorised access to some of the classified information that he then leaked. […] Read more

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Way back in July I wrote a review of The Banker’s New Clothes: What’s wrong with banking and what to do about it by Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig for The Actuary magazine. The review has finally been published, but it’s hard to find on the website and doesn’t seem to have a permalink yet. […] Read more

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You’d think that a really big software company, like Adobe, would know what it’s doing But no. You may have noticed that there was a big data breach: millions of usernames and (encrypted) passwords were stolen. But they were encrypted, so no big deal, right? Ah. Well. That’s the point. As this article explains, it […] Read more

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Why do things go wrong? Sometimes, it’s a whole combination of factors. Felix Salmon has some good examples, and reminded me of one of my favourite metaphors: the Swiss cheese model of accident causation. In the Swiss Cheese model, an organization’s defenses against failure are modeled as a series of barriers, represented as slices of […] Read more

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The next time you notice something being done in Excel where you work, take a moment to question whether it’s the right tool for the job, or whether you or someone in your organisation is a tool for allowing its use. No, not my words, but from the FT’s consistently excellent Alphaville blog. The point […] Read more

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There’s a bit of a furore going on at the moment: it turns out that a controversial paper in the debate about the after-effects of the financial crisis had some peculiarities in its data analysis. Rortybomb has a great description, and the FT’s Alphaville and Tyler Cowen have interesting comments. In summary, back in 2010 […] Read more

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