By John E. Dunn
September 23, 2008
If you have nothing to fear but fear itself, rationally speaking what is
left to worry about?
On the face of it, the workings of financial markets are a world away
from the security industry, and yet there are instructive parallels if
you stare a little harder.
Computer security is about minimising risk for an organisation or
individual, without making a network or device so hard to use or
expensive to run that it is not worth having. Market security -
conducted through regulation and the full disclosure of information - is
about allowing the market to operate in a way that doesn't mislead
investors as to the nature of the risks they are taking so as to distort
The problem for both is relating information to real risk without
creating either undue hysteria or complacency. Both struggle with this
Investors are often mislead in small ways, and occasionally in larger
ways, leading to price distortions. Credit has been cheap in the US
because the real risks of complex investments were not being made plain,
at least not to everyone. The price was low because risk was seen as
being low. The answer? More information, better transparency, more
accountability, and a better relationship between these variables.
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