Financial Literacy

List of Commonly Conflated Financial Terms

In this blog post we discuss a number of financial terms whose precise meaning is frequently intentionally or unintentionally obscured. As a result those terms may, like a Rorschach Blot, mean different things to different people. Unlike this famous psychological test, ambiguity in weighty financial matters can have adverse consequences.

Reading Time: 13 min.
According to wikipedia Conflation is the merging of two or more sets of information, texts, ideas, opinions, etc., into one, often in error. This may lead to misunderstandings, as the fusion of distinct subjects might obscure analysis of relationships which are emphasized by contrasts. Why does conflation happen in the first place? There are several possible factors which in some contexts may be co-existing and overlapping: gratuitous (over)simplification driven by laziness or habit literacy gaps in either the originator or the receiver of information an objective to frame, mislead or otherwise be economical with the truth In this blog post we discuss a number of interrelated financial terms whose precise meaning is frequently intentionally or unintentionally obscured.
9 Things They Do Not Tell You About Risk Management

9 Things They Do Not Tell You About Risk Management

Risk management means different things to different people. In this post we explore some truths about professional risk management that highlight both the challenges it is facing as a discipline and the significant role it can play towards a sustainable future

Reading Time: 12 min.
9 things they do not tell you about risk management Risks don’t fall from the sky, they are generated by other people Informal Risk Management was practiced by individuals since time immemorial. This is the domain of intuitive decision-making, assessing a situation on the spot and taking immediate action to avoid obvious risks. Over aeons empirical risk management has collected a treasure of heuristics, rules of thumb and colorful Risk Management One-Liners such as: There is never only one cockroach.
Taxonomy of Uncertainty

Taxonomy of Uncertainty

We review and synthesize into a taxonomy a number of related concepts and terms describing uncertainty, risk, randomness and model risk

Reading Time: 14 min.
Risk, Randomness, Uncertainty and other Ambiguous Terms Uncertainty versus Risk is a popular discussion topic among risk managers, especially after major risk management disasters. The debate can get really hairy and drift into deep philosophical areas about the nature of knowledge etc. Yet the significance of having an as clear as possible language toolkit around these terms should not be underestimated. Practical risk management typically shuns too deep excursions into the meaning of things, yet that is not quite compatible with the use of sophisticated methods and tools (such as a Risk Model ) that assumes an understanding of the scope and limitations of “knowledge”.
Is Global Debt Truly Astronomical?

Is Global Debt Truly Astronomical?

People frequently use the term 'astronomical' to describe global debt levels, but is this factually true? In this commentary we discuss whether that is really true

Reading Time: 11 min.
Is the size of global debt truly “astronomical”? The notion of astronomical numbers and figures is quite frequently seeping in everyday language when large quantities of something are encountered in “normal” life. The strict definition of astronomical is obviously something of, or relating to, astronomy and astronomical observations but in common usage it also denotes something enormously or inconceivably large. This is, of course, because astronomical figures are inconceivably large!
Back to School With the Open Risk Academy

Back to School With the Open Risk Academy

In the Back-to-School for 2020 we have more ways to access the Academy, new functionalities and more courses. In the rest of this post you will find a summary of the changes with pointers to further information where required

Reading Time: 4 min.
Risk Management will not be the same going forward: too much is at stake! The summer is over in the Northern Hemisphere - and what an unusual summer has it been! Worldwide the implications and challenges of adjusting to a Covid-19 pandemic are still a major issue, affecting individuals, companies and governments. At Open Risk we have been tracking and will continue to interpret the impact of the pandemic via a number of projects:
Risk Compensation: From Face Masks to Credit, Market and Systemic Risk

Risk Compensation: From Face Masks to Credit, Market and Systemic Risk

Reading Time: 7 min.
What is Risk Compensation? Risk Compensation is a behavioral model of human attitudes towards risk which suggests that people might adjust their behavior in response to the perceived level of risk. It follows that, depending on the strength of the effect, that it might counteract and even annul the impact of risk mitigation, if the updated attitude and behavior modifies the actual underlying risk Examples of potential risk compensation effects abound A prominent example of potential risk compensation in recent times that established the concept in more formal terms in public policy debates concerned the beneficial role of safety belts in automobiles.
Why is risk so poorly defined?

Why is risk so poorly defined?

Why is risk so poorly defined?

Reading Time: 5 min.
A survey of existing definitions of risk: When looking up the meaning of Risk we are confronted with a surprising situation. There is no satisfying and authoritative general purpose one-line definition that we can adopt without second thoughts. Let us start with the standard dictionary definitions: The online Merriam Webster Dictionary defines risk as the possibility of loss or injury The online Cambridge Dictionary opines that risk means the possibility of something bad happening The Oxford English (Concise, Hardcover!
A new logo for the Open Risk Manual

A new logo for the Open Risk Manual

Reading Time: 0 min.
A new logo for the Open Risk Manual: We have updated the logo for the Open Risk Manual. The new logo aims to make more explicit both the inspiration that the Open Risk Manual project draws from the trail-blazing Wikipedia initiative (and increasing collection of associated Wikimedia projects) and the reliance on the open source ecosystem of software and tools, including the mediawiki software and the important semantic mediawiki extension.
The limits and risks of risk limits

The limits and risks of risk limits

Reading Time: 2 min.
Limit frameworks are fundamental tools for risk management: A Limit Framework is a set of policies used by financial institutions (or other firms that actively assume quantifiable risks) to govern in a quantitative manner the maximum risk exposure permitted for an individual, trading desk, business line etc. Why do we need limit frameworks? A limit framework is expressing in concrete terms the Risk Appetite of an institution to assume certain risks.
Eternal Risk Management One-Liners

Eternal Risk Management One-Liners

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Eternal Risk Management One-Liners A single line is sometimes the only thing that separates you from disaster Do you know of any good one-liners that saved the day at one point? (Update May 2017) We moved the list to the Open Risk Manual for easier editing and contributions Send us your favorite one-liner to include in the list. Please indicate what type of attribution you prefer (anonymous, nickname, full name etc.
The Atlas of Bad Risk Management

The Atlas of Bad Risk Management

Reading Time: 2 min.
The Atlas of Bad Risk Management: The Atlas was discovered recently in archeological work studying pre-crisis civilizations. Despite the obvious wear and tear, all key risk failure areas have been preserved. We note the remarkable diversity of organizational forms and economic structures. Most interestingly, there is even an uncharted territory that was rumored to be inhabited by black swans. We handed over this invaluable treasure to a risk management expert and asked her to identify any similarities with modern risk management challenges.
What Inka quipus teach us about data management

What Inka quipus teach us about data management

Reading Time: 4 min.
What Inka quipus teach us about data management: Chances are that your knowledge of ancient Peruvian culture is a bit rusty. Maybe you have some vague high-school memories of an extensive but backward empire that was conquered and then asset-stripped by a handful of Spanish conquistadores. Or maybe your best preserved memory is the excitement of reading von Daniken’s speculations that the Nazca lines are extraterrestrial spaceports. But unless you happened at some point later in life to hear about the work of Prof.
The periodic table of risk elements

The periodic table of risk elements

Reading Time: 5 min.
The periodic table of risk elements: You know the periodic table of elements, even if you flunked your science courses! It is the large colorful and blocky table that hanged on every school’s classrooms before becoming yet another mobile app. The periodic table is one of the early and iconic achievements of science. It lists all the pure chemical elements found in nature, the building blocks of all possible material substances.
A mini course on risk management

A mini course on risk management

Reading Time: 0 min.
A mini course on risk management, its perils and the silver lining: When talking about risk management, it is not very clear what we are talking about in broad terms, definitely not getting clearer when we start getting into the details and it is even not clear how to best use the (possibly flawed) insights we produce. Yet that’s what we have at this stage and with lemons we do lemonade.
Open Source Risk Modeling Manifesto

Open Source Risk Modeling Manifesto

Reading Time: 7 min.
Open Source Risk Modeling Manifesto: This post is a summary of a presentation given at the 2014 Autumn TopQuants Meeting, aka, the Open Source Risk Modeling Manifesto. The dismal state of quantitative risk modeling The current framework of internal risk modeling at financial institutions has had a fatal triple stroke. We saw in quick sequence: market risk, operational risk, and credit risk measurement failures, covering practically all business models. This fact left the science and art of quantitative risk modeling reeling under the crushing weight of empirical evidence.
Its all about balance these days!

Its all about balance these days!

Reading Time: 1 min.
In our personal lives, it is the balance between work and life, or the dreadful weight balance. In the professional sphere it might be the balance between debt and equity in the financial industry, or the balance between convenience and citizen privacy in the new tech industry, or the welfare of the many balanced against the property of the few, or finally the geopolitical balance of power of different peoples… Balance ensures sustainability as it helps steer away from the risks that lurk at the extremes.
FuriousBanker: The Credit Detox Challenge

FuriousBanker: The Credit Detox Challenge

Reading Time: 2 min.
FuriousBanker(TM) helps you learn risk management concepts in a fun and engaging way. This educational game series for mobiles and tablets is developed by Open Risk to enable modern interactive elearning for people working (or aspiring to work) in financial risk management. The first episode sees FuriousBanker facing The credit detox challenge: Game instructions for FuriousBanker: You Objective: You inherited a pretty toxic credit portfolio and your objective is to reduce the concentration, even while improving your profitability.
Top Ten Reasons Why Open Source is the Future of Risk Modeling

Top Ten Reasons Why Open Source is the Future of Risk Modeling

Reading Time: 2 min.
Financial Risk Modelling has suffered enormous setbacks in recent years, with all major strands of modelling (market, credit, operational risk) proven to have debilitating limitations. It is impossible to imagine a modern financial system that does not make extensive use of risk quantification tools, yet rebuilding confidence that these tools are fit-for-purpose will require significant changes. These need to improve governance, transparency, quality standards and in some areas even the development of completely new strands of modelling.
Free online courses on credit concentration (Oct 7th – Oct 13th)

Free online courses on credit concentration (Oct 7th – Oct 13th)

Reading Time: 1 min.
As part of the public beta testing programme, two new Open Risk Academy courses are accessible absolutely free (and with no strings attached :-). The courses are introductions to measuring credit name or sector concentrations in credit portfolios. They cover the following topics: The concept of credit name or sector concentration - what it is and how it can be measured The regulatory context and how the issue is covered by requirements and regulatory guidance