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Acts of God and Man: Ruminations on Risk and Insurance

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Much has been written about the ups and downs of financial markets, from the lure of prosperity to the despair of crises. Yet a more fundamental and pernicious source of uncertainty exists in today's world: the traditional "insurance" risks of earthquakes, storms, terrorist attacks, and other disasters. Insightfully exploring these "acts of God and man," Michael R. Powers Much has been written about the ups and downs of financial markets, from the lure of prosperity to the despair of crises. Yet a more fundamental and pernicious source of uncertainty exists in today's world: the traditional "insurance" risks of earthquakes, storms, terrorist attacks, and other disasters. Insightfully exploring these "acts of God and man," Michael R. Powers guides readers through the methods available for identifying and measuring such risks, financing their consequences, and forecasting their future behavior within the limits of science. A distinctive characteristic of earthquakes, hurricanes, bombings, and other insurance risks is that they impact the values of stocks, bonds, commodities, and other market-based financial products, while remaining largely unaffected by or "aloof" from the behavior of markets. Quantifying such risks given limited data is difficult yet crucial for achieving the financing objectives of insurance. Powers begins with a discussion of how risk impacts our lives, health, and possessions and proceeds to introduce the statistical techniques necessary for analyzing these uncertainties. He then considers the experience of risk from the perspectives of both policyholders and insurance companies, and compares their respective responses. The risks inherent in the private insurance industry lead naturally to a discussion of the government's role as both market regulator and potential "insurer of last resort." Following a thoughtful and balanced analysis of these issues, Powers concludes with an interdisciplinary investigation into the nature of uncertainty, incorporating ideas from physics, philosophy, and game theory to assess science's limitations in predicting the ramifications of risk.


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Much has been written about the ups and downs of financial markets, from the lure of prosperity to the despair of crises. Yet a more fundamental and pernicious source of uncertainty exists in today's world: the traditional "insurance" risks of earthquakes, storms, terrorist attacks, and other disasters. Insightfully exploring these "acts of God and man," Michael R. Powers Much has been written about the ups and downs of financial markets, from the lure of prosperity to the despair of crises. Yet a more fundamental and pernicious source of uncertainty exists in today's world: the traditional "insurance" risks of earthquakes, storms, terrorist attacks, and other disasters. Insightfully exploring these "acts of God and man," Michael R. Powers guides readers through the methods available for identifying and measuring such risks, financing their consequences, and forecasting their future behavior within the limits of science. A distinctive characteristic of earthquakes, hurricanes, bombings, and other insurance risks is that they impact the values of stocks, bonds, commodities, and other market-based financial products, while remaining largely unaffected by or "aloof" from the behavior of markets. Quantifying such risks given limited data is difficult yet crucial for achieving the financing objectives of insurance. Powers begins with a discussion of how risk impacts our lives, health, and possessions and proceeds to introduce the statistical techniques necessary for analyzing these uncertainties. He then considers the experience of risk from the perspectives of both policyholders and insurance companies, and compares their respective responses. The risks inherent in the private insurance industry lead naturally to a discussion of the government's role as both market regulator and potential "insurer of last resort." Following a thoughtful and balanced analysis of these issues, Powers concludes with an interdisciplinary investigation into the nature of uncertainty, incorporating ideas from physics, philosophy, and game theory to assess science's limitations in predicting the ramifications of risk.

30 review for Acts of God and Man: Ruminations on Risk and Insurance

  1. 5 out of 5

    George

    Middle section on insurance company fundamentals was best... Sometimes this feels like a college text and other times like a book, so can be tough to digest if you are looking for one or the other.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Adam Tooke

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ada

  4. 4 out of 5

    Thor

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

  6. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

  8. 5 out of 5

    Robert DuPuy

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kaushal

  10. 4 out of 5

    Franco

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Mastronardi

  12. 4 out of 5

    Akshar

  13. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  14. 4 out of 5

    Raul Cabrera

  15. 4 out of 5

    Olaore Oluwafemi

  16. 5 out of 5

    Max Oss-Emer

  17. 4 out of 5

    Huai-Jie Yao

  18. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anon

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tarecq

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nayera Walid

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ekrem Tamkan

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ian

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

  27. 4 out of 5

    AlbinW

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pritesh

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jobber

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gemblong

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