Harvard Business School professor Mihir Desai, author of “Wisdom of Finance” uses several arts and literature examples to get his point to the readers. In this excerpt of his interview with Business Insider, he explains what the works of Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope can teach us about risk management in finance. Following is a transcript of the video.
Josh Barro: A lot of these arts and literature examples, like what Jane Austen can teach us about risk, so like what can Jane Austen teach us about risk?
Mihir Desai: So it turns out the problem facing most of the characters in Jane Austen novels and Anthony Trollope novels, which is what I do for the risk-management chapter, is it risk-management problem. Right? So if you think about the marriage market in the 19th century novels, basically you have these suitors who come by and you have a young woman who’s in a very, very risky position. So it’s amazing how much she talks about the risk of being in that position and then what’s really fun is, in the Trollope book, he actually uses options and diversification as logics for how you can manage that. So, in a way, it’s the problems of finance or the problems of life. Like, you know, managing risk is a problem of life, insurance is a problem of life. So, in a way, once you think about it that way, it doesn’t become so esoteric, it becomes, you know, the stuff over lives.
Barro: Seems like a lot of the risks that are described in the book are non-financial risks that can’t be financialized that finance can’t fix.
Desai: Well, so some of them, I mean, finance can help. Right? I mean, so the point of the marriage market example is not to say that finance is going to help a woman who’s facing the marriage market in the 19th century. The point is if you want to understand risk management, if you want to understand options, if you want to understand diversification, this is like a much easier way in to understanding that.
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