Friday, 23 April 2010

Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway

As a lawyer, maybe I ought not to see risk as a positive force, but I do. If I did not, I would never have ridden a bicycle, horse or motorcycle, played rugby, scuba-dived, rowed, sailed, skied, driven vehicles, flown, or become involved with start-ups. Of course, I might never have fallen off, over, into, under or onto anything either. But the risk of falling - of failure - is actually what has made all these things FUN.

I'm actually not being facetious. Sir David Latham expressed his concern about overreaction to risk in the context of the furore over the 'early' release of prisoners, in light of the Venables case:
"I'm concerned that the society we're presently living in, is becoming too risk averse. That means that society is perhaps unrealistic about the level of risk it should be prepared to accept."
Boris Johnson made a similar point in his recent article on the plague of ski helmets:
"...there is something strange here, a mutation in the Zeitgeist. I reckon the helmet mania is more than just a question of fashion or a re-assessment of the medical risks of skiing. It’s a sign of the psychological state of the Western bourgeoisie in the grip of an economic crisis. They have seen what happened to the risk-taking bankers; they have seen how the sky fell in on the insouciant system of free-market capitalism; and so they literally cover their heads as an expression of the safety-first mentality that has seized us all."
Global concern about risk in the financial markets goes back along way. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision was created in 1974. Yet even after all those years of careful work, and several Basel Accords, the Committee has been unable to prevent numerous banking meltdowns and ultimately the Credit Crunch. This is why placing further constraints on the financial markets is unlikely to work, and why I advocate simplifying them and opening them up to everyone instead. People may look upon that as a might leap of faith, but I've witnessed firsthand the way Zopa, the person-to-person lending marketplace launched in 2005, has grown nice and steadily throughout a period when the 'traditional institutions' were the ones exploding with bad debt.

Even today, we're being hectored by mainstream media interests to avoid choosing a coalition government in the UK. To hell with them all, I say. Feel the fear and do it anyway. It'll be FUN.

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