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Understanding Investment Risk

Last update on: Feb 25 2020

Investors hear a lot about risk, but few of them really understand risk and risk management. If you might be in that category, or you simply want to read an excellent discussion of risk, consider this essay by Howard Marks of Oaktree Management. Marks takes on the widely-accepted academic and financial professional view that volatility or standard deviation is risk. He explains what risk really is and how investors should manage it.

It seems most people in the prediction business think the future is knowable, and all they have to do is be among the ones who know it. Alternatively, they may understand (consciously or unconsciously) that it’s not knowable but believe they have to act as if it is in order to make a living as an economist or investment manager.

On the other hand, I’m solidly convinced the future isn’t knowable. I side with John Kenneth Galbraith who said, “We have two classes of forecasters: Those who don’t know – and those who don’t know they don’t know.”

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