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Taking risk and seeing warning signals E-mail
Monday, 14 July 2014 11:44

By Columnist Charles Payne

“On top of that, you needed persistence, practicality, stinginess, innovation, ruthlessness and fearlessness. The greatest hurdle to fortune was the desire for safety- as addictive as crack cocaine, but much worse for you.”

— Felix Dennis

Last month, Felix Dennis, who passed away at age 67, left an indelible mark on the planet that was part maverick and part conservationist in all its guts and glory. His personal life and peccadilloes are not what is noteworthy, although they will make for a great movie one day. It was his willingness to take risks and ignore popular conviction in order to build a publishing magazine in the twilight era of magazine publishing.

The creator of “Maxim” and “The Week,” he began his journey penniless up until the time he got the job as co-editor at “Oz” magazine.

We are always enthralled and enamored with rags-to-riches stories that layout a blueprint that includes risk-taking, hard work, and commitment.

Yet, when it comes to changing our own lives, such attributes are checked at the door in favor of safety and a static life, where daydreaming is as close as we get to achieving the real-life desired.

Risk Aversion

A description of an investor who, when faced with two investments with a similar expected return (but different risks), will prefer the one with the lower risk.

A risk-averse investor dislikes risk, and therefore, will stay away from adding high-risk stocks or investments to their portfolio and in turn, will often lose out on higher rates of return. Investors looking for “safer” investments will generally stick to index funds and government bonds, which generally have lower returns.


When it comes to investing, running a business or country, accepting limited returns means limited improvement, often coming up short of goals.

A scathing report says the United Nations and international non-government organizations are playing their budgets so close to the vest, and focused so much on administrative and personnel, that they are “feeding the headquarters beast,” rather than responding to humanitarian emergencies.

A driving force of risk aversion is when particular monetary demands have top priority and more certain outcomes of investment and time limit the options for the rest of the organization.

Lawrence Summers, who worked in the Clinton and Obama administrations as Treasury Secretary and economic advisor, wrote a scathing op-ed that calls out his old boss, President Obama, on classic risk-aversion.

“Coaches know that there is nothing more dangerous for a sports team than retreating into passivity out of fear of making a mistake. Whether it is because of a desire to sit on a lead or because of nerves following a setback, failing to advance aggressively is usually a strategic error.

“What is true in athletic competition is all too true in the life of nations. While imprudence is never good, excessive caution in the name of prudence or expediency can have grave consequences. A nation will never have more power or influence than it has ambition to shape the global system. A sense of fatalism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy as adversaries are emboldened and allies move either to appease rivals or to provide for their own security.”

It seems that Summers is frustrated that President Obama has taken the low-risk approach to foreign policy, meaning no wars, leading from behind, while watching and waiting. It is easier to reap the political rewards of not getting in harm’s way than to stop problems that will only become more dangerous.

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About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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