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The unusual and the unknown make us either overconfident or overly fearful.1 A wise person will not spend time installing a burglar alarm when the house is on fire.2 You know that the best you can expect is to avoid the worst.3 Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually slaves of some defunct economist.4

CONSEQUENTIAL & CATASTROPHIC RISK: For a world that will spend $1,500 billion (U.S.) this year for National Defense and over the past 64 years has spent almost $60,000 billion (in current dollars) for this purpose, today we may be faced with more systemic consequential and catastrophic risks than in any previous historical periods. One factor is the overdetermining belief that military defense primarily renders a nation safer (look at the nation’s spending budget to see relative priorities for what is important). However, maybe the two primary reasons that the world has gotten riskier is that: (a) technology is enabling low-cost, distributed activities heretofore previously unimagined; and (b) adequate capital has not routinely been allocated to mitigate these sometimes new or newly understood consequential and catastrophic risks. Instead, traditional and conventional military-centric risks have consumed much of the world’s capital used for risk mitigation. Adding to the concern of adequate capital allocation to mitigate new risks is a corporatist mindset that portrays risk management as government interference in free markets and eschews regulatory reform as anathema to capitalism.5 TYPES OF CONSEQUENTIAL AND CATASTROPHIC RISK: Consequential risk describes risks that are economically expensive should they occur. Locally, this might entail a one-time, sudden, unbudgeted expense of ten’s of billions of dollars. Nationally or globally, this might entail a sudden unbudgeted expense of trillions of dollars in losses. Catastrophic risk typically also entails loss of bio-physical resources, oftentimes directly, human lives. Locally, this might mean the sudden death of 10,000 100,000 humans; nationally, 100,000 to a few million humans; globally, a few million to virtually the entirety of the six billion people presently living on the planet (i.e. existential risks that threaten humanity in toto). Catastrophic risks always are consequential. But not all consequential risks produce immediate, directly attributable significant numbers of deaths. Any deaths from consequential risk may be indirect and secondary. In evaluating both consequential and catastrophic risk, an appropriate timeframe must be chosen. For example, short-term loss of human life over a few days to a few weeks may be slight, but long-term loss of life over months or years may become very large. Oftentimes, there is bias to consider risks that are episodic (an event that just happens e.g. an earthquake or terrorist attack) and produce consequential results over a short time span (e.g. the event fits within the attention span of TV news shows) versus structural risks (e.g. nuclear deterrence and nuclear power

Lyle Brecht DRAFT 1.12 Sunday, November 15, 2009 CAPITAL MARKETS RESEARCH - Project Metanoia -

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plants are structural risks in that they are inherently expensive when they fail. Two billion dollars in capital investment was turned into a useless rubble of steel and concrete at Three Mile Island in less than 30 minutes). Other risks evolve sometimes proceeding over relatively lengthy timeframes and result in very large economic costs (e.g the cost of global warming, if absolutely no mitigation occurs, and atmospheric tipping points are exceeded, could be as much as $200,000 billion, but not be fully felt for a 100-years). Consequential and catastrophic risks can generally be classified into four distinct categories that are independent of their potential severity (probability x harm): Known events that are certain to happen with some known or historically reasonable probability. They have happened before and most likely will happen again at some discrete time in the future; Known events that are certain to happen (we know this from a history of the earth), but a probabilistic forecast of their eventuality in discrete time is uncalculable at present. We just do not understand the risk well enough to even guess at its probability of occurrence, or even if we guess, we have little confidence in our guess; Known events that may or may not happen sometime in the future, depending largely on the particular planning period of the analysis. Typically, we just do not have enough historical data points to plot a frequency curve, or we do not understand the mechanisms of the risk event well enough to know for certain that they will occur again in the future or with what frequency. What we do know is that these risk events have happened in the past; Unknown or dimly understood events that will occur with some uncalculable probability. These are often referred to as uncalculable, rare events. Becasue they are rare, there is just not enough understanding of the event itself, nor its frequency to plot a probability curve. Sometimes these uncalculable, rare events are referred to as Black Swans. What a risk manager must remember is that even though a specific rare event may not be knowable either as to probability or harm, the class of Black Swan risks is highly probable to occur in any one planning period. That is, it is almost always prudent, from a risk management perspective, to plan for a Black Swan and to manage systems for their resiliency to avoid cascading failure or collapse, should a Black Swan appear during the planning period. Against these categories of consequential and catastrophic risks, there are generally three types of human responses available:

Lyle Brecht DRAFT 1.12 Sunday, November 15, 2009 CAPITAL MARKETS RESEARCH - Project Metanoia -

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Allocating capital to mitigate this risk will likely either reduce the probability that an event will occur or improve resiliency (ability to recover) and reduce harm should the event occur; Allocating capital to mitigate this risk will either be to no avail or make the risk worse, either by increasing the probability of occurrence or the economic cost should an event occur; The risk is beyond human amelioration or mitigation at the present time. This does not mean that at some future date human ingenuity may mitigate this risk, only that at present humans are powerless to do anything about this risk In summary: consequential and catastrophic risks can either result in only economic losses, or economic losses with loss of lives. Possible events can be known with certainty, with some degree of certainty (probabilistic forecast), or with no certainty (probabilities of occurrence are uncalculable). For some risks, it is possible to mitigate the risk event. For some risks, attempts to mitigate the risk may make things worse. For some risks, no human mitigation is possible at this time. From a capital allocation perspective, it is imprudent to invest in mitigating only known, tractable events of a particular class (e.g. risk of war or terrorism vs. risk of global warming and cyberspace security). Risks that have uncalculable probabilities of occurrence should also receive appropriate mitigation capital, given the nature of rare events that, as a class, they regularly occur in any one planning period . It is also imprudent to invest primarily in hardening systems against an event occurring. Investing to improve system resilience, should an event occur, may also be a worthwhile mitigation strategy. The table below categorizes consequential and catastrophic risks by their potential scope: local, national, regional, global, and existential (risks that threaten life on the planet). What is not illustrated in this table is that risks that begin at the local level, may produce cascading failures that grow to the national, regional, or even global level. Two example s of cascading failures might include localized drought that reduces food production to an extent that national or regional consequential effects occur. Another risk event that may begin locally could include a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan over Kashmir or between North and South Korea that could quickly cascade to national, regional, or even global risk events involving loss of a growing season due to particulate matter in the atmosphere, the triggering of a new climate change regime that produces severe regional or global drought, or other as yet unforeseen cascading failures of existing present ecosystem services that underlie all the economic support systems for all the national economies of the world.

Lyle Brecht DRAFT 1.12 Sunday, November 15, 2009 CAPITAL MARKETS RESEARCH - Project Metanoia -

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QUALITATIVE CATEGORIES OF CONSEQUENTIAL & CATASTROPHIC RISK 6
SCOPE LOCAL CONSEQUENTIAL RISK drought, food contamination, cyberspace viruses; hurricane (e.g. Katrina); loss of watershed protection lands, discrimination based on ethnicity, race, gender, etc.; mass contagion; depletion of Colorado River reservoirs CATASTROPHIC RISK terrorist WMD-attack, existing infectious disease exposure, accidental escape of genetically modified disease organisms from laboratory, pollution, radioactivity exposure from nuclear power plant accident, earthquakes, cyclones, <0.5 km sized bolide impacts nuclear terrorism; obesity; heart attacks, cancer, HIV/ AIDS, alcoholism, drug abuse

NATIONAL

EMP-attack; financial derivatives risks, national debt, totalitarianism, cyberspace viruses; declining availability of cheap oil; China no longer purchases government debt freshwater availability; genetic contamination of agricultural seed stock; nuclear electric plant accident

REGIONAL

limited nuclear exchange; infectious diseases; exported gender shifters and neurotoxins; volcanic eruptions; famine; interstate war, tsunamis, 0.5-1 km sized bolide impacts anthropogenic climate change (best case); nuclear war between superpowers, large-scale vulcanism; depletion of the ozone layer; emerging pandemics; loss of critical habitat; >1-1.5 km sized bolide impacts anthropogenic climatechange (worst case); species extinctions; GM seed modifications gone bad > 2 km sized bolide collision w/ earth; molecular manufacturing; mass extinction (various causes), nuclear winter

GLOBAL

Carrington event (high magnitude solar storms); meltdown of financial derivatives market; peak oil, collapse of globalization & trade exchange; pegging price of oil in non-dollar denominated exchange collapse in trust of financial assets, abusive use of nanotechnology AI singularity, discovery of extraterrestrial intelligent life in the universe

TRANS-GENERATIONAL

EXISTENTIAL

Note: “If we treat risks singly, and never as part of an overall threat profile, we may become unduly fixated on the one or two dangers that happen to have captured the public or expert imagination of the day, while neglecting other risks that are more severe or more amenable to mitigation.” 7 For example, the U.S. allocated inordinate resources since 2001 to prevent another 9/11 terrorist attack, but allocated virtually nothing to prevent the devastation of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. From a

Lyle Brecht DRAFT 1.12 Sunday, November 15, 2009 CAPITAL MARKETS RESEARCH - Project Metanoia -

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consequential risk perspective, one might argue that preventing the devastation of Katrina may have been an economically more rational allocation of capital, given a probabilistic risk assessment of the risk from another 9/11 terror attack versus the probability of a Katrina-like economic cost should a category 3 or above hurricane hit New Orleans. From this capital allocation perspective, we will now look at: (a) setting priorities as to which risks to allocate capital; (b) the possibility of estimating the cost of systemic risk; (c) pricing this risk so as to assist in establishing rational, analytically-based choices for where to allocate capital to mitigate consequential and catastrophic risks; and (d) what magnitude of investment to mitigate consequential and catastrophic risks may be warranted in any specific planning period. CONSEQUENTIAL & CATASTROPHIC RISK MANAGEMENT PRIORITIES8
RISK PRIORITY FIRST TIER - probabilities of 10% to 99.0% (near certainty) within 25-year planning horizon CONSEQUENTIAL climate change mitigation; cyberspace security; freshwater resources management; prevention of financial industry discontinuities, regional drought, collapse of Chesapeake estuary, Colorado River reservoirs depleted, health care costs at 20% of GDP in U.S. produces ICOR ongoing annual losses of $2.3 trillion, dramatically lower EROEI energy sources 9/11-type terrorist attack, terrorist WMD attack; nuclear power plant accident >10m bolide impact in ocean; hurricane, cyclone, earthquake, tsunami, volcano hits unpopulated area of developed world CATASTROPHIC abrupt climate change; nuclear power plant accident; bio-terrorism or industrial laboratory accident; pandemic infectious diseases; global drought causes crop failures; unmanaged movement of industrial food production systems to lower thermodynamic states

SECOND TIER - probabilities from 0.5% - 9.99% during a 25-year forecast THIRD TIER - assignable probabilities of less than 0.5% during a 25-year forecast based on stationarity (historical data)

nuclear terrorist attack; transformative war that uses nuclear weapons >10 m bolide impact in densely populated area of earth; hurricane, cyclone, earthquake, tsunami, volcano hits densely populated area unforeseen effects of abrupt climate change; cascading failures of ecosystem services due to habitat loss and/ or species extinction; mass extinction event of keystone species due to bioaccumulation of industrial pollution

UNKNOWN - uncalculable, rare events of significance (no historical data from which to base probabilistic forecasts)

over-reliance on industrial food production (e.g. single source for seeds, concentrated meat packing, industrial feed lots, etc.) causes development of antibodyresistant virulent pathogens

Lyle Brecht DRAFT 1.12 Sunday, November 15, 2009 CAPITAL MARKETS RESEARCH - Project Metanoia -

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Note: Risks respond to attention with reflexivity (human actions alter the probabilistic risk forecast). Allocating adequate capital to address a risk may either reduce the probability that an event occurs or reduce the harm that ensues should an event occur. Under-allocating capital to mitigate a risk will not only miss the mark in reducing the probabilistic forecast for that risk, it may actually increase the probability and/or the harm should an event occur. An interesting twist on risk assessment is to look at the capital structure of the economy and ask if capital is being invested productively to grow the economy in a sustainable fashion.9 For example, if most other industrialized global competitors of the U.S. can deliver the same, or better, health results for their citizens at less than 10% of GDP, there has to be a cost to the U.S. economy for over-allocating its available capital to health care. Given that there is only so much capital to go around in any one period, if health care is over-consuming available capital, then less capital is available to invest in R&D (research & development), O&M (operations & maintenance), and R&R (repair & replacement) for other, relatively more productive sectors of the economy. Thus, there should be a hit on Incremental Capital Output Ratio (ICOR) for this capital allocation choice to spend capital unproductively on health care. 10 If this calculation was performed, and one converted % productivity loss to dollars of GDP, one might arrive at an imputed ICOR value of ~$799.50 billion in lost (foregone) annualized GDP growth as the tradeoff for spending 20% of GDP on health care when only 10% of GDP has been amply demonstrated as adequate to keep a country’s citizenry healthy enough to perform work. A CENTRAL PROBLEM: Even if one subscribes to the rational choice theory, maybe the central tenet of capitalism - and many do in today’s industrialized, capitalistic, democratic economies - what is rational about today’s market prices? If the same gallon of gasoline sells for twelve cents in Venezuela, forty-five cents in Saudi Arabia, $3.00 in the United States, and $9.00 in Europe, what is the true price for gasoline? If the economic cost of anthropogenic carbon emissions was included in the price of gasoline, what would its true cost be then? If one believes in Peak Oil, do market prices adequately reflect replacement costs, or are we just factoring exploration, refining, and distribution costs? 11 Should governments subsidize the true economic cost of commodities in order to keep their economies growing? Is this subsidization game even sustainable? Can free markets be relied on to set true economic costs of goods and services? Or do free markets tend to get prices very wrong? Oftentimes too low, as systemic risk is neglected or avoided. Depending on which economist one speaks with, different answers to these questions are proffered. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who might we trust? Can we rely on our own ideologies and personal comfort levels to determine where we stand on these

Lyle Brecht DRAFT 1.12 Sunday, November 15, 2009 CAPITAL MARKETS RESEARCH - Project Metanoia -

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issues? Yet, many agree that large problems confront our national economy and the global economy. Many believe that present economic activities are unsustainable over the long term for a variety of reasons. That is, it is highly probable that present economic relations and market prices will not hold long-term. Economic reality ultimately will determine whether markets are allocating capital in ways to grow the economy are sustainable. 12 Non-sustainability is typically signaled by sharp discontinuities of asset prices “largely unanticipated by market participants. For, were it otherwise, financial arbitrage would have diverted it.”13 Markets (and entire economies) regularly fail when they fail to adequately manage risk.14 Change is afoot. But who do we trust to manage this risk? Some imagine government is the proper vehicle, others vehemently argue that only an unshackled private business sector (along with personal responsibility) provides the dynamic capabilities and vision for sustainable long term growth. Is the truth that both the public (government) sector and the private (business) sector may be guilty of manipulating market prices to such an extent that free markets rarely, if ever except in special circumstances, provide true-enough economic prices for a rational choice to work its invisible hand magic? Can we even agree that the primary task of markets is to allocate capital to timely projects that provide the technological innovation our national (and the global) economy requires for sustainable growth?15 Can we agree that another primary task of markets is to protect the bio-physical services of the earth so that sustainable growth can continue over the long term? Our definition of sustainable growth is simple and straightforward: sustainability is creating real economic wealth in the world for the communities we live in. 16 Economic wealth is always founded on a binary bio-physical reality. Either the bio-physical systems that are supportive of life (and economy!) on the planet are evolving toward sustainability. Or they are moving towards collapse? 17 Both the public and the private sectors are necessary to accomplish this objective for creating real economic wealth. Both sectors are dependent on the other. Without rules (e.g. regulations), no business could achieve long-term profits from free markets. The more appropriate and fitting these market rules, the more profits businesses should be able to earn. If market prices are more economically rational, businesses will have the incentive to reallocate capital and labor to invest in those activities that produce sustainable economic growth and that creates real economic wealth for the communities we live in. With this definition of sustainable growth, then only when an economy successfully accomplishes these tasks of innovation, reallocation and protection, is it accurately

Lyle Brecht DRAFT 1.12 Sunday, November 15, 2009 CAPITAL MARKETS RESEARCH - Project Metanoia -

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assessing risks: maturity, liquidity, market, credit, currency, technological obsolescence, and wider economic, ecologic, and political risks. Market risk consists of the danger of mispricing assets; credit risk covers the potential of financial promises not being honored; currency risk describes a mismatch between the value of liabilities’ and assets’ respective currencies; technological obsolescence describes the technological progress in achieving more output with less input of labor, capital, and time; larger economic, ecologic, and political risks refer to black swans, those highly improbable events such as global crisis, war, political upheaval, and ecological collapse that produce massive impacts on markets. The collective characterization of these risks, taken as a whole, might be called systemic risk. What characterizes systemic risk is that it is emergent (the final outcome cannot be fully predicted by antecedent causes) and a consequent of the mispricing of inputs to and outputs from market transactions.18 Systemic risk must be accounted for and managed in order to produce a positive economic return on invested capital (EROIC). 19 CONSEQUENTIAL & CATASTROPHIC RISK IS A SYSTEMS PROBLEM: Consequential and catastrophic events are world-changing. 20 These events produce a disruptive non-linearity. There arises a ‘time-before’ and a ‘time-after’ the endgame event. People may loose their lives. When that occurs, body counts often characterize the event. However, all endgame events have an economic result. They destroy capital (human, financial, natural, economic). For example, the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks resulted in the initial loss of <3,000 lives and $90 billion in property damage. The counter-strategy, however, resulted in ~2 million people displaced, wounded, or killed and $3,000 billion total estimated expenditure of capital for a variety of GWOTrelated initiatives. The 2008 collapse of the collateralized debt obligation (CDO) market in the U.S. resulted in the loss of ~$50,000 billion in asset values globally and the need for U.S. citizens (taxpayers) to put-up $17,489 billion in reserve guarantees for the financial institutions holding CDOs (which had become toxic assets). 21 What characterizes the above examples of consequential endgames is that in both cases, systemic risk was left unmanaged. Systemic risk fell between the cracks. In both cases, capital was not allocated in a manner to either reduce the risk of the endgame consequence occurring, nor were investments sufficiently made to the underlying systems to improve resiliency so that if an endgame event occurred, the system would recover without undue cost. 22 In terms of potential possible consequential endgames, there are many, but maybe WMD-T attacks and anthropogenic climate change has received the most attention. 23 Both these consequential and catastrophic risk events could be considered in terms of

Lyle Brecht DRAFT 1.12 Sunday, November 15, 2009 CAPITAL MARKETS RESEARCH - Project Metanoia -

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systemic risk. For example, a nuclear WMD-T attack, its risks and consequences, might be considered from the perspective of the cost of nuclear deterrence as a national military strategy.24 Climate change could be thought of in terms of the systemic risk of not pricing the use of the earth’s atmosphere as a sink for carbon and other GHG emissions. If 350 PPM CO2 is really the tipping point for runaway climate change, the capital allocation requirement (i.e. spending capital in one fashion rather than another) to avoid a consequential endgame may be on the order of $20,000 billion.25 As the U.S. is responsible (on a per capita basis) for ~50% of GHG emissions, it might be reasonably expected to cover 50% of this capital requirement. The probabilistic global (as opposed to national) endgame consequent of not making this investment of capital could be, on a worst-case basis, around $200,000 billion, loss of 2,000-3,000 million human lives, and the loss of a significant number of species of life presently living on earth.26 From this perspective, the game thus might best be framed in terms of the question: What economic ecosystem operations and maintenance investments (O&M), and repair and replacement investments (R&R) are needed to ensure sustainable economic growth for the nation now and in the future? Ultimately, this translates to a binary capital allocation assessment: (a) either capital is being employed to develop and maintain sustainable systems that support economic growth, or (b) capital is being employed in ways that will ultimately result in the collapse of these systems. 27 This systems coherence approach to consequential endgames is preferred to more traditional intelligence and national security-focused approaches to risk as it captures the full range of risks encountered toward developing a sustainable economy. The focus on actor-driven WMD-T, malicious attacks on cyberspace, and other humanagent initiated deliberate activities (manmade deliberate) may neglect approximately 70% of consequential and catastrophic risks. Annualized classes of threats from system vulnerabilities using a probabilistic risk assessment methodology (PRA) to allocate capital towards corrective actions might resemble the following forecasts of endgame risk:28 • consequential disruptive events or catastrophic systems collapse from economic ecosystem coherence problems due to lack of O&M and R&R (structural risk)= 40%; malicious, human-agent intermediated attacks on economic support systems (episodic risk)= 30%; 29   emergent causes (high consequential, low probability, rare events) = 20% consequential disruptive events and/or catastrophic collapse of systems due to natural causes (earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, floods, etc; human

• • •

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agents may be complicit to severity of results, but not causative agents) = 10%; Due to the networked systems nature of the national and global economic ecosystem and the timeliness of the consequential and catastrophic risk the nation presently faces, traditional ways of promulgating security standards, managing initiatives to secure the nation, and setting metrics for success leaves many gaps.30 This is often due to the stovepipe approach to security where one department/agency’s initiatives collide with another agency’s and neither agency’s methods constitute best practices from the perspective of private industry or from an analytical perspective on the amount of capital required to address a system vulnerability to a specified level of system resilience in a definite timeframe. 31 The process whereby budgets are decided and funds employed to implement policy across multiple, often competing jurisdictional boundaries (public and private) is not well coordinated. The policy coordinating function may have difficulty against agency budgeting by the politically powerful for ideas that are topical (or popular), the private sector will be left to its own devices to allocate capital toward addressing vulnerabilities, and the nation will be in reactive mode as crises (real or perceived) materialize. Importantly, systemic risk of the failure to adequately manage endgame riskreduction initiatives may be neglected due to this poorly coordinated, stovepipe approach to improving system resilience.32 Right now is a perspicuous time to build a new-model public/private sector partnership decision-making framework for investing in system resilience and creating economic incentives for speeding-up new technology adoption in the private as well as the public sectors. The objective is to develop improved economic support systems resilience to consequential and catastrophic risk. An expanded purview of endgame risk is needed that is broader than the present myopic intelligence-national securitycentric risk-assessment and mitigation framework. MANAGING CONSEQUENTIAL AND CATASTROPHIC SYSTEMIC RISKS THAT IMPACT THE ECONOMIC ECOSYSTEM: The networked information economy may be the most significant economic change since the start of the industrial age. This networked information infrastructure presently serves as the substrate for the evolution of the post-industrial economy of the twenty-first century in advanced countries of the world: The national and global economic system is a human-engineered complex, dynamical system described most accurately as a system comprised of a large network of components operating with simple rules (programs and protocols) with no central control (i.e. the system is self-organizing) that results in sophisticated

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information processing (computational processes), adaptation, and complex collective behavior. Additionally, this complex, dynamical system is non-linear in its exhibition of emergent behavior (i.e. the behavior of the system cannot be fully predicted from a knowledge of all its parts) and probably exhibits features of a chaotic system (i.e. there is a sensitive dependence on initial conditions).33 More than ninety-percent of consequential and catastrophic risk to the economic ecosystem resides in the private sector;34 Choosing what not to do to protect and defend the economic ecosystem from consequential and catastrophic risks may be as important as what we collectively decide to invest capital in to achieve improved system resilience;35 Today, both public and private sectors establish priorities to address economic ecosystem vulnerabilities primarily by two methods: (a) the windshield method (what is most visible and immediate), and (b) the normative risk assessment method (choose the most probable vulnerability with the largest consequent); 36 Presently, metrics for what constitutes a reasonable level of economic ecosystem vulnerability (how secure must the systems be, given the costs for achieving a specified level of risk reduction/security?) for critical sub-systems do not exist; A practicable EROIC (economic return on invested capital) metric based on a standard risk assessment methodology to schedule investments for consequential endgames security has not been established; 37

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ENDNOTES
Inusitatis atque incognitus rebus magis confidamus vehementiusque exterreamur, Gaius Julius Caesar, Commentariide Bello Civili, II. 4, quoted in Vaclav Smil, Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next 50 Years (London & Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2008), 1.
1

2

Nick Bostrom and Milan M. Cirkovic, “Introduction,” Nick Bostrom and Milan M. Cirkovic, eds., Global Catastrophic Risks (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 28. Italio Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler (1979) in William Poundstone, Prisoner’s Dilemma (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 53.
3

John Maynard Keynes, quoted in Justin Fox, The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street (New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2009), xvi on defects in neoclassical economic theory loosely based on Saint Thomas Aquinas’ (1225 -1274) ethical notion that just prices are set by the market transactions between buyers and sellers who trade value for value - the Golden Rule in business (Summa Theologiae, 2-2, q. 77, art. 1 ref. Fox, xiii).
4

Today, corporatism, the resistance to economically productive change and preservation of diseconomic activities may be more a threat to capitalism than socialism. The economist, Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950, Austria/Hungary), in his book, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, discussed capitalism’s greatest strength as creative destruction - old ways of doing things are destroyed and replaced by new ways through entrepreneurship. For Schumpeter, socialism was no match for capitalism. However, he predicted that corporatism would threaten and could finally undermine capitalism. See http://www.scribd.com/doc/19538880/.
5 6 7 8 9

For illustrative purposes only. Bostrom and Cirkovic, 2. For illustrative purposes only.

Capital is defined in this instance as annual free cash flow from business operations available to reallocate to technological innovation and to create new jobs. Incremental Capital Output Ratio (ICOR) is a metric that measures the marginal amount of investment capital necessary for a measurable improvement in the national economy’s level of production efficiency. The converse use of ICOR is the loss in annual GDP growth by not investing adequately in productivity efficiency.
10 11 12

See “Note to a Peak Oil Denier:” http://www.scribd.com/doc/19145966/.

Sustainability results from the timely process of transforming these economic systems undergoing change to systems that are resilient (less susceptible to collapse) when shifting to lower thermodynamic states. Economic systems are sustainable when thermodynamic state shifts do not cause rapid disruptive nonlinearities - abrupt changes of the system to an unanticipated, less-complex state. See http://www.scribd.com/doc/9714755/Sustainable-Economy. “Bubbles seem to require prolonged periods of prosperity, damped inflation and low longterm interest rates.... History also demonstrates that underpriced risk – the hallmark of bubbles – can persist for years.” See Alan Greenspan, “We need a better cushion against risk,” Financial Times (26 Mar 2009).
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Derivatives help to diversify risks among a multitude of counter-party relationships. These counter-party relationships produce a more robust economic system that is able to self-correct against small shocks. Yet, due to interconnections among parties, the economic system becomes more vulnerable to black swans that produce massive, tumultuous effects in markets. See Daron Acemoglu, “The Crisis of 2008: Structural; Lessons for and from Economics’ (January 6, 2009), 3. “The transition to a clean-energy economy should be modeled not on pollution control efforts, like the one on acid rain, but rather on past investments in infrastructure, such as railroads and highways, as well as on research and development…. This innovation-centered framework makes sense not only for the long-term expansion of individual freedom, possibility, and choice” but offers the best probability of achieving real, economic wealth creation of benefit to the nation. See Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, Breakthrough: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007), 15
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Sustainability results from the timely process of transforming these economic systems undergoing change to systems that are resilient (less susceptible to collapse) when shifting to lower thermodynamic states. Economic systems are sustainable when thermodynamic state shifts do not cause rapid disruptive nonlinearities - abrupt changes of the system to an unanticipated, lesscomplex state. One way to think about the thermodynamic states of economic systems is in terms of energy return on energy invested (EROEI). For example, in this context sustainability might be more technically described as the re-engineering of economic systems to transition from high energy return on energy invested sources to systems capable of operating at lower thermodynamic states: in 1930, EROEI of oil, natural gas and coal was 100:1; today EROEI of oil, gas, wind is 15:1; large hydropower 11:1; conventional coal 10:1; newly found oil, photovoltaic solar 8:1; clean coal 5:1 (better carbon emissions control through carbon capture and sequestration but coal ash and heavy metals pollution); fuel cell, geothermal, nuclear 4:1 (nuclear’s carbon footprint is ~ 66 gCO2e/kWh, less than 960 gCO2e/kWh for conventional coal but for every dollar spent on nuclear, 5X-6X more carbon could be reduced with end-use efficiency, or renewables); oil shale and Alberta tar sands 3:1 (Athabasca Valley tar sands have largest carbon footprint of any oil production); LNG 2:1; ethanol (from corn) 1.3:1; hydrogen 0.8:1; nuclear fusion (unknown). See, Charlie Hall, “Balloon Graph;” The Oil Drum (www.theoildrum.com); Thomas Homer-Dixon, The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization (Washington, DC, Island Press, 2006).
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“Perhaps the fundamental question – is how can the operating institutions for the modern world be changed so that economic activity both protects and restores the natural world.” See James Gustave Speth, The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2008), 7.
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Market mispricing of inputs to and outputs from the economy discourages timely technological innovation, slows down technology adoption cycles, and inhibits the reallocation of labor and capital to those more productive sectors of the economy, thus putting the entire national economy at a competitive disadvantage. In particularly egregious situations and over time, this mispricing creates unsustainable economic conditions resulting in collapse of asset values, markets, and/or economies that careen from one financial crisis to another.
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Ever since St. Thomas Aquinas proposed that market-set prices resulted in true economic value, this has served as an article of faith in the Christian West. Most recently, this faith-based belief has been bolstered by mathematical formulations and economic theory (validated with Nobel prizes for economics). However, despite the math and theory, the underlying predicates are the tenets of the rational choice theory: human beings act rationally as if to maximize their utility. That is, market transactions must be efficient (the Efficient Market Theory) as no person would pay more in the transaction than their derived utility for the good or service in question. Gene Fama summarizes the Efficient Market Theory: “The primary role of the capital markets is allocation of ownership of the economy’s capital stock. In general terms, the ideal is a market in which prices provide accurate signals for resource allocation.... A market in which prices always ‘fully reflect’ available information is called ‘efficient’” (“Efficient Capital Markets: A Review of Theory and Empirical Work,” Journal of Finance (May 1970); 383 quoted in Fox, 104)
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If one subscribes to the wisdom of markets, then the following corollary is that any government regulation of markets is bad for as Fredrich Hayek intimated in a 1945 article, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” “Any attempt to regulate prices or business activity was doomed to thwart the movement of knowledge needed to make the economy run smoothly” (Fox, 91-2). This mentality was most vigorously marketed by Milton Friedman, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago in his Capitalism and Freedom that expresses the idea that “whatever the government does is bad” (Fox 93-4). This Chicago School understanding of economics devolved into what some refer to as Disaster Capitalism: making a huge fortune specifically from natural and planned disasters exacerbated by poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions. Disaster capitalism’s raison d'être may be the promotion and generation of market inefficiencies – pricing signals that distort real prices for goods and services and their real cost to the environment, public health, and social justice. The checkered history and deleterious results of disaster capitalism is well documented in Naomi Klein’s, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2007). The most recent result of this economic theory is the 2008 financial crisis.
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For a discussion of endgames and use of game theory w/re to nuclear WMD-T analyses, see

http://www.scribd.com/doc/9776295/Terrorists-Endgame-Tactical-Nuclear-Games-May-2004.

If one were assessing systemic market risk, for example, does it give one pause that approximately 75% of the agricultural seeds used to grow all the food that feeds the nation comes from only four sources: Dupont, Monsanto, Syngenta, and Groupe Limagrain? Is this just another form of banks-too-big-too-fail that may not be adequately managing systemic risk and when (not if) collapse occurs will need to be bailed out by the public taxpayer? Of course, electronic financial chits can be created at will, but where will replacement seeds come from? The recent film, Food, Inc. asks these questions about the entire industrialized food system that supplies food in the U.S. For example, just one meat packer, Beef Products, Inc. (BPI), supplies almost 70% of all the hamburger meat in the country, just a handful of chicken processors supply almost 90% of the chicken to grocery stores, etc. In all these cases, food is rendered artificially inexpensive by not including the cost of systemic risk in the price of the food good.
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For example, the systemic risk to the national and global economy may have been less the 9/ 11 terrorist attacks than the U.S. response to those attacks. If one takes this view, then the appropriate system resilience could be considered as not only the improvements to intelligence dissemination and sharing, and homeland infrastructure protection, but also the pre-planning of responses if such a consequential endgame event occurs, despite best efforts, so as to not respond disproportionally to the threat, thus producing even greater adverse consequences.
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By believing that a consequential endgame event is possible, does not mean that it is possible to accurately assess a risk probability of the occurrence or of the consequence. Generally, rare events exhibit an incomputability of probabilities. Nassim Nicholas Taleb (b. 1960) describes why it is so hard for markets, on their own, to price systemic risk in his Fooled By Randomness (2001) and The Black Swan (2007). He outlines Benoit Mandelbrot (b.1924) proofs of the incomputability of the probability for consequential rare events from empirical observations ("black swans"). From empirical studies of risk in a time series, it appears that in the process of achieving generalizations from this data and/or deriving general rules from particular observations, hidden properties in the data are routinely missed. Decision-makers end-up overestimating the value of rational explanations of past data, and underestimate the prevalence of unexplainable randomness in the data. The result is managing system resiliency as if a black swan will never occur, even though they almost always do.
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Taleb believes decision-makers ignore black swans because humans are more comfortable seeing reality as something structured, ordinary, and comprehensible (i.e. rationally explainable). Taleb calls this blindness to the Real the Platonic fallacy and argues that it leads to three explanatory distortions when developing models of reality in time: (a) narrative fallacy: using retrospective historicity to ‘explain’ the past. That is, the past occurred this way because of x, y, and z; (b) ludic fallacy: modern probability theory, utility theory, rational choice theory, and game theory that assumes a normal Gaussian distribution probability curve mistakes simple models of reality with the Real; (c) statistical regress fallacy: believing that the structure of the probability of x occurring that actually exists in reality can be fully developed and described from a set of data. Taleb also believes that people are subject to the triplet of opacity, through which historical descriptions of reality are distilled and explained even as current events are incomprehensible. The triplet of opacity consists of (a) a hubristic illusion of understanding of current events; (b) a retrospective distortion of historical events to fit current socially acceptable ways of describing reality; (c) an overestimation of what constitutes factual information, combined with an overvaluing of the value of expert knowledge (typically rendered by experts possessing certain credentials, experience, or notoriety)) concerning the subject being discussed. From a risk modeling perspective, these arguments recommend: (1) using a Cauchy-Lorenz distribution rather than a normal (Gaussian) distribution; (2) do not assume stationarity (the future will be an extension of the past); and (3) new insights from behavioral economics question the premises of rational choice theory. Thus, rational choice theory may not be a reasonable foundation from which to engage in the game. For a more detailed discussion of these issues see http://www.scribd.com/doc/20228926/Economic-Games-Behind-Nuclear-Deterrence. Imagining that nuclear deterrence and the nation’s Nuclear Posture can be walled-off from nuclear WMD-T is symptomatic of applying rational choice theory in a certius paribus fashion. That is the system and decision-making regarding capital allocation decisions regarding that system being analyzed can be ‘walled-off’ from other, interacting systems and the decisionspace adequately described, all things being equal when , this is merely a simplifying assumption to make the analysis easier and does not represent contingent effects and unintended determinants for WMD-T consequential and catastrophic risk. For an expanded discussion of these issues, see http://www.scribd.com/doc/16490356/Rethinking-Nuclear-Deterrence and http://www.scribd.com/doc/20860011/Game-Strategy-of-Nuclear-Deterrence.
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Pricing the systemic risk of anthropogenic CO2 emissions to the atmosphere might produce a cost of $42.00 (U.S.) per metric ton (the U.N recommends $50.00/metric ton), with corresponding prices, based on their reactivity and residence times, for heat-trapping methane, nitrogen compounds, low-level ozone and soot emissions responsible for half of the man-made emissions driving climate change. This price assumes 350 ppm CO2 is tipping point for reaching climate outcomes. See MIT study http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/roulette-0519.html.
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To date, existing policy w/re to anthropogenic climate change has been an abject failure. “Between 1990 and 2000 the carbon intensity of the global economy was 0.27 tons for every additional $1,000 of GDP. In the period 2001 to 2006, that intensity rose to 0.53 ton for every additional $1,000 GDP. So, during the period in which the most concern has been expressed about the need to reduce emissions, the world has become more carbon intensive” (p. 3). See Gwyn Prins, et.al., “How to get climate policy back on course,” Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, University of Oxford at http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/mackinderProgramme/ pdf/ClimatePolBackonCoursePRODUCTIONFINAL060709.pdf. EU experience with carbon trading and offsets raise the specter of another financial meltdown like 2008 as carbon credits are bundled into complex financial instruments more than resulting in meaningful reductions of carbon and GHG emissions. and Sarah-Jayne Clifton, “A Dangerous Obsession: The Evidence against Carbon Trading and the Real Solutions to avoid Climate Change,” Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland at http://www.foe.co.uk/ resource/reports/dangerous_obsession.pdf. Maybe two percent of all the species that have ever lived on the planet during four billion years of evolution are still alive. That is how evolution works; a pure laissez-faire system. Nuclear weapons could end this evolutionary march in an afternoon. Other consequential endgames might take longer, but have a similar outcomes. For additional discussion see http://www.scribd.com/doc/19772476/Costing-Systemic-Risk-from-Doomsday-Machines.
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This binary view of capital allocation decisions parallels how complex systems work deeply: either the bio-physical systems that are supportive of life (and economy!) on the planet are evolving toward sustainability. Or they are moving towards collapse. As economic wealth is always founded on this binary bio-physical reality, sustainable economic growth might be defined as: sustainability is creating real economic wealth in the world for the communities we live in. See more on complex systems at http://www.scribd.com/doc/21804956/Macroecologics.
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Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) is an analytical process that begins with two system counterfactuals: (1) the magnitude (severity) of the potential adverse consequences of system failures; and (2) the likelihood (probability) of the occurrence of each potential consequence. The objective is not as a predictive exercise, but as a disciplined descriptive process that may identify and highlight budget requirements for a secure national economic ecosystem environment.
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Episodic risk from malicious human-agent initiated activities (terrorism, hacking, phishing schemes, deliberate disruptive actions, etc.) is highly visible in that it may produce numerous deaths and significant economic consequences within the timeframes of media news cycles and fleeting memories of the public. Thus, in may ways, there is a convenience to allocate resources (budgets, manpower, and policy) to mitigating episodic risk, even as this category of risk may constitute only 30% of the large-scale systemic risks to the national economy and to the lives of its citizens. For example, if post-9/11 one can attribute the allocation of $3,000 billion to the prevention (mitigation) of another 9/11, one might wonder if this amount of capital was well-allocated, given a probabilistic risk assessment of other, more-likely or higher consequence risks to the economy. For example, the meltdown of the CDO derivates market, an avoidable risk, was far more harmful to the economy than any conceivable attack by al-Qaida.
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Almost all modern industrial systems are interconnected with other systems. Systems are resilient if, under stress, they can reorganize themselves and continue to function. All systems have a tipping point, a set of stresses (an overload beyond a threshold rate of change of inputs) beyond which they breakdown (loose complexity and cease to function within normal ranges) and sometimes collapse (recovery is uncertain) or suffer deep collapse (multiple systems experience synchronous failure [the concurrent collapse of multiple support systems] when systems are tightly coupled [operate with dependencies that deplete resilience]). As failure proceeds, moments of contingency arise (there is an absolute timeliness for rescuing the system from collapse e.g. if rescue measures are applied in time x, the cost is y; if rescue measures are applied in time x+1, the cost is 100y. Think New Orleans pre-Hurricane Katrina: the cost to strengthen the levees to Lake Pontrain before Katrina hit was a fraction of the cost to clean-up the devastation in New Orleans post-Katrina.) For many consequential and catastrophic risks “there is an urgent need to move beyond the informal, DC centered [P3] partnerships of the past.... Government needs to provide incentives for industry to invest in security items that may not be justified by their corporate business plans.“ A Twenty-First Century Model for Protecting and Defending Critical Technology Systems and Information,” Internet Security Alliance (2008).
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The most glaring recent instance of markets not pricing systemic risk was costing the price for CDOs (collateralized debt obligations) - derivatives based on the underlying asset values of mortgages on real property. Premiums for individual tranches of CDO’s were priced at a riskadjusted price that assumed no systemic risk. As the CDO market collapsed, U.S. taxpayers were required to put up approximately $17,489 billion in reserves (potential future taxes).

The “presence of chaos in a system implies that perfect prediction... is impossible not only in practice but in principle.” See Melanie Mitchell, Complexity: A Guided Tour (Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 13, 15, 20, 23, 33).
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In investing to better manage systemic risk from consequential endgame vulnerabilities, who should pay, what economic incentives are available, who decides best practices, and how is accountability accomplished? For example, “With tens of billions of dollars in investment on the line.... [participants] want to know that the investments aren’t going to introduce new and unmanaged risks.” See “Testimony of the Hon. Gary Brown, Chmn., NY State Public Service Commission, before the U.S. House of Representative, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment on behalf of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners” (October 29, 2009).
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Implied: “It is not a realistic goal to anticipate and prevent all rare events, but it may be possible to make rare events rarer, and to reduce their effect” (p. 5). “However, it is simply not possible to validate (evaluate) predictive models of rare events that have not occurred, and unvalidated models cannot be relied upon” (p. 7). DOD Research & Engineering’s Strategic Multi-Layer Assessment (SMA), MITRE’s Jason report, “Rare Events” (October 2009).
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Instead of prioritizing investments to address highest probability, highest consequence cyber vulnerabilities, it may be more productive (on an economic return on invested capital basis (EROIC) to address vulnerabilities on the fat tail of the Cauchy that represent unlikely, but potentially catastrophic consequences.
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The issue is that even as high probability/high consequence vulnerabilities are decided on as priorities, the capital necessary to address these vulnerabilities to a specified level of system assurance (in X timeframe) is not analyzed on an NPV basis, but left as an ‘open’ investment. Even if the vulnerabilities are patched or Band-Aided, there are often few means to determine on a relative basis whether this allocation of capital produced a better return on invested capital than another project. Note: there is always a limited supply of capital to complete work in any defined period.
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