You are on page 1of 3

Risk

Risk is the potential that a chosen action or activity (including the choice of inaction) will lead to a loss (an undesirable outcome). The notion implies that a choice having an influence on the outcome exists (or existed). Potential losses themselves may also be called "risks". Almost any human endeavour carries some risk, but some are much more risky than others. As risk carries so many different meanings there are many formal methods used to assess or to "measure" risk. Some of the quantitative definitions of risk are well-grounded in statistics theory and lead naturally to statistical estimates, but some are more subjective. For example in many cases a critical factor is human decision making. Even when statistical estimates are available, in many cases risk is associated with rare failures of some kind, and data may be sparse. Often, the probability of a negative event is estimated by using the frequency of past similar events or by event tree methods, but probabilities for rare failures may be difficult to estimate if an event tree cannot be formulated. This makes risk assessment difficult in hazardous industries (for example nuclear energy) where the frequency of failures is rare and harmful consequences of failure are very high. Statistical methods may also require the use of a Cost function, which in turn often requires the calculation of the cost of the loss of human life, a difficult problem. One approach is to ask what people are willing to pay to insure against death, and radiological release, but as the answers depend very strongly on the circumstances it is not clear that this approach is effective.

Types of Risk:
Systematic Risk - Systematic risk influences a large number of assets. A significant political event, for example, could affect several of the assets in your portfolio. It is virtually impossible to protect yourself against this type of risk. Unsystematic Risk - Unsystematic risk is sometimes referred to as "specific risk". This kind of risk affects a very small number of

assets. An example is news that affects a specific stock such as a sudden strike by employees. Diversification is the only way to protect yourself from unsystematic risk. Now that the fundamental types of risk are determined, let's look at more specific types of risk, particularly concerned about stocks and bonds. Credit or Default Risk - Credit risk is the risk that a company or individual will be unable to pay the contractual interest or principal on its debt obligations. This type of risk is of particular concern to investors who hold bonds in their portfolios. Government bonds, especially those issued by the federal government, have the least amount of default risk and the lowest returns, while corporate bonds tend to have the highest amount of default risk but also higher interest rates. Bonds with a lower chance of default are considered to be investment grade, while bonds with higher chances are considered to be junk bonds. Bond rating services, such as Moody's, allows investors to determine which bonds are investment-grade, and which bonds are junk. Country Risk - Country risk refers to the risk that a country won't be able to honor its financial commitments. When a country defaults on its obligations, this can harm the performance of all other financial instruments in that country as well as other countries it has relations with. Country risk applies to stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options and futures that are issued within a particular country. This type of risk is most often seen in emerging markets or countries that have a severe deficit. Foreign-Exchange Risk - When investing in foreign countries you must consider the fact that currency exchange rates can change the price of the asset as well. Foreign-exchange risk applies to all financial instruments that are in a currency other than one's domestic currency. Financial risk - is an umbrella term for any risk associated with any form of financing. Risk may be taken as downside risk, the difference between the actual return and the expected return (when the actual return is less), or the uncertainty of that return. Risk related

to an investment is often called investment risk. Risk related to a company's cash flow is called business risk. Business risk - The uncertainty associated with a business firm's operating environment and reflected in the variability of earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT). Since this earnings measure has not had financing expenses removed, it reflect the risk associated with business operations rather than methods of debt financing. This risk is often discussed in General Business Management courses. Interest Rate Risk - Interest rate risk is the risk that an investment's value will change as a result of a change in interest rates. This risk affects the value of bonds more directly than stocks. Political Risk - Political risk represents the financial risk that a country's government will suddenly change its policies. This is a major reason why developing countries lack foreign investment. Market Risk - This is the most familiar of all risks. Also referred to as volatility, market risk is the the day-to-day fluctuations in a stock's price. Market risk applies mainly to stocks and options. As a whole, stocks tend to perform well during a bull market and poorly during a bear market - volatility is not so much a cause but an effect of certain market forces. Volatility is a measure of risk because it refers to the behavior, or "temperament", of your investment rather than the reason for this behavior. Because market movement is the reason why people can make money from stocks, volatility is essential for returns, and the more unstable the investment the more chance there is that it will experience a dramatic change in either direction.