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Investment Risks

Pramendra Singh
Understanding Risk
1. Investing consists of exactly one thing: dealing with the future.
2. Because none of us can know the future with certainty, risk is inescapable.
3. Risk assessment is an essential element in the investment process. There are three
powerful reasons.
– Risk is a bad thing, and most level – headed people want to avoid or minimize it. It is an underlying
assumption in financial theory that people are naturally risk-averse, meaning they’d rather take less
risk than more.
– When you’re considering an investment, your decision should be a function of the risk entailed as
well as the potential return. Because of their dislike for risk, investors have to be bribed with higher
prospective returns to take incremental risks.
– When you consider investment results, the return means only so much by itself; the risk taken has to
be assessed as well.
4. Riskier investments absolutely cannot be counted on to deliver higher returns. If
riskier investments reliably produced higher returns, they wouldn’t be riskier.
5. In order to attract capital, riskier investments have to offer the prospect of higher
returns, or higher promised returns, or higher expected returns. But there’s
absolutely nothing to say those higher prospective returns have to materialize.
Understanding Risk
6. From the relationship between risk and return that arises the graphic representation
that has become ubiquitous in the investment world.
7. Riskier investments are those for which the outcome is less certain. That is, the
probability distribution of returns is wider.
8. When priced fairly, riskier investments should entail:
– higher expected returns,
– the possibility of lower returns, and
– in some cases the possibility of losses
Risk means more things can happen than will happen. It is largely a matter of
Defining Risk
1. Knowingly or unknowingly academicians settled on volatility as the proxy for risk as a
matter of convenience.
2. They needed a number for their calculations that was objective and could be
ascertained historically and extrapolated into the future.
3. There are many kinds of risk. . . . But volatility may be the least relevant of them all.
Theory says investors demand more return from investments that are more volatile.
4. Rather than volatility, I think people decline to make investments primarily because
they’re worried about a loss of capital or an unacceptably low return.
5. Investment risk comes in many forms. Many risks matter to some investors but not
to others, and they may make a given investment seem safe for some investors but
risky for others.
6. Some forms of risks
– Falling short of one’s goal
– Underperformance
– Career Risk
– Unconventionality
– Illiquidity
Defining Risk
7. Rather than volatility, people decline to make investments primarily because they’re
worried about a loss of capital or an unacceptably low return.
8. Risk of loss does not necessarily stem from weak fundamentals. Risk can be present
even without weakness in the macro-environment.
9. The combination of arrogance, failure to understand and allow for risk, and a small
adverse development can be enough to wreak havoc. It can happen to anyone who
doesn’t spend the time and eff ort required to understand the processes underlying
his or her portfolio.
10. Mostly it comes down to psychology that’s too positive and thus prices that are too
11. Risk is clearly is nothing but a matter of opinion: hopefully an educated, skillful
estimate of the future, but still just an estimate.
12. The standard for risk quantification is non existent. With any given investment, some
people will think the risk is high and others will think it’s low. Some will state it as the
probability of not making money, and some as the probability of losing a given
fraction of their money (and so forth).
Defining Risk
13. The relation between different kinds of investments and the risk of loss is entirely
too indefinite, and too variable with changing conditions, to permit of sound
mathematical formulation.
14. Risk is deceptive. Conventional considerations are easy to factor in, like the
likelihood that normally recurring events will recur. But freakish, once- in- a-lifetime
events are hard to quantify.
15. The bottom line is that, looked at prospectively, much of risk is subjective, hidden
and unquantifiable.
16. Skillful investors can get a sense for the risk present in a given situation. They make
that judgment primarily based on (a) the stability and dependability of value and (b)
the relationship between price and value. Other things will enter into their thinking,
but most will be subsumed under these two.
17. Investment performance is what happens when a set of developments geopolitical,
macro- economic, company- level, technical and psychological collide with an extant
portfolio. Many futures are possible, but only one future occurs. The future you get
may be beneficial to your portfolio or harmful, and that may be attributable to your
foresight, prudence or luck.
Defining Risk
18. The performance of your portfolio under the one scenario that unfolds says nothing
about how it would have fared under the many “alternative histories” that were
Recognizing Risk
1. Great investing requires both generating returns and controlling risk.
2. Recognizing risk is an absolute prerequisite for controlling it. The next important step
is to describe the process through which risk can be recognized for what it is.
3. Recognizing risk often starts with understanding when investors are paying it too
little heed, being too optimistic and paying too much for a given asset as a result.
4. High risk, in other words, comes primarily with high prices. participating when prices
are high rather than shying away is the main source of risk.
5. Awareness of the relationship between price and value, whether for a single security
or an entire market, is an essential component of dealing successfully with risk.
6. Opportunities to make money, the degree of risk present in a market derives from
the behavior of the participants, not from securities, strategies and institutions.
7. At the extreme of the pendulum’s upswing, the belief that risk is low and that the
investment in question is sure to produce profits intoxicates the herd and causes its
members to forget caution, worry and fear of loss, and instead to obsess about the
risk of missing opportunity.
Recognizing Risk
8. The reality of risk is much less simple and straightforward than the perception.
People vastly overestimate their ability to recognize risk and underestimate what it
takes to avoid it; thus, they accept risk unknowingly and in so doing contribute to its
9. Risk arises as investor behavior alters the market. The market is not a static arena in
which investors operate. It is responsive, shaped by investors’ own behavior. Their
increasing confidence creates more that they should worry about, just as their rising
fear and risk aversion combine to widen risk premiums at the same time as they
reduce risk.
10. Investment risk resides most where it is least perceived, and vice versa. When
everyone believes something is risky, their unwillingness to buy usually reduces its
price to the point where it’s not risky at all. Broadly negative opinion can make it the
least risky thing, since all optimism has been driven out of its price.
11. When everyone believes something embodies no risk, they usually bid it up to the
point where it’s enormously risky. No risk is feared, and thus no reward for risk
bearing – no “risk premium” is demanded or provided. That can make the thing
that’s most esteemed the riskiest.
Recognizing Risk
12. This paradox exists because most investors think quality, as opposed to price, is the
determinant of whether something’s risky. But high quality assets can be risky, and
low quality assets can be safe. It’s just a matter of the price paid for them.
Controlling Risk