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Note: What do we do when we can't predict the future?
Or, how should we confront uncertainty, both at work, and as individuals?
A recent edition of Jon Connell’s daily newsletter The Knowledge included this nugget: “Last month, I heard one of the world’s most successful fund managers admit that the charts and models he previously used “gave almost no clue” as to what to do with money now. (His one firm prediction, that the US dollar would weaken, has so far proved dead wrong.) Same with climate, with migration, with a business world about to be utterly transformed by AI. That, as much anything, will be one of the biggest questions of the coming years and decades: What do we do if we can’t predict the future?”
I think this reflects that we can't accurately measure risk, so it's hard (or impossible) to figure out how to invest. And not just in fund management, but in everyday investments, business, and our individual lives.
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We have already entered the postnormal, where the economics of the late industrial era have turned inside out, where the complexity of interconnected globalism has led to uncertainty of such a degree that it is increasing impossible to find low-risk paths forward, or to even determine if they exist.
I was motivated by a comment by Kristalina Georgieva, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, who gave a speech in January 2020, only weeks before the Covid pandemic spread worldwide, where she said,
If I had to identify a theme at the outset of the new decade, it would be increasing uncertainty.
I strongly suggest you read the Uncertainty, Risk, and Ambiguity post for an attempt to dig into these issues:
The three years of the pandemic, the past year's inflationary spiral, and the recent precipitous collapse of several well-known banks have brought the tied issues of uncertainty and risk into high relief. Those three examples, by themselves, would justify some reconsideration of uncertainty, but it was the rounds of layoffs in the tech sector these past few months that led me to revisit a deceptively complex question: how should we confront uncertainty, both at work, and as individuals?