BULL’S EYE: We don’t have the crystal balls for risk

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BULL’S EYE: We don’t have the crystal balls for risk

Just when asset managers should be chasing growth, they're backing into dreary, dependable territory

Jeremy Thomas

We love our fortune-tellers, those self-appointed prophets who throw up visions that somehow just feel right. They might be totally wrong in the long run, but often we’ll take any kind of reassurance we can get.

From Toffler to Taleb, Gladwell to Roubini, the futurists observe the fulcrum on which the world teeters, then extrapolate wildly to predict where it’ll tilt. Their guesses may end up way off course, but we commoners gain a sort of satisfaction that at least someone assumes to know what’s going on. Unfortunately, for anyone searching for investment ideas, the conclusion reached by the sages is almost uniformly banal: Expect the unexpected. 

I have come to admire the work of a lesser name, Philippa Malmgren. A former adviser to both the White House and 10 Downing Street, Malmgren travels the world on the lucrative speaking circuit. She has a shtick and she sticks to it on behalf of her asset management firm, but it’s a pretty compelling one. I have listened to her three times as a guest of Sanlam, when she addressed the usual bored, dutiful mob of retirement fund trustees and managers. ..

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