Vacatures in Institutioneel Vermogensbeheer

How to adapt to uncertainty

Bron: Valentijn van Nieuwenhuizen (CIO) en Arnoud Diemers (Head of Innovation) NNIP - 29 april 2020

Much of economic theory is built on assumptions of stable preferences, rational decision-making and infinite foresight. Despite myriad challenges to these assumptions, investment professionals still employ work-horse models built on expectations of rational behaviour. However, living through the unprecedented uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus crisis not only reminds us of our own fragility, it also demonstrates the fragility of our assumptions. Are our preferences really unchanged in this environment? Are the decisions we make under stress – like hoarding toilet paper – truly rational? Do we really feel able to judge the likelihood of potential future scenarios?

To me, the fall-out from this crisis offers yet more evidence that our economy is a complex adaptive system rather than a stationary system guided by self-stabilising “laws” of rationality. And if there are laws at play, they are closer to the laws of biology than the laws of physics that economic theory often mimics. One of the key lessons that biology teaches us is that species must adapt to survive. Rather than strength, fitness or intelligence, it is adaptation that has enabled species to survive dramatic changes. Similarly, our ability to adapt will now determine how we overcome this global threat to our societies and how we live and work within them.

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