Towers Watson Report – Extreme Risks 2013

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on October 30, 2013

News release: Focus on the extreme risks ‘that can kill you’ Towers Watson warns institutional investors:

“Towers Watson’s extreme risks ranking has a new top three: Food/water/energy crisis, Stagnation and Global temperature change – while Sovereign default and Insurance crisis have both fallen five places and Depression loses the top spot for the first time since the research began in 2009.  While Food/water/energy crisis (previously Resource scarcity) rose ten places to take the top slot, other extreme risks that have also risen up the ranking this year are Global trade collapse (+4) and Global temperature change (+3). Extreme risks that, in Towers Watson’s view, are less of a threat than in 2011 include Sovereign default, which has fallen five places, as has an Insurance crisis, while a Currency crisis and a Banking crisis fell three and two places respectively. Towers Watson’s research and ranking, entitled Extreme Risks 2013, categorises very rare events that would have a high impact on global economic growth and asset returns if they occurred. The top 15 Extreme risks now for the first time include: Stagnation, Health progress backfire, Nuclear contamination, Extreme longevity and Terrorism, while those that have dropped out of the top 15 this year are: Euro break-up, Hyperinflation, Political crisis, Major war, End of fiat money and Killer pandemic.”

  • “This paper, Extreme Risks 2013, has focussed on the top 15 risks, but we acknowledge that it is not possible to anticipate all risks – by definition, there are ‘unknown unknowns’ out there that cannot be included even with the best analysis. The range of potential consequences of the identified risks is very wide. Local-endurable risks would be uncomfortable for institutions caught in the wrong locale, or with the wrong exposures, and would likely be enough to cause the weaker ones to become incapable of completing their mission. At the other end of the spectrum, global-crushing risks represent a systemic and potentially terminal outcome for investors. The value of this exercise, however, lies outside prediction. To navigate through this complex world, we suggest investors need to be open-minded, avoid concentrated risks, be sensitive to early warning signs, constantly adapt and always prepare for the worst.”

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