A very special issue of Allison's Ode to the Second Moment


I hate to bother you on an off week, but I just wanted to let you know that my book is coming out April 2nd! An Economist Walks Into a Brothel is now available for pre-order.

Regular readers know that this title is accurate. I really went to a brothel—a few, actually—and on different occasions. I went to study risk. A few years ago, I had an idea that the ways in which we price, buy, and sell risk in financial markets could apply to any market. Not only that, sometimes, when we go outside our comfort zones, we learn the most. Studying how risk is priced in non-conventional markets often exposes subtleties that we never saw before, enhancing our understanding of risk everywhere—in our jobs, in pension finance, and even in our daily lives.

So, I went on an adventure, and I met some unusual risk takers. I spent time in brothels, and I went to a big wave surfer risk conference. I stalked celebrities with the paparazzi. I even saw a horse breeding (still not fully recovered). There were many moments, like when I was crouching behind a garbage can waiting for Alec Baldwin to appear, where I’d think, “If only my graduate school advisor could see me now.”

To show you what I mean, I recorded a short video about what surprised me most from my adventures.

I had a great time writing and researching the book, and I hope that you enjoy it. But my motivation to write it was that I wanted to address a serious issue. I’ve been working in retirement finance for my whole career, and I believe that we have the tools to help each household achieve financial security. But we’ve put a huge risk problem on everyone without ever teaching them about risk. Risk management is not taught in school, or even in most financial literacy programs. And my hope is that people will learn the science of risk by reading this book, and that will help them be more strategic about risk in their lives, how to measure and manage risk, and how to know which risks are worth taking.

My goal is to teach everyone about risk. But I think that even all you Pension Geeks—who are already risk experts—will love it, too. Moving money over time is the most fundamental risk problem. It seems so simple, and yet it’s also a very difficult problem to solve. We can always learn more! Risk unites us all. We spend our days obsessing about risk. Big wave surfers worry about systemic risk while members of the paparazzi struggle to reduce idiosyncratic risk, and poker players must overcome the effects of loss aversion. It turns out that we all use the same tools, and we can learn from each other.

Here is the link where you can pre-order a copy of the book!

Until next time, Pension Geeks!