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The Fat Tail: The Power of Political Knowledge in an Uncertain World (with a New Preface) [Bargain Price] [Paperback]

Ian Bremmer , Preston Keat
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)


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Book Description

May 13, 2010 0199737274 Reprint
As Ian Bremmer and Preston Keat reveal in this innovative book, volatile political events such as the 2008 Georgia-Russia confrontation--and their catastrophic effects on business--happen much more frequently than investors imagine. On the curve that charts both the frequency of these events and the power of their impact, the "tail" of extreme political instability is not reassuringly thin but dangerously fat.
Featuring a new Foreward that accounts for the cataclysmic effects of the 2008 financial crisis, The Fat Tail is the first book to both identify the wide range of political risks that global firms face and show investors how to effectively manage them. Written by two of the world's leading figures in political risk management, it reveals that while the world remains exceedingly risky for businesses, it is by no means incomprehensible. Political risk is unpredictable, but it is easier to analyze and manage than most people think. Applying the lessons of world history, Bremmer and Keat survey a vast range of contemporary risky situations, from stable markets like the United States or Japan, where politically driven regulation can still dramatically effect business, to more precarious places like Iran, China, Russia, Turkey, Mexico, and Nigeria, where private property is less secure and energy politics sparks constant volatility. The book sheds light on a wide array of political risks--risks that stem from great power rivalries, terrorist groups, government takeover of private property, weak leaders and internal strife, and even the "black swans" that defy prediction. But more importantly, the authors provide a wealth of unique methods, tools, and concepts to help corporations, money managers, and policy makers understand political risk, showing when and how political risk analysis works--and when it does not.

"The Fat Tail delivers practical wisdom on the impact of political risk on firms of every description and valuable advice on how to use it. Ian Bremmer and Preston Keat offer innovative thinking and useful insight that will help business decision-makers find fresh answers to questions they may not yet know they have."
--Fareed Zakaria, best-selling author of The Post-American World

"Political risk has become increasingly complex, and The Fat Tail provides a truly new way to quantitatively assess it in established and emerging markets. It is essential reading for any CEO with multinational interests."
--Randall Stephenson, Chairman, CEO and President, AT&T Inc.

"Should be essential reading for anyone involved in international business even--perhaps especially--in places that seem politically stable."
--Bill Emmott, former editor-in-chief of The Economist

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bremmer and Keat, executives at Eurasia Group, explore how global political risks influence the business world in this cogently argued analysis. The book details key areas corporations must be wary of in order to survive in the new global economy including foreign laws and regulation, government changes, civil unrest, expropriation, terrorism and war. With excellent examples, the authors demonstrate how planning for such political developments may make or break a company. It's the difference between Morgan Stanley and the Bank of New York in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Both companies had large offices in or near the twin towers. Morgan Stanley had an emergency plan and the Bank of New York didn't; one suffered minor disruption and the other suffered extreme loss of business momentum. These persuasive case studies want for a clearer summary of how to actually implement plans that fortify companies in such situations. This is not a field guide but a sketch of the landscape, not a consulting session but an overview. It remains for the individual or corporation to take the initiative to further pursue the assessments needed to mitigate any risk. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"The Fat Tail delivers practical wisdom on the impact of political risk on firms of every description and valuable advice on how to use it. Ian Bremmer and Preston Keat offer innovative thinking and useful insight that will help business decision-makers find fresh answers to questions they may not yet know they have." --Fareed Zakaria, best-selling author of The Post-American World

"Political risk has become increasingly complex, and The Fat Tail provides a truly new way to quantitatively assess it in established and emerging markets. It is essential reading for any CEO with multinational interests." --Randall Stephenson, Chairman, CEO and President, ATandT Inc.

"Should be essential reading for anyone involved in international business even - perhaps especially - in places that seem politically stable." --Bill Emmott, former editor-in-chief of The Economist

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; Reprint edition (May 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199737274
  • ASIN: B007SRXK14
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,153,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian Bremmer is the president and founder of Eurasia Group, the leading global political risk research and consulting firm.

In 1998, Bremmer established Eurasia Group with just $25,000. At present, the company is the leading global political risk research and consulting firm, with offices in New York, Washington, and London, as well as a network of experts and resources in 90 countries. Eurasia Group provides analysis and expertise about how political developments and national security dynamics move markets and shape investment environments across the globe.

Bremmer created Wall Street's first global political risk index (GPRI). He is the founding chairman of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Geopolitical Risk and is an active public speaker. He has authored several books including the national bestsellers Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World and The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations? Bremmer is a contributor to the Financial Times A-List and Reuters.com. He has written hundreds of articles for publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Newsweek, Harvard Business Review, and Foreign Affairs. He appears regularly on CNBC, Fox News Channel, Bloomberg Television, National Public Radio, the BBC, and other networks.

Bremmer earned a PhD in political science from Stanford University in 1994 and was the youngest-ever national fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is a global research professor at New York University and has held faculty positions at Columbia University, the EastWest Institute, and the World Policy Institute. In 2007, Bremmer was named a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. His analysis focuses on global macro political trends and emerging markets, which he defines as "those countries where politics matter at least as much as economics for market outcomes."


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Business Risk and the Global Economy March 27, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Risk is an inherent part of business and anyone who has managed a business at any level knows that risk comes into play on a daily basis. In today's modern, global economy, the risks are greater than before and are often more difficult to predict. The Fat Tail is a book that discusses many of these unique risks, offering some ideas for spotting these risks and taking the proper precautions to make sure the effects are minimized.

I have worked for many years in management and I am fully aware of these additional risks. It would be nice if risk was limited to supply/demand issues or employee retention but, unfortunately, risk is much more widespread than in the past and we have the global economy to thank for much of this. Some precautions can be taken, but there are some risks that cannot be controlled as well as others. A civil war, excessive regulation, foreign currency exchange issues, expropriation, and many other unforeseen events can cause a drastic change to the business climate and thus have a dramatic effect on business. The Fat Tail discusses these many different types of risk that we, as managers, face in the new century and I can relate directly to what much of it says.

To backup its key points, The Fat Tail offers many examples from history that show how an unexpected event led to complete turmoil in every facet of life. In the past, revolutions and the lack of sufficient warnings were often cited among the many reasons why businesses suffered extraordinary losses. Today, certain countries of the world are known for their political instability and information regarding instability is more easily obtained, thanks to the information age in which we live.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've read many books on investing. But none of them covered this topic - how global politics can affect investing. As the book's title suggests, political risks often fall into a "fat tail," the spot on a bell curve where you would expect the probability to tail off, but where it instead remains high or "fat."

That means political risks should be given close attention, since they can mean more than we might otherwise think. They often turn out to be Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "black swans" that are unsuspected until they are spotted. The "unknown unknowns" that Donald Rumsfeld famously talked about. The more we can learn about these risks, the less risk we will take.

The book's authors make their living at the Eurasia Group, which does this type of political risk analysis for companies for a fee. So they try to hard to show that "political risk matters" (the first sentence in the book). They do a pretty good job of making their case, with a slew of stories from history that show how political risks have turned good investments bad.

As good as the stories are, from the initial conquest of India in 1757 by a private army hired by a British corporation to the Russian government's default in 1998 on its debt, the quotations heading each chapter were also gems. Like Alfred Hitchcock's "There is no terror in a bang, only in the anticipation of it" heads Chapter 6: Terrorism. And citing rules like "buy when there is blood in the streets" brings powerful images to the often staid world of investing.

Just one caution about the book. Its original subtitle was "The Power of Political Knowledge in an Uncertain World." That's more what the book is about.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Political risk may affect your investments August 12, 2009
Format:Hardcover
Investors may evaluate the current state of the economy and read the financial statements of individual companies, but few ever consider the political issues in their investment decisions. The authors of this book argue that the political climate is important to investing. Remember when Russia defaulted on its debt? This single event started the collapse of Long Term Capital Management, which almost brought the entire financial system to ruin.

The authors say because world trade is becoming more global, it is becoming more important than ever not to ignore political risk. I thought this book was worth reading.

- Mariusz Skonieczny, author of Why Are We So Clueless about the Stock Market? Learn how to invest your money, how to pick stocks, and how to make money in the stock market
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating must read book for news junkies June 18, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I did not come to this book to be surprised. I understood the basic concept before I even opened the book: Politics and economics are interrelated. They use the simple aphorism "political risk matters.'

I knew that. What I did not understand was HOW

This book did not make me an expert in the interaction of economics(local, national, and world) on economics (same scopes), but it did give me a framework in which to examine and evaluate world events. Anybody who has taken a business stat course knows that risk = damage X probability. This book evaluates that risk in terms of the unforseen risks, what former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld called "unknown unknowns.' There are those unexapcted events whose occurence change everything. How do people evaluate risk in terms of those unforseen political events?

That is what this book is about. It is concise. It is easy to read. The authors describe their principles, and explain them in layman's terms. They cite historical examples and explain them in detail.

It's an interesting book for news junkies. If you're one of those people who always has to watch multiple news reports and reads the news and the editorials before the sports and the comics, then you will enjoy this book. It will give you tools that you WILL use.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Useless information on an interesting and valuable subject
Stephen Hage's review summarizes how little this book will do to further your knowledge of geopolitical arbitrage and optionality. I'll add my two cents for good measure... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dan Bergevin
4.0 out of 5 stars good
It was deliverd in a timmely manner. i was glad because i need for an assignment. would buy again. thanks
Published 18 months ago by vji88
5.0 out of 5 stars Fat Tail Book Review
This is a great book for any business person. The analysis of geopolitical risks in international business strategy presents a clear picture of how to understand major shifts of... Read more
Published on March 3, 2012 by Joaniita
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting take on Politics and Investments
As a former business student I found the subject to be fairly informative and the author does a good job explaining his reasoning throughout the book. Read more
Published on February 16, 2012 by Timothy Lovett
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of Tiime
In my opinion, this book tells you nothing of importance you cannot find more eloquently stated in Black Swan. Read more
Published on May 25, 2011 by JWM
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read
This book on politics and risk from political scientist and current CEO of the Eurasia Group provides great insight into the world of risk analysis. Read more
Published on April 28, 2011 by David W. Southworth
3.0 out of 5 stars A good insight into the government risk
Powerful examples and a nice story flow. The book tries to raise awareness on the importance more then providing practical ways to do it.
Published on February 15, 2011 by Catalin
2.0 out of 5 stars not a fat load of good ...
The authors discuss the impact of political event outliers applied to financial markets. The general thesis of the book is that the likelihood of political event outliers are... Read more
Published on September 24, 2010 by Mike
2.0 out of 5 stars Be wary of anyone who calims the ability to map things like political...
Book Review submitted by: Stephen J. Hage, [...]

I bought this book because Fareed Zakaria recommended it at the end of one of his Global Public Square (GPS)... Read more
Published on September 10, 2009 by Stephen Hage
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings to light a macro, geo-political viewpoint to economics and...
I do not think one should be an individual investor unless the investor is able to look beyond a company's fundamentals and even beyond the equity markets. Read more
Published on July 11, 2009 by E. Kim
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