Tail risks have an unfortunate habit of becoming reality. That was one of the clearest lessons of the 2008 financial crisis – an event that I lived through and had to deal with, as a senior figure in the Bank of England’s markets department.
The financial sector is all about risk. Taking it. Avoiding it. Monitoring, measuring, and limiting it. And, crucially, making money from it. When the improbable actually happened, ‘safe’ AAA-rated assets became junk, liquid markets dried up, the trust that oiled the financial system evaporated and we had to take the most extraordinary measures in response.
But new risks are emerging around climate change that are poorly understood, hard to manage and, at the extreme, pose threats to the financial system not unlike those we faced in 2008.