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Rick Bookstaber: Avoiding Complexity Is 'Risk 101'

The risk-management expert and author discusses the differences between risk tolerance and risk capacity, how market cycles impact risk, and how to keep things simple by being 'pre-armed.'

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 Our guest this week is Rick Bookstaber. Rick is the head of risk of Fabric, a startup he founded to provide risk-management software to individual investors through the financial advisors who serve them. Prior to founding Fabric, Rick held a number of senior risk-management roles, most recently as chief risk officer at the University of California system, and before that at various hedge funds and banks, including Bridgewater, FrontPoint Partners, Morgan Stanley, and Salomon Brothers. He also served in the Obama administration, where his work included stints with the Financial Stability Oversight Council and at the SEC on the Volcker Rule and other regulations. Rick has authored several books, including A Demon of Our Own Design, which was published in 2007, as well as The End of Theory, which was published in 2017. Rick received his bachelor’s in economics at Brigham Young University and earned a doctorate in economics from MIT.




A Demon of Our Own Design: Markets, Hedge Funds, and the Perils of Financial Innovation, by Rick Bookstaber

The End of Theory: Financial Crises, the Failure of Economics, and the Sweep of Human Interaction, by Rick Bookstaber

Risk Management Macro

7 Risks That Are Creating a New Market Paradigm,” by Rick Bookstaber,, June 17, 2021.

Agent-Based Models for Financial Crises,” by Rick Bookstaber,, Aug. 30, 2017.

Can Global Capitalism Survive in its Current Form?” by Rick Bookstaber, Age of Economics on, March 6, 2021.

Bill Bernstein: We’re Starting to See All of the Signs of a Bubble,” The Long View Podcast,, March 10, 2021.

A More Realistic Look at Risk,” by Amanda White,, Oct. 6, 2017.

Can High Liquidity + Low Volatility = High Risk?” by Rick Bookstaber,, Aug. 23, 2007.

Our Low Risk (Low Volatility) World,” by Rick Bookstaber,, Nov. 4, 2017.

Building Forward-Looking Scenarios: Why You’re Doing It Wrong,” by Rick Bookstaber, Alicia Karspeck, and Govinda Quish,, Aug. 3, 2021.


How to Make Risk Management Work for Advisers,” by Rick Bookstaber,, June 24, 2021.

Aladdin (BlackRock)

MSCI’s Principles of Sustainable Investing,”

Organization and Culture

Adaptability Versus Optimization: The Cockroach Approach,” by Alex Barrow,, Aug. 28, 2019.

Opinion: A Chief Risk Officer Offers the Simplest Way to Fight Back Against Stock-Market Memes,” by Rick Bookstaber,, July 10, 2021.

This Is the Way Facebook Ends (and Maybe Apple and Google),” by Rick Bookstaber,, Jan. 28, 2018.

Facebook and the Awakening of our Private Selves,” by Rick Bookstaber,, April 1, 2018.