I'm writing this blog during the coffee break of a conference I am chairing and I have learned a couple of things already.
Firstly, as regular readers will know, I am currently working on my Chief Executive's Lecture for next Monday. One aspect of the speech is a review of the research around the idiosyncracies of human decision making. Having just watched two speakers, with at least one more to come, talking extensively on this subject, I have realised that this area, which is a popularisation of behavioural economics and social psychology, is becoming more than a little clichéd. So, I'll be speaking less about that next week.
The second point comes from an entertaining presentation by Casper Berry and concerns risk - we live in a society that encourages risk but we are risk averse. However, in reality, the way risk is taken reflects inequality. Well-off people can take short term losses and wait for risk to pay off in the long term, and others, particularly those in the financial sector, can rig the system so they are almost certain to succeed. However, for those with fewer resources, risk is not such a good strategy. That is why, in the current credit crunch, people with big houses can afford to wait for another property boom, while those in smaller houses can find themselves out on the street.
We shouldn’t underestimate how far our societies have pulled apart. Yet there is hope for renewal, says Anthony Painter. The question is not whether we come together – but how.