Is it worth swimming in shark-infested waters to surf a 50-foot, career-record wave?
Is it riskier to make an action movie or a horror movie?
Should sex workers forfeit 50 percent of their income for added security or take a chance and keep the extra money?
Most people wouldn't expect an economist to have an answer to these questions--or to other questions of daily life, such as who to date or how early to leave for the airport. But those people haven't met Allison Schrager, an economist and award-winning journalist who has spent her career examining how people manage risk in their lives and careers.
Whether we realize it or not, we all take risks large and small every day. Even the most cautious among us cannot opt out--the question is always which risks to take, not whether to take them at all. What most of us don't know is how to measure those risks and maximize the chances of getting what we want out of life.
In An Economist Walks into a Brothel, Schrager equips readers with five principles for dealing with risk, principles used by some of the world's most interesting risk takers. For instance, she interviews a professional poker player about how to stay rational when the stakes are high, a paparazzo in Manhattan about how to spot different kinds of risk, horse breeders in Kentucky about how to diversify risk and minimize losses, and a war general who led troops in Iraq about how to prepare for what we don't see coming.
When you start to look at risky decisions through Schrager's new framework, you can increase the upside to any situation and better mitigate the downsides.
"In this delightful book, financial economist and risk expert Allison Schrager shows us that the same principles employed by multi-billion dollar pension funds can help us improve risk management in our own lives. She teaches these principles while entertaining us with a series of off-the-beaten-path case studies. By creating distance from our own experiences, she allows us to better understand the principles of risk. It works! Whether a complete novice or a seasoned risk professional, the reader is in for a treat: Bon Appetit!" – Robert C Merton, Distinguished Professor of Finance, MIT Sloan School & Nobel Laureate
“Allison Schrager offers a highly readable, yet nuanced, guide to navigating the risks inherent in today’s increasingly complex world. A must-read for anyone seeking to command, to govern, or to teach.” –General Stanley McCrystal
“If you want to understand risk better, you have to go into some unconventional settings. In the tradition of Freakonomics, that’s what Allison Schrager does as an economist, and her book is not just informative—it’s an entertaining read too.” —Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take
"Allison Schrager's An Economist Walks Into a Brothel is the best, most readable, most informative, most adventurous, and most entertaining take on risk you will find." –Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics at George Mason University