For fans of The Black Swan and written by a veteran Wall Street Journal reporter, this is a fascinating deep dive into the world of billion-dollar traders and high-stakes crisis predictors who strive to turn extreme events into financial windfalls.
There’s no doubt that our world has gotten more extreme. Pandemics, climate change, superpower rivalries, technological disruption, political radicalisation, religious fundamentalism - all threaten chaos that put trillions in assets at risk. But around the world, across a wide variety of disciplines, would-be super-forecasters are trying to take the guesswork out of what formerly seemed like random chance. Some put their faith in ‘black swans’ - unpredictable, catastrophic events that can’t be foreseen but send exotic financial instruments screaming in high-profit directions. Most famous among this group of big-bet traders are those who run the Universa fund, who, on days of extreme upheaval, have made as much as $1 billion.
Author Scott Patterson gained exclusive access to Universa strategists and met with savvy seers in a variety of fields, from earthquake prediction to counterterrorism to climatology, to see if it’s actually possible to bet on disaster - and win. Riveting, relevant, and revelatory, this is a must-read for anyone curious about how some of today’s investors alchemise catastrophe into profit.