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A GroveAndy Grove of Intel wrote "Only the Paranoid Survive". His main thesis is that strategic inflection points come along and totally change the landscape for businesses. If they don't recognize it, adapt, they will perish. Such changes are caused by technology, government regulation, and growth and public change. He suggests that at some points, data, being historical, will not capture the inflection points, and intuition or anecdote must come in to play. Grove says that firms that have experimented, and have other irons in the fire are better equipped to change their focus. Its a scary thing to change from your bread and butter to the unknown. He says the reason CEO change is not that one is a better leader, its just that they are not emotionally tied to the old ways and methods that were successful before, but which are not working in the new regimes.

The financial system has passed a strategic inflection point. Government regulation will further change the landscape. Many firms who failed to see it coming, or see it happening have failed. Firms such as Bear Stearns and Lehman whose very success in mortgages, lead to the concentration in mortgage debt, lead to its demise when the inflection point came. Looking back, of course the signals are clear, but at the time, was it clear what 2/2/07, Bear Stearns, Lehman meant to the system? Few, very very few, recognized the signals. Fewer still capitalised on it, or protected themselves. The ones that did either changed, or were in a niche that wasn't impacted.

Grove is insightful. Its remarkable how any endeavor, business, sports, can lead to insight into the human condition. In Eastern philosophy the simple actions of living can lead to the ultimate truth.


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