November 16, 2015

Greg Ip Book Panel: Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe

Can financial crises and other disasters be prevented? What was the role of the Federal Reserve, regulation, and risk in past crises? In the pursuit of safety, are we creating the conditions for the next?

Wall Street Journal chief economics commentator Greg Ip and a panel of experts convened to discuss themes of the new book, Foolproof: Why Safety Can be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe.

In addition to Ip, panelists include Tyler Cowen, George Mason University Professor and General Director of the Mercatus Center; Jared Bernstein, former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; and Alex J. Pollock, former CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago and American Enterprise Institute resident fellow.

We have learned a staggering amount about human nature and disaster—yet we keep having car crashes, floods, and financial crises. Partly this is because the success we have at making life safer enables us to take bigger risks. As our cities, transport systems, and financial markets become more interconnected and complex, so does the potential for catastrophe. Drawing lessons from the US financial crisis, Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, sports, technology, and natural disasters, Foolproof explains how actions taken to prevent danger often cause a different sort to emerge in unexpected places.

Some of the topics Ip discusses are:

- How low inflation, stable growth and better regulated banks led to the U.S. mortgage crisis

- Whether the rules adopted since the crisis have made crises less, or more, likely

- Why aviation is so much safer than driving

- Why football has a concussion problem

- Why floods and forest fires are becoming more costly