Systemic risks: food, disease and economics

I am not a biologist nor an economist, so perhaps for people in the know there is nothing new here.  But for me, I am amazed at our ability to draw parallels between entirely disparate phenomena. Kind of makes you feel good about the power of scientific thought process. Read on:

In the run-up to the recent financial crisis, an increasingly elaborate set of financial instruments emerged, intended to optimize returns to individual institutions with seemingly minimal risk. Essentially no attention was given to their possible effects on the stability of the system as a whole. Drawing analogies with the dynamics of ecological food webs and with networks within which infectious diseases spread, we explore the interplay between complexity and stability in deliberately simplified models of financial networks. We suggest some policy lessons that can be drawn from such models, with the explicit aim of minimizing systemic risk.

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