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The practice of risk management has taken a prominent role in financial markets. Indeed, whenever companies announce large losses from trading, lending, or operations, stories abound about how poorly these companies managed risk. Such stories are great attention grabbers and a real boon for the media, but they often miss the point that risk management does not guarantee that large losses will not occur. Rather, risk management is the process by which an organization or individual defines the level of risk it wishes to take, measures the level of risk it is taking, and adjusts the latter to equal the former. Risk management never offers a guarantee that large losses will not occur, and it does not eliminate the possibility of total failure. To do so would typically require that the amount of risk taken be so small that the organization would be effectively constrained from pursuing its primary objectives. Risk taking is inherent in all forms of economic activity and life in general. The possibility of failure is never eliminated.
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