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The Zurich Axioms: The rules of risk and reward used by generations of Swiss bankers by Max Gunther

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The Ninth Major Axiom: On Optimism and Pessimism

Optimism means expecting the best, but confidence means knowing how you will handle the worst. Never make a move if you are merely optimistic.

Optimism has always had a good press. It is felt to be a nice trait to have. Optimistic people are cheerful souls, good company in gloomy times. During the Great Depression of the 1930s there was a nationwide network of Optimist Clubs, whose appealing doctrine was that things would get better if only people believed they were getting better. The Depression did go away after a while, and some optimists said, “See? It worked!” Perhaps optimism did play a role – with a helping hand from the Second World War. But you had better be very careful about the ...

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