RISK is the possibility of loss. That is, if we own some stock, and there is a possibility of a price decline, we are at risk. The stock is not the risk, nor is the loss the risk. The possibility of loss is the risk. As long as we own the stock, we are at risk. The only way to control the risk is to buy or sell stock. In the matter of owning stocks, and aiming for profit, risk is fundamentally unavoidable and the best we can do is to manage the risk.
To manage is to direct and control. Risk management is to direct and control the possibility of loss. The activities of a risk manager are to measure risk and to increase and decrease risk by buying and selling stock.
The Coin Toss Example
Let’s say we have a coin that we can toss and that it comes up heads or tails with equal probability. The Coin Toss Example helps to present the concepts of risk management.
The PROBABILITY of an event is the likelihood of that event, expressing as the ratio of the number of actual occurrences to the number of possible occurrences. So if the coin comes up heads, 50 times out of 100, then the probability of heads is 50%. Notice that a probability has to be between zero (0.0 = 0% = impossible) and one (1.0 = 100% = certain).
Let’s say the rules for the game are: (1) we start with $1,000, (2) we always bet that heads come up, (3) we can bet any amount that we have left, (4) if tails comes up, we lose our bet, (5) if heads comes up, we do not ...