Every year the World Economic Forum asks business, political and thought leaders to rank the biggest risks in the coming year. At the start of 2020, infectious disease didn’t make the list. Covid-19 became the most disruptive pandemic in a century. At the start of this year, inflation didn’t make the list either. It’s now the most vexing problem in the U.S. economy.
This isn’t to mock the World Economic Forum, merely to note how flawed our perceptions of risk are. They are heavily influenced by the recent past and the news cycle—extreme weather now routinely makes the WEF’s threat list. Yet the biggest threats are regularly things we hadn’t imagined.