Credit: Nick Donner Photography

WATCH: Greg Ip on Why Safety Can be Dangerous: Foolproof Book Panel

Greg Ip Explains Why Safety Can be Dangerous — and How Danger Makes Us Safe

Can financial crises and other disasters be prevented? What was the role of the Federal Reserve, regulation, and risk in past crises? In the pursuit of safety from disaster, are we creating the conditions for the next one? Greg Ip, author of Foolproof, joined a panel of experts to discuss the themes of his new book at the Mercatus Center.

Opening Remarks

In his opening remarks, Ip shows how despite our learning a staggering amount about human nature and disaster, we keep having car crashes, floods, and financial crises. Partly this is because the success we have at making life safer enables us to take bigger risks. As our cities, transport systems, and financial markets become more interconnected and complex, so does the potential for catastrophe. Drawing lessons from the US financial crisis, Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, sports, technology, and natural disasters, Ip explains how actions taken to prevent danger often cause a different sort to emerge in unexpected places.

Panel Discussion


  • Greg Ip, author of Foolproof and chief economics commentator for The Wall Street Journal
  • Tyler Cowen, George Mason University Professor and General Director of the Mercatus Center
  • Jared Bernstein, former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Alex J. Pollock, former CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago and American Enterprise Institute resident fellow


Topics covered included the effects of price stability, the Forest Service’s stance on fire suppression, moral hazard, and how taxation of debt subsidizes risk.

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