The specific points at issue are ownership or sponsorship of hedge funds and private equity funds, and proprietary trading — that is, placing bank capital at risk in the search of speculative profit rather than in response to customer needs. Those activities are actively engaged in by only a handful of American mega-commercial banks, perhaps four or five. Only 25 or 30 may be significant internationally.
Chris Masse has already linked to The Economist story on futurists, which ends with a plug for prediction markets:
The most heeded futurists these days are not individuals, but prediction markets, where the informed guesswork of many is consolidated into hard probability. Will Osama bin Laden be caught in 2008? Only a 15% chance, said Newsfutures in mid-October 2007. Would Iran have nuclear weapons by January 1st 2008? Only a 6.6% chance, said Inkling Markets. Will George Bush pardon Lewis “Scooter” Libby? A better-than-40% chance, said Intrade. There may even be a prediction market somewhere taking bets on immortality. But beware: long- and short-sellers alike will find it hard to collect.
Like Chris, I’-m partial to the plug for prediction markets, but the story from the past year that best fits the five pieces of advice to futurists in the article (think small, think short-term, admit uncertainty, embed in an industry, and listen more) was not about the “-wisdom of crowds.”- Rather, this profile by Michael Lewis of hedge fund entrepreneur/insurance risk modeler John Seo in the NYT Magazine seems to fit the bill.
[NOTE: This post is a somewhat revised version of a posting on Knowledge Problem: What will futurists do in the future? Chris has also already linked to the story on John Seo that was published in August 2007.]