Author: Michele Wucker

Michele Wucker is a policy and business strategist and author of four books including YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK: The New Art and Science of Navigating an Uncertain World and the global bestseller THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore. Read more about her at https://www.thegrayrhino.com/about/michelewucker

The Economist invited Michele Wucker to contribute to its annual The World Ahead/The World in 2021 issue. The resulting article, Was the pandemic a gray rhino or a black swan?, was published November 17, 2020. “Facing the daunting challenges ahead will require long-term thinking, a greater emphasis on the real economy rather than stockmarket performance and, above all, a commitment to hold ourselves and our leaders accountable,” she wrote. The article puts into context the gray rhinos ahead of us in 2021: climate change, financial fragilities, and inequality that has made the rich even richer while front-line essential workers struggle.…

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My paternal great-grandfather, Josef Franz Bílek, died on November 13, 1918, in the second wave of the Great Flu Pandemic. Born in the town of Nemeski Brod in Bohemia, now called Havlíčkův Brod in the Czech Republic, he worked in restaurants in Vienna, Hamburg, and New York City’s Belmont Hotel. Eventually, like many immigrants from what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he moved to Chicago, where he became a chef in downtown hotels. While working at The Congress Hotel, which still stands on Michigan Avenue, he met my great-grandmother, Frances, who was from Gliwice in what is now southern Poland. They…

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Spoiler alert: My summer book list is not exactly beach reading. After all, Chicago beaches are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, I confess to taking a bit of poetic license with the description of this list since I read some of these before summer started. But who’s counting? The important thing is that these four books hold key insights into what’s going on today with political and economic tensions, what got us here, how the pandemic and our reactions to it might shape the future, and how to face with alacrity the challenges the world throws at us.…

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I was on a Zoom call about Chicago’s economic recovery at 3:43 pm yesterday afternoon when my cell phone buzzed with an emergency alert from the city: Tornado warning til 4:30 pm Central Time. Having grown up in Missouri, Wisconsin, and Texas, I remember having spent many hours in the basement (or in the middle hallway in Texas, where few homes had basements because the limestone underground made digging too expensive) when I was young sitting out tornado watches and warnings with a flashlight and radio waiting for the all-clear. Earlier I had moved the plants on my deck to…

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Michele Wucker joined The Moneywise Guys, David Anderson and Sherod Waite, on KERN radio June 30, 2020, to talk about why investors –especially small ones– should view the stock market rebound with caution, and things to keep in mind to avoid getting trampled by the gray rhinos running around the S&P 500. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast provider.

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“Two new books about the historical roots of debt could hardly be more timely,” I wrote for The Washington Post Bookworld in (gulp) 2003. I would have simply posted the link, but you can’t get the review online any more because archives only go back to 2005. But I pulled the review out of my files and it’s newly relevant. Here’s the original: “American consumers owe more than $1.7 trillion, not even counting home mortgages. A record 1.5 million bankruptcies were declared over the past year. Meanwhile, war with Iraq could cost as much as $2 trillion –roughly equivalent to a full year’s…

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The COVID-19 pandemic has created a double challenge: First, an increased sense of urgency to deal with the ravages of the novel coronavirus and the systemic risks that left the world vulnerable to the disease. Second, as economies have faltered and jobs disappeared, and as debt crisis looms, there are fewer resources to meet those challenges. The pandemic-induced global recession will only hurt the ability of households, companies, and countries to service their debt, especially if a new wave of the pandemic lies ahead this fall. In turn, that debt hangover will reduce the ability of the economy to heal,…

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The Chinese website China Finance Online recently interviewed Michele Wucker. Click HERE for the Chinese version. The original English follows below. Q:How will the Coronavirus affect the global economy? How COVID-19 will affect the global economy depends on a lot of “Ifs.”  How long will it take to develop and distribute a vaccine? Will the virus mutate into a more or less virulent version? If people show symptoms right away, so that they do not shed virus before symptoms appear, a more lethal virus ironically could be resolved faster since “smart” viruses don’t kill their hosts. A less lethal version…

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Riding a liquidity fueled mega-rally, the S&P 500 is back comfortably above 3000, having recovered more than 70 percent of what it lost earlier in the year. Some of that bump comes from Americans who put their stimulus checks to use by day trading. If this does not worry you, it should. The money that is going into the stock market simply is inflating paper profits instead of shoring up a fragile economy where joblessness and the sharp drop-off in economic activity make the Great Depression look like a stroll in the park. The market bubble is worsening the economic divide between the…

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