I'm at home this week looking after my wife as she had to go into hospital recently for an operation that is leaving her immobilised for a bit. Apart from making me realise how much she does around the house that I take for granted it's also been a bit of an experience seeing how the NHS works when you need it. For me there have been both plus points and minuses. I have to say my other half hasn't been very pleased. Her first text to me the morning after the op was "I want to go private", which does raise some Blairite type thoughts in my mind. I might blog about this some more at a later date.
I'm still fitting in a bit of work-related stuff in my week at home. I'm currently about halfway through The Economist Guide to Financial Markets which I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in such things. Personally I'm finding that it is very useful in filling in some gaps in my knowledge and it's also (generally) very clearly written. I'm currently on the chapter about securitisation which is really interesting. I had a basic grasp of the area but I wasn't aware of the extent to which it occurs, or how various attributes of underlying assets get divided up. As I'm reading the book I find I'm actually quite impressed at the innovation in financial instruments the more I learn about them.
It makes you wonder a little at how an organisation like Northern Rock - itself obviously a financial institution - could get itself into such a mess given all the different options there are to parcel up and pass on different bits of risk. But it also reinforces the point that businesses are becoming increasingly financialised - these days they try to hedge all kinds of risks and are increasingly dependent on financial markets. As such I want to try and read a decent critique of financialisation at some point this year. This looks like it might a good US one.
Finally, I'm also dipping into Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases which is a collection of essays about cognitive biases, many of them based on research by the pioneers Kahneman and Tversky. A lot of good stuff here.