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Bon Journal

Seven year itch

Some time ago,I heard that a divorce is most likely to occur 3, 7, or 20 years after marriage. The magic number 7 translates to the infamous Seven Year Itch, after which a movie was named. Brad Pitt acting as the Austrian mountain climber managed to escape his marriage by spending Seven Years in Tibet.

Magic or not, it's been seven years since I finished that dreaded thesis. As if I hadn't had enough of the subject matter, I went to work in the energy industry. I had wanted to prove that I was right in my hypothesis. In the face of uncertainty arising from industry deregulation, privatisation, and market liberalisation, companies would rather embrace flexibility than to model the uncertainties more extensively.

Was I right? The variety of options, both contractual and real, is testimony to the pursuit of flexibility. When the future is uncertain, people don't want to commit themselves. They want break clauses. They want to be able to change their minds. They want to wait and see. They want flexibility.

But modelling flexibility is not easy. Those that rely on borrowing option pricing formulae from the financial markets soon realise that the assumptions don't apply to physical energy. Some decide to model more extensively. But I have already proved that this strategy leads to information overload. Still, my latest spout of e-mail enquiries demonstrates that people would rather find out for themselves.

So what next? My thesis is far from out-of-date. Should I make it more readable? Should I write a self-help book based on the principles of flexibility? One of my goals is to afford to be flexible. One way is to write a best seller that ensures the book royalties are ample enough for me to go around the world many times preaching the pursuit of flexibility.

After seven years of following someone else's agenda, I'm itching to follow my own. Employees are paid to follow their employer's agenda. If I don't follow my itch, it may be another 13 years (7 + 13 = 20) before I feel the urge to divorce myself from this path. Put it another way, the last seven years did seem like I was trying to climb a mountain, only I wasn't in Tibet or with Brad Pitt.

24 September 2002 Tuesday

Latest published article:
On redundancy and resignation: understanding your legal rights by Anne Ku, published in Freepint Internet Newsletter, 19 September 2002
Modelling Uncertainty in Electricity Capacity Planning, PhD Thesis 1995
Decision making for flexibility, book outline by Anne Ku
Options table in volatility article by Anne Ku
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