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Insurance is an idea as old as gambling but one which is fundamental to the way the modern economy works.

Legally and culturally, there’s a clear distinction between gambling and insurance. Economically, the difference is not so easy to see. Both the gambler and the insurer agree that money will change hands depending on what transpires in some unknowable future. Today the biggest insurance market of all – financial derivatives – blurs the line between insuring and gambling more than ever. Tim Harford tells the story of insurance; an idea as old as gambling but one which is fundamental to the way the modern economy works.

Producer: Ben Crighton
Editors: Richard Knight and Richard Vadon

(Image: Lloyds Coffeehouse, Credit: Getty Images)

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9 minutes

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Tue 7 Feb 2017 23:50GMT

Sources and related links

Raymond Flower and Michael Wynn Jones -  Lloyd’s of London (London: David & Charles) 1974; also see Peter Bernstein - Against the Gods pp88-91. 

Michel Albert - Capitalism against Capitalism Translated by Paul Haviland. (London: Whurr) 1993. Chapter 5; also see John Kay - Other People’s Money (London: Profile) 2015 pp61-63 

James Poterba -  “Annuities in Early Modern Europe” in The Origins of Value by Goetzmann and Rouwenhort (2005) 

“Brahmajāla Sutta: The All-embracing Net of Views” translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi Section 2-14 

Swiss Re - A History of Insurance in China

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