But traders rule the roost -- and as much as risk managers and regulators might want to limit that risk, they lack the power or knowledge to do so.
A quadrillion is a big number: 1,000 times a trillion.
Yet according to one of the world's leading derivatives experts, Paul Wilmott, who holds a doctorate in applied mathematics from Oxford University, $1.2 quadrillion is the so-called notional value of the worldwide derivatives market.
To put that in perspective, the world's annual gross domestic product is between $50 trillion and $60 trillion.
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