'Archduke Ferdinand' Moment? Drums Of War Grow Louder In Ukraine and Middle East

The MH-17 tragedy could mark a pivotal moment in the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

Geopolitical risk is extremely high and yet it is not appreciated by experts and the majority of the public . The same was true in 1914.

With the U.S. seeking to impose tough new sanctions on Russia, we appear to be on the verge of a new and more intense phase of currency wars and indeed of an economic war.

Very few thought that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand would be a spark that ignited the  brutal war that was World War I and the attendant economic depression. Indeed, as the Financial Times front page from the day after the assassination shows, stock markets were “scarcely affected by the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne... there's no evidence that stock holders took fright."

Financial Times, 30th June, 1914 via Financial Times

Complacency reigned about the geopolitical risks. Six months later the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 35% lower and World War I was in its first year.

There is always a catalyst in the form of an event in history which people look back on as the start of tremendous global turmoil. Usually, there are significant pre-existing political, military and economic tensions which are the real factors leading to war.

The butterfly can flap its wings and create a hurricance on the other side of the world. A tragic event such as the airline tragedy can be the spark that ignites the conflagration.

The tragic events in Ukraine and in Gaza today are momentous. The fog of war could lead to an incident, such as the tragic airline crash yesterday or an act of terrorism, which could be the spark of a much greater conflict.

There have been many potential butterfly events in recent weeks, any one of which could lead to the hurricane of war.

The problem with war is that no matter how well the plans are made, strange things happen in war and there are many tragic unintended consequences.

Political and financial complacency reigns today as it did in 1914 ...


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