Guest Post: Black Swans And Complexity

Black Swans And Complexity

Submitted by Jim Lewis

Nassim Taleb is wrong about the financial crisis and black swans.

The ongoing financial crisis is not the result of a perplexing phenomenon of complexity. It is the beginning of a train wreck we have seen for decades. We are not wandering into a surprise or horrified by the dark specter of a Black Swan rearing its long tailed head; this macro crisis appeared on the horizon long ago, easily calculated by any actuary armed with the knowledge that governments were not investing tax streams, but stealing them for current consumption.

Our monetary policies do not defend inflation; they fund deficit spending and protect banking institutions. That is their empirical purpose, and that is what technocrats are now struggling to accomplish in the EU. Further, the monetary system as constructed is not modeled after complexity; it is an artificial hierarchical oligopoly with all the single process failure points that entails, pasted on top of complex economies and kept alive by increasing leverage and bailed out by equally non-robust, frail self-serving governments without the will or common sense to reform. We are not watching complexity at work; we are watching unsustainable bureaucracies self-destruct while they force complex economies to foot the bill.

There is no Superman of bureaucracy. There are no rules or regulations that will prevent failure or negate investment on our road to prosperity that we do not already know. Our institutions have just consistently rejected them. After all, leverage and redistribution is much easier than successful investment. In a complex system, these bureaus would have died and been replaced by their betters long ago.

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