Economics & Ecology:: the lessons of complex systems


Scientists, sometimes in cooperation with economists, are taking the lead in a young field that applies complexity theory to economic research, rejecting the traditional view of the economy as a fully transparent, rational system striving toward equilibrium. The geophysics professor and earthquake authority Didier Sornette, for example, leads the Financial Crisis Observatory, in Zurich, which uses concepts and mathematical models that draw on complexity theory and statistical physics to understand financial bubbles and economic crises.

Get "fit for randomness" [with Ontonix UK]

The following extract is taken from a thought-provoking article from McKinsey. Power curves are much loved by authors, such as Clay Shirky, Seth Godin, Charles Leadbetter to illustrate the potential for conversation, collaboration and innovation, through adoption of: web 2.0; social media; crowdsourcing; collective intelligence, etc.
They are, therefore, very much “in vogue” and, I suspect, will continue to be so for some time to come…probably not a great surprise that economic theory is enjoying a renaissance in difficult times!
However, from the perspective of “financial regulation” in UK, it is difficult to believe that, if FSA chose to IGNORE the warning signs [generated by financial modelling] about Northern Rock and HBOS, they would be any more effective by monitoring “the system”!!!
“Make the system the unit of analysis. You can’t assess the behaviour and performance of a specific agent—for example, a financial-services company—without gauging the behaviour and performance of the system in which it…

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Complexity and Consequence: what financial and risk engineers MUST learn from mech. eng. (or anywhere)


Gadget craziness

Image by XuRxO via Flickr

Recently, I have found myself writing about the importance of ADAPTABILITY* & RESILIENCE in complex (business) systems. This is, partly, due to the fact that, the acceptance of the “shortcomings” of current risk models and tools, are becoming more widely “recognised” (in some instances “admitted”)!

*Boston Consulting Group recently cited “Adaptability: the new competitive advantage”.   

The number of Consultancies that – after many years of profiting from preaching the merits of (now-discredited) models and strategies – have now discovered, and wish to share, their “new found” expertise in “complexity theory” and “systems thinking”.

Unfortunately, their participation in the education process wont undo the damage done!

WE should be grateful that the damage their contribution to the prevailing culture has done is substantially reduced and that a higher level of business understanding is, increasingly, on the agenda.

However, I suspect that we have not seen the last of Consultancies promoting and implementing “solutions” that make (business)  systems and economies more fragile…because there are fees to be earned! Read more of this post

Strategy: Complexity | Business Excellence Magazine


I love the message and am delighted that Simplicity Partnership do such a sterling job in spreading the word. However, as previous blogs attest, I have questions about their methodology to be answered.

It’s a shocking statistic and, despite complexity being widely acknowledged as one of the biggest barriers to success, it is apparent that business leaders are not doing enough about this problem. Instead of developing coherent strategies to remove complexity costs and simplify their businesses, many leaders are treating complexity as an uncontrollable and inevitable cost.

via Strategy: Complexity | Business Excellence Magazine.

Complexity: size doesn’t always matter


Complexity is a measure of the total amount of structured information (which is measured in bits) that is contained within a system and reflects many of its fundamental properties, such as:

  • Potential –  the ability to evolve, survive
  • Functionality – the set of distinct functions the system is able to perform
  • Robustness – the ability to function correctly in the presence of endogenous/exogenous uncertainties

In biology, the above can be combined in one single property known as fitness. Read more of this post

When Will the Euro Collapse? Around Q3 2013


This blog, from our Corporate website, reinforces what we are gradually accepting (I think!?) but puts a timeline on it. However, the most important aspect is the ability that Ontonix deliver, to measure complexity and robustness to such an extent. This is not some overpriced, part quantitative part qualitative, “opinion” but a 100%, objective, quantitative analysis of Publicly available macro-economic data. the full article is here.

Exactly one year ago we published a blog warning that the Structural Resilience of the EU economy had decreased from “Low” to “Very Low”, reaching dangerous levels, at which contagion becomes very likely. In that blog the situation was depicted as in the figure below: Read more of this post