USA on the Edge of Chaos!?


I always thought I had a good idea what Tainter and (to some extent) Beck were alluding to when referring to “elites”, essentially, bringing the house down rather than give up what they have grown so accustomed to viewing as theirs to do with what they liked. But this piece is mind-blowing and so blatant SOMEONE needs to call a halt to it all now or the dollar won’t last until 2015 and I dread to think of the implications for US citizens….WikiLeaks exposing some truths should be the least of their worries.

Noam Chomsky has recently talked of the “profound hatred for democracy on the part of our Political leadership” and, more controversially drew comparisons with late Weimar Germany

Government Says No to Helping States and Main Street, While Continuing to Throw Trillions at the Giant Banks

If you can spare an hour (or so) please listen to what Prof Ferguson has to say. Initially I was on really interested to hear what he said about the relationship between Empires – Complexity Theory – Economics but I was unable to drag myself away. BUT do yourself a favour, skip the intro (it’s torture), click to “Watch Full Program” and, at least, spare 8mins to absorb Chapter 4. Unless you are pressed for time…or already know everything…you WILL … Read More

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Empires on the Edge of Chaos (Prof Niall Ferguson)


If you can spare an hour (or so) please listen to what Prof Ferguson has to say. Initially I was on really interested to hear what he said about the relationship between Empires – Complexity Theory – Economics but I was unable to drag myself away.

BUT do yourself a favour, skip the intro (it’s torture), click to “Watch Full Program” and, at least, spare 8mins to absorb Chapter 4. Unless you are pressed for time…or already know everything…you WILL watch more.

As he says, he is no Economist but I have heard more FACTS, forthright and common sense opinion from him than from many proponents…that’s the Scots for you!

He reminds us Brits about the scale and pace of the decline of our Empire.

He tells Americans what you don’t want , but need to hear…without any political spin or Fed endorsed guesswork.

Chapter 4. Complexity Theory

Elements of this lecture reminded me of my recent blog “Disaster Myopia” but, of course, since starting blogging almost 2 years ago I have made several references to the work of Joseph Tainter (Collapse of Complex Societies) and to Ulrich Beck (The Risk Society)

Current societies…are characterised by their extreme complexity at a moment in history in which traditional political institutions have lost much of the power, a power which has now passed into the hands of multinational companies

Ulrich Beck

Complexity Economics


dgw complexity science logo

Let me declare that I am no expert but  those responsible for policy, legislation and regulation have no excuses.

“Classical” economic theory is based upon concepts such as rational decisions and stable equilibrium whereas, unless I am making a complete idiot of myself, REAL economic systems do not achieve “static equilibrium” and are inherently unstable. As for rational…I’ll leave you to make up your own mind!

So, whilst there is a huge industry dedicated to financial prediction of one sort or another I can’t help wondering WHY!?

I am not comfortable with the thought of nations or Corporations wasting money in trying to predict the future but the chances of my voice (even though not entirely alone) making any difference are about as long as the chances of some highly paid economists or quants accurately predicting the economic future. So the best that I can do is attempt to educate and assist those businesses whose leaders no longer trust financial or political institutions, question the practice or recognise the sheer folly of such exercises!

It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it and I feel compelled to give it my best shot!!!

Getting my head round complexity has only reinforced my belief that investing in prevention and getting “Fit for randomness” is the most sensible strategy in the face of risk and uncertainty (whether natural or man-made). Quantitative Complexity Management, from Ontonix, enables a business to measure and manage the internal interdependencies and external inter-connectedness of its company ecosystem. We extend the “risk horizon” into areas of (epistemic) uncertainty and, in doing so: Read more of this post

Kenneth Rogoff: The BP Oil Spill’s Lessons for Regulation


Project Syndicate is a “home for thought leaders”: Kenneth Rogoff is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and was formerly chief economist at the IMF.

The basic problem of complexity, technology, and regulation extends to many other areas of modern life. Nanotechnology and innovation in developing artificial organisms offer a huge potential boon to mankind, promising development of new materials, medicines, and treatment techniques. Yet, with all of these exciting technologies, it is extremely difficult to strike a balance between managing “tail risk” – a very small risk of a very large disaster – and supporting innovation.

Economics teaches us that when there is huge uncertainty about catastrophic risks, it is dangerous to rely too much on the price mechanism to get incentives right. Unfortunately, economists know much less about how to adapt regulation over time to complex systems with constantly evolving risks, much less how to design regulatory resilient institutions. Until these problems are better understood, we may be doomed to a world of regulation that perpetually overshoots or undershoots its goals.

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The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism


David Harvey (Geographer/Radical Sociologist) delivers a fascinating lecture at RSA.

The crises are not, exclusively, ECONOMIC. Nor is it entirely due to the global inter-connectedness but the “solution” does begin with tracking the inter-connectedness and managing rising complexity within every domain to attempt to bring about CULTURAL CHANGE and to rebuild for a SUSTAINABLE future.

“Capital is the lifeblood that flows through the body politic of all those societies we call capitalist, spreading out, sometimes as a trickle and other times as a flood, into every nook and cranny of the inhabited world”

Harvey maintains that: modern economics has buried its head in detail but ignored the systematic character of capital flow, he claims, and it is time for a restore an understanding of how capital works.

Statements like “The capitalist class will never willingly surrender its power,” and “It will have to be dispossessed” echo the words of Dr Joseph Tainter (The Collapse of Complex Societies) and of Ulrich Beck – refer links to previous blog items below.

Who am I to argue!?

The book:

The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism
David Harvey
Profile Books, 256pp, £14.99

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