Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Black Swan Author Fears Global Economic Collapse

Here is an ominous prediction of global economic collapse from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan, and Benoit Mandelbrot, known for his work in fractal geometry and chaos theory.

Listen to Paul Solman's PBS interview on the News Hour here.

Says Taleb, "I don't know if we're entering the most difficult period since -- not since the Great Depression, since the American Revolution."

Says Mandelbrot, "The word 'turbulence' is one which actually is common to physics and to social scientists, to economics. Everything which involves turbulence is enormously more complicated, not just a little bit more complicated, not just one year more schooling, just enormously more complicated. ... In fact, the basis of weather forecasting is looking from a satellite and seeing a storm coming, but not predicting that the storm will form. The behavior of economic phenomena is far more complicated than the behavior of liquids or gases."

Taleb's fear is chilling: "Now you understand why I'm worried. I hope I'm wrong. I wake up every morning -- actually, I don't wake up every morning now. I start to wake up at night the last couple of weeks hoping that I'm wrong, begging to be wrong. I think that we may be experiencing something that is vastly worse than we think it is. ... Of all the books you read on globalization, they talk about efficiency, all that stuff. They don't get the point. The network effect of that globalization, OK, means that a shock in the system can have much larger consequences."

This is a British interview with Taleb on the same subject:

You can read the PBS interview: "Top Theorists Examine Rippling Economic Turbulence." You can also find a video link to the interview.

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