Waiting For The Black Swan

War with Iran would be the beginning of the end.

By Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity

Two more tankers were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday morning  (6/13/19) in the Gulf of Oman, and if hostilities advance we could be facing a ‘black swan’ event. One that changes everything, and divides the world into ‘before’ and ‘after’ periods.

A lot of us are waiting for ‘something’ to happen. We know that there are too many unsustainable trends and practices running and we fall into the “let’s just rip the Band-Aid off” camp.   Some, like myself, have lost faith in the political leadership and institutions and doubt they retain any capacity to attend to anything more than their own selfish interests, let alone manage the difficult tasks ahead rooted as they are in systems theory and managing complexity.

So, let’s get on with it already.  Bring it on.  Black swans are welcome to those who feel a swift kick to the behind is sometimes needed to begin setting things straight.

Like many, I am also conflicted because I also know that getting onto a new path will be disruptive and probably quite economically and financially painful for everyone, myself included.  Hoping for ‘something to break’ and hoping nothing breaks hang in an uneasy balance.

Luckily, my hopes and wishes have nothing to do with what’s going to happen, or when.  I might as well be performing a secret hand ritual before the TV in my living room to ensure that my team’s basketball free-throw goes in.  The dry tinder of the next bonfire was laid down over many years and decades and it will catch fire when it does, no matter how much denial or how many superstitious practices we employ.

When this current period of insane monetary policy, polarizing politics, and ecological destruction suddenly breaks for the worse is unknowable.  It’s going to break when it does.    I hope that’s not for ten years, and I hope that’s tomorrow.  True ambivalence.

Black Swans

A ‘black swan’ event is a term coined by Nassim Taleb which has three characteristics:

  1. It’s unpredictable
  2. It has a massive impact
  3. Afterwards, everyone comes up with an explanation for it

There’s an honorary fourth characteristic which is that virtually no ‘experts’ saw it coming.

Black swan events can be positive or negative.  Here’s an example of an “expert” missing something positive:

I think it’s safe to say that Paul Krugman got that one a tiny bit wrong.

The genesis of the term black swan comes from the (former) western belief that all swans were white.  100% of their experience with swans confirmed that they were all white in color.  However, in 1697 the Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh made it to Australia and discovered black swans.

Once a black swan is seen, or a black swan event occurs, everything falls into a before vs after category.

When it comes to massive, history altering events, while they may be explained in retrospect by earnest historians as having been due to some specific thing, they usually had plenty of dry tinder lying about waiting for a spark

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