Saturday, March 14, 2009

I followed the herd with the intelligence of a sheep

Here is a negative scenario for Ireland, which I'm not necessarily predicting, I'm just saying it is a possibility:
A couple of the banks default, triggering the government guarantee.
On the international money markets no-one wants to buy Irish Government bonds and so the government defaults. Thus no civil servants get paid.
There is then a 'run' on all banks causing the last standing banks to collapse. Then the real fun starts...
With massive deflation bankruptcies soar. When the government eventually gets back on its feet it finds it has massive debts which will take 30 difficult years to pay back.
Huge waves of emigration return and has a result we have hundreds of thousands of empty homes round the country which are worthless and are allowed to fall into ruin.
Just as we had deserted 'famine villages' in future we'll have 'credit crunch villages', those new developments round the country which will be left idle, a reminder of the folly of us all.

As for the blame for all this. Well, it's been caused by idiots, people just like me who bought a flat right at the top of the property market. When it came to understanding the real value of the flat I had followed the herd and used the intelligence of a sheep. We were all fools and kept pushing the property market up and up. We never looked down.

I had read of bubbles in markets before, the Amsterdam tulip bulb mania, the Wall Street bubble in the 1920's and so on. It is so easy to say 'oh those fools'. It is quite a different experience to be one be one of them.

I'm very confident there will be lots more market bubbles to come. It is just a part of human group dynamics. If you ask me how much is a tulip bulb worth, then I say, whatever someone will pay for it. If you can find a dimwit who'll pay you 4 fax oxen for one. Well then that's what is is worth. Looking back now we can see that it certainly is not a sustainable price, but there are fundamental reasons why can never have fore-sight like hind-sight.

One key element of economic markets is uncertainty. If they were predicatable, then they would be fundamentally different. I would never expect a group of gorillas to fully understand and be able to predict the dynamics of their own group interaction. A human, who is more intelligent has a chance to understand the gorillas. But to understand the dynamics of a group of humans, you'd need to be more intelligent than the members. If we had evolved to be more intelligent creatures, then we'd have an even more complex society, one which we still wouldn't be able to fully understand.

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