There is a lot of chatter on economics blogs that the G7 plan isn't going to help. Cowen and Krugman to be exact; although, other blogs point to better views (calculated risk seems to have the best news updates at the moment for actual actions being implemented from the plan). So far it has all been financial fixes. Fair enough, but what of psychological ones? Top down governmental fixes onto swarming, fear-filled networks sounds like a monumental task. What is to be done? Well firstly, how do emotions spread? I consulted one of my favorite texts on this subject: Emotional Contagion by Elaine Hatfield et. al.
Do you have any closing thoughts about how we got into this financial state?
I ask myself, "Why is it that several dozen people saw this crisis coming for years?" I described it as being like watching a train wreck in very slow motion. It seemed so inevitable and so merciless, and yet the bosses of Merrill Lynch and Citi and even [U.S. Treasury Secretary] Hank Paulson and [Fed Chairman Ben] Bernanke -- none of them seemed to see it coming.
I have a theory that people who find themselves running major-league companies are real organization-management types who focus on what they are doing this quarter or this annual budget. They are somewhat impatient, and focused on the present. Seeing these things requires more people with a historical perspective who are more thoughtful and more right-brained -- but we end up with an army of left-brained immediate doers.
So it's more or less guaranteed that every time we get an outlying, obscure event that has never happened before in history, they are always going to miss it. And the three or four-dozen-odd characters screaming about it are always going to be ignored.
If you look at the people who have been screaming about impending doom, and you added all of those several dozen people together, I don't suppose that collectively they could run a single firm without dragging it into bankruptcy in two weeks. They are just a different kind of person.
So we kept putting organization people -- people who can influence and persuade and cajole -- into top jobs that once-in-a-blue-moon take great creativity and historical insight. But they don't have those skills.