This crash is The Big One; it has signs of becoming a Category 5. How do we know? We’ve “been there and done that” so many times before, roughly every 18 years over the last 800 or more. Major wars and, rarely, plagues have broken the rhythm, along with the little ice age, reformation and counter-reformation, political revolutions and reactions, the rise of nation-states, the enclosure movement, the age of exploration, massive European imports of stolen American gold, the scientific and industrial revolutions, the Crusades, Mongol and Turkish invasions, and other upheavals. Yet, the endogenous cycle keeps returning, as soon as we find peace, and economic life returns to its even tenors. What President Warren Harding famously called “normalcy” soon evolved into another boom and a shocking bust, as so often before. Calm and routine prosperity has never been man’s lot for long: it somehow leads to its own downfall, cycle after cycle.
Insights July-August, 2008