“The upheavals in the Middle East had much in common with the recent financial crisis: both were plausible worst-case scenarios whose probability was dramatically underestimated.”
Nasseem Nicholas Taleb is best known of course for his book the Black Swan a couple of years ago. It has as its central and compelling thesis that there is a pervasive tendency for history to be shaped by unpredicted events, and especially by occurrences that have not taken place in the past. His vivid central metaphor is the assumption that all swans are white because no other colour had been seen until the black swan variety was discovered in Australia. This is an interesting alternative approach to what is often referred to as ‘the politics of impossibility,’ a phrase meant to suggest that the impossible repeatedly happens, making future studies based on past trends and statistical projections almost certain to be wrong.
So whats this to do with what a Greek earns and life in Blighty I hear you ask? I apologise in advance for those who don't like the answer.
You see, as much as the European Central Bank tries to save it, the Greek economy is in collapse. The Greek people will not accept the austerity measures laid down on them from their Government and they have taken to the streets, the Government will inevitably default on it's debt payments to the Banks, the banks as always will look to their own governments to bail them out and the Euro Zone will enter a period of meltdown.
The effects of that meltdown will be felt across the globe, but Britain as the third largest lender to Greece in the EU is in it up to its eyeballs. Meanwhile at home despite the IMF's best efforts to talk up the recovery at home, borrowing still spirals out of control as the UK government now borrows more to payfor higher welfare bills rather than keep public sector workers in employment paying tax and spending on the high street.
And then just as the UK's white swan is starting to look already as if it has a bit of the night about it, along come more Tory Ministers (some with little yellow hats on) in there size nines goading the trade unions into industrial disputes over the summer. Ed Balls plays a bluff, double bluff by asking the unions not to fall into the the trap of strike action because the coallition will then blame the unions for the economy nosediving and say if it wasn't for the Lefties, we would have won through. What a farce!
And then on the sidelines sit the anarchists, knowing very well that a disaffected Britain, and student body fed up of being lied to can soon go from throwing just insults into throwing rather heavier missiles.
And so the trade union day of action on June 30th 2011 becomes our potential Black Swan, not because we want it to be, nor because it need be, but because a ham fisted Tory Government have used the cover of a recession to bulldoze through their ideological plans for a smaller state and slimmer government by cutting services nationally and locally to the bone, and putting hundreds of thousands of civil servants and council workers out of work at a stroke. Not to mention the £1bn+ we have wasted in breaching UN resolutions in Libya (with another £1bn to take us through to Christmas)
Cameron and Co have gambled heavily, and with growth still flatter than a Lincolnshire mountain range his numbers just haven't come up, we now face heavier borrowing to pay for waste, not jobs and we face for the first time in a long while the prospect of unnecessary unrest on our streets bought about by political stupidity of the highest order. Of course the government will blame the unions and the press will probably and more accurately blame the mindless few who infiltrated the peaceful protests, some will blame people like myself for even predicting such events could happen in the first place.
But that's the nature of Black Swans, unless you accept the possibility of them existing in the first place then you will never expect them to turn up on the pond when they do.
I hope I am wrong, I hope that the powers that be will not be caught off their guard and do all they can to protect our peace but we are in for an uncomfortable few weeks and maybe months ahead, it seems it will be less of an Arab Spring and more of a very sticky British Summer.