The Gold Standard | Stability and interventions

Good friend Srinivas Thiruvadanthai (of Levy Forecasting) recommended that I read Ashwin Parameswaran’s post in his ‘macroresilience’ blog. Indeed, it is a perceptive post and it requires careful reading. I recommend that post. These are my thoughts on reading that post:

Shorn of all the complexity, it makes the simple point that the more you intervene to change/minimise/eliminate natural processes, the more frequently such interventions will be needed and in increasing quantities, to maintain that stability. the perceptive points in the post are:

(1) The withdrawal symptoms reinforce the need (tragically) for the drug and more of it – no realisation that it is the drug that is causing the post-withdrawal instability. The dependency is not felt or appreciated until it is too late

(2) The other point is that perhaps that the world does not need more safe assets but for all to become aware that there are only risk assets and that they should be able to live with it. That is a lovely point.

(3) The third point that Ashwin makes in the ‘comments’ section is that the ‘cure’ is the systemic collapse. That is what we get regardless even after we intervene. In fact, ironically, collapse becomes certain after intervention because the system demands more and more and more intense interventions. Then, the doctors can no longer provide it without causing the rest of the body enormous damage. They let the patient die. In economics, the system coallpses.

But, why do we still engage in this behaviour?

Just to name two factors (there could be more):

(a) A sense of guilt that comes about if we do not do anything about it. Democracies accentuate this ‘guilt’

(b) It postpones the consequences (the collapse is postponed) and some one else will take care of the collapse and the consequent mopping up. It would not happen on my watch.

Coming to think of it, this (b) is the feature of all actions and their consequences. If individuals know that the consequences of bad karma happen instantaneously, most would not engage in them. This is the ‘beauty’ of creation, if you will. But, we know that the consequences come through or come true in the next birth and that too randomly.

Perhaps, that is in the nature (or, the dharma) of the ‘Kali Yuga’. That is what makes it so difficult for human and human-engineered systems to stick to the right path in this time and age. Perhaps, this is how it is supposed to be in this Yuga. So, what is the answer?

Presumptuous of me to think of THE ANSWER. My answer – and one that has been stressed by a spiritual scholar-friend several times – is to let nature play out, accept and ‘surrender’ to the higher force.

Related comment from Swami A. Parthasarathy in his ‘Vedantic Treatise’ (page 38):

True happiness has a distasteful beginning. The happiness that is found within yourself is bitter to start with. But it develops later into enlarging ripples of a bliss. It is a strange phenomenon. In short, sorrow appears in a mask of joy and joy appears in a mask of sorrow. It seems paradoxical. But it is the law of nature. The ignorant masses led astray by its superficiality. In this confusion they discard happiness and court sorrow! This has been the sad history of mankind.

It should not be too difficult to extend the analogy to engineering a true, lasting and sustainable recovery from crises vs. creating a phantom recovery through quickfixes.


DISCLAIMER: This is an archived post from the Indian National Interest blogroll. Views expressed are those of the blogger's and do not represent The Takshashila Institution’s view.