Friday, October 10, 2008

Thought for the Day

There is a question that I have been pondering over the past week that I want to throw out there. That is how much impact might today's global communications network have on avoiding a repeat of the early 1930s? Take a look at the graph below first and you will see that we have quite a long way to go yet before we end up back in 1932.

This poses the question for me about what role rapid communications might be seen to play in all of this? After all, back in the 1930s communications were much more limited. True the telephone and telegraph existed but the sheer scale of information readily available to the globe at one single point in time was nothing compared to what it is today.

The inevitable knock-on from that is that reaction to events would be slower. During that time other events could occur whilst reactions were only just being thought of, thus creating a snowball effect. Today, in comparison, the speed with which someone in Australia can know what is happening on the FTSE or Wall Street is calculated at worst in seconds and at best in milliseconds depending on bandwidth.

As such reactions by people and/or Government can, and are, far quicker than they would have been in past, which suggests remedial action to events ought to occur in a speedier fashion and (in theory at least) mitigate a snowballing caused by other events.

This said, is it possible that the Internet (and by that I mean the global communications internetwork, rather than just the web) could play a role in shaping future movements and events in a more positive way than when communications were slightly more antiquated?

Think of it this way, in the war days of old it was the case that what was happening at the front was not fully known about back home until a significant time after the event. Reacting was then delayed further as the messages flowed back to the front. In modern warfare however, a guy in CENTCOM knows what is happening on the ground instantly making reaction more rapid.

Might the rapid reaction that today's global communications network provides become seen as a pivotal player in how quickly the system recovers from the downward spiral it currently faces?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Or might it fuel the fire, and keep everyone selling the f*ck out of everything?

Sky are not inspiring me with a great deal of confidence.

Anthony Barnett said...

Or might it make it worse as well? Amplifying feedback? Soros's theory of reflexivity, as I understand it, tried to set out a theory of bubbles in opposition to what he called "market fundamentalism" saying that the market equilibrium is a myth.

Lola said...

It's alla bout information and who has it and most importantly what they do with it.

T'internet allows individuals to share info more quickly and completely than ever before. It allows individuals to contact each other and share experiences so addressing the information assymetry enjoyed by other market participants. A good example is the bank charges fiasco. Banks could be challenged because customers could combine and share info quickly accross distance and attack the situation in a concerted way. This is where we now benefit - adjusting the info imbalance.

Of course big company's and government bureaucracies hate this.

Will it help the ameliorate current financial ferrago. Yes. But it may also make it temporarily worse. A more V shaped graph is likely. But the bottom? Who knows?