"It's The Culture Stupid"...

In 1992, Bill Clinton beat George Bush to the presidency with the slogan "it's the economy, stupid". Twenty years later, this phrase looks even more of a simplification than when it first surfaced. The current financial crisis has shown us the economy is part of something much wider: it's the culture, stupid.

Readers of Michael Lewis's new book "Booomerang" have been taken on a hair-raising tour of Germany, Greece, Iceland and America during the financial crisis. "Boomerang" shows how the economies are very different because the countries themselves - and their attitudes toward finance - are very different. (ie Modularity).

But this is a crisis for financial experts too. Gillian Tett, US managing editor at the Financial Times, told the BBC that for the last 20 or 30 years people had been trained to think that if they had a computer spread sheet and lots of numbers and equations they could not only predict the future but also control the economic environment.

The great wake-up call of the last year is that it's actually about the social and political fabric and the question of what's going to happen next to the Eurozone or the UK or the US really depends on politics and culture and the way societies behave, and people just aren't trained to understand that or analyse it.

Tett, tipped as a future editor of the FT, may have a head start: she has a PhD in social anthropology.

Hat Tip ~ Robert Butler
Published on More Intelligent Life (
December 30th 2011

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Eliot Spitzer: The Cataclysm of 2008-2009 from Commonwealth Club and Commonwealth Club on

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