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Complexity Failure Crisis & Panic

Moneytalks.netHave you noticed how often like the finance department the Bank of Canada and all the major financial institutions have to revise their forecasts for the economy? I’d say the word relentlessly is appropriate. So what's the problem? Are they incompetent or are they lying to us? 

No, it's because the challenge of predicting the actions of all consumers, businesses both domestically and internationally, governments at all three levels, commodity prices, currency values mean all those variables which go into predicting economic growth, and have an impact on economic growth are so numerous and complex. I think that's pretty straightforward to understand. 
If you think about this when it comes to politics we suddenly think there are no such constraints or difficulties and political parties all pretend they can control or manage the economy. Which is akin to saying they can control all the variables in play and I'm just shocked that the media dutifully goes along with it. 
Think about this, it was a prime narrative of the last federal election campaign every party seeking power promises that they have the solution for jobs or economic growth and prosperity and once in power,I think to the great detriment to all of us,  they try and do it! Venezuela's Hugo Chavez's and Fidel Castro promised to manage their respective economies. The European Union, individual countries like France, Italy and Spain all promised to manage their economies and government institutions played right along led by the Central Banks. 
Central Banks have relentlessly manipulated interest rates, currency markets and asset prices all in an effort to manage the economy and they've failed! Unless dramatically increasing income inequality was a goal.
We’ve got record low interest rates, even negative rates. We have got currency devaluations, government spending in huge amounts, record amounts with the creation of trillions of dollars with the click of a keyboard. For what? They're unprecedented program of quantitative easing hasn't prevented the deflation that brought down the commodity complex and threatens developing nations economies. We have massive unemployment problems including a continuation of technological substitution eliminating jobs. We have sovereign debt problems, especially in third world. Banking problems in Europe and economic stagnation throughout the world. 
Anyone who has not gone full Kardashian and can still think for themselves has to be asking "control the economy”, "manage the economy”….how's that working out. Obviously not well. We're witnessing the financial collapse of some cities, some states, some entire countries'. We're living the the rise of the permanent unemployed, increasing violence and the biggie, we're starting to witness the implosion of the entitlement system.
Here's the point. The system of government control or management, or whatever you call it never could work. It's impossible and it doesn't matter what parties are in power there are too many variables to control. No government, no leader, no party can control them.
 While our politicians love to put complex subjects on bumper stickers the world doesn't work that way. Look at Donald Trump declaration of “making America great again. Not many specifics just sloganeering.That's because the complexity is just too great. That is such an important point. it never could work.

It's the same problem with predicting investment moves. There's so many variables domestic, international, and individual. For example consumer spending plays a pivotal role in the economy and predicting consumer spending comes down to the actions of 34 million Canadians. Which in turn are influenced by a wide variety of factors from the weather to their job security. Still government suggests they can they can manage or control the same array of variables. 
Forgive me for reiterating but I'm incredulous that people continue to buy into that delusion because it's such utter nonsense. Look around. High unemployment, economic stagnation and precarious financial situations are the norm not the exception. I keep coming back to this because the government can't even manage a native reserve for goodness sakes, they want to manage the entire economy? 
The formula right now seems to be the higher degree of government intervention the bigger the problems. Just look at the history of the former Soviet Union. By any financial, economic measure it got its ass kicked by the less regulated, less government intervention U.S.. system.
I appreciate this is a very old debate but you know something's changed. We have more data, starting with the failure of the European welfare state/economic model. Or the socialist regimes in Venezuela, France and more importantly the failure of increasing regulation and taxation in Canada where all three levels of government are failing to produce economic growth. 
At some point we’ve got to notice it's not working and it never could work. Economies are too complex. Way too many variables must be controlled in order to control the outcome, but that message continues to be ignored by big government advocates. They want to legislate the economy just like they legislate social justice issues. Well it can't work. 
I'm not arguing the government's don't play a role, of course they do. There's a regulatory role to pay and taxes are necessary. Still in the effort to control or manage the economy we've way overdone it and it's caught up to us. It’s caught up to us right now in the form of weak global and domestic growth and the solution is not more of it not more the same. Good heavens though that is all we're getting offered. 
It hasn't worked, it isn't working and more importantly it can't work. The world is simply too complex.
Michael Campbell
Michael is best known as the host of MoneyTalks, Canada's #1 rated syndicated business radio show. He is also a familiar face to thousands of investors through his role as Senior Business Analyst for BCTV News on Global. Get more great insights from Michael and his team of contributors at Moneytalks.net.
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