Saturday, 3 September 2011

The New Certainty - Uncertainty

Some of us were brought up in the "era" of stability. In fact stability has been the mantra to gain support in many ways. Some are so scared of uncertainty that "stability" has to be attained at all cost, literally.


There are a number of reasons why stability is something which may not be enjoyed by many countries anymore. 

First is about how far the interconnected our economies are. Flip an iPhone or iPad and you could see the remark "Designed in California, assembled in China". So here, we have the brain in one part of the world and the hands and legs in other part. This perfectly reflects China's problem with the falling US dollar, as it is the largest creditor to the US. So, even if we are exporting to China, the exposure to the economic slowdown in the US and Europe needs to be factored in as China is also exposed as well.


Second is about information that moves at the speed of electricity through the web and cable televisions. With some caveat off course, CNN and BBC news are received few minutes late in Malaysia. Not sure how much this make sense in the world that moves on a real time basis. The free flow of all sorts of information to a certain extend break the monopoly of information in many countries where traditionally truth or otherwise comes from a central source. 

Although this not not yet applicable everywhere, the new versions of thinking is sipping through various social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which reflects how real people think and act in real time. This has weakened those who has been enforcing "the unreal" on the masses. Many more people are also able to express their thoughts and views which could be different from the old "truth". Then, the so called Gen-Y love something new and are willing to take the risk of thinking! This is pretty scary for those who do not want people to think, even when those people are graduates from universities. This is the third element which influences actions on the ground faster than before.


Now, everything is being challenged. How could the developed world (read the US and Europe) reflate their economies using economic theories conceptualised when the world was less inter-connected?  The free floe of information enable people to react to new information on a real time basis. Just look as how the global stock market move and react when good or bad news from one part of the world get transmitted across the globe. To a large extend, control is something that many government have at the moment. Hence, they can't really deliver "stability" as what they used to do in the past.


When uncertainty is the new "stability, our interest (and those of our children and theirs) would be  protected when people who we could really trust are in decision-making positions. This requires smart people with high integrity to be in such positions. The problem is, integrity is a boring stuff. It is an anti-thesis of excitement, especially when money making is concerned. What more when selfishness has been the main driver of economic activities. How could banks lend money to people who were not able to pay back? This was what happened and why the developed world is in trouble now. Unfortunately, when the lack of integrity is felt, it could be already too late. And another problem is whether we ourselves value integrity?
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