If you had to name a “prophet” of the Great Recession, who would it be? Most would say Nassim Taleb, whose 2007 bestseller The Black Swan diagnosed the financial crisis so aptly, and preceded it so closely, that the events of that year almost smacked of book promotion.
Pardon our unorthodox nominee: Tom Hanks. The great one-liners of his career sequentially follow the arc of financial prediction in the 2000s – from hubris, to crisis, to dithering agnosticism.
In Forrest Gump he gave us our stock caricature of a financial skeptic, whose refusal to generalize from particular events masks his obliviousness to how they are connected. It was a more heady and fearless age, and we were supposed to chuckle when the village idiot dressed up his bewilderment as sage wisdom: “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
The following year, in Apollo 13, he reminded us that even when failure is not an option, it is an inevitability. “Houston, we have a problem” can now stand for our sickening realization that the aerodynamic modern economy was built from fragile and crooked parts. Even the smartest people in the room were helpless before hidden variables.
Finally, in Cast Away, he staggered from the wreckage back to his Gumpian skepticism, embracing it without a hint of mockery. “Who knows what the tide could bring,” he earnestly declared, at the same time reminding us that self-proclaimed financial experts are at a crossroads, and also at sea.
Where do Tom and Taleb agree? Consider Forrest Gump and his knack for being in the right place at the right time – easier when you’ve been to a lot of places at a lot of times. Consider the Apollo crew and their readiness to abort a mission years in the making, concocting a desperate plan for survival (literally) on the fly. Consider the FedEx analyst and his struggle to unlearn the stable rhythms of civilization, after he is jettisoned into a state of total self-reliance.
There is a theme here that Taleb would probably endorse: In an unpredictable world, the best performances are improvisations. That’s why, at Blumberg, we can never get enough context. Whether we’re fine-tuning your Service Lifecycle Management, cushioning your supply chain with Reverse Logistics, or studying the impact of disruptive technology trends on your service supply chain, all of our business solutions are customized. The challenges that a business will face are far from predictable, so why should our solutions be?
If economics teaches us anything, it’s that learning to profit from serendipitous events is easier than trying not to suffer from disastrous ones. We believe in rules, but our mission is to give your business the gumption to cast away the rules that don’t serve you. Schedule an appointment with us today, so that together we can pull off a virtuoso performance – whatever the tide may bring.