Comfort food for everyone

Free form II Isermann “Idiosyncratic volatility is the signature of our economic age.”

Harris Collingwood said this five years ago, but I am beginning to see what he means. Our economy and our culture is now awash with conflicting signals and wildly alternative alternatives.

There are many questions.  My favorite: What happens next?  Typically, I then ask: What happens after that?  Often, I follow up with: And then what happens?  Yikes, where to start? How to stop?  And what if the sky is falling?

Many of the people who read this blog make their living listening for weak signals.  It's our job to see new patterns early…and then weave them together with other bodies of knowledge…and divine the strategic implications.  Our job is turn weak signals into strong indicators.  

In present circumstances, this is hard.   If we are capable of hearing very tiny sounds, this much noise is deafening.  It's a like wearing infrared goggles when someone turns the lights on. Blamo. Too much data.  

But it's worse than that.  People who do what we do are good at imagining the unimaginable. And the new unimaginables are staggering.  Most people can think a little bit "outside the box." Those of us who leave it routinely have been thrown well clear.  Some of us are wondering which "box" it was again we thought we were living in.  Challenge enough assumptions and the assumption hunters among us threaten to come undone.  

Anyhow, that's the point of this post.  I am giving everyone the weekend off.  Put down the headphones, the infrared glasses, and all the other instruments of detection.  Order pizza or your favorite comfort food.  Call all the family and the pets to assemble in front of the TV. And watch the junkiest thing you can find.  This too shall pass.  


Collingwood, Harris.  2003.  The Sink-or-Swim Economy.  The New York Times.  June 8, 2003.


This post is dedicated to a friend who is feeling the effects of "idiosyncratic volatility" with a special, a characteristic sensitivity.  

2 thoughts on “Comfort food for everyone

  1. Andrea

    How can you not be worried when everyone is expecting you to come up with something extraordinary because they feel like the well of ideas has run out and there’s nowhere to look for new stuff but in the young ones? 🙁

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