INTRODUCTIONThe Study of Financial Extremes: ONE-ARMED ANALYSTS, SECRETS, AND MYSTERIES

We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.

—E.O. Wilson

Among the many noteworthy comments made by U.S. presidents over the years, perhaps one of the most pertinent with respect to the study of financial booms and busts was made by President Harry Truman: “Someone give me a one-armed economist!” The statement, made in response to the constant “on the one hand … on the other hand” presentation of analysis to him by his advisors, captured the discomfort most decision-makers have with ambiguity and uncertainty. For better or worse, the world in which we now find ourselves is plagued with ambiguity and uncertainty. Globalization, economic interconnectedness, global warming, and international financial linkages are the reality of our sociopolitical-economic existence.

Boombustology takes President Truman's memorable phrase and flips it on its head. “Someone give me a multi-armed analyst!” is my mantra. It is no longer enough for us to evaluate the bipolar possibilities suggested by a two-armed individual. The world is more complex, more uncertain, more dynamic, and more volatile than ever before. It is no longer enough to evaluate developments via a single perspective. Ambiguities rule the day, and ...

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