Sep 012012
The seemingly unmovable Berlin Wall collapsed overnight

In Atlantic Magazine’s China’s long history of defying the doomsayers, Stephen Platt and Jeffrey Wasserstrom put the case that the Chinese Communist Party is unlikely to fall in our lifetimes.

China’s military is presently powerful enough and its diplomacy stable enough that the Communist Party faces no realistic threats from outside. Internally, its control over society is effective enough that, while unrest and discontent may be widespread, there are neither well-organized opposition parties nor rebellious armies that might seriously challenge the central government.

They are probably right, it’s difficult to see any immediate threat to the power of China’s current leaders.

Although we should keep in mind that only a few decades ago it was inconceivable that the Soviet Union would disintegrate or the Warsaw Pact dissolve.

Had someone wrote in 1986 that within five years both would happen, they would have been written off as being foolish. But that’s what happened.

In the stock market it’s said “the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent” and it’s true for any pundit – you may be right that property is overvalued, the US is in decline or the Eurozone will break up, but the powers that be will may be able to kick the can down the road and sustain the unsustainable for a lot longer than any of us expect.

Steve Keen found this with the ‘walking to Kosciusko” bet where he was railroaded into giving a fixed date of when the Australian property market would fall. He, nor anyone he made the wager with, had any idea of the billions of dollars governments would throw at the market to maintain prices.

All too often people make the right calls about property markets, economies or the fall of regimes but get their timing wrong.

In his book The Sun Always Rises Ernest Hemmingway’s character Mike Campbell describes how he went bankrupt – “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

And so it is with empires, nations, ideologies and even the most powerful corporation. When the change happens it’s sudden and unexpected.

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