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Precht, Richard David

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Spiegel Online - Germany | 08/01/2012

Richard David Precht on financial markets and siphonophones

The financial markets are like siphonophores, writes the German philosopher Richard David Precht in the weekly magazine Der Spiegel, because like the colony-forming siphonophores "the individual organisms specialise in certain functions. Some ensure food intake, others take care of defence against enemies, and yet others form threads to trap prey, or focus on reproduction. The individual organisms thus come together to form a super and supra-organism. ... The principle of 'division of labour' among siphonophores brings two selection mechanisms into action: specialisation and conformity selection. Those who join must adhere to both principles, when confronting marine bubbles just as when confronting financial bubbles. No one is responsible for the whole. And a banker who doesn't hunger for profit is deselected. ... Like the siphonophores, the freely roaming markets react to impulses that are transmitted within milliseconds. Highly precise in detail, but completely indifferent to the whole. That the lack of control leads to overpopulation, a high concentration of credit and that this in turn inevitably leads to deaths in huge numbers, or in other words recession, has been known and ignored since the days of Nobel laureate James Tobin."     

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