Curiosity Over Pride (FYI: To comment, send an e-mail to

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Rise and Fall of Empires

Hat tip Paul Kedrosky of Infectious Greed...

Visualizing empires decline from Pedro M Cruz on Vimeo.


Thai said...

I do not think they could have even made this animation without fractal software ;-)

Debra said...

Where's the U.S. on this video ? :-(

Dink said...

That was seriously freaking cool! There is more to Portugese history than I think I am currently aware of based on the bubbling.

So I was thinking earlier, fractals are hard to think about because of scale (either time or size). Evolution takes epochs, chemistry is too small.

Bacteria! They iterate fast enough to show results, but still within the realm of the "middle world". The boundaries are within grasp and the energy used is within grasp. The host can survive with them in an "environmentally stable" range, but out of balance the whole complexity comes crashing down.

Anyhoo, I thought that maybe we could work a nice bacteria metaphor instead of using physics or humans to work out our various definitions. Sorry for the short comment; time has not been on my side.

Street Dog said...

Where's the U.S. on this video ? :-(

The U.S. is letting the Europeans and Asians fight amongst themselves. Then they can swoop in and scavenge the remains. Godswork Sachs has planned accordingly.

Street Rat said...

Where's the U.S. on this video ? :-(

The sequence begins in 1800. So the original 13 U.S. colonies fissioned off the British before the sequence begins.

Bacteria! They iterate fast enough to show results

Yea, like flesh eating bacteria. Ok, maybe antibiotic resistance or nylonase are more in line with what Dink had in mind.

Thai said...

So tell me of Krugman is being consistent?

Link 1

Link 2

On the one hand we have the need to increase debt as inflation is low, on the other he admits that real interest rates are around -7%.

Now I am the first to sympathize with where Krugman is going. AND at the same time we must call a spade a spade (at least that is what I was always taught to do when it really mattered). If we borrow at 4.375%, yet real interest rates are at -7%, the difference between the two is a whopping 11.375%.

The best economies in the world growing at the fastest they have ever grown is 6-7%/year (I know China claims 10-11% but this is circumspect for reasons I will not address here).

So we borrow at 11.375% real and we grow at (pick a number... 5%??? if one is REALLY optimistic?)

We lose ground at 6-7% annually under the best of circumstances.

Providing more resources to those who are not producing is not the best of circumstances, whatever the morality of such a statement might imply.

Do we have a problem?

I do agree with Krugman when he says "where are the grown ups".

It pains me to think we will send out children to die in foreign wars and yet apply such weak standards to ourselves. And this from the people who grew up under the specter of the Vietnam war.

What has happened to this collective?

Street Dog said...

So tell me of [sic] Krugman is being consistent?

Krugman tends to have STRONG political ideologic undertones in his economic posts. He is not as objective as he could be. However, I don't necessarily see inconsistency in those 2 links. The Taylor rule calculation of -7% is what the nominal Fed Funds Rate SHOULD hypothetically be in regards to monetary policy. It is currently +0.25%, the zero bound is a practical limit. An effective Fed Funds Rate can be calculated a number of ways. The Federal Government is borrowing at differential rates depending on the maturity of goverment bonds. This might change your back of the envelope calculation.

When Krugman compares net debt to % of GDP, he is comparing apples and oranges. Every country has DIFFERENT underlying fundamenals that make the comparison misleading (Japan's Lost Decade is not a wholly congruent match to our current predicament in the US).

Although I frequently sense ulterior motives when I read Krugman's blog, I still enjoy reading it.

I wonder if you have seen this clip from May, 2009 (sorry if country music hurts your liver, I bet Dink will get nauseous).

Thai said...

As I am all sure you are all aware, I have been trying to embrace my inner Malthus.

It looks like I might have found him tonight.

At the very least Houston, we might have a problem.

FWIW, the word on the street is this thing is predicted to go global in 2012, so I guess we have a few years to create our compounds/bunkers/cocoons.

... I guess maybe we won't have to worry about all that nastiness with global competition as yet another Black Swan rains terror upon us yet saves the day for the remaining arc residents. ;-)

Thai said...

But as long as you don't do anything like this, the collective will still respect you.

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits