It can sometimes be difficult to understand how catastrophes happen, even more so when one has no direct experience with them. We can read history, and try and put ourselves in the participants’ places but at some level things just don’t click. The recent economic turbulence has made downturns more sensible (if tragically so) for many people. Martin Wolf made this point well in a recent FT column. He writes:
Before now, I had never really understood how the 1930s could happen. Now I do. All one needs are fragile economies, a rigid monetary regime, intense debate over what must be done, widespread belief that suffering is good, myopic politicians, an inability to co-operate and failure to stay ahead of events.