Be Prepared

President Obama wants the CIA to show some foresight about anticipating new, low probability events such as revolution in Egypt.  This sounds like a good example of how “open source” smart blogs such as RBC could fulfill a patriotic duty.  We as a community could list the set of new “known unknowns” and then dispatch our list to the CIA and allow “the experts” there to rank them and to plan out our best responses to these emerging threats and opportunities.   So, the Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase posed the old question of why do firms exist?   Why does the CIA exist?  Recall the old “make versus buy” decision.  The CIA doesn’t have to do everything in house. If Jason Bourne is unavailable, they should consult with Jonathan Zasloff and the rest of the RBC community!

Author: Matthew E. Kahn

Professor of Economics at UCLA.

5 thoughts on “Be Prepared”

  1. Egyptians seem to have stopped believing in the futility of politics, as much as before. I hope this will turn out to be a good thing, and I think it will. But from what I read, Arabs themselves have been surprised by Tunisia and Egypt, so I think it would be hard for outsiders to have predicted it. No harm in paying more attention though. And it never hurts to go talk to people!

    Here in California, we don’t even prepare for the bad things that are likely to happen, like earthquakes. I think our building codes are probably quite good, but our public health and security arrangements, not so much! Budget cuts, you know. And I’m sure the rest of the country will take their time helping us out when our day comes. Or am I being too pessimistic?

  2. Many people knew something like what is happening now was going to happen in Egypt sooner or later. It’s just that nobody can ever predict WHEN they will happen. And if the CIA says “your key ally is likely to go down in flames sooner or later,” policymakers just end up saying “well it’ll probably be later, and that’s not on my watch and not my problem.” Not every failure is an intelligence failure.

  3. OT (meta comment) – Is there a policy for when a post here is broken into above and below the fold postings? In a few recent posts by Matthew a short paragraph appears above the fold, then “the rest of this” is an equally short paragraph. A two paragraph post does not require two pages in my opinion.

  4. While we’re getting meta, someone was saying that if you put a link in your post, it gets deleted. Is this true? And could someone explain in English how to get around it? I like it if people here tell me about something tasty to read elsewhere.

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