Humans love adrenalin. We like our cars fast, we like our planes faster, we love the thrill, we love how the heart beats against our chest, as we beat on carelessly against the currents. We are at heart wild animals captivated by the thrill of the hunt. And here’s where capitalism comes into play. Capitalism fuels that spirit of recklessness, the uncertainty of life, as we turn it into a poker game, placing our bets on the odd horse we think might win. While we might think we run the game, there are many variables at play, some of them not in our control. There is the odd probability that while we did bet on the glistening muscular Arabian horse in the races, the donkey might take the race for whatever reasons. We have in front of us the example of big organisations, massive in size and employees, stakeholders never thought the empires would ever collapse. But that’s the thing about adrenalin. One wrong move and ‘Poof’ you’re gone. Caput. The car smashes against the wall, and all you can do in that moment where you see the life slipping out of your hands is to pull up a silly face.
It’s funny how we react after the accident though. We get back into the car, it has the same horsepower, the same engine, everything is the same and the probability of you getting in the accident is perhaps similar, but then, we’re too afraid and we take it cautiously. We drive our cars hesitantly in the second gear, breaking a little harder than necessary, and a normal 12 hour destination at 80km an hour, then takes double the amount of time, because your moving in at 40km/hour.
Now, the thing is, let’s try to understand the analogy I’ve tried to present here. Imagine the car is the economy and you are the driver. In the absence of cops, or in the event that you’ve paid them off, you’d love to hit the paddle, to see how it accelerates. You whiz past the 120km mark and you’re tempted for some more, so you floor the paddle as everything blurs past you and your vehicle gain’s momentum. You feel your heart beating against your chest, you know, you’ll beat the rest, you’ll reach the destination sooner than anticipated and thoughts of a happy future occupy your mind. So, you’re cruising, at 180km/hour, loving the performance of your car, honking as you overtake the rest, and arrogantly wear your Ray Bans and just as you had thought of turning on the stereo a truck moves in your lane, it’s too late to stop the car. And, your car smashes into the rear of the truck as it throws you towards the windscreen, and it’s too late. You’d be lucky if you survive, and if you do, it’ll take some time for you to build your car.
Now strange enough, this is the thing about capitalism. You need to be careful and rein in your temptations. You need to ride smooth, and you’ll have a safe exit. If you try to outsmart yourself, the likelihood is you’ll crash. The global economic recession is one that can be attributed to the innate pride of human’s that they could test the limits of an engine that could only take you so far. Sooner rather than later, this had to happen. Which is why if you’re an investor how about you play it safe in the first place than jumping off a twenty story skyscraper because fate played it tough with you?
However reckless capitalism may sound there’s a reason it collapsed, and the reason is our inherent urge to fuel our adrenalin. Institutions and corporations need to play a greater role for the effective allocation of resources, and to resuscitate the economy all you need are safe drivers. A word of advice for the average joe? A favourite quote from a movie my son made me watch some time back, which goes something like this, ‘We’re the middle children of history. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. And, we’re very very angry.”
Maybe, if we rein in the unscrupulous desires, we might reach the destination. We won’t end up millionaires, but we won’t end up losing everything we spent ages constructing.
The writer is chief manager SME bank and a seasoned banker with over 30 years of experience