Monday, February 09, 2009

A haiku based on a lecture in my financial crisis course

One of my students composed the following haikus based, he said, on a lecture last week in my financial crisis course ...

Stress from the crisis
Causes my hair to fall out
We will form a gang.

Then, in connection with a point I had made in class that, when we talk about “falling dominos” when successive counterparties fail in cases of systemic risk, it isn’t simply that institutions fall in a single chain - the ripples extend outwards, not just in a single line of dominos, but in multiple directions, like a network:

Systemic Risk is
Not like dominoes, it is
Not that linear.

Then, in trying to find ever-weirder metaphors to explain systemic risk, I appealed to The Puppet Masters, the classic sci-fi novel by Robert Heinlein, where the aliens communicate by “merging” to “share information” as a single body - hence, in trying to kill the parasite, virus would spread from one t the next as though it were a single organism; the act of communicating would spread the virus.

However, since no one had read the book or seen the movie, I shifted craftily to another sci-fi reference of networks spreading infections - the Borg!:

Virus infecting
One Borg drone can destroy all
That's Systemic Risk.