And so we come to the end of another year.
Every year is unique, but this one seems more unique than most.
It is hardly surprising that the ‘Word of the Year’ as chosen by Collins Dictionary is ‘Permacrisis’. It may be seen in future years as either the start of a revolutionary change in consciousness, or a sign of the lack of perspective in the world at a time when it was facing what are increasingly seen as existential threats, that Dictionary.com’s Word of the Year is ‘Woman’ – based on the fact that not only is there now no agreed understanding of what that means, but that the attempts by what is seen as the traditional female community to own the word brings increasingly aggressive and accusative responses.
In the final week of 2022 we have seen deadly extreme snowstorms (unsurprisingly labelled as ‘unprecedented’) across US, with 57 deaths at the time of writing, and New York under almost four feet of snow in places.
The UK is suffering from multiple strikes across the public sectors, with the military having to step in to give support. The government claims that it cannot afford to give pay rises equal to the levels of inflation, and we are seeing the return of institutional poverty in the UK that is reminiscent of Dickensian novels (and it should be remembered that UK is touted as the 6th largest economy in the world).
In Afghanistan, the Taliban have banned women from attending to schools or universities, or working. They have specifically been banned from working with international aid agencies, and for many of those agencies their female workers were the only way that they could make contact with the female population.
The last few weeks has seen the implosion of the crypto currency exchange FTX and its associated trading company Alameda. They were both run by 29-yearold founder Sam Bankman-Fried. SBF (as he was inevitably known), had built that from mere idea into a company that at its peak gave SBF a personal fortune of $26 billion. In October 2022, that was down to $10 billion, and then by November 11th, following the bankruptcy of FTX, his value $991 million – and by 11th November he was judged to have no material wealth at all.
If this sounds like a story worthy of the Tulip Mania of th 17th century Holland (if you don’t know it – it is worth looking up), it is probably worse in that we have better understanding of irrational markets – and this was the biggest of them all. What so surprising is the number of supposedly sane and rational people – politician, investors and bankers amongst them – who got caught in the feeding frenzy.
In this most chaotic of years, it seems a worthy story to finish off with.