I still remember being impressed by Karl Marx and Communism in the early eighties only to be strong believer in Capitalism by the end of the decade. Since then, I have rarely looked back to question my faith in Capitalism until the economic crisis of 2008. In that questioning sweep got captured one more apparently unimpeachable cornerstone of my faith - Democracy. I don’t know if I should’ve felt so surprised on the realisation that these two have almost identical strengths and failings. Billy Joel would find ripe pickings on both legislative and financial markets (yes both are markets with the difference being the currency - votes and notes) around the world, should he want to extend ”We Didn’t Start the Fire (in Flash)”. This song talks about many significant episodes in the 20th century, many of them with negative consequences. It also talks about the individual refrain in terms of absolving self of responsibility by saying - we didn’t start the fire. Both Democracy and Capitalism are feedback based auto correcting systems. This is their strength. This is what makes them sustainable, and perhaps the best options in the long run. This is also their weakness. The feedback loop takes time to act (it won’t kick in until the fuel for the collectively sponsored ponzi scheme runs out) and by the time it does, the wrong steps have levied a heavy toll. But as these systems have proved time and time again, that even if inefficient these are the most effective systems. But this has come at a cost. The’ve strengthened our faith in them at the cost of our faith in ourselves. If the system is responsible to correct itself, surely an individual does not need to play much of a role - we simply go with the system and correct ourselves as it does and pay the tabs that it leaves for us in the process - Right ? There are things that we can ask ourselves in advance before the systems go through their next sinusoidal dive. Should I be investing if the market that seems to be going up too fast because others are investing, should I be voting for someone who promises growth over healing since others are doing so, should I be borrowing so that my expenditure can exceed my incomes since others are doing so, should I be expecting rich valuations for my efforts which I can’t understand because others are expecting so, and should I be making promises that are likely difficult to keep because others are doing so. While being able to identify the trend (and especially the correction) in time can offer rich pickings, I don’t know that most of us would be able to pull it off. However what we can do is apply common sense. In many cases if it doesn’t make sense for you, it eventually wont make for the system which shall then auto correct. In the meanwhile you have these choices - if you have confidence in your abilities to time the system, exploit it but get out just in time, or take responsibility to be a contrarian and act for yourself now, or go with the flow and sing “We didn’t start the fire” later.