Nobody knows anything

The American author and screenwriter, William Goldman had a phrase he used about Hollywood: Nobody knows anything.

Presumably he coined this phrase after years of dealing with the people who run Hollywood and divining how they operate. Most people would consider this statement heretical. How can anybody earning such huge sums of money for their work not know what they are doing?

It now appears that this statement can be applied to just about any area of society. Look at banking. The entire premise of banking is based on an illusion and the only way it can work is if everyone behaves as if the illusion is real. As soon as you come out with an observation like ‘nobody knows anything’ you sow the seed of doubt and the illusion starts to unravel.

Years ago, I remember financial investment experts stating that stock market investments should be viewed as long term ones – three to five years. Then as bubbles burst they started to revise this advice and extend the period to between five and ten years. Today it wouldn’t surprise me if they were talking about a twenty year investment before you saw a decent return on the stock market. They are having to make it up as they go along.

This time it is different. It is different because experts are actually starting to admit nobody knows anything. So, anybody want a top job in banking, no previous experience necessary (in fact, it would be preferable).

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