Monday, May 04, 2009

The Financial Crisis & Traffic

Here's my theory, if the global financial institutions studied traffic in elCairo, the current financial crises could, nay, would have been averted. It's a complicated theory, but bear with me. First, we have two astounding similarities between Western economies and elCairo's traffic:

1. Competition. Drivers in elCairo compete all the time with other drivers. This can be as simple as cutting you off since your lane has a few free, precious meters, or my all-time favorite: the self-regulating intersections; Those are intersection with no lights and no traffic officers and the idea is that you try to beat the other person to crossing. I love it, it's as close as I'll ever get to playing Russian Roulette. Equally fierce competition is the trademark of Western economies, in theory, this competition makes the markets more efficient.

2. Creativity. Lack of strict regulation in the Western economies inspired a lot of 'creative' financial products. First, credit was given to people who can't afford it and then this credit was cut-down, repackaged and sold to investors at the other end of the globe. Same for traffic here in elCairo, I get the feeling that drivers are constantly trying to think of new and even more creative (read: dangerous) ways of driving. All-time favorite? The genius driving on a highway, at night, with no lights on, on the right and at 45Km/hr. He's really begging for it.

Competition and lack of regulation were really working for the financial institutions. Between 2002 and 2007 the Western financial world was partying like a cheap ho, in a cheap NY club on New Year's Eve, 1999. But that wasn't true of elCairo's traffic, but the world wasn't interested.

You see, elCairo's traffic predicted the shortcomings of the system. It showed us that the system will eventually overheat and crash. elCairo's traffic even showed us how a ponzi scheme would rise in such a system. The Mastermind of such a scheme would zap beside 500 cars queueing to get on a bridge and right before the entrance cuts into the bridge's ramp. He promises excellent returns for very little investment i.e. you don't have to queue AND you get on the bridge in a fraction of the time! Of course, the scheme only works if a few followed him, but what happens when 10,000 drivers try that? Everyone is stuck. Something we face in elCairo everyday.

Interestingly, a much more strict traffic law was passed in elCairo last year as the financial crises kicked in. The financial world, having learned the lesson the hard way, quickly followed elCairo's lead with various new proposals on stricter global financial regulation.

You know what's the scary part? Even after the new law, traffic aint getting any better here in elCairo.


DailyAntics said...

what's this new obsession with traffic?

Feshfesh said...

Hehehehehe, got to love hatting elCairo's traffic man! I think since I've already hit two posts, I might as well shoot for a trilogy. I don't have a topic yet, bas the title got to end with '& Traffic' :D