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Журнальный клуб Интелрос » PRISM » Vol. 5, No 1. 2014

Peter Ho & Adrian W. J. Kuah
Governing for the Future: What Governments Can Do

On 25th February 2003, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus entered Singapore through three women who had returned from Hong Kong with symptoms of atypical pneumonia. The virus then spread with alarming speed through the hospital system, confounding doctors and healthcare professionals with its aggressiveness. The fatality rate was shocking: by the time the SARS crisis was declared over in Singapore, 33 people had died out of the 238 who had been infected. Nicholas Nassim Taleb describes a “black swan” as a hard-to-predict event with a large impact. SARS was such a black swan for Singapore. Indeed, the impact of SARS on Singapore was profound and multifaceted, not only in the severity of the infection but psychologically in terms of public fear and stress. Overnight, visitor arrivals plunged, paralysing the entire tourism industry. SARS severely disrupted the Singapore economy, leading to a contraction and a quarter-long recession that year. While many lessons were learned from the SARS crisis of 2003, for the purposes of this paper one central insight stands out. It is simply this: other black swans will continue to surprise us, as much as, if not more than, the SARS crisis. Recent years have seen a succession of strategic and catastrophic shocks including 9/11, the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and Fukushima nuclear meltdown, July 2011 Thailand floods, and the Eurozone crisis, just to name a few. The frequency of such shocks seems to be increasing, with the amplitude of their impact growing. The question is, why? More importantly, what can governments do about them?

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