Martin Wolf’s The Shifts and the Shocks—What We’ve Learned—and Have Still to Learn—from the Financial Crisis is a long book. Even for those of us fascinated by financial cycles and crises, it takes patience to read through it.
Amidst the long discussion are a lot of provocative financial thoughts, intertwined with a constant, naïve faith in the future superior knowledge and future ability of central bankers and other bureaucrats successfully to tell other people what to do. Wolf never claims this knowledge and ability have been demonstrated in the past—he fully admits that experience demonstrates the opposite–but he never seems to doubt that it can save us in the future, if these solons just get better economic ideas. In this way, he misses the most difficult and interesting element of the problem: the inescapable uncertainty and unknowability of the future.