Gail Regan is vice-chair of Cara Operations, retired.  She chairs Energy Probe Research Foundation and is a member of the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise.  She has a PhD in Educational Theory and an M.B.A. in Finance.  Her background in sociology and personal experience of business has given her an intellectual interest in the problem of evil.  

 

 

1A. Chapter #6 2009 WINT - THE CARD GAME BRDGE EXPLAINS SOLUTIONS TO THE FINANCIAL CRISIS - THE MARVELOUS MAV ANNIVERSARY Issue 2009 JPGWorld On The Run | Jo Lee Magazine

 

 

The Card Game Bridge Explains Solutions To The Financial Crisis

Chapter Six

 

 

 

The financial crisis has caused massive loss of wealth and employment.  Governments are trying to change regulation to prevent reoccurrence.  I hope these efforts are successful but I wonder if current beneficiaries will oppose reform.  A variant of the card game ‘bridge’ reveals who may be intransigent because they are potential beneficiaries of today’s instability.

The direct way to succeed in the regular card game bridge is to bid realistically and play carefully.  There is also an indirect, less efficient way of doing well in ordinary bridge — wait for the opponent team to make mistakes.  When opponents over-estimate their cards and their competence, they overbid.  Because mistakes are almost immediately deducted, the game teaches awareness of false pride and delusion.

In the variant “Chicago,” rounds are shorter; bonuses for completing games more generous and over bidders do not deduct losses from their own score, but allocate them as points to the opponent team, who then split up.  Because this version of the game diffuses loss and delays its calculation, it sometimes deceives players into thinking they are doing well when they are not.

The regular game is a wonderful metaphor for the way the real economy ought to work.  In ordinary bridge, the skilled and lucky get ahead and delusional players are swiftly penalized.  Chicago on the other hand is a good metaphor for the “new economy,” one based on positive expectations, plentiful, immediate rewards and mystification of risk.  What virtues does it promote?

I play with a group of 12 to 16 people.  Some play as if it is regular bridge and usually do not do very well.  Then there are highflyers who bid on probabilities rather than relative certainties.  We can be expected to win and sometimes we do.  But sometimes we don’t. Surprised and curious, I began to observe the scores and found that winners are sometimes skeptical, conservative players who succeed by accurately doubling highflyer overbids.  They catch and don’t get caught.  Chicago encourages risk-taking but teaches doubt.

The new economy has become a vast game of Chicago and it is fragile.  Will real economy players embrace reform?  Theoretically yes.  They did not like the new economy and will be happy to have it restrained.  Will highflyers oppose reform?  Probably not.  They like this game and will want to keep playing, albeit with more functional rules.  Will reform be easily accepted?  Maybe not.

A dynamic, high-reward economy creates wealth.  Uncertain wealth, but wealth nevertheless.  Shocked by the crisis, many people are not eager to take business risk, but they are disappointed enough to expect compensation for previous loss.  The problem is: this is the boat most of us are in.  Conservative, risk averse and skeptical, we will doubt reform’s usefulness in speedily restoring our jobs and money.  Stupidly, we just may want to play again.

 

 

 

 





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