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The upheavals in the Middle East have much in common with the recent global financial crisis: both were plausible worst-case scenarios whose probability was dramatically underestimated. When policymakers try to suppress economic or political volatility, they only increase the risk of blowups.
This article appears in the Foreign Affairs/CFR eBook, The New Arab Revolt.
Instead of trying to predict "Black Swan" events such as coups or crises, forecasters should look at how political systems handle disorder. The best indicator of a country’s future trajectory is not a lengthy past stability but recent moderate volatility.