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Systemic analogues to flooding


Disastrous Floods as Indicators of Systemic Risk Neglect (Part #2)


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The term "flood" used with reference to unforeseen water-related disasters has been extensively used as a metaphor in commentary on other disasters:

  • commodities: "flooding the market". This is typically associated with the pricing policy termed "dumping" whereby a manufacturer in one country exports a product to another country at a price which is either below the price it charges in its home market or is below its costs of production.
  • labour: "flooding the labour market", notably with foreign workers. Understood as "social dumping", this describes the process of ensuring the temporary movement of labour from one area to another where the cost of labour is usually more expensive. The preoccupation is a particular focus of controversies associated with (unchecked) immigration.
  • financial market: examples cited include:
    • flooding the financial market with personal loans
    • flooding the financial market with forex (as with flooding the financial market with large amounts of sold dollars, so the dollar drops even more)
    • flooding the financial market with cash derived from export revenue
    • flooding the financial market with billions of dollars in hot money derived from foreign portfolio investors
    • flooding the financial market with liquidity ("cheap money", "cheap credit"), namely a "flood of liquidity", as a central bank policy to counteract deflation (perceived by seen by banks and major investors as a consequence of interest rate cuts)
    • flooding the financial market with valueless bills and cheques
  • housing market: a form of flooding is associated with easy access to subprime mortgages:
    • namely subprime lending effectively flooding the market with mortgages that borrowers had difficulty paying back, notably resulting in the subprime mortgage crisis
    • flooding the property market with distressed properties (namely "toxic assets")
  • information:
    • media may be described as:
      • flooded with advertising as a characteristic promotional strategy
      • flooding with propaganda in support of an ideological strategy
    • knowledge (and wisdom) may be variously understood as "flooded":
      • "flood of expertise"
      • "flood of innovation"
  • internet:
    • flooding the internet with unsolicited communications (spam)
    • denial of service attacks may be described in terms of flooding a server to overload its capacity to respond to requests
  • environment: examples of "flooding" the natural environment with potentially problematic substances include:
  • conditioning: a form of behaviour therapy and conditioning termed "flooding" involving prolonged exposure to a stimulus.
  • "people" may be variously understood as constituting a "flood", as in the case of:
    • foreigners, immigrants and refugees (noted above with respect to the labour market) -- especially deprecated in Australia as "boat people".
    • people of some other ethnicity
    • class-related: flood of young people, and increasingly of the elderly
    • increase in absolute numbers, namely concern with overpopulation

Whether simply a metaphor or not, perceptions of "flooding" may well reflect insight of systemic relevance, especially a sense of systemic imbalance.

Any form of "flooding" may, to some degree, derive from a "flood" of people -- whether as a consequence of immigration, labour opportunities, or unconstrained increase in population. The latter is of particular interest when it increases pressures on the environment and on more sustainable practices.


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