The Guiding Principle Of Our Time – CYA! by Louis-Vincent Gave

No truer words have ever been typed. From Louis-Vincent Gave at Gavekal Research via

What is the dominant guiding principle of western societies today?

At the risk of sounding crass, let me suggest that it is the “cover your ass” or CYA principle. This principle has always been fairly prominent in participative democracies. But now it has gone into hyper-drive – so much so, that the CYA principle is also now an important driving force even in financial markets.

CYA and Covid-19

Take the response to Covid-19 as an example of the CYA principle in action. Is there any doubt that the rush to lock down economies and suspend normal civil rights—to go to church, to attend school, to visit friends—in the face of Covid was driven largely by policymakers’ fears that if large numbers of people died, they would be held accountable in the court of public opinion?

Of course, no policymakers want a surge in deaths on their watch. But economies did not get shut down during the 2009 swine flu pandemic, nor during Sars in 2003, the Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1969, nor even the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. So what changed between the time of Sars and the time of Covid? One obvious answer is the rise of social media.

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