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Covid in Latin America

Weakness before the black swan

All countries are at risk of disaster and should do what they can to prepare. The problem of course is that exactly what they are preparing for, and when it is likely to happen, are both unknown. Some disasters are relatively predictable. In any given year it can be said that Latin America will experience some combination of hurricanes, flooding, drought, contagious disease, violent political protests, and major accidents such as oil spills or the collapse of tailings dams in open cast mining. There is evidence that climate change is increasing the frequency of some of these disasters. But the intensity and exact probability of these events cannot be known beforehand. Matters are further complicated because some disasters – with the Covid-19 pandemic notably among them – have been classified as ‘black swan events’ - in other words, high profile, high impact, yet hard-to-predict and extremely rare events beyond the realm of normal expectations. Importantly the probability of a black swan event is ‘non computable’.

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