What Timothy Geithner Really Thinks

Geithner paused for a moment. “Can you design a system ever that allows you to be indifferent to the failure of any institution, in any state of the world?” he asked aloud before answering his own question. “You can design a system, and I think we have, that allows you to be indifferent in most states of the world: the five-year flood, the 15-year flood, the 30-year flood, maybe even the 50-year flood,” he said. “But there are constellations of storms, of panics, of fires that are so bad that it’s very hard to imagine that you could be indifferent to the failure of the financial system.”

→ The New York Times Magazine

Why humans are obsessed with the longest bridges, the biggest buildings and other ways to blow billions

But why this pervasive failure to predict these overruns, despite their seeming inevitability? The answer lies in the very things that make us human, what Flyvbjerg calls the “four sublimes”: the excitement of engineers and technologists building the newest or largest item of its kind; the rapture politicians receive from building monumental works that increase their public profile; the delight of businesses and trade unions generating money and jobs; and the aesthetic pleasure generated by iconically large design.

→ Quartz