What Kind of Crisis Is It?

by Andrew Curry & Hardin Tibbs


Different explanations have been offered for the global financial crisis, reflecting different worldviews and different interpretative frames. This short paper uses an initial analysis based on understanding the crisis as the conjunction of a number of different – but overlapping – S-curves, of different lengths, to understand systemically the depth of the crisis. These curves include a finance S-curve, a technology S-curve, an energy Scurve, and a ‘modernity’ curve. However, while S-curves are a useful analytical tool, they are not integrative and they lack a narrative of transition from the tail of one curve to the start of the next. The authors explore the value of the ‘panarchy’ model, better known as a model for the behaviour of ecological systems, as a way to understand the transitions caused by the global financial crisis and some of the implications for policy makers.

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