Planning 21st Century theft is fairly straightforward. The speed and interconnectivity of a digital society means that the theft itself can be executed by The State and its private sector actors flawlessly and quickly.
The difficulty is in predicting the reaction. TPTB still have a difficult time predicting how the general public will react to certain events. They have improved their predictive capability immensely, but as their understanding is inevitably colored by their own prejudices, they are continuously surprised. Digits and systems are 100% predictable for the most part. Humans are not. And that’s why trial runs are necessary.
Only through trial runs can group behavior be tested. This leads to refinements in the messaging that accompanies the event.
9/11 is the classic case. Within an hour of the event, the media was mentioning the name OBL, even though it would have naturally been impossible to make those accusations so early. Previous terrorism experiences (WTC I) and research indicated that naming the bad guy while the audience was still reeling from the shock of the trauma reduced resistance to the idea versus making the connection later.
MF Global was a test run. Vaporizing depositors was the easy part. The question was one of reactions. The reaction was muted – more so than was expected, even considering the success of efforts to
a) present the incident as incredibly confusing
b) name a scapegoat to blame
c) ignore the stories of personal distress caused to the vaporizees.
When the next take down takes place, of a magnitude larger in size, you will notice the same themes emerge.
Cyprus is also a test run. It is the first attempt at wholesale theft from the depositor class, and while the test bed is a country small enough to avoid contagion, it is still a remarkably bold theft. Again, as usual, the State and its actors moved swiftly, but they will be using the next week to gauge reactions – levels of anger, bank runs, any contagion effects.
If the people can be placated and the theft executed without too much discomfort applied to TPTB class, expect a larger theft in 2014.
TPTB may have learned far too well the lesson that the general populace can be easily placated. Personally, I expect they will get something of a surprise from this test run and will be wrestling with a much more pronounced global reaction than they expected.