I do not know if this makes sense to economists -- flame me not, if there be economists amongst my few readers I may (or may not) have -- but this seemed like an interesting observation, especially given the current economic downturn in the US.

The Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, in his book, Milosz's ABC's, writes:

How fragile is the social organism; how easily its activity can be disrupted, I discovered in America, where at least since the sudden collapse of the market in 1929 people live as they do in California in relation to an earthquake: it could happen at any moment. There is no certainty that plans and intentions for the next year won't be suddenly thwarted. So it's no wonder that the science (or art?) of economics, which is based for the most part on attempts at foreseeing catastrophes, is highly valued, and that one can receive a Nobel Prize for it.
I sure know something about plans and intentions for the next year being thwarted. This year has been an example.