Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it's impossible to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. A pair of California-based economists probably recognized this following an attempt to construct an “early warning system” to predict another global financial crisis in the wake of the 2008 catastrophe.

In the National Bureau of Economic Research’s forthcoming paper, “Cross-Country Causes and Consequences of the 2008 Crisis: Early Warning,” co-authors Andrew Rose, a professor at the University of California's Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and Mark Spiegel of the Federal Reserve bank of San Francisco, surmised that few factors—out of 65 potential causes of a global economic meltdown—could have predicted such an outcome.

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