My graduate-school teacher, William H. McNeill, explored a similar question in a 1989 essay, "Control and Catastrophe in Human Affairs." McNeill had economic wrecks, not shipwrecks, in mind. At the time he was writing, regulators were confronting the savings and loan crisis, which itself was just the latest in a long series of financial and monetary debacles dating back to at least the Panic of 1873. Why were regulators unable to better manage the system? After each panic or crash, they would step in with reforms, yet no matter how careful the design, at some point those reforms would fail, and catastrophe would return anew. McNeill proposed that the problem was not poorly designed reforms, but rather reforms that worked all too well. They achieved their intended purpose, but they did so by shifting risk to less-organized places. "It certainly seems as though every gain in precision in the coordination of human activity and every heightening of efficiency in production were matched by a new vulnerability to breakdown," McNeill concluded. "If this is really the case, then the conservation of catastrophe may indeed be a law of nature like the conservation of energy."