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Predicting panic is of critical importance in many areas of human and animal behavior, notably in the context of economics. The recent financial crisis is a case in point. Panic may be due to a specific external threat, or self-generated nervousness. Here the authors show that the recent economic crisis and earlier large single-day panics were preceded by extended periods of high levels of market mimicry-direct evidence of uncertainty and nervousness, and of the comparatively weak influence of external news. High levels of mimicry can be a quite general indicator of the potential for self-organized crises.
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