What is strange about the modern world, in other words, is its utter economic unpredictability. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb puts it, the Great Enrichment was a "black swan" event, deeply unpredictable, not to be reduced to a probability distribution with finite variance. The premodern world, by contrast, was highly predictable in economic shape. Dukes would go on collecting rents, merchants would go on making modest fortunes from trade, peasants would expect to earn what their fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers had earned—unless they could pull ahead by tricking neighbor Nat, the fool, into selling the Nether field for less than it was worth.
-Deidre Nansen McCloskey, Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital Or Institutions Enriched The World