Trigger Points, Black Swans, And Other Unpleasant Realities
By Giordano Bruno
An avalanche is not an “event”, it is an epic; a series of smaller events drifting and compacting one after another until the contained potential energy reaches an apex, a point at which it can no longer be managed or inhibited. A single tremor, an inopportune echo, an unexpected shift in the winds, and the entire icy edifice, the product of countless layered storms, is sent crashing down the valley like a great and terrible hand. In this way, avalanches in nature are quite similar to avalanches in economies; both events accumulate over the long span of seasons, and finally end in the bewildering flash of a single moment.
The problem that most people have today is being unable to tell the difference between a smaller storm in our economy, and an avalanche. Very few Americans have ever personally witnessed a financial collapse, and so, when confronted with an initiating event, like the stock market plunge of 2008, they have no point of reference with which to compare the experience. They misinterpret the crash as a finale. Untouched, they breathe a sigh of relief, unaware that this is merely the beginning of something much more complex and threatening.
So, without personal experience on our side to help us recognize a trigger point incident; the catalyst that brings down our meticulously constructed house of cards, how will we stand watch? Will we miss the danger parading right in front of our faces? Will we be caught completely off-guard?