the difference

This is where we differ. SO has an aha moment and comes up with this great analogy – the economy as an airplane with controls for normal flight. (The Envelope, Please) This, SO explains, is why everyone looking at the controls, thinks everything is just fine. But there is a gotcha – malinvestment / wing ice – the Black Swan.

Now we all know that SO thinks that the economy is an accident waiting for a place to happen. But SO doesn’t take this analogy any farther and leaves this to our imagination. You figure it out.

SO hates to state the “obvious” but it is worth noting that collecting ice on airplane wings is very bad. Fine, if you happen to have a degree in aeronautical engineering or at least basic private pilot flight training. As everyone learns on day two of flight school, there are “unusual attitudes” which are killers – literally. But what is interesting in extending the analogy is the range of outcomes that are possible. Your mileage may vary…

  • a soft landing if you get safely to an altitude where the ice melts off – “luck” (aka a Black Swan in a white hat) would have to play a big part in this scenario so it is unlikely, but it could happen
  • an exciting bumpy ride as chunks of ice come off while using the full range of controls correctly to recover and resume level flight – very difficult and unlikely with the current crowd at the controls
  • worst case, crash and burn

Like the Jaws theme music, this is only interesting and scary if you happen to have some background frame of reference for the worst case scenario and can anticipate what is “going” to happen. The excitement / terror is waiting for IT. If you don’t know about man-eating sharks, this is just a fish story with bad actors.