When the Weakest Critical Part Fails, the Machine Breaks Down
Consumer spending is the bedrock of the global economy, and consumer spending depends on expanding debt and leverage. Once that subsystem fails, consumerism and the global economy grind to a halt.
The failure of any critical subsystem in an organism triggers a catastrophic, fatal decline. It doesn’t matter if the rest of the critical subsystems are functioning at optimum levels; the failure of even one essential “part” leads to death.
The metaphor is easily extended to machines, where a perfectly sound engine will fail once the oil pump ceases functioning.
The cliche is that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The conventional wisdom is that the U.S. economy is so large and diverse that the failure of any one part will have only limited consequences on the economy as a whole.
But this belief was undermined by the financial crisis of 2008, in which the apparently “limited” implosion of subprime mortgage debt dominoed into a full-blown global financial crisis.
Conventional wisdom confuses redundancy and complexity.