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Global Financial System Is A Big Rube Goldberg Machine

Global Financial System Is A Big Rube Goldberg Machine

While pondering the current economy that is becoming more of a conundrum every day, I stumbled upon an analogy I would like to share. The global economy is like a giant “Rube Goldberg” machine. It is a ridiculously complicated contraption built to perform what should normally be a simple task. Rube Goldberg machines often mimic the real world in that they are goal-oriented with many parts coming together to complete a task.

In the real world, things are usually not intentionally designed to be complicated but the reality is that they just are. It is an understatement to say the global financial system is not a well-oiled machine. More often than we would like to admit various systems and parts are thrown or “cobbled together” in a haphazard way to get the job done. We tend to try and explain events in terms of cause and effect but in doing so the bigger picture has a way of getting lost. Often hidden away is the nature of the risk that results from complexity and systems becoming codependent upon others. Bestselling author Nassim Taleb who wrote, “The Black Swan” detailed in his book how when something is highly complicated highly improbable and unpredictable events can and do occur.

Some of this is playing out right now and can be seen in the Fed’s key reversal in policy. In an effort to avoid a crisis the Fed has been forced to deal with a liquidity issue in repo rates since a sudden and dramatic surge began in September. While it is difficult to see the difference between QE and an injection aimed at maintaining liquidity, in this case, several reasons exist to believe this is not QE but something far more disturbing. 

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