How Systems Break: First They Slow Down
by Charles Hugh Smith
Posted April 22, 2016

complex natural systems mirror financial systemsComplex systems like ecological food webs, the brain, and the climate all give off a characteristic signal when disaster is around the corner. The key insight here is that financial systems and indeed economies function as natural systems. The dominant systems do not operate in a vacuum; beneath the surface dominance of one system are many other systems that are suppressed by the dominant system.

The signal, a phenomenon called ‘critical slowing down,’ is a lengthening of the time that a system takes to recover from small disturbances, such as a disease that reduces the minnow population, in the vicinity of a critical transition. It occurs because a system’s internal stabilizing forces—whatever they might be—become weaker near the point at which they suddenly propel the system toward a different state. More…