We economists would call the Cubs World Series victory a “Black Swan” event. What the 2016 Cubs should teach us is that Black Swans are real. Just because something has never happened, just because something has not happened in a long time, or just because the chance of something happening is near zero does not mean that it can’t or won’t happen.
One hundred and eight, that’s right, it took the Cubs 108 years to win the World Series. For Cubs fans, it seems longer… it may as well be a million and eight because it had not happened in our lifetime, and it would not happen in our lifetime because the Cubs are cursed. There have been some close calls… the Cubs have flirted with greatness, but the “Curse of the Billy Goat” always held true. After an epic season and a miracle comeback being down 3 games to 1 in the World Series, they did it! The Cubs won the World Series, and it only took a short 108 years.
The American economy has not had a depression since one began in 1929 and ended in 1939. Like the Cubs making the playoffs; the economy has flirted with the big one — a few recessions since 1939, but similar to the Cubs, the Curse of the Billy Goat lingers and the FED has kept a depression at bay.
The Great Recession of 2007-2009 should have been a wake-up call. Economic cycles are real, and you can’t grow forever. History will show if government intervention from the FED is the right thing to do, or if the FED is really the Curse of the Billy Goat, and when those Black Swans come swimming in, nothing can protect us from a total collapse.
It would seem like “good times” are here again. The DOW, NASDAQ, and S&P are at or near or at all-time highs, and interest rates are still historically low (even if the FED rises in December). Building is booming again, and the labor market is strong. What could possibly go wrong? Ask the Cleveland Indians; they were up 3-1, the World Series was theirs to win, and after all, it has been 68 years since Cleveland won it all. The economy is in a dogfight of a baseball game, and we are nearing the 9th inning. Can Trump and the FED create a rain delay and take us to extra innings?
The Cubs won the World Series and it only took 108 times, but it did happen. We live in a small and connected world. Very small problems can turn massive in a blink of the eye. Black Swans are real, and even though they don’t swim by every day, we should be prepared.
Just like cheering for a losing baseball team for 108 years, going through a recession is not fun. The reality is that you cannot win every year, and sometimes it takes some losses and house cleaning before you can go on a winning streak. The recession is one of those necessary evils; it is the forest fire that is needed to clear out the underbrush to keep the next fire from totally destroying the land.
The economy is on a nice long winning streak, but the longer the winning streak the more statically close that a loss is around the corner. Can the FED and Trump’s economic growth plans keep that loss at bay, or will the next loss be the Black Swan that the Cubs have shown is very much alive and well? At least the Billy Goat is dead, may he rest in peace.