The Bubble Dimension
1. a thin sphere of liquid enclosing air or another gas.
2. used to refer to a good or fortunate situation that is isolated from reality or unlikely to last.
Today we’re diving into the bubble dimension, one that focuses specifically on the second definition you can see above. Situations that look great, feel great but are potentially, due to lack of both hindsight and foresight, set to catastrophically fail. We saw it with the dot com tech bubble in the 1990s and the housing and credit crash in the US in mid-2000s… and there’s speculation that these aren’t the last pops we’ve seen.
So why do they happen in the first place? It turns out that’s an interesting one… and it’s all down to idea epidemics. As Nobel prize winning author, Robert Shiller sees it “big things happen if someone invents the right story and promulgates it.” He notes Bitcoin as a great example of this but it’s not the only one (his interview on this is certainly worth a read). From car loans to Trump’s rise to presidency… you get the right ‘product’ – the right idea – and with the right stories behind it humans really will buy into anything.
But let’s not take my word for it. Discover some examples below and delve into the bubble dimensions’ arguments for and against these emerging trends. Only time will tell what we’re in for.
The Bitcoin Bubble
This famous type of cryptocurrency has been making headlines for the last few years and rightly so – a global digital currency (unbounded by country laws or divides) is a pretty big deal and its 5-fold rise in 2017 alone has people on edge as it begins to resemble the surge pre-tech crash.
Despite Bitcoin’s market value of about $78 billion, and total digital currencies overall worth of $170 billion (source; CoinMarketCap), both China and South Korea both banned Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) over the last few weeks. The result is that both enthusiasts and pessimists alike are on high alert for currencies like Bitcoin’s future (other examples include Etherium and more).
The Car Credit Bubble
Turns out the Bank of England is closely monitoring the UK car credit industry at the moment… and it’s certainly cause for concern as banks have around a £20 billion exposure at present. In the UK alone there has been a 47% increase in car sales to private individuals since 2011. 86% of these were financed by the Finance & Leasing Association… that’s up 164% from 2011.
The mechanics of this are articulated excellently in the link below so we’d definitely recommend taking a look. It’s safe to say it looks mightily similar to the parameters and practises in place during the last credit crash and although the UK’s size may mean they can survive it, the US may be facing a much bigger problem.
The Trump Bubble
This bubble is not specific to Donald himself, more to the mechanics behind his rise to Presidency. These bubbles are one of opinions and information. Eli Pariser delivers this excellent TED Talk on ‘filter’ bubbles and the danger of our multi-media consumption becoming overwhelmingly tailored to our pre-existing thoughts and opinions about the world around us. Also known as echo chambers, this process provides humans with supporting views to their own, rather than a balance to challenge us. The result is opinions without nuance and with added extremes. And for what? Clicks? We all know where that leads, just look at the political discourse in the UK and US at the moment.
Finally… touching on actual bubbles…
What the physics of bubbles can tell us about language…
“Recently published research uses the physics of surface tension (the effect that determines the shape of bubbles) to explore language patterns – where and how dialects occur.”
Also published on Medium.