Is There a Difference Between an Economic Bubble and a Wheelbarrow Tire?

Sunday morning, I finally started to put up my garden fence.  My neighbors with gardens don’t seem to have trouble with varmints, but I do.  So I got started digging a trench around the perimeter, and hauled out the wheel barrow to haul away the sod and weeds. 

Darned.  The tire is flat.  So before being able to get started and be productive, I have to spend 45 minutes getting the tire inflated.  Tubeless tires have advantages, but ease of reinflating a totally flat one is not one of them.  In order to start getting air into it, you need to get it to “seat” against the rim which is not easy when it is totally flat and you’re using a hand pump to add air.  “Why won’t it seat for just one damn second, ” I realize I blurt out loud after pumping like an idiot for 90 seconds with a knee against the tire, one foot holding the pump down, one arm pumping like made and the other arm holding the tire/rim still.  14 different combinations of knee/arm/leg/arm/wheelbarrow wheel configurations later, and…still no damn air. 

To the internet!  Several posts there about using a tourniquet approach to getting a seal on that rim.  Yeah.  Squeeze the bejeebers out of the tire…run even the last nanoliters of air out so that that tire just has to catch an airtight lip of the rim.  It just has to.  Sure enough, joy and rapture follow that instant when you realize that air is going into that damn tire…and staying there!  In some pareto optimum equilibrium with the world, I find that I’m holding my breath, beholding my accomplishment and pumping and pumping to make sure that it’s really happening.  And then, I realize that I need to stop pumping because if the tire is overinflated, it won’t work as well.  As I pulled the pump from the wheel and stood up, I became a little light headed and in a moment I realized that this is exactly what happens to the economy time and time again. 

Now, I told you that story in order to tell you that Jeffrey Bussgang’s excellent article here in Fortune has changed my mind about the bubble we’re not in.  I’ve posted a few bits on here that accused the economy, especially the tech economy, of being in a bubble. In the article, Mr. Bussgang suggests that we may be in 1996 instead of 1999 in bubble-era parlance.  We may be at that moment when the air finally stays in the tire and it looks like a lot of air because the increase is mathematically infinite.  So what looks like a bubble is only a relative bubble. An over-sized investment in an overvalued Color Labs, for instance, may just be representative of zealous pumping.  A blip.  No pump can keep up that pace for long! 

Besides, Mr. Bussgang points out that despite the recent runup in stocks, there are macroeconomic trends that have been at play for the past decade that, to keep the metaphor rolling, have increased the size of the tire and therefore the amount of air needed before the pump needs to be pulled off the valve stem.  There may be 4+ years of pumping to go! 

So, I’m a new man on this sunny Monday.  I got me a wheelbarrow that works and a new outlook on the economy.  Just got to keep checking the pressure on those tires.

About TechonomicMan

Manager, Entrepreneurial Services at Ben Franklin Technology Partners in Northeast PA.
This entry was posted in Just Kidding, Seed/Venture Capital, Tech Based Economic Development and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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