How many metaphors fit in one sentence? Concoda tries for the record.

Concoda writes about finance for 7,700 followers in Substack and Medium. While writing about bubbles piled high, this author piles metaphors even higher. Here’s a tip: if your prose makes people goggle and giggle, you may be undermining your points.

Today’s topic is “The Mother Of All Economic Bubbles Is About to Get a Lot Bigger,” published five days ago. The argument is that Alan Greenspan ushered in the latest set of financial crises and crises-to-come. But the language . . . ah, the language. Let’s get into it.

Try not to put three lies in the lede

Here’s the first sentence:

Welcome to the age of economic madness, where it’s possible to become the world’s richest man without turning a profit, where three billionaires hold more than 50% of the wealth, and where Gene Simmons pumps cryptocurrencies on Twitter.

Everything in this sentence is a lie.

Elon Musk is not the world’s richest man, he’s third, behind Bernard Arnault and Jeff Bezos.

Elon Musk’s Tesla has turned a profit for the last seven quarters and his other company SpaceX, while not reporting public results, is also likely profitable.

Three billionaires hold as much wealth as the bottom 50% of the population, which is not nearly the same thing as three people owning half the wealth in the country. Households own $113 trillion in assets, while the top three billionaires own less than half a trillion, well under 1%.

Former rock star Gene Simmons didn’t tell anyone to buy cryptocurrencies, he just said that he had bought some and explicitly said he wasn’t giving advice.

Block that metaphor

Forget facts. It’s the metaphors I’m here for. Try to wrap your head around these:

But to truly understand how and why this bubble is about to grow to unholy heights — and what will follow, we must recognize how and why we got to this strange place. 

Bubbles inflate, they don’t grow to heights.

Maybe you’d prefer obscure television game-show references:

The financial bailout machine has trapped America into playing Cliffhanger on The Price Is Right, only we’re heading on an upwards path to Nowhereville, and the yodeling never stops.

I’d like to see that upwards path to Nowhereville, I’m sure it’s quite a hike.

Of course that’s mild compared to:

It only took one bad egg to create the chain of events that lead to this economic shitstorm. 

Chains of eggs in a shitstorm sounds super messy.

Sometimes the metaphor overload extends over several sentences.

Bubble economics has morphed into a monstrosity to which a real economic recovery with rising monetary velocity and interest rates will destabilize the system yet a perpetual economic depression keeps the financial system “stable.” We’re in a crazy situation where instead of all of us losing money and learning our lesson, taxpayers give up everything to safeguard the elite’s web of toxic financial instruments that, upon collapse, will unleash global economic armageddon.

Ok, now we have bubbles, monstrosities, velocity, a web, a collapse, and an armageddon. I’d like to see an illustration of that by Hieronymus Bosch, please.

I’m not sure you can write — or understand — this without mind-altering substances:

In short, we bail out bailouts to bail out the plutocratic super-rich for “the greater good”.

Sometimes the machines get out of hand:

Soon, the next round of the Great Moderation awaits us. Before the inflation boogeyman creates a scenario that could burst the crony capitalist bubble and destabilize the cheap money status quo, the Fed will turn off the money printer in time and wait for Wall Street to sound the alarm. That signal will be the liquidity-starved financial system starting to weigh on the daisy chains of toxic financial derivatives, the $1.2 quadrillion colossus will need feeding once again. We don’t know how many dollars the Fed will print to bail out the previous bailout, but do we know it will be a stonker

Hmm, boogeymen, bubbles, money printers, alarms, daisy chains, colossuses at feeding time, and whatever the heck a “stonker” is.

This is vivid, if weird:

This time, however, the Fed’s balance sheet must go parabolic. As, with each bailout, they have quietly reattached the daisy chains of toxic sludge, risk on Wall Street’s books likely shadows the crypto markets

Once you’re talking daisy chains of sludge, you’re hip deep in a metaphorical wetland.

So to glue the most levered financial system in history back together, they must print a sports arena full of U.S. dollars, invent new catchy buzzwords to manage public perception, and produce yet another alphabet soup of bailout programs, similar to what the Fed created to rescue the financial system during COVID, only much bigger.

Never enter a sports arena full of glue and alphabet soup. You’ll get stuck and drown wordily.

And finally the strong finish.

For now, the monetary elite’s strategy of revving the “Money Bazooka 3000” up to max horsepower, expanding the central bank bubble, and orchestrating another round of the Great Moderation will keep the casino open for business and the financial elite’s profit machine churning.

This may be one of the most amazing sentences ever written, in that it includes revving, bazookas, horsepower, expanding bubbles, orchestration, and a casino. I’m worried some Las Vegas imagineer will read this and then try to build it.

Yes, there is a lesson or two here

If you want to be credible, get your facts straight.

If you want to be persuasive about a crisis, cool direct writing is more effective than shouting and darting about like a Philly Phanatic Bobblehead on a dragon’s back.

Try to stick with a single metaphor for a paragraph or two, rather than mixing them all in a big blender. Mixed metaphors distract and undermine arguments. They’re laughable.

And if you’re writing about a crisis, you really don’t want to be laughable.

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  1. “cool direct writing is more effective than shouting and darting about like a Philly Phanatic Bobblehead on a dragon’s back” is such delicious criticism… so good!

  2. I once had the pleasure of having to disentangle a sentence that had 37 prepositional phrases, several of which involved secondary and tertiary prepositional phrases. It’s a good thing I knew how to diagram sentences; otherwise I never would have sorted it out. You have to give serial metaphor and serial prepositional phrase righters credit for constructing such monstrosities. 😉