Experience has demonstrated that nothing is instantaneous in the physical Universe and that things are oriented on a time scale. It was not that long ago that light was thought to be instantaneous and that all star light was instantaneously and simultaneously reaching earth regardless of the star’s distance away from earth. We now know that light travels at ~670 million mph ….. fast but not instantaneous. When we observe familiar groups of stars like the Big Dipper, Orion, etc they appear as if they were in a flat plane (plane geometry conditioned reflex) equal distant from us, but as we now know, they are at vastly different distances from earth and that the light we’re seeing from each star took vastly different times to reach us (partially overlapping) and that the star radiating the light might not actual be there anymore (scenario). Of our senses, sight is the fastest (~880K times faster than sound) and packs the most information (just to be clear, when you see a tree, although closer than a star, it’s not instantaneous it’s from the past), sound is ~760 mph (on earth) with less information, and smell touch and taste are very much less.
As a side note it’s important to note that our five senses are just that, sensors, as we have never experienced anything out side of ourselves (might be in part why video realism is so absorbing, it’s a cool new sensor). Before the late 1800 our reality was what our five senses/sensors told us it was but we’ve now discovered that 99.999% of reality is invisible and can not be tuned in by our five senses, it can only be tune in by math, science, instruments, etc. As an example there are radio waves all around you but you can’t pick them up unless you have a radio that can tune into them and convert them to a frequency of sound that your hearing can pick up. A very low percentage of the population understands math and science so they will never see the trend/change coming at them and will unfortunately back up into and future, lagging the event (late to the game).
Lag times are also part of our social economic life. For example the lag time between invention and application is ~2 years for electronics, ~5 years for aeronautics, ~25 years for commercial building, and ~50 years for single family buildings. It’s interesting to note that where expert opinion, tradition, unions, monopoly, (schemers) etc are predominate over math, science, and logic, lag times increase. Lag times can increase in complexity, as for a simple example in the mining of metals, the output could be varied/distributed over time, perhaps like a simple bell curve due to issues pertaining to price, labor, etc, and when that metal returns back as scrap in a ~21.5 year cycle (combined average) it comes back in a more complex pattern altered by events like being diverted to create scarcity. When you have thousands/millions/billions of independent actors affecting the subject matter of your analysis, simple narratives/causal relationships give way to complexity which tends to increase lag times. High frequency trading is just an exploitation of ones longer lag time; a second could be an eternity.
Once a corporation sinks capital cost into a mass production line it is almost impossible to get new technologies/innovation upgrades integrated, the conditioned reflex is to “Milk It” (the company Lawyers won’t allow the CEO to do anything that jeopardizes share holder return). The Department of War found this out initially using the auto industry for the WW II aviation build up. The Milk it lag time could last a long time before its abandoned, fear and profit are powerful motivators. The benefit needs to be sufficiently reduced before abandonment; it needs to be played out. Individual action is no different; we act in our own best interest. At such time when the system’s rate of growth/return/beneficent is in mid-decline the individuals, groups, and businesses (heretics) peeling off early from the declining system reach a critical mass (often times less than 20%) and then the leveraged system starts to fail a little at a time then all at once.
We were born into the current social/economic structure and depending on where we checked in at our feeling/physiognomy of what’s normal/what works evolves for each generational time step. At each time step we collectively tend to maintain the inertia of what’s normal (like the sunk capital cost in a production line) until such time (lag time) that it’s to far removed form the current normal/reality that it doesn’t work and is abandon. Early peeling off seems more favorable than to holding on right up to the abandonment.
It may be that the power of holding on is under estimated/discounted and can unexpectedly extend the lag time of a declining system through (as one example) the collective coercion of the majority to realign the peeled off heretics back into the system. Another aspect of unexpectedly extended lag times can be summed up from a quote from Voltaire “I am very fond of the truth, but not at all of martyrdom”.