My friend George posted a good article on modeling the approaching decline of energy returns on energy invested in the earth (EROI), and I mentioned “the Catch”.
One of the difficulties with complex theoretical models is that they all need to assume the parts are following rules.
How economies work, of course, is with ”animate learning-bots” (that’s “us”), all exploring the world and discovering new relationships all the time. That’s why I tend to take the limiting conditions nature displays as a guide, based on her own synthesis of the whole process (like the switch from multiplying to diminishing returns on the success of the search for stuff).
When you learn to identify them they display what the system as a whole actually IS finding and learning from its environment, using the system itself as a better guide to what ALL the parts are learning at once.
Have you considered what evidence in the environment you’d look for to see if the system as a whole was approaching a danger point of vanishing net energy? One clear sign seems to be where the market mechanisms “hit a snag” and start displaying emergent systemic behavior where there should be smooth market adjustments.
A field called “econophysics” as mentioned in an article in the NY Times. I posted a comment, now reposted here, mentioning a couple of the other examples I know.