McKinsey and Co. has posted a short essay by Michele Zanini that begins exploring similarity in behavior between man-made and natural systems. She discusses correlative frequency and magnitude of failure in man-made systems and of similarly complex natural ones, and says we should pay greater attention to behavior of natural systems to help us understand vulnerability and instability in the systems we create, like the economy:
'Power Curves' What natural and economic disasters have in common (registration required).
"...the parallels between the dynamics and failures of man-made systems, such as the economy or the electricity grid, and similarly complex natural ones are bringing new ideas to economic forecasting, strategic planning, and risk management. This trend may have profound implications for policy makers, economists, and corporate strategists alike."
There are similiarities in this discussion with the work of Nicholas Taleb vis a vis societal and economic effects of low frequency, high impact disruptive events he calls "Black Swans."
Signs From Earth: Tips to Avoid "Black Swan" Events
Signs From Earth: Turbulence in Our Midst