There have been some twisted metaphors to describe the financial crisis — mostly comparing it to some kind of virus — but Bill Thomas, a member on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, sought new ground last week when he evoked rock-climbing, fresh produce, fake sheep and tortoises, and crows.

At first the imagery was easy to follow. Speaking to former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson about banks' interconnectedness, Thomas said it was like "five men climbing a mountain: they're all roped together, one falls, he pulls the other four with him."

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