The Global Endgame (March 12, 2013)
Is pushing consequence forward the same as eliminating consequence? We will find out at some point in the near future.
Today's project is to overlay The Global Endgame in Fourteen Points (February 15, 2013) on the classic cycle of credit/speculative expansion and credit destruction/speculative bust. My monthly video program host Gordon T. Long helpfully provided this chart of the modern credit cycle, which examines the Cycle of Deflation through the lens of financialization:
The key point being made in The Global Endgame is that the entire global economy is in the final stages of the "winter" cycle of credit destruction and collapse of phantom collateral. Let's start with the 14 points:
1. "Boost Phase" of Credit Expansion
The key dynamics here are debt saturation and diminishing returns: piling on more debt (i.e. borrowing more money) to stimulate spending only leads to fantastic excesses of speculation and mal-investment: $70,000 biopsies, $200 million fighter aircraft, $200,000 bachelor's degrees, McMansions in the middle of nowhere, and so on.
The actual yield on all that borrowed money keep falling: ever-larger sums are borrowed and spent, but there are fewer jobs created and ever-diminishing returns of value created.
Even though central banks are holding interest rates near zero to enable governments to borrow vast sums, substituting debt expansion for actual value creation eventually leads to debt-serfdom as interest payments start crowding out all other spending.
All too soon governments and households alike are borrowing more just to pay the interest on the mountain of existing debt. This is the inevitable result of incentivizing credit expansion and speculation.
The central banks are attempting to nullify the cycle of credit expansion and destruction by buying much of the sovereign debt being issued by profligate, hopelessly insolvent governments. Left to the open market, interest rates would rise as the risk of massive debt expansion becomes undeniable.
Eventually, higher rates would pinch off borrowing or trigger default.
The central banks are playing an unprecedented game: suppressing interest rates by expanding their balance sheets, i.e. creating money, and buying vast quantities of government bonds.
This has given government leaders a free hand to keep borrowing more to avoid any politically painful limits on substituting debt for tax revenues. The expansion of central bank balance sheets is apparently painless and apparently consequence-free. So what if the Fed expands its balance sheet from $3 trillion to $30 trillion as it enables the debt-junkies to keep borrowing without limits?
Is pushing consequence forward the same as eliminating consequence? We will find out
at some point in the near future: perhaps 2015, perhaps 2021.
Things are falling apart--that is obvious. But why are they falling apart? The reasons are complex and global. Our economy and society have structural problems that cannot be solved by adding debt to debt. We are becoming poorer, not just from financial over-reach, but from fundamental forces that are not easy to identify or understand. We will cover the five core reasons why things are falling apart:
1. Debt and financialization
2. Crony capitalism and the elimination of accountability
3. Diminishing returns
5. Technological, financial and demographic changes in our economy
Complex systems weakened by diminishing returns collapse under their own weight and are replaced by systems that are simpler, faster and affordable. If we cling to the old ways, our system will disintegrate. If we want sustainable prosperity rather than collapse, we must embrace a new model that is Decentralized, Adaptive, Transparent and Accountable (DATA).
We are not powerless. Not accepting responsibility and being powerless are two sides of
the same coin: once we accept responsibility, we become powerful.
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