by Amy S.
How Fascism Comes to America
I think there are really only two good reasons for having a significant amount of money: To maintain a high standard of living and to ensure your personal freedom. There are other, lesser reasons, of course, including: to prove you can do it, to compensate for failings in other things, to impress others, to leave a legacy, to help perpetuate your genes, or maybe because you just can’t think of something better to do with your time.
But I’ll put aside those lesser motives, which I tend to view as psychological foibles. Basically, money gives you the freedom to do what you’d like – and when, how, and with whom you prefer to do it. Money allows you to have things and do things and can even assist you to be something you want to be. Unfortunately, money is a chimera in today’s world and will wind up savaging billions in the years to come.
As you know, I believe we’re well into what I call The Greater Depression. A lot of people believe we’re in a recovery now; I think, from a long-term point of view, that is total nonsense. We’re just in the eye of the hurricane and will soon be moving into the other side of the storm. But it will be far more severe than what we saw in 2008 and 2009 and will last quite a while – perhaps for many years, depending on how stupidly the government acts.
Real Reasons for Optimism
There are reasons for optimism, of course, and at least two of them make sense.
The first is that every individual wants to improve his economic status. Many (but by no means all) of them will intuit that the surest way to do so is to produce more than they consume and save the difference. That creates capital, which can be invested in or loaned to productive enterprises. But what if outside forces make that impossible, or at least much harder than it should be?
The second reason for optimism is the development of technology – which is the ability to manipulate the material world to suit our desires. Scientists and engineers develop technology, and that also adds to the supply of capital. The more complex technology becomes, the more outside capital is required. But what if sufficient capital isn’t generated by individuals and businesses to fund further technological advances?
There are no guarantees in life. Throughout the first several hundred thousand years of human existence, very little capital was accumulated – perhaps a few skins or arrowheads passed on to the next generation. And there was very little improvement in technology – it was many millennia between the taming of fire and, say, the invention of the bow. Things very gradually accelerated and improved, in a start-stop-start kind of way – the classical world, followed by the Dark Ages, followed by the medieval world. Finally, as we entered the industrial world 200 years ago, it looked like we were on an accelerating path to the stars. All of a sudden, life was no longer necessarily so solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, or short. I’m reasonably confident things will continue improving, possibly at an accelerating rate. But only if individuals create more capital than they consume and if enough of that capital is directed towards productive technology.
Real Reasons for Pessimism
Those are the two mainsprings of human progress: capital accumulation and technology. Unfortunately, however, that reality has become obscured by a morass of false and destructive theories, abetted by a world that’s become so complex that it’s too difficult for most people to sort out cause and effect. Furthermore, most people in the OECD world have become so accustomed to good times, since the end of WW2, that they think prosperity is automatic and a permanent feature of the cosmic firmament. So although I’m very optimistic, progress – certainly over the near term – isn’t guaranteed.
These are the main reasons why the standard of living has been artificially high in the advanced world, but don’t confuse them with the two reasons for long-term prosperity.
The first is debt. There’s nothing wrong with debt in itself; lending is one way for the owner of capital to deploy it. But if a society is going to advance, debt should be largely for productive purposes, so that it’s self-liquidating; and most of it would necessarily be short term.
But most of the scores of trillions of debt in the world today are for consumption, not production. And the debt is not only not self-liquidating, it’s compounding. And most of it is long term, with no relation to any specific asset. A lender can reasonably predict the value of a short-term loan, but debt payable in 30 years is impossible to value realistically. All government debt, mortgage debt, consumer debt, and almost all student loan debt does nothing but allow borrowers to live off the capital others have accumulated. It turns the debtors into indentured servants for the indefinite future. The entire world has basically overlooked this, along with most other tenets of sound economics.
The second is inflation. Like debt, inflation induces people to live above their means, but its consequences are even worse, because they’re indirect and delayed. If the central bank deposited $10,000 in everyone’s bank account next Monday, everyone would think they were wealthier and start consuming more. This would start a business cycle. The business cycle is always the result of currency inflation, no matter how subtle or mild. And it always results in a depression. The longer an inflation goes on, the more ingrained the distortions and misallocations of capital become, and the worse the resulting depression. We’ve had a number of inflationary cycles since the end of the last depression in 1948. I believe we’re now at the end of what might be called a super-cycle, resulting in a super-depression.
The third is the export of dollars. This is unique to the U.S. and is the reason the depression in the U.S. will in some ways be worse than most other places. Since the early ’70s, the dollar has been used the way gold once was – it’s the world’s currency. The problem is that the U.S. has exported perhaps $10 trillion – but nobody knows – in exchange for good things from around the world. It was a great trade for a while. The foreigners get paper created at essentially zero cost, while Americans live high on the hog with the goodies those dollars buy.
But at some point quite soon, dollars won’t be readily accepted, and smart foreigners will start dumping their dollars, passing the Old Maid card. Ultimately, most of the dollars will come back to the U.S., to be traded for titles to land and businesses. Americans will find that they traded their birthright for a storage unit full of TVs and assorted tchotchkes. But many foreigners will also be stuck with dollars and suffer a huge loss. It’s actually a game with no winner.
These last three factors have enabled essentially the whole world to live above its means for decades. The process has been actively facilitated by governments everywhere. People like living above their means, and governments prefer to see the masses sated.
The debt and inflation have also financed the growth of the welfare state, making a large percentage of the masses dependent, even while they’ve also resulted in an immense expansion in the size and power of the state over the last 60-odd years. The masses have come to think government is a magical entity that can do almost anything, including kiss the economy and make it better when the going gets tough. The type of people who are drawn to the government are eager to make the state a panacea. So they’ll redouble their efforts in the fiscal and monetary areas I’ve described above, albeit with increasingly disastrous results.
They’ll also become quite aggressive with regulations (on what you can do and say, and where your money can go) and taxes (much higher existing taxes and lots of new ones, like a national VAT and a wealth tax). And since nobody wants to take the blame for problems, they’ll blame things on foreigners. Fortunately (the U.S. will think) they have a huge military and will employ it promiscuously. So the already bankrupt nations of NATO will dig the hole deeper with some serious – but distracting – new wars.
It’s most unfortunate, but the U.S. and its allies will turn into authoritarian police states. Even more than they are today. Much more, actually. They’ll all be perfectly fascist – private ownership of both consumer goods and the means of production topped by state control of both. Fascism operates free of underlying principles or philosophy; it’s totally the whim of the people in control, and they’ll prove ever more ruthless.
So where does that leave us, as far as accumulating more wealth than the average guy is concerned? I’d say it puts us in a rather troubling position. The general standard of living is going to collapse, as will your personal freedom. And if you’re an upper-middle-class person (I suspect that includes most who are now reading this), you will be considered among the rich who are somehow (this is actually a complex subject worthy of discussion) responsible for the bad times and therefore liable to be eaten. The bottom line is that if you value your money and your freedom, you’ll take action.
There’s much, much more to be said on all this. I’ve said a lot on the topic over the past few years, at some length. But I thought it best to be brief here, for the purpose of emphasis. Essentially, act now, because the world’s combined economic, financial, political, social, and military situation is as good as it will be for many years… and a lot better than it has any right to be.
What to Do?
No new advice here, at least as far as veteran readers are concerned. But my suspicion is that very few of you have acted, even if you understand why you should act. Peer pressure (I’m confident that you have few, if any, friends, relatives, or associates who think along these lines) and inertia are powerful forces.
That said, you should do the following:
Maintain significant bank and brokerage accounts outside your home country. Consider setting up an offshore asset protection trust. These things aren’t as easy to do as they used to be. But they’ll likely be much less easy in the future.
Make sure you have a significant portion of your wealth in precious metals and a significant part of that offshore.
Buy some nice foreign real estate, ideally in a place where you wouldn’t mind spending some time.
Work on getting official residency in another country, as well as a second citizenship/passport. There’s every advantage to doing so, and no disadvantages. That’s true of all these things.
One more thing: Don’t worry too much. All countries seem to go through nasty phases. Within the lifetime of most people today, we’ve seen it in big countries such as Russia, Germany, and China. And in scores of smaller ones – the list is too long to recount here.
Biggest Economic Shitstorm In 80 Years Is Coming! – The Coming Collapse Will Be Far Worse Than The Great Depression And You Need To Be Prepared
The causes of the Great Recession seem similar to the Great Depression, but significant differences exist. The previous chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, had extensively studied the Great Depression as part of his doctoral work at MIT, and implemented policies to manipulate the money supply and interest rates in ways that were not done in the 1930s. Bernanke’s policies will undoubtedly be analyzed and scrutinized in the years to come, as economists debate the wisdom of his choices. Generally speaking, the recovery of the world’s financial systems tended to be quicker during the Great Depression of the 1930s as opposed to the late-2000s recession.
If we contrast the 1930s with the Crash of 2008 where gold went through the roof, it is clear that the US dollar on the gold standard was a completely different animal in comparison to the fiat free-floating US dollar currency we have today. Both currencies in 1929 and 2008 were the US dollar, but in an analogous way it is as if one was a Saber-toothed tiger and the other is a Bengal tiger; they are two completely different animals. Where we have experienced inflation since the Crash of 2008, the situation was much different in the 1930s when deflation set in. Unlike the deflation of the early 1930s, the US economy currently appears to be in a “liquidity trap,” or a situation where monetary policy is unable to stimulate an economy back to health.
In terms of the stock market, nearly three years after the 1929 crash, the DJIA dropped 8.4% on August 12, 1932. Where we have experienced great volatility with large intraday swings in the past two months, in 2011, we have not experienced any record-shattering daily percentage drops to the tune of the 1930s. Where many of us may have that ’30s feeling, in light of the DJIA, the CPI, and the national unemployment rate, we are simply not living in the ’30s. Some individuals may feel as if we are living in a depression, but for many others the current global financial crisis simply does not feel like a depression akin to the 1930s.
1928 and 1929 were the times in the 20th century that the wealth gap reached such skewed extremes; half the unemployed had been out of work for over six months, something that was not repeated until the late-2000s recession. 2007 and 2008 eventually saw the world reach new levels of wealth gap inequality that rivalled the years of 1928 and 1929.
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place during the 1930s. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; however, in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how far the world’s economy can decline.
The depression originated in the United States, after a fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929, and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday). Between 1929 and 1932, worldwide GDP fell by an estimated 15%. By comparison, worldwide GDP fell by less than 1% from 2008 to 2009 during the Great Recession. Some economies started to recover by the mid-1930s. However, in many countries, the negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the beginning of World War II.
The Great Depression had devastating effects in countries both rich and poor. Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade plunged by more than 50%. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25% and in some countries rose as high as 33%.
Cities all around the world were hit hard, especially those dependent on heavy industry. Construction was virtually halted in many countries. Farming communities and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by approximately 60%.Facing plummeting demand with few alternate sources of jobs, areas dependent on primary sector industries such as mining and logging suffered the most.
Expert economist Peter Schiff thinks the coming collapse will be far worse than the Great Depression and you need to be prepared.
If you were about to take a final exam, would you have more hope or more fear if you didn’t understand any of the questions and you had not prepared for the test at all? I think that virtually all of us have had dreams where we show up for an exam that we have not studied for. Those dreams can be pretty terrifying. And of course if you were ever in such a situation in real life, you probably did very, very poorly on that test. The reason I have brought up this hypothetical is to make a point. My point is that there is hope in understanding what is ahead of us, and there is hope in getting prepared.
In the end, each one of us needs to make the decisions that we feel are best for our own families.
So that is why it is so incredibly important not to let someone else do your thinking for you.
In America today, the average person watches 153 hours of television a month. In addition to that, we also spend countless hours watching movies, playing video games, listening to music, reading books and surfing the Internet.
What most Americans don’t realize is that there are just six giant corporations that control almost all of that content, and that makes them immensely powerful.
These giant media corporations are constantly manipulating our attitudes, opinions and beliefs. And at this point most Americans seem quite content to remain “plugged into the matrix” and to allow corrupt corporate executives somewhere to do their thinking for them.
The next thing you need to do is make a plan. What threats are you MOST concerned about? What preparations can you do that will help you no matter what kind of disaster you face? What skills & supplies do you currently have? Which skills do you need to develop & what supplies do you need to start getting? What if you have to bug-out? What if you can’t bug-out and you have to Survive In Place?
You will continually be modifying your plan based on opportunities and your unique situation, so don’t feel like the plan you make today will be set in stone.
If a U.S. economic collapse occurs, it will happen quickly. No one would predict it. That’s because the signs of imminent failure are difficult to see.
How to Prepare for a Collapse
Protecting yourself from a U.S. economic collapse is difficult. A catastrophic failure can happen without warning. In most crises, people survive through their knowledge, wits, and by helping each other. Make sure you understand basic economic concepts so you can see warning signs of instability. One of the first signs is a stock market crash. If it’s bad enough, a market crash can cause a recession.
Second, keep as many assets as liquid as possible so that you can withdraw them within a week. In addition to your regular job, make sure you have skills that you’d need in a traditional economy, such as farming, cooking, or repair.
Keep yourself in top physical shape. Know basic survival skills, such as self-defense, foraging, hunting, and starting a fire. Practice now with camping trips. If you can, move near a wildlife preserve in a temperate climate. That way, if a collapse occurs, you can live off the land in a relatively unpopulated area.
As for cash, it may not be useful in a total economic collapse because its value might be decimated. Stockpiles of gold bullion may not help because they would be difficult to transport if you needed to move quickly. In a severe collapse, they may not be accepted as currency. But it would be good to have a stash of $20 bills and gold coins, just in case. During many crisis situations, these are commonly accepted as bribes.