The Three Worse Economic Scenarios

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  • Check out Gary A Scott’s new article. It appears the perfect storm is brewing

    The Three Worst Economic Scenarios

    Share your thoughts about the article below

    See this letter by Jeffrey Tucker titled “Were The Preppers Right Along?

    –Dee G

    just in case you missed it,

    Anthomy asked
    Jackie, so nice to see you on here again….I hope you’re thriving still and I look forward to more content as well as re-engaging in so much that I’ve yet to explore and put to use. In our environment of everybody being an expert, all of a sudden, the volume of noise is and shiny objects is overwhelming…..I have a curiosity…many investors who have apparently met with some success seem to be nostalgic for the policies of our former leader in chief…albeit the discord engendered notwithstanding…i wonder if you have someone who could come on and offer a context to illuminate if in fact things were better business wise, how they were…and how to reconcile that with the grift and graft and fascist, authoritarian posturing with attendant loss of personal freedoms and suppression of rights that so egregiously mitigated a cooperative discourse between such polarized elements in our culture…If in fact business was greater, at what cost? Anyway….just a thought….I want to have a better understanding of the nature of the two beasts as I go forward….

    Gary Scott’s response

    Anthony, thanks for this is an interesting question, but to try and put perspective on whether the left or right in politics is better for business throws us into the exact quagmire that politicians desire.

    The correct answer is that the political system, especially at this stage of America’s economic cycle, has little to do with the economy and any government is dangerous.

    My publications for the past 50 years have worked on the principle that regardless of the government’s position (left or right) they should be avoided as much as possible.

    The first book I wrote in the 1970s was entitled “Passport to International Profit” and looked at how governments take advantage of what I call the “Soil Defense Syndrome”.

    One chapter in that book described the “Concept Conversion Trick” and how it creates the soil defense syndrome.

    The book said: “The Concept Conversion Trick begins when people agree on a good concept for working and living together. The people go to work and if the concept is good they will create a paradise. The government gives them a flag and a song. Then the government pulls the trick. The government convinces the people that the flag and song are important. Then while the people are busy watching the flag and singing the song, the government replaces the original concept with a set of ever increasing written rules and regulations administered by bureaucrats and backed up by a police force.

    “This trick trades people’s individual freedoms for a shiver up the spine when the song is played and the piece of cloth is waved.

    “The Concept Conversion Trick turns spirit into matter.

    “Like trading love for a beautiful plastic doll. When the trick has been pulled and the dust settles, the people realize too late what has happened. Anyone who steps out of line is called unpatriotic or even criminal. He is swatted down by the bureaucracy or police force, crushed with overwhelming power or made an example of so others will tow the mark ‘for the good of society’. All this is done in the name of public interest.”

    If this writing sounds prophetic having been written over 50 years ago, it was not.

    Any simple review of any previous great society shows this trick and evolution. Like the Roman Empire , things may get better for a while, then worse and then better again. In the long term, as societies age, they lose their original vibrancy and life. The left and the right fuss and argue but all take, take, take from our wealth and freedom.

    Should we be surprised? Does not every single thing in this universal existence develop in the same way, vibrant and flexible while young and growing thicker and more brittle with age?

    The world is as we should expect.

    If there is a problem it’s not the economy, the politics or the changes around the world. The difficulty lies in our thoughts and beliefs when they are not in tune with reality.

    Maybe the pandemic has moved things along a little faster and sent the current down cycle a little deeper than than we would expect, but the downturn should be expected. We could be surprised by the severity and speed of decline caused by COVID-19, but our 2017 report “Live Anywhere – Earn Everywhere” looked at the risk of how America would respond to a viral infection. History provides us clues to the fact that current events are normal when looked at in the long term norm.

    Long term thinking is what we need. When we cannot understand what’s happening right in front of us, we have to rise above the day to day obstacles and gain a broader historical perspective.
    Nothing that’s happening now is new in the bigger picture.

    Nature works in bell shaped curves and human beings (surprise-surprise) are part of nature. Our actions, our societies, successes and failures are controlled by this reality too.

    So, let’s get on a positive note. Material affluence in human society has been rising for millennia. However this increase comes in waves with up and down cycles.

    Over the past decades, mankind has moved thru seven industrial eras since the 1750s.

    These eras are best described by Joseph Schumpeter, on how innovation creates industrial revolutions altering the way we live, work, earn and keep money. He described five great economic eras that began in the late 1700s:

    Era #1: 1785-1845-fueled by water power-60 years. Textiles and iron works were the backbone of growth industries.
    Era #2: 1845-1900-fueled by steam-55 years. Railways and steel provided the main growth in this era.
    Era #3: 1900-1950-fueled by the internal engine-50 years. Electricity and chemicals provided the major growth.
    Era #4: 1950-1990-fueled by electronics-40 years. Petrochemicals and aviation were the innovations which became mainstream in this period.
    Era #5: 1990-current-fueled by digital networks- 30 years+ ? Software and new media create the growth elements in this era.

    Each era greatly empowered massive new numbers of individuals, an empowerment that led to entire new social and economic classes. The working middle-class was born. This empowerment allowed the working class to rise from feudal subservient positions to positions of economic and hence political influence. Even in terrible global recession of the 1930s, people were far better off materially than a century before.

    Much of the world’s population became much richer in each era, but these advances were accompanied by turmoil caused by periods when the old order had not let go and the new order had not taken hold. Many forces came into play and there were struggles for dominance to establish order.

    We are in one of these turbulent periods now where social networking has become a dominant force, but has not gained full dominance.

    We can see these forces if we examine the last three reserve currency nations that rose to become the leading global power and then saw their dominance fall.

    From the 1500s to the mid 1750s, the Netherlands was the leading power. In the mid 1700s the British Empire took the lead and was not passed as the supreme power until around 1900 when the USA surged ahead until about 1950.

    In the Dutch era, Amsterdam was the world’s financial center and the Dutch guilder became the world’s reserve currency. London and the British pound took over these roles as Britain rose. Then the US dollar became the world’s reserve currency in 1944 and was as good as gold (or silver) until Richard Nixon reneged on the American currency promise.

    Each nation rose and has fallen because nature runs in a bell shaped curve and within every success lies the seeds of decline.

    Growing wealth and power have generally come from a (or many) new innovation that helps one or two countries become a leading power in the world. Then the hubris of success takes over, the power declines and some new technology creates a new leading power.

    This change does not spell disaster. There can be decline, but affluence can remain. The Days of Dutch glory are long gone, but I have spent a lot of time in the Netherlands (I maintained an office and worked from there for years). I promise you, Holland is still a really great place to live.
    The UK’s dominance has been in decline for over a century. I lived in England for more than a decade and am there often. English life can be absolutely superb!

    The trick is to ignore as much as you can the hype from the politicians whether they are liberal or conservative. They all want your money!

    Find and live in a pocket of affluence and do something that is of value to others and that makes you happy.

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