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2023: Expect a financial crash followed by major energy-related changes

2023: Expect a financial crash followed by major energy-related changes

Why is the economy headed for a financial crash? It appears to me that the world economy hit Limits to Growth about 2018 because of a combination of diminishing returns in resource extraction together with rising population. The Covid-19 pandemic and the accompanying financial manipulations hid these problems for a few years, but now, as the world economy tries to reopen, the problems are back with a vengeance.

Figure 1. World primary energy consumption per capita based on BP’s 2022 Statistical Review of World Energy. Same chart shown in post, Today’s Energy Crisis Is Very Different from the Energy Crisis of 2005.

In the period between 1981 and 2022, the economy was lubricated by a combination of ever-rising debt, falling interest rates, and the growing use of Quantitative Easing. These financial manipulations helped to hide the rising cost of fossil fuel extraction after 1970. Even more money supply was added in 2020. Now central bankers are trying to squeeze the excesses out of the system using a combination of higher interest rates and Quantitative Tightening.

After central bankers brought about recessions in the past, the world economy was able to recover by adding more energy supply. However, this time we are dealing with a situation of true depletion; there is no good way to recover by adding more energy supplies to the system. Instead, the only way the world economy can recover, at least partially, is by squeezing some non-essential energy uses out of the system. Hopefully, this can be done in such a way that a substantial part of the world economy can continue to operate in a manner close to that in the past.

One approach to making the economy more efficient in its energy use is by greater regionalization. If countries can start trading almost entirely with nearby neighbors, this will reduce the world’s energy consumption…

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