“Until debt tear us apart”
There is no denying that a major economic downturn is now in the books, and that lacking an energy miracle, the world economy is about to go through a major shift. After discussing the faulty nature of prevailing economic metrics (GDP) in last week’s essay, and understanding how economic growth has turned into stagnation 18 years ago already, let’s turn our eyes towards the future. What might the world economy look like after the onset of the coming crisis? How would world leaders react? Could gold or bitcoin save the day? Let’s dive in.
There is a yawning gap between real economic productivity and debt in the world economy. Despite the fact that GDP seems to be growing, real economic output (best measured by energy consumption) has been stagnating for almost two decades now. As a result Western nations have lost their dominance in the world economy, and now face a steep decline due to an ever worsening energy balance and their colossal import dependence.
You see, this is not a matter of money or the lack thereof. Governments all around the world had the chance to print all the money they wanted in the past two decades. There were two thing they could not conjure up, however: cheap raw materials and energy. Contrary to common wisdom, the green energy transition is not a miracle waiting to happen, only an expensive and utterly unsustainable addition to the existing fossil fuel energy infrastructure. Shale oil, the much heralded “solution” to peak oil, has also run its course and now is close to reaching its all time high… Only to embark on a steep decline afterwards. None of this is a monetary question, only a matter of geology and economics: resource depletion and the resulting cost increase. Printing money does not solve any of these issues, only creates more inflation.
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