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What the Rising Gold Price Signals

What the Rising Gold Price Signals

The recent run-up in the gold price has not garnered the attention among the mainstream financial media outlets as it should.  Gold has, in part, been overshadowed by the rise in the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Naturally, the financial press, which is really an arm of the government and its central bank, wants to ignore, as much as possible, references to gold as protection against the continuing increase in the price level which itself has been deliberately understated by monetary officials.  The media and government understand that precious metals are the ultimate security against runaway inflation and economic collapse.

While the increase in the gold price has reached nominal highs, it and the price of silver have not passed their all-time 1980 highs in real terms.  Adjusted for inflation, gold would have to rise to about $3590 an ounce while silver would have to surpass $50 an ounce.  Both are poised to exceed these watermarks in the not-too-distant future.

Precious metals will continue to escalate unless the Federal Reserve radically changes its interest rate policy to combat inflation as former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker once did.  Volcker raised interest rates to double-digit levels which caused gold prices to fall.  While Volcker could get away with such actions (because, at the time, the U.S. was still a creditor nation), current Chair Jerome Powell cannot because of the enormity of public and private debt.  Double-digit interest rates would collapse the economy and plunge millions of Americans into bankruptcy.

The rising price of gold is anticipating some of the promised policy actions of the Fed.  Since the end of last year, the central bank has indicated that it would be cutting interest rates.  In addition, Powell is considering ending the Fed’s “Quantitative Tightening” (QT) program.  Both are highly inflationary.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

IMF Prepares Financial Revolution – Say GOODBYE to the Dollar

IMF Prepares Financial Revolution – Say GOODBYE to the Dollar

Global reserve currency status allows for amazing latitude in terms of monetary policy.

The Treasury Department understands that there is constant demand for dollars overseas as a means to more easily import and export goods. The petrodollar monopoly made the U.S. dollar essential for trading oil globally for decades.

This means that the central bank of the U.S. has been able to create fiat currency from thin air to a far higher degree than any other central bank on the planet while avoiding the immediate effects of hyperinflation.

Much of that cash as well as dollar-denominated debt  ends up in the coffers of foreign central banks, international banks and investment firms. Sometimes it is held as a hedge, or bought and sold to adjust the exchange rates of local currencies. As much as 60% of all U.S. currency (and 25% of U.S. government debt) is owned outside the U.S.

Global reserve currency status is what allowed the U.S. government and the Fed to create tens of trillions of dollars in new currency after the 2008 credit crash, all while keeping inflation more or less under control.

The problem is that this system of stowing dollars overseas only lasts so long and eventually the effects of overprinting come home to roost.

The Bretton-Woods Agreement of 1944 established the framework for the rise of the U.S. dollar. While the benefits are obvious, especially for the U.S., there are numerous costs involved. Think of world reserve status as a “deal with the devil.” You get the fame, you get the fortune, you get trophy dates and a sweet car – for a while. Then one day the devil comes to collect, and when he does he’s going to take everything, including your soul.

Unfortunately, I suspect collection time is coming soon for the U.S.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XLIV–The Ruling Class: Chasing Growth Regardless Of the Consequences

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XLIV

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

The Ruling Class: Chasing Growth Regardless Of the Consequences

Today’s contemplation is in response to an article by the Honest Sorcerer whose writings I discovered not long ago and have enjoyed for their insight and clarity. I recommend reading them[1].

If only the tragedy that is unfolding in Ukraine would be a catalyst for our ‘leaders’ to highlight our existential vulnerabilities to the complex systems we have come to expand and depend significantly upon but, alas, I fear this crisis, as always seems to happen, is being leveraged by our ruling class[2] to benefit themselves primarily, not the vast majority of people. A few of the items this latest geopolitical event is being used to rationalise/justify include: the creation of more fiat currency and government spending (most of which will find its way into their investment portfolios); the expansion of the surveillance state (especially focused on those who question or challenge government diktats); as a foil to blame increasing economic and social woes upon (so as to keep their policies and behaviours that have contributed to these problems out of the light of day); as a reason to expand significantly and speed up tremendously our transition to ‘clean’ technologies, or the opposite — the expansion of legacy energy extraction (both of which whose necessary financial and industrial processes are owned/controlled by them); as rationale to expand narrative control/censorship (particularly of viewpoints/perspective that challenge or question the mainstream storyline); etc..[3]

I have zero faith that our governments at any level have solid plans to reduce or even mitigate the chaos of overshoot beyond attempts to keep the various Ponzis they preside over going as long as and in whatever manner they can. More than likely their approach will be to persuade the populace in the name of ‘patriotism’ and other such emotional trigger points to make increasing ‘sacrifices’, mostly in the form of increased taxes[4] but also in terms of weakened or diminished expectations as far as the ‘benefits’ that might accrue from further investments in complexity[5].

I’ve come to believe that the ruling class’s primary motivation is the expansion/control of the wealth-generation/-extraction systems from which they derive their revenue streams, and thus their power and prestige. Everything they do, from policy to legislation to censorship, first and foremost serves to meet this primary catalyst. Everything. It is all marketed differently (in fact, the opposite most of the time) but ultimately it supports or extends upon their primary consideration.

While the future is impossible to predict, the past suggests that as we fall down the Seneca Cliff of resource availability we will witness a continuation (perhaps even speeding up) of the flow of declining resources up the power and wealth structures inherent in our complex societies rather than down them as the ruling class purports to be pursuing. This will, however, be spun (as it has been throughout history), and increasingly so, in true Orwellian fashion as beneficial for the masses and necessary to keep our complex systems functioning. I suppose in a sense it is true that growth must continue to be pursued but this is primarily because of the Ponzi-like structure of our financial and monetary systems[6].

I see this very clearly in my home region north of Toronto where expansive growth is being not only cheered on by our ruling class but increasingly marketed as the only real means of addressing our various predicaments, especially economic expansion. Growth is progress and only beneficial is the common refrain. We need to expand in order to increase revenues and ensure equity. We can grow sustainably[7] without negatively impacting the environment. We have strong and unfaltering supply chains.

There is zero recognition of resource limits or they are waved away as environmental neuroses and/or doomsday conspiracies. Whatever issues might arise can be countered via more growth. The fact that our population of close to 15 million relies upon around 80+% of its food needs via fragile, long-distance supply chains while we continue to pave over our limited arable lands matters not[8]. ‘Sustainable’ growth ensures our prosperity and must be pursued.

As long as we have a ruling class that holds to the historical tendencies to place their interests above that of their constituents, then we have a situation where mitigation/adaptation will only be prevalent in the narratives spun, not the actual actions taken. I see this so clearly in the attempts to sustain the unsustainable via stories about ‘net zero’ growth and a post-carbon transition to ‘clean’ energy. The ruling class profits immensely from these narratives as they own/control the financial institutions and industries needed to fund and produce these technologies. It doesn’t matter that they do not in any way, shape, or form do what they are marketed as being able to accomplish.

Infinite growth (even sustaining our current world complexities) is not possible on a finite planet. Never has been. Never will be. Techno-cornucopian ‘solutions’ only serve to make the rich richer and the coming collapse from ecological overshoot all the more spectacular.

Readers are encouraged to focus on relocalising the basic aspects of living (i.e., potable water procurement, food production, and regional shelter needs) as much as possible and reconnect with community members who will be your primary supports as things go increasingly sideways. Do not put your faith in our so-called political ‘leaders’. Despite their propaganda, they do not have your best interests at the top of their agendas; if such an incentive even makes the agenda except perhaps around election time when the marketing of more, more, more really blossoms. Because, you know, more is in your best interest…only it’s not.

[1] Full disclosure: the articles align very much with my own thinking and so serve to confirm my own interpretive biases.

[2] It’s not just our ruling class that is using the situation to benefit from. There are numerous grifters leveraging it as well.

[3] These are a continuation of trends that have been taking place for decades (centuries), most recently with the coronavirus pandemic.

[4] Especially in terms of that ‘hidden’ tax, price inflation — that will be blamed on everything, particularly the ‘enemy’, but their expansion of debt-/credit-based fiat currency and diminishing returns on our resource-dependent complexities; and I expect intensified manipulation of the reported statistics pertaining to price inflation as part of the narrative control taking place, even more than the current obscene and increasing levels.

[5] I highly recommend reading archaeologist Joseph Tainter’s book The Collapse of Complex Societies to get insight into how diminishing returns on investments in complexity seems to be the underlying cause of a complex society ‘collapsing’. You can access my personal summary notes to this and a handful of other books here.

[6] Very, very few people want to destroy the illusion that our financial/monetary systems are robust and NOT Ponzi-like in nature as we are all embroiled in it. But once confidence in such schemes is lost it is only a matter of moments before the entire edifice collapses. I can only imagine the chaos that would ensue once a tipping point of people come to realise that these systems are held together by duct tape and prayer (and A LOT of lies).

[7] The idea of ‘sustainable’ growth is one of those oxymorons that drive me crazy–’clean’ or ‘green’ energy being another. Such language manipulation is quite purposeful as a narrative control mechanism and needs to be highlighted every time it occurs. It significantly distorts one’s perceptions of what is and what is not possible on a finite planet.

[8] The overwhelming majority of Ontario’s prime agricultural land is dedicated to modern industrial agriculture in order to grow corn and soybean for products that do not, for the most part, feed its population.

The US Is Living on Borrowed Time

The US Is Living on Borrowed Time

In late December, I published a final report on the themes of 2023 while looking ahead at their implications for the year to come.

I repeated my claim that debt markets and debt levels made the future of Fed policies, currency moves, rate markets and gold’s endgame fairly clear to see.

Of course, as facts change, opinions change as well.

But the facts are only worsening, which means my opinions in late 2023 are only growing stronger as we conclude the first month of 2024.

Then as now, the debt-soaked US is tilting ever more toward policies which will weaken its currency, wound its middleclass and reward its false idols (and false markets) with even greater desperation.

In particular, some recent facts below are emerging which further support my otherwise sad conviction that the American economy (not to be confused with its Fed-supported stock exchanges) is literally living on borrowed time.

The Latest Bits of Crazy from the CBO

Almost a year ago to date, I was shaking my head and rubbing my eyes as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced a staggering $422B Federal budget deficit for Q1 2023.

Now that’s a lot of borrowing in a short amount of time…

For some strange reason, this bothered me in early 2023, as I was still under this odd impression that debt, and hence deficits, actually mattered.

Fast forward to January 2024, and that same CBO has just announced a $509B Federal budget deficit for Q1 2024.

Folks, that adds up to annual deficit run rate of $2.2T.

Please: Re-read that last line again.

Do the Math: DC is Getting Even Dumber

…click on the above link to read the rest…

A Renewable Energy Future Will Collapse the Financial System

Energy Contrarian Featured Image

Energy is the economy. That’s a radical concept because most people think that the economy runs on money. It doesn’t.

What is energy? It is the potential or capacity to do work. The economy runs on work. That’s why energy is the economy. That’s simple.

What is money? That’s a little more complex.

“Money is not the value for which goods are exchanged, but the value by which they are exchanged.”

John Law

In other words, money has no inherent value. Economists often attempt to change the subject by pointing out that money is at least a medium of exchange, a store of value or a unit of account. The same, however, could be said for cigarettes that were used as money in Communist Romania in the 1980s.

“Society runs on energy and materials, but most people think it runs on money…[Money] is created as debt subject to mathematical laws of compound interest…Money eventually gets spent on a good or service which will contain embodied energy. Money is a claim on energy yet its creation is not tethered to energy availability or cost.”

N. J. Hagens

In the end, money–as paper, coins, gold or cigarettes–is just a financial claim on energy, a marker, a unit of account. For example, I may contract someone to do work for me—to build a fence or to move some heavy equipment—and we agree on a payment amount. I pay him dollars for his physical work (joules). He may then use those dollars to buy food (joules), gasoline for his car (joules) or contract someone else’s labor to do some work for him (joules). Money is the medium of exchange but the value exchanged is energy.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

More Golden (and Black-Gold) Proof: The Dollar is Totally Screwed

More Golden (and Black-Gold) Proof: The Dollar is Totally Screwed

Ever since day-one of the predictably disastrous and politically myopic insanity of weaponizing the world reserve currency against a major power like Russia, we warned that the USD had reached an historical turning point of slow demise and increasing de-dollarization.

We also warned that this would be a gradual process rather than over-night headline, much like the slow but steady death of the USD’s purchasing power since Nixon left the gold standard in 1971:

But as we’ll discover below, this gyrating process is happening even faster than we could have imagined, and all of this bodes profoundly well for physical gold, yet not so well for the USD.

Bad Actors, Bad Policies & Predictable Patterns

Regardless of what the media-mislead world thinks of Putin, weaponizing the USD was a foreseeable disaster which, naturally, none of DC’s worst-and-dimmest, could fully grasp.

This is because chest-puffing but math-illiterate neocons pushing policy from the Pentagon were pulling the increasingly visible strings of a Biden puppet at the White House.

In short, the dark state of which Mike Lofgren warned is not only dark, but dangerously dumb.

These political opportunists have forgotten that military power is not as wise as financial strength, which is why broke (and increasingly centralized nations) inevitably lead their country toward a state of permanent ruin preceded by cycles of war and currency-destroying inflation.

Sound familiar?

Despite no training in economics, Ernest Hemingway, who witnessed two world wars, saw this pattern clearly:

We also found “Biden’s” sanctions particularly comical, given that his former boss clearly understood the dangers of such a policy for the USD as far back as 2015:

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLXIX–Fiat Currency Devaluation: A Ruling Elite ‘Solution’ to Growth Limits

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLXIX

Teotihuacan, Mexico (1988). Photo by author.

Fiat Currency Devaluation: A Ruling Elite ‘Solution’ to Growth Limits

Today’s post is my comment on the latest Honest Sorcerer’s piece regarding the misuse of the term ‘inflation’ and how currency devaluation and the coming energy squeeze overlap.

Another well-articulated summary of yet a further aspect of our species’ predicament brought about by a society’s attempts to pursue infinite growth on a finite planet and how our ruling class attempts to keep the party going for a tad longer (mostly for them and their ilk) as we bump up against and try to ignore the planet’s biogeophysical limits to growth.

Debauching a currency as a society continues to expand but encounters diminishing returns on its investments in complexity has a long and storied history. In fact, the ‘strategy’ of economic machinations of this type to kick-the-can-down-the-road as it were has been around for about as long as complex societies and their currencies have been. The most famous (at least for those schooled in Western cultures) is that of the multi-generational devaluation of the Roman denarius[1].

By Nicolas Perrault III — Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67224989

I penned a rather lengthy Contemplation on the economic manipulation we will experience increasingly as part of a series on our energy future. In this fourth and final installment (that aligns with your piece) I begin with this:

“In Part 1, I argue that energy underpins everything, including human complex societies. In Part 2, I suggest that the increasing need for diminishing resources, especially finite or limited ‘renewable’ ones, invariably leads to geopolitical tension between competing polities. Part 3 further posits that this geopolitical competition creates internal societal stresses that are met with rising authoritarianism and attempts at sociobehavioural control of domestic populations by the ruling elite.

Economic manipulation — mostly through the financial/monetary systems of a society, that the ruling caste controls — is part and parcel of addressing the societal stresses that arise as things become more complex (as a result of the problem-solving aspects of a society), competition with other polities increases, resources become more dear, and control of the population takes on greater urgency.”

Pre/history has witnessed this story play out countless times in a rather predictable fashion. First, a society addresses its various problems using the least expensive and easiest-to-achieve ‘solutions’. The surpluses that result from this approach allow for a society to continue expanding (hydrocarbons having strapped powerful rockets to this recurrent tendency). Eventually, however, diminishing returns on these ‘solutions’ are encountered. More expensive and harder-to-achieve ‘solutions’ are then pursued.

Surpluses can stave off having to abandon growth for a while but eventually a point is reached where the masses begin to bear the brunt of the economic contraction that accompanies expansion or even just to maintain the status quo — the elite finding ways to insulate themselves for as long as possible. In a society with a complex economic/monetary system, manipulation via currency devaluation is one of the go-to ‘solutions’ since it can disguise responsibility for the inevitable decline in living standards that are experienced from it while benefitting a few at the top of the power and wealth structures that exist in large, complex societies.

On the surface this approach can appear to be effective, and certainly the narrative managers that work on behalf of the ruling class to steer beliefs amongst the masses stress this to be the case. In reality, however, this currency devaluation is like eating one’s seed corn: it always ends badly, for everyone since it is stealing from the future…

I provide some further thoughts on this phenomena in these posts: Collapse Cometh IV; Collapse Cometh XI; Collapse Cometh XXXII; Collapse Cometh CXII.

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXXII–Greenwashing, Fiat Currency, and Narrative Management: More On Climate Change and Elite Confabs

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXXII

November 6, 2021

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Greenwashing, Fiat Currency, and Narrative Management: More On Climate Change and Elite Confabs

Today’s missive was motivated by a former student’s (and eventual colleague) question regarding a Facebook Post I made regarding COP-26.

Here’s what I posted:

COP-26. Be aware…

These elite confabs are not about climate, except to leverage the fear factor over it to meet the primary concern of the ruling class: control/expansion of the wealth-generating systems that provide their revenue streams. It’s additionally a marketing expo for ‘green’ energy products; a mechanism for helping to steer the mainstream narratives; and a justification for further enrichment of the elite via massive expansion of fake fiat currency.

It is not about saving the planet.

And here is the comment I am responding to:

The greenwashing of society is ridiculous. People continuing to buy useless things they don’t need that will not help the environment and now feeling good about draining their own pockets. The elite lining their pockets and masterminding it all. Curious, what do you mean by fake flat currency?

My response to Michelle:

Thanks for the question. It has motivated me to write a rather lengthy response that I have ‘published’ with my ongoing ‘series’ on Medium. You can find it below:

Basically, the currency we use is supposed to carry with it a number of ‘qualities’: use as a medium of exchange; a measure of ‘wealth’; and, a store of ‘value’. As with virtually everything the ruling class touches, our ‘fiat’ currency has become a tool of control and wealth extraction through its creation and distribution mechanisms (just another in a long line of examples that have lead me to believe that the primary motivation of our ruling class is the control/expansion of the wealth-generating systems that provide their revenue streams; everything they do seems to serve this purpose in one way or another).

Our ‘money’ has always been problematic in the ability to be manipulated, but became even more exploitive in nature once removed from its tie to physical commodities, such as gold and silver, that served to constrain somewhat the level of abuse — thanks Richard Nixon and fellow politicians of the time. Since then, money (with the aid of the monetary policies of our central banks) has been able to be created from thin air in staggering amounts. This exponential growth in currency destroys it as a store of ‘value’ — the quality that most significantly impacts the ‘average’ user.

The term inflation actually refers to this growth in currency but has been twisted (as language often is by the-powers-that-be, think about the notion of ‘clean/green’ energy and the greenwashing that has and is occurring) to represent something ‘beneficial’ when it is for the ‘average’ person actually quite detrimental (classic Orwellian doublespeak). When the term inflation is now used it usually refers to the increase in the price of consumer products, and those running the fiat currency system market this price increase as beneficial to the economy and pursue it believing they can control it and its consequences (the belief that one can control/predict a complex system is perhaps one of humanity’s greatest shortcomings).

In reality, this currency expansion is primarily beneficial to the creators and distributors of money, and those first in line to receive this newly ‘minted’ money — usually governments and wealthy elite who can more or less avoid the impact of price inflation by getting access early, thus the lack of resistance by governments and large businesses to reign it in; to say little about the banking system that creates the currency and then charges interest on its product made from nothing. Once this flood of currency filters down to the ‘average’ person, its ‘value’ has decreased significantly because of consumer price inflation (what we witness as a loss of purchasing power — which of course is drastically underreported by the government institutions that ‘measure’ it; primarily because of the way they manipulate the statistics with the actual price increases people experience multiple times higher than the value reported and broadly regurgitated by the uncritical establishment media).

The issue is far more complex and convoluted than I could summarise in a few paragraphs, and I am sharing my ever-changing view based on relatively limited reading and experience. There are a myriad of books written about the subject.

And I haven’t even touched on the ‘narrative managers’ (academics, private economists, government bureaucrats, journalists, etc.) that steer the public perceptions of this gargantuan scam for that is what our monetary/financial systems have become (and thus our entire economic system): they have morphed into the largest Ponzi scheme ever created. In fact, we have entered a time where without constant growth (thus exponential in nature) the entire scheme collapses — the classic definition of a Ponzi scheme, one in which we are all embroiled.

For a long time, the growth needed to ‘fuel’ our economic system was provided by our exploitation of the planet and its relatively preserved and seemingly limitless resources. That changed, however, as we began encountering diminishing returns on our investments. For the past 50 years or so this growth has been predicated upon the expansion of debt/credit (i.e., fiat currency creation) and has, unfortunately, entered a very dangerous territory where debt repayments are exceeding people’s ability to even pay for their interest, let alone principal. To say little about the fact that debt/credit is in essence stealing from the future in the form of claims on future resources (especially energy) that are not only increasingly difficult to procure but in many cases don’t or won’t exist in the future because we live on a finite planet.

Our ‘prosperity/wealth/growth’, therefore, is in a sense all ‘fake’. A Potemkin village if you will. It appears solid and real on the surface but behind the façade is nothing but the ‘promises’ of our feckless ‘leaders’ — and we should, by now, know how much integrity these class of people have and how much of the ‘truth’ they spew. Zero, except perhaps some kernel of it that can be manipulated and leveraged to their advantage.

Confetti Dollar End of Ponzi Scheme – Bill Holter

Confetti Dollar End of Ponzi Scheme – Bill Holter

Precious metals expert and financial writer Bill Holter says the recent underreported announcement by the UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti in Switzerland that his bank might need a “rescue” is yet another sign on the short road to the end of the global Ponzi scheme backed by the US dollar reserve currency.  Holter points out, “You’ve got a sick bank (Credit Suisse) that is being bailed out by another bank (UBS) that may turn out to be sick.  My question is who is going to bail out these central banks?  You have got the Fed with a $9 trillion balance sheet.  The last time, the Fed went from $900 billion to $9 trillion.  Can the Fed now go from $9 trillion to $90 trillion?  Who is going to bail out the Fed?  Who is going to bail out the US Treasury?  Who is going to bail out the Bank of England, the ECB or the Bank of Japan?  These central banks have completely blown up their balance sheet and have no ability to save anything.  My question is who is going to save them?”

Can’t they cut interest rates again like they did in 2009?  Holter says, “If they cut interest rates from here, you would see the dollar absolutely crash.  The only reason the dollar has not crashed is interest rates have basically gone from 0% to 5%.   They have done that in a year and a half which is the fastest increase in interest rates in all of history.”

So, rate cuts will devalue the dollar.  Can you pay trillions of dollars borrowed in Treasury Bond back in confetti dollars?  Holter says, “Yes, you absolutely can pay back your debt in confetti.  It’s been done many, many times before as currencies get lost…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLXI–A Self-Sufficient Community — Better Than Precious Metals or Fiat/Digital Currencies

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLXI

Mexico (1988). Photo by author.

A Self-Sufficient Community — Better Than Precious Metals or Fiat/Digital Currencies

Today I’m sharing a conversation with others via the Comments section for a post on the website Zerohedge — as well as a preamble to the conversation to set the context for my part in the conversation. The article is focused upon the future of fiat currency but comes via the website Schiffgold that for all intents and purposes markets precious metals, warning of the perils of fiat currency.

For anyone who follows such sites, you will be cognizant of the ongoing debates regarding precious metals and fiat/electronic currencies. Essentially, the disagreements are founded upon differences of opinion regarding the best avenue for storing one’s ‘wealth’, particularly surplus wealth, to help avoid the inevitable collapse of current fiat currencies.

I have written a bit about such topics, particularly as they pertain to growth and collapse, in these posts:
Feeding the Growth Monster: Fiat Currency and Technology Blog Medium
Fiat Currency: Debasement and Infinite Growth Blog Medium
Fiat Currency, Infinite Growth, Finite Resources: A Recipe For Collapse Blog Medium
Greenwashing, Fiat Currency, Narrative Management: More On Climate Change and Elite Confabs Medium
Ruling Caste Responses To Societal Breakdown/Collapse Medium

When I first fell down the rabbit’s hole that is Peak Oil and began to explore all the issues related to this most fundamental of predicaments for our societal complexities, storing surplus wealth was a concern for me[1]. My wife and I were still both working full-time in relatively secure and well-paying careers (we’re both since retired), our house was paid off, and our two children were still in high school. We had always been relatively frugal in our consumption and were privileged enough to be in a situation where our income almost always exceeded our expenditures — early in our marriage, when we were both still students, was the exception. But, once we paid off our mortgage (which we did as expediently as possible after our student loans were paid off, that carried 14+% interest on them when we graduated) we were spending far less than we were earning.

As I dug deeper into the complexities of energy and its implications for our globe, I worried more and more about the future and how to best insulate my family from what may come. I was drawn towards precious metals given my educational background in archaeology and the presence of it as a means of exchange throughout recorded history. But as I delved deeper and deeper into the cyclical recurrence of societal ‘collapse’ it became clear that without local self-sufficiency/-resiliency having a hoard of precious metals (many of which have been found by archaeologists, and thus unused/abandoned) or an electronic wallet holding digital currency was probably moot and not a secure means of ‘preserving wealth’.

I have come to understand/believe that community resiliency and a focus on our fundamental needs may be the most appropriate response to the coming storm that is a loss of surplus energy and the consequential breakdown of energy-averaging systems (i.e., long-distance trade). This is why I now suggest that relocalising food production, potable water procurement, and regional shelter needs may be one’s best approach to help insulate one’s community and thus family.

I have spent the better part of a decade exploring and practising how to produce as much food as possible on our relatively small, suburban piece of land north of Toronto and initiated a food gardening guild in my community. These are by no means a ‘solution’ to our predicaments and I could currently feed our household of five adults for about two weeks on our garden harvest — if we’re lucky. I take solace, however, in the fact that each year the gardens produce a bit more and my ongoing experiments meet with success more often than failure (from which I try to learn from).

My fledgling attempts are far, far behind others I communicate with or read about online, but I am far, far ahead of almost my entire social circle. Apart from my blood siblings, none are pursuing any form of self-sufficiency but are hip-deep in ignorance, denial, and bargaining — carrying on with their ‘modern’, relatively affluent lifestyles.

My much younger sister (who has put her career as a gynaecological oncologist on hold as she is home with three young children) has been experimenting with food production and chicken raising the past couple of years. And my younger brother — who is months away from retiring as a fire station captain — has recently purchased a remote property (relative to the densely populated southern Ontario where he and I reside) in northern Ontario where I spent a week this summer helping him get some neglected raised beds cleaned up — there were surprisingly a plethora of well-established perennial food plants present.

Anyways, without further ado, here is the conversation that reflects some different perspectives…

Me: While precious metals or crypto may be a store of wealth as argued by many, I think I’d sooner ‘invest’ what little surplus I have in physical tools/supplies to help my family/community become more self-sufficient and resilient. As the saying goes, you can’t eat gold. Physical materials that will help in food production, procurement of potable water, and regional shelter needs may be a much better focus for folks than either fiat, electronic wallets, or metals at this point in the fourth turning…oh, and a means to protect what you have may be wise as well — from community cohesiveness to armaments of some kind.

Weirdly: Saving money is for excess value. You have it right. Tools, businesses, friends, community until you are limited, then save in bitcoin.

Me: I think I’d sooner save excess in silver/gold than bitcoin. Chances are high that grid-down scenarios are likely to increase in frequency and size as the center loses control making electronic-based ‘wealth’ about as useful as our politicians…but as price inflation is quickly eating away any excess for me, this may be a moot point.

JudgeSmails984: Grid down scenarios? Are you high? I live in Northern California where they shut the power off when it’s windy and ask you not to charge your EVs in the summer when everybody is using their AC, and still, the power never goes out for more than a few hours, anywhere.

your “increasing frequency of grid down occurrences” statement is idiotic and not based on real world reliability data. Outside of natural disasters and yahoos shooting up transformers here and there, the electrical grid is a highly distributed architecture of critical infrastructure, and there are almost no significant outages, anywhere that matters in the US.

Also-almost all critical facilities like hospitals and law enforcement all have backup diesel generators-our electrical system is very robust and resilient.

how so many people plan their investments around something that never happens, has never happened but might happen, is beyond me. It’s like taking a parka into the desert at noon because it might snow while you are there…it could happen, the next ice age could begin today.

JudgeSmails984: I have a 3 month instability limit. You shut the lights off and leave the humans without food to fend for themselves, I have one bullet for myself in that unlikely scenario.

Given that my current GF is diabetic, she’d probably check out a month after the CVS stores ran outta insulin.

I have freeze dried food, some gold, silver, cash to get through a short period of disorder, but I have no interest in living rough, like indefinitely, for years without security, food, comfort etc. through a new, post apocalyptic dark age.

I’ve had 50 good years, rather go out with a bang than suffer slowly and watch those I love perish.

Good luck with your long term ambitions though. Hope nobody you love gets a tooth abscess or bacterial infection…once cured at the clinic on the corner, now likely fatal.

Me: Living ‘rough’ is completely subjective in nature and our species has done so for many, many millennia in the past; and by all accounts (despite the misconceptions of many due to a focus upon what befell the ruling elite upon previous societal collapses) lived fulfilling lives.

Yes, some of our complex conveniences will be absent but a lot of what befalls a complex society during its ‘collapse’ will actually be an improvement for many; that’s why and how collapses happen, it’s an economic/political choice by people who abandon the systems imposed by the ruling caste of a society for what they perceive as an improved situation — read archaeologist Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies.

If your local community is self-sufficient and can get through the initial chaos of faltering/declining complexities, there’s no reason a ‘dark age’ cannot be avoided.

HardKnoxKid: Totally agree…… My yard is full of estate sale tools….. lots of hoes, shovels, metal rods, rolls of electrical wire….. great buys at some of these sales……. one day, all those nice electronics folks have will not do them poop….. watched a 30 year old black woman in my country meat market….. had 3 kids under 10…. she walked in right before me…. got out of an old Corolla, but clean….. kids very well mannered. She was looking at the meat, and telling the kids maybe they would have beef for dinner…. and picked up a couple packages of stew beef…… As I shopped, I saw her being very wise. After I paid for my small cart, I found her adding up her few items….. I gave her a $50……. told her to buy steak or whatever she wanted….. she was very reserved and cried lightly…… I could tell that “she” had a rough upbringing….. and if I could help her just for an evening, then that is my pleasure…… And yet, we send trillions over seas for all the crooks………Don’t have any vehicle or mortgage or credit card payments….. don’t give to big charities…… this is my way of giving…… It feels good.

Surreality: That’s good in the community. I think do both. We and our communities also need to preserve our wealth as well as have resources to be resilient.

If you’ve made it to the end of this contemplation and have got something out of my writing, please consider ordering the trilogy of my ‘fictional’ novel series, Olduvai (PDF files; only $9.99 Canadian), via my website or the link below — the ‘profits’ of which help me to keep my internet presence alive and first book available in print (and is available via various online retailers).

Attempting a new payment system as I am contemplating shutting down my site in the future (given the ever-increasing costs to keep it running).

If you are interested in purchasing any of the 3 books individually or the trilogy, please try the link below indicating which book(s) you are purchasing.

Costs (Canadian dollars):
Book 1: $2.99
Book 2: $3.89
Book 3: $3.89
Trilogy: $9.99

Feel free to throw in a ‘tip’ on top of the base cost if you wish; perhaps by paying in U.S. dollars instead of Canadian. Every few cents/dollars helps…


If you do not hear from me within 48 hours or you are having trouble with the system, please email me: olduvaitrilogy@gmail.com.

You can also find a variety of resources, particularly my summary notes for a handful of texts, especially Catton’s Overshoot and Tainter’s Collapse: see here.

The Future for Fiat

The Future for Fiat

The day of reckoning for unproductive credit is in sight.

With G7 national finances spiraling out of control, debt traps are being sprung on all of them, with the sole exception of Germany.

Malinvestments of the last fifty years are being exposed by the rise in interest rates, increases which are driven by a combination of declining faith in the value of major currencies and contracting bank credit. The rise in interest rates is becoming unstoppable.

Do not be surprised to see a US Government deficit exceeding $3 trillion this fiscal year, half of which will be interest payments. And in the run-up to a presidential election, there’s every sign of deficit spending increasing even further.

We now face America and her allies being dragged into another expensive conflict in the Middle East, likely to drive oil and natural gas prices higher; far higher if Iran becomes a target. With the Muslim world united against Western imperialism more than ever before, do not discount the closure of Hormuz, and even Suez, with unimaginable consequences for energy prices.

The era of interest rate suppression is over. G7 central banks are all deeply in negative equity, in other words technically bankrupt, a situation which can only be addressed by issuing yet more unproductive credit. These are the institutions tasked with ensuring the integrity of the entire system of bank credit.

This is not a good background for a dollar-based global credit system that is staring into the black hole of its own extinction.

The end for the dollar is nigh

There are a number of events coming together that suggest we are about to undergo a major upheaval in world economic, financial, and monetary affairs…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The Specter of Hyperinflation Looms over the Economy

The Specter of Hyperinflation Looms over the Economy

money going down hole

The threat of hyperinflation has haunted fiat money economies throughout history. Although past empires crumbled under the weight of unrestrained money printing, modern bankers at the Federal Reserve assure us that today’s financial system is immune to such a fate. Austrian business cycle theory, however, reveals that current economic stimulation may be propelling us toward a crisis of catastrophic proportions: a crack-up boom that marks the dramatic end of this boom-and-bust cycle. When a central bank expands the money supply to reinflate bubbles, it destroys the currency’s purchasing power. This endgame, in which the monetary system crumbles beneath a weak economy, represents the ultimate failure of interventionism. Once the public expects prices to keep rising, hyperinflation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The Expanding Boom-and-Bust Cycle Ends in a Crack-Up Boom

To comprehend the precarious state of America’s monetary system, we must first review the boom-and-bust cycle as formulated by Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian school. The Austrians observed that the artificial suppression of interest rates by a central bank initiates an unsustainable economic boom by promoting malinvestment. Pushing rates below natural market levels sends a distorted signal to businesses that long-term capital investment is more profitable than the economy can actually support. In the euphoric boom phase, jobs multiply and GDP grows with investment. But the investments lack economic merit, so the house of cards eventually collapses.

With the liquidation of malinvestments, the bust phase emerges: unemployment soars, output contracts, and a recession begins. Since the investments were built on quicksand, they must unwind. Each failed business further curtails consumer spending, rippling the bust through the economy. But rather than letting liquidation and market corrections occur, policymakers add stimulus, setting up a larger bubble and more painful bust down the line.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XI–Fiat Currency, Infinite Growth, Finite Resources: A Recipe For Collapse

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XI

Knossos, Crete (1993) Photo by author

Fiat Currency, Infinite Growth, Finite Resources: A Recipe For Collapse

Yet another in an increasing collection of comments I have posted to the online media site The Tyee. This time it is a commentary on an article that reviews a book arguing in favour of the implementation of Universal Basic Income.

“No stone is left unturned in their thorough and convincing argument…”

I’m not so sure this is true. My personal focus for the past decade+ has been on the unsustainability of our complex society, particularly as it is impacted by our propensity to chase growth — especially population and economic, for these both have a significant connection to our ever-increasing drawdown of finite resources and ecological destruction of our planet. If we are not correcting this tendency to ‘grow’ in any way, shape, or form, then we are just creating more ways to kick-the-can-down-the-road of our wasteful and ruinous path; and place the significant burden of our misinformed ways on future generations.

One of the key arguments of archaeologist Joseph Tainter’s thesis regarding societal collapse as presented in his text The Collapse of Complex Societies is that a society becomes increasingly susceptible to collapse once it encounters diminishing returns on its investments in complexity. It is not a stretch at all to argue that we have been on the path of such decline for decades, particularly once we began creating a purely fiat currency that has allowed an explosion in debt/credit. If one looks at the ‘growth’ of our world since the late 1960s when central banks/governments shifted the world to a monetary system that creates money from thin air with no connection to physical commodities that could constrain our growth somewhat, it is almost all predicated on debt/credit expansion; a conundrum since debt repayment necessitates the growth imperative to continue (yes, basically a gargantuan Ponzi scheme).

Why is this connection to fiat currency important? Primarily because money is basically a claim on future resources and such resources are in terminal decline. So, the more money we ‘print’ (regardless of the reason for its printing), the more claims there are on future resources; resources that not only are disappearing quickly and getting more costly to access (because we always retrieve the easiest and cheapest to get to first), but whose retrieval results in monumental ecological destruction.

And on top of all this is the whole overshoot conundrum we have led ourselves into because of the above. Again, it is not difficult to argue that we have far surpassed the natural carrying capacity of our environment and only been able to ‘sustain’ our population by increasing our drawdown of resources through technology, energy-averaging systems (based on trade/geopolitical conquests), and this explosion of debt.

So, if we want to support our most vulnerable in society in a world that must pursue degrowth (the antithesis of our current pursuits and its expansion of debt/credit), then we need a much more complex discussion of how to do this. I see zero mentions of these complexities in the article. Just creating more money to distribute to a portion of our society is not a solution. In fact, the creation of more and more fiat is likely to have the negative consequence of our ruling class pursuing (more than they already do) increasing and significant price inflation, something that tends to hurt the majority of society more so than the elite at the top of the monetary/financial/economic system.

Unwinding the Financial System

Unwinding the Financial System

This article looks at the collateral side of financial transactions and some significant problems that are already emerging.

At a time when there is a veritable tsunami of dollar credit in foreign hands overhanging markets, it is obvious that continually falling bond prices will ensure bear markets in all financial asset values leading to dollar liquidation. This unwinding corrects an accumulation of foreign-owned dollars and dollar-denominated assets since the Second World War both in and outside the US financial system.

Furthermore, collapsing collateral values, which are increasingly required backing for changing values in over $400 trillion nominal in interest rate swaps are a new driver for the crisis, forcing bond liquidation, driving prices down and yields higher: we are in a doom-loop.

What action can the authorities take to ensure that counterparty risk from widespread failures won’t take out inadequately capitalised regulated exchanges?

It seems that they acted some time ago by giving central security depositories (The Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, Euroclear, and Clearstream) the right to pool securities on their registers and lend them out as collateral. Your investments, which you think you may own can be absorbed into the failing financial system without your knowledge.

This seems particularly relevant, given the appointment of JPMorgan Chase as custodian of the large gold ETF, SPDR Trust (ticker GLD). In a test case in the New York courts concerning Lehman’s failure, JPMC was given legal protection should it seize its customer’s assets.

This important erosion of property rights is poorly understood. But as the financial distortions are unwound, leading to unintended consequences such as bank failures and ultimately the collapse of the dollar-based fiat currency regime, the implication is that holders of physical gold ETFs will be left owning an empty shell at a time when they might have expected some protection from the collapse of the value of credit.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh IV–Fiat Currency: Debasement and Infinite Growth

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh IV

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Fiat Currency: Debasement and Infinite Growth

Sep 24, 2020

My comment on an article in The Tyee about our federal government’s latest throne speech by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2020/09/24/Throne-Speech-Stew/).


The idea that a sovereign nation can never run into trouble financially because it can create its own currency is certainly the dominant narrative amongst government and ‘mainstream’ economists/bankers. After all, who benefits the most from this storyline?

But is it in fact true?

Scratching below the surface of this ‘experiment’ suggests it is not.

If printing one’s own money were a panacea, then nations like Venezuela, Zimbabwe, or the German Weimar Republic (and countless other nations throughout history) would never have experienced the hyperinflation and/or currency debasement that they have. They would be the richest nations ever to have existed.

One could counter that this is because they had to use their debased currency to import goods. True, but if one is debauching one’s currency through exponential ‘printing’, then this may be true for any nation dependent upon imports, which almost every nation is in our globalised, industrial world.

The solution that nations have rested upon given this reality is that the central banks collude to all print at relatively the same rate, so currencies don’t fall/rise too drastically compared to their trading partners.

Fine, but what does endless money/credit creation due to the purchasing power of this fiat currency created from thin air?

Previous trials in this approach indicate that it totally debases/debauches the currency, significantly reducing the ‘wealth’ of the people holding/using it because of the inflation that it creates.
Here’s what John Maynard Keynes had to say about this: “By a continuing process of inflation, government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.”

And while it’s interesting to note ‘official inflation’ is subdued, the manipulation that goes into creating this gauge of price inflation makes the official number meaningless to people’s real-world experience (look up hedonic adjustments to get a sense of how manipulated these numbers are; and then compare your experience in price increases to official numbers — my family’s utilities, food, health, housing, transportation, insurance, education, etc. expenses far, far outpace ‘official’ inflation; by several times).

Then there’s the whole issue of continuing to chase the infinite growth chalice and pulling substantial growth forward through debt/money creation. We live on a finite planet despite hopium narratives to the contrary and all this push for growth does is get us further and further into overshoot by quickening our exploitation of finite resources.

There is no consideration whatsoever of the limits imposed upon us. There is only more growth to try and address our dilemmas that are created by us pursuing growth in the first place.

Despite the story that these policies are being used to solve our problems and help people, the reality is that they are very much probably doing the exact opposite.

In fact, a good argument could be made that the ‘all in’ aspect of this is further evidence that the planet is reaching the endgame of overshooting our natural carrying capacity and the fallout is quickening towards its obvious conclusion: collapse of the complex systems we have come to depend upon.

To paraphrase Canadian economist Jeff Rubin in his book Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: things are going local and simpler, whether we want them to or not.

Prepare accordingly.

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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