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Should You Relocate To A More Resilient Area?

Should You Relocate To A More Resilient Area?

 What factors to look for when considering relocating

Likely a symptom of growing social unease, we’re seeing a surge in interest amongst our readership in relocation.

Many are folks living in urban and suburban areas worried that local resources and/or rule of law will not hold up well during a serious economic crisis, civil disorder or natural disaster.

Others have watched Peak Prosperity readers successfully transition to more resilient destinations or even build their own self-sufficient homesteads.

Specifically, we’re seeing a hunger for guidance on the key factors to assess when asking:

  • How resilient is my current location?
  • Should I relocate?
  • If so, where to? And what criteria should I prioritize in making my decision?

Several years ago, we recorded an interview with SurvivalBlog founder and former US Army intelligence officer James Wesley Rawles addressing these exact questions.

It remains one of the best discussions we know of on the topic of relocation, and it’s this week’s recommended listening for anyone wondering if a fresh start in an area with better natural and community resources might be one of the single best ways to improve their future prospects:

(Full transcript available here)

For those motivated to action by this podcast, Peak Prosperity is now offering Consultations specifically-designed to help you think through & execute on the relocation process. 

Given your specific situation, does it make sense? Given your unique goals and needs, what requirements matter most when targeting communities and properties? How should you be structuring your search efforts?

As an output of the planned cohousing project he’s leading, Chris is now exceptionally knowledgeable on both the strategic and tactical realities of intentionally relocating to an area richer in resilience.

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

Essential Bug-Out Resources

Essential Bug-Out Resources

Solutions that have proved surprisingly essential during California’s wildfires

In my post yesterday Survival Learnings From A California Fire Evacuee, I promised to share the specific resources that have proved especially valuable during my family’s emergency evacuation due to the Kincade fire. So I’d better get to it…

Gas & Cash

Having now been surprised by two massive fires within the past two years, in both instances, the preparation I was most immediately grateful for — hands down — was having sufficient on-property stores of gasoline and cash.

The moment your community realizes that flight may be necessary, forget going to the gas station. In my area, the lines were 20+ cars deep.

Waiting in those kind of lines (when there’s no guarantee there will be gas left when your turn finally comes) can easily cause you to miss your window of safety. As I mentioned yesterday, my friends who tried to evacuate just 45 minutes after I did eventually had to turn back home because the roads out of town had become hopelessly gridlocked.

So get in the habit of keeping your cars’ fuel tanks topped off, especially during times of seasonal risk (fire season, hurricane season, flood season, etc). Make it a point never to return home with the gauge below half-full.

Also, keep at least a tank’s-worth of gasoline stored on your property. In my case, I have four 5-gallon gas cans. This ensures I can get to safety even if I’ve forgotten to keep the car tank full. And if I’ve remembered, I can throw the cans in the car for an extra 300+ miles of range.

Similarly, once the electricity goes out, the ATMs stop working. Having $500-$3,000 of emergency cash on hand to take with you makes a huge difference.

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

Could Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) Actually Save Us?

Could Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) Actually Save Us?

Spoiler alert: no. But that doesn’t mean we won’t try it.

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is presented as a means to painlessly fund the large-scale infrastructure / alternative energy spending the nation desperate needs to rebuild and modernize.

While most people support the goal of useful fiscal stimulus (as opposed to paying people to dig holes and fill them), the question remains: Will MMT work as advertised?

Rather than dismiss it out of hand, I’m trying to approach the subject without ideological bias.

What Exactly Is MMT?

The basic idea of MMT (as I understand it) is that the economy is not running at 100% capacity–there is capital, equipment, people and resources which could be put to work to better society, and the chief impediment to making full use of our capacity is a lack of funding for projects that would benefit society.

In other words, the only thing standing in the way of broad-based, socially beneficial spending / progress is a lack of money (funding).

In the view of MMT advocates, a blindingly obvious source of funding is already available: the federal government can issue however much new currency it wants, and so the government could fund large-scale socially useful projects if the political will to do so was present.

We have to pause at this point and distinguish between borrowing money to fund projects, which is the current model, and issuing (printing) new currency.

In the current model, the federal government sells Treasury bonds and uses the proceeds to fund government spending. The Treasury pays interest on the bonds, and this mechanism — interest due on borrowed money — creates a “governor” on spending: as borrowing rises, so do interest payments, and as interest payments rise, this crimps other government spending.

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

Did Everything Just Change?How material are this week’s QE & China deal announcements?

Did Everything Just Change?How material are this week’s QE & China deal announcements?

It’s hard to imagine a more euphoric end to the week for bulls.

Two weeks ago I issued a report titled Realistically, What’s Left To Power Asset Prices Higher? which claimed the bulls only hope was for a near-term resumption of QE (quantitative easing, aka “money printing”) or a China trade deal.

Well, this week they got both.

Jerome Powell announced Wednesday that the U.S. Federal Reserve will resume expanding its balance sheet to the tune of $60 billion per month. And just a few hours ago, the Trump administration announced it had reached a partial trade agreement with its Chinese counterparts.

And to put a cherry on top of things, word from across the Pond is that somehow a Brexit deal just might happen by the end of the month.

When I began typing this article earlier today, the markets were fiercely building towards an orgiastic climax. They ended with a slight post-coital breather, closing modestly off the day’s highs.

In short, the bulls are suddenly having the time of their lives.

So, does this mean happy days have returned? Have we been rescued from the rising tide of data warning of an economic slowdown and lower asset prices? Does the Fed — and now China, too — have our back again?

Is it time for investors to become optimistic once more?

“”Markets”” No More

Before we answer that, though, let’s address the elephant in the room. We no longer have functioning financial markets.

The central banking cartel has killed price discovery. The $15+ TRILLION in liquidity injected by the Fed, EBC, BoJ, BoE and PBoC over the past decade has ‘risen all boats’ when it comes to asset prices.

Whether great, mediocre, or horrible, the price of nearly every company/property/investment has been on a one-way 45-degree ramp upwards since global co-ordinated quantitative easing began in 2009.

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

Getting Real About Green Energy: An honest analysis of what it CAN’T promise

Getting Real About Green Energy: An honest analysis of what it CAN’T promise

I want to be optimistic about the future. I really do.

But there’s virtually no chance of the world transitioning gently to an alternative energy-powered future.

These Are The ‘Good Old Days’

I’m often asked where I stand on wind, solar and other alternative energy sources.

My answer is: I love them. But they’re incapable of enabling our society to smoothly slip over to powering itself by other means.

They’re not going to “save us”.

Some people are convinced otherwise. If we can just fight off the evil oil companies, get our act together, and install a national alternative energy system infrastructure, we’ll be just fine.  Meaning that we”ll be able to continue to live as we do today, but powered fully by clean renewable energy.

That’s just not going to happen. At least, not without a lot of painful disruption and sacrifice.

The top three reasons why are:

  1. Math
  2. Human behavior
  3. Time, scale, & cost

I walk through the detail below. I’m doing so to debunk the magical thinking behind the current “Green Revolution” because I fear it offers a false promise.

Look, I’m a huge fan of renewable energy. And I’m 1,000% in favor of weaning the world off of its toxic addiction to fossil fuels.

But we have to be eyes wide open about our future prospects. Deluding ourselves with “feel good” but unrealistic expectations about green energy will result in the same sort of poor decisions, malinvestment, and crushed dreams as fossil-based system has.

As we constantly repeat here at Peak Prosperity: Energy is everything.  

Without as much available, the future is going to be exceptionally difficult compared to the present. Which is why I call the time we’re living in now The Good Old Days.

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

The Future Of Better FarmingSustainable practices + smart technology = thriving soils

The Future Of Better FarmingSustainable practices + smart technology = thriving soils

While it’s *soooo* tempting to write about the stomach-churning drop/spike/dive thrill ride the financial markets have embarked on after this week’s Federal Reserve rate cut, I will resist and instead direct your attention to a topic much more important to our future.

Here at PeakProsperity.com, we’ve long warned about the dangers of inflation and of devaluation of the purchasing power of fiat currency over time. And the past decade has done nothing but validate our concerns, as the world’s central banks nearly quadrupled the money supply by printing roughly $14 Trillion out of thin air since 2008.

We’ve long encouraged investors both big and small to invest in tangible wealth (aka “hard assets”). These are assets that have intrinsic value that can’t be inflated away to nothing by a runaway printing press.

One of most desirable forms of tangible wealth is productive farmland. No matter what happens to the dollar, the Euro, the yen, or the yuan, people will always need to eat; and will trade cash, goods, services or labor for the farmer’s output.

But farmland, especially quality farmland, isn’t easy to own.

Not many folks can realistically purchase a farm. Few have the (substantial) capital to buy one, and way fewer have the expertise, energy and temperament to manage and operate one.

There aren’t many other options for investors besides purchasing shares of the publicly traded mega-producers.

But for those deeply troubled by the extractive and rapacious nature of most modern conventional farming practices — which are ruining our priceless topsoils, depleting aquifers, killing off the insects, creating toxic algal blooms and dead zones in our rivers and oceans, and producing unhealthy foods, to boot — how can you avoid supporting the evils of Big Ag?

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

We’ve Arrived At The End Of The Road

We’ve Arrived At The End Of The Road

Decades of central bank intervention have left us with an unavoidable insolvency crisis

When Richard Nixon closed the gold window in August 1971, fully severing the US dollar from its gold standard, the Federal Reserve and other world central banks found themselves liberated. No longer was their ability to provide liquidity constrained by the physical limitations of the gold supply.

The Fed started intervening more and more during times of slowing growth to goose the economy back to vigor. Cheered and further egged on by politicians happy for easy solutions and desperate to avoid having to make tough calls, central banks have been increasingly willing to provide liquidity in good times and bad.

Akin to removing the limit on a teenager’s credit card, with access to so much cheap money, the US went on a debt bender. One that has lasted for nearly half a century:

FRED chart Total Us Debt Outstanding

Here we stand today with the national debt at over $22 trillion, total US debt outstanding of $70 trillion (shown in the above chart), and unfunded national liabilities of over $200 trillion. And we add to this every year with an annual deficit now exceeding $1 trillion.

This gigantic accretion of debt will never be repaid. And as the pile grows higher, the burden of servicing it — even at today’s historically low interest rates — is placing an increasingly heavy drag on economic growth.

To date, the central banks have gotten away with their easy money policies because they could. The day of reckoning could always be pushed further out via a fresh round of liquidity. But, as Brien Lundin says in the video below, the reckoning is “no longer simply inevitable, it is imminent. We are reaching the End of the Road.”

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

Extreme Frugality: A needed mindset for the age we live in

Extreme Frugality: A needed mindset for the age we live in

We didn’t have a lot growing up, as my mom had to single-parent three kids. Most anything I wanted required disciplined frugality.

I bought my first fly rod from Orvis at the age of 13, which took the better part of a year to save up for. I hand-tied the first flies drifted from its lines from the hackles of roosters I raised expressly for that purpose.

In my later teens, I took a long cross-country climbing/working road trip where I lived on $5/week (1980s). Doing so was an art form involving dried beans and camping for free on federal lands, including the time I woke up to a large bull pawing and snorting a few yards from my tent.  I knew nothing about the behavior of bulls, and still don’t; but I knew that wasn’t a good sign and so I backed away using the tent as a shield and climbed a tree.

Sleeping on the ground, or on sofas doesn’t bother me. I am a remarkably un-picky eater. I’m just easy that way.

All of which is to say that being frugal and ‘making do’ with what’s on hand comes naturally to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy spending money, and have indulged in some expensive hobbies in my life. But I can also zipper the wallet and not skip a beat.

I’m glad I can, because being frugal is an extremely valuable skill to employ as we get ready for a future of ‘less’.

System Failure

Sometime, much sooner than we’ll be ready for, the systems upon which we rely will fail us.

The weather system is already becoming intolerably wonky. Heat in Europe, crop-ruining rains in the US farm belt, and unprecedented heat in the arctic are all telling us that something is terribly amiss.

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

Somebody’ Finally Cares About Gold

Somebody’ Finally Cares About Gold

Grant Williams pithily summed up the situation that has been plaguing gold since 2013: Nobody Cares.

Yes, it’s highly likely that the price has been suppressed. But not enough buyers cared to fight the bullion bank/central bank cartel or make life difficult enough for the politicians — and thus, the regulators — to change things.

So gold languished. For years.

But last August, gold quietly entered a bull market after breaking above $1200.

As the price began rising (for both fundamental & technical reasons), we’ve been tracking its progress closely.  We do so on a daily basis via Peak Prosperity’s Precious Metals Daily Commentary updates (outstandingly authored by user davefairtex), as key developments happened via our premium reports (like this prediction), and via expert interviews such as our recent in-depth discussions with TFMetals and Incrementum’s Ronni Stoeferle.

As we entered 2019, the increasingly dovish/desperate policy retracements of the central banks — which now appear will NEVER normalize their balance sheets — have boosted the bull run.

Lower real interest rates are gold price-positive. And not only are real rates falling right now, there’s alreadycurrently $12 trillion in negative *nominal* debt trading worldwide right now:

Negative-yielding debt hits new record (Bloomberg)

And based on this week’s further dovish announcements from both the Fed and the ECB, we can expect more $trillions to be added to that pile soon.

On Tuesday, Mario Draghi apparently went rogue on his fellow policymakers and launched into a swan song version of his all-time hit “Whatever it takes”. The next day, Jerome Powell at the Fed confirmed his willingness to ease and let the market know he stands ready to cut rates multiple times over the next year.

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

Waiting For The Black Swan

Waiting For The Black Swan

War with Iran would be the beginning of the end

Two more tankers were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday morning  (6/13/19) in the Gulf of Oman, and if hostilities advance we could be facing a ‘black swan’ event. One that changes everything, and divides the world into ‘before’ and ‘after’ periods.

A lot of us are waiting for ‘something’ to happen. We know that there are too many unsustainable trends and practices running and we fall into the “let’s just rip the Band-Aid off” camp.   Some, like myself, have lost faith in the political leadership and institutions and doubt they retain any capacity to attend to anything more than their own selfish interests, let alone manage the difficult tasks ahead rooted as they are in systems theory and managing complexity.

So, let’s get on with it already.  Bring it on.  Black swans are welcome to those who feel a swift kick to the behind is sometimes needed to begin setting things straight.

Like many, I am also conflicted because I also know that getting onto a new path will be disruptive and probably quite economically and financially painful for everyone, myself included.  Hoping for ‘something to break’ and hoping nothing breaks hang in an uneasy balance.

Luckily, my hopes and wishes have nothing to do with what’s going to happen, or when.  I might as well be performing a secret hand ritual before the TV in my living room to ensure that my team’s basketball free-throw goes in.  The dry tinder of the next bonfire was laid down over many years and decades and it will catch fire when it does, no matter how much denial or how many superstitious practices we employ.

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

They’ve Stolen Our Future!

They’ve Stolen Our Future!

Collapse is in the cards

It’s time to have a serious conversation.  I know we’ve been having it, but maybe there’s another glove hidden beneath the one we’ve already taken off.

Put bluntly, there doesn’t seem to be any hope of avoiding a collapse of civilization.  The forces of the Business-As-Usual crowd are just too strong, the narrative machine too honed, the interests too entrenched to allow any sort of meaningful course correction at this time.

But is that the case?

Writing about the outcomes of the recent Australian elections which saw a pro-business, conservative government elected, Australian based reader-member ezlxq1949 said:

“They’ve stolen our future!”

That was the wail of the 11-y.o. daughter of a Greens candidate who cried herself to sleep the night after the astonishing election results came in. It couldn’t be worse; the public have sold themselves into almost complete captivity to the neoliberal élites called the Liberal Party. (Liberal = Conservative. Go figure.) It was supposed to have been a climate change election but became a jobs ‘n growth election.

Mind you, it wouldn’t have been much better if the opposition Labor Party had won; they’ve moved so far to the right that like the US we really have only one party with two heads. For instance, Labor would not commit to stopping the monster Adani coal mine.

So it’s goodbye to:

  • the ABC (the excellent government broadcaster which has the gall and temerity to criticise the government of the day; the government badly wants to get even)
  • renewable energy (fossil fools rule ok)
  • the Great Barrier Reef (sliced and diced to let coal ships cross it)
  • our river systems (suck them dry, privatise the water, send the profits to the Cayman Islands — as is already happening)
  • the Great Artesian Basin (world’s largest and deepest, to be contaminated by coal mines and fracking)
  • public services (cut back yet again to create a damaging government budget surplus)
  • public health (to be Americanised)
  • public education (to be privatised; maybe high schools this time)
  • the Great Australian Bight (a pristine area which may have oil under it; damn the pollution, full greed ahead)
  • southern ocean fish stocks (they’ll let the supertrawlers in now).

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

Pain Is Inevitable; But Suffering Is Optional

Pain Is Inevitable; But Suffering Is Optional

How to avoid becoming collateral damage in the coming crash.

Sometimes you really do find enlightenment at the top of the mountain.

I spent this week hiking in Montana’s Bitterroot mountain range, as a participant in the pilot run of a new personal-growth-through-adventure-travel startup.

In our group was a famous professional cyclist, who had been a superstar on the Tour de France for many years.

He has a fascinating life story, both on and off the bike. His tales of the super-human efforts required to prevail at the most elite level of this punishing sport are mind-blowing.

The relentless and gruelling training covering thousands and thousands of kilometers. The near-starvation state cyclists exist in to maximize their power-to-weight ratio. Endless travel. Horrific crash injuries. Sponsor pressures. The money and politics driving the sport. Overbearing regulators. Cut-throat teammates. And of course, the pervasive doping.

When we asked him how he managed to persevere at the top of such a demanding sport for so long, despite the huge toll it took on his health and his marriage, he thought for a moment then said: “I suppose I’m just really good at suffering”.

It’s clear that, in addition to some truly amazing experiences, his cycling days have left him with a legacy of damage that he’s still working through.

As he shared this with us, one participant wisely advised him to remember: Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Yes, he’ll still need to deal with the aftereffects of his racing years. But it’s up to him how much power he wants to give them over his happiness and life path from here.

From Mountains To Markets

I’m struck by how relevant the above advice is to investors right now.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the end of the ten-year bull market has arrived.

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

The Company Store

The Company Store

Leaves almost nothing to live on

In the song Sixteen Tons by Merle Travis (and made famous by Tennessee Ernie Ford), the idea of the ‘company store’ referred to a system of debt bondage that effectively trapped workers within an unfair system designed to harvest all of their labor at very low cost.

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt

Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go

I owe my soul to the company store

       Sixteen Tons – Merle Travis

How exactly did the company store system operate?

Under a scrip system, workers were not paid cash; rather they were paid with non-transferable credit vouchers that could be exchanged only for goods sold at the company store. This made it impossible for workers to store up cash savings.

Workers also usually lived in company-owned dormitories or houses, the rent for which was automatically deducted from their pay.

(Source – Wiki)

This model was simple enough to understand.  “Pay” your workers with scrip vouchers, then sell them your marked up goods at the company store, pocketing a nice profit. On top of that, force your employees to live in company housing, too,  also at terms very favorable to the company.

Add it all up and the workers found themselves in perpetual service to their employer. No matter how hard and long they toiled, there was nothing left for their own private benefit after all was said and done.  The company succeeded in skimming off any and all  ‘excess’ for itself.

This vast unfairness eventually led to the formation of unions as well as to regulations providing protection to the workers.

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

The Bull(y) Rally

The Bull(y) Rally

Something unnatural is going on.

“A bully is always a coward.”~ Thomas Chandler Haliburton

The current market rally is like a playground bully; shoving to the ground anyone in its path.

But like all bullies, the braggadocio belies an underlying cowardice.

Those in charge of the status quo must be absolutely terrified to resort to the unnatural lengths they are going to right now to keep the current rally intact.

Unnatural Acts

In reaction to the brief market correction that occurred at the end of 2018, emergency measures were enacted to get stocks moving higher again.

Notably among the scramble to rescue the markets, the Fed pulled a very public and embarrassing policy U-turn, abandoning its short-lived program of planned interest rates hikes designed to start ‘normalizing’ its balance sheet after a decade of flooding the economy with stimulus. Quantitative Tightening, we hardly knew ya …(sniff)

In response to the efforts of the Plunge Protection Team, the Fed, its siblings in the global central banking cartel, the cheerleading media, and the Trump administration, the markets roared back strongly at the start of 2019. 

So strongly, in fact, that 2019 has seen the best start to the year for stocks EVER IN HISTORY.

At this point, the major indices have recouped all of their losses from their December lows and are now back touching their all-time highs.

So…mission accomplished, right? Surely the financial swat team deployed at beginning of the year can stand down and go celebrate over a few well-deserved brewskis?

Not if you’re watching closely. In fact, the efforts to prop up stocks continue to become more frequent, more overt, and more extreme.

Daily Fed Jawboning

As mentioned, the Fed has executed a complete 180-degree policy turnaround in light of the market’s feinting swoon last year. Suddenly, it can’t appear dovish enough:

Fed comments over past 6 months

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

Ted Siedle: The Greatest Retirement Crisis In The History Of The World

Ted Siedle: The Greatest Retirement Crisis In The History Of The World

The pension crisis is even worse than we imagine.

“We are on the precipice of the greatest retirement crisis in the history of the world. And that makes perfect sense because, first of all, we have the largest elderly population in the history of the world.

Just focusing on the United States: our elderly are woefully unprepared to retire. And in the decades to come we will witness millions of elderly American’s, Baby Boomers and others, slipping into poverty. ‘Too frail to work, too poor to retire’ will become the new normal for many elderly Americans.”

So warns pension fraud whistleblower Ted Siedle.

Siedle’s firm, Benchmark Financial Services, Inc. has pioneered over $1 trillion in forensic investigations of the money management industry. He’s nationally recognized as an authority on pensions and investment management matters, having testified before the Senate Banking Committee regarding fund scandals and is an expert in various Madoff-related and other litigations.

In 2017, he secured the largest SEC whistleblower award in history of $48 million, and in 2018, the largest CFTC award in history at $30 million. 

Siedel rings a loud warning bell regarding the solvency of today’s public pension system. Specifically, his investigations show that most of them:

  • Are much too under-funded to meet their future payout obligations (e.g., Kentucky’s state pension plan is only 12% funded)
  • Are experiencing annual returns far below the required 7% average the plans assume in their forecasts
  • Have oversight boards making portfolio allocation decisions that are staffed by individuals with zero experience managing financial securities (e.g., policemen, kindergarten teachers)
  • Have little transparency. Many are rarely audited. And many have moved their capital off-shore without accounting for where it’s been moved to.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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