How do you see the economic endgame playing out for the U.S. and the world? That’s this week’s discussion topic, and although some in this forum will undoubtedly lean toward the Armageddon scenario, we should always leave room to imagine a far sunnier outcome, such as a Second Great Depression deeper than the Mindanao Trench. I want you to have fun with this one, so set your minds free before you put pen to paper. My own outlook falls somewhere in-between, tempered by the perhaps misplaced hope that the inevitable collapse of the financial system will not bring in its wake famine, disease, earthquakes, floods, endless global wars and the die-off of three billion human beings. All of these events have been prophesied in the Bible and by Nostradamus, but whether you choose to believe them or not is a personal matter.
A Puny Bank Will Fail
Whatever happens, there is no avoiding a ruinous day of reckoning for the shaky, quadrillion dollar derivatives edifice built by the feather merchants. The super leveraged financial instruments they’ve conjured into existence are manifestly without value even now, and the world will find itself quite broke the instant these digital “assets” get marked to market. How might this happen? My guess is that some outwardly niggling problem will surface in the banking system one day, triggering a global panic and an extended bank holiday. The catalyst is unknowable, although we were reminded only recently that it could be as seemingly innocuous as the failure of a puny Portuguese bank to make good on its obligations. Another possibility is that the stock market will go into steep, prolonged dive for reasons that will not be clear till months or even years later. (Did the Smoot-Hawley Tariff cause the 1929 Crash? The jury is still out.)
Were the banks to close for more than a few days, it would deflate the financial system in mere hours, pushing the global economy instantly into a state of barter. For better or worse, there would be no way to inject bazillions of new dollars into the economy to “save” it. For one, branch banks don’t keep enough cash on hand to bail out more than a few depositors demanding the return of their savings in the form of tens, twenties and hundreds. And for two, the mere hint of such a disruption would destroy the credit-card system, since it functions entirely on misplaced trust to begin with.
A Second Great Depression
When these crippling events come to pass, tipping the U.S. economy into a state of chaos, I doubt that the ensuing Depression will be as mild, relatively speaking, as the one in the 1930s . Here are just a few of the reasons why: 1) Americans were not soft and doughy back then, nor were they obsessed with an Orwellian newsfeed that titillated and maliciously divided them over such made-up issues as “homophobia,” “racism” and “sexism”; 2) 30% of the working population was connected to agriculture, literally living off the land; 3) the dollar was as good as gold; 4) the food-and-products distribution system was far more robust than today’s fragile, just-in-time infrastructure; 5) a disastrously inept, narcissistic ideologue did not occupy the most powerful political office in the world; 6) jihadi psychopaths did not yet possess the means to poison the world with biological and/or radiological weapons; 7) mortgages and credit cards did not exist, and households had little or no debt; 8a) good medical care was affordable; 9) Americans were not hooked on government handouts; 10) jobs were far less specialized, and people knew how to fix things when they broke; and, 11) schools taught useful skills.
Dear readers, what is your vision, dark or otherwise, when a rampaging stock market is no longer there to distract, comfort and mislead us? Remember, I want you to have fun with this topic and to let your imaginations run free.