This is a MUST READ, we came across this article yesterday and encourage anyone interested in the markets to take the time to read this.
By Doug Casey, Casey Research
I really dislike sounding inflammatory. Saying that things are going to go terribly wrong runs a risk of being classed with those who think the world will end in December 2012 because of something Nostradamus or the Bible says, or because that’s what the Mayan calendar predicts.
This is different. In the real world, cause has effect. Nobody has a crystal ball, but a good economist (there are some, though very few, in existence) can definitely pinpoint causes and estimate not only what their immediate and direct effects are likely to be (that’s not hard; a smart kid can usually do that) but the indirect and delayed effects.
In the first half of this year, people were looking at the U.S. economy and seeing that some things were better. Auto sales were up – because of the wasteful Cash for Clunkers program. Home sales were up – because of the $8,000 credit and distressed pricing. Employment was up – partly because of Census hiring, and partly because hundreds of billions have been thrown at the economy. The recovery impresses me as a charade.
Let’s get beyond what the popular media parrots are telling us and attempt to derive some reasonable assumptions about how things really are and where they’re headed.
A Brief Summary of Our Story So Far….
Before we get to where things stand at the moment, let’s briefly look at where we‘ve come from.
That a depression was in the cards has been foreseeable for decades. The distortions cranked into the system in the ‘60s – the era of “guns and butter” spending by the government – resulted in the tumult of the ‘70s. Things could, and one could argue should, have come unglued then. But they didn’t, for a number of reasons that have only become clear in retrospect:
* Interest rates were allowed to rise to curative levels;
* The markets were non-manipulated and so, as they became quite depressed, were left to send out real distress signals;
* The U.S. was still running a trade surplus;
* The dollar had only come off the gold standard in 1971 and was still relatively sound.
Then, starting with Reagan and Thatcher, the world’s governments started cutting taxes and deregulating. The USSR collapsed peaceably. China, then India, made a shift toward free markets. And on top of it all, the computer revolution got seriously underway. All told, a good formula for recovery and a sound foundation for a boom.
But sadly, taxes, government spending, and deficits soon started heading much higher. Despite the collapse of its only conceivable enemy, U.S. military spending continued to skyrocket. Monetary policy encouraged everyone to take on huge amounts of debt, much more than ever in the past, and everyone soon found they could live way above their means. The stock, real estate, and bond markets got pumped up to ridiculous levels. The main U.S. export became trillions of paper dollars. Worst of all, the U.S. devolved into just another country, undistinguished by anything other than a legacy of a high standard of living.
The standard of living in the U.S. is now going down for these reasons, and others. But most disturbing to the average American is the falling position of the U.S. relative to the rest of the world. In brief, Americans won’t take kindly to the notion that they can’t continue earning, say, $10-40 an hour, for doing exactly the same thing a Chinese will do for $1-4 an hour.
What’s going to happen is that the Americans’ earnings are going to drop, while those of the Chinese are going to rise, meeting someplace in the middle. Especially when the Chinese works harder, longer, saves his money, and doesn’t burden his employer with all kinds of legacy benefits, topped off with lawsuits. This is a new threat, one that can’t be countered with B-2 bombers. It’s also something as big and as inevitable as a glacier coming down a valley during an Ice Age.
This, along with other problems presented by the business cycle have ushered in the Greater Depression.
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