Misplaced Pride: Most of the “Middle Class” Is Actually Working Class

If we look at these charts, it looks like only the top 10%, or perhaps the top 20% at best, might qualify as “middle class” by the metrics described below. The conventional definition of working class is based on income and education:the working class household earns between $30,000 and $69,000 annually, and […]

The Self-Destructive Trajectory of Overly Successful Empires

It’s difficult not to see signs of this same trajectory in the U.S. since the fall of the Soviet Empire in 1990. A recent comment by my friend and colleague Davefairtex on the Roman Empire’s self-destructive civil wars that precipitated the Western Empire’s decline and fall made me rethink what […]

A Stock Market Crash Scenario

Herds get spooked and run. That’s the crash scenario in a nutshell. We have all been trained by a decade of central bank saves to expect any stock market swoon will soon be reversed by central bank sweet talk and/or rate cuts. As a result of such ever-present central bank willingness […]

Is the Tech Bubble Bursting?

There are two other trends that don’t attract quite the media attention that soaring profits do. Is the decade-long tech bubble finally popping? Tech bulls are overlooking the fundamental reality that the drivers of Big tech’s phenomenal growth–financialization and expansion into mobile telephony– are both losing momentum. A third dynamic–Big Tech […]

A Quiet Revolution Is Brewing

Politics as practiced in a bygone era of stability no longer offers any solutions to these profound disruptions. I recently read a fascinating history of the social, political and economic context of the American Revolution: The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon Wood. What is particularly striking is the critical role […]

Why Being a Politician Is No Longer Fun

As a society, we are ill-prepared for the end of “politics is the solution.” It’s fun to be a politician when there’s plenty of tax revenues and borrowed money to distribute, and when the goodies get bipartisan support. An economy that’s expanding all household incomes more or less equally is fun, […]

Lesson of the S-Curve: Doing More of What’s Failed Will Fail Spectacularly

That nothing is truly “free” will be another lesson of the S-Curve. I often refer to the S-Curve because Nature so often tracks this curve of ignition, rapid expansion, stagnation and decline. One lesson of the S-Curve is that the human bias to keep doing more of what worked so well […]

Forget “Money”: What Will Matter Are Water, Energy, Soil and Food–and a Shared National Purpose

If you want to identify tomorrow’s superpowers, overlay maps of fresh water, energy, grain/cereal surpluses and arable land. The status quo measures wealth with “money,” but “money” is not what’s valuable. “Money” (in quotes because the global economy operates on intrinsically valueless fiat currencies being “money”) is wealth only if it […]

Superbugs and the Ultimate Economic Weapon: Food

The food-exporting superpowers are easy to identify. As my esteemed colleague Michael Snyder chronicled in a recent Zero Hedge post, world agricultural production is under assault from extreme weather and diseases such as African swine fever. Floods & Drought Devastate Crops All Over The Planet; Is A Global Food Crisis Be Coming? Everyone understands […]

China’s Insurmountable Global Weakness: Its Currency

If China wants superpower status, it will have to issue its currency in size and let the global FX market discover its price. Quick history quiz: in all of recorded history, how many superpowers pegged their currency to the currency of a rival superpower? Put another way: how many superpowers have […]

Technology Is Not Just Disruptive, It’s Disastrously Deflationary

Deflation eats credit-dependent, mass-consumption economies alive from the inside. While AI (artificial intelligence) garners the headlines, the next wave of disruptive technologies extend far beyond AI: as the chart of technologies rapidly being adopted shows, this wave includes new materials and processes as well as the “usual suspects” of machine learning, […]

Two Intertwined Dynamics Are Transforming the Economy: Technology and Financialization

If you want to understand how the economy is being transformed, look at the intersection of Big Tech, financialization and the central state. The two dynamics transforming the economy–technology and financialization–are intertwined yet widely viewed as unrelated. Critics and proponents of each largely ignore the other dynamic: critics of institutionalized fraud and other […]

The Normalization and Institutionalization of Fraud

Normalizing and institutionalizing fraud undermines the foundations of the economy and the financial system. I am indebted to Manoj Samanta (twitter: @flation_debate) for the insightful concept the commoditization of fraud. The first step in the commoditization of fraud is to normalize fraud as Business as Usual (BAU) to the point that it’s no longer viewed as […]

Downward Mobility Matters More Than Liberal-Conservative Labels

The real heresy here is the American economy is now rigged for downward mobility. In the conventional narrative, one’s economic class is overshadowed by one’s political belief structure: liberal, conservative, libertarian, etc. In terms of economic class, the conventional narrative divides people into their ideological beliefs about economic ideologies: free market […]

The Economy Has Fundamentally Changed in the 21st Century–and Not for the Better

The net result is we have an economy that’s supposedly expanding smartly while our well-being and financial security are collapsing. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other metrics of economic activity don’t measure either broad-based prosperity or well-being. Elites skimming financialization profits by expanding corporate debt and issuing more loans to commoners […]

Burnout Nation

The economic and financial stresses will exceed the workforce’s carrying capacity in the next recession. A number of recent surveys reflect a widespread sense of financial stress and symptoms of poor health in America’s workers, particularly the younger generations. There’s no real mystery as to the cause of this economic anxiety: […]

Is China’s Belt & Road a Decade Too Late?

The world appears to be tiring of globalization and hegemons, and that trend may doom the Belt & Road to irrelevancy. The conventional narrative holds that China’s Belt & Road Initiative is cementing China’s global superpower status. There’s an alternative narrative, however: it’s a decade too late. From this perspective, global […]

Unrealistically Great Expectations

Our expectations have continued ever higher even as the pie is shrinking.. Let’s see if we can tie together four social dynamics: the elite college admissions scandal, the decline in social mobility, the rising sense of entitlement and the unrealistically ‘great expectations’ of many Americans. As many have noted, the nation’s […]

The Great Unraveling Begins: Distraction, Lies, Infighting, Betrayal

The good news is renewal becomes possible when the entire rotten status quo collapses in a putrid heap. There are two basic pathways to systemic collapse: external shocks or internal decay. The two are not mutually exclusive, of course; it can be argued that the most common path is internal decay […]

What Would It Take to Spark a Rural/Small-Town Revival?

There are many historical models in which the spending/investing of wealthy families drives the expansion of local economies. The increase in farm debt while farm income declines is putting unbearable financial pressure on American farmers, who must be differentiated from giant agri-business corporations. This is placing immense pressure on farmers, pressure […]