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This is the fifth chapter to my book on Energy & The Financial System, which can be purchased from Amazon.
Most of what we know as wealth is a claim upon future economic growth, growth that has to date been made possible by huge supplies of cheap energy. Now, with increasing constraints on cheap energy, the vast majority of that wealth will be shown to be a mirage. The ‘financialization’ of the advanced industrial economies in the past few decades has exacerbated this problem by greatly increasing such ‘wealth’ in the form of debt and equity holdings. In addition, globalization has reduced the resilience of the economy through placing efficiency well above diversity and resilience. Thus, the impending impact of cheap energy constraints may cause a cascade of problems facilitated by the complex webs of global supply chains and financial linkages. The crisis of 2007-2009 is only the latest example of how a crisis in one financial area can be rapidly transformed into a global crisis and near collapse. We may not be able to predict when the next crisis will hit, but we can predict that it may spread extremely rapidly. Trying to take defensive actions once the crisis has started may turn out to be a relatively futile gesture. Instead, such actions need to be made beforehand. These actions would have to take into account the exposure of a person’s job to the financial system as well as the exposure of their investments within that same system. Continue reading
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990’s, the United States (U.S.) entered a period during which it was the sole global superpower. The Eastern European countries that were previously within the soviet sphere were integrated into the European Union and/or North Atlantic Trade Organization (breaking many public and private assurances given to Russia by the West). Western leaders, and institutions, also aided in the destruction of soviet industrial capacity through, “shock therapy”, and outright looting   . Russia would be returned to its pre-revolutionary role as a resource colony for the west, and China still possessed only a relatively small, developing, economy. Continue reading
When I first started this blog, just under a year ago, my aim was to try to help as many people as possible understand the issues that face humanity. As time passes, with still no meaningful changes to push human civilization onto a sustainable path, the objective of the blog becomes more and more urgent. It makes me very happy that it has now reached 100,000 page views in a single month (with over 10,000 unique visitors and 25,000 visits in that month). Thankyou for taking the time to read my work, and making it all worthwhile.
The average person in the United States has a nagging feeling that they have been getting poorer, relative to their parents at the same stage of life. This period of falling behind has been going on for decades, not just since the “Great Recession” that followed the financial crash. What they don’t know is that their government has been actively falsifying the inflation (CPI: Consumer Price Index) and growth (GDP: Growth Domestic Product) statistics to hide that reality. Things have been so bad since the Great Recession that not even that manipulation has been able to fully hide the reality of falling average incomes. This manipulation of economic statistics started as a device to cheat pensioners, and other recipients of government-provided incomes, by reducing the yearly “cost of living” increases below the actual rate of inflation. Continue reading
When I used to think of Iceland, thoughts of a plucky nation that fought off the curse of the bankers, and runs everything on renewable energy, would come to the fore. As usual, the reality is somewhat more mixed than the superficial appearance. The country has recovered better than many others from the 2008 financial collapse, but is still heavily indebted and requires capital controls to stop “trapped” investors from pulling their money out of the country. In addition, much of its recovery has been based on rapidly expanding a tourist industry heavily dependent upon cheap oil and the successful functioning of the global economy. Another major area of economic activity, aluminum smelting using Iceland’s cheap energy, is also tightly integrated with the global economy. It is also heavily dependent upon the Icelandic government socializing much of the exchange rate and aluminum price risks. Continue reading
Twenty five kilometres south west of Hamilton, Ontario, is the Six Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, Onondaga, Tuscarora) of the Grand River. It has over 25,000 band members, the largest First Nations population in Canada. There are also other Mohawk and Oneida settlements in Ontario, together with a Mohawk settlement in Quebec (site of the Oka confrontation between Mohawk and Canadian authorities). Continue reading
Sitting on a beach south of Valencia, 30 degrees and no clouds, with my iPad and a cold beer (and a ready supply from the bar 20 feet away from me). Only 30 minutes away is the city itself, with an excellent subway system and a walkable town centre. I could grow to enjoy such an existence! Unfortunately, the prognosis for Spain as a whole may not be so bright. Unless that is, the elites start focusing on future sustainability, rather than prostrating their country to stay part of the Euro club and pay off the debts run up by the financiers and speculators. Continue reading
The International Energy Authority (IEA) forecasts a yearly increase of 1.3% in global oil demand during the period 2013-2019. This contrasts with the assumption of global economic growth rising from 3.6% in 2014 to around 4% thereafter. How does a 1.3% increase in oil usage support economic growth of about three times that amount? Continue reading
I sit here in a Montreal coffee shop on a rainy day, looking through the window at people living their lives. I feel as if I am watching one of those movies where normality pervades, but the ominous soundtrack warns of the impending rupture of that reality. Perhaps this is what the “phoney war” was like, in the period between the invasion of Poland in World War 2 and the invasion of France? As people went about their daily lives the impending utter and rapid defeat of the British and French was unimaginable. Continue reading