Batten down the hatches

If you’re indebted to the federal government and its evil twin the industrial economy for your financial well-being or, like most Americans, for your very survival, the coming storm will not resemble a monsoon so much as a hurricane-style downspout. And of course it will come as a total surprise to the typical neoclassical economist, who has declared the recession over (and hasn’t recognized that the recession has been replaced with an ongoing depression that will be replaced by complete economic collapse). The industrial economy is circling the drain, and a hard rain is on the way.

I’ve been writing about the ongoing collapse for a few years, and have developed a comprehensive set of arrangements to deal with its ultimate endpoint. At first, I was deemed insane. Then fringe. Suddenly, collapse has gone mainstream. I’m not such a whack job after all, if recent news is any indication. This post provides a brief and partial overview of the dire straits facing the industrial economy age.

Let’s start with the housing market, on which the U.S. economy depends for economic growth. The last time the housing bubble popped, it rocked our suburban world. So the federal government blew up the bubble again, and it just might bring down the entire industrial economy when it pops anew.

Then there’s sovereign debt. Currently, Greece is the primary concern of most economists. That alone should tell you the irrelevance of Greece. The entire Eurozone teeters on the brink, with Greece being one of the few countries of such minor economic significance that it can be bailed out. Japan — the world’s second largest economy — could easily be next in line. And Greece’s debt to GDP ratio is downright tiny compared to that of the U.S. (112% vs. 421%, respectively), suggesting that the U.S. economy could take the Grecian route in the blink of an eye. The only difference between Greece and the U.S. is a printing press, and that alone cannot keep the U.S. from following Greece’s lead. Add to the world economic woes that 49 of 50 U.S. states are underwater, which hardly bodes well for entities that cannot go deeper into debt by printing money to kick the can down the road. The end of fiat currency looms large.

The American stock markets are about to go over the edge. A major crash lies right around the bend, as the entire industrial world is hitting the wall. The government stimulus is about used up, and China is ridding itself of fiat currencies and opting for gold instead (a move that could destroy the world’s industrial economy all by itself). Four big banks rule the American financial world and they keep getting bigger, but I doubt they can keep the show going much longer, even though they can essentially print their own money today (they borrow from the U.S. government at zero interest, and loan it back at three percent or more).

In short, the panic is on. The collapse of industrial society is imminent. Even Ben Bernanke is getting scared as the ultimate Ponzi scheme nears its end.

Among the more important issues we face: The industrialized world cannot live without deepwater oil, and the living planet cannot live with deepwater oil and its side-effects. This seems like a no-brainer to me, and the White House is covering up the extent of the gusher, but few people agree that the living planet on which we depend for our own survival should be a high priority. I’m a big fan of hastening the empire’s decline, if only for the selfish reason of saving our species.

Call me silly. But I think we’re on the verge of killing the beast.

How do industrial humans survive the coming storm? Or do we?


This essay is permalinked at Counter Currents and Island Breath.

Comments 17

  • The coming collapse will involve us all wether we are ready or not. Those of us that do not need civilization will have to defend our food from the starving masses.

  • This is an especially hard-hitting post and how timely. With today’s market close dropping significantly below support thresholds, this could represent the beginning of a rapid crash for the global economy. Hang on, folks…here we go!!!

  • Of course you’re crazy, Guy! You always have been. But definitely not insane. :)

  • On the verge of killing the beast? The lyrics of “Hotel California” spring to mind as strangely appropriate for our culture:

    Welcome to the Hotel California
    Such a lovely place
    Such a lovely face
    Livin’ it up at the Hotel California
    What a nice surprise
    Bring your alibis

    Mirrors on the ceiling,
    Pink champagne on ice
    And she said ‘We are all just prisoners here, of our own device’
    And in the master’s chambers,
    They gathered for the feast
    They stab it with their steely knives,
    But they just can’t kill the beast

    Last thing I remember, I was
    Running for the door
    I had to find the passage back
    To the place I was before
    ‘Relax,’ said the night man,
    ‘We are programmed to receive.
    You can check-out any time you like,
    But you can never leave!’

  • Wendy,
    Don Henley has many classic lyrics. How about this one from the song ‘The last resort’.

    ‘There are no more new frotiers
    We have got to make it here’

  • Sorry, that should be frontiers.

  • I don’t know guys (and Guy). Your forecast may be premature. According to the latest U.S. crude reports, our coffers spillith over. There’s plenty to go around, so, John R, you could be in for a steady stream of motor homes this summer.

    As for that PIIGS fiasco overseas … no sweat, we’ve got Google TV arriving soon, the biggest thing to hit television since color. And it comes with a consumer base of 4 billion viewers.

  • Wendy:

    I have to disagree with you on ProfEmGuy.I had lunch with him several weeks ago,and I can report to you that he is definitely not crazy.

    However in the interest of objective introspection we both agreed that
    I am !!! But,so was Nietzsche.

    Double D

  • Resa, never mind whether we should believe anything the federal government tells us. The point of this post is to illustrate that we still haven’t worked through the economic pain associated with the first trip to triple-digit oil. At this juncture, any number of factors — singly or in combination — could bring the industrial economy screeching to a halt. Triple-digit oil might not be necessary ever again.

  • Double D,

    It depends entirely on whose definition of crazy. PFG knows me well enough to know that was a compliment. :)

  • Guy:

    Agreed. Triple-digit oil may not be necessary again. Still, with that variable thrown out, I don’t see the same symptoms developing as I did prior to late 2008 into 2009 when there was no doubt months in advance we were about to go belly up. Now, you could say this time round we have our heads up our butts. Entirely possible. But I see a tremendous amount of caution. Will that be enough? Your guess is as good as mine. All we can do is let what’s in play, play itself out. Maybe the industrialized world wins for a while longer, maybe it doesn’t. Either way, I take what comes, adapt and move on.

    Am I looking forward to a decline? I was raised under such a belief. It’s a tough, miserable life. Some parts of it I embraced and never let go. Some parts I never want to experience again.

    I applaud the steps you’ve taken toward self-durability. You’ve moved in directions I’m not sure I would have, but then your circumstances and environment are very different from mine. What works for you doesn’t translate into success for me. We all need to find our own way.

    Keep on with your posts. I certainly don’t mean to discourage them. If you find me annoying, I have no problem shutting up.

  • Resa,

    You hit the nail on the head, we are all guessing. There are many possible scenarios for the future, the trick is not to figure out which scenario will play itself out but to prepare for as many scenarios as you can. Self sufficiency in food, water and energy will be a necessity for most scenarios. Weapons for hunting and self defense will also be necessary for most scenarios. There is a slim chance that consumption and greed will find a way out of the financial and environmental mess that we have created, but it is akin to betting on the three legged horse to win the Triple Crown.

    The great thing about my time in the Navy (1965-1977) was that we went to every disaster that happened near a coast. It taught me that disasters are unexpected, sudden and that, after initial cooperation, they quickly devolve into an everyone for themselves situation. Your fellow man has a thin veneer of civility until they see their kid starving. It is a tough life, that is the point of life. Without nature to winnow out the unfit we might be faced with a population of almost 7 billion people on a planet suited for perhaps a billion people (that could NEVER happen here, of course).

    Not every form of technology is harmful and to eliminate them all is overkill, Guy is on one extreme (very sustainable) and I am on the other extreme where I intend to use a river to supply power 24/7 to maintain a lifestyle where I can run my welders and other power tools. Neither of us will be polluting the environment, we have just chosen different paths to that end. One thing that you can be sure of is that a city or populated area is the last place that you will want to be when any of the possible scenarios play out. Supply lines are cut immediately and there are too many people fighting over too few resources.


  • Interesting times ahead, for sure.

    We’re on the verge of losing our dream. We just listed our ecovillage site with a realtor.

    There’s still a chance for someone to step in and buy half our dream to share.

    Otherwise, we’ll be licking our wounds and staying liquid. But I’d rather have clean air, plenty of water, and good farmland bought and paid for. With just a few goats, we’re currently supplying six families with milk. This site could feed a hundred people… or be gentrified into a weekend hobby farm.

  • “Art is finished in Haiti. After what happened here Art has nothing more to say to us. The philosopher Hegel said that before the end of time there would be the end of history, and before the end of history, the end of art. Maybe this is what we’re seeing here: the enacting of Hegel’s theory. Haiti is leading the rest of the world to the end of time. Riding around Port au Prince during the day, seeing the sheer biblical scale of the destruction, could definitely put you in the apocalyptic frame-of-mind. ‘Poor, Haiti,’ people say ‘so primitive, so backwards, so far behind the times.’ I’ve been hearing about how backward Haiti is for as long as I’ve been going. But how about this: What if Haiti is ahead of the times? It seems to be on the leading edge of so many current trends: environmental degradation, serial ecological disasters, crumbling infrastructure, a population that exceeds resources, plus a skewed economic order that channels vast wealth to a privileged few, while the great majority of people stagnate and struggle. By any objective measure, Haiti appears well-advanced on the track that the rest of the world seems hell-bent on following.” -Ben Fountain (Excerpt from This American Life episode 408: Island Time)

  • I know the BP gulf disaster is on everyone’s radar, and it, just like the earthquake in Haiti, caused a mainstream awareness of the potential for further collapse-worthy devastation. Inevitably, the world’s attention will shift to the next major environmental/sociopolitical/economic disaster, and the CEOs and politicians will once again have their appeasing quick-fix-it guides on hand, but by then, their plates will be so full of bullshit, it’ll be a lot harder for them to swallow their own words and for us to even believe in their “solutions”.
    In light of the recent immigration legislation, I’m hoping all of the migrant workers on commercial farms in the US to go on strike. That would really send the Federal Government into a frenzy, send the American public a big slap in the face, and finally give both the disrespected/underpaid workers and struggling family farms a little taste of revenge. I can only dream…

  • In the american Indian world everyone that did not have a relative living here on october 11th, 1492 is an illegal immigrant, you white folks are finally getting a taste of your own medicine. Just as we had to learn english, you will have to learn spanish. I forsee no problems, my family was already here on october 11th, 1492 and I speak spanish…

  • I have been looking around almost everywhere for this specific help and advice… I’m sure pleased anyone simply has the solution to an amazingly basic concern. You have no clue what number of web-sites We have gone to throughout the past hour or so. Thx for that data