Wednesday, November 30, 2022

This Is of Course Insane

Greed is a powerful motivation to be an ardent believer in the central banking cult.

The ideal cult convinces its followers that it isn't a cult, it's simply the natural order of things. In current terms, this normalizes insane behaviors and beliefs. Sacrificing youth to appease the gods isn't a cult; it's simply the natural order of things. If we don't sacrifice youth, bad things will happen, so we have to follow the natural order of things.

Despite the lofty claims made by our rational mind, we want to hear and obey the voices of the gods. This non-rational desire is the root of cults and episodes of mass hysteria, i.e. the madness of crowds.

Humanity is in the grip of the secular cult of central banking. The cult's seers and prophets periodically emerge with arcane signs and readings, offering divinations to guide the followers.

The motivation to believe the cult is the natural order of things is powerful: greed. Those who heed the oracles of the cult enrich themselves, unbelievers impoverish themselves.

Rationalists outside the cult discern the structure of the cult and its core beliefs. The cult creates credit and "money" out of thin air and distributes it to the few extremely wealthy to further expand their wealth. These few do not improve productivity or the well-being of the many; they use the cult's gifts to exploit the cult's rigged casino of speculation to maximize their private gains.

In other words, the cult benefits the few at the expense of the many while proclaiming it benefits everyone. This is of course insane. The cult's core beliefs are: 1) enriching the already-rich magically trickles down benefits to the masses, and 2) this vast enrichment of the already-wealthy is cost-free. The economy prospers with no downside or consequences other than the glorious expansion of wealth at the top and the trickle-down of sweet goodness to the masses.

This is of course insane. The costs are borne by the masses and by the socio-economic system, which is now in thrall to a cult that has made the economy dependent on an ever-expanding credit bubble which feeds an ever-expanding asset bubble, which then enables a further expansion of credit which then fuels ever-higher assets prices.

And so on, forever, because the cult and its ever-expanding bubble are the natural order of things. If we don't sacrifice the many to benefit the few, the sun will stop rising and the Earth will be cast into endless shadow.

This is of course insane, but greed is a powerful motivation to be an ardent believer in the central banking cult. Expanding credit based on the expanding collateral of asset bubbles, each feeding the other, is held up not as insane but as a financial perpetual-motion machine, overseen and managed by the seers and prophets of the central bank cult. Followers heeding the cult's oracles become rich, non-believers and skeptics become impoverished.

Alas, cults and bubbles both come to an inglorious end. What seemed self-evidently true for the ages is revealed as a brief moment of self-serving delusion, supported by the immense powers of greed and the madness of crowds.

Do you hear the voices of the gods? Yes, yes, oh yes.



My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century.

Read the first chapter for free (PDF)

Read excerpts of all three chapters

Podcast with Richard Bonugli: Self Reliance in the 21st Century (43 min)


My recent books:

The Asian Heroine Who Seduced Me (Novel) print $10.95, Kindle $6.95 Read an excerpt for free (PDF)

When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal $18 print, $8.95 Kindle ebook; audiobook Read the first section for free (PDF)

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $24, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake (Novel) $4.95 Kindle, $10.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free


Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

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Monday, November 28, 2022

The "Oil Curse" and Splashy PR Announcements of Oil Production Cuts

It's not just the price of oil that matters: how much disposable income consumers have left to buy more goods and services matters, too.

The Oil Curse (a.k.a. The Resource Curse) refers to the compelling ease of those blessed with an abundance of oil/resources to depend on that gift for the majority of state/national revenues. The risks and demands of developing a diverse, globally competitive economy don't seem worth the effort when the single-source wealth of oil offers such a low-risk bounty of revenues.

This dependence becomes a curse when the market value of the oil/resources plummets. Having come to depend on that seemingly inexhaustible source of massive revenues, even states that have set aside prudent reserves soon find their expenses cannot align down to diminished oil revenues without unbearable political/social pain.

The ideal solution to this problem is to jawbone oil prices higher by splashily announcing major cuts in oil production and then ignoring the proposed cuts to pump as much oil as possible to restore spending to politically viable levels.

The problem is every other oil producer is pursuing the same game plan and so production doesn't actually decline. As global demand continues sagging in a global recession, oil supply remains at high levels. Since oil and other commodities are priced on the margin, even modest misalignments of supply and demand can generate huge swings in price.

There is no real enforcement of heavily promoted production cuts. The pressure on every oil producer is to assure the world they're complying to cover the reality that they're not actually cutting production because they can't afford to lose any more revenues.

The price of oil appears to be reflecting the global recession that's baked into receding stimulus and liquidity and higher inflation. China's attempt to secure Zero Covid is also exerting downward pressure on oil demand. As consumers globally come to grips with layoffs, depleted savings and maxed-out credit cards, demand can be expected to drop further.

All those who treated themselves to high living (vacations, dining out, etc.) on credit will soon find the noose of interest payments tightening around their necks, and all goods and services priced on the margin may fall with weakening demand, decimating hours worked, employment and profits.

There's another twist to The Oil Curse story: now that the easy-to-get oil is gone, it now requires massive, permanent investments in future production to keep the oil flowing. Governments seeing their revenues decline will naturally slash investment to fund the politically essential welfare-graft that enables their grip on power.

Starved of essential investment, oil production inevitably declines, further reducing revenues of oil-dependent states. This feedback loop is unforgiving: less investment leads to less oil which leads to less revenues which further squeezes investment.

It's not just the price of oil that matters: how much disposable income consumers have left to buy more goods and services matters, too. Put another way: demand can fall below supply for longer than oil producers can remain solvent.



My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century.

Read the first chapter for free (PDF)

Read excerpts of all three chapters

Podcast with Richard Bonugli: Self Reliance in the 21st Century (43 min)


My recent books:

The Asian Heroine Who Seduced Me (Novel) print $10.95, Kindle $6.95 Read an excerpt for free (PDF)

When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal $18 print, $8.95 Kindle ebook; audiobook Read the first section for free (PDF)

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $24, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake (Novel) $4.95 Kindle, $10.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free


Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Roxanne F. ($54), for your marvelously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

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Saturday, November 26, 2022

The Uncertainty in China Is Kryptonite to Global Markets

Few seem alive to the potentially consequential financial risks arising from uncertainties evolving in China.

One thing we know rather definitively is that markets don't like uncertainty: uncertainty is Kryptonite to markets.

Another thing we know is that the events unfolding in China are generating uncertainty on multiple levels. Whatever policy decisions are made, the potential consequences generate waves of profound uncertainty.

Should authorities respond to exploding Covid caseloads with heavy-handed lockdowns, that will trigger production and shipping consequences for global trade. If restrictions are relaxed, the healthcare consequences are also uncertain, as China lacks the facilities such as ICU beds in sufficient quantities to deal with a contagious virus spreading in a populace with very little immunity.

The reactions of both authorities and the people generate an entirely different level of uncertainty. Authoritarian regimes are trapped: if their response is increasingly brutal repression, punishment and lockdowns, this risks changing the populace's understanding of the social contract in a destabilizing dynamic.

But offering concessions opens the door to demands for further concessions, and this path is an equally destabilizing dynamic.

There are no positives for global markets in any of these developments, as each potential outcome has difficult-to-predict and control second order effects. Covid lockdowns have the potential to topple various supply-chain dominoes, and by weakening economic activity, they also have the potential to topple dominoes in the populace's understanding of the social contract between citizens and the state.

A great many commentators evince confidence that the protests will all blow over in a few days or weeks and everything will quickly go back to normal, but markets cannot afford to place much faith in such complacent forecasts, because risk rises asymmetrically in self-reinforcing uncertainty.

It's nice to dismiss low-probability long-tail risks as "nothing," but that's not prudent when it comes to risks with potentially severe financial consequences.

Indeed, from the point of view of asymmetric risks, the entire point of a market is to provide opportunities to limit risk by selling and/or hedging. The cost of waiting around is also asymmetric: only first-movers get high prices for at-risk assets and low prices for hedges.

Everyone who waits around because they dismissed uncertainties as "nothing" gets their head handed to them on a platter.

Few seem alive to the potentially consequential financial risks arising from uncertainties evolving in China. Those who complacently discount risk may regret it, as one of the few things we know is markets don't like uncertainty for a very good reason: uncertainty generates asymmetric risks that have the potential to deliver life-changing losses to the unwary and over-confident.





My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century.

Read the first chapter for free (PDF)

Read excerpts of all three chapters

Podcast with Richard Bonugli: Self Reliance in the 21st Century (43 min)


My recent books:

The Asian Heroine Who Seduced Me (Novel) print $10.95, Kindle $6.95 Read an excerpt for free (PDF)

When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal $18 print, $8.95 Kindle ebook; audiobook Read the first section for free (PDF)

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $24, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake (Novel) $4.95 Kindle, $10.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free


Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Roxanne F. ($54), for your marvelously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

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Friday, November 25, 2022

FTX and the Corruption of America

What all the entrenched insiders in America's parasitic, predatory elites and institutions don't dare admit is that to protect themselves from consequence, we've had to sacrifice everything else.

Thanks to the FTX swindle, we now know the cost of a get out of jail free card in America: $40 million, paid to political elites. It seems even get out of jail free cards have suffered from inflation.

With hefty "donations" (heh) to elites, all wrong-doing is swept under a very capacious carpet. Jeffrey Epstein sprinkled a few million on the elites of Harvard, and he was ushered into this elite circle as an intimate pal. The fact that he was a rapacious predator of children was of no concern. A few million showered on the right people and causes makes evil and criminality disappear.

If a financier looter showers $40 million on "the right people," mouths the "correct" phrases and issues empty promises to give away his looted billions, he becomes an instant golden boy of the right elites who have the power to protect him from consequences.

This is how America works now: in-your-face corruption is not just accepted, it's glorified. Let's score America's wealth and power elites, regardless of party or political persuasion:

Integrity: zero.

Austerity: zero.

Restraint: zero.

Humility: zero.

Responsibility: zero.

Accountability: zero.

Sacrifice for the common good: zero.

Thrift: zero.

A society whose elites are so self-serving, corrupt, unaccountable and devoid of any sense of good and evil is doomed.
Consider the bleatings of America's power elite on the FTX swindle. Let's have congressional hearings on this remarkable "financial event" that caught everyone by surprise, etc.

Translation: let's stage some political theater to cloak the fact that the looters are being protected from consequences. We all know what happens if you're caught selling a nickel bag on the street: you get a tenner in a hellhole prison.

But if you bribed the right people, you can swindle billions of dollars and walk free as an insincerely apologetic victim of your own success. Golly gee, I don't understand what happened to all that money, even though I'm not exactly shy about declaring my own genius.

For reasons lost on the rest of us, investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) always come up empty. Gee, the looting was complicated and we can't figure out who might have broken the laws against fraud, collusion, embezzlement, malfeasance, etc., so we're letting everyone off the hook.

Or some sleazy, unaccountable intelligence agency is referenced in whispers that the looters are "assets" and therefore untouchable. Where exactly is the rule of law in a society where bribes, political pressure and having knowledge of elites' skeletons in the closet melt away accountability and consequences?

The rule of law in America is an illusion, a useful myth promoted by PR hacks to cover the tracks of their employers. Corporate wrong-doing--swindles, collusion, fraud, embezzlement, malfeasance--is off the charts, but nobody is responsible. The criminal corporations are duly fined, a tiny clawback of their looting that's written off as a cost of doing business.

Consider this data base of 6,300 major corporate fines and settlements from the early 1990s to 2015 compiled by Jon Morse. Nobody paid any personal fines or served any prison time for any of these thousands of violations.

There are two systems of "justice" in America: one which grants elites freedom from consequences of their toxic criminality and another one for the rest of us that imprisons hundreds of thousands in the War on Drugs Gulag.

What all the entrenched insiders in America's parasitic, predatory elites and institutions don't dare admit is that to protect themselves from consequence, we've had to sacrifice everything else. Having stripped the nation of the essential foundation of a just, enduring social order--accountability, consequence, rule of law and a grasp of the difference between good and evil--there's nothing left but sound and fury, as if they're hoping the endless political circuses and trails of bread crumbs will forever distract us from their plunder and the injustices of the irredeemably corrupt America they've fashioned to protect their wealth and power.

To paraphrase Lao Tzu, if one insists on an extreme of corruption and injustice, that extreme will not dwell long.



My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century.

Read the first chapter for free (PDF)

Read excerpts of all three chapters

Podcast with Richard Bonugli: Self Reliance in the 21st Century (43 min)


My recent books:

The Asian Heroine Who Seduced Me (Novel) print $10.95, Kindle $6.95 Read an excerpt for free (PDF)

When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal $18 print, $8.95 Kindle ebook; audiobook Read the first section for free (PDF)

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $24, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake (Novel) $4.95 Kindle, $10.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free


Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Roxanne F. ($54), for your marvelously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

Thank you, Patrick I. ($54), for your splendidly generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

What Do You Value Most? Thanksgiving 2022

When these are no longer valued as essentials for the common good, society is lost.

I'm thankful for the eight things to aspire to listed at the bottom of the right-hand column of the main blog page:

integrity

austerity

restraint

humility

responsibility

patience

sacrifice

thrift

When these are no longer valued as essentials for the common good, society is lost.

These aspirations remind of Chapter 58 of the Tao Te Ching:

When the country is governed through simplicity and leniency,

The people are genuine and honest.

When the country is governed through harshness and sharp investigation,

The people are more deceitful and dishonest.


And Chapter 9:

To hold things and to be proud of them is not as good as not to have them,

Because if one insists on an extreme, that extreme will not dwell long.

When a room is full of precious things, one will never be able to preserve them.

When one is wealthy, high ranking, and proud of himself, he invites misfortune.




My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century.

Read the first chapter for free (PDF)

Read excerpts of all three chapters

Podcast with Richard Bonugli: Self Reliance in the 21st Century (43 min)


My recent books:

The Asian Heroine Who Seduced Me (Novel) print $10.95, Kindle $6.95 Read an excerpt for free (PDF)

When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal $18 print, $8.95 Kindle ebook; audiobook Read the first section for free (PDF)

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $24, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake (Novel) $4.95 Kindle, $10.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free


Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Peter P. (7.50/month), for your marvelously generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Demographic Cliff + Let It Rot = Collapse of Global Growth

As workforces shrink and opting out becomes increasingly attractive, Global Growth implodes on both the production and consumption sides.

A funny thing happened on the way to permanent global growth. Actually, three funny things happened. One is the cheap, easy-to-access materials that enabled a vast expansion of consumption have been pulled out of the ground and what's left will cost more going forward, meaning there will be less to squander on consumption.

True Believers are confident that some Savior Technology will emerge and scale up globally to save us from any nasty reduction in consumption, but they overlook the inconvenient fact that all the proposed Savior Technologies need vast quantities of the same materials that we've already consumed.

Two other funny things will also impact global growth: the sharp decline in birth rates in most developed and many developing nations--the Demographic Cliff--and the collapse of young workers' willingness to sacrifice themselves on the altar of Global Growth (i.e. systemic inequality) via working in miserable conditions for low pay--wages that will never enable the purchase of a home or support a family.

Since it's hopeless to secure "the good life," why bother sacrificing one's life? Why not enjoy life on a much more modest level?

This rejection of self-exploitation in service of further enriching the already-rich is global: The most descriptive terms are from China--laying flat and let it rot--but they apply to youth around the world.

Unfortunately for the already-rich benefiting from Global Growth, this puts upward pressure on global wages as employers have to offer higher wages to entice reluctant young workers: Younger Chinese are spurning factory jobs that power the economy (Reuters.com)

Higher wages might have some effect on the margins, but the real problem is vast wealth-income inequality created by hyper-financialization and hyper-globalization. Increasing wages by 10% isn't going to fix what's broken. Doubling wages and eliminating all taxes on labor would be a start. (Taxes on capital and financialization's churn would have to rise significantly to offset the elimination of taxes on labor.)

As the charts below indicate, the population of elderly living off the labor of the younger generations will soar, putting increasing financial pressure on governments and pension plans. Scrape away the hype and obfuscations and all pension/healthcare for the retired cohort are pay as you go, i.e. funded by taxes on the current workforce.

As that workforce shrinks, the burden will quickly become unbearable. Promises made when there were four workers for each retire break down when there's only 1.5 workers per retiree.

Wages' share of the economy has a long way to climb to reach previous levels. As wages rise, capital's share of the economy will have to shrink. The already-rich will become less rich.

Many commentators are confident young workers will be forced by need to take miserable jobs at miserable rates of pay. I suspect these commentators don't understand the immense spectrum of options to opt out. In developing economies, young people can return to villages with family homes and grandparents. Young people in both developed and developing economies can take informal gig jobs that earn just enough to get by, or find ways to produce real goods and services on a modest scale.

As I've often discussed here over the years, opting out is the best strategy when things fall apart. Trying to maximize your self-exploitation leads to burnout. The decision to abandon self-exploitation in service of increasing the wealth of the already-rich opens the door to Self-Reliance in the 21st Century.

As workforces shrink and opting out becomes increasingly attractive, Global Growth implodes on both the production and consumption sides. Toss in higher costs due to the depletion of the easy-to-exploit materials and the foundations of Permanent Global Growth crumble into dust.

Plan accordingly.







My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century.

Read the first chapter for free (PDF)

Read excerpts of all three chapters

Podcast with Richard Bonugli: Self Reliance in the 21st Century (43 min)


My recent books:

The Asian Heroine Who Seduced Me (Novel) print $10.95, Kindle $6.95 Read an excerpt for free (PDF)

When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal $18 print, $8.95 Kindle ebook; audiobook Read the first section for free (PDF)

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $24, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake (Novel) $4.95 Kindle, $10.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free


Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Peter P. (7.50/month), for your marvelously generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

Thank you, Tony J. ($54), for your splendidly generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

Read more...

Saturday, November 19, 2022

There's No Bottom Until Frenzied Speculation Turns to Dust

Only when speculative sizzle attracts no buyers / marks will the bottom be in.

There hasn't been a truly organic bottom in stocks in decades. Fifteen years of relentless central bank manipulation since the 2008-09 Global Financial Meltdown has persuaded punters that central banks will always save us should the market turn down because relentless central bank suppression of interest rates and expansion of liquidity (a.k.a. free money for financiers) are now necessary and thus predictably permanent.

Central banks have rescued punters from every market drop. This has pushed moral hazard to near-infinity: since we know the Fed et al. will rescue us, no matter how stupid or venal or risky our bets, then why not increase the leverage, risk and fraud at every turn?

Indeed, why not? With the central banks providing a permanent backstop, it would be foolish not to increase the size and risk of every bet.

Given this central bank-enforced supremacy of moral hazard, the only possible consequence has been the rise of speculation to truly dizzying heights, extremes of leverage and risk that are completely decoupled from the real-world economy.

In this Fed-managed fun house, cryptocurrencies started as jokes became worth billions of dollars--and despite a complete lack of utility, past present or future, these are still worth tens of billions of dollars.

The spectrum of similarly decoupled-from-utility speculations stretches across the entire global financial system. Valuations are based on central bank liquidity rather than real-world metrics such as sales, margins, profits or (gasp) improvements in productivity and real-world utility.

The speculative frenzy boils down to a simple dynamic: Sell the sizzle to a greater fool and pocket the profit. The greater the sizzle, size, leverage and risk, the greater the profits.

In this Fed-managed fun house, investing in increasing efficiency, productivity and utility--improving human life-- is for losers. Why bother investing in ventures which are inherently risky when you can mint millions in the Fed fun house without creating any new goods, services or jobs?

This Fed fun house dynamic has decoupled markets from the real-world economy and from any real-world grasp of risk. Risk? There isn't any because the Fed et al. will always "pivot" to save us.

Unfortunately for punters, central bank manipulation is akin to holding a beach ball under water. Everything is stable and predictable as long as the ball is held safely beneath the surface.

But consequences have their own consequences, and eventually central bank manipulation sets a banquet of unintended and uncontrollable consequences: perverse incentives, diminishing returns and mean reversion to name a few, and the beach ball slips from their grasp with destabilizing volatility.

The last organic (i.e. unmanipulated) bottom in equities was arguably 45 years ago in the late 1970s. Punters and investors gave up. Brokers sat at their desks staring at phones that had stopped ringing. The speculative animal spirits of the go-go 1960s had finally turned to dust.

The speculative frenzy of the present is exponentially larger, which means its collapse will be exponentially more destabilizing and consequential to valuations. A truly tradeable bottom is only possible when speculations based on moral hazard, greater fools and central bank backstops all dissipate into the ether.

Utility-free assets that are currently worth tens of billions will go to near-zero. Assets based on bubbles in liquidity and cupidity will lose 75% to 95% of their current valuations as they recouple with reality.

Only when speculative sizzle attracts no buyers / marks will the bottom be in. Until then, everyone gambling in the Fed fun house confident the Fed is going to save them is playing with firecrackers in a dynamite factory.





My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century.

Read the first chapter for free (PDF)

Read excerpts of all three chapters

Podcast with Richard Bonugli: Self Reliance in the 21st Century (43 min)


My recent books:

The Asian Heroine Who Seduced Me (Novel) print $10.95, Kindle $6.95 Read an excerpt for free (PDF)

When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal $18 print, $8.95 Kindle ebook; audiobook Read the first section for free (PDF)

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $24, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake (Novel) $4.95 Kindle, $10.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free


Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

FTX: The Dominoes of Financial Fraud Have Yet to Fall

Once assets are revealed as worth far less than claimed, insolvency is the inevitable result.

If you haven't plowed through dozens of post-collapse commentaries on FTX, I'm saving you the trouble: here's a distillation of what matters going forward. If you're seeking a forensic accounting of FTX, others have done this work already. If you're seeking an ideological diatribe, you won't find that here, either.

What you will find is insight into the real innovation of FTX: FTX compressed the entire playbook and history of financial fraud into one brief cycle of the credulous bamboozled, Charles Ponzi bested and creative accounting being revealed for what it really is, fraud.

All financial frauds share the same set of tools. The toolbox of financial fraud, whether it is traditional or crypto-based, contains variations of these basic mechanisms:

1. Using clients' capital (without full disclosure) to increase the private gain of the Owners of the Con (OOTC).

2. Using the clients' capital to arbitrage yield differentials in duration, risk and other asymmetries to the benefit not of the clients but to the Owners of the Con (OOTC)..

3. Overstate assets by listing illiquid, insider-controlled, non-marked-to-market assets at valuations completely disconnected from reality, i.e. what they would fetch on the open market in size. Rely on assets issued by the firm or its subsidiaries for the bulk of the firm's assets, i.e. its claim of solvency.

4. Attracting new capital investments and client funds with "too good to be true" (but borderline plausible, given the fantastic growth and track record of high returns) returns, goals and promises to cover the normal churn of redemptions, so the fraud goes undetected. (Ponzi Scheme)

5. Play fast and loose with leverage, the full extent of which isn't disclosed to clients or regulators.

6. Issue securities (i.e. "money"--tokens, bonds, shares of stock, etc.) whose value is based on the firm's fraudulently listed assets and mouth-watering growth.

7. Persuade investors and clients that you're doing them a favor by letting them get a piece of the action. In other words, exploit their near-infinite greed.

8. Present a facade of prudent, audited, transparent, regulated stability which cloaks the interlocking network of fraud, bogus accounting, illiquid assets, etc. and insider looting.

I have often recommended Herman Melville's novel The Confidence-Man for its masterful depiction of how The Confidence-Man persuades the skeptic that not only is The Confidence-Man trustworthy, but he is doing the mark a favor in taking his money.

Note that there are quasi-legal versions of some of these tools. The full exposure to the risks inherent in extreme leverage and illiquidity can be cloaked, buried in off-balance sheet assets and liabilities, etc., while pages of mind-numbing disclosures were duly signed by blinded-by-greed marks.

These quasi-legal versions are just as prone to unraveling and collapse as the blatantly fraudulent varieties. Properly disclosed leverage and illiquidity are just as prone to unraveling as undisclosed leverage and illiquidity.

Mismatches of duration, liquidity and risk are just as toxic to full-disclosure firms as they are to fraudulent firms.

This is why we can predict the dominoes of FTX's financial fraud have yet to fall. When there are mismatches in counterparty asset durations and liquidity, assets that theoretically cover loans that are called can't be sold or can only be sold at ruinous discounts.

Leverage works both ways, and so the 100-to-1 leverage that's so glorious when the $1 yields $100 in gains also triggers the mass liquidation of illiquid assets when small losses unwind all that leverage.

Everyone caught short by losses, redemptions and counterparty claims will be desperate to hide their exposure to insolvency. But humans are herd animals, and once the herd gets spooked, trust in assurances quickly plummets and all eyes are on counterparty risks and the actual market for lightly traded assets.

Once assets are revealed as worth far less than claimed, insolvency is the inevitable result. How far will the lines of toppling dominoes extend? Quite possibly much farther than the credulous believe possible.



My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century.

Read the first chapter for free (PDF)

Read excerpts of all three chapters

Podcast with Richard Bonugli: Self Reliance in the 21st Century (43 min)


My recent books:

The Asian Heroine Who Seduced Me (Novel) print $10.95, Kindle $6.95 Read an excerpt for free (PDF)

When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal $18 print, $8.95 Kindle ebook; audiobook Read the first section for free (PDF)

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $24, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake (Novel) $4.95 Kindle, $10.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free


Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Richard C. ($5/month), for your marvelouslyy generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

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Monday, November 14, 2022

Where Crypto Went Wrong

You want to fix the world with finance? Then fix this: wages' share of a financialized, globalized, speculative-bubble dependent economy have been falling for decades. Fix this and you really will change the world. Anything less changes nothing.

Let's start by stipulating my perspective on cryptocurrencies is neither positive nor negative in the usual context of "to the moon" or "worthless," nor does it track any of the conventional narratives (decentralized finance will conquer the world, etc.)

I've thought a lot about "money" and its role in the economic-social order, and its role in the extreme asymmetries of wealth-power-income inequalities that are dismantling the social order in broad daylight. I've also thought a lot about work and its role in social cohesion, individual fulfillment and a productive, level-playing-field economy.

I've written two books on "money" and the potential utility of cryptocurrencies in reversing the extremes of wealth-power inequality that are destabilizing the social order. I invite you to read both books if these topics interest you:

Money and Work Unchained (2017)

A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating Jobs for All: The Future Belongs to Work That Is Meaningful (2016)

Once you grasp the potential of community-based labor-backed cryptos, you realize cryptos took the greed-soaked path to the Dark Side of a destructive asymmetry of wealth and power: those who issued blockchain cryptos (in all their forms) would become the new Extractive Elite, the new Power Elite, the New Parasitic Elite, buying the wealth generated by the labor of others for peanuts.

Scrape away the high-falutin rhetoric, and blockchain/crypto distills down to the same old greed and avarice that powers traditional finance: those who own the mines gain wealth from the issuance of "money" and its proxy, credit, and those who control the spigots of "money" and credit then buy control of governance, labor and the productive assets that generate real-world wealth.

Whether the "money" is metals that labor extracts to the benefit of the mine owners, cryptos issued to the benefit of miners and insiders, or fiat currencies issued (or borrowed into existence) by central banks and private banks, the principle is the same: the few who control the "money" issuance spigots benefit at the expense of the laboring many.

This is why I say if you don't change the way money is issued and distributed, you change nothing. Cryptocurrencies--and not necessarily blockchain-based cryptos--have the potential to play a role in fundamentally changing the way "money" is issued and distributed, but this potential has been squandered in the Gold-Rush Greed of speculative schemes which depend on a greater fool volunteering to be the bagholder for an intrinsically utility-free (i.e. of no productive utility) speculative vehicle.

Swapping one set of extractive billionaires for another set of extractive billionaires doesn't improve the world. Swapping billionaires changes nothing.

As for the much-touted institutional participation: It's just another greed-driven rush to front-run the next gold rush. The tech bubbles have shown that early adopters mint billions, and so Pavlov's Institutional Managers all piled into blockchain and crypto schemes, no matter how flimsy and lacking in real-world utility, desperate to secure early equity rounds in what the institutions see as the next gold rush.

The early mine claims got rich, everyone who came later got the shaft. As Mark Twain so entertainingly described, fortunes were made and lost with no relation to the actual prospects of the mining claims being traded.

As for the claims of widespread utility of blockchain and crypto, all the claims are strained. Compare the rapid global distribution of mass produced spectacles lenses from Venice in the 1400s (glasses quickly reached Imperial China) with the supposed utility of blockchain and crypto: truly world-changing innovations that improve human life spread quickly. Where are the blockchain and crypto "innovations" that so improve human life that they've spread globally in a few years? There aren't any.

Scrape away the speculative frenzy, the search for greater fools and the gold-rush mob of greed-driven Pavlovian Institutions, and what's left? If anything was truly world-changing in terms of improving human life, it would already be tracking the World Wide Web's expansion, and several billion people would already be using blockchain and crypto utilities due to their vast practical advantages over previous utilities.

The truly world-changing opportunities to improve human life with cryptos don't enrich the issuers of the currencies or the early investors: they are distributed to those who are performing useful work in their communities rather than speculating.

There are three false assumptions at the heart of blockchain/crypto:

1. We can all get stupidly rich while changing the world for the better. (The Internet model)

2. Blockchain/crypto is "open to everyone" because anyone earning fiat currency can use that to buy crypto.

Getting stupidly rich from being an early investor and front-running speculative bubbles doesn't change the world. Confusing getting rich with "changing the world" doesn't change the world.

As for "democratizing finance:" those without capital and no way to save up appreciable capital are left out of speculative assets. The already-wealthy have the means to jump on the bandwagon and so they end up owning the lion's share of the new hot asset.

In this way, cryptos are no different from all the other asset classes dominated by the already-wealthy. A relative handful of early investors and issuers of cryptos became billionaires, the already-wealthy piled in and the bottom 90% were left to trade high-priced crumbs.

3. Fixing finance will fix the world. Just as those holding hammers see nails that can be pounded down, those steeped in the abstract world of speculation and finance think their expertise in making "money" is all that's needed to fix whatever is broken in the world.

The reality is that finance has broken the world's ability to adapt by pushing wealth-power inequality to extremes that are breaking down economies and societies. Finance looks at scarcities--artificially created by cartels and monopolies, or the real-world scarcities of depletion--as "opportunities" for profiteering. Governance and regulation are "opportunities" to distort public policy to benefit the few at the expense of the public good.

This is the ultimate fantasy of financiers of any stripe: I'm gonna do good while getting stupidly rich. But "doing good" quickly slides into the swamp of good intentions and glossy fantasies. The reality is greed and the desire for unearned wealth drives people to arrive to do good and stay to do well.

The reality is financiers hope to "change their world" by getting rich, and it's easy to cloak this self-interest with noble-sounding goals and claims and persuade oneself that getting rich via speculation will magically ennoble the world. It won't.

You want to fix the world with finance? Then fix this: wages' share of a financialized, globalized, speculative-bubble dependent economy have been falling for decades. Fix this and you really will change the world. Anything less changes nothing.



My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century.

Read the first chapter for free (PDF)

Read excerpts of all three chapters

Podcast with Richard Bonugli: Self Reliance in the 21st Century (43 min)


My recent books:

The Asian Heroine Who Seduced Me (Novel) print $10.95, Kindle $6.95 Read an excerpt for free (PDF)

When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal $18 print, $8.95 Kindle ebook; audiobook Read the first section for free (PDF)

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $24, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake (Novel) $4.95 Kindle, $10.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free


Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Richard C. ($5/month), for your marvelouslyy generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

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Sunday, November 13, 2022

Asymmetries, Distortions and Denial

When bubbles pop, it's natural selection at its most unforgiving: "adapt or die," and those who ignore or discount consequential asymmetries will have a very difficult time navigating the triage.

After years of relative stability, it seems asymmetries, distortions and denial are playing out in unexpectedly destabilizing ways. These complex and often opaque dynamics are interacting with each other and reinforcing each other in difficult to predict ways.

No wonder instability is the new stability.

Asymmetry comes in many forms. Advantages and disadvantages, weaknesses and strengths--these terms describe asymmetry in terms of adaptive / selective pluses or minuses and in relative superiority or inferiority.

Asymmetric dominance is not always an adaptive advantage, as it nurtures a very dangerous over-confidence and hubris. Thus the many accounts of dominant tech companies being overtaken and consumed by small rivals whose asymmetric advantages were discounted or not recognized by the over-confident major power.

This is the core concept in asymmetric warfare: turn the opponent's dominance into a liability, and expose them to unexpected asymmetries they are unprepared to counter.

Then there are the stories of entities with asymmetric advantages which they fail to exploit, squandering opportunities to further or secure their dominance.

There are also many accounts of apparent dominance resting on asymmetries of vulnerability in metrics such as training, pilot replacement, supply chains and various "glass jaws" which shatter on contact despite apparent superiority in quantity and quality.

Distortions generate asymmetries of fragility as the pendulum eventually reaches a point where distorting forces can no longer advance or contain the inevitable snap-back as extremes revert to the mean and the pendulum swings to the other extreme: scarcities become gluts, etc.

Denial plays a key role in furthering distortions and overplaying asymmetries. A common form of denying the risks of distortion is "this time it's different," but that doesn't exhaust the human ingenuity invested in other forms of denial. Another common form is to remain confident that past dominance predicts the permanence of future dominance, when history suggests the opposite: hubris and passive over-confidence breed failure and collapse.

Consider these dynamics in light of the global housing bubble. As the chart below shows, central banks suppressed interest rates (and thus mortgage rates) for decades as a distortion designed to foster growth. What it fostered were credit-asset bubbles and wealth/income inequality. Now the global housing bubble is popping as interest rates as distortions are never permanent.

As the second chart illustrates, the global housing bubble has numerous asymmetries, many of which are not yet recognized as being consequential. This chart displays the asymmetric dearth of mortgages in the U.S. that will adjust higher as rates rise and the consequentially larger share of mortgages in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Canada that will adjust higher as rates rise.

The inevitability of the bubble popping was set aside (denial), while the financial distortions that inflated the bubble were deemed permanent. Beneath the confidence and faith in the permanence of distortions, asymmetries piled up, unrecognized or discounted.

Now that the bubble is popping, those asymmetries will loom ever larger. The selective advantages of some asymmetries and the catastrophic fragilities created by others will play out in the years ahead. Some housing markets will deflate, others will crash. Some with stabilize and recover, some will cascade down to a new low and not recover. When bubbles pop, global capital flows tend to ignore ideologies, distortions and denial in favor of transparency, liquidity and stability.

These global capital flows will fuel a new set of asymmetries that will reinforce the strengths of the most adaptable and the weaknesses of the least adaptable--the opaque, corrupt, sclerotic, illiquid. These asymmetries will become increasingly consequential, and only those who recognize the asymmetries for what they are will grasp the opportunities to escape doomed markets and situations and secure stakes in the most adaptable markets and situations.

When bubbles pop, it's natural selection at its most unforgiving: adapt or die, and those who ignore or discount consequential asymmetries will have a very difficult time navigating the triage.





My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century.

Read the first chapter for free (PDF)

Read excerpts of all three chapters

Podcast with Richard Bonugli: Self Reliance in the 21st Century (43 min)


My recent books:

The Asian Heroine Who Seduced Me (Novel) print $10.95, Kindle $6.95 Read an excerpt for free (PDF)

When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal $18 print, $8.95 Kindle ebook; audiobook Read the first section for free (PDF)

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $24, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake (Novel) $4.95 Kindle, $10.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free


Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Richard C. ($5/month), for your marvelouslyy generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

Thank you, Sam W. ($5/month), for your splendidly generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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Friday, November 11, 2022

I Used To Be Disgusted, Now I'm Disabused

It's certainly possible to be disgusted, but being disabused of the fantasy that the system is self-correcting is the healthier perspective.

I used to be disgusted, now I'm disabused: beneath all the self-serving narratives, fad-memes and over-simplifications regurgitated as serious analysis, these are the core dynamics I see:

1. Imperial corruption of democracy and open markets. I described this in Regardless of Who's Elected, Imperial Corruption Rules the Nation: the dynamic adaptive churn of unfettered representative democracy and open markets are anathema to insiders, vested interests and elites, each of which has gained asymmetric power by subverting democracy and markets to serve their private interests rather than the public interest / common good--phrases that are meaningless to insiders, vested interests and elites except as simulacra used for PR.

2. The Deep State, the unelected and unaccountable Administrative State. I've been discussing the Deep State before it entered common use--for example:

Going to War with the Political Elite You Have (May 14, 2007)

The Dollar and the Deep State (February 24, 2014)

Is the Deep State Fracturing into Disunity? (March 14, 2014)

The Administrative State has existed in some form in every nation-state / empire, but the U.S. Deep State only gained its vast global powers in World War II and the Cold War, where the lesson learned was the public may choose unwisely (for example, choosing appeasement over preparation) and so the really important decisions needed to preserve the nation cannot be left to parochial politicos in elected office--those decisions must be in the hands of those who know what has to be done.

Democracy is the rubber stamp for doing what's necessary. Beyond that, it's a potentially fatal hindrance. That's the mindset of the Deep State, and if you and I were in upper-echelon positions in the Administrative State, we'd agree with this mindset when things get serious.

This mindset is a self-reinforcing group-think feedback loop: those who believe the public should set policy are weeded out, either by self-selection or via being sent to bureaucratic Siberia.

We're protecting you. That's all you need to know.

This opens the door to functionaries who came to do good but stayed to do well, i.e. those with the right credentials and connections to enter the Power Circle to "serve the public" but soon become insiders maximizing their own private gains. That's the problem with the Administrative State: it's ultimately unaccountable, not just to the public or elected officials but to itself.

3. Vested interests block adaptions that threaten their share of the spoils. Any advance that increases efficiency and productivity and furthers the public good is squelched, suppressed or co-opted by vested interests who rightly fear their share of the spoils might be diminished by advances that obsolete their particular cartel, monopoly or other embedded skim, scam, fraud, embezzlement or simply unproductive dead weight.

The status quo is thus locked into a death spiral as gatekeepers, insiders, vested interests and sold to the highest bidder politicos will protect vested interests even as the engines flood and the ship begins its long descent into the void.

How do otherwise smart people become so blind to what's going on? They believe the status quo is so wealthy, so powerful, so clever, etc., that it will overcome any obstacles or crises because it's always done so in the past, and so it is permanent, immutable, forever, and our supping at the trough of free money couldn't possibly weaken such an enduring Leviathan.

This is the fatal fantasy of every empire. We're too successful to fail and collapse. But oddly enough, faith in the permanence of success leads to the very collapse that's deemed "impossible."

4. Concentrations of wealth, power, capital and production fatally distort the economy and the social order. When "competition" has been reduced to two telecoms, two healthcare insurers, two pork processors, etc., the system has been stripped of adaptability and resilience.

When 10,000 small farmers each have 100 chickens, the stock of 1 million chickens is spread over a wide geography and entrepreneurial network of suppliers, wholesalers, etc. Bird flu may spread widely but it's far more difficult to wipe out 10,000 small farms' poultry compared to the ease of bird flu spreading in one giant factory that concentrates 1 million chickens in one facility. Supply chains stripped of network resilience are equally fragile and prone to disruption and collapse.

Concentrating any form of capital, production and power renders the system vulnerable to collapse due to the inherent weaknesses generated by replacing complex networks with vertical-integration under the control of a few cartels, monopolies, autocrats, gatekeepers or regulators--the latter two being easily influenced by political pressure and/or private gain.

It's certainly possible to be disgusted, but being disabused of the fantasy that the system is self-correcting is the healthier perspective. Everything is forever until systemic weaknesses reveal themselves, typically at the most inopportune junctures.



My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century.

Read the first chapter for free (PDF)

Read excerpts of all three chapters

Podcast with Richard Bonugli: Self Reliance in the 21st Century (43 min)


My recent books:

The Asian Heroine Who Seduced Me (Novel) print $10.95, Kindle $6.95 Read an excerpt for free (PDF)

When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal $18 print, $8.95 Kindle ebook; audiobook Read the first section for free (PDF)

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $24, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake (Novel) $4.95 Kindle, $10.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free


Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Glen B. ($5/month), for your marvelouslyy generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

Thank you, Judy W. ($50), for your splendidly generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

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