Saturday, July 30, 2022

What Can The Beatles Teach Us about Management?

Own your work. Don't give it away or let others profit at your expense. Leverage it when opportunities arise.

What can The Beatles teach us about management? Young readers may wonder why The Beatles still matter 52 years after the band broke up. It's a fair question.

There are many answers, but perhaps the obvious one (beyond the music, of course) is the band was a cultural phenomenon that has no modern equivalent.

A less obvious answer is the unusual dynamics of the four lads: founder John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Paul's younger mate George Harrison and drummer Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey) who was invited to join the band shortly before they rocketed to global fame.

Each had a distinct personality and a unique fan base. Though the songwriting team of Lennon-McCartney naturally received the most attention, the band operated by consensus: all four members had to agree on a song for it to be released on a record, and other decisions were also made by consensus: one no vote nixed the deal.

There were other bands with songwriting duos and lively personalities, but none shared quite the same remarkable distribution: there were no "in the background" members in The Beatles.

Due to the intensity of the mania surrounding the band, the members formed bonds which many described in essentially mystical terms: only the four understood their shared experience. Everyone else was an outsider.

As the burdens of fame increased, the band stopped playing live performances and retreated to the studio in 1966. The death of their 32-year old manager Brian Epstein in 1967 left them without a steady hand on the management of the band's business arrangements, a blow that Lennon realized was devastating. With Epstein gone, the band was in effect managing itself, a task it was poorly prepared to accomplish.

Indeed, the foursome's own attempt at running their empire, Apple Corps, was soon in such disarray that the band nearly went broke despite their prodigious record sales.

Both Lennon and Harrison had tired of being Beatles by 1966-67, and the group's sojourn to India in February 1968 marked a transition. The group's next album (The White Album) was more a collection of solo compositions than collaborations.

By 1969, Lennon's continued involvement in the band was contingent on the inclusion of Yoko Ono (whom Lennon tellingly called "mother") in all recording sessions, a move that eroded the unique bond of the foursome.

The coup de grace for the band was the breakdown of decision by consensus: sleazy manager Allen Klein persuaded Lennon, Harrison and Starr into signing him on as manager but McCartney smelled a rat and refused. That was the beginning of the end of the band as an enterprise.

(The three Beatles ended up suing Klein and eventually winning a large settlement.)

Equally interesting from a management perspective are the tug of wars that erupted as the band members matured and the pressures of fame increased. (In 1963 when the band first topped the popular music charts in the U.K., Harrison was 19, McCartney was 20 and Lennon and Starr were 22.)

Unflappable, likeable Ringo had quit the band in 1968 due to feeling unappreciated and left out of the White Album sessions. The other members persuaded him to return.

Harrison famously walked out of a recording session in 1969, Lennon quit in 1969 after the final album recording and McCartney beat the rest to the punch in making the breakup public with the release of his solo album in 1970.

Hard feelings took root and much bitterness was expressed by Lennon and Harrison following the breakup of the band.

Harrison felt that he was unfairly cast as "junior member" in terms of how many of his songs were allowed on each album, and was miffed that Lennon did little to help on Harrison's songs and McCartney was over-controlling in the studio.

As for Lennon (a mercurial personality, to put it mildly), it seems he resented McCartney's assumption of leadership, though it was universally acknowledged that Lennon had essentially relinquished any leadership by 1967. He'd worked hard to guide the band to fame (reportedly Harrison had the greatest confidence in their pre-fame days that the band was destined for great things) but lost interest as he wearied of fame and the burdens of being a Beatle.

In contrast, McCartney remained completely committed to The Beatles and responded to the declining interest of Lennon and Harrison by becoming pushier and more demanding, further alienating the other members.

But as Ringo has stated, if McCartney hadn't pushed, the band's final records would not have been completed.

While the band's breakup was a relief to Harrison and Lennon, it was a crushing blow to McCartney, who spiraled into a deep depression fueled by alcohol.

Let's put on our Manager caps and see who we can recognize:

1. The Founder who's coasting on past glory but resentful of anyone who takes the reins they've dropped.

2. The Over-Achiever who fills the vacuum left by others to keep the operation going.

3. The "quiet one" who isn't actually that quiet, who resents not being respected for their contributions and being overlooked when it comes to recognition.

4. The easy-going one who gets along with everyone but feels undervalued for being steady, reliable and talented at their job.

5. The con artist who sells snake-oil to the management but fails to con a key manager, and the ensuing conflict breaks what had been a functioning enterprise.

6. Enormous early success that is celebrated at first even as it distorts and burdens everyone involved, eventually driving key members to destructive coping mechanisms (alcohol, drugs, etc.).

7. The manager who rose to prominence in the early days of rapid success but who was left behind as the enterprise no longer needed their particular skillset.

8. The team manages to overcome all their differences and set aside their squabbles for one last brilliant production.

9. Young extremely talented people who mistakenly assume they can manage an enterprise they know little about.

10. The benefits of being a natural at public relations.

11. The benefits of group cohesion.

12. Timing is everything: when the moment is ripe and you've put in the work, remarkable things can happen.

There are undoubtedly many others, but the point is The Beatles offer us a microcosm of human interactions and management under great stress and novel challenges. We don't know what we don't know, of course, and The Beatles' experience reflects two truisms:

A. The vast majority of people pitching their services to the very successful are seeking to benefit themselves at the expense of the successful, and should be treated with the utmost skepticism and caution.

B. Recruiting an older, more experienced hand to guide the enterprise who actually has the best interests of the group at heart is often the difference between failure / financial insolvency and stability / financial security. Such people are rare but they do exist.

For all that he did right, Brian Epstein lacked the experience to leverage The Beatles' enormous early success. The rights to their original compositions were botched, as were merchandizing rights and record sales royalties.

These beginner's mistakes cost the band millions in income that should have been theirs. These errors were eventually set right but they cost the band dearly.

Good judgment is hard-earned. Manipulative people find young successful creators easy marks, hence the great number of sports and entertainment figures who end up broke despite making millions.

One of the best business decisions the surviving members made occurred 25 years after the band broke up: the release of the Anthology recordings that began in 1995. Their best-selling record, a collection of their 30 #1 songs, was released in 2000.

For me, the lessons are clear: own your work. Don't give it away or let others profit at your expense. Leverage it when opportunities arise.




Recent podcasts/videos:

Tectonic Shift of Mercantilism Revalued (Gordon Long, Macro-Analytics, 42 min)

My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal.

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



My recent books:

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).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 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, Dan ($1/month), for your very generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

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Friday, July 29, 2022

How Much of "Inflation" Is the Price Being Jacked Up Under the Excuse of "Inflation"?

The problem for global corporations feasting on "Inflation" profiteering is that the vast majority of consumers can't afford another lavish vacation, overpriced vehicle or specious subscription.

A funny thing seems to be happening within "Inflation": companies are using "inflation" as cover for outrageous price increases that have little to do with actual inflation. Consider a water or electric utility that is directly impacted by rising costs of natural gas / oil. To stay solvent, the utility must pass along their higher energy costs to consumers. OK, we get it: higher input costs such as energy and shipping are passed along to the consumer.

But what about auto and property insurance? Exactly what input costs justify jacking up auto insurance by 14% or property insurance by 20%? Does insurance consume huge quantities of energy and is therefore exposed to higher fuel costs and container rates from Asia? No. Did higher energy costs trigger massive increases in auto or property claims? No.

Readers report getting huge increases in insurance coverage that are quickly rescinded once the reader called their agent and said they're dropping the policies due to the crazy price increases: voila, the increases go away.

In other words, "Inflation" is an ideal cover for corporations, landlords, vendors, etc. to jack up prices and see if they stick. If unwary consumers just pay the new price, yowzah--instant increase in pure profit. Dropping the jacked-up prices when a few frugal customers complain is a small price to pay for the gravy train generated by consumers who passively accept every increase as "inflation" they can't do anything about.

I'm also hearing of short-term vacation rentals doubling their daily fee overnight, resorts jacking up daily rates by 50% or more and other egregious examples of jacking up prices and seeing what sticks.

Maybe real input costs have risen 10% due to energy, healthcare, wages, etc., but this provides an excuse for raising prices 20% or more. "Inflation" is a great cover for rapacious profiteering.

The post-lockdown spending-spree of consumers going wild offered a golden opportunity for seeing what other skims and scams will stick. In what qualifies as a parody come to life, a luxury automaker is trying to turn seat-warmers into a monthly subscription.

If that sticks, why not make the engine a subscription, too? Did global corporations finally catch on to Big Tech's gravy train of turning ownership into subscriptions?

The problem for global corporations feasting on "Inflation" profiteering is that the vast majority of consumers can't afford another lavish vacation, overpriced vehicle or specious subscription. Their desperate desire to splurge has emptied their coffers, and so once the current splurge fades, there won't be a secondary wave of splurging that will buy regardless of price.

Frugality will transition from an option to a necessity. And as that transition is reflected in plummeting demand, consumer "Inflation" will drop as tapped-out buyers go on strike--voluntarily or involuntarily.




Recent podcasts/videos:

Tectonic Shift of Mercantilism Revalued (Gordon Long, Macro-Analytics, 42 min)

My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal.

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



My recent books:

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).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 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, Sophia Media ($250), for your beyond-outrageously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

There Won't Be Any Winners Because The Status Quo Is Corrupt Everywhere

Systemic corruption on this vast scale optimizes failure and collapse.

Debating which nations will "win" as the global economy unravels is a popular but pointless parlor game. Since the status quo in every nation is deeply, profoundly, systemically corrupt, there won't be any "winners," there will only be losers.

Apologists love to say that corruption has always come hand-in-hand with power, and this is superficially true. Once a centralized hierarchy takes power, those seeking self-glorification and wealth seek power as a means to their self-enrichment and glorification.

Naturally, they use their power to reward those who helped them gain power and those helping them maintain power. So a small Texas contractor who contributed to Lyndon Johnson's political career was awarded immense contracts to build bases in Vietnam during Johnson's vast expansion of the Vietnam War. It's just business, right?

But this naive, superficial normalization of corruption ignores the consequential difference between two types of corruption. One kind is directing cushy positions and contracts to cronies: well-paid positions on boards are given to pals, fat contracts are awarded to political allies, and so on. The point here is that somebody was going to get the cushy position and the fat contract anyway, and so the corruption is in who gets the gravy.

This level of corruption has a systemic cost. Bribes paid to secure contracts and subsidies act as a "tax" on the economy, as the bribes add expense but do not deliver any improvement in quality or quantity. When the most qualified candidate or firm is passed over to favor an unqualified crony or ally, the loss in effectiveness is consequential, though more difficult to measure.

The systemically destructive type of corruption is on a completely different level. Systemic corruption deforms the core economic functions of governance and capital to enrich insiders at the expense of the national interest and the common good.

When corruption hollows out a nation's military capabilities, that undermines national security. When shoddily built equipment is stripped of valuable parts (to be sold on the black market) to the point it's no longer of any military value, corruption has a cost that is incalculable until it's too late to repair the rot. When armament contracts are given to build inferior weapons systems to benefit cronies, corruption has optimized losing the next war.

When corruption is the deciding factor in distributing the nation's capital, that mal-investment of irreplaceable resources in unproductive projects fatally undermines the entire economy. When corruption funnels national resources into poorly built bridges to nowhere ghost cities and monuments to excess, there are opportunity costs that can never be recovered, for all that capital and labor could have been invested productively.

Corruption becomes fatal when those in power are no longer able to distinguish the difference between self-interest and the national interest. Systemic corruption blurs the lines and persuades those in power that their self-enrichment and power grabs are serving the national interest.

The truth is their distorting the system to maximize their private gain cannot possibly serve the national interest or the common good. It's one thing to reward a long-serving crony by appointing the pal to a cushy no-real-work-required position on a crony-filled board with little actual power. It's another to distort the distribution of irreplaceable capital and resources to maximize the self-enrichment of the corrupt few as the expense of the many.

Systemic corruption on this vast scale optimizes failure and collapse.

In my book Global Crisis, National Renewal, I argue that the only nations that will survive the transition from a waste is growth economy will be those which embrace Degrowth. We can also say that only those nations which succeed in limiting systemic corruption will have the means to invest their nation's dwindling resources productively.

Since no nation is exhibiting any consequential interest in either Degrowth or eradicating systemic corruption, there will be no "winners", there will only be losers. While the status quo careens into decay and collapse, at least we can enrich ourselves by chasing the Pelosi Portfolio.




Recent podcasts/videos:

Tectonic Shift of Mercantilism Revalued (Gordon Long, Macro-Analytics, 42 min)

My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal.

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



My recent books:

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).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 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, Lisa P. ($125), for your beyond-outrageously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

 

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Monday, July 25, 2022

What's Truly Important? The Global Revaluation Is Accelerating

How much gold will you trade for a few eggs? It depends on how hungry you are.

Two ideas will help us understand the rest of this tumultuous decade: core-periphery and the revaluation of what's truly important: systemic adaptability, transparency, accountability, risk, capital and resources. I recently discussed the core-periphery model in a blog post, Crash Is King:

"Crashes reveal what's core and what's periphery because the core controls the destiny of the periphery. In systems terminology, the initial conditions set the parameters of options and the efficacy of various choices. The core's initial conditions are considerably more constructive than the initial conditions of the periphery.

In network terms, the critical connections between nodes run through the core. This is not the case for the nodes. The dependency chains are asymmetric: each node looks stable and independent until push comes to shove. Everyone is dependent but some are less dependent than others."


My point was that crises strip away what's actually essential from claims of what's essential, and reveal what assets are core and which are peripheral.

For example, vast tracts of fertile soil and fresh water river systems are key assets for growing and transporting food and providing fresh water. Long borders with potential enemies is a geopolitical liability.

These initial conditions set parameters that are difficult to overcome.

There are also parameters set by cultural, social, economic and political systems. Those which encourage adaptability and transparency are irreplaceable assets, those that impede adaptability and transparency are liabilities.

The other point about the core-periphery model is that dependencies abound in the global system but when push comes to shove, the core has the means to survive the breakdown of global supply chains while the periphery does not.

Global scarcities are reminding us that what's truly important is the means to grow and distribute food, energy and fresh water to immense human populations.

Growing / raising food and distributing it on an industrial scale requires enormous inputs of energy. Even largely self-sufficient regions depend on fertilizers derived from hydrocarbon inputs.

Water is also energy-intensive as it generally requires massive investments in infrastructure to supply not just the daily needs of the human populace but agriculture and industry.

Civilizations that fail to provide sufficient food and fresh water to their populations collapse. The collapse may start with political turmoil but it soon unravels the entire socio-economic system.

As we revalue what's truly important, a significant percentage of complexity will be revealed as not only non-essential but a huge drag on a system struggling to deliver essentials. A recent article illuminates the systemic weaknesses in complex, centralized, opaque hierarchies--weaknesses I have discussed in many of my books.

Why Complex Systems Collapse Faster
"When Ostrom examined the decision-making methods of successful social systems, she found that they operate as a network in which all the decision-makers in a certain sector are also stakeholders in that sector, and that decisions are always made by negotiated agreements."

In other words, rigid, military-style hierarchies in which the decision-makers do not suffer personal consequences from their decisions are especially prone to collapse.

Perhaps Ostrom's advice is not so different from what the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote in the Tao Te Ching: "rigidity leads to death, flexibility results in survival."

In sum, a lack of transparency, skin in the game and accountability doom top-down complex systems to collapse.

Nassim Taleb of Black Swan and Antifragile fame recently noted the critical role of transparency in systemic resilience. He observed that "a system seems all the more dysfunctional when it is transparent."

In other words, when we see all the petty squabbling, the clash of competing self-interests and the conflicts arising from advocacy, we reckon that system is dysfunctional and doomed.

But that is the healthy system, for what's at stake is visible to all, as is the process of all the stakeholders negotiating some agreement on how to proceed.

Corruption requires opacity: backroom deals, insider trading, bribery, etc. cannot occur in the bright light of transparency, i.e. all critical information is available to all stakeholders.

We can add to Lao Tzu's dictum on flexibility: Opacity leads to death, transparency results in survival.

Opaque hierarchical systems appear tranquil and well-managed because the conflicts, self-interest and corruption are hidden. But opacity and rigid hierarchies are systemic weaknesses. These systems cannot compete with transparent, more decentralized, adaptable systems in eras of crisis.

What is core to a system's survival is two-fold: it must have the transparency, accountability (skin in the game) and flexibility described above, and the real-world resources to provide its own essentials.

This is scale-invariant: it describes households, villages, counties and countries.

How many times have we heard: "They broke up? But they were the perfect couple." Indeed. It's so much easier to hide problems and dysfunctions behind a happy-face facade of suppression.

The couple that is open about their negotiating difficult situations is the healthy relationship. The couple that hides their dysfunctional lack of communication and inability to find solutions that work for both people is the unhealthy relationship.

This is as true of nations as it is of couples. Systems that are transparent, accountable and adaptable have insurmountable selective advantages over opaque centralized hierarchies.

One important aspect of transparency is establishing value, which is reflected in the cost / discovery of price. If supply, demand, inputs, friction, insider dealing and risk are all opaque--hidden, misrepresented, manipulated --then it's impossible to value anything properly.

Decisions made on inaccurate valuations cannot possibly be good decisions.

A global revaluation of systemic adaptability, transparency, risk and resources is accelerating. Those with the essentials of systemic adaptability (decentralized, accountable, antifragile, transparent) will survive and those without these essentials will collapse.

Those with the means to supply their own food, energy and water (what I call the FEW essentials) will survive, those who live or die on long dependency chains snaking through global rivals will not.

As I explain in my new book Global Crisis, National Renewal, the nation that downsizes its consumption to what's available will survive, those which attempt to live beyond their means via financialization will collapse.

When there's plenty of everything, it's easy to confuse what's essential with what's not essential but perceived as valuable. When what's truly essential is scarce, then what's essential becomes clear and is repriced accordingly. What's non-essential is also repriced accordingly.

Gold was plentiful in the early boom years of the California Gold Rush. What was scarce was eggs. How much gold will you trade for a few eggs? It depends on how hungry you are.




Recent podcasts/videos:

Tectonic Shift of Mercantilism Revalued (Gordon Long, Macro-Analytics, 42 min)

My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal.

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



My recent books:

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).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 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, Scot M. ($XXX), for your beyond-beyond-outrageously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your longstanding support and readership.

 

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

 

Thank you, Christin S. ($50), for your monstrously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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Saturday, July 23, 2022

When You Put Too Many Eggs in One Basket...

Greed is good until all the vulnerabilities and fragilities of systemic risk asymmetries manifest.

When you put too many eggs in one basket, you create systemic fragility: if anything knocks that basket over, the loss is so overweighted that the entire system unravels.

Why do we put too many eggs in one basket? because it's easy and profitable. We do more of what's easy and profitable and don't consider the systemic vulnerabilities created by relying on one asset class or sector.

This is the foundation of the resource curse: nations with abundant reserves of highly valued resources (oil, copper, cobalt, guano, etc.) have a ready source of income that doesn't require much beyond controlling the resource so outsiders don't steal it. This source of income is so much easier than competing with the rest of world in other sectors that resource extraction ends up being the majority of the economy.

This asymmetric economy is highly profitable until the resources are depleted or the market demand tumbles. The downturn unravels the entire economy, which became overly dependent on the one sector.

The same dynamic is evident in nations that have become dependent on exports--the mercantilist economies such as Germany, Japan, China and many east Asian economies. Having put too many of the nation's eggs in exports, when exports sag, the entire economy stagnates due to the dependence on exports for profits and growth.

Whatever is optimized ends up dominating the economy. Whatever fits the national character and resources in terms of being profitable ends up being favored, as the expense of a more balanced but less profitable mix of sectors and assets.

Nations can put too many eggs in one basket due to government policies. Consider China's dependence on real estate development for domestic growth and household wealth, a dependence that is now unraveling.

As a result of central government policies, the primary source of local government revenues is real estate development leases and fees. This created irresistible incentives to keep pushing real estate developments regardless of market demand or overinvestment.

Culturally, gold and real estate have long been considered safe stores of value, so families put (in many cases) all their eggs in one basket: empty flats in new developments.

Since real estate development generates employment, profitable loans, local government revenues and until recently, capital appreciation, this overweighting of real estate development was a win-win-win for all participants.

The problem with overweighting one sector or asset class is that the money pouring in soon sloshes into projects that don't make financial sense: in effect, private-sector bridges to nowhere, funded by high-risk credit which is effectively optimized to default.

In the U.S., the stock market has become overweighted due to central bank and government policies that have encouraged speculative bubbles as a means of supporting consumption via the vaunted wealth effect: when our stock portfolios rise in value, we feel richer and therefore spend more freely--even if the "wealth" is only the short-lived phantom-wealth of a speculative bubble.

It's ironic, isn't it? Doing more of what's easy and profitable ends up distorting the economy by putting too many assets and too much risk in one basket, which inevitably takes a tumble as the wise investments spur optimized to default malinvestment.

Those nations reaping windfall profits from hydrocarbons are riding high at the moment, but should demand fall faster than supply, the speculative frenzy propping up oil prices globally will collapse, impacting price in ways many now view as "impossible."

Any economy that's counting on people paying for abandoned, half-finished flats for "growth" is exceedingly vulnerable to the dominoes of default and the collapse of confidence that buying half-finished flats is guaranteed to be profitable.

Any economy that's dependent on speculative bubbles for "growth" is putting far too many eggs in a basket that is sure to topple.

Any economy that's counting on exports as the global economy deglobalizes and definancializes has put far too many eggs in a basket that's already tumbling down the hill.

Greed is good until all the vulnerabilities and fragilities of systemic risk asymmetries manifest. As I often note, risk cannot be extinguished, it can only be hidden or transferred to others.




Recent podcasts/videos:

Tectonic Shift of Mercantilism Revalued (Gordon Long, Macro-Analytics, 42 min)

My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal.

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



My recent books:

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).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

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


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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Why the Labor Shortage Isn't Going Away

It's getting hard to fill toxic low-pay jobs, and that's not going to change.

The nature of work and the labor market are changing in ways few discern or perhaps are willing to discern because these changes are disrupting the exploitive system they want to remain unchanged. But refusing to discern change doesn't stop change. It just leaves us unprepared to deal with fast-changing realities.

There are multiple systemic reasons why work and the labor force are changing: demographics, the rigged economy, extremes of inequality, limits of technology and "garbage in, garbage out" lifestyle / health issues.

Demographics. Take a glance at the chart below showing how the population of the U.S. changed between 2010 and 2020. (Chart courtesy of @Econimica). America's population expanded by 22.5 million, but of this net increase only +1.2 million were under the age of 55; the vast majority-- 21.4 million --were 55 or older.

Young people enter the workforce, the elderly retire. The smaller the population of young people, the smaller the workforce. The wrinkle here is that a great many more people 65 and older are continuing to work rather then retire in the U.S., extending their working life. This has stabilized the size of the workforce (around 160 million) even as the population has aged.

There are many reasons for this, including 1) older people with only Social Security retirement income need to keep working to pay their bills; 2) some people enjoy their work and don't want to retire and 3) hybrid work and part-time work is a good fit for many healthy over-65 workers.

But a rapidly aging population brings with it a rapidly aging workforce, and this has consequences. Some older workers may be desperate enough to take toxic low-pay jobs, but many are no longer physically able to do these jobs. The majority of over-65 workers are working because the work suits them. Once it doesn't suit them, i.e. it's toxic and unrewarding, they're gone.

Toxic work, toxic economy: At the other end of the age scale, young people are awakening to the wretched reality of an economy rigged to protect insiders and enrich the already-rich. If you set out to design an economy that was optimized to protect insiders and reward the already-wealthy, you'd end up with the developed-world economy. This is equally true in every nation, from China to the EU to the U.S. to every developed nation.

Workers are awakening to the meager rewards of being a slave to their ambition to claw their way into the upper-middle class. In an economy optimized for rampant inequality, the ambitious must sacrifice everything for the essentially meaningless baubles of a high-stress upper-middle class existence.

So you sacrifice your health, family and life to claw your way to a high salary, and for what? Nobody notices or cares, it's pointless. You'll never be as rich or famous as some kid reviewing toys online, and you're buying into scams that just enrich others.

The verboten truth is a lower-stress lifestyle is far more rewarding and enjoyable than a high-stress enslaved-to-ambition lifestyle. Stripped of advertising flim-flam, a $25,000 car is essentially the equal of cars that cost three times as much. Is it really worth sacrificing everything that's truly meaningful in your life to have all those extra horsepower idling unused in a traffic jam, heated seats and an incomprehensibly complicated stereo system? No.

A simple house you actually own is more satisfying than a bloated McMansion that enslaves you to stupidly high property taxes and crushing mortgage payments.

What's actually precious isn't the baubles of a high-stress salary, it's your time. 'A bigger paycheck? I’d rather watch the sunset!': is this the end of ambition?

Simply put, people are finding ways to survive without taking toxic low-pay jobs.

After 45 years of capital pillaging labor, the asymmetry of capital and labor is finally reversing. The chart below of labor's share of the national income shows that the trend has finally reversed, and wages (as a share of the national income) are rising.

Combine a smaller, older workforce with a rigged economy offering meager rewards, and the result is higher wages. The chart below listing the many reasons why people are quitting and seeking new jobs is instructive.

The fantasy that robots will do all the work is deflating. We were promised 100% fully autonomous self-driving cars by 2018--look, no steering wheel!--and here we are. (Never mind the larger question: as the global economy unravels, is the solution really self-driving vehicles?)

If robots are so cheap and versatile, then why does Amazon have 1.6 million human employees? They seem like pretty sharp operators; would they really bother having human workers if robots could do all the work, and do it without healthcare insurance?

Technology has physical and financial limits. PR videos may wow us, but how does the robot actually make somebody money?

Sadly, our garbage in, garbage out lifestyle is taking a toll on the health of the workforce. A great many people are no longer physically or psychologically able to meet the demands of employers who need highly productive workers to compete. These demands are burning workers out across the entire spectrum of work, from the well-compensated to the poorly compensated. (This is why I wrote my book When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal.)

Though few financial pundits seem to have noticed, it's become extremely burdensome to start and operate your own small business. Self-employment was once within relatively easy reach of anyone who wanted to strike out on their own. Those days are long past. Now a great deal is demanded of anyone who wants to launch a formal business, and the compliance and tax/fee burdens increase every year.

Beneath all the rah-rah, sacrificing your life to further enrich the already-rich is a bad deal. Insiders have hard-wired the system to protect and benefit themselves, and so the game of clawing one's way into the higher rungs of tax-donkey / slave-to-ambition is for chumps.

It's getting hard to fill toxic low-pay jobs, and that's not going to change.








Recent podcasts/videos:

Tectonic Shift of Mercantilism Revalued (Gordon Long, Macro-Analytics, 42 min)

My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal.

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



My recent books:

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).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 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, Linda C. ($108), for your outrageously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

Thank you, Timothy K. ($10), for your very generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.


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Monday, July 18, 2022

The Real Policy Error Is Expanding Debt and Calling It "Growth"

Waste is not growth, and neither are the unlimited expansion of debt and speculative bubbles.

The financial punditry is whipping itself into a frenzy about a Federal Reserve "policy error," which is code for "if the music finally stops, we're doomed!" In other words, any policy which reduces the flow of juice sluicing through the sewage pipes of the financial system (credit, leverage and liquidity--the essential mechanisms of financialization and globalization) endangers the entire rickety, rotten structure of phantom wealth that's enriched the few at the expense of the many.

The entire notion that central bank policy makes or breaks the economy is the original Policy Error #1. That is to say, whatever policy a central bank pursues is a policy error because every policy is an attempt to manipulate the self-organizing cycle of credit / economic expansion and contraction.

The history of central banking is actually quite simple:

1. Central banks act to protect the wealth and power of those who own / control most of the wealth. This is their core unstated reason to exist.

2. To justify this absurdly transparent protection of the elite in the eyes of the public, central banks go through the motions of trying to extinguish the business / credit cycle, that is, trying to eliminate defaults and credit crunches which are the frequent but low-intensity fires that burn up the financial deadwood.

This destruction of excessive credit, leverage and liquidity is necessary to protect the forest--the entire economy-- from a much larger, out-of-control conflagration.

Central banks sell this endless expansion of financialization to the public as "we're getting rid of those horrible nasty recessions that hurt all you little folk," but in letting the deadwood pile up ever higher, central banks are only guaranteeing the eventual conflagration will consume the entire forest.

This is basically what happened in 2008-09: the deadwood caught fire despite the best efforts of central banks and almost burned down the entire forest.

Anything that constricts the expansion of financialization (credit, leverage and liquidity) constricts the expansion of the phantom wealth of elites, and so central banks are loathe to limit credit expansion. Central banks and economists need a cover story for this dynamic, and so they purposefully call debt expansion "growth": hey, look, the economy is expanding, everybody's getting richer, our policies are working!

Nice, but this isn't reality. The reality is the top few get much, much richer than the little folk. That's the only possible output of financialization, which generates hyper-rewards for those few with the most expansive access to credit, leverage and liquidity: corporations, financiers and the super-wealthy.

Every policy that protects the deadwood is a policy error, which means every policy of central banks is a policy error. The one and only useful role of central banks is to be a short-term lender of last resort in financial crunches in which the deadwood catches fire and excessive credit, leverage and liquidity is consumed.

The deadwood burning greatly reduces the risk of the forest being destroyed, but some enterprises that are not overleveraged find that they're no longer able to roll over their short-term debt due to lenders cutting off lines of credit. A credit crunch can burn down otherwise prudent enterprises, and so central banks can protect well-managed businesses that need short-term credit by being the lender of last resort.

Credit panics don't last long. Loans of 90 days are typically enough to tide over those firms who need credit lines to function.

But instead of this limited role, central banks are always trying to expand credit, leverage and liquidity under the guise of "promoting growth". All that they're really doing is expanding financial deadwood by enabling the expansion of excessive waste and fraud. Thanks to central banks, the frivolous conspicuous consumption of the central-bank funded elite is glorified as "growth," along with the complete waste of planned obsolescence and speculative bubbles that generate the illusion of capital expansion.

Waste is not growth, and neither are the unlimited expansion of debt and speculative bubbles. Every policy of central banks is a policy error with the sole exception of short-term lending in standard business-credit cycles in which credit crunches cleanse the system of the deadwood of excessive credit, leverage and liquidity as a means of protecting the entire forest from destruction.

When $100 trillion in global deadwood-debt burns to the ground, that merely returns global debt to the levels of 2012. Central bank policies guarantee the forest will be consumed by an uncontrolled conflagration. That's the cost of claiming waste and debt are "growth" and protecting the phantom wealth of the few at the expense of the many.

Want Hope and Real Growth? Let the Dead Forest of Corruption and Fed Manipulation Burn Down (October 30, 2020)

The Yellowstone Analogy and The Crisis of Neoliberal Capitalism (May 18, 2009)

No Recession Ever Again? The Yellowstone Analogy (November 8, 2019)










Recent podcasts/videos:

Tectonic Shift of Mercantilism Revalued (Gordon Long, Macro-Analytics, 42 min)

My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal.

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



My recent books:

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).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 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, Stuart L. ($50), for your magnificently generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

 

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Friday, July 15, 2022

The Only Real Solution Is Default

The destruction of 'phantom wealth' via default has always been the only way to clear the financial system of unpayable debt burdens and extremes of rentier / wealth dominance.

The notion that the world could always borrow more money as long as interest rates were near-zero was never sustainable. It was always an unsustainable artifice that we could keep borrowing ever larger sums from the future as long as the interest payments kept dropping.

The only real solution to over-indebtedness since the beginning of finance is default. There are pretty names for variations on default that sound much less gut-wrenching--debt jubilees, refinancing, etc.-- but the bottom line is the debts that can't be paid won't be paid and whomever owns the debt as an asset absorbs the loss.

Every default is a debt jubilee for the borrower. Whether the default is informal or formalized in bankruptcy, the debt payments are no longer being paid to the lender / owner of the debt.

Every debt jubilee is a default that forces the owner of the debt to write the value down to zero and absorb the loss. The jubilation of the owner of the debt is rather muted unless the state swoops in and passes the losses onto the taxpayers via bailouts / transferring the losses to the public's balance sheet.

Every default is a refinancing--to zero. We've refinanced the debt so the borrower pays zero and the value of the loan / debt is now zero.

Very few ordinary households own other people's debts as assets. It's the wealthy few who own most of the student loans, vehicle loans, mortgages, government and corporation bonds, etc.

Yes, ordinary households may own other people's debts through pension plans or ownership of mutual funds, but by and large debt is a favored asset of the rentier class, i.e. the wealthiest few.

We're constantly told that mass defaults would destroy the economy, but this is flim-flam: mass defaults would destroy much of the wealth of the rentier class which has been greatly enriched by the global expansion of debt, while freeing the debtors of their obligations.

Recall that debt is the transfer of income from the borrower to the owner of the debt. Borrowing money is like every other form of consumption: when it's cheap and abundant, we over-indulge. The costs are only apparent after the banquet has been cleared.

The illusion that the global economy could effortlessly add trillions in debt to fund living large forever was based on a brief historical anomaly of zero interest rates enabled by low inflation. There's a long lag between the vast expansion of debt / consumption and the eventual consequences on supply, demand, risk and price discovery.

The lag time is up and now the consequences are finally visible: the tide of rapid growth in consumption and income required to fund ever-greater burdens of debt has ebbed, and so the global burden of debt--$300 trillion or so-- is no longer sustainable / payable.

The favored solutions of the state--printing money or transferring the losses to the public--are no longer viable. Now that inflation has emerged from its slumber, printing trillions to bail out the wealthy is no longer an option. The public, so easily conned into accepting the bailout of the wealthy in 2008, has wised up and so that particular con won't work again. ("Bail out the super-wealthy now or your ATM machine will stop working!" Uh, right.)

The state is the protector of the wealthy, and so defaults that actually impact the wealthy are anathema. The wealthy will demand the state absorb their losses (recall that profits are private, losses are socialized) The only equitable solution is to force the losses on those who bought the debt as a rentier income stream.

I've been exploring the Core-Periphery dynamic for a decade. ( The E.U., Neofeudalism and the Neocolonial-Financialization Model May 24, 2012). This dynamic plays out in a number of ways on a number of levels.

Defaults will play out along the lines of Core-Periphery asymmetries. Some states will be able to "print their way out of default" but most will not, as unrestrained printing of money on such a vast scale would devalue the currency, triggering an even more destructive systemic default.

Debt is a double-edged form of power. Being able to borrow and spend huge sums is an absolutely fabulous way to expand corruption, bribes, exploitation of the powerless, bridges to nowhere and mindless over-consumption, but the habits formed by mindless expansion of debt to fund soaring wealth inequality don't serve the indebted entities very well when default removes borrowing as a way to pay and play.

Living within one's means--i.e. net income--is the only solution there has ever been to the end-game of over-indebtedness, i.e. default. Those with relatively secure, diversified net incomes (i.e. the Core) will do much better than those with unstable, limited income.

The destruction of phantom wealth via default has always been the only way to clear the financial system of unpayable debt burdens and extremes of rentier / wealth dominance. Let's guess that a bare minimum of $100 trillion of the $300 trillion mountain of global debt will default far sooner than most expect. The only question is who will absorb the $100 trillion in losses. Choose wisely, as defaults of debt that are transferred to the public end up bringing down the entire system via political overthrow or currency collapse.




Recent podcasts/videos:

Tectonic Shift of Mercantilism Revalued (Gordon Long, Macro-Analytics, 42 min)

My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal.

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



My recent books:

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).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 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, Philip P. ($40), for your magnificently generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

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Wednesday, July 13, 2022

US Dollar Strength: "Unintended Consequences" Or "The Empire Strikes Back"?

How unintended can these consequences be? My guess: not very.

A great many people got the U.S. dollar trade wrong. The conventional view held that "printing money", i.e. expanding the supply of money, would automatically devalue the currency.

It isn't quite so simple, it seems. It depends on where the newly issued money ends up, whether the economy is expanding along with the money supply, the relative perception of the currency's stability / safety, the returns being offered in interest and capital gains for those holding assets denominated in the currency and in the broadest sense, the stability, transparency and adaptability of the nation / entity issuing the currency.

As I keep noting, there are rather high bars to establishing a truly global currency:

1) The currency floats freely on all global markets, i.e. it isn't pegged to any other currency.

2) The currency and financial assets denominated in the currency, are extremely liquid, so it supports global markets for securities, debt, commodities, etc., in which anyone anywhere can trade in size at any time.

3) These global markets are transparent, meaning the market and governance mechanisms are visible to all and are not subject to overnight devaluations, expropriations, capital restrictions, etc., by opaque authorities.

4) The currency is supported by a diverse economy that is not dependent on exports or imports for its fundamental stability and well-being.

5) The issuing nation guarantees ease of flow: capital, talent and enterprises all have essentially unlimited freedom of movement within the issuing nation / entity's borders.

6) The official exchange rate and the street / black market exchange rate are virtually identical.

7) Sufficient issuance of cash to be a store of value and means of exchange everywhere. What currency is being preserved in a plastic ziplock bag in remote trading posts? That currency is the true reserve currency. Everything else is a derivative.

Systemic stability flows from transparency and adaptability. A rigid command-control economy's stability is paper-thin because it's a manifestation not of strength but of fragility and fear: fear that if the shackles are released and markets are finally free to discover price, the entire system will collapse under its own weight.

Which brings us to the U.S. dollar, which has been gaining purchasing power. The conventional view holds that this is the result of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates and slowing the expansion of the money supply to combat rising inflation.

But this focus on the domestic economy overlooks that the Federal Reserve is also a central bank for the entire global economy. Many of the backstops and guarantees the Fed issued to "save the world" in the Global Financial Meltdown of 2008-09 were issued to non-U.S. banks.

This sets up the question: are the global knock-on effects of USD strength merely "unintended consequences" of domestic policies or are they "The Empire Strikes Back"? The consensus holds that the USD's crushing of other currencies is nothing more than an unfortunate unintended consequence of Fed tightening.

This blindness to the Fed's global role is striking. Does the Empire really not anticipate the global consequences of strengthening its currency? Or is the domestic bias in the analysts rather than the Empire?

Unintended consequences or The Empire Strikes Back? The foundation of global influence and power is the currency issued by a nation or entity. Everything flows from that. Pegs and official exchange rates are signs of systemic weakness, that the authorities know the market won't place the desired value on the currency.

But markets discover price regardless of pegs and official FX rates. A currency that trades transparently on global markets is valued by market participants. This value/price is trustworthy. Values set by artificial pegs and official exchange rates are not trustworthy because these artifices can be changed overnight by opaque authorities.

How unintended can these consequences be? My guess: not very.

Technically, the USD has carved out a classic rounding bottom and broken above recent resistance levels. Is this the end of USD strength, or merely Stage I in a much larger-scale process of Core and Periphery playing out? My guess is it's a much larger-scale process of Core and Periphery playing out. Time will tell.






Recent podcasts/videos:

Tectonic Shift of Mercantilism Revalued (Gordon Long, Macro-Analytics, 42 min)

My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal.

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



My recent books:

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).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 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, Warner S. ($54), for your magnificently generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

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


Thank you, D.P. ($1/month), for your most generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

Thank you, Les J. ($1/month), for your most generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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