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Globalization: Why this Time Around it Really is Different!

June 26, 2003

An enormous amount of mind-space has been given to arguing the pros and cons of whether we are in an upward reaction within a Primary Bear Market or whether we are entering a Primary Bull Market, but very few commentators appear to understand what is happening on a structural level. Unfortunately, most people earn a living by focussing and honing their specialist areas of expertise. Accordingly, very few seem to have the ability to examine any serious issue using a multi disciplinary approach.

In short, what is happening on a structural (society) level is unique, and has never happened before in history. Globalization has been undermining (and negating) the basic tenets of "free trade". As economic power has concentrated into the hands of the few, economic rationalism has been slowly but surely strangled and we have reached a point in history where "greed" is now starting to threaten mankind's existence. (SARS, AIDS and Global Warming are not random occurrences and they threaten all of us)

We have a cultural bias which is effectively summarised by the essentially judgmental statement: "If you are so smart, why aren't you rich?" This mind-set flows from the socially accepted norm that we should all be applying our talents to the "core" objective of accumulating personal wealth. However, accumulating more wealth than can be sensibly consumed by an individual in his lifetime is extremely counterproductive. The cumulative effect - as is demonstrated by the attached article, and as is shown below in some of the extracts from this article - is that it "wastes" disproportionately more wealth at the core of society to generate additional wealth at the margin.

Let's cut to the chase: Using a multi disciplinary approach, I have concluded the following:

  • We are in a Primary Bear Market, which is very likely going to evolve to become the most savage ever experienced in recorded history
  • We are exiting a cyclical period (saeculum) of economic "unravelling" and are entering a "crisis" saeculum which, historically, has typically lasted an entire generation (17 - 25 years)
  • The severity of this particular saeculum is likely to be exaggerated because of the concentration of power in the hands of the few - which has been facilitated by global fiat currencies in general and by the Federal Reserve Board in particular. In turn, this has given rise to debt levels of Mount Everest proportions - which will act as a drag on economic growth for many years
  • The criminally irresponsible "management" of the world's economy by the combined forces of the G8 Central Banks (led by the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve - and the Private Interests behind these institutions) has given rise to a rape of the environment and a degradation of the Earth's capacity to sustain life.
  • 5.Those who believe we will "muddle through" at an economic level are whistling in the dark. This time around it will be different - on the downside.

Here are a few quotes from the above link. The article was written by an educated man who seems eminently sensible.

"It is one of the great ironies of our age, that superficially the economy is generating unprecedented material wealth while underneath, individuals, corporations, and governments everywhere are struggling to maintain income flows adequate to avoid insolvency [formal bankruptcy] [see Rowbotham 1998]"

By way of example of one of the causes of this state of affairs:

"mismanagement (including industrial-scale harvesting technology) of an export-driven fishery [in British Columbia] contributed to the collapse of potentially renewable salmon stocks. The resultant economic desperation (and opportunism) is now leading British Columbia to encourage another export-oriented fish-based industry that actually reduces global food supplies, deprives low-income Peruvians and Chileans of an important source of animal protein, does significant local ecological damage, and is dependent on depletable resources whose use contributes to climate change. ("It takes four to five kilograms wet weight of such species as sardines, anchovies, and mackerel to produce one kilogram of farmed salmon.")

"In 1998, the farmer received $4 for a bushel of corn but consumers paid $133 for a bushel of cornflakes!"

In summary, here is a definition of the problem:

"There are only about nine billion hectares of productive cropland, pasture, and forest on Earth and perhaps three billion hectares of equivalent shallow ocean - this marine area produces about 96% of the global fish catch - for a total of 12 billion productive hectares. However, with an estimated average eco-footprint of 2.8 ha per capita, the present human population already has a total eco-footprint of almost 17 billion hectares."

Of course, as any real estate person will tell you, "land is a finite resource", and it follows that the ONLY way to solve the problem is to reduce the eco-footprint requirements of land per capita (assuming we want to avoid mass genocide).

So what do we do about all this?

On a personal level you sell all industrial share and other "junk" investments, you buy precious metals and precious metal shares as an insurance, and you pay off all your debts. Do NOT trust Government instruments. By the time this saeculum is over (20 year time horizon), Western Governments will be reneging on their financial obligations. Buy a house on a larger block of land and start learning how to grow things.

On a society level we must stop thinking parochially and we must stop voting to put self serving, amoral politicians into power.

In the interests of our kids, and their kids, its time to start seriously questioning the wisdom of the world's current political (and power) infrastructure.

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