Monday, October 27, 2008

James Howard Kunstler on economic meltdown


James Howard Kunstler on economic meltdown: "The thin silver lining in James Howard Kunstler's dark thundercloud of doom is that Americans will once again get to work 'making things, growing things, and rebuilding things'

If the financial system completes its self-destruction -- and that's looking more and more like a real possibility -- there will be several pretty awful consequences. One is that the United States will be forced to declare bankruptcy by repudiating its own debt. All those who took refuge in US Treasury bonds and bills will be like folks who sought shelter from a tornado in their out-house. That would go hand-in-hand with a massive currency inflation that is likely to follow the current phase of compressive liquidating deflation -- in which every possible asset is being sold off for less than its face value. That process is self-limiting due to the finite supply of real salable assets. The trillions of dollars injected into system while this is happening must eventually snap-back as people shed the last fungible article and compete for necessary commodities like food and fuel with dollars that are suddenly plentiful but worthless. At some point, the government may have to summon up a new currency. I don't think it will be anything like the 'Amero' which the paranoid fringe incessantly mutters about as part of their fantasy in which the US, Mexico, and Canada all join up to become one country. But any 'new dollar' would probably have to be backed by gold.

As we discover ourselves to be a much poorer nation, one of my correspondents put it: 'the bogus risk-swapping economy must be replaced by a net value-added economy.' That means actually making things, growing things, and rebuilding things, and that can only begin to happen if we do not stupidly sucker ourselves into a war with other nations who are liable to be extremely ticked off at us for destroying the global economy, but also competing with us for a dwindling supply of resources that are not equitably distributed around the world.

This means especially oil. I hope you're enjoying the temporarily cheap prices at the gas pumps, because this is purely a function of the compressive deleveraging that is going on right now, as contracts and positions held in energy markets are being dumped by everybody and his uncle to raise cash to meet margin calls. My guess is that oil and its byproducts will become much more difficult to get in the months ahead -- not just more expensive, but literally not available.

Easthampton Burning?

Previously on Boing Boing:

World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler's 'Eyesore of the Month'


(Via Boing Boing.)

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