Jim Rickards Compares The Collapse Of The Roman Empire To The US, Concludes That We Are Far Worse Off

Tyler Durden's picture

In the latest two-part interview with Jim Rickards by Eric King, the former LTCM General Counsel goes on a lengthy compare and contrast between the Roman Empire (and especially the critical part where it collapses) and the U.S. in it current form. And while we say contrast, there are few actual contrasts to observe: alas, the similarities are just far too many, starting with the debasement of the currencies, whereby Rome's silver dinarius started out pure and eventually barely had a 5% content, and the ever increasing taxation of the population, and especially the most productive segment - the farmers, by the emperors, to the point where the downfall of empire was actually greeted by the bulk of the people as the barbarians were welcomed at the gate with open arms. The one key difference highlighted by Rickards: that Rome was not as indebted to the gills as is the US. Accordingly, the US is in fact in a far worse shape than Rome, as the ever increasing cost of funding the debt can only come from further currency debasement, which in turn merely stimulates greater taxation, and more printing of debt, accelerating the downward loop of social disintegration. Furthermore, Rickards points out that unlike the Romans, we are way beyond the point of diminishing marginal utility, and the amount of money that must be printed, borrowed, taxed and spent for marginal improvements in the way of life, from a sociological standpoint, is exponentially greater than those during Roman times. As such, once the collapse begins it will feed on itself until America is no more. Rickards believes that this particular moment may not be too far off...

In this context, Rickards presumes, it is not at all surprising that both individual Americans and domestic corporations have set off on a massive deleveraging and cash conservation wave: the subliminal sense that something very bad is coming, is becoming more palpable with each passing day. The bottom line is that the Fed, just as our founding fathers had warned, could very well end up being the catalyst to the downfall of American society as it cannibalizes all productive output and transfers the wealth to the oligarchy, while paying for this transfer in the form of unrepayable indebtedness. Ostensibly, had the army of Ancient Rome agreed to be paid in paper instead of (even diluted) precious metals, thus creating the first central bank in history, the collapse of that particular overstretched empire would have been far quicker. On the other hand, it would have prevented the disaster of Central banking in its current form, as civilization would have learned about its evils far sooner. Alas, that did not happened, and it now befalls upon the current generation to realize just how much of a destructive influence central banking truly is. If Jim Rickards is correct, however, the realization will be America's last, just before US society disintegrates.

Must hear two part interview can be found here:

Part 1

Part 2

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Übermensch's picture

Collapse of complex societies - Joseph Tainter

themosmitsos's picture

Foremost, this analysis is insulting to the Roman Empire in the most basic way ... they were the pre-eminent global power for hunderds (2-3-4-5 depending on how/when you count) of years, while we've barely lasted 20 (our age of dominance begins with the collapse of the USSR).

Plus they had better orgies.

Übermensch's picture

How did you get past the CAPTCHA question?

Oracle of Kypseli's picture

He is actually the one that programs them. He makes them easy for you.

Bartanist's picture

I like when it returns an error saying that only two characters are allowed, but the answer requires 3 characters because of the sign and then it accepts the answer anyway.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Yeah, happens to me all the time too.  That's OK, the Bearing has it wired.  Bearings are, you know, very simple machines...

DollarMenu's picture

Why does your posting of a simple fact of Captcha operations

garner 5 (at this writing) junks?

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

+ bastante Oracle!

Quienes son los maricones que te junkean?

Oracle of Kypseli's picture

No importa roller, tengo suficiente "amour propre", en este blog surfeando muchos egotistas y calle-wall mariposas.

Muchicimas gracias roller. Nos vemos en Miraflores. 

themosmitsos's picture

Hmmmm, σοβαρα κουκλιτσα μου; Puriatzu-san girle. Mariposa ;)

Ακους εκει Δελφι της Κυψελης!!! χαχαχαχαχα :)

Kαι με υπερασπιστηκες κιολας. Θανξ :)

themosmitsos's picture

Hmmmm, σοβαρα κουκλιτσα μου; Puriatzu-san girle. Mariposa ;)

Ακους εκει Δελφι της Κυψελης!!! χαχαχαχαχα :)

Kαι με υπερασπιστηκες κιολας. Θανξ :)

B9K9's picture

I'm hedged either way. If the US collapses, then I have identified certain select states that will most likely perform extremely well as either stand-alone entities or as members of a new federation.

If the US somehow manages to hold itself together, then that will simply mean the Fed  was able to successfully blow another bubble. (Due in no small part to the military's ability to continue controlling key strategic commodities that provide important relevance to the those little green pieces of paper aka FRNs.) In this situation, regardless of the specific asset class, securitization will provide a windfall for those in-the-know.

Oracle of Kypseli's picture

Fair thinkng B9K9, what I really want to see is a guy like General McCrystal sniff the come to Jesus moment, and just before have a military takeover and enforce the F******g law. Dismantle the corrupt insitutions, restore the republic and get out.

That is the least paifull scenario and the most satisfying for the people. Imagine 500 Ceaucescu hunging from the trees.

I read that revenge is sweet indeed. Maybe it was Clint Eastwood

Brutlstrudl's picture

Guys like McCrystal never get out and they never stop at 500. Clint Eastwood never said that but he made a lot of movies that made you feel that way.


Lux Fiat's picture

I am only aware of one case where the scenario you envision worked out well - Cincinnatus.  Given human nature, and the rest of history, you are hoping on extremely long odds.  Any good trader knows that you do your best to stack the odds in your favor, or you court disaster "on a long enough timeline".

Our system allows voters to figuratively hang the politicians...out to dry, if enough can clue in and find their way to their polling stations, and elect true representatives.  The problem, in large part, is one of citizen awareness. 

nuinut's picture

the man that seeks revenge digs two graves

Bartanist's picture

Have you taken into consideration a shift in the earth's pole and a change in the resultant weather patterns and growing season?

Hopi say it is coming.

woolly mammoth's picture

A Pole Shift ain't nothin. Now a sudden shift in the earths crust, well, that's the one that will ruin your day. Those Mammoths in Siberia didn't flash freeze from some pole moving around.

New_Meat's picture

algore was talking to the PO'lice in SF, so has no comment on the matter - Ned

Bananamerican's picture

"Hopi say it is coming"

Changey say it aint

Cammy Le Flage's picture

Wordy Up.  Yes it is.  Just listen to Tribe Called Quest - electric relaxation.  relax ya self.

Pimp Juice's picture

Banana, that's some funny shit.

economicmorphine's picture

What makes you think the states you have identified would let you in?  Naive, my friend.  Very naive.  

Rebel's picture

Excellent point . . . which is why I moved already. Sold everything, and got the heck out of Silicon Valley. I am settled in, and have been accepted by the natives.

kalasend's picture

What happened to Silicon Valley? Ain't it gonna be the last cylinder left working in the engine?

At least that's what everybody says....

Rebel's picture

Silicon Valley is full of brilliant minds, and motivated and hard workers. The thing is, though, they have utterly no skills in any scenario other than continued VC funding, new startups, and quick IPO's/buyouts. If things go bad slowly, Silicon Valley will still have good people with good ideas, and will continue to innovate. If things go bad quickly, as in a snap type crisis, Silicon Valley is one of the last places you would want to be. I left in 2006. Perhaps I was a little early, but felt I wanted to get my family to a rural area in the heartland.

Rebel's picture

No, I did not fall for those ads.

AssFire's picture

I hope not Texas, we don't want your type here.

Rebel's picture


I must have made you mad in a previous post somewhere. Yes, moved to Texas, to a little redneck town of about 300 people. I use the term "redneck" with great affection and admiration. I grew up in Texas, so consider myself native. I am assuming I did something specific to offend you, as I have always found Texans to be very welcoming and hospitable.

grunion's picture

Burton, Texas. Right?

Rebel's picture

No . . . probably a nice place, but not the place I selected.


Bringin It's picture

I tried to drive out of Silicon Valley one 4th of July weekend back in the late 90's and saw that it was impossible in every direction.  For a place where all food and water have to be imported and full of demanding, avaricious people, I found the experience of being trapped in with them all pretty shocking.

So far, locals seem to be pretty sanguine regarding the $20B budget shortfall in CA.  The stte controller says the state will run out of money in October if nothing is done by then.  Solutions are especially hard to come by now, as everything remotely painless has already been done.

If you want to follow along, this is a good site as they have to keep their audience of state workers somewhat informed.



Rebel's picture

I keep in touch with my Silicon Valley friends. They appear to be optimistic that things will get better, and back to "normal". They are very analytic people, so when I start talking about facts and data, they get agitated, in that it starts creating a sense of Cognitive Dissidents . . . their beliefs are not supported by the facts they can see. So, they change the topic.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Hey Rebel,

I left the Valley in 2006 too. Was resident there from 1999. Saw the boom (and how) and rode out the bust too. I agree.

It will collapse fast. There is a very monochromatic sense to life there. As described by you.

I'm back in India, so obviously accepted by the natives! :-) But not easy being here, watching India being through the grinder of globalization.

Glad to hear you found your way to peace.



kalasend's picture

I don't digest...Unless you're talking about moving out of the country, Silicon Valley is still the place for the properly skilled. I mean, tell me another place INSIDE THE USA where you can find comparable level of income and living environment. 

Also, where in the USA do we still export products/services that make sense (if it is exporting something at all) and has a future?

For the budget shortfall...well I've long ago given up hope for any reasonable return of the tax money I paid. And you get taxed federally wherever you go.

I understand that financially this state and this country isn't looking good. But I don't see end of the world either. 

Rebel's picture

Silicon Valley has certainly been a hotbed of opportunity. A person with an idea, and willing to work hard is given a chance to make it big. I will grant you all that. I found the living experience there to not be good however. High standard of living, with a low quality of life. Everything is very sterile, and it is sort of a "plastic" lifestyle. Every person has different tastes, but I find the rural lifestyle very good . . . lower standard of living, higher quality of life.

russki standart's picture

Unless you have a bug out back and a place to retreat with ample food, water and ammunition, you are only financially hedged. Could it happen? Not likely, but then Barton Biggs recommends buying a farm as a way of hedging risk.

russki standart's picture

Hmmm, ever spend time at a private Vegas pool party?

Oracle of Kypseli's picture

Many things in Vegas stay in Vegas, but if you partake in one of these private pool parties the clap will follow you everywhere. 

Rebel's picture

That is funny . . . you are clever.

russki standart's picture

Oracle, you are correct. I remember visiting Vegas in 1982 and my friend indulged himself with a professional. During our trip home, I heard him whimpering whilst urinating. I asked him: Was it worth it? He replied, At the time yes, now NO.

TJW's picture

"Plus they had better orgies."

Speak for yourself.

Bananamerican's picture

"the downfall of empire was actually greeted by the bulk of the people as the barbarians were welcomed at the gate with open arms"

and i, for one, welcome our new Mexican overlords...

Lux Fiat's picture

???  Mexico is far more screwed up than the US.  I've had the pleasure of traveling to and living in some parts of the "non-Western" world.  Yes, the US has severe problems and a populace where many seem amazingly oblivious to the very real potential for changes that could wrench their world.  But for all of our problems, we are in better shape than many other parts of the world.  Horrified at times as I am over the apparent path we are currently taking, I temper my perceptions of the present with those of the past.

And, ahem,..."Remember the Alamo!"

MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

Depends a lot on which orgies you get invited to.