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What's Ben Gonna Do?

Bruce Krasting's picture




 

Every day the deflation story gets stronger. Almost all of the numbers
in the US are pointing in that direction. A slowdown in the EU is a sure
thing. Japan is going nowhere. China is a question mark, but even if
they do continue growing it will not result in enough Eco. Juice
to offset the global deflationary forces.

 I was anticipating a slowdown in the 4th Q. It is now looking more
likely that we will fall of a cliff starting July 1st. Extended benefits
will be ending. Most states start a new fiscal year and they are all
dead dead dead on revenue. Any benefit we got from the census will be in
reverse gear. By August 1st approximately 1mm temporary workers will
again be out of a job. Housing is falling off a cliff.

The market sees this. The ten-year is at an incredible 3.1%. The last
few days of trading in gold has a smell of deflation as well.

Bernanke must be beside himself. He bet the farm to save the economy in
2009. He has done things that no other Fed head as ever contemplated. As
betting goes, he is “all in” on this one. He bet the economy, our
future solvency and his reputation. In my opinion there is no way he is
going to throw in the towel and accept that deflation is inevitable.

Ben spelled out what he would do in the “unlikely” event that deflation
became a real threat in his famous 2002 “Helicopter” speech. The full
speech is here.
This speech has been hashed many times before. Given the news of late
it is worth relooking at what Ben had to say. Some excerpts:

Under a
fiat money system, a government should always be able to generate
increased nominal spending and inflation, even when the short-term
nominal interest rate is at zero.

Well Ben, we have had ZIRP for two years now. It has made a difference.
But zero interest rates have just bought time, not a recovery.

The U.S. government has a technology, called a
printing press that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it
wishes at essentially no cost. We conclude that, under a paper-money
system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and
hence positive inflation.

Ben has been running that printing press. QE created $1.75t. It has not
had a lasting benefit.

The
Fed could stimulate spending by lowering rates further out along the
Treasury term structure. There are at least two ways of bringing down
longer-term rates:
(I) Fed
could commit to holding the overnight rate at zero for some specified
period.
(II)
A more direct method, which I personally prefer, would be for the Fed
to begin announcing explicit ceilings for yields on longer-maturity
Treasury debt. The Fed could enforce these interest-rate ceilings by
committing to make unlimited purchases of securities.

Ben has done (I). As of yet we have not seen (II). For me it is scary
that this is his “favorite” approach. That makes this one a sure thing
if evidence mounts that we are rolling over. But this does not
accomplish much in today’s markets. The 2-year is at 75bp. What is
Bernanke going to do? Push that to zero also? He might.

The
Fed could also attempt to cap yields of Treasury securities at still
longer maturities, say three to six years.

Why stop at 6 years Ben? To make a dent he would have to have the
10-year at 1%. Is that what he has in mind? I think it is a real
possibility.

An option would be for the Fed to use its existing
authority to operate in the markets for agency debt.

We have done that already in a biblical manner. $1.25 trillion. Three
months after the program ended the housing market is falling off a
cliff. I would not be surprised if Ben re-established this program.
Buying another $1 trillion would not accomplish anything but make the
primary dealers rich. But a desperate Ben would do this again in a NY
minute.

The Fed might next consider attempting to influence
directly the yields on privately issued securities.

Oh boy, this is the beginning of the end. Ben would buy corporate debt.
GE would be high on the list; the rest of corporate America would
follow. Ben could buy BP bonds. That would solve our problems, wouldn’t
it?

The
Fed might make 90-day or 180-day zero-interest loans to banks.

Lights out when this happens. Ben will stop at nothing. This option is
not far from reality. That said, if this happens the public backlash is
going to be vicious.

The Fed has the authority to buy foreign government
debt. Potentially, this class of assets offers huge scope for Fed
operations, as the quantity of foreign assets eligible for purchase by
the Fed is several times the stock of U.S. government debt.

The “nuclear option” is to buy up the sovereign debts of other
countries. This would extend QE globally. In a way we just did this with
the opening of $100b in swaps lines to the European central banks. This
gives them the wherewithal to buy their debt. The ultimate is when the
Fed starts doing it for their own account. I doubt this option is
realistic. It would require the approval of the other CB’s. That said,
should you see this headline buy lots of canned food and rice. If this
step is implemented bread lines will follow.

It's
worth noting that there have been times when exchange rate policy has
been an effective weapon against deflation.

In this case the Fed would attempt to devalue the dollar in order
achieve its goals. This of course would just destabilize everything else
in the world and would insure a downward spiral in economic activity.

Most of the things Ben spoke of back in 2002 have already been tried (or
are now in place) and have not worked. The remaining options do not
appear to have much chance of working either. But that does not mean
that we will not see these steps.

Ben has already destroyed savers. This is the consequence of his steps.
It was not his goal, but he understood fully that savings would have to
be penalized. He is in so deep at this point that I believe he will
consider anything to protect his reputation in history. The one thing
that he did not bring up in the 2002 speech was negative interest rates.
While this option sounds ridiculous it can’t be excluded as a
possibility. The SF Fed had a paper
on this recently. A graph of the “proper” Fed funds rate:

John Hilsenrath at the WSJ
also put the idea of negative interest rates on the table in a
recent piece. I think the article was from Ben’s lips, into John’s ear
and then onto the front page of the Journal.  If Ben has something to
say on this matter he should address us all. He should not use a beard
to influence public/market thinking.

How could something as crazy as negative interest rates work? Consider
this from none other that Harvard
economist Greg Mankiw
. He had this to say on the subject back
in March of 2009:

I can now state
the proposed solution: Reduce the return to holding money below zero.
Imagine that the Fed were to announce that it would pick a digit from 0
to 9 out of a hat. All currency with a serial number ending in that
digit would no longer be legal tender. Suddenly, the expected return to
holding currency would become negative 10 percent.

This bit of lunacy comes from one of our best and brightest economists.
Should this (or any other negative % plan) be implemented it would mean
that a depression is just a few months away. The last desperate acts
would insure that we would fall into a very big hole. We will hear more
on these “emergency” measures in the coming months. Should any of them
come to pass, be guided accordingly. These steps will only agonize what
must come.

 

Black Hole, NASA photo
 

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Thu, 06/24/2010 - 08:57 | 431211 MarketFox
MarketFox's picture

Summers "The Brilliant" ?

Who was selling "failing derivative products to sovereign funds after Bear Stearns was already failing ? 

The 'Brilliant" Summers who almost bankrupted the Harvard Endowment and fired people who tried to advise otherwise ?

..........................................

 

This is so simple....

 

Which economy will be much larger in 10 years ?

One whereby legal largesse and taxes comprise over 50% of all prices ?

Or an economy whereby legal largesse and taxes comprise no more than 20% of all prices ?

 

How does one harvest more fruit in the future ?

Chopping down more orchard trees ? 

Or 

Planting them ?

 

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 08:07 | 431154 MarketFox
MarketFox's picture

 

There is a better way....

It is called complete tax structure change.

For both the US and the other developed countries, part of the solution is very simple.

The input costs to production have to be lowered such that its goods and services are priced more efficiently.

What this means is that everyone must pay some tax (broad based as possible).

This means that a consumption tax must replace both individual and corporate taxes.

ie The consumption tax must be no more than 15%....and all other taxes have to be banned.

......................

Many think that the tax take from a progressive tax structure  that includes corporate and individual taxes is the only secure means of reducing their deficits.

This cannot be .

Taxes come from those that produce goods and services. This means that sales must increase in terms of volume in particular. This means that prices have to be more attractive.

 

An economy that eliminates the progressive individual and corporate income taxes and replaces it with a max 15% consumption tax will see its tax producing businesses grow by leaps and bounds. The tax take from the consumption only tax structure WILL dwarf that of the progressive structure in less than 10 years....because the consumption tax economy will be much larger than the progressive tax economy.

 

 

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 08:43 | 431196 Bruce Krasting
Bruce Krasting's picture

Good points. I agree. We need a consumption tax. I agree that 15% is about right. This approach is in use in most industrial countries. They have deficits too. The real trick is that government spending has to contract. We have to cut 500-700b per year on a structural basis for ever. That does not mean we have a depression. But it means very slow growth for a very long time. We will be in and out of recession for a decade.

It will be interesting to see what the Deficit Commission has to say on a consumption tax. Volker is in favor of it. Summers is not. Geither has no clue......

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 08:28 | 431016 Escapeclaws
Escapeclaws's picture

 

Carrying on with my sexual interpretation of Big Ben, I hypothesize the following (counter arguments invited):  Ben strikes me as a pleaser. I suspect that his mother was very strict with him and he tried very hard as a child to please her. Later in life, he managed to do this by doing the family proud with his prestigious degrees and diplomas and his steady rise to the top of the pyramid (scheme). But the little boy who tries to please has never gone away. Now he is obsessed with creating inflation and stimulus. It is hard not to see this in Freudian terms as having sex with a woman who has a very strong libido and who also wants children--these two naturally go together. However, pouring all the money into the banks is somewhat like using a condom. The stimulation is there, but the economy is not fertilized. The economy senses that something is amiss and becomes even harder to please and more ravenous. But the child in Ben is in no position to think of becoming a father and becoming responsible for the little lives he would generate if he forewent the condom. He is probably relieved that the body politic is preoccupied for the moment with the Gusher in the Gulf, but that also reinforces his fear of unprotected sex.

The point is that, as Chairman of the Fed,  Ben has absolute control over the economy with no accountability. Assuming he is merely human, and subject to human weakness, there is nothing stopping him from using the economy to resolve his personal issues, the above being one of a myriad of possibilities.

 

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 01:30 | 430905 Eternal Student
Eternal Student's picture

Superb article. More people really need to be aware of this stuff.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 00:53 | 430864 killben
killben's picture

If lynching Ben the only option to saving the economy from this "Economic Hitler", the public should get down to doing it before he does more damage!!

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 01:14 | 430884 Howard_Beale
Howard_Beale's picture

Welcome killben. I have not encountered your name before but I like it!

Now how could the public lynch him? We tried like hell to stop his reappointment. We failed. We don't have transparency and he doesn't pick 10 emails a night to read like the unliked President so we can't even contact him.

So what should the public do killben? Kill Ben? That's not a public option. Maybe we need Quentin Tarantino here and Ben to star in the movie and have a terrible helicopter accident. What film was that where someone was killed? I can't remember...fitting, though.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 01:35 | 430908 Eternal Student
Eternal Student's picture

Not only was his reappointment unstoppable, but most of the Senators who voted for him will be re-elected.

The general American populace is not only complicit in this economic disaster, but they are in it up to their necks.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 01:59 | 430947 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

Stupid is as stupid does, sir.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 01:19 | 430892 akak
akak's picture

Howard, I would gladly settle for Uma Thurman going after Ben with a Hanzo sword --- maybe she can give him a shave with it before lopping off his Keynesian-poisoned head.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 02:11 | 430960 Howard_Beale
Howard_Beale's picture

Nice image..

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 02:10 | 430826 Howard_Beale
Howard_Beale's picture

dp

 

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 00:12 | 430825 Howard_Beale
Howard_Beale's picture

Excellent work, as always, Bruce. Top notch dissection of his infamous 2002 words.

The only solution is to let it happen instead of killing the future for our children (and us). We have always agreed on this.

But if Ben thinks he can buy more Treasuries than the world can sell, he is seriously wrong. Thinking he can put a cap on maturities would result in non-stop failed auctions and 100% monetization. At that point, why have auctions or bother issuing debt at all? It would cause pandemonium. So would he just print?

That ultimately would create 2 separate markets--one of traded outstanding US debt which comprises the yield curve (and if you start with the 2 year that would put us at mid 2012) and then Ben's world of printing. The real yield curve would be steepened from total horror. Ben's total monetization would end in catastrophe.

So there is nothing new in that department since everything he thinks of doing is catastrophic for the US. But were he to actually have a sense of the real world and how it really works--and I do believe he is totally stuck in academic theory with no concept of the reality of his actions--he would stop it now. Let the depression get over with. Bail out nothing. Let the pain be gone and let us rebuild from there.

It's kind of like the difference when you get out of grad school and then enter the real world. You realize everything you were taught from Fama to every other theory is a load of shit (although the product life cycle (PLC) still holds a place in my heart as far as company's go and MS is closer to the end of theirs than most would think).

As always, I thank you Bruce for your excellent work and taking the time to respond to those who post. You are by far the best contributor on this blog and your posts should be on a repeat across the top instead of others that bring nothing to this blog. I won't name names...cough..cough... Mad Hedge Fund Trader...cough.. but your work deserves to be posted at least twice so those who might miss it and don't go through the contributor posts will have a chance to see it.

Howard

 

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 00:12 | 430820 Brett in Manhattan
Brett in Manhattan's picture
The Fed could stimulate spending by lowering rates further out along the Treasury term structure.There are at least two ways of bringing down longer-term rates: (I) Fed could commit to holding the overnight rate at zero for some specified period. (II) A more direct method, which I personally prefer, would be for the Fed to begin announcing explicit ceilings for yields on longer-maturity Treasury debt. The Fed could enforce these interest-rate ceilings by committing to make unlimited purchases of securities.

************ This is quite interesting because he and Greenspan used the excuse, that the Fed CAN'T control long term rates, to absolve the Fed of any responsibility for blowing up the bubble.

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 23:12 | 430736 Kreditanstalt
Kreditanstalt's picture

I'll bet Ben revalues U.S. gold holdings...any takers?

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 00:04 | 430811 Fred Hayek
Fred Hayek's picture

What does that mean?

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 23:43 | 430783 Rusty_Shackleford
Rusty_Shackleford's picture

You know, I sent this in as a tip but never hear anything more about it,  but in the Fed's Flow of Funds Summary Statistics First Quarter 2010 they admit to dumping 190.9 tons of gold in Q3 2009.  Usual level is +/- 0.1-0.2 tons per month.

 

http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/z1/Current/z1.pdf

See page 24 of the report itself (page 31 of the pdf) -  F.107 Rest of the World - line 14 - 3rd quarter 2009.

Just a tip.

 

Maybe one of the experts out there could enlighten us on what it means, if anything.

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 23:30 | 430765 Bruce Krasting
Bruce Krasting's picture

To what end? To prove that we are completely broke?

We have 8,133 tonnes in reserve. 35,274 oz/tonne. At 1,200 it comes to $344billion. Our deficit this year will be $1.4 T. So if we sold all the gold we had it would pay for three months of the deficit. No big deal.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 03:13 | 431005 lewy14
lewy14's picture

No, but if a hole in the Fed balance sheet is discovered, a reval might serve to plug it.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 03:13 | 431003 Attitude_Check
Attitude_Check's picture

I think the "end-game" may go as follows.

1. QE 2.0 as outlined

2. Use some of the money to buy Gold (covertly)

3. Once Gold gets above $50K, come out with a "new $", that is gold/backed (at least partially) at 100:1

4. Only exchange physical $'s for new-dollars, and let everything else reset - driving deflation all at once.

#4 will happen without warning. Old debt will become nearly worthless.

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 23:43 | 430785 technovelist
technovelist's picture

How about at $100,000?

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 22:12 | 430665 Rusty_Shackleford
Rusty_Shackleford's picture

I firmly believe that before this is over, Gentle Ben will attempt to purchase every single financial asset in the world.

 

It is his destiny.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 14:53 | 431949 SWRichmond
SWRichmond's picture

Destiny or no, I agree with your first sentence.

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 22:10 | 430656 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Great post Bruce, as always. This one might take the cake.  I would pay re'al monie to see you box BS, or at least have you debate him.

Ima go off topic on this one, but mind that I think it is very relative.

Wars?  What the hell is he insinuating?  Well, this sure would take the heat off BS. 

I hate Bill Clinton.  Bullets, bombs, Broadway, boobs, and broads, right BILL?!

Bill clinton post match interview Usa 1-0 algeria world cup:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-okN-4jpng

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 01:57 | 430922 Howard_Beale
Howard_Beale's picture

Wars? What? So BB is BS? That's ok but not clear. BB still works to identify who you are talking about.

Remember your avatar name and have a little forgiveness. Bill Clinton was an interesting president (unless you are in the conspiracy crowd about Whitewater and then we have nothing further to discuss). Hate him? Why waste your time. I would have a drink with Bill anytime. He's an interesting man that gets shit done (like the young reporters stuck in North Korea facing 12 years of hard labor). He did the right thing with Milosevic even though it looked like he was trying to deflect the Lewinsky matter. So what?

Every president has made mistakes in policy and most all have had affairs. The S&L debacle he inherited called for rapid change in regulation. He fucked that up. What do you want Lennon?

Purple Haze Revolution? Spell it out rather than spewing hate. I like you but don't understand your post.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 14:52 | 431947 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Purple Haze Revolution.  That is what I will call it from now.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 14:40 | 431901 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Yes, Ben Shalom. Seems appropriate.
Howard, no worries, this is the place we duke it out. Afterward you and I are the best of friends....

Bill promised Health Care on the Campaign trail and then rammed NAFTA down our throats. This was his destiny after all, dictated to him by Poppy Bush; Poppy threw the election, don't you know? "It's the economy stupid." Yeah, but economic policy became horrible once NAFTA could not pass the Congress, it took a Democrat to lighten Congress up.  Every election has been fixed since God knows when; easy to do, just have everybody hate the red team for a minute, they'll vote the blue team in. But then Bill goes balls out and institutes WTO, all the while failing to police the dot com bubble "SEC who?" Now the Bushes think of him as family, they vacation together still, "He reminds me of my eldest." Said Poppy.  This and Bilderbergers liked him too.  It also turns out that people who stood up to Bill died in mass.  Bill was also Governor over Arkansas while the State funneled cocaine in mass from South America and into the US.  Also, a Rhodes Scholar; dude reeks of eugenicist slime.
Not only was Billy inept (failed budget and shut down Congress) Bill was a war monger; he upped the budget over Poppy.  No surprise there, Democrats always do.  It is a little trick they do, because nobody would believe that Democrats fund the war machine slightly more than the Republicans.  Speaking of tricks, this talking point I brought up, the analogy to "war", was given to him.  Presidents and most of Washington is a stage of epic proportions.  This was an obvious allusion, this on Bristol's own ESPN none the less.  1984 is today in full effect, and Billy is pushing the envelope. 
Howard, you are right, who cares about the puppets. This puppet, that puppet; I want the system DOWN! But along the way, I will discuss those who sold out to show how it was done; we must not repeat our mistakes.
Howard, he is just a puppet, but when I rock him, I hurt the hand that is inside of him. Ima keep fighting everyone of them until this thing comes down.

Namaste.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 16:23 | 432208 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

Also, a Rhodes Scholar; dude reeks of eugenicist slime.

Yep, that sums it up for me.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 03:07 | 431002 Attitude_Check
Attitude_Check's picture

Lying under oath. nuff said.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 17:55 | 432480 delacroix
delacroix's picture

lots of drug running, and murder, on his watch.

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 22:03 | 430653 Zouk_man
Zouk_man's picture

ZIRP.  NIRP.  Twerp.  

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 22:00 | 430648 Zouk_man
Zouk_man's picture

ZIRP.  NIRP.  Twerp.  

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 21:45 | 430623 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

Bruce -

You are the man!

I appreciate your work and click your paid links often!

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 21:43 | 430615 socalbeach
socalbeach's picture

I don't see why in theory the Fed can't succeed in preventing deflation, or having it so low that it's basically zero.  Assume we're at 1%/month deflation now, all the Fed has to do is keep on "printing" money until the deflation rate goes to zero, and then stop, and possibly withdraw money "printing" if inflation starts taking off.  So per the article, if $1.75 trillion has been printed so far, then increase it as necessary, maybe to $2.5 trillion, $3 trillion, etc.  Maybe it would be tricky if there is a large time lag between printing money and it's effect, but much more difficult problems have been solved.

I agree with some of the posters here that the Fed's goal is to maximize the profits of its owners, not necessarily to prevent deflation, so that would explain why deflation hasn't been prevented, if you think that we are in fact deflating.

Also I don't think all the money given to the financials is just sitting as excess reserves or being used to game the markets, some of it is being lent to the Federal gov't and spent, where it is then eventually redeposited back into the banks.  If the reserve ratio is 10%, then 90% of this lent money would still show up as excess reserves.

Question: is the Fed authorized to buy state and local government debt? 

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 03:05 | 431000 Attitude_Check
Attitude_Check's picture

The problem is all our money "leaks out" since the US doesn't make anything any more,  We "export" our money to pay other's to make it for us.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 01:19 | 430890 Howard_Beale
Howard_Beale's picture

We will soon find out.

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 22:35 | 430695 Mitchman
Mitchman's picture

If your theory about some of that money finding its way back into the economy is correct, where is it going?  It is not showing up in consumer spending, housing, capital spending or much of anything IMHO.  Unless you are arguing that the anemic economic performance that we do have is the result of the money being plowed back in which case I suggest that we are not getting a whole lot of bang for our buck. 

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 21:00 | 430547 jm
jm's picture

Bruce, can't quibble about anything you wrote.  The article was very good.  True we are facing something very bad, maybe even unprecedented. Some thoughts.

1) I don't think Ben can or will expand credit easing right now.  The collective state of mind of people won't accept it.  Once the double dip really kicks in and fear is in the air, then he will have more lattitude.

2) Even when fear is in the air, the guys that got elected live off corruption, so credit and quantitative easing policy will be incremental. 

They know that the extreme policies Ben has thought about would cut into/end their livelihood.  Congress will go along with anything that helps out their real estate holdings, but will stop short of allowing things to come apart at the seams.  It works against their self-interest.  Voters can be lied to and duped.  They don't matter at all. It's all about their wallet.  

3)  Future monetary policy effects may be limited by very high tax rates.  

Maybe we'll just muddle through, queasing as the situation allows until things heal or doomsday. 

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 20:11 | 430462 lynnybee
lynnybee's picture

I'M SCARED TO DEATH !!!  WHAT THE HELL ARE THE OLD PEOPLE GOING TO DO !!  My friends tell me to stop obsessing & chill out !   I tell them to go on ZEROHEDGE & start reading !

 

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 21:54 | 430635 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Fear no evil.  We stand and fight.  Lets keep this party rolling!

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 21:10 | 430567 mikla
mikla's picture

I'M SCARED TO DEATH !!!  WHAT THE HELL ARE THE OLD PEOPLE GOING TO DO !!

This is a serious topic.  People are different, and their responses (and fears) are different.  However, I will attempt a response:

BE. NOT. AFRAID.

This is not WWI, with the arrival of trench warfare, mustard gas, barbed wire, and the machine gun.  Yes, it is truly international economic warfare.  Nations will truly fall.  However, you will see the rise of the "local" community as being FAR more important than the "distant" centralized power-brokers.  That's somewhat foreign to most people in the industrialized world, but is entirely normal throughout societies all over the planet today.  And, it is even consistent with small towns in rural US ... it is nothing new, and nothing to fear.

This Is Good:

  • Debt will be repudiated, and the next generation will not be oppressed into indentured servitude.  What they earn they will keep (because no centralized authority will have the ability to compel control).
  • Local communities will be more important.  You will get to know your neighbors, there will be more local "potluck" dinners, and more community gardens and community events.
  • Economic decentralization will be significant.  Some of this has a great many "externality" benefits, such as a far more efficient power grid (distributed power systems are infinitely superior), and will prompt much innovation and creativity.  (It will be the equivalent of forcing a MASSIVE number of distributed "experimental labs" to solve local problems.)
  • The current system will be abolished.  The current system is immoral and punishes the poor, while enriching a few central planners.  It will be good when it is gone.  The next system will not be the same.  (It could be far more oppressive, or far more liberal, and that will vary in different parts of the world; However, when the "smoke clears" in most of today's current industrialized world, people will be OK -- I do not expect to see the rise of another dictatorship that attempts to seize through force a continent across current national boundaries).

The "bad", of course, is that it is disruptive (and much of the transition won't be fun).

No, old people will not have pensions; will not have social security; will not have medicare.  However, nobody else will have those things either.  Local communities will work together to address local needs, and that includes old people.  We already see the rise of more community health programs and Faith-based nursing programs (used to be called "Parish Nursing" programs).  Those are very good, high quality, and very effective programs, and you'll see more of that.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 01:50 | 430934 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

Hope you're right -- there's just this small annoyance of nuclear warheads to contemplate...

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 01:25 | 430898 lynnybee
lynnybee's picture

thank you for your kind response.   as a 60 year old grandma I am truly afraid, for myself & the older people.   no one has enough money saved up to last them the rest of their lives, especially if we go into hyperinflation in a few years.    I paid into my pension fund for 35 years as a Federal Civil Service employee.   What happens if the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT defaults on it's debts ?    Does that mean all the Civil Service pensioners will not receive what they worked so many years for ?   (like the POSTAL workers, will they lose their pensions?)    I do not know how to plant or harvest or hunt.   There are no jobs for our young people, there are no jobs for the old people............. how will we eat with no money ?    ........ i can live without everything else, but, how do we pay the electricity bill & eat ?   please respond !   ......... I am beside myself with worry so that I've become consumed by this approaching collapse & my friends do not believe me when I tell them what is coming.   sincerely.......

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 14:46 | 431924 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

There are many reasons I love ZH; you are one of them.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 07:45 | 431129 mikla
mikla's picture

I paid into my pension fund for 35 years as a Federal Civil Service employee.  What happens if the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT defaults on it's debts ?

The Federal government is defaulting now by debasing the currency.  However, these are "gradual" defaults that most people pretend to not notice.  A currency collapse, or a failure to make a bond payment, would be an "event" default.  You'll get one or both of those also, and it merely means the Federal government will dissolve and restructure.  Nations do this (it's not new).  Look at Iceland last year and Greece this year, or Argentina and Russia a decade ago.

Yes, depending on the scale of the default, pensioners will not get their checks.  (That's the likely scenario -- all those pensions are mathematically toast.)  However, in the "real" world, that means states will pick-up-the-slack (you don't need the Federal government for things like this -- it belongs with the State government and local communities anyway, and much "good" will come from getting away from the Feds).

Since you paid into your pension fund for 35 years, you were betrayed.  That cannot be a surprise -- did you actually believe the politicians?  It is most healthy to move past that feeling of betrayal and realize politicians are short-term two-year-olds with the memory of a goldfish (about six minutes).  Forgive me for saying this, but politicians never loved you, and the fault lies with you for trusting an unqualified two-year-old to repair your furnace and rewire your house (only bad things can happen as a result).

I do not know how to plant or harvest or hunt.   There are no jobs for our young people, there are no jobs for the old people............. how will we eat with no money ?    ........ i can live without everything else, but, how do we pay the electricity bill & eat ?   please respond !

From a social standpoint, "old people in need" and "no jobs for the young" make a perfect match.  There is plenty of room in plenty of empty McMansions to make that work.

You don't need to know how to plant or harvest or hunt.  Lots of other people know how and will share.  At the most extreme, they will "trade" what they harvest or kill for something you might have -- like providing for childcare or cooking dinner.  As a Grandma, it is possible you don't even see spending time with your grandchildren as "work" ... in tribal societies all over the world, that's just part of your normal and productive day (a reason to get out of bed in the morning).

......... I am beside myself with worry so that I've become consumed by this approaching collapse & my friends do not believe me when I tell them what is coming.   sincerely.......

I understand you may be, "beside [your]self with worry", but honestly, it is not worth a bleeding ulcer, nor loss of sleep.  Society will change dramatically, but much of that will be (very) good.  Many people will be happier.  Lives will have meaning.  Your days will be more full, more productive, and more social with people around you for which you care deeply.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 11:22 | 431447 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

Excellent, Mikla. Very concrete response considering what else is out there.

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The main problem is sourcing calories for 300+ million souls in the meantime. That's going to be one hell of a transition! That is, our ports won't be receiving all the imports we're getting now with major currency issues, right? And no more oranges from sunny Florida (unless you live in Florida). If we pull through with everyone on board over the next decade, communities producing most of their own food, we'll all be as skinny as Victoria's Secret models! I can't figure out how they'll do it in urban centers. Imagine all those crackheads putting their productive time into gardens and basket weaving instead of looking for the next hit - only garden hoes now. Aaaaaaah. Kumbaya!

I imagine war is also on the way - and I mean the lower 48 will see some of it this time around.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 14:50 | 431939 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Mikla's post may be in the top 10 posts of all time....ALL TIME hahaha!

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 04:42 | 431040 theprofromdover
theprofromdover's picture

You must never fear the future.

If you believe that most people are basically good, then there will be enough friendly support when the times get bad. If you don't, better buy a gun.

If you are fit and well, then tomorrow is always going to be just a different challenge, and one day maybe better.

If you want to plan anything, write all your outgoings down, and objectively weigh them up. If you can live in a smaller place, relocate to a better climate (?) or a poorer neighbourhood with a bit of land to grow some food, then think about it. Now is the time to think clearly, not to panic.

 

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 03:03 | 430998 Attitude_Check
Attitude_Check's picture

I recommend looking for a job.  As you say you are only 60.  The days of early retirement are over.  I expect to work (at least part-time) into my 70's.

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 22:02 | 430652 Jean Valjean
Jean Valjean's picture

+1. Boy I hope you're right. However, a revolution might be necessary to get there.

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