"Endless Growth" Is the Plan & There Is No Plan B

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Chris Martenson via Peak Prosperity,

After five years of aggressive Federal Reserve and government intervention in our monetary and financial systems, it's time to ask: Where are we? 

The "plan," such as it has been, is to let future growth sweep everything under the rug. To print some money, close their eyes, cross their fingers, and hope for the best.

On that, I give them an "A" for wishful thinking – and an "F" for actual results.

For the big banks, the plan has involved giving them free money so that they can be "healthy." This has been conducted via direct (TARP, etc.) and semi-direct bailouts (such as offering them money at zero percent and then paying them 0.25% for stashing that same money back at the Fed), and indirectly via telegraphing future market interventions so that the big banks could 'front run' those moves to make virtually risk-free money.

This has been fabulously lucrative for the big banks that are in the inner circle. As we've noted somewhat monotonously, the big banks enjoy "win ratios" on their trading activities that are, well, implausible at best.

Here's a chart of J.P. Morgan's trading revenues for the first three quarters of 2013, showing how many days the bank made or lost money:


Do you see the number of days the bank lost money? No? Oh, that's right. There weren't any.

Now, for you or me, trading involves losses, or risk. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. There appears to be zero risk at all to JP Morgan's trading activities. They won virtually all of the time over this 9-month period.

That's like living at a casino poker table for months and never losing.

Of course, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and a few other U.S.-based banks were able to turn in roughly similar results. Pretty sweet deal being a bank these days, huh?

So one might think, Well, that's just how banks are now. Bernanke's flood of liquidity is allowing them to simply 'win' at trading. If true (which it appears to be), we can't call this trading. The act of "trading" implies risk. And it's clear that what the big banks are doing carries no risk; otherwise they would be posting at least some degree of losses. We should call it sanctioned theft, corporate welfare, cronyism the list goes on. And it is most grossly unfair, as well as corrosive to the long-term health of our markets.

Therefore, sadly, I have to give Bernanke an A++ on his objective of handing the banks a truly massive amount of risk-free money. He's done fabulously well there. 

But will this be sufficient to carry the day? Will this be enough to set us back on the path of high growth? 

And even if we do magically return to the sort of high-octane growth that we used to enjoy back in the day, will that really solve anything?

Endless Growth Is Plan A Through Plan Z

The problem I see with the current rescue plans is that they are piling on massive amounts of new debts.

These debts represent obligations taken on today that will have to be repaid in the future. And the only way repayment can possibly happen is if the future consists of a LOT of uninterrupted growth upwards from here.

It's always easiest to make a case when you go to silly extremes, so let's examine Japan. It's no secret that Japan is piling on sovereign debt and just going nuts in an attempt to get its economy working again. At least that's the publicly stated reason. The real reason is to keep its banking system from imploding.

After all, exponential debt-based financial systems function especially poorly in reverse. So Japan keeps piling on the debt in rather stunning amounts:


That's up nearly 40% in three years (!).

It's the people of Japan who are on the hook for all that borrowing, now standing well over 200% of GDP. So here's the kicker: In 2010, Japan had a population of 128 million. In 2100, the 'best case' projected outcome for Japan is that its population will stand at 65 million. The worst case? 38 million.

So...who, exactly, is going to be paying all of that debt back?

The answer: Japan's steadily shrinking pool of citizens. 

This is simple math, and the trends are very, very clear. Japan has a swiftly rising debt load and a falling population. Whoever it is that is buying 30-year Japanese debt at 1.69% today either cannot perform simple math, or, more likely, is merely playing along for the moment but plans on getting out ahead of everybody else.

But the fact remains that Japan's long-term economic prospects are pretty terrible. And they will remain so as long as the Japanese government, slave to the concept of debt-based money, cannot think of any other response to the current economic condition besides trying to shock the patient back to vigorous life by borrowing and spending like crazy.

If, instead, Japan had used its glory days of manufacturing export surpluses to build up real stores of actual wealth that would persist into the future, then the prognosis could be entirely different. But it didn't.

The U.S. Is No Different

Except for some timing differences, the U.S. is largely in the same place as Japan twenty years ago and following a nearly identical trajectory.  Currently, it's an economic powerhouse, folks are generally optimistic on the domestic economic front (relatively speaking), and its politicians are making exceptionally short-sighted decisions. But the long-term math is the same.

There's too much debt representing too many promises. The only possible way those can be met is if rapid and persistent economic growth returns.   

However, even under the very best of circumstances, where the economy rises from here without a hitch say, at historically usual rates of around 3.5% in real terms (6% or more, nominally) we know that various pension and entitlement programs will still be in big trouble.

Worse, we know that the environment is screaming for attention based on our poor stewardship. Addressing issues such as over-farming, water wastage, and oceanic fishery depletion to say nothing of carbon levels in the atmosphere - will be hugely expensive. 

Likewise, a complete focus on consumer borrowing and spending at the exclusion of everything else (except bailing out big banks, of course), along with a dab of excessive state security spending, has left the U.S. with an enormous infrastructure bill that also must be paid, one way or the other. That is, short-term decisions have left us with long-term challenges.

But what happens if that expected (required?) high rate of growth does not appear?

What if there are hitches and glitches along the way in the form of recessions, as is certain to be the case?  There always have been moments of economic retreat, despite the Fed's heroic recent attempts to end them. Then what happens?

Well, that's when an already implausible story of 'recovery' becomes ludicrous.

If we take a closer look at the projections, the idea that we're going to grow even remotely into a gigantic future that will consume all entitlement shortfalls within its cornucopian maw becomes all but laughable.

Of course, the purpose of this exercise is not to make fun of anyone, nor to mock any particular beliefs, but to create an actionable understanding of the true nature of where we really are and what you should be doing about it.

In Part II: Why Your Own Plan Better Be Different, we examine more deeply the unsustainability of our current economic system and why it is folly to assume "things will get better from here."

Given the unforgiving math at the macro altitudes, the need for adopting a saner, more prudent plan at the individual level is the best option available to us now.

Click here to access Part II of this report (free executive summary; enrollment required for full access).

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LawsofPhysics's picture

Endless or limitless growth in a biosphere with all kinds of limits that are very real?  Hhmm, good luck with that.  Paging Dr. Krugman (you useless fuck)...

nope-1004's picture



Plan A:  Print like crazy, so none of my homies go broke.

Plan B:  Uhhh.... maybe...... uhhhh....... retry Plan A multiple times (QE1, QE2, QE Lite, OpTwist, QE3, QE4), then issue statement that you're not insane and Einstein was an idiot.


Liar Ben

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

Live within your means.  The more credit cards you have to pay for, the harder you have to work!!  Simple as that.

satoshi101's picture

In 1972 the USA went full bankrupt, since then it went FULL-RETARD.

When will it end?

When the world quicks taking USD, when is that? When the USA quits killing people abroad?

When is that? ... Now we're in an endless cycle, aren't we?

So long as the USA can rob&rape the world, the world will take USD, and thus the USA can print to the moon?

How long? I fear we have reached the END OF HISTORY.


new game's picture

plan b is to adapt like a wolf and join the right pack...

got night vision.

old naughty's picture

Well...endless growth, population wise. No? Even the Chinese allows second child...

Oh, this piece of shit-rock can take moar sheeples, no?

And their plan is still Plan A, openly displayed as the 'guidestones'.

SF beatnik's picture

More and more people, but not to worry. World elites are taking away the punch bowl.  Soon,  folk everywhere will live ten to a room. They'll wear rags and eat rice and beans.

Healthcare will become a triage system. You need a stent, grampa? We can do that, but the line for stents is ten years long.


satoshi101's picture

Well there is the WELFARE state and WAR state and both get unlimited punch-bowl FIAT ( yellen hillary share same asshole )

Hillary 2016 my guess will keep WAR, but will add to the WELFARE punch-bowl, otherwise she wouldn't get elected would she?

How long can this last?

As long as HILLARY-2016 kills anybody that stand in her way,... don't worry CHELSEA is every bit as bad to the bone.

It's coming forever to you.


Also HILLARY will have a drive west where lesbian troops FEMA/DHS will drive red-necks off their land for re-settlements, HILLARY VOTERS will lover her forever.

Bastiat's picture

That's how our compounding debt money system will drive us to collapse, if not extinction.  I say extinction because a systemic collapse will take us there: Fukushima offers a graphic lesson in what hundreds of spent fuel pools will do without constant support. 

TeamDepends's picture

And the geniuses at GE installed those same reactors all over the world.  Happy camping!

Skateboarder's picture

Best in class... at blowing up after spent rod cooling bye bye.

TeamDepends's picture

Instead of giving them a gold watch, let's give them a swimming pool in the penthouse.


Obchelli's picture

Chines PMI just crashed below 50. 49.5 against 50.6 expectations... Futures which where masterfyully floated up 4 points in adavnce only ereased gains. With Satanic Fed at helm won't be surprised to see futures up by 10 in the morning 

TheRideNeverEnds's picture

Of course, we have entered the no turning back phase; I expect that we will not have a meaningull pullback from now till one day when the market just falls straight out of bed.

Stuck on Zero's picture

The environment may be bounded but virtual digital money is nearly limitless.  Dow to infinity!


Spanky's picture

Dow to infinity... and beyond!

There, fixed it for ya.

Againstthelie's picture

But the problem is, that the force to grow leads to all kinds of incentives to create growth. And this strive will destroy the planet. It doesn't matter if an insanely high living standard and saturated markets do not really grow anymore. The interest debt slavery force keeps the wheel spinning at an artificial fast speed, the environment is destroyed while we, like Zombies, consume, consume, consume.

satoshi101's picture

Fone star has announced he will increase BITCOIN from 21 million to 21 billion. So let's party like there is no tomorrow,

Bicoin Nirvanna is here now.


eclectic syncretist's picture

The Fed's plan is simple.  Steve Jobs will be revived in the zombie apocolypse, taken hostage by the Fed, and forced to develop a new smart phone that will purify water, grow crops, and produce limitless quantities of oil.  No worries.

Bunga Bunga's picture

They should be hanged for planned mass murder and property damage in the trillions.

Dr. Engali's picture

There is a plan B..... depopulation.

LawsofPhysics's picture

The problem with such plans is the random nature with which they tend to actually occur...

History is very clear on this, hedge accordingly.

NoDebt's picture

No depopulation.  Just this in the future:

"Except for some timing differences, the U.S. is largely in the same place as Japan twenty years ago and following a nearly identical trajectory."

Not like I haven't been saying that since forever on ZH.  Sounds unstable as it can be, but it's not.  It's perhaps the best of the current array of bad choices and TPTB know it.  It's the goal at this point.  None of them want collapse.  As LOP points out, those sorts of upheavals have a very random nature to them- no guarantees can be offered to those in power, let alone the general population.  Kick and scream all you want, it's where we're going.

El Vaquero's picture

I'm not even so sure it's a plan, but rather an inevitability. 

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

"You hear that Mr. Anderson?  That is the sound of....Inevitablility......the sound of your..DEATH."

LetThemEatRand's picture

"There is a plan B..... depopulation."

I debate with my wife on this point (she agrees with you).  My take is that they are perfectly happy with shit loads of us working for slave wages in a Lord/Serf model.  Fewer people tend to be more self-sufficient.  If there are too many people, they fight over the crumbs and there is ample cheap labor and others willing to do anything.  China is a good example of the model I think they have for us.  

Dr. Engali's picture

Sooner than later we are going to get to a level of automation where they don't need us to serve them, build or buy their stuff. Other than keeping a few of us around in order to remind them of their superiority they won't need us breathing their air any longer. We will be obsolete to them.

LetThemEatRand's picture

All valid arguments, as I tell Mrs. Rand.  Perhaps it is a question of the truth being somewhere in the middle.

satoshi101's picture

It's not about truth, or who is right or wrong.

It's about survival, and caring for your family.

Anybody who keeps their family or themselves in a 'war zone' is suicidal, homocial, or a sociopath, whoops I just defined the majority of TV watching ameriKKKans.

There is no validity to anything, the issue how to you 'plan' for your personal survival, and your dependents.


new game's picture

truth right and wrong is the game like red/blue politics.

keep playing the righteous gmae whilst they do what clearly they do.

has nothing todo with right wrong-that is for fools.

we are at the point of opting out and what is best for your

own survival. agreed satosh-clearly you see beyond the crap and cut

to the outcome. fight or flight, only two options while opting out(buying time to prepare for the inevitable)...

centerline's picture

DARPA is working feverishly on this.

alien-IQ's picture

Their perceived superiority is measured by the number of people they rule/control/enslave/destroy.

No robot will ever replace that. If that were the case, there would never be any rapes due to the availability of mechanical vaginas.

El Vaquero's picture

All that automation takes energy, and energy in usable forms is getting harder to extract.  Physics > oligarchical desires. 

Baldrick's picture

and that is why automation does not matter. the energy deficit will become VERY noticible before 2016.

Dr. Engali's picture

When you have a few billion fewer people suddenly the energy issue solves itself.

El Vaquero's picture

EROEI is going down.  It takes more energy to extract usable energy than it did even a couple of decades ago, and that trend is not getting any better.  A few billion fewer only extends things for a time, and that's assuming that you didn't kill too many of those who extract the energy.  What is coming will have an adverse effect on everybody, and the oligarchs are no exception to this because it is not they who are in charge.  Mother Nature is. 

Flakmeister's picture

The billion people you have to get rid of are oil consumers...

Not just any billion...

prains's picture

Love the new Cenovus Ad Campaign.... they're going with the slogan


"Oil will keep people, products and the global economy moving forward.....(wait for it).......for decades to come"


WTF!! are you kidding me??? They're markieting oil prodution now in the timeframe of decades like that's something to be proud of and so far reaching that there's nothng to worry about. Ho Lee Fuk just rolled over in his grave.


I don't know how big the stupid stick has to get before people reverse engineer themselves to un-fucking-stupid but at this point the stick needs a crane and at least a decade of fuel. Here's their Ad.....



douche bags 

satoshi101's picture

Well lets compare rand, ... the USA to china

I have traveled all over china, and I live here,

In no place in CHINA do you have METH villages, or dog boning like in the USA, I mean in the USA places like San Diego have gone FULL METH, and place like Tacoma have gone to the dogs.

Post american's are not happy, they have terrible commutes in their shitty car's sitting on freeways, ... spend all their money on 'insurance', spend all their time reporting to IRS and have the most in prison.

Then go to rural china, where most people live, they farm, they fuck, they let the children roam the village as infants, there is no glass or nails anywhere on the ground, nobody ever gets hurt. There is no insurnace, no commutes not misery, and no drug use,

I go back to anywhere Rural america, and I just see 3-4 generation of WELFARE, its terrible ugly

In CHINA there is NO welfare, parents take care of kids, and kids take care of parents. That right there is a BIG difference between USA and CHINA ( or anywher in asia ).

The USA model is not happy, the people are ugly, and fat and miserable, the children are drugged watching TV, in asia the children run around all day smiling and happy.

I might add too, if a person was ever to hurt a child in any way that man would be DEAD and quick in asia, ... familys don't put up with that shit, and the guy would be fed to the pig's and the cops would never even hear about it, ...

In the USA people are so afraid of BAD that children can't even play anymore cuz the system coddles perverts, ...

So when you talk about the MODEL, of PTB want america to be like ASIA, no I don't think so, because the USA model has never been about love, or family, or village, ...

The USA model was always a prison, it was always plantation owner, house-worker, and field-worker. USA was always about toil.

I remember when I first came to ASIA I marveled how most people spent the day just playing checkers with rocks in the dirt all day, ... totally happy alcohol free companionship.

Never see a fucking cop, never.


In the city's of ASIA people have to work, to pay the rent, ...so there is no time to relax, but its fairly much the same, extended familys live in a flat, and take care of the kids.


There are some VERY deep difference between asia and usa, and nobody can ever teach a hair-lip america, to be an asia, ... just like you cannot take a IQ-60 guy and make him IQ-148, ... you can't make  a silk purse out of a BIT-TURD.


LetThemEatRand's picture

"Never see a fucking cop, never"

It's the smog.  And it's hard to find a cop inside a worker dorm.  And if the people speak out they are sent to prison camp.  And their internet is strictly controlled and the people are okay with that because they are brainwashed worker bees.  But preach on of the benefits of living in a top driven pure fascist state.

satoshi101's picture

I spent less than 10 words talking about 'city life' and 1000 words village life, yet you go right to ugly city, sure beijing, but then you have shitty city's in all of the USA, who would live there?

China and ASIA are HUGE places full of paradise's

The USA is the PURE fascist Police State, make no fucking mistake, I can go for weeks and never see a cop, nobody wants to see a cop, nobody calls the cop,

Why do you spout shit from a 1950's anti-china shit? DO you really believe that shit? or is it just /sarc? CHINA is 100% pure capitalism, and the USA is 100% pure orwellian-socialism.


Smog? Let's remember the USA exported all its jobs to CHINA, and thus SMOG, but why would anyone choose to live in a chinese or a usa shit-hole?


The world is FULL of good places, get out and travel folks and find the good place for you and your loved ones, cuz 1938 USA hillary-2016 is coming soon, and soon the world will not accept ameriKKKan refugees.


Future Jim's picture

The Chinese people have been disarmed, and the rural Chinese consume little non-renewable resources, so for now, they are currently allowed to live - until TPTB decide otherwise.

The police state in America is more prominent because it will have to disarm the American people soon, so that America can be a paradise like China. 

satoshi101's picture

I have already said this is NOT possible.

China the children stay with and take care of parents forever, there is no WELFARE in china, take your fucking american centric knowledge and go fuck your self with a rusty railroad tie.

I mean come on, no fucking comparison to a asian family, and there tight bonds and to a white red-neck poverty METH family.

The ASIANS work, they save, they all have gold drug use is non-existant.

Fuck the notion of 'GUN' my fucking god, ... some dickhead has a GUN so fucking what?

Now you got me pissed Jeff Cooper used to say "Owning a gun doesn't make you a shooter anymore than owning a guitar makes you a musician", it takes years of training to be a musician, and it takes 5+ years of special force training to make a MAN.

None of you are MEN. I have trained my entire life. Most men in CHINA can fight, most 8 year old boys can kill most 25 year old white guys that come over here to train. Don't tell me about freedom and your guns, ... GUNS aren't worth shit.

Here this if your GUNS meant something the USA wouldn't be already a boiled frog some 40 years ago. The GUNS meant shit yesterday and they'll mean shit tomorrow.

A man is a man with his hands, with a knife, with bow&arrow, with making bombs from chemicals, a GUN is just one tool of 1,000's.

Jeff is RIGHT most americans just own a guitar, but don't know fuck about music,... ditto for GUN, most americans can't hit the side of barn, let alone play a sniper-rifle like a fiddle in all conditions out 500 yards,... takes year of perfect training to teach a man to handle a gun, in the USA what you have is morons OWNING guns doesn't mean shit.




satoshi101's picture

The USA will never become a 'paradise' post hillary gun grab, it will be mass genocide. COMPECHE?

The rural/urban are the new INJUNS in the USA, ... why the hell do you think they made OBAMA  prez, cuz the plan all along was to take the white red-neck out first, then the others will be easy.


Chinese culture TAOISM is not about the gubmint FUCKING the people, but USA going back to 1776 is about GUBMINT fucking the people. You cannot compare CHINESE CULTURE TO USA HOMOCIDE.

TheReplacement's picture

It sucks being told how much your country sucks, especially from a bitcoiner.  satoshi101 is right on some things. 

I disagree in that I believe China is a tyrannical state too.  They have just found a way to mask it or soften the edges.  The PBOC can pick winners and losers at a whim.  That right there disqualifies them.  We all have read about the massive corruption at the top of the nation's leadership.  China is not something to emulate.  As soon as you get a madman in charge you will understand why.

Both peoples have a lot of work in front of them.

prains's picture

Agree with you Rep, Satoshi and Rand both make valid points but the arguements on both sides quickly devolve into the Red Team Blue Team rhetoric. The jist of both arguements is that people working in communities work better together than governments running communities. Each country have a slight variation on the theme and have to hide or mask their flaws in different ways. Maybe the answer lies for both countries in smaller community based democracies where the ruling Oligarchs get fed to all these pigs Satoshi keeps talking about. Just a thought....

satoshi101's picture

RED&BLUE team are in your mind, there is only TEAM HILLARY/obama/bush/clinton... forever.

ZH is team rush limbaugh, but he's still msm

but limbaugh and HUFF are all on the same team.

There is only one team,

Anybody that still thinks that there is ONLY NAZI in the usa is an ostriche

Huff exists to keep morons on left distracted

shit like zh exists to keep morons on right distracted,

but the PTB is where you need to turn your eye

prains's picture

yu no read so good......