Reality-Optional Economics: Cockamamie Stories Infecting the Body Politic

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by James H. Kunstler via Peak Prosperity,

The total tonnage of economic malarkey being shoveled over the American public these days would make the late Dr. Joseph Goebbels (Nazi Minister of “Public Enlightenment and Propaganda”) turn green in his grave with envy. It’s a staggering phenomenon because little about it is conspiratorial; rather, it’s the consensual expression of a public that wants desperately to believe things that are untrue, and an economic leadership equally credulous, unmanned, and avid to furnish the necessary narratives that might preserve their jobs and perqs.

By “economic leadership” I mean the consortium of business executives, government officials, academic economists, and media disseminators -- and even some bloggers and financial advisers. Some of the latter may be “talking their book,” since they may manage other people’s money and need those other people to believe in the soundness of markets, true or not. And some of the former may be motivated by the fear that even a little erosion of trust in the system could lead to a collapse of the system basted together by little more than blind faith in currencies and dubious “innovative” instruments. But most of these characters are mainly just flat-out delusional.

Recently, John Mauldin predicted (on a recent Financial Sense podcast) that “…pretty soon we’re gonna be energy independent… a net energy exporter in the next three, four years.” This meme has been all over the web and the mainstream media since about 2011, emitted by commentators who haven’t noticed either the steep production declines in shale oil and gas wells or the supernatural flows of junk-derived capital for a drilling frenzy that distracts observers from the financial incongruities of the entire shale energy model (in which the word “profit” is absent).

Anyway, a week after Mauldin’s prediction, the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) published a 96% knocked-down revised estimate of recoverable oil from the Monterey/Santos shale formation, going from about 15.4 billion barrels to about 600 million (or about 30 days of US supply). That 15.4 billion represented about 64% of the EIA’s total for all the nation’s shale oil reserves, so one might expect at least a shock to the system of junk financing.

On the gas side, you have the stark fact that the first three big shale gas “plays” of the shale era (the Barnett, the Haynesville, and the Fayetteville) are now in decline or flat, leaving the Marcellus and Eagle Ford. What makes anyone think that the steep decline rates in the early plays won’t lead to the same fate for these two plays? (Answer: wishful thinking.) The Monterey shale play was going to gin up 2.8 million new jobs and boost California’s tax haul by about $25 billion. As Jim Hansen, publisher of The Master Resource Report pointed out:

Probably the most important lesson from this is that many of the distinctions between resources, reserves, technically recoverable reserves and so on are lost on the mass media, the public and most importantly government leadership. Headline numbers like 15.4 billion barrels and 2.8 million jobs are what set the agenda. Reality is much more nuanced, complicated and sometimes grossly different.

Yet there remains a number of other prominent cheerleaders of the “shale miracle.” The magisterial George Friedman of the geopolitical website, came on David McAlvaney’s weekly podcast touting the prospects of massive gas exports to Europe and Asia. Friedman characterized it as:

“…a technological revolution as dramatic as Silicon Valley was in introducing the microchip. All the assumptions about energy in the world have been turned on their heads. The United States is now a major producer. The problem is logistic. How do you get it from here to there.”

This is worse than a simplistic view of the situation. The shale gas industry has never been profitable at US prices seen since production ramped up bigtime around 2007. Currently it’s at $4.60/mmbtu, still well under an economically rational level, though it swooned near a miserable $2 just two years ago. So the export idea is that US can build out a massive new infrastructure of gas pipeline terminals to liquefy the gas and a fleet of expensive liquid gas tankers in order to ship gas to Europe and Asia, where demand has exploded, and the price is as high as $15/mmbtu. Okay, when and if the US has the ability to export all this gas (big if, considering the needed cap-ex), what happens to American customers who find themselves competing for this commodity with five billion Asians and Europeans? Do they just freeze in the dark?  Mr. Friedman apparently failed to notice the hemorrhaging of jobs and incomes among the disintegrating American middle class. I wonder if he thinks they can afford to run their furnaces at $15/mmbtu.           

Willful misunderstanding of the shale gas situation is just one of many examples of thought failure among the class of Americans who even pretend to think for a living. It cannot be due to a sheer lack of brain power (though who can say what the aggregate effect of food additives, off-gassing carpets, and other chemical insults might have had on recent American generations). We apparently just don’t like reality and seem to think we can turn it off, or switch to another channel or web address for a better buzz. This is surely true of the investing sector of the public, some of whom still read and occasionally experience activity that resembles thinking. But they switch the channel away from reality to Fox, Bloomberg, and CNBC for the excellent reason that their good fortune in rising rigged markets makes them feel immune from danger. The state and the central bank have declared unconditional ZIRP and QE, and the portfolios resound with the ka-ching of dividends and capital gains, so why worry… be happy!

It’s a tragic fact of history that sometimes societies lose their bearings. They make terrible choices and bad things happen. It doesn’t have to take the form of a conspiracy, but rather a consensus -- that is, a simple agreement between people in charge (and the public subject to their rule) about where that society will direct its priorities and make its investments. Proof of this was the behavior of national leaders and the public in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash. The system was hugely burdened by the debris of loans gone bad, a lot of it packaged into fraudulent bonds. The biggest banks in the nation were implicated in the creation of these frauds and left holding a lot of their own bad paper when the music stopped. Clearing the debris would have restored structural integrity to the banking system. Prosecuting financial criminals in the executive suites of the banks would have disincentivized racketeering and control fraud.

American leadership allowed neither restructuring or prosecution. Banks (except for Lehman Brothers, the unloved “fall guy”) were not only prevented from failing, they were stuffed with taxpayer bailout money, plugged into a new Federal Reserve carry-trade racket (ZIRP), given a green light on unlimited accounting fraud (FASB 157), and allowed to continue their old rackets in new ways, e.g. the new bundled rental payment bonds, “covenant-lite” junk bonds,  and new iterations of shady collateralized loan obligations. And, of course, not one bank executive was prosecuted (not to say jailed) for criminal shenanigans that cost the US economy $22 trillion according to the US General Accounting Office.

The public went along with all this to the degree that few of their political representatives were turned out of office, nor was any effective political resistance mounted besides two movements that proved to be weak and ineffectual: Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party. (David Brat, who unseated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the recent Virginia primary, tried and failed to get backing from the Tea Party.)  President Obama, who first campaigned on “hope and change” in the very moment when Wall Street blew itself up, and did absolutely nothing to change the racket-riddled banking system afterward, was rewarded with re-election in 2012. The obvious conclusion is that America, from top to bottom, didn’t want to restructure anything about our national life — and still doesn’t. It wants to stay stuck where it is in a very perilous moment of history, and it has enlisted a laundry list of fallacious beliefs to support its “do nothing” spirit.

Here’s a roundup of the other items from the roster of delusions currently making the rounds.

  • We’ve entered a “manufacturing renaissance.”
  • The “Central Corridor” of the USA, running from Texas to Minnesota, will soon turn into a dynamic industrial powerhouse.
  • A revolution in higher education is underway that will produce a generation of super geniuses.
  • The US financial markets will dominate the world indefinitely.
  • Accelerating advancements in technology will ring in a new golden age of comfort, leisure, and security.
  • The USA has unmatched exceptional entrepreneurial spirit.

In Part 2: On The Fast Track To Crisis, we explore why each of these notions is untrue. Subscribing to them will leave us at least disappointed and at most woefully unprepared for the circumstances in store for our country.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report. (Free executive summary. Enrollment required for full access)


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Gringo Viejo's picture

Energy indepedence?
Maybe when the first air powered car rolls off the assembly line. Or maybe powered by hubris. God knows there's no shortage of that.

Cattender's picture

Look People we are in the midst of a HUGE Economic Recovery right now. anything Else anyone says is nothing more than a Conspiracy theory!

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Kuntsler may very well be right, particularly his sharp observations on the decline of American culture.  And, there really is one huge cognitive dissonance out in our fair land...  

But let's look at all of the alternatives:

USA has *some* oil, gas and coal.  We are pretty well set-up with water.  And in general our natural resource situation is not bad.  Huge debts and a lot of clueless people.  Relatively free, .gov and banksters lie & steal.

Brazil has little oil, lots of water, lots of farmland.  Huge corruption.  Unattractive culture for investment,  Relatively free, but even more Socialist than USA.  .gov and banksters lie & steal.

Russia has LOTS of oil and many other resources.  Huge corruption, BAD demographics.  Kind-of free but very corrupt.  .gov is too stern against political opponents.  Banksters and oligarchs lie & steal.  Cold in the winter.

India has little oil, few resources, not much water but lots of people.  Huge corruption, Socialist ideas prediminate.  Inefficient.  Worst infrastructure of the lot.

China has lots of people, not much energy water, or other resources.  Corrupt Communist dictatorship.  Environmental catastrophes and bad demographics.  Huge corruption at all levels of governement and private sector, cronyism.  BIG debts.

Europe has little oil, and is not well endowed with other resources.  Corruption and Socialism on the rise, but Europeans are free (a big plus).  Weak military and dependent on Russia's good graces (yow...).  Demographic problems, Muslim immigrants.  Debt.

So, pick 'em...

DoChenRollingBearing's picture


I forgot Japan...

Japan has lots of people on not much land.  Few resources, lots of debt.  They also have Fukushima.  Their culture encourages hard work (a big plus).  They do not much welcome outsiders (nets out to a negative IMO).

ZerOhead's picture

USA > lots of coal and lots of farmland. Unfortunately also lots of idiots like Obama, Clintons, Bush etc etc...


NUMBER ONE IN GLOBAL COAL DEPOSITS (Not by a small amount either)




Also lots more potential farmland. Just add water and energy from coal to pump it and it makes it's own sauce.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture



Well, yes and yes to your Number Ones.  I was trying to keep my comment relatively short, that means over-generalizing and/or leaving things out.

There are idiots like Obamas and Bushes everywhere.

(Although I did not like either Clinton, I would not call them idiots)


Kuntsler may be right about energy though ("we're all going to die!!!").  I have not studied the issue enough to rebut him on oil & gas.

Yellowhoard's picture

Bush, Obama and Clinton's aren't idiots.

They are systematically destroying America so we can be rolled into the new international order as the serfs that they believe we are.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Since I do not know them personally, I will accept what you have to say.

+ 1  Smile.  :p

bunzbunzbunz's picture

The dollar is getting replaced by bitcoin. Get some free at

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

I'll just buy mine, fair and square.

H/T and shout out to B.I. !!

ISEEIT's picture

"Bush, Obama and Clinton's aren't idiots."

So you forgot a 'bush' but your point is actually somewhat valid. These sick fucks who have been 'governing' us are in on the plan.

'America' as in all of North America is a fat 'steal' for the criminal sociopaths posing as 'government'.

We all know this.

It's clearly true. We are being systematically raped by the exact same sorts of monstrous criminal gangs that have ALWAYS functioned as a parasite class pitted against humanity.


The criminal gang is GOVERNMENT.......


Blame the various sociopaths they sleep with all day long but the FACT is GOVERNMENT is the linchpin of all that infects us.


The 'progressive' left (Fucking statist tool morons) blame 'capitalism'...Shit, they blame ANYTHING other than Daddy who ALWAYS get's his but these poor little abused bitches simply refuse to acknowledge that the 'pimp' is why they cry themselves to sleep at night with a bloody ass and two black eyes.

disabledvet's picture


Actually Goebells had better data. Just Google "Baltic Germans."

Some of those families had been there for 800 years.

Sorry but...that shit never dies. The Capital will always be Berlin.

CCanuck's picture

Dochen I have to -1 for corruption in the US???.....fuck the United States leads the world in corruption at this point...everyone at everylevel is doing it....its whats for dinner in the NAU.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

As I mentioned just above, I had to over-generalize and leave items out to save space.  You are quite right about bankster corruption in the USA.  I DID mention that our .gov and banksters lie & steal, please look again.  (Nor is Canada free of that, when I was in Montreal I listened to their radio and learned something).

I would NOT argue that the USA leads the world in corruption though.  I have some limited experience with corruption in some foreign lands, and IMO it is worse in various other places.  "Been there, done that."

CCanuck's picture

I don't believe you were attempting to exclude, I just found it curious that you listed corruption for all but USA...kind of cog-disish was my point....I agree Canada is the worst for cog-dis corruption...

Just a side note....get used to NAU, no more Canada, USA, Mexico...they will only be applied to ceremonial patriotic celebrations used to make the masses feel good about where they "contribute from"

+1 Thanks for responding.


BuddyEffed's picture

Just thought I'd get this in somewhere, so here.

Anybody see the news about a possible new canal to compete with the Panama Canal?

With the Baltic Dry Index showing a lot of weakness, what are the chances a new canal could be malinvestment?

disabledvet's picture

HUGE project. (Originally American. "The first tycoon" Cornelius Vanderbilt. There are very serious environmental considerations.

If taken into account...HUGELY expensive.

Zog the Bastiat's picture

Not any huger of a project than the Panama Canal was.

And it gives China a massive trading advantage over the US.

It'll happen.

Escrava Isaura's picture



Plenty of electricity, water, subtropical weather, Inland [isolated].

By the way, well done list.  And agree on Brazil. I was born there. And the Brazilian workers do have more power than US workers. Not that I need to remind you, everybody must vote in Brazil.


Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

Anyone who is not on that list for starters.

Paraguay is an option and oddly enough or maybe not Belize aka the home of CYNK Technologies the little engine with no assets that could have a market cap of over 3 billion.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture



Escrava Isaura

I left out developing countries (other than the BRICs) because those would strictly be "Plan B" for us.  And a more fair comparison of the USA's plusses and minuses would be with the other LARGE countries.

Paraguay slipped under my radar until one of my blog readers brought it to my attention.  My wife and I honeymooned there in 1985, and it was a very slow place.  Apparently it is moving along rather nicely now.  My reader's family is thinking of moving there, and they have done their homework.

Peru is our Plan B.  Mi esposa es peruana, and our company is located there, so we have an "infrastructure" all set up for us if it comes to that.

Cathartes Aura's picture

just parkin' these links here, as additional information. . .

Now where do Nazis and other war criminals go when they have destroyed much of civilization? How about Paraguay or Argentina? Heh. Well, guess what? The Bushes are buying up huge hunks of Paraguauy!

Cheney's Paraguay Caper Is Intended

The US Military Descends on Paraguay

just a regular home away from home, eh.

US - making the world just that little bit safer for war criminals, globally. . .

WillyGroper's picture

CA, I recall reading a while back that the usmil was installing micro bases (pods/lotus') all over SA. 

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

DCRB noted:

USA has *some* oil, gas and coal.  We are pretty well set-up with water.  And in general our natural resource situation is not bad.  Huge debts and a lot of clueless people.  Relatively free, .gov and banksters lie & steal.


Russia has LOTS of oil and many other resources.  Huge corruption, BAD demographics.  Kind-of free but very corrupt.  .gov is too stern against political opponents.  Banksters and oligarchs lie & steal.  Cold in the winter.

So basically they're not too different, aside from Russia having a lot more oil and gas and the US having a lot more coal and debt. That and Russia allowing political opponents actually to exist. And the US monitoring all citizen activity with a computerized SuperStasi. And the US MSM propaganda machine, with a smothering presence delivering 'both' sides of the 'important' issues with the synchronization of a precision lab instrument.

Yep, aside from those things, I'd have to agree with you that they're very similar.

In TFA, JHK noted:

It’s a tragic fact of history that sometimes societies lose their bearings.

When it comes to bearings, all I know is that Timken doesn't employ nearly as many people as they did forty years ago, and the people out in Canton probably consider that a tragic fact. For other matters regarding bearings, I must defer to the expertise of DCRB.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Fourth, I will leave value-comparisons of Russia and the USA out of this comment (if I had actually had experience in/with Russia, then I would argue on...), and try to restrain myself to commenting on bearings & Timken.

Other than agreeing with you on the precision of our MSM propaganda machine, you are right (as is typical for you).  Seems they have read Bernays.


-- We do not buy Timken, they will not sell to us!  They have their four distributors in Peru, and that is that, all they want.

-- Timken has factories in Poland, France, China, Brazil, the UK, and probably other countries.  Timken is also (AFAIK) trying hard to automate their plants as much as possible (see S. Korean bearing plants).  As an aside, Timken buys some of their bearings from Koyo (Japan) and Iljin (S. Korea).  There are MANY factors in play re unemployed USWs at old Timken plants in Canton and elsewhere.

-- Timken will not sell to our PERUVIAN company, well then, we will dance with those who do (Korea, Japan and China).  Since Timken is so expensive, their market share in automotive aftermarket is very low, and since automotive is our niche, that may be just as well (smile)!


TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

I just knew I could count on your bearing expertise.

+1 for not losing your bearings.  ;)

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

+ 1  


I always am challenged when you call me out.  It helps me review my "ass-u-me"-ptions.  But, when I see ol' Shemp I always wonder "Oh, man, what the hell is he going to say to me now...?"

And you proved not only advanced argumentative skill but a fine sense of humor as half of the Fourth/akak Tag Team taking on Americanist AnAn, LOL...

Pumpkin's picture


Horse shit, bull shit, full of shit, knee deep fucking shit... maybe, but most certainly not Cockamamie.

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

I also love how he complains that despite not doing anything positive, Americans rewarded Obama with a second term in 2012. Thats pretty hysterical coming from knustler, who is a self professed two time Obama voter who helped get him that second term.

TeamDepends's picture

Goebbels writes Barry's scripts from the grave.  After all, they were both socialists.

autofixer's picture

And Goebbels learned propaganda from Bernays, an American.

TeamDepends's picture

Yes, Bernays was a cocksucking insider.  None of that matters now.  Prepare for impact.

disabledvet's picture

Germany at least had a reason (or reasons.)

How is this to be explained to Vox Populii so soon after Vietnam?

Treason Season's picture

Technically Bernays was a US citizen but he was born and bred in Ashkenazi Vienna.

Escrava Isaura's picture

TeamDepends... "both socialists."

[The "liberal media"] love to be denounced from the right, and the right loves to denounce them, because that makes them look like courageous defenders of freedom and independence while, in fact, they are imposing all of the presuppositions of the propaganda system -- Noam Chomsky

TeamDepends's picture

So tired....  Somebody help us out here.  Okay, fine.  There's not a dime's worth of difference between socialism and fascism.  But what we have now is socialism/globalism.  Fascism depends on "nationalism", which they are stomping on with their boots....

knukles's picture

"Inside of every Vietanmese is an American trying to get out"

DoChenRollingBearing's picture




I hear you.  In practical terms you are right.  For me, any .gov trying to tell me what to do ("for the good of...") is Socialist, Fascist, Communist, NAZI, you name it.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Don't you be giving our Fearless Dear Leader any ideas now...

knukles's picture

Sure, NWO and all that crap


Earth, Earth, Earth
Earth, Earth, Earth

calling project blue beam, please display your image on the nearest sky, calling project blue beam

logicalman's picture

Anarchism is the only way forward for humanity.

No 'leaders' no war


Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

Just started lew rockwells new book on the subject. Interesting read

Cathartes Aura's picture

and true anarchy starts from within

each individual.

no need to wait for the group. . .

Escrava Isaura's picture

TeamDepends.... Somebody help us out here

Guys, get this over your heads (and a dictionary):

Liberals are NOT socialists. They can’t, Period!

Liberals are linked to welfare state:

Welfare State: Concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens.

Socialist Nations: Workers through cooperatives own all industry. Public services may be commonly or state owned, such as healthcare and education.

Escrava Isaura's picture

By the way:

Fascism: heavily on patriotism and national identity. It exalts nation and race above the individual and stands for severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

TeamDepends's picture

Um, yeah.  They are killing patriotism and replacing it with:  You like ISIS right, because if not we keeeeeeeeeellllll you!!!!!!!








disabledvet's picture

How are Americans being victimized?

We have all the oil we'll ever need. Coal prices have collapsed. We have Elon Musk and Tesla.

This looks like Wall Street are the terrorists now "and Gitmo is for Americans."

"Just sayin" of course. Sure doesn't look good if you're trying to spin this. "Vote for me and your death will be quick and painless"?