We've Entered An Era Of Rising Instability And Uncertainty

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

And there you have our future, visible in the 13th, 16th and 18th century price-revolution waves which preceded ours.

That we have entered an era of rising instability and uncertainty is self-evident. There will always be areas of instability in any era, but instability and uncertainty are now the norm globally.

There is a template for global instability, one that has been repeated throughout history. Historian David Hackett Fischer described the dynamics that generate periods of rising instability in his book The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History (sent to me a number of years ago by correspondent Cheryl A.)

In Fischer's well-documented view, there is a grand cycle of prices and wages which turn on the simple but profound law of supply and demand; all else is detail.

As a people prosper and multiply, the demand for goods like food and energy outstrips supply, causing eras of rising prices. Long periods of stable prices (supply increases along with demand) beget rising wages and widespread prosperity. Once population and financial demand outstrip supply of food and energy--a situation often triggered by a series of catastrophically poor harvests--then the stability decays into instability as shortages develop and prices spike.

These junctures of great poverty, insecurity and unrest set the stage for wars, revolutions and pandemics.

It is remarkable that the very conditions so troubling us now were also present in the price rises of the 13th, 16th and 18th centuries. Unfortunately, those cycles did not have Disney endings: the turmoil of the 13th century brought war and a series of plagues which killed 40% of Europe's population; the 16th century's era of rising prices tilled fertile ground for war, and the 18th century's violent revolutions and resultant wars can be traced directly to the unrest caused by spiking prices.

(The very day that prices for bread reached their peak in Paris, an angry mob tore down the Bastille prison, launching the French Revolution.)

After a gloriously long run of stable prices in the 19th century--prices were essentially unchanged in Britain between 1820 and 1900--The 20th century was one of steadily increasing prices. Fischer takes great pains to demolish the ideologically appealing notion that all inflation is monetary; the supply of money (gold and silver) rose spectacularly in the 19th century but prices barely budged. In a similar fashion, eras of rising prices have seen stable money supplies.

Monetary inflation can lead to hyper-inflation, of course, but there are always mitigating factors in those circumstances. The long wave is not one of hyper-inflation but of supply and demand imbalances undoing the social order.

Americans are inherently suspicious of anything which seems to threaten constraint of the American Dream; thus it is not surprising that cycles of history are largely unknown in the U.S. As Fischer explains:

This collective amnesia is partly the consequence of an attitude widely shared among decision-makers in America, that history is more or less irrelevant to the urgent problems before them.

Fischer notes that he describes not cycles but waves, which are more variable and less predictable. (Surfers know to count waves, as they tend to arrive in sets.)

In response to this great rise in prices of essentials, both commoners and governments debased the currency. In their day, this meant shaving the edges of coins, or debasing new coins with non-precious metals. The debasement was an attempt to increase money to counteract the rise in prices, but it failed (of course). Every few decades, a new undebased coinage was released, and then the cycle of debasement began anew.

Just as insidiously, wages fell:

But as inflation continued in the mid-13th century, money wages began to lag behind. By the late 13th and early 14th centuries real wages were dropping at a rapid rate.

This growing gap between returns to labor and capital was typical of price-revolutions in modern history. So also was its social result: a rapid growth of inequality that appeared in the late stages of every long inflation.

And what happened to government expenditures? It's deja vu all over again--deficits:

Yet another set of cultural responses to inflation created disparities of a different kind: fiscal imbalances between public income and expenditures. Governments fell deep into debt during the middle and later years of the 13th century.

Oh, and crime and illegitimacy also rose. Fischer summarizes the end-game of the price-rise wave thusly:

In the late 13th century, the medieval price-revolution entered another stage, marked by growing instability. Prices rose and fell in wild swings of increasing amplitude. Inequality increased at a rapid rate. Public deficits surged ever higher. The economy of Western Europe became dangerously vulnerable to stresses it might have managed more easily in other eras.

And there you have our future, visible in the 13th, 16th and 18th century price-revolution waves which preceded ours. It is hubris in the extreme to think we have somehow morphed into some new kind of humanity far different from those people who tore down the Bastille in a great frustrated rage at prices for energy and bread they could no longer afford.

It is foolish to blame "speculators" for the rise in food and energy, when the human population has doubled in 40 years and the consumption of energy and food has exploded as a result.

So where does this leave us? Based on the history so painstakingly assembled by Fischer, we can anticipate:

  • Ever higher prices for what I call the FEW Essentials: food, energy and water.
  • Ever larger government deficits which end in bankruptcy/repudiation of debts/new issue of currency.
  • Rising property/violent crime and illegitimacy.
  • Rising interest rates (currently considered "impossible").
  • Rising income inequality in favor of capital over labor.
  • Continued debasement of the currency.
  • Rising volatility of prices.
  • Rising political unrest and turmoil (see "Revolution").

With this in hand, we can practically write the headlines for 2017-2025 in advance.


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hedgeless_horseman's picture

My son and I were talking about this very thing earlier today.

Technology means...

Less farming.

Less working. 


More fighting.

More fucking.

More eating.

More playing. 

More drinking, smoking, snorting, shooting, and popping.


Manthong's picture

Don't neglect the joyous intercourse with Pokemon Go.


“Era of Rising Instability And Uncertainty”

Sounds like a bullish-t wall of worry to me.


hedgeless_horseman's picture


Idiocracy is a documentary.

halfasleep's picture

Methinks most of our problem is that >64 is considered too old to work and <15 too young, as illustrated by the illustrations (a 65yo with a cane? 15 with a pacifier? ok, nm..)

saltedGold's picture

I read an old book about coppersmithing.  Part of the book covered what is was like to work in the copper shop making and fixing copper goods.  A lot of dads were taking their 8 and 9 year old sons to work with them in the shop.  Long hours, 6 days a week and it was all hard, physical work. I wouldn't wish that on any kid, but damn if I can't find someone under the age of 30 to help pull weeds around the house.

I also have several relatives in their 70s who still work.

ersatz007's picture

Idiocracy is a documentary.

As is its predecessor, the 1985 movie "Brazil".

edotabin's picture

I downloaded it to see if I could relate. I caught 1 pokeman and deleted the moronic game.

Dubaibanker's picture

Jobs are the means of transmitting money through any economic system (capitalist, socialist or dictatorships etc). Once you have less jobs, you create more chaos.

Corporations, originally, were created with a social aspect in mind. It morphed into CSR somewhere in the 1990's.

Once the money finished and debt took over, globalization was created to push the can down the road. It had benefits in EM of creating more jobs but not any more since cost advantage is diminishing and imports are dwindling (due to lack of demand).

Now, the entire world is swimming in debt, no one is importing, no one is exporting as much as they did at the peak in the last few years. Last year in 2015 global trade dropped a massive 13% from USD 19 trillion to USD 16.53 trillion.

Globaization is now deglobalization, and since there are no jobs anywhere except in China, Iran, Philippines and somewhat in Russia and Oman, the growth in this planet has become "negative growth" a new euphemism for decline! Media whores call it "restructuring" not a default anf they call it "negative growth" not a decline! Assholes!

We have shortage of goods due to lack of demand not due to lack of supply.

People (like in Venezuela or Zimbabwe) or those without money CANNOT eat more or FUCK more or PLAY more.

People have nothing but stress and everyone everywhere is fighting a losing battle. Most don't feel it because the avalanche has just started to fall from the top. Most stress is at the top which will continue to lead to more job losses and the "trickle down" of stress on the poor and middle classes in the months ahead.

The Govts do not wish to address the basics and hence we see shootings, attacks, suicides everywhere literally at will and random.

Demand will continue to collapse and more chaos will ensue.

We have nothing to blame but over population. Debt is a consequence of over population. As much as lack of jobs because we have low demand and high supply of labour - over population (which was not the case 50 years ago because we were almost half of today's population then).

It is like rats infesting a rice storage facility. After a point, they just takeover and everything goes under! Something like the NY rats of the 80's! And then the purge begins!

It is sad but a reality and no Govt can do much unless they can create jobs......

Swimforever's picture

Very well said. The only good solution I can think of is the UBI Universal Basic Income

ACES FULL's picture

Did you forget sarc tag or do you think making more money out of thin air will fix these problems?

Baa baa's picture

I don't see the subject too much but you are correct in your assertion that illegal drug use is rampant and I mean everywhere. It's the poor mooks that get busted and pay the state until the die but it must be legalized before it can be addressed. Remove the profit motive, remove the crime and then treat 'em.

Wonder how many times history must repeat itself?

ACES FULL's picture

We are in for a world of pain and most have not even thought about trying to prepare for it.

FrankDrakman's picture

Would you prefer that 95% of the population worked in agriculture, as was the norm before 1800? That most people live on a subsistence diet? That a year's worth of effort and toil can be wiped out by a late September hail storm? 

Yes, and "duh", modern technology brings new problems. However, it also brought solutions that have made our world better and brighter than ever before. More people live lives of health and relative prosperity now than AT ANY TIME IN THE PLANET'S HISTORY. Is there something wrong with this?

Bill of Rights's picture

Pokezombies to many to list


NoDebt's picture

"We've Entered An Era Of Rising Instability And Uncertainty"

Really?  Constantly rising S&P no matter what the news, corporate performance or economic conditions says otherwise.

skbull44's picture

Infinite growth on a finite planet, what could possibly go wrong?


root superuser's picture

Malthusian theory is real after all. Anyone pretending that current world crisis isnt a result of battle for scarce resources is fooling themselves.

withglee's picture

You are fooling "yourself". Give even one instance where a resource is not in more abundant supply (and excess over demand) than it was in the previous 500 years. The low fruit has been picked but we have become very adept at reaching the hard to pick fruit.

Our real problem is efficiency. We have become so efficient most of us don't have to work at all. At the limit, nobody has to work ... machines (robots) do everything.

But there's a problem! Working is how we keep score (i.e. allocate the fruits of labor). When nobody has to work, how do you do that?

Swimforever's picture

AGREED. The only good solution I can think of is the UBI Universal Basic Income

any_mouse's picture


Wage fixing. Money for nothing.

Price fixing due to frozen wages.

Capital for infrastructure comes from where?


Humanity has tried Reformation, Renaissance, Revolution. Time for Renewal. Neutron nuke it from orbit.


Swimforever's picture

AGREED. The only good solution I can think of is the UBI Universal Basic Income

withglee's picture

How much thought have you given to it? To me, that's no solution at all. Giving everyone the same score does not solve a score keeping problem

any_mouse's picture

We are all special snowflakes! Everyone is a winner!

UBI is a participation trophy.

Why not make everything free and legal?

Proposing UBI is the same as Bern Bots saying Bernie was going to make college free. Magic wand waved, it's free!


withglee's picture


Why not make everything free and legal?

We need to first invent a pill that nulls out out fundamental animal instincts. In the olden days they made eunuchs.

Your comments provide my only motivation for exploration of the universe. We need many inhabitable planets for the various degrees of cluelessness that abound.

Umh's picture

Go ahead and drowned already.

withglee's picture

the 18th century's violent revolutions and resultant wars can be traced directly to the unrest caused by spiking prices.

Prices tell you nothing without knowing how the Medium of Exchange process works.

For excample, right now we have an MOE manager doing things that would create enormous inflation (and related price increase illusions). Their tool is principally counterfeiting ... they call it quantitative easing.

On top of that, they are cooking the books. They have made promises to care and feed people in their old age and infirm condition in exchange for taking a portion (now over 50%) of the productivity while they are able to produce.

But this promise is indexed to inflation. So if inflation goes up, then they have to pay out more.

Solution: Counterfeit ... and lie.

We are absolute fools to trust our security to anyone besides ourselves. Nothing could make us more insecure.

JailBanksters's picture

I like Uncertainty, it's the only thing you can depend on these days.


More Ammo's picture

The ant and the grasshopper.

As it is and always has been.

RabbitOne's picture

What the chart failed to show is the faster rising category - serfdom. The NWO is  restoring the feudal system. A large part of those in America will be kept in “free” education only to be released into menial “do-nothing” jobs that had nothing to do with their education. As serfdom increases and freedom dies we will see less and less resistence to more NWO drastic measures. 

 Over the next 8 years of Hillary (rigged election) we will see the judicial system completely corrupted. We will find a large number of firearms banned and confiscated by judges to end any possible civilian resistence. In a few years all criticism of the NWO policy will mean jail sentences (Europe already does this). Raids of homes of right wing “radicals” will become common place to jail “dissenters”. America’s red states will be jammed with poor foreigners who will do anything government demands. Protesters and dissenters of government policies will spend more time in jail than at home. Taxes will rise on average 2% to 3% per year to pay for big government. Minorities will rule as the “white” majority is beaten into submission. Alternative media will be gradually shut down on the radio and internet to manage inflammatory dissent. 

After 8 years of Hillary running government America will look be just like the socialist kingdom’s of the past...

Faeriedust's picture

Nonsense.  Every Cracker in Georgia will grab a rifle and kill a few brown people before they let that happen.  And since even in Alabama there are still more Whites than Blacks and Browns and Yellows put together, and any good sniper can manage two or three kills before getting taken out, the problem will swiftly be solved.  Just not the way the singers of Kumbaya would prefer.  That's the problem.  It isn't that we won't have a future.  It's that some things are going to happen there that very few people are willing to be honest about, to themselves or anyone else.

reader2010's picture

Fuck this shallow analysis. the inflation is chiefly a monetary effect.  ie: printing digital trillions by the Fed.

The OP probably isn't aware of the legal minimum age to work was four 135 years ago in New England. It was machines that have replaced and reduced  human labor in the developed core countries by 1970s. Now machines will replace and largely reduce human mental labor in the developed core countries.

To reduce human lives to work is more than despicable in the first place.

any_mouse's picture

"To reduce human lives to work is more than despicable in the first place."

Exactly. The rise of government and religion requires a family to work harder than they have to take of their family.

The Chief thug needs food to maintain his gang. The Priests need tithes of grain to the Temple granary.

Then the Chief Thug conscripts a male member of each family. The Temple demands a female member as an act of faith.

The remaining family members must work harder.

Kill anyone and their children who will be your leader. They have a defective gene that must be eradicated.


Faeriedust's picture

Civilization is bad for children and other living things.  Civilization consists, of the collection and aggregation of the productive work of 90%+ of a population for disposal by the "leaders", at their discretion and/or whim.  While some such leaders, rarely, will invest some portion of that collected "surplus" into public goods that benefit the producing class, 90% or more of them will fritter it all away on ego-building and personal luxuries.  The only reason Civilization has such good PR is that education is one of those fine luxuries which the ruling classes often purchase with the product of other peoples' hard work.  Without ruling elites to confiscate and redistribute wealth, the entire academic class would be forced to grow their own food just like the peasants they look down upon.

south40_dreams's picture

Niggers and Muslims are ruining this world.

nailgunner44's picture

You lost me when you failed to account for the chinks and kikes

ISawThatToo's picture
ISawThatToo (not verified) south40_dreams Jul 18, 2016 12:49 PM

Banbait #434

"Niggers and Muslims are ruining this world."

So the Khazarians, the ones that ARE ruining the world with the theft of our wealth via their bankster grift and fiat, tell you.

Better look up the Frankfurt School and "Critical Theory."

Protocols 5:5 "For a time perhaps we might be successfully dealt with by a coalition of the "Goyim" of all the world: but from this danger we are secured by the discord existing among them whose roots are so deeply seated that they can never now be plucked up. We have set one against another the personal and national reckonings of the Goyim, religious and race hatreds, which we have fostered into a huge growth in the course of the past twenty centuries..."


taketheredpill's picture


Most public have no concept of what is possible and equate even history as recently as WW2 with Dinosaurs.  Technology advances rapidly but evolution takes a lot longer, and the average citizen (what they used to call consumers) today is a lot less educated than 75-100 years ago....


any_mouse's picture

The introduction of modern medicine into backwards populations lowers infant mortality, but does nothing to alter traditional reproductive behavior that counters the prior high infant mortality rate.

Now instead of dead babies and a starving population, there is a starving overpopulation.


PhiBetaZappa's picture

Uncertainty vs. a certain boot on your neck. 

I'll take the uncertainty, thank you.

ISawThatToo's picture
ISawThatToo (not verified) Jul 18, 2016 11:57 AM

Banbait #432

Actually, the French Revolution was a Khazarian production from beginning to end. That is why the "mob" was induced to sack a largely empty prison, the Bastille.

See the seized Bavarian Illuminati papers that spurred the Germans to warn the French government as to what was being planned for them, and their society. The warning was not heeded. The French Revolution was also where the dual-revolution, later used in Russia, was perfected.

Protocols 3:14 "When the populace has seen that all sorts of concessions and indulgences are yielded it in the name of freedom it has imagined itself to be sovereign lord and has stormed its way to power, but, naturally like every other blind man, it has come upon a host of stumbling blocks. It has rushed to find a guide. It has never had the sense to return to the former state and it has laid down its plenipotentiary powers at our feet. Remember the French Revolution, to which it was we [the Philadelphes (ie.e French branch of the Illuminati)]who gave the name of "Great": the secrets of its preparations are well known to us for it was wholly the work of our hands."

Faeriedust's picture

Excuse me, but were you AT the storming of the Bastille?  I was.  Nobody planned it.  We were all drunk as loons (the wine was sour), and it was stifling hot so tempers were out of hand.  One drunken sot started babbling about how we ought to Do Something about the King's Men before THEY did something about US.  Remember, there was a rumor going around that they'd stockpiled a lot of powder and weapons in the fortress, for use in quelling the expected riots.  One thing led to another.  We were all drunk.  Really, really drunk.  It had nothing to do with fiendish plots, and everything to do with drinking sour wine because it was too damned hot.

Baa baa's picture

Using waves in the ocean as a base component sorta leaves me cold. Of course I'm asking for economics to behave like a "Science" and it hasn't yet.

ersatz007's picture

I'm asking for economics to behave like a "Science" and it hasn't yet

nor will it be ever ever - it's not science - it's wanna-be-science.  it's math + guesses made to look a lot more sophisticated than it really is.

any_mouse's picture

"Past performance is not a predictor of future performance."

Except when it is applied to Ponzi schemes. Always end in misery.

Boxed Merlot's picture

What's that about the 80:20 rule?  1.4B grow the stuff the other 5.6B eat to stay alive.


Sounds about right.

Sam.Spade's picture

Hugh-Smith goes off the deep end again.  The cycle that matters is driven by the distribution of weath.  Whenever its concentrated in too-few hands, revolutions follow.  That's what is going on now all over the world, as well as during the periods he mentions.

When simple explanations work, why blame it on witchcraft?

darteaus's picture

Additional FEW essential: Medicine.