The Overlapping Crises Are Coming, Regardless Of Who's In Power

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Charles Hugh-Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

No leader can reverse the dynamics of mutually reinforcing crises.

Commentators seem split into three camps: those who see Trump as a manifestation of smouldering social/economic ills, those who see Trump and his supporters as the cause of those ills, and those who see Trump as both manifestation and cause of those ills.

I think this misses the point, which is the overlapping crises unfolding in this decade-- diminishing returns on skyrocketing debts, the demographics of an aging populace, the erosion of the social contract and the profound disunity of political elites--will continue expanding and feeding on each other regardless of who is in power.

Historical analysis seems to swing between the "Big Man/Woman" narrative that views individuals as the drivers of history, and the "Big Forces/it's all economics" narrative that sees individual leaders as secondary to the broad sweep of forces beyond the control of any individual or group.

So while the mainstream views President Lincoln as the linchpin of the Civil War--his election triggered the southern secession--from the "Big Forces/it's all economics" view, Lincoln was no more than the match that lit a conflict that was made inevitable by forces larger than the 1860 election.

The tension between these two narratives is valuable, as history cannot be entirely reduced to individual decisions or broad forces (weather, resource depletion, financial crisis, geopolitical upheaval, demographics, plague, etc.). The dynamic interplay between the two shapes history.

Individuals do matter--but they cannot offset structural crises for long.

Which brings us to Trump. The status quo is falling apart for profoundly structural reasons: promises made when growth was robust, debt was modest, energy was cheap and abundant and the work force was far more numerous than those dependent on the central state's "pay as you go" pension and welfare programs-- these promises made in yesteryear can no longer be kept, regardless of who's in power.

We cannot get blood out of a turnip, and those who claim we can are only exacerbating the coming crises with their fantasies and denials.

I've been addressing these slow-moving, inevitable crises for the past 10 years. Despite the illusion of tepid "growth" and the maintenance of the status quo, beneath the surface everything is becoming much more fragile and increasingly brittle.

Even Timothy Geithner concedes this in his recent Foreign Affairs article on how to deal with the next global financial crisis. The central banks and states have expended all their ammunition-- lowering interest rates, creating money out of thin air to bolster systemic liquidity, buying bonds and other assets to prop up shaky markets, and borrowing immense sums to prop up government spending-- and there is little left for the next crisis.

Why I Have to Agree with Tim Geithner on This (March 8, 2017)

And this sober view--that some additional central bank trickery can save the system in the next financial crisis--assumes things that are unlikely to be true: what if energy is no longer cheap and abundant? What if gobal weather isn't conducive to grain surpluses? What if central banks buying stocks no longer props up the market? What if debt finally reaches levels that cannot be sustained?

Could Hillary, or some other leader, forestall these deeply structural crises? The short answer is no. The only thing a leader can actually do is lower expectations so the erosion of promises that cannot be kept will be accepted as inevitable, and bolster hope while demanding sacrifices of all those who have benefited from the status quo.

If we look back on great leaders who dealt with one crisis after another, we find they didn't actually make the crises disappear; they only managed them on the margins, and spoke to the need to make sacrifices for a better future.

If we set aside the rose-colored glasses, we find that Franklin Roosevelt didn't actually "lead the nation out of Depression." The nation was still deeply entrenched in the Depression in 1940, after 8 years of FDR's leadership. It took World War II and federal borrowing and spending on an unimaginable scale to extricate the U.S. from the grip of bad debt the powers that be refused to write off and the resulting stagnation.

Which brings us again to Trump. Since no one can actually resolve these overlapping crises, a focus on the individual leader's actions is a distraction. Yes, an individual can manage the margins of crisis more or less effectively.

But overlapping mutually reinforcing crises are not a war, with a victorious and a vanquished side. As Peter Turchin and other writers I have quotes and discussed for many years have detailed, these structural trends play out regardless of policy tweaks or grand pronouncements. Leaders who manage to ease the decline or temporarily reverse it are considered successes; those who exacerbate the decline are considered failures.

Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform.

No leader can reverse the dynamics of mutually reinforcing crises. No one can reverse the diminishing returns on financialization, debt, centralization, financial fakery, rentier state-cartel parasitism, or reverse the decline in paid work, the erosion of well-being and health and rising inequality.

There is no way to actually forestall the reckoning as the forces of demographics, financial predation, Imperial over-reach, soaring debts, political disunity, technology disruption and the failings of state-cartel centralization grind up the status quo.

This essay was drawn from Musings Report 5. The weekly Musings Reports are emailed exclusively to major donors and patrons ($5/month or $50 annually).

Recent podcasts/video programs:

Keiser Report: Jon Corzine’s Big, Bad Bond Bet (25:43 min., 2nd half)

Self-Employment & Financial Bubbles (1:26 hrs)

Charles Hugh Smith On Inequalities And The Distortions Caused By Central Bank Policies (30 min.)

Rogue Money (56:59 min.)

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GUS100CORRINA's picture

What a sobering and surreal chart.

Really puts our current situation into the proper perspective.

idea_hamster's picture

an infographic Gorka would be proud of

Logan 5's picture
Logan 5 (not verified) idea_hamster Mar 28, 2017 9:11 AM

"No leader can reverse the dynamics of mutually reinforcing crises."


Holy shit! I knew I shoulda stayed that extra semester in college!... Think of all the beer pong I missed out on learning how to use that idea in a sentence...


Do you like APPLES?

robertsgt40's picture

WWII didn't "end" the depression.  The fed had created the depression by contracting credit by a third after blowing yuge bubble. When WWII was created, the fed fired up the printing presses because everyone knows war provides the best ROI for the criminal class.

SheepDog-One's picture

Just like McCain and the rest of the war mongers are desperately trying to start a war with Russia it's the only way to create vast new debt.

Hugh_Jorgan's picture

He thought of some I wouldn't have included, but how about the factors he missed:

  • Fundamental rift(s) in foundational socio-political principles (or lack thereof) between social strata.
  • Radically delayed economic downturn cycle and artificial nature of the financial markets.
  • Loose monetary policy and disguised inflation.
  • The global economic dependency-contagion issues.
  • Brittle nature of our "just in time" supply chain methodology.
  • Edit: Oh yeah, were on the brink of war(s) and we're in the middle of a terrorist insurgency of our own making.

Can you guys think of any other factors that should have been part of this analysis?

Uchtdorf's picture

I can think of two:

1. The rent is too high

2. So are taxes

UmbilicalMosqueSweeper's picture

1. Race war

2. Civil war

3. Illegal alien invasion.

4. Alien invasion.

5. Snowflake invasion.

BennyBoy's picture


Coming up with this infographic he must have been 4 sheets to the Venn.

Ignatius's picture

We should be grateful.  CHS has not only mapped the entirety of the human predicament in Venn, but also, I assume, copywritten it.  A true hero of American free enterprise.

Hugh_Jorgan's picture

It looks like he was dabbling with the MS Paint app.

HRClinton's picture

Until he thought he had some good sheet to present. 

Wang Dang SP's picture

Someone's got some surreal weed.

divingengineer's picture

Really puts our current situation into the proper perspective.

Its tough luck for the money changers, I don't really care what happens to them. 

They created this fake-arse economy where 60,000 barrels of paper oil trade hands for every physical barrel of oil. 

They can figure it out for themselves....or not..I don't care. I have no dog in that fight. 

GreatUncle's picture

There was never a way out of this and I think many ZHer's realise it.

Appreciated Chelsea Clinton's picture

I'd like just one day where I can read headlines that do not contain the words crisis, apocalypse, crash, (insert synonym here) on any of the articles on this site. WE GET IT. BAD shit is coming.

flaminratzazz's picture

I think the only answer is going to be humanity has to go back to tribalism and try again.

Because... No, we all just cant get along.

same as it ever was

SeuMadruga's picture

"Have you ever heard the story

of Ms Faded Glory ?"

SeuMadruga's picture

"...A bad moon's a comin'

Better say your prayers"

Actually it's Mother Love Bone's Crown of Thorns, but I prefer it performed by Eddie Vedder, despite his leftist leanings...

atthelake's picture

If you're looking for Pollyanna, you're in the wrong place. If you have to have Pollyanna, read government stats and MSM.

IranContra's picture

There has to be a way out. I don't buy the myth of omnipotent banksters. Aren't they getting old?

How Liberal Shills and Pundits Run Global Terrorism

"There are people who say: we believe in God and Judgment Day. But they really don't."

"They try to con the Almighty and true believers, but they only con each other. Yet they don't get it."

"They have sick minds, and God makes them sicker, and He will make them suffer severely for their lies."

"If you say: Stop running global terrorism! They say: No, we are only introducing liberal reforms."

"They are the ones who run global terrorism, but they don't get it."

"If you say: Why don't you have a straightforward faith in the Almighty like everybody else? They say: We don't have a stupid religion, we are New Age. They are the stupid ones, but they don't know it."

"Publicly, they say they believe in God, but secretly they believe in Lucifer and have their secret societies where they meet with their luciferian leaders."

"They tell them: We sure fool those suckers, don't we? But the joke is on them, and God increases their tyrannical blindness."

"They abandon Scripture... and practice luciferian Babylonian sorcery instead... they turn women against men... promote divorce and homosexuality... They have sold their souls to the Devil for a wretched price: eternal Hell..."

--Koran 2:8-15, 101-102 (14 centuries years ago)

See also: Trolls, Mercenaries, Shills & Pundits

GUS100CORRINA's picture

Below is text from the BIBLE written well before the KORAN ever came on the scene. In fact, everything written in the Koran was STOLEN from the BIBLE and perverted.


No One Is Righteous

9 What then? Are we Jews[a] any better off?[b] No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;

11     no one understands;

    no one seeks for God.

12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

    no one does good,

    not even one.”

13 “Their throat is an open grave;

    they use their tongues to deceive.”

“The venom of asps is under their lips.”

14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

16     in their paths are ruin and misery,

17 and the way of peace they have not known.”

18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being[c] will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

SheepDog-One's picture

But in all fairness, other religions/religious texts were established long before the Bible and the Bible borrow d from them, the Bhagivad Gita and Hinduism existed centuries before the Bible and espoused many of the same concepts and ideals. The 'love thy neighbor as you'd want them to love you was Chinese Buddhism a thousand years in existence before the Bible.

SheepDog-One's picture

Ah, someone didn't like the truth, I guess the truth can be harsh at times.

Akzed's picture

"In the beginning..." Can't get much further back than that.

GreatUncle's picture

In the beginning their was only one concept, before law, religion, or anything else.

Eat what or whoever you want to ensure you do not perish.

It is called survival.


Is-Be's picture

Keep seeking.

Monotheism was invented by Akhenaten to centralize religious power in himself.

It has been sustained by the burblings of schizophrenics, and has evolved into three murderous death cults.

Hugh_Jorgan's picture

You need to stay off the fringe archaelogy sites. There is ZERO evidence for Akenaten being the first or orginator of monotheism. It is a point of rife conjecture.

He did force his people to worship only the Sun and moved the capital of Egypt. However, soon after his demise Egypt went right back to pantheism. And, it appeared that he was not appreciated for his new idea, since his image was defaced throughout the monuments he created.

Besides, worshiping the Sun in a primative culture isn't exactly an original idea. Akenaten was just the first leader clever enough and with both power and the courage to come out and say that it was the only "god" that there was actual physical evidence for.

IranContra's picture

The way I see it is that the Creator sent down different versions of the same Golden Rule(s) according to the mental development of humanity. The amazing Sermon on the Mount introduced abstract thinking to people who were literal and used to thinking in dull generalities. I love it.


There is immense evidence towards both this and that Moses was a general in Akhenaton's army who then propagated monotheism through the slaves he liberated -- the Jews -- after Akhenaton's reign ended and egypt returned to polytheism.


Freud's Moses and Monotheism is an interesting place to start for the anthropological account - I wouldn't tell people to stay off anything if you don't know what you're talking about. 

Rabbi Chaim Cohen's picture

The evidence (most notably Sig Freud) is only over-cooked speculation that draws fanciful connections that cannot bear academic scrutiny. I think it would have been trashed long ago if it hadn't been written by Sigmund Freud. A self-hating "atheist" Jew is not really the most reliable source of objective evidence that could change the whole Bible narrative, potentially destroying it. Especially, when all you have to back it up is a theory.

Freud was no dummy, but IMO he is placed on a pedestal BECAUSE he was an atheist. If he was a religious Jew, he would have been marginalized and never would have received the accolades that built his sterling reputation. Freud should probably stick to his strong suit; psychoanalysis. Even then, I think if you want a more real, (non-ivory tower) insight into the human psyche, read Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning".

GreatUncle's picture

You create a whole bunch of gods, one for every occasion.

In the end it is much easier to rule if the one in charge just says I am god do as you are told.

So you move quickly from a multitude to a single god for the chain of command and convenience.

The church tends to pretend to be acting for god, because if SHTF and they are god then they are completely responsible.

Hence the acting on the behalf of god and god's laws etc. all a control game of maximum control with zero accountability for those who made themselves entitled to a nice life.


Akzed's picture

"Monotheism was invented by Akhenaten to centralize religious power in himself." Key omission: "Egyptian."

Akhenaten came after Noah.

Is-Be's picture

Noah? Have you worked our the rate at which rain must fall in order to cover Mt. Everest in 30 days and drown ALL species.

Noah  requires more thought.

The fable of Noah was based on earlier Babylonian tales of Gilgamesh.

Nice try though.

IranContra's picture

Relax, friend. If anyone has bragging rights, it's the Almighty who sent down all the Scriptures, and He doesn't need to steal from Himself.

Anyway, Jesus is coming back soon to settle all disputes. If he says Koran is from Satan, I will accept it. If Jesus says Koran is from the Almighty, I will accept it.

Is-Be's picture

I have no difficulty with people watching the sky peacefully, waiting for their Messiah to descend, trumpets blaring.

I do object when they get bored and decide to force the issue and initiate Armageddon.

I'm willing to wager that you will get Armageddon, but that you won't impress your monotheistic god.

I am Jobe's picture

How dare Charles point this out .  How dare. 


Masses want hope and positive news dammit. All is well in Love Life and so much peace and harmony and Hope . La La Land Living. Americans love to domesticate themselves. There is so much entertainment, NBA, NFL, MLB, Kardashians and much much more to ignore this 

Mike Rotsch's picture

Trump said he wanted to pull us out of NATO because its members aren't paying their NATO bills.  I think the reasons in this article are a bit more truthful.  Everyone (at least in this hemisphere) sees the writing on the wall.

south40_dreams's picture

I used to feel guilty about dumping this on millennials. I'm now beginning to enjoy the thought

83_vf_1100_c's picture

Speaking as a lifelong Southerner, I agree but it sure would have solved a lot of current day problems if they had picked their own damn cotton. Or, imported the Irish.

BigFatUglyBubble's picture

We cannot get blood out of a turnip, and those who claim we can are only exacerbating the coming crises with their fantasies and denials.


Yes, and when those claimers do so for personal gain, it really pisses me off, and it should piss you off too.

Bill of Rights's picture

Silver up big and JNUG as well as NUGT hardly move....The manipulation in the mining sector is blatant in your face Bull shit!

DuneCreature's picture

How about we just gut the entire US government and start over?

Maybe lose the Federal Reserve Bank too, while we're at it?

The whistleblowers seem to be coming out of the woodwork so now might be a great time for spring cleaning.

Day 155 Part 1 =

Day 155 Part 2 =

Hey, Trump and Sessions, you need to set up Whistleblower Village somewhere outside the beltway to keep your witnesses safe.

Use the US Marines to guard the place if you need to. ......... Oh, and BTW, in case you are slow on the uptake, you need to.

Live Hard, You Are Going To Need a HUGE Lock-up Facility Too, Something Outside Of The BOP, Die Free

~ DC v5.0

flaminratzazz's picture

It is not just the inmates running the asylum, the asylum itself has to be burned down and buried with the inmates inside.