Guest Post: When Does This Travesty Of A Mockery Of A Sham Finally End?

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

When Does This Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham Finally End?

Intersecting global crises cannot be papered over with artifice and propaganda for long.

We all know the Status Quo's response to the global financial meltdown of 2008 has been a travesty of a mockery of a sham--smoke and mirrors, flimsy facades of "recovery," simulacrum "reforms," and serial can-kicking, all based on borrowing and printing trillions of dollars, yen, euros and yuan, quatloos, etc.

So when will the travesty of a mockery of a sham finally come to an end? Probably around 2021-22, with a few global crises and "saves" along the way to break up the monotony of devolution. The foundation of this forecast is this chart I prepared back in 2008:

This is of course only a selection of cycles; many more may be active but these four give us a flavor of the confluence of crises ahead.

Cycles are not laws of Nature, of course; they are only records of previous periods of growth/excess/depletion/collapse, not predictions per se. Nonetheless their repetition reflects the systemic dynamic of growth, crisis and collapse, and so the study of cycles is instructive even though we stipulate they are not predictive.

What is predictable is the way systems tend to follow an S-curve of rapid growth with then tops out in excess, stagnates in depletion and then devolves or implodes. We can see all sorts of things topping out and entering depletion/collapse: debt, financialization, the Savior State, Chinese auto sales, oil production, and so on.

Since each mechanism that burns out or implodes tends to be replaced with some other mechanism, this creates the recurring cycle of growth/excess/depletion/collapse.

I plotted four long-wave cycles in the first chart:

1. The credit expansion/renunciation cycle. a.k.a. the Kondratieff cycle. Credit expands when credit is costly and invested in productive assets. Credit reaches excess when it is cheap and it's dumped into malinvestments, and as collateral vanishes then credit is renunciated/written off.

This is inexact, but obviously the postwar cycle of expansion has ended and is now rolling over into the collapse/renunciation stage.

2. The generational cycle of four generations/80 years described in the seminal book The Fourth Turning. American history uncannily tracks an 80-year cycle of crises and profound transformation: 1860 (Civil War), 1940 (world war and global Empire) and next up to bat, 2020, the implosion of the debt-based Savior State and the financialized economy.

3. The 100-year cycle of inflation-deflation described in the masterful book The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History. The price of bread remained almost constant in Britain throughout the 19th century. In contrast, the 20th century has been characterized by inflation--the U.S. dollar has lost approximately 96% of its value since the early 20th century.

Another characteristic of this cycle is wage stagnation: people earn less even as costs of essentials rise, a dynamic that inevitably leads to political crisis and upheaval.

The end-game for inflation is destruction of fiat currencies, i.e. hyper-inflation or complete loss of faith in paper money. This is of course "impossible," just like World War I, the Titanic sinking, the global meltdown of 2008, etc. Impossible things happen with alarming regularity.

4. Peak oil, which does not mean the world runs out of oil, it simply means oil production no longer rises to meet demand and eventually declines even as new fields are brought online.

Many observers are confident that fracking and other technologies will enable current energy proligacy to continue unabated as the U.S. replaces oil and coal with newly abundant natural gas. Not only will this lessen American dependence on non-U.S. oil exporters, but domestic energy will spark a jobs boom as well: Fuel to Burn: Now What? (via Joel M.).

“The reduced vulnerability of North America — and the world market — to oil price spikes also has deep consequences geopolitically, including the reduced strategic importance to the U.S. of changes in oil- and natural gas-producing countries worldwide,” Mr. Morse said in a recent 92-page report called Energy 2020. ”Pressures towards isolationism in the U.S. will likely grow, with consequences for global stability that can only just begin to become understood.”


“In a world of high energy prices, the potential economic activity generated by this wave of new hydrocarbon production is extraordinary and should strongly boost national output, increase incomes, create wealth, stimulate consumption and create jobs,” according to Citigroup.


Mr. Morse of Citigroup forecast that North American oil production could reach an astounding 27 million barrels a day by 2020, almost twice the rate of production of 15 million barrels a day at the end of 2011. Production from the United States could grow to 15.6 million barrels a day by 2020, up from nine million barrels a day in 2011.


If that trend continues, the growth in oil and natural gas supplies in the next decades could turn the United States into a top energy exporter, rivaling some members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Natural gas could be sold to Mexico and Canada (because exploiting oil sands is so energy-intensive, Canada might have to import natural gas to produce its oil). Refined petroleum products, and even crude oil, could find customers in Europe and Latin America. Coal could be exported to China.


With less gasoline demand, the nation’s surplus refining capacity means the United States is already exporting petroleum products — like gasoline and diesel. The United States is now the top exporter of refined products, just ahead of Russia.


James Brick, an energy analyst with Wood Mackenzie, a research firm, said in a recent report that by 2030 the United States could end up exporting 500 million tons of coal a year, 3.2 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas and 2.5 million barrels a day of oil products.


All this surplus energy in North America sounds wonderful, but that doesn't mean the world as a whole has escaped Peak Oil. Even if these projections turn out to be accurate, that expansion of production will not replace the loss of production as supergiant fields in Mexico, the North Sea and the Mideast enter the depletion phase. Yes, technology can extract more oil, but technology is costly. The days of cheap natural gas may have arrived, but the days of cheap oil are numbered.

How all this plays out is unknown, but even raising U.S. production by 10 million barrels of oil equivalents a day--quite a challenge in the real world despite the easy-to-pen hype-- might not be enough to maintain current production levels. Since several billion more people desire the U.S.-type lifestyle of energy profligacy, then what are the consequences of the mismatch between global demand and supply?

We can also posit that "good-paying jobs" in developed economies are also tracking an S-curve. The post-industrial decline in labor has many causes, but the Internet is a key factor going forward as the Web leverages all sorts of productivity gains without the pesky overhead, costs and trouble of workers.

This reality was masked by the initial boom in Web infrastructure that topped out in 2000, and again by the credit-fueled global malinvestment in real estate that topped out in 2007. Now that those bubbles have popped, the reality of long-term employment stagnation can no longer be masked.

Credit bubbles are not engines of employment, they are only engines of mis-investment and wealth destruction on a grand scale.

A number of other questions arise as we ponder these dynamics. How "cheap" will all that cheap energy be to those without full-time jobs? How will 100 million workers support 100 million retirees, pensioners, welfare recipients and parasitic Elites as costs rise and wages stagnate?

The Status Quo is unsustainable on a number of fundamental fronts. How long it can maintain the facade of stability and sustainability is unknown, but the global willingness to squander four years on artifice and propaganda suggests that another decade will fly by and the end-game will be at hand whether we approve of it or not.

I address these dynamics in various ways in all my books:

Resistance, Revolution, Liberation (Kindle edition)
Survival+: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation
Survival+ Kindle edition
Survival+ The Primer
Primer Kindle edition
Weblogs & New Media: Marketing in Crisis
An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times (print edition)
An Unconventional Guide Kindle edition.

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SilverTree's picture

I love those "you are here" graphics. 


.."Probably around 2021-22" ?!! Sooner than that I expect.

Death and Gravity's picture

It's good to be well positioned and ahead of the crowd, but remember, the cards are to be thrown just before the mass animal spirits understand whats going on....

I think I need to buy a gun's picture

Do not pass GO, go directly to your local cash for gold dealer and sell all your gold!!!!!!!

SilverTree's picture

"Politicians want instability.  It creates a voter base.  Economists/CBs want instability.  It justifies their jobs.  Hedge funds want instability.  They can profit through HFT, et al.  When you understand TPTB want what they say they are fixing, everything becomes clear.

Gold is money.  The one fact they can't subvert."




Spirit Of Truth's picture

I think 2015 might be a better target year for the low.  Tis all about the "Sabbatical Year" cycle:

jus_lite_reading's picture

Roundtable says less than 2 years, or immediately if another Fukushima style "event" occurs...



Sudden Debt's picture

Bernanke has this hughe graph hanging in his office with X marking the spot "WE SHOULD BE HERE"

LawsofPhysics's picture

Only when everyone stops playing, or supply lines break down (i.e. orders are placed, but nothing is delivered - then shit gets real, really fucking quick)  FYI- if you are still using fiat, you are still playing.  Some useful definitions in layman's terms-  Capital controls; being forced to use a specific fiat for trade or forced to use captial in a certain way, such as limits on capital transactions of all kinds.  price fixing;  being told what you can charge for a given product, regardless of the real fucking input cost to produce and deliver said product.


BeetleBailey's picture

it's ended. We're already dead. We just are in the denial stage of it. We just passed the anger phase.

Death and Gravity's picture

No, most ZH'ers er not in the denial stage. They're in the OMFG GET ON WITH IT ALREADY stage.

sessinpo's picture

Death and Gravity                           2348493

No, most ZH'ers er not in the denial stage. They're in the OMFG GET ON WITH IT ALREADY stage.



What stage ZH'ers are in is irrelevant as they are a very small part of the overall picture. I would say that the majority (of the population) is still in the denial stage. That is supported by a political apathy to really address the problems the US and the world faces, one of unsustainable debt based upon a faulty monetary system. Let me put it to you another way. Look at where Greece is. To me they are still in denial because they have not politically decided to declare bankrupty (the citizens have not forced their politicians to do so). We may have seen sporadic protests, burning of buildings and even a suicide in protest which tells me that the populace is nearing its end of denial and leaning toward anger. The US is no where near that yet.


While the small group of ZH'ers may be in the "get on with it", that should not be construed as doom saying (I am not saying D&G is that). In fact I think most ZH'ers realize that for things to constructively get better, we need a clearing of debt, change in the world monetary system as well as changes in national fiscal systems. The extend and pretend, kicking the can plan will only make the ultimate clearing of debt much more painful.


LawsofPhysics's picture

I'd venture to guess that the anger stage has not even begun.  End SNAP (social welfare) and then all the subsidies/tax loopholes (corporate welfare) and then you will get the anger phase.

pods's picture

Agreed.  We are transitioning from denial to bargaining.  

Social welfare is like a soft prison. That shit goes away and it gets ugly.  Right now social welfare is merely placating anger.


LFMayor's picture

ROFL, oh dude.   end the electronic GIBSMEDATs and we'll usher in the worlds greatest shit flinging Olympics!

LawsofPhysics's picture

Look at the current political stage, that "olympics" began long ago.

Al Huxley's picture

I think it's denial first, then anger.

Al Huxley's picture

Denial, approaching anger.

Stoploss's picture

Sorry, im on the 5 step program.

Already been through the twelve stages of grief.

francis_sawyer's picture

The way I understand it, after DE NILE comes the Mediterranean Sea

Amagnonx's picture


Denial, anger, acceptance .. more acceptance, a lil' more acceptance, growing impatience, total loss of patience .. then lynchings, torches and pitchforks.

Dr. Engali's picture

Alot of us are in the "come on get on with it already stage".

AchtungAffen's picture

"You're already dead" - Kenshiro

LFMayor's picture

"you're already dead" - Lt. Spears.

SheepDog-One's picture

'No, your men are already dead'.

Mr. Smith

Seize Mars's picture

If you find yourself alone, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you're already dead!

Maximus Decimus Meridius

Cycle's picture

Sorry - Couldn't resist...


The Dead Collector: Bring out yer dead.
[a man puts a body on the cart]
Large Man with Dead Body: Here's one.
The Dead Collector: That'll be ninepence.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm not dead.
The Dead Collector: What?
Large Man with Dead Body: Nothing. There's your ninepence.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm not dead.
The Dead Collector: 'Ere, he says he's not dead.
Large Man with Dead Body: Yes he is.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm not.
The Dead Collector: He isn't.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm getting better.
Large Man with Dead Body: No you're not, you'll be stone dead in a moment.
The Dead Collector: Well, I can't take him like that. It's against regulations.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I don't want to go on the cart.
Large Man with Dead Body: Oh, don't be such a baby.
The Dead Collector: I can't take him.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I feel fine.
Large Man with Dead Body: Oh, do me a favor.
The Dead Collector: I can't.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, can you hang around for a couple of minutes? He won't be long.
The Dead Collector: I promised I'd be at the Robinsons'. They've lost nine today.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, when's your next round?
The Dead Collector: Thursday.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I think I'll go for a walk.
Large Man with Dead Body: You're not fooling anyone, you know. Isn't there anything you could do?
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I feel happy. I feel happy.
[the Dead Collector glances up and down the street furtively, then silences the Body with his a whack of his club]
Large Man with Dead Body: Ah, thank you very much.
The Dead Collector: Not at all. See you on Thursday.
Large Man with Dead Body: Right.

Bluntly Put's picture

Revised article headlines you will never see:

We're All Socialists [Zombies] Now

Rule #2: "You need to get a gun and learn how to use it which leads me to my second rule, the double tap. In those moments when you're not sure that the undead are really dead-dead, don't get all stingy with your bullets, I mean one more clean shot to the head. You can avoid becoming a human happy meal. Woulda, shoulda, coulda." - Zombieland

battle axe's picture

So, we are headed to a steep drop, but we always have a good war to take everyone's attention off of these problems. Time to fuel the bombers. 

Death and Gravity's picture


"- One forty-five caliber automatic
- Two boxes of ammunition
- Four days' concentrated emergency rations
- One drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine,
vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills
- One miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible
- One hundred dollars in rubles
- One hundred dollars in gold
- Nine packs of chewing gum
- One issue of prophylactics
- Three lipsticks
- Three pair of nylon stockings.

Shoot, a fella' could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff."

LFMayor's picture

Two forty fives, brother.  Remember,  two is one and one is none.

Bam_Man's picture

If your .45 is a Colt M1911, you only need one. It's the most reliable and effective handgun, ever.

LFMayor's picture

Agreed.  You can't fuck with John Moses Browning.

spekulatn's picture

I would add cartons of cigs to the list. 


Prison, bitchez.

Chump's picture

Nah, doesn't pack well, goes stale too quick.  Add some bulk tobacco with papers instead.  Throw in a big old plastic bottle of cheap vodka and you're good as gold...

Roger O. Thornhill's picture

I believe I'd have a better weekend in Dallas with all that stuff....

vegas's picture

My guess is that SHTF around 2015 - 2018; 1) baby boomers bankrupt Medicare and Social Security, 2) ChalkyCare, if not ruled unconstitutional, will explode the deficit, and finally 3) no way to even pay the interest on the debt let alone pay it down. In other words, the gig is up; math says so.

NumberNone's picture

Next time please use the correct word...Shamockery. 

my puppy for prez's picture

Bingo...a new infomercial for the ShamWow guy!!!!

JustObserving's picture

"The end-game for inflation is destruction of fiat currencies"

Therefore, gold and silver must be destroyed to save paper.  

Between 1999 and 2002 Brown sold 60% of the UK's gold reserves at $275 an ounce shortly before gold entered a protracted bull market. 

Unfortunately, no one told the Indians and the Chinese that gold is a barbaric relic.  Wealth is being transferred from the West to the East. Bernanke is a hero of this wealth transfer. He should be awarded honorary citizenship in China and India.

Haole's picture

At the level people like the bernank play there is no such thing as citizenship, sovereignty, etc. anymore.

The scramble for a chair will not take the better part of another decade, it had better fucking not.

Dr. Engali's picture

The system died in 2008. It won't last until 2021. The debt destruction going on in Europe right now will eat it's way up the food chain, and it will accelerate with each occurrence.

Nostradamus's picture

Agreed. This world economic system has been on the equivalent of financial life support since 2008.  I say we have another year, maybe two. It could all fall apart at any time though.

knightowl77's picture

I don't see it lasting past 2013......I really don't understand how it has lasted this long

Haole's picture

"I really don't understand how it has lasted this long."


Billions of people who don't have a clue (yet?) being hopelessly and unknowingly dependant on, and intigrated into, the "matrix" of subservience, control and lies.  I suspect that's how anyway... ;)

malek's picture

It's not going last until 2021 as it currently is.

But nobody knows if the agony won't extend to 2021, where finally a new, positive direction takes hold (not necessarily initiated and/or centered in the US)