William Gibson’s most recent novel Agency, describes a type of “many worlds” tapestry of a multiverse as it exists after a catastrophe called “The Jackpot”. The main character’s POV takes place from within one of these “stubs” as they are called, which for some reason forked off from the “real” Earth timeline sometime after the 2016 US election.
Although Gibson doesn’t exactly strike me as a MAGA guy in real life, it is interesting to note that in the story, the “real” Earth timeline is one in which it’s implied that Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election (neither “Clinton” or “Trump” are mentioned by name anywhere in the book). However, it’s also the timeline in which a global thermonuclear war erupted around the Syrian conflict.
It is this outcome which the protagonists, some of which are covert operatives from our future, are seeking to nudge the other stubs away from. In other words, it’s classic William Gibson, who’s enduring quip “The future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed” has probably garnered even more relevance of late.
In one of the early stubs, it is Trump who won the 2016 election, and although no nuclear conflagration occurred then, a series of rolling catastrophes remembered by history as The Jackpot, ensued. The Jackpot resulted in massive depopulation, the destruction of democracy globally, and a system of interlocking fiefdoms run by a new governance structure openly acknowledged to be a kleptocracy.
This idea that we were living in somebody else’s parallel universe oddly reinforced an inexplicable subconscious urge that began expressing itself in my own thoughts around the end of 2019, the idea that we were the bizarroverse that people often refer to in half-joking terms.
Somewhere, somehow, there is a much more rational reality, and we're "The Bizarroverse" to that.— Mark E. Jeftovic (@StuntPope) December 12, 2019
As these thoughts expressed themselves I had some sense of this oncoming year becoming an inflection point in history, one of those years against which all future events would be retroactively measured “Pre-2020” or “Post-2020”, and for sake of expediency I’ll appropriate Gibson’s literary term for that inflection point, The Jackpot.
The Jackpot is what Chris Martenson and Adam Taggart have been converging on for years, before anybody ever heard of COVID-19. They said that the current conventional assumption, that the next 20 years would be a somewhat straight-forward linear extrapolation of the previous 20, was wrong. They didn’t know what the catalyst would be, nor did any like-minded commentators such as Charles Hugh Smith, James Kunstler, John Michael Greer, or even myself, when I intuited in Unicorn Winter that “Ground Hog Day was coming”.
By now it seems quite likely that the inflection point is upon us and that the Coronavirus was the catalyst to bring it on. The Great Bull Market of 2009-2020 or even 1982-2020, is over (each counter-cyclical bear crisis papered over by QE and ZIRP). This time, the Central Banks are out of ammo and none of the old moves are working.
The Jackpot is where we arrive when we run out of road to kick the can.
Over the next few posts I’m going to explore what various outcomes could look like after the Jackpot. These are not predictions. They are scenarios of what might unfold as a result of certain key tenets, those articles of faith that have been taken for granted these last 20 years, break down and become irrelevant, or even toxic.
Scenario 1: Force Majeure
In this scenario all predominant belief systems about governance and order such as liberalism, democracy, rule of law, free markets and capitalism break down. So do their accompanying institutions: political parties, nation states, currency regimes, even formal religious denominations.
This outcome witnesses the ascension and proliferation of the non-state actors. Imagine Facebook and Google having their own currencies – and paramilitary forces, while overleveraged, bankrupt nations rupture and crack up.
Countries become a balkanized hodgepodge of autonomous areas where control is contested between privately held warlords, clans or networks and remnants of regional authorities. If you want to get a feel for how the Force Majeure scenario plays out, get a copy of Neal Stephenson”s SnowCrash.
Scenario 2: Tin Foil Hats
This scenario is one where we posit (merely as a thought experiment) that the conspiracy theories around Coronavirus could be true. These range from it being a weaponized virus that either escaped, or was unleashed, to the assertion that the entire Coronavirus hysteria is a hoax, perpetrated by Global Elites (probably the Lizard People) in order to take down the economy and institute worldwide martial law.
In this scenario we might be in the early innings of World War Three, only the war isn’t being fought with bombs and bullets, it’s being fought with biological agents and weaponized financial derivatives.
Scenario 3: Mandatory Pollyana
This is where Central Bankers step in and once again save the day, injecting just the right amount of liquidity, pushing interest rates to the exactly correct level, possibly below zero. Policy makers unleash unbridled fiscal stimulus, tax incentives and deferrals, to be followed up with MMT and UBI.
In this version, global financial markets become, in the words of Ben Hunt “publicly owned utilities” – that are only permitted to go up. Short selling is banned. The world moves into a globally coordinated command economy.
Scenario 4: Good-bye Globalism
Is where multi-national corporations, so shaken from this Near Death Experience, realizing their error of betting the farm on just-in-time supply chains, labour cost arbitrage and having zero buffers, begin pulling manufacturing back home.
The smart ones start building cushions and shock absorbers into their business logic, and they begin to eschew leverage after being on the wrong side of a series of cascading liquidity implosions. In other words, businesses begin to transition themselves into what I called “Transition Companies” as posited in the inaugural posting for Guerrilla Capitalism.
I consider this scenario to be the most desirable, but the least likely, especially if many of these corporations receive government bailouts.
Over the next days or weeks I’ll put try to find the time to flesh out each of these scenarios. It turns out that hunkering down can be a full time job unto itself, something I plan to write more about for the GC subscribers.
If you’re not already on the list and want to know about the rest of the Jackpot Chronicles and my thoughts around navigating your business through it, sign up for the list here.
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