X marks the spot


20 January, 2017

Monthly Musing

Perhaps I ought to explain why the status quo is so objectionable.

There are many reasons. The first, using a key trigger word, is sustainability. The world we westerners live in is unsustainable. Ever increasing debt is absolutely necessary for the status quo. It is also absolutely unsustainable.

Government growing ever larger is also unsustainable. Yet that is what we have had for at least a century.

Ever increasing house prices and financial assets are also unsustainable. Yet, we have 'enjoyed' this state of affairs for decades.

I suppose, house prices can continue to rise as long as interest rates continue to fall. Under such circumstances, a zero percent interest rate is not a boundary. Merely a point to pass through as interest rates continue downwards.

That is the paradox of our western civilization. For things to remain the same, certain things have to continue to change. So no rise in interest rates despite central banker blathering to the contrary.

Is this sustainable? No. America pays much the same in interest payments each year. The status quo requires the debt to continually grow, so it does. The status quo cannot afford increasing interest rates, so they fall.

Politicians blather on about productivity gains. Again, these gains are also required for the status quo to continue.

Those wishing I would be quiet and want everything to carry on without change are missing the point entirely. Ever increasing debt and productivity are essential in maintaining this state of 'no change'.

In the last fifty years, productivity gains have come from women entering the work force and more recently ever more powerful and affordable computer power. Not to mention ever increasing supplies of oil. How can these productivity gains be expected to continue forever?

I read an article that said we needed to find a new oil field every eight years the size of Saudi Arabia's biggest oil field. To keep the 'game' going. Well we haven't which may be why fracking is so heavily funded despite the lack of profit.

That is my answer as to why can't things just carry on.

There is no need to do anything. The unsustainable, eventually, can no longer continue.

The biggest 'promise' our governments make is about our retirement. Apparently, they promised me that I could retire at 65. Now it is 67. In Germany, the people are a little upset too. They were told that they could retire at 62 and now 67 is also their new number. The status quo needs this number to increase to around 80.

The status quo is heavily reliant upon its parasitic financial system. This needs a continuously more productive private sector and a public sector to continually grow its debts or the financial system just collapses. Slowly at first.

Those are a few reasons for my objection to the status quo. I feel that they are quite big issues. I am not suggesting any politician has ever lied about our collective pensions but the underlying assumption of ever increasing productivity has failed and with it our collective pensions. Or at least, the age of pension entitlement will need to rise further and faster.

The pension industry needs returns of about eight percent, forever, to meet its financial obligations. As interest rates must continue downwards, this eight percent becomes increasingly riskier to achieve. If not, actually, impossible. That little paragraph should have you smash whatever device you are reading this on. (I hope someone who loves you has given you a printed copy.) I have just explained that the pension you covet is actually worth nothing. NOTHING. Currently, it is worth something, HOPEFULLY.

At this point, should you be happy that all of the above is a reasonable view of the world, I feel obligated to give you some financial advice that would be worth its weight in gold. I suspect that would be illegal. Illegal is Latin for 'whatever those in power say you can and can't do'. Well, I cannot offer you a silver bullet to protect against whatever collapses first. Not legally. I can only ask you to seek out whatever treasures you truly value. The treasure with true value. I mean of course, your neighbours, friends and family. Somethings really are as good as gold and as shiny as silver.

Perhaps I ought to write a piece on subliminal manipulation. For examples read a newspaper or watch the news.

The trouble with sustaining the unsustainable is that when it can no longer be sustained then we get severe and abrupt changes that will impact heavily upon all of us. Even me.

For the hard of understanding, we are basically slaves on a Roman ship that is sinking. The reason for it sinking and getting increasingly difficult to pull on the oars is that we are not rowing hard enough. Well, that is the government's version of the truth. One that the boomers agree with. Why the millenials are happy to row is beyond me. The only thing that puzzles me more is my own involvement. (Rowing whilst screaming the ship is sinking.) So, are we set to row until we drown? Are there no human beings capable of imagining something different?

My view is that we stop rowing, dismantle the ship and build lots of new ones in a range of sizes and designs. Then we must be forever careful about who we choose to captain the vessels. No doubt, we will eventually be swayed by an enigmatic captain in a huge boat that he says is unsinkable. The boat will be as cheaply made as possible and already taking onboard water but not enough to worry about, yet.

You all take care and look after each other

P.S. A great many baby boomers will really struggle with the concept of nearly all of their pension being worthless. They will also struggle with the reality of heating their homes and feeding themselves but not yet, HOPEFULLY. I do write these things well in advance of publication.