The future ain't what it used to be

This marks our our 10th year of doing this. And by “this", we mean using data, logic and reason to support the very basic conclusion that infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible.

Surprisingly, this simple, rational idea -- despite its huge and fast-growing pile of corroborating evidence -- still encounters tremendous pushback from society. Why? Because it runs afoul of most people's deep-seated belief systems.

Our decade of experience delivering this message has hammered home what behavioral scientists have been telling us for years -- that, with rare exceptions, we humans are not rational. We're rationalizers. We try to force our perception of reality to fit our beliefs; rather than the other way around.

Which is why the vast amount of grief, angst and encroaching dread that most people feel in western cultures today is likely due to the fact that, deep down, whether we're willing to admit it to ourselves or not, everybody already knows the truth: Our way of life is unsustainable.

In our hearts, we fear that someday, possibly soon, our comfy way of life will be ripped away; like a warm blanket snatched off of our sleeping bodies on a cold night.

The simple reality is that society's hopes for a "modern consumer-class lifestyle for all" are incompatible with the accelerating imbalance between the (still growing) human population and the (increasingly depleting) planet's natural resources. Basic math and physics tell us that the Earth's ecosystems can't handle the load for much longer.

The only remaining question concerns how fast the adjustment happens. Will the future be defined by a "slow burn", one that steadily degrades our living standards over generations? Or will we experience a sudden series of sharp shocks that plunge the world into chaos and conflict?

It's hard to say. As Yogi Berra famously quipped, “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." So, it's left to us to remain open-minded and flexible as we draw up our plans for how we'll personally persevere through the coming years of change.

But even while the specifics about the future elude us today, “predicting" the macro trends most likely to influence the coming decades is very doable:

Rising trends:

  • Populism in politics
  • Federal debt levels
  • Geopolitical tensions
  • Interest rates

Falling trends:

  • Funding levels for pensions
  • The numbers of insects world wide
  • Confidence in the future among the younger generations
  • Wealth and income equality

Trends can be expected to continue until they change. Therefore making "predictions" on trends is like making a "prediction" about which way an already tossed ball will travel. It's not really a prediction at all, but a statement of observed data.

These two lists bring to mind another great Yogi Berra quote:

No, the future certainly isn't what it used to be.

Once it was a place in which you could invest towards your hopes and dreams, confident that conditions would be better for your children than they were for you.

That's no longer the case. The defining trends in play are all working to degrade, rather than enhance, our future prospects.

Which is why it's little surprise that millennials aren't saving for retirement. Here's the dim view many of them hold:

“In general, I regard the future as a multitude of possibilities, but most of them don't look good," Elias Schwartzman, 29, a musician, told me. “When I'm at retirement age, around 2050, I think it's possible we'll have seen a breakdown of modern society." Schwartzman said that he saw the future as encompassing one of two possibilities: an apocalyptic “total breakdown of industrial society," or “capitalism morphing into a complete plutocracy." “I think the argument can be made that we're well on the way to that reality," he added.
Wood, 32, a political consultant, told me via Twitter that she felt similarly. “I don't think the world can sustain capitalism for another decade," she explained. “It's socialism or bust. We will literally start having resource wars that will kill us all if we don't accept that the free market will absolutely destroy us within our lifetime [if] we don't start fighting its hegemony," she added.
(Source – Salon)

As someone who tracks economic, environmental and energy data closely, these views are neither surprising nor really debatable. They are merely trend extrapolations, which are difficult to dismiss.

What the older generations don't yet understand is that the economic and social models that rewarded them so richly are not doing the same for younger folks. In fact, those old models are visibly breaking down. And confidence in them is failing, too.

Younger people are increasingly seeing that the model of extractive, exponential growth (which is often errantly termed “capitalism" when, as practiced, it should be termed “corporate socialism") has no future. And of course, they are right.

But regardless of age, anyone with an open mind should be able to identify that something is wrong with the story of "endless growth". The evidence is pretty much everywhere we look:

(Source)

If we're willing to entertain the possibility that infinite exponential growth is impossible, and we extrapolate from there, what sort of economic trajectory would we expect to see as growth peters out? Exactly the sort we see in the above chart. Lower and slower growth that finally peters out and then slips into reverse for the rest of the story.

Sociologically, we'd expect people to be nervous, anxious, and scared as their dominant cultural narrative is increasingly revealed to be no longer viable. Ask yourself: is the world becoming calmer or more volatile? The rash of mass shootings, anti-establishment election victories, prescription drug epidemics, and returning nuclear war fears make the answer sadly obvious.

Biophysically, we'd expect to see key resources and species populations depleting at alarming rates -- which we are. This is due to diminishing returns: nearly every planetary resource is getting harder and more expensive to obtain. Mars anyone?

In a desperate attempt to mask the costs of of slower and lower growth, the world's central banking cartel has deployed its “one weird trick": lowering interest rates to historic rock-bottom levels. This has allowed for more debt to be crammed into the system for a few more years, to keep the mirage of the party continuing for just a little bit longer.

Because of that hail Mary, we have ended up in this very bizarre situation where our debt has been growing at twice the rate of our income -- which clearly will end up in a solvency crisis:

Perversely, the central banks are doing everything in their power to defend and propagate this unsustainable status quo, even though fourth grade math tells us it will surely end in ruin. How is it possible that this very simple observation eludes so many of those in positions of power? You'd have to be an intellectual yet idiot to hold the view that debts can forever compound at faster rate than income.

Further, we find that when the US government's deficit spending is stripped out from GDP growth, there actually hasn't been any economic growth at all for years:

(Source)

The US has been going deeper and deeper in debt simply to maintain the appearance of "economic growth". This whole illusion is being limped along for just a little while longer.

For what purpose? And why? Both excellent questions without a good answer. You should be asking yourself what "success" looks like here. What's the eng game? More growth? Okay, then what? More growth? Keep going along that line of thinking. Take as much time as you need.

Clearly there's an end to that story somewhere. Growth ceases. Presumably smart people in power get this, too, although they'll never admit it publicly so as not to spook the herd. Looking at the number of very well-connected and wealthy elites busily arranging bolt-hole properties to retreat to 'just in case', they're already well ahead of the general public in preparing for the tribulations to come.

All of which brings us to the very real prospect of war, as that has long been the favored path of politicians seeking to deflect public ire from their own policy failures. I worry that a major military conflict is dangerously close at hand. The ridiculous UK government narrative around the Skripal poisonings (which remains utterly illogical from start to finish) used to seriously degrade relationships between Russia and NATO has all the hallmarks of contrived political operation.

Added to the brewing geopolitical risk is the very likely prospect of the bursting of The Mother Of All Bubbles. When (not if, sadly) that happens, it will be truly catastrophic to every financial market in the world, and especially damaging to the western economies.

So the race is on. Will the bubble burst first? Or can the political class engineer a massive military distraction beforehand?

Regardless of who “wins" that race, you need to be physically, emotionally and financially prepared for these outcomes. PeakProsperity.com's (free) What Should I Do? guide is an essential resource for those not yet fully prepped, as well as is our Self-Assessment.

Yes. Things are that serious.

If you're not yet an enrolled subscriber to PeakProsperity.com, please consider becoming one now. 2018 is looking to be the shoo-in candidate for "The Year Everything Changed". Interest rates are finally rising. Volatility is finally returning to the financial markets. Oil prices are threatening to finally return to the critical $70/bbl range. The populace is finally waking up to the extent of the abuse perpetrated on their safety, personal data, and civil liberties. The crypto bubble has finally burst.

So many long-term trends that have defined the (false) sense of 'prosperity' over the past eight years are ending now. What ensues will be fast-paced disruption.

By enrolling, you'll stay abreast of developments and be able to position yourself (and your wealth) accordingly, benefiting from our daily work to harvest and synthesize all the complex information so you don't have to. You'll support will also help our ongoing efforts to bring Peak Prosperity's alternative message and insights to a greater percentage of the general public, who desperately need this information to counter the "Don't worry, everything is awesome!" narrative prevalent in our captive mass media.

In this vein, in Part 2: Everything Is Suddenly Deteriorating, Fast we analyze the recent whipsaw volatility that has broken out in the financial markets and explain why it, along with other markers we've been watching out for, indicates that the markets are poised to fall dramatically further from here -- whether war breaks out or not.

But even if this is as far as you're going to read, please get your preparations in place and get ready to hold fast. Things are only going to get bumpier from here.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

We've finally heard some news on the migrant caravan. Some of the migrants have given up and gone back home, but some are still there waiting at the border. A leader representing the group has decided to step forward, and he's made out a list of... demands. Remember when I said back in October that this caravan was originally formed as a Leftist act against the Honduran government by people with ties to Venezuela and Cuba? Well what do you know… wait until you hear who this guy is.

RELATED: BOMBSHELL: Filmmaker Ami Horowitz blows the lid off media's deceit about the migrant caravan

Alfonso Guerrero personally walked into the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, Mexico with a list of demands from the caravan. Get a load of this. The caravan is demanding that if they're not granted immediate asylum they want the following:

  1. Fifty thousand dollars in cash for every caravan member (which would be a total of tens of millions).
  2. The immediate removal of all U.S. economic and military assets in Honduras.

Failure to comply to these demands will result in the caravan continuing to try and penetrate the U.S. border.

I mean, if you're trying to appear like some grassroots movement for migrants that are just escaping the dangers of their own country, you might want to - oh I don't know - tone down the crazy Leftist freedom fighter schtick. I'm just saying. Demanding millions of dollars AND the removal of the U.S. military from Honduras kinda just screams, "Hey check me out. I'm a Marxist terrorist." It would have been basically the same thing if he just charged up to the embassy wearing a beret and shouted "Viva la Revolution!!" while firing off an RPG.

Well, it turns out this isn't the first time Mr Guerrero has tried to claim asylum. Back in 1987 he claimed asylum in Mexico after being suspected by the Honduran and U.S. government for - wait for it - left wing terrorism… Jeez, you know you really can't make this stuff up. This is INSANE. Here's the story…

This is ridiculous. Can we all now agree that this entire charade is a fraudulent scam?

In 1987 Honduras was ground zero for U.S. and Soviet proxy forces fighting the Cold War. The Contra rebels were actually based there, and leftists terrorists would sometimes carry out operations in the country in response. On August 8th a bomb was thrown into the China Palace restaurant, just a few miles from the U.S. military base in Honduras. Six American soldiers were injured in the blast. Alfonso Guerrero was the primary suspect. He escaped to Mexico and claimed asylum. The Reagan Administration charged the Mexican government for quote "harboring a terrorist" for granting Guerrero protection.

But all the caravan wants is a better life in the United States… oh and millions of dollars AND a list of political demands for their home country. This is ridiculous. Can we all now agree that this entire charade is a fraudulent scam? This is a Leftist political stunt. It has been since the very beginning.

TRANS-INSANITY: Not everyone is bowing down to the PC culture

DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Here's an incident that you won't hear about anywhere else. It doesn't fit the mainstream media's transgender narrative, their fairy tale of infinite genders, where any criticism is viewed as transphobic and taboo and certainly not something that the majority of Americans think or feel.

Last week, in West Point, Virginia, a high school French teacher named Peter Vlaming was fired after a five-and-a-half hour hearing that centered on his refusal to use a transgender student's specific gender pronouns. Vlaming said that doing so violated his religious beliefs.

RELATED: There is no truth anymore

Vlaming's lawyer Shawn Voyles told reporters:

Tolerance is a two-way street. Unfortunately, tolerance on the part of the school division has been noticeably absent. It chose to impose its own orthodoxy on Mr. Vlaming and fired him because he didn't relinquish his rights protected by the First Amendment.

School administrators fired Vlaming "due to this insubordination and repeated refusal to comply with directives made to him by multiple WPPS administrators."

The school justified the firing by pointing to a set of policies aimed at curbing misgendering of transgender students.

Vlaming's lawyer disputed this, saying that the policies include no such mention of transgenderism, adding that:

My client respects the rights of all students, including this student's rights; he simply asked that his rights be respected as well. Unfortunately, the school division refused to consider any solutions that would respect the freedoms of everyone involved.

There is a ray of hope in all of this, though. The students. A group of students from the school immediately staged a walkout in protest of Vlaming's firing.

One student told reporters:

I feel like everyone should have the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion as well.

Students lined up outside the school with signs that said, "Free Vlam." Another included a quote from Ben Shapiro: "Facts don't care about your feelings." Another read "You can't impose delusion onto us."

You can sigh a sigh of relief. There's hope for the future yet.

Whether it's a 'War on Christmas' or just progressivism run amok, the song 'Baby It's Cold Outside' has been firmly in the crosshairs this holiday season. Here are just a few of the headlines making the rounds:

Should radio stations stop playing 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'?

They range from the previous as questioning and then roll right into the following and assume facts not in evidence.

'Baby, It's Cold Outside,' Seen As Sexist, Frozen Out by Radio Stations

It may be seen as sexist but according to one radio stations polling, only about 5% do. Then they go from saying it's sexist to straight up claiming it as a rape song.

Radio Bans 'Baby It's Cold Outside' Over Claims It's A Rape Song, English Teacher Explains Its Real Meaning

And then they just flat out call for its retirement.

Is it time to retire 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'?

The left might think they are woke and on the right side of history in the wake of the #MeToo movement — but how shocked do you think they'd be if they knew Glenn beat them to the punch over a decade ago? Don't believe me? Take a listen to this clip from our audio vault from 2008.

Christmas has arrived early for mainstream media. They have their first sentencing of a major player in President Trump's inner circle. Yesterday, Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced by a federal judge in Manhattan. How did it come to this and how did Cohen explain himself to the judge? We start there next…

President Trump's former attorney, 52-year-old Michael Cohen, is going to jail. Well, it will probably be one of those federal prison camps with a dorm that's more like a college campus. But he's going to be locked up. A federal judge sentenced him to three years in prison for financial crimes, and two months for lying to Congress. He also ordered Cohen to pay $2 million in financial penalties. The judge called Cohen's misdeeds a "veritable smorgasbord of criminal conduct."

RELATED: Michael Cohen's plea deal won't lessen Trump's support. Here's why.

The judge said:

As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better. While Mr. Cohen is taking steps to mitigate his criminal conduct by pleading guilty and volunteering useful information to prosecutors, that does not wipe the slate clean.

Cohen pled guilty in August to eight criminal charges in two different cases. One brought by special counsel Robert Muller for Cohen's lying to Congress about a potential Trump Tower project in Moscow. The second was for bank-fraud, tax, and campaign finance violations brought by federal prosecutors in New York.

President Trump said recently that Cohen has simply been lying to get a reduced sentence for crimes that have nothing to do with him. Cohen was very emotional as he apologized to the judge, saying:

It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light. Time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass.

The left thinks that Cohen's sentencing marks the beginning of the end for Trump's presidency. They may be ultimately disappointed in that regard. But this does intensify the long national nightmare of the Muller investigation that seems to have no end in sight.