The economy is cooked

Hours ago, European Central Bank chief Mario Dragho conceded: "The growth cycle may have peaked"

Of course, those paying attention to the data already knew this. Our politicians and central planers have been peddling to us the fantasy that the global economy is strengthening, finally ready to fire on all cylinders after nearly ten years of dependence on monetary stimulus.

That just ain't so.

The Federal Reserve of Atlanta's GDPNow measure, which gives a forecast of Q1 2018's expected GDP, is currently coming in at 2.0%, down from the much more vigorous 5.4% growth predicted as recently as early February:

Generating this growth, meager as it is, has required a tremendous amount of new debt. So much more so that the US will soon have a worse debt-to-GDP ratio than perennial fiscal basket-case Italy:

U.S. Debt Load Seen Worse Than Italy's by 2023, IMF Predicts (Bloomberg)

In five years, the U.S. government is forecast to have a bleaker debt profile than Italy, the perennial poor man of the Group of Seven industrial nations.

The U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio is projected widen to 116.9 percent by 2023 while Italy’s is seen narrowing to 116.6 percent, according to the latest data from the International Monetary Fund. The U.S. will also place ahead of both Mozambique and Burundi in terms of the weight of its fiscal burden.

The numbers put renewed focus on the U.S. deteriorating budget after the enactment in December of $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, and the passage more recently of $300 billion in new spending. President Donald Trump’s administration argues that the tax overhaul combined with deregulation will help the economy accelerate, which in turn will generate enough extra revenue to avoid any fiscal fallout.

Officials with the Federal Reserve and Congressional Budget Office are skeptical about those expectations, as they forecast long-term economic growth will fall short of expansion rates needed to fund tax cuts. The central bank’s most recent forecasts show a median estimate of 2.7 percent for this year’s expansion slowing to 2 percent in 2020, while the CBO sees GDP growth slowing from 3.3 percent this year to 1.8 percent in 2020.

Looking back across the past 50 years, we can clearly see that the 2008 Great Financial Crisis was a turning point. That was the moment where our addiction to exponentially increasing our debts began to have real consequences.

The chart below clearly shows that, since then, we've been in an era of diminishing returns in exchanging debt for growth:

What can ride to the rescue at this point? Not much.

Our 'recovery' since 2008 is now one of the longest on record; another recession will occur sooner or later (Fannie Mae head economist Doug Duncan thinks one will likely arrive by next year).

Rising interest rates will only accelerate the advance of a recession. And interest rates are indeed on the rise, with 10-year Treasury yields having nearly doubled since July 2016:

10-YEAR TREASURY YIELD (%)

And with the arrival of recession, what will our leadership do? The only thing it knows how: print, borrow and deficit spend in attempt to boost 'growth'. Except the debt will be even more expensive this time, and it's ability to generate incremental growth per unit of new debt even weaker.

The Bigger Predicament

But sadly, as prodigious as it will be, our growing pile of debt isn't going to be the primary limiter of growth in the coming decades.

Instead, it will be Energy.

Oil prices are on the rise again, as the world is waking up to the fact that annual demand will exceed supply for decades to come and that the US shale 'miracle' will be a short-lived mirage. All while new oil field discoveries are the worst since World War 2.

With increasingly expensive energy -- and increasing global competition for it -- the economy will find itself increasingly constrained. We will be faced with a future of doing less.

This is not fear-mongering; it's science. Specifically, our destiny is in the hands of the Laws of Thermodynamics. Without a surfeit of new, plentiful, BTU-dense and affordable energy sources (which we simply don't see on the horizon), economic growth cannot be sustained.

One of the best explanations I've read on this is the report my fellow Peak Prosperity co-founder, Chris Martenson, wrote upon finishing the book version of The Crash Course. It remains to this day one of his most seminal warnings of the global predicament we a species face on this finite planet.

In Part 2: Energy Is The Non-Negotiable Element Defining Our Future, we re-publish this report in full, which is even more relevant and important to heed today then when Chris wrote it eight years ago -- as our economy specifically, and humanity in general, are totally unprepared for a future of even slightly less energy.

Everything is tuned to grow exponentially. There is no "plan B".

We have no models yet for how to manage in a world of de-growth, so we will blindly slam into this crisis head-on. But as painful as they will be, the economic woes at that time will be the least of our worries.

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

Go to the polls and keep mob rule at bay

Scott Olson/Getty Images

November is nearly upon us, and polls are starting to come out. The most recent was a poll conducted last week by the Washington Post and ABC News that showed Congressional Democrats have an 11 point lead heading into the midterms. The biggest swing, as expected after the Kavanaugh circus, is Independent women who are sliding Democrat 52% to 38% Republican.

This is a significant build on the lead last reported back in mid September. Real Clear Politics took the average of eighteen total polls, minus Rasmussen - because it's uh… Rasmussen - and it showed Democrats holding on to a slim lead of six and a half points.

RELATED: Kavanaugh might be the force to turn back the blue wave

If this trajectory holds, it appears that the Left got exactly what they wanted when they tried to destroy a man's life all in the disgusting name of politics. They wanted a repeat of the 1991/92 Clarence Thomas fallout - later dubbed "The Year of The Woman - and they're on pace to get it.

How is it that we are so easily played by these awful people we call politicians? This is something I realize everyone listening right now already knows, but if your first thought is emotion every time someone in Washington opens their mouth… take a step back! Do some research and ask yourself, "Why am I feeling so outraged?" This has never been more important than right now. The left is abandoning the rule of law and moving towards mob rule. There's a reason why they all want to abolish the Electoral College. They want to work you up into a frenzy, and then they want to unleash you on the polling booth. But it's all fake. It's a con.

If fiscal responsibility is this bad now, imagine how bad it'll get with a Democrat controlled House, Senate and Executive Branch. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University just released their annual report on fiscal accountability, showing which states are run the most efficiently. Over the past several years, these are the worst run states in the entire Union: Illinois, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Mexico, New York and Rhode Island. Notice a common denominator here? Every single one is a blue state.

We cannot hand power over to mob rule.

On the other hand, these are the most efficiently ran states: South Dakota, Tennessee, Nebraska, Florida, Utah, Alaska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Montana. Umm, yeah… ALL Red states.

The facts and numbers are there, but the Left doesn't want you to see them. They don't want you doing your own homework… they just want you pissed off! Don't give in to the outrage. We cannot hand power over to mob rule. There's too much at stake.

"May you live in interesting times" it seems, is actually not an ancient Chinese saying, blessing or curse. The strongest match one can find to its origins comes from the Yorkshire Post in 1936:

Sir Austen Chamberlain, addressing the annual meeting of Birmingham Unionist Association last night, spoke of the "grave injury" to collective security by Germany's violation of the Treaty of Locarno.

Sir Austen, who referred to himself as "a very old Parliamentarian," said:

It is not so long ago that a member of the Diplomatic Body in London, who had spent some years of his service in China, told me that there was a Chinese curse which took the form of saying, 'May you live in interesting times.' There is no doubt that the curse has fallen on us. We move from one crisis to another. We suffer one disturbance and shock after another.

I like the quote, Chinese or English, as it gives us a correct or new perspective on strife, should we care to view our struggles as neither blessing nor curse. My father taught this to me as a small child. But I only really learned it in one of the darkest chapters of my life. Alcoholism and divorce. There is nothing that life can hand to you that is in itself bad. It all depends on what you do with it. Will you allow it to change you in destructive ways through anger, bitterness and despair? Or will you allow it, whatever it is, to strengthen you through enlightenment, correction, humility?

There is nothing that life can hand to you that is in itself bad. It all depends on what you do with it.

We have a desperate need for humility in our society from DC to Hollywood. Everyone left and right is convinced that either they are or their side is absolutely right. And if someone on their side strays from the pack, then they must be "a traitor to the race, party or cause". They are wrong and we remain right. Scientific atheists "know that there is no God" even though almost everything they now believe or "know" in science now proves that the scientists that came before them were wrong. How can those whose field has been built on enhancing, evolving, or outright proving that others and their theories were wrong, be so certain? If those who should be the least certain of final truth are now calling heretic for those who disagree, we are indeed living in interesting times.

But it isn't a "them" problem even though that is what the world is currently trying to sell each of us. It is instead a simple "us" issue. Perhaps we don't see it because we are so busy staging, filtering, or enhancing the colors on our Facebook or Instagram pics that we can no longer recognize or even like the simple truth about us and what our life really is. Much of our life is a lie. We have been marketed to since we were born, told that we are not complete unless we wear, consume, own, vacation at or buy product 1 or 2. It has gone so far as telling us that not only are we not good enough if we don't have all of that, but now, we cannot even be a part of the great new society unless we believe and champion (product, politician or party) A, B or C. Opinions have become products.

Now, however, we are in the next and perhaps final stage. We ourselves are the product. Companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and YouTube no longer see us as the customer, but what we do, think and believe are now commodities. If you cannot fill this line in: "I am ____________ , Someone will always be there to fill it in for you. Buy this makeup to use the word beautiful. This label to let others know "I AM cool, or in style," or even "I AM rich.'

Buy Democrat to be "compassionate," "smarter than others," or "science-minded." It doesn't matter if you really are any of those things in reality, the label is all you need. Buy Republican if you want to be patriotic, support our troops or for family values. We now buy and believe labels and always judge a book by its cover. Buy the label "Christian" and you can love any life you want but you now can use religion to excuse either yours or anyone else's behaviors. Buy the label progressive and you believe in science even though you deny it in basic biology.

Even labels that were never for sale like "courage" come with a price tag, and its price keeps going lower and lower. Now, this once time revered label can be yours for simply saying things out loud to a room full of people who agree with you and will all cheer when you say it.

Labels and words are experiencing a fire sale and it seems "everything must go."

What comes next is always tough.

Heaven knows the proper price to attach to something so celestial as freedom. — Thomas Payne.

Each generation, except for the last, has had to earn and renew their freedom. They did not buy or sell the label the "greatest generation." In fact, it wasn't even them that came up with that title. It was the "boomers." At the time, there were no labels - they just saw themselves as people, as Americans. They saw the crisis not as anyone's fault, but rather as their turn to stand and do the right thing. It is what they did with their "crisis" that made others bestow the "greatest generation" title on them, and only years later.

We are living in a time of great crisis, not much different or of smaller scale than the great struggles of the past. All of the labels we think we have now, will fall away. Those that we have bought will become worthless and every new label will be purchased with blood, sweat, tears and courage.

Barack Obama and Donald Trump are neither the problem nor the solution. They are a symptom.

What we will face, in the end, will not be smaller than what many of our grandparents or great grandparents faced in the World Wars. No less frightening than the global economic unrest of the 1930's. Nor will it be any greater. It will just be ours. And just like the generations past, it will be our choice on whether or not we survive. What a blessing. The boomers feasted off the crisis of their parents and never truly had to choose life or death, freedom or slavery. They never had to push themselves as a group beyond what humans thought possible to achieve something as valuable as freedom.

The crisis we are just now beginning to see is a blessing our parents never received. Each of us will have to pick between black and white, slavery or freedom, good or evil, and life or death. We will all know in the years to come who we really are, if we chose carefully or if we simply allowed ourselves to become. We can become, through this struggle, exactly who we were born to be. Our best and highest selves.

If each of us were honest and began to see this struggle in the proper light, we would admit that it is the softness of our foundations that have caused these struggles. Barack Obama and Donald Trump are neither the problem nor the solution. They are a symptom. Look all around you. No matter whom you voted for, you will admit that the country, and perhaps the entire world over, is sick.

We are all feeling it and each of our political doctors are seeing the same symptoms and prescribing the opposite medicine. Each of us, as patients, all so desperate to cure what is killing us, become more and more vested in our own "doctor's cure." Our doctor is right and yours is wrong! At the same times each doctor knows that he or she has everything to lose if his patients begin to seek another opinion, diagnosis or remedy. It is their best interest to keep their patients busy looking at the other side. Meanwhile, none of us stop and ask if the diagnosis is even correct. I guess we are just too busy fighting for what our doctor said.

I am not sure about you, but when I am sick or in pain, I am usually at my worst interpersonally. We all snap at others. We act as our lesser selves. When I am sick, fearful or angry, it is almost always followed by a time where I begin conversations with, "I am so sorry for what I said or did, I was just having a really bad day."

We are all having a really very bad, most difficult day. Everyday, it seems.

While it is true that there are difficulties and dangers that lie ahead of us, we must not assume that we will lay down and watch our country go to ruin. Many, if not most of those who voted for democrats and those who voted for republican have much in common with those who voted for neither. While parties and politicians try to convince us otherwise, and many of us may have believed it or even engaged in this "warfare," it is becoming more and more clear that our neighbors are not our enemies.

While it is true that there are difficulties and dangers that lie ahead of us, we must not assume that we will lay down and watch our country go to ruin.

If you are finding this a difficult concept to reconcile, simply ponder what our ancestors came here for, be it three months or three centuries ago. To make a better life, in a country that would allow you to follow your dream, work hard and keep what you built so your children could live a better life than you did and achieve even more than you did. That opportunity came not from this land, or even its people, but rather from its mission statement: "all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and pursuit of happiness." While that mission statement was and always be aspirational, it has never been fully achieved. It is shaped and given the best chance to succeed when it is protected by the guardrails of the constitution and bill of rights. It is indeed our laws, which come from our American Thesis, that has created the modern world. It is indeed why people still die trying to get on this side of our border.

Is it too much of a stretch to believe that you and I are not alone in our doubt of our doctors? Are we the only ones left that think our neighbor, who knows how sick we all are, really wants everyone who disagrees with their doctor to die? Maybe they have seen flaws in their practitioner as we have. Maybe if we stop spending all our time looking at what is wrong with "them" and what's wrong with America, we can begin to see the things that are right and good.

Perhaps we are not as sick as some of these doctors tell us we are. Perhaps they are more akin to bad, crooked chiropractors that have done more damage to our spine than good and will bilk us for every dime week after week until we finally say no or are broke. We haven't wanted to listen to our friends, or those who tell us differently, because we feel the fool.

Perhaps we are beyond help and only have months to live, but, I don't think it needs to be this way. If we are going down, I want to go down with my friends and family around me. All of them, even those who told me not to listen to my doctor or the one I angrily chased away because I just knew they were wrong.

It is easy to jump on the bandwagon and light fires. It is harder always to put them out.

It is easy to jump on the bandwagon and light fires. It is harder always to put them out. Easy to lose friends and harder to make them. In the end, our founding documents are just an idea. I think a really good idea. One that says we can and should all be who we choose to be and live the life we build for ourselves with dignity and security.

But that idea fails if no one remembers it or believes in it.

I still do.

I am not a doctor but I think our illness is all in our heads. We have been convinced by those who suffer from some sort of societal Munchausen by proxy, that we are fatally ill and will only survive because of them. I think they need us to be sick and I for one think we as a people have had enough bed rest.

Once we choose to see things the way they are, coupled with who we always strived to be — our best selves — we will be fine and perhaps stronger than ever. I believe if we can once again see the best in each other — put our past in the past, and our strife and crisis in the right light — down the road, some other generation will name this one — I believe it will be good.

But one thing is sure, it will not be one we choose but rather the label we earned.

North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson is a free man and back on U.S. soil. After being jailed for over two years by the Turkish government, U.S. officials secured Brunson's release on Friday.

Brunson appeared in a Turkish court on Friday, where he was declared guilty of aiding groups who attempted to overthrow President Erdogan in 2016, but he was sentenced to time already served. Brunson has always denied all the charges. He and his wife had served as missionaries in Turkey for 25 years without any previous such accusations. Brunson's arrest seemed to be just part of Erdogans's crackdown on any and all threats to his power, no matter how minor.

RELATED: Apparently religious liberty doesn't apply to Christians in Pakistan

The decision to finally release Brunson followed months of pressure and behind-the-scenes negotiations by the Trump administration. The pastor's detainment frayed relations between Turkey and the U.S. Turkey wanted the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric whom Erdogan blames for orchestrating the coup attempt against him. Doesn't look like that's in the cards now.

Brunson and his wife met with President Trump in the Oval Office on Saturday, where Brunson prayed for the president. The media covering the meeting quickly changed the subject to the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. They wanted to know whether Brunson's release had anything to do with Turkey's desire for the U.S. to put pressure on Saudi Arabia for answers about Khashoggi. President Trump insisted that: "The timing is a strict coincidence. It really is."

That might've been a little more believable if he hadn't tacked on the "it really is" part.

Khashoggi, who works for The Washington Post, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd. The Turkish government says Saudi agents then murdered him and dismembered his body. Saudi Arabia continues to deny any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance.

Pastor Brunson looked severely out of place sitting there in the Oval Office.

Pastor Brunson's release will not suddenly thaw relations between the U.S. and Turkey. In reference to Brunson, the headline of a pro-Erdogan newspaper on Saturday said, "Never come back again!"

Pastor Brunson on the other hand, expressed no bitterness toward Turkey during the Oval Office press conference. He said: "We were there for 25 years, and we love the Turkish people."

Pastor Brunson looked severely out of place sitting there in the Oval Office – a humble pastor, devoted to his faith and flock, caught for a moment in the dirty, ruthless, sticky web of international politics.

This weekend, once again, Portland became the stage for radicalism and violence, insanity pretending to be heroic. An extreme, real-world outbreak of the tribal warfare that has shaken our culture and our country as a whole. Of course I'm talking about Antifa.

Yes, there were right-leaning protestors there, but, as usual, they were the ones under attack.

RELATED: Portland mayor allows hostile Antifa mob to threaten city's residents

If only Antifa members realized how utterly postmodern they are—I mean, let's start with the fact that they showed up to an event called the "Law and Order March" with "hard knuckle gloves, knives and firearms." The resultant mayhem has become so common that it would be redundant to give the details. And, more important, what matters here is that this behavior is not only continuing, but worsening.

I don't like to talk about problems and leave people without a solution, or at least a hint of reassurance.

Last week, The Atlantic published an article, titled "Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture"

Here are a few standouts:

Some 8 percent of Americans are progressive activists, and their views are even less typical. By contrast, the two-thirds of Americans who don't belong to either extreme constitute an 'exhausted majority.' Their members 'share a sense of fatigue with our polarized national conversation, a willingness to be flexible in their political viewpoints, and a lack of voice in the national conversation.' Most members of the 'exhausted majority,' and then some, dislike political correctness. Among the general population, a full 80 percent believe that 'political correctness is a problem in our country.' Even young people are uncomfortable with it, including 74 percent ages 24 to 29, and 79 percent under age 24. On this particular issue, the woke are in a clear minority across all ages.

And here's the real clincher, a hard-and-fast, data-based assertion that most of us, most of America, has realized all along but has been too petrified to express:

Compared with the rest of the (nationally representative) polling sample, progressive activists are much more likely to be rich, highly educated—and white. They are nearly twice as likely as the average to make more than $100,000 a year. They are nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree. And while 12 percent of the overall sample in the study is African American, only 3 percent of progressive activists are. With the exception of the small tribe of devoted conservatives, progressive activists are the most racially homogeneous group in the country.

Antifa is the most perfect representation of this bratty population. They, more than any other group or individual, represent the heinous, obnoxious intentions of the New Left. As I have said before, their social justice warfare is inherently postmodern. Their war is against you.

But, there is a way out.

But, there is a way out.

I can assume that if you're listening to me now, you're already going to vote in a few weeks during mid-terms. That's a big one. The other thing you can do is stay informed. And remember that you are not alone, not by far.