The End Is Nigh
Recently, US Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin stated, “If China doesn't follow these sanctions [against North Korea], we will put additional sanctions on them and prevent them from accessing the U.S. and international dollar system."
By this, he meant that the US would shut China out of the SWIFT system, through which the great majority of international settlements are facilitated. In stating this, the US government is doing nothing less than threatening economic warfare against China, which would unquestionably prove catastrophic to the global economy.
This is astonishingly shortsighted, as the US can no more do without trade with China than China can do without trade with the US. Further, the US will unquestionably pressure its other trading partners (particularly the EU) to endorse and follow the sanctions. This they will not comply with, as it would serve to cut their own economic throats. The relationships between the US and their partners have been wearing thin in recent years and the present threat against China is very likely to prove to be the final straw. The net effect would be to place the US out on an economic limb, alone.
There may be those who disagree with this premise, under the assumption that, to cut China out of the SWIFT system would destroy China’s ability to make international transactions, forcing them to cave to US demands. However, China, Russia and others have seen this day coming and have created their own SWIFT system, world cable network and world banking system. All that’s needed to kick it all into gear is a major international need to bypass SWIFT. The US government has just provided that need with this threat. There would certainly be teething pains in getting the new system running on a massive scale, but the sudden worldwide need would drive the implementation.
This threat by the US at a time when it’s broke is, in effect, economic suicide.
But, just as the ink is drying on this announcement, the increasingly impetuous US president has cracked a deal with Democrats to permanently abolish the US debt ceiling. As the debt ceiling was the last safeguard in governmental fiscal responsibility, he’s effectively chosen to assure that the US will experience economic collapse.
Again, economic suicide.
It could be argued that the insatiable ego of “the Donald” has driven him to recklessness. Indeed, it’s been his habit, when opposed on anything he wishes to do, to lash out, often creating far more dangerous deals, and saying, effectively, “So, there. I showed you. I’ll do as I please, no matter the damage.” This would suggest that he’s the “Lemming In Chief,” leading the US over a fiscal cliff.
It could also be argued that he is, instead, the “Patsy In Chief,” and is being cleverly played by those who understand his personality weaknesses and repeatedly goad him into unwise decisions that will benefit them, but will ultimately be disastrous for the country.
Either way, what we’re witnessing is a train wreck about to happen, and we’re all, to a greater or lesser extent, on that train.
For many years, in predicting the economic collapse of what was once known as the “free world,” I’ve stated my belief that, whilst we cannot predict the actual dates when the primary events will occur, we can observe the lead-up events; that they’ll increase in both frequency and magnitude, the closer we get to the collapse. We’ve recently been in the stage where lead-up events have become weekly. We now appear to be entering the stage where lead-up events become daily. Once we’ve reached this stage, it’s time to fasten our seat belts.
So, in returning to the image above, is this the end of the world? In a word, no. Those who profess the coming end of the world have been with us for, literally, thousands of years. They’re just as misguided and incorrect today as they’ve always been.
It is true, however, that the world as we know it is about to undergo the most dramatic change that we’ll witness in our lifetimes. Most certainly, we’re presently in the greatest economic bubble the world has ever seen, which assures us that, when it breaks, the damage it causes will be correspondingly great.
But let’s have a second look at the image above. It seems apparent that the three men in it are part of a religious group, recommending that mankind repent. As can be seen on the placard in the middle, “Ye must be cleansed.”
Regardless of any religious connotations to this placard, there’s accuracy in its economic connotations. A collapse is inescapable at this point. The system must be cleansed, much in the way an alcoholic must dry out, or an addict must get the drugs out of his system, before the recovery can begin.
When a crisis of these proportions occurs, it’s not possible to simply acknowledge the collapse, then begin anew the next day. Just like the alcoholic or the addict, we can’t just hit the re-set button and start anew. After a collapse, a long and painful process must begin to cleanse the system. In a collapse of the severity of the one we’re facing, the cleansing promises to be quite long and quite painful.
Twenty years ago, in predicting the coming collapse, Harry Schultz predicted, “ten years down; ten years up.” It may well be that his prediction was actually conservative, and we’re now looking at a longer period, as so much additional damage has been done since his prediction.
But, before we leave this topic, it’s important to look at one more factor. Historically, economic wars have a habit of becoming shooting wars. It’s not commonly known that the US war with Japan was precipitated by the US repeatedly putting the squeeze on Japan economically.
President Roosevelt froze Japanese assets in the US. He subsequently succeeded in cutting Japan off from three quarters of their international trade. Finally, he cut them off from almost 90% of their oil supply.
It could be argued that, at that point, Japan had no choice but to go to war, however badly it might turn out for them.
Could it be that the US government imagines that similar tactics will force China into a war, so that, when that war ends, the US would control China as it did Japan after 1945?
If that’s their intent, the outcome would be unlikely to turn out as they imagine. Although the sabre rattling by US political leaders and retired generals is heard daily on the American news programmes, and the American people are clearly being indoctrinated to believe that war might be necessary, America has never been less ready for a war.
The US is a very different country from what it was in 1941. It does possess a sizable military; however, that military is no match for the combined forces of China and Russia. Moreover, the US is not the industrial giant it was in 1941. Its factories have largely closed and moved overseas. What remains is not sufficient for wartime production. The American people as a whole are heavily in debt and the government itself is broke.
By any standard, the actions being taken by the US are therefore reckless indeed. The end of the world is not nigh, but the end of the world as we know it most certainly is.
If there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, it may lie in the fact that, in previous world wars, there were always countries that simply didn’t take part. They sat it out in peace, while the rest of the world went mad. This is still true today.
Sep 18, 2017
Jeff Thomas is British and resides in the Caribbean. The son of an economist and historian, he learned early to be distrustful of governments as a general principle. Although he spent his career creating and developing businesses, for eight years, he penned a weekly newspaper column on the theme of limiting government. He began his study of economics around 1990, learning initially from Sir John Templeton, then Harry Schulz and Doug Casey and later others of an Austrian persuasion. He is now a regular feature writer for Casey Research’s International Man, Strategic Wealth Preservation in the Cayman Islands and 321Gold.