The Overlapping Crises Are Coming, Regardless Of Who’s In Power

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
By Paul Martin

by Charles Hugh-Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,
Mar 28, 2017

No leader can reverse the dynamics of mutually reinforcing crises.

Commentators seem split into three camps: those who see Trump as a manifestation of smouldering social/economic ills, those who see Trump and his supporters as the cause of those ills, and those who see Trump as both manifestation and cause of those ills.

I think this misses the point, which is the overlapping crises unfolding in this decade– diminishing returns on skyrocketing debts, the demographics of an aging populace, the erosion of the social contract and the profound disunity of political elites--will continue expanding and feeding on each other regardless of who is in power.

Historical analysis seems to swing between the “Big Man/Woman” narrative that views individuals as the drivers of history, and the “Big Forces/it’s all economics” narrative that sees individual leaders as secondary to the broad sweep of forces beyond the control of any individual or group.

So while the mainstream views President Lincoln as the linchpin of the Civil War–his election triggered the southern secession–from the “Big Forces/it’s all economics” view, Lincoln was no more than the match that lit a conflict that was made inevitable by forces larger than the 1860 election.

The tension between these two narratives is valuable, as history cannot be entirely reduced to individual decisions or broad forces (weather, resource depletion, financial crisis, geopolitical upheaval, demographics, plague, etc.). The dynamic interplay between the two shapes history.

Individuals do matter–but they cannot offset structural crises for long.

Which brings us to Trump. The status quo is falling apart for profoundly structural reasons: promises made when growth was robust, debt was modest, energy was cheap and abundant and the work force was far more numerous than those dependent on the central state’s “pay as you go” pension and welfare programs– these promises made in yesteryear can no longer be kept, regardless of who’s in power.

We cannot get blood out of a turnip, and those who claim we can are only exacerbating the coming crises with their fantasies and denials.

I’ve been addressing these slow-moving, inevitable crises for the past 10 years. Despite the illusion of tepid “growth” and the maintenance of the status quo, beneath the surface everything is becoming much more fragile and increasingly brittle.

Even Timothy Geithner concedes this in his recent Foreign Affairs article on how to deal with the next global financial crisis. The central banks and states have expended all their ammunition– lowering interest rates, creating money out of thin air to bolster systemic liquidity, buying bonds and other assets to prop up shaky markets, and borrowing immense sums to prop up government spending– and there is little left for the next crisis.

The Rest…HERE

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