Debt

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Si han completado el capítulo anterior sobre la deuda, puede que se estén preguntando si sus ahorros o sus activos les permitirán hacer frente a tal endeudamiento. En el próximo capítulo me ocuparé de los activos. En este capítulo presentaré pruebas fehacientes de que Usamérica se ha mostrado incapaz de ahorrar dinero en todos los estamentos de su sociedad, lo que convierte a su gobierno en insolvente. Les aclaro que utilizo el término insolvente con todo el peso de su significado. Mientras que la quiebra es un proceso legal que se inicia cuando los desembolsos de dinero no alcanzan para pagar las deudas, la insolvencia tiene lugar cuando los pasivos exceden a los activos, lo cual es el primer paso en el camino que lleva directamente a la quiebra.

La finalidad del Crash Course consiste en ofrecerles el contexto y los datos necesarios para que sean capaces de evaluar con precisión las probabilidades y los riesgos que correrá nuestra economía durante los próximos años. Mi opinión es que los próximos veinte años van a ser completamente distintos de los últimos veinte, y en apoyo de esta afirmación me propongo guiarlos por el terreno de seis áreas esenciales. La Deuda, el Ahorro, los Activos, la Demografía, el Pico del petróleo y el Cambio climático Cualquiera de ellos puede plantear gravísimos problemas por sí solo, pero la combinación de dos o tres a la vez… bueno, prefiero dejar que lo evalúen ustedes.

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Con este capítulo iniciamos la segunda parte del Crash Course. Aquí encontrarán la información que nos llevó a mí y a mi familia a hacer profundos cambios en nuestras vidas, nuestra casa y mi trabajo, o incluso en dónde comprar nuestros alimentos. Con los conocimientos que han adquirido hasta ahora ya pueden comprender de qué manera los componentes de la sigla EEMA, es decir, Economía, Energía y Medio Ambiente, se entrecruzan y convergen en una estrecha ventana al futuro: Los próximos veinte años. Los datos que presentaré a partir de ahora me han llevado a la conclusión de que los próximos veinte años van a ser totalmente distintos de los últimos veinte. Debo advertirles algo: este material puede ser espeluznante y quizás algunos de ustedes lo encuentren difícil de soportar.

Así que empezaremos esta segunda parte con “La deuda”. Estudiaremos dos nuevos conceptos clave, de los cuales uno es esencial. Se trata del siguiente: Las deudas que no cesan de crecer dan por supuesto de forma implícita que el futuro va a ser mejor que el presente. En este capítulo examinaremos con todo detalle dicha afirmación.

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Jetzt stürzen wir uns in den zweiten Teil des Crash Course. Hier zeige ich auf, welche Informationen mich und meine Familie veranlassten, unser Leben grundlegend zu ändern – wo wir leben, meine Arbeitswelt und sogar, woher wir unsere Nahrungsmittel bekommen.

Mit dem jetzt verfügbaren Hintergrundwissen können wir verstehen, wie die drei „E“s, die für die Energie, Wirtschaft und Ökologie stehen, verbunden sind und in einem eng begrenzten Zeitfenster von ca. 10 Jahren zusammenlaufen.

Die 2010er Jahre. Es sind die Betrachtungen der folgenden Kapitel, welche mich zu der Annahme veranlassen, dass die nächsten 20 Jahre vollständig anders sein werden, als es die letzten 20.

Eine kleine Warnung: Dieses Material kann schockieren und auch emotional herausfordernd sein.

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Along the continuum of irrational financial behavior, it can be tricky to tell the difference between a bubble, a mania, and mere touch of exuberance. A bubble is reserved for the height of folly, and history is rich with folly.

So how would we know that we’re in an ‘asset bubble’? What do they look like and what can we expect when one bursts? The Fed famously likes to claim that you can’t spot one until it bursts. But actually you can, and the definition is pretty simple.

Bubbles used to happen once every generation or so, because it took time to forget the pain from the damage. Today we are facing the bursting of a second major asset bubble, housing, spaced less than ten years from the bursting of the dot-com bubble. This is simply astounding and thoroughly unprecedented. It is the largest bubble in all of history and will probably be the most destructive. And it is happening right now.

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If you’ve just seen the previous chapter on debt, then you might be wondering if either our savings or our assets are of sufficient quantity to make those levels of debt perfectly manageable. In this chapter I will present evidence that the United States has failed to save money at virtually every level of society and make the claim that the United States government is insolvent.

A personal failure to save has been reflected by a state and local failure to save, which are mirrored by a corporate failure to save, all dwarfed by a failure to save at the federal government level. And capping it all off is a profound failure to invest. All of these deficits lie before us and lead me to conclude that the next twenty years are going to be completely unlike the last twenty years.

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Now we enter Part Two of the Crash Course. With the background you’ve received thus far, you are now positioned to understand how the Three “E”s - the Economy, Energy, and the Environment - intersect and seemingly converge on a very narrow window of the future - the Twenty-Teens. The next twenty years are going to be completely unlike the last twenty years.

For you and me, there are only two ways to settle a debt: 1) Pay it off or 2) default on it. If you have a printing press like the government does, a third option exists: 3) Printing money to pay for the debt. So what is debt, really? Debt represents future consumption taken today.

Our entire economic system, and by extension our way of life, is founded on debt, and debt is founded on the assumption that the future will always be bigger than the past. Therefore it is utterly vital that we examine this assumption closely, because if this assumption is false, so are a lot of other critical things that we may be taking for granted.

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During the Crash Course, you will often encounter numbers that are expressed intrillions. How much is a trillion?

A trillion is a very, very big number, and I think it would be worth spending a couple of minutes trying to get our arms around the concept.

Make no mistake, we should not be lulled into complacency simply because it is too big to really get our minds around.

Keep this lesson in mind as we discuss the total accumulated debts and liabilities of the US, which are many tens of trillions of dollars.

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Here’s a quote from a Federal Reserve publication entitled “Putting it Simply”: When you or I write a check, there must be sufficient funds in our account to cover the check, but when the Federal Reserve writes a check there is no bank deposit on which that check is drawn. When the Federal Reserve writes a check, it is creating money.

Wow. That is an extraordinary power. Whereas you or I need to work to obtain money, and place it at risk to have it grow, the Federal Reserve simply prints up as much as it wishes, whenever it wants, and then loans it to us via the US government, with interest.

All dollars are backed by debt. There are two kinds of money out there. At the local bank level, all new money is loaned into existence. At the Federal Reserve level, money is simply manufactured out of thin air and then exchanged for interest-paying government debt. And perpetual expansion is a requirement of modern banking.