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Banks Are Evil

It's time to get painfully honest about this
Friday, March 17, 2017, 8:05 PM

I don't talk to my classmates from business school anymore, many of whom went to work in the financial industry.

Why?

Because, through the lens we use here at PeakProsperity.com to look at the world, I've increasingly come to see the financial industry -- with the big banks at its core -- as the root cause of injustice in today's society. I can no longer separate any personal affections I might have for my fellow alumni from the evil that their companies perpetrate.

And I'm choosing that word deliberately: Evil. » Read more

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Off The Cuff: The Global Flow Of Money

It's determining the price of everything right now
Thursday, January 5, 2017, 6:42 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles Hugh Smith discuss:

  • Cultural Capital
    • How will those around you react during a crisis?
  • The Fragility Within Our Centralized System
    • Lots of dependencies that can fail & bring the entire system to a halt
  • Musical Chairs
    • Who will have to eat the bad debts when the can can no longer be kicked?
  • The Importance Of Global Capital Flows
    • They're determining the price of everything

As 2017 kicks off, Chris sits down with Charles to discuss some of the big themes likely to drive events in this new year. The two focus on the growing instability of our centralized systems -- economic, energy and otherwise -- and pay particular attention to the impact that the huge pool of money sloshing around the world is having on prices everywhere. Right now, that flood of capital -- out of bonds and into stocks, the dollar, etc -- is the primary driver of prices. Of course, this should make us ask: what will happen when those flows change direction? Or instead of continuing to grow, start receding?

Click to listen to a sample of this Off the Cuff Podcast or Enroll today to access the full audio and other premium content today. » Read more

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Hell To Pay

The final condition for a market crash is falling into place
Friday, September 23, 2016, 5:23 PM

Those familiar with my writing know I put the word “markets” in quotes because we no longer have a financial system where legitimate price discovery is a regular -- or even recognizable -- feature.

It's destined to fail. What more can be said about such a flawed system?

Well, a lot as it turns out. 

And failure to pay attention at this stage of economic and ecological history will prove to be exceptionally painful. » Read more

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The Keys To Prosperity

How to work the macro trends to your favor
Friday, September 9, 2016, 8:26 PM

Executive Summary

  • What are the big systemic trends that will impact our personal prosperity?
  • Realizing why the future will have less of everything
  • Strategies for thriving with less
  • The importance of owning & managing capital

If you have not yet read Part 1: If Everything's Doing So Great, How Come I’m Not? available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part 1, we asked 30 questions as a means of assessing whether individuals and households are doing better or worse than they were 10 years ago (2007) and 16 years ago (in 2000)—before the dot-com meltdown recession and the Global Financial Meltdown recession of 2008-09.

Identifying Systemic Trends

These questions attempt to sort out generalized decay that affects everyone—declines in purchasing power, quality of goods and services, etc.—from declines in individual/household health, well-being and financial security.

The questions also attempt to sharpen our awareness of systemic trends: are our prospects brightening or dimming? Are government services improving or declining as our taxes increase?

General trends manifest in different ways in each community/region.  For example, the city and county of San Francisco is booming, with strong growth of population (866,000 residents), jobs, rents, housing valuations and tax revenues. Yet even as the city and county of San Francisco’s annual budget swells to an incomprehensible $9.6 billion—larger than the budgets of many U.S. state governments, and four times the annual budget of the city and county of Honolulu, with 998,000 residents—the homeless problem in San Francisco becomes ever more intractable, intrusive and disruptive, despite tens of millions of dollars devoted specifically to improving the options available to the homeless.

This is an example of larger trends that manifest in one way or another in the majority of communities: increasing costs and complexity, diminishing returns on money spent, frustration by taxpayers receiving unsatisfactory services as tax revenues increase, and problems that continue to worsen regardless of how much money is thrown at them.

There are many causal factors driving these trends of decay, rising costs and diminishing returns: a state-cartel system of regulatory capture that enforces cartels and limits competition; rising complexity of regulations that result in reduced productivity and higher costs; a “vetocracy” (Francis Fukuyama’s term) in which special interests can veto any measure with their political clout that impinges on their wealth and power; central bank monetary policies that enrich the wealthy and strip interest income from everyone else; and government manipulation of statistics and markets to manage perceptions—in effect, ignore your lying eyes and believe us: everything’s going great!

Then there's the shadowy monster in the room... » Read more

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The Great Market Tide Has Now Shifted To Risk-Off Assets

A global sea-change in risk appetite & sentiment
Friday, July 8, 2016, 3:03 PM

In the conventional investment perspective, risk-on assets (i.e. investments with higher risks and higher potential returns) such as stocks are on a see-saw with risk-off assets (investments with lower returns and lower risk, such as Treasury bonds). When risk appetites are high, institutional managers and speculators move money into stocks and high-yield junk bonds, and move money out of safe-haven assets such as gold and U.S. Treasuries.

But recently, markets are no longer following this convention. Safe haven assets such as precious metals and Treasuries are soaring at the same time that stock markets bounced strongly off the post-Brexit lows.

Risk-on assets (stocks) rising at the same time as safe-haven assets is akin to dogs marrying cats and living happily ever after. 

What the heck is going on? » Read more

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Which Countries Will Be Tomorrow's Winners & Losers?

Resources, capital flows & demographics will be key
Friday, May 13, 2016, 8:23 PM

The dictum “demographics is destiny” proposes that all the complexities of finance, society and politics are ultimately guided by demographics: the relative size of each generation, birth rates, death rates, etc.

Where does this lead? If geography and demographics have already defined which nations will be attractive to capital and most likely to accumulate productive capital in their domestic economy, and those nations that will struggle due to high costs and low rates of capital investment, in effect Nature (geography) and Culture (demographics) have already picked tomorrow’s winners and losers. » Read more

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And The Winner Is...

Which nations to keep your investments in
Friday, May 13, 2016, 8:20 PM

Executive Summary

  • The Sole Superpower
  • The Importance of factoring in External Costs
  • The Biggest Loser
  • Which nations to keep your investments in

If you have not yet read Which Countries Will Be Tomorrow's Winners & Losers?, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part 1, we examined the thesis that geography and demographics largely define a nation’s destiny.

In Part 2 here, we add other potentially game-changing factors that don’t necessarily fit neatly into either category.

Oh, No: America, The Sole Superpower?

Many of those who disagree with America’s military-interventionist foreign policy of the past 15 years will naturally be appalled by any analysis that suggests America’s preeminence is only going to become even more dominant as the rest of the world is destabilized by the inter-connected dynamics driving global disorder.

The good news is Zeihan sees America becoming much less interventionist as it withdraws into greater self-sufficiency—a topic I’ve discussed in previous essays on autarky. (What If Nations Were Less Dependent on One Another? The Case for Autarky (January 2014))

In Zeihan’s view, America’s preeminence is based on its unparalleled assets of geography and more favorable demographics than its competitors. Zeihan sees the U.S.A’s energy resources, dual-ocean buffers, lack of contiguous-border competitors/enemies, culture of innovation and impressive pool of domestic and foreign capital as an unbeatable combination that no other aspirant to superpower status can match.

In his analysis, the intrinsic weaknesses of other nations and alliances such as the Eurozone have been papered over by the flood of capital that has saturated the global economy for the past 20 years.  The source of this ocean of capital is.... » Read more

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New Harbor: A Time For Staying Out Of Harms Way

Preserving your financial capital
Sunday, January 24, 2016, 1:16 PM

Given the brutal start to the markets in the first three weeks of 2016, we thought it a good time to check in with the team at New Harbor Financial. We have had them on our podcast periodically over the past years as the market churned to ever new highs, and have always appreciated their skepticism of these liquidity-driven ""markets"" as well as their unwavering commitment to risk management should the party in stocks end suddenly.

So, how is their risk-managed approach faring now that the S&P 500 has suddenly dropped 8% since Christmas? Quite well. Their general portfolio is flat for the year so far -- evidence that caution, prudence and hedging can indeed preserve capital during market downdrafts.

We've invited the New Harbor team back on this week to hear their latest assessment on the markets, as well as how they're approaching their portfolio positioning moving forward. » Read more

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Off The Cuff: The Betrayal Of Capital

Leads to mal-investment that eventually topples onto itself
Monday, October 5, 2015, 8:37 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles Hugh Smith discuss:

  • Growing Weakness At The Periphery
    • A reminder that collapse happens from the outside in
  • The Betrayal Of Capital
    • We are watching the predictable result of too much mal-investment
  • Natural Limits Will Be The Ones That Matter
    • The ones that can't be addressed by printing up more money
  • TINA: There Is No Alternative
    • Those in charge of the system have run out of Plan Bs

Recorded last week, here's the latest Off The Cuff discussion recorded between Chris and Charles Hugh Smith.

Both note the deflationary forces that are fast-eroding the stability of periphery countries around the globe. As long repeated here at Peak Prosperity, we're of the opinion that collapse happens from "the outside in". Once the smaller dominoes start falling, watch the pace at which the next-largest drop, as it can tell you how quickly the core ("safest") counties will start being affected.

A theme delved into in this discussion is the...

Click to listen to a sample of this Off the Cuff Podcast or Enroll today to access the full audio and other premium content today. » Read more

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Here's Why The Markets Have Suddenly Become So Turbulent

A perfect storm of failing trends
Friday, August 28, 2015, 2:28 PM

When stock markets are free-falling 10+% in a matter of days, it’s natural to seek some answers to the question “why now?” » Read more