Oleksii Sergieiev | Dreamstime

Richard Sylla: This Is An Inherently Dangerous Moment In History

Low interest rates are causing distortions & mis-allocations
Monday, August 7, 2017, 2:42 PM

"The rates we’ve had in recent years, including right now, are the lowest in history. The book that I co-authored on the history of interest rates traces back to the code of Hammurabi, Babylonian civilization, Greek and Roman civilization, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and early modern history right up to the present. And I can assure our listeners that the rates that they’re experiencing right now are the lowest in human history."

So says Richard Sylla, Professor Emeritus of Economics and the Former Henry Kaufman Professor of the History of Financial Institutions and Markets at New York University's Stern School of Business. He is also co-author of the book A History Of Interest Rates

We invited Professor Sylla onto the podcast after hearing his work favorably referenced by the panel convened at the recent hearing held by the US Congress titled: “The Federal Reserve’s Impact on Main Street, Retirees and Savings.”

Based on his deep study across the scope of millennia of human history, Sylla warns we are at a dangerous moment in time. » Read more


Richard Duncan: The Real Risk Of A Coming Multi-Decade Global Depression

One that unwinds the past 50 years of globalization
Sunday, April 5, 2015, 12:42 PM

Richard Duncan, author of The Dollar Crisis and The New Depression: The Breakdown Of The Paper Money Economy, isn't mincing words about the risks he sees ahead for the world economy.

Essentially, he sees the past 50 years of economic prosperity fueled by globalization and easy credit in serious danger of being unwound, as the doomed monetary policies currently being pursued by the word's central banks result in a massive multi-decade depression that spans the globe. » Read more



Have We Reached Peak Wall Street?

An argument its dominance is in decline
Monday, March 31, 2014, 7:14 PM

Though the mainstream financial media and the blogosphere differ radically on their forecasts—the MFM sees near-zero systemic risk while the alternative media sees a critical confluence of it—they agree on one thing: the Federal Reserve and the “too big to fail” (TBTF) Wall Street banks have their hands on the political and financial tiller of the nation, and nothing will dislodge their dominance.

But what id Wall Street’s power has peaked and is about to be challenged by forces that it has never faced before? Put another way,what if the power of Wall Street has reached a systemic extreme where a decline or reversal is inevitable? » Read more


How to Break Out of Stagnation

Start "printing" future energy now
Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 1:04 PM

Executive Summary

  • The world's ongoing net energy recession will continue to drag GDP downwards unless a technology mircale occurs (unlikely)
  • Reversing our net energy decline will be key to breaking out of this stagnation
  • Solar capacity build-out is an important growing trend, as it offers "free" streams of future energy after its up-front costs
  • Solar GW capacity is now growing at a classic exponential rate. The countries that invest the most here will have a long-term advantage over those that don't
  • Stimulative programs that invest in renewable energy infrastructure are looking increasingly attractive to our current fiscal ones that are clearly failing to return us to previous levels of growth

If you have not yet read Part I: The Dead Weight of Sluggish Global Growth available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

With OECD countries in an ongoing energy recession, and given that just about all major economies, both in the OECD and Non-OECD, depend on exports, the risk is that global trade and global GDP also start to slow down. In 2013, we see that is exactly what's starting to happen, as noted by the Economist:

According to The Economist's calculations, world GDP grew by just 2.1% during the first quarter of 2013 compared with a year earlier. Just 12 months ago, output was growing at a reasonable clip of 3.1%. The European Union, the world's second-largest economy, which welcomes its 28th member on July 1st, is back in recession. Meanwhile there are concerns about stumbling blocks as China seeks to rebalance toward a more consumption-oriented economy and more moderate growth rates. Long the mainstay of the world's fortunes, China alone has been responsible for nearly half of all world economic growth since the end of 2009 when the world began growing again.

While commodities from copper to oil have retained the majority of their price gains achieved over the past ten years, the fact remains that year-over-year inflation has settled in at a low, tepid level. Meanwhile, global wage deflation, a secular trend over the past decade, continues. Overall, this means that labor still has very little pricing power. Indeed, with structural unemployment now embedded in much of the OECD, the question remains: How will Western economies put enough people back to work to erase the idle labor pool? » Read more


Investing Strategies for the New Energy Era

Positioning yourself for the trillions in spending soon to c
Monday, November 26, 2012, 3:33 PM

Executive Summary

  • The criticality of innovating better storage solutions
  • The pros & cons of investing in energy inputs (coal, oil, etc.) or new energy technologies
  • The impact of increased carbon taxation & higher oil prices
  • Watch where global energy demand is shifting
  • The four ripe sigmoidal growth opportunities
  • Why coal remains the king of fuel

If you have not yet read The New Future of Energy Policy, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

As oil went through a price revolution starting in 2004, the venture capital community embraced an array of greentech start-ups. But the first wave of these, which centered on biofuels and other liquid-based replacements for oil, were destined to fail – and fail they did. It has apparently taken a period of digestion and reflection for investors, innovators, and venture capital to quantify better which areas are more promising in the new energy landscape.

Just recently, for example, investment vehicles controlled by Peter Thiel and Bill Gates were among those who funded energy storage company LightSail, which is exploring the use of compressed air as a method for energy storage. This is meaningful.

It indicates an awareness that not only is global energy demand switching over to the grid, but also, that the grid of the future will need much greater flexibility. So, yes, the grid is the future. But storage the ability to retain surplus electricity for release at a later time will be crucial. The reason is that the blend or mix now developing: coal, nuclear, natural gas, hydro, utility-grade wind, and solar (including residential solar) will present a challenge to the grid with its enormous variability in supply.

Storage, to use an economics term, allows for intertemporal supply: the ability to spread power over time. Whether or not LightSail’s technology works and is commercially scalable is a question that awaits an answer. But to target investment in this area, rather than in algae fuels, is right on the mark.

And the need for storage is already becoming critical. The “variability problem” is especially a concern... » Read more


The New Future of Energy Policy

The rise of the powergrid (and new taxes)
Monday, November 26, 2012, 3:32 PM

Flood myths are common to human culture. Swollen rivers, tidal storms, and tsunamis make their appearance frequently in literature. But Hurricane Sandy, which has drawn newly etched high-water marks on the buildings of lower Manhattan (and Brooklyn), has shifted the discussion from storytelling to reality.

Volatility in climate has drawn the attention of policy makers for a decade. But as so often is the case, a dramatic event like superstorm Sandy – the largest storm to hit New York since the colonial era – has punctured the psyche of the densely populated East Coast, including the New York-Washington, DC axis where U.S. policy is made.

Not surprisingly, in the weeks since the historical hurricane made landfall, new attention is being paid to the mounting costs that coastal world megacities may face.

Intriguingly, however, this new conversation about climate, energy policy, and America’s reliance on fossil fuels comes after a five-year period in which the U.S. has dramatically lowered its consumption of oil and seen an equally dramatic upturn in the growth of renewable energy. » Read more