Crash Course

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Dragline's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 10 2008
Posts: 54
Crash Course

This is a truly thought-provoking series and you deserve the many kudos you are getting.
As you refine your thoughts on how things will unfold, you may want to pay more attention to the economic actors outside the U.S. Some of your sections, like this one, recognize the enormous impact that countries like China have on areas like resource depletion. But others seem to treat the United States more as an isolated economic entity.
For example, and I think someone else observed this, in the population section re social security, there does not seem to be any accounting for immigration to the U.S. So the equation should be not just whether there are enough new workers being born, but also whether enough could/will be imported to sustain social security. I doubt it makes a difference in the ultimate conclusion, but it may affect the timing.
Regarding the condition of U.S. dollar itself, it seems that influences outside the U.S. will ultimately determine when things break down. Right now, other countries still "believe" in the dollar (relative to other currencies), although less so than in the past. In particular, right now China is willing to buy lots of dollars (loaning us lots of money) and has a giant surplus of cash. So you still see a "flight to the dollar" in times of uncertainty and deflationary world environments (like there seems to be short-term right now).
But what if the world's creditors decide they prefer Euros? Or gold? Or somthing else? (And what will that thing be? I know everyone likes to fall back on gold, but perhaps it will be energy sources themselves.) It would seem that the sustainability of our current system has become largely beholden to the U.S.'s major foreign creditors -- making the future even more uncertain.
One last kind of unrelated thought. I am hoping that the shortage of the uranium will eventually convince countries to "mine" their nuclear weapons by breaking down the highly enriched bomb-grade stuff into reactor fuel. For a brief time in the past few years we had a program with Russia called Swords-to-Plowshares to do just that (they broke down warheads and we provided a market). Unfortunately, they have become too rich (not to mention belligerent) recently to really need that kind of assistance anymore. But its one of the few potentially "positive" consequences I can see out of the resource depletion scenario.
The whole thing does make me feel like finding the windiest property in the world near a power grid and buy it.
Thanks for all the work you have put into the series. It's really great stuff and I look forward to the next installment and to see what other things you put up here.

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