Category Archive: 5.) Charles Hugh Smith

Our No-Win "Kobayashi Maru" Economy

It's time to reprogram the conditions of the economy to serve the many rather than the few.Star Trek's Kobayashi Maru training exercise tests officer candidates' response to a no-win scenario:any attempt to rescue the crippled ship's crew results in the destruction of the candidate's ship, while standing by and taking no action results in the loss of the Kobayashi Maru's crew.

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The Difference Between a Forecast and a Guess

Every forecast or guess has one refreshing quality: one will be right and the rest will be wrong. What's the difference between a forecast and a guess? On one level, the answer is "none": the future is unknown and even the most informed forecast is still a guess.

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Could Retail “Bagholders” Spark a Rally “Smart Money” Will Be Forced to Chase?

There would be some deliciously karmic justice in the "dumb money" driving a rally that forced the "smart money" to cover their shorts and chase the rally that shouldn't even be happening.

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What Happens When the Workforce No Longer Wants to Work?

Workers are voting with their feet, and that's difficult to control. When values and expectations change, everything else eventually changes, too. What happens when the workforce no longer wants to work? We're about to find out. As with all cultural sea changes, macro statistics don't tell the full story.

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There’s No Stopping a Recessionary Reckoning

If there was only one causal factor nudging the economy into recession, it might be a mild, brief recession. But with all five conditions in confluence, this recession will be unlike any other. Recessions reliably arise from the confluence of these conditions. Note that any one condition can trigger a recession, but no one condition guarantees a recession.

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"Pay-to-Play" for the Rest of Us

The more kafkaesque quagmires you've slogged through, the more you hope "pay-to-play for the rest of us" beomes ubiquitous. You know how "pay-to-play" works: contribute a couple of million dollars to key political players, and then get your tax break, subsidy, no-bid contract, etc., slipped into some nook or cranny of the legislative process that few (if any) will notice because the legislation is hundreds of pages long or a "gut and replace" magic...

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Who’s Going to Fix What’s Broken?

When nobody cares that systems have broken down and there is no will or interest in fixing essential systems, there is no happy ending. Who fixes systems when they break down? The answer appears to be: nobody.

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Why America Decays: The Tyranny of Self-Interest

Only those societies which still have a functional public interest / common good will survive; those ruled by the tyranny of self-interest will fall. I've discussed the moral rot consuming the American Project in blog posts and my books.

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Livelihoods in a Degrowth Economy

The sooner we start preparing for degrowth, the better off we'll be. A Chinese proverb captures this succinctly: By the time you're thirsty, it's too late to dig a well. Let's consider livelihood options in an unsustainable economy of extremes that are unraveling, an economy that is being forced to transition to Degrowth.

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What Could Go Right?

Our economy is not resilient or antifragile, it's a fragile sand castle of debt and denial. What could go off the cliff that hasn't already gone off the cliff? Rip-roaring inflation, check.Hot war in Europe, check. Global food crisis, check. Semi-permanent supply-chain snarls, check. Geopolitical blackmail, check.

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The Solution for Social Media Spam Bots Is Already Here

The right of free speech should not be confused with an obligation for privately owned enterprises to allow spamming and spoofing under the guise of free speech. The problem of bots on Twitter is in the news. This is of course a problem in all social media: fake accounts, spamming accounts, spoofing (expropriating your identity) accounts, and so on, all courtesy of anonymous account creation.

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The Epidemic Nobody Talks About: Burnout

Burnout makes everyone uncomfortable, so it's largely a silent epidemic. Epidemics are not just biological in origin. A strong case can be made that a silent epidemic has been sweeping the nation for years, an epidemic few acknowledge: burnout.

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Checking In On Five Long-Term Cycles

The decline phase of S-Curves can be gradual or a cliff-dive. Way back in 2007 I charted five long-wave cycles that I reckoned consequential: 1. Public debt (accumulating federal deficits) 2. Inflation 3. Oil (energy) 4. Interest rates 5. Speculative fever

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Curveballs in the Housing Bubble Bust

All these curveballs will further fragment the housing market. Oh for the good old days of a nice, clean housing bubble and bust as in 2004-2011: subprime lending expanded the pool of buyers, liar loans and loose credit created speculative leverage, the Federal Reserve provided excessive liquidity and the watchdogs of the industry were either induced (ahem) to look away or dozed off in a haze of gross incompetence.

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Herd on the Street

The casino has become complex and there are no easy answers or predictable paths. The Wall Street herd had it easy from 2009 to 2021. Life was simple and life was good: markets were easy to predict.

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What Happens When Complexity Unravels?

Those glancing at the appearances will be assured all is well and it will all sort itself out. Those who look behind the screen will move away as fast as they can. When finances tighten, there are two choices: cut expenses or increase revenues. Monopolies, cartels and governments can increase revenues by increasing taxes or the price of goods and services because users /customers / taxpayers have no alternative.

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Not the 1970s or the 1920s: We’re in Uncharted Territory

All of these similarities and differences are setting up a sea-change revaluation of capital, resources and labor that will be on the same scale as the extraordinary transitions of the 1920s and 1970s.

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The Contrarian Curse

What if all the new consensus memes are as wrong as the ones they replaced? I have the Contrarian Curse, and I have it bad. The Contrarian Curse is: as soon as the herd adopts your previously contrarian view, you start questioning the new consensus, just as you questioned the previous consensus.

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Is Housing a Bubble That’s About to Crash?

We are all prone to believing the recent past is a reliable guide to the future. But in times of dynamic reversals, the past is an anchor thwarting our progress, not a forecast. Are we heading into another real estate bubble / crash?

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Doom Porn and Empty Optimism

If we can't discern the difference between doom-porn and investing in self-reliance, then solutions will continue to be out of reach. I'm often accused of calling 783 of the last two bubble pops (or was it 789? Forgive the imprecision). Like many others who have publicly explored the notion that the status quo isn't actually sustainable despite its remarkable tenaciousness, I am pilloried as a doom-and-gloomer (among other things, ahem).

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