Surf's Up: Second Wave is Pipeline

First Wave blown out, Second Wave raked over...

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" (Robert Zimmerman)

Why this does not look like The Great Depression of the 1930s

This Great Recession doesn't look like the Great Depression of the 1930s because we've made advances in technology, science and medicine, housing, manufacturing and the standard of living has risen considerably the past 20 years. Generally people entered into this economic crisis better off than in any other recession or depression, with good shelter, health, food, cars, goods and material possessions. The stark pictures of the 1930s made the era seem horrifyingly bleak because society was different entering into it, this era people have things that make life more comfortable, making the contrast less visible.

We are still in a Great Disruption, largely due to technology, the internet and the speed of communications and combined with an economic crisis based largely on massive debt with low production of anything of real value, it's not over yet. People who drank the Recovery Kool-Aid are starting to recognize that it was sugar water and wearing off. Some areas will experience recovery but that recovery means standing still and not sliding further back.

For individuals who have been experiencing varying degrees of difficulties since the tech crash of 2000 and the events of 9-11-2001 and have been learning along the way, people who never bought into the excess and others have been preparing, are long out of denial. A key point to remember is that although this depression may look different, they all share some characteristics. All four of my grandparents were determined not to do as many of their generation did, raise their children in fear of economic hard times by regaling them with horror stories. The truth is that during depressions many people do have very difficult circumstances but many people don't. My grandparents said it wasn't easy but many people overcame their circumstances and many had what they needed.

This "recession" is not over...What started in Athens, Greece will go all the way to Athens, California and around the globe to Asia and Arabia.

The lull from drinking Kool-Aid is passing and the world is rapidly pacing to a second wave of economic crisis that will make the first wave seem relatively tame. In the first wave, a credit crisis, disaster was skirted but not avoided, a point lost in the relief that the world didn't end during March 2009 in the US. Warren Buffett may have looked into the abyss but he failed to see it wasn't over globally. The general population has been lulled to believe that in a relatively short time life will return to normal.

Life will never be the same again. We will discover we don't need a lot of the consumer goods we've thought were necessary.

This second wave of economic crisis is a currency crisis and there is nothing anyone can do about it. The governments of the world can print all the money in the world and one simple fact remains, you can't spend your way out of debt.

All the King's horses and all the King's Men.

1. The consumer and business credit crisis and debt overhang has not been resolved.

2. Governments around the globe have deficits of epic proportions and taking them higher.

3. Debt is increasingly becoming more unproductive and weighing economies down worldwide.

4. The US Stock Market has been in a bubble as well as some industry and service sectors.

5. Liabilities far outweigh assets and the only way out is to rebuild assets, which will take a long time.

Government is the problem, not the answer, especially the government treasuries of the world. 
Worse: what is called free-market capitalism is neither a market that is free or true capitalism.
Limited government and true free markets must prevail or this civilization will go the way of Rome.

1. De-leveraging will take years to work out.

2. Shake-out of banks and financial institutions will occur.

3. Reconciliation of the books will be contentious.

4. Currencies will have to be revalued and pegged to something of value.

In the United States:

1. Unemployment will be a long term vexing problem.

2. There is disagreement if there's going to be inflation, hyperinflation, deflation or stagflation, or all of the above, but none of them are good.

3. Look at facts...Japan in the 90s after a real estate bubble now has debt 200% greater than GDP.

4. One thing is certain, there will be stagnation on multiple social and economic fronts.

5. The Political Class think they can resolve it but by nature of constituencies, will make it worse.

Stagnation will bring more divisiveness and unless a cloud of euphoric nitrous oxide fills the air, there is every likelihood the political front will be toxic. Civil unrest and discontent is likely that may make the late 60s and early 70s seem tame.

It will be a result of the realization that the world is readjusting and we have to go through a total revaluation of literally everything. In the United States we have several generations who have never seen even a mildly bad time and like a baby whose rattle has been snatched, they will kick, cry and scream. Since they're adults, they'll also be demanding and want their way, leading to clashing with others who also want their way. For these unprepared people, it will be psychologically as well as physically uncomfortable. There is no Prozac for what's to come.

This is not to understate or dismiss the misery since this is going to be a long period of adjustment. Social unrest, major political change and economic corrections of this magnitude throughout history have been terrible experiences.

What does a reasonable well adjusted individual do? Anyone who read this far, already has a good sense that a solid foundation based in character and good values, with a large dose of common sense and the ability to think of ways around problems will go a long way to healthy survival. There are a lot of prognosticators out there, I can only agree that we are in for a long haul fundamental change in the way we have lived, how it plays out is nothing but good guessing.

History is a good guide and we can find some answers there. The main lesson from history though is that periodically, the world goes through significant changes as it moves from one age to another. I believe that's what is happening now, a change of the ages, I see it as an exciting time to live and observe.

Jeffrey Miron of the Cato Institute on DC's Spending Spree