Oct 152015
 October 15, 2015  Posted by at 11:19 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Marion Post Wolcott. Unemployed coal miner’s mother in law and child. Marine, West Virginia 1938

The Automatic Earth’s Nicole Foss recorded a podcast yesterday with Jack Spirko at the Survival Podcast. I haven’t even had time to listen to it yet, but I’m sure it’ll be as lightheartedly entertaining as her appearances always tend to be ;-). One thing I did notice is that for the first 13 minutes or so, there is no Nicole, just talk about sponsors of the Survival podcast. So you might want to skip that. Enjoy!

Remarks by Jack at the Survival Podcast site:

Special Notice – In the interest of journalistic integrity I feel obligated to reveal something that occurred today. Skype screwed up and only Nicole’s side of the interview came out in the end. Luckily she is a talker and I didn’t say much in this interview. To make it functional for the audience I went though a re recorded my side and pieced the entire thing together. It came out really well but if anything seems missing this is why. Likely if I didn’t tell you you would never even know that my side wasn’t live…

Join Me Today to Hear Nicole Discuss…
• What is the Age of Limits
• The coming liquidity crunch and economic depression
• Some reasons taking out a mortgage may not be a good idea
• What this means for small farms in regard to debt
• How and why population will most likely be reduced
• Why we should not even focus on climate change as a problem
• What do you recommend for the average 9-5er should do
• How much longer can we kick the can down the road
• Nicole’s predictions for how the world wide economic crisis will play out
• Thought on a possible mass migration in the US

Home Forums Nicole Foss Podcast: The Age of Limits

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    Marion Post Wolcott. Unemployed coal miner’s mother in law and child. Marine, West Virginia 1938 The Automatic Earth’s Nicole Foss recorded a podcast
    [See the full post at: Nicole Foss Podcast: The Age of Limits]


    Nicole – desperately want time to listen to the podcast; but don’t got it in the next days. Harvest overload.

    But; here is a bit of current research gleaned from current Nature that you may find interesting/useful; https://tinyurl.com/pyvdr26

    Irtnog version: experiment: inequality, and display of wealth, both tend to drive inequality further.


    Ilargi always tweaking Nicole about her single minded and relentlessly logical public speaking is a hoot. I challenge anyone to be upbeat on these topics which are probably the most hope-less stories in human history. At least if your considering human life since there are now 7 billion of them.


    Appreciated this podcast a lot!
    It helped me out in the following ways:

    – explained why 9/11 isn’t an acceptable topic here at TAE (though I see climate change discussion floating around far more often, and feel I should point out that it’s not discouraged nearly as much as 9/11 talk despite being just as illogical an argument as 9/11 is);

    – gave me food for thought on when to employ one’s capital in terms of home buying and/or buying a future business / means of survival – members of my family have been, as of late, clamouring to get back into the housing market after renting for the last 4 years and if I can get them to listen to this podcast perhaps they’ll consider just what it is they’d be buying back into;

    – gave me sense of validation when references to literary material I’ve read (or perhaps considered reading – I think I read Woodard’s “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America” as opposed to Garreau’s “The Nine Nations of North America”) were mentioned;

    – made me smile hearing two people from very different walks of life come together to discuss things I’m very passionate about myself – I too must be a “systems thinker”, though I can’t say I’ve met many (if any, save for Nicole when I was fortunate enough to hear her speak at a transition town meeting in 2011, which committed me to my descent down this crazy deflationary rabbit hole!) people who think like I do about these topics, so I can appreciate the elation someone like Nicole must experience when she talks with someone who “gets it”.

    Jumping back to the 3rd point, is there anywhere on TAE where literature that helped Nicole / Raul form their views is listed? If not, it would be a nice addition… even better would be if there were some way to post comments on the material so people who have read it (or are considering reading it) could raise questions or provide comments.

    Some of the works I’ve read over the past few years that I’d recommend (and am curious to see if any other TAE’ers have also read / appreciate) include:

    – Strauss/Howe, “The Fourth Turning”
    – Woodward, “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America”
    – Orlov, “The Five Stages of Collapse”
    – Greer, “The Long Descent”
    – Green, “Green Wizardry”
    – Chancellor, “Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation”
    – Hemenway, “Gaia’s Garden”
    – Bane, “The Permaculture Handbook”
    – Stein, “When Technology Fails”

    Guess I’ll stop there…




    That should have been:

    – Greer, “Green Wizardry”


    V. Arnold

    I liked this pod-cast very much; probably because of Jack Spirko’s ability to follow and question Nicole’s machine gun like delivery. I think Nicole is so practised and knowledgeable of her subject; she delivers reams of information by the gigabite per second. 😉
    I think she gave a pretty damn god (a typo I’ll leave), good over-view of the present…


    That was a great interview!

    Jack Spirko has a follow-up podcast

    [audio src="https://www.survivalpodcast.net/audio/2015/10-15/epi-1661-economic-followup.mp3" /]

    not sure how to embed the link


    Episode 1661 was horrible.

    Jack suggest he’s trying to explain how Nicole came to her view and how she’ll change it – what it is in fact is a mea culpa for what Jack believes to justify the things he’s likely doing (e.g. taking on a mortgage to buy a house) that don’t necessarily fit into the roadmap Nicole has given (which, from listening to Jack, you can tell he agrees with in his heart… and I suppose this is his way of dealing with that cognitive dissonance).

    The comment I left on his blog, which has already met with claims I suffer from perception bias…


    Episode 1660 was my first exposure to your work here at TheSurvivalPodcast and I generally found it enjoyable. 1661 leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

    While it was styled to be an explanation on how Nicole justifies her views (and how she will inevitably change them), sadly it seems to truly be more of a justification of why YOU continue to believe what you believe – i.e. it will be bad, but it won’t be as bad as Nicole has suggested it will be nor as quickly as she suggested as we (as a species) will find ways to extend/pretend to avoid collapse.

    John Michael Greer (of the Archdruid Report, mentioned by others in the comment section) writes quite a bit about this phenomenon as a matter of “modern religion” – people who belong to the Cult of Science whom believe that a way will be found to solve our problems before they become acute. In your case it would seem (to me anyway, based on podcasts 1660 & 1661) that you recognize things cannot stay they way they are, but feel they will not be as bad as Nicole has suggested due to some form of adaptation we will undertake as a species.

    I cannot agree with this point of view, and the arguments you put forward in 1661 were weak ones at best.

    Yes, The Powers That Be (“Elite”) will likely do everything they can to extend/pretend to avoid collapse (assuming their interests remain aligned – please consider that, eventually, the Elite will gladly eat each other to maintain their status, regardless of how much havoc it causes for us the “little people”), but it is not without cost. Energy prices will continue to rise, environmental degradation will continue (which I should point out I don’t really care about as much as you might suggest I would, considering I place myself in the Peak Oil camp), and economic collapse will continue along the fringes and eat its way inward to the core. When it collapses, nobody can say, but Nicole is absolutely correct in suggesting it’s baked into the cake.

    I highly recommend you familiarize yourself with Jevons Paradox (if you are not already familiar with it) and consider that no matter how efficient we make our machines/devices in terms of energy consumption, they always CONSUME energy and our demand for that energy grows. Unless our energy sources increase (which they are not), nothing we invent will stop the inevitable – an outcome where there is no longer enough energy remaining to power our modern-day society as it currently exists.

    Furthermore, I would ask you increase your understanding of Peak Oil. At the 23 – 24 minute mark of the podcast you suggest there are 100+ years of natural gas remaining, but that time frame is likely constructed on the idea that other energy sources are still in play. If natural gas was all we had, it would be consumed a heck of a lot more quickly given today’s levels of energy demand.

    You also mention around that point the idea that we always find news ways of getting more oil out of the ground and that “angers” peak oil’ers. What you fail to mention/recognize is the rising cost curve and where it intersects with the peak oil curve – i.e. these technologies we are implementing, combined with the fact we’re picked the “low hanging fruit” easy oil sources, means that at some point in the future the cost of extracting the oil (not only in terms of dollars but in terms of invested energy) will exceed the value of what we pull out of the ground. When we get to the point that it’s costing us 2, 3, 4, 5+ barrels of oil to extract one out of the ground the game will likely be up, regardless of how much we allow energy companies to inflate their debt levels or how much fiat the government prints to try to justify continued oil extraction.

    Around the 34 minute mark, you talk about a gold backed / gold basis money system… I recommend you read Martin Armstrong and understand the shortcoming of ANY commodity being used as money. I won’t re-explain it here, but Martin does a good job of explaining what money truly is and how it ALWAYS will be corrupted by the government of the day. It is inevitable that any money supply will be compromised, whether fiat or not, as the problem lies with those who make the rules not the money itself.

    Around the 36 minute mark you make some serious assumptions – that the asset you overpaid for (i.e. a home / farm / etc.) will continue to be able to be productive during a downturn. There are no guarantees of this, and in fact there are clear examples in history of the opposite occurring – look up references to milk producers pouring out their milk on the ground to maintain milk prices during the Great Depression.

    Further, you go on to suggest the government CAN’T possibly evict everyone from their homes – this would seem to be a fairly close minded / biased view and is somewhat hypocritical after you spent over 20 minutes explaining how intelligent people like Nicole are wrong because they can’t see how the system would change/adapt. I’d love to understand why you are so confident that the system would NEVER find a way to evict so many people from their homes, or at the very least confiscate those assets – at pennies on the dollar – that people overpaid for just a few years prior. If you really stop and think about it, it actually sounds like a PERFECT plan if one were part of the banking cartel or a member of government – getting people to overpay for something they couldn’t afford in the first place, and then taking it away from them later at severely reduced prices. This is the way people will lose their liberty – by making selfish choices to have the things they want now rather than making due with simply meeting their needs.

    Back to Nicole – she has one of the most well though out and comprehensive understanding of what the future holds. She constantly points out that nobody knows exactly when things will collapse, but that it is unavoidable that they will collapse and we should be responsible enough to act accordingly by making good decisions now (i.e. if you know smoking is going to give you lung cancer, shouldn’t you stop smoking as soon as possible and not be so irresponsible as to say “oh, I’ll quit next week – my lungs can handle one more week of smoking”).

    If a person wants to gamble at the casino and try to play this game as long as possible (e.g. taking on debt, spending money on education or capital that they refuse to see will be unproductive in just a few years during a major financial collapse, assume new or old money systems can be re-introduced to stabilize the economy and prevent the worst from occurring), they should recognize the risks they’re undertaking in doing so.

    Sorry if your listeners are scared by what Nicole has to say, but if they’re sitting on mortgages they probably SHOULD be worried (though Nicole would likely frown at my attempt to encourage fear) – the game (of musical chairs) could come to an end very suddenly, and those people will learn the down side of using debt as leverage very quickly. Better they get out of debt now and start doing whatever they can to improve their standing by gaining control of their means to their survival if they want to avoid a debt servitude based future.



    @GBV – There was no reason for Spirko to post a follow-up podcast to justify himself to his followers. He says he is 95%(?) in agreement with Nicole, but then spent an hour describing all his disagreements.

    He admits all money is fake, yet says banks will just print whatever they need to keep the financial system afloat. But people can’t do that. When my money is gone, and I have no credit, I need skills and barter to survive. And isn’t that the name of his show …the survival podcast. The concept of no money, seems inconceivable to Spirko.

    Thanks for sharing your comment.

    V. Arnold

    @ bluebird
    That societies evolved from barter to a money based economy is a myth.
    David Graeber, in his recent book, Debt, the First 5,000 Years, insists there is no and never has been, any evidence barter (as a system) existed. The supplied link is an excerpt from chapter 2.
    The entire audio book is also available for free at the linked site.


    @ V. Arnold,

    I don’t really see where bluebird suggests that societies evolved from barter. I do see him suggesting that barter may be the only form of exchange once he has no money and no access to credit (i.e. post-collapse), which seems very plausible.

    I haven’t read Debt: The First 5,000 Years yet (though I’ll definitely put it on the ‘to read’ list), but I would assume debt in any form is only ever realistic when some degree of trust exists. Post-collapse, I could see a lot of people unwilling to trust others…


    V. Arnold

    @ Variable81

    I really do not know what bluebird knows or believes; but he/she said banks print money; indeed they do not print money. They do however create money by issuing debt. So, when he/she speaks of barter as a survival tool, I do not know what he/she understands.
    I do strongly recommend Graeber’s book for a thorough understanding of money, debt, and credit. Barter mostly doesn’t work because it depends on a coincidence of need and supply between the parties involved.


    This is my first time posting on TAE. I’ve listened to many of Nicole’s recording, as well as read every post of hers i could find. And I’ve found i need to listen or reread her stuff about 3 times for it to really sink in. Plus, i learn much from the postings by her other readers and listeners.
    here are my questions:
    1. what kind of cash is Nicole talking about keeping on hand? is she talking about dollars, like US dollars? And does she mean hidden somewhere on one’s property, like people did in the Great Depression? does she mean 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses?
    2. what about the possible downsides of renting vs buying? downsides such as the landlord evicting you without notice or raising the rent too high or having terrible neighbors? or just being a horrible landlord? what if there are many more renters than available properties to rent?
    3. what about the idea for at least some people living in some places of investing in a trailer (like those pulled by trucks by vacationers) to live in? that would give the person a place to live of their own but could allow them to be mobile, too, if they need to move to a different part of the country. in our community, which is poor, rural, and not densely populated with a fairly mild climate, there are lots of people already living in these kinds of trailers, some in trailer courts, others parked in unused parking lots where they must pay some kind of rental fee to park, and others in the parking lot of a storage rental facility. these trailers have been in these locations for several years, maybe dating back to the last Recession.
    my husband and i own (no mortgage) our small farm. we have good neighbors. the closest town has several thrift stores, a shoe repair shop, a public library, several food banks, and used bookstores. we’ve tried to make our farm as resilient as possible. one idea i have is for my sibling who has a lot of debt and lives in another state to get rid of her debt and relocate to our farm, live in a trailer on our property. in addition, i have a friend who may end up living with us when her husband dies. this friend has skills that are different from, but compatible with, ours.
    it would seem to me that suggesting options to taking on a mortgage or just renting might appeal to more people. that’s why I’m suggesting the idea of owning a travel trailer as one option.
    I’d appreciate responses from the other TAE readers. Nicole probably doesn’t have time to respond to an individual reader’s posting. And maybe she’d like us to help each other work through the ideas she presents. Thanks.

    Christopher H.

    GBV, you’re replying to Jack’s follow-up to Nicole’s show and saying off the bat that you haven’t listened to his show except for two episodes. I think this gives you a very narrow sample size upon which to draw, just like Jack’s follow-up is really only based upon his interview of Nicole, and not from reading the volumes of material she has written about this subject nor listening to the talks she has given.

    In short, I think you both are suffering from the same kind of shortsightedness, which would explain why you both responded in similar fashion — by dismissing the views of the other.

    I’ve listened to Jack’s show since mid-2010 now, and I’ve been reading Nicole’s work for at least as long. I think that in order to reconcile some of their differences, it is important to understand the very different starting points from which they approach these subjects.

    Nicole is an academic, and a brilliant one at that. She has studied at some of the top universities in the world and not only graduated with multiple degrees, but was twice a distinguished graduate at the top of her class. Jack, on the other hand, has a history as a successful entrepreneur in several businesses. His formal education went only through high school, although it is clear from listening to his show for just a brief period of time that he is extremely sharp and driven toward continual self-education.

    Let’s focus on the fact that Jack is an entrepreneur as opposed to an academic. This alone is a very distinct difference. Anyone who is an entrepreneur is an optimist at heart. They have to be in order to get through the rough times while starting a business venture and getting it off the ground. Having listened to Jack for five years now, I can tell you that this part of him colors his outlook on many things, and definitely with regards to these kinds of subjects. On the one hand, he can look at the information available on peak oil and know that we’re screwed. On the other hand, the natural optimist in him can rationalize away the worst consequences, soothing his concerns and bringing him to the conclusion that it will not be a hard landing.

    As for his perspective on mortgage debt, what he is looking at is how to turn land into a genuinely productive asset, and use that asset to create value that you can then trade with others. But this includes buying WAY below your means — something that he has talked about at length in his podcast. It’s a form of hedging the need for present action and development of skills against an uncertain future that likely includes a significant downturn, but at a largely uncertain date.

    Now, I’m going to say that in many ways, his perspective can actually be more beneficial to people that Nicole’s, because it is centered on the idea of ACTION. I’ve been reading Nicole for years, and have a house with a mortgage on it. The thoughts of an uncertain future certainly make me think about that, but at the same time I’ve been able to build gardens, raise chickens, make energy efficiency improvements — many of them things I could NOT do if I was in a rental unit. You can go down the road of Nicole’s message and ultimately get paralyzed against action by it, if you allow yourself to be. I’m not saying that is in any way Nicole’s intent, nor that her message is actually telling you to act that way, but it’s an outcome that can arise.

    Lastly, though, why is it so important to you that Jack adopt Nicole’s message 100% (or that Nicole adopt Jack’s, if you look at it from the other side)? Are you personally invested in the outcome? Or would it perhaps be more prudent to just accept the fact that they agree on 95% or more, take from each of them what you find of value in their messages, and then move on to making improvements to better your household, neighborhood, and community moving forward? I know that if I insisted on wholesale agreement I would have stopped listening to Jack’s podcast years ago, but it’s learning to focus on the items of value in it (and trust me, there’s a lot of it there if you just poke around through his archives) that keeps me coming back.


    Hi Christopher,
    thanks for your reply. seems like maybe there’s some miscommunication. i wasn’t replying to Jack’s follow up to Nicole in his recent show. in fact, i didn’t listen to Jack’s follow up.
    my interest is in what Nicole says about how to prepare for the deflationary times. i found Jack’s show by the link on The Automatic Earth.
    I don’t remember Nicole explaining specifics about having cash on hand. like, a rough idea of how much and where to keep it (certainly not in a bank). i don’t expect her to give specifics since everyone’s situation is different. maybe she’s already explained this in prior presentations and I’ve just forgotten.
    and i understand what Nicole says about why carrying a mortgage can be bad, especially in these and future times. i don’t have a mortgage and would not take one on for the reasons she has explained in several of her recent presentations. however, I’d never judge someone else for carrying a mortgage.
    it sounds like you’ve found having a mortgage is appropriate in your situation, especially given the things you’ve done to enhance your resiliency.
    But i am wondering if an option to renting for some people would be to invest in a travel trailer to live in. that would mean no mortgage, allowing people to move around but still have their own place rather than renting. i know this wouldn’t work for everyone. If Nicole thinks this is a bad idea, I’d be interested in understanding her reasons. I’ve been learning a lot from her and value her expertise. but I’ve never found a way to ask her questions directly and doubt she can answer a specific reader or listener’s questions. hence i wondered if her other readers might be able to give input.
    truly, it doesn’t matter to me if Jack adopts Nicole’s ideas and that wasn’t why i wrote my 1st posting. like most people, Jack sounded very committed to his own point of view during that presentation. I’m not sure how my 1st posting gave the impression that i want him to adopt Nicole’s point of view or vice versa. but I’m hoping this 2nd posting clarifies what i was trying to say. Thanks.

    Christopher H.

    Hi LiveSmallLocal,

    I actually wasn’t replying to your post — I was replying to the previous post (GBV).

    My experience in responding to Jack’s shows (as someone who comes from a very different starting point from him) is that if your views aren’t matching up with his, then don’t expect him to come around to your point of view. Note I’m not saying this with any kind of negativity — it’s just an observation and probably a reasonable expectation.

    I really can’t comment on your situation, though, as I’m in a different boat. Although if things really go down hard like Nicole is predicting, I could find myself in similar straits….


    @LiveSmallLocal – I found one of Nicole’s early primers to be very helpful to me. It is called: ‘How to Build a Lifeboat’, in which she has listed several suggestions for the future: https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2012/01/how-to-build-a-lifeboat/

    Also, I think having a camper or trailer could be useful in the future. One could easily pick up and move to greener pastures, so to speak, rather than having a house to sell. But depends on the community and family where you live or want to live.

    Having some cash is important, in case the banks were to have a holiday and shut down abruptly, as happened in Cyprus. In the U.S., have American dollars. It has been suggested to keep a few weeks amount, in safe-keeping somewhere in your home, to a few months or even a year. Depends what you are comfortable with.

    Perhaps others have suggestions, comments.


    Hi Bluebird,
    thanks for your comments, as well as the link to Nicole’s lifeboat primer.


    GBV/Variable81: you asked about source material… the previous version of TAE home page had a sidebar of books. I was just looking around the current site and don’t see that information. Other than the ones that are commonly mentioned, the only one I remember is called “The Upside of Down”. Possibly the book list was elaborated on in one of the primers?

    LiveSmallLocal: you think of several possible downsides to renting. I think that perhaps Nicole is expecting a large crash event. That would likely destroy enough people’s budgets that the common experience would be moving in with others (sort of like what happened with young adults in 2008-…). So it would be a renter’s market and the evil landlords would be priced out of the system. But I must say that I don’t follow her advice about mortgages. Partly because I was already about twenty years thru the loan when I first heard her. The other aspect for me is that I like watching land over long time periods. Apple trees that I planted 25+ years ago finally starting bearing two years ago. Last year not much, but then another banner year now.

    Also, your idea of a travel trailer could be a good one. Assuming they want to live in a trailer (not sure your climate) and the local authorities don’t have a problem with it. Other options might be a “mother-in-law” apartment behind a garage, or the accessory dwellings that have become popular in high real estate price areas (Vancouver?)

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