Sep 262016
 September 26, 2016  Posted by at 9:33 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Dorothea Lange Family of rural rehabilitation client, Tulare County, CA 1938


It’s over! The entire model our societies have been based on for at least as long as we ourselves have lived, is over! That’s why there’s Trump.

There is no growth. There hasn’t been any real growth for years. All there is left are empty hollow sunshiny S&P stock market numbers propped up with ultra cheap debt and buybacks, and employment figures that hide untold millions hiding from the labor force. And most of all there’s debt, public as well as private, that has served to keep an illusion of growth alive and now increasingly no longer can.

These false growth numbers have one purpose only: for the public to keep the incumbent powers that be in their plush seats. But they could always ever only pull the curtain of Oz over people’s eyes for so long, and it’s no longer so long.

That’s what the ascent of Trump means, and Brexit, Le Pen, and all the others. It’s over. What has driven us for all our lives has lost both its direction and its energy.

We are smack in the middle of the most important global development in decades, in some respects arguably even in centuries, a veritable revolution, which will continue to be the most important factor to shape the world for years to come, and I don’t see anybody talking about it. That has me puzzled.

The development in question is the end of global economic growth, which will lead inexorably to the end of centralization (including globalization). It will also mean the end of the existence of most, and especially the most powerful, international institutions.

In the same way it will be the end of -almost- all traditional political parties, which have ruled their countries for decades and are already today at or near record low support levels (if you’re not clear on what’s going on, look there, look at Europe!)

This is not a matter of what anyone, or any group of people, might want or prefer, it’s a matter of ‘forces’ that are beyond our control, that are bigger and more far-reaching than our mere opinions, even though they may be man-made.

Tons of smart and less smart folks are breaking their heads over where Trump and Brexit and Le Pen and all these ‘new’ and scary things and people and parties originate, and they come up with little but shaky theories about how it’s all about older people, and poorer and racist and bigoted people, stupid people, people who never voted, you name it.

But nobody seems to really know or understand. Which is odd, because it’s not that hard. That is, this all happens because growth is over. And if growth is over, so are expansion and centralization in all the myriad of shapes and forms they come in.

Global is gone as a main driving force, pan-European is gone, and whether the United States will stay united is far from a done deal. We are moving towards a mass movement of dozens of separate countries and states and societies looking inward. All of which are in some form of -impending- trouble or another.

What makes the entire situation so hard to grasp for everyone is that nobody wants to acknowledge any of this. Even though tales of often bitter poverty emanate from all the exact same places that Trump and Brexit and Le Pen come from too.

That the politico-econo-media machine churns out positive growth messages 24/7 goes some way towards explaining the lack of acknowledgement and self-reflection, but only some way. The rest is due to who we ourselves are. We think we deserve eternal growth.

And of course it’s confusing that the protests against the ‘old regimes’ and the growth and centralization -first- manifest in the rise of faces and voices who do not reject all of the above offhand. That is to say, the likes of Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump and Nigel Farage may be against more centralization, but none of them has a clue about growth being over. They don’t get that part anymore than Hillary or Hollande or Merkel do.

So why these people? Look closer and you see that in the US, UK and France, there is nobody left who used to speak for the ‘poor and poorer’. While at the same time, the numbers of poor and poorer increase at a rapid clip. They just have nowhere left to turn to. There is literally no left left.

Dems in the US, Labour in the UK, and Hollande’s ‘Socialists’ in France have all become part of the two-headed monster that is the political center, and that is (held) responsible for the deterioration in people’s lives. Moreover, at least for now, the actual left wing may try to stand up in the form of Jeremy Corbyn or Bernie Sanders, but they are both being stangled by the two-headed monster’s fake left in their countries and their own parties.

Donald Trump, and I say this mere hours before the first debate, may still lose the election, but it doesn’t truly matter. He’s just the figure head -dare we say bobble head?- for a development, even a revolution, that he doesn’t control any more than you and I do. He’s got a role to play but he didn’t write it.

If he wins, his program too, like all the others, will be targeted towards more growth, and there’s no such thing available. And while in a no-growth scenario it’ll be a good thing for America to bring jobs back home, as is trump’s message, they won’t spell anything that even comes close to growth.

‘Leaders’ such as Trump and Le Pen can only be seen as intermediate figures necessary for nations, and indeed the world, to adapt to an entirely different paradigm. One that is at best based on consolidation, on trying not to lose too much, instead of trying to conquer the world.

But also one that is likely to lead to warfare and mayhem, because nobody’s been willing to address even the possibility of no more growth, and therefore everyone will be looking to squeeze growth out of any available place, starting with their neighbors, and the globe’s weakest. It’s the Roman empire all over again, where the core strangled the periphery ever harder until the Barbarians and the Visigoths decided it was enough and then some.

That is the meaning of Donald Trump, and of Brexit. You’re not going to understand these things without taking a few steps back, and without looking at history, and especially without acknowledging the possibility that, in economics, perpetual growth may indeed be what physics has always said it was: an impossible pipedream.

Trump has a role to play in this whether he wins the election or not. He’s the big red flashing American warning sign that the increase in poverty that has so far been felt only among those who it has hit, will shake the familiar political landscape on its foundations, and that this landscape will never return.

Look at European political parties established for decades and you see the exact same thing. Only there you often have other ‘escape valves’, because new parties are easier to form and get onto national forums. But it’s still the same thing.

Centralization, globalization, UN, NATO, IMF, all these ‘principles’ and organizations will see their influence and support dwindle, and rapidly. It’s really over. Debt did it. Or rather, our doomed mission to hide our downfall behind a veil of ever more debt did.

And Donald Trump has a role to play in that. If Hillary wins, it’ll only be more, and ever more, and spastically more, attempts to convince everyone that more globalization is the way to go, and that going to war with Putin and sending young Americans into battle in fields lost before they enter is the way of the future.

Both will be failures. All we really get to do is try to decide who may be the lesser failure.

But anyway, that’s where Trump comes from, and he doesn’t understand the half of it. Trump is there because everything else failed. And he will fail too, win or lose.



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    Dorothea Lange Family of rural rehabilitation client, Tulare County, CA 1938   It’s over! The entire model our societies have been based on for a
    [See the full post at: Why There is Trump]


    I am not disagreeing but there is an odd thing and that is I live in a place in Michigan that has been in recession since 1973 and the employment situation is better now than it has been since then, even better than 99 and the end of the tech/low energy price bubble. Also I think we can take at half of face value the report that the official poverty rate in the US had the biggest year over year drop ever, 1.2%.

    It doesn’t take much thought to figure out how this is misleading but still, it’s certainly above any hell on earth story. The local story is the auto industry going crazy after the longest expansion in its history and this too will pass.

    I’m not in any way disagreeing or dismissing IM’s analysis but even more than England’s Brexit vote I don’t attribute the turn against the elites as the lack of growth story being overwhelmingly the main cause. The no Brexit people and the Hillary people are more than half right that the yes Brexit voters and the Trump voters are responding to reactionary and nationalist and racial appeals. I’ve always expected the political dislocation to come from the right and so here it is. And yes their appeal will be to bring back growth. In lieu of that impossible promise Trump will herald in a far more openly authoritarian kind of governance. As expected by me but as I am a nice white person of middle class trappings I won’t feel the humiliation and pain.



    The link to the NYTimes story above didn’t work. If that fails do a web search

    Millions in U.S. Climb Out of Poverty, at Long Last


    I hate to do this, another post, but it needs mention that Trump voters despise the Greeks as much as they despise the Syrian refugees stuck there. As opposed to Hillary voters who are sympathetic, to the refugees at least. less so the Greeks,,at those very odd times when the story of Greece enters their minds. Which is rarely.

    The bleeding hearts of ‘liberals’ are maddening and oh so cheap. Such is the fate of liberals, think nice thoughts, and then do nothing.


    Great post Ilargi.

    I’m astonished and angry at the disappearance of the real left. Boiled alive like frogs, one small moral compromise at a time.. compulsively rationalizing as to why Mr Hope ‘n Change was really a pretty good president, and how Hillary’s actions and policies not at all indistinguishable from Dubya’s. Hell, even Dubya’s neocons are firmly and actively behind Hillary, which should be all the warning anyone needs.

    12 years ago, those same ex-leftists were of one (correctly) disgusted mind at the disgrace that was the Iraq invasion. 8 years ago, they were beside themselves with joy at the election of Obama. Now they huddle together braying for consolation about the global menace that is Trump.

    Given that Hillary is definitively:
    – a fraud: fruit of an insider-rigged selection process against the genuinely-popular Democratic candidate
    – a traitor: co-operator of a fraudulent foundation, taking ‘donations’ from foreign states in return for financial favours
    – a warmonger: committed to global destabilisation, provocation of Russia + China and further expansion of Israel
    – a shill: for the out-of-control financial + military sectors
    then I would respect any ex-lefters that on principle damned both candidates, and advocated not voting. I’m just completely gobsmacked by those who are in full boosterism mode for Hil.


    Excellent. I can’t say I “agree” or “disagree” with anything written because it seems to me to be a mathematical equation beyond opinions, so there doesn’t need to be agreement from me. But, I do agree that this all seems somewhat self evident and shocking that people don’t discuss it. ? Not that I am brighter or more insightful than others, but I am glad for AE. It helps me feel more ….sane. I also agree with the comment above from Huskynut about the disappearance of any real left. I was raised working class democrat and am amazed at how people my parents age, in their 60s, disinfranchised working class poor, will defend the “left” til the bitter end. I think Chris Hedges writes about this phenomenon well.
    As for us, we played cards with our daughter during the debate, after having gone for a long walk and making a lovely homemade dinner including things from my brother-in-laws garden. Much more rewarding than watching & trying to have an opinion on a political person. Thanks for the chance to comment!


    There is an interesting outlier to the ‘end of growth’ and that is in the seemingly oblivious ‘tech sector’… Where technology is accelerating at an exponential pace. Solutions to: energy, health, environment, transportation, learning, etc., are springing up all over the planet… But because their rise is not being covered by ‘corporate media’, we’re not seeing the solutions “grow”. It was actually inevitable because as ‘radio’ and then ‘television’ grew, at about 10% per year, but were ‘one-way’ communication; traffic and content have doubled every year, on the Internet, and not just because it stores so much data. It’s multi-directional, and such an amazing tool to ‘solve local problems’ from a sea of ‘global solutions’. This transition from the ‘old guard’ institutions, in their insatiable greed, will be an easier evolution than we have ever experienced. Instead of a series of ‘revolutions’, I believe we are going to see a ‘rapid evolution’, based on ‘choices’.


    Raul writes: “Both will be failures. All we really get to do is try to decide who may be the lesser failure.”

    This really hits the nail on the head. What only readers of The Automatic Earth understand is that the system will fail regardless, but that there are better choices we can make as individuals, communities and nations as we weather that failure. I agree Trump offers a necessary departure from the status qho in order to weather that failure.

    As Nicole Foss pointed out so accurately many times, the winner of such elections is simply the inheritor of the poisoned chalice. Our leaders, no matter who they are, will be pilloried, vilified and denigrated as the wheels come off the bus of the financial system. But the best of them will sacrifice in order to find a safer, saner path that preserves freedom, while the worst of them will capitulate to powerful interests that seek to control wealth for their own benefit while everyone else starves. Ironically it really does appear that the “capitalist” Trump in this instance has individuals’ interests at heart over the “socialist” Hillary’s interests in big banks and Globalism.

    Thanks Raul for posting this article.


    What a refreshing telling it like it is. Simple, clean, and right on the mark.

    But would humbly like to add a bit more here. We have all had a hand in this demise of ours by our own inner levels of selfishness and greed. Born out from consciousness this selfishness has now manifested and taken root in our outer physical world. But despite this, we need not feel hopeless. Love, compassion, and real genuine brotherhood can once again reflect something new and wonderful for all of us. Yes, we will probably need to go down to restart, but it will be worth it to find peace on earth once again. Such is evolution. The power to face all of this comes from complete selflessness. To mentally die to all worldly life and personal ambitions, and as the great ones have always said, then you will find your life, without any fear.


    Hello, new commenter.

    Excellent analysis, something we’ve been waiting to hear for some long time! But let’s carry it further and ask WHY growth has stopped…why speculation and sheer BETTING has increasingly replaced bona fide “investment”, why yield has vanished and why living standards are falling. Why “a dollar buys a nickels’ worth” and why currency debasement has been a feature of “money” for decades.

    And, although “deflation” is the contemporary meme, if looked at in longer-term and in context we actually live in an era of soaring price inflation. Look at house prices, art prices, stock prices, bond prices, healthcare, education, rent…everything except iPhones.

    I was originally tempted to finger the constantly increasing supply of money & credit as the cause of the end of growth. It’s tempting too to blame central banking. But then I thought a bit more: perhaps the soaring money and credit supply is a SYMPTOM or a RESPONSE to an underlying cause.

    The system’s response has for decades been one of replacing the absence of real growth with DEBT…borrowing from the future.

    To my mind the real root problem is resource depletion and scarcity, specifically the depletion of cheaply-extractable resources, especially when the cost of extracting those resources is juxtaposed with the assumption that living standards (including of those paid to do the extracting) are expected to keep rising endlessly.

    This constant-economic growth-dependent system is perniciously breaking down, from the margins towards the centre. Not everyone suffers lower standards of living equally or simultaneously but those at the margins are doing so FIRST.


    An insightful and likely valid perspective; dreams are built upon insubstantial foundations and universal dreams are owned by no one in particular.
    The cure may be found here – in individual growth, where everyone pulls his/her weight and reaps rewards commensurate with investment. No free rides / lunches anymore. It has to begin with our currently misplaced sense of ‘entitlement’ and this can only be addressed in the educational system. Once a perspective such as entitlement is embedded in the values system of any individual it’s there to stay.
    The challenge though is that thinking and initiatives like this will never get you elected as a politician – so perhaps they have to go!
    I, for one, won’t lose any sleep over their departure.

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