Charles Hugh Smith

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Off The Cuff: Weariness Everywhere In The Markets

The support underlying today's sky-high prices is faltering
Thursday, March 23, 2017, 4:43 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles Hugh Smith discuss:

  • Weariness Everywhere In The Markets
    • The post-election price support is evaporating
  • Confused Leaders
    • Chris recaps his latest meetings at the U.N.
  • Boomer Guilt
    • Divisions between the older haves & younger have-nots are growing
  • Banks & Government
    • A partnership of evil

Charles returns to Off The Cuff this week to note the recent lack of vigor in today's financial markets. Does it portend a turning point?

Click to listen to a sample of this Off the Cuff Podcast or Enroll today to access the full audio and other premium content today. » Read more

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ASCE

Off The Cuff: Our D-Minus Infrastructure

We can hardly afford to maintain it, let alone rebuild it
Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 6:21 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles Hugh Smith discuss:

  • The War Within The Deep State
    • Which regime will triumph?
  • Our Crumbling National Infrastructure
    • Can the American empire still afford itself?
  • How The Oroville Dam Is An Omen
    • Systemic collapse always surprised with its swiftness
  • The Wrong Mindset
    • Our leaders aren't incented to care about preserving what we have
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The Class War Playbook

There won't be one class war, but many
Friday, February 10, 2017, 9:16 PM

Executive Summary

  • Why the woes of the middle class will worsen from here
  • The tax-burdened middle class vs the "dependent" class that pays no taxes
  • The pinched middle class vs the gluttonous plutocrats
  • How the many ensuing class wars will end

If you have not yet read Part 1: The Coming Class Wars, It's Time To Worry available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part 1, we briefly surveyed the nature of class war in advanced capitalism, starting with the Marxist analysis that such conflict was inevitable. We then moved to the present: the Grand Truce that produced the middle class is eroding, social mobility is declining, and a sharp economic and cultural chasm has opened between the unprotected working class and the protected upper-middle class.

Why Is the Middle Class Eroding?

The big question is: why is the middle class eroding? Why is the longstanding accord between labor and capital breaking down? 

Peter Turchin’s recent book Ages of Discord sheds light on the historical context.  History’s economic and social cycles can be divided into two fundamental phases: integrative eras in which cooperation between competing forces is rewarded and disintegrative eras in which cooperation dissolves into conflict and discord.

Turchin’s analysis identifies three key drivers of social and economic disintegration:

1. An over-supply of labor that suppresses real (inflation-adjusted) wages

2. An overproduction of parasitic (unproductive) Elites

3. A deterioration in central state finances (over-indebtedness, declining tax revenues, increase in state dependents, fiscal burdens of war, etc.)

It’s clear that globalization, open immigration and automation are generating an oversupply of labor that is suppressing wages, especially for the lower-skilled work force (the working class).

The entitled upper-middle class that expects... » Read more

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Walt Kelly

Off The Cuff: Meeting The Enemy

A hard look in the mirror
Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 1:45 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles Hugh Smith discuss:

  • The Intelligence Wars
    • When everyone is pointing fingers, whom are we to believe?
  • The Need For Humility
    • Our current hubris is destroying the systems we depend on
  • The Enemy
    • Is our our "neo'" agenda, whichever side of the aisle it's on
  • Fixing Our Broken Healthcare System
    • Reform needs to start with our own behavior

"We have met the enemy and he is us"

~ Pogo (Walt Kelly)

This week Chris and Charles hold up a harsh mirror to American society. So many of the long-term predicaments we face are issues of our own making, pursuits that benefit an elite few at the expense of the rest of us. The good news here is that we still have time to dramatically improve our odds of a better future by choosing to make different decisions going forward. The all-important question is: But will we?

Click to listen to a sample of this Off the Cuff Podcast or Enroll today to access the full audio and other premium content today. » Read more

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Off The Cuff: The Global Flow Of Money

It's determining the price of everything right now
Thursday, January 5, 2017, 6:42 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles Hugh Smith discuss:

  • Cultural Capital
    • How will those around you react during a crisis?
  • The Fragility Within Our Centralized System
    • Lots of dependencies that can fail & bring the entire system to a halt
  • Musical Chairs
    • Who will have to eat the bad debts when the can can no longer be kicked?
  • The Importance Of Global Capital Flows
    • They're determining the price of everything

As 2017 kicks off, Chris sits down with Charles to discuss some of the big themes likely to drive events in this new year. The two focus on the growing instability of our centralized systems -- economic, energy and otherwise -- and pay particular attention to the impact that the huge pool of money sloshing around the world is having on prices everywhere. Right now, that flood of capital -- out of bonds and into stocks, the dollar, etc -- is the primary driver of prices. Of course, this should make us ask: what will happen when those flows change direction? Or instead of continuing to grow, start receding?

Click to listen to a sample of this Off the Cuff Podcast or Enroll today to access the full audio and other premium content today. » Read more

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Off The Cuff: Roasting The Media

Now clearly one of this year's biggest turkeys
Thursday, November 24, 2016, 5:48 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles Hugh Smith discuss:

  • Merchants Of Fear
    • Scare tactics abound these days
  • Paid Shills
    • There's an agenda behind the messages we receive
  • Persuasion & Propaganda
    • The "news" is attempting to trigger specific responses
  • An New Era Of Fascism?
    • If you look at the definition, it seems we're not too far off

First off, very happy Thanksgiving wishes from Chris and me to all our Peak Prosperity readers! We hope each of you is having a wonderful day of gratitude with people you care about. Despite all of the challenges and predicaments we discuss on this site, there is much in this world to be thankful for.

Now, in an entirely different tone, Chris and Charles work up some heat in this week's podcast, as both of them excoriate the degradation rampant in today's media. Rather than serving as a Fourth Estate, holding up truth to power and prioritizing truth and accuracy above all else, today have have a captive system serving the interests of political power (the State) and moneyed interests (corporations). As a populace, we are only as well-informed as our information is valid. How can we act effectively (including voting) when we can't trust the sources of the information we receive? 

Click to listen to a sample of this Off the Cuff Podcast or Enroll today to access the full audio and other premium content today. » Read more

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Off The Cuff: The Drums Of War

US & Russia relations are deteriorating rapidly
Thursday, October 6, 2016, 12:16 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles Hugh Smith discuss:

  • The Drums Of War
    • Relations between the US and Russia are deteriorating quickly
  • The Evil Empire
    • Have we become it?
  • Propaganda & Perception
    • The lie we're being sold doesn't match what our eyes see
  • Elite Privilege
    • A dangerous force defending the status quo

Click to listen to a sample of this Off the Cuff Podcast or Enroll today to access the full audio and other premium content today. » Read more

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If Everything's Doing So Great, How Come I’m Not?

Are you better off than you were 10 years ago?
Friday, September 9, 2016, 8:26 PM

Whether it's struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living, a 0% return on savings, working longer hours while real wages stagnate, scrimping to pay back education loans, despairing at the abuses of power in our banking and political systems, or lamenting the loss of nourishing social interaction in our increasingly isolated and digital lifestyle — most "regular" people find their own personal experiences to be at odds with the rosy "Everything is awesome!" narrative trumpeted by our media. » Read more

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The Keys To Prosperity

How to work the macro trends to your favor
Friday, September 9, 2016, 8:26 PM

Executive Summary

  • What are the big systemic trends that will impact our personal prosperity?
  • Realizing why the future will have less of everything
  • Strategies for thriving with less
  • The importance of owning & managing capital

If you have not yet read Part 1: If Everything's Doing So Great, How Come I’m Not? available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part 1, we asked 30 questions as a means of assessing whether individuals and households are doing better or worse than they were 10 years ago (2007) and 16 years ago (in 2000)—before the dot-com meltdown recession and the Global Financial Meltdown recession of 2008-09.

Identifying Systemic Trends

These questions attempt to sort out generalized decay that affects everyone—declines in purchasing power, quality of goods and services, etc.—from declines in individual/household health, well-being and financial security.

The questions also attempt to sharpen our awareness of systemic trends: are our prospects brightening or dimming? Are government services improving or declining as our taxes increase?

General trends manifest in different ways in each community/region.  For example, the city and county of San Francisco is booming, with strong growth of population (866,000 residents), jobs, rents, housing valuations and tax revenues. Yet even as the city and county of San Francisco’s annual budget swells to an incomprehensible $9.6 billion—larger than the budgets of many U.S. state governments, and four times the annual budget of the city and county of Honolulu, with 998,000 residents—the homeless problem in San Francisco becomes ever more intractable, intrusive and disruptive, despite tens of millions of dollars devoted specifically to improving the options available to the homeless.

This is an example of larger trends that manifest in one way or another in the majority of communities: increasing costs and complexity, diminishing returns on money spent, frustration by taxpayers receiving unsatisfactory services as tax revenues increase, and problems that continue to worsen regardless of how much money is thrown at them.

There are many causal factors driving these trends of decay, rising costs and diminishing returns: a state-cartel system of regulatory capture that enforces cartels and limits competition; rising complexity of regulations that result in reduced productivity and higher costs; a “vetocracy” (Francis Fukuyama’s term) in which special interests can veto any measure with their political clout that impinges on their wealth and power; central bank monetary policies that enrich the wealthy and strip interest income from everyone else; and government manipulation of statistics and markets to manage perceptions—in effect, ignore your lying eyes and believe us: everything’s going great!

Then there's the shadowy monster in the room... » Read more

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Off The Cuff: Paradox!

There's a crazy mismatch between reality & what we're told
Friday, September 9, 2016, 3:10 PM

IIn this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles Hugh Smith discuss:

  • We Increasingly Live In A Paradox World
    • What we're told increasingly doesn't match what we see
  • The Politicized Fed
    • The evidence is clear the Fed definitely follows a political agenda
  • The War On Cash Intensifies
    • Ken Rogoff's "less-cash" proposal
  • The Peril Of Underfunded Pensions
    • A time bomb ticking loudly...

Click to listen to a sample of this Off the Cuff Podcast or Enroll today to access the full audio and other premium content today. » Read more