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Straight Talk with Charles Hugh Smith: Why The Status Quo Is Unsustainable
by Adam Taggart

"Straight Talk" features thinking from notable minds that the audience has indicated it wants to learn more about.  Readers submit the questions they want addressed and our guests take their best crack at answering. The comments and opinions expressed by our guests are their own.

This week's Straight Talk contributor is Charles Hugh Smith, who has been an independent journalist for 22 years. His weblog,, is a daily compendium of observations and analysis on the global economy and financial markets, as well as notable political, social, and cultural trends. Charles has authored a number of books across several genres, including the recent Survival+: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation.

1. Of the many forces at play that you write about within the economy, society, and politics, which ones do you see as the most defining for the future? How do you expect things to unfold?

CHS:  Clearly, demographics and Peak Oil are forces which cannot be massaged away by policy tweaks or financial engineering. I think the exhaustion of Global Neoliberal Capitalism and State Capitalism is apparent, as is the bankruptcy of the two ideologies that more or less define our politics. The reliance on expansion of credit and State power is a dynamic with only unhappy endings.


Straight Talk with James Howard Kunstler: “The World is Going to Get Rounder and Bigger Again”
by Adam Taggart

"Straight Talk" features thinking from notable minds who the audience has indicated that it wants to learn more about. Readers submit the questions they want addressed and our guests take their best crack at answering. The comments and opinions expressed by our guests are their own.

This week's Straight Talk contributor is James Howard Kunstler, author and social critic. His better-known works include The Long Emergency, in which he argues that declining oil production will result in the decline of modern industrialized society and compel Americans to return to smaller-scale, localized, semi-agrarian communities; World Made By Hand, and its sequel, The Witch of Hebron, all published by The Atlantic Monthly Press. He writes a weekly blog is also a leading proponent of the movement known as "New Urbanism." 

1. When will the average US citizen wake up to the perils of Peak Oil?

JHK:  When a crisis comparable to the 1973 OPEC embargo — with lines at the filling stations and hefty price-hikes —  whaps them upside the head.

Martenson Report Ready – Food Outlook 2009
by Chris Martenson

Hello and Happy Memorial Day!

There’s a new Martenson Report ready for enrolled members.  It can be accessed by clicking the title below, or going to the Martenson Report page.  As always, it has already been sent as a newsletter so you should also find it in your inbox.

Here’s a snippet:

Food Outlook 2009 – Understanding the Risks

Executive Summary

  • Global grain stocks at lowest levels in over four decades
  • Shockingly low fertilizer sales suggest possibility of a disappointing yield
  • Food supply and demand are tightly balanced
  • Food distribution networks are cost-efficient but not terribly robust
  • Ways you can increase your food security


Food is something that many of us take for granted, but it is important to recognize that this luxury is a recent development in human history. It is time to give more thought to this critical staple in our lives.

In March of 2008, food commodity prices hit an all-time high. This coincided with a world-wide food crisis, food riots, and even a few instances of national rice hoarding. Many believe that this was triggered by economic conditions (e.g. a flood of cheap money), not a fundamental or structural shortfall in food production. But I hold the view that both were at fault.

Food demand has grown steadily over the years, as has food supply. However, in recent years the excess margin of supply over demand has tightened and even gone negative several times. Reserve stocks are incredibly tight, resting at levels not seen since the early 1970’s. 

It is easily conceivable that food deliveries could be disrupted within any country, leading to rapid onset of local food shortages. This report will apprise you of several of the challenges that currently exist regarding world food supplies and the possibility that these challenges could lead to a structural shortfall in global food supplies in 2009 or 2010. It also contains specific actions that could greatly enhance your own food security.

New Martenson Report Ready – It’s Hit the Fan
by Chris Martenson

A new Martenson Report is ready for enrolled members.  In this report, we stroll through the recent data and I make the case that there’s no need to wait for any clearer signs that “things have changed” than the ones we already have.  If you are waiting for TSHTF (explained in the article) then you can stop waiting.

Link to It Has Hit The Fan

A snippet:

In times like these, I take a few steps back and try to look at the whole picture. The details are numerous; they are often contradictory and confusing. For clarity’s sake, it can be helpful to keep the macro view in focus, instead of the details. Here are the big-picture items that I keep firmly in mind each day:

  • This is a crisis of too much debt, not too little spending.
  • This is a global crisis. Clues for directionality are best found by viewing the entire world situation. That data still points downwards.
  • The energy situation is getting worse, not better, due to a lack of critical and focused investment and the passage of wasted time.
  • It’s not possible for an insolvent nation to borrow money from an insolvent financial system to bail out insolvent financial, real estate, and insurance companies.
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