Cycle Of Empires: Where Are We Now vs. Rome?

All I ask is about 50 years more… then it’s not even my Kid’s problem…

I’d only note in passing that it isn’t just gold that holds value during inflation, it is any tangible durable goods. Even some intangibles. So real estate rises in nominal price, and artwork usually rises a lot, along with diamonds and even things like copper and zinc.

At present, easily about 80% of my family net worth is in “stuff”. Currency not so much (just enough to offset the present debt to be paid so each is a hedge against the other).

So when they push the importance of gold, remember that is about money and a medium of exchange, not just a durable store of value. 28 Minutes:

I’d put us about one generation away from “Emperor”…

This is #9 in a series, so I guess I’m going to search out the rest of them.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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22 Responses to Cycle Of Empires: Where Are We Now vs. Rome?

  1. London Calling says:

    Alas, Sir John Glubb suggests even 10 is unlikely:

  2. philjourdan says:

    I give it 20. By then we will be in a perpetual recession with the pelousies of that day trying to spend us out of by giving everyone a minimum income. In 50 years, we will be Venezuela. We have farther to fall.

  3. H.R. says:

    It’s dicey, E.M.
    I think it will come down to whether or not President Trump can drain the swamp and cripple the bureaucracy that is the Deep State.

    Part of the problem lies with the fact that the Rule of Law has become merely a suggestion to the people we elected to maintain and better our society. As citizens, we have fallen asleep and let our control of our government slip out of our pockets like loose change that goes into the sofa while you are napping; little by little and unnoticed.

    One of our ‘usual suspects’ posted this here a few (more than a few?) months ago but it illustrates the cycle of rise and decline.

    Hard times create strong men.
    Strong men create good times.
    Good times create weak men.
    Weak men create hard times.”

    ~ I’m not certain who to credit

    We have weak, i.e. morally weak and corrupt men in charge right now and we are in that last phase. Things look pretty good right now, but they can collapse quickly, as E.M. points out with his questioning of “soon or 50 years?”

    Returning to my opening statement, for the large part we have weak (corrupt) men in charge right now and the collapse will be soon unless strong men step up to drain the swamp. There are precious few who have stepped forward so far, so it’s… dicey.

  4. DonM says:

    Episode 7 is a little scary as related to “today”. If correct;

    Lock in your mortgage rate.

    Pick up (more) gold.

    (how does the china debt play into the historic analogies and change what is happening today?)

  5. Larry Ledwick says:

    There is one minor quibble I would make with the Roman’s observation.

    This device being officially promulgated,
    circulates and maintains its purchasing
    power not so much from its substance, as
    from its quantity.
    Juliaus Paulus

    And that is that he left out the qualifier “in relation to demand”

    If the quantity of a currency was fixed to some quantity per head in the population it could grow with no inflation.

    If you have a village of 100 people and give every one of them 1000 New Dracmas of currency, and periodically after each census increased the total amount of New Dracmas in circulation to match the increased population you should in theory have no inflation as each person would per capita have the same sized pool of money to work for.

    It is that intangible variable of “demand” that throws a monkey wrench in the works as a fiat currency retains its value primarily based on the public’s “perception” of its quantity per person or scarcity. But some emergency crops up and everyone wants to put money in the bank it has the same effect as if you burned 10% of the currency suddenly the amount available to service daily transactions shrinks and the apparent value of the currency spikes upward. Likewise if the public suddenly loses confidence in the Confederate Dollars, although the quantity is essentially unchanged all of a sudden there is no demand and everyone wants to dump them, flooding the bills into the market.

    It it figuring out how to balance demand AND quantity that is the tough nut to crack.
    You also have logistic limits on that problem you can only put physical money in circulation so fast or pull it out of circulation so fast, but once it becomes a number on ledger transferred electronically you create an inherently unstable oscillator as their is no governor to limit the rate of change. Same applies to monetary instruments like stocks and bonds. If demand and supply can both fluctuate almost instantaneously due to electronic bidding, sales and issues, then sooner or later random noise in the system will converge on a self reinforcing series of reactions and you get spike crashes and spike surges in value as that unstable undampened oscillator gets out of sync with its input signals and slams to one rail or the other (hopefully only briefly)

    The good news is that in the grand scheme of things, the final collapse is only a brief moment in the life of the currency, so in most currencies you can take that risk of blowing it up, knowing that it is relatively unlikely that the explosion will directly due to your actions.

    So the officials just keep teasing the dragon until someday one of them gets burnt to a cinder but many thousands of them got away with it for their entire carriers. It is sort of a very low probability Russian Roulette where they probability of a the worst possible pay off is extremely remote but sooner or later that bill will come due.

  6. cdquarles says:

    That’s right. All values only exist in thinking people’s minds. They are all subjective opinions and are by logical necessity, conditional. Change the conditions, you change the results. Money is *not* and can never be a *store of value*, because the “store” is each person’s mind who is making decisions. The value of money, just as it is with all other economic goods, is an intangible function of supply and demand, where those are created by actors making decisions. You can fit a mathematical relationship to it; but just as a map isn’t the territory, the relationship is not a physical reality.

    @Larry, it doesn’t matter whether we are talking electrons or gold. The reality is that humans are subject to manic phases and panic phases. What changes when you change the form of money is how fast things can happen, on the margin, under certain conditions. Booms and busts happen. I am not necessarily better off nor worse off by changes in the placement of the decimal point of numbers. It will still take a certain amount of time and energy to make any valuable product. In the end, I am going to be better off, in my mind, by making a decision, knowing that it is made under uncertainty. Even the death of my body, while certain at some point, isn’t certain this hour, right now, as I write this.

  7. Tom says:

    Per an acquaintance, an R&D focused upon developing an exotic energy technology apparently went black. Possibly supporting his theory is the listing of a former CIA director on their Advisory Board. The company BOD had taken the action of removing a long standing company hosted public forum in it’s entirety. Forum discussions sometimes delved into technical back-and-forth once IP filings were submitted; yet, with patents pending, how much could informal exchanges compromise legal standing? Then, there was that turn of events in the final week, one in which the wide-ranging forum discussion turned to the underpinning of the value of a currency.

    The U.S. storage of international gold reserves, the pegged dollar value as the basis for the Reserve Currency, gave way to Dr. Kissinger’s trade of Saudi oil denominated in the U.S. Dollar. That relationship is losing strength forty-five years past it’s inception. The prospect was fronted of an alternative to the petrodollar, a reserve based upon energy units(kWh?) to be provided on demand by a proprietary process, which subsequently proved to be the final topic.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @Don M:

    The interesting thing about China, for me, is that they are on the same debt expansion thing; but are not turning some of their “credits” (i.e. hard currency) into “stuff” (factories, land buys in Africa, ports & roads). So we’re going to have a race of sorts between the 3 big empires to see who collapses first. EU, USA, China (with a side bar on Russia that has hung on pretty well).

    @PhilJourdan & H.R.:

    It will depend a lot on Trump vs Pelosi & Friends…

    @Larry L:

    That supply / demand relationship was basically what Keynes pointed out. Unfortunately, folks forget his admonition that you can have loose money for at most a couple of years before it damages the currency and that during “good times” you must decrease currency supply from the excess you produced in the stimulus phase.

    Due to ignoring 1/2 of Keynes, we get the crap central banks do now (and call Keynesian but it isn’t…)


    Folks who packrat gold for the time of the collapse make the mistake of forgetting your point… Gold is nice, but soaps, perfumes, bullets, food, paper goods, etc. all are more in demand during an economic Aw Shit than a disk of metal. Any metal. That’s why cigarettes are currency in prisons. Constant demand.


    Interesting sidebar…

    There have been various proposals over the years to make a currency linked to a unit of energy or a unit of labor.

  9. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – I was kind of oblique in my comment. The Swamp and GEBs are our Emperors. The Deep State is the underlying bureaucracy dependent on supporting the Swamp to keep the gravy train running down the tracks. There’s the cause and the keepers of the deficit spending, similar to the Romans. They take a rake on everything that passes through their hands.

    As I understand President Trump’s agenda, he plans to put the brakes to the gravy train. Everybody on board the Gravy Train is doing everything possible to derail the Trump Train.

    So it’s dicey. It’s just my opinion, but if President Trump can make it through 2020 to 2024, there’s a chance we can back off the Disaster Express and we might get 50 or more years.

    If he’s upended in 2020, then I’m glad I have a trailer and adequate ‘supplies’ because the end of the line will come up and inside just a few years, we’ll hit the end of the line full speed.

  10. cdquarles says:

    Well, that is one advantage to our dollar. It is also a defined amount of oil ;p (thank you Henry Kissinger 8p). The trouble is, again, that “value” exists in “minds”, so it isn’t possible to have a money that doesn’t change form or fluctuate in value while it keeps its current form. That’s true for every economic good. Until the bulk of humans gets *that* embedded in their minds and that “wishing or willing” it to not be so doesn’t change reality, people will continue to suffer from self delusions.

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    I like the Austrian School definition of money as “the most trade-able good”. It nicely covers and explains things like cigarettes as “money” in prisons. It also clearly exposes fiat ‘money’ as not being money but only being a “medium of exchange” as it is not in any way a “trade-able good”.

  12. Larry Ledwick says:

    I stumbled across one of those talking in the car videos by a guy that focused on the economy a few years ago. I wish I had captured the link to his stuff. He had a very practical and logical view of practical economics and he had an almost identical definition of money. He defined it as:

    Money is anything that your can reliably exchange for something of value.

    The hidden nugget of wisdom there is that what money “is” can vary by who you are dealing with.
    If I am trying to buy a duck from some anti gun wacko I probably would not want to use .22LR ammunition as my money offer. That same duck bought from a farmer with a rat pest problem who owns a .22LR rifle and is nearly out of ammunition would buy me a much better duck or even several ducks.

    The anti gun wacko might throw ducks at me if I can offer them some non-GMO heirloom seeds however.

    As noted above value is a “perception” in the mind of they buyer and the mind of the seller.

    If I have no food but a warehouse full of real Stradivarius violins, their value as rare violins will not be as high as it would be if I was fat dumb and happy.

  13. Larry Ledwick says:

    Meanwhile under the “organized fraud” category we have millions of active social security numbers for people who probably died years ago. What is more interesting is they resist fixing the problem because it would not benefit the social security system – totally ignoring the patient bleeding out on the floor due to waste and millions in improper payments.

  14. R. de Haan says:

    Rome collapsed due to the end of the Roman Climate Optimum followed by a cold period.
    Crops failed, the Justinian Plague decimated the populations etc, etc.

    This scenario was repeated right after the Medieval Warmth Period. Crop losses, famines, the Bubonic Plague collapse of society with a 40% loss of the populations of Europe.

    According to Valentina Zharkova’s latest research we will enter Maunder Minimum conditions from 2020 due to a Grand Solar Minimum. If she’s correct this of course will have dire consequences for our agricultural output and a whole list of other complications big enough to topple any civilization. It happened to the Chinese several times, it happened to many other civilizations all over the world and it happened to the Romans and if we don’t come to our senses, stop wasting money on UN Agenda 21/30, renewable energy BS and weaponry that allows us to kill the world population 100 times instead of 50 times we indeed run the risk to follow into the footsteps of Rome.

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    @R. de Haan:

    “They” are not going to deal with it so it is up to you to take care of your own. Part of my “move” is to get out of this urban metro-plex before the worst comes. Going to a place where water does not depend on the smooth operation of society… and food doesn’t come from 1000 miles away. (Central Valley California is becoming a desert again as The State mandates 75% of the water rush to the ocean to save the Delta Smelt – that was NOT endangered by water loss but by the import of the Asian first cousin (by the State…) that is now out competing it… ) So food is increasingly from Mexico or Flyover Country (grains / meat).

    I’m pretty sure I can make things tolerable in semi-rural Florida, even as the cold comes.

  16. R. de Haan says:

    Right, E.M. good to hear you take this stuff serious. I agree with Florida being a good place to go. The son of my business partner is trained for the F35 in Florida right now and he will scout the Florida Grounds since we all think we have no future in Europe. As for California they are fully committed to the UN Agenda 21/30 stuff which of course is a totally insane doctrine. They are as mad as the Europeans and I can’t help them as they don’t listen anyhow. (no longer want to either). Maybe we should discuss buying some land and set up a small but resilient and energetic community on a good location that allows us to operate some planes/helicopters and allows for some hurricane proof construction of some nice homes and a solid garage/hangar/workshop as well as some land to keep some animals, plant some crops, you know the drill. Nice to have a few people together with different trades and skills but similar idea’s how to get through some challenging times but allowing to have breathing space for every individual. I am already in the process of getting a residential permit. Buying some real estate and investing some money will be part of the deal anyhow.

  17. jim2 says:

    The collapse will come in two waves. In the first wave, the older people will die off partly because they will be out in the elements attempting to right downed systems and partly because they are, well …, old.

    The second wave will consist of Millennials who will be occupied with melt-downs and eventually will be done in because the elders aren’t around to provide their needs, and, of course, their devices will cease to function, perhaps the final blow.

  18. Larry Ledwick says:

    Jim2 I see the makings of a great disaster movie there – ”
    The day the Batteries died”
    A story of Chaos and tragedy as everyone’s personal electronic device dies at the same time and zombie like digital millennials wonder the landscape searching for a working USB connection.

  19. H.R. says:

    “zombie like digital millennials wonder the landscape searching for a working USB connection…”

    … stepping in front of cars, falling off ledges, walking into utility poles, and bumping into downed high voltage lines as they stare in disbelief at their blank screens and scream at their devices to “c’mon now… anything… C’MON!!”

    I agree, Larry. It would make a great film and the writers would have a field day seeing how many ways someone can die from inattentiveness.

    The cull would be rapid. As a geezer flip phone user, I’d have a distinct survival advantage.

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    @R. de Haan:

    Just a side note that I had an article some time back looking at ice age glacial history in Florida. WHEN the Gulf Stream slows down, heat backs up in the Gulf and Florida gets a more summer like weather pattern year round. IMHO just about idea. While Europe freezes and dries out, Florida get warm with afternoon rains.

    Per an ‘enclave’ of like minds: As much as I like the idea, there’s the Spouse Problem. Mine insists on living “near” Disney World. So we’ll be negotiating just how far away I can make “near”… I’m thinking Polk County rural… about 45 minutes out.


    I think you need to divide “old” into two groups. Old & Feeble or infirm, and Old & Wise.

    Some of us will be far better prepared than anyone else, even if old. I’m pretty sure I’m going to “make it” against just about anything right up until my health gives out (and I’m doing what I can to make that long long off…)

    @Larry L:

    I see images of Millennials in tattered clothes with gaunt faces stabbing and swiping at the palm of their off hand as though a phone were in it, wandering into trees and gullies and lakes… ;-)

    At a minimum it would make a viral short subject on YouTube ;-)

  21. jim2 says:

    Other possible Millennial vignettes:

    1. Morale and group cohesion suffer because the stash is down to leaf only.
    2. You are in MY safe space!
    3. Why won’t you give me a hit?

  22. R. de Haan says:

    @E.M, I remember a nice map which shows a reconstruction of the temps during the Maunder Minimum. Only Alaska and Panama were warming a bit as I remember it well so the findings of a warm and benign Florida really appeals to me. As for the slow down theory of the Gulf stream, mentioned in many reports, I really have my doubts as the main driver of the Gulf stream “pump” is gravity of cooled water sinking down at the pole and the rotation of the earth. These factors will not change during cooler times. At most the location where the Gulf Stream water masses sink down is shifted to a more southern position as the ice caps will grow and sea ice will further cool the Northern Oceans. What will happen during a full blown ice age is a fall of the sea levels by 400 ft entirely changing the coastal area’s and the water masses displaced, read heat exchange with the atmosphere.
    From what we know now, volcanic eruptions (536 AD, fall of Rome) linked with a cooling cycle, the Younger Dryas (remains from comet Icky), see also recent find of a 19 mile diameter crater in Greenland carefully dated around the mega fauna extinction event 12,900 years ago and the mega floods, the Little Ice Age, also taking off with some big volcano eruptions in combination with solar magnetic changes on our sun have a much bigger influence me 2 cent of think thinks.

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