The face of the river, in time, became a wonderful book . . . which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it had uttered them with a voice.
-- Mark Twain
The Paper Boat returns to open waters, after an extended holiday tied up at dock. Happy New Year to all! Let’s take a moment to look back at the events of the past year, and then we’ll move on to see what may be in store for the year ahead. Largely, we were right on target with last year’s predictions. How 2012 will unfold is slightly murkier, but we do have several good ideas we’d like to share.
The Paper Boat offered a list of predictions for last year in Crystal Visions 2011. On the economic front we were spot on concerning the deteriorating US housing market, popping housing bubbles in Australia and China, the collapsing Eurozone, continued bank closures, high unemployment, a slowdown in commodities, further tightening on lending and shrinking credit availability, further quantitative easing and covert bailouts, pressure on unions, rising poverty, emerging political unrest and protest, growing public interest in economics and policy, loss of civil liberties and the growing popularity of Libertarianism, youth led grass roots movements using the internet to organize, and a general mounting distrust for government.
A couple of our predictions missed the mark to some degree or another. Concerning a crisis in municipal bonds, I had imagined something extreme happening. I admit I was somewhat swung by Meredith Whitney’s erroneous warnings at the time that doom was imminent. While cities and states have been hit hard with falling revenue, in some cases even facing bankruptcy, movement in the municipal bond market saw no meltdown. We also averted a crisis in public pensions last year. This will come to a head eventually, but 2011 was a premature call regarding when it would take place. I expected also to see more public attention paid to green tech and bioengineering. The dismal economic news sucked focus from scientific and environmental issues, though developments have been made in those areas. Overall, however, our 2011 predictions were pretty much on the mark.
So that said, you may wonder what sort of tidbits and treasures are to be reaped from the salty brine as The Paper Boat casts its nets upon the waters ahead. The view as seen from The Paper Boat is a broad one, based on extensive research of what the most accurate economists and innovative thinkers of our time have to offer. We focus on trends and the shifting tides of human psychology, with a perspective born of the humanities as well as economics. We do not collect or analyze data nor crunch numbers, though remain ever grateful to and respectful of those who provide such essential raw materials upon which to develop the theoretical. In light of this, we offer that while our predictions are largely accurate they do not offer investment advice as much as provide an exploration of financial possibility. As I have said in the past, things can transpire more or less rapidly depending on many factors and so some of the trends we see forming may take longer than the year to finally play out.
Here, then, is a list of the important events and trends we expect to see in 2012:
Economy continues to decline despite the current media talk of a turnaround. Possible recession.
Housing market continues deleveraging process. Prices fall as sales and investment weaken further, while foreclosures continue to add to inventory.
Unemployment stays high, perhaps even seeing a rise later in the year. Banking, retail and public education suffer.
Public pension problems come into focus.
Local sustainability movement grows, but is met with much resistance from state, federal and corporate powers.
Internet freedom threatened. Issues of cyber terrorism, security, copyrights and freedom of speech.
Growing concerns over loss of civil liberties and the closing of free society.
European Union deteriorates and heads into severe recession. Core unity is threatened politically and economically – perhaps even lost altogether.
Technocrats to the rescue. Bankers gain political power.
Canadian housing bubble pops.
China faces painful deleveraging as real estate bubble collapses and growth reverses. Social unrest escalates.
Commodities lose value.
Equities take a hit with fallout of EU and lower demand for commodities and consumption.
Dollar safest investment, though it’s more a hiding place than a money maker.
Global trade slows.
Trade wars. Trouble with Iran over oil, drones and nukes. Possible trouble with China over Iran and tariffs.
Possibility of real war developing out of trade wars.
Iraq occupation continues in the form of mercenary activity.
Class war. Wall Street occupation grows stronger as divide between rich and poor continues to expand.
This is an election year, so trends may play out differently depending on who ends up as President. I predict Obama will win another term in office because he is perceived as the most populist of the candidates at a time when the masses are being squeezed from above. He will gain success by aligning himself with the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has been painted as an anti-Republican action by the mainstream media. However, as usual Obama’s real actions will be less than radical, as he is actually more closely aligned with the one percent and will make every attempt to attain reelection by playing to the polls, bankers and union sponsorship. If Romney wins we will likely see trouble with China and probably more war, as he has already declared his intent to proclaim China a currency manipulator and raise tariffs on Chinese produced goods. Romney is not adverse to taking action against Iran over their attempts to build a nuke, either. If Ron Paul is elected we will not see World War III, but we may see a more dramatic economic downturn, as the social support net is diminished and government and Federal bank stimulus is curbed. Future events and the timeline within which they take place are made somewhat murkier in 2012 because of elections, though this factor will actually have a greater effect on the years that follow.
Fashion forward… Corporate backlash. Sustainability. Less is more. Demand for quality, practicality, ethics, affordable elegance. Mom-n-pop vs the chains. Conscientious consumption vs. flash-sale feeding frenzy. Tortoise vs. hair. Social responsibility, artisans, Marx. Transparency and traceability. Renting. Time banks. Seed banks. Burning banks. Austrian economics, Mayan calendar, and Middle Eastern textiles. Individual expression, DIY, vintage, recycled, natural beauty, elaborate surfaces, handmade. Spiritual strength. Intellect. Vegan expansion. Vegetable dyed, neutrals, herringbone, insects, brights, glittery glamour, tamed manes, French twists and faux bobs, brooches, hats, softened jumpsuits. 3D. Digital crafting. Lo fi. Made in the USA. Divination, speakeasy, microbrew, romanticism.
Today we slide The Paper Boat into the river of time itself, and let the encircling waters carry us backward to the year 1995. Barack Obama has just published “Dreams from My Father” as he prepares to launch a career in politics, Monica Lewinsky is hired as an intern for President Bill Clinton at the White House, Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise graces US radios as the most popular song of the year, and Gerald Celente sits down to write about the coming populist demonstrations against Wall Street wealth and corruption… a decade and a half before they take actually place.
“Nostradamus, Top This!” declares the new Autumn 2011 edition of Celente’s The Trends Journal, as it recounts the prophetic passages he wrote so long ago. His predictions of revolution against the wealthy were published two years after he wrote them, in his best selling book Trends 2000. The words read as though they come from any current newspaper reporting on Occupy Wall Street.
“They flooded the streets. Day and night, they marched. They yelled, they screamed, they chanted, they danced, and they prayed.
No one saw them coming and they came from everywhere. The country had never seen such massive demonstrations. At first, ‘the experts’ compared it to the sixties, when draft-age dissenters, women’s libbers, and civil rights advocates took to the streets in protest. But this was no sixties sound …
Mounted police dispersed them with crowd control sprays and nightsticks. The episode barely made the national news and drew little notice in New York. But it was a harbinger …
As the demonstrations mobilized and gained momentum, the students were joined by their ‘un’-collegiate peers – the unemployed, the underemployed, the unemployable…
No one was sure what had turned the protestors into marchers, or what had pointed them in the direction of Wall Street. All that was known for sure was that a mob of adrenaline-pumped young people funneled into the narrow streets of the Financial District, taking everyone in their path along with them.”
While today’s political pundits and politicians argue about the causes of the Occupy movement, who is involved and what to do about it, Celente’s predictions pinpoint the dynamics that would eventually give rise to the demonstrations, and anticipate exactly who would be involved.
“America was not supposed to be a country where the rich grew richer and everyone else grew poorer. Finally the well-publicized income disparity between the rich and the shrinking middle class and growing underclass served as the predicted flashpoint …”
“It should have come as no surprise when the 90 percent of the nation who said they wanted change demanded change.”
“[They] were recruited from significant established minorities: the 80 percent of Americans who for decades had been telling pollsters they did not feel ‘our government can generally be trusted to look after our interests,’ the 91 percent who had ‘little or no confidence in Washington,’ the 80 percent who felt ‘the government favored the rich and powerful,’ the 73 percent who did not want to see environmental regulations rolled back … There were jobless Generation Xers, tax protestors, retirees with devalued pensions, the underemployed, the working poor, the downsized and out, the aware, and the unbuffaloed from every strata of society.”
“In Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Peoria, Portland, Bismarck, Honolulu, Anchorage, in every Middletown and Centerville, a stunned nation took to the streets and wouldn’t leave … With children in hand, graying boomers of protests past joined the vigil on the streets.”
“They wanted an end to policies that allowed two thirds of the nation’s wealth in one percent of U.S. households. They wanted tax money, presently squandered on defense, boondoggles and pork barrel projects to be spent on the people, not just a few people … and told the government to stop the war.”
Celente even predicted the use of the internet to organize the movement. At at time when a global internet system was still the dream of a handful of technologically elite and the best vehicle for the exchange of cyber information was the floppy disc, Celente wrote that demonstrators would use a social networking system to spread word and organize.
“This time the news was posted on the StudentNet. Sympathy protests simultaneously combusted on college campuses and in cities around the nation.”
It is amazing how specific the details are. While his predictions may give you goosebumps, Celente denies having any psychic abilities or extraordinary powers of perception. His techniques are based in understanding something about history, reading all he can get his hands on regarding current events, and in the power of thinking independently. It is something he claims any average person is capable of achieving with a little research and a healthy disregard for the mainstream media.
You may wonder, after witnessing Mr. Celente’s ability to predict future events with such accuracy, what he sees in store for us ahead. Unfortunately, the news is not good. He sees the Occupy movement as the beginning of something much bigger in the US. It may fade, but we will continue to see resurgent waves of similar protest until the imbalance of wealth has been rectified. He warns we are in the beginnings of global economic collapse and have yet to see the depths of what he believes will be America’s “Greatest Depression.” The intensity of the protests will escalate as economic conditions worsen and we will see increased loss of personal liberties as forces beholden to the wealthiest 1% of the country seek ever more forcefully to maintain the status quo. He predicts we will eventually see trade wars and then actual war – the next World War, he fears – as politicians continue to fail at creating any real improvement in the economy.
Perhaps of some comfort is that Celente also offers a possible solution, or at least the beginning of one. What he calls a potential “game changer” starts with the recognition that the mindset and policies of the Industrial Revolution era no longer work in the 21st Century world.
“The government/political ‘system’ in place in America, and throughout much of the world, is obsolete and irreparable. The inept generals masterminding lost-cause wars are mirrored by warring senators and representatives in Congress. Anyone who watched weeks of the Washington Wrestling Federation’s (WWF) reality show, ‘Beltway Battle Over the Budget,’ and still trusts the judgment of politicians, is either delusional or ideologically trapped,” says Celente.
Celente is calling for Direct Democracy. He believes the current system must be eradicated for any improvement to be made. As he describes it, there are currently 535 members of congress who pass laws and control the lives of 300,000,000 citizens in the US. With direct democracy every person would instead be represented directly by his or her own vote. We would vote on issues directly, like what to do with our money and when to go to war. He maintains it is working in Switzerland and it will work for the rest of us.
“The problem isn’t just in the numbers,” says Celente, “it’s that the ‘Gang of 535′ represents lobbyists and campaign contributors, not the constituents they claim to represent. ‘Representative Democracy’ is a cruel sham; it’s neither ‘representative’ nor ‘democratic,’ and people are getting wise to it. Polls show that only 17 percent of likely US voters say the country is heading in the right direction, while 46 percent believe most members of Congress are corrupt.
“In those beliefs rest the possibility for change, real change, not Obama-change. As Victor Hugo put it, ‘There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.’ I believe that ‘idea’ is Direct Democracy, and I believe that the time has come for the entire world to wrest power from the hands of ruling political mobs and put it into the hands of the public. Let the people vote!”
Gerald Celente’s words may seem outrageous or too radical to many. His iconoclastic spirit and glum outlook for the future of the economy have certainly caused criticism. He has been referred to as a “gloom and doomer,” an “alarmist” and a purveyor of “pessimism porn” in the mainstream media. However, if the success record of his predictions is any indicator, Celente may again be one of the rare voices to call it as it is to come.
The Prophet Song was written by Brian May and originally performed by Queen.
There is a new group emerging amidst the throngs of the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City. The OCCUPY Occupy Wall Street movement is still only very small, with only two members committed to the cause at this point, but activists Davram Stiefler and Jason Selvig are not deterred. They tell the Washington Post they are there to represent the 1%, because “we worked hard to get where we are, and these people seem like they are trying to take it away.” Their advice to Occupy Wall Street protesters is to stop acting like victims and “go to business school.”
So who says a little comedy can’t be injected into the revolution? Ah, the power of performance art. Keeps people thinking… and I’m sure the troops sleeping in that granite park could use a little entertaining about now, too. The Paper Boat stands in solidarity with Occupy Occupy Wall Street!
After Obama’s latest campaign fluffing effort – uh, I mean the jobs creation speech he delivered earlier this month – I thought it might be a good time to check out some alternative approaches to thinking about our current economic condition. In the spirit of cheap and fast book learnin,’ The Paper Boat now presents a primer in Marxist theory with this entertaining introduction to The Communist Manifesto… delivered in less than eight and a half minutes of delightful cartoon fun!
Karl Marx was a genius for his insightful and articulate observations about the cyclical nature of capitalist economics and the social perils of accumulation. I’m probably too great a fan of technology, religion, rugged individualism and the pursuit of ownership to be a good communist, but I will say the idea of giving up materialist acquisition does hold a certain Zen appeal.
Also a genius: whoever edited this little ditty I ran across on YouTube last night. Okay, perhaps not so genius was the choice of narrators for the piece – sorry, folks! (Note to the creators: why not be part of the jobs solution and hire a professional actor next time?) Still, I’m sure you’ll agree The Communist Manifesto Illustrated by Cartoons is worth a watch not only for its educational value, but for the fabulous sampling of Mid 20th Century animation design and concept work as well.