International Man: Wall Street Silver, a financial analyst on Twitter, highlights that during the Great Depression, the average home cost 3x the average income. Today, it costs 8x as much.
In the 1930s, the average car cost about 46% of a year’s earnings. Today, they eat up 85% of the annual average wage.
Rent, which previously claimed just 16% of yearly income, now demands a staggering 42%.
By these metrics and others, the average person is in a worse position than during the Great Depression, the most challenging economic period in the last 100 years.
What is your take?
Doug Casey: It’s not written in stone anywhere that life is going to be easy. But with the accession of capitalism, life has gotten better and better for the average guy for many generations. Perhaps prosperity has spoiled the average guy, transforming him into an undeserving idiot who thinks socialism works and a welfare state can give everybody something for nothing.
As a consequence, the rate of improvement in the average standard of living has been slowing down. I believe it’s going to go into reverse. There are some very disturbing things happening across many fronts.
The State—I’m referring to the institution itself—is at the root of all of them. It’s constantly inserting itself into civil society through its taxes and regulations. And, most of all, it’s destruction of the currency, which is popularly called “inflation.”
Inflation makes it much harder for the average guy—who tries to produce more than he consumes and save the difference—to get ahead. That’s because his savings, which are almost always in the national currency, are being destroyed before his very eyes.
Since the average guy has no financial sophistication, he doesn’t know the cause of inflation, and he’s not sure how to deal with it. He’s being forced to become a speculator to outrace inflation. But he doesn’t have the tools to do so effectively. He inevitably confuses speculation with gambling and winds up losing even more.
International Man: We’re living through a more dire period than the 1930s by several key metrics. How come no media outlet and no politician is talking about it?
They’re silent on this topic. That’s led some analysts to dub it the Silent Depression.
Do you think there is an ongoing depression that isn’t being acknowledged?
Doug Casey: You’re quite correct; it’s been a Silent Depression—so far. But it’s real, and it’s growing. As I’ve said for years, it will eventually be known as The Greater Depression. It will be much worse, longer lasting, and much different from the unpleasantness of 1929 to 1946.
Franklin Roosevelt, who was certainly one of the two worst presidents in American history, is famous for having said, “All we have to fear is fear itself.” It’s actually a stupid and dishonest aphorism. In the face of all the actions he took, which were uniformly disastrous, he should have said, “Be afraid. Be very afraid”. But, however honest, that wouldn’t have been politic.
It underlines the fact that politics is a confidence game. It’s a question of telling the big lie loud enough and from enough sources, enough times. Then, people who aren’t critical thinkers will believe it.
We have very few big news outlets now, and they’re all hooked together philosophically. The talking heads on TV and the writers in newspapers and magazines have all gone through the same school system. They all associate with each other, going to the same clubs, parties, and restaurants. They all believe the same things, sharing the same world views and ideology. Just as important, they’re all hooked up to the government, which is populated by exactly the same type of people.
In today’s world, you dare not say anything that runs counter to what these people believe about things like Covid, the climate, or the war in the Ukraine. If you do, you’re likely to be “cancelled,” fired, or even framed like Julian Assange or Russel Brand.
It used to be safe to talk about “the weather and the state of the roads.” No longer. Talking about the weather might lead to non-PC views about Climate Change. You better not even talk about the roads and driving, since that could lead to an unpleasant discussion about fossil fuels and EVs. It’s actually very funny. You best be a quiet little lamb and shut up.
Frankly, I don’t even like to talk about the economy anymore. Because in today’s irrational and hysterical world, if you predict a depression, you might be accused of destroying confidence.
Many people idiotically believe, as FDR said, that the economy rests on confidence. They think we live in the world of Wiley Coyote, where he can run off the top of a cliff and not start falling until he realizes that there’s no ground below him.
As I said, someone who predicts a depression might be accused of causing it. I increasingly feel like staying silent about what’s going on, simply as a matter of self-preservation. Other people may, too. As Voltaire said, it’s dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. It’s one more way we’re evolving into a police state.
International Man: It’s increasingly hard for the middle class to make ends meet.
Many have taken to social media to explain how impossible it has become to pay for the same groceries they’ve always bought amid rising prices. Many of these people are making more than $100k a year and have never been in such a situation.
What is really going on here?
Doug Casey: The middle class is disappearing before our very eyes.
Of course, this was not only predicted but advocated by Lenin. He said that the middle class would be ground between the millstones of taxation and inflation. Generally speaking, all Statists—whether they be communists, Nazis, socialists, progressives, or Wokesters—hate the middle class.
What makes the middle class great is that they’re creative and entrepreneurial. They like to control their own lives. They’re the most productive and independent people in society. They don’t generally boss other people around, and they don’t like to be bossed around.
That’s why the ruling classes want to get rid of the middle class. They’d rather just have lower-class proles—workers who do what they’re told. They think the “elite”—with the right views and the right friends—should be on top—the kind of people that populate the World Economic Forum.
The ruling elite—they’re actually no more than parasites—want to make it hard for the middle class, eliminating them if possible. They mock the bourgeoisie as deplorables because they scrimp and save to elevate themselves.
They claim to love the proles, the lower classes, however. They’re not a threat because they’re buried in apathy and despair. The elite are despicable, but they’re nonetheless gaining ground because nobody speaks out against them; it’s dangerous to challenge power. The middle class isn’t challenging their “betters” partly out of ignorance, partly out of brainwashing, and partly out of fear.
International Man: Where do you see this trend headed in the coming months?
Doug Casey: The US government is running embedded deficits of $2 trillion per year, and that number is going to go much higher if only because interest alone is $1 trillion per year. Plus, the Jacobins who currently control the government want much, much more spending.
The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage is closing in on 8% in some parts of the country. No wonder people can neither buy nor sell houses. At the same time, it’s likely that we’re going to see a wave of bank failures as interest rates rise with inflation. Ever fewer people will be able to make their payments, whether it be their massive student loans, their massive credit card debt, their car payments, or their mortgage payments.
That’s before unemployment starts going from the reported 3% or 4%, where it is now, to 5% or 10%, then to 15% or more.
International Man: What advice do you have for those worried about rapidly rising prices?
Doug Casey: This is advice that is hard to put into practice, but you should actually learn something about real economics, and learn something about finance and the way markets work. That will help you. But it’s not an instant fix. It takes time and diligence. So most people won’t do it.
Practical advice for the average guy? I’d say the soundest thing you can do—other than buying precious metal coins and Bitcoin—would be to get a copy of a book which came out years ago by a friend of mine named John Pugsley. It’s called The Alpha Strategy.
It basically suggests that the way to beat inflation, in a practical, common-sense way, is not to save in dollars but to save with real material things—food that you can store, light bulbs that you can put away, tools that you can use. You buy when they’re on sale. When you buy them in bulk, they’re cheaper yet. You store them away. The book has a long list of items you might not think of.
It’s convenient to already have items, so you aren’t constantly running down to the store. And you aren’t taxed on the gain in value that they will present as prices rise. If things really get bad, you’ll have things that may be unavailable, unlike paper currency or, worse yet, CBDCs, which will be in oversupply.
Remember that the depression may be “silent” now; it’s not going to stay that way. We’re well into the Greater Depression, and in a depression, everybody loses. The winner is just the person who loses the least.
Reprinted with permission from International Man.