05 September 2011

Debt and Demographic Decline Breed Global Instability

...leading economies, the U.S., Japan, and the E.U. are declining. That is, about one-sixth of the world's population is losing ground. These big economies are the ones that lead the rest of the world, including China. Countries like China, India, and Brazil, depend on the health of the big economies to keep buying their products and commodities so they can grow and generate wealth for their citizens. _ZeroHedge

Who will be the last man standing? In the coming clash over debt, both within and between nations, what country -- or portion of a country -- will survive and prosper? Difficult to say, given the ubiquity of the deadly duo: debt and demographic decline.
In Europe, one can locate particular problem points, where endebted nations are reaching the end of their borrowing capacity. These nations are coming flashpoints for a fire of unrest that could explode out of control with incomprehensible haste.
A visit to Spain the prior week demonstrated that Greece's financial woes were just the tip of an iceberg on a continent of debt -- the Greek national debt crisis seemed like the first card in a flimsy house. To be in a nation as it is unraveling has an eerie, surreal, mostly indescribable feeling. The storefronts in Athens outside of the tourist areas looked like they'd been through several rounds of a boxing fight, and were just waiting for the knockout punch. Other than the lights being on, the difference between shops closed indefinitely and those currently operating were hard to distinguish. Unless they were pushing merchandise, people wore saddened expressions as they walked by decaying and graffiti-covered buildings. _thetyee

In such environemnts, deadly, destructive riots are always just a spark away. There is no telling where the next upsurge of violence and mayhem would end.
The situation can only get worse, since nobody's interests align. The Greeks want more time to meet their budget targets without having to make more cuts that would cause more public angst. The Germans, whose opinions arguably matter the most since they have the financial ammo, are already in a huff with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about expanding the eurozone's bailout fund. More pushback from Greece about meeting its current austerity measures only fuels the fire. _Time
Towards the end of the last decade, it was popular to proclaim Europe as an example of what we in North America could achieve. This notion was led by books such as Jeremy Rifkin's The European Dream, which described the difference between North American and European values. He argued that on the other side of the Atlantic, citizens found security not through individual accumulations of wealth but through connectedness, respect for human rights and sustainability. _the tyee

But now, as Europe's demographics collapses in on itself, we can see that not even utopia can escape the twin demons of debt and demographic decline and collapse. Europe's states are like teetering dominos, as long as they are coupled together economically. But even if Europe is smart enough to decouple, only select portions of the continent can survive the coming wildfire.

In the third world, we will have "The Coming Anarchy." In the developed world, the anarchy will focus on the third world enclaves, the multicultural cities and non-assimilating banlieus, and spread out from there.

Consider the relative places of safety, where you might find a place for yourself and your families. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Previously published on abu al-fin

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