Lacy Hunt: The World Economy's Terminal Case of Debt Sclerosis

Today, the world economy is in uncharted territory.

Never before has the developed world carried this much debt. Never before have the central banks of those same countries expanded their balance sheets so much. Never before has so much sovereign debt been outright monetized. Never before have major financial institutions been officially designated as “too big to fail” and thereby been granted special license to assume gigantic risks.

Dr. Lacy Hunt, economist and current executive vice president of Hoisington Investment Management Company, expects the macroeconomic situation to get worse from here:

The main problem is that we have too much debt. We have too much of the wrong type of debt. That’s not very well understood.

The great Austrian economist, Bohm-Bawerk, said that Debt is an increase in current spending in lieu of a decline in future spending. Fisher modified that a bit and he said that it ultimately depends on whether the debt is productive or not. If the debt generates an income stream to repay principal interest, then you're OK, you don’t have a down cycle later on. But unfortunately as the debt levels have risen higher, more and more of it has become consumptive in nature or financial speculation; neither of which will generate a sustaining income stream to repay principal and interest. That’s the difficulty: there’s a light side to credit and debt, and there’s a dark side.

Now it’s been emphasized that business loans and consumer loans are going up this year. There have been articles about how credit standards are being lowered to make mortgages and automobile loans. The banks have confidence. And the percentage of subprime automobile loans has returned to the peak of a decade or so ago. The problem is that there’s a dark side. Martha Olney at California Berkeley wrote a book a number of years ago called Buy Now, Pay Later. You take on debt to buy now, but you have to pay later. Many presume that you never have to pay later -- but that’s a faulty assumption. That’s the difficulty that we have, and we’re trying to solve an indebtedness problem by taking on more debt.

Not only is that the problem in the United States, but it’s also the problem around the rest of the world. We’re all trapped in this debt sclerosis. U.S. public and private debt is about 346%; it’s been rising now for three quarters, we no longer de-leveraging here. And the Eurozone, in all in the 17 countries there, the debt figures are a hundred percentage points higher; higher still in the UK. And then in Japan, public and private debt is about 650%. What’s significant is that the countries with the higher debt levels are performing the worst, which is very consistent with the academic studies. I mean Europe is in the process of triple dipping. Japan remains mired in difficulty; their economy declined in the first half of the year.

Over-indebtedness is the basic problem. And we don’t really have a way out of it because monetary policy is not really suited to address such a problem.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Lacy Hunt (44m:14s):

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Merry Monday Morning all.
I have to pause the tape to take notes. This is like drinking from a fire hose.

The policy makers here are in a bit of a dilemma. We can't move forward on fiscal policy, the decisions are too tough, too ­­­­­­­­onerous for too many people.
My mind went to a TV program in which modern day people were subject to the conditions of your pioneering families and given a piece of land and had to construct a log cabin and live within their means. Most failed. I think that conditions will become even tougher because all those wide open spaces are now full and the soil is depleted. (Did I mention the climate challenge?)

Press play.

The "natural rate of interest" I assume that implies the rate at which the economy grows. If we take a proxy for the natural rate of interest to be, say, the increase in the amount of coal burnt- does it necessarily follow that it is wise to increase coal consumption in order to invoke the Wicksell effect? I am being disingenuous. The answer is Mu.

The money borrowed must be spent wisely on research into an alternative to coal. Instead we send these researchers to Coventry in order to protect precious Chairs at Universities.

Now I must off to work.


Enjoyed the discussion quite a bit. Macro, no doubt brings thought process into focus (at least for me). Over indebtedness has been an ongoing topic for quite a while now and yet the US appears to remain the cleanest dirty shirt (if not even cleaner lately) around the developed globe. So, we wait even longer (I admit to be one of those people still waiting…) for the umpteenth shoe to drop and then what? Massive USD short covering (meaning you ain't seen nothing yet I'm sorry to say to all us PM holders) breaking global trade and economies further into pieces, a stock market crash and then what? A Central Bank rescue of course. Am I right so far? Maybe yes, maybe no.
This is complete insanity! If you're investing any assets in securities markets you better be hedged because there's no fundamental correctness to a model portfolio. Especially if you are a "retail" investor with Schwab ETAL because it'll be too late for you to get out!

Nobody and I mean nobody really knows the outcome of this experiment and we thank all those who try to predict. IMAO, this is my view. <laughing> So, I'm long and short duration using Strategic Income Funds, paring down high yield, long miners, long PM (physical), 25% equities (while accumulating S&P Puts, hedged in FX and long 25% CASH!

Forgive me for spewing personal portfolio models but I'm bored of all this and going to play golf tomorrow!

Chris, we love your dedication, hard work and variety of insight!


We have a crisis in the way that we think.  What is so revolutionary about what Chris, Adam and the team have done here is to make interdisciplinary connections (the three "E's"), the foundation of the website. Unfortunately, the intellectual world in which we live has a sclerosis which is withering as the debt discussed in the article, the disease of the specialist, where one discipline tries to explain everything within their own dogma. I must say that I was dumbstruck, flabbergasted by the statement:

You take the debt on, you buy now, but you have to pay later. Many presume that you never have to pay later, but that's a faulty assumption. That's the difficulty that we have, and we're trying to solve an indebtedness problem by taking on more debt.

Really?! I don't know if this just run of the mill ivory towerism, or something else.  Who are the many who are making that presumption, the mass of this country who are putting there groceries on their credit card because they don't know how else they are going to eat?  Or trying to reeducate themselves because the jobs have been off shored?  Nobody has had a car towed out of a driveway been foreclosed on?  Or is it the PTB that he is referring to who may be creating debt for their own reasons, which has little to do academic economic theory?

Not only is that the problem in the United States, but it's also the problem around the rest of the world. We're all trapped in this debt sclerosis. U.S. public and private debt is about 346%; it's been rising now for three quarters. No longer deleveraging here.

Obvious enough, but what might be the cause?

there's some transitory inflation from time to time because of the vagaries of food and fuel, and extraneous governmental policies related to issues such as healthcare. These intermittent inflationary spikes are all drowned out because economic growth is too weak.

No mention of peak everything here, just some vagaries of food fuel inflation, drowned out because of all this debt that is preventing us from getting back to economic growth.  The between the lines implication here is that we need to get back to economic growth???!!!!  WHAT?!

We took on a lot of debt in the 1920s. We drew down the saving rate but in the 1940s we had a tremendous surge in the saving rate; the saving rate went up to 25%, it remained high after the post-war period. We paid the debt to GDP ratio down, and we were able to have the great post-war boom. But unfortunately, unlike what happened in the late 1940s and the 1950s, we're trying to take on more debt and take on more of the wrong type of debt

No mention of a couple of world wars that took out all the competitive industries around the planet, and gave the Anglo-American empire global control of oil resources that created wealth beyond the dreams of Midas.  Just suddenly hard working Americans decided they want to do the upright thing and start saving?!!!

the key to monetary policy is to look at the relationship between the market rate of interest and the natural rate of interest. If the market rate of interest is above the natural rate of interest, that will depress economic activity; because you'll have to take resources from the income stream and put it into the financial stream. Otherwise, if you get the market rate of interest below the natural rate of interest, then you can take resources from the financial stream and divert it to the income stream. Now probably the best measure of that for the market rate of interest would be something like the Baa rate. The Baa is the lowest investment grade rate. So you've got all types of credit out there and the natural rate of interest would be nominal GDP growth rate. Well we have this relationship, you can look at the date since 1930, and what you see is when the market rate goes above the natural rate, you get recessions; when it goes below, you get expansions.

Are interest rates and interest rate meddling really the only cause of all this?

The root cause of the problem is too much debt, too much of the wrong kind of debt and trying to solve an indebtedness problem by taking on more debt.

How can the root of the problem be to much debt?  Isn't debt taken on for some underlying reason (i.e. root cause), can we seriously believe that debt is taken on for it's own sake is the statement implies?


What Keynes did not understand is that the problem of the 1920s had been rectified by the high saving rate and the debt pay down that occurred during World War II and in the aftermath of World War II. The reason that we have not been able to regenerate the immediate post World War II boom is that we have not corrected the balance sheet imbalances; and as long as they persist, we are stuck in this situation.

How could a discussion of the post war US economy not include the facts to the American oil boom and the global destruction competitive industries. And why can't we correct balance sheet imbalances?  How about some reference to the three "E's"?

I personally don't think the stock market is a very good barometer of economic activity. I know that the Fed thinks that wealth influences economic activity, consumer spending, but that's not what the studies show. I mean last year we had a tremendous increase in wealth, stock prices and home prices together after inflation were up more than 30%, but consumer spending is just barely moving this year. In fact the latest numbers are quite disappointing.

Yes, we been kicking his idea around this site for years, how very insightful. I guess I am a little disappointed, Chris, on your own, your insight and thoughtfulness towers over this guy.

I've just heard that TVA is going to make some changes in it's generation of electricity.  'Down with coal' is the plan in place for closing the Memphis TN Allen coal fired power station.  These forward thinking leaders are replacing this with -----wait for it-----a gas fired plant.  Brilliant!  Now if we can only start to export some of that natural 'fracked' gas and get the prices up to world market rates the skyrocketing cost of electricity in the mid south will surely drive all citizens to solar power quickly. IF CNG efforts fail, then we will surely run out of natural gas more quickly. This is government incentives at their best.  In a few years I'll be looking for someone to do a nice retrospective graduate paper on how TVA stimulated conversion to alternative energy generation all with borrowed money.
So, what to do?

Jack Spirko recently said that the greatest failure of leadership is on the personal level. 

If you were living in the mid south, how would you respond to this move personally?  I'd love to hear some thoughts.


can we seriously believe that debt is taken on for it's own sake is the statement implies?
My view Treebeard, is that there was a war between Labour and Capital in Regan's time. Capital won and offshored all industries because they are mandated to maximise shareholder profit.

This gutted the working, middle class. It also took out the tax base of the USA and other camp followers. Rich people dodge taxes and poor people are untaxable, leaving the burden on the Middle class. Solution easy (and Wrong)-Print money.

The real solution would be to reverse whatever Regan did. Oh! and repair the Law- Companies are Not people, and "the interest of the shareholder" must be broadened to include all of the interests of the shareholder. Would the shareholder not prefer a stable civilization and a healthy environment in which to raise children? Money is way down the list on Maslow's Hierarchy. It is not even on the list!

The velocity of money tanked and so TPTB lowered lending standards and we all know how that turned out, don't we?

People took on debt because that was the environment in which they found themselves. If you don't get wages then you must perforce borrow to survive. If TPTB created the problem they have a moral obligation to repair it. All that is required is to recognise that these debts are digits on a computer. The same things that one scores in any Virtual Reality game. Press reset, al-la Prof Steve Keen. Poof Debt Gone. But Chris has already explained that we don't know who owes who what. In any event choices will have to be made, and soon.

I fully acknowledge the role of Energy in this set of events. One view does not preclude the other.

Lacy Hunt obviously doesn't want to scare his customers and loose biz, but there is no way interest rates will stay low and change slowly.    If rates only go up 3%, the US Treasury has a big problem.

If I could give you more thumbs up I would, but if your Steve Keen reference was to suggest a debt jubilee, I'm curious what would happen in a debt jubilee to the tens of trillions of dollars in credit default obligations out there.  They aren't debt, they are insurance against default of debt.  Can the losers in the jubilee collect on their insurance?Also, while I certainly appreciate the fairly wide ranging approach of this site to discussing the world's problems, I think Jeffrey Sachs comes as close as anyone in grasping the broader causes and implications of our global crises.
Seems to me the bottom line is, if we want to fix it, to somehow create the political will worldwide to do so.  Even then it will be a hell of a stretch.

For articulating what I only had a dim sense of, which showed up as uneasiness, as I listened to this podcast.  Disturbingly I defer to experts, often unconsciously.  As this site often points out, and I need to remember regarding the three E's, is that this is an unprecedented historical situation.  Again thanks for being so articulate when I could only muster fogginess.  I do hope Chris comments on your post.

Interesting podcast. I always find the discussions with institutional players interesting. It gives some insight into how the current system is run and what kind of analysis they are looking at.
It will be interesting to see what Yellen's next move is, continue tapering into a recession and let interest rates rise or return to QE in bigger doses.

Also, it was interesting how shifty Hunt was on advice to individual investors. I'm not sure there are a lot of options for the retail investor other than providing liquidity for the professionals.


I can still learn something really useful about how to keep my car running from his/her specialized knowledge.I really agree with many of your comments, treebeard, and often think they're phenomenal (eg, I think a 4th "E" for personal and social "Evolution" may be a key one to think about and develop).  I'm sure my worldview is a lot closer to yours than to Lacy Hunt's.  Still, like a lot of folks, I have to try to understand what's going on with the mechanics of the financial world - how it thinks about itself, how it's likely to evolve, so I can stay solvent and get things done, just like I (at least used to) know how to diagnose and clean my own carbuerator so I could save money, enjoy getting around and take care of business.
To me, this was actually a great interview that Chris had with Lacy Hunt that I've already sent to a friend and posted elsewhere for others to read.   It's not great because I agree with Hunt's overarching worldview.  I suspect I wouldn't agree with many aspects of what (I'm only guessing here) is a particular brand of conservative, "free-market is brilliant" financial worldview that I often see among asset managers.  I would also guess (without really knowing) that the reason you have a problem with what Hunt says ultimately isn't because he's a specialist, but because like me, you don't agree with the unexpressed actual worldview underlying his detailed analysis;  that's why Hunt is not talking about peak everything, wealth inequality, Wall Street thievery, etc.  He doesn't necessarily see or believe those things are important - not because they are out of his area of specialization.
But, still, what I liked about the interview is that he has clearly had a massive focus on the phenomenology of what happens financially (in terms of stock prices, bond prices, interest rates) in societies historically that try to use more debt to solve problems of debt.   His approach provides one explanation of why Japan's 10 year bond pays about 0.5% after 25 years of printing money, adding debt and generally trying to fool financial reality.  Since all major economies may be on a similar path to Japan, it's worth considering what he has to say, since how the financial world falls apart and evolves will be a big part of upcoming changes.  I listened to Hunt and others last year and added to some of my savings in safe, longer term bonds when 95% of analysts said to toss them, and that's been a good thing, since it makes sense to keep some of what I have in the paper world, and since they've done well since.   Like like my original VW bug, once smoke starts billowing out of the rear end of those investments, I'll call in the tow truck and move whatever's left into something more useful. :wink:  It's all stepping stones to a very different world, it seems - taking what's useful, leaving the rest behind, and trying to open up some new channels to broadcast and receive truths that I expect may start to evolve more rapidly before long.

aggrivated, I feel your pain. My rural property isn't very far at all from the Cumberland City plant. While it isn't slated for closure, the size of it, 2.36 GW and consumes 20,000 TONS of coal a day, makes it a significant portion of the whole supply. Almost 10% if I did my math right. If they were to close that, then prices would definitely go up. As it is, we will be paying more in the years ahead. I don't think alternatives will make significant contribution to replacing the closed plants. Wind power in Middle Tennessee isn't that viable, because the constant wind speed at 80 meters around much of the state is less than 6.5 m/s. This isn't suitable for commercial development. As for personal wind mills, it may be something that could be worth doing dollar wise, if you built it out of scrap and didn't have too high of installed cost. Payback would be much faster than buying a commercially manufactured windmill, if you could get similar efficiencies. It may be fun just to do it. On the other hand a wind mill will be an advertisement that power may be available at your location if we have have grid collapse. Personally I'm going with PV's and thermal solar that is on the back of my house and not readily visible from the road. I'm also going to mix in some wood gas generation or steam power generation to keep battery bank up to snuff.

The PP team has done a great job cultivating the site and bringing really top talent in for commentary, when they first started out, who had heard of PP, attracting high quality speakers was a bit of a challenge.  Now the reputation of the site has grown and Chris has made numerous TV appearances…
Adam:  Hey Chris, great job. Heard you got Dr. Lacy Hunt, the executive vice president of Hoisington Investment Management Company, that brilliant macro economist, to do an interview.  How did it go?

Chris:  Erh, well about that, I have some good news and some bad news.

Adam: What do you mean?

Chris: Well the interview went great but one of the crackpots from the peanut gallery went off on Hunt in the commentary.

Adam: Who was it this time?

Chris: Treebeard

Adam: Oh, him again, what the heck do we do now, can we pull the comment.

Chris: Nah, to late for that.  We may finally have to do it.

Adam: Do you really think so, no other options?

Chris: Yes, its time to call in…  THE KELVINATOR  his excellent writing skills, broadness of mind, even temperament and excellent communication skills should win the day. We have to give it a try.

Adam: All right, lets do it.

Next day…

Adam:  So Chris, how did it go?

Chris:  Let me see, lets pull up the comments on that…

Adam & Chris:  OH NNNOOOOOOO…


Doing the math still shows that I'm way over in any usage I could hope to produce off my small property.The #1 thing for me is reduce, reduce, reduce consumption. This is not feeling realistic today with temps running in the high 90's F.   Concurrent with that  will be coming up with some production.   Wood gas is interesting.  Here is a turn key product . Germany worked with it a lot in WWII. This looks good for running a generator or cooking, or even a gas furnace if needed in a pinch.
Somewhere between reduction and production I will be able reach a balance that will work.  I agree that multiple  sources of production are wise from a redundancy perspective, but more complexity means more juggling of stuff.  Has anyone had any experience with tied to grid production and getting paid for excess electricity?  How big are the strings?   I've heard some states are thinking of taxing producers to help pay for the grid.  Should I just try to stay off grid for essentials and produce that amount  while enjoying air conditioning as long as it is affordable? 
The other side of the coin------------------
From a keeping the peace social perspective, I can't see the USA allowing too many going without enough power to at least keep the boob tubes running.  Without the mental anesthesia they provide, too many citizens might wake up to all the mess around them.  Maybe it would be better not to worry about having power as much as other areas like food and security.

Have any of you read Zeus Yiamouyiannis, Ph.D work on Transitioning Economy at  He is a friend of Charles Hugh Smith and has some interesting ideas to transition to a 'very different world' that are well worth some discussion.  Can we get him for an interview on PP?

like an investment in the status quo gone wrong?  To me, the whole world these days >is< kind of like a cartoon, and thanks for supplying such a fun caption.  This is exactly why things are going to get more interesting as time goes on - the narrative of what's supposedly going on in the world and parodies of the narrative will start to play off each other, the parodies pulling in the tougher and better realities as they mock the catastrophic absurdity of the Official story.  And then finally, you're bound to have a whole new enchilada explanation of reality multiplex that lands from inner space to captivate the imagination of a new and difficult generation.
>>Of course, as we all know, it's absurd to imagine that debts could be used to pay off debts at any financial level in the world. <<  Are we brazen, incompetent fools?  "It's obvious on it's face" is an expression I always like to work in when I can. And yet, that's what's clearly going on, along with Official Mumbling that that's not really happening and it's all good.   And with literally millions of experts who live, work and feed their families within the edifice of "that's not really happening and it's all good".   Why is that?  Because you know, humans.  It turns out, if there's even a small chance that perpetual motion exists, that this global check kiting thing can actually work out if we pay a few economic rocket scientists to explain why, then well, we've got a show to run, job to go to, plane to catch, money to make.

But Big Changes are afoot, we can be pretty sure of that. And there are going to parts of things that work for awhile and then don't, and other things that start to work that we hadn't expected.

You who live on the shores of the possible,

Cast your boats to sea.

And turn your oars in moonlight's wake.

And let your lives drift free…


I agree with treebeard that this article pushes a lot of my buttons but I think it's worthwhile to have these kinds of guests because they give us certain viewpoints to consider. I'm sure Chris was also entertaining these thoughts as well but is skilled at getting the guest to reveal insight that we might not otherwise consider and to not disagree with them for the sake of argument. This interview provides a window into how the heart of the financial world thinks and acts, something I'm always wondering about: do they actually truly understand the predicament we face and are taking the actions we see because they are evil, or do they just not have a clue?
I also think that "specialists", and specifically economists who basically lord over everything else in the world because they are managing the top of the pyramid of complexity, can be very dangerous, and this article seems to reveal that to be the case. Don't get me wrong - a specialist in diagnosing cancer is a great thing to be specializing in. But specialist economists? It's a dangerous combination. Economists need to be generalists and learn as much as they can from a whole wide range of subjects, particularly the natural sciences and engineering. Unfortunately, they don't seem to. That's what's broadened my perspective so much -- coming from the natural sciences and engineering and learning all about economics.
What's happening to the world and US right now is tragic of epic, even Biblical, proportions. What's even worse is that TPTB don't have a clue why it's happening. Even today. They're busy trying to patch up the symptoms, while ignoring the root causes. "Economy stagnating? Well that's from too much debt!" Really?
I often try to put social narratives into historical context. Nowadays pretty much everyone agrees that the mass genocide of American natives and the blacks that were brought over as slaves was one of the darkest of human history. Yet many people back then considered it acceptable and desirable; any unpleasantries were merely the means to a greater end. Yet the economic policies that our leaders impose on us today, and the general social narrative that economic growth is good, that consuming more helps the economy, that we need to produce more and more oil to solve our problems, etc. etc., these are all dominant social narratives that our leaders profess and the vast majority of people out there also accept. Yet their effects are equally genocidal as what we did to the natives and blacks. It's interesting how public sentiment can be so wrong; it just reveals how our world views are almost totally shaped by our greater society. Unfortunately when the average person truly understands how misguided our current way of thinking really is, it will be far too late.

It's that old Chinese curse, may you live an interesting life. We seem to be doing that in spades.  But nice to have good company for the ride.  I consider you all good company!
Nobody on the deathbed says, "I wish I played it safer, played by the rules, kept more things to myself". Of course you can't take yourself to seriously either.  I suppose if I had listened to this podcast while I was doing other things as I normally do, I probably wouldn't have commented, just thought well this isn't my cup of tea, perhaps somebody else will get something out of it.  But as fate had it, my wife was still sleeping so I read the transcription, not wanting wake her up with the noise.  I kept clipping things into the comment box as I read that rubbed me the wrong way or didn't make a whole lot of sense. I got myself all riled up.

Thanks for the comment Atreat, love that you articulated what you did, trust yourself, give your unique gift to the world, the gift, whatever it may be. As banal and overused as those words may be it is still true. Of course Arthur, love all your comments, I do agree that it has been and will a war of capital against labor.  But if that isn't shooting yourself in the foot, I don't know what is.  It is amazing how short sighted human beings can be.

Kelvinator, I guess since I first read your handle was tempted to do a play the terminator, just couldn't help myself, I do agree with your comment.  Right after I hit the save button I thought that made I was a little harsh, it's all grist for the mill.  I do remember some exchanges a while back that got pretty intense, you were always considerate and articulate, compliments in the comical post were intentional

Mark_BC, your post are always right on, thanks for your comments.

I did watch the Jeff Sacs video, I'm glad he is still trying to work some positive change within the system, I'm not sure that that is really possible any more.  It sure is going to be an interesting ride.

How could a discussion of the post war US economy not include the facts to the American oil boom and the global destruction competitive industries. And why can't we correct balance sheet imbalances?  How about some reference to the three "E's"?
I have to confess, I find Lacy Hunt to be personally a quite charming and interesting fellow.  When I met him at a Casey conference a bit over a year ago, I dug into his background and discovered that he was working at the NY Federal reserve at the same time my grandfather, Arthur S Hamlin, was serving on the board.
Alas, he couldn't quite place him in his memory, but I bet if I could get him a picture he might.
At any rate, he was really a very nice person.
I brought him on because he has about as complete an economist's view as you can find, plus the ability to speak normally and he's not prone to clubbing one with the obscure jargon of his biz.
But as Treebeard has raised, as have others, interviews like this are a trip over to the village of the blind and deaf men.  They know the world they know far better than any of us can imagine.  Their sense of touch is incredibly highly refined.
But they know nothing of energy (light, colors) because those have been entirely out of their sense of perception their entire lives.  And they know nothing of the rich tapestry of sounds (the environment) except for the grossest of thumpings and vibrations that come in through their sense of touch.
What I love about these interviews is the chance to see the world through the senses of someone who experiences it entirely differently.  The fact that they also represent the views of those that happen to have the reigns of power goes further and implies that I have the obligation to know what they are thinking.  
As a final step if we are going to communicate the other two E's, the onus is on us to figure out how to translate our world into their sensory arena so that it transforms their thinking.
I really consider these interviews to be like anthropology expeditions and I try to keep as open a mind as I can to get the other party talking for as long as possible and as freely as possible.  This is why I don't go for challenge style interviews where I try to impress the guest and everyone listening that I have a different point of view.  
If I did that, I suspect many of the guests would last for 15, perhaps 20 minutes.  When I can get someone as prominent and busy as Lacy to talk with us for 40 minutes I think that's best for us all because it means he's relaxed, open and sharing his world with us.
Lacy grew up at a time when net energy was expanding, pollution was a minor and localized problem, and population still had plenty of room to expand.  I rather doubt I would have specialized any less were I a budding economist during that era.  Beliefs and worldviews are set during those formative years and only a very few rare individuals not only can but willingly seek to unearth and challenge their primary beliefs.
I like to think I am one of those people, and I would have been that way no matter when I was born, but I know there's a darned good chance I would have been a product of the times.   Such inquiries were very much the exception just a few short decades ago.

[quote=aggrivated]Doing the math still shows that I'm way over in any usage I could hope to produce off my small property.
The #1 thing for me is reduce, reduce, reduce consumption. This is not feeling realistic today with temps running in the high 90's F.   Concurrent with that  will be coming up with some production.   Wood gas is interesting.  Here is a turn key product . Germany worked with it a lot in WWII. This looks good for running a generator or cooking, or even a gas furnace if needed in a pinch.
Agreed. Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute coined a term. "NegaWatts." Measures the amount of energy saved. My mantra is to find all air intrusions and seal them and Insulate, Insulate, Insulate. As for Wood Gas, these folks here in my home state have a nice setup. This is going to be one of my major purchases in the future. I forgot to mention that I have many acres of hardwoods to cull from. Especially bordering property where the logging company came in and harvested and left a fire hazard mess behind. I go and "clean" this up. No one cares and if they did I would complain on how they left lots of fuel in the event of a forest fire. I use an electric chain saw running from a marine battery and inverter. I have a gas Stihl Pro for cutting down trees, but prefer the electric for trimming an sawing up downed trees. I haul this around with a beat up Land Rover with no plates  and use SUV to snake out logs for processing.

The other thing I have done is brought in a second breaker box and mounted it next to the first one. This second box is powered from Alt sources and I just moved the the refrigerator circuit and other important circuits to it. As I grow my capacity, I will move more circuits. Stove and water heater are propane.
I will never really  have the ability to run my heat pump or electric dryer from alt sources. I also have a wood stove for winter heating. So I would have to hang wet cloths on a cloths line and suffer from the heat in summer. With that said, for those of you who do live in a hot climate, you can get used to it. I did basic training in Columbia SC in the 80's during June/July in WWII Barracks. No AC there. I acclimated.