Living On Borrowed Time

The laws of physics are governed by cause and effect. But there can exist a time lag between the two.

For instance:

Note how the speed of both the bullet and the retracting latex far exceed that of the shockwave or gravity on the water contained inside each balloon.

There's an observable time lag during which the globe of previously-contained water momentarily hangs there in space.

Then, a beat later, it’s obliterated.

Living On Borrowed Time

I'm unusually focused on time these days as we're updating Peak Prosperity's crown jewel, The Crash Course video series.

Originally created in 2008 and updated in 2014, it lays out the macro forces driving the economy and our way of living, explaining why most of them are unsustainable and headed for trouble. That then opens the door to an avalanche of critical questioning about what the future will bring.

Updating the parade of charts and data has been eye-opening for me. When I last did this (early 2014), the S&P had just returned to the same price level that served as the apex for both the 2001 and 2008 market bubbles.

I remember how concerned I was then. How could we have returned to such reckless exuberance so quickly after the pain caused by the Dot-com bust and the Great Financial Crisis? Did we learn nothing from our previous (and recent!) excess?

Clearly not only did we not learn; we didn’t give a crap. With a “hold my beer, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet” bravado, we proceeded to DOUBLE the S&P above the previous bubble highs.

Here at, my co-founder Chris Martenson and I have spilled a lot of ink in the ensuing years, warning how QE (aka central bank money printing), stock buybacks, and record low interest rates have pushed the degree of systemic unsustainability to Bizzaro-world levels. For our most recent analysis, click here, here and here.

But the TL;DR version is succinctly captured by the chart below:

[caption id=“attachment_424322” align=“aligncenter” width=“600”]<img class=“wp-image-424322 size-full aligncenter” src=“” alt="“S&P dispersion chart” width=“600” height=“503” /> Source: Hussman Funds[/caption]

A few important things to note beyond the colorful editorial commentary I added to John Hussman’s quality work here.

First, the chart is logarithmic. The y-axis value doubles with each hashmark. Meaning: the current excess is a lot more extreme than it looks at first glance.

Second, the vertical lines indicate ‘dispersions’ which are market conditions Hussman finds are highly-correlated with “steep and rather abrupt market plunges, often representing the first leg of a more extended collapse”.

Notice how rarely they have occured over the past 25 years, and yet they’ve suddenly increased in frequency of late (the most recent took place on Nov 20th).

This is what you would expect to see from a dangerously over-extended system, where prices have been propelled way beyond where they can be sustainably supported. Keep in mind, today’s all-time high prices are occuring at a time when:

As we covered in a recent report The Phantom Mania, there's simply no substance underlying this latest run in stocks. It's all been driven by multiple expansion, which is a fancy term for "paying more for the same dollar of earnings", aka, speculating that you'll be able to sell at a higher price to an even greater fool:

<img class=“aligncenter size-medium” src=“” alt="“Global GDP vs Equities chart” width=“600” height=“304” />

What we are experiencing right now is a ‘time lag’ between the collapse of the argument underlying the 10-year bull market and investors’ recognition of that.

A full decade and some $14 Trillion in newly-printed money later, plus the cheapest interest rates in recorded history, and yet the central banks have not been able to restore growth to the global economy. The experiment has failed.

And what do we have to show for it?

The worst wealth gap in history. An impoverishment of future generations, who will be stuck paying off our recent debt orgy:

What good is Dow 30,000 if 75% of us can’t afford a house or scrape together $400 in an emergency?

Time Is Running Out

And of course, that's just what's going on in funny-money land.

In the real world, the resources we rely on to power the economy, sustain our modern lifestyle, and put food into our bellies are rapidly becoming more scarce and expensive.

Energy & Minerals

The world remains extremely dependent on fossil fuels and demands more every year. Yet discoveries peaked many decades ago and our reserve replacement rates are now negative:

As explained in this excellent podcast with petroleum geologist Art Berman, this supply/demand imbalance will predictably escalate throughout our lifetime. And a ‘smooth’ transition to other energy sources is mathematically impossible at this point. Sustained supply constraints and higher prices are inevitable.

Similarly, many of the most important ores and minerals necessary for economic development are in even worse decline:

[caption id=“attachment_424334” align=“aligncenter” width=“600”]<img class=“wp-image-424334 size-large” src=“” alt="“Visual Capitalist resource depletion timeline” width=“600” height=“350” /> Source: Visual Capitalist, US Geological Survey[/caption]

The Biosphere

As a consequence of human industry's ever-increasing need to consume and the pollution that results, life on the planet is dying off at an unprecedented rate (short of a giant meteorite extinction-level event).

World animal populations are dropping at an alarming pace:

[caption id=" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”]<img class=“size-medium” src=“” alt="“extinction statistics” width=“600” height=“308” /> Source: World Wildlife Fund Living Planet Report[/caption]

As are insects:

[caption id=" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”]<img class=“size-medium” src=“” alt="“Insect loss chart” width=“600” height=“428” /> Source: Statista[/caption]

As are aquifers and forests:

[caption id=" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”]<img class=“size-medium” src=“” alt="“Word aquifers” width=“600” height=“416” /> Source: Drovers[/caption]

[caption id=“attachment_424338” align=“aligncenter” width=“600”]<img class=“wp-image-424338 size-large” src=“” alt="“deforestation stats” width=“600” height=“91” /> Source: climatepro[/caption]


The above statistics clearly show that we are dismantling the underpinnings of the ecosystems we depend on to live. Thus, we have become an existential threat to ourselves.

So should it comes as any surprise that we're already seeing a diminishment of our health? And even of our ability to self-perpetuate?

[caption id=" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”]<img class=“size-medium aligncenter” src=“” alt="“US mortality rate by state” width=“600” height=“400” /> Source: JAMA[/caption]

Yes, our lives today still run largely as we’ve always been used to. But given the data above, how long (or brief) will the remaining time lag be before the ramifications begin to hit us at force?

Time To Get Busy

I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really: Get busy living or get busy dying.
So concluded Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption. And at this stage in the story, the decision is really that binary.

Society for its part is committed to the “busy dying” path. It’s still clutching tightly to Business As Usual. Like an alcoholic who has yet to admit to himself he has a drinking problem, it won’t address what it refuses to recognize.

So we can expect the status quo of consume-and-pollute to continue on for some time. Most likely it will be pursued until it simply proves too painful than the remaining alternatives. By which time our other options are likely to be materially worse than they are today. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that conscientious, critically-thinking individuals like you can choose to get busy living.

There is much you can do during this time lag to invest in resilience and install regenerative models before the next systemic crisis is upon us.

Whatever time we have left, and it may very not be much, is a gift. Use it.

Many of the best defenses – like fitness, community, and valuable skills – require time to acquire. You can’t simply buy them off the shelf the way you can, say, a water filter or a backup generator. Once time has run out, you either already have them in place or you don’t.

In Part 2: How Best To Use The Time Remaining we provide our advice for prioritizing and allocating your precious time capital, as well as share with you what and Chris and I are most focused on in own personal preparations.

Included along with this are several hours of excellent video clips of experts from our recent educational live events and webinars, available to-date only to premium subscribers.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access).

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I deleted this because it wasn’t on topic and would possibly detract from the discussion.

Geez, Les. I really thought I covered all of the bases in this one.

  • Markets
  • Energy
  • Minerals
  • Animals
  • Insects
  • Trees
  • Aquifers
  • Human mortality rate
  • Dropping sperm counts
As far as I'm concerned, any of these is a valid existential threat to hang your concerns on. Sadly, we can each pick a poison and still leave plenty more remaining on the bar top...  

I just feel for our fellow creatures, when they get marginalized.
Last winter, the Arizona DNR shot a mountain lion, because it was harvesting mountain sheep that the DNR was protecting. I did the math on that one.
No one blamed the DNR for shooting one of the cats, despite the fact that there are, as I recall, 20,000 or so of them in the entire US. To have a similar percentage impact on the humans in the US, the DNR would have had to kill 135,000 humans. Had they done that, I think there would have been more blowback.
As you say. We each have different things that bother us.
Excellent article, as usual.

In Central Wisconsin, there aren’t enough wild bees left to pollinate crops. Farmers, including the mega farms, in the area now place bee hives around their crops every spring.

An idea, often discussed here on PP, is that

1) the terrible degradation of our natural world is both real and heart breaking, AND, 2) is the excuse being used by the oligarchy to further sell the consolidation of economic and political control.
Our favorite ORANGE-Meme-would-be rulers use this GREEN Meme reasoning to sell their world domination structures to a kind-hearted GREEN Meme population. Pepe Escobar endorses this understanding on his facebook page. He points us to an Essay at GlobaResearch by William Engdahl. Climate And The Money Trail  

How appropriate for me. I have now confirmed stage four small cell lung cancer; I will not be fighting it – I have less than three months, I think (after which I won’t be posting).
My family has almost no assets – so I pulled my PMs at loss; am moving them to where there’s a support structure. I am trying to get them from want driven (high family destruction rate) to duty driven (lower rate).
We had already been heavily looted by others, want driven, in the community.
The permaculture, the resilience, was nice to know, but I wonder how much will apply in the end.
I agree that we are already in free fall, and are likely to see more of this in the next two hundred years.

One of them is going to get us. Question is: How many and how fast.

This is just heartbreaking to hear, Michael.
You sound quite resigned. Are you being told there’s no hope, medically?
Know that this community grieves for you and with you. Speaking for myself, I value your contribution to this site and will miss your voice. You and your family have my deepest sympathies.
Please prioritize your needs and family duties with the time you have remaining. Though if keeping engaged here helps, keep posting – whatever feels most therapeutic to share. We’ll listen with open hearts.

That is very sad and stunning news. We will be thinking of you and caring about how your life goes.

Michael, this is just shocking news. You’ve been such a valuable member of our tribe over the years. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do on our end.
I fully understand your desire to not fight this with the tools of modern medicine, preferring to have quality of life over quantity. I get it.
If I were in your place I’d be giving a 60 day exposure to Rick Simpson oil a chance (a cannabis concentrate). It offers both a chance at arresting (if not shrinking) tumors and is excellent at pain management offering a much higher quality of engaged end-of-life moments (as compared to opiates, etc).
I’ve done extensive research into this area and have personally known people who have successfully used the oil to treat cancer and its symptoms.
Of course, this is just the opinion of one person on the internet, not medical advice, nor any sort of urging that you should or should not do any particular thing. Just what I’d be looking into were I in your place.
Feel free to PM me for more information…I’ve got tons of links, books, etc., on the subject. Here’s one such investigation from the NIH:
Again, so sorry to hear this news.
Chris M.

…or, its that the PR departments of those organizations recognize they need to pay lip service to this existential threat. or, someone in a leadership position in those organizations actually recognize that there IS an existential threat.
So, what’s the conclusion? Rally against the green new deal? Rally against celebrities or others taking a lead in the cause to fight climate or environmental degradation? Make the decision that climate change is a hoax created by china, or oligarchs that want to take control of the world via climate action? btw, I’m not asking these questions to sand puppy in particular and I’m not being snarky in my response, I’m just wondering where our community takes this idea.
I recently read the book “The politically incorrect guide to climate change” by Marc Morano to help balance my knowledge of the topic of climate change and to seek real evidence that might counter the main stream understanding of climate change. Its a long read (in my case, 11.5 hours of listening) that builds a case against climate change based not on data, but on circumstantial evidence that the climate cause is a power grab by liberal elites and similar theories to the one posted by Pepe Escobar. The point is that this seems to be a common ploy to sow doubt about climate change.
Side Note: Marc Morano ( worked for Senator Jim Inhofe, a staunch “climate denier” (I know some are offended by that term) and who I understand is the recipient of lots of campaign contributions from the Koch brothers. I sought out this book as the best resource available to attempt to balance my views on the climate topic since I’m actively building resilience as if there is an existential threat due to climate. I truly wanted to better understand the case against climate change. I didn’t find any data, e.g. peer reviewed, sound, scientific practices, no “data” of any kind other than a few instances of cherry picked data sets that show no warming, or even cooling (of which have been debunked). No point here…just fyi.

There is an underlying spiritual situation that really requires me to accept my death warrant.
As confirmation, everything else points – and was pointing – to this being when and where.
Just a thought: as deaths accelerate, accepting your own is a lot less evil than transferring it, even a little, to others. We all die.

My mother suffered from congestive heart failure. She had an extended period of mentally living in the past. During her last hospital stay she kept repeating something none of us could understand. When she got home she experienced a short period of complete clarity (and temporal accuracy). She insisted that I pray with her and she prayed that God would let her die. I realized then that it’s what she had been saying all through her time in the hospital. It was painful to realize I had been keeping her alive when she no longer wanted to be. I informed her doctor and when she had a downturn a few months later the hospital only gave her palliative care and released hre back home. It took a few weeks for her to pass away. It was hard to watch, but her faith was strong and she had no fear. I realized that death is often the hardest on the people around those who die.
I’m sorry to read about your illness. I trust that your faith will comfort you like my mother’s comforted her.

something the sun and its energy have orders of magnitude more to do with than mankind ever could
My question for Engdahl: How many of the catastrophes depicted in Adam's article are the result of the sun? How many are the result of mankind? The answer makes me think that man is not very kind -- nor very bright.
...petroleum engineer Art Berman
Not to nitpick, but Art is a petroleum geologist, not a petroleum engineer. Different skill set and approach, trust me. [Adam's edit: Great catch. You're right. I've corrected Art's title in the original post above.], community, and skills require time to acquire.
A truism; many years, even a lifetime.
Markets/Energy/Minerals/Animals/Insects/Trees/Aquifers/Human mortality rate/Dropping sperm counts...
Didn't you forget some popular doomer issues like "Climate Change", "Historic Immigration", "Overpopulation", "Civil War", "Soil Depletion"? Myself, I think the health/nutrition/processed food concerns you posted about earlier deserve more attention (Joan Ifland has done some fine work here).
The economist who authored the above post writes with an awareness of declining net energy, although he measures it differently from the EROEI of most energy descent writers.
His prognosis may interest readers. In sum:

  1. Emerging industrial economies have propped up the global economy as older industrial economies decline, and falsely propped up trust in global economic growth.
  2. Emerging economies have now peaked and are starting to decline as measured by declining growth.
  3. This will eventually erode general trust in growth, and in combination with the global debt bubble trigger a permanent cascading collapse in markets and the global economy.
What do you think Chris, Adam?

I ran across this guy recently and you have nothing to lose by trying this guys protocol. Check out Joe Tippen’s story.

a hundred thousand blessings brother Michael-
please do not hesitate to ask how any of us can help you or your family.
this is one of the single best comprehensive resources to cancer

I’m very sorry to hear the news Michael. It really brings home some thoughts I have about humanity in general which is we are all on ‘borrowed time’ these days.
Our thoughts are with you and your family.