Why We All Lose If the Fed Wins

So let's pretend for the moment that the Federal Reserve gets everything it has stated it wants.  And even further, that Washington, D.C. gets everything it wants, too.

The credit markets are repaired, and massive new loan growth flows out the door.  Loans are made to businesses that hire gobs of new people.  Consumers borrow and borrow some more to go to school and buy homes, cars, and gadgets.

Inflation remains low and job growth explodes.  Tax receipts climb and the deficit falls.  The stock market goes higher and higher, gold falls and then falls some more, as confidence in the system, its masters, and its institutions grows.

The Fed wins and D.C. wins.

But in reality, we all lose.

It's all just a matter of timing.


If we hold the view that humans are behaving unsustainably in terms of any of the 'three Es' the economy, energy, or the environment then any rapid resumption to a paradigm of exponential growth in our consumption of natural resources -- or in our growth of debt over income -- simply takes us more quickly to the bitter end of this story.

What good does it do to return to rapid economic expansion if we have not figured out how we are going to supply sufficient water for agriculture and basic living needs to the major population centers around the world?  What's our plan for reversing collapsing oceanic fisheries?  When do we have the substantive conversation about the long-term implications of the continuing Fukushima disaster? 

Omnipresent signs of ecosystem stress -- ranging from dying bees to increasingly chaotic weather patterns -- suggest strongly that we need to be doing things differently and with an eye towards resilience.  On the energy front, the temporary bonanza of oil and gas from U.S. shale plays is just that: temporary.  We need to be talking about where we want to be positioned when that, too, ends.

The really big picture here is that our economy, such as it is, is predicated on ever larger amounts of stuff being extracted, refined, produced, and then discarded.  It's a model that works just not sustainably.

Instead of wondering where we're headed and engaging in a bit of introspection, all eyes are on the Fed to see if it can engineer higher stock prices while keeping interest rates low. So conditioned are the masses locked in this system, it's as if financial assets all by themselves are both necessary and sufficient to secure a prosperous future. 

Without understanding the actual nature of where we are in this story, there's no way to meaningfully adjust our course towards a different destination.  For now, I will constrain this analysis to the Fed and to the economy, and show that their efforts have not borne the fruit they hoped for and that it's well past time to admit that the grand money-printing experiment has not worked out as planned.

If we simply pump the economy back up at any and all costs, we will win that battle. But we'll lose the larger war.  What we should be doing instead is using this as an opportunity to address some of the hard questions about where we are, where we are headed, and what kind of world we wish to enter into (and leave behind for our progeny).

Turning Japanese

In 1999, when Bernanke was essentially campaigning for the position of chairman of the Fed, he wrote a paper that lambasted Japanese monetary officials for not doing enough to prevent a sustained period of low inflation, sluggish economic growth, and torpid credit market growth:

Before becoming Fed chairman, Mr. Bernanke led a band of U.S. academics who argued that Japanese officials weren't doing enough to jolt their economy out of its torpor. In a 1999 paper, Mr. Bernanke lashed out at Japanese officials, saying their country's woes were the result of their own "self-induced" paralysis. Japan's responses to deflation, he charged in atypically blunt terms, were confused, inconsistent and too cautious.


The basic ideas he set forth were simply that the proper course of action for Japan (said easily enough from his armchair academic position at Princeton) was to simply do more, promise more, and not pull back from stimulus until the economy and inflation were behaving properly.

If they had, he argued, then they could have avoided a prolonged period of low growth, high unemployment, and declining inflation.

More from that same article:

At a conference at sponsored by the Boston Fed in Woodstock, Vt., that October [1999], Kazuo Ueda, then a BOJ policy member, issued a warning to the largely American audience: "Do not put yourself into the position of zero rates," he said. "I tell you it will be a lot more painful than you can possibly imagine."

Mr. Bernanke shot back that Japanese policy makers might be making the same "extreme policy mistakes" Americans made in the 1930s—being too timid about reversing deflation. A few weeks later, in a blistering research paper, he said even though conventional tools were expended, there was plenty the Japanese could do to boost consumer demand, business spending and prices.

Among his suggestions: Cheapen the yen by selling it in the currency markets; or buy long-term debt from the Ministry of Finance to finance tax cuts, something he said was akin to just dropping money from a helicopter.

One objection at the time was that Japan's economic problems weren't the result of too little stimulus by the central bank but of structural problems in Japan's banking system and in protected industries.

Mr. Bernanke said structural problems didn't negate the need to find ways to push up consumer demand and business spending.

"Japanese monetary policy seems paralyzed, with a paralysis that is largely self-induced," he concluded. "Most striking is the apparent unwillingness of the monetary authorities to experiment, to try anything that isn't absolutely guaranteed to work."

Well, here we are, six years into Bernanke's own Japanese experiment, and the U.S. is mired in low growth, high unemployment, and declining inflation.  To be blunt, none of his ideas are working out as easily in practice as they did on paper.

The hubris, the easily rankled ego of an academic, was on high display in Bernanke's comments to the Japanese. And that brings us to the nub of the issue today: the Fed's utter failure to back up and admit that its grand strategy is simply not working as planned here.

The (Ugly) Data

The evidence that the Fed's own efforts to shock the economy back to life have failed is quite clear.  Anecdotally, pretty much everyone knows exactly what would happen to the equity and bond markets if the Fed stopped injecting $85 billion into the financial system each month: they would crater.  So even there, we'd have to give the Fed a poor grade, if not a failing one, for creating markets that are now over-dependent on easy money.

Let's start with employment or rather, its inverse, unemployment because that's the main thing to which the Fed has tied its quantitative easing (QE) program (QE). 

At first glance, it looks as though the Fed is winning the day, because even though unemployment is quite elevated by historical standards at 7.4%, it's at least moving in the right direction:

Like all U.S. government statistics, the headline number is about as fuzzy as they come, and it deserves just a little bit of inspection before we place much confidence in it.

To calculate the unemployment rate requires you to know two things: how many people are out of work, and how many can work.  But the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the government agency that calculates the employment figures, has spent decades introducing one exclusion after another in order to reduce the accounting total for people who are out of work each time with the effect of reducing the headline unemployment rate. 

After all, if fewer people are 'out of work', which means they are not counted, then the unemployment rate will be lower.  A smaller numerator creates a smaller fraction.

Fortunately, the BLS still calculates a more rigorous definition of total unemployment (although it is still not completely accurate) that goes by the name "U-6", which it defines as follows:

U-6 Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force

This alternative measure of unemployment and underemployment stands at 14.0%, or nearly double the headline rate.  It excludes those who have not even looked for a job in the last 12 months, and there's good reason to believe there are a lot of those individuals right now.

Evidence of that comes from the labor force participation rate, which measures all those who have a job (and, yes, having a part-time job counts the same in this calculation as having a full-time job).  It has fallen to painful levels:

In the above chart, where everyone who is employed is divided by everyone of employment age, we can see that just under 59% of working-age Americans are employed.  We have to go back to the early 1980s to find a similar employment proportion, and here we'll note that it is much harder to get by on one salary today than it was in times past, indicating something of the hardship embedded in this number.

It stands to reason that a lot of people who want to work, but have not looked recently enough to be counted, are contained in the above chart.

One other way we might surmise that some people have not looked for a job in over a year is to look at how long people tend to remain unemployed once they lose their job.  Here the data is particularly grim:

Note that this chart is of the mean duration of unemployment.  So roughly half of all people are out of work for just over 35 weeks, and half are out of work for longer than that.  If we imagine a nice spread to the data, perhaps a reasonable bell curve, then it's not hard to imagine that quite a few people are well over the 52-week mark and that some of them could easily fall through the statistical cracks.

If QE is helping to bring down unemployment as the Fed claims and the media carefully repeats, then it's not clear at all that it's helping to bring down the mean duration of unemployment from levels that are without precedent in the 60-year-old data set. 

One other area in which QE has failed to help is in the types of jobs created.  Of the meager few jobs created since the start of the financial crisis and recession in 2008 and 2009, respectively, nearly 4 million of them have been part-time jobs, which are counted and reported by the BLS with the exact same weighting as full-time jobs:

Here again we will note that QE is not having its intended effect if the goal is to create high-paying, full-time jobs.  Instead, all we are getting are a lot of part-time jobs (i.e., lower pay and without benefits).  Through the first 7 months of 2013, 953,000 jobs have been created. A full 731,000 of those, or 77%, have been part-time. 

Of course, it's silly to blame QE for this, because QE has nothing to do with initiatives like Obamacare, which is one of many contributing factors towards more part-time work being offered and performed.  But then again, that's the point.  It's just plain silly to tie QE to employment at all in the first place, but that's what Bernanke did, which is why we're taking such a detailed look at it here.

On the subject of GDP growth, the data is even more dismal.  The 'bounce' seen after the recession allegedly ended in 2010 is the worst on record, and GDP growth currently stands at a rate not seen outside of the context of a recession at any point over the prior 60 years:

For all of the talk of recovery and improvement and corporate earnings and such, and even with all of the statistical wizardry of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) at work, the GDP numbers here are indistinguishable from those of Japan after its bubble burst and the Bank of Japan began fighting its deflationary monster.

The other similarities to Japan are that the U.S. Fed is now stuck with a zero interest rate policy and finds itself in the business of monetizing enormous quantities of U.S. federal debt.

Like Japan, the U.S. finds its sovereign debt loads not just growing, but exploding at the fastest pace on record for six years now:


The summary here is that Bernanke, after dissing the Japanese efforts, has little more to show for his efforts than they do.  The economy remains weak, inflation is low, he's trapped in a 0% interest rate policy, unemployment remains stubbornly high, and federal debt is exploding.

In fact, he does have results.  It's just that they are indistinguishable from those of the Japanese.

In Part II: The Real Story to Focus On, we clarify the real issues we need to be dealing with if we want our entry into the future to be anything longer-lived than a kamikaze mission. 

The Fed is doing an excellent job of demonstrating how fighting the wrong battles leads to losing the war.

If we want different results (and I do), then we need different behaviors.  To get those, you must either change willingly through insight, or else stonehearted reality will force you to on its terms.

If we don't chose the former, the latter is a guarantee.

Click here to access Part II of this report (free executive summary; enrollment required for full access).

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://peakprosperity.com/why-we-all-lose-if-the-fed-wins/

The macro view Chris lays out is impossible to argue with.  I agree 100%.
As a metaphor, I'm reminded of the small book entitled "Who Moved My Cheese."  For those that have read it, our friends at the Fed have decided to continue returning to the spot where our cheese used to be, hoping against hope that somehow the cheese will return all on its own.  Of course its not quite that black and white, but - fundamentally, the effects of Peak Everything together with the popping of a multigenerational debt bubble must lead every thinking person to conclude that we must change our thinking in radical ways or else eventually our society will pay the ultimate price.  As long as we as a society continue wasting our time metaphorically returning to the spot where our cheese used to be, forward progress will not occur.

I look forward to the day when our national conversation is about the large collection of predicaments Chris has laid out, and the various ways we can move our society and its infrastructure from where we are, to where we need to be.  Someday, it will be.  We are just early.


The architects of Obamacare had to know that there would be consequences to any triggering conditions in the legislation. If there is less work, but the administration is being directly measured by the unemployment rate, wouldn't it look better to have more people sharing the work? Set the conditions for business to hire more part-time workers and the unemployment rate decreases without changing the total hours worked. It is hard to believe that this "benefit" wasn't planned. It allows the can to be kicked down the road a bit longer.
A half century ago, machines were relatively simple. Most required operators to function. Labor was a necessary evil for the capitalists to convert resources into finished products. The worker's wages then bought the manufactured products. It was a virtuous circle. Since then, machines have gotten more sophisticated and significantly cheaper. Many operate semi or completely independently. That saves the capitalists the expense and hassle of a few more human employees. Robot's capabilities advance at an exponential rate, similar to Moore's Law for computing. They are replacing humans at an increasing rate in more diverse fields.

If you've ever had employees, you know the headaches that come with them. If you could get a robot to do the work, why would you hire a human … especially if the robot performed the task adequately at a lower unit cost? As robots become more capable, there will be fewer positions that give humans advantages. Humans will become more and more obsolete.

So, what happens when robots are capable of performing most (or all) jobs? If we had infinite resources available, it could turn into a panacea with a life of leisure for everyone. In reality, we're already bumping up against the petri dish on many fronts. We're strip mining the oceans, mining the aquifers, polluting the environment, destroying the topsoil, etc. If the population were reduced by 90-99%, these pressures would dissipate considerably. The result might even be sustainable. Left alone, nature will work its magic and heal the environment. Shoot, I could envision a thousand years of peace while the remaining inhabitants share the dwindling resources.

With the need for human labor gone, capitalists will see that the unemployed are more costly than they are beneficial. (If I have to give you all the money to buy my product, there is no profit for me - only additional costs.) It is a simple calculation that has profound implications. For me, the biggest questions are when and how - when will they come to this conclusion and how will they remove the excess population?


i was 22 yr old in 1975, living in a small community outside of pontiac michigan. everyone not in the service sector worked for the auto industry.
in 1975  i remember reading an oakland press headline that suggested GM was not putting enough into the retirement fund,  thinking some day i am going to see the outcome of this.(which i did a few years back, )

i was a first year teacher in public schools and was making less per year than my high school classmates who were working "on the line" at GM. we both had excellent benefits, retirement plans, health care, dental, eye care you name it. my father was high level management at GM so we were raised anti union, but here i was with benefits the unions had fought for.(not the only time i have lived both sides of an issue, to which i have learned both sides are right and both sides are wrong and both sides lack the dimension of seeing both sides.)

we were taught this is how life is and promises would be kept so who cares what GM is doing now. well they were taking the retirement money as profit. we were encouraged to not save,to rely on the pension, we were taught we were  better than most because we were working now for a pension and care in the future. spend your money now on new cars, in fact have several cars.buy buy buy. it's smart to buy now.

not only did GM, ford, etc take the pension fund for themselves, they dumped the toxic byprocts from all that chrome, etc , into the water system in the surrounding counties and suburbs. 100% of the homes in my parents neighborhood had at least one incident of cancer including both my parents. do a web search on arsenic levels for wayne, oakland ,macolm, lapeer counties!

south east michigan has a large concentration of large health care facilities built because the auto industries provided health insurance of the highest order even for the ordinary worker. so the one industry  built many other industries.not hard to see that obama care is a feeble attempt to keep these large  health complexes operating.

i now live outside of ann arbor, mi in a small rural farming community. the water is crap here too.

the auto industries pretty much came, made their money, muddied the water and left. it took about a century .

i have known of the 3 "e" predicaments since the late 70's. and i just read yesterday that the white house is finally getting solar panels. i'm sure the gov't has been aware of these problems for the last 40 years…ever since the oil embargo, the cat was out of the bag re peak oil.

i feel like the news is what they want us to focus on. things like gdp, the fed, health care, gay marriage, you name it. we know the gdp is an inacurrate number so why all the charts comparing gdp to whatever?

how about more talk about unempyment being a symptom of deflation and over population. let's talk about how to live as a society deflates, not on charts of the past.

or talk about how cheap human labor replaces cheap oil energy.

i keep hearing talk about the status quo. isn't wanting to have more, to "win" status quo?. whatever happened to livng a simple life with enough food, clothing, shelter, security, community. it just the conversation sometimes seems like an interesting mix from living off the grid to hoarding more wealth. i don't think they are mutually exclusive, but certainly, if we are coming from a position of wealth and squander, doesn't carrying the concept of how to stay weathy  into the future bring greed along with us into the future. i just don't see living with nature in a sustainable way has room for greed. that after all is what muddied the waters here in se michigan.

detroit could be a chapter in tainter's collapse of complex societies.

Grover writes "how will they remove the excess population?"My question is how will we remove the excess capitalists?
Robots require energy to work, and I have yet to see a wood burning robot. So I think that nature itself will both find a way to reduce the population and the number of folks willing to exploit their neighbors. The resources needed to maintain our complex society will surely become depleated.
What I don't understand is how folks think they can continue to live with all the excess 'goodies' after the fall. The desire to try to understand how to maintain our individual lifestyle in the face of everyone else's descent into anarchy will likely be fruitless.
I am guessing that we will regress into a fuedal lifestyle even in the face of all that we have learned when energy was cheap. And with a similar world population if we don't all blow ourselves up first.
Dennis Paull

…as with those times Obamacare is the answer, the Bakkens and other shale plays in the US are a godsend as the Prudhoe Bay of our time (early 70's), North Sea's find, and don't forget the 100 years (yeah right) of natural gas just ready to take over for oil. All is bunk but will buy some additional time I am afraid, and so the embedded capital of the Elites live on to do what it is has done for a while longer.I so wish Chris is right, that we get our reset (called for correction) so hopefully we can have a meaningful discussion for our future. I thought in 2008 we would but the market can stay irrational longer than we can stay solvent. Plus Ben got to try out his bag of tricks that are failing as we speak, finally. Here's hoping but if you took todays concerns and walked them back to the early 70's, the initial oil embargo, and the storyline would rhyme I am afraid.
Solar panels were on the White House as the only Man who truly got it was Carter with regards to oil and energy issues, and Reagan took them down. What a mistake that was. I live in Macomb County/St.Clair county border so we have Lake St. Clair and Lake Huron as neighbors. I visit their often and find their a whole lot nicer than in the recent past. However, I do understand that so much pollution is probably sentiment and only needs a bit of stirring to degrade the quality again. Every time a storm hits the overflows of household waste shuts all beaches for a bit and then not so nice. I do understand however a lot of improvement to the overflows have been made and the beaches are open more than they used to.


i was just putting in a little timeline so that when things flush, no one thinks it started in 2008. and speaking of 2008, when chris was talking in 2008 about 20 years in the future, well? 5 years has passed already.

so do we just keep moving the bar out to 20 yrs from now? is this how we cope?

be the change you wish to see

From zerohedge:  In the month of June the international community did something it has not done in years - it sold US Treasurys with passionate zeal and reckless abandon. In fact, in that one month alone, $57 billion in total Treasury holdings was dumped. The distribution of June sales among the select largest holders of US paper, and the sole, solitary buyer, is shown on the chart below.

Guess who this Mystery Buyer X, aka the "sore thumb", is who boldly bought everything that no other man, woman or child wanted to buy in the month of June.



One of the commentors below the article, "bdc63,"  reflects on the forshadowings of future trends discussed by CM for some time:

maybe we should all just ponder for a moment what would have happened if the FED hadn't stepped in to buy the $57B of dumped treasuries ...

we may have just entered into a whole new dimension of monitization

there is no taper. there is no unwind. 

first they stop buying our debt.  then they stop using our "reserve currency".  and the next morning we wake up in a third world country.

This might have something to do with how the establishment see the over population problem resolving itself.And how to lower the unemployment rate.


Yes, It's Time For A National Conversation

Dennis,First off, I'm not advocating this scenario. I'm just projecting trends and connecting dots. Robotics are getting new capabilities very quickly. Here is a link to a video of Google's self driving car:
In this case, a self driving car gives a blind man the freedom that we sighted people with vehicles take for granted. But draw your attention to the distant horizon … less than 10 years into the future. This same technology will make anyone who drives for a living (taxi cabs, truck drivers, bus drivers, etc.) obsolete. It won't happen all at once, but each year, the technology will get better and cheaper. That will mean that those who avoid being obsolete will be forced to work for less each year until there isn't a rational reason to keep the job.
What will become of those millions who were formerly gainfully employed? Some will land on their feet in another job. Some will become entrepreneurs. The majority will resort to going on the dole. Who will pay taxes to support these folks? It will be the capitalists who own the robots along with anyone else lucky enough to have a job.

Let's say that your dreams come true and all the capitalists are removed. What will happen? Without capitalists to pay the wages, why would anyone work? Unless some of the workers stepped into the role of the capitalists, there would be chaos. Our society has become dependant upon just-in-time delivery. Break any single link and the supply chain fails. For example, deliveries of food would cease. Store shelves would soon empty. With no food, cities would become self cleaning ovens until the remaining population was able to sustain themselves.

I agree with you on all these points. If the population drops dramatically, the remaining resources will last longer. With 10% of the usage, finite resources will last 10 times as long. With 1% of usage, finite resources will last 100 times as long. So you have to give some juice to a robot … it is only while you need it. That is a much lower tax rate than supporting hordes of unemployed.

Again, I agree with you. In a slow demise or a stair step crashcade, at some point, anyone with something who isn't willing to share it will become a target. When do you decide that you've shared enough? How do you convince someone who has nothing (and therefore nothing to lose,) that you intend to keep your possessions? Could you kill someone if your survival (or loved ones) depended on it? What if the perpetrator's only "crime" was starvation?

Are you suggesting that the world's population would have to drop to what it was during feudal times? The world's population was about 1 billion (+/- a few hundred million.) That's about an 80%-90% reduction from current population levels. With that kind of population reduction, the pressures on resources would be reduced sufficiently that we wouldn't need to resort to feudalism.
The world could possibly support our current population in a feudal, energy constrained lifestyle. Life's quality would diminish for the vast majority. I believe most folks would rather die than be forced to actually work (mind numbing, back breaking work) for a meager existence. It is hard to shove the genie back in the bottle.

if extended sufficiently into the future…Luddites versus robots?

When there's abondance, a society is usually peaceful. Violence sets in as soon as there's a shortage of mainly food. Real shortage or being unaffordable. When a  person doesn't know when and where his next meal is coming from, he is down to survival. Multiply this as the developed countries sink in indebtness.  Most of us here live in  countries where the government provides a minimium for basics; welfare, unemployment insurance, old age security etc… But the system is breaking down and we can't afford to support all these idle people, not useless but unaffordable to hire here. Manufacturing jobs gone to cheaper countries. The violence can be seen everywhere in these gutted cities and towns. It will just get worst. The haves and have nots in the middleclass will clash. 
One of my sister's co workers inherited her grandmother's house in Italy and she had a bank account where she would leave may be 2-4k to pay the house taxes. This year she went on vacation to Italy and what a surprise to find her bank account was cleaned out by the bank. Expats bank account balances are being  syphoned. How much would it cost to fight the bank? 

Her nieces and nephews all have University degress and are out of work. People in the cities make runs in the country and raid the huge gardens at night. Italians from the country side are being home invaded by city dwellers and they raid their cantinas (Deep pantry where they cure and dry their sausages ,food storage).

Conclusion if you have you better shut up because the have nots will take what you have.




Nervous Nelly, I totally agree with your thought on this:

Her nieces and nephews all have University degress and are out of work. People in the cities make runs in the country and raid the huge gardens at night. Italians from the country side are being home invaded by city dwellers and they raid their cantinas (Deep pantry where they cure and dry their sausages ,food storage).

Conclusion if you have you better shut up because the have nots will take what you have.
I watch people as they walk by looking at my garden, and have had several comments, one from a 90 year old neighbor, as to how tempting it is. It won't necessarily take dire circumstances for every last little veggie to be taken. We have so many homeless people and bottle pickers going by on a daily basis that I have a feeling of inevitability that someone will succumb to the temptation, and I will be heartbroken after all my hard work. It is impossible to guard against this happening. Flying under the radar with regard to possessions, wealth and so on is increasingly important as things break down. The saddest part of this is the erosion of trust. Without trust we are nothing. Jan 

Just returned from vacation. We drove to visit friends close to Val D'or (Valley of Gold…for all those interested in PMs), located in northern Quebec. Interesting juxtaposition of gold mines and scenic beauty/provincial parks. We stayed in a cottage on Lac Veaudray that had no modern amenities (plumbing, electricity, heat, kitchen, etc.). What was so amazing and immediately apparent was how quiet our environment was. A loon calling from across the lake was a spectacular sound against the quiet background. The irony of how far we had to drive to achieve this type of solitude was not lost on me. I thought I lived in relatively quiet environment, my house being in the woods by a river with very few neighbors, but I realize now that it's not even close.
On our way back, we stopped and attended a summer camp reunion, a camp where my wife and I worked back in the 80s when we were in our twenties. It gave me a chance to catch up with many old friends, friends that hail all over the U.S. and abroad, and come from . Many were actively trying to transition to a simpler lifestyle, some were out of work, and others were dissatisfied with their work.  The above article definitely correlates with what I experienced in these conversations. The consensus was that the major gains in the market of the last four to five years hasn't translated into significantly more, or even better, jobs. The conversations were about downscaling their lifestyle habits, shifting their expectations and goals, and trying to live life more in the moment. One friend who lives in NYC decided to leave her job because she was putting in 60 hours a week to make ends meet and had no time for her children. She was at the end of her rope and is prepared to move her family in with her parents so that she can have more quality time. I'm sure there are many who are reading this who can relate.

I think the Fed's goal, being one of unemployment, isn't adequately addressing our predicaments, and as Chris points out, is probably making things worse…like using a hammer on a screw. But what I find interesting is that, ironically, many of the affected people are reacting to these market forces in a way that is moving in the direction of a more sustainable future. To be clear, I don't think this was the intention of the Fed's at all.  So although some are being forced into more resillient living, we can all continue to take intentional action to do the same. The beauty is that it will give you more meaning to your life and quality time, as well as give you increased protection from the fragility of a complex system. The 3Es give you the context and connect the dots in a way to help you make these choices.

Here is a picture I took of the lake. Impossible to see "quiet," but this gets pretty close.


[quote=westcoastjan]I watch people as they walk by looking at my garden, and have had several comments, one from a 90 year old neighbor, as to how tempting it is. It won't necessarily take dire circumstances for every last little veggie to be taken. We have so many homeless people and bottle pickers going by on a daily basis that I have a feeling of inevitability that someone will succumb to the temptation, and I will be heartbroken after all my hard work. It is impossible to guard against this happening.
Flying under the radar with regard to possessions, wealth and so on is increasingly important as things break down. The saddest part of this is the erosion of trust. Without trust we are nothing.
This leaves me wondering what I can do to protect my small, in-town garden.  It is next to and in front of the house, and on the road, not behind the house.  I have been tending a neighbor's garden, and she has a much better (more sheltered) location.  Because my yard is so small, every square foot counts, and I can't afford not to use the more exposed segments.
I've thought about putting up a fence, but I think anything taller than 3' starts to feel unfriendly.  I've thought about putting up 3' or 4' fencing to keep out animal thieves, but what good will that do to keep people out?  What about electrifying the top of the fence?  Maybe…but it would be a hassle.  Worth it to consider now?  I don't know.
I've thought about installing exterior outlets…which would be very helpful for electrifying a fence and warming chickens…butalso helpful for unscrupulous folks to steal power from.
I'm not a suspicious, paranoid type of person.  But I do worry quite a bit about what will happen to my hard-earned FOOD.  The red-ripe tomatoes are practically begging to be plucked and eaten.
And what are the rules for fruit trees that extend over the sidewalk or into the neighbor's yard?  Is the part hanging over the sidewalk free for the taking, and the part within the yard not?  Where is that ethical line?  I walk under a plum tree every morning, and the plums are just falling and rotting.  They are quite tempting, but they are not mine.  I have a mental note to introduce myself to that neighbor (he has a great garden!) but there are so many people where I live, I literally can't get to know them all.  I am planning to plant some fruit trees, but one will be within reach of the sidewalk, and all will overhang the neighbor's yard.  She's a good person; I suppose if we strike a deal of some sort, we can both have fruit.
I have thought often of someday building a 2nd-story platform over my porch for growing food on.  I would climb out the window to tend the plants.  Would need to import water from the tap…but it would be safer from passersby than the ground-level garden.  Alas, it's an expense I cannot manage anytime in the near future.
These are important (and sobering) things to think about.

If or when harder times present themselves its the fences that need to come down and the lines between properties and relationships to blur. To be able to confront decreasing physical resources or excessive debt or loss of jobs ect… one will have to rely on their neighbors for additional resiliency helping grow food share chickens, water resources ect. The best way to protect your labor is to put extra efforts into close relationships and always grow 25%-50%. I'm feeling fear within this tread and there is no quicker way towards conflict and scarcity. We must open up and transition the feelings and emotions to close down into productivity.
This is what I think should be happening now instead of waiting for that event or events to shape us for it.



Gillbilly,             I'm from Quebec and that Parc that goes to Val D'Or is dead quiet without human activity as soon as you leave the roadside…it's almost scary. If you don't know how to navigate you can serouisly get lost in these woods. I'm a sales Rep that travels to Val D'or twice a year and I love driving through that Parc. Stop off eat my packed lunch and just soak that silence. It' strange how our minds ,so used to hyperactivity that when it's forced to stop it almost seems lost.  My mind seems to search for the usual hyperactivity in that silence. I know nature has done it's job when my mind slows done to it's pace. Nice Pic !
Oh and the call of the loons just before sunset…just magical.

Just one yappy little dog will warn you that someone is in your yard. Even in the middle of the night.NN