2019, 1999, 1928 Or 1825?

Money, Burn, Dollar, Waste, Finance, Fire, Investments

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It is becoming increasingly clear that at some time before AD 5,000 humanity will enter another Dark Age, in which life will be “nasty, brutish and short,” living standards will be abysmal, and both human potential and human knowledge will be very limited. If we are very lucky, we will eventually emerge from that dark age. Looking back from the new era, using the best archaeological, historical, and economic tools available, what year do we think will be seen as the absolute apogee of our current civilization, our “Age of the Antonines”: 2019, 1999, 1928, or 1825?

First, it is unlikely that the best days of our current civilization lie ahead of us. Productivity growth has been declining for half a century, while fiscal and monetary policies have grown steadily worse, attempting to disguise poor economic performance with money-printing steroids. The Covid-19 pandemic may still prove to be a short-term affliction but it is being used as an excuse to impose ever more ridiculous restrictions on the liberty of the individual, and to bloat the state even more. As I wrote last week, social media has imposed gigantic additional costs on the economy and is increasingly restricting the communications of those who would fight against it. Culturally, music, art, and literature have been in a deep downturn for at least half a century, with no obvious sign of a revival. Thus, the trend for at least the next several decades is downwards, and it is likely that with population growth imposing declining living standards on the West, that downward trend will continue until the 200 years following the Industrial Revolution’s full efflorescence around 1820 is remembered as a golden past. So the question is: where in that 200 years was the absolute peak of human civilization?

There is certainly a case for 2019, the last year before the pandemic hit. That year will almost certainly mark the peak in real GDP per capita, once the economic data are cleansed of falsifications and distortions imposed by 2020s governments trying to whitewash their economic records. China and India were after all much richer in 2019 than in 1999 and their upsurge, due to globalization, will surely outweigh the hiccups the future will find in the economic records in the early 21st Century of the increasingly socialist Western countries.

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(The Bear's Lair is a weekly column that is intended to appear each Monday, an appropriately gloomy day of the week. Its rationale is that the proportion of "sell" recommendations put ...

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