ONLY CONTRARIANS WILL SURVIVE

by Egon von Greyerz, Gold Switzerland:

We are currently standing before one of the most unique and frightening periods in history. Never have there been so many extremes in so many different areas. In the last 100 years everything seems to have developed so much faster, including population, technology, inflation, debt, money printing, budget deficits, stock, bond and property prices, crypto currencies etc.

All of these areas are now in an exponential growth phase. The final stage of exponential growth is explosive and looks like a spike that goes straight up. A spike for a major sample like global population or the Dow never finishes with just a sideways move. Once a spike move has finished, it always results in a spike move down.

It seems that everything in the world is developing much faster today like computers and mobile phones or robots. The world assumes that this exponential growth in so many areas will continue or even accelerate further. But sadly, that is unlikely to be the case.

EXPONENTIAL MOVES ARE TERMINAL

There is a more scientific illustration how these exponential moves occur and also how they end.

Imagine a football stadium which is filled with water. Every minute one drop is added. The number of drops doubles every minute. Thus it goes from 1 to 2, 4, 8 16 etc. So how long would it take to fill the entire stadium? One day, one month or a year? No it would be a lot quicker and only take 50 minutes!That in itself is hard to understand but even more interestingly, how full is the stadium after 45 minutes? Most people would guess 75-90%. Totally wrong. After 45 minutes the stadium is only 7% full! In the final 5 minutes the stadium goes from 7% full to 100% full.

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That is the simple explanation why we are seeing this very fast exponential move in so many areas. It is of course impossible to say exactly when the global stadium or individual stadiums will be filled especially since we don’t know the size of these stadiums. What we do know is that when it is full, the water level will not only stop rising but the stadium will collapse.

We are probably now in the final minute, or probably seconds, of the move since we are in the exponential phase that has lasted around 100 years.

WORLD POPULATION DO DECLINE BY 2-3 BILLION

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If we look at a few examples of exponential growth, we can start with world population. For thousands of years global population grew very slowly but finally reached 1 billion in the 1850s. Since then it has gone up over 7x to 7.5 billion. Many “experts” now forecast that we will soon reach 15 or 20 billion.

Yes, global population could grow slightly from here but more likely is that we will see a major reduction in the coming decades. It could even happen a lot faster depending on the type of event that the world is facing. Looking at the size of the exponential move, 6.5 billion people have been added to world population since the mid 1850s. A normal correction to such an exponential growth would be 38% to 50%. This would mean that world population could go down between 2.5 and 3.7 billion to 3.8 to 5 billion people. This clearly sounds horrendous and improbable but looking at the chart, it is likely to happen. It is of course possible that we could see some further growth before global population goes down. But the risk of the downturn starting soon is much greater than a significant further increase.

The triggers for such a major reduction could be manifold like war, epidemic disease, economic collapse leading to poverty and famine or a combination of these events.

For example, around 1340-50 there was the Black Plague that reduced the European population by up to 60% and world population by an estimated 30 to 50%.

A nuclear war between North Korea and the US would eventually involve China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, India and many other countries and would be just as devastating, probably leading to world population going down by much more than 60%

Likewise, a collapse of the financial system, which is not improbable, would be cataclysmic for the world.

It is absolutely clear that one or several of these events will take place in coming years but when exactly is of course impossible to say.

ETERNAL WEALTH PORTFOLIO

Depending on the magnitude of the problem, including the geographical spread, it is very difficult to prepare for it for normal people. Very few have their private jet and residences in many parts of the world. However, for people who have savings, now is the time to take defensive measures if you haven’t already. I know of very old family wealth who for hundreds of years have kept their wealth in property, art and gold with 1/3 in each. With productive land, this has of course been a superb portfolio and will continue to do very well during the coming downturn. Gold and agricultural land are real wealth preservations assets whilst some art today is a bubble asset and therefore will suffer. But 2/3 of the assets in this family’s portfolio are likely to preform extremely well in coming years.

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