Today, I have been thinking of asteroids more in a metaphorical sense than in a scientific sense. I have recently been reading articles and listening to online presentations that indicate that a cataclysmic failure of our global economic system could be forthcoming. Since I am a worrier, I have already worried about asteroid collisions with Earth, and the Vermin of The Sky. Now, I can worry about the catastrophe that might be caused by an "economic asteroid," too!
For quite some time (being a worrier), I have worried about the disappearance of my personal financial assets, now that they exist almost entirely in digital form. To be specific, if I have $5,000 in my bank account, I can presumably retrieve those dollars in real form (in printed currency) at any time. Mostly, though, I just look at my bank account balance online, and watch my credit card deductions and the automatic deposits of my income make that balance go up and down. But what if I open my online account, one day, and the balance reads $5.63? What customer service representative do I call? Persons whose identities have been stolen have had this experience. But what about hackers from Russia and China? They might wipe me out, too. And what about simple "glitches" that might have this effect? Worst case: what about a government that decides to control its citizenry by making their individual assets disappear? That could happen. That could even happen here. The disappearance of digital cash could be a financial and economic disaster that affects me individually, or it could affect us all, or most of us. It is certainly not unthinkable, on either a small or large scale. This digital disappearance scenario seems like some kind of legitimate thing to worry about.
According to an article published in a recent edition of AlterNet, titled, "Think Your Money is Safe? Think Again," we do have a good reason to worry about the stability and safety of our financial assets, even without conjuring the spectre of Russian and Chinese hackers, and unexplained "glitches." According to the AlterNet article, banking rules now in force in the United States will permit future bank bailouts to be funded not by the taxpayers (as in the last bank bailout in the United States), but by the depositors in the banks that have failed. In other words, what happened in Cyprus can happen in the United States. Banks can continue to speculate in derivatives using depositors' money; if the banks lose their bets, it will be possible to confiscate money from the depositors' accounts to preserve the banks' financial position. What happens to our financial position? Well, if the article is right, we are out of luck, and the Federal Deposit Insurance system won't help us either. Even if you are not the worrying type, this article is worth reading. It might cause you to change the institution you bank with, to get your money out of banks that are speculating in the stock and commodities markets.
The AlterNet article, however, is only mildly alarmist compared to a presentation I recently listened to online. This presentation, by Porter Stansberry, is forecasting a massive currency collapse in the United States, which Stansberry indicates will be a "specific event" that will bring "our country and its way of life to a grinding halt." According to Mr. Stansberry, we can look forward to a "near complete shutdown of our economy." Life as we have known it will "cease to exist." Governments on both the federal and state level will "shut down."
An event like this, should it come to pass, does sound like it would be the economic equivalent to a collision with an asteroid. Far from saying that this is something that might happen, however, Mr. Stansberry claims that this is "100% guaranteed" to happen. We have better odds with real asteroids! Of course, Mr. Stansberry's credibility may be suspect. He ends his presentation by trying to sign up customers for his investment research business. It also appears that Mr. Stansberry has been convicted in federal court of securities fraud.
Stansberry's conviction doesn't mean that he doesn't make some good points about our macroeconomic situation, and how we can individually prepare for coming economic problems. I am going to take them into account. Somehow, though, his apocalyptic predictions about the total economic destruction that he thinks is certain to be forthcoming have made me want to discard the "economic asteroid" metaphor.
The great thing about the world we create (including our economic system) is that we can, if we want to, do it all over again, and we can do it differently.
The effects of a real asteroid, pertaining to the World of Nature, may not be quite as susceptible to human remediation.