Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Exit strategy

The last post on curtailment was pretty much an unorganized brain dump. I have a whole lot of related ideas to these and will probably continue to off load them here in an attempt to formulate some more coherent opinions.

We recently saw one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in history come to light. One of my first thought on this (and I'm not the only one) is that the global economy and stock markets in general are large part pyramid scheme. Investments get positive returns only if the economy grows in either investors or consumers. What happens when there are no more people to invest? What happens when there are no more customers?

Resources are fundamentally limited on this planet. Whatever your view of a reasonable lifestyle and the longevity (or lack thereof) of the fossil fuel supply, there is a maximum number of people that can live on this Earth. At some point we will reach that number and the only way to get new customers is to take them from somewhere else. The global economy will (unless we colonize Mars) stop growing at some point. What happens then? Does the pyramid scheme unravel? Can we gracefully reach a stable state without a large correction?

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