*** You remember those 5 big trends we mentioned yesterday? You don't? Well, we'll repeat them:
1) The Great Correction - in many of the advanced economies, but centered in America...The interesting, and frustrating, thing about these trends is that they all intersect in various ways at various times...setting up collisions that are as unpredictable as they are hazardous.
2) The continued rise of the developing economies...not just in Asia, but in Latin America and Africa, too.
3) The increasing scarcity of cheap energy, land, water and raw materials.
4) The decline (suicide might better describe it) of the American Empire.
5) The approaching end of the dollar-based world financial system.
You'll notice, too, that the China story runs right through the middle of them, like a tanker truck through a pizza parlor. It is the central story to the rise of Asia and the developing economies. It is a large part of the reason low-priced commodities and natural resources are disappearing. The Chinese currency is almost sure to rise as the dollar-based world financial system comes apart. And China is also the likely successor to the US Empire.
We have neglected this theme for years - ever since we published (with Addison Wiggin) our opus on the subject, Empire of Debt. But the killing of Osama bin Laden reawakened our interest.
One of the few things we don't wonder about is why the feds killed Mr. bin Laden. It would have been far too messy and uncomfortable for them to put him on trial. After all, before he was America's greatest enemy, he was one of her greatest friends.
Yes, dear reader. Mr. bin Laden rendered much service to the US Empire, specifically to the US defense establishment. First, he set up Al Qaeda, with CIA help, to harass the flank of America's most powerful enemy - the Soviet Union. Then, when the Soviet Union fell, the defense industry was despondent. There was no longer any need to invest such a huge part of America's treasure on 'defense' when there was nothing to defend against.
With no plausible threat, the defense budget would have been easy prey for the budget hawks. But then, in their hour of need, like the Argentine generals coming to the aid of Maggie Thatcher's approval ratings, Osama bin Laden came to the rescue. At least, so it appears. We would have been very curious to find out more about his role in the 9/11 attack; unfortunately, the trial of Osama bin Laden was cut short by two bullets fired at close range.
Not that we're criticizing. If we were in a position of power, we probably would have wanted him to disappear too. The last thing anyone in the CIA would want to see would be Osama shooting his mouth off in front of the whole world.
According to The Atlantic magazine, bin Laden triggered $3 trillion of spending by the US. How much of that ended up in the pockets of defense contractors? One percent? Five percent? We have no idea, but even 1% would be a $30 billion windfall, probably about equal to the annual profits of all the world's automobile companies combined.
But now what? Osama is in Davy Jones' locker. And the US is headed to bankruptcy. Will the Pentagon and its suppliers go gently into that good night - of budget cuts and shrinking profits? Or will they rage...and find a replacement for Mr. bin Laden? China, perhaps?
for The Daily Reckoning