I have been definitely doing that – discounting the future. Early in the talk he points to taxes & entitlements as leading causes of this global consensus, but I think it runs deeper. I suspect a fellow like Alan Greenspan would never say exactly he thinks at an on-the-record talk at a Council on Foreign Relations talk, so I’m sure there’s more.
I doubt he’d go down the rabbit holes I like to visit, but I’ll take a stab at it. I think the leading causes of uncertainty come from:
- East/West divide and the threat of world war. While war can be profitable for some, it’s not for most. As the BRICS rise they threaten the West’s hegemony. The US has deployed military assets globally. The BRICS continue to strengthen by leveraging production based economies. The timing and outcome of this tug-of-war is anyone’s guess.
- Centralization of power and the closing of free markets. As the rich get richer they naturally gain more power and control over the game… exactly like the Monopoly board game. At the end of that game there are only two players left and one quickly bankrupts the other – while all the loosing players just watch the last two try and destroy each other. That’s where we are today in the real world.
- Lack of global governance standards. I don’t think we need a world government, I think we need global governance standards so that all people can play on a level field. Right now we play on rocky mesa with the people on top holding all the cards but still needing the resources below the mesa. Globalization has given the people at the foot of the cliffs a view of the top, and they want that life too. Instead of going to war on a global scale we could choose to adopt a set of standards that restores fairness to the people of the world. I’m not describing communism or socialism; I’m describing rules that helps restore balance between the powerful and the powerless.
So to eliminate uncertainty we somehow need to prevent a global war, decentralize power, and establish global governance standards that allow the nations of the world retain their sovereignty while reducing the chances of future conflicts. To be blunt, uncertainty can be eliminated by positioning the world for peace and prosperity.
Until then we should discount the future. For the rich that might mean hedging bets through diversification – for the rest of us that might mean stockpiling bullets, beans, bandaids, and yes, bunkers.