I watched the new documentary Hot Money by Susan Kucera tonight.
An intelligent world-wise father (General Wesley Clark) and his son discuss some of the problems we face with many smart participants. I don’t think they interviewed a single idiot, which was refreshing.
They know something is seriously wrong and make an honest attempt to connect the dots. They come tantalizingly close to a complete picture of reality, but miss the all important overshoot drivers of over population and declining returns from non-renewable energy.
Which of course means they understand everything, except what matters.
Nevertheless, Hot Money is excellent and worth watching because it has a lot of intelligent substance.
I also think it indicates a growing mainstream awareness of how close we are to collapsing, and I suspect herd awareness (coupled with denial of the real causes) may be the trigger.
Some of the important points made:
- the financial system is a bomb waiting to explode, climate change may be the trigger
- climate change is real and very serious
- droughts, floods, and fires are a big problem now
- it now takes more than 3 dollars of debt to create 1 dollar of growth, it used to take less than 1 dollar of debt to create 1 dollar of growth
- farmers are struggling and failing due to climate change, debt, high input costs, and low crop prices
- real incomes and living standards are falling despite lower taxes than the 50’s
- some young couples are not having children because they see a terrible future
- it was much easier to make a profit in the good old days, doubly so if you were early enough to steal land from the aboriginals
- companies now invest more money in stock buy-backs than R&D
- there is no such thing as trickle down economics
- the financial system is now too complex for its players to understand – it’s like trying to understand quantum mechanics when you don’t have high school physics
- the planet is a finite physical system and the financial system is unbounded – the two systems are incompatible
- Venezuela is a preview of where the USA is headed
- if the government isn’t competent enough to deal with homelessness in L.A., how can it possibly deal effectively with COVID?
- Americans live under the illusion that they are different and could never descend into the savagery they’ve witnessed elsewhere in the world
- the Kosovo genocide was committed by and against people with homes, refrigerators, cars, kids in college, and who spoke the same language
- people are turning on each other because the capitalist system is breaking down and climate change is causing scarcity
- there will be a billion displaced people within 30 years
- it’s unlikely the Romans could give us advice on how to avoid collapse
- the wealth gap increases as a civilization collapses
- many nest eggs will be wiped out when insurance companies won’t insure homes because of sea level rise
- much of the oil industry’s infrastructure is at risk from sea level rise
- rich people are not investing enough in renewable energy because they can make better returns elsewhere
- governments must step up to invest in what needs to be done
- most authorities think we have 30 years to act before civilization collapses, some people think it’s already too late
- the most valuable thing in the world is oil reserves in the ground, but the damage burning oil causes is even higher – we must tax carbon energy
- we need a cultural change to accept less – but that’s hard
- nothing comes for free, everything costs energy
- renewable energy cannot replace fossil energy and satisfy our greed, but it can help us survive
- the food system is a huge consumer of energy (lots of interesting detail here)
- our energy system is highly dependent on water which is being disrupted by climate change
- we need to democratize the electric grid to accelerate renewable energy, but that requires a long range plan which we don’t have
- we should tax pollution and use the funds to improve the grid and to pay farmers to sequester carbon
- we will not be able to re-order our system until it crashes, but if we wait until we crash we’ll be too poor to fight climate change – it’ll be like asking Somalia to fight climate change
- the final scene has the son arguing that we’re not facing reality; and the father arguing that we can use our democracy to solve the problems, fade to “The End?”
- there is no one driving the bus, our leaders don’t have a plan
- no mention of population reduction or peak oil, not even a whisper
P.S. Ugo Bardi is featured in a couple clips discussing the collapse of the Roman empire, how we may be starting down a Seneca cliff, and the viability of renewable energy.
P.P.S. My favorite central banker, Canadian Mark Carney, has a clip in which he says the main role of central banks is to pull wealth from the future into the present.
P.P.P.S The cost of insurance for the small farm I assist more than doubled this year to over $6,000, I suspect due to climate change. We have to sell a lot of lettuce to earn $6,000. 😦
You can download Hot Money here: https://yts.mx/movies/hot-money-2021
With wit, satire, and historical context, Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, General Wesley Clark and his son Wes Clark Jr. take us on a journey through the financial circulatory system connecting farmers, homeowners, bankers, academics, and business professionals in a tale that explains the knot of economic forces that can lead to collapse and how to untie it.
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, General Wesley Clark and his son Wes Clark Jr. take us on a journey through the complicated realities of our financial system and its profound exposure to climate change. Hot Money outs the whole game, the whole charade, the whole crapshoot of the money system with all the humor and intelligence of a New Yorker cartoon. Combined with the wisdom of international business experts and academics, Hot Money is rich with historical context. It severs the knot of economic and political forces that may lead to societal collapse.
I met General Clark and his son Wes Jr. while filming Living In the Future’s Past, then met the General again at a speaking engagement two years later and the kernel of a film planted itself in my mind – a conversation between a father and son on how climate change will affect our financial system. It seemed logical to follow up to the introspective Living In The Future’s Past with a nuts and bolts view of how the machinery of our money system contributes and reacts to climate change. We lined up a broad and diverse cast of experts who’ve spent their lives doing the work. What we could see emerging was an easy to understand story whose depth is masked by its light-hearted breeziness. The Covid 19 pandemic cut short our filming and I turned to a New Yorker cartoonist to visualize concepts so somebody like me, who doesn’t have an MBA or ever worked in finance, can be simultaneously entertained and enlightened about one of the prime forces driving our world – debt.
Hot Money is an important film for right now as America stands on the brink of conflict. Many people lack context interpreting the world and this documentary delivers it. Conversations taped more than a year ago about wildfires making homes impossible to insure and the ripple effect that will roar through the financial system seem as startlingly prescient as the scenes describing populist breakdown in a country like Venezuela and how it can happen here. Hot Money offers a glimpse into our future and a chance to avoid the dangerous course we are on. To solve a problem we have to understand it.