Saturday, September 6, 2008


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Dear Friends:

The United States has traditionally been viewed by the majority of the world's population as an initiator, a leader, a guide to example to emulate. This is nothing new -- it dates back to the American Revolution, and America's rebellion against the British in the interests of 1) less regulation; 2) lower taxes and tariffs; 3) freedom of expression; 4) unbridaled entrepreneurship, capitalism and free enterprise; 5) minimal government involvement or intrusion into the personal lives of individuals and into the commercial affairs business enterprises -- each of these, in rapid retrospect, looks like a presidential campaign speech "talking point". My apologies.

The lead time between initiating an activity and seeing its ultimate result is sometimes lengthy. Early followers are often doomed to the fate of those whom they have chosen to follow -- only at a later time. Countries who have mimicked or followed US ideologies, technologies and political structure have frequently benefitted in some fashion, but have invariably paid a dear, albeit deferred, price. The lunacy of the lemmings -- going for that last swim. over the cliff into the ocean.

The reason (and I do have one) for the preamble that you just lip-synched your way through was to arrive at the following basic assertion, to wit: Nations which follow in the footsteps of the United States will eventually slip in the same brand of poop or get sucked down and swallowed into the same bed of quicksand that devoured the US pioneers who preceded them. A smart government understands this, and does not blindly continue to follow the US into a pit; they instead constantly monitor the progression of events in the US, and adjust trajectory accordingly. This requires a great deal of talent.
Note: You should not, as a rule, follow anyone blindly when you have the wonderful gift of long-range vision. Do not just plot a course -- monitor the course, and be prepared for course correction as may be required. Do not commit to any course of action which does not have a maximum timeframe, a maximum budget and a constant review process.


1. Increasing US unemployment through attrition and reduced jobs creation because of a severe domestic recession, further enhanced by a global recession. I believe that actual unemployment (as opposed to the statistics reported by the Unemployment Departments and Labor Departments) to exceed 8% by March, 2009. Expect people to be revisiting the expression "depression" within the next six months. With this increase in unemployment, expect a real dollar decrease in GDP, housing starts, construction, exports, investment portfolios (as well as retirement pensions and portfolios), a decrease in consumer spending, a decline in the value of the US Dollar and all dollar-denominated or dollar-backed instruments, increased foreign ownership and control of U.S. properties and investments. Expect an increase in confrontational and violent crime, and in the traditional calls for more rigorous law enforcement, freer prosecutorial lattitude and harsher prison sentences.

2. More and bigger government, more regulation, less lattitude, and more brain drain. Expect the Government to virtually nationalize and control (not merely as an overseer or a trustee, but as an owner) the commercial banking business, and all of the institutions surviving the purge taking place at present. The idea of the "cashless society" is very close at hand. In addition, the US Treasury Department and several other esteemed federal government agencies are exploring ways to exploit various existing technologies to track all movements of persons, vehicles and money. Do not be taken by surprise if the IRS and other government functionaries begin a policy of directly debiting your checking account for amounts which you may owe, or which a government agency "assesses" you owe it. Think about E-Z Pass, IRS Electronic Filing and Payment, RFID implants, and the like. As Delilah said to Samson after giving him history's most infamous crewcut..."How could you give me this great power and expect me not to use it?"

3. An increasing percentage of employed people will be working for the government, for government agencies, and for major contractors virtually controlled by the government. Of the existing labor force, it is estimated that, at present, 1 in 4 persons works for a government (federal state, or local), government agency, or major contractor. You should expect this to become closer to 1 in 3 persons during the course of 2009, due to the extreme loss of corporate positions and the slight increase in government positions for managing the industries which the government seeks to stabilize through privatization.

4. Commercial and industrial real estate will drop precipitously in value as cyberspace becomes the venue of choice for entrepreneurial businesses, and better-established companies which want to minimize costs by eliminating salespersons, cashiers, display racks and replacing them with e-commerce shopping carts supported by thumbnail product sketches.
5. Expect rapid advances in stem-cell research and its applied technologies. Conversely, expect slowdowns (due to a lack of available capital) in nanotechnology, alternative energy technologies and new technological start-up companies. Most start-up companies will be selling re-packaged bundles of existing technologies through artful marketing.
These are a few of the things that you can expect to happen. Candidly, and lamentably, I believe that I am even a bit optimistic in my portrayal of the above scenario.
Douglas Castle

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