It used to be that, when Americans got an economic cold, the rest of the world got an economic fever. No anymore. Today, people worry, what if China gets and economic cold, are the rest of us screwed?
Is the apocalypse nigh, then, or is there a way out? You’re thinking: How do I prepare if things get bad? Lucky for you, I’ve been reading books faster than rabbits breed, books about what goes on with people and money during hard times. If you want to be prepared for an economic apocalypse—or even if you just think it’s not going to be all fun and games—here are my top five books that will serve you well before, during and after the SHTF.
- The Great Depression: A Diary (1931-1941)
- When Money Dies: The Nightmare of Deficit Spending, Devaluation, and Hyperinflation (1975)
- The Storm Before the Calm: America’s Discord, the Crisis of the 2020s (2020)
- The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy (1996)
- The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory (2020)
1. The Great Depression: A Diary
This book is the Ohioan attorney Benjamin Roth’s personal account of the Great Depression: Poverty, unemployment, bank runs, populism, political grievances and overall despair of the middle class—honestly, it reminds me of today. If you want insight into what life was like when the American economy went (and may very well again go) sideways or downhill, this is your guide.
2. When Money Dies: The Nightmare of Deficit Spending, Devaluation, and Hyperinflation
German hyperinflation drove the price of a dozen eggs from $7 to $5,000, over 700x in mere months. That’s what failed monetary policy will “accomplish.” Rudy Havenstein (the Jerome Powell of Germany) made a lot of bad decisions in the 1920s, but the worst of all was printing too much money in order to ostensibly settle Germany’s great indebtedness to the French. Havenstein’s “accomplishments” include destroying the middle class and giving rise to the genocidal nationalism of Adolf Hitler. What will happen because the Fed printed too much and didn’t care? Stay tuned—if you dare.
3. The Storm Before the Calm: America’s Discord, the Crisis of the 2020s
According to author George Friedman, the US economy is governed by two secular trends: the institutional cycle, characterized by stability, repeats every 80 years; and the socioeconomic cycle, characterized by periods of economic growth, repeats every 50 years. Now for the first time since the founding of the Republic, the termini of both cycles are going to converge. What happens then?
Dr. Friedman says: economic disaster. He asks, “why is there a minimum age to vote, but not a maximum age?” Social Security is a pyramid scheme and needs to be means-tested or privatized; student loan debt is a ticking time-bomb. Neither looks to be defused, hence economic disaster, hence apocalypse soon, maybe now.
4. The Fourth Turning: An American Prophesy
Written over two decades ago by Neil Howe and William Strauss, the thinkers also responsible for creating the moniker “Millennials.” They predicted that America would experience a crisis around 2005, plus or minus a few years. The 2008 financial collapse proved them right. They referred to this crisis as “The Fourth Turning.”
They proposed that societal progress is quad-furcated into 20-year cycles (“saecula”) over an 80-year period. They refer to each 20-year cycle as a “Turning,” explained as follows:
- 1st Turning – High: A period of confident expansion and economic growth.
- 2nd Turning – Awakening: A period of spiritual upheaval and social unrest.
- 3rd Turning – Unraveling: A period of declining institutions and increasing individualism.
- 4th Turning – Crisis: A period of major conflict and upheaval, often involving war or revolution
Neil Howe (Strauss has since died) wants you know that the 4th Turning is here. To be prepared, read his book.
5. The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory
Sun Tzu wrote that, “to know your enemy, you must study them.”
Well, my enemy is the overzealous printing of money, which is why I read The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton. It’s a book which explains MMT (Modern Monetary Theory). Kelton argues that a government’s monetary policy should not be looked at in the same way as we look at an individual’s personal finances. Why? Because she believes that the Fed is a magic piggy bank that can never run out of money. Certain (in)famous politicians like AOC and Bernie Sanders count themselves as supporters of this idea, despite its being utterly divorced from reality. So, while I certainly can’t get behind the idea of printing without consequences (read When Money Dies above), I do recommend reading this book, so you understand just how your enemies intend to bring on the apocalypse.