Update

I thought it would be a good idea to list, in chronological order, the various articles written on the blog for visitors to explore.

I will be posting on a monthly basis, rather than weekly, going forward now that the US presidential elections are out of the way.

Forecasting predictions

United States presidential election

Brexit referendum and immediate fallout

Future of industrial civilization

Europe

You may also be interested in the top 5 most popular articles visited since the blog was started. They are as follows;

  1. Winter is coming
  2. The global implications of a Trump presidency
  3. The rise of Caesar
  4. The strange death of Labour England
  5. Can the Donald pull it off?

At the beginning of 2017 I will be reviewing how my predictions compared with reality as well as present my forecast predictions for 2017.

Please do not hesitate to follow my website which you can do at the bottom of the page.

Update

Five minutes to midnight

After one of the most extraordinary presidential elections in American history the time has come for the American people to make their choice. The bombshell announcement that the FBI was re-opening the “Emailgate” case, along with the massive rises in Obamacare premiums, led to a significant tightening of the race going into Election Day, although this trend has reversed in the last few days.

Donald Trump’s populist, anti-establishment and neo-isolationist message appears to be resonating with the American public who despise a corrupt, venal and out-of-touch political class, personified in the candidature of Hilary Clinton. The blue-collar billionaire’s “drain the swamp” slogan, like the Leave campaign’s “take back control”, has hit home with Middle America who are angry about the antics of a distant Washington establishment.

For British readers, we are in familiar territory. The polling is too close to call but the “experts” are overwhelmingly calling it for the status quo establishment candidate, in this case Hilary Clinton, to win. This is reflected in the calculations of the betting and financial markets who have priced in a Clinton victory. What the pundocracy are failing to anticipate is a potential “Brexit effect”, the unexpected surge in support, on Election Day, for the anti-establishment candidate which could result in a shock Trump victory.

Of course, the American elections and the Brexit referendum are very different and it maybe that making a parallel between the two political events will turn out to be wrong. The subterranean electoral forces, outlined in my recent post, principally a “shy Trump” factor, the rise in first time white working/lower middle class voters and a late swing to the Donald, will very likely play a significant role in determining the victor of the election.

The truth is that both candidates have a serious chance of winning this election tonight and nobody can know for certain what the American electorate will decide in the privacy of the ballot booth. However, on a balance of probabilities, I maintain my prediction, made at the beginning of the year, that the most likely outcome of the presidential election will be a victory by Donald Trump.

We will soon find out if the alligator really has managed to sink his teeth into Hillary Clinton.

Five minutes to midnight

The rise of Caesar

The finance house Citibank recently warned its clients in an election note of the risk of “emerging market” type political disruptions. Certainly the high degree of political polarization, the emergence of populist figures on both ends of the political spectrum and the warnings of post-election violence are closer to a developing world country than the most powerful, advanced and sophisticated country in the world.

I have therefore presented a scenario building exercise about a hypothetical post-election future for the United States. Please note that this is a scenario, not a forecasting prediction and it is highly unlikely that such events would unfold, should Donald Trump narrowly lose the election.

julius-caesar-300x233

“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

Chairman Mao

“The era of individualism, liberalism and democracy, of humanitarianism and freedom, is nearing its end. The masses will accept with resignation the victory of the Caesars, the strong men, and will obey them…”

Oswald Spengler (The Decline of the West)

The huge crowds watching the results come through on the night of 8 November 2016 were initially excited but became progressively more depressed as it become clear that Hilary Clinton was going to narrowly beat Donald Trump in one of the most polarizing US election campaigns in the history of the republic. At 4:00 in the morning, CNN called the election for Hilary Clinton and the huge crowd booed and chanted “CNN suck” and “lock her up” at the mega TV screen.

As America woke up to the news that Hilary Clinton had squeaked in with 273 electoral college votes the army of volunteer pro-Trump supporters who had been monitoring the poll stations were flooding the Trump campaign headquarters with warnings of massive voter fraud. As the social media websites started to cover reports of problems with electronic voting in key swing states, across the country, spontaneous groups of Trump supporters started rallying to resist what they saw as a rigged election.

In an explosive statement, Donald Trump, in an exclusive interview with Fox News in the evening of 9 November, denounced the result as rigged, illegal and refused to accept the legitimacy of President-Elect Hilary Clinton. Trump called on his supporters across the country to take up arms, join protests and refuse to accept the validity of the election. The political and media establishment condemned the comments as reckless, irresponsible and ill fitting of a political candidate.

Across the country, millions of ordinary Americans answered their hero’s call and small rallies were held to denounce the election result. Reports of armed clashes between Trump supporters and black militants in the south sent the stock market crashing and gold soaring to over $1,500 an ounce. President Obama, in an emergency address to the country, condemned the remarks by Donald Trump and called on all Americans to respect the election result. It didn’t work.

Whilst polling indicated that the majority of Americans respected the election result, a significant minority didn’t, and these overwhelmingly white working middle class Americans were committed to preventing the inauguration of Hilary Clinton. Major cities across the United States saw rallies and counter-rallies between Trump and Clinton supporters. In key southern and mid-western states, armed militias started to patrol the streets and joined tens of thousands across the “flyover” states in protesting the election result.

Global indexes continued to plummet as America entered a constitutional crisis amidst a worsening spiral of violence in its cities. Attacks on the police in the inner cities exploded and violent incidents between armed Trump supporters and black militant’s accelerated the drift into anarchy. On 28 November, the German banking giant Deutsche Bank collapsed due to massive derivative trades which had gone wrong. The resulting panic led to a disastrous drop in stock markets around the world, in particular, the stocks of the big American finance houses including Citibank, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

The combination of another global banking crisis, a constitutional crisis within the United States and the scenes of thousands of Germans queuing to pull their money out of the German banking system was a “perfect storm” that destroyed any remaining confidence in the American banking system. On 1 December, President Obama, in conjunction with President Elect Clinton, announced an emergency package of measures to bail out the American banks.

Donald Trump, who was now holed up and surrounded by heavy security, condemned the second bailout package by social media. The self-proclaimed President Elect, accused Crooked Hilary of enriching her super-rich Wall Street donors over the interests of the American taxpayer. Millions of ordinary Americans, outraged and enraged by a second bailout of the “banksters” started joining the pro-Trump rallies across the country. In an ominous warning to the Washington elite, in many cases, local police were clearly sympathetic to the protest movement.

Donald Trump ratcheted up the pressure and called on his armed supporters to march on Washington which was scheduled to be on Saturday 3 December. Millions answered the call and up to 3 million citizens, armed to the teeth, started to find their way to Washington D.C. President Obama, along with his key national security advisers, agreed to surround the capital with National Guard, Homeland Security and police units to prevent the armed citizens from getting into the centre of the capital. A ring of steel surrounded the capital of the country.

As hundreds of thousands of armed citizens reached the heavily armed lines of policemen and Homeland Security units on the morning on 3 December, something extraordinary happened. The policemen and soldiers chatted to the protesters and it became clear that the overwhelming majority of the men in uniform were sympathetic to the protesters cause. As the crowds continued to grow the officers decided that the risk of shooting was too high and for the sake of civil order the protesters would be allowed through. The police units were the first to open up a corridor and a huge roar was heard from the crowd as they poured into the heart of the capital.

Future historians would note that pre-election polling had indicated that the majority of ordinary soldiers had backed Donald Trump and every single police union in the country had endorsed Donald Trump for president, prior to the election. It was well known that the police despised Hilary Clinton and many would wonder whether elements within the police had deliberately allowed the protesters through in revenge. Either way, the “wall of steel” had been breached and citadel was now open to being stormed.

At this point, amidst chaos, factions of the military and police units joined the armed protesters as they surged towards Congress and the White House. The White House staff got into helicopters and flew from the capital in panic as shooting broke out within the city. President Obama and Donald Trump had an extremely tense conversation and failed to reach an agreement. With the world media watching agog as armed protesters surrounded Congress, baying for Clinton’s blood, the US General Staff had an emergency video conference with Trump’s inner circle.

The Generals blinked first. Trump demanded and got the right to take over the government as part of a national unity government and would be declared the official President-Elect of the United States. President Obama, Congress and the political class would be given a fait accompli.

Amid huge security, a fleet of military aircraft, with key American Generals and the Trump team, flew into Washington. The White House had now been cleared and was protected by heavily armed marines answering only to the General Staff. Donald Trump, now President-Elect, walked into the White House and at an emergency press conference, announced to an astonished world that he was now leading a military government. The new American strongman, surrounded by five star generals, ordered all citizens to return to their homes until civil order was restored.

The era of the Caesar has arrived…

The rise of Caesar

Guest post: Hillary Clinton and the alligator

Forecasting Intelligence would like to welcome a guest post by an influential political journalist who closely follows US presidential politics. This is their unique take on the US elections.

Hillary Clinton is wrestling an alligator. And the alligator’s name is Donald Trump. A metaphor, of course, but let me explain.

How does an alligator capture and kill it’s prey? It lurks in the dirty, disease-ridden swamp where it lives and waits patiently beneath the water.

It’s prey arrives, either to look for fish or to drink some of the water on the edge of the swamp. And the alligator strikes.

It’s not the bite of its massive jaws that kills it’s prey, however. The alligator takes hold of the bewildered beast and drags them into the dirty, disease-ridden swamp – his home territory, where he can survive and his prey can’t.

He wrestles the prey and he rolls around with them at the bottom of the swamp covering them in all the festering scum, filth and disease he lives in day-to-day.

Battered, bruised, weary and covered in filth the prey finally submits and the alligator sinks its teeth into its neck and kills it.

Hilary Clinton is wresting with Donald Trump the alligator. At the bottom of his swamp.

The release of a video tape of Donald Trump making lewd remarks about women was not a massive surprise. But everyone is acting as if it was – in false hope that it will kill him off.

It was actually a boon for his campaign. It was gloves off time and plunged the debate into a mud-slinging contest and boy can you sling mud at Hilary Clinton. So much in fact that most of her supporters are now at best slightly disillusioned with her and at worst actually wondering whether it is her or Trump which is in fact the lesser of two evils.

Email-gate, Bill’s dalliances, Benghazi, her Wall street-puppetry, the list goes on with Clinton.

Clinton strayed into Trump territory – his metaphorical swamp – like so many of his rivals. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz – they all wandered too close and were dragged down and drowned by Trump. One after the other.

Donald Trump’s best shot of winning this election is making so many voters not want to bother voting for Hilary Clinton that they won’t. And day-by-day as he grabs all the headlines, sure enough he will gradually achieve that.

Trump’s supporters are swamp dwellers also – they are ‘deplorable’, didn’t you hear – and will not be fazed by the depths this election showdown is sinking to.

The Donald’s tactic throughout his campaign has been to drag his opponents down to his toxic level and beat them with experience in a mud-slinging contest.

He is on his way to achieving this with Hilary Clinton. And will be elected PUSA on 8 November.

Guest post: Hillary Clinton and the alligator

Can the Donald pull it off?

Older readers of my blog will recall a similar title, published only weeks before the Brexit referendum, in which I discussed whether Middle England would break for Leave. At the time, the overwhelming consensus of the political and media elites (the “Pundocracy”), was for a narrow Remain victory. Certainly the polling evidence indicated that the British electorate, who had consistently favoured Remain (in the poll of polls) throughout most of the campaign, would stick with the status quo. As it happened, the electorate narrowly voted to leave the European Union (“EU”), which confirmed that my “educated hunch” was more accurate than the galaxy of betting markets, opinion polls and received wisdom of the “experts”.

So the first thing to note is that just because Donald Trump is behind Hilary Clinton in the polls, it does not mean that he has lost the election. At the beginning of the month I noted that Trump needed to step up a gear in the following second and third presidential debates if he was to have a chance of winning the election. On balance, he has achieved that goal with a strong comeback performance in the second debate and a solid final finish in Las Vegas.

According to Frank Luntz’s focus group on the third debate, Trump performed very well on key “bread and butter” issues, like the economy, trade, border security and immigration, even with Democratic leaning voters. Hilary performed better on the important issue of which candidate appeared more “presidential”, a subject in which Trump has trailed in the opinion polls. The sex tape and allegations of groping by the Republican presidential candidate in the past has certainly damaged Trump in the eyes of the electorate and amplified concerns over whether he is fit to take on the responsibilities of the presidency.

So to summarise, the state of play, post the debates, is that Trump has secured his key objective of appearing sufficiently “presidential”, if not at the same level as his opponent. The Republican candidate has also succeeded in connecting with the electorate on key issues like trade, immigration as well as being a change-agent who will reform a failing political establishment. It is clear that the sex scandals have damaged the Trump brand, particularly with female voters, and ensured that the real estate billionaire has failed, so far, to seal the deal with undecided voters.

There are certain underlying factors which I don’t think are being picked up by the surface polling being conducted. These could ensure that the actual election result is much closer than expected, and indeed, could catapult the Donald into the White House. I will list them as follows;

Shy Trump voters

Anecdotally, most open Trump supporters know of individuals who have kept their support for the Donald secret, out of fear of social rejection or a backlash from friends, family or work colleagues. There is some polling evidence that suggests that Trump performs better in anonymous online polls than traditional landline polling which requires voters to confirm to another human being their voting preferences. British readers will likely have heard of the “shy Tory” phenomenon during general election campaigns.* I suspect that approximately 4% of the electorate are shy Trump voters and they will have a significant impact during the presidential election.

*As a Conservative supporter during the 2015 GE, I kept my Tory views to myself, as I was aware that among my left-leaning acquaintances the Conservative Party was considered a toxic brand. So I have personal experience of the “shy Tory” factor.

Redneck surge

During the Brexit referendum, the polling professionals had the unenviable task of attempting to forecast turnout numbers for the different social classes. This was challenging as Britain has not had a major referendum in decades. The post-mortem of the failure of the polling industry to successfully predict the Leave result appears to place a significant part of the blame on the failure to anticipate the much higher turnout of working class citizens who don’t normally vote in general elections. It was the millions of white working class voters from council estates across Britain who helped ensure Leave had a shock victory.

I suspect that something similar will happen in this year’s presidential campaign. Donald Trump has tapped into the frustrations of the white working and lower-middle class layers of society who traditionally have a poor turnout at elections. These voters, who despise the political class, will likely make the effort to turn out, as they perceive the Republican candidate will materially benefit their interests. The fact that Trump doesn’t always behave in a presidential manner will likely endear him to this group of voters. In key swing states, a major up-surge of white working class support could be the key to victory.

Base turnout

It is well known that there is an “enthusiasm gap” between the two campaigns, with Trump regularly hosting huge rallies, compared to Clinton. Trump has fired up his base to go out and vote for him. If the media de facto declare Clinton as a winner in the coming weeks, on the basis of her narrow polling lead, this may lead to complacency among her soft supporters. Should Clinton fail to bring key electoral constituencies to the ballot box, including younger Latino, African American and left-leaning youth, she may lose key states on election night.

Protest vote

This may not be a significant factor in the election, but should the overwhelming consensus of the Pundocracy be that the Democrats have the election in the bag; it may encourage former Bernie Sander supporters to vote for Trump as a protest vote against Clinton. During the Brexit referendum, there was some evidence to suggest that a small proportion of the Leave electorate voted to make an anti-establishment protest, without ever expecting Leave to actually win. When elections are extremely close, such minor dynamics can have a profound impact on the eventual winner.

The “f*** it” factor

Polls have shown that a large majority of the American electorate are unhappy with the trajectory of the country, are alienated from a political class and feel that the economy is geared towards the very rich. There are not many opportunities to express your grievance against the political establishment in the modern era, but voting for Donald Trump is certainly one way of doing so.

I suspect that millions of voters, who may at the moment be reluctantly planning to vote for Hilary Clinton, may decide in the very last day or so before 8 November 2016, to take a gamble with the Donald. For citizens who haven’t had a wage increase in 10 years, who lost their home during the Great Recession, who are enraged that not a single Wall Street banker has gone to jail or simply despise the Washington establishment, Donald Trump is a vehicle to project their sense of injustice, anger and desire for revenge against an out-of-touch financial, media and political elite.

The question is whether concerns over the politically incorrect, and at times offensive language, of the Republican candidate will override the hard headed appeal to the interests of working Americans by the blue-collar billionaire. Trump’s policies on deporting hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, imposing border security and the return of trade tariffs will materially benefit the majority of legal lower skilled Americans. Polling shows that Trump’s hard-line position on letting Muslim refugees into America chime with the wary instincts of the majority of the population.

To summarise, this presidential election will come down to a clash between interests and values. Donald Trump will win this election if he is successful in making a hard-headed pitch to the material interests of Middle America with an “American First” platform over the values based politics of political liberalism.

Can the Donald pull it off?

Book review of Decline and Fall: The End of Empire and the Future of Democracy in 21st century America

decline-and-fall

As we enter the final weeks of an extraordinary, brutal and at times profoundly depressing presidential election, very little has been said by either candidate, on the coming challenges facing America in the near future.

John Michael Greer has written a superb book on the coming collapse of the American global empire, a tottering giant with a stagnating economy increasingly dependent on manufactured “paper wealth”, exploding national debt and a military which for all its hi-tech brilliance, is heading towards a catastrophic defeat within the next decade.

As the foundations of America’s Imperial Age disintegrate, the world faces an even greater challenge, the decline and coming end of the “empire of time”, the exploitation of non-renewable resources like oil, coal and gas at an unsustainable rate, which I have covered in my post “winter is coming”. What the Washington elites fail to understand is that these two crises, the impending end of their global empire and the descent into the era of limits, will unfold at the same time.

Greer succinctly explains why the brittle American political and economic system is unprepared for this “perfect storm” which will impact America in the near future. Readers may note that I have used the term “Scarcity Industrialism” in the blog to explain the era which we are starting to transition to, a term which derives from John Michael Greer, in a number of blog posts. The issues raised by Greer have been discussed by governments around the world, in particular military circles, which are receptive of the national security risks of resource scarcity.

Few people are aware that the German military has also investigated the emerging era of resource scarcity, in particular oil, in a far-reaching report. As the magazine Spiegel notes, the report “…uses sometimes-dramatic language to depict the consequences of an irreversible depletion of raw materials. It warns of shifts in the global balance of power, of the formation of new relationships based on interdependency, of a decline in importance of the western industrial nations, of the “total collapse of the markets” and of serious political and economic crises.” Whilst the full report, at 112 pages, is a long read, it is worth reading to understand the multitude of challenges facing the industrial world. One can be sure that other similar reports are circulating among military and security policymakers around the world.

Greer considers that the most likely trigger for the end of American military and economic hegemony will be a military defeat, at some point, within the next decade. The US military is a formidable military machine but it is extremely dependent on hi-tech systems (GPS, satellites etc) that, if knocked out, would deal a devastating blow to its operational capabilities. The biggest weakness of the American military, its aircraft carrier fleet, is the means by which a military opponent can use asymmetrical warfare to cripple the American military. In Greer’s fictional novel “Twilight’s Last Gleaming”, these ideas are explored in a fast paced thriller, which I have recently reviewed.

The shattering impact of a military defeat would lead to the end of dollar hegemony, unleash a massive economic shock to the American economy and likely cause a systemic crisis within the American political system. The rise of Donald Trump is an early sign that the growing gulf between an increasingly pauperised Middle America and a tiny wealthy elite is leading to growing political instability. Should a significant section of the American electorate give up on the democratic process, they may turn to violence or rally behind a charismatic strongman who promises a return to the glory days of Abundant Industrialism.

The overall message from Greer’s book is that America is particularly vulnerable in the transition into the age of resource limits and will struggle to adapt to the coming end of its privileged status in the world economic order. Local communities are best advised to mitigate and adapt at a local level, as best they can, to the coming challenges as a bankrupt federal government will be unable to keep the many promises made during the golden years of abundance.

Whoever is elected the next president of the United States will have to start dealing with some of these challenges. The recent turmoil in the markets over the future of Deutsche Bank, the German banking giant, is a reminder that our western banking system is still very fragile and could relapse into a systemic crisis at any point. This is just one danger point in a world which is increasingly unstable and troubled.

I will be exploring some of the themes discussed in this book review over the course of the next few weeks, as well as publishing my final forecasting article on the likely outcome of the pivotal American presidential election, due on 8 November 2016.

Book review of Decline and Fall: The End of Empire and the Future of Democracy in 21st century America