1. For everything that happens in the universe one can readily find reason to praise providence, if one has within oneself these two qualities, the ability to see each particular event in the context of the whole, and a sense of gratitude.
2. Without these one man will not see the usefulness of what has happened, and another man. even though he does see it, will not be grateful for it.
Epictetus, The Discourses
Of late, I have ended my prayer before meals with, “if it be Thy will, may there be peace.” How presumptious of me. Do I imagine for a moment that His will has not at been at work during the countless conflicts and difficulties besetting mankind in all of its existence? Really, as a serious thinker I’d make a great ballet dancer.
Like it or not, the species is built to overreach, and it has done so with a vengeance over the past thirty years. Since 1982, the explosion of debt in the global economy is unparalleled and the likelihood of ever paying the bulk of it back is zero. Dead ahead is the most challenging economic period since 1720. Nations, states, municipalities and many individuals are bankrupt. What remains is to recognize the fact and begin an enormous restructuring, a polite way of saying that trillions of dollars in bonds and other guaranteed obligations (like pensions) will be honored at pennies on the dollar. Think of the hardship.
I speak carefully. This intelligence comes to us by way of the Elliott Wave forecast. Bonds are now on the path to near total destruction in a deflationary credit crisis. In stocks, there is no technical support for prices between the present level and the last fourth wave of supercycle degree, which was around 400 on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. We should see most of the drop by 2016. The thing to do is to be grateful for the test. And, as Jack Gilbert wrote, “If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down, we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.”
Mythologist Michael Meade holds that our fate is to be tested so that we might find our destiny. Other thinkers have recognized this. “Lord that I be tested” is the plea in an ancient prayer. I think we’re going to be tested.
If the outcome is uncertain, there is reason for optimism. America, which was born out of the conflict arising from the last Grand Supercycle depression, is in trouble now. We have no choice but to face up to the herculean task of fixing things. But, as Charles Murray wrote in Coming Apart, the nation has a history of confounding pessimists. If our fate is to grapple with a multitude of ills, both financial and social, the odds are good our destiny is to prevail.
When we get to the kind of market bottom that has us all doubting our survival, I will put my money in and bet that we will.