James Howard Kunstler: The Coming Economy Of “Less”

by | Mar 16, 2018 | Headline News | 80 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    This report was originally published by Adam Taggart at PeakProsperity

    Author and commentator James Howard Kunstler returns as our podcast guest this week for an update on where we are in The Long Emergency timeline.

    In this wide-raging discussion ranging from the pervasiveness of propaganda in today’s media to the risk of nuclear war, Kunstler also re-news his warnings of a current secular economic slowdown.

    After too many years of market interventions, magical thinking, racketeering, and bleeding the 99% dry, he warns that our culture and economic system will soon reach a snapping point:

    The important story is what happens in the financial sector and how it effects the economy in the next twelve to eighteen months. As we know, the financial system is the most abstract and fragile of all the systems that we depend on because the other systems can’t run without it. The trucks won’t make the food deliveries to the supermarkets unless the finance system works. The gasoline won’t get to the pumps at the stations.

    Nothing’s going to move if the financial system cracks up. People no longer trust each other to transact, to get paid. And so they stop transacting.

    We’re talking about a falling standard of living and getting used to an economy of “less”. It sounds kind of Ebenezer Scrooge-ish to suggest that people may have to do with less rather than more, because more has always been the expectation in our lifetime. But that’s probably a fact. And as I’ve said more than once, reality has mandates of its own. Circumstances are going to inform us about how this economy is emerging and where we need to go with it. And we can either pay attention or just sit there with our fingers in our ears.

    What we’re talking about here is the armature of our culture and economy that people hang their lives on. And that armature is crumbling. There are fewer things that people can hang a life on in a meaningful way, or a way that even ensures that they can have a little bit of security looking into even a short-term future.

    For example, I had a day yesterday that felt like national Murphy’s Law Day. I got a screw in a tire. The screw was in a place where, under New York State law, they’re not allowed to fix the tire if the screw is near the outside of tread. So I had to buy a brand-new tire. And then I was going to take the trash to the dump in my old pickup truck, which I keep around for that purpose. But the battery was dead. So I had to go down to the auto parts store and buy a new battery, and bring it home and put it in.

    Now, I’m among the lucky people in this land who can actually buy a new tire and buy a car battery. But probably some enormous percentage of the population, like 78% or 84% — I’m not quite sure what it is — they don’t have enough money to buy a new car battery if their car dies on some god forsaken freeway shoulder 38 miles from home. Imagine how crazy-making that is. I can easily, because I was a truly starving bohemia until well into my 40s, struggling just to pay the light bill while writing book after book. So I know what it’s like to live day after day in that kind of financial anxiety.

    I imagine that the financial anxiety out there right now is just so extreme that there’s a whole mass of people who are being pushed to the limits of their sanity.

    Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with James Howard Kunstler (57m:11s).

    To read the full transcript, please click here


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      1. I am afraid this is true. Between Corporate America and the clown ass Gov’t – the average workers in this once great nation are definitely living paycheck to paycheck period! The damn cost of EVERYTHING continues to rise and rise and the amount we earn and or bring home continues to drop. This folks, cannot go on much longer…This bullshit isn’t going to cut-it much longer. Myself for example had an annual review recently and the huge corporation I work for graced us with a less than 2% so called “raise”, can you really believe that shit? And the greedy mutts are making plenty of money…no question of their bank accounts. Corporate America sucks and has helped ruin everything.

        • Federal Reserve. Central Banks. Rothschild banking system.

          • “Socialism is the prelude or ‘intermediate step’ towards communism…” according to the Communist Manifesto written in 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

            “The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of ‘liberalism,’ they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”
            -Norman Mattoon Thomas (Socialist Party candidate – 6 times)

            Time For A Wake-Up Call: The American Movement Towards Socialism & Communism
            “Just how popular is socialism in America? The majority of millennials are in favor of it. CNN has tweeted about Martin Luther King being a socialist before it was cool to be one.

            Socialism seems to be the current rage – among those who enjoy all the fruits of capitalism and protection of free speech.
            While the wealth created by capitalism is now deemed to be hurtful and unfair, very little is heard about the 20 million people starved and killed under Stalin’s regime.

            Twenty percent of millennials consider Stalin a HERO, and the media does little to dissuade them from this view. Nor does the educational system, which is eager to label American wealth as “white privilege.”

            History is being glossed over in favor of ideology. Sadly, today’s millennials are more ignorant of history rather than malicious. What is the excuse of teachers and the popular media?

            Socialism and communism are both totalitarian regimes that are spelled differently but function alike. It’s where a few elite despots determine the means of production, free speech must be squelched, and no opposition can be tolerated.

            If Stalin seems too remote for millennials to grasp, Venezuela exists in the here and now, a graphic example of a socialist paradise.

            Over the past decades, Venezuela has moved from “mild” socialism and reasonable comfort to radical socialism and abject poverty. Banks and many companies are already state-owned. Private property may soon become illegal. (Would any millennial advocating socialism give up his or her capitalistic iPad and Pizza?)”

            “Venezuela’s political shift has resulted in hyperinflation and hospitals and schools that no longer function.”

            ht tps://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-17/time-wake-call-american-movement-towards-socialism-communism

            • I just watched “Stalin – Apocalypse” while doing penance in northern Quebec. It is available on youtube – a colorized version of his history and rise to power.

              It’s amazing to me how people would willingly walk alongside their executioners and NOT fight back.

              I suggest if you can – please share this program with millennials that you love – and those you don’t. Its moving and powerful.

        • I agree with that. Same here. We, the workers, get a percent or two pay raise at my company while the CEO makes $24 million a year.

        • I know this is little comfort , but yer lucky you got 2%

          so many are getting nothing, and many more are getting cuts

          • Concerned Citizen, I only recently got a small raise myself so you’re not alone. Like Red Hawk just said, too many people or getting nothing at all or getting cuts. I’m just glad I’m debt-free with no loans or credit card bills to worry about. I’m still saving up to buy an old truck for cash this summer. I don’t need notes in this shitty economy.

        • I’d venture to say our economy has been going downhill for a good 50 years or more. Ever since government learned that they could goose the GDP by getting more women to work.

          In the 60’s, 70’s and even the eighty to some extent a person could support a family on one income. I am talking tradesman, not even a professional.

          Today to even make ends meet it takes two incomes. Sad.

          Seems everything levels out after a while. Forced increases to minimum wage invites inflation. When most families had two wage earners prices increased to take it away. When interest rates dove to unheard of levels home prices skyrocketed.

          I’ve been extremely fortunate to be ahead of the curve.

      2. He’s right. We are ready to snap. All our efforts at self-sufficiency will be put to the test. I’d highly recommend learning now how to survive with a whole lot less. Of everything. Then be ready to divide that to a tenth.

        • Heartless, I’ve been stacking for years and years. I always knew the time would come and it looks like we’re not too far away from that. Those who pass the test will be good. The ones who don’t pass they’re toast.

      3. Good old Kunstler was convinced we were going to freeze to death years ago because of peak oil. Now the US is producing more oil than ever. His concerns about the economy may have some merit but his timing is terrible.

      4. I get some good deals at the thrift store. I don’t like it when they say would you like to round your payment to the next dollar, no change. You got the stuff for free.

        • i get some bad deals from the blackjack dealer

      5. Just live a little below your means, and you won’t have any problems, if or when the economy goes K-Boom.


        • Sarge, I’ve always been a real stickler for staying within my means. I pay cash for everything that I can. My vehicles have always come from private owners for cash only. I’m not the kind of person who’s willing to go broke to pay for some way-overpriced vehicle. My prepping has always been first and foremost to me and always will be. I refuse to deep into debt for a bunch of stupid things. People where I work are in debt up to their eyebrows on stupid things. But not me. Everyone looks at me like I came in from the moon, LOL.

          • i started out with nothing, and i stilll got MOST of it left. i been spending quite a bit lately, gettin’ my preps in order. i got food for the three of us for 2 years….i just hope there’s not a party for 50 for a week at my place, with ME not being invited!

      6. The sky is falling!
        This clown has been wrong his entire life.

        • Kunstler like various financial guru’s (Shiff, Celente, and others) never give a timeline, it’s just guessing and predicting over and over, trying to sell books similar to ones sold in the ’80’s by experts that are mostly dead today.

          • Laura Ann, agreed. They’re just the newest generation of ‘chicken littles’.

        • most of us have been RIGHT!….it’s just our timing is a lil off……y’all can’t SEE the economy is in the dumps?.just consider their insight as a gift, and know it will(is) happen(ing) very soon….ummm, like, it’s ALREADY started…..you’ve had plenty of warning, so no EXCUSES when the bell rings, now!

      7. If women would concentrate more on domesticity and men be more responsible, the standard of living would increase.



        • The richest men, Rothschilds, Rockefeller, Warburg, Oppenheimer, Kune, Loeb, Schiffs, Goldman Sachs, Monsanto, and others inherited dirty money from the drug trade, slavery, war instigation & war profiteering; not to mention counterfeiting and loan sharking.

          That’s the truth.

          But if you try it, off to prison. Crooks hate competition.

          Remember Nixon’s words “your President is not a crook.” Strange words. I think those were the words telling the world who was behind his downfall, the crooks.


          • When Nixon said he was not a crook he was sweating heavily. Why did he have Askew as a VP then? His ouster brought the never elected as president Gerald Ford into the top spot. Never trust a member of the Warren Commission.

        • B from CA: only wealthy women whose hubby’s have six figures can stay home and be a domestic housewife. Most women have to work in the 21st century. Since the ’60’s women stayed in the workforce more as time went on. Living is expensive.

          • My wife doesn’t work and I only work half the year. We do just fine. The secret is DON’T have kids… DON’T get in debt… DON’T live at your means, live BELOW your means! Do some side work for cash if you need to. To actually get to this point we did both work for a number of years but now we don’t have too because we DIDN’T act like morons with our money! 2 paid for properties, 3 paid for vehicles, 4 wheelers, 3 years preps, stash of metals, boatload of liberty tools and food for them. Life is good 🙂

            • Genius, damn good for you. I don’t have as much but I am debt-free. I avoid credit altogether. My wheels have always come from private owners for cash only. I’m still saving up now to buy an old truck sometime this summer for cash only of course. I use cash for everything possible. I piss off cashiers in stores all the time when they see me pulling out cash instead of plastic, LOL. I’ve got 4 years worth of preps stored at the BOL and going over there in the next 10 days with another load of preps and of course vacation time again. I’m never stupid with money either. I’ve always been within my means and also done side work on occasion for some extra bucks. Life is pretty good for me and will get better when I get a truck.

              • BH, yep, you are doing it right! I am lucky because I fell into a very good union job (some people here hate unions). But they fail to understand, the BEST people do NOT gravitate to the LOWEST paying jobs lol. After years of living small I don’t have to sweat stuff anymore. Good luck on your truck hunting and I know you will be just fine!

                • “But they fail to understand, the BEST people do NOT gravitate to the LOWEST paying jobs lol.”

                  Typical unionista BS.

                  If you were the best, you wouldn’t need the government-enforced union to get you the best pay.

                  • Before the Wagner Act of 1935 guys like Frick at US Steel (look this sweetheart up) was pure evil. I worked with good, mediocre and poor union people and likewise management. John L Lewis and Walter Reuther are a vital necessity.

                  • Enzo, yer not too bright are ya? Top non union pay would be half what I get with no bennies either. You sound like a jealous little man who has been beaten by life….

          • laura ann, you just need to learn how to manage money better. But then if you have kids I guess that is moot because you will be paying for them forever….

            • Genius: No kids for us, I worked off and on when we traveled when he was career military, then in a union working civil svc. have a good 401K. Retired since ’03, I was referring to friends and some family members struggling because they raised kids, in debt etc. We are debt free and live within our means, with investments paying dividends, etc. Many of my peers are still working because they are trying to keep up w/Joneses and/ or kids want money all the time into their middle age. Some women hate staying at home if they don’t raise kids.

              • Good strategy!

              • My kids ARE my social security! I spent twenty years raising them, they moved out and paid for their own higher education, and they know they will be helping me when I can no longer help myself. In the meantime, I am prepping, and if I don’t need it, it will be there for them. I didn’t get an inheritance from my family, so this is their inheritance. Several collections of things they can sell to make money. Food to eat, books to learn how to fix things( two of the three are mechanically oriented( and it isn’t the boy!) in the meantime, we are growing this homestead, so it’s worth more when I have to sell it.

          • Women entering the work force Doubled the supply of Labour thereby halving its value. So now it takes both the husband and wife to bring home the same value as the one working man.
            Be careful of what you wish for….unintended consequences abound.

        • agreed, b….women should be obscene and not heard

          • You got it ButtCrack! Women — especially California women — should be off scene and not herded. lol

      8. Get rid of any debt you can(car,mortgage,loans). That will help in the long run. Too much money paid in interest will leave you looking….. Buy cheaper brands,go out less and generally quit trying to keep up with the Joneses.

        • Jim in VA, spot on advice. I don’t regret being debt-free for one minute. I don’t even give a damn about the Joneses. The day is fast approaching when the Joneses of the world will go belly up.

          • No shit huh! A guy I work with just spent 60,000 bux on a new truck! HOLY SHIT! That stupid bastard will never retire, he’s in too much debt! Talk about a giant ball and chain of must work slavery! What the hell is wrong with people? Is it their assinine little ego’s need ultra-expensive toys to make them feel better or look cool? I could buy a fookin house for that money and rent it out and have income from it. In 5 years that truck will be worth less than half lol. I can’t believe how stuuupppiidddd people are wow 😐

      9. Coming?
        its been here , where the hell has he been?

        • yuuup!

      10. You can find nice stuff at a flea market. Trying to sell stuff there is a bigger challenge, quarter offered to death. Less is more though, at least in packing and leaving.

        • Oh hell ya. And yard sales! People need to get over themselves about “used” stuff. Lol the most I ever paid for a vehicle was 4k for a 4×4 F-150 totally loaded with every option and I still have it after 13 years! If you take care of your stuff and don’t buy junk it will take care of you. Used house, used vehicles, used guns, used atv’s, all less than half of “new shit” but works every bit as well. Make your own booze, cigs, herbal remedies, ammo, fix your own stuff, you can do very well…

        • Aljamo:
          You say selling stuff at a flea market is a challenge. That’s true. You have to know where to sell what. I tried to sell original fine art at the flea market. Couldn’t sell it at any price. Tried to sell at the mall, eh. Opened a gallery and had an invitation only one time show. Hiked up the prices into the stratosphere. Sold out.

          But t-shirts sell pretty well at flea markets.


      11. Dumping the economy and the culture that makes it (psychologically) “necessary” is what will “nicely” restore reality.

      12. I’m a cheap bastard.
        I made very good money but lived
        very humbly. Even today my newest
        vehicle is 13 years old.
        It will take a case of beer,
        a week or so, and I’ll pop
        a newer engine into
        it when it needs it.
        I’ve been retired 8 years now.
        I only recently became eligible for
        social security, but I haven’t
        applied yet.
        My point is we all started
        out at ground zero, in America
        you can do anything,
        even when we are being crushed by
        Democrats. If you are living paycheck
        to paycheck, you are probably an idiot
        (AKA a Democrat)or had some really
        bad luck.

        The world really is out to get you.
        Prepare for it.

        • Well said relik. Keeping in mind we all start out at zero would be good.

        • Rellik, I just turned 61. Supposedly next year I can apply for part of my SS but then I have to reduce my income from work in order to collect. To hell with that. I’d say wait until you’re eligible to collect the full amount you’re owed. That’s what I’m doing. I don’t like the idea of some govt. dickhead telling me what kind of income or even standard of living I can have.

          • Damm yer old! (just kiddin lol). I will be retired before I am 60 so I will apply for SS asap at 62. I can still work a little at my job if I want for extra $$ I probably will just for discount insurance. I am counting the days lol……

            • Genius:
              If you can get by, wait two or three years before cashing in on SS. If you’re in good health, in the long run you do well to get that extra amount. I plan on living to 120. I’m almost there.


          • For all you guys out there,
            I just did my taxes, I don’t send them in till the due date.
            I only get 1099’s so I won’t take a hit with social security
            reductions. Pensions aren’t counted as wages.
            What is the problem is, is Obamacare.
            I get my medical care from the VA, don’t ask why,
            and that could change any fiscal year.
            I have to pay for my wifes medical which
            is heavily subsidized, but is an enormous
            If I started taking Social security
            most of that money would go to paying
            for the wifes medical
            insurance and increased taxes.
            Our system is really messed up.
            They want me to be “poor”

      13. pinch yer pennies till they squeal

        and then some

        • Naaah, Imma go take a bath in ammo and silver instead 😀

          • Might be a bath in smoking brass.

            • As long as it’s MY smoking brass 😉

      14. I started prepping for one reason. The country, corporations, and people have gone way to far into debt.

        I know everyone gets frustrated because of economic crash predictions every year. There is no real way to predict it. The Fed, the government, and people in general make that impossible due to free credit and going deeper and deeper into debt. I drive up and down the road and see so many nice big houses with two new vehicles in the drive way. How is this possible? There is not enough high paying jobs out there to allow this.

        That is why I started prepping and would have bet my paycheck that it would have crashed by now. Then researching over the years I realized if the system totally crashes the power will go out. I am a supervisor at two power stations. Why would my guys or myself go to work if the system was crashed? The paycheck we would receive would be worthless. Crime would skyrocket and our families would be in danger if we went to work. Add to that the fact that there is 3 days worth of food in a store. Trucks will not run if the system crashes. For the same reason I will not go to work. Pharmacies will be in the same situation.
        After some research you realize that the world is fragile. If the economy crashes then it could become the worst case scenario real quick. Everyone says the power going out is worst case. Well it would not take and EMP or CME to do it. It would just take a major crash in the economy. History also shows that every time a major country has financial troubles there is war. War is the way to keep the economy going.
        Just some things to think about.
        I have no clue when this will happen. I just know it has to happen do to US, company, citizen, and world wide developed country debt. I have no clue how bad it will be. I did lay out the worst case I think. At the least there would have to be a reset. There will be pain with that.
        Add to all of this the decline of over all morals in people and even a reset could then cascade into the worst case.
        Well I am working nights. Time to head to work to bring home a paycheck.
        I wish some of my family and neighbors would try that for a change lol
        shtf’ers have the best evening!

        • Not sure where you live, but I live in a medium size town with 30k population and what is really one good grocery store, when, not if it hits the fan, I figure we have 30 minutes until Kroger is wiped out, and I dont intend to navigate that war zone.

        • Mike in VA, you make some damn good points and I know about night shift, LOL. I was on night shift for 10 years. Had some good times but got burned out on it after awhile. The main thing is I still do what I have to in order to bring the bacon home.

          • You get paid in bacon????

            • Tastes better than $1 bills.

              • Yep, and worth more too!

            • others get paid in pork

      15. “””I can easily, because I was a truly starving bohemia until well into my 40s, struggling just to pay the light bill while writing book after book. So I know what it’s like to live day after day in that kind of financial anxiety.”””

        You just explained the sad state of this nation.
        UNTIL each and EVERY person has an era of depravity they will not change their spending habits.
        I had one of those eras–when hubby was attending school, I worked a retail job before attending college and barely put dinner on the table…wish I’d known about Ramen Noodles then.
        I counted change for gas to school when I started.
        It takes these kind of sparce years to see the real world in hungry terms.
        It made me stronger in many ways and built character–so I see no hope for the gimmes.

        • JayJay, I know where you’re coming from. For 10 years I worked 2 jobs just to make ends meet. At one point, more than half of my meals were strictl those little cans of Vienna Sausages with crackers. It ain’t gourmet but it kept me alive. Sometimes on rare occasions I’ll pick up a few cans of viennas and a box of crackers just for old times’ sake. If I ever have to go back to them I know I can get used to them quick.

          • Ahhh the good ol days.. sleeping in the truck and eating 7-11 big bites lol. Working 2 jobs finally and it was all uphill from there lol.

          • I obviously use a false name,
            It was my D&D name.
            I have never been hungry in my life.
            I have worked forever. I always had a
            place to stay, I was fortunate to have
            family and friends that cared for me.
            But eating those little canned weenies
            is pretty Uck!
            I was a Spam, Tuna fish and noodles guy as a kid.
            My mom did not like rice, although I do.
            I also really liked Lucky charms and Life cereal.

          • Those Vienna snausages were almost as bad as potted meat. A smear of potted meat on white bread was packed for school. All of my brothers and sisters flung those into the woods on the way to the bus stop.

      16. I spent most of my money on liquor and women….the rest I pissed away .

      17. Mikey likes it!

      18. What a bunch of slackers! Don’t you know that you are supposed to want things like new BMW’s, fancy clothes, trips to Tahiti? Don’t you know that you are supposed to spend everything you make and much more? How do you expect the American economy to stay afloat if you are not doing your part? How dare you be happy with what you have! I totally agree with using your head about what you need and not buying into the notion that you “need” the latest and greatest things on the market!

      19. Me and wife got our bug out location bought and paid for last month in northern Colorado, 80 acres out in the middle of nowhere lol now building a barndominium on it, building a fortress with plenty of view from a distance, going to be completely capable of going off grid when its all done by end of summer.

      20. I’ve been watching and waiting for the “collapse” for about 10 years. I really have no idea if one is coming or not; however this true event may be foretelling. I was at Lowes and took out my billfold with Micky Mouse & friends print ( I had purchased at Disney World years ago). The check-out girl told me she, hubby and child had just returned from a trip at Disney World where they stayed at The Grand Floridian !!! The most expensive Resort on property. $500 – $800 for just an ordinary room with 2 beds per night !! They stayed a week. Dear God, she can’t be making much more than min. wage. They will NEVER pay off that trip. If this is typical, yes, our financial situation as a country is dire; it’s just a matter of time.

      21. I have traded in some hundred dollar bills for rolls of quarters because soon dollars won’t be worth anything but everyone will still recognize the worth of a coin as a monetary unit. It also seems out here in PAC NW that crime is becoming much more prevalent, also more violent as if the criminals know they have nothing to fear. As for homeless, cops doen’t even bother hassling them anymore. Stabbings and violent carjackings most every week. Home prices in even very rural areas are skyrocketing as if the smart ones know they don’t have much more time to get out. I have taken the unusual step of taking some of my quarter ounce gold coins and painted them black, covered them with black cloth and stitched them onto an old sweater in place of the existing buttons, that way I can smuggle out at least an ounce of gold as long as I can keep the sweater on me.

      22. Somebody needs to write a book about hiding valuable possessions in a vehicle while traveling. Some place where cops are unlikely to search without dismantling the entire car. People tell me it’s rare to get stopped and searched, I don’t believe it. It puts a big damper on wanting to travel freely without obstruction from police state interference.

      23. Anyone who doesn’t think the biblical prophecy of the last days being a time of great crime and corruption, has never had property taken from them under the principle of “civil asset forfeiture”. Straight from hell!

      24. Sorry but if you are not getting raises you are not trying. Quit complaining and work harder
        If all you do is complain about what other people are doing or getting then it is no wonder
        You are where you are.

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