It’s the Pace of Change That Kills You

And it has now sped up beyond our means to control it.

By Chris Mortenson of Peak Prosperity.

A treasured member of my family is in the process of dying right now.  She has lived a full, rich life; but her passing is a sad affair for us.

I’ve spent a lot of time recently with hospice workers. I’ve learned that they’re often asked by their patients, “How much time do I have left?”

While sometimes loathe to offer an answer, hospice staff can predict the timing of the end pretty accurately.

They do so by measuring by the changes they see. Or, more accurately, the pace of change in those changes.

Could a patient pick a book up off the floor in June, but not in July?  If not, then their remaining time is likely to be measured in months.

Could they raise themselves out of a chair last week but not today?  If not, then it may be only weeks until the end.

Are they losing function every day?  Then death is likely just days away.

And so on, right through hours, minutes and seconds.

It is the pace of change that matters.  Tracking the pace of change is as important as the actual changes themselves.

Both provide critical information about what’s going on, but it’s the pace that informs our timing predictions.

This is equally true for larger systems like economies and ecosystems.

The Pace Is Accelerating All Around Us

Losing a certain population of a given species over a million years is a very different proposition from losing the same number  within just 40 years.  Or even yearly, as now appears to be the case.

The years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 each saw one or more Cat 5 hurricanes form in the Atlantic. This is the longest such stretch of years in the record books.

Dorian was absolutely brutal to the Bahamas; the damage was unprecedented and extreme.  I simply cannot imagine the sustained horror of being pinned down by a Cat 5 for 36 hours as it brutally dismantled my home.

Like slow-moving Hurricane Harvey (not a Cat 5, but hugely damaging) Dorian just parked itself over the Bahamas and laid waste to all that lay beneath, churning like a massive blender.

Are monster storms that move slowly a new meteorological trend? Or has it simply been ‘bad luck’ to experience so many of late?

We don’t know yet. But there have only been 35 Cat 5 hurricanes in the past 100 years. However, at our current pace, there will be 125 such storms over the next century. That’s four times as many vs the past.

Negative Rates Multiplying At A Staggering Rate

Financially, the latest and most head-spinning change concerns the explosive proliferation of debts with negative interest rates.

Unheard of since the Mesopotamian invention of debt in 2,400 BC, negative interest rates have suddenly appeared on the financial landscape like a new mutant species, an invader without natural predators, gaining a sudden foothold and then spreading rapidly.

It’s as if a virulent chestnut blight landed in a virgin forest of corporate and sovereign debt.

From literally ‘none’ ten years ago, to more than $17 trillion now. And up from a ‘mere’ $6 trillion in the past ten months alone:

chart of growth in negative interest rate government debt

Is this a new, permanent trend?  We don’t know yet.

But the pace of change is sure intensifying

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