2019 was an eventful year. The Stock Market rose to record breaking heights fueled by stock buy-backs and cheap money provided by the Federal Reserve Bank in partnership with the U. S. Treasury and augmented by foreign investment driven by failing national fiat currencies and Central Bank negative interest rates. Precious metals also rose in value thanks to economic and geopolitical uncertainty. The U.S. – China trade war witnessed tariff escalation throughout much of the year with a ‘promised’ truce occurring at yearend. The details of this ‘promised’ truce may not be known by the public for quite some time even after it is signed, if it is signed, as both parties have stated that they agreed to keep the agreement details secret. This trade war spilled over into global economies causing productivity contraction and the first visible signs of a new global recession in nations such as Argentina, Germany, and Hong Kong. The United States didn’t restrict its tariffs to China; it also placed them on a variety of goods from the European Union, sadly inclusive of wine and cheese.
On the societal front, civil unrest became the new global pastime. Protests, many of which devolved into violence on the part of the protesters and police/military, engulfed Hong Kong, Ecuador, Brazil, Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, France, Russia, United States, Britain, Germany, Lebanon, Spain, Bolivia, India, and others. The fuses that ignited the civil unrest varied from climate change to new tax laws to election disputes to austerity measures to ideological differences to racism. The underlying reasons for continuing civil unrest are economic disparity (widening wealth gap between the majority of the population and the elites) and government corruption.
The threat of widespread war has become ever greater as nations engage in proxy wars and bait each other in the South China Sea, Middle East, and South America. Non-proliferation treaties are being broken, mostly by the United States, which has resulted in the recommencement of development and testing of advanced nuclear weapons. Russia unveiled and deployed its hypersonic missile that purportedly can evade all United States (and therefore NATO) missile defense systems essentially guaranteeing a retaliatory strike should Western governments be so daft as to launch a nuclear weapon (or one believed to be nuclear) at Russia. Seemingly undeterred, the United States, just this week launched an air strike at targets in Iraq and Syria in response to a rocket attack on a U.S. base located in Iraq. The U.S. claims the attack was perpetrated by forces in the area backed by Iran. Iran denies this claim. Iran, Russia, and China just completed several days of joint naval exercises in the Persian Gulf area in a demonstration of strengthening alliance between their nations. The United States has been on an economic sanctions spree. It has lobbed sanctions at a variety of nations on everything from oil to pipelines to corporations to individuals.
Not everything that occurred during 2019 was disturbing. There were positive developments too. California passed a public banking law which, in the future, should help its economy become more responsive to its internal needs and more resilient to external financial shenanigans. Organic and regenerative farming methods are making gains in the agricultural sector providing healthier dietary options to the population and reducing pollutants in the environment. After setbacks, Ocean Cleanup announced successful capture of plastic debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – it plans to make sustainable products from its ocean hauls.
As we close out the year today, we wish all of you a safe and fun New Year’s celebration.
“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates