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Charles Hugh Smith

Charles Hugh Smith

Charles Hugh Smith is an American writer and blogger. He is the chief writer for the site "Of Two Minds". Started in 2005, this site has been listed No. 7 in CNBC's top alternative financial sites. His commentary is featured on a number of sites including: Zerohedge.com., The American Conservative and Peak Prosperity. He graduated from the University of Hawaii, Manoa in Honolulu. Charles Hugh Smith currently resides in Berkeley, California and Hilo, Hawaii.

Articles by Charles Hugh Smith

Is the U.S. Becoming a Third World Nation?

16 hours ago

Back in the day, nations that didn’t qualify as either developed (First World) or developing (Second World) were by default Third World, impoverished, corrupt and what we now refer to as failed states–governments that were incapable of improving the lives of their people and the machinery of governance, generally as a result of corruption and self-serving elites, i.e. kleptocracies.
Is the U.S. slipping into Third World status? While many scoff at the very question, others citing the rise of homelessness, entrenched pockets of abject poverty and the decaying state of infrastructure might nod “yes.”
These are not uniquely Third World problems, they’re symptoms of a status quo that’s fast losing First World capabilities. What characterizes Third World/Failing States

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Is the US Becoming a Third World Nation?

1 day ago

This is a chart of an informal kleptocracy which cloaks itself in the faux finery of democracy and a (rigged) “market” economy.
Back in the day, nations that didn’t qualify as either developed (First World) or developing (Second World) were by default Third World, impoverished, corrupt and what we now refer to as failed states–governments that were incapable of improving the lives of their people and the machinery of governance, generally as a result of corruption and self-serving elites, i.e. kleptocracies.
Is the U.S. slipping into Third World status? While many scoff at the very question, others citing the rise of homelessness, entrenched pockets of abject poverty and the decaying state of infrastructure might nod “yes.”
These

Read More »

Is the U.S. Becoming a Third World Nation?

2 days ago

This is a chart of an informal kleptocracy which cloaks itself in the faux finery of democracy and a (rigged) “market” economy.
Back in the day, nations that didn’t qualify as either developed (First World) or developing (Second World) were by default Third World, impoverished, corrupt and what we now refer to as failed states–governments that were incapable of improving the lives of their people and the machinery of governance, generally as a result of corruption and self-serving elites, i.e. kleptocracies.
Is the U.S. slipping into Third World status? While many scoff at the very question, others citing the rise of homelessness, entrenched pockets of abject poverty and the decaying state of infrastructure might nod “yes.”
These are not uniquely Third World problems, they’re symptoms of a

Read More »

Our Wile E. Coyote Federal Reserve

4 days ago

Whatever the Fed chooses to do, it’s already failed..
Wile E. Coyote has gotten a bad rap: in all fairness, his schemes are ingenious, if overly complicated, and it’s not his fault that the Acme detonator misfires or the Road Runner doesn’t respond as predicted. Every set-up to nail the Road Runner should work. That it fails and leaves him suspended over the cliff for a woefully brief second to intuit his impending doom really isn’t his fault.
Wile E. Coyote and the Federal Reserve share a lot of similarities. Just as Wile is always trying to catch the Road Runner, the Federal Reserve and other central banks have been trying for 10 years to trigger a self-sustaining economic expansion, i.e. an expansion based on the self-reinforcing dynamics of increasing productivity driving increasing

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A Wobbling Stock Market

5 days ago

A third period of heightened volatility shouldn’t surprise us.
Consider this chart of the SPX (S&P 500) over the past two years: take a look at the relative steepness of each of the red lines (rallies), the duration of each rally (purple lines), the blue boxes (volatile spots of bother) and the green line (market has gone nowhere for 19 months as every rally to new highs drops back to or below the high of January 2018).

As the saying goes, a market topping is not an event, it’s a process. There are a handful of historically useful characteristics of topping markets:
1. Declining volume / liquidity
2. Increasing volatility–major swings up and down that increase in amplitude and frequency
3. Inability to break decisively above previous resistance (i.e. make

Read More »

A Wobbling Stock Market

6 days ago

Consider this chart of the SPX (S&P 500) over the past two years: take a look at the relative steepness of each of the red lines (rallies), the duration of each rally (purple lines), the blue boxes (volatile spots of bother) and the green line (market has gone nowhere for 19 months as every rally to new highs drops back to or below the high of January 2018).

As the saying goes, a market topping is not an event, it’s a process. There are a handful of historically useful characteristics of topping markets:
1. Declining volume / liquidity
2. Increasing volatility–major swings up and down that increase in amplitude and frequency
3. Inability to break decisively above previous resistance (i.e. make sustainable new highs in a stairstep that moves higher).
We see all these

Read More »

A Wobbling Stock Market

6 days ago

Consider this chart of the SPX (S&P 500) over the past two years: take a look at the relative steepness of each of the red lines (rallies), the duration of each rally (purple lines), the blue boxes (volatile spots of bother) and the green line (market has gone nowhere for 19 months as every rally to new highs drops back to or below the high of January 2018).

As the saying goes, a market topping is not an event, it’s a process. There are a handful of historically useful characteristics of topping markets:
1. Declining volume / liquidity
2. Increasing volatility–major swings up and down that increase in amplitude and frequency
3. Inability to break decisively above previous resistance (i.e. make sustainable new highs in a stairstep that moves higher).
We see all these

Read More »

A Wobbling Stock Market

6 days ago

A third period of heightened volatility shouldn’t surprise us.
Consider this chart of the SPX (S&P 500) over the past two years: take a look at the relative steepness of each of the red lines (rallies), the duration of each rally (purple lines), the blue boxes (volatile spots of bother) and the green line (market has gone nowhere for 19 months as every rally to new highs drops back to or below the high of January 2018).

As the saying goes, a market topping is not an event, it’s a process. There are a handful of historically useful characteristics of topping markets:
1. Declining volume / liquidity
2. Increasing volatility–major swings up and down that increase in amplitude and frequency
3. Inability to break decisively above previous resistance (i.e. make sustainable new highs in a

Read More »

The Road to Hell Is Paved With Virtue-Signaling

9 days ago

The idea that everything will be solved if we borrow a couple more trillion and give it away is the dominant paradigm.
Here in the decay phase of Imperial Pretensions, The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. It’s a line from Yeats’ poem The Second Coming, and it speaks to our current stumbling descent toward the abyss, where the worst invest their energies in virtue-signaling and the best retreat from the hopelessness of actually addressing our real-world problems.
The road to Hell is paved with virtue-signaling: rather than actually solve the knotty problems that are dragging us toward the abyss, we substitute self-righteousness for problem-solving. That is virtue-signaling in a nutshell.

Read More »

The Road to Hell Is Paved with Virtue-Signaling

10 days ago

The idea that everything will be solved if we borrow a couple more trillion and give it away is the dominant paradigm.
Here in the decay phase of Imperial Pretensions, The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. It’s a line from Yeats’ poem The Second Coming, and it speaks to our current stumbling descent toward the abyss, where the worst invest their energies in virtue-signaling and the best retreat from the hopelessness of actually addressing our real-world problems.
The road to Hell is paved with virtue-signaling: rather than actually solve the knotty problems that are dragging us toward the abyss, we substitute self-righteousness for problem-solving. That is virtue-signaling in a nutshell.
Virtue-signaling goes hand in hand with the only “solution”

Read More »

Who Protected Epstein for Decades, and Why?

10 days ago

Or perhaps “Epstein was an intelligence asset” is just a tissue-thin cover for a much more destructive reality: those at the top of the American state have no moral compass at all.
Let’s start by stipulating that the Jeffrey Epstein story is so sordid and outlandish that it’s like a made-for-TV movie about the evil proprietor of a nightmarish enclave of private perversion and sexual exploitation, Lolita Island.
For Epstein’s victims, the nightmare was all too real.
Next, let’s stipulate that in a nation with a functioning system of justice, every individual who knew about Epstein’s degenerate empire and did nothing to stop it should be ushered into a Federal prison cell to ponder their sins against the exploited girls and against

Read More »

Who Protected Epstein for Decades, and Why?

11 days ago

Let’s start by stipulating that the Jeffrey Epstein story is so sordid and outlandish that it’s like a made-for-TV movie about the evil proprietor of a nightmarish enclave of private perversion and sexual exploitation, Lolita Island.
For Epstein’s victims, the nightmare was all too real.
Next, let’s stipulate that in a nation with a functioning system of justice, every individual who knew about Epstein’s degenerate empire and did nothing to stop it should be ushered into a Federal prison cell to ponder their sins against the exploited girls and against the nation.
Yes, as in treason, as in “throw them in prison and let them rot” treason. As I have explained, corruption and debauchery undermine the legitimacy of the state, and so doing nothing while Epstein et al.

Read More »

Who Protected Epstein for Decades, and Why?

11 days ago

Let’s start by stipulating that the Jeffrey Epstein story is so sordid and outlandish that it’s like a made-for-TV movie about the evil proprietor of a nightmarish enclave of private perversion and sexual exploitation, Lolita Island.
For Epstein’s victims, the nightmare was all too real.
Next, let’s stipulate that in a nation with a functioning system of justice, every individual who knew about Epstein’s degenerate empire and did nothing to stop it should be ushered into a Federal prison cell to ponder their sins against the exploited girls and against the nation.
Yes, as in treason, as in “throw them in prison and let them rot” treason. As I have explained, corruption and debauchery undermine the legitimacy of the state, and so doing nothing while Epstein et al.

Read More »

Who Protected Epstein for Decades, and Why?

11 days ago

Or perhaps “Epstein was an intelligence asset” is just a tissue-thin cover for a much more destructive reality: those at the top of the American state have no moral compass at all.
Let’s start by stipulating that the Jeffrey Epstein story is so sordid and outlandish that it’s like a made-for-TV movie about the evil proprietor of a nightmarish enclave of private perversion and sexual exploitation, Lolita Island.
For Epstein’s victims, the nightmare was all too real.
Next, let’s stipulate that in a nation with a functioning system of justice, every individual who knew about Epstein’s degenerate empire and did nothing to stop it should be ushered into a Federal prison cell to ponder their sins against the exploited girls and against the nation.
Yes, as in treason, as in “throw them in prison

Read More »

The Internal War in the Deep Stat Claims Its High Profile Casualty:

12 days ago

The “traditionalist” Neocons are going to have to decide to fish or cut bait.
I’ve been writing about the fracturing Deep State for the past five years:
Is the Deep State Fracturing into Disunity? (March 14, 2014)
Is the Deep State at War–With Itself? (December 14, 2016)
Epstein and the Explosive Crisis of the Deep State (July 15, 2019)
The conflict has now reached the hot-war stage where bodies are turning up, explained away by the usual laughable covers: “suicide,” “accident” and “heart attack.” That Jeffrey Epstein’s death in a secure cell is being labeled “suicide” tells us quite a lot about the desperation of the faction trying to protect the self-serving predators that have wormed their way into control of many Deep State

Read More »

The Internal War in the Deep State Claims Its High Profile Casualty: Jeffrey Epstein

13 days ago

I’ve been writing about the fracturing Deep State for the past five years:
Is the Deep State Fracturing into Disunity? (March 14, 2014)
Is the Deep State at War–With Itself? (December 14, 2016)
Epstein and the Explosive Crisis of the Deep State (July 15, 2019)
The conflict has now reached the hot-war stage where bodies are turning up, explained away by the usual laughable covers: “suicide,” “accident” and “heart attack.” That Jeffrey Epstein’s death in a secure cell is being labeled “suicide” tells us quite a lot about the desperation of the faction trying to protect the self-serving predators that have wormed their way into control of many Deep State nodes of power.
Here’s the basic structure of the Deep State conflict as I see it. 

For context: The Deep State

Read More »

The Internal War in the Deep State Claims Its High Profile Casualty: Jeffrey Epstein

13 days ago

I’ve been writing about the fracturing Deep State for the past five years:
Is the Deep State Fracturing into Disunity? (March 14, 2014)
Is the Deep State at War–With Itself? (December 14, 2016)
Epstein and the Explosive Crisis of the Deep State (July 15, 2019)
The conflict has now reached the hot-war stage where bodies are turning up, explained away by the usual laughable covers: “suicide,” “accident” and “heart attack.” That Jeffrey Epstein’s death in a secure cell is being labeled “suicide” tells us quite a lot about the desperation of the faction trying to protect the self-serving predators that have wormed their way into control of many Deep State nodes of power.
Here’s the basic structure of the Deep State conflict as I see it. 

For context: The Deep State

Read More »

The Internal War in the Deep State Claims Its High Profile Casualty: Jeffrey Epstein

13 days ago

The “traditionalist” Neocons are going to have to decide to fish or cut bait.
I’ve been writing about the fracturing Deep State for the past five years:

The conflict has now reached the hot-war stage where bodies are turning up, explained away by the usual laughable covers: “suicide,” “accident” and “heart attack.” That Jeffrey Epstein’s death in a secure cell is being labeled “suicide” tells us quite a lot about the desperation of the faction trying to protect the self-serving predators that have wormed their way into control of many Deep State nodes of power.
Here’s the basic structure of the Deep State conflict as I see it. For context: The Deep State exploded in size and power during World War II. At the war’s end, the proper role of the U.S. in the postwar era was up for grabs, and

Read More »

The Gulag of the Mind

19 days ago

Befuddled and blind, we wander toward the cliff without even seeing it, focusing on our little screens of entertainment and self-absorption.
There are no physical barriers in the Gulag of the Mind–we imprison ourselves, and love our servitude. Indeed, we fear the world outside our internalized gulag, because we’ve absorbed the narrative that the gulag is secure and permanent.
We’ve also absorbed the understanding that escape will be punished. Dissent will quickly be suppressed or vilified, and the dissenter socially and economically marginalized.
In a peculiarly human pathology, we now believe the exact opposite of reality:our abuser is our savior, we’re getting wealthier when in fact we’re getting poorer, the government will always save us, even though the government is the problem, not

Read More »

Nothing Is Guaranteed

19 days ago

The American lifestyle and economy depend on a vast number of implicit guarantees— systemic forms of entitlement that we implicitly feel are our birthright.
Chief among these implicit entitlements is the Federal Reserve can always “save the day”: the Fed has the tools to escape either an inflationary spiral or a deflationary collapse.
But there are no guarantees this is actually true. In either an inflationary spiral or deflationary collapse of self-reinforcing defaults, the Fed’s “save” would destroy the economy, which is now so fragile that any increase in interest rates (to rescue us from an inflationary spiral) would destroy our completely debt-dependent economy: were mortgage rates to climb back to historical averages, the housing bubble would immediately

Read More »

Nothing Is Guaranteed

19 days ago

The American lifestyle and economy depend on a vast number of implicit guarantees— systemic forms of entitlement that we implicitly feel are our birthright.
Chief among these implicit entitlements is the Federal Reserve can always “save the day”: the Fed has the tools to escape either an inflationary spiral or a deflationary collapse.
But there are no guarantees this is actually true. In either an inflationary spiral or deflationary collapse of self-reinforcing defaults, the Fed’s “save” would destroy the economy, which is now so fragile that any increase in interest rates (to rescue us from an inflationary spiral) would destroy our completely debt-dependent economy: were mortgage rates to climb back to historical averages, the housing bubble would immediately

Read More »

Nothing Is Guaranteed

20 days ago

There are no guarantees, no matter how monumental the hubris and confidence.
The American lifestyle and economy depend on a vast number of implicit guarantees— systemic forms of entitlement that we implicitly feel are our birthright.
Chief among these implicit entitlements is the Federal Reserve can always “save the day”: the Fed has the tools to escape either an inflationary spiral or a deflationary collapse.
But there are no guarantees this is actually true. In either an inflationary spiral or deflationary collapse of self-reinforcing defaults, the Fed’s “save” would destroy the economy, which is now so fragile that any increase in interest rates (to rescue us from an inflationary spiral) would destroy our completely debt-dependent economy: were mortgage rates to climb back to historical

Read More »

Main Street Small Business on the Precipice

24 days ago

Small businesses on the precipice need only one small shove to go over the edge, and there won’t be replacements filling the fast-multiplying empty storefronts.
As a generality, the average employee (including financial pundits) has no real experience or understanding of what it takes to start and operate a small business in the U.S. Government employees in the agencies that oversee and enforce regulations on small businesses also generally lack any experience in the businesses they regulate.
A third generality is the endlessly promoted ethos of entrepreneurism cultivates the illusion that there is an essentially endless supply of entrepreneurs who are itching to start businesses and throw everything they have into the risky

Read More »

Main Street Small Business on the Precipice

25 days ago

As a generality, the average employee (including financial pundits) has no real experience or understanding of what it takes to start and operate a small business in the U.S. Government employees in the agencies that oversee and enforce regulations on small businesses also generally lack any experience in the businesses they regulate.
A third generality is the endlessly promoted ethos of entrepreneurism cultivates the illusion that there is an essentially endless supply of entrepreneurs who are itching to start businesses and throw everything they have into the risky gamble.
All we ever hear when a restaurant owner is interviewed is how much they love their business, their work, their customers, their neighborhood, etc. etc. Sadly, enthusiasm isn’t enough to pay the

Read More »

Main Street Small Business on the Precipice

25 days ago

As a generality, the average employee (including financial pundits) has no real experience or understanding of what it takes to start and operate a small business in the U.S. Government employees in the agencies that oversee and enforce regulations on small businesses also generally lack any experience in the businesses they regulate.
A third generality is the endlessly promoted ethos of entrepreneurism cultivates the illusion that there is an essentially endless supply of entrepreneurs who are itching to start businesses and throw everything they have into the risky gamble.
All we ever hear when a restaurant owner is interviewed is how much they love their business, their work, their customers, their neighborhood, etc. etc. Sadly, enthusiasm isn’t enough to pay the

Read More »

Main Street Small Business on the Precipice

26 days ago

Small businesses on the precipice need only one small shove to go over the edge, and there won’t be replacements filling the fast-multiplying empty storefronts.
As a generality, the average employee (including financial pundits) has no real experience or understanding of what it takes to start and operate a small business in the U.S. Government employees in the agencies that oversee and enforce regulations on small businesses also generally lack any experience in the businesses they regulate.
A third generality is the endlessly promoted ethos of entrepreneurism cultivates the illusion that there is an essentially endless supply of entrepreneurs who are itching to start businesses and throw everything they have into the risky gamble.
All we ever hear when a restaurant owner is interviewed

Read More »

Why Is What Was Once Affordable to Many

26 days ago

With these speculative and risk management skills accessible only to the wealthy, no wonder only the wealthy have gained purchasing power in the 21st century.
Let’s start with an excerpt from a recent personal account by the insightful energy/systems analyst Ugo Bardi, who is Italian but writes his blog Cassandra’s Legacy in English: Becoming Poor in Italy. The Effects of the Twilight of the Age of Oil.
“I am not poor. As a middle class, state employee in Italy, I am probably richer than some 90% of the people living on this planet. But wealth and poverty are mainly relative perceptions and the feeling I have is that I am becoming poorer every year, just like the majority of Italians, nowadays.
I know that the various economic

Read More »

Why Is What Was Once Affordable to Many Now Only Affordable to the Wealthy?

27 days ago

Let’s start with an excerpt from a recent personal account by the insightful energy/systems analyst Ugo Bardi, who is Italian but writes his blog Cassandra’s Legacy in English: Becoming Poor in Italy. The Effects of the Twilight of the Age of Oil.
“I am not poor. As a middle class, state employee in Italy, I am probably richer than some 90% of the people living on this planet. But wealth and poverty are mainly relative perceptions and the feeling I have is that I am becoming poorer every year, just like the majority of Italians, nowadays.

I know that the various economic indexes say that we are not becoming poorer and that, worldwide, the GDP keeps growing, even in Italy it sort of restarted growing after a period of decline. But something must be wrong with those

Read More »

Why Is What Was Once Affordable to Many Now Only Affordable to the Wealthy?

27 days ago

Let’s start with an excerpt from a recent personal account by the insightful energy/systems analyst Ugo Bardi, who is Italian but writes his blog Cassandra’s Legacy in English: Becoming Poor in Italy. The Effects of the Twilight of the Age of Oil.
“I am not poor. As a middle class, state employee in Italy, I am probably richer than some 90% of the people living on this planet. But wealth and poverty are mainly relative perceptions and the feeling I have is that I am becoming poorer every year, just like the majority of Italians, nowadays.

I know that the various economic indexes say that we are not becoming poorer and that, worldwide, the GDP keeps growing, even in Italy it sort of restarted growing after a period of decline. But something must be wrong with those

Read More »

Why Is What Was Once Affordable to Many Now Only Affordable to the Wealthy?

27 days ago

With these speculative and risk management skills accessible only to the wealthy, no wonder only the wealthy have gained purchasing power in the 21st century.

“I am not poor. As a middle class, state employee in Italy, I am probably richer than some 90% of the people living on this planet. But wealth and poverty are mainly relative perceptions and the feeling I have is that I am becoming poorer every year, just like the majority of Italians, nowadays.
I know that the various economic indexes say that we are not becoming poorer and that, worldwide, the GDP keeps growing, even in Italy it sort of restarted growing after a period of decline. But something must be wrong with those indexes because we are becoming poorer. It is unmistakable, GDP or not. To explain that, let me tell you the

Read More »