Today the world has seen the end of two centuries of Anglo-Saxon dominance – a hundred years of Britain, from the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 to the Battle of the Somme, and a hundred years of the United States, ending today, with the election as president of the US of a fascist ‘television personality’ married to a nude model.
‘Decadence’ is the term that we need, here – decadence on a scale not seen in the world since the fall of the Roman Empire – which fell in much the same way, for much the same reasons.
Chinese readers will recall the story of Zhou Enlai meeting Nikita Khrushchev; Khrushchev said to Zhou, “You are the son of an aristocrat, but I am the son of a peasant!”
“Yes”, replied Zhou, “And we both betrayed our class!”
We have now seen a hat trick of ‘democratic’ events in which men who come from the elite, and who have betrayed their class – Roderigo Duterte, in the Philippines, on May 9, was the straw in the wind, he was followed by Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage in the UK, on June 23, and today by Donald Trump in the US, and they have, with the use of the internet social media, most especially Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, successfully suckered the soggy mass of lazy, ill-educated, ill-read and ill-informed proles, and a good supply of what V.I. Lenin called “useful idiots”, in three nations, into putting them into power, by telling lies and by promising the proles what they want.
What the proles want is ‘good jobs’ but with the ability to buy the stuff they buy now at cheap prices, because it is made by under paid, hardworking, men and women in other countries who have ‘stolen their jobs’, and they want ‘no foreigners’. They can’t have this, of course, but no matter, they don’t read, they just look at ‘memes’, and the damage is done.
The common factor is the ‘seeding’ of the ever-so friendly Facebook, full of pictures of kittens and food and grandchildren, with its oh-so clever algorithms to deliver onto your screen the very things that you want to see, be they things you might want to buy or people who think like you, with lies and deceit – really wicked, evil, lies and deceit – and the poisoning of minds against the ‘mainstream media’, who actually – can you believe this – who actually think that facts matter, and who really do employ people to check them, because they are out dated enough to think that their advertising revenues depend on their reputation and that their reputation depends on them telling the truth.
How very Gutenberg of them! How very ‘Broadcast!’ Zuckerberg has destroyed all that, and as recently as three days ago he was still protesting that his empire is “…a tech company, not a media company!”
So, what does the end of the Anglo-Saxon World Order mean for shipping?
First, obviously, world trade follows the USA, and indeed silly little England, into a man-made recession, next year. Maersk Line have already taken a hit, and if Maersk catches a cold, everyone else in this business gets pneumonia.
Next, the dollar becomes – and will the mighty Disney Corporation please understand that I allude here to their pre-WW2 merchandising – Mickey Mouse Money. The Fed won’t raise that interest rate – it will be printing dollars like they are going out of fashion, because, indeed, they will be going out of fashion. We can’t use gold to pay freight with, and the Yen and the much abused Euro will benefit, but the big winner will be the Renminbi Yuan, the currency of the new global super power, the only nation wise enough to keep Zuckerberg and Co out.
Keep in mind that the adoption of the RMB Yuan as the default currency of world trade will automatically solve the problem of the Chinese debt spiral, just as it once solved, but will no longer solve, the problem of US debt. “The winner takes it all,” as a Swedish pop group sang, and the winner is the People’s Republic of China.
The upheavals consequent on this event will be enormous. As was said in 1790, when the wheel of fortune was turning the other way – and I have only changed a couple of Lord Macartney’s wise words…
“The United States of America is an old, crazy, first-rate Man of War, which a fortunate succession of able and vigilant officers have contrived to keep afloat for these fifty years past, and to overawe their neighbours merely by her bulk and appearance. But whenever an insufficient man happens to have the command on deck, adieu to the discipline and safety of the ship. She may, perhaps, not sink outright; she may drift some time as a wreck, and will then be dashed to pieces on the shore; but she can never be rebuilt on the old bottom”
“The breaking-up of the power of the USA (no very improbable event) would occasion a complete subversion of the commerce, not only of Europe and North America, but a very sensible change in the other quarters of the world. The industry and the ingenuity of the Americans would be checked and enfeebled, but they would not be annihilated. Her ports would no longer be protected by her Navy; they would be attempted by all the adventurers of all trading nations, who would search every channel, creek, and cranny of Europe and America for a market, and for some time be the cause of much rivalry and disorder. Nevertheless, as China, from the weight of her riches and the genius and spirits of her people, is become the first political, marine, and commercial Power on the globe, it is reasonable to think that she would prove the greatest gainer by such a revolution as I have alluded to, and rise superior over every competitor.”
In the course of the “rivalry and disorder”, there will be fortunes to be made, amidst the general collapse. And our industry is very good at finding those. The really good news is that there will be such a shortage of investment capital that shipping returns will rise as investment becomes scarcer.