I started writing this article when that pretentious monkey (Kylie Jenner) was being hailed as the youngest female “self made” Billionaire. I added some more when I saw the news article going viral about Trump being ‘late’ to some meeting with the Queen 🤦🏽♂️🤦🏽♂️
I’m going to finish it now, because…well…because this stuff just needs to be said…and as a friend of mine said; I’m clearly a professional “cloud yeller”…
In all seriousness though, this is an important article for everyone to read. There is a whole lot of craziness going on in the world, and most of it is well above the norm.
In the absence of real problems, we as a society have begun to collectively construct problems that are more abstract in nature, and begun to drive stupidities to new levels.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these sorts of excesses are occurring at the peak of a credit cycle, where the difference between “reality” and “fluff” are at their peak.
Note: The situation is further pronounced when both the short-term & long-term cycles peak, which is what’s happening now. For some further info, read / watch some of Ray Dalio’s stuff.
This article is going to be a 2 part warning, because this kind of blind excess can only lead to one thing: a reversion to the mean.
And as with all reversions, the greater the over-shoot to one side, the more it over-shoots on its way back toward the mean.
Part 1 is a list of early signs of blind excess, of which surely there are countless more.
I’ve referenced as many of them as I could be bothered, the rest are either self-evident, or have come from my own personal observations.
My intent is not to dishearten people, nor to say that the world is coming to an end or that it’s all hopeless.
My intent here is to help shake the average reader from their hypnotic slumber and see beyond what they’ve been conditioned to of late, in other words; slap some sense into a few of you, and those few may in turn be able to slap some sense into a few more — in hope is that we can collectively begin to come down from this high and begin to work on & worry about shit that’s actually meaningful.
I’ll try to group these as coherently as possible, in categories such as:
Pre-frame / Disclaimer:
I’m going to roast a WHOLE lot of stuff 🔥🔥🍗🍗. try not to get too offended. These are gross generalisations & I am well aware of the fact that it’s not “everyone”. What I’m referencing is the norms they have slowly become. Here goes…(I’m literally listening to Whitesnake: Here I go Again as I write…lol)
Well…if we’re going to start anywhere, let’s start here.
Being an “influencer” is now actually a profession. Whilst it makes sense from an “authority” standpoint, I question the idea that anybody with a camera & one tenth of a brain can somehow “influence” swathes of people. That generally points to the influenced having a fraction of the cognitive capacity of the chimps they follow..
2. The rise of Pets
Pets have become a status symbol...instead of pets. I love animals, but the pet hotels, fashion brands, instagram pages have morphed this into a symbol of pointless excess.
3. “Luxury” Pet Foods
Obviously an extension of the above — but definitely a sign of how late-stage we are in the cycle.
There’s businesses making goat-milk latte’s for dogs 🤦🏽♂️
Pets.com for our generation…
4. Kylie Jenner being labelled a “self made” Billionaire.
Let’s put the “self made” part to the side for a moment….Kylie Jenner is almost worth a billion dollars?
Did I read that shit right?
I mean — I don’t want to sound like some socialist / communist hater here, but there is definitely something wrong with the world and our ability to allocate capital accordingly when brilliant entrepreneurs, teachers, engineers, artists and numerous others around the world earn less in a lifetime than what she takes in weekly.
I can understand Elon Musk or Bezos being worth multiple billions; these guys are catalysts for human progress and a better world.
5. There’s a Gofund me campaign for $100m so she can reach $1bn ?!?!?!
To add insult to injury, there is people actually sending money to that campaign..
Not sure we can get more ridiculous than this, but let’s see…
6. Journalism much?
What happened to real, objective journalism? Bloggers are journalists & journalists are bloggers. Seriously. You can’t tell the difference anymore.
Blogging is fine (I do it), but the media has been overrun by opinionated peasants who can barely string a sentence together and who’ve never produced anything in their lives but a wordpress blog with a bunch of non-sense.
7. News? Nope….
Every time I look at the news section on my iPhone, the “trending stories” are rubbish celebrity/reality TV-type publications telling you about “the bachelor”, or another rant on trump. It’s all crap. It’s no longer relevant or important & it’s no longer news.
8. Pointless Publications
like Mama-Mia have become mega-popular not because of the few good articles that might sometimes appear in there, but because of the avalanche of absolute crap they write about.
Instead of discussing the real issues we’re facing in today’s world, people are arguing about what dress some nut-job celeb is wearing at the Logie’s or Oscar’s.
9. The royal wedding.
Harry & Meghan seem cool, and for once we have a real couple in that family, but give me a break — 4 out of 6 trending news articles are about what they’re wearing, or that their plane had to land earlier or later than planned. And people actually read that shit?
An on-demand reality TV subscription service…actually exists. 🤦🏽♂️
But wait….there’s more…
11. The “flaunt your wealth” challenge.
There is a social media thing going viral in China, with people (morons) pretending to fall out of their cars with luxury goods sprawled all over the floor:
This shit takes the cake.
I was in Melbourne the other week, walking past the Langham Hotel. They were actually taking one of these photos with some Asian lady rolling around on the floor. It took like 20min. It was one of the most awkward, ridiculous, narcissistic & embarrassing things I’ve ever seen…
Looking back on all of this, I don’t know if the crown of dumb goes to the Asians falling out of their cars, or to people sending money to Kylie Jenner’s Go Fund Me campaign…but it’s going to be strangely satisfying watching these idiots lose a significant portion of that wealth to those with a brain during this next, long overdue economic & social downturn.
This is one of my favourite topics, and one that I believe is central to all of this.
One could argue, as I did earlier, that a lot of this PC & Societal madness is a result of over-exacerbated credit cycles that create large distortions between reality and and a fake “wealth effect” — which then manifests itself as a shell of society; a veneer, without a depth or meaning..
Markets are an incredible example of how humans (or human psychology) exaggerate things, and a brilliant micro-representation of how the broader world actually works; the madness of crowds, the natural irregularity so beautifully represented by Benoit Mandelbroit’s fractal geometry.
So…what can we see / learn from this?
What are the signs of excess?
12. Venture capital has gone mad.
Scooter companies are raising $80m rounds.
Scooters. Seriously? Need I say more?
There is so much money chasing so few exceptional ideas that we’re now pouring 100s of millions of dollars into scooter companies. If this isn’t our generation’s version of the dot com bubble, then I dunno what is.
13. Everyone is a “fund manager”.
There are new “funds” popping up every day. People who’ve NEVER been around markets, who have zero math background, zero macro understanding, zero concept of the complexities of crowds, risk, volatility and economics — and they’re running “funds”.
90% of the returns are Ponzi-like paper gains.
I’ll let Chamath Palihapitiya do the talking on this one, because he’s one of the sharpest guys out there.
14. Highs for high’s sake
The equities markets went parabolic, not because we’ve had some sort of unprecedented renaissance of production worldwide, but because of so much cheap, excess credit. Money’s had to flow somewhere, anywhere.
15. Cheap Credit
Money has been so cheap for that last 6–8yrs that it’s being thrown at everything & anything in search for whatever return, carry or pointless bit of yield is available. It’s ridiculous.
16. No Cheap Assets
As Howard Marks would put it — “there is nothing cheap or fairly priced in any markets anymore”.
All rational valuation or interpretation has gone out the window and it’s been replaced with the greater-fool theory.
This can only go for so long…until the fools run out…or run out of money — and in this case, it’s likely to be both.
Companies like Shopify have gone from $18 to $166 in less than 3yrs (and people thought Bitcoin was a bubble) all because every tom, dick & harry is selling clothing online and thinks they’re going to be the next Lorna Jane.
18. Collapsing AUD
The AUD is collapsing. It’s down more than 12% in the last few months. AUD is a “risk on” currency, and one that generally strengthens on increasing global growth.
If that’s not a clear divergence, I don’t know what is.
19. Catch 22 for Australia & AUD
As global growth peaks, and the deep shit our ‘saviours’ China are in starts to reveal itself more, we in Australia find our currency + economy in a catch-22:
We pigged out, and now…Uh oh…
I’ll focus more on this stuff in the next article.
20. Debt to GDP
We’re back to record Debt to GDP ratio’s. People can barely afford to service their debts, let alone eat, we’re all living off credit, wages aren’t rising because businesses can’t afford it and everyone’s wealth is tied up in the “phantom equity” they have in bubbles like stocks & property..
Goldfish syndrome is real…
21. US household debt is back up to record levels
Whilst there was a period of austerity post 2008, our monkey brained memories are definitely short.
Mortgage debt, credit card debt, student loan debt, and car loan debt are all, once again, at record levels….and growing
22. Re-packaged Debt: From CDO’s to CLOs.
We’ve completely forgotten what got us into the 2008 financial crisis in the first place.
Last time we had CDO’s and CDS’s. This was mainly housing & sub-prime debt packaged & re-packaged into high yielding instruments and sold to investors everywhere.
This time around we have CLOs. Corporate bonds (debt) packaged and re-packaged into high yielding instruments and sold to investors everywhere.
23. Corporate Buy Backs
2008 was the result of the housing & retail credit binge, brought on by both the banks and stupid ‘property investors’ that pigged out on cheap money (sense a theme here?)
This time around, it’s the corporates with access to cheap credit — and they really know how to spend it.
Instead of investing in the future and focusing on productivity, they’re just buying back their own stock — and with debt!!!
24. Financial engineering 2.0
At least one third of all corporate share buy-backs are funded with debt. Debt!!
Issue a corporate bond, buy stock, push price up & thus convert equity into debt. Financial Engineering 2.0. 🤦🏽♂️
25. Rise of the ETFs
In the past, most corporate loans were made and held by banks, while corporate bonds were held by pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds that held them to maturity, keeping bond prices stable.
Today, we have a new class of investment that allows the retail market to get involved with shit they don’t understand: Bond ETFs!
A decade ago, about $15 billion worth of these ETFs were being traded. Today, that market has grown to $300 billion.
26. Buy Now, Pay Later schemes are buoying retail sales..
AfterPay is a great example.
Their stock has gone parabolic in an environment of stagnating, to now declining retail sales.
People are running out buying shit they can’t afford, which just leads to a bubble of it’s own.
This facebook page is a prime example of the kind of excesses I’m talking about:
26. “Uber Pool”
This is not a bad thing, it’s great for the environment, and it’s just a better use of resources — but after having spoken with a bunch of people in Sydney over the past few months, it’s the only way they can afford to still use Uber.
It’s just an interesting (anecdotal) sign…
This topic really deserves an entire section of it’s own, but in the spirit of brevity, I’ll save it for the next article. The following are some interesting stats:
30% of current loans in Australia have a greater than 80% LVR — and that’s only what we know of.
28. The Big 4…
Royal commission aside, the mortgage portfolio between the Big 4 banks in Australia is more than $1.5T, and over a third of that is to investors!
A 40yr old, 3 bdrm ground level apartment, in 💩-hole Burwood (inner Sydney) where it takes you 45min to drive 1.2km on a Saturday afternoon at 5pm costs over $1.3m.
30. Money for nothing’, credit for free
In a 2018 survey, one in five Australian home-owners estimated their home had increased in value by up to $300,000 since purchase, 20 per cent estimated growth of up to $700,000, while 6 per cent placed their gains in the staggering $900,000-plus range.
A major proportion of Australia’s “millionaires” did nothing much else but buy a house. Intelligence much? 🤔🤔🤔
Dire Straits were onto something…alot of people are gonna be in Dire Straits!
This one is probably going to hurt / annoy a few people. Well…probably more than a few people. But who knows, instead of being a victim, some of you might choose to reflect on the statements’ inherent truths, and actually do something about it, to change it / make it better.
Ignorance is not bliss.
31. Everyone in Australia is a “Real Estate agent”..
…and they think it’s actually a profession
Real estate agents are earning more than engineers & software developers
33. 20yr old Property “Investors”
Instead of the media featuring entrepreneurs creating value, increasing productivity and making an impact on the world, they feature 20-something year old “property investors” who are levered up to the wazoo, one 25 basis point move away from going bankrupt.
The real estate agents who think they’re “really smart” are property developers. And those simpletons believe that the reason they’re making money is because they’re smart…and not because we’re at the peak of an economic credit cycle.
35. Property Porn
Property Porn “Renovation” shows like the Block continue to run rampant.
35. Everyone is starting a “startup”.
Like everybody. Why? I dunno. Maybe we need another scooter company, or an Uber for Pets…on the blockchain…
36. The lie of the entrepreneur
People think being an “entrepreneur” is sexy, that “anybody” can do it, and that everybody “should” do it. All three couldn’t be further from the truth
37. The rise of Co-working spaces
They’re popping up all over the place, and becoming the only viable way for a business to actually function. Umm…Hellooooo — does that not show that we have some fundamental flaws in the system here???
38. The fall of Co-working spaces
These co-working spaces are all going broke. The bullshit start ups they’re full of can’t pay the rent on a single desk, because the wantrepreneurs running them have some pie in the sky idea to make a billion dollars tomorrow, and are too busy being socialites on a Friday night or on snapchat & instagram trying to be influencers instead of actually doing some work.
Everyone’s an “investor” but they barely know the difference between a stock & a share. Wether it’s stocks, forex, CFDs, ETFs, real estate or crypto, we’re all now “experts” because we made money in a bull market.
The reality is the opposite. An economy where everyone’s wealth is made from “investing”, whilst there is no real productivity, is a recipe for disaster.
40 . Professional stay-at-home ‘traders’
“I’m a trader” these days is generally code for I’m unemployed and I taught myself to trade watching YouTube videos. I’ve made some money in a bull market, but funny enough, I would've made more money just going long an index”
This sort of excess is another sign of the peak of a credit cycle.
Most traders, real estate agents, personal trainers, property investors, wantreprenuers and recruiters are all the same. Lack of skill, looking for ways in which they can make a quick buck within an economic cycle they don’t understand.
And it’s those who conflate their “level of skill” with the reality, that will hurt the most when the credit cycle begins to deleverage.
41. The rise of Crypto & crypto traders
I love Bitcoin. As an idea, as a concept, as a self-sovereign bearer asset, as a hedge against the madness of the excess I’ve described in this article and as a nascent asset class, representing sound money.
But I don’t think I’ve seen so many idiots rush to an industry…ever. We seem to have attracted a blend of (good):
I’m sorry, but despite all the promise, right now; the above is the reality.
This has been going on for a while, and although it might have tapered off a little bit because people are numb to the sales tactics, it’s still an area full of charlatans, “life coaches”, get rich quick schemers & scammers people like Rossco Paddison.
I mean…Tai Lopez is still in business, and people are still buying his shit.
43. Cafe’s / Bars
Everyone is opening up a “new cafe” because they think it’s cool. Little do they know that hospitality booms usually occur during the last part of a credit cycle, right before the bubble pops.
There’s agencies everywhere. There’s even agencies that manage agencies. This one grinds me the wrong way, because it’s a little to no-skin-in-the-game industry, designed to sell you “likes”, “impressions” and other vanity metrics.
What does running a cafe or agency, or being a recruiter, a real estate agent, broker or a personal trainer all have in common?
Well, there all service-based. That doesn’t make for a very defensible position, nor does it make for a high barrier to entry.
Now…there isn’t anything inherently wrong with these professions, but because they add very little value to society, they won’t have a long shelf-life. They’re staring down the barrel of the largest credit crunch in histroy and particularly with all but cafe’s; technological obsolescence.
I hope that wasn’t too harsh. Just to be clear on my intent:
This is definitely a jab to all the arrogant narcissists who tripped over and made a bunch of money by accident, and are now running around talking about how “smart” they are.
This is definitely not meant to be insulting to the many good people in those industries, who love what they do, and do what they love, although I do hope it reminds them to think more deeply about what they’re involved in — and I wish them all the best on that journey…
If the last part didn’t piss enough people off, this one is should take care of it.
Seriously though; why is politics such a heated subject?
I think it’s got something to do with the ever-increasing level of narcissism in today’s society. People have forgotten what being objective means. You can’t say shit without someone taking it personally!
It’s funny — as I write this, I’ve got my classics playlist on, and this is playing:
There is a new politically correct “movement” every week now. You can’t say shit without being labelled a misogynist, sexist, bigot, inconsiderate, racist, a terrorist, or a trump supporter. People seriously need bigger shit to worry about.
Let’s have a look at some examples of rampant, over-reaching political correctness..gone mad:
46. Trump was apparantly 12min late to see the queen
Why is this even news?
10yrs ago, we would’ve been like “screw the queen, look at her sitting up on her high perch…she can wait”. Now, because it’s Trump, people lose their minds.
47. Feminists lost their minds about Jennifer Lawrence and the cold
Instead of commenting on her beautiful dress, a bunch of morons who’s opinions don’t matter kicked up a storm on the inter-webs, and said:
“Look at Jennifer surrounded by her warmly dressed male co-stars. This is so sexist”!
Get a life. Go do some real journalism, or go add some real value to the world.
MASSIVE credit to Jen, who kicked back the next day with:
“Get a grip people,” she concluded. “Everything you see me wear is my choice. And if I want to be cold THATS MY CHOICE TOO!”
48. Pipe Bomb Guy
How about this one? Conspiracy theories aside, let’s just dissect the stupidity & incredibly blatant bias.
“Firstly, he’s a republican”.
Like that has anything to do with the price of fish?!?!?!?!
I’m pretty sure Hitler was a Christian. I don’t see anyone writing an article up like that.
How about Stalin, or the rest of the socialist left? Do they not more closely resemble Democrats???
“Oh… but no…they’re not like them. They’re bad people, and so is Trump and therefore so are the republicans — and Trump or republican supporters”
That’s soooo hypocritical.
This shallow, un-intelligent, moronic & myopic line of thought is what produces literary shit-pieces of journalism like this article and this stupid piece below — and is just another CLEAR sign that people have run out of anything meaningful to discuss or report on.
All the more reason that a reversion is becoming more imminent.
49. American Pie
This one takes it to a new level. People are now “offended” by movies. Oh you poor things. We should go and delete everything potentially offensive just so we can make you feel better…
50. “Baa Baa Sheep Sheep”
And just when you think it couldn’t get any worse…
They changed the name of a nursery rhyme…A nursery rhyme!!!
The world needs some real problems.
I hope it’s not WW3, because that’s probably a little high on the “brutality” scale, but we definitely need another GFC type economic collapse — one that will bring some humility back into the psyche of the people that live in excess.
In its current state, the world is in trouble.
It’s like everyone is high.
People are more worried about how many friends, likes & follows they have — and those who are influencers set out to artificially inflate those numbers for an extra dose of dopamine.
Australia is a basket case that produces nothing.
It’s an economy full of clip-the-ticket middle-men, selling houses, avocado’s and coffee’s to each other.
Silicon Valley’s gone insane, funding everything & anything — whilst all the smart people like Chamath & Thiel are moving away.
Everyone else seems to be either totally offended by the world, or completely numb to everything, and either blind or ignorant to the fact that the entire economic system is a house of cards.
If you want to get an idea of what’s actually going on, and you don’t want to read about economics or go too far down the rabbit hole, just go watch “The Big Short”.
Watch closely when the character Steve Carrel plays goes out to Florida, and speaks to the real estate agent, or the stripper who is a “property investor” with 5 properties. Or when they speak to those 2 morons that are selling sub-prime loans (reminds me of real estate agents in Australia).
It’s the SAME SHIT, just a different time.
Drives me a bit crazy & instead of focusing on building a company, or chilling out, I spend my weekends writing shit to slap some sense into people.
Maybe I’m actually the dumb ass…
It’s time to finish this & go get some food..
Whilst I know I may sound jaded, or like I have a bone to pick with the world (which I kind of do), and that I sound overly pessimistic & dismissive, I’m naturally an optimist…
I’ve been through my fair share of shit, lost everything and started again multiple times — but I think that ability to start again, and be resilient can only come from an innate optimism.
At the same time, some life experience and a keen study of history, humanity, psychology and the state of the stupidity of the world will just not allow me to view things through rose-coloured glasses any longer, like a polly-anna.
Hence why I write….hopefully to provoke some deeper thought.
Couple of final thoughts.
Irrationality can stay irrational for much longer than a rational person can stay sane, and that’s because by definition, it’s irrational, but at some stage, the musical chairs we’re playing is going to need to stop.
The same thing happens every decade in the short term cycle, and 6–10 decades in the longer term cycle. It has alot to do with generational shifts, and new people coming up not being aware of what happened last time.
There isn’t much difference each time we repeat the cycle, apart from the absolute movement being so much larger, and the impact much broader.
Broader because as a society & as a species, we are far more interconnected & co-dependant than we’ve ever been. And we are most definitely far softer and more prone to being “offended” by everything.
Which makes me wonder….when it comes time to pay the piper (as it always does), how many people will be prepared, and how many will have no idea what hit them, and have to be broken down before they build themselves up again?
Maybe all this writing is pointless. Perhaps the only real cure to this problem of irrational exuberance, like Nassim would describes it —is to let the organism fail and make way for the new.
Happy Weekend Everyone!
If you enjoyed this post, please show it some love, give it a clap (or a few) and pass it around to anyone you think should have a read.
Hope you got some value and feedback is always welcome!
CEO & Co-Founder @ Amber Labs
You can find somore more of my work here:
And you can reach out & connect with me here:
I want to thank some of the incredible individuals who’ve helped shape some of my views, and whom I admire for their intellect, wit, passion, ambition and contribution to the world:
There’s so much more…but I’m done here.
To avoid being witch-hunted, I‘ll temper what I’ve written with a few things:
I was already at 50, but these are also great data points, 51 and 52, thanks to the team at Quartz.
51. The world’s biggest shopping day got even bigger.
This year’s Singles’ Day, a retail holiday created by Alibaba a decade ago, led to a record $30.7 billion in sales. But momentum is slowing: The 27% increase was the lowest year-over-year growth in the event’s history.
52. Blankfein leaves Goldman
Ten years after the financial crisis, banks are raking in record earnings. When Lloyd Blankfein steps down as the CEO of Goldman Sachs in a few months, he’ll be leaving one of America’s most powerful banks on a high note for the entire industry. Life is good on Wall Street.
When Blankfein announced his departure after 12 years as chief executive, it came as the company revealed a 44% jump in second-quarter profit. While he doesn’t deserve all the credit, it’s worth noting the bank has generated a cumulative $92 billion in net profit under Blankfein, the son of a postal clerk.
“When times are tougher, you can’t leave. And, when times are better, you don’t want to leave,” Blankfein he said in his farewell memo to staff. Nonetheless, he wrote, “it feels like the right time.”
53. Only at the top baby