May 19 2012

Tall Tales from the CTBUH Point to a New 1960s-Style Golden Age

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) in Chicago is the world’s arbiter of all things tall. They keep endless, ballistic statistics on tall buildings of all kinds, and make official, industry-recognized decisions about whose building is The One.

The 20 tallest buildings completed in 2011 point to a new 1960s-style “Golden Age” that’s just around the corner.

For example, last month the CTBUH announced that the new One World Trade Center tower in New YorK City (at Ground Zero) might not become the tallest in the Western Hemisphere after all because the 408 foot antenna atop the building would not be enclosed in an architectural spire; according to the CTBUH, spires count, but antennas sans spires don’t (Wall Street Journal, C. Bialik, 5/12/12).

Indeed, such erigible esoterica is of considerable significance as we at continue our development of a global ebullience index.

This is because — over the last 200+ years — large Macro-Engineering Projects (e.g., Panama Canal) and Great Explorations (e.g., discovery of the N and S poles) appear to be triggered by large economic booms, but are fundamentally driven by “ebullience” (e.g., “Panama fever”, “pole mania”) — a somewhat irrational, but highly positive view of the future.

For example, In the 1960s Apollo program and Peace Corps of John F. Kennedy it was the ebullient feeling that we could do almost anything; in the early 20th century it was Theodore Roosevelt’s Panama fever and (north & south) pole mania; in the mid-19th century it was manifest destiny of James Polk and the central Africa adventures of Dr. Livingstone, I presume; and about 200 years ago it began auspiciously with Jefferson, Napoleon, and Lewis & Clark.

Earlier this year at the University of Southern California an internationally recognized architect confided to me that erecting tall buildings is usually more about egos than profits.

The CTBUH executive director agrees and the early abullience shown by Saudi plans for the first kilometer supertower — that bests the current tallest Burj Khalifa in Dubai by 500+ feet — and other recent extraordinay endeavors suggest we are indeed headed for a new 1960s-style “golden age”.

For example, in their annual review (for 2011) of tall building trends, the CTBUH noted:
1) 2011 continues the trend since 2007 that each successive year has more 200 meter+ buildings completed than ever before; this record-setting pace is now expected to continue even through the current great recession.

Looking to the future, it is now foreseeable – indeed likely – that the recent trend of an annual increase in building completions will continue for the next several years, perhaps even through the end of the decade. This represents a change in recent predictions. It had been expected that skyscraper completions would drop off very sharply after 2011, as a result of the 2008 global financial crisis and the large number of projects put on hold. Now however, due in large part to the continuing high activity of skyscraper design and construction in China, as well as the development of several relatively new markets, this global dip is no longer expected.

2) Global shifts in the locations of the top 100 buildings are significant. For example, Asia (with 46) is edging toward 50% of the all top 100 towers, and the Middle East increased by three, while Europe dropped to only one building in the top 100.

3) While China remains a dynamic market for 200 m+ buildings, its production declined from 33% in 2010 to only 26% in 2011, which indicates the market is diversifying. For example, Panama — site of one of the most ebullient MEPs in the world today: the Panama Canal Expansion Project — is enjoying a 200 m+ spurt:

Before 2008, no 200 m+ buildings existed in all of Panama. Then, between 2008 and 2010, three buildings opened. In 2011, Panama City completed ten 200 m+ skyscrapers, more than any other city and more than double the number of completions in all of North America. With these completions, there are now 12 such buildings in Panama, perhaps signaling a new day for the tall building in this region.

The CTBUH Summary for 2011 concludes by forecasting a decade-long surge in tall buildings around the globe.

With over 300 projects above the 200-meter mark currently under construction internationally, the tall building community is set to continue to develop at an incredible pace. As new markets continue to discover and develop the tall building, it is quite possible that this pace will continue through the end of this decade. Without a doubt, the skylines of the world will see tremendous change by the year 2020.

The tall building community sees beyond current global economic difficulties to a more ebullient 1960s-style “golden age” that will sparkle into the 2020s. It’s called the 2015 Maslow Window and will also feature the new international Space Age.

No responses yet

May 04 2011

Kanal Istanbul — A View To an Ebullient, Apollo-style Age?

During his ongoing re-election campaign, the prime minister of Turkey is selling a big idea. According to Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Wall Street Journal, M. Champion, 4/28/11),

We are today starting to work on one of the biggest projects of the century, which leaves behind the Panama, the Suez and—in Greece—the Corinth canals.

Do ebullient visions of Kanal Istanbul signal the approach of a 1960s-style golden age?

Given that the Suez Canal was the “technological jewel” of the 19th century, and Panama was the greatest macroengineering project of the last 200 years (until Apollo), Mr. Erdogan is using the language of ebullience.

Here at, ebullience is a technical term that indicates a very positive, somewhat irrational emotional state characterized by unusual confidence in the future.

In the 1960s Apollo program and Peace Corps of John F. Kennedy it was the ebullient feeling that we could do almost anything; … and about 200 years ago it began auspiciously with Jefferson, Napoleon, and Lewis & Clark.

Mr. Erdogan envisions Kanal Istanbul as reducing shipping traffic and increasing safety and quality of life in the Bosphorus area by creating a channel from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean; indeed, between 1982 and 2003 the Bosphorus experienced more than 600 shipping accidents.

But environmental rationales aside, the project’s main appeal is apparent in the prime minister’s ebullient rhetoric.

We said Turkey deserves to enter 2023 with such a major, crazy and wonderful project, and we took the step for this.

This timeframe suggests Kanal Istanbul would occur near the projected culmination of the 2015 Maslow Window.

History shows that truly ebullient projects — characteristic of the approach to (or early in) Maslow Windows — are usually fuzzy about costs, and Kanal Istanbul is no exception. For example, Mr. Erodgan didn’t address the issue partly because the exact path of the ~50 km-long canal is not decided.

However, William Marcuson, of the American Society of Civil Engineers, estimates a big canal rate of $ 1 B per kilometer, which puts Kanal Istanbul in the $ 50 B range, or about 1/3 of the 1960s Apollo Moon program.

Apollo-level costs convince critics that the canal will never be built. For example, Amada Paul (Today’s Zaman, 5/3/11) suggests that,

This project is probably little more than a three-minute wonder with Erdoğan announcing it without putting any meat on the bones … Once the elections are over it will likely fade away.

The real question is whether Kanal Istanbul will be more like the Grand Korean Waterway or the Panama Canal Expansion Project? In the former case, Lee Myung-bak’s ebullient vision has encountered opposition from the public. But in Panama in 2006, 72% of voters ebulliently approved the $ 5.25 B project — a tab close to the original cost of the Canal!

The Bottom Line
Given Turkey’s ascending geopolitical trajectory (e.g., George Friedman, The Next Decade, 2011) toward regional primacy, it’s probable that Kanal Istanbul will materialize sometime during the 2015 Maslow Window. In any case, the fact that the Kanal is being seriously advocated today is interpreted as more empirical evidence of our approach to another transformative 1960s-style golden age.

No responses yet

Apr 11 2011

JFK, “The Kennedys” and the Next Space President

Just finished watching the last episode of The Kennedys on REELZ Channel. It’s an 8-part miniseries that focuses mainly on political and military events related to John F. Kennedy’s presidency, and JFK’s and Robert’s relationships with their father and families.

President John F. Kennedy (right, in 1963 at Cape Canaveral, FL) is the ebullient model for a 21st century “space president” — in 2012 or 2016 — who will lead the U.S. and the world into the large-scale utilization and colonization of space.
Click .

I liked the miniseries.

Although it had little directly to do with space — e.g., there is a fleeting image of an Atlas missile lifting off during the credits (!) — the historical insights provided into related events (e.g., Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis) and the Kennedy’s personal challenges are compelling, although not particularly revealing if you know their family history.

The authors of “Camelot” — the fondly remembered zeitgeist of the 1960s — the Kennedy’s have been called America’s “Royal Family” as well as the “Beatles of the political arena”. And although JFK’s presidency lasted only 1000 days, his legacy has influenced generations.

Here at we’re huge admirers of JFK for his visionary leadership of the Apollo program during the 1960s Space Age. In the context of human exploration, JFK is truly the mid-20th century equivalent of Thomas Jefferson (for Lewis and Clark), and in terms of technology, he’s nothing less than the Theodore Roosevelt (for the Panama Canal) of his generation.

But the question is: Who will be the new JFK — the 21st century “Space President” who will lead global expansion into the cosmos? Long wave timing suggests this individual will be elected either in 2012 or 2016 so he or she should be visible now.

In late 2008, because of her close family association with JFK and his legacy, contributing editor Carol Lane and I suggested Caroline Kennedy might be perfect. Her political timing would have worked too, but she decided not to run for Hillary’s Senate seat.

Earlier in 2008, managing editor Rachel Nishimura and I speculated that — due to his charisma and youth — Barack Obama might be the next JFK-style Space President. But because of the economy and Obama’s space policy, that seems increasingly unlikely — although it still is possible.

Over the last 200+ years, one thing becomes clear,

As we approach a Maslow Window (such as the one expected in 2015), the leader who can best manifest prosperity and model ebullience wins. In the early 1800s it was Jefferson, in the mid-1840s it was James Polk (of all people), in the early 20th century it was Theodore Roosevelt, and in the 1960s John F. Kennedy. It appears that long-term economic circumstances do more to determine our leaders than the reverse.

History shows that someone who strongly “models ebullience” and “manifests prosperity” will soon emerge on the political scene. For example, take Donald Trump; his business success and financial resources are reminiscent of JFK’s father (e.g., both are billionaires in 2011 dollars), and Trump’s charisma and media presence are obvious.

However unlike JFK in 1960, Trump has no political or military experience. Whether or not Trump can achieve political support for 2012, it’s likely that someone with his ebullient characteristics will lead the U.S. and the world into the next Space Age.

No responses yet

Apr 02 2011

State of the Wave: The Maslow Window — A Brief Intro

This is a brief introduction to the Maslow Window model that forecasts another transformative, 1960s-style “golden age” to begin by 2015. (Just click on the titles below.) Keep in mind that on the Blogroll, posts are archived according to Category, publishing date, and keywords.

Future updates of this post will be archived as a Page. Click HERE.

What follows is NOT a complete list of relevant posts, merely a few key ones to get you started.

A good place to start is The Concept page.

Economic Growth — A Brief 21stCenturyWaves Perspective

Economic Booms and Apollo-style Exploration: How Soon the 40-Year Moon Hiatus Will End

Joseph Friedlander’s view of Maslow Windows at

Trends and Forecasts
State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2011

DecaState of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for the Decade 2010-2020

Ebullience and Animal Spirits are the Drivers
Are Great Explorations Driven by Keynesian “Animal Spirits” on Steroids?

The Economics of Ebullience Points to a Sparkling New Global Space Age

Is Booming Antarctic Tourism a Prelude to Earth Orbit and the Moon?

State of the Wave: Why No One’s Been to the Moon in 40 years — How Soon We’ll Go Again

Economic Growth is the Trigger
Economic Crisis Supports Maslow Window Forecasts

200 Years of GDP Trends Support a Near-Term, New Space Age

Standard Chartered Bank’s “New Super-Cycle” Points to the New Apollo-Style Space Age

Prosperity: A Technological and a Moral Imperative

The Coming Great Boom
State of the Wave — The Recession and the Next Race to Space

State of the Wave: Today’s Gloom & Doom, and the 2015 Boom

Stratfor’s George Friedman Likes Space-Based Solar Power in “The Next Decade”

“The Greatest Era in the History of Mankind”

Sketches of Each Maslow Window
1960s Apollo Maslow Window…
“The Liberal Hour” Supports Maslow Window Model and Points to the Approaching Greatest Boom in History

The 1960s Apollo Maslow Window was “Transformative”

Early 20th Century Maslow Window…
10 Lessons Peary & Amundsen Teach Us About the Human Future in Space

10 Lessons the Panama Canal Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space

Mid-19th Century Maslow Window…
10 Lessons Dr. Livingstone (“…I presume?”) Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space

How the West Was Won — The Expansionist Effects of Ebullience

Early 19th Century Maslow Window…
10 Lessons Lewis & Clark Teach Us About the Human Future in Space

Maslow Windows as a “Critical State”
Why Humans Became #1 and How Technology and Sex Lead to Unprecedented Prosperity

Niall Ferguson — On the Edge of Chaos, Immersed in the Long Wave

Space: The Fractal Frontier — How Complexity Drives Exploration

Political Waves — Past and Present
How President Obama is Creating the New Space Age

A Major Economic Boom by 2015? … The Lessons of Cleveland, Roosevelt, and Obama

Historic, Wave Election Supports Forecasts

Key Space Policy Issues
Is the Moon a “Golden Oldie” or a “One Hit Wonder”?

The Shocking Truth About the Father of the Space Station

The Allure of Moving to Mars Points to the New Space age

Commercialization of the Moon — How Soon and Who?

“A United, Global Effort for Long-Term Human Space Exploration?” — Why Not?

Precursors Point to the New Space Age

China’s Recent Educational Quantum Leap Triggers a “Sputnik Moment”

The Cold War-style Arms Race in Asia and the New Space Age

Facebook-Aided Arab Uprisings & Their Historical Parallels Signal a Transformative Future

Korea, Iran, and the Venezuela Missile Crisis: Self-Organizing Toward a Critical State?

China Surges to #2 and Contemplates More Freedom: The Implications for Space

Xunantunich and the Large Hadron Collider Support Maslow Window Forecasts

State of the Wave: ETs Surge to Center Stage

Phobos, Key to the Cosmos? Just Ask Russia, China

Major Wars Threaten Future Space Initiatives

Asteroid Threats — Rusty’s Call for A Global Response

One More Thought…
In the powerfully ebullient environment of the 2015 Maslow Window — not seen since the 1960s Moon Race, the early 20th century “Panama-fever” (of the Canal) and “Pole-Mania” (of the N & S polar explorers), the mid-19th century “Manifest Destiny” of the U.S., and the seminal exploits of Lewis and Clark over 200 years ago — almost anything is possible.

No responses yet

Feb 06 2011

Economic Booms and Apollo-style Exploration

PLEASE NOTE: This is my abstract for the 2011 International Space Development Conference (ISDC 2011) in Huntsville, AL at the Von Braun Center in May.

It provides a concise — rare for this blog!! — summary of the fundamental idea behind

For my ISDC 2011 Presentation, including post-meeting comments, Click HERE.

Economic Booms and Apollo-style Exploration

Bruce Cordell
formerly General Dynamics Space Systems Division

No one has been to the Moon for almost 40 years. And despite the nearly 500 people from 38 countries who have ventured into Earth orbit since Apollo 17, this remains one of the most extraordinary facts of the Space Age.

At last year’s ISDC in Chicago, Freeman Dyson suggested that scientists who lead unmanned space projects can point to a long string of successes that span the solar system over the last 6 decades. However, Apollo-style initiatives are highly visible, risky endeavors with big price tags and significant geopolitical implications. As a result, even “40 years after Apollo we’re still stuck in LEO!”

The history of the last 200+ years – back to Lewis and Clark — shows that Apollo-style explorations and macro engineering projects emerge only during brief, twice-per-century intervals called “Maslow Windows”. They are exclusively associated with major economic booms (e.g., the 1960s Kennedy boom) and appear to be fundamentally driven by long-term business and generational cycles. During the booms, affluence-induced ebullience catapults many in society to elevated states in Maslow’s hierarchy where great explorations seem not only intriguing, but almost irresistible.

Another way to think of Maslow Windows is in a fractal context, in which the international technology/economic/geopolitical system becomes highly interactive and self-organizes toward a critical state every 5-6 decades. This appears to be both a necessary and sufficient condition for globally transformative programs like Apollo.

The Maslow Window concept is useful because it provides: 1) a framework for long-range planning and the development of specific forecast models, 2) a marketing theme – Apollo-style exploration is in the tradition of the great transformative explorations that can be traced back to Lewis and Clark, and 3) a morale boost because program timing is reliably based on multi-century macroeconomic patterns and current global trends.

No responses yet

Jan 09 2011

Is the Moon a “Golden Oldie” or a “One Hit Wonder”?

Former NASA engineer Homer Hickam recently asked, “How about a Moon base?” (Wall Street Journal, 12/14/10).

In 1984, the great NASA Administrator during the first human missions to the Moon (1968-70), Tom Paine (left, w Pres. Nixon) said “The Moon will never motivate the American prople again.” Was he right? Is the Moon a One Hit Wonder?

The author of Rocket Boys (1998) and Back to the Moon (1999), Hickam feels that currently, NASA is up to … “Not much.” Because last year Obama sent

Mr. Bolden, the ex-astronaut, to Capitol Hill with a plan to cancel every one of NASA’s astronaut-related programs.

Hickham likes the Moon for all the usual reasons.

It’s close, it’s loaded with resources, and we can get there with existing technology.

Why not build a 21st century Moon base …

like the National Science Foundation’s South Pole Station, and invite the world to join us.

We’ll give our technological prestige a sorely needed boost, and something else will also happen: New and wondrous products based on NASA requirements for metallurgy, composite materials, solar arrays, computers and batteries will boost our economy, just as the technologies of the Apollo mission did.

Oh by the way, it won’t cost “vast amounts of money.”

Can you feel it?
That’s what we call ebullience” — the key driver of great explorations like Apollo, and macro engineering projects (MEPs) like the Panama Canal.

And Mr. Hickham, not surprisingly, has identified himself as among the elite early ebullients in the world today. We call them “early ebullients” because they are anticipating a trend that will sweep the world around 2015 — based on macroeconomic data and global trends over the last 200+ years — much like Apollo captured global headlines in the 1960s.

As an ebullience junkie myself, I personally find Hickam’s enhtusiastic Moon base idea almost irresistible. It’s spirit reminds me of the 1990 plan of Lawrence Livermore National Lab, “The Great Exploration Plan for the Human Exploration Initiative,” by three sensational physicists: Rod Hyde, Yuki Ishikawa, and Lowell Wood.

Speed was essential; the whole permanent base would take less than a decade to create, with its first inflatable hab modules in place on the Moon by 1997.

You’ve got to love their ebullient theme (circa 1990): “We already have in hand what we need for the Great Exploration of the inner solar system.” And the controversial cost estimate was great too — only $ 11 B — that’s less than $ 20 B in 2009 USD, compared to about $ 150+ B (2009 USD) for the entire Apollo program.

So simple, inexpensive starter-homes on the Moon are possible today. But the real question is: Will the American people get as excited about it as Homer and I are — or was Tom Paine correct?

This is where the long-term, empirical approach of can provide unique insights.

How Maslow Windows Work
Over the last 200+ years Americans and many others have gone exploring whenever they could afford it. These transformative, great explorations — always accompanied by MEPs and sadly punctuated by a major war — have clustered exclusively around rhythmic, twice-per-century major economic booms, such as the Kennedy Boom in the 1960s.

During the major booms, affluence-induced ebullience catapults many to higher levels in the Maslow hierarchy. Their momentarily expanded worldviews — due to elevated Maslow states — make great explorations and MEPs seem not only intriguing, but almost irresistible. Trends associated with these “Maslow Windows” provide insights to our future.

The chronology of great explorations is as follows:
Late 18th/Early 19th Century Maslow Window: Lewis and Clark
Mid-19th Century Maslow Window: Dr. Livingstone (equatorial Africa)
Early 20th Century Maslow Window: N and S Polar Expeditions
1960s Maslow Window: Apollo Moon missions

It’s clear that great explorations of new, interesting geographical sites progress from more-to-less accessible regions, consistent with the technologies of the times. For example, President Theodore Roosevelt could not outfit Adm. Peary to explore the Moon, but he did encourage him to reach the North Pole. And John F. Kennedy chose to go to the Moon — rather than Mars — because he thought it would be a challenging, yet doable global demonstration of America’s technology and economic system.

Where Will the Next Great Exploration Be?
A reasonable forecast for the next great human exploration during the 2015 Maslow Window would be Mars colonization. No one’s ever been there and it’s the next accessible (beyond the Moon) new site of interest. Plus it’s the most Earth-like world.

But suppost Mars colonization does not begin after 2015? What then?

Over the last 200+ years each Maslow Window has featured a “great exploration.” If the 2015 Maslow Window doesn’t have one it would be the first time in over 200 years that’s happened.

What about the Moon? We know it has major commercial and scientific potential, but could the Moon again have the power to rivet the attention of the global public like Apollo, the polar expeditions, Dr. Livingstone, and Lewis and Clark did generations before? Will the public see the Moon as an Earth-style “golden oldie” (i.e., a pleasant memory) with real potential for more excitement, or a “one hit wonder.”

Does the Moon Have the Right Stuff?
As we saw above, over the last 200+ years the great explorations on Earth opened up spectacular new geographic vistas through a succession of quantum leaps from Lewis and Clark to (ultimately) the polar regions. And like the Earth, the Moon has many tantalizing surface locations awaiting intrepid human explorers.

But here are 3 reasons why the Moon may become a “one hit wonder” and prove Tom Paine’s forecast correct.
1) The Moon is subtle. The Moon is a small, airless, dry (at least on the surface!), impact crater-dominated world with a month-long day-night cycle. It’s omnipresent shades-of-gray color scheme completes its alien, repetitive presentation, at least to public eyes.
2) Space technology and the “Been there, done that” Syndrome. Since the 1960s the Moon has been studied in surprising detail with satellite technology, and we have a fair idea of what’s there — at least on and near the surface. So relative to pre-1960s Earth — when many regions were truly unknown — robotic and human exploration of the Moon has accelerated our understanding such that it may not provide another riveting, Apollo-style transformative milestone for public enjoyment.
3) Apollo 11 was a hit. During the 1960s Apollo program the Moon was a One Hit Wonder. Although the first humans on the Moon (Apollo 11) made a big splash globally — as did Apollo 13 because lives were threatened — subsequent Apollo landings featuring spectacular geologic sites were greeted by an increasingly distracted public.

On the other hand, here are 3 reasons why the Moon might again acquire the wonder and excitement required for a great human exploration.
1) Star Trek — The Next Generation. A new generation of young people, who are unaware of Dr. Paine and did not personally witness Apollo, are increasingly excited about exploring and developing the Moon.
2) ISS and Interspace:. Many of these folks are in countries (like China and India) with growing space programs and dynamic economies. International cooperation and competition — based on the International Space Station model — may focus attention on lunar exploration starting from an Antarctica-style base like that advocated by Hickham.
3) “Potential for cultural shock and social disorientation…”. According to Dr. Heywood Floyd at the American lunar base in Clavius (“2001: A Space Odyssey”, 1968), describing the alien monolith recently excavated on the Moon. Anything even remotely like this and you know the answer.
Click 2001’s Monolith on the Moon

The Tentative Bottom Line
Based on its questionable ability to motivate, Apollo-style the new Space Age, the Moon is probably a One Hit Wonder, although it will become much more than just a Golden Oldie (a pleasant memory). Indeed, the Moon is a scientific bonanza and has long-term potential for multiple MEPs supporting its future role as a major commercial, energy, and tourist center.

But barring some civilization-altering discovery on the Moon, the next great exploration will likely be in the Mars system.

Two key indicators to watch are plans for an international Moon base and a successful Russian/Chinese Phobos-Grunt mission. They’re important because they point in different directions.

5 responses so far

Oct 09 2010

Michael Barone Comments on 1894 Political Scenario of

This week released poll results that suggest voter trends in the direction of economic/political scenarios that have been previously identified by as potentially highly relevant to our future.

Does this obscure 19th century U.S. President hold the secret to our future trajectory?

In particular, Gallup’s results suggest that our continuing political realignment may have similar dynamics to the election of 1894 that was heavily influenced by the financial Panic of 1893, and culminated in the transformative Peary/Panama/T. Roosevelt Maslow Window of 1901 – 13.

Gallup’s generic ballot for Congress among registered voters reveals an extraordinary “double-digit advantage under two separate turnout scenarios” for Republicans. Among likely voters in their “higher turnout” model, the Republican candidate is preferred over the Democrat by 53% to 40%. Among likely voters in their “lower turnout” model — more likely in mindterm elections like 2010 — the Republican wins 56% to 38%.

This amazing margin is unprecedented for Republicans in the history of Gallup surveys (since 1942).

Michael Barone (, 10/4/10), principal author of The Almanac of American Politics, indicates Gallup’s stiking poll numbers,

suggest huge gains for Republicans and a Republican House majority the likes of which we have not seen since the election cycles of 1946 or even 1928 … The Gallup high turnout and low turnout numbers suggest it looks like 1894, when Republicans gained more than 100 seats in a House of approximately 350 seats.

Two years ago (10/20/08) I wrote that the financial Panic of 2008 has an analog in 1893. has also characterized a class of panics that predates Maslow Windows by about a decade … Ironically, about a month ago I was in the process of writing a new post on the Panic of 1893 and its similarities to today — and trying to develop the courage to forecast a similar crisis today (!) — when the credit meltdown occurred. The Panic of 1893 caused estimated unemployment over 10% for 5+ years. It lasted 18 months but was followed by another recession that lasted until 1897. The combination of GDP declines of several % coupled with population growth meant that GDP per capita didn’t recover to 1892 levels until 1899.

Last year (8/29/09) I suggested there were two economic/political scenarios of particular interest:

Scenario 1: The 1960s John F. Kennedy (JFK) Replay … In which the economic and geopolitical trends of 1945 – 1960 reappear about one long wave later — between 2000 and 2015 — including the end of a world war, a great economic boom, and the election of a charismatic JFK-style Democratic president, that trigger a Super Apollo Maslow Window (2015 – 2025) featuring a Camelot-like zeitgeist.
Scenario 2: The 1900s Teddy Roosevelt (TR) Encore … In which the economic and geopolitical trends of 1888 – 1903 reappear about two long waves later — between 2000 and 2015 — including a financial panic followed by a major recession, and the election of a charismatic TR-style Republican president, that trigger a Super Apollo Maslow Window (2015 – 2025) featuring a Panama Fever-style zeitgeist.

Until recently, I have seriously considered only the “JFK Replay” as the nominal scenario for the 2015 Maslow Window, but recent economic and political events have convinced me to also consider the “TR Encore.”

I concur with Barone about the potentially monumental implications of recent Gallup polling data, and believe it reinforces my tentative conclusions of December, 2009:

The bottomline is that the appearance of the Panic of 2008 was historically monumental. It signaled that our future trajectory will be more like that of the early 20th century Peary/Panama Maslow Window and less like the 1950s.

(See: The Economics of Ebullience Points to a Sparkling New Global Space Age)

The 1894 Election Model adds weight to current trends supporting a continuing political realignment fundamentally motivated by the drive for prosperity more than any particular candidate.

Because of President Grover Cleveland’s (pictured above) inability to deal with the effects of the Panic of 1893, McKinley won the presidency in 1896 and presided over the return to prosperity. In 1901 McKinley’s successor, President Theodore Roosevelt led the U.S. into perhaps its most ebullient Maslow Decade in history …

Like its 1893 counterpart, the Panic of 2008 triggered a political realignment with the election of President Obama and Democratic supermajorities in Congress. Given current economic trends, it’s likely that Republicans will experience significant Congressional gains in November, and may continue the political realignment — but this time in their favor …

Although current history is not necessarily hostage to an 1890s-style replay, one thing seems likely: the drive for prosperity in the form of a major economic boom commencing by 2015. Over the last 200+ years, this stage in the long business cycle (the “long wave”) consistently features a major economic boom that drives unprecedented, ebullient exploration and technology programs immersed in a Camelot-like zeitgeist.

(See; A Major Economic Boom by 2015? … The Lessons of Cleveland, Roosevelt, and Obama)

No responses yet

Sep 04 2010

Early Ebullience Continues to Rise: “His Reputation is Expanding Faster Than the Universe!”

Here at we’re always on the lookout for signs of wide-spread ebullience, because over the last 200 years it’s fundamentally driven some of the most thrilling human explorations (e.g., Lewis & Clark) and most amazing technology projects (e.g., the Apollo Saturn V launch vehicle) of all time.

Actor Jonathan Goldsmith is the “most interesting” — and the most ebullient — man in the world.
Click .

Here at, “ebullience” is a technical term.

It’s defined as a very positive, somewhat irrational — almost giddy — emotional state, that’s usually due to widespread affluence during a 1960s-style major economic boom. In response to affluence-induced ebullience, many people ascend the Maslow hierarchy where their expanded world views make Great Explorations and MEPs seem not just intriguing, but almost irresistible — hence the name “Maslow Window.”

In the 1960s Apollo program and Peace Corps of John F. Kennedy it was the ebullient feeling that we could do almost anything; in the early 20th century it was Theodore Roosevelt’s Panama fever and (north & south) pole mania; in the mid-19th century is was manifest destiny of James Polk and the central Africa adventures of Dr. Livingstone, I presume; and about 200 years ago it began auspiciously with Jefferson, Napoleon, and Lewis & Clark.

Maslow Window-style ebullience is usually affluence-induced, but even in the wake of the financial Panic of 2008 and during our stalled recovery, early ebullience is on the rise. We call this “early ebullience” because it signals our rapid approach to the next extraordinary Maslow Window expected by 2015.

This all came to mind this morning while we were celebrating the holiday watching opening-day college football on TV. Michigan State’s in-progress win over Western Michigan was interrupted by my favorite commercials on television: Dos Equis’ “the Most Interesting Man in the World” ad campaign.

To my friends (male and female) and me they are immensely amusing. So much so, that in fact, before today, I’d never thought about why — I was too busy enjoying them! But their sociological importance as an indicator of early ebullience is suggested because they’ve been around since 2007 and are very popular. Many folks strongly identify with their wildly ebullient themes!

They feature actor Jonathan Goldsmith as “The Most Interesting Man” who projects an intense aura of ebullience, but of an unusual kind. It’s not his personality that’s ebullient, it is his attitude!

Here are some new and fav lines about The Most Interesting Man:

“He is the life of parties he has never attended”

“His personality is so magnetic, he is unable to carry credit cards.”

“Sharks Have a week dedicated to him.”

My personal favorites include:

“He once had an akward moment, just to see how it feels.”

“Alien abductors have asked him, to probe them.”

“He lives vicariously through himself.”

Eat Me Daily gets it:

A cross between Ernest Hemingway, Bill Murray, Burt Reynolds, Royal Tenenbaum, and Don Draper, the Most Interesting Man in the World harkens back to a mid-century concept of what a man’s man should be. In love with women and booze, but classier than most, he travels the world seeking experiences. (“His beard alone has experienced more than a lesser man’s entire body.”)

“Mid-Century” refers to just before the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window, about one long wave ago. We should expect these traits and images to be re-emerging about now because commercial television is a major influence on pop culture. And …

Pop culture elements resonate with the 56 year cycle because of the “omnipresent financial, technological, and cultural influences that long-term fluctuations in the economy have on society during similar portions of the wave; e.g., both the original and sequel of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” appeared 7 – 8 years before their Maslow Window opened …

Of course, The Most Interesting Man doesn’t prove we’re on trajectory for a 2015 Boom, but — along with a variety of other impressive evidence — it’s certainly supports it. And keep in mind that this is a postview of 1960s-style ebullience — something you can’t remember if you’re under 45 — and a preview of the Camelot-like ebullience likely to engulf you after 2015.

OK, I’ve teased you long enough. Here’s a montage video of The Greatest Man commercials. (I figured you’d stop reading if I included it earlier in the post.) Enjoy and have an Ebullient Labor Day Weekend!

CLICK: watch?v=QI58wj4b4g0

No responses yet

Jul 01 2010

Cambridge Professor: “A Great Event” in 2014 … and The Way the Future Really Works

The way the future works has a lot to do with the past — especially the ways that humans, resources (especially geography), and technology have interacted before.

The future’s important because it’s where we’ll spend the rest of our lives. Click .

Here at, the idea has certainly not been to try to understand how everything works.

Instead, we have focused on the following questions: 1) Why do the great human explorations (e.g., Lewis and Clark), massive macroengineering projects (e.g., Panama Canal), and the major wars (e.g., World War I), cluster together — over the last 200+ years — exclusively in connection with rhythmic, twice-per-century major economic booms (e.g., the 1960s Apollo “Maslow Window”)? and 2) What does this tell us about the future of technology and space?

Because our approach provides a new framework to illuminate both the past and future — e.g., summarized in my recent look at the next decade — it’s always exciting to compare it to macro-historical thinking by a first-rate historian like Cambridge University Professor Nicholas Boyle.

Boyle’s book, 2014 – How to Survive the Next World Crisis, appeared this week and boldly uses multi-century historical patterns to project trends in the 21st century, including 2014 being a special year (which is no surprise to devotees of the 2015 Maslow Window!).

Multi-Century Patterns in History Provide Powerful Insights

Professor Boyle’s bold use of historical events over the last 500 years as the basis for his 21st century forecasts is impressive. He starts with Martin Luther’s theses of 1517 (triggering the Reformation) and surges all the way to 1914, the start of World War I.’s forecasts spring from macroeconomic data and historical patterns — especially with regard to great explorations, MEPs, and major wars — over the last 200 years.

Considered together these quite-different approaches feature surprising parallels and expanded insights into the past as well as the future.

There will be “a great event” in 2014
Boyle’s major insight is his forecast of a “great event” in 2014; this potential crisis is based on a generational rationale and the psychology of a new century. 2014 is near the projected opening of the 2015 Maslow Window — a 1960s-style golden age of prosperity, explorationm, and technology — based on the last 200+ years. So we like his timescale.

According to Boyle,

2007 started off colossal economic change which has still got a long way to go …

My thesis is that we have got another crisis to come, and you can already see that in the questions being raised over the debts of nations …

We agree because history shows he’s right.

Every Maslow Window of the last 200 years — with the exception of the 1960s Apollo Window — was preceded within a decade by a financial panic (liike that in 2008) and a great recession like the current one. A good analog for now is the Panic of 1893 and the 1890s great recession; it was a “double-dip” recession and lasted 6 years, suggesting our current recession should end by 2014 and could be consistent with Boyle’s expectation.

Interestingly, today CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf independently supported this estimate by stating that it will take another 4 years (not before 2014) for unemployment to decline to “normal levels” of about 5%.

However Boyle’s next “crisis” might be military. Over the last 200+ years, every Maslow Window has been plagued by an early- or pre-Window war or major conflict; the last was the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 that almost led to a major nuclear exchange. But the good news is that, so far, the world has managed to avoid major destruction by these early-/pre-Window threats. And in fact, most actually create momentum toward the Maslow Window itself.

In the 21st Century: Peace or war?
According to Boyle, a ‘Doomsday’ moment will take place in 2014 and “will determine whether the 21st century is full of violence and poverty or will be peaceful and prosperous.”

And history shows he’s right again — although both will probably occur.

The way the future really works is illustrated by the last 200 years. Transformative, decade-long Maslow Windows are fundamentally driven by affluence-induced ebullience that’s triggered by rhythmic, twice-per-century unparalleled economic booms.

For example, distinguished historian Eric Hobsbawm (b. 1917) describes “The Great Boom” which powered the mid-19th century Dr. Livingstone/Suez/Polk Maslow Window, as

the extraordinary economic transformation and expansion … (with) prolonged prosperity … Never did British exports grow more rapidly than in the euphoric years between 1853 and 1857…

However, the decades between Maslow WIndows feature devastating depressions and military strife as the long business cycle (the “long wave”) descends to a trough and begins its recovery over about 4+ decades. Speaking of the 20th century, Hobsbawn comments that

The decades from the outbreak of the First World War to the aftermath of the Second, was an Age of Catastrophe for this society …even intelligent conservatives would not take bets on its survival … a world economic crisis brought even the strongest capitalist economies to their knees …

In the languge of Self Organized Criticality, the international economic/geopolitical system continuously self-organizes toward a critical state (the “fractal” Maslow Window) where major changes — both good and bad — occur rapidly and often without obvious triggers. Examples include the Apollo Moon program in the 1960s and World War I during the early 20th century Maslow Window.

Between Maslow Windows, the international economic/geopolitical system elements (countries, corporations, individuals) interact weakly and typically require several decades to self-organize back into another critical state. (The next one should begin by 2015.)

The devastating “Aspirin Age” decades between Maslow Windows are not inevitable. When we learn to include the long wave in our strategic thinking and macro-planning, their extreme effects should subside.

No responses yet

May 17 2010

Animal Spirits, Complexity, and “The Most Dangerous Guy Out There”

New York Times Magazine (5/16/10; B. Wallace-Wells) features a revealing profile of former Chicago professor and current Obama regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein. A profound devotee of behavorial economics — which assumes that human irrationality is predictable — Sunstein commented that its elaboration “is the most exciting intellectual development of my lifetime.”

Did positive Keynesian Animal Spirits drive both the Panama Canal in 1914…

… and the Apollo program in 1969? Click .

The Times’ piece is of interest to us at because John Maynard Keynes — the first prominent behavorial economist — invented the concept of “animal spirits” to explain the crucial role of confidence (both optimism and pessimism) in the economy. Conceptually, animal spirits appears related to “ebullience” which — through the psychologically expansive effects of Maslow’s hierarchy — triggers public support for great explorations and MEPs.

In fact, animal spirits and ebullience may be two sides of the same coin. For example, positive animal spirits stimulate actors in the economy to produce a boom. While ebullience, although typically affluence-induced, operates in the elevated Maslow (self-actualizing) mode and makes great expectations and MEPs seem almost irresistible. Negative animal spirits rapidly terminate the boom, erode ebullience, collapse society’s elevated Maslow state, and “close” the Maslow Window.

But the Times explains that not everyone is happy with Sunstein’s vision.

Conservatives see a Big Brother strain in Sunstein’s philosophy (Glenn Beck called him “the most dangerous guy out there”), while some liberals worry that behavorial economics is too immature to handle the weight of guiding policy.

This is partly because of two Sunstein beliefs:
1) the idea that the human quality of irrationality can be predicted,
and, according to the Times,
2) “this is the controversial part — that if the social environment can be changed, people might be nudged into more rational behavior.”

Animal Spirits Exist
More interesting at this point — given the still-embryonic state of the science — is the recent discovery by a University of California, Irvine economist that animal spirits are actually important to business cycles (Investers Chronicle, 3/26/10; C. Dillow). Fabio Milani compared the expectations of individual economic forecasters (from the Survey of Economic Forecasters) with a learning model featuring a “rational expectations solution” to the system. According to Milani,

Private sector agents in some periods may be overly optimistic — by forecasting a higher future output or lower inflation rate, for example, than implied by their learning model — or overly pessimistic. These waves of over-optimism and over-pessimism, which are exogenous to the state of the economy, are defined as the expectation shocks in the model.

Milani’s “expectation shocks” can account for more than half of the variation in the U.S. GDP over the last 40 years. Not only did his expectation shocks fall before each of the last 7 recessions, they are near an all-time low now. Thus animal spirits, expectation shocks, and ebullience are apparently at work during business cycles.

The Market is a Complex Adaptive System
Herbert Gintis (3/31/2009) of the Santa Fe Institute modeled the market in 2007 as an agent-based complex adaptive system. In his review of Akerloff and Shiller’s book, Animal Spirits (2009), Gintis suggests that animal spirits are only part of the story:

The major thesis of the book is only partially correct in attributing macroeconomic instability to human foibles … Akerlof and Shiller do not have enough evidence to assert confidently that people are driven by irrational animal spirits to produce market volatility. People imitate the successful, both in my agent-based model and in real life. This is generally quite rational behavior, but it can produce “behavioral cascades” that are destabilizing

Part of the confusion apparently arises because of evolving conditions that affect the notion of “rational” versus “irrational.” Is it rational for investors and businesses to join the bandwagon when a strong upward economic trend has been established? Probably yes. On the other hand, is it irrational for investors and businesses to assume that the boom will continue forever? Yes, for sure.

Therefore, investors who were initially rational may become irrational as the boom peaks. This is especially true when the system becomes strongly fractal and increasingly unpredictable.

It appears that animal spirits have an empirical foundation and, together with ebullience, are able to explain the psychological rationale behind widespread public support for great explorations and MEPs during Maslow Windows. The fact that public support is short-lived and that Maslow Windows display punctuated equilibrium — e.g., are separated by 55 to 60 years — is consistent with the idea that we’re dealing with a complex adaptive system that requires 5 – 6 decades to repeatedly self-organize into a critical state (the Maslow Window).

No responses yet

Next »