Mar 05 2011

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

Standard Chartered bank (The Super-Cycle Report, London, 2010) asserts that,

We are in a new ‘super-cycle’ driven by the industrialisation and urbanisation of emerging markets, and global trade.

Two previous Super-Cycles have culminated in stunning economic booms during Maslow Windows in the early 20th century and the 1960s. The 3rd Growth Super-Cycle has already begun.
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They define a growth super-cycle as,

A period of historically high global growth, lasting a generation or more, driven by increasing trade, high rates of investment, urbanisation and technological innovation, characterised by the emergence of large, new economies, first seen in high catch-up growth rates across the emerging world.

This is closely related to what we at 21stCenturyWaves.com call a “Maslow Window”.
See: State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2011.”

In 2007, we were enjoying “the greatest economic boom ever” before it was interrupted by the financial Panic of 2008 and the Great Recession of 2008-10. As the recovery continues and the growth Super-Cycle takes off, we expect to accelerate toward the Great Boom of 2015 and another 1960s-style golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology.
See: “State of the Wave: Today’s Gloom & Doom, and the 2015 Boom.”

According to Standard Chartered bank, we’ve enjoyed two previous growth super-cycles.

The first super-cycle took place during the second half of the 19th century, from 1870
until 1913, the eve of the First World War. At that time, the world economy witnessed a significant step-up in its rate of growth, rising 2.7% on average per annum in volume, or real, terms. That was a full 1% higher than the average growth rate seen during the previous half-century. America was the big gainer, moving from the fourth largest to the largest economy.

The first super-cycle culminated in the Peary/Panama/T. Roosevelt Maslow Window (1901-13), one of the most ebullient, transformative periods in U.S. history. It immediately followed a serious financial crisis known as the Panic of 1893 and the Great 1890s Recession, that have economic and political parallels with today.

The 2nd super-cycle featured the post-WW II expansion.

The second super-cycle was after the Second World War until the early 1970s. World growth averaged a huge 5% per annum, again in real or inflation-adjusted terms. Japan and the Asian tigers saw the biggest gains over this time. Japan, for instance, moved from 3% to 10% of the world economy.

The 2nd super-cycle culminated in the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window that featured the first great exploration that was “off-world”, the greatest macro engineering project of modern times, and probably the most transformative decade in U.S. history.

Although “emerging markets could propel a global boom comparable to the industrialization of the United States,” Standard Chartered believes the 3rd super-cycle represents a shift in global economic power from the U.S. and Europe to Asia. According to Ian Bremmer (Wall Street Journal, 3/2/11),

Americans and Europeans should be relieved to hear that other countries can do a bigger share of the world’s economic lifting.

However not everyone concurs. For example, Harvard professor Joseph Nye projects that,

China will give the U.S. a “run for its money” but it will not pass the U.S. in overall power in the first half of this century.

See also: “Harvard’s Joseph Nye sees U.S. “unlikely…(to) be surpassed…” Well Positioned for the 21st Century.”

And the eminent British historian and author of Modern Times (2001), Paul Johnson, believes America will stay on top (WSJ, 3/5/11; B. Carney).

I think America has such huge strengths — particularly its freedom of thought and expression — that it’s going to survive as a top nation for the foreseeable future. And therefore take care of the world.

In any case, the 3rd super-cycle will feature a return to prosperity that should usher in the stunning 2015 Maslow Window. If the last 200+ years are any guide, we will experience wonders like space-based solar power systems, international commercial development of the Moon, and the initial expansion of human civilization to Mars.

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Feb 20 2011

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

I greatly enjoyed George Friedman’s new book, The Next Decade (2011). A New York Times best seller, it’s sort of a more focused, near-term sequel to his blockbluster, The Next 100 Years (2009).

Satellites that collect solar energy in space and beam it to Earth should begin to impact our growing energy use by 2015.
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Friedman’s section on technology and demographics is both simple and powerful, and reflects basic principles regarding economic cycles and prosperity that also guide us here at 21stCenturyWaves.com.

…economic expansion and contraction are driven … at a deeper level … by demographic forces and by technological innovation.

The challenge for the next decade will be that “breakthrough technologies” — the ones that stimulate prosperity by meeting key societal needs — will be in short supply.

Friedman blames the financial Panic of 2008 and the great recession of 2008-10 for reducing investment in new technologies and making people unusually risk-adverse. Plus a major engine of technological development — military needs during major wars — has not been activated by the pre-Maslow conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Friedman forecasts that financial stresses will subside after 2015 (as the next Maslow Window opens) but,

Given the lead time in technological development, the next generation of notable technological breakthroughs won’t emerge until the 2020s.

While Friedman’s picture is reasonable, it’s likely he underestimates the Great Boom of 2015 that’s expected to trigger a golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology comparable to the Kennedy Boom of the 1960s. The reason is we haven’t seen a financial Panic/Great Recesson sequence like our current one in over 100 years!

Back then it began with the Panic of 1893 and the Great 1890s Recession. They were followed in 1899 by one of the most spectacular recoveries and ebullient decades (i.e., the Peary/Panama/T. Roosevelt Maslow Window) in the history of the U.S..
Please see (especially Fig. 4): “The Economics of Ebullience Points to a Sparkling New Global Space Age.”

Because of the close connection of energy availability with economic growth, and the fact that most increases in energy use have come from developing countries, the question of what will power technological innovation in the next decade assumes center stage.

Increased oil use will not be able to meet global energy demands of the next decade, and Friedman concludes that the only viable choices are coal and natural gas. And while the U.S. has large domestic supplies of both, the trick is…

The president must choose the balance between the two available fossil fuels, coal and gas. Then he must tell the people that these are the only choices. If he fails to persuade the public of this, there will not be energy for the technologies that will emerge in the next decade.

One of these new technologies is space-based solar power. Friedman believes that energy needs in the future will be driven by desalination of ocean water associated with increases in global standards of living and growing industrialization, and the best long-term solution is collecting solar energy in space and beaming it to Earth.

Progress is occurring. For example, a Southern California company, Solaren Corp. has contracted with Pacific Gas & Electric to sell it 200 megawatts of power per year starting in 2016 (Wall Street Journal, 9/27/10), after testing systems in space during 2014. While the Switzerland-based Space Energy Group’s business plan features a solar satellite in orbit in 3 years. And in 2009, Japan announced a new $ 21 B space solar power initiative.

However, Friedman warns that the U.S. government is currently funding worthy research into key technologies for cures of degenerative diseases and for robotics,

But the fundamental problem, energy, has not had its due.

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Nov 25 2010

Images Celebrate Gold, John Sutter, and the Ebullient Mid-19th Century Maslow Window

Since I planned to be in Sacramento last weekend, I decided to enjoy some of the key historical sites — e.g., of the extraordinary California Gold Rush — associated with the ebullient mid-19th century Maslow Window.

Typical of America’s exceptional mid-19th Century ebullience was the California Gold Rush (1848-1855); gold was first discovered here at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, CA by James Marshall.
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(All images by Bruce Cordell, 2010)

Maslow Windows over the last 200 years are usually preceded by a financial panic and major recession (much like the Panic of 2008 and our current global recession), and the Dr. Livingstone/James Polk Maslow Window (~1847-60) was no exception.

The Panic of 1837 was a monster — in 1960 Nobel winner Milton Friedman compared it to the 1930s Great Depression — but in 6 long years it finally gave way to an early-1840s recovery and boom that triggered the ebullience of “Manifest Destiny.” This Panic/Great Recession/Boom/Maslow Window sequence repeated one long wave later starting with the Panic of 1893 and culminating with perhaps the most ebullient decade in U.S. history: the Peary/Panama/T.Roosevelt Maslow Window.

For more background on Mainfest Destiny please see, “How the West Was Won — The Expansionist Effects of Ebullience,” and on the CA Gold Rush see #1 of “10 Lessons Lewis and Clark Teach Us About the Human Future in Space.”

I’ve written about this period a lot lately because it appears that we began reliving major elements of the 1893-to-1913 chronology two long waves later starting with the Panic of 2008. If this trend continues, as it has repeatedly over the last 200+ years, we should expect a new 1960s-style golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology triggered by a major economic boom, to emerge by 2015.

Shortly after the discovery of gold there, Sutter’s Mill was closed. The flood of 1862 destroyed the structure and the current replica (shown here from the river side) was constructed on the original site in 1967 — fittingly during the ebullient Apollo Maslow Window.

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The image below is not a cannon. It was used during “hydraulicking” to dislodge sediment and gold from rock walls. The jets of water were environmentally destructive. A realistic depiction of this technique is seen in Clint Eastwood’s popular 1985 movie “Pale Rider”.

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The Gold Discovery Museum of the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma has a number of captivating exhibits.

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I was originally headed up 80 to Tahoe to take a peek at the Donner Museum and the famous snow monument, but ran into an electronic sign announcing the need for chains at the summit. Since Hertz had rented me a red Mustang convertable (not my choice!), I was unequipped for the trip so I headed first to Coloma and then back to Sacramento to see Sutter’s Fort.

Proof of the macho Sierra storm was provided by this car’s snowy roof (and many others). It was fleeing westward down the hill Sunday afternoon on highway 50 just west of Placerville.

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The famous, ebullient John Sutter who owned Sutter’s Mill also founded Sutter’s Fort in 1839 (he called it “New Helvetia”) that eventually grew into Sacramento. This interior view was taken looking southeast. I was in front of the Blacksmith Shop (doors on the right) in the West Yard looking toward the fort’s main entrance (near the left edge). Sutter would have been fascinated by the modern Sutter Medical Center in the distance.

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Here’s the Blacksmith Shop. State-of-the-art for its time. In terms of the craftsmen and technologists required to support early 19th century frontier life, the fort was essentially self-contained. It was the first non-native American outpost in the Central Valley. Except for the more benign environment and the native inhabitants, Sutter’s Fort was the 19th century analog to a first lunar base.

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Cannons stationed in the second-floor bastion at the southeast corner made sure that anyone not invited to the party wouldn’t crash it.

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Sutter founded his fort only 2 years after the Panic of 1837 (see above). Relative to the long wave, that’s what we call — bad timing. And although he was the quintessential entrepreneur, Sutter was increasingly plagued by debt. Here we see the Central Building — the only original structure still standing in the rebuilt fort — including the 2nd floor offices of the doctor, clerk, and Sutter himself. It would have provided the last line of defense if necessary.

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It’s clear that everyone at Sutter’s Fort feasted well. This view — from the Clerk’s 2nd floor office — shows the northeast corner of the East Yard. Here are the Bakery and Bakery Storeage areas, and the outdoor Beehive Oven.

This must have been of great interest to the last survivors of the Donner party who were brought here in April, 1848, as the mid-19th century Maslow Window was gaining steam. Sutter’s Fort was near the end of the famed California Trail and welcomed many an ebullient pilgrim who came seeking their fortune in gold, agirculture, etc.

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In this image (pardon the screen) we are peering into Sutter’s 2nd floor business office in the Central Building. This is where Sutter planned his new enterprises, worked with his Clerk to monitor operations and finances, and sadly, watched his fortune dissolve.

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Sutter’s empire was short-lived. According to William Dillinger (The Gold Discovery, 2006), within only a decade of its founding, and …

After the gold discovery, Sutter’s heavily mortgaged fort and lands were overrun by gold-seekers and squatters until he was finally driven to take refuge at his “Hock Farm” on the Feather River.

In the Museum there is a revealing quote from Sutter to the effect that he would have become very rich if the gold discovery had happened only a couple of years later (~1850), but the ensuing chaos caused him to lose almost everything. In effect, if the normal major mid-19th century economic boom had not been temporarily subverted by gold fever, his under-capitalized (i.e., debt-ridden) businesses would have flourished — if his timing had been better.

Sutter’s experience reminds us that the long wave is very formidable — especially when you are unaware of it. Or if you don’t plan for it. This key lesson — gleaned from transformative Maslow Windows over the last 200+ years — still applies in the 21st century to those who aspire to grow with human expansion into the cosmos, when it re-ignites by 2015.

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Nov 06 2010

Historic, Wave Election Supports 21stCenturyWaves.com Forecasts

Last Tuesday American voters presented Republicans with control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democrats with the loss of 60 seats, with 9 other races still too close to call (Wall Street Journal, 11/6/2010). This dwarfed the Republican wave elections of 1946 and 1994 and conjured up images of the political realignment of 1894 as suggested here pre-election based on long wave economic and political trends.

This is significant beyond just the fortunes of U.S. party politics because it indicates the increased likelihood that we are reliving major elements of the financial Panic of 1893/Great 1890s Recession scenario that promptly triggered one of the most ebullient decades in American history — the Peary/Panama/T. Roosevelt Maslow Window (~1901-13).

And thus a similar transformative, golden age of prosperity, exploration,and technology (i.e., a Maslow Window) by 2015 is increasingly indicated.

A good summary of our pre-election scenarios is in: “Michael Barone Comments on the 1894 Political Scenario of 21stCenturyWaves.com”

Checking Our Pre-Election Expectations versus the Results —

1) The current economic/political framework resembles 1893 – 1913 (the Cleveland/Roosevelt era) more than 1949 – 1969 (the Eisenhower/JFK era).
Although no financial panic/great recession pair occurred between 1949 and 1969, the historic Panic of 2008 signaled that we are returning to the dominant pattern of the last 200+ years where financial panics — e.g., the Panic of 1893 — lead stunning Maslow Windows by 6 to 10 years.

2) The Political realignment of 2008 should continue through 2010.
Grover Cleveland was elected president in 1893, the year of the financial panic. The Great 1890s Recession was a double dip that continued until 1899. Like 2010, the election of 1894 was a realigning election featuring a Republican landslide (Democrats lost 125 seats). Thus the political realignment of 2008 has continued.

3) Political trends are more associated with the drive for prosperity than any particular party or candidate.
Like the election of 1894, the recent election was driven by economic issues, and was less in favor of Republicans than it was against Democrats. Exit polls revealed voter concerns were focused on job creation, federal spending, the budget deficit, and taxes. This is consistent with both short-term trends resulting from our great recession, and the pattern of the last 200+ years when the drive for prosperity becomes paramount as we approach a Maslow Window.

Three Key Near-Term Issues and Trends

1) Will the Cleveland-Obama electoral parallel continue?
Both Cleveland and Obama were elected near a financial panic. In their midterm elections, both presidents experienced major public rebukes to their economic policies. For Cleveland, the election of 1894 set the stage for his defeat two years later.

Former pollster for Bill Clinton, Douglas Schoen, recently (WSJ, 11/4/10) characterized Obama’s “historic choice” as,

He can become marginalized and largely irrelevant — as was Jimmy Carter in much of his last two years in office. Or he can return to the promise of his campaign when he offered to eschew partisanship and pursue the centrist agenda that the American people elected him to advance.

Schoen recognizes that, from the voters’ perspective, the drive for prosperity trumps any particular candidate or party.

2) Will the current political realignment continue beyond 2010?
The Wall Street Journal (11/1/10; N. King, Jr.) anticipates a “historic era” in U.S. politics and sees parallels with the 1890s.

Financial panic in 1893 set the stage for a series of sharp swings in the 1890s. Republicans won a landslide in 1894, picking up 135 seats, but then lost 48 seats two years later , despite Republican William McKinley’s triumph in the presidential race.

The Journal is suggesting that change will continue, and is hinting that unless he changes course — which is not yet indicated by the president’s recent, post-election statements — Mr. Obama risks defeat in 2012.

3) Will the Great Boom of 2015 Materialize?
Opinion polls and the success of Tea Party candidates in 2010 suggest it’s the front-burner issue. And macroeconomic data and historical trends over the last 200+ years point to the central role of a major economic boom in triggering a new Apollo-style Space Age by 2015.

Three possible economic scenarios for the U.S. and the world over the next few years are being discussed. Based on the “nominal” forecast model of 21stCenturyWaves.com, here are the 3 scenarios from high probability to low:

1. MOST PROBABLE: Recovery from the (possible double dip) great recession followed by the Great Boom of 2015 which triggers a new global Space Age,

2. POSSIBLE: Major inflation triggered by the Fed’s new $ 600 B quantitative easing “Hail Mary pass” (WSJ, 11/4/10) policy,
and
3) LEAST LIKELY: A Japan-style deflationary decade of economic stagnation.

More discussion of these is coming.

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Oct 30 2010

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

When I was with General Dynamics, Space Systems Division in San Diego studying manned Mars missions for NASA — e.g., see “The Challenge of Mars” — I often thought about the option of becoming a permanent Mars resident, and knew it would appeal to many people.

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Where would you rather live: the Ocean World or the Red Planet? Mars is growing in popularity.
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Professors Dirk Schulze-Makuch (Washington State Univ) and Paul Davies (Arizona State Univ) have recently advocated one-way manned Mars missions on cost and political grounds as a way to jumpstart the colonization of Mars (Journal of Cosmology, Oct-Nov, 2010). This is an admirable goal, but before I get into the details of their vision, I want to explore its real significance.

Mars Colonization Ascends into Pop Culture
I first became aware of their article through the Chronicle of Higher Education (10/22/10; D. Troop), which was a big surprise. The Chronicle is more likely to feature trends in education than the latest thinking in astronautics, which confirmed my suspicion that Mars colonization is again becoming a hot topic, just like it was one long wave ago in the 1960s; in fact it is becoming part of popular culture.

A New International Space Age by 2015
This, of course, is what we would expect as we approach another 1960s-style transformative decade — the 2015 Maslow Window. It is one of several key indicators that point to a new international Space Age igniting by 2015, including: 1) the financial Panic of 2008 and its great recession, 2) a great economic boom by 2015 and political realignments, 3) macroeconomic trends over the last 200 years, 4) expanding interest in extraterrestrials, new Earth-like planets, and UFOs, 5) birth of the space tourist industry, 6) surging international plans for lunar science and development and interest in human Mars exploration, and many others.

In the next 3 to 5 years — based on macroeconomic data and global trends over the last 200+ years — we will rapidly transtition from a multi-decade period of low self organized criticality (SOC) to an ebullient, fractal (high SOC) international environment (i.e., a Maslow Window) where almost anything is possible. Previous Maslow Windows have featured quantum leaps in human exploration (e.g., Lewis and Clark) and technology and management (e.g., Apollo Moon program), and are usually terminated by a major war (e.g., World War I).

True Space Colonization, Not Suicide Missions
One-way Mars missions — not to be confused with suicide missions — could be viewed as a subconscious longing to escape the current financial, environmental, geopolitical and other stresses of Earth. But they are much more than that as the authors show by emphasizing familiar themes of survival of the human race (from asteroid as well as Earth-based threats) and the human spirit to expand and explore the unknown. “A permanent human presence on Mars would open the way to comparative planetology on a scale unimagined by any former generation.”

Although the initial colonists would have estimated life spans on Mars of only about 20 years, in several decades (after numerous followon missions), the total Mars colony population might reach 150 and form a viable gene pool. The authors compare the risks of initial Mars colonists to “the first white settlers of the North American continent who left Europe with little expectation of return.”

Near-Term Mars Strategy Bypasses the Moon
Schulze-Makuch and Davies are focused on Mars colonization, not the buildup of near-Earth space infrastructure. A Moon base is not required, although a “split-mission” strategy is employed to build up necessities on Mars (e.g. energy sources, agriculture tool kits, rovers) prior to the arrival of the colonists.

No advanced propulsion is needed and the moons of Mars — Phobos and Deimos — are not involved, although the cost, safety, and scientific advantages of an early Phobos outpost for Mars colonization have been recognized for over 20 years.

Mars Colonizaton Requires a New Culture
Perhaps their most interesting insight is that a human colony on Mars

would require not only major international cooperation, but a return to the exploration spirit and risk-taking ethos of the great period of Earth exploration, from Columbus to Amundsen, but which has nowadays been replaced with a culture of safety and political correctness.

In addition to Amundsen, they could have also mentioned the exploration spirit of Lewis and Clark, Dr. Livingstone, and the Apollo crews — that captured international admiration during the extraordinary Maslow Windows of the last 200 years.

It takes a Maslow Window to colonize Mars. And Schulze-Makuch and Davies will get their wish sooner than they think … starting by 2015.

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Oct 09 2010

Michael Barone Comments on 1894 Political Scenario of 21stCenturyWaves.com

This week Gallup.com released poll results that suggest voter trends in the direction of economic/political scenarios that have been previously identified by 21stCenturyWaves.com as potentially highly relevant to our future.

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

21stCenturyWaves.com 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.
Or…
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)

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Sep 04 2010

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

Here at 21stCenturywaves.com 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.
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Here at 21stCenturyWaves.com, “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

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Jul 11 2010

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

As we search for clues to our economic future by looking for parallels between our current great recession and the past (e.g., the 1930s), it’s logical to also seek historical parallels relating other great events that are strongly dependent on economic conditions. For example, the manned space program, and specifically, human spaceflight to the Moon and Mars.

Viewed in this context, President Obama’s recent cancellation of Constellation — America’s program to return to the Moon by 2020 — is not a big surprise. It’s just a speed bump on the road to a near-term Moon base, including international commercial and scientific development of Earth-Moon space.

This glimpse of the future is not based on hope or optimism, but on long-term trends in the economy, technology, and geopolitics which point to a near-term re-ignition of President Kennedy’s nearly 50-year old vision of human exploration of the Moon and planets.

The 1960s Apollo Moon program was the greatest combined exploration and technology event in the history of the world, because it was off-world!
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If we could understand what fundamentally drove Apollo, we might glimpse our future in space. And yet, as we discovered again last July during celebrations of the Moon landing’s 40th anniversary, we still can’t agree on why Apollo moonwalking ended in 1972. For example, Right Stuff author Tom Wolfe believes “the answer is obvious. NASA had neglected to recruit a corps of philosophers,” such as Saturn V developer Wernher von Braun, to explain the real meaning of Apollo to the public. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Heavens and the Earth (1985), Walter McDougall explains that

the bold lunar goal … encouraged Congress and the nation to believe that Apollo was the space program … Once the space race was over and won, Americans could turn back to their selfish pursuits.

Formerly with CNN, Miles O’Brien dismisses the most obvious manned space challenge — cost.

If you don’t want to mention the cost of the wars, if you would rather not get into Wall Street or Detroit bailouts, or if you don’t want to tell them the money we spend on the space program is about the same as our annual expenditure on coffee — why not mention India?…Calcutta can afford it — and Cleveland can’t?

This is an important clue. Apollo cost about $ 150 B (in 2007 USD). Imagine the Apollo-level manned space programs we could have funded with only a fraction of Obama’s initial $ 800+ B stimulus package. But although the money magically appeared, Americans did not spontaneously demand Moonbases or manned Mars missions. So the availability of money, by itself, does not fundamentally drive big space programs.

Wolfe alludes to powerful. but short-lived forces permeating Apollo: “

Everybody, including Congress, was caught up in the adrenal rush of it all.

This included the quintessential media figure of the time, Walter Cronkite, who predicted that after Apollo 11, “everything else that has happened in our time is going to be an asterisk.”

And O’Brien concludes that.

Truth is, we have done nothing to equal (much less top) the accomplishments of Apollo. And even worse, we haven’t tried. We did someting truly great, but then walked away from it.

This emotional component — and its rapid demise in the late 1960s — explains why money is not enough. The people also have to feel good.

This is reminiscent of a Keynesian concept called “animal spirits,” used to explain why investors become either irrationally exhuberant or unnecessarily discouraged by business conditions during a boom or a bust. However, public support for Apollo was not primarily driven by the promise of profits from space, nor in the end, even by beating the Soviets to the Moon.

Instead the unprecedented, widespread affluence from the Kennedy boom momentarily catapulted many average citizens to elevated levels of Maslow’s hierarchy where their expanded worldviews made the Apollo program seem not only intriguing, but almost irresistible — as reflected in 1960s opinion polls.

Indeed, the strong connection between manned planetary exploration and Maslow-related values was emphasized in 1961 by the National Academy of Science’s Space Science Board, chaired by Lloyd Berkner, in their influential report to President Kennedy.

Man’s exploration of the Moon and planets (is) potentially the greatest inspirational venture of this century and one in which the whole world can share; inherent here are great and fundamental philosophical and spiritual values which find a response in man’s questing spirit and his intellectual self-realization.

But the Maslow effect was short-lived. As early as 1966, growing distress over Vietnam and budget issues began to erode affluence-induced “ebullience,” and this 1960s Apollo “Maslow Window” rapidly closed, as evidenced by Nixon’s cancellation of the last three Apollo Moon missions.

As recently as Memorial Day weekend in Chicago at the International Space Development Conference 2010, distinguished physicist and space scientist Freeman Dyson lamented that “we have been stuck in LEO for 40 years.” In the context of Apollo, this is consistent with the absence — since the 1960s — of a post-World War II-style long boom culminating in widespread, Camelot-style ebullience.

We almost got one started in 2007 when Fortune magazine (7/12/07) celebrated the “greatest economic boom ever.” But it was interrupted by the financial Panic of 2008 and our subsequent great recession. Will 2007’s great boom be revived? And how soon?

Intriguing parallels with Apollo go back at least 200 years to Lewis and Clark, but the last century is particularly revealing. For example, the financial Panic of 1893 and the great 1890s recession may have more parallels with our current circumstances than the Apollo-related decades from 1950-70. The 1890s featured a double-dip recession and unemployment above 10%, as well as a political realignment that led to a stunning 1960s-style economic boom after 1899. The resulting early 20th century Maslow Window featured extraordinary ebullience, including “Panama fever” as the new canal split the continent and transformed America into a global power, “pole mania” as heroic international teams risked death to be the first to the poles, the civilization-altering Wright brothers’ first flights, and perhaps the most ebullient U.S. president ever: Theodore Roosevelt.

The trajectory of future history is not confined to a choice between the 1890-1913 Panic/recession model or the 1950-1973 Apollo example. But significantly, they both point to a golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology that’s just around the corner.

Based on the historical pattern of rhythmic, twice-per-century Maslow Windows — over the last 200 years — including the Panic/Great Recession pairs (like the Panic of 2008) that typically occur a few years before the Windows, we can expect the new international Space Age to start gaining momentum by 2015.

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Jul 03 2010

How the Sun is Influencing Climate and the New Space Age

For those who relied mostly on economic models, the Panic of 2008 and subsequent great recession was a shock. But for those who noticed trends in macroeconomic data — especially over the last 200 years — it was a realistic probability. Likewise, theoretical models of Earth’s climate system can’t reliably forecast the future (or even current) climate, because they don’t include the actual physics of the system.

Does declining solar activity signal the “end of global warming”?
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This is important because climate politics (not to be confused with climate science!) currently has the potential to significantly lower economic growth which is the fundamental driver of the new international Space Age, as well as previous Apollo-style Maslow Windows over the last 200 years.

Despite what many media and political types continue to tell us, for some time the scientific data has pointed away from CO2 as the climate culprit; an excellent summary is here. And the Sun is receiving icreasing attention because of its odd behavior and interesting history, and new science about its connections to climate.

The Sun is Changing

As of yesterday, the official webpage of chief NASA Sun forecaster David Hathaway is still sticking to its story that the next solar sunspot cycle will be only about half as active (Max= 64.1 in mid-2013) as the last 3 cycles. (Sunspot cycles last about 11 years but their intensities are highly variable.) It was only a few years ago when Dr. Hathaway warned colleagues at the American Geophysical Union meeting (12/2006) that the next solar cycle is going to be a big one. It

looks like its going to be one of the most intense cycles since record-keeping began almost 400 years ago,

You can see an amusing animation of the declining trend of Dr. Hathaway’s solar cycle predictions HERE.

Are We on Course for a Dalton Minimum or a Grand Minimum?

Times of low solar activitiy are associated with cooler temperatures on Earth. And 2008 and 2009 were in the top 3 most spotless years in the last century;
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A good example is the severe European winter of 2009-10, although the correlation holds at least back to 1650.

Hathaway told the New York Times last year (7/20/2009) that while a Maunder Minimum — a time from 1645 to 1715 when sunspots were almost absent associated with the Little Ice Age — is unlikely, a Dalton Minimum “lies in the realm of the possible.”

From 1790 to 1830, the Dalton Minimum featured maximum sunspot numbers near 50 (only 15 below Hathaway’s current prediction for the next cycle) and cooler temperatures on Earth. For example, the Oberlacch Station in Germany experienced a 2.0 deg C drop for twenty years, and the “Year Without a Summer” occurred in 1816.

Although still uncertain, the mechanism amplifying small changes in solar activity (see the presentation by Kirkby.CERN.2009) to produce climate change on Earth is apparently associated with galactic cosmic rays (GCR); they trigger ion-induced cloud formation and cooling on Earth’s surface. During low solar activity, magnetic fields in the solar wind are weaker and block fewer GCRs; so increased ion-induced nucleation by GCRs triggers more cloud formation in the lower atmosphere — and cooling.

In the June, 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Cosmology (Vol. 8, 1983-1999) Duhau and de Jaeger propose that the Sun will enter a “Grand Minimum” of solar activity. Like the Maunder Minimum, it will feature very low solar activity and will last for at least one century. They forecast that the current cycle (#24) will occur in mid-2013 and will have a Dalton-like max sunspot number as low as 55. Their model indicates the Grand Minimum should arrive around 2020 to 2030.

The Sun and the New Space Age

Macroeconomic data and historical trends — including the Panic of 2008 and current great recession — over the last 200+ years point to the arrival of the new international Space Age near 2015. In several ways, the Sun will encourage humans to think beyond Earth for their future.

1. As science points convincingly away from CO2 and toward other climate change factors (including the Sun/GCR connection), the rationale for major climate legislation — that would limit rapid economic growth typical of Apollo-style space programs — is reduced.

2. Opinion polls show the American public does not regard CO2-related climate change as a major threat to their lives. They appear to be far ahead of many current political leaders. The profoundly negative vision of the future described by CO2 climate advocates is inconsistent with the societal ebullience that we expect near the opening of the 2015 Maslow Window.

3. Increasing scientific and public interest in the Sun as a fascinating astronomical body with important influences on climate change is expected to accelerate as we approach the new Space Age. Things associated with extraterrestrial life and habitable planets (e.g., Mars) — including the life-giving Sun — will take center stage as we continue human expansion into the cosmos and contemplate settlement of the solar system.

4. The Sun will play an increasingly central role in our global energy future through the development of large space-based solar power satellites. This is closely related to #3 above.

5. If the Sun were to descend into a Maunder Minimum-style “Grand Minimum” between 2020 and 2030, it would be a global disaster. Keep in mind that without long-term planning we can expect long-term economic forces to abruptly terminate the 2015 Maslow Window by 2025, if not before. Having a large, routine presence in space by 2020 — including more control of solar energy — will enable human civilization to prosper through both potential threats.

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Apr 19 2010

Obama’s New Space Policy and the Spirit of Apollo

The response to Obama’s new space policy from the Apollo program folks and the Texas Congressional delegation has been quite negative; e.g., from Neil Armstrong (Apollo 11), James Lovell (Apollo 13), and Eugene Cernan (Apollo 17), Obama’s decision to “cancel the Constellation program, its Ares 1 and Ares V rockets, and the Orion spacecraft, is devastating.”

On the other hand, Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11) and the space commercialization industry were more positive; e.g., Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal and SpaceX, suggested it was realistic:

I think what this new policy recognizes is that NASA isn’t going to get some huge increase in its budget, as occurred in the Apollo era. So if we are to make great progress and sort of make the next giant leaps for mankind, then it has to be done in an affordable manner, and the only way to do that is by harnessing the power of free enterprise, as we use in all other modes of transport.

Can President Obama take us to Mars? Click .

And it’s possible they’re both right, but on different timescales. For example, at least in the short term, before an American replacement for the Shuttle is created, it may be “devastating” in a variety of ways, but in the longer term — when private launchers can safely deliver U.S. astronauts to the ISS and beyond — it may be financially and strategically profitable.

But rather than speculate further by focusing mainly on short-term thinking, Obama’s new space policy is an excellent opportunity to use the unique approach of 21stCenturyWaves.com, to see how the next 10-15 years could fit into the economic, technology, and geopolitical context of the last 200 years of great explorations and macro-engineering projects.

To illuminate Obama’s policy let’s ask a few questions.

I. Did Obama make an Apollo-style promise last week like that of John F. Kennedy in May, 1961?
JFK indicated that the U.S. would send a man to the Moon and return him safely “before this decade is out.”
According to U.S. News & World Report (1969), although initial cost estimates for Apollo were as high as $ 40 B — about twice the eventual cost — “Congress raised hardly any questions … (despite) disturbing domestic problems … Initial funds were appropriated swiftly to send Project Apollo on its way.”

Although President Obama has recommended that we go to Mars someday, in his policy speech he made no specific program recommendation or rationale, gave no firm timeline, and has not asked for a budget that could support a Mars initiative.

So Obama did not make a Kennedy-like commitment. But part of the reason is that Obama does not live in the economic and political world that JFK inhabited. Kennedy took office in 1961 as the greatest economic boom in history was gaining momentum, while Obama was elected during the Panic of 2008 and has governed during a “great recession.” The history of major exploration and technology programs over the last 200 years — since Lewis and Clark — shows clearly that Apollo-type projects do not flourish except during ebullient economic booms. Plus, Obama’s job approval rating (Gallup.com) fell from its high of 69 on 1/22/09 to 45 on 4/11/10, while JFK enjoyed his highest approval rating (83, on 3/8/62) while beginning his 2nd year; JFK’s lowest was 56 (9/12/63). Therefore, although Obama has a large majority in Congress, he does not currently possess the approval across the U.S. nor the political capital that JFK did.

II. Was the Constellation Moon Program canceled by Obama due to weak program goals?
Paul Spudis, an experienced planetary scientist and an astute leader of the return-to-the-Moon forces, remarked recently (4/16/10) that,

… one startling part of the speech was that we are abandoning the Moon as a goal …

But stop for a moment to consider exactly what President Obama said. Lunar return critics give many reasons to NOT go to the Moon: they think that it’s scientifically uninteresting, it doesn’t contain what we need, it will turn into a money sink (preventing voyages to many other destinations in space – perhaps number one on their list), that there are more pressing needs here on Earth, and I’m sure others that I haven’t yet heard. But this new space policy rationale is unique and carries with it different and significant implications for our nation’s exploration of space.

We have now added a new requirement for U.S. space missions – we must go to a place never before visited by humans.

According to Spudis, the real reason for returning to the Moon by 2020 was to begin the colonization of space by using lunar and other resources. In Spudis’ words, “the Vision for Space Exploration was strategic direction outlining a sustainable lunar return, whereby we would bootstrap our way ‘beyond’ by learning how to use the resources of the Moon and other bodies.”

Although it could have been just personalities or party politics, I began to suspect that the Moon wasn’t in our future when Mike Griffin wasn’t invited back. This was consistent with my initial impression that Obama would need to focus on repairing the economy and protecting national security, rather than charting grand visions in space. There was initially the well-advertised hope by Obama et al. that the $ 800+ B Stimulus Package would rapidly pave the way back to prosperity, and maybe that was the reason Obama didn’t favor the Moon … yet. But a year later, some of his major supporters in the economics community including Robert Shiller, “Don’t bet the farm on the housing recovery” (NY Times, 4/11/10), and Robert Reich, “The jobs picture still looks bleak” (WSJ, 4/12/10), are publicly hinting that problems will linger for a long time — as is the Federal Reserve (NY Times, 3/16/10) who left its benchmark interest rate near zero, and indicated it would likely stay there for “an extended period.”

So the real reason Constellation and the Moon were canceled by Obama is probably because he perceives no reason to continue it. In counter-ebullient times like now, the American public doesn’t have a burning desire to colonize the Moon or to pay for it. And Obama’s lack of success — so far — in creating a V-shaped, job-filled recovery indicates this situation will continue for “an extended period.”

However, Obama may be unaware that all ebullient economic booms (i.e., Maslow Windows) over the last 200+ years — except the post-WW II 1960s boom — were immediately preceded by a financial panic/great recession pair. And in fact, the Panic of 2008 signaled that we were within about 6 years of the new international Space Age.

III. Which is most important to Obama: Humans to Mars, prosperity, or the Superstar Effect?
Boris Spassky, a chess grandmaster, once said of playing Bobby Fischer — perhaps the greatest chess superstar of all time — that “When you play Bobby, it is not a question of whether you win or lose. It is a question of whether you survive.” Against Fischer even grandmasters often experienced “Fischer-fear” including “flu-like symptoms, migranes, and spiking blood pressure,” (WSJ, J. Lehrer, 4/3/10). The negative aspects of the Superstar Effect are observed in many competitive endeavors, including golf with Tiger Woods, among new associates at law firms, and probably even internationally with the United States space program.

Removing NASA from the launch business, as Obama proposes, will force the U.S. to have more respect for its space partners, and dislodge it, at least temporarily, from its long-held position as the world’s Space Superstar. For many reasons, I’ve long been in favor of promoting major international participation in human settlement of the solar system. And in 1992, with Otto Steinbronn of General Dynamics, proposed “Interspace,” an ESA-style global space organization that would feature equality among its key members (e.g., Europe, Russia, U.S., Japan, China). Movement in this direction would be a positive outcome of a temporary reduction of the Space Superstar Effect.

Obama apparently moved the manned exploration of Mars into the mid-2030s not because of the need to develop advanced propulsion systems (they are not essential, and could be developed sooner), but because there is no public demand for Mars now. And yet the Red Planet remains the next profoundly alluring space goal for humankind. Although leaving much to be desired as a comprehensive space strategy, Obama’s Mars policy is an astute psychological move consistent with the last 200+ years of great human explorations. The sequence of great explorations since Lewis and Clark has been guided by 2 criteria: 1) physical accessibility, and 2) mysterious newness; the sequence is: American Northwest (Lewis & Clark), Equatorial Africa (Dr. Livingstone), N and S poles (Peary and Amundsen), and the Moon (Apollo). In each case, physical accessibility became increasingly challenging (especially with the Moon!), and each target was enticingly new. Although we haven’t really begun to explore, develop, or colonize the Moon yet, Obama’s advisors may have sensed that humans to Mars definitely resonates with the American psyche. As Spudis emphasizes above, the Moon seems “been there, done that” to Obama, while Mars is NEW.

However, there is a problem with Obama’s suggestion of manned Mars in the mid-2030s. Great human explorations and MEPs — including space exploration — do not work like that. The extraordinary ebullience required for these projects is usually only momentary because of economic and military events. An unfortunate example was cancellation of the last 3 Apollo Moon missions due to Vietnam in the late 1960s.

Indeed, the lesson of the last 200 years is that the new Space Age is likely to begin near 2015 and extend through 2025, but not into the 2030s. Our best hope would be a robust, international Mars plan specifically focused on circumventing unfavorable long wave influences through the 2020s. The history of the International Space Station offers some hope in this regard.

And finally: Prosperity. Without it, no one will want to go to Mars (although they could). Over the last 200 years, the spectacular, rhythmic, twice-per-century Maslow Windows — including the 1960s — are always times of exceptional prosperity and widespread affluence. Regardless of financial realities, it’s the feeling of ebullience (what Keynes called “animal spirits”) that fundamentally drives public acceptance of great explorations and MEPs.

The real political question for Obama is: Can he put America back on the road to prosperity — the hallmark of all Maslow Windows — before he loses more political support? International economic and geopolitical forces will converge in the next 3 – 5 years and demand success. Although Obama’s political fate is still largely in his own hands, the economic and political parallels with the 1890s are intriguing.

For more perspective, please see: How President Obama is Creating the New Space Age.

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