Will the American Empire Fall?

June 28, 2024
Leyendecker Executive Search

Welcome to This Week’s Leyendecker View

Nobody who says ‘I told you so’ has ever been, or will ever be, a hero.
Ursula K. Le Guin

THINKING OUT LOUD

Will the American Empire Fall?

Predictions of the American “empire” falling apart are quite rampant these days. One little Google search turned up tons of examples. Here are just some:

Five Reasons American decline appears irreversible
America is going to collapse in 30 years
Has America entered the fall of Rome?
America retraces Rome’s steps to failure
The fall and fall of America
How America will collapse

Such stories have an appeal to many because it is human to feel fear, maybe even human to look for things to fear. Never mind that we live in a world where little matters more than clicks, and fear gets clicks.

What many people may not realize is that the United States was actually set up to fail. Our system of government and the political system our founders created ensures that America fails all the time—but, by design, mostly in small ways. Our founders created incentives to experiment and guardrails to protect against catastrophic failure. Instead, small instances of failure can let us learn, improve the system, get better, and hopefully avoid similar failures in the future. Learning from small failures means greater sustainability.

The common story of great empires is that they eventually collapse on themselves. The Roman Empire. The Byzantine Empire. The Aztec Empire. Time and time again, empires grow until they fall apart. This is the fate many now predict of the United States.

But the historical examples people use to project America’s decline rely on a false assumption, an analogy that does not hold water—

The United States of America is NOT an empire. Certainly not as empires have been defined historically.

What sets the United States apart is that we do not seek conquest and ownership of other nations, people, races, cultures and languages. We may seek to influence, but we do not seek to own.

Russia seeks to own Ukraine. China seeks to own Taiwan. These are today’s empires—whose ambitions mirror those of empires past, the empires that notoriously failed.

Rather than being a conqueror,  the United States has wanted to be a liberator. Did we take ownership of Europe after World War I or Europe or Japan after World War II? Did we take ownership of Korea after the Korean War? Did we seek ownership in Vietnam? Did we take ownership in Iraq? Afghanistan?

The United States does not seek to spread its values and systems by force feeding our foes. Rather, the United States seeks to be the example that others can follow.

The United States is still an experiment in the making. Today, we face large challenges—perhaps more at one time than we’ve had in a while. At the same time, millions of people from all over the world are clamoring to get here, to “the land of opportunity.”

Maybe the greatest reason the United States will not soon fail is that we actually allow and embrace failure. As Winston Churchill said many years ago, “Americans will always do the right thing, after they’ve tried everything else.”

THE ECONOMIC VIEW

US consumer confidence declines
But folks are still stock market bullish
Negative emotions taking a positive turn
Praying for a soft landing.

US leads world in capital inflows
Is the US the next China?

Innovation is reducing the need for production labor.
Can we build a sustainable service economy?

INFLATION, DEFLATION, OR BOTH?

Climate change policies cause inflation.
Airliner to add green surcharge
Denmark to add $100 tax per cow

Canadian inflation picks back up
So does Australian inflation
And so does Japan’s
Do you sense a pattern?

Supply chain disruptions caused inflation.
Now it’s happening again

THE LABOR VIEW

Don’t ask a Millennial to work late
They may just quit on you.

Are half of all online job postings fake?
Why are people gaming the system?

How does $174K a year sound?
You can make that as a fast food manager

MEANWHILE IN EUROPE

France has a soaring debt problem
Will France cause a Euro crisis?
Could the election trigger it?
Macron warns of a civil war if he loses

EU and China to talk about EVs
Hey, EU! Trust, but verify.

Europe’s economy is in a pickle.
They need China
They need Russia
And they need US tourists

THE GLOBAL GAME

Japanese yen hits 1986 low
What can we buy over there?

Kenya backs away from tax hikes
Take note, Western governments.
But Kenya has a massive debt problem
Sound familiar?

Why Western elites are in trouble
They’ve got their heads in the sand.

THE UKRAINE FIRE

Russia suffers 1,000 casualties a day in May
What century of war are they fighting in?

NATO wants a Ukraine bridge to membership
This should make Putin furious.
Russia pounds Ukraine’s power infrastructure

Russia has a weak underbelly.
Terrorists hit the mainland
Ukraine hits them in the Black Sea

THE GAZA FIRE

Israel says Hamas stole UN aid
$1B went to war supplies.
A new round of Gaza strikes is starting

Netanyahu lays out summer plans.
War and more war
While Iran strategizes a broader war

Houthis still making mischief
And more mischief
Israeli ship hit by new missile
There is no end in sight
How does one defeat Iran?

GEARING UP

Europe has a troop problem
Few people want to be soldiers.

Drones rule!
The next war will be fought by drones
Has Iran become the drone king?
NATO countries consider drone wall

Global military spending hits record high
Is this a slippery-slope red flag?

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE

North Korea tests a new missile
Is it now nuclear capable?

More countries want to join BRICS
Western rivals growing in numbers.

Did America create a new “axis of evasion”?
Or is it a natural phenomenon?
Are we sleepwalking toward war?

FINANCE

IPOs were hot earlier this year.
Is that market now out of gas?

Refinancing a troubled company today
Is like ripping off a Band-Aid

In 1980, global stock markets equaled global GDP.
Today, they are 4X global GDP

REAL ESTATE

American dream of owning a home is dead
According to a survey of renters.
Home values hit record high
Will this be the market peak?
New home construction at 4-year low

KKR makes big apartment bet
They expect rents to rise.

The malls-into-minicities idea
Isn’t working

TECHNOLOGY

Cyber crime is set to explode
The bad guys are one step ahead.

Google is totally woke.
It buries “wrongthink”—even if government backed

Europe is the global tech regulator
Apple faces fine of up to 10% of global revenue
Microsoft now in EU crosshairs
Do tech companies own Washington?

THE CHAT ON AI

OpenAI co-founder starts new company
Will Safe Superintelligence really be safe?

Replacing creative content providers with AI
May be Adobe’s new business model
And Sony Pictures’, too
Will AI take over the film industry?
Check out the Here trailer below.

Chatbots are a security disaster
They can easily be hacked.

OUR GOOD FRIEND, FAILURE

What went wrong with capitalism?
Free money saved everyone.
Bring back capitalism!

MIT backs off DEI
Did they hurt anyone’s feelings?

Forty years ago, we embraced China.
Today, it may be a global economic threat

THE NEXT NORMAL

Hispanics are propping up US population
We best be thankful to them.

Microschools are on the rise
A great student-to-teacher ratio.

How can we get a NEET lifestyle?
No education, employment or training

THE WAR ON CARBON

Insurance industry needs $10T
For the path to net-zero.

The greenlash grows
In Europe, green ground zero.

Companies back away from green goals
They hurt profits.

THE ENERGY TRANSITION

If lithium batteries power the world
We may have a lot more fires

Biden’s green hydrogen vision
Doesn’t have much support

AI is wrecking global power grids
Is AI creating climate change?
Bill Gates thinks it will get better

THE EV DREAM—OR DELUSION

VW to put billions into Rivian
Vehicle software is the prize.
EV maker Polestar is imploding

Used EV prices are crashing
46% of EV drivers regret the purchase
We need more subsidies!

The dirty secret about EVs
Nothing really clean here.

THE CHINA SYNDROME

A “destructive spiral” is coming
If the West decouples from China.
Is China undermining diplomacy?

Forget about an IPO in China
Investors have evaporated.
Their housing bust isn’t over

Violence rises in China
The population is confused and frustrated.
And their tech workers are burned out

THE WASHING-TONE

Millions call the IRS for help.
Two-thirds don’t reach anyone
The IRS has a massive identity theft problem

Senate passes a bill
To expedite nuclear energy development

Courts sink Biden’s loan forgiveness plans
Democrat judges, no less.

THE ELECTION DISTRACTION

Presidential debates that moved the needle
Did yesterday’s debate move the needle?

Trump wants the Bitcoin vote
Isn’t Bitcoin for when the government collapses?

The justice system has been politicized
Suggests Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

MAKING A BETTER YOU

Have you got “brainrot”?
Are you always online?

Feeling unfulfilled or insecure?
Gets some dirt under your fingernails

How to fall asleep in 2 minutes
The Navy has figured it out.

HOW ABOUT A BREAK

America, the capital of great pizza
Our 22 best pizza places

We had the summer solstice last week.
How did you celebrate it?

If you like house concerts
You may also like micro-theater film

PLANNING VACATION?

How about a road trip food tour?
The ultimate food tour map

Americans are all over Europe
Crowds, the new “fun” vacation.

The best US towns to visit
If you want a low-density vacation.

MUSIC BOX

From Hayama, Japan.
Lovely classical from Shonan Beach FM 78.9.

Bonus tune…

Ray Davies, Kinks front man, just turned 80
Waterloo Sunset
From 1967, no less. Me oh my!
Lyrics can be poetry, ya know.

CASTING AROUND THE PODS

Can Israel actually win the war?
Bari Weiss visits with a couple experts.

Bonus podcast:

Was legalizing weed a mistake?
Bari Weiss is on a roll.

VIDEOS OF THE WEEK

The Here trailer.
Magic from Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis.

Daddio trailer.
Dakota Johnson and Sean Penn in a taxi.

The Reagan trailer.
Dennis Quaid does Ronnie.

FROM THE HEADHUNTER’S KITCHEN

Get ready for the 4th of July with…

Yammy potato salads.
Remoulade style
Bacon blue cheese style
Loaded baked potato style
German style
How about 29 different ways?

45 great 4th of July recipes
You have a week to prepare.

Let’s not forget about shrimp.
And all the ways you can cook it

THE RANDOMS

After last night’s debate, how long until Hillary Clinton replaces Biden in the presidential race?

Tech companies have been buying Nvidia chips and training their AI models for a glorious future, but has anyone thought through the revenue model? What are you and I going to pay AI to do for us? Who are we going to pay for AI and why? Has tech gone AI crazy before it’s figured out a revenue model? Maybe Nvidia’s recent stock collapse suggests investors are starting to ask this question.

It’s easy to see that some companies will be able to profit from AI by replacing labor. Business consultants are guiding clients into using AI. Goldman Sachs is rolling AI out in their business. But if too much labor is reduced, then where’s the money going to come from to buy stuff and services from the very companies reducing labor? Or other companies? Maybe this is why Sam Altman supports universal basic income.

Can people develop healthy self-esteem if all their basic needs are free? Or is this old saying something worth remembering: An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.

Remember, old sayings get old because they stand the test of time.

I listened to a good podcast a couple weeks ago that suggested Spotify was creating songs via AI and then putting them into user channels. The biggest royalty earner at Spotify is an artist no one’s heard off. This way, Spotify can eliminate royalty payments. 

It appears Europe is really in a pickle. They need China like they need Russia. And yet Europe thinks the rest of the world needs to think like them.

Do the recent EU elections results tell us that free people are starting to stand up to the growing bureaucratic state? Or maybe the growing bureaucratic state is actually good for us? Nah!

Are we at peak luxury economy yet?

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The Power of One
June 21, 2024

Garbage In, Garbage Out
June 14, 2024

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