The Golden Rule

Originally published on Jun 28 at

There are a few golden rules that get mentioned here and there. The most common association people have to THE golden rule is probably this one:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” – Jesus, from the Gospel of Matthew.

It is pretty self explanatory, and while simple, it has quite far reaching consequences to behaviour and by extension, civilisational systems. The problem with simple things is that they can sometimes be difficult.

“A lack of complexity does not = easy.” – Me

As we sit here in 2022, it would serve us well to take stock of a few extraordinary actions we are trying to normalise, and view them through the lens of this golden rule.

I read with great disdain that we are now banning certain individuals from international sporting events or musical performances simply due to the fact that they were born in a certain geography.

How about being overseas on a travel trip with family, and coming to realise with horror that your credit/debit card has been frozen, freezing your journey leaving you and your young ones stranded far from home. All because you are of a certain nationality.

Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another. It may also mean prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against other people because they are of a different race or ethnicity. – Wikipedia (Link)

Reading these stories are cringe inducing. But we cognitively cover it up pretty quickly, allowing ourselves to slip back into our educated and promoted self image, one that we pay ever more tax dollars to uphold. The west is a force for good, promoting freedom, equality and democracy baby. Say it again. And again.

To impede one’s personal journey for any reason can be easily construed as violence, especially by those at the receiving end. To arbitrarily place a barrier between the savings of an individual and himself/herself with no prior warning? To do so for millions with a stroke of a pen? Nobel Prize winning move.

Yet the west has taken these steps while believing virtue was driving their actions. The west is a force for good, promoting freedom, equality and democracy baby. Say it again. And again.

Remember that Golden Rule. How would we feel if we were in those sanctioned shoes? Would it be fair to be individually punished for what say a Donald, Olaf or Justin decides to do? I understand the emotions. We are angry and frustrated. We read the latest headlines and feel threatened by the drastic changes, and so we lash out. DOING SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING!!

Not always.

Sun Tzu on Exits and Outlets

Russia Debt Default Will Damage Country for Years to Come—Economist (Link)

Russia has defaulted on its foreign debt for the first time in over a century, a grim milestone as the country becomes increasingly outcast economically, financially, and politically, amid Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine….

This cancelling is also being done on an international level. After freezing Russian national financial reserves that were parked in the western banking system, the western nations have announced today that Russia is now in default for repayments of their national debts. It is not that they do not have the funds, it is that they are not ALLOWED access to the funds. Howaboutthat?

In Sun Tzu’s art of War, he wrote that “When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.” When an enemy has nothing left to lose, he becomes more ferocious, and inflicts way more damage.

We have been trying to surround Russia militarily (expansion of NATO) and financially hoping that they might succumb. How could they not? The G-7 (Gang of 7 Greats) working together against a nation with the GDP of Florida. It is a lay up. Right?

There is but one fly in the ointment. This Eurasian nation has some pretty nasty and formidable weapons, an armed forces that is getting ever more battle hardened, and the greatest stash of commodities known to man.

Ok. Maybe there are a few flies.

I wonder if the G-7 realise that they would not be so G, if their super sophisticated economies had to run with shortages in raw materials. As a group, they are short on food, energy and key minerals to power their factories and populations. As a group, they are also highly indebted, especially to their aging populations. Grandpa Fritz and grandma Maria have been working and saving hard for decades, and are now looking at which Norwegian fjord cruise boat best tickles their fancy.

Fritz and Maria also hold quite a bit of voting power in these G-7 nations. They don’t like it that their cruise tickets (and butter) has doubled in price in recent months. They also find it quite inconvenient that they have to become reacquainted with iodine tablets and surviving a possible nuclear holocaust.

Back to Sun Tzu.

What happens when the west collectively decides that some parties are not allowed at these international tables. Tables will get turned, or at least those getting the cold shoulder will attempt to turn them. And how would said turning of tables look like?

Some headlines from the previous few months:

  • Food shortages could be ‘just as deadly’ as global pandemic (Link)
  • US wants farmers to boost wheat production amid a global food shortage. They can’t afford to (Link)
  • 58% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck after inflation spike — including 30% of those earning $250,000 or more (Link)
  • Russia and China are brewing up a challenge to dollar dominance by creating a new reserve currency (Link)

With no off-ramp available to the likes of Russia, China, Iran etc, what is stopping them from upping the ante? There are still a few innings in the game, and these surplus countries have leverage (food, energy, high tech goods) that have not yet been applied.

The amateurs discuss tactics: the professionals discuss logistics — Napoleon Bonaparte

Keep that quote in mind, and browse over these other inconvenient (alarming!) headlines:

Another Golden Rule

We alluded earlier to exits, table turning and the BRICS possibly coming up with an alternative reserve currency system.

There are also rumblings that any new system would be backed, perhaps by commodities, to increase trust amongst participants. The graphs below show that perhaps plans for the turning of tables have been going on for awhile.



There is another golden rule that I have come across and kept in mind. As we move towards the colder end of 2022, and read headline after headline about the imminent Russian collapse, consider:

Criminalize Conservatism: 05/29/14

Best of the West

I am a huge fan of foundational western values, and believe that they have shone a light on history that has been pretty dark for the most part. I am not saying that the west as a collective has been ‘better’ than other cultures. I am simply stating that not many cultures place individual freedoms and liberties as the highest of ideals. In fact, for most other cultures the collective is seen to be of greater importance. Just to know that a society organised around the individual is possible, and that it works well is already a revolution!

sliced of bread beside goblet

It saddens me to see that many of these ideals are being sacrificed to the beating of war drums. It is even more tragic that no one even knows what the objectives of these military adventures are!

Will there ever be a forum where everyone at the table gets an equal say and gets listened to? There isn’t much historical precedence for a lasting peace, as radical as that sounds.

One can still harbour hope. Right?

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” – Jesus, from the Gospel of Matthew.

Game of (economic) Thrones

Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China 2017.

Did any of you have the chance to watch the series “Empires of Silver” yet? I have been watching the first few episodes on my recent Singapore Airlines flights. Overall I thought the tv-series/documentary was pretty well done, with very pertinent content considering the trade ‘wars’ that are currently being waged.

What caught my attention about the show:

  • Sponsored by Eastern entities. Why would they?
  • Made for Western audiences. Again, why?
  • Discusses trade imbalances during last days of the Qing dynasty, a global silver shortage (due to imbalanced trade flows to China) and how the west used opium to try and balance the deficit.
  • Touches on what happened when China decided to stop the importation of opium.
  • Makes mention of China’s deep ties with global economies back then, and influence on the west by having deep personal/business relations between chinese businessmen and prominent figures from the west.
  • Goes in detail about how much the Chinese actually align with a hard currency as a culture (which happened to be silver back then)

What I found interesting were the number of analogs to the present day we find ourselves in:

  • Global shortage in trade currency (It was silver back then, USD today), albeit for different reasons compared to the present day.
  • Western powers balancing trade by forcing non productive exports upon surplus countries (US treasuries today, opium back then).
  • Surplus countries stopping importation of useless goods (Opium then, US treasuries now) and the subsequent instability that follows.Luke Gromen from Forest For The Trees has been calling this well for ages.Foreigners are saying No to US monetary opium
  • Guess what? China is hoarding hard international trade currency again. This time it is Gold. See below:
The trend is pretty strong here.

I wonder how the recent launch of Shanghai gold futures by the CME group plays into all of this. Gold futures denominated in yuan, traded on the shores of the US of A! Internationalisation of the yuan has been repeatedly called for by figures on both sides of the aisle. Looks like it might finally be accelerating.

Went live 3 days ago!

This time, maybe, when China starts to become THE centre of global trade as they were before, they might be able to sidestep their previous problems.

China will have stronger networks with foreigners via the belt and road initiative (OBOR). They will probably have the ability to build trade surpluses without gumming up world trade (Gold in China stays in China by law, while foreigners can swap CNH (offshore yuan) for Gold offshore or for other Chinese goods and services). Also, China will navigate the coming period with caution rather than hubris.

So what is the next move that global players might be moving towards?

I know that not everyone is a big fan of Mr Keynes, but maybe his ‘Bancor’ idea from 1940 might have caught the imagination of a few powerful figures? See PBOC comments from 2009 and other interesting developments:

  • PBOC’s Yi Gang joins trade talks in US? When was the last time the Fed’s Jay Powell went to China for trade talks? 😉

In any case, this TV series is another sign that they are not going into this new phase without having thought it all through. They might not pull it off, but it all seems at least calculated.

They wouldn’t want to be like a bull in a china shop would they?


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