Tibetan Prayer Flags and the Krebs factor: Why the economy will fail …

Several prognosticators — Jim Rogers, Marc Faber, Jim Grant, Harry Dent — get it right when the Overlords say, “Nobody could have guessed stocks would drop.” Said here in September 2008, I use Tibetan prayer flags: Dragon, Wind Horse, Snow Lion, earth, water, fire, air, sky. They represent the life cycle of the individual, the age, the universe; fire of youth, green of mature adulthood, golden years of a well-invested life returning to shadow. We have seen our seasons. We have entered shadow.

I write here frequently about the Strauss & Howe cycle and have customized it: There is no such thing really as a civilization, there are only “post-war periods.” Each lasts approximately 65 years and goes on break for 20 years. We are at year 65. Two elements I use: the Krebs factor and the Elliot Wave. The first refers to Maynard G. Krebs, the sidekick of Dobie Gillis. Dobie Gillis was the personification of the rising American Dream; bright, blond, good-looking and most likely to succeed. Maynard G. Krebs, his bongo-playing beatnik sidekick. In psychological terms, Krebs is Gillis’s dark persona.

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This show ran from 1959 to 1963; the early days of post-war starry optimism. Now look at the very popular and very funny show which ran in late autumn of our cycle: “Two and a Half Men,” featuring Charlie Harper as drinking, partying jingle writer who takes life as it comes. His well-meaning, early-to-rise brother, Alan, can’t get a break and lives on Charlie’s couch. The show ran from 2003 to present and now it ends. Ashton Kutcher hopes to revive it, but it is over.

Charlie Harper is Maynard G. Krebs in transposition. The sidekick has become since 1959 the dominant archetype. Alan — Dobie Gillis; the representative of the power principle of the rising age — has transposed at the end of the age to a quivering mass. Through time and circumstances, the shadow has taken charge. The age has fulfilled itself and finished. What’s next? Sleep.

An easier way to look at this is the Elliot Wave. The Elliot Wave measures the life cycle of a dominant currency. But in greater reality, the currency is simply the symbol of the culture and the Elliot Wave arcs the creative rise and retreat of the culture. Elliot Wave measures the dollar, the dominant coin of the post-war life cycle, ending its run in 2011. It started in 1971 so you can see how it takes a head of steam and a formidable generation (Gillis=Power Principle) to get things going in the ’50s, then retreats in the end to blissful decadence (Charlie Harper=Krebs Factor).

Common coin tells the story of the age. Incidentally, that icon of the post-war cycle, “All My Children,” ran exactly parallel to the rise and retreating arc of the Elliot Wave.

Rogers, Faber and even historian Niall Ferguson have commented that when economy collapses as it will now (2013-2015, says Harry Dent) there will be violence. There need not be, but there is. In the East there is a philosophy of sustainable and rising power, Confucianism, and there is also a philosophy of retreating power, Taoism. In the West we have only a philosophy of rising power (Keynes, Marx, Hamilton). Our venue of retreat is always crash and burn and Charlie Harper. So danger is more likely.