I work in technology in senior management. It is a world of constant change, and you must understand the technology coming down the pike or else you will be unemployed. It’s a constant “skate to where the puck is going” career. I’m 47 – been in the field since 1995, and took my first college class in BASIC programming at Reading Area Community College in 1987 at the age of 11.
10 GOTO 40
20 LOAD “New World Order”
40 PRINT “This is hell”
That’s about all I remember from those days, but the point is – I’ve made a career of trying to find the next new “thing” and getting ahead of everyone else. In 1998 or so I started with doing metrics and bean counting along with quality control. In 2005 or so I started learning vbscript and automation, and using the tool SMS (and later SCCM) to deliver automation to hundreds of thousands of machines and reload operating systems. In 2009 or so, I started down the path to get my master’s in cybersecurity and in 2012, I got my CISSP. So I was skating towards automation and cyber security as far back as 2005.
I predicate this article by discussing a little of my background not to be a fortune teller – but to tell you where I think technology, labor, and production is going – and with this, how a lot of my career prospects in my field are dwindling. This is also part of why I got so involved with this space 2 years ago. To me, it felt like the window on my current career path is coming to a close at some point. I hope it’s 5-10 years, but these things don’t work on my schedule.
As luck would have it, I also have my MBA and spent 4 years learning about finance, accounting, operations management, and writing endless papers on all things business. So I’m also going to put on my business hat here to talk about what I’m seeing from the business side of things.
All of this is written because I saw a quote last week that has bothered me (I’ll get to it in a sec), and all of you need to digest this and understand it. Many of you, like I, felt we were duped with COVID. Yes, there were a lot of legitimate deaths here, but most who died were well into their 70s and later. What we have seen come from this are things that make it look like a lot of this was engineered. I don’t want to go tinfoil hat here, but there’s a reason for it on the last point:
- Governments got to exercise a lot of emergency powers, many of which have still not been given up.
- Governments were allowed to choose “winners and losers” by backing certain companies/industries as “essential” and forcing others out of business.
- We found that the debt markets, stock exchanges, and many other “free market” stuff was a bunch of horse shit as they all backstopped markets and with this, picked winners and losers in markets.
- We were all forced at the threat of being homeless to get vaccines. They had to change the definition of a vaccine to get the test juice passed. Interestingly, everyone with vaccines seem to get COVID. Seems like big pharma did OK with all of this.
- Inflation is helping governments inflate away debt while squeezing the middle class – perhaps leading to a situation where the biggest banks, like BlackRock, can buy up housing that people are squeezed from and force a UBI to ensure voters will always vote in the party giving them “free” money.
- “Work From Home” is a reality now that technology has allowed. With this, workers have shown they can contribute to world-class profits and do not have to be a cubicle slave, take up space in a massive commercial building, and get sick every other week by Jake from accounting who is always hacking up a lung.
This last point here is where the terrifying quote comes in.
“Now that we can all work from home, what is stopping your company from hiring someone from Bangalore to do your job?”
And this is where the puck gets interesting.
Around 2011 or so, I remember watching Michio Kaku all the time before going to sleep on the science channel. He brought up Moore’s Law, which in tech speak, allowed processing power to double every 18 months or so going back to the 1960s. It’s a “ballpark” number, but the idea was that more and more processing can be done in a smaller area. This allowed for much smaller phones.
This is also part of the deflationary aspect of technology, and where you get some of those silly “hedonic adjustments” with inflation. No longer did you need a computer, a phone, a TV, a calculator, and a calendar – you had it all in your tiny little phone now. So rather than spending $5,000 into the economy for all of that, you get the data plan from Apple and the phone for $40 a month for life. In other words, you spend less money to do the same level of productivity which is deflationary for the economy. However, one can then suggest that this extra money that was left over was then sucked into a vortex of higher asset/stock prices over those 40 years and acted like a sponge. Much like how Bitcoin has acted like a sponge to this level of excess we have today. Will these excesses be wrung out? I’d posit – yes.
Kaku then said somewhere around 2022-2023 is when Moore’s law will have to come to an end. What did he mean?
As you shrink this stuff more and more, there’s more heat you need to dissipate. There are limits with that as well. I do NOT work in this area of IT, so for all I know, they made some recent breakthrough and Moore’s Law is intact for another 40 years. There’s a lot of talk about quantum computing, but I don’t think we are there yet. But the idea was….that we may be approaching a limit to how deflationary we can get with tech. And THAT was the big takeaway here. Like we found every efficiency we could. Why?
Now imagine you are a company and can no longer really cut costs anymore due to tech deflation. You need to change business models in order to survive this bomb.
If you are a big corporation and you make widgets, what are your biggest costs?
- Raw Materials
After those three, you may have varying costs with R&D, marketing, back office services, IT, etc. But if you look at these three things, and you are BIG business, what do you do?
People…where you can, you automate. Remember those scripts I learned to write above? The SMS/SCCM? What I did with a team of 6 manually installing stuff on computers in 1998 using floppy disks at Vanguard over 5 months ahead of the Year 2000 problem, I could now do myself in a day with automation technology. Technology is designed to have the least amount of people running things. But let’s look at a pharma company. Perhaps a financial company. All of these people used to come in to the office.
Now COVID changed a lot of this. This is what happened to a lot of the factory people over the years.
But you had an office job. You went to college. So you didn’t have to worry about this, right?
Well, what if you made $150,000 per year in NYC? You are paying $5,000 a month rent to live in a closet. With COVID, your office shut down and you all went to ZOOM.
Why are you still living in NYC? You can move out by me in Pennsylvania 2.5 hours away and have a GIANT house and a $2,000 per month mortgage. You can go into the office once a month and say hi. But why would you still pay that rent? You won’t. You may make half as much, but your costs will decline by 70%, thus leading you to a better quality of life
They can hire someone around the world now at 1/5th your cost and that person can work over Zoom too. And they don’t need to fly them into the office because they don’t need the office space anymore.
So with this concept, we just lost the renter in NYC. Some of them left when COVID happened, but others are now getting displaced when their office closes down. That office space is now vacant. Then, consider all of the restaurants and vendors that were surrounding those offices that needed that lunch and dinner traffic that now close. Now consider all of those people that are moving out.
In my thesis here, big cities are not going to be a very pleasant place to live for the next decade, and those who can get out, should….now.
Commercial and real estate rents in big cities should begin to collapse. There was a Great Migration to the suburbs the last two years – which is why you saw real estate (and lumber – per Michael Oliver) moving as much as you did. These people all locked in 2.5% interest rates and are paying a fraction of what they did to rent a closet.
Energy – we are now seeing world energy issues. You see some calling for a collapse in world energy prices. Think about 350m Chinese locked down in cities. Think about a massive recession or depression about the hit the West when you shut off nat gas to Germany factories or displace millions of US jobs to other parts of the world to reduce costs during this recession. All of those millions are now working from home or unemployed, no longer needing to travel to the office every day. Vacations will be cancelled due to costs. It seems that Europe is CHOOSING depression rather than spending Euros to send them to a bank to convert them to rubles to try and break Russia. Russia makes a nice profit on $50 oil and simply will sell to India and China in Rubles at $90 rather than a $110 Brent oil. It’s almost as if the West is TRYING to crash energy prices. Perhaps this may help big business?
It is almost as if the people running things who call for Green Energy have zero fucking clue how you would get 189 pounds of copper, 5 oz of silver, tons of lithium, cobalt, and nickel into your Electric Vehicle.
It’s almost as if this is a fake reality with a hint of realism meant to have you participate in some god awful experiment to reduce energy intake. To collapse Western consumption of energy. It is almost as if there’s a demand destruction about to take place….
I mean, all of these people who warn you about the ocean rising due to Fossil Fuels would not buy ocean front property, right?
And certainly this guy knows what is going on, right? 5 years before the COVID outbreak, Gates talks about a coronavirus.
But certainly he wouldn’t then know what was coming next?
So cows are bad for you, but he buys farm land? Wait – fertilizer prices are WAY high due to natural gas shortages (because….Russia), which then leads to people planting more soy?
But why would you want more soy?
But why would you want fake meat?
This is him a few years back
Let’s take a look after a lot of synthetic meat he’s probably been eating with tons of soy. It’s funny – if you do a Bing search on Bill Gates, everything is from the shoulder up. If you use Google for him, you get the unflattering pictures after his fake meats.
Soy is a great source of phytoestrogens, which….does this to your body. In order to reverse these effects, you’d probably want…
The point is – if you look at the above people who seem to be running things, they want to force you into consuming less energy. They will get their way by reducing demand. One way or another.
This is a form of demand destruction it seems, and how better to get there than to raise rates into the stratosphere. This forces layoffs, cost cutting, and pricey offices to be closed in favor of hiring people remotely to work on Zoom and not come into the office. Bye bye major cities. Don’t worry, their CBDC will just tax the shit out of you to oblivion to make up for the higher costs for interest on the debt.
I used to think markets were “free markets” then I got involved with PMs and learned what market manipulation was. Anyone that says any different has a vested interest in keeping the COMEX running. I can already see the comments now…and then you look at what they do for a living and you realize their living depends on this beast continuing to exist.
But I have to tell you, while there’s a Moore’s law with technology as a sort of limit to miniaturization, there’s also limits with producing commodities. I can tell you the COMEX has done wonders for advancing civilization. It has. By forcing down prices and thus exploiting the cheapest labor on earth. In the US, there’s one major silver producer – Hecla – I’m an investor. Their presentations talk about high grade every slide. But if you think about it, what are the labor costs needed to extract that versus a hole in the earth in rural Mexico? By using the futures market, those who can sell at the cheapest get the bid. And, if you cannot keep up, you go out of business. This is a brutal, brutal existence for business. I know this from the IT world. Every year, there’s less and less employees doing more and more stuff. Centralized. Cut down without a thought.
And this is how you get copper for your EVs. Not some mine with union labor in New Mexico. But in 100 year old mines in Chile.
Skate to the puck
I live in south central Pennsylvania. I believe in the next 3-5 years, a lot of these “telework” jobs are going away. Anywhere, but here, for a lot of these – at first. COVID was a nice way to force this new Zoom way of being. Now, when someone moves on from your company, they no longer have to pay $150,000 to backfill that position in NYC. Now they can source it from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho at $80,000. C’est la vie.
I believe that the commodities markets are all about to break. This may be a reason for the labor disbursement. If raw materials are a lot more expensive, but you can offset this with reduced labor costs, you stay in business. If you have a labor force that generally no longer travels to the office, and a lot of people who had high paying jobs now having to work for half as much living out of bumblefuck Kentucky, you may have this deflation that some are talking about. But not yet. That is still a ways away, but it is a deflationary bomb coming I believe during this upcoming recession. Part of me is convinced the Fed wants to take everything down as I wrote about several months ago – “What if they let it burn“? Everyone seems so convinced the stock market will hiccup and they will reverse policy. What if they don’t and it’s part of their plan in taking things down?
Where I live in south central PA has a LOT of production here. I interned in IT during college at the Harley Davidson motorcycle production plant – at the time was the only one in the world. We used to have Caterpillar. Ever hear of York Peppermint Patty? (they no longer are made here) We have tons of chips and pretzels. Stauffers makes animal crackers here I believe. But more than anything, my region has hundreds, if not thousands of industrial park types of buildings around.
The above is Maple Press, a place I worked at as a security guard in college. I worked also at Voith Hydro who made turbines for hydro plants. In college I was also a security guard at Dana Corporation, a place in Reading, PA that made and assembled car frames and parts. But this region has soooooo many industrial parks that employee a ton of skilled labor.
What I am seeing is a move away from globalism, to an extent. While RAW MATERIAL supply chains may be broken, there is potentially opportunity for a lot of the professional jobs to be globalist. When I worked briefly for Pfizer, we had people all over the world already. Why do they need Americans at all, if they are overpriced?
College here is getting stupidly high priced as well. When I went to college on mostly scholarships, it was $7500 a year at York College of PA. It’s now like $27,000. And this is highly competitive compared to other local schools which might be $30,000-$50,000 per year. Why??? Cheap borrowing costs allow for the principal on these things to explode. I can tell you this. I believe in the next 10 years our collegiate system is about to go belly up as well. While I did my undergraduate at a Brick and Mortar School, I did 3/4th of my MBA at the B&M and 1/4th online. My cyber masters was online. And I can tell you, for ME, the online was FAR superior to assist with my crazy work schedule. It’s a HELL of a lot cheaper too, since they do not have massive building and maintenance costs. There will be a massive move to online and a high demand for skilled labor which may make a lot of these colleges have a come to Jesus moment in the next decade.
This country is about to need a lot of miners, engineers, scientists, robotics technicians, welders, tradesmen. IF our raw materials are about to go sideways, AND if our dollar is about to go to shit, the GOOD news from that is labor here then becomes more competitive to then be able to produce things here. I see us losing a LOT of professional jobs that make too much, but gaining a lot of trades positions that currently pay too little.
Places like where I live in the rust belt are about to become the next Silicon Valley.
Where I live, you have access to major cities. Baltimore 45 mins. Harrisburg 30 minutes. Philadelphia, 100 minutes. NYC – 2.5 hours. Meaning – I can drive or take trains to major cities for culture, shopping, and food. But I live far enough from cities where housing here is DIRT CHEAP compared to them. There is a LOT of rural housing. LOTS of farm land. In fact, there’s a funny saying here – Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in between. Pennsylvania literally means “Penn’s Woods”.
We have a LOT of skilled labor. Factories around here as far as the eye can see….
But let’s put that in a list IF we are less globalist. Let’s assume with the above, big cities are about to implode. Professional jobs are leaving. This causes rents/property to collapse. Commercial real estate in these cities implode. Think of what happened to Detroit when the car industry left there? That’s about to be every major city in the US. With much higher taxes and bloat.
- Cheap real estate
- Cheap labor, relative to every single large city in the country.
- Lots of rural areas for land/farms/farmettes
- Cheap land
- Cheap commercial real estate
- Access to graduates from top schools in the northeast to run robotics/engineering/manufacturing. Carnegie Mellon is 2.5 hours west of here and they are a hardware IT school. UPenn 2 hours east. Johns Hopkins 1 hour south. PSU 2 hours north. Other schools like Georgetown, Villanova, Drexel, Temple, etc within 2 hours.
- Access to major cities within 50-100 miles for culture/shopping/dining/entertainment.
- Access to major highways for commuting – Rt 83/81/PA turnpike
- Access to major highways and ports of Baltimore and Philadelphia
- 2 hours from Washington DC, so very attractive for Defense industry
- Ridiculous amounts of skilled labor and technical schools
- Tons of natural resources within the region for mining/building materials – we have tons of coal here as well as iron mines. Think of all of the shale oil and natural gas. We have a good portion of this country’s 300 year coal supply that is within 1-2 hours of my house. This is needed for smelting. And yes, my dad was a steel worker in a factory at Birdsboro Steel and Armorcast. PA has tons of steel mills – ever hear of the Pittsburgh Steelers? Bethlehem Steel?
- Access to nuclear, coal, oil, nat gas, solar, wind, and hydro power in the area. Yes, I live a few miles from the worst nuclear disaster in US history and am just fine.
- Access to many hiking and biking trails, parks, rivers, fishing, camping, and outdoors
- Access to rail! Think about the monopoly board. Anyone remember the Pennsylvania Railroad? The Reading Railroad (this is 10 minutes from Birdsboro Steel/Armocast so I’d grow up seeing tanks and subs on the trains coming into my town). Or the B&O? Baltimore (45 mins south) and Ohio?
- Think about all of the cities here you have heard of. York (Peppermint Patty/Harley), Reading (railroad), Allentown (Billy Joel), Philly, Pittsburgh, Erie (canal), Easton (baseball bats), Lancaster (amish), Harrisburg (capital), Scranton (The Office), Williamsport (Little League World Series).
When I lived out by Philly, they called the 202 corridor “The Philicon Valley” as a take on an east coast version of Silicon Valley. I could see it, at the time – but now, what I see is a lot of technical ability that could migrate towards manufacturing.
See, for 40 years, we lost labor like this…
To places like this….
But what we are seeing is the move that will shake everything up. The BRICS vs West showdown is about to break global supply chains. And believe it or not, I think the US wants a weaker dollar. IF so, you can bring a lot of jobs back here. But it’s not going to look like the above. It’s going to look like this.
The people that work in these factories? Perhaps you have skilled labor that install and maintain this equipment. You may have mechanical engineers that design the equipment. Coders and automation technicians who can program the robotics. Assemblers. Quality control staff. Materials engineers. Scientists for R&D. Design engineers. All of this may need a lot of capital investment – and vision to build a region.
Penn State University, about 2 hours north of me is well known for engineering. So is Drexel. So is Lehigh. My college York College of PA – was great for widget production with the business/accounting to prepare you for running local factories.
I skated to the puck. I may not have a job in a few years, but part of what I wish to do with my gold/silver mining investments is to come out the other end of this 100% debt free, have some cash, have my rentals paid off (that are providing strong Free Cash Flows), and perhaps look to invest in the renaissance of a new production world order in my state – that has everything. With no debt or monthly expenses, I could afford to take a job that pays a lot less and have a higher quality of life than I do now. Let that bake your noodle. A “Great Deflation” may take everyone’s salaries down, but if you eliminate your debt in the process, you may actually be living a better life on the other end. Less monthly costs – but also things around you are less expensive.
The roaring twenties was about opulence and credit and good times. The 1930s was about destruction of that credit and stopping the liquidity – and rebuilding our factory production in the 1940s. To me, this is possibly what the Fed wants to do.
I believe that all of the signs are pointing to locations like mine in this country are about to be crazy awesome for building and relocation. My area MAKES THINGS. We produce our own energy and we mine our own raw materials. In this new world order of sorts, the factories in locations like mine will scream to life.
To that end, Detroit might also be a possible rebound city. You want to make hundreds of millions of EVs by 2040? Supply chains suck? Where do we have the know how to build autos? Where is there cheap land and cheap labor? Access to water and rail?
To me, I feel the Gates’ of the world can eat their fake meat, I’m eating beef raised by local farmers on land they own and my city will produce things they need.
April 20, 2022 at 8:31 am
Hi Nate, loving your blogs!
I too think there is a renaissance ahead for the US once the old system goes.
A quick one on Moore’s Law – you are right on the heat element. I work in the data centre industry and the current solution to the problem is immersed liquid cooling. Basically an insulating oil that floods the PCBs and carries the heat away. Mainly for High Performance Computing at the mo, but great tech
April 21, 2022 at 7:26 pm
Actually, I like in Kentucky, and “Bumblefuck” is a pretty nice place to live. Quiet, three block downtown district on Main Street. Wonderful new Public Library with it’s own solar array and rainwater collection system (only used for the toilets, I believe) and we just got fiber internet last year. There’s a railroad that cuts right down Main Street, and it’s still in use. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7QiNgui5Tg