Chris Walker reviews 'The Day After the Dollar Crashes: A Survival Guide for the Rise of the New World Order', by Damon Vickers
Many of my neighbours have started to buy guns. As a European living in the US, this passionate addiction to pistols is an alien, terrifying aspect of life here. Behind this passion is fear - fear that the American way of life is threatened. These people, proudly nationalist and predominantly Christian, are deeply suspicious of the federal government and yet cherish the 'sacred' American constitution and the 'holy' dollar. Increasingly, they support Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement. They also buy books like this and scare themselves with the idea that the dollar will be reduced to a penny.
Damon Vickers is a Seattle fund manager who, like Palin, uses folksy 'straight talk' to captivate and terrify - asserting the "American Dream is dead" and the world is facing a "death spiral". He's an outsider, a maverick. How many fund managers do you know who confess to having lived in a car or a Buddhist monastery? And like Palin, Vickers wears his green credentials on his sleeve. Nauseatingly. He's more excited talking about the beauty of nature and the horror of junk food than about the world economy and stock markets.
Instead of buying apricots in a supermarket, you should walk "outside in an apricot orchard one morning when the air is still cool … you see hundreds of golden globes nestled among the leaves … now you spy the apricot of your dreams … you rub your fingers over the fuzzy skin … taste the juice as it bursts over your tongue" etc., etc.
The central theme of Vickers' work is that we have all been too busy watching videogames and eating badly while those pesky liberals snuck up on us and created a bloated social security system and, horror of horrors, Obamacare - both nothing more than "gargantuan Ponzi schemes that make Bernie Madoff's trick look like a carousel ride".
"They" even snuck Obamacare through at 1am, obviously so no one noticed. They, by the way, are never clearly identified, but as with all good conspiracy theorists, they appear to be whoever is convenient. First, the liberals, then the "conglomerates", the "club of economic elites", the "healthcare industrial complex", the wicked Federal Reserve or quite simply "the Government".
Anyway, thanks to the Illuminati and the Democrats sneaking things through at 1am, the US is now sinking under a mountain of debt. This last bit is true, though Vickers' numbers do seem a little rich. Ok, the US owes $13-14trn, but is there really $60-80trn in unfunded entitlements and $40-50trn in promises for new entitlements? Using a trick Vickers likes to, that would mean around a million dollars for every working American. Too many numbers are thrown around in this book with little explanation or footnotes. Like when Vickers tells us 97% of trees have been cut down in North America, or even that there are no trees left in Europe. He really should take a trip to Germany or Scandinavia.
Now here perhaps a word should be said about the editor, Leslie Van Winkle. Some of the blunders in this book are painful. Take the EU has member states located "primarily in Europe". Or, in 1917, the Romanovs "fled the country" (no they didn't), having reigned for "about a century" (300-plus years, actually). Describing monetary regulation (would be like) "cleaning the Aegean stables". Groan. Van Winkle you were asleep on the job.
Anyway, back to the death spiral. Thanks to all this Illuminati-connived debt, the Chinese are going to wake up any day soon and say "we just ain't buyin' another darn'd US bond". After 15 days of market gyrations, currency collapse and general world panic, we succumb to global revolution. Vickers gets quite carried away here with some real "red meat for the blue rinses", describing terrified Americans who "lock their doors, load their shotguns, hide their children". He relishes this Armageddon, stating: "We need a social uprising." For we have sinned, with all those burgers and consumer debt.
Religion, whether Christian or Buddhist, is never far away as Vickers leads us toward a New World Order. In another epoch, he wouldn't have gone into investment banking. He'd have become a Hippy waiting for the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. "We are seeing a surge in spiritual consciousness that gives me great hope," he says. It also seems to give him great arrogance. Arguing for the power of positive thinking (apparently, he went to church with the guy who wrote the book), he asserts: "We create exactly what we think … that may sound like new thought mumbo-jumbo, but your belief is not required for this to be true."
Anyway, we get to the New World Order, after the 15 days of Armageddon, by all grouping together in a small western-pioneer-town kind of way, which (somehow?) turns into a global government, a global currency and - yes, I'm afraid - a new global messiah. As Vickers says, "let's just hope we treat him right this time". Oh dear, it always gets back to Jesus with the head for the hills brigade.
If you think this all sounds like a mad romp through Palin country, you're right. But this is a shame because the dollar's future is a serious subject. If Vickers had studied currency history - excluding biblical references to the value of the shekel - he might have considered the way previous global currencies were replaced. Take the slow decline of sterling, a process that took 50 years (not 15 days), after two world wars and the fall of empire.
But that does not mean you should not read this book. Riding this wave of fear, Palin could be the next president. Who knows - Vickers could be the next Treasury secretary. As he says, "if you are reading this book, you may own a gun or two". Quite.
Christopher Walker is a writer on current affairs and investment issues. He was previously a senior executive in the asset management industry and has experience of strategy, portfolio management and building businesses.