- Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism by Kevin Phillips
- The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History by David Hackett Fischer
Governments, religions and corporations are all tempted to expand beyond their means of sustainability. They become over-extended by over-reaching their practical limitations. They become over-bearing to those who are getting subjugated, manipulated and coerced. Human rights of everyone get over-ruled by property rights of the elite. World domination becomes the objective of the over-zealous endeavor. While the expansion succeeds, the market for goods, services and financing expands dramatically. Profitability and prosperity abounds. The beneficiaries get deluded into thinking they are on the right track with no end in sight. For example:
- The Roman empire extending as far as Gaul until Egyptian papyrus exporters cut off shipments and left the Roman government unable to communicate with outlying regions.
- Inca and Aztec empires covering meso American until small bands of Spanish conquistadors captured their kings and incapacitated the citizens.
- The Catholic Church maintaining a vast empire of monasteries throughout medieval Europe until the printing of bibles in vernacular languages undermined their absolute authority.
- The Hapsburg empire, Maritime Belgium, and Imperial Great Britain maintaining colonies until their over-expansion on borrowed money collapsed their financial system.
As these domineering endeavors become over-extended, their collapse becomes imminent. They lose resilience as they become rigid, obsessed and self-righteous. They make enemies and lose allies. They alienate their loyal subjects who previously submitted to being over-ruled. They become over-dependent on a single source of sustenance, control, authority or exclusivity that can be cut off by a small act of aggression. They rely too much on credit, finance and patronage as their weakening economy generates less tax revenue and middle class prosperity. Prices then soar and real income then declines for hard-working wage earners. The gap widens between rich and poor. Democratic processes become more aristocratic, exploitative and manipulative of powerlessness.
The resemblance to our current globalization and financial system is haunting. Fortunately there are also patterns for rebounding and resilience that I'll explore next.