California Dreaming—State Metaphor for a Failing Nation – Investment Watch

By way of Matthew Piepenburg

Under we believe the State of California because the metaphor of a failed state in addition to the failing state of the American Union, which is the rest however a dream.

For the ones already acquainted with my articles, interviews and even day-to-day banter, I’ve an admitted affinity for metaphors and analogies, as they lend a hand draw the straightforward from the advanced.

Towards that finish, I’ve 1) when put next coverage makers to failed generals, 2) debt and foreign money bubbles to Titanics, 3) macro making an investment to polo fits, 4) financial coverage to drug habit and 5) the affection of bloated bond markets to poisonous romances.

As for politicians and political problems, there’s all the time the danger of partisan bias and offending those that dangle to just one viewpoint.

Thankfully, my take at the left or the correct of present politics is relatively agnostic, as I view just about all politicos as crooked as a canine’s hind leg.

Thus, as I flip my lens towards the state of California and its failed governor, I’m hoping readers of the left or proper can dispense with politics and simply persist with math in order that we will be able to all get previous the swamp of crimson vs. blue reviews and admire the target information of crimson vs. black steadiness sheets.

And relating to the State of California, she’s deeply within the crimson, and serves, mockingly, as but any other broader but appropriate metaphor of the arena economic system usually and america particularly.

So, let’s dig in.

California Dreaming?

Oh, how I’ve liked California. It’s house to a few superb private recollections in addition to private wipeouts—and now not simply the browsing sort.

Its sunny enchantment, alternatively, is universally seductive, and prefer that well-known Eagles track, one certainly appears like you’ll be able to take a look at in any time you’d like, however you’ll be able to by no means in reality go away California’s tempting horizons and legendary spell the place goals come true.

However, other folks are leaving California, and feature been doing so that you can the song of over 500,000 exits within the ultimate 2 years by myself.


For the ones at the political proper, California’s big-headed Gavin Newsom is a straightforward goal.

His over-the-top COVID hysteria (very similar to different failed experiments in Seattle, Chicago or Portland…) and unsustainable tax insurance policies coupled with San Francisco’s soft-on-crime nightmare (car-jacking capital) and L.A.’s contemporary fall from Town of Goals to Tent Town are all vintage symbols of a failed state.

I as soon as lived in this seaside…

However let’s go away that factor, debate and fall to the woke, the left, the correct, the offended and the boastful.

For me, the mathematics of California (whose nominal GDP ranked because the 5th biggest on the planet) makes the dialogue a ways more uncomplicated to sift thru.

The Exhausting Fact of Easy Math

Like just about all cornered politicians, Newsom is pushed by way of obfuscating the most obvious and trivializing the momentous (Chicago’s just lately failed mayor of the country’s “homicide capital” involves thoughts…).

For instance, his January projected funds deficit of $22.5B (an already embarrassing determine which he nonetheless attempted to downplay) was once in reality off.

Means off.

It seems that even Newsom’s “sunny” forecast and constructive math had lost sight of a couple of pesky information.

First, the state’s per month tax income for January was once virtually $14B not up to the income for the month prior.

Secondly, California’s fiscal yr, which began ultimate July, is transferring at a tempo of $23B in much less source of revenue than the former yr.

Briefly: California’s source of revenue movement is operating towards an vacancy identical to Newsom’s IQ, in spite of sunsets as constant as his immaculate dresser and “Hollywood” smile (smear?).

However as many Californian’s know—it’s now not how issues really feel, however how they give the impression of being which counts.

For the highest source of revenue bracket, alternatively, California’s tax expenses (and revenues) aren’t taking a look excellent.

Even the ones rich and lovely (from Topanga to Belvedere Island) are beginning to squirm below a state tax construction that feels and appears the rest however “dreamy.”

State tax for Californians incomes over $1M is 13.3%, and the highest 0.5% of California’s tax payers are accountable for over 40% of the state’s general tax source of revenue.

Many, in fact, are getting in poor health of paying taxes for increasingly more dear sunsets, even from Orange County’s row of waterfront mic-mansions.

Moreover, for the ones rich left-coasters who’ve misplaced their jobs or capital beneficial properties at Google, Amazon, Fb and numerous different Silicon Valley enterprises of overdue, that tax source of revenue is brazenly drying up, because of this so are the state’s revenues.

Delusion Land

California, in fact, is house to Hollywood and fantasy-like conversations of constructing goals come true over cocktails at Shutters at the Seashore or an overpriced vegetarian meal at The Ivy.

Delusion, in fact, is a laugh, or even important every now and then. (I all the time liked Shutters…)

It was once myth, for instance, that made an Austrian body-builder right into a former Governor of California. How’s that for the American/Californian dream?

Sadly, that very same Austrian by no means studied Austrian economics in between barbell classes, and the ultimate time I heard him discuss, he was once announcing “screw your freedom,” suggesting that the unvaccinated had been all anti-science “schmuks… “

What a man. What a dream.

However had a few of Cali’s former leaders certainly studied any type of economics, they’d most likely needless to say emerging deficits and falling revenues is the other of a dream—it’s the historically-confirmed prelude to a nightmare.

Even the once-reliable WSJ has confessed that California’s funds has imploded and that January revenues are poised to be down by way of 40% y/y.


One wonders how lengthy the highest 0.5% of California will need (or be in a position) to pay that ever-increasing invoice as earnings of their tech-heavy portfolios creep ever nearer towards a cliff steeper than Malibu’s Level Dume.

Delusion Politics—Lipstick on a Pig

In the intervening time, Californian management positive is aware of the right way to put lipstick on a pig.

They’d let us know, for instance, that in spite of revenues falling from prior peaks, that the state expects revenues for 2023-24 to “stay about 20% upper than prior to the pandemic.”

In different phrases, not anything to fret about.


First, the ones “projections” have already got a hoop of fine ol’ Californian myth to them.

However despite the fact that we suppose they’re correct and that California’s “income issues” are solved, those self same funds wizards are ignoring the spending (i.e., the aforementioned funds deficit) drawback which is mounting.

California as Metaphor

Sadly, California’s embarrassing mixture of tanking revenues, higher spending and increasing deficits isn’t taking place in a vacuum.

In truth, California serves as a reflect to a broader drawback inside of america as entire (or debt hollow) …

Just like the failed state of California, the similarly failed state of america govt has an issue with incoming tax revenues, a subject matter I’ve been tracing all through 2022.

Just like the Californian rich 0.5%, the rich 1% of america taken jointly are those paying 40% of the nationwide taxes.

And prefer California’s rich usually, the country’s rich particularly get a large number of that wealth from a effervescent possibility asset marketplace whose absolute best days are in large part in the back of us and whose worst days (and therefore weaker capital achieve receipts) are nonetheless forward.

Briefly, and prefer California, america is going through much less tax revenues mixed with better deficits and higher spending, making the Cali disaster a number one indicator of a countrywide disaster.

The Math of Recessions

Recessions, even the type the DC crowd seeks to redefine, deny, delay or forget about, have patterns and information which we will be able to use to foresee coming tendencies, weaknesses or even alternatives.

For instance, recessions imply much less tax receipts and better deficits.

If we suppose even a 20% decline in tax receipts (conservative), tagged directly to emerging deficits estimated at a 12% build up in Entitlement Pay-Move’s (additionally conservative) within the backdrop Powell’s present price hike coverage, Uncle Sam’s bar tab (i.e., True Pastime Expense) returns to Covid disaster/ache ranges paying homage to a apparently forgotten the day gone by:

In different phrases, america (in conjunction with California…) are mathematically heading towards a bar-tab (i.e., hobby expense invoice) as painful as the only we noticed in March of 2020, when markets tanked and the Fed was once required to print trillions in not up to 8 months simply to stay Uncle Sam’s nostril (and Treasury marketplace) above water.

For now, alternatively, the Fed isn’t printing trillions by way of QE, however tightening ala QT.

Or mentioned extra merely, US debt tasks are crusing towards but any other debt iceberg, simplest now the problem isn’t about too few lifeboats, however no existence boats in any respect.

As I see it, and feature mentioned repeatedly prior, america is trapped and not using a simple answers as debt ranges are emerging and revenues falling.

The result is apparent, despite the fact that the right timing of the iceberg isn’t.

Whether or not Powell’s Fed continues to tighten right into a debt iceberg, or in the end seeks to transient soften (monetize) that iceberg with extra QE, the country is doomed both means in a Hobbesian selection between tanking markets (QT-driven) or skyrocketing inflation (QE-driven).

No One Likes Bears, and Even Fewer Perceive Gold

Until you’re a gifted short-trader or volatility choice jock, nobody likes bears or endure markets, and therefore only a few like to listen to data-driven bears (mathematical realists) like myself continuously reminding us of the debt elephant within the room–and all that this poisonous debt inevitably implies.

As soon as debt ranges transform deadly, the route of credit score, inventory, belongings and in spite of everything foreign money markets are simple to prognosis, although the time of dying isn’t.

Gold, in fact, loves demise currencies.

The cost of gold nowadays, or the power or weak point of the USD day after today, are frankly foolish questions within the brief time period for any who perceive the wider context of the long-term.

Currencies are all the time the ultimate bubble to pop, and for the reason that gold is a shop of price somewhat than an software of hypothesis, gold buyers (i.e., the ones whose goal is wealth preservation now not asset hypothesis) acknowledge that gold by no means rises, currencies simply fall.

Buyers in bodily gold due to this fact measure their wealth in oz, grams and pounds, now not extremely poisonous, rising debased and (endlessly debated) fiat currencies whose race to the ground is actually taking place proper prior to our eyes in actual time.

To push aside such easy deductions from admittedly advanced marketplace forces as simply “gold trojan horse” considering ignores math, historical past and gold cycles.

However once more, nobody likes to peer bears, even if they’re watching them from the Californian state Capital.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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