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One of the biggest fears about the coming economic crisis is the holistic nature of the beast. Naturally, most investors and concerned citizens focus on the headlining print. As examples, we’re talking about the Federal Reserve’s interest rate cuts or rapidly eroding geopolitical stability. And of course, we should all pay attention to these developments. However, something that has gotten lost in the discussion is what I’d term the trash economy.

Due to the mundane nature of this topic, it’s something that I never really thought about. I’d venture to say that virtually all of you haven’t thought about it either. It’s easy to see why. Everyday, we go about our daily routines: work, family obligations, household chores, etc. And in these activities, we create a ton of trash. According to the most recent available data in 2015, the U.S. generated over 262 million tons of waste.

Where does that go? As you might suspect, a majority of it ends up in landfills, landfills which are rapidly nearing maximum capacity. But what I didn’t know is that we send a substantial portion of our recyclables to China. While that relationship was robust when China was a lower-tier nation, they’re now exercising their newfound strength.

In other words, going through America’s trash is beneath them. And now begins the worrying repercussions of the trash economy.

 

Unwilling Participants for the Trash Economy

It’s not just China that’s tired of being a subservient partner to the trash economy. Essentially, other Asian nations are giving the U.S. the proverbial middle finger.

As awkward as this situation is, that is their right. But the problem for individual Americans is that we’re living on borrowed time. Recycling centers depended almost exclusively on China and other developing nations picking up our trash. With them refusing, we must take care of this problem domestically. In most cases, these centers have given up, resulting in massive crowding.

It’s not a situation that impedes standards of living now. But in a few decades, we’ll live in a literal wasteland if trends continue unabated. In some ways, the coming correction in the investment marketplace is the least of our worries. We have a more fundamental problem over the horizon.

Indeed, this deteriorating circumstance is a macro microcosm of our headlining problems. Increasingly, other nations are rejecting the hegemony of the U.S. dollar. To paraphrase real estate guru Robert Kiyosaki, cash is trash, and they’re throwing out our cash. Just for good measure, they’re also rebuffing our trash.

In the most striking manner possible, the trash economy is a massive harbinger. At this point, you’re left with only two options: heed its warnings or suffer the consequences.

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