Send this article to a friend:


Is America Losing?
Matthew Piepenburg

Below, we soberly assess the lessons of history and math against the current realities of a debt-defined America to ask and answer a painful yet critical question: Is America losing?

The End of History and the Last Man

In 1992, while I was still an undergrad with a seemingly endless optimism in life in general and the American Dream in particular, the American political scientist, Francis Fukuyama, published a much-discussed book entitled, The End of History and the Last Man.

Released in the wake of the wall coming down in Berlin and a backdrop of continually low rates and rising US markets, this best-selling and optimistic work captured the Western mindset with obvious pride.

With its central theme (supported by an overt Hegelian and dialectal framework) of capitalism and liberal democracy’s penultimate and victorious evolution (Aufhebung moment) beyond the Soviet dark ages of a debt-soaked and centralization/autocratic communism, the famous book made headline sense in this Zeitgeist of American exceptionalism.

But even then, amidst all the evidence of Soviet failures (from extended wars, currency destruction, unpayable debts and a clearly dishonest media and police-state leadership), my already history-conscious (and fancy-school) mind could not help but wonder out loud if this book’s optimistic conclusion of the West’s ideological and evolutional end-game was not otherwise a bit, well: naïve.

Had the West truly reached a victorious “end of history” moment?

Pride & An Insult to History?

In fact, and as anyone who truly understands history should know then as now, history is replete with rhyming turning points, but never a victorious and eternal “end-game.”

Stated more simply, the famous book, which made so much sense at that particular moment in time, seemed to me even in 1992 as a classic example of “hubris comes before the fall.”

In other words, it may have been a bit too soon to declare victory for liberal democracy and capitalism, as these fine systems require fine leadership and even finer principles to survive history’s forward flow.

Today’s History…

Fast-forward many decades (grey hairs, advanced degrees and sore muscles) later, and it would seem that my young skepticism (and historical respect) was well-placed.

The evidence around us now suggests that the “victorious” capitalism Fukuyama boasted of in 1992 died long ago, replaced in the interim years by obvious and mathematically-corroborated examples of unprecedented wealth inequality and modern feudalism.

Furthermore, if one were to contrast the principles of America’s founding fathers as evidenced by their first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution (remember our Bill of Rights?) to the current and obvious destruction of the same in what is now a far more centralized, post-9-11 “Patriot Act” USA, the evidence of democracy’s crumbling façade is literally all around us.

In other words, perhaps Fukuyama got a little too ahead of himself.

Or more to the point, perhaps he was dead wrong about the final “victory” of genuine US capitalism and an actual, living/breathing liberal democracy?

Is the USA the Old USSR?

In fact, and with a humble nod to modesty, blunt-speak, current events, simple math and almost tragic irony, the actual evidence of history since 1992 suggests that today’s Divided States of America (DSA) (and Pravda-like media) appears to look far more like the defeated USSR than the victor presented by Mr. Fukuyama…

Such dramatic statements, of course, mean nothing without facts, and we all deserve a careful use of the same if we seek to replace emotion with data and hence see, argue and prepare ourselves politically and financially with more clarity.

Facts Are Stubborn Things

Toward this end, I am once again grateful for the facts and figures which Luke Gromen provides in supporting the otherwise “sensational” conclusion that America may have won the “cold battle” with the USSR, but it is now losing a “cold war” with the Russians and Chinese.




Again, let’s look at the facts. Let’s look at the numbers. Let’s look at current events, and let’s look at history, which is anything but at an “end.”

For those whose respect for history goes beyond a twitter-level attention span or the assistance of mainstream media Ken and Barbies (from CNN to The View), none of whom understand anything of history, you will recall that Regan’s successful war against the USSR was won by bankrupting the Soviets.

But as Gromen so eloquently reminds us, “nobody seems to notice that is EXACTLY what the Russians and Chinese are doing to us now.”

This is not fable but fact, and I warned of this in How the West was Lost the moment the US weaponized the USD in 2022. This desperately myopic (i.e., stupid) policy gave a very patient and history-savvy Russia and China just the opportunity they have been waiting for to turn the tables on the DSA.

History’s Fatal Debt Trap Lesson

As I also recently wrote, with the insights of both Niel Ferguson and Luke Gromen, you know (and history confirms) a nation (or empire) is ALWAYS doomed the moment its debt expenses (in interest terms alone) exceed its defense spending.

And as of this writing, the DSA’s gross interest is 40% higher than its military spending.

Nor are we, the Russians, the Chinese or even a select minority of informed Americans alone in this knowledge of the DSA’s fatal debt trap.

No Hiding the Obvious

The current turning point in American debt is now increasingly and more globally understood in what Ben Hunt calls “the Common Knowledge Game.”

Stated more simply, and as evidenced by the now undeniable move away from the US IOU and USD by an ever-increasing (and ever de-Dollarizing) BRICS+ membership roster, the world is catching on to the blunt fact that the American empire (of citizen lions led by political donkeys) is spending fatally more than it earns.

What is far more sickening, however, is that Uncle Sam is then paying its IOUs with debased Dollars literally mouse-clicked into existence at the not-so “federal” and not-so “reserved” Federal Reserve.

This desperate reality, and completely fantasy-based monetary “solution,” has resulted in an empirically bankrupt nation who quantifiably spends more on entitlements (cashed out by 2030), sovereign IOUs and warfare than it does on transportation, agriculture, veteran benefits and citizen education (our apologies to Thomas Jefferson).

See for yourself:

Returning from simple math to otherwise forgotten (or now increasingly “cancelled) history, it becomes harder to deny Gromen’s observation “that the US appears to be reprising the role of the USSR this time, with a heavy debt load, uncompetitive and hollowed-out industrial base, reliant on a Cold War adversary for imported manufactured goods, and needing ever-higher oil prices in order to keep its oil production from falling.”

Democracy’s Suicide?

In other words, and in the many years since Fukuyama declared victory in 1992, the interim sins/errors of increasingly suicidal (or grotesquely negligent/stupid) US military, financial and foreign policies have irrevocably placed the DSA into a defeated decline rather than victorious “End of History.”

This reality, of course, gives me no pleasure to share, as I was, am and will always remain a patriotic American—or at least patriotic to the ideals for which America originally stood.

But as I’ve said many times, today’s DSA is almost unrecognizable to the American I was when Fukuyama’s book of hubris was released over three decades ago.

As our second US President, John Adams, warned his wife Abigail: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

Again, this is history, and it appears to be a history that Fukuyama misunderstood in 1992, when he apparently thought it had reached its happy “end.”

The Past Informs the Future

Looking forward, I/we must be equally capable of looking backward.

History has far more to teach us than the stump-speeches (or pathetic cue cards) of current political opportunists (puppets?) who, with very few exceptions, care far more about preserving their power (via coalitions, the legalized bribery of K-Street lobbyists, the promulgation of mis-information and the deliberate omission of mal-information) than serving their public.

The Sad History of Currency Debasement

History also warns/teaches that the leadership of all debt-soaked and failing regimes will buy time saving their “systems” (and covering their @$$’s) by debasing their currencies to monetize their debts.

Folks, this is true throughout history, and WITHOUT EXCEPTION.

Sadly, the DSA and its hitherto “exceptionalism” is no exception to this otherwise ignored historical lesson.

Toward this end, and as Egon and I have argued for years, the DSA will thus pretend to “fight inflation” while simultaneously seeking inflation, as all debt-strapped (and hence failed) regimes need inflation rates to exceed interest rates (as measured by the yield on the US10Y UST) in what the fancy lads call “negative real rates.”

The Sad History of Dishonesty

Inflation, however, is not only politically embarrassing, but stone-cold proof of failed monetary and fiscal leadership.

To get around this embarrassment, politicos from the Fed and the White House to the so-called House of Representatives (and the Don-Lemonish/Chris Cuomo/ 1st Amendment-insulting/hit-driven legacy mediawhich supports them) will do what most children do when faced with making an error, that is: Lie.

And in this case: Lie about inflation data.

Of course, a nation that lies to its people is not best suited for leading its people.

As Hemingway warned, and as I often repeat, those at fault will point the fingers of blame to others (from Eastern bad guys, and man-made viruses to political fear campaigns on everything from global warming, white nationalism or green men from Mars); or worse, leaders will distract their constituents in perpetual wars.

Sound familiar?

In the interim, those “people” will continually and increasingly suffer from the sins of their childish leadership under the crippling yet invisible tax of the debased purchasing power of their so-called “money.”

This too, is nothing new to those who track history

Golden Solutions?

Gold, of course, cannot and will not solve all of the myriad and “human, all too human” failures of national leadership and the monetary, social and centralized disfunctions which ALWAYS follow in the wake of too much debt.

But as history also confirms (and equally without exception), each of us can at least protect the purchasing power of our wealth by measuring that wealth in ounces and grams rather than openly dying paper/fiat money.

This is not a biased argument. This is not a “gold bug” argument.

It is far more simply a historical argument, which further explains why governments don’t want you to understand the history of money nor the history of gold.

In fact, even Fukuyama’s now embarrassing book ignores this simple lesson of gold lasting and paper money dying, which only adds to my opening observation that history never “ends” it simply teaches and protects the informed.

The same is true of physical gold.





Matt began his finance career as a transactional attorney before launching his first hedge fund during the NASDAQ bubble of 1999-2001

Thereafter, he began investing his own and other HNW family funds into alternative investment vehicles while operating as a General Counsel, CIO and later Managing Director of a single and multi-family office. Matthew worked closely as well with Morgan Stanley’s hedge fund platform in building a multi-strat/multi-manager fund to better manage risk in a market backdrop of extreme central bank intervention/support. The conviction that precious metals provides the most reliable and longer-term protection against potential systemic risk led Matt to join VON GREYERZ.

The author of the Amazon No#1 Release, Rigged to Fail, Matt is fluent in French, German and English; he is a graduate of Brown (BA), Harvard (MA) and the University of Michigan (JD). Along with Egon von Greyerz, Matthew is the co-author of Gold Matters, which offers an extensive examination of gold as an historically-confirmed wealth-preservation asset.

Send this article to a friend: