top of page

Solution Page: Greater Depression


This is the second Directed Fiction novel ever written. And the quality and technique have improved dramatically since my first proof-of-concept novel. This is still written as a multi-path, Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) novel, with each chapter is tied to a real-world question being considered on the forecasting platform Metaculus. However, this time I tightened up my prediction net significantly, even authoring twelve of the Metaculus myself to ensure a better fit. This novel also makes use of four conditioned-pair questions, which allows for an examination of a wider variety of outcomes without bogging down the story lines.


Directed Fiction is a novel form of writing that is still in its infancy, and there is still much room for improvement. Nevertheless, a single glance at the prediction map below provides a previously unknown glimpse into our near future.


Prediction Map 10 November 2023


Table Updated 9 March 2024

Landmark

Community Forecast

Merritt's Forecast

Merritt's Score Baseline / Peer

Initial Problem Set:

GML Debt (Airships)

2029

2025

Pending

1a. Rare Earth Minerals (Cargo Airships)

93%

99%

Pending

1b. Government Contracts (Combat Airships)

20%

25%

Pending

2a. Bank Run Leads to Bankruptcies

If Yes: 75%

If No: 24%

If Yes: 85%

If No: 24%

Pending

2b. Hyperinflation Leads to Famine

If Yes: 25%

If No 15%

If Yes: 24%

If No 15%

Pending

Pending

2c. Unemployment Leads to Riots

If Yes: 56%

If No: 40%

If Yes: 66%

If No: 40%

Pending

2d. Currency War Leads to Hot War

If Yes: 5%

If No: 8%

If Yes: 35%

If No: 40%

Pending

Miraculous Endstate Modern Monetary Theory

15%

5%

Pending

Transition 1

Optimistic Endstate Consumer Price Index

FY23: 3.4%

FY24: 2.99%

FY23: 3.4%

FY24: 4.48%

FY23: +35 /+11 FY24: Pending

Transition 2

Optimistic Endstate Gold Standards Act

1%

2%

Pending

Transition 1

Suprise-Free Endstate Deflationary Period

22%

22%

Pending

Transition 2

Suprise-Free Endstate Austerity Policy

20%

5%

Pending

Transition 1

Pessimistic Endstate Bank Secrecy Act

July 2069

April 2068

Pending

Transition 2

Pessimistic Endstate Executives Imprisoned

70%

60%

Pending

Catastrophic Endstate China Surpasses US

2074

2059

Pending

These Predictions are Updated in Real-Time


Initial Problem Set: GML Debt (Airships)

When I began this project, the Metaculus community was (collectively) predicting that the next great financial crisis would occur on April 22, 2029. One month later, that estimate was moved to October 27, 2028. It will be interesting to watch this trend. I began with a prediction of July 11, 2026. The actual date is a little bit random, but my thinking is that by this time, we will be into the second year of the next Presidental administration. By then, whatever new (or continuing) economic policies will be firmly in place, and we'll have a much better idea about the trajectory of the economy. I am keeping an eye out for "Black Swan" events, or financial shocks to the economic system. My sense is that our economy is very fragile, and that it won't take much to push us into a negative spiral.


1a. Rare Earth Elements

When I was first learning about hybrid airships, there was an active deal in the works to use them to haul rare-earth minerals from the Strange Lake mine in Canada. While that particular deal fell apart, there remains intense interest in developing heavy-lift cargo airships. I'm watching the French-based cargo company Flying Whales since they secured a 122 million euro deal to develop their own program.


1b. Government Contracts (War)

When I wrote this question, the Metaculus community was estimating the probability at 17%. One month later, they've caught up with me at 20%. Based on a persuasive article in Real Clear Defense, "The Force Design 2030 concept will cripple Marine Corps aviation and limit the operational reach of Marines today and in the future. The planned dispersion of “stand-in forces” in Force Design 2030 will require more lift and air support, not less. The air lift capacities of hybrid airships may be just what the Marine corps needs to operate in a littoral environment. Things seem to be heating up in the Pacific!


2a. Bank Runs Lead to Bankruptcies

This question is the first of four "Conditioned Pair" questions that I authored on Metaculus. They examine four separate government responses to a financial depression, and four tragic outcomes historically associated with the Great Depression of the 1930. Taken as a group, these represent sixteen different outcomes. It would be too cumbersome to write stories for all sixteen, so I selected just four pairs to illustrate the range of probabilities.


2b. Hyperinflation Leads to Famine

There are very important questions about causation that may be too difficult to answer using conventional methods. Does hyperinflation "cause" famine? Might other things (like a war in the Ukraine, or a shock to the global supply chain) also cause famine? A visit to the Pardee International Futures website illustrates the enormous complexity of a national economy. As a fiction author, I'm interested in the effects economic trends have on people's lives. No one forgets the soup lines.


2c. Unemployment Leads to Riots

This is a brand-new question. As of 02 October, the community has not weighed in on the probabilities yet. I bet 60% if yes, 40% if no. Because a lot of other things besides unemployment could also start riots. I'm also keeping my eye on China as an example, because they are experiencing very high unemployment rates with their younger demographic, and that is causing social unrest there.


2d. Currency War Leads to Hot War

The US Institute of Peace wrote this in December 2022: "Rising competition between the United States and China has exacerbated tensions over longstanding potential flashpoints between the two countries." https://www.usip.org/publications/2022/12/cur…


Since then, the tensions between the US and China have continued to rachet up. The potential for a "flashpoint" is why I have predicted so high on the scale. Between now and 2027 there is plenty of time to re-evaluate if the situation seems to improve.



Miraculous Endstate: MMT

I consider the unorthodox Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) to be one of the craziest ideas out there. Recognizing my personal bias, the rules of Directed Fiction require me to consider the possibility that I am mistaken, and that MMT is really the best economic policy approach. What are the odds of that?


Transition 1 Optimistic Endstate: CPI (Inflation Rate)

This question is a little hard to track in this forum, because it is asking what the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI - Inflation rate) will be for each year, 2023-2027. Basically, the Metaculus community is projecting for it to remain around 3.5% each year, and I am pessimistic that inflation is here to stay for a while at the higher rate of 4.5%.


Transition 2 Optimistic Endstate: Gold Standards Act

If I have been critical of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), people have been no less critical of me for even suggesting that Congress pass a Gold Standard Resolution Act. They say it's a crazy idea that would never pass, and if it did it would wreck the economy. The point is, that these two radically different economic approaches (MMT & Gold Standard) represent the extreme boundaries of my economic analysis. Rather than just trying to get a single prediction right, I am more interested in the range of possibilities being considered. What really matters are the relationship between all the different predictions.


Transition 1 Surprise-Free Endstate: Deflationary Pressure

In a previous prediction, I examined the CPI (Inflation rate), however, my research of the great financial depressions indicates that Deflationary periods are a common feature of economic collapse. At first it might seem as if lower prices would be good for everyone, but in fact they come with a whole host of other problems that are often far more painful than inflation. Again, the two questions considered together offer a spectrum of future possibilities. The map at the top of this page tracks our location along this continuum.


Transition 2 Suprise-Free Endstate: Austerity Policy

This is an interesting debt question. It is based on a fortified essay by Arnold King. Might the debt get so bad that even a Democratic administration would enact austerity measures?


Transition 1 Pessimistic Endstate: Bank Secrecy Act

The Bank Secrecy Act is a rather obscure law that seeks to expand surveillance of financial institutions, giving government agents the power to access information (often without warrants) for the stated purpose of rooting out money laundering, tax evasion and terrorism. My interest in this question stems from the consideration that under terms of extreme economic duress, financial institutions would be more likely to engage in illegal activity.



Transition 2 Pessimistic Endstate: Executives Imprisoned

Perhaps it is cynical, but the Metaculus community currently predicts the possibility of executives from a major public company going to jail as the highest possible outcome of the questions I am considering. Just as the previous question considers the possibility of financial institutions engaging in illegal activity, this question imagines individual people committing financial crimes due to the enormous pressures brought on by an economic collapse.


Catastrophic Endstate: China Surpasses US

In his book, "2034: A Novel of the Next World War" Admiral James Stavridus warns that the United States doesn't suffer from a failure to innovate or execute, rather we suffer from a failure of imagination. It is the job of a science fiction writer to jump beyond the boundaries of the normalcy bias and consider future possibilities that would otherwise be deemed incomprehensible or impossible.


116 views

Recent Posts

See All

Comentários


bottom of page