History will repeat itself

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It is September 2025 and the financial system has imploded due to the collapse in value of collaterised green obligations (CGOs).

So how did we end up in this sorry state? Here is a guide to how the crisis developed:

Governments (often sovereign wealth funds that had made a fortune from selling oil and gas), investment bankers, pension-fund managers and hedge funds began transferring cash from traditional hydrocarbon-based investments when Peak Oil arrived in 2015.

A further motive for the enormous capital transfer – amounting to trillions of dollars – was the gradual evolution of the global carbon tax and cap-and-trade system.

Companies that had failed to innovate (including many in the chemicals sector) went under – as did even some of the stock exchanges that had failed to evolve.

But because of woefully bad funding of and interest in science teaching (far too many undergraduates were still taking degrees in media studies), there was a widespread inability to separate the good from the bad new-technology prospects.

The global shortage of science and engineering graduates, which stretches back to the early years of this century, has therefore continued.

Ignorance about good science extended from senior government levels down to the public who poured their money into the new “green” bourses.

Charlatans made fortunes from government funding and ridiculously overpriced initial public offerings by making spurious claims about the commercial viability of their inventions.

But there were some tremendous successes, notably big breakthroughs in carbon capture and storage and a second-generation biofuel made from animal and human nose hairs.

Then, as we all know, the “Green Equities Bubble” went pop in 2018. Wall Street’s Renewable Energy Index lost 1,000 points on December 3 of that year alone when investors realised that many of the new-tech companies would fail.

The Federal Reserve, desperate to prevent a recession, aggressively cut interest rates.

This forced lenders to seek higher returns through developing ever-more complex financial instruments, including the now widely discredited CGOs.

But the good news was that homeowners and companies had made a packet in 2015-2018 from trading carbon credits earned by adopting proven energy-saving measures that had been around for decades.

Energy bills were also substantially reduced and most importantly of all, we had capped atmospheric greenhouse gases at 450 parts per million.

The surge in the value of “green homes” continued post-2018 – thanks to the money left in the economy from these carbon-credit earnings and low interest rates.

A new breed of mortgage brokers emerged after the green equities bull-run ended. They made huge commissions from selling mortgages with incredibly low “teaser” interest rates to lenders who initially had to show proof of a strong carbon-credit history.

But by 2021, the greedy brokers were only asking for carbon credit self-certification.

Homeowners who had made false claims on their forms were able to afford to service their mortgages and still have spare cash to spend in the shopping malls. This was because low interest rates and surging green property values more than compensated for high energy bills and the cost of buying carbon credits.

Easy lending conditions gave them even more money to spend as they were able to refinance their homes on rising notional property values.

Mortgages lent to these unsound customers were repackaged with good lending into the now discredited CGOs.

The ratings agencies had no idea of how to value these secondary debt-instruments and so – erring on the side of their customers – gave them all triple As.

As we all know, August 2024 marked the end of the free lunch as the US property market collapsed and the inter-bank lending market gummed up on the realisation that nobody knew the real value of the CGOs.

The price of oil also rose to more than $350/bbl last December – the result of the failure to carry out proper carbon due diligence when mortgages were issued.

Energy profligate homeowners in the US, and more recently in the UK, are being hit by falling property values, higher interest rates introduced to tackle runaway inflation and tougher carbon disclosure and trading regulations.

The boom in emerging market growth has also helped to drive up the price of oil. A lot of this growth was based on exports of supposedly green products to the West.

But in the rush to cash-in on the consumer boom, lax life cycle analysis has led to many of these products being carbon inefficient.

The huge profits earned from the Western consumer bull-run has more than compensated for the need to buy carbon credits to accommodate for wasteful product-chain practices.

There have also been allegations of government officials being bribed to turn a blind eye to carbon efficiency abuses, thereby enabling companies to avoid having to buy extra credits.

Growth has also boomed in the emerging market economies themselves, where energy efficiency standards have also suffered.

Greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise again and last year hit 600 parts per million, according the majority of independent scientific research.

However, the drive to reinforce legislation is being blunted by the work of some scientific institutions. They claim that emissions are in fact falling, but a scandal erupted last year when it was discovered that many of the institutions are funded by companies with questionable carbon practices.

The economic crisis has now become global with developing nations under threat from collapsing stock markets, a lack of credit as financial institutions fail and runaway inflation. The decoupling theory has been thoroughly discredited.

Sound familiar? History repeats itself repeatedly.

But to be more accurate – and to quote the guy who first coined the phrase before I paraphrased it – Clarence Darrow (pictured above), a Defence Attorney in the US between 1857-1938, is credited as saying: “History repeats itself. That’s one of the things wrong with history.”

I just hope I can get in and get out at the right time and make my family’s future financially secure.

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