In search of the cusp

Two posts on the same topic in the same day – but funnily, a discussion on LinkedIn prompted me to perform a little calculation I had not done before.

I called “cusp” the discontinuity we’re headed for: at this stage there is still the possibility that the cusp does not evolve into something completely unpredictable and new. Examples of past cusps were the Second World War and the immense military spending it caused – the bipartisan political support for such spending being caused by the need to defend the world from the threat of Nazi ideology.

So what we need is an issue that brings with it such widespread popular support to grant it the bipartisan political support it will need in a democratic country.

Of course, size matters.

In the six years of WWII, the US spent USD288b to supprt the war effort; relative to the aggregate GDP of the years 1940-1945  ($845b) this amounts to 31% of GDP; to enact a similar program today would require a program of roughly $30t (or 30% of the roughly $100t GDP of the U.S. over the next 6 years). THIRTY THOUSAND billion dollars!

Germany’s economy is a wee bit smaller, at €2.5t in 2012, and german politicians may have succeeded in identifying just the sort of program they need. Leaving nuclear power generation altogether may cost – according to their estimates – about 1,000 billion euro; assuming they can perform this rapidly, say in a couple of years, this program may be enough to kick start the german economy back into high gear.

Nuclear power is not really loved by the german public and this massive spending to upgrade the country’s power generation infrastructure may be the kind of project that wins the backing of CDU, Socialists and Greens.

Bravo, german friends!!!

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