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A lesson from the Italian middle class: with plenty of cool charts:

Something has changed and the change is deep in the very fabric of the Italian society. And the change has a name: it is the twilight of the age of oil. Wealth and energy are two faces of the same medal: with less net energy available, what Italians could afford 50 years ago, they can’t afford anymore.

But saying that depletion is at the basis of our troubles is politically incorrect and unspeakable in the public debate. So, most Italians don’t understand the reasons for what’s going on. They only perceive that their life is becoming harder and harder, despite what they are being told on TV.”

To resource depletion I would add lower returns on both capital and labor–what is known as diminishing returns: the same investment yields less output.

This decay of return on investment manifests as an S-Curve, which is a constant reference point in my work: an investment that earns a large output at first yields less and less, until the yield (output) stagnates and then declines. Increasing the investment no longer reverses the decline, and often accelerates the decline into a crash.

Feels like you, eh? For Americans, no need to fret. I hear to cure-all election is right around the corner. Sure to fix everything. Vote the Rock!