Gerald Celente is a historian of the future. The author of several books, including Trend Tracking (1990, Warner Books), Trends 2000 (1997, Warner), and the memoir What Zizi Gave Honeyboy (2002, HarperCollins), he is also the founder and director of the Trends Research Institute and the editor and publisher of the quarterly Trends Journal. Celente also spent many years in politics—he managed a campaign for a mayoral candidate in Yonkers, served as executive assistant to the secretary of the New York State Senate, taught the nation’s first course in “American Politics and Campaign Technology,” worked as a government affairs specialist—and then declared himself a political atheist and moved to Rhinebeck in 1977. Since then, Celente has dedicated himself to the analysis of how current events form future trends. In order to be able to make his predictions, Celente spends four to six hours a day reading a slew of different print and electronic news sources—Haaretz, Al Jazeera, the Guardian, BBC News, the New York Times, Bloomberg, and USA Today. In general, Celente’s methodology for economic forecasting is to build the global picture before examining its smaller segments. He predicted the last two recessions, the booms in bottled water and organic and local produce, and the dot-com bust; more recently, he has predicted a “new depression,” a swelling criminal-industrial complex, and “dragflation” [the decline of wages and benefits against increasing inflation].
The economy is a disaster. Is there a way out?
No. There isn’t a way out. Because what people are missing is that what’s going on in the markets is merely a symptom of a much bigger trend. And that’s what they can’t grasp: We’re not number one. We don’t win place or show anymore in education. We don’t win place or show in quality of life. The gap between the rich and the poor is the widest in the United States out of any of the industrialized nations. And it’s not the same country it used to be. It’s the decline of Empire America. And for people to think that here are federal geniuses out there that are going to rescue them...they’re living in a fairyland.
Obama says, “Yes we can.” What do you think?
By their deeds you shall know them. You can continue to hope and believe, but that’s really the most counterproductive thing you can do. I’m proud to be an American with the racial barrier being broken down in this way. It’s a relief, and it shows you the potential for what really could happen, if the man wasn’t a front man for one of the criminal organizations. The potential is there, but I expect no good to come from these organizations. People are so desperate now they’ll grab onto anything. What is Obama going to do differently than what he proposed he was going to do? Look at his economic proposals. How are they going to make a change in anything? He said what he’s going to do: Obama wants to send more troops into Afghanistan, he wants to build the military bigger, he wants to continue fighting the war on terror, and he wants to do preemptive strikes into sovereign nations. They want a bigger stimulus package, moderate tax cuts, and they want to build this Great Works Project Administration and put America back to work by rebuilding the country. Where’s the money going to come from? We have everybody going to the government, saying, “We have no revenue coming in. We need money.” Where’s it going to come from? We could develop an alternative energy (beyond wind, solar, or geothermal), which, like the dot-com boom did for the '90s recession, could change things. But not “hope.” Not “We all have to work together.” In order to succeed at anything, you have to work at it constantly, and you have to sacrifice to do it. It doesn’t come free.
To what extent is forecasting future trends these days like being a bearer of bad news?
I have no trouble calling a spade a spade: It’s a long-handled shovel, let’s get over it. People didn’t want to believe me during the Bush years. From 2003 to the beginning of 2007 were some of the worst years I’ve ever had—I was forecasting an economic crisis. No one wants to hear that! When, a month before it started, we forecast exactly what would happen during the Iraq War, they called me unpatriotic. They called me a Bush-basher. A number of publications called me “Doctor Doom” when we forecast the Panic of '08. It’s not easy. But I’m past the age where that bothers me. I know who I am, and I believe in what I do. For many years I had my own school, I used to teach close combat. It’s not like a kata [form, in martial arts]. There is no form in life. The environment keeps changing, it’s fluid. It’s not about being rigid in a situation. My practice is it’s about being loose, so that if you get hit, you let go of the hit. You don’t tighten around it. It’s the same thing in a situation, or a crisis.
What are the trends for 2009?
We don’t have our trends formulated quite yet, but I can tell you one of them is going to be the crash of '09. Another is going to be whole health healing. People are not going to be able to afford health care. We’re going to see more people fending for themselves. There will be what I’ve called “Bush gardens.” Back during World War II, they had victory gardens—people planted vegetables. In a few years, people will be asking, “How is it that all of these people ripped up all of their lawns and made all of these beautiful gardens instead?” And the response will be, “Well, we had this president, George Bush, and he bankrupted the country, he ruined it. So everybody had to grow their own food.” We’ll be seeing more of that. I think that there is going to be a time when people want the truth. There is a freedom in this country that is had nowhere else, in terms of developing your mind. The freedom of thought and expression that you have yourself—there’s nothing like that anywhere but here. This country can spark a renaissance, and I believe that this area could be the epicenter of it. Look at all of the things you have in the Hudson Valley: You have the universities, you have farming, you have agriculture, you have technology, you have the arts. Art is the true expression of the human spirit, but in order for a renaissance to happen we have to raise the standard. Something old is dying, an old system, and something new will be born.