I'm afraid that we're reaching the end of a very long road.
Unsound money ("fiat" money not backed by gold) has led, in recent decades, to huge and unsustainable global imbalances in trade and debt. But because trade deficits REDUCE our nation's GDP, persistent trade deficits in our country have led to rising debt at every level as we try to maintain the "appearance" of a rising standard of living. This is partly why the US ran $9 Trillion in government deficits in the past 7 years alone. Can you imagine what our economy would have looked like without all that money? It would have been outright Depression. (I'm not even going to mention the $4T bank reserve creation by the Federal Reserve). All of that debt is masking depression. Even so, the number of jobs is barely back to 2007 levels and "good jobs" are still lower than the last peak.
Even with our still rising debt (deficit spending) in the last year, China has seen a 15% fall in exports. World trade is declining. Why? Because the US and Western consumers can't afford the imports! Trump is right about trade. Our economy is hollowed-out by the loss of manufacturing jobs and it has killed jobs and hurt our people. Now the US consumer is tapped-out. Furthermore, demographic trends have turned negative in most of the West and China just like Harry Dent predicted and has slowed the economy.
The persistent budget and trade imbalances over the past several decades could never have happened with "sound" money, as the deficit nation would have seen a loss of gold (money) that would have slowed the economy and reduced imports to a balance with exports. And debt creation would have been severely limited since new money would have to be backed by gold-- and gold is limited. Exchange rates would have been very stable too. That is the beauty of the gold standard. The gold standard will eventually make a return out of the ashes of the next financial/economic crisis.
Other reasons why we're reaching (or reached?) the end of the road financially and economically:
1) Rising debt in the West has hid the increasing poverty caused by the wealth transfer from US to China (and Japan before them) for awhile. But debt levels have risen everywhere and it's marginal utility to produce growth is nearly gone, even in China. In fact, with a no-growth economy, the world's debt levels are probably not sustainable. Zero interest rates have prolonged that game for awhile but zero rates are unsustainable. As growth falls off, corporate cash flows decline and debt defaults spike causing corporate interest rates to rise. Even sovereign debt implosions are a risk, first in commodity producing countries and peripheral EU countries like Greece and Italy. Interest rates will rise where there is debt distress/defaults.
2) Trump is right, the US economy is hollowed-out with the loss of manufacturing jobs and the loss of entire industries. The non-elite workers in the US are financially tapped-out with stagnate incomes and burdened with rapidly rising costs of healthcare, healthcare insurance, rents, food, drugs. Our imports are way down. China is feeling this as their exports are way down. World trade is declining. The manufacturing sector in this country has been in recession for 2 years now. General recession is likely just around the corner.
3) The economy is in near-recession despite rising debt bubbles. The US government has racked up $9 Trillion in debt in just 8 years. A vast expansion of auto loans that some people say is reminiscent of another subprime bubble has propped-up the auto sector. A trillion dollars in student loans have been given to students in the past 8 years and 43% of these loans are now not being payed back.And the US is still making more of these loans! Hillary is expected to put all of that bad debt on the tax payer and the next generation.
4) The real money supply to the world, the "Eurodollar" and it's associated derivatives, has been in decay since the great financial crisis with a partial resurrection to 2011. Since 2012, banks have been exiting these shadow banking markets at an increasing rate. Just look at European bank stocks to see the decline in their trading and profits. Central bankers haven't noticed this most important development as they are willfully blind.
5) QE doesn't work. That's obvious. Even the educated idiots at central banks can see that! They just can't admit it and it's making them look like fools. They are starting to tip-toe away from it.
6) NIRP and the risk of depositor "bail-ins" is killing the EU banking system! And NIRP and ZIRP is killing pension funds, insurance companies and retirees everywhere. The situation is completely unsustainable. Never in history have interest rates been zero or negative. It's absurd and causing more harm than good. EU banks are a systemic risk to the world. What can't be sustained, won't!
7) 30 years of declining interest rates is over. So just steady rates is a trend change. US and world rates are now rising as front-running investors can "smell" that the EU and Japan are about to get out of the QE business. Interest rates are rising now; not falling.
8) EU banks are a royal mess. Chinese debt system is a royal mess. The risk of a sudden and substantial Chinese devaluation is increasing as they will surely nationalize huge amounts of bad corporate debt that they created since 2009. Already the Chinese currency is falling slowly this year and is back to 2010 levels. Even small devaluations have roiled markets. A sudden and substantial devaluation would set off a world-wide crash. It's possible that civil unrest may lead to social disintegration if not outright revolution at some point in China.
9) The era of cheap energy is over. If the economy tries to recover, oil prices rise so high that it kills the economy/consumers. If we can't afford high oil prices, then we cannot have growth. (because growth causes unaffordably high oil prices!) And the price at which oil is affordable, ie., $30 to $50 per barrel, kills the oil producers and oil producing countries (and kills government revenues). So, energy production will continue to drop and all the oil and commodity producing countries will remain in recession or depression. What's needed to "save" us is $20 oil for an extended period or a miracle in cheap energy technology.
10) If growth is dead, then the mountain of debt, which continues to accumulate at an accelerating rate and much higher than nominal GDP worldwide, is unsustainable. The end of the road is defaults, crises, recession and depression. Debt defaults by companies and entire countries will cause a new round of banking troubles and trouble in global supply chains. It happened in 2008 after all. Collapse is a real possibility. When it happens is the $64 Trillion question.
So, we really are reaching the end of the road. We're all in for a rude awakening at some point.