Tag Archives: Economic collapse

One Lockdown from Disaster, by MN Gordon

The next lockdown may well be the knockout blow to the economy. From MN Gordon at economicprism.com:

The popular economic tune being played by the popular press drones on.  You know the melody by now…

That the post-pandemic boom is alive and well.  That growth is enduring.  That blue skies are here to stay.

If you listen closely, however, several notes ring sour.

The Commerce Department reported on Thursday that second quarter gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annualized rate of 6.5 percent.  This may sound good, initially.  But economists with Dow Jones had estimated an 8.4 percent Q2 GDP increase.  Once again, extreme fiscal stimulus, at the expense of a long term debt burden, drifted off key.

The monetary policy refrain was also lacking.  This week, at the Federal Open Market Committee meeting press conference, Fed Chair Jay Powell remarked that, “we’re some way away from having had substantial further progress toward the maximum employment goal.”

Thus the Fed will continue to hold the federal funds rate near zero and will continue creating credit from thin air at a rate of $120 billion per month to purchase Treasuries and mortgage backed securities in the amounts of $80 billion and $40 billion, respectively.  By now these damaging actions have become exceedingly mindless.  The aim for maximum employment will ultimately prove to be a shortsighted calamity.

If the economy was really strengthening, the Fed would be tapering back these security purchases and even normalizing its balance sheet.  At the very least, it would be talking about tapering.

But the economy’s not really strengthening at all.  Rather, the economy and financial markets, handicapped by extreme intervention, are entirely dependent on this monetary stimulus.

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The Three-way Squeeze, by James Howard Kunstler

Covid-19, the election, and the economy: will the chickens come home to roost on the Democrats? From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

Here is why the “Joe Biden” regime only has a few months to live: it is caught in a squeeze between some of the greatest lies in world history, and they’re all unraveling now. Anyway, “Joe Biden” is not really functioning as president of the US; he’s just the doddering, photo-op front-man for a kind of politburo centered around Barack Obama, and that group lives in terror of being found-out, which it will be, despite its capture of the traditional news and social media.

Big Lie No. 1 is actually a whole bundle of lies surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. The chief national health official, Dr. Anthony Fauci (a.k.a. “The Science”) can’t get his story straight about whether or not he funneled US taxpayer money to a lab associated with China’s People’s Liberation Army, to engineer a virus that was turned loose on the rest of the world. An email train of evidence shows that he did.

That was bad enough. Then Dr. Fauci (and most of the nation’s medical bureaucracy) worked hard to suppress cheap and effective treatments that defeated the virus and cured patients if used in the early stages of infection, namely, Ivermectin, Hydroxychloroquine, Vitamin D, and Fluoxetine. (Fluoxetine, or Prozac, used “off-label,” modulates brain inflammation.) The suppression actively continues to this day. Dr. Fauci & Company promoted the use of a PCR viral testing system run at excessive cycle thresholds that flooded the medical system with false positive tests. The test’s inventor, (Nobel Prize winner) the late Dr. Kary Mullis,said the test was never meant to be used as a diagnostic tool.

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Is the United States on The Same Calamitous Path as Yugoslavia? by Brandon Smith

Imagine living in a country where prices doubled daily. From Brandon Smith at alt-market.com:

This article was written by Brandon Smith and originally published at Birch Gold Group

Of all the inflationary disasters in modern economic history, Yugoslavia’s is the one most ignored by the mainstream. To be sure, the collapse of the Eastern European nation was a slow burn, but with a big explosion at the end. Most people are familiar with the Serbian/Croatian war and the genocide that followed, but few people are familiar with the economic crisis that led to the conflict.

I am not here to present an in-depth analysis of the eventual breakup of Yugoslavia, only to examine the conditions that triggered it. I believe there are some interesting similarities to burgeoning conditions within the U.S., along with some distinct differences.

The First Stage: Inflation

President Josip Broz Tito led the nation in various capacities from 1953 to 1980. He used two powerful tools to clamp down on unrest in the ethnically-diverse nation: large-scale repression of dissenting voices using both police and military forces, and allowing regional foreign borrowing. The latter might not sound particularly important. According to the CIA’s 1983 national intelligence document Yugoslavia: An Approaching Crisis?:

Although self-management in theory permits workers to own and manage their enterprises, in fact the leaders in the six republics and two provinces… became the dominant economic decision makers. They grew increasingly protectionist and isolated from each other in pursuing local interests. Ignoring national economies of scale and ultimate profitability, they built redundant enterprises, blocked competition on the “unified market,” and granted unrealistic price increases and subsidies to favored industries. Thus, by the early 1980s inflation in the 30- to 40-percent range became chronic…

Yugoslavia’s inflation troubles were ever present, with up to 76% in price increases annually from the early 1970’s to the early 1990’s. In fact, the Cato Institute’s Steve Hanke calls it The World’s Greatest Unreported Hyperinflation.

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The “Wait and See” Economy’s Moment of Truth, by Charles Hugh Smith

The economy was faltering before Covid-19 and virtually everything that’s been done in response to the outbreak is guaranteed over anything but the immediate short-term to make it that much worse. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

The “wait and see” economy is about to face its moment of truth, and one truth is the $1.8 trillion being passed out like candy is already spent.

The defining phrase of the U.S. economy for the past year is “wait and see”: every enterprise impacted by the pandemic that didn’t close immediately has been in “wait and see” mode, clinging on to the hope that once the pandemic ends then everything will roar back to life, bigger and better than before.

With the promise of herd immunity fast approaching, the moment of truth for “wait and see” is also fast approaching. The conventional view is that the trillions of dollars in stimulus kept business as usual alive and ready to soar back to the good old days. The almost $2 trillion injection of financial smack currently in progress will ignite the afterburners and the economy will rocket higher than anyone can imagine.

The problem with this rosy view is the economy was on fumes before the pandemic, as Gordon Long and I highlighted in our 53-minute presentation, The Coming Deflationary Tsunami. Interest rates had been falling for 40 years and there was little leeway for more of the magic of falling rates. The spending of the upper middle class had already rolled over as the awareness that the longest expansion in U.S. history was faltering seeped into financial decisions–and no wonder, since every trick in the book had been required to keep it alive: zero interest rates, quantitative easing galore, tax cuts, massive deficit spending and speculative bubbles in every asset class.

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Covid or No Covid, by James Howard Kunstler

The Biden administration can shuck, jive, and dodge, but there’s no escaping America’s catastrophic finances. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

The absence of the big orange You-Know-Who at center stage of American life has changed the mood of the scene from a five-alarm fire to just another day in a collapsing civilization. Texas went medieval after an ice storm took the power down for millions, with ramifications accreting by the hour — especially the countless burst water pipes that will take forever to repair. (How many plumbers are there in San Antonio?) Food went scarce overnight. People died in their cars. The political blowback has barely registered yet, except for Senator Ted Cruz slinking back home from a luxury resort in Cancun, whoops, and Beto O’Rourke shooting his mouth off like a cholo with a Saturday night special at a low-rider parade on Cinco de Mayo.

Covid-19 cases are going down fast across the country. If it actually goes away, imagine the giant hole left in the national narrative. No more arguments over lockdowns, kids could go back to school to learn about the scourge of whiteness, and Americans could see each other’s faces again. The “progressives” in power would have to hunt up some new reasons to cancel the bill of rights. That shouldn’t be too difficult for a party adept at making shit up. Right wing extremism would be my bet, even if Antifa and BLM go back to partying in the streets like it’s 2020 when the weather warms up.

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Green New Deal Is Underway, by James Rickards

The Green New Deal is a code phrase for “strangle the global economy.” From James Rickards at dailyreckoning.com:

Green New Deal Is Underway

By now, you’ve heard of the Green New Deal, an ambitious agenda to decarbonize the economy. The overall Green New Deal calls for ending the use of oil and natural gas, moving to electric vehicles, solar, wind and geothermal power, imposing carbon taxes to reduce C02 emissions and providing government subsidies to non-carbon-based energy technologies.

The U.S. would also seek to embed these policies and priorities in new trade treaties and multilateral agreements. President Biden has already begun this process by rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, which actually doesn’t mean much; it’s mostly for show.

The Paris Accord is also a platform for pursuing the Green New Deal.

But it’s difficult to conceive of any other program that would do more harm to the U.S. economy and give more of a boost to the Chinese, Russians and Iranians.

Biden has temporarily halted all new oil and gas drilling leases and permits on federal lands. He’s moving quickly to make the ban permanent. This ban will kill the fracking industry and help to destroy what’s left of the coal industry. Because of reduced supply, it will raise energy prices globally. New carbon emission taxes will raise prices even further.

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The Fire This Time, by James Howard Kunstler

Sometimes paranoids really do have enemies, and the number one enemy of the paranoids nominally running the economy is a rapidly sinking economy. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

Can’t we just all get along? No, apparently. Branding everyone to the right of Woke a “terrorist” and an “insurrectionist,” as is the style these days with the sore winner party, will probably not warm a whole lot of hearts and minds among the politically disenchanted. It comes with an odor of desperation, too, as if Joe Biden’s consolidated Deep State is so lacking in confidence, even in victory, that it can’t distinguish policy from punishment — and so the beatings will continue until morale improves.

Outside the razor-wired DC perimeter, with its bomb-proof bureaucracy, the economy is in freefall. This has not quite come to the attention of a new regime aroused over systemic racism and the pressing need to expand athletic opportunity for transsexuals. But an inferno is racing across the land like a prairie fire and the remaining American buffalo out there may be inclined to stampede before long. Can Ol’ White Joe hear their distant hoofbeats from the Oval Office? Maybe not with Nancy Pelosi and AOC screaming in his ears.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 779,000 people filed for first-time unemployment the week ended January 30. The news media called that “a beat” because it was under the 830,000 expected. It’s been that way week-after-week this year of Covid-19. Nonfarm business sector labor productivity decreased 4.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, the largest quarterly decline in the measure since the second quarter of 1981. Yes, forty years ago, when the US population was 226 million (it’s now 330 million). The stock market responded by smashing new all-time highs. Bad “optics?”

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The Collapse of Main Street and Local Tax Revenues Cannot Be Reversed, by Charles Hugh Smith

There will be no V-shaped recovery on Main Street, and no V-shaped bounce-back in local and state tax revenues. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

The core problem is the U.S. economy has been fully financialized, and so costs are unaffordable.

To understand the long-term consequences of the pandemic on Main Street and local tax revenues, we need to consider first and second order effects. The immediate consequences of lockdowns and changes in consumer behavior are first-order effects: closures of Main Street, job losses, massive Federal Reserve bailouts of the top 0.1%, loan programs for small businesses, stimulus checks to households that earned less than $200,000 last year, and so on.

The second-order effects cannot be bailed out or controlled by central authorities. Second-order effects are the result of consequences have their own consequences.

Gordon Long and I look at two highly correlated second-order effects: the collapse of Main Street and local tax revenues.

The first-order effects of the pandemic on Main Street are painfully obvious: small businesses that have barely kept their heads above water as costs have soared have laid off employees as they’ve closed their doors.

The second-order effects are still spooling out: how many businesses will close for good because the owners don’t want to risk losing everything by chancing re-opening? How many will give it the old college try and close a few weeks later as they conclude they can’t survive on 60% of their previous revenues? How many enjoy a brief spurt of business as everyone rushes back, but then reality kicks in and business starts sliding after the initial burst wears off?

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The Steely Truth Of Stalin, by the Zman

Could the present “cures” being used against the coronavirus make the disease worse than it would have been if it had just been allowed to run its course? It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility, especially when you consider the economic and social costs of the “cures,” like potentially a depression. From the Zman at theburningplatform.com:

Imagine you are engaged in a fight against the alien battle cruiser Briggs, off the Cochran nebula, and you are informed of a civilian vessel in the area. It is in distress and unless something is done to rescue the passengers, they will all die. If you disengage from the battle to save the people on the passenger ship Steve Sailer, you will most certainly be destroyed or captured by the Briggs. If you remain in combat with the Briggs, you will win, but the Steve Sailer will be lost.

Clearly, the intent of the problem is not to test the ability of the captain to solve a problem of fact, but rather one of morality. The choice is to sacrifice yourself, your crew and your ship, the John Derbyshire, in order to save a passenger ship full of people. Or, you let those people die and continue on to defeat the alien enemy. There’s no puzzle to be solved or information to be discovered. The challenge is to arrive at the correct moral decision given the described parameters.

The moral answer is obvious. You and the Briggs are moral actors. Presumably, you are a positive actor and the Briggs is a negative actor. Otherwise, what would be the point of engaging in battle with the Briggs? The Sailer is morally neutral. It could be full of future Hitlers for all you know. You have no way to evaluate fully its moral position, so it does not have one. The only logical answer is to continue to engage the Briggs and let the Sailer perish. It is the only way to ensure a morally positive outcome.

Grab Your Bits and Shoulder Your Kits, We’re Going In! by Raúl Ilargi Meijer and Alexander Aston

The coronavirus may come to be seen as the beginning of a new era in human history. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer and Alexander Aston at theautomaticearth.com:

This is a new essay from Alexander Aston. He describes how once the world has passed through the -narrow- bottleneck of the coronavirus and its effects on our societies, which are long overdue for a redo, and on the central bank-engineered distortions of the markets that are -make that were- supposed to be the foundation that allowed us to flourish, there will be a better world waiting.

I’m all for it, and I have no rational issues with it either, but when I read“..these are the moments at which humans are the most creative and most inspiring”, my warped mind can’t NOT think: ..yes, we’re moving towards a better world, and we’re terribly sorry that you didn’t make the cut..”

Here’s Alexander:

Dear Raúl, I hope you are well. Things are all right on my side. Submitted my thesis, am being examined by the heads of Archaeology for both Cambridge and Oxford, which is a huge, albeit intimidating complement. Otherwise, just watching the world come unglued, so I wrote you something to put up if you like it. All the best – Alex

 

 

A mighty space it was, with gigantic machines here and there within it, huge mounds of material and strange shelter places.

And scattered about it, some in their overturned warmachines, some in the now rigid handling-machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were the Martians—dead!—slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in His wisdom, has put upon this earth.”

– HG Wells

 

 

It took until the first two months of 2020 for the long Twentieth Century to finally come to an end. One thing now seems absolutely clear, this will be the decade that the majority finally come to understand that things are never going back to “normal.” To be sure, the complex entanglements of institutions, narratives, cultural practices, and economic relationships that emerged during the previous century have been under immense strain these past two decades. Enormous effort has been expended to maintain the inertia of the global system, from the immense violence of imperial politics and regime change wars, to the more subtle violence of economic dispossession by a privileged elite that control the mechanisms of power.

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