Friday, April 30, 2010

The Shape of Things to Come

Greetings good citizen,

Sometimes it just blows my mind when I contemplate just how corrupt the whole system has become.

Some would have you believe things are no more corrupt now than they’ve ever been…and that would be a lie. This is not to ‘minimize’ past corruption, I am merely pointing out there is more now than there’s ever been.

Why would I say that? Because now, unlike in the past, we are running out of everything…and we have no ‘back-up’.

Is this ‘failure to plan?’ It most certainly is…and this failure is deliberate. The morons think we’ll be so ‘distracted’ by the sudden shortages that we won’t notice (or chase) the thieves responsible for the ‘premature’ drying up of the supply chain.

Why is the ‘Real Estate’ market suddenly crumbling to dust? What value will a ‘stack of lumber’ have if you can’t heat it? One might also wonder what advantages such flimsy structures hold without electricity?

It is debatable as to whether or not the ‘non-oil’ portions of ‘the grid’ will be shut down by the ‘fuck you, pay me’ crowd but chances are good this is how it will go down (at least in the beginning.)

Then there is the ‘flipside’ of this coin…

What do you do for a living, good citizen? Can you ‘do it in the dark?’ and if you can, can you do it on a ‘cash and carry’ basis? (Because there won’t be any ‘electronic fund transfers’ without electricity…)

Not only is my current employer, er, ‘poorly equipped’ to continue to provide his service without the benefit of gasoline, but our main clients can’t do what they do ‘in the dark’…

Perhaps more challenging would be the ‘utility’ of the high-rise buildings they currently employ…how willing would you be to climb 40 plus floors (on foot) to reach your ‘corner office’?

All sorts of ‘challenges’ sticking their heads up out of the ground, isn’t there?

Let’s not forget about the other half of dealing with ‘the world’s worst weather’…how would you clear the streets with no fuel for the snowplows?

Then, there is the most ‘ticklish’ part of the whole proposition…how would you get what you need, where it was needed, when it had to be there?

Slow everything down to a crawl (if not a full stop…we’re talking about adding days for what we used to be able to accomplish in minutes…) then wonder how you will ‘hold on’ while you wait for the next piece you need to complete the task at hand?

This backs up in a dozen different directions…and like I said, the collapse of the supply chain will be the most difficult factor to overcome.

Which is to point out there was a damn good reason why the old system relied heavily on ‘redundancy’.

Then we have to deal with the stickiest part of the whole situation…no phones, no lights and no Internet/TV.

Think about the teeming masses…deprived of mindless entertainment…what do you suppose they’ll do to amuse themselves/express their displeasure? Most people have grown up with the ‘idiot box’ in their midst. Worse, those of us who have abandoned ‘government sanctioned’ entertainment has replaced it with the WWW.

What will those idiots who walk around with cellphones stuck to their ears do? There is now a whole generation of people who don’t remember when you had to find a public phone booth if you wanted to make a call.

We aren’t talking ‘click’ and it’s ‘lights out’…but we are talking about being ‘weaned’. When the ‘long emergency’ begins electricity will only be available during ‘business hours’ or say from six AM to six PM.

Then, as supplies dwindle, cutbacks will be instituted (disguised as ‘shortages’)

Not taken into consideration here is the effects this will have on people living in ‘hostile’ climates. You can’t turn your furnace off without your plumbing freezing and bursting, its as simple as that.

Sub-zero temperatures outside quickly produce sub-freezing temperatures inside.

Ya know, little things.

Anyway, tonight’s offering offers us a brief glance at ‘the shape of things to come’…

Pandora’s box of toxics

Ilargi: As the European situation looks more dire and confusing by the day, and a sinister web of accusations and legal challenges spreads from Goldman Sachs through the rest of Wall Street, what do the stock markets do? Of course they’re dancing on their tables, party hats and all. So to speak. By now it may be time to really start wondering who’s buying all those shares. Anyone not involved in manipulation should perhaps have their heads examined. Leigh Skene at Lombard Street Research thinks it’s the very Wall Street investment banks which face increasing scrutiny that purchase the shares and keep the sputtering machinery afloat. He may well be right. Does that mean they’re buying stocks with your TARP funds? That, too, may well be right.

Still, what future is there in a scheme such as that, which "solves" a bank debt problem by turning it into a sovereign debt one, only for as long as the charade can last? And how long can it last? Well, look, our economies need a modest growth rate at all times just to keep from from spontaneous crumbling. If we were to pay off our debts, they would have to expand probably somewhere in the double digit percentages. For years to come. [Do you see ‘why’ I preface tonight’s piece the way I did?]

But even then, we'd figure out at some point that paying off the debt is an illusion, a receding horizon the end of which, and the pot of gold, we'll never reach. It’s easy to pretend we can pay it off as long as interest rates keep being forced down artificially by governments and central banks operating under the illusion that it’s they who set the interest rates. Pretense like that, however, is as fleeting as it is temporary. The Acropolis is a fine place to find out how true that is, and why. Meanwhile, we’ve truly come to live in a financial hologram. [An ‘illusion’ good citizen.]

Let's see how all our genius economists and politicians fare once the bond markets push up interest on debt three or four-fold in your society too. Who will offer you bail-outs and loans when that time comes? Think you won't need them? Think again. Really, do. Even with ultra-high growth and ultra-low interest rates it would take many years to solve the debt in all but a few western nations, years in which austerity would have to be the leading principle. [For the ‘paycheck peasants’, the ‘owners will continue to laugh at our misery.] But austerity hinders growth, and it hinders our lifestyle. So we’re not going to pick that option unless and until we’re forced to, like it’s going to be forced on the Greek population soon. And then we’ll react like them too: we’ll be fighting in the streets.

If it’s the investment banks (and Fed, and Treasury) that keep the stock markets alive, what is likely to happen when the investigations and lawsuits move from civil to criminal, growing in number like so many bacteria in a petri dish? And what will become of the trillions of dollars that our governments handed to them? Will we get it back?

Finally, finally, there are people looking into the dealings of the main US ratings agencies, Fitch, S&P and Moody's, which have doled out AAA's for, or so it seems, anything that moves -money-. As is the case with SEC vs Goldman, a first official accusation against even one of these agencies could open and break the levees that hold Wall Street above water. Every single AAA rating given to a piece of crap paper, and there've been thousands upon thousands of them, is a potential court case. The individuals and institutions who've bought the stuff (invested?!) have often lost huge amounts of money, and will think nothing of a few million in lawyers' fees. Next step: the regulator for the agencies. When did they know what was happening? And so why was nothing done? [Naturally, this assume there is still something to ‘get’. The perpetrators of these crimes have long since moved their ill-gotten gains beyond the reach of criminal courts…for all of the ‘good’ it will do them.]

TARP Special Investigator General Neil Barofsky may be the first to open up Pandora‘s box of toxics for real: he threatens to go after the New York Fed for their actions in the AIG case. If this plays out the way it should, large swaths of government will be too mired in legal threats to do much governing while few or none of the main banks will be able to do anything but defend themselves in courtrooms. [Will this come to ‘light’ or will they sweep it aside to ‘preserve the union’? (Like the rotting carcass is worth ‘saving’!)]

In that light, it would make sense if either the courts become a massive sideshow to divert attention from the deteriorating economy, or they'll all just decide at one point that it's easier to simply let the economy go off a cliff, so no-one has time or money left for endless expensive litigation. If the debt is threatening to be forced out of the vaults and closets, a process lawyers can at least accelerate, all bets are off, and survival mode will kick in.

Um, said my piece up front, good citizen…don’t really have much to add.

Given my ‘illustration’ of how poorly ‘weaning’ would go in the large swaths of the world that aren’t ‘temperate’, you can pretty much bank on the idea that these areas will be ‘cut-off’ abruptly…with no ‘energy allowances’ at all.

I could go on for hours/pages but it would just so much ‘mental masturbation’…pointless really.


Thanks for letting me inside your head,


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