World GDP in current US dollars seems to have peaked; this is a problem

World GDP in current US dollars is in some sense the simplest world GDP calculation that a person might make. It is calculated by taking the GDP for each year for each country in the local currency (for example, yen) and converting these GDP amounts to US dollars using the then-current relativity between the local currency and the US dollar.

To get a world total, all a person needs to do is add together the GDP amounts for all of the individual countries. There is no inflation adjustment, so comparing GDP growth amounts calculated on this basis gives an indication regarding how the world economy is growing, inclusive of inflation. Calculation of GDP on this basis is also inclusive of changes in relativities to the US dollar.

What has been concerning for the last couple of years is that World GDP on this basis is no longer growing robustly. In fact, it may even have started shrinking, with 2014 being the peak year. Figure 1 shows world GDP on a current US dollar basis, in a chart produced by the World Bank.

Figure 1. World GDP in “Current US Dollars,” in chart from World Bank website.

Since the concept of GDP in current US dollars is not a topic that most of us are very familiar with, this post, in part, is an exploration of how GDP and inflation calculations on this basis fit in with other concepts we are more familiar with.

As I look at the data, it becomes clear that the reason for the downturn in Current US$ GDP is very much related to topics that I have been writing about. In particular, it is related to the fall in oil prices since mid-2014 and to the problems that oil producers have been having since that time, earning too little profit on the oil they sell. A similar problem is affecting natural gas and coal, as well as some other commodities. These low prices, and the deflation that they are causing, seem to be flowing through to cause low world GDP in current US dollars.

Figure 2. Average per capita wages computed by dividing total “Wages and Salaries” as reported by US BEA by total US population, and adjusting to 2016 price level using CPI-Urban. Average inflation adjusted oil price is based primarily on Brent oil historical oil price as reported by BP, also adjusted by CPI-urban to 2016 price level.

While energy products seem to be relatively small compared to world GDP, in fact, they play an outsized role. This is the case partly because the use of energy products makes GDP growth possible (energy provides heat and movement needed for industrial processes), and partly because an increase in the price of energy products indirectly causes an increase in the price of other goods and services. This growth in prices makes it possible to use debt to finance goods and services of all types.

A decrease in the price of energy products has both positive and negative impacts. The major favorable effect is that the lower prices allow the GDPs of oil importers, such as the United States, European Union, Japan, and China, to grow more rapidly. This is the effect that has predominated so far.

The negative impacts appear more slowly, so we have seen less of them so far. One such negative impact is the fact that these lower prices tend to produce deflation rather than inflation, making debt harder to repay. Another negative impact is that lower prices (slowly) push companies producing energy products toward bankruptcy, disrupting debt in a different way. A third negative impact is layoffs in affected industries. A fourth negative impact is lower tax revenue, particularly for oil exporting countries. This lower revenue tends to lead to cutbacks in governmental programs and to disruptions similar to those seen in Venezuela.

In this post, I try to connect what I am seeing in the new data (GDP in current US$) with issues I have been writing about in previous posts. It seems to me that there is no way that oil and other energy prices can be brought to an adequate price level because we are reaching an affordability limit with respect to energy products. Thus, world GDP in current dollars can be expected to stay low, and eventually decline to a lower level. Thus, we seem to be encountering peak GDP in current dollars.

Furthermore, in the years ahead the negative impacts of lower oil and other energy prices can be expected to start predominating over the positive impacts. This change can be expected to lead to debt-related financial problems, instability of governments of oil exporters, and falling energy consumption of all kinds.

Peak Per Capita Energy Consumption Is Part of the Problem, Too

One problem that makes our current situation much worse than it might otherwise be is the fact that world per capita energy consumption seems to have hit a maximum in 2013 (Figure 3).

World daily per capita energy consumption

Figure 3. World Daily Per Capita Energy Consumption, based on primary energy consumption from BP Statistical Review of World Energy and 2017 United Nations population estimates.

Surprisingly, this peak in consumption occurred before oil and other energy prices collapsed, starting in mid-2014. At these lower prices, a person would think that consumers could afford to buy more energy goods per person, not fewer.

Per capita energy consumption should be rising with lower prices, unless the reason for the fall in prices is an affordability problem. If the drop in prices reflects an affordability problem (wages of most workers are not high enough to buy the goods and services made with energy products, such as homes and cars), then we would expect the pattern we are seeing today–low oil and other energy prices, together with falling per capita consumption. If the reason for falling per capita energy consumption is an affordability problem, then there is little hope that prices will rise sufficiently to fix our current problem.

One consideration supporting the hypothesis that we are really facing an affordability problem is the fact that in recent years, energy prices have been too low for companies producing oil and other energy products. Since 2015, hundreds of oil, natural gas, and coal companies have gone bankrupt. Saudi Arabia has had to borrow large amounts of money to fund its budget, because at current prices, tax revenues are too low to fund it. In the United States, investors are cutting back on their support for oil investment, because of the continued financial losses of the companies and evidence that approaches for mitigating these losses are not really working.

Which Countries Are Suffering Falling GDP in Current US Dollars?

With lower oil prices, Saudi Arabia is one of the countries with falling GDP in Current US$.

Figure 4. Increase in GDP since 1990 for Saudi Arabia in current US dollars, based on World Bank Data.

Saudi Arabia pegs its currency to the dollar, so its lower GDP is not because its currency has fallen relative to the US dollar; instead, it reflects a situation in which fewer goods and services of all kinds are being produced, as measured in US dollars. GDP calculations do not consider debt, so Figure 4 indicates that even with all of Saudi Arabia’s borrowing to offset falling oil revenue, the quantity of goods and services it was able to produce fell in both 2015 and 2016.

Other oil-producing countries are clearly having problems as well, but data is often missing from the World Bank database for these countries. For example, Venezuela is clearly having problems with low oil prices, but GDP amounts for the country are missing for 2014, 2015, and 2016. (Somehow, world totals seem to include estimates of the total omitted amounts, however.)

Figure 5 shows similar ratios to Figure 4 for a number of other commodity producing countries.

Figure 5. GDP patterns, in US current dollars, for selected resource exporting countries, based on World Bank data.

A comparison of Figures 4 and 5 shows that the GDP patterns for these countries are similar to that of Saudi Arabia. Because resources (including oil) do not account for as large a share of GDP for these countries as for Saudi Arabia, the peak as a percentage of 1990 GDP isn’t quite as high as for Saudi Arabia. But the trend is still downward, with 2014 typically the peak year.

We can also look at similar information for the historically big consumers of oil, coal and natural gas, namely the United States, the European Union, and Japan.

Figure 6. Increase in GDP since 1990 for the United States, the European Union, and Japan, in current US dollars, based on World Bank data.

Here, we find the growth trend is much more subdued than for the countries shown in the previous two charts. I have purposely put the upper limit of the scale of this chart at 6 times the 1990 GDP level. This limit is similar to the upper limit on earlier charts, to emphasize how much more slowly these countries have been growing, compared to the countries shown in Figures 4 and 5.

In fact, for the European Union and Japan, GDP in current US$ is now lower than it has been in recent years. Figure 6 is telling us that the goods and services produced in these countries are now lower in US dollar value than they were a few years ago. Since part of the cost of goods and services is used to pay wages, this lower relativity indirectly implies that the wages of workers in the EU and Japan are falling, relative to the cost of buying goods and services priced in US dollars. Thus, even apart from taxes added by these countries, consumers in the EU and Japan have been falling behind in their ability to buy energy products priced in US dollars.

Figure 6 indicates that the United States has been doing relatively better than the European Union and Japan, in terms of the value of goods and services produced each year continuing to grow. If we look back at Figure 2, however, we see that even in the US, wage growth has lagged far behind oil price increases. Thus, the US was also likely headed toward an affordability problem relating to goods and services made with oil.

The Asian exporting nations have been doing relatively better in keeping their economies growing, despite the downward pressure on energy prices.

Figure 7. Increase in GDP since 1990 for selected rapidly growing Asian exporting countries in current US dollars, based on World Bank data.

The two most rapidly growing countries are China and Vietnam. There seems to be a recent slowing of their growth rates, but no actual downturn.

India, Pakistan, and the Philippines are growing less rapidly. They do not seem to be experiencing any downturn at all.

Considering the indications of Figure 4 through 7, it appears that only a relatively small share of countries have experienced rising GDP in current US dollars. Although we have not looked at all possible groupings, the countries that seem to be doing best in terms of rising current US$ GDP are countries that are exporters of manufactured goods, including the Asian countries shown. Countries that derive significant GDP from producing energy products and other commodities seem to be experiencing falling GDP in current US dollars.

To fix the problems shown here, we would need to get prices of oil and other energy products back up again. This would indirectly raise prices of many other products as well, including food, new vehicles, and new homes. With lagging wages in many countries, this would seem to be virtually impossible to accomplish.

The Wide Range of GDP Indications We See 

In this post, I am talking about GDP of various countries, converted to a US$ basis. This is not quite the same as the GDP that we normally read about. It is not until a person starts working with world data that a person appreciates how different the various GDP and inflation calculations are.

GDP in US dollars is very important because energy products, including oil, are generally priced in US$. This seems to be true, whether or not the currency used in the actual transaction is US$. See Appendix A for charts showing the close connection between these two items.

The type of GDP is generally reported is inflation-adjusted (also called “real”) GDP. The assumption is made that no one will care (very much) about inflation rates. In general, inflation-adjusted GDP figures are much more stable than those in Current US$. This can be seen by comparing world GDP in Figure 8 with that shown in Figure 1.

Figure 8. GDP in 2010 US dollars, for the world and for the United States, based on World Bank data.

Using inflation-adjusted world GDP data, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of crisis ahead. The last major problem was in the 2008-2009 period. Even the impact of this crisis appears to be fairly small. The 2008-2009 crisis shows up more distinctly in the Current US$ amounts plotted in Figure 1.

World GDP growth figures that are published by the World Bank and others combine country by country data using some type of weighting approach. Economists tend to use an approach called Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). This approach gives a great deal more weight to developing nations than the US dollar weighted approach used elsewhere in this post. For example, under the PPP approach, China seems to get a weighting of about 1.9 times its GDP in US$; India seems to get a weighting of about 3.8 times its GDP in US$. The United States gets a weight of 1.0 times its GDP in US$, and the weights for developed nations tend to be fairly close to 1.0 times their GDP in US$. The world GDP we see published regularly should be called “inflation-adjusted world GDP, calculated with PPP weights.”

The relationship among the three types of GDP can be seen in Figure 9. It is clear that GDP growth in Current US$ is far more variable than the inflation-adjusted growth rate (in 2010 US$). PPP inflation-adjusted GDP growth is consistently higher than GDP growth with US dollar weighting.

Figure 9. World GDP Growth in three alternative measures: Current dollars, Inflation-adjusted GDP is in 2010 US$ and adjusted to purchasing power parity (PPP).

It is also clear from Figure 9 that there is also a big “Whoops” in the most recent years. Economic growth is at a record low level, as calculated in Current US$.

World “Inflation” Indications

The typical way of calculating inflation is by looking at prices of a basket of goods in a particular currency, such as the yen, and seeing how the prices change over a period of time. To get an inflation rate for a group of countries (such as the G-20), inflation rates of various countries are weighted together using some set of weights. My guess is that these weights might be the PPP weights used in calculating world GDP.

In Figure 10, I calculate implied world inflation using a different approach. Since the World Bank publishes World GDP both in 2010 US$ and in Current US$, I calculate the implied world inflation rate by comparing these two sets of values. (Some people might call what I am calculating the implicit price deflator for GDP, rather than an inflation rate.) I use three-year averages to smooth out year-to-year variability in these amounts.

Figure 10. World inflation rate calculated by comparing reported World GDP in Current US$ to reported World GDP in 2010 US$. Both of these amounts are available at the World Bank website.

The implied world inflation rates using this approach are fairly different from published inflation rates. In part, this is because the calculations take into account changing relativities of currencies. There may be other factors as well, such as the inclusion of countries that would not normally be included in aggregations. Inflation rates tend to be high when demand for energy products is high, and low when demand for energy products is low.

Figure 10 shows that, on a world basis, there have been negative inflation rates three times since 1963–in approximately 1983-1984; in the late 1990s to early 2000s; and since about 2014. If we compare these dates to the oil price and energy consumption data on Figures 2 and 3, we see that these time periods are ones that are marked by falling per capita energy consumption and by low oil prices. In some sense, these are the time periods when the economy is/was trying to stall, for lack of adequate demand for oil.

The workaround used to “fix” the lack of demand in the late 1990s to early 2000s seems to have been an increased focus on globalization. China’s growth in particular was very important, because it added both a rapidly growing supply of cheap energy from coal and a great deal of demand for energy products. The addition of coal effectively lowered the average price of energy products so that they were again affordable by a large share of the world population. The availability of debt to pull the Chinese and other Asian economies forward was no doubt of importance as well.

The United States has been fairly protected from much of what has happened because its currency, the US Dollar, is the world’s reserve currency. If we look at the inflation rate of the United States using data of the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the last time the United States had a substantial period of contracting prices was in the US Depression of the 1930s. It is quite possible that such a situation existed worldwide, but I do not have world data for that period.

Figure 11. US inflation rate (really “GDP Deflator”) obtained by comparing US GDP in 2009 US$ to GDP in Current US $, based on US Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

It was during the Depression of the 1930s that debt defaults became widespread. It was only through deficit spending, including the significant debt-based funding for World War II, that the problem of inadequate demand for goods and services was completely eliminated.

How Do We Solve Our World Deflation Crisis This Time 

There seem to be three ways of creating demand for goods and services.

[1] A growing supply of cheap-to-produce energy products is really the basic way of increasing demand through economic growth.

If there are cheap-to-produce energy products available, a growing supply of these energy products can be used to increasingly leverage human labor, through the use of more and better “tools” for the workers. When workers become increasingly more productive, their wages naturally rise. It is this growing productivity of human labor that generally produces the rising demand needed to maintain the economic growth cycle.

As growth in energy consumption slows and then declines (Figure 3), this productivity growth tends to disappear. This seems to be part of today’s problem.

[2] Increasing the amount of debt outstanding can work to make the energy extraction system work more effectively, by raising the price that consumers can afford to pay for high-priced goods.

This increasing ability to pay for high-priced goods seems to come in two ways:

(a) The debt itself can be used to pay for goods, making these goods more affordable on a month-to-month or year-to-year basis.

(b) Increased debt can lead to increased wages for wage earners, because some of the increased debt ultimately goes to create new jobs and to pay workers. Figure 12 shows the positive association that increasing debt seems to have with inflation-adjusted wages in the United States.

Figure 12. Growth in US Wages vs. Growth in Non-Financial Debt. Wages from US Bureau of Economics “Wages and Salaries.” Non-Financial Debt is discontinued series from St. Louis Federal Reserve. (Note chart does not show a value for 2016.) Both sets of numbers have been adjusted for growth in US population and for growth in CPI Urban.

Debt is, in effect, the promise of future goods and services made with energy products. These promises are often helpful in allowing an economy to expand. For example, businesses can issue bonds to provide funds to expand their operations. Selling shares of stock acts in a manner similar to adding debt, with repayment coming from future operations. In both cases, the payback can occur, if energy consumption is in fact growing, allowing the output of the business to expand as planned.

Once world leaders decide that debt levels are too high, or need to be controlled better, we are likely headed for trouble, because debt can be very helpful in “pulling the economy forward.” This is especially the case if productivity growth is low because per capita energy consumption is falling.

[3] Rebalancing of currency relativities to the US dollar.

Rebalancing currencies to different levels relative to the dollar seems to play a major role in determining the “inflation rate” calculated in Figure 10. Currency rebalancing also plays a major role in determining the shape of the GDP graph in current US$, as shown in Figure 1. In general, the higher the average relativity of other currencies to the US$, the higher the demand for goods and services of all kinds, and thus the higher the demand for energy products.

One problem in recent years is that, in some sense, the average relativity of other currencies to the US dollar has fallen too low. The fall in relativities took place when the US discontinued its use of Quantitative Easing in late 2014.

Figure 13. Monthly Brent oil prices with dates of US beginning and ending QE.

The price of oil and of other energy products dropped steeply at that time. In fact, in inflation-adjusted terms, oil prices had been falling even prior to the end of QE. (See Figure 2, above.) The shift in the currency relativities made oil and other energy products more expensive for citizens of the European Union, Japan, and most of the commodity producing countries shown in Figures 4 and 5.

The ultimate problem underlying this fall in average relativities to the US dollar is that there is now a disparity between the prices that consumers around the world can afford to pay for energy products, and the prices that businesses producing energy products really need. I have written about this problem in the past, for example in Why Energy-Economy Models Produce Overly Optimistic Indications.

At this point, none of the three approaches for solving the world’s deflation problem seem to be working:

[1] Increasing the supply of oil and other energy products is not working well, because diminishing returns has led to a situation where if prices are high enough for producers, they are too high for consumers to afford the finished goods made with the energy products.

[2] World leaders have decided that we have too much debt and, indeed, debt levels are very high. In fact, if energy prices continue to be low, a significant amount of debt currently outstanding will probably be defaulted on.

[3] Countries generally don’t want to raise the exchange rates of their currencies to the dollar, because lower exchange rates tend to encourage exports. If the United States raises its interest rates, either directly or by selling its QE bonds, the level of the US dollar can be expected to rise relative to other currencies. Thus, other currencies are likely to fall even lower than they are today, relative to the US dollar. This will tend to make the problem with low oil prices (and other energy prices) even worse than today.

Thus, there seems to be no way out of our current predicament.

Conclusion

The world economy is in a very precarious situation. Many of the world’s economies have found that, measured in current US$, the goods and services they are producing are less valuable than they were in 2013 and 2014. In particular, all of the oil exporting nations have this problem. Many other countries that are producing commodities have the same problem.

Governments around the world do not seem to understand the situation we are facing. In large part, this is happening because economists have built models based on their view of how the world works. Their models tend to leave out the important role energy plays. GDP growth and inflation estimates based on PPP calculations give a misleading view of how the economy is actually operating.

We seem to be sleepwalking into an even worse version of the Depression of the 1930s. Even if economists were able to figure out what is happening, it is not clear that there would be a good way out. Higher energy prices would aid energy producers, but would push energy importing nations into recession. We seem to be facing a predicament with no solution.

Appendix 

Growing Inflation-Adjusted GDP Comes From Growing Energy Consumption

We often hear that GDP no longer depends on energy consumption, but this simply is not true. Energy consumption is needed for practically every industrial process, because energy causes the physical transformations that are need (including heat, light, and movement). Even services that only require a lighted, air-conditioned office and the use of computers require energy consumption of some type.

An industrialized country can outsource manufacturing of many of its goods to other countries, but the need for energy products goes with this outsourcing. The transfer of manufacturing to lesser developed countries tends to stimulate building in these countries. As a result, on a world basis, the amount of energy consumed tends to remain close to unchanged.

Using data for 1965 through 2016, we find the following relationship between inflation-adjusted world GDP and world energy consumption:

Figure A1. World growth in energy consumption vs. world GDP growth. Energy consumption from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017. World GDP is GDP in US 2010$, as compiled by World Bank.

Another way of displaying the same data is as an X, Y graph. A very high long-term correlation can be observed on this basis.

Figure A2. X-Y graph of world energy consumption (from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017) versus world GDP in 2010 US$, from World Bank.

This high level of correlation can be seen for other groupings as well. For example, for the grouping Middle East and North Africa, there is a high level of correlation between energy consumption and GDP.

Figure A3. X-Y graph showing correlation between energy consumption and GDP in the Middle East and North Africa.

If a person calculates the implications of this fitted line, energy consumption for these oil-producing countries is actually growing faster than inflation-adjusted GDP for these countries. This type of trend is to be expected if oil-producing countries are in some sense becoming less efficient in producing oil. This could happen for a number of reasons. One is that the easiest to extract oil is extracted first, leaving the more expensive to extract oil to be extracted later. Another possible reason for this trend is rising human populations in oil producing countries. These people drive cars and live in air conditioned buildings, driving up energy consumption for these countries. Whatever the cause, this loss of efficiency in oil production can be expected to at least partially offset growing efficiencies elsewhere in the system.

 

 

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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2,988 Responses to World GDP in current US dollars seems to have peaked; this is a problem

  1. adonis says:

    something strange is occurring in my neighbourhood i dont know whether it may be an effect of carbon emmissions but it is coming on in intervals or waves it made the news and i can attest it is a new environmental condition as i have heard it and felt it on numerous occasions it is almost biblical
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/09/01/extremely-loud-thunder-shakes-adelaide-with-earthquake-like-force_a_23194392/

    • Buster Douglas says:

      Thunder shook our house once and rattled the windows. I thought it was pretty amazing but the dog flipped out. I wouldn’t worry about thunder. Plenty of other stuff going on.

    • i1 says:

      Same thing in Florida last night (9/1). Loudest thunderclap I’ve ever heard at 9:55 pm.

      • muchly2long says:

        I’ve never heard a single thunderclap at 9:55 pm in my whole life. Surely this is just another rancid attempt to destabilise Mrs Tverberg’s blog.

  2. Nope.avi says:

    Up until very recently, I thought it was a matter of media coverage or my own perception that the 1980s to the early 1990s, there were a lot more murders than now.
    A cursory amount of research revealed that this was not a matter of skewed perceptions. There was a substantial increase in the number of serial killers, in addition to other violent crimes and that started shortly after the civil rights movement, that began in the 1950s, drew to a close. Even more interesting, was the revelation that the majority of high profile serial killers were baby boomers. I found myself wondering why that is–aside from statistics–and how it may connect with finite world topics discussed by Gail and others on this blog. Why was there a huge increase in dysfunctional people during the most prosperous time in human history? I was told that the increase was so substantial it inspired the slasher flick genre.

    Today, we still have people predisposed to becoming serial killers, but I am told that they are locked up because of we are willing to incarcerate people for minor offenses, that might lead to that kind of activity. Technology, I’m told has played a role in reducing the number of operating serial killers but I don’t completely buy this explanation. The best explanation I’ve come across, is that during periods of large social change, which last happened the 1960s , creates a lot inner conflict within susceptible individuals. There’s some truth to this, with the problem of Islamic terrorism , in the last article I read about it, being attributed to a conflict that certain individuals have between two cultures that they participate in. The big difference is that most terrorists don’t seem to be psychopaths, although some of them are, or would be for sure.

    We’re due for another massive social change, when BAU collapses and there will no doubt be violence due just to rage over the fact that BAU is no longer there but I doubt that there may be a huge uptick in serial killers who are mad about the end of happy motoring–only certain conditions seem to foster them.

    I bring this up because brought up a point that people don’t just “fight for resources” but also for very personal reasons and that just means that human behavior is more of a wild card than most readers of this blog, me included, are considering.

    For a long time I ignored politics, because I thought, people’s feelings don’t matter in the big scheme of things and I bought into the notion promoted by Thomas Friedman that the global economy would be the largest driving force in the world. Resistance would be insignificant and futile

    • Well, history has its strange twists, e.g. the blitz krieg plan for the Eastern front was mostly good as well as the previously successful precedent for crashing through France and the Low countries in days and weeks, especially the evidently internalized pre-understanding of scales in nature, basically in the East conquering ~3x the landmass demands ~9x the resources (as needed bigger army, equipment etc.) and they did not have that (could not have that ever), knowing about the not trivial industrial capacity of the enemy, over dependence on Romanian oil and so on. So, the only option was going for the jugular in swift attack on the capital city like a cat chopping of snake’s head.

      Now, the twist, historical temperature negative super spike ~1941-2, very cold two years of winters, plus the factor Japan strangely did not mount simultaneous attack – opted for their Asian theater, hence it was possible to relocate the best units stationed against JAP in Far East-Pacific towards Moscow, which was at the peak just holding Germans on the line ~15-40km in front of the capital. Both the Soviets and Germans agree, the first winter was close enough by a hair, the first surprise attack almost worked, but since then it was “only” an issue of dedication of dozens of millions dead and dozens thousands of tanks, airplanes, several years of ordeal, to repel the bogged invasion which was now doomed exactly because of that scale factor..

      So should it turned otherwise in the crucial weeks and days of late 1941 – early 1942, the above video would have never been made, it would be ridiculous non sense, since the monuments of the guy (psycho or not) would be splashed at least over 1/3 of the globe on every corner.. US and Reich cohabitation for decades to come..

      Why I’m saying that, well there are trends, things have to sort of happen long term, but there are also choke points, crossroads of the near mid term, affecting, derailing the outcome of one sub scenario..

    • xabier says:

      How all this manifests in the political sphere is THE big question.

      The two cultures thing is interesting: it’s a curious fact that a majority of ETA terrorists were actually only half-Basque – one wonders if the violent commitment was a way of resolving feelings of not quite belonging?

      Also, the phenomenon of very comfortable middle and upper-class families producing some of the worst terrorists and mass killers in the 1960’s and 70’s.

      We haven’t even begun to see the fruits of our era of crisis – just warming up, I’m afraid.

      • xabier says:

        As an example of delayed consequences of economic crisis, in Argentina the kids from families which were thrown down the social scale or left in even worse poverty grew up after a decade into some pretty nasty, drugged-up thugs, committing very nasty robberies, rapes and murders. They just had to reach the right age to express their hatred of society.

  3. muchly2long says:

    Hitler’s hatred of the Je wish people knew no bounds. He probably suspected that he wasn’t going to win the war from late 1941 onwards, so he was determined he would make use of the time to destroy as many of the people he hated as possible. Even so, his mood changed from day to day. He believed that being fanatical was a virtue, that you should hold out to the last man, because you never knew what might turn up. He knew all these stories from history where the unexpected happened and victory occurred at the last minute.

    I don’t believe he wanted to destroy Europe or the world – he wanted to reshape them to suit his own ideology – which in our terms amounts to the same thing, as it entailed the destruction of so many humans.

    Remember also that Hitler was a drug addict – he was almost permanently high on speed – hence his continuing belief in victory against all the odds.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/adolf-hitler-super-junkie-drugs-veins-collapsed-norman-ohler-blitzed-thousands-injections-a7346111.html

    Yes, once he realised the war was truly lost and the Russians were coming, in his embittered state he did blame his Germans for “letting him down” and ordered a scorched earth policy as a punishment. It was also, however, in keeping with his theory of “the survival of the fittest”. He believed that the Bolsheviks had shown themselves to be fitter, therefore the future belonged to them. I therefore disagree with the thesis presented. Hitler sincerely wished to achieve his aims. He achieved so much up to 1941 that he was drunk with success and hoped and expected to continue in the same vein.

    • Buster Douglas says:

      Throwing Hitler a bone, eh? Really he meant well but stuff happened? He was one of, if not the most manipulative-vindictive leader ever and Trump is cast in the same type of mold. We just need to hope Trump doesn’t go nuts and take us with him like Hitler did to his people. I mean really, attacking massive widespread Russia? Didn’t Napoleon try the same thing and fail miserably. Hitler had his henchmen burn the Reichstag and then claim his political opponents started the fire and then his own men and a huge mob of people went after that other party – one of the most amazing manipulative-vindictive acts ever to gain more power. Trump is also hooked on power like a heroin addict and won’t hesitate to do something similar. In fact, I think when the next election comes Trump will threaten a nuclear war if people don’t vote for him, then when called on it say he was kidding kind of, so people really aren’t sure and many out of fear (having been manipulated by the great snake oil salesman) actually vote for him again. Watch, he’ll do something on that order. I don’t think people fully realize the danger this country is in with him in power.

      • muchly2long says:

        “Throwing Hitler a bone, eh? Really he meant well but stuff happened?”

        Rubbish! You haven’t understood my points at all. He was quite straightforward in his megalomania and did not want to “fail”. He meant “well” only in his own terms – which in our terms were highly destructive, as I pointed out. I called him fanatical, a drug addict, his hatred knew no bounds – THAT is throwing him a bone?! Did you even watch the video? Do so, then read my points again. The subtlety of them is obviously lost on you. And bear in mind, that evil people generally do not consider themselves evil. Hitler was supremely evil, but in his warped ideology he was doing what HE thought was best for Germany and hence the world.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          There is no good or evil — only interests?

          • muchly2long says:

            What AH did was not in Germany’s interests, because it turned so many nations against them. If a man was interested in raping your wife, and did so, would you consider him evil? So interests are subjective, as is evil too. Evil IMO is excessive and unnecessary harm against humans, which under AH was on a mechanised and industrial scale. But let’s not forget Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and all the rest.

        • Tim Groves says:

          I don’t see any special relevance of the achievements or reputation or moral character or drug habits of Adolph Hitler to OFW issues. Have I missed something? .

          • muchly2long says:

            Follow the thread backwards and find the connections. Discussions about a subject go off at all sorts of useful tangents, as you well know, and you may just learn something. In any case, the beginning of the end of BAU is already leading to some weird politics, which is where Adolf (NEVER “Adolph”) Hitler comes in. Plus ça change, and all that. If the thread doesn’t interest you, don’t comment.

      • Jesse James says:

        Buster, you are boring. Get a brain!

      • greg machala says:

        Honestly I think Trump is sick of being president. The non-stop attacks are wearing on him. I mean every late night comedy, every news station is wall to wall anti-Trump rhetoric.

        • nope.avi says:

          I ‘ve yet to hear a funny Trump joke. It’s not like it’s hard, the guy is a soft target, it’s just that people who tend to be overly politically correct (women) can’t be funny to save their lives. When they try, we get things like that snl “actress” saying Trump’s son is going to grow up to be a school shooter because…………………………………….no, there’s no punch line.

          Comedy, like a lot of entertainment these days, has turned into a “everyone gets a trophy because “diversity and underrepresentation” festival of mediocrity.

      • xabier says:

        Trump is just a puppet, as Hillary Clinton would have been.

        Foreign policy in the US is run by the Establishment aka Deep State. They have decided to encircle and de-stabilise Russia, breaking up the Russian Federation. They are contemplating future conflict with China over global dominance.

        Elections, and presidents, can’t influence these policies at all.

        The situation is certainly very dangerous, but we can see some de-escalation in Syria for example, sadly after the country has been wrecked.

        • Yep, people just refuse to see the reality around them, Trump is basically a very lesser noble, who can’t even afford new jet, lolz, he is probably at least ~two layers-grades of wealth and power bellow Buffet’s level, who himself is certainly not (as claimed by msm) in the top 5 richest guys of the globe anyway, but again a mere water boy – junior partner for the actual owners of the central bank system etc.

    • alfredmelbourne says:

      Hitler was given large loans by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England. He was a bulldog who was supposed to go East and leave France and the others alone.

      After the war, the German central banker who negotiated these loans was spared by the Nurnberg Tribunal

      • muchly2long says:

        AH did go East: Poland. And then it was France and Germany who turned against him, because they didn’t want him dominating Europe, which would have weakened their own power.

        • muchly2long says:

          “And then it was France and Germany who turned against him”

          I meant of course: “And then it was France and BRITAIN who turned against him.”

      • Correct, actually those same guys were instrumental in setting up the forming stages of the current EU-Reich in the late 1940s – early 50s.

        If you look at the evidence and how time had flown, it’s crystal clear, US was selected as the host entity for the global power ~100+ yrs ago, UK maneuvered a lot during the interwar period to keep at least junior partnership and the decade+ after the WWII, but was also deliberately kicked to the wayside as they quickly lost remaining colonies, an effort somewhat nudged from the US side as well..

        Nowadays, they are looking for new arrangement how to pass the baton from the crumbling/ed US. We don’t have the access to these negotiations and “war rooms” but still can derive a lot from the actions of the major players. So far it seems as there is tacit agreement, lets have two or three quasi independent global spheres, which will attempt some sort of autarky model as we slide into the affordability/energy depletion tunnel. They know history, they know it’s better to at least perform an attempt of striking for having some dominion for a while, than nothing.. For plebeians that obviously means drop to 1/x living standard, oppression, elimination to large %% of pop as the subsidies for health care and social evaporate or refocus.

        Obviously, monkey wrenching events into the plan can always happen, but I doubt it at this stage. They are more likely to occur further on the down slope and particular crisis joke points, e.g. generals/colonels (taking sides with elite factions) taking over at junctions not exactly at the right pre-determined moment etc.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      This is why Hitler did what he did https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhFRGDyX48c

      Given the current situation in the US … I would not be surprised if we were to see a replay of this in America… as masses realize that they have been lead around by the nose for a century or so… and turn on their masters.

      • an American fascist dictatorship is inevitable.

        The steps are already in place–the unthinking masses will willingly take those steps:

        1, You need an economy that is energy-bankrupt. The USA uses 18Mbd, and produces only 10Mbd

        2. Leaders make promises they cannot meet, deny it’s an energy problem

        3. The economy tanks because of above

        4. People think prosperity can be voted for

        5 They vote for someone who promises things will be OK if only he is given a free hand to get rid of those causing the problems

        6 It still doesnt work, so there’s inevitable civil disorder

        7 Leader initiates martial law to restore order, also threatens wars elsewhere.

        8 Suspends constitution ‘for duration of national emergency’

        9 Instals himself as dictator (temporarily of course)

        10. The nation wakes up to find itself in a dictatorship, or more likely a theofascist dictatorship

        Take those ten points, and prefix them the Germany in 1932. A Hit-ler told the electorate exactly what he intended to do if elected. He did just that. He was stopped not through a change in ideology, he was stopped because he ran out of fuel.
        The German people were and are fundamentally a civilised race, but with a fait accompli, they fell into line and cheered victories and the new order. The Generals were against what was happening, but they too fell into line. Those who didn’t were swiftly dispatched

        Dictators never have problems recruiting people to do their dirty work. It most certainly will happen again.

        Now take those 10 points and prefix them to USA in 2017

        As I’ve pointed out before, democracy is a child of prosperity. Poverty makes it an orphan

    • xabier says:

      There was a pill marketed in Britain in WW2, called ‘Blitzed’. I came across an ad in an old magazine.

      ‘War nerves getting you down? Take Blitzed!’

      • muchly2long says:

        A quick Google doesn’t find me anything, xabier. On the one hand it sounds like typically macabre English sarcasm, on the other hand I think even suggesting a product with such a name might have had you looked upon as a traitor in those days. It would be interesting if you could post an image, xabier.

    • interguru says:

      “expected to continue in the same vein’

      Is this a deliberate pun on his drug addiction?

  4. Artleads says:

    https://www.planetizen.com/node/94567/houstons-drainage-problem#comment-3499054919

    Artleads • 13 hours ago
    “Many planners contend that impervious surface itself is the problem. The more of it there is, the less absorption takes place and the more runoff has to be managed. Reducing development, then, is one of the best ways to manage urban flooding. The problem is, urban development hasn’t slowed in the last half-century. ”

    Reducing flooding through preserving open space has nothing to do with reducing development. Almost any US city could double the size of its housing capacity through infill and add-on development, creating just as many jobs and generating just as much taxes. This approach could keep economically stressed homeowners in place too. It just requires a little thought, something clearly lacking in city leaders everywhere.

    •Edit•Reply•Share ›
    Avatar
    IrvinDawid Artleads • 3 hours ago
    Isn’t this the classic infill vs. sprawl debate? The problem is that to prevent the open space, the city’s natural buffers against flooding, requires regulations, “zoning” if you will, while NIMBYs create a barrier to greater infill. Much easier to develop on open space from a developer’s perspective, I would think.

    This is a debate that Harvey will contribute to. A silver lining to a catastrophe, perhaps.

    • Artleads says:

      Artleads IrvinDawid • 8 minutes ago
      What you say is very clear, and covers the basics of the issue.

      My point tends, however, to be more subtle than our prevailing system seems capable of grasping. It is not about infill vs sprawl, but about HOW you infill.

      There is now a perfect storm of crises: economic decline, energy scarcity, aging-population welfare, climate disruption, land loss, etc., and what I’m suggesting hopes to address them all. I focus on the character of the place, rather than on abstract, quantitative measures that are the norm for the planning world. I look at the qualitative, blending that with the practical. But the qualitative comes first.

      I’ve suggested to Michael Lewyn that density is best achieved through close attention to the architectural character of a place, and creating infill that is ancillary to that character. A typical single family home will have a backyard that is, in many cases, unused and not particularly valued. Coincidentally, and in conjunction with the above mentioned cluster of crises, there is now a thriving movement to build complete, well equipped “tiny houses” that could go in many of those backyards. ( I don’t believe I’ve heard of anyone making the connection between all these dots. With some special kind of zoning, a completely private mini-house with all the basic conveniences, and even a tiny yard–a miniaturized mainstream home, if you will–that provides income for an empty nester in the main house, taxes for the city, a magnet for public transit, a management opportunity for a large business or a CDC, etc. This concept can be applied over a neighborhood, an entire city, or even a region, creating very little, if any, visual impact to the scenery locals are used to.

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      then there’s this quote:

      “Houston is the most flood-prone city in the United States,” said Rice University environmental engineering professor Phil Bedient, in an article by the Associated Press on the city’s “obsolete drainage grid.” “No one is even a close second — not even New Orleans, because at least they have pumps there.”

      Houston’s roads are part of that “drainage grid”.

      bizarre.

      but hey, citizens can tear out their moldy walls and rebuild.

      or move.

    • xabier says:

      City planners and politicians think about one thing only: their pensions.

      They are never exactly the brightest buttons in the box, either.

      • Let me refine it a bit.

        City planners and politicians think about these things only: today’s and future churn on their crooked deals while in office (offered to them by the bigger fish), and also availability of their future pensions.

        You see, people are not created equal. There are politicians amazingly skillful to drink from all these diverse fountains of “ill gotten” wealth for decades. Surprisingly this might form in aggregate not insignificant wealth of treasure in the end, even promoting their person-hood and immediate family into lesser noble status in the system. However, there also quite inept specimen of politicians, who end up depending from say 3/4th on the prospect of future pension availability. Big difference.

        • xabier says:

          Very true, there is a distinction to be made, but they all love their pensions: governments change so frequently in Italy, for example, in order to share out the pension rights (which can be accumulated with each term in office!)and the property perks of being a minister (buy with a state subsidy, sell to other politicos….)

          I have first hand knowledge, as now my ‘radical Left’ family have finally got themselves voted in, after years in the political wilderness, they are milking the system like crazy.

          It’s quite disgusting: poor people pay for this.

    • interguru says:

      100 years ago, with minimal regulation, we got the neighborhood that we love, now with minimal regulation we get Houston. Difference? Automobiles!

  5. The Second Coming says:

    Currently, fossil fuels make up 86% of energy use and shockingly enough has been practically unchanged for over three decades, even after the trillions of dollars in investments in alternative sources (solar, hydroelectric, nuclear, wind, and even bio
    In order for green technologies to supply the necessary supply for global energy demand by 2035, an investment of $3 trillion a year would be required. Compare this with the current estimates of all energy investments in 2035 (including carbon forms) of being just $2 trillion dollars. Current oil demand is outstripping all renewable investments and supplies and will continue through 2050.

    Regardless of how you feel about a carbon-based economy, it turns out to be good for the trucking industry. The energy sector is one of the largest sectors providing demand for truckload services. Ranging from equipment to service the drilles, to the sand that helps fracking operations, oil demand has a huge impact on the number of industry-wide truckload miles. For every rig that is drilled in North America, results in an additional 1.1 million truckload miles.

    In places like North Dakota and Canada, the impact is even more profound. According to a study from the North Dakota State University (home of the Bison and one of the greatest dynasties in college football history), fracking contributed over $35B to the state’s economy, of which half went to trucking operations.

    https://www.freightwaves.com/news/2017/8/19/oil-is-here-to-stay

    There are strong reasons for thinking that the rate of increase in gross energy availability will slow further in coming decades. Recently a peer reviewed paper estimated the maximum rate at which humanity could exploit all ultimately recoverable fossil fuel resources. It found that depending on assumptions, the peak in all fossil fuels would be reached somewhere between 2025–2050 (a finding that aligns with several other studies see i.e Maggio and Cacciola 2012; Laherrere, 2015).

  6. Buster Douglas says:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/r-north-korea-says-has-developed-more-advanced-hydrogen-bomb-kcna-2017-9

    NK claims to have gone from fission to hydrogen – that’s a big deal if true. This situation just keeps getting ratcheted up. As Seinfeld said about the wake up call guy, “Not comfortable”.

  7. psile says:

    Here’s another unwanted, but not unexpected surprise, from the outfall from superstorm Harvey:

    Many Houston ultra-polluted Superfund sites are flooded, concerns about toxins spreading; EPA not on scene.

    Consider it a warm-up for when nuke sites eventually go down, as BAU draws to a close. Battered into oblivion by umpteen number of existential threats. Natural and man-made.

  8. Fast Eddy says:

    And here we go again … more fakery from the MSM… exposed

    UK Flooding Events and Fake Science

    A group of 46 workers from 35 countries and 35 institutions led by Professor Guenter Bloeschl and supported by the ERC “FloodChange,” project no. 291152 (budget €2.2 million) published a paper in Science [1] claiming that there are changes to the pattern of European Floods 1960 to 2010, linked to man-made climey choonge.

    Putting their findings on the UK under the microscope I find that reality is close to the exact opposite of the claims made and published in Science.

    Either the 46 scientists associated with this work, the reviewers and editors at Science are wrong or my analysis of their findings is wrong.

    In the former case I will press for a full retraction of the paper from Science and for this retraction to be published by the BBC and FT at the very least, both of whom covered the story and who may have inadvertently misled the public and the financial markets.

    Worth reading the entire paper http://euanmearns.com/uk-flooding-events-and-fake-science/

  9. name says:

    Fast Eddy: “North Korea didn’t conduct nuclear test today, because MSM talks about it. And if MSM talks that renewables can work, then everything what they say isn’t true. Harvey was also fake.”

    • xabier says:

      Our problem is that all our sources of information and news are potentially corrupted -after the great WMD Lie, what can one trust? I remember thinking then ‘This is too big a lie to be false’. It wasn’t.

      It becomes a matter of weighing up probabilities and gut feeling.

      We can’t trust in the probity of our governments or the MSM, or any blogger really. Except Gail, who is transparently honest!

      The Korean narrative might be true, or completely fictitious.

      Great states tell great lies.

    • nope.avi says:

      People like you believe every single thing MSM tells you. You have no idea how to form opinions separate from what they tell you. Just to show how s t u pid your reasoning in, you equate Eddy’s rejection of the claim that climate change caused the hurricane’s damage to denying that it ever happened. It’s not that just that you’re s t u pid but that you’re so desperate to discredit anyone who disagrees what you have been told, that you have to create very crude strawmen. You’re making a fool out yourself.

      but you’re proud anyway.

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