The World’s Fragile Economic Condition – Part 1

Where is the world economy heading? In my opinion, a large portion of the story that we usually hear about how the world economy operates and the role energy plays is not really correct. In this post (to be continued in Part 2 in the near future), I explain how some of the major elements of the world economy seem to function. I also point out some relationships that tend to make the world’s economic condition more fragile.

Trying to explain the situation a bit further, the economy is a networked system. It doesn’t behave the way nearly everyone expects it to behave. Many people believe that any energy problem will be signaled by high prices. A look at history shows that this is not really the case: fighting and conflict are also likely outcomes. In fact, rising tariffs are a sign of energy problems.

The underlying energy problem represents a conflict between supply and demand, but not in the way most people expect. The world needs rising demand to support the rising cost of energy products, but this rising demand is, in fact, very difficult to produce. The way that this rising demand is normally produced is by adding increasing amounts of debt, at ever-lower interest rates. At some point, the debt bubble created to provide the necessary demand becomes overstretched. Now, we seem to be reaching a situation where the debt bubble may pop, at least in some parts of the world. This is a very concerning situation.

Context. The presentation discussed in this post was given to the Casualty Actuaries of the Southeast. (I am a casualty actuary myself, living in the Southeast.) The attendees tended to be quite young, and they tended not to be very aware of energy issues. I was trying to “bring them up to speed.” This is a link to the presentation: The World’s Fragile Economic Condition.

Slide 1

Slide 2

This post covers only Items 1, 2, and 3 from the Outline in Slide 2. I will save Items 3 through 6 for a post called “The World’s Fragile Economic Condition-Part 2.”

Slide 3

Slide 4

The audience was able to guess that the situation for humans and the economy are parallel. Energy in some sense powers the economy, in a way similar to how food powers humans.

Slide 5

On Slide 5, I am pointing out that changes in the red line, denoting energy consumption growth, tend to come before the corresponding changes in the blue line. This is one way of confirming that energy consumption causes GDP growth, rather than vice versa.

In recent years, countries have found ways of creating GDP growth, without adding true value. This may explain why GDP growth is higher than Energy growth since 2013 on Slide 5. As an example of GDP growth with overstated value, a large share of young people are now being encouraged to purchase advanced education, at considerable cost. This would make sense, if there were suitable high-paying jobs for all of those graduating. It is questionable whether this is the case.

Slide 6

Of course, the issue is not only energy consumption, just as our health is influenced by more than simply what food we eat.

Slide 7

At one time, the emphasis in physics was on systems that are “closed” from an energy point of view. Such systems never grow; they simply decline toward “heat death.”

The real world is made up of many structures that grow and change over time. This growth and ability to change is possible because the energy system we live in is thermodynamically “open,” thanks to flows of energy from the sun, and thanks to fossil fuel energy, which represents stored solar energy from long ago.

Slide 8

The answers to the questions on Slide 8 are easy to guess.

Slide 9

The economy adds new businesses, as citizens see new needs and set up companies to meet those needs. Customers make choices regarding which goods and services to buy, based on their income (primarily wages) and the prices of available goods and services. Governments gradually add new laws, including changes to the way taxes are assessed. The system gradually grows and changes, as the population grows, and as the quantity of goods and services created to meet the needs of that population increases.

One thing to note is that the goods and services produced by the system will eventually be divided among the various players in the system. If one group gets more (say, those receiving interest income), then other groups will necessarily receive less.

Another important point to note is that as new products are added, old ones disappear. For example, once cars came into use, we lost the ability to go back to horses and buggies. There are no longer enough horses; there are no longer facilities to “park” the horses in downtown areas, while at work or shopping; and there are no longer services to clean up after the mess that the horses make.

Without being able to go backward, the system is quite brittle. It would appear that under sufficiently adverse conditions, the entire system could collapse. In fact, we know that many ancient civilizations did collapse, when conditions weren’t right.

Slide 10

The strange interconnections of a networked system make the world economy behave in a different way than we might initially expect. Later in this presentation (in Part 2 of the write-up), I will show some examples of inadequate energy supplies leading to very different results than high prices.

Slide 11

The model of The Limits to Growth looked at how long resources might last, before the growth of the world economy came to a halt from a variety of problems, including a lack of easy-to-extract resources. In some ways, the model was quite simple. For example, the model did not include a financial system or debt. In the single most likely scenario, the base run, the world economy hit limits about now, in the 2015 to 2025 time period. The authors have said that, once limits are hit, the forecast on the right-hand side of the chart cannot be relied upon; the model is too simple to forecast how the down slope might actually occur.

Slide 12

Slide 13

The pattern of world energy consumption seems to be one of rapid growth, especially in the period since World War II.

Slide 14

Energy consumption growth is particularly high in the period covered by the red box. In other words, energy consumption growth is particularly high from the 1940s through the 1970s. If the economy relies on energy, we would expect this to be a particularly booming period for the economy.

Slide 15

We can break energy consumption growth down into two components: (1) the portion to cover higher population, and (2) the portion to cover improved standards of living. Looking at this chart, it is clear that “higher population” takes the majority of the increase, except when increases are very large.

Slide 16

I have labelled the three big bumps with my view of what seems to have led to them. The first is early electrification, when street cars were added and when the early mechanization of farming was implemented. The second is the postwar boom and the third is the recent period of globalization, led by China’s major ramp up in coal production.

Slide 17

China’s energy consumption grew rapidly after it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. The thing that most people don’t realize is that China is reaching limits on its coal extraction. Its coal production seems to have peaked about 2013. Its comparatively tiny amount of wind and solar (shown in orange on the chart) is not making up the shortfall. Instead, China is being forced to rely more on imported energy. Imported energy tends to be higher in cost, and may be limited in supply. For all these reasons, we cannot rely on China to continue to power future world economic growth.

Slide 18

It is not just China that gets only a small share of its energy production from wind and solar. This is also true of the world as a whole.

Slide 19

Slide 20

Boxes 1 through 4 show a different model of how the world economy works than that shown earlier (in Slide 9). In Slide 20, the Economy (in Box 3) acts like a giant factory. It uses Resources of various kinds (a few of which are listed in Box 2) to make Goods and Services (a few of which are listed in Box 4). If the Economy is getting to be more and more efficient, Box 4 will expand much more rapidly than Box 2, producing a great abundance of goods and services. If this happens, all of the Resource Providers in Box 1 (plus some I have failed to list) can be rewarded more than adequately for their services, with Goods and Services produced by the economy. The transfer of these Goods and Services occurs through the use of money.

Slide 21

Everyone can get rich at once!

Slide 22

The top line is GDP growth including inflation; the bottom line is GDP growth excluding inflation. Before the dotted line, both GDP growth rates and inflation rates are high; after the dotted line (when energy growth was lower), they tend to be lower.

Slide 23

Interest rates were raised to try to damp down oil and other energy prices. We will see in a later section that reducing interest rates helped hide the fact that energy growth was slower after 1980.

Slide 24

The wages shown on Slide 24 have already been inflation adjusted. Thus, in the period before 1968, wages for both the lower 90% of workers and for the top 10% of workers were rising rapidly, even considering the impact of inflation. Many families were able to afford a car for the first time. After 1980, the wages of the top 10% rose much more quickly than the wages of the bottom 90%.

Slide 25

In 1930, wage disparity seems to have been at about today’s level. Early mechanization had replaced many jobs, both on the farm and elsewhere. Farmers who could not afford the new technology found that they could not produce food cheaply enough to compete with the low prices made possible by the new technology. The growing wage disparity meant that a large share of the population could not afford more than the basic necessities of life. The many people with low wages kept demand for most goods and services low. Oil prices were low, and there was a glut of oil, not unlike what recent markets have experienced. New tariffs were added, and immigration was restricted.

Slide 26

The period before the mid-1970s is when a great deal of the United States’ infrastructure was built. The Eisenhower Interstate Highway System dates from this time period. Many of the oil and gas pipelines and electricity transmission systems in use today were also built in this period.

Once the price of oil and other energy products started rising, it became much more expensive to add or replace this type of infrastructure. Once oil prices rose, more debt at lower interest rates seemed to be needed to keep the economy growing, as I will explain in Part 2 of this write-up.

Slide 27

The least expensive to extract oil supply–US oil supply in the contiguous 48 states that could be extracted by conventional means–was developed first. Alaska production was added when it was clear that the early supply was starting to deplete. It was more expensive, as was North Sea oil, which was also added after early US oil began to deplete.

Once oil prices rose in the 2005-2008 period, companies became interested in developing oil from shale formations (sometimes called tight oil). This oil seems to be much more expensive. It is doubtful that this oil is profitable at today’s prices.

Slide 28

Many people believe that oil prices will rise, indefinitely, with the cost of production. The thing that they don’t realize is that high oil prices tend to lead to recession. When this happens, employment drops, and the average buying power of the population no longer rises–it tends to remain flat or falls. As a result, high oil prices do not “stick.”

Slide 29

We are today in a situation where oil prices have been too low for years. For a while, this situation can be hidden, but eventually low investment can be expected to lead to lower production of energy products. It is even possible that some governments of oil exporters may collapse from lack of adequate tax revenue. Governments of oil exporters often obtain over half of their total tax revenue from taxes on oil production. Adequate tax revenue for these governments requires a high selling price for oil.

The situation with food prices tends to parallel oil prices. This occurs partly because oil is used in growing and transporting food, and partly because of substitution issues. For example, corn can be used to make either ethanol for vehicles or food for people.

Slide 30

M. King Hubbert was one of the early scientists who talked about what appeared to be a problem of running out of oil and other fossil fuels. While I call him a geologist, he really was a geophysicist. The catch was that the physics thinking of the day was mostly about “thermodynamically closed systems.” If closed systems were the problem, then running out of fossil fuels that could be extracted using current techniques was the major issue.

Hubbert and others did not realize that energy supply is part of a larger economic system, which also functions under the laws of physics. The economic system is part of a thermodynamically open system, not a closed system. It gets energy both directly from the sun and from fossil fuels, which provide solar energy stored as fossil fuels.

The issue is how this larger economic system behaves: does it allow the oil prices to rise to a high enough level to extract all of the oil and other fossil fuels that seem to be available? I don’t think it does. But under the “right” conditions (lots of debt growth), the economic system does allow energy prices to rise somewhat. This is what we have seen since the 1970s.

It is extremely difficult to figure out what true costs and true benefits are in a networked system. The standard approach for evaluating the benefit of wind and solar considers only a small part of the system. If the proposed devices do not directly burn fossil fuels and if not too much fossil fuel is used in their production, the usual practice is to assume that the devices must be helpful to the overall system, because they seem to be “low carbon.” This approach leaves out many important costs.

The problem is that wind and solar are not now, and never can be, standalone devices. When all costs are considered, they are simply very inefficient add-ons to the fossil fuel system. These costs include buffering services (using batteries or other storage), the cost of capital, the cost of leases, and wages and taxes. A very high-cost electricity generating system is not likely to be helpful to the economy because such a system is very inefficient. It can be expected to affect the economy as adversely as high-priced oil does.

Slide 31

An economy operates best when energy costs are very low because goods and services made with this low-cost energy tend to be low-cost as well. Oil is used in producing and transporting food. Thus, low-cost oil tends to produce inexpensive food.

If energy costs begin to rise in a country, it tends to make that country less competitive in the world marketplace. It also tends to push the country toward recession, because the higher costs are difficult to recover from customers whose wages don’t rise to cover the higher costs.

Slide 32

Many people believe that the amount of fossil fuel that will ultimately be extracted depends on a combination of (a) the amount of resources in the ground, and (b) the technology developed for extraction. While these are indeed eventual limits, I think that a maximum affordable price limit comes much sooner. This depends on how high a debt bubble the economy can sustain. The role of debt will be discussed in Part 2.

Slide 33

One thing that is confusing is the familiar supply and demand curve for energy. Many people believe that “of course” prices must rise if energy is scarce. The catch is that energy consumption affects all parts of the economy. It takes energy to create jobs, just as it takes energy to produce goods and services. Because both supply and demand are affected by a shortage of energy, our intuition regarding how prices should move can be totally wrong.

The word “Demand” is confusing, also, because most energy use is difficult to see. Most energy use is not found in the gasoline we buy at the pump or the electricity we purchase. Instead, energy is used in creating the streets that we drive on, and in building the schools that our children attend. Building new homes and manufacturing cars also takes huge amounts of energy. If energy costs rise very much, the problem is that many people can no longer afford homes or cars. Instead, young people live in their parents’ basements indefinitely. Governments may decide to stop paving some roads, because repaving is too expensive to afford. Reduced demand for oil might be better described as reduced purchases of goods and services of all kinds, because certain groups of would-be buyers find prices too high to afford.

[To be continued in “The World’s Fragile Economic Condition – Part 2”]

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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1,500 Responses to The World’s Fragile Economic Condition – Part 1

  1. Chrome Mags says:

    Dow tanked again, so where’s the plunge protection FE?…0.0..0.286.815.0j3j1……0….1..gws-wiz…..0..0.QSLF-5gCxIU

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Two suggestions:

      1. The PPTs are active — but pushing on a string now

      2. The Fed wants to step the markets back from massive bubbles….

      I suspect it’s 2 because the Fed has unlimited firepower — if they want the markets to go up — they will go up… until at some point they push on a string…. hopefully that is not where were are now

  2. Baby Doomer says:

    Look at energy, not money.

    The financial system will be manipulated until energy shortages hit..

    • Low energy consumption really looks like a shortage of jobs that pay well. This is likely to result in a glut of oil, and oil prices that are likely to be very low.

      More demand than supply comes from an excess of jobs that pay well, around the world. For example, this is what happened in 1979, when the Soviet Union, Europe, and Japan were all ramping up their economies, and the US lagged behind. We are not likely to encounter this problem again. The US is sort of ramping up its economy, but everyone else is running into big obstacles. Also, most of the US jobs don’t pay well.

    • These are the guys who are not aware of the fact that the laws of physics lead to the need for energy consumption, if the economy is to operate. Each area lives in its own silo.

      • Sven Røgeberg says:

        «Sustainabilty presupposes a constant and continuous improvement of technology, i.e. to find new ways to substitute resources we have little of with resources we have much of»
        The word is flat and indefinite, so we don’t run into diminishing returns?

        • I wonder if technology will provide for a cheap technology that provides fresh drinking water. We have figured out how to desalinate water. We have also figured out that we need to add the right minerals back in, if we are going to drink this water, without adverse health impacts. But the cost of doing this is way too high to be economic. If we have to desalinate sea water, and then transport it (pump it uphill) to where it is needed, we especially have a problem. How do these folks expect to work around this difficulty?

          We can find many other examples, with minerals of all kinds.

  3. Hubbs says:

    Seeing Amazon’s recent $15 “minimum wage” just in time to keep workers from fleeing to other retailers during the Christmas shopping season, or to tide things over until robotics can replace them? The business model of Amazon based on warehousing and delivery is non-profitable. My understanding is that Amazon makes “profit” by its Cloud service “arrangements” with Google and NSA, and through financialization of higher stock prices and other financial gimmickry.

    Having said that, it appears that Amazon’s fleet of delivery trucks and the energy/gas that they require makes this a veritable EROI dead end strategy once honest money and accounting return. So what is Bezos thinking? I can only conclude that it is about control. Capture the distribution centers and delivery systems first, and then from there work backward to take over the suppliers, producers, and manufacturers, most importantly the farmers.

    Farming is being corporatized and increasingly run by machines. Only the “pickers” (Amazon term which alludes to slaves on the cotton fields)- the migrant farm workers who handle the food that can’t be harvested/planted by machines, are left, and against this background, and for increasing the democratic vote of additional unskilled workers, I can see the reason why they are being welcomed into the country as illegal aliens by the Globalists.

    OK, I’ll put down my bong now.

    • Hubbs says:

      I am not sure if Bezos has gotten into pharmaceuticals yet, but if he ever gets into energy supply and distribution, then that will confirm my worst fears.

    • Any references with respect to

      My understanding is that Amazon makes “profit” by its Cloud service “arrangements” with Google and NSA, and through financialization of higher stock prices and other financial gimmickry.

      Also, if Amazon is into financial gimmickry, what is its exposure to rapid run-ups in interest rates or rapid run-downs in stock market prices? Is Amazon’s life limited because of these kinds of issues?

  4. adonis says:

    it is a tad coincidental that all this is happening in 2018 could it just be that a plan B is in the works and the finite worlders have missed it what a grand deception it would be as i have said the elites may have been planning this for many decades, how will it unfold i believe a more equitable system will unfold it is not a fair system when the wealthy consume more than the poor

    • DJ says:

      What would the plan be that proved the world is infinite?

    • Yorchichan says:

      i believe a more equitable system will unfold

      Correct, death is a great leveller.

    • Indeed, the third world remains and enlarges:
      as today’s 2-2.5th world turns into third world and first world turns into 1.5-2.5th like condition.. and worse to come in next steps and sub cycles..

      Curiously, today was watching interesting scene, seemingly nothing to it, but..
      Was staring out of the window from upper floor down on the inner bloc, on the dark ground level packed full of usual technopunk scene like huge piping for aircon ducts from sub floors and so on. There was a guy in that little tiny alley down there slowly buy meticulously pre sorting trash for the usual colored wheeled bins for recycling. And just few steps beside him hidden in there parked gargantuan Benz, likely owner’s of that city bloc or the VIP tenant.

      I was wondering, how does it work so delicately like this, there is an employee standing and working few dozen inches besides a thing, which is 100-1000x larger then his net-worth. No urge to ventilate subjugation, or rage-aggressiveness, .. on that shiny symbolic thing, no nothing, yet.. That was not a high rise so I could hear his chatter with a kitchen girl from restaurant, both having different accents, perhaps immigrants from a real war torn hell hole, so at calm and peace for now, having completely different thoughts vs my selfishly focused doomero field studies at that point.

      Funnily enough, that all inner space was in upper floors guarded tightly by anti pigeon nets. Now, if you ever liked to have experienced cinematic “prison planet” feeling, that was the place..

  5. Harry McGibbs says:

    “OPEC cut its forecast of global demand growth for oil next year for a third straight month on Thursday, citing headwinds facing the broader economy, and key consuming countries in particular, from trade disputes and volatile emerging markets.”

    • OPEC’s estimate of crude oil supply for the Middle East increased a little, but not a lot, during September. Total production was reported at 32,761,000 for September, compared to 32,629,000 in August, an increase of 132,000 barrels per day.

      The big swing producer since Iran’s production started dropping in July seems to have been Libya.

      July 2018 3,747,000
      August – 3,597,000
      September – 3,447,000

      July 673,000
      Aug 950,000
      Sept 1,050,000

      Saudi Arabia has done much less.
      July 10,363,000
      Aug 10,404,000
      Sept. 10,512,000

      • Lastcall says:

        I wonder how of this energy is available for the world economy after the ‘w.a.r’ economy has taken its cut. The military cost of this oil seems to be going up all the time. I think ‘peak peace oil’ is well behind us and so per capita available oil is going down notwithstanding greater volumes being extracted.

  6. jupiviv says:

    New article from Lord Steve of Undertow!

    “Finance Crisis => Political Crisis”

    Posted Oct 6 so somewhat prescient maybe?

    “…autocracy is a fashion, the Orwellian totalitarian police states were one-time innovations that took place because of massive energy- petroleum surpluses of the twentieth century; these surpluses plus expanding industrialization offered the illusion of advantage, of one nation over the others. The appeal of these enterprises is fetishistic, pregnant with symbolic violence. At the same time, autocracies are impractical, they tend toward irrelevancy like water downhill – not because of humanity’s provident nature – but due instead to the vanishing resource surpluses needed to keep them afloat. Autocracies are expensive: we don’t have enough experience with them to understand why. Because neither liberals nor autocrats can create resources; any promise of increased access to them is false; those making the promises are promoting Ponzi schemes.

    What we’re left with, a diminished menu of false promises and desperate gambles where the ‘house’ always wins. The better idea for success would be for everyone to consume less, for all of us to live within means, within the solar energy budget like all other life forms on Planet Earth. That means a rethinking of our precious toys, fashions and entertainments. Economists positively refuse to understand credit, money, ‘wealth’ are simply derivative claims against purchasing power which itself is a claim against capital: capital being non-renewable resources which are the basis of all production. As capital is cannibalized by the toys, so is purchasing power, the process is self-limiting, there is always less, at some point not enough to go around.”

    • DJ says:

      We learnt 2015 that what producers need doesn’t matter. Maybe we will learn 2019 that what customers can afford doesn’t matter either.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      The better idea for success would be for everyone to consume less

      NO! NO NO NO NO NO!

  7. This article seems to indicate the reason for the broad sell-off, starting October 1.

    Has the derivatives volcano already begun to erupt?
    The risk remains that dollar credit will seize up globally, with disastrous consequences for countries that have to borrow dollars to cover deficits

    According to the article:

    Germany and Japan have negative real interest rates, so their investors buy American bonds at positive real interest rates. But Germans and Japanese have to pay out Euros and yen, not dollars. They go to their banks to swap dollar income into local-currency income. The banks borrow dollars in the United States, sell them in the forward market and receive Euros and yen.

    European banks are running out of borrowing capacity. After five years of negative short-term rates, their profitability is low, their stock prices are falling and their credit is deteriorating. They can no longer borrow the dollars required to construct the hedges that local investors need.

    Later, the article says:

    As the credit of European banks deteriorates, US regulators require American banks who lend to them to put up more reserves against their exposure. That raises the cost of refinancing the $12 trillion or so of European bank borrowings from American banks, and it probably has led to a reduction in credit lines. European banks, in return, have to charge exorbitant rates to customers for hedging.

    The crunch hit at the end of the third quarter, when European banks’ short-term credit line in US dollars had to be renewed. Data for the volume of interbank lending aren’t available yet, but the cross-currency “basis swap” between Euros and US dollars – the spread that banks charge their customers for expanding their balance sheets to provide foreign exchange hedges – suddenly widened.

    The 0.3%, or 30 basis points, shift in the so-called basis swap was big enough to wipe out any advantage that European investors might obtain from buying US dollar securities and swapping the cash flows back into euro.

    The article then explains that the same issue has arisen for Japanese investors.

    If overseas investors can’t recycle the half-trillion-dollar US current account deficit into dollar-based securities because the banking system can’t provide the foreign exchange hedges, US yields will rise, perhaps sharply.

    • Rodster says:

      Many of the so-called financial experts have been saying that when you include derivative’s which is according to some in the $1.5 quadrillion range it will expose the financial system for the massive frauds it actually is.

      Yesterday I was watching a 12 minute video made by UK’s Sky News and the title of the video was is another financial crisis on the way 10 years later? The TV presenter would have made you proud Gail. In his illustration he stacked around 100 boxes, 20 stacks high and 5 wide. On top were the boxes labeled AAA and below that were the AA Boxes. Below those were Boxes marked BB and finally the bottom two rows were Boxes labeled B. The news presenter wanted to illustrate what happened in 2008 during the crisis was that all the great and really good loans were Boxes marked AAA and AA. The suspect loans were the BB and finally B.

      So to do his impersonation of Gail’s Leonardo Stick toy, he reached for the next to the bottom row of Boxes labeled B and pulled out that one box, When he did all 100 boxes piled high came crashing down, literally. He wanted to illustrate, what took down the financial system were all the suspect and weak loans that everyone knew about that wasn’t being paid back and never will.

      The derivative’s is what those 100 boxes were in that illustration. When people begin to realize the debt bubble that has been blown up and that debt will never get to be repaid, those holding on to that debt will quickly find out that 1000 other individuals will come claiming the exact same debt as the first person. They will quickly learn the meaning of “Rehypothecation”.

      • Yorchichan says:

        20 stacks high by 5 wide? Must’ve been a remake.

        • Rodster says:

          Yup that was it and thanks for posting the link! I went on their website looking for it but could not find it. I saw that yesterday on my Apple TV SkyNews app. Boy was I way off on the 20×5 stack. See what happens when you try and memorize something. 😛

        • CTG says:

          Cart before the horse…. crisis happened because the government did not bailed Lehman out…. the is why humans are screwed.

      • Dan says:

        You mean like the 21 trillion dollars of US debt and growing that will never be paid back? I wonder what he calls that box. In fact lets put all the worlds debts in some boxes and lets guess which ones will be paid back.

    • i1 says:

      30 year US treasury bond yield @ 3.55% with $60,000,000,000,000.00 global government debt and $80 oil should about do it.

    • Yoshua says:

      So European banks are selling currency hedges and then hedging against those hedges by borrowing dollars and placing them in the FX futures market?

      Now European banks owe American banks 12 trillion USD that they can’t pay back since they have sold them for euros (that no one wants) and they can’t borrow more dollars to refinance their dollar debt since they are basically bankrupt?

      I think that Europe will be the epicenter of GFC 2:0…but will it stay in Europe?

      • If the problem is as bad as it sounds, it seems like it shouldn’t take very long before we start seeing some defaults flow through the system. The big shifts in interest rates and in exchange rates are likely putting some strains on the system.


      • Fast Eddy says:

        As long as they pay the interest…

    • Kowalainen says:

      Indeed, these dumb graphs found everywhere in the doomosphere with hand-drawn arrows pointing downwards is simply ret*rded.

  8. Fast Eddy says:

    PPT? Wake up….

  9. Fast Eddy says:

    HSBC: Brace for the oil, food and financial crash of 2018

    80% of the world’s oil has peaked, and the resulting oil crunch will flatten the economy


    • There is a lot of uranium fresh or partly burned, natgas and coal to cook with it all some of the “alt oils” more at least in the near mid term future.. How they are going to rearrange the JITs deck for standing debt, threats of depression/inflation, public revolts due to phasing in real hard austerity etc. is beyond my pay grade. But for sure it will be at least attempted.. and likely successfully implemented for a while..

      • Perhaps, but we have not been able to get the prices of these fuels up by much in the past. It is inadequate prices that stand between extracting them and leaving them in the ground. A global supply chain plus the availability of financing (equity or debt) is also needed.

  10. Fast Eddy says:

    LIVE: China Shares Fall 5% as Stock Rout Rolls Through Asia

    Rome is Burning! Rome is Burning!

    The electricity is still on ….

  11. Fast Eddy says:

    “I care not what puppet is placed on the throne of England to rule the Empire, … The man that controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire. And I control the money supply.” Nathan Rothschild

    “Once a nation parts with the control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes the nation’s laws. … Until the control of the issue of currency and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most sacred responsibility, all talk of the sovereignty of parliament and of democracy is idle and futile.” — Mackenzie King, Canadian Prime Minister 1935-1948.

    “I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.” – Woodrow Wilson, after signing the Federal Reserve into existence

    “Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.” ― Woodrow Wilson

    • I suppose we enter into a period fo governments creating money (with no repayment agreement) to fix the world’s inability to borrow with a promised future repayment, often with an interest rate >0.

    • Karl says:

      “Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.”

      FYI, Wilson is referencing corporate monopolies, not the Federal Reserve. Not that I don’t think the Banks are unholy vampires, but we should be honest in our critiques.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        You seem to have missed this part:

        ‘Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture’

        Those would be the men running the monopolies… no?

  12. Fast Eddy says:

    Today is a GREAT day!

    I returned to Queenstown to a ticker tape parade (in honour of my burning More Coal than any other person in the city this past winter)…. to find that it is still winter! Snow is likely this week!

    I had only shorts and a tshirt and flipflops with me because I expected summer to be upon us by now — alas I was so wrong… and I paid the price when I exited the airport….

    I understand that the ski hills have extended the season – Cardrona at least until Oct 21!!

    This is unheard of.

    Where is Radio Pravda (RNZ) and Bloomberg and Al Gore and the MSM on this fascinating occurrence?

    Oh right – they are banging on pots and pans about somewhere that is hotter than usual for October…. and totally ignoring this joyful moment in Queenstown…

    Word of the day – HO AX.

  13. Fast Eddy says:

    The Next Big Thing Is Weed Beer
    Amid broader legalization of mari.juana, alcohol and soft-drink companies pivot to pot.

    * Create entertaining distractions
    * Corrupt minds with fi,lth and pe,rv,ersion

  14. Baby Doomer says:

    ‘Great Depression’ ahead? IMF sounds dire warning

  15. Baby Doomer says:

    This was probably the most expensive joint ever smoked.

  16. Baby Doomer says:

    Fed’s Kaplan sees risk of higher oil prices ahead

    Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said Tuesday he sees a risk of higher oil prices in coming years as U.S. shale production may not be able to meet global demand.

  17. Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

    shall we check oil today?

    Brent $82.48…

    shout out to Greg Machala…

    Machala Theory is now looking quite impressive…

    if I remember right, Machala Theory suggests lower highs with each succeeding oil price “peak” as we move forward in time…

    this may take many more years to determine a final verdict…

    but the downturn this week is not to be ignored…

    • Tim Groves says:

      I’m an advocate of Machala Theory. And I think we are now well past “peak oil price peak” accounting for inflation. Of course, measured in Venezuelan bolívar fuertes or Tajikistani Somoni, the sky’s the limit.

  18. Chrome Mags says:…0.0..0.271.758.0j3j1……0….1..gws-

    Dow dumping, down 640 pts but of course fluctuating until close. Where’s FE’s plunge protection today?

  19. Van Kent says:

    Chris Hedges calling for a revolution, calling people to overthrow the government

    I really like listening and reading to Hedges. He has a way with words. The english he uses, is like reading or listening to a english professor giving a sermon.

    Mostly Hedges has it figured out. But somehow he just cant admit that the economic meltdown that will be coming shortly, will destroy our civilization. He can see the U.S collapsing. He can see the power vacuum that the U.S. will leave, in the world. He can see long term effects like environmental degradation and CC. He can even see the blight that will be afflicted on hundreds of millions of U.S. citizens from their own government, when the fat lady sings. But somehow he cant see, that once the financial system comes down, there will be no more oil, NG or coal mining. No more energy. Therefore no more food production. Therefore no more civilization. And therefore no more humans.

    I think his inability to see the full grim picture, has something to do with him having children. But also him admiring the Liberal ideology to a fault. Not seeing that Liberalism itself was a passing fad, brought on by the short supernova of energy surplus, to quote Norm.

    • Greg Machala says:

      “But somehow he cant see, that once the financial system comes down, there will be no more oil, NG or coal mining. No more energy. Therefore no more food production. Therefore no more civilization. And therefore no more humans.” – That is a big leap to arrive at the “no more humans”. Industrial civilization will end. Populations will plunge. But, there should be some indigenous tribes (or those close to that) surviving – sans a nuclear holocaust event. The population reset will be very severe though.

      • Too much material scrap, tools, and skilled people around..
        Therefore something like quasi living standard of say ~16-18th century would be likely attempted be it only for a “short” plateau in between further collapses.. Which makes for pretty rich or horrendous vision, depending on the perspective..

        • xabier says:

          I’m inclined to think that all the ‘scrap’ we will leave will be a ‘Water, water, but not a drop to drink’ situation……

          Like an alchemist with a lump of lead, unable to transform it into gold.

          Having said that, I recently dug up loads of plastic and galvanized corrugated iron sheets from the bottom of my garden – I had no idea they were there – and used them to cover firewood stores – all perfect after at least 20 years buried. Great stuff!

          Also, lots of plastic mesh for fencing -again, perfect.

          • no matter how much scrap you have, you can only use it ‘as is’

            —it isn’t possible to remake it into anything else without heat input (and some technical know how)

            • xabier says:

              Yes, limited by the possibilities of re-use, not transformation.

              Like the stones transferred from old Roman structures over the centuries to build churches, houses, castles.

              The mud-brick civilisations of the Mid-East and Asia couldn’t do this great cities simply crumbled and melted away.

            • Artleads says:

              The oldest continually inhabited building in the US, the Taos Pueblo, is 1000 years old and made of mud. I presume that this is due to the continuity of the culture that ritualistically repaired it each year. Gail’s frequent allusion to how the whole system holds together is probably related to this point?

          • Artleads says:

            Lovely story. These materials did surprisingly well surrounded by soil organisms. Better than if they were exposed to sun and other above-ground elements. Surprising.

      • Van Kent says:

        – There are some very low density populations areas on this rock.. distant enough to avoid worst afflictions..
        – We have access to a very, very wide variety of seeds of different vegetables, for all kinds of climates.. something not dreamt of in the Irish potato famine for instance. Animal husbandry also.. we have a very wide variety of animals to choose from
        – There still remains some, very few, but some, hunter gatherers


        For how many? 1% ? after the first flu epidemics, maybe 0,01% ?

        The odds are heavily stacked against survival.. for the 99,999%.. it could as well be zero..

      • Artleads says:

        With a loss of civilization and its attendant skills, I see no way to protect against very severe and widespread nuclear radiation. The nuclear infrastructure is extremely vast and challenging to manage even now. (Gail has a point though: there must be some supernatural order that has guarded against near term nuclear extinction so far!)

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      You think Hedges is a “liberal”?
      Might need to up your political literacy.

      • Tim Groves says:

        He’s Neither a liberal in the current American sense of the term, nor John Stuart Mill liberal, a JFK liberal, nor even a Jeremy Thorpe liberal, but possibly a Henry Fonda Tom Joad liberal.

        Hedges is a very smart guy. I think if he we could catch him in an elevator and rub him up and down with the sandpaper of our cutting-edge arguments, he would be identifying as a OFW doomer liberal in no time.

        But if we don’t make a sincere effort, I fear he will eventually find himself in the limbo of lost souls at Peak Prosperity.

  20. Garth says:

    You know how FE has always boasted about “living large”. Well, he has been far too greedy for far too long and now this has happened.

    • xabier says:

      The Guardian is part of the Vegan lobby these days.

      • Garth says:

        And lots of other lobbies. But animals are always eating each other, so why can’t we eat them? It’s a Darwinian imperative.

        • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

          I try to give cattle an ultimate purpose of giving their lives so that I can eat oh so tasty steak…

          it’s a very noble thing that I do…

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Man has a very limited impact on the kkkklimate … so for those who like meat – eat as much as you want

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I don’t a whole lot of meat….

      • Garth says:

        Oh, for shame! The truth is out now. Fast Eddy admits to being a pauper. If you don’t eat a lot of meat, you must be on the minimum wage. 🙁

        • Or concerned about your health!

          • Adam says:

            Next you’ll be saying food gives you cancer. That would rank alongside the worldwide scorching untruth.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Did you know that if you only eat protein … you will poison yourself and die in a month or so…

              As for food — I think it’s more the chemicals that are used to kill pests that are in and on the foods we eat… that give us cancer..

              Then there are processed foods… you’d be rather unhealthy if you ate only mcdonalds for a year

  21. Baby Doomer says:

    Expect ‘extreme volatility’ for oil prices due to the Iran sanctions, BP CEO says

    • Stock markets also seem to have a lot of volatility. I see both oil prices and stock prices are down today. Dow Jones industrials were down -400 at latest look. WTI is at $73.36.

      • Yoshua says:

        Someone will have to pay for this volatility. My guess is that the energy depleted EU will crack first.

        The U.S stock market is a fantastic bubble though… But since trillions are pouring into the U.S stock and bond market, the bubble might go on for a while.

        China and India are still producing a lot of coal…and the U.S is producing coal, natgas and oil…so EU it must be that collapses first?

        • Europe certainly imports a large share of its energy supply. Japan is even farther ahead on imported energy. But India is catching up.

          But oil exporters who cannot collect enough revenue for their sales may crash very quickly. Also, exporters of other products who can’t collect enough revenue for their products. South Africa seems to be doing poorly recently. I think of them as a coal and mineral exporter.

          • SA is very ripe for the final meltdown as in falling from the IC member’s table for good, the govs have to finally respond (agree) with the opposition’s voiced call for massive land expropriation. The capital and brains (of every segment not only agri) are not so un surprisingly front loading the inevitable events to come..

            It’s a self feeding process as the false idea is also to relieve the coal/mineral/industry impoverished workers by providing them with some safety floor, on redistributed land.

            Given the ongoing domestic issues it’s doubtful India or China would be eager on boosting their capital risk aversion towards SA’s govs and or be of any of much general help anyway in such situation.

            But who knows, perhaps they will land there buying all the property and industry blazing all guns to be expropriated (or sitting on idle assets) few years later as well..

      • US Dow Industrial down 740 or -2.8%. NASDAQ down 270 or -3.5%. Market not closed yet. Where is Plunge Protection Team?

        • Dan says:

          They are popping the bubble – hopefully slowly.

          Down nearly 850 points – little over 3%

          If ya’ll remember the last “correction” ended up being about 50% then the money printing fired up and ZIRP.

          So the lesson here is 3+% interest is too high. If that is in fact the case (and I believe it is) then the growth numbers are fake and is laid bare the whole thing was just a charade.

          Who woulda thunk it? lol.

          I think it starts getting interesting now.

        • Yoshua says:

          The Fed steps in at -10%

  22. Yoshua says:

    The show must go on

    Cognac Junker imitates May’s robot dance at the European parliament.

    Europe is a global player now. Look, we can even make fun of the Brits!

    Will May imitate Junker as drunk? Maybe.

    The last time Iran was under sanctions we had high oil prices. High oil prices caused the euro crisis.

    Trump is imposing sanctions on Iran in November. Oil prices are rising. Trump puts the blame on Opec. Why not? Why lose the midterms at the pump?

    The Fed’s interest hikes will pull $4T from the global economy into the U.S. Trump isn’t happy. Well…he doesn’t want lose the election when people look at their rising mortgage rates. My hands are tied! Blame the Fed!

    • I hadn’t thought about the blame issue. You probably are right. Why take the blame for what the Fed is doing? Instead, blame the problem on the Saudis.

  23. Harry McGibbs says:

    Gail, your 3.7% revision was spot on. You know Christine and her pals too well. 😀

  24. Harry McGibbs says:

    FT article positing that if the yield on Italian debt reaches 4% (currently it is at 3.7%) a tipping point may be breached that drives a self-reinforcing acceleration of stress for the Italian economy and pushes up yields on other European nations’ debt by way of contagion:

  25. Rodster says:

    From the Fast Eddy Newsroom:

    “Like A Ritz-Carlton Underground” – Paranoid Hampton Billionaires Build Luxury Panic Rooms Amid MS-13 Threat

    “In the most extended bull market ever, a new trend has emerged in the Hamptons, a luxury Long Island playground for millionaires and billionaires, which involves the ultra-wealthy installing panic rooms packed with guns for the next apocalypse, according to a New York Post report Saturday.”

    • Uncle Bill says:

      But Fast gets the Boobie Prize in his multiple efforts to seek safe passage through the bottleneck…Still can picture him drenching his turnip patch full of quack grass with Roundup….that is the funniest ….sounds like he’s bored of NZ….what’s his next stop?

    • Greg Machala says:

      So, an underground prison is now considered a luxury room? Call it whatever you want but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a prison from which you cannot escape without being killed. Panic rooms packed with guns to be used by people who haven’t ever shot a gun. What could possibly go wrong.

      These prisons will be no more useful than the million dollar “artwork” these ultra-wealthy buy. Money doesn’t buy common sense or taste.

      • Rodster says:


        Yup in the article it said the wife of one billionaire mistakenly thought she heard a noise from an intruder outside her bedroom and fired off a shotgun blast at the door. Then again they have enough money to fix it.

        I think the takeaway from all this is that the upper 1% knows something is coming their way and so far the system is functioning. Just wait until the system starts failing and people who are pissed will be looking for those who got wealthy off their backs.

        • Greg Machala says:

          A remote island in the Southern Hemisphere would be much better bet for security than anything underground in Long Island. Once you go underground your pretty much committed to that since there is likely only one entrance/exit. And then hope it doesn’t flood. Modern buildings seem to not last very long even above ground. I’d be even more wary about buildings underground. Water is one of those forces that is hard to stop.

          I can just picture all these wealthy people accustomed to a life of luxury suddenly experiencing shortages and hardship for the first time in their lives. And then to be stuck underground surrounded by the same greedy, narcissistic, spoiled whiny brats. Mmmm, no thanks. The guns will be more likely be used to shoot each other.

          • I doubt that article has much to offer, they either focused on the lesser rich or don’t get the full picture. On the latter option, panic rooms dispersed across the city could be valuable insurance asset, how to pause and wait for that get away car entourage, and or get away plane etc..

            Seriously rich guys have got bunker style airports with tiny runways masked as park or golf terrain (STOL), assets dispersed globally, established farmland, militia, gov/mil/police contacts in various junta regimes etc. I would not worry about them, instead worry about you and yours.. as your (any IC) country goes gradually closer to 3rd world realities..

            • Greg Machala says:

              I don’t think the ultra-wealthy are not going to do well in the decades ahead. I suspect the ultra-wealthy would do even worse if there are in groups. I think the only people positioned to survive the decades that lie ahead is those that are already living without industrial inputs to any large extent. Indigenous tribes or civilizations close to that lifestyle will go on. Well, as long as there isn’t some nuclear catastrophe or meteor impact.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Their guards will beat them to death… and take…

              Just like other violent people will be beating DPs to death — or enslaving them… and taking


            • Yes, probable, and possible, that’s not disputed. But the timing and sequencing is of the essence. Let say you are security adviser for such nine figures or richer guy, it’s much better strategy to keep calm and go with the original plan, why to complicate stuff and increase probabilities for accidental failure, therefor getting rid of the former boss is advisable afterwards when re-settling..

            • jupiviv says:

              “Seriously rich guys have got bunker style airports with tiny runways masked as park or golf terrain (STOL), assets dispersed globally, established farmland, militia, gov/mil/police contacts in various junta regimes etc.”

              Full-fledged collapse will almost certainly deter the functionality of such assets, if only because they are not and cannot be tested or built for such conditions (due to, respectively, impossibility of replication and necessarily highly tentative and nonspecific understanding).

            • That’s perhaps just misunderstanding.

              I don’t claim this pricey/complex stuff will survive deeper collapse, certainly not.
              The comment was more about the scale these people operate now and pre collapse, sort of I could afford a tooth brush and “expensive paste” as hedge against premature visit to a dentist, while these fat cats can act similarly (on much higher footprint level) in described theater of for example hidden getaway airfields, already prepared bio/permies farms across the globe etc..

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Imagining these very serious masters of the universe … starving … makes me 🙂

            It is one of the few silver linings of this situation

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Just back from Hong Kong and pretty much everyone in finance that I spoke to sees a massive crash a fait accompli …

          One buddy (MD at a big US bank) after a few vodka tonics was babbling about cashing out and moving somewhere completely detached from ‘all this bull sh it’… followed by ‘I am serious’…. another friend who has a small hedge fund has been taking trip after trip after trip in the past year or so …. non-stop … I suspect they know the game will soon be up and are bucket listing (did not ask them…)

          You’d have to be blind – du mb – deaf – re tar ded – delu sional and dead … not to see what is headed our way — understanding why… well nobody sees that

  26. Fast Eddy says:

    I am sitting here in the HK airport wondering…WTF is going on…. these investors know that Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, BMW etc etc etc … established automakers who do not pump out lemons… and actually have spare parts for their vehicles…

    Are launching their own EVs in the coming year ….

    Why would anyone invest in Tesla or its Chinese rival????

    Anyone care to bet that when Tesla goes bankrupt … these other automakers ditch their EVs…. they know bloody well that EVs are not saving the world — and they will no doubt not make much if any money selling them… and that the mass market does not want them…. I believe they are only doing this because they believe having a strategy juices their share price….

    • Uhm, in terms of established manufacturers it’s a lit bit more nuanced situation.
      Notably only TSLA invested and partnered on such scale into the necessary battery production volumes. The Germans still don’t have anything comparable, and the Asians in this field of advanced chemistry / large capacity cells are predominately Korea, China is slowly picking up.. Even the Indian capital secured for their Jag/LR brands more partnership volumes in Asia then said traditional Euro brands.

      Perhaps it’s largely tight into this new car emission legislation ongoing in the EU parliament and Commission, and related implementing schedules. When this is done, they either pony up the money and commit into full EVs finally or not, in any case we will know for sure pretty soon.

      Hence, as it is confirmed most of the expected production till ~2025 is going to be not that much interesting plugin hybrids aka lightly amended legacy production plus some low volume dedicated full EVs like ultra light carbon body city car (ala BMW i3) at best..

      If real gigantic battery factories start to pop up, eventually, the situation changes, not sooner. But that’s not for now or near term, mid term.

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        I just had the dubious pleasure of watching the latest Johnny English movie with my kids – dubious because Rowan Atkinson hasn’t done anything funny since Blackadder IMO – and it features what is basically an extended advertisement for the BMW i3 electric car.

        Johnny’s V8 Aston Martin Vantage is in pursuit of the i3, which is being driven by a glamorous Russian spy, along a twisty road in the South of France. Johnny’s sidekick marvels at the i3’s cornering abilities and then the Aston runs out of fuel in humiliating fashion – beaten by the superior range of the class-leading i3. In such ways are we brainwashing the younger generation.

    • Rodster says:

      You can also add Ford to that list. They plan on introducing 16 EV models by 2022.

  27. Fast Eddy says:

    New Evidence of Hacked Supermicro Hardware Found in U.S. Telecom
    Senators Question Supermicro on Report of Chinese Hardware Hack
    The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies
    Inside the Chinese Cyberspies’ Bag of Tech Tricks

    And I am thinking … this is a big fat lie…. would any of these massive companies … who employ top engineers… not think to be checking their products for hacks…. I think not.

  28. Fast Eddy says:

    Chapter 3 or 4… when the Germanic tribes poured into the Roman province in Spain …. they created havoc with the farmers resulting in a massive drop in food production … they seized most of what was produced and ‘mothers were cooking and eating their babies’

    But of course when nearly 8B people are hungry … DD Preppers will be left alone to enjoy a Little House on the Prairie lifestyle…

    • Different *situation, what’s going in reality instead is that today’s “first world” is increasingly falling into realities of the third world living condition arrangements on all fronts. In other words a process not overnight fantasies of rapid collapse ala GFC_verXY, although notable threshold events will happen obviously along the way..

      * and very problematic historical review short cut on your part as the Germanic tribe migrant flows where more like series of trashing waves not single event, and amusingly in later part the “first comers” who picked up some of the know-how and culture were very unhappy with the new inrushes of their “primitive” relatives.. at instances even fighting them off with the help of remnants of the falling/fallen dispersed Romans..

  29. Lastcall says:

    Climate change is coming the same way it always has…from our local star.

    ‘The eleven-year cycle in sunspots itself builds in intensity like the Economic Confidence Model (ECM) reaching “grand maxima” and “grand minima” over the course of 300 years. The last grand maximum peaked circa 1958, after which the sun has been steadily quieting down. Today, the drop in activity is at its steepest in 9,300 years, which is being ignored by the Global Warming propaganda.

    The last Maunder Minimum, during which the sun languished for seventy years, took place from 1645 to 1715 when the sun’s brightness declined and the number of sunspots collapsed to almost zero. We are seeing almost zero so far in 2018.

    We are indeed “only human” to capture a saying normally invoked for human error. We have all heard that history repeats itself. Perhaps it is not history that repeats so much as human error. We are not immortal. We have not lived constantly throughout time. We die and are replaced by new generations. Each generation tends to believe that they are smarter than the last, failing to accurately study the errors made by previous generations; they will make the same mistakes

  30. Baby Doomer says:

    One of oldest coal companies in US files for bankruptcy

    • Greg Machala says:

      Wow, if coal isn’t profitable then things must ***really*** be bad.

    • The article mentions that this is the fourth major US coal company to file for bankruptcy in the last three years. After looking at some data, I think that this is another example of energy prices not rising to compensate for diminishing returns (rising cost of production).

      If we look at US coal production and consumption, we see that coal production peaked way back in 1998. Imports and exports have never amounted to much of the total. The US was a net importer for a short time after US production peaked, however.

      We can also see that exports have never amounted to a very large share of production. This is true, with or without any recent exports to China or India. They never amount to much in the whole scheme of things.

      I also found this chart of US coal production by rank, as well as EIA data to update this information to 2016.

      It appears to me that Anthracite production peaked back in 1918. Bituminous coal production peaked in 1991. Data through 2016 shows Bituminous production is down to 323, which is a reduction of 33% from the 2012 value shown on the Wikipedia chart.

      If you look closely at the chart, Sub-bituminous seems to reach a peak about 2008. More recent data shows that 2016 sub-bituminous production is down to 330, which is a 27% reduction from the 2012 value shown on the chart. Lignite production is down by “only” 7%.

      A look at coal prices shows that they rose a bit, but this did not increase production. Coal prices seem to depend on “how high the debt bubble is blown,” like all other prices. Thus, coal prices were very high in 2008, somewhat helping production, but not enough to offset the general downward trend.

  31. Sven Røgeberg says:

    A Nobel Prize in Honor of Economic Growth
    William Nordhaus and Paul Romer have spent their careers studying ways to make and keep economies strong.

    • They seem to think that the physics behind what causes economic growth is unimportant. This is the way that all kinds of nice ideas can save us.

      • Kurt says:

        Yes, but they got the Nobel, which will prove very useful during the collapse.

      • Lastcall says:

        Wow, what a house of cards!
        These guys are all in awe of themselves aren’t they. I loved this part..

        ‘The future of econ is rigorous, empirical, and always engaged with the real world.’

        Silo economics; they would’t recognise the real world if was handed to them on a plate.

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          Delusional megalomania masquerading as rationalism.

          I hope they have the time to reflect on the hubristic folly of those words in the challenging years ahead.

  32. Baby Doomer says:

    Oil prices are ‘entering the red zone,’ warns International Energy Agency chief

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      “He added that expensive energy “is back at a bad time, when the global economy is losing momentum. We really need more oil.””
      Well, we are entering, for the first time, a period where it is not supply chains, but supply restriction.
      We will get to see how this works out.
      The Permian working out transportation problems by next year will solve some of these issues.

      • Dan says:

        I’m loading up on Orrville Reddenbacher popcorn stock. Well since we don’t have the easy to extract oil anymore we’ll just print us up some money to pay for it. Watch’em dance!!!

        Today – With the dollar spiking and rates surging to 7 years highs, President Trump doubled down on his criticism of the Fed and on his way to a rally in Iowa, said the Federal Reserve is moving too fast with interest rates increases, dismissing concerns about inflation.

        “I don’t like what the Fed is doing”, Trump told reporters at the White House. “I think we don’t have to go as fast” on rate hikes. “I like low interest rates,” Trump said.

        May 2016 – He sparked concerns last week, for instance, when he dubbed himself the “king of debt” in an interview on CNBC and said he would be open to renegotiating U.S. public debt by treating the interaction like a business deal.

        But on CNN’s “New Day” Monday, Trump said he never meant to suggest he would want the U.S. to default on its debt. In fact, Trump said, the country would never face such a potential outcome because it can “print” money.

        June 2018 – U.S. President Donald Trump said he asked Saudi Arabia to significantly boost its oil production, ratcheting up pressure on Riyadh to help ease fast-rising crude prices.

        • Dan says:

          Sweet Gawd

          Trump also said that rates are too high because there’s no inflation, but said that he has not talked to Chair Powell about it because he doesn’t want to get involved.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Hang on … isn’t Potus the ‘most powerful man on earth’?

          Want to see real power — look at the Fed – it controls interest rates — look at what happens when the Fed pushes rates higher… or lower…. mountains move… countries move…. the entire planet moves…

          Now that is power.

          Meanwhile politicians argue about which pot holes get filled first

          • Doesn’t POTUS have some smaller yet at time perhaps important role in FED board nomination (legitimate question)? But as we know from recent history across CBs around the IC world, often time even supposedly new “maverick” candidate entering the upper echelons of CB’s board very quickly changes tune and swiftly blends with the legacy agenda. One can only wonder why it tends to work that way.. lolz

            • Fast Eddy says:

              no … he is an errand boy of the owners of the fed

            • Obviously, both the POTUS and the FED board members are errand boyz..
              Now, the irony of the historical events is that sometimes on special occasion such subservient yet relatively closer individuals to the true levers of power interject themselves into the process and engage or at lest nudge some kaboom..

          • Greg Machala says:

            “Meanwhile politicians argue about which pot holes get filled first” – Ummm – they don’t even do that much anymore. All they do is smear each other, launder money through their foundations and run endless campaigns.

    • Tim Groves says:

      It’s a generational thing. The early Obama years were the years of peak “liberalism” for the court. Now it looks to be solidly “conservative” for at least a generation. Off the top of my head, the five conservatives have an average age of about 62 and the four liberals have an average of about 72, and Justice Sotomayor, still a sprightly 64 year old, lives with type I diabetes, which is likely to force her into relatively early retirement.

  33. Rodster says:

    Dmitry Orlov is a smart guy but boy does he come off as an American hater and Russia’s poop doesn’t stink and they’ll win out in the end. He fails to realize we are all on the same sinking Titanic. Has he looked at rent prices in China? Does he even acknowledge the tough life Russians live vs those in the West? Does he admit that we have an interconnected global economy that’s tied together and if one part fails it starts a daisy chain which affects the whole system? Does he acknowledge the planet has an energy problem where the solution requires a miracle and that surging prices for goods and services are a reflection of unavailable cheap/low hanging fruit fossil fuels?

    “Well, I’ve said this many times before, but I’ll say it again, briefly: in the US, housing is a racket, on par with other rackets, such as health care, higher education, national defense and quite a few others.”

    “There will be winners and losers. Sorry to have to state the obvious, but Russia is looking like a Global Warming winner and the US is looking like a Global Warming loser.”

    • I can’t recall the mini details, but he was perhaps almost at teenager age already when they relocated into the US, sometimes these conflicting identities forced at specific age result in much delayed response to trauma aka finally accepting the “inner Russian facet” only as an adult ~two decades later after-all..

      Now to the specifics of counter critique, the idea that average Russian (or anybody else) must be less happy because of demonstrably lower consumption rate and lower credit/debt opportunities is preposterous joke. The life and culture is simply way different structurally with for example way less day to day existential pressures.

      Putin is almost 70yrs old, many of his key lieutenants at national or regional govs are perhaps skilled administrators, but certainly lack that unique “divine” czarist-reformer appeal. It is uncertain how deep and lasting the changes might be after him. Their peoples had a very good run for past ~20yrs of relatively happy life now, which is very unusual for that part of the world in historical perspective and might not last much longer.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I spent a couple of weeks in Russia … and I have been a lot of places…. I have never seen such dour unsmiling people…. I put that down to their grim existence… particularly having to live in a very cold place that is dark much of the time… they drink massive amounts of vodka to dull the pain of what is no doubt a grim existence… they are however quite friendly if you approach them

        • xabier says:

          They tend to view someone who smiles when not drunk as a moron, a village idiot. Quite the opposite of the smooth, smiling Iranian, for instance.

        • Well that’s perhaps the essence of it..

          Seemingly unhappy, unsmiling people living in hardened infrastructure, eating non GMO food, ~full employment and perspective, ..

          vs. perma smiling half wits on suicidal debt treadmill adoring manchurian candidates like Omama, social class – appearance status paranoid people always on the watch looking for the next Cat4-5 to leave never ever to be repaired destruction in its wake..

          Hm, I wonder what is more appealing deal for life after all..

          PS there are some obvious thresholds for granting certain countries have indeed matured onto higher level, if for instance the Afrikaans (former wider SA/Rhodesia whites) finally decide to relocate massively to Russia, not only the early scouting birds of today, we have got the final confirmation, this is it, tables turned, the unimaginable joke is no longer a joke.

        • I think that the drop in Russia/Soviet Union’s status and in energy consumption per capita made things worse.

          Up until about 1985, the Soviet Empire was growing. It stagnated before it fell in 1991. The US’s fall in oil production starting after its peak in 1970 helped enable the growth of the Soviet Union. High oil prices made the extraction of their oil feasible. It likely also gave them tax revenue.

          • Bouncy, flat, since early 1980s..
            Mid 1980s and that attempted Perestroika maneuver, foreign intervention into it (via CEE region revolts) and very early 1990s kaboom proper.., mid-late 1990s looting with foreign free market jihadists + domestic oligarchs, followed by stabilization and partly recovery.

            PS what “Russia+” stands for (all former USSR included or only the real economic allies like Belarus/Kazakhstan etc), because otherwise that graphed recovery is severely weighted down by profound failures such as Ukraine..

    • Van Kent says:

      Maybe Dmitry Orlov keeps putting the U.S. down as an attention gimmick? Its a sure attention grabber when someone is constantly in linear opposition to the mainstream culturethink.

      Individuality -> the importance of having a strong social community
      Winning -> quitting your high paying job and moving to live on a boat
      America The Great -> U.S.the rabid dog, Russia the Great
      Just work hard, and you will get ahead -> no matter what you do, soon everything you have been working for will be erased
      Just-stay-positive -> The U.S. is collapsing as we speak
      Magical thinking and all out reality rejection -> keeping a collapse blog
      U.S. the land of the free and the brave -> keeping a collapse blog and pointing out every little detail where Russia has it better than the U.S, and how the U.S. is rotten to the core and on the brink of collapse

      Mostly I just find it kinda amusing that Dmitry keeps mentioning Russia, his favourite running joke. How strong its military is. Or how great things are there. In reality Russia isnt exactly an utopian country, never been..

      • But Dmitry comes from Russia. I think his wife and son live in Russia. He is there quite a bit.

        • Van Kent says:

          Two good reasons to keep up with the running joke then for Dmitry.
          As a neighbour with lots of mutual business constantly to and fro, my picture of Russia is ‘somewhat’ different..

      • Funnily enough, we are likely looking here at converging or rather diverging trends where on entity is stumbling and deteriorating much faster (Seneca Cliff style) vs. the other one slowly picking up from the ropes, relatively speaking.

        Now, this is very curious phenomenon of human history, and most definitively confined to the multiples of “4th turnings” only i.e. this is stuff of slow multi generational shifts, legends, myths, or shall we say very long drawn historical epochs. But nowadays thanks to the fossil energy and IC settings this stuff could be witnessed within single full lifespan or perhaps even quicker, likely now..

        Utterly, fascinating.

  34. Fast Eddy says:

    Or perhaps that is more hyperbole out of ZH…. show me the hole

  35. Fast Eddy says:

    NASA scientists have reportedly designed a way to avert a disaster which may threaten mankind’s continued existence – the threat of Yellowstone supervolcano eruption.

    Brian Wilcox of the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab explained to BBC that the US space agency plans to “drill up to 10km down into the supervolcano, and pump down water at high pressure,” thus slowly extracting heat from it.

    He noted that while the cost of this venture is estimated at $3.46 billion, it may also present an interesting investment opportunity as the volcano, which “currently leaks around 6GW in heat,” can be essentially converted into a huge geothermal plant which would generate “electric power at extremely competitive prices of around $0.10/kWh.”

    Forget the power generation angle – that is just pure bull sh it… and deflection … if that was feasible then they’d have drilled this hole decades ago…

    If this is true and they are spending this amount of money on a hole… someone somewhere is really scared of something….

    Gotta be fake news… gotta be….

    • $0.10 /kWh is not a competitive rate for electricity generation in the US. It can be made to look competitive, if what it is compared against is what someone hypothesizes the cost of new generation will be, with rules regarding sequestering carbon, for example.

    • aaaa says:

      Isn’t this a matter of many cubic miles of molten lava? I don’t know how on earth it can be sufficiently cooled by a human industrial process, but I can’t do the maths

  36. Fast Eddy says:

    Worth repeating:

    Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.
    — George Orwell

    See GGG WWWing

    • This is another MMT article. Just blow a bigger debt bubble, and the world can live happily every after. Governments can (in their view) spend more than they take in, without ever declaring a need for debt. They can add this to more promises for pension benefits and health care for seniors that they cannot afford, and don’t declare as debt. Somehow, we get to happily ever after, with growing undeclared debt.

  37. Aravind. says:

    Not sure whether this link was posted by anybody here before:

  38. Chrome Mags says:

    “Governments may decide to stop paving some roads, because repaving is too expensive to afford.”

    Huge areas of highway 80 in the SF east bay and long stretches in Napa have been repaved. It’s also getting to the point that it can be very difficult to drive places on the weekend because of traffic congestion. The economy seems to be powering on high, at least here in California. If collapse is on the horizon it’s hard to see.

    • This is what the existence of big debt bubbles do. They make the economy temporarily run on high, until something goes wrong. The something that goes wrong is a combination of
      (1) Too high energy prices
      (2) Too high interest rates
      (3) Rising dollar, relative to many other currencies

      The rising dollar keeps the problem away from US shores, and shifts the problem elsewhere. But there are major cracks appearing in many other economies. Debt defaults seems likely. Some oil exporters are having financial problems, and may at some point have governmental problems. China is having a lot of problems. Its housing is terribly high prices; high interest rates will be a major problem for it (among other things).

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I recall our lawyer coming back from a trip to the US around 2006… and commenting on the incredible affluence that he witnessed on the trip….

        I am seeing the same thing here in China…..

        BTW – if you have to go to China anytime in the future…. you can purchase a one month vpn – I use for small money…. and access all sites

        So far the gestapo has not pounded on my door….

    • Fast Eddy says:

      You know those people who buy the latest 4 bah 4 on credit … big, ugly poorly built homes taking out mega mortgages …. have all the latest toys (bought on credit) ….

      You look at them … and they appear to be incredibly wealthy…. and you wonder how the hell they are able to live like that given their jobs are not highly paid….

    • xabier says:

      It’s always hard to see, on the surface:

      ‘The candle burns brightest just before it goes out’.

      So ‘light your candle at both ends’, and have some fun!

      2008 to 2019 may well come to seem a kind of Golden Age in retrospect…

      • Almost like the 1950s! Or just before the crash in 1929! Or the heady days, leading up to the $147 oil price peak in 2008.

          • Dan says:

            It is good until it ain’t. The US peaked about 1970 and lets take a look at what was happening not even a decade later.

            The “Gas Riots” which took place at Levittown’s 5 Points intersection in the summer of 1979 have been well documented. The facts and statistics are known: OPEC’s oil embargo had caused gas prices to more than quadruple in just six years; gas supplies were limited and gas was being rationed, leading to long grumbling lines at every gas station; rising unemployment, inflation, and economic stagnation added to the volatile mood in America’s neighborhoods”.


            Reagan was no god send that “turned things around” and that made those mean ole ragheads pump more oil – he just starting adding debt and every admin since has doubled that debt irregardless of party. The feds with the govt’s blessing has basically printed the money to prop up the wars and the frack drilling to keep the wheels on the wagon. At some point the math will have to bump up against reality and that time is coming. It may be a good idea to have a bottle of champagne handy to make a final toast.

            • i keep banging on about that

              decline in social stability will bring about social unrest

              below a certain point that will turn into civil disorder

              that will mean military intervention initially

              the potus must then take emergency powers

              instals himself as dictator–the military falls in behind whoever pays their wages

              no time at all you have a theocratic dictatorship—permanently

              Hand maids Tale anyone?

            • Duncan Idaho says:

              Well, Sir Ronnie did triple US debt.
              Charge and loot.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Charge and loot….

              I don’t see anyone complaining about paying some of the lowest petrol rates outside of some OPEC countries….

              Hands up if anyone would prefer not resource looting…. think carefully.

            • Yep, I wrote about this very peculiar – sudden shift of fortunes from late 1970s to 1980s several times few days ago. The audacity to print left not only the USSR speechless and flabbergasted but it also circled the wagons for a while for the Gulfies/ME.

              Why I brought it up, there seems to be a growing trend recently of not only the lesser Gulfies (Emirates,..) but also Saudies openly hostile commenting on the legacy US protection racket. That could mean several things or combo, firstly internalizing the nascent irrelevancy of US as the global leader and secondly trying to show off to other Asian partners as open for business, sort of switching sides or at least pretending neutral posture..

              Given the long drawn exposure to Iraq, Afghanistan, I’d therefore say the US must act in this region decisively very soon (could be palace coup not necessarily another big invasion). Or just avoid the rush, drop it as juiced out lemon and hence really start on these autarky leaning proposals like building the southern wall for real, turning lot of internal infrastructures (transport) into nat gas powered etc.

              The next few years might reveal the path forward.

            • I looked at a little data today about what was really happening in 1979. It is something I should write a post about. The Arab oil boycott was a non-event that lasted from October 1973 to April 1974. If a person looks at Middle East oil exports, it is impossible to detect the event in the data. Instead, what drove up prices in the 1973-1974 period was the inability of the Middle East to produce enough oil for export to offset the US oil production that that had been lost.

              By the late 1970s, the problem had changed somewhat. The UK began producing oil, helping its economy greatly. Japan was ramping up its auto production for export, because it was making more fuel-efficient vehicles. US wages were pretty much rising with the high cost of oil, because employers were giving raises to allow employees to afford the new higher oil cost. The share of people in the US workforce kept rising, because more and more women were going to work for the first time. The world economy was overheating, because of the growing debt to support all of the new industry made possible by the need to work around oil limits. Oil production was doing quite well, thanks to the new production that had been brought on line.

              The shortages that occurred came about because demand (based on wages and debt) were rising so rapidly. While oil production was rising, demand was rising even faster than oil production could rise. This is what led to the spike in prices. By 1979, the Federal Reserve had already started raising interest rates to pop the debt bubble that was making all the rapid economic growth possible. The big trough in energy consumption started about 1981, when the Federal Reserve forced the world economy into recession, to pop the debt bubble. The big drop in prices following the 1981 spike in interest rates ultimately (it seems to me) led to the collapse of the central government of the Soviet Union ten years later in 1991.

            • In a way, the response to spiking oil prices was like the response to a giant hurricane. While there was destruction (people no longer wanted electric power plants that burned oil, or big low milage cars, or furnaces that burned oil to keep warm, or even inefficient appliances of any kind). Not long after, there was a lot fo stimulus, primarily driven by debt, that allowed other types of energy consumption to rise, and allowed the world economy to prosper. This is similar to insurance companies and governments pouring money into an area, after a hurricane hits.

              The energy supply that rose during the late 1970s included

              Oil from the Soviet Union, Europe, and Mexico
              Natural gas from the Soviet Union
              Coal in the US and China
              NuclearWorldwide, but especially Japan

              The rising interest rates in 1979 made goods of all types less affordable. Even at this, world energy consumption (based on BP data) rose at the following rates:

              1976: 5.4%
              1977: 3.6%
              1978: 3.3%
              1979: 3.5%
              1980: -0.7%
              1981: -0.5%

              The US was being outbid by Europe, Japan, and the Soviet Union, however, with its motor vehicle production (and probably other manufacturing) increasingly moving offshore. The US’s growth in total energy consumption was only 1.2% in 1979, compared to 3.5% on average world wide.

              If we look at oil consumption (rather than total energy consumption), the US’s consumption particularly fell. Its growth (really shrinkage) in oil consumption was -2.1%, compared to 1.6% growth worldwide.

              If we think world oil consumption growth of 1.6% in 1979 is low, we should take note that since 2011, world oil (liquids) consumption growth has averaged 1.4% annual growth. So while it is low relative to prior growth, it was not low in an absolute sense.

  39. Baby Doomer says:

    Renewable energy is growing too slow to meet climate goals, International Energy Agency warns

    • According to the article,

      While solar and wind power capture most of the headlines, IEA says most of the growth in renewables will come from bioenergy. The category includes biofuel substitutes for gasoline and diesel, as well as biomass from crop waste and other organic sources used to generate heat in homes and power in factories. About 30 percent of new renewable energy consumption will come from bioenergy through 2023, IEA says.

      In other words, the new hope is that by stealing from biomass that would normally help keep the soil fertile, we can plan to heat our homes with “renewable” (but not sustainable) energy production. Who came up with this brilliant plan?

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Again … this demonstrates the lies of the MSM…

      It is 100% know that renewable energy is not helpful — does anyone think that those making the big decisions do not know this? They know that solar panels are made using massive amounts of fossil fuels — they know that windmills bust and must be serviced with helicopters — they know that you cannot store energy in batteries at reasonable costs — they know that Germany and China are building out coal powered plants because the sun does not shine at night … they know that China has stopped building solar farms … they know that there are not enough materials to build out renewable energy options .. that increasing production would drive costs through the roof…

      Yet they continue to publish this shit … just like they continue to publish GG WWW stories… just like they published Saddam had wmd … just like they continue to insist that the US gov had nothing to do with 9 11.

      And the donkeys continue to believe….

      • Rodster says:

        Even the Hopium Pastor, Chris Martenson says wind, solar and electric are fantasy if you are trying to swap it 100% with fossil fuels.

  40. jupiviv says:

    “I think that the existence of polygamy is one of the major causes of rising world population. With polygamy, rich men can have several wives; poor men (who could not afford them in the first place) have no wives.”

    But that has been the default situation of human societies. Monogamy as we know it (i.e. legally restricted sex_ual intercourse and childbearing via one woman) is a product of the industrial age. No man wants to stop at one or worse nil, but poor men have to. Since the majority of men can’t afford more than one wife + kids, the polygamy of the rich few doesn’t make a difference to the overall population.

    It seems to me that the real cause of overpopulation is asymmetric introduction of the products of industrial civilisation. Overpopulated third world countries got modern medicine and the green revolution, but their economies as a whole were not developed to the same degree as in the west. So sedentary, middle-class, skilled jobs that made less children viable weren’t created, and most people just kept having more children within an agrarian context as they have always done.

    Luxury also seems to have an effect on children per capita. If people are contented, happy and surrounded by distractions like cars, magical rectangles aglow with nice things/people, restaurant chains, vacations, careers, hookers/blow etc., a large number of (or even any) children doesn’t seem very important. The fossil-fuelled distractions replace the psychological function of several plump little bundles of joy running around. The only problem, as it turns out, is that the replacement isn’t very reliable either in terms of function served or longevity. Cue fentanyl-laced bags of coke and suicidal neo-nazi/alt-right virgins.

    • Part of what having fewer children a reasonable option was the guarantee by governments that upon retirement, the government would pay older people a pension. The government might even include healthcare. With this guarantee, not so many children are needed. Of course, only rich countries made such guarantees.

      The not-so-minor detail is that governments can’t really make good on these promises, in large part because, in the aggregate, the prior model (lots of children relative to the number of parents) no longer holds.

      • Hubbs says:

        Actually, costs of health care, i.e., the new technologies and life extenders, which in turn require more medical diagnostic and therapeutic complexity and expense to achieve that last incremental month of life guarantee that a Seneca Cliff like collapse in the health care system will occur. Until then, health care will cannibalize other consumer expenditures, with arguably food the last to go, followed by housing, then automobiles and energy. My cynical take is that once you see the sale of high-end cell phones decline and people opt for lower cost phones, you’ll know that we are on the verge of this cliff.

        • Hubbs says:

          Here may be an example of the tip of the iceberg of “unaffordability” or in other words, “hello rationing.”

          Ironic as a former orthopedic surgeon,I remember @10 years ago an angry but very alert 75ish year old man fell and broke his hip after tripping, but no loss of consciousness, no antecedent cardiac or stroke-like event, dizziness etc., which twenty years ago, if his EKG, Chest x-ray, electrolytes and basic blood tests had “checked out” would have undergone hip surgery within twenty four hours. Because he incredibly had a history of well documented, currently stable prostate and some lung cancer although no evidence of mets, the anesthesiologist required a prolonged workup including head and abdominal CT, cardiac stress test (adenosine), ECHO, ( I can’t recall if Tc Bone Scan to rule out bone mets- but the hip fracture was not do to pre-existing cancer) all of which took two or three days to complete before we could get his hip pinned. I remember him because of not only the extra pre-op workup -which didn’t alter the need for a very straightforward 30 minute surgical procedure (hip pinning), but because he was so f’ing pissed, to the point that he was yellling “I don’t give a damn about all these god damn tests. When the hell are you going to fix this hip?

          Rationing? Yes. Health care first. Then gas? “Cubicle” housing?

          • All of these tests take time, and are expensive. Many times they give false positives, which starts a whole long string of other tests.

            There are also side-effects of the tests. For example, extra radiation is not helpful, especially in sensitive areas (heart, brain).

            If we are dealing with elderly citizens, the extra expected month of life saved has an awfully high cost involved. These folks aren’t working either. Some are in nursing homes, already.

            • Dan says:

              Had a Cscan due to some abdominal pain (I’m convinced it’s an ulcer) on my family doctor’s orders. I’m 48 in pretty good health IMO and pay nearly $1200 per month for my and my 6 yr old son’s health insurance. Got the bill from the hospital for the Cscan – they charged $3800 of which my insurance paid $3250 leaving me with a $550 bill (I paid $150 copay to just walk in the door). That was in August and I have not heard back from the doctor but I did get the bill.

              My wife said I should call and schedule an appointment which I promptly replied phuck them.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Fix it!!!….

            I recommend prescribing…


            This fixing everything. Every time

        • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:


          that’s a fascinating game, to figure out the path(s) to the end of prosperity…

          like EMs, if high inflation/hyperinflation means higher priced goods and (relatively) lower cost services (also crashing asset prices) then…

          health care costs, if they stay fixed, actually decline in cost relative to the inflating currency…

          food, and the bare minimum energy to grow and/or obtain food, would be most valuable…

          housing might be almost “free”…

          cell phones, often being addictions, might not be a good canary-in-the-coalmine…

          perhaps restaurants (though not fast food)…

          and tickets to entertainment…

          no predictions above, by the way…

        • xabier says:

          We can already see notably less appetite for releases of new and ‘improved’ models of i-phones.

          • Harry McGibbs says:

            Right. Global smartphone sales fell for the first time in Q4 2017:


          • New and improved versions of software for computers are now not very helpful, at all.

            Power Point now is so unstable between platforms that presenters need to go to the location where their talk is being presented, and see what actually appears on the screen, compared to what they thought would be on the screen, and try to fix the output. At Georgia State University, we found the colors that appeared onscreen were far different from what presenters expected. As a result, people who tried to use slides with combinations like blue print on gray background found their slides unreadable.

            In several locations I have been in, text boxes seem to move around from their original locations. Thus, if a text box is added pointing out some feature in red, it may appear in a different location than intended.

            The projection devices seem to substitute different fonts from what were originally intended (such as when the presenter tried to use the default font), making words spill over in strange ways, so that they no longer fit in text boxes. I saw one slide with 19?? for all of the numbers on the x-axis of one chart.

            The new version of Excel is so unstable on my computer that I purposely block it from being used, even though I have bought the “subscription” to the combination of Microsoft products, thinking it would help with compatibility issues.

      • jupiviv says:

        Yes, promises of a nice retirement courtesy of large institutions are crucial, and is part of the “asymmetric introduction of industrial civilisation”.

        Sorry about the multiple posts by the way. It would be nice if we knew which words are actually censored so that moderation wouldn’t be a damocles over our digital heads even when we no insult or offense is intended.

        • There are multiple ways comments can be censored, some of them put in by WordPress. Also, WordPress looks for words that are parts of other words. Sometimes the word that is censored is part of the name of a link. Quite often, I have no idea why a comment is censored. There is no point in reposting four or five times. It just makes it confusing for me. I usually approve the posts within a few hours.

          • jupiviv says:

            “Quite often, I have no idea why a comment is censored.”

            I know and wasn’t implying that you are responsible. I got annoyed and OCDied on what words were being censored.

    • Slow Paul says:

      Amen to that. I’m in my mid-thirties but in my near circle of acquaintances, only a fifth of them have kids. These people are healthy and good looking and all, they just don’t have that urge to reproduce. Their schedule is busy with working, hiking, traveling, partying. No time for procreation.

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