Reaching the End of Early Stimulus – What’s Ahead?

Many people thought that COVID-19 would be gone with a short shutdown. They also thought that the world’s economic problems could be cured with a six month “dose” of stimulus.

It is increasingly clear that neither of these assumptions is correct. Despite the claims of epidemiologists, our best efforts have never been able to reduce the number of newly reported COVID-19 cases for the world as a whole for any significant period of time. In fact, the latest week seems to be the highest week so far.

Figure 1. Chart of worldwide COVID-19 new cases, in chart prepared by Worldometer with data through September 20, 2020.

At the same time, the economy, despite all of the stimulus, is not doing very well. Airlines are doing very poorly. The parts of the economy that are dependent upon tourism are having huge problems. This reduces the “upside” of economic recovery, pretty much everywhere, until it can be corrected.

Another part of the world economy doing poorly is clothing sales. For example, many fewer people are attending concerts, weddings, funerals, out-of-town business meetings and conventions, leading to a need for fewer “dressy” clothes. Also, with air travel greatly reduced, people don’t need new clothing for visiting places with different climates, either. Most clothing is bought by people from rich countries but made by people in poor countries. This cutback in clothing purchases disproportionately affects people who are already very poor. The loss of jobs in these countries may lead to an inability to afford food, for those who are laid off.

Besides these difficult to solve problems, initial programs set up to help mitigate job losses are running out. What kinds of things might governments do, if they are running short of borrowing capacity, and medical solutions still seem to be far away?

In Section A of this post, I outline what I see as some approaches that governments might take to try to “kick the can down the road” a while longer, as well as some general trends regarding near term outcomes.

In Section B, I explain how our current problems seem to be related to the more general “overshoot and collapse” problems of many prior economies. I show that historically, these overshoot and collapse situations seem to have played out over a number of years. In many ways, the outcome might look more like “overshoot and decline” than “overshoot and collapse” from the point of view of an observer at the time.

In Section C, I explain two different types of “breakage” we can expect going forward, if we are really dealing with an overshoot and collapse situation. In the first, oil production is likely to fall because of the collapse of some of the governments of oil exporters. In the second, the international trade system breaks down because of problems with the financial system and countries no longer trusting each other’s currencies.

[A] Ideas for “Sort of” Addressing the Economic Problems at Hand 

The following are a few ideas regarding possible mitigation approaches, and the expected results of these attempted solutions:

[1] Programs to keep citizens in their homes will likely be extended. Mortgage repayment programs will be extended. Renters will be allowed to stay where they are, even if they cannot afford the rent.

[2] New programs may be added, allowing those without adequate income to pay for electricity, heat, water and sewer connections. These programs may be debt-based. For example, homeowners and renters may be given loans to pay for these programs, with the hope that eventually the economy will bounce back, and the loans can be repaid.

[3] More food bank programs will be added, with governments buying food from farmers and donating it to food banks. There is even an outside chance that people will be given loans so that they can “buy” food from the food bank, with the hope that they can someday repay the loans. All of these loan-based programs will appear to be “cost free” to the government, since “certainly” the crisis will go away, and borrowers will be able to repay the loans.

[4] Loans to students will increasingly be put in forbearance, to be repaid when the crisis is over. Auto loans and credit card debt may be also be put into forbearance, if the person with the debt has inadequate income.

[5] Even with all of these actions, families will tend to move back together into a smaller total number of residences. This will happen partly because citizens won’t want to be burdened with even more debt, if they can avoid it. Also, older citizens won’t want to move into facilities offering care for the elderly because they know that COVID restrictions may limit with whom they can have contact. They will much prefer moving in with a relative, if anyone will take them in return for a suitable monthly payment.

[6] As extended families move in together, the total number of housing units required will tend to fall. Prices of homes will tend to fall, especially in areas where citizens no longer want to live. Governments will encourage banks and other mortgage holders to look the other way as prices fall, but as homes are sold, this will be increasingly difficult to do. In many cases, when homes are sold, the selling prices will fall below the balance of the debt outstanding. Governments will pass laws not allowing financial institutions to try to obtain the shortfall from citizens, at least until the crisis is over.

[7] Some businesses, such as restaurants without enough patrons and colleges without enough students, will need to close. Clothing stores without enough sales will also need to close, as will retirement homes without enough residents. All of these closures will lead to a huge amount of excess commercial space. It will also lead to the loss of more jobs, raising the number of unemployed people.

With these closed businesses, the price of commercial real estate will tend to fall. Lenders will be encouraged to “extend the loans” and “pretend that asset prices will soon recover,” when renewing loans. Even this approach won’t be enough in many cases, as businesses file for bankruptcy.

[8] With fewer residences and business properties occupied, the amount of electricity required will fall. Wholesale prices for electricity will tend to fall, pushing ever more fossil fuel and nuclear electricity providers out of business. Electricity outages will become an increasing problem, as renewables become a larger share of the electricity mix and are unable to increase supply when needed. Rolling outages will become more common.

[9] Pensions of all kinds will become more difficult to pay. Government programs, such as Social Security in the US, will have less revenue to pay pensions. There are funds set aside in the Social Security Trust Fund to cover a shortfall in funding, but these funds are simply non-marketable US government debt. In theory, the US government could add more debt to the Trust Fund and make payments on the basis of this added debt. Otherwise, the US will likely need to either raise taxes or increase the “regular” government debt level, in order to continue to pay Social Security pensions as planned.

Private pensions, backed by bonds and shares of stock (and perhaps other assets), will find the values of their available assets are falling. Governments, if they are able to, will try to hide this problem. For example, regulators may develop a new way to value assets, so as to make pension funding shortfalls mostly disappear.

In the case of pension bankruptcy, government insurance is often theoretically available. In the US, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation provides coverage; other countries may have similar programs. Unfortunately, this program is not set up to handle a large influx of new bankrupt plans, without raising taxes. The problem then will be raising taxes enough so that one year’s pension benefits can be paid, pushing the problem down the road a bit longer.

Bank accounts have similar guarantees, with similar funding problems. The guarantee organization has very little funds available, without raising taxes or somehow increasing debt.

[10] Stock market prices will tend to fall, leading those who have purchased shares using debt to want to sell quickly, pushing the stock market down further. Currency relativities will fluctuate wildly. Derivatives of many kinds will encounter payment problems. Many ETFs likely won’t work as planned. Governments will try to figure out ways to somehow mitigate these problems to the extent possible. For example, stock markets may be closed for a time to hide the problems. Or, additional time may be given to settle purchases, so that perhaps the deficiencies can be corrected. Eventually, some banks may be taken over by governments, to assure the operation of the parts deemed essential.

[11] Eventually, governments may find it necessary to nationalize a wide range of essential businesses. These could range from trucking companies to banks to oil companies to electricity transmission repair companies. If the balance sheets of these companies are too bad, governments may simply stop publishing them.

[12] These types of actions will mostly be available to “rich” countries. Poor countries can tap their “rainy day” funds, but these will soon be exhausted. In this case, poor countries will find that there is little they can do unless international organizations bail them out. Because of cutbacks in tourism and in orders of finished goods, such as clothing, these countries are likely to encounter high levels of unemployment. Without aid, the poorer citizens of these countries will find it impossible to afford an adequate diet. With inadequate nutrition, the health of low income citizens will decline, and they will easily succumb to communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria. Death rates are likely to skyrocket.

[B] What Happens When an Economy Outgrows Its Resources? 

Most people think that the issue we are dealing with is a temporary problem associated with a new coronavirus. I think that we are dealing with a much worse problem: The world’s population has outgrown the world’s resource limits. This is why our current problems look so difficult to solve from a financial point of view. This is part of the reason many people feel that shutting down the economy for COVID-19 is a good choice. There are really many reasons for the shutdowns, besides preventing the spread of COVID-19: Keeping people inside stops the many protests related to low wages. The shutdowns appear to restore order to a troubled system. Broken supply lines from shutdowns elsewhere reduce raw materials availability, making it more difficult to keep production in one part of the world operating, when others are closed.

Overshoot and collapse is a problem that many smaller economies have encountered over the years. If I am right that we are now encountering a similar situation, there is a big change ahead. The change will not be instantaneous, however. The big question that arises is, “Over what time scale does such a collapse take place?” If it takes place over a number of years, it may look more like “overshoot and decline” than “overshoot and collapse” to those who are living through the era.

A recent partial collapse was that of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Soviet Union was an oil exporter. Oil prices had hit a high in 1981 and had been declining for 10 years when the Soviet Union collapsed. With low oil prices, it had been difficult to earn enough revenue to reinvest in new oil fields to replace the production that naturally declines as oil is extracted. Oil, directly and indirectly, had provided many jobs for the Soviet Union. After ten years of stress, the central government of the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Low oil prices first slowed production growth between 1982 and 1987 (Figure 2). Oil production began to decline in 1988, three years before the government collapsed. Production gradually rose again in the early 2000s, as oil prices rose again.

Figure 2. Oil production and price of the former Soviet Union (FSU), based on BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

What was surprising to me was the fact that consumption of all types of energy by the Soviet Union fell at the time of the central government collapse in 1991, even hydroelectric. The overall level of energy consumption never bounced back to its previous level.

Figure 3. Former Soviet Union energy consumption by fuel, based on data of BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2018.

What happened was that many inefficient industries were forced to close. Some of these industries were in the Ukraine; others were in Russia and elsewhere. As they closed, less electricity and less oil and gas were used.

The loss in energy consumption was pretty much permanent. The manufacturing that left the Soviet Union was replaced by other, more efficient, manufacturing elsewhere. Also, without their previous manufacturing jobs, the people of the former Soviet Union were poorer. They could not afford to buy cars and homes, keeping fuel consumption lower.

Another indicator regarding the speed of collapses is the analysis done by researchers Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov, regarding collapses of eight agricultural economies from earlier periods. I compiled the information they provided in the book Secular Cycles in the chart shown in Figure 4. In the cycles they analyzed, the “crisis period” seemed to last 20 to 50 years. One thing that is striking in their analysis is that epidemics often played a major role in the declines. As wage disparity grew, poorer workers ate less well. They became more vulnerable to epidemics and often died.

Figure 4. Chart by author based on information provided in Turchin and Nefedov’s book, Secular Cycles.

In these early cycles, the major industry was farming. These collapses were in the days before electricity use. In these situations, collapses tended to play out over 20 to 50 years. Our more modern economy, with its just-in-time supply lines, would seem likely to collapse more quickly, but we can’t know for certain. This analysis is thus another data point that suggests that what may be ahead could be closer to “overshoot and decline” than “overshoot and collapse.”

[C] What May Be Ahead

[1] We are likely to experience the collapse of central governments of several of the oil exporting nations, in a manner not entirely different from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Oil prices have been low for a very long time, since 2008, or at least since 2014.

Figure 5. Weekly average spot oil prices for Brent, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

Most OPEC oil producers seem to require prices in the $100+ per barrel range in order to be able to fund the programs their people expect (Figure 6). One important program provides subsidies for imported food; other programs provide jobs. Without these programs, revolutions to overthrow the current leaders seem much more likely.

Figure 6. Estimate of OPEC break-even oil prices, including tax requirements by parent countries, from APICORP. Figure is from 2014.

At this point, oil prices have been below $100 per barrel since 2014, a period of 6 years (Figure 5). Stress is increasing; OPEC producers have cut production in an attempt to try to get prices up. Prices are now in the low $40s.

We should not be surprised if, over the next few years, oil production starts to fall in several areas around the world because of internal problems. Another possible impetus for the drop in production may be wars with other nations. Some such wars might be started simply to try to get the price of oil up to a more acceptable level.

We have been falsely led to believe that oil is not important; renewables can handle our needs in the future. In fact, oil is essential for today’s farming. It is essential for transportation of goods and services of all kinds. It is essential for the construction industry and for mining. Researchers in academic institutions have received grants, encouraging them to put together models regarding what could be ahead. These models tend to be extremely unrealistic.

One of the most absurd models is by Mark Jacobson. He claims that by 2050, the world economy can operate almost entirely using wind, solar, and hydroelectric. Unfortunately, we don’t have until 2050; world oil, coal, and natural gas supplies look likely to decline in the 2020 to 2025 timeframe because of low prices. Another problem with this approach is that there is not very much fossil fuel to extract, because most of what appears to be available from resource studies cannot really be extracted at the low prices set by physics. 

The underlying problem is confusion about which direction prices go, as an economy reaches limits. Economists assume that scarcity will cause prices to rise; the real story is that fossil fuel prices are set by the laws for physics because the economy is a dissipative structure. As the economy approaches limits, prices tend to fall too low for producers, rather than rise too high for consumers.The sad truth is that we can’t even count on the continued extraction of the small amount of fossil fuels that Jacobson assumes will exist after 2050.

[2] We are likely to see a huge change in the international financial system and in the international trade system in the next few years. 

As long as there were plenty of resources, relative to the world population, the optimal approach was to do as much international trade as possible. This approach would maximize world GDP. It would also add jobs in developing areas of the world without too huge an impact on job availability in the countries moving their manufacturing to lower-cost areas.

In the last few years, it has become increasingly evident that there aren’t enough jobs that pay well to go around. This is really the underlying problem with respect to the increased hostility among nations, such as between the US and China. Tariffs are being used to try to bring jobs that pay well back to those who need them. Strange as it may seem, it takes fossil fuels to create jobs that pay well.

Figure 7. World Trade as a percentage of GDP, based on data of the World Bank.

Figure 7 shows that international trade was rising as a percentage of GDP for many years, and it hit a high point in 2008. Since then it has bounced around a little below that high point. In 2020, it will clearly take a big step down because of all of the cancellation of trade related to COVID-19 restrictions.

We saw earlier that commodity prices tend to fall too low for producers. Indirectly, this means that profits tend to fall too low. Interest rates tend to follow these low profits down, since businesses cannot afford to pay high interest rates.

With these low profits and low wages, the financial system gets strained. “Debt and more debt” seems to be the way to fix the system. Growing debt at ever-lower interest rates is encouraged. These low interest rates tend to raise asset prices because monthly payments to buy these assets fall with the falling interest rates. Stock markets tend to rise, even when the economy is doing poorly.

If the many strange approaches I outlined in Section A are used to add even more debt to keep the system afloat, eventually some part of the system is going to “break.” For example, banks will stop issuing letters of credit with respect to purchases made by buyers that don’t seem sufficiently creditworthy. Banks may stop trusting other banks, especially if the banks do not really seem to be solvent. At some point, the international financial system seems likely to start “coming apart.” Eventually, the US dollar will stop being the world’s reserve currency.

My guess is that a new two currency system will develop. Governments will issue a lot of currency for local use. It will not be useful for buying goods from other countries. Much of it will be used for buying locally produced food and other locally produced goods.

Very little international trade will be done. Any international trade that will be done will occur between trusted partners, at agreed upon exchange rates. Perhaps a special currency will be used for this purpose.

In this new world, individual countries will be very much on their own. With very little fossil fuel, countries will tend to lose electricity availability very quickly. Transmission lines will go unrepaired. It will become impossible to fix existing wind turbines. Road repair will become impossible. Electric cars will likely be as unusable as gasoline powered ones.

There will likely be fighting about resources that are available, leading to countries subdividing into smaller and smaller units, hoarding what little resources they have available.

Note:

1Energy prices tend to fall too low because, as the economy gets more complex, wage and wealth disparity tend to grow, reflecting differences in training and responsibility. The problem occurs because low-paid workers cannot afford to buy very large quantities of goods and services produced by the economy. For example, many cannot afford a car or a home of their own. The spending of high-paid workers does not offset the loss of demand by low-paid workers because high-paid workers tend to spend their wages more on services, such as advanced education, which require proportionately less energy consumption. Ultimately, the lack of demand by low-paid workers tends to pull down the prices of oil and other commodities below the level required by producers.

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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.

2,450 thoughts on “Reaching the End of Early Stimulus – What’s Ahead?

  1. Re: The ‘debate’ – or should that be the ‘debacle’?

    USA and UK have the worst social mobility of any developed countries. So much for the ‘American dream’. Scandinavian countries have the best social mobility. Household income growth in USA since 1960s is due to more women working, rather than social mobility, and male earnings have remained stable in that time. Women and blacks have lower social mobility in USA than men and whites. Recent immigrants to USA earn less than others and with little improvement in the second generation.

    Odd, I did not hear any of that discussed in the ‘debate’ last night. One would think that the two main politicians of a country that has social mobility and improved living standards, the ‘American dream’ as practically its ‘founding myth’ and raison d’être, would have something to say about it. ‘Come to USA, anyone can succeed and improve their lot. It is the land of opportunity.’ That used to be the story. But no, they had nothing to say about it. USA looks exhausted, along with the ‘American dream’ – and USA politics looks exhausted too.

    The way that the two ‘leaders’ resorted to trying to associate each other with spectres of the extremes, ‘socialists’ and ‘racists’, seemed intended to distract from any serious debate about the state of USA, and it indicated that they had no real politics to discuss in order to try to promote themselves one over the other. Both parties seem to have given up on any attempt at serious politics. Silliness and distraction seem to be all that they have left. It was embarrassing to watch. I doubt that I would vote.

    > Socioeconomic mobility in the United States

    …. A large academic study released in 2014 found US mobility overall has not changed appreciably in the last 25 years (for children born between 1971 and 1996), but a variety of up and down mobility changes were found in several different parts of the country. On average, American children entering the labor market today have the same chances of moving up in the income distribution (relative to their parents) as children born in the 1970s.[12][13]

    However, because US income inequalities have increased substantially, the consequences of the “birth lottery”—the parents to whom a child is born—are larger today than in the past. US wealth is increasingly concentrated in the top 10% of American families, so children of the remaining 90% are more likely to be born at lower starting incomes today than the same children in the past. Even if they are equally mobile and climb the same distance up the US socioeconomic ladder as children born 25 years earlier, the bottom 90% of the ladder is worth less now, so they gain less income value from their climb, especially when compared to the top 10%.

    …. Comparisons with other countries

    Several large studies of mobility in developed countries in recent years have found the US among the lowest in mobility.[4][19] One study (“Do Poor Children Become Poor Adults?”)[19][17][27] found that of nine developed countries, the United States and United Kingdom had the lowest intergenerational vertical social mobility with about half of the advantages of having a parent with a high income passed on to the next generation. The four countries with the lowest “intergenerational income elasticity”, i.e. the highest social mobility, were Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Canada with less than 20% of advantages of having a high income parent passed on to their children. (see graph)[19] Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz contends that “Scandinavian countries changed their education systems, social policies and legal frameworks to create societies where there is a higher degree of mobility. That made their countries more into the land of opportunity that America once was.”[28]

    …. Gender and race

    Reports analyzing the economic mobility of African-Americans compared to that of whites have found stark differences. One report found that 53 percent of blacks born in the bottom income quintile remain there as adults, while only 33 percent of whites do.[59] Research has also found that the children of black middle-class families are more likely to fall out of the middle class.[47]

    Despite the increased presence of blacks and women in the work force over the years, women and non-whites hold jobs with less rank, authority, opportunity for advancement and pay than men and whites,[60][61] a “glass ceiling” being said to prevent them from occupying more than a very small percentage in top managerial positions

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socioeconomic_mobility_in_the_United_States

    • “You are a socialist, Bernie. You are a socialist and everyone knows it.”

      “You are a racist, Don. You are a racist and everyone knows it.”

      • Bernie’s not running, but yes, he is a (democratic) socialist. He says so himself. That’s not an extreme political position.

        Don has a number of racist views and policies, but I think it would be a mistake to think of him as a committed white nationalist or anything like that. That would mean having principles (even if they are negative principles).

        During the debate, Trump was challenged to tell white supremacist groups to stand down. He asked for the names of particular groups. Biden suggested the Proud Boys. Trump then followed with “stand down, stand by.” I don’t read this as support for the Proud Boys. But yeah, Trump could have put that better.

        • Why wasn’t Biden asked to disavow BLM violence?
          I think the whole “disavow this, disavow that” is just a bullying tactic when you have nothing substantial you wish to entertain.

            • Yes, we know what politicians are “supposed” to say.. so how is that helpful?
              To disavow it would assume that it exists.

            • Maybe so, but Trump was asked to disavow an organisation that was not white supremacist. The same old fake racism card, played so often because there is no good answer, except to denounce the lies on which it stands.

              How about asking a liberal to denounce affirmative action, which is and always has been blatantly racist.

    • So are you trying to start a discussion on why white men perform better then minorities or women? Are we including Asians and Jews in the white men, or not?

      • The bottom line is the in/ability of the USA economy to create more higher productivity and thus higher paying jobs. Disadvantaged persons of any background can move into better work only if it is available. USA economy has a collapsed productivity growth.

        Productivity growth has converged toward zero since the 1970s in all ‘mature’ capitalist economies and it has collapsed since 2008. The real issue in the USA election should be the collapse of productivity growth, without which social mobility, and a general improvement of social and economic conditions is not possible.

        But GOP/ DP have no policies to ‘fix’ the productivity problem, and neither have the governments elsewhere in the West. The election is little more than a silly, distractive drama put on by an exhausted political class with an exhausted economy.

        Capitalism seems to have hit its historical limits to improve the quality of the means of production and living standards – which is linked to a peak of affordable, quality energy, as Gail explains. Affordable energy is no longer profitable to many energy producers.

        The frustration of Americans, black or otherwise, at a lack of any improvement in living standards, has an economic, and energetic basis. USA politicians seem to have nothing to offer now but pointless ‘identity politics’ that will only damage the social fabric of USA further.

        > The slowdown in US labour productivity growth

        Historically, US labour productivity growth (defined as output per hour worked) in the business sector has varied greatly (see Chart A). Strong growth rates (of 3.3%) in the period 1949-1973 were followed by a sharp slowdown (to 1.6%) in the two decades that followed. The information and communication technology (ICT) boom of the period 1996-2003 led to the “productivity miracle”, when labour productivity growth doubled. As the gains from the ICT boom had largely been reaped, productivity growth slowed down to 1.9% in the pre-crisis years (2004-07). While the Great Recession led to a cyclical rebound in 2008-10, this was followed by disappointing labour productivity growth. Since 2011 US labour productivity has grown on average by only 0.5% per year, compared with a long-term growth rate of 2.5%.

        https://www.ecb.europa.eu/pub/pdf/other/eb201602_focus01.en (dot) pdf

        • Your second response seems to contradict your first statement. You are the one that brought identity politics into it, but then blame USA politicians for identity politics.

          I agree with the rest of your statement on the limits of growth.

          • My two posts are both true, and complimentary to each other. I heard plenty of identity politics in the debate last night. Maybe you should listen to it again.

          • Full transcript here:

            https://www.concordmonitor.com/First-presidential-debate-Trump-Biden-full-transcript-36532544

            There was plenty of this sort of thing:

            BIDEN: Now, second point I’d make to you is that when Floyd was killed, when Mr. Floyd was killed, there was a peaceful protest in front of the White House. What did he do? He came out of his bunker, had the military use tear gas on them so you could walk across to a church and hold up a Bible. And then what happened after that? The bishop of that very church said that it was a disgrace. The general who was with him said all he ever wanted to do is divide people, not unite people at all. This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division.

            This is a man who in fact, you talk about helping African-Americans, one in 1,000 African-Americans has been killed because of the coronavirus. And if he doesn’t do something quickly, by the end of the year, one in 500 will have been killed. One in 500 African-Americans. This man, this man is a savior of African-Americans? This man cares at all? This man has done virtually nothing. Look, the fact is you have to look at what he talks about. You have to look at what he did, and what he did has been disastrous for the African-American community.

            TRUMP: So you did that and they called you a super predator and I’m letting people out of jail now that you have treated the African-American population, community, you have treated the black community about as bad as anybody in this country. You did the — and that’s why if you look at the polls, I’m doing better than any Republican has done in a long time because they saw what you did.

            You call them super predators and you’ve called them worse than that because you look back at your testimony over the years, you’ve called them a lot worse than that. As far as the church is concerned and as far as the generals are concerned, we just got the support of 250 military leaders and generals, total support. Law enforcement, almost every law enforcement group in the United States. I have Florida, I have Texas, I have Ohio, I have everybody.

          • The ‘debate’ was rammed full of identity politics, with not a single mention of the productivity problem in USA – just the same as 2016.

            It is a farce. The politicians on both sides are playing constant identity politics instead of facing up to the real, underlying, economic problems in USA.

            It was endless. Read the transcript.

            …. BIDEN: The fact is that there is racial insensitivity. People have to be made aware of what other people feel like, what — what insults them, what is demeaning to them. It’s important that people know. They don’t want to — many people don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. But it’s — it makes a big difference. It makes a gigantic difference in the way a child is able to grow up and have a sense of self-esteem.

            It’s a little bit like how this guy and his friends looked down on so many people. They looked down their nose on people like Irish Catholics like me who grew up in Scranton. They looked down on people who don’t have money. They looked down on people who are of a different faith. They looked down on people who are a different color. In fact, we’re all Americans. The only way we’re going to bring this country together is bring everybody together. There’s nothing we cannot do if we do it together. We can take this on and we can defeat racism in America.

            WALLACE: Vice President — I mean, President Trump, sir?

            TRUMP: During the Obama-Biden administration, there was tremendous division. There was hatred. You look at Ferguson. You look at — you go to very — many places. Look at Oakland. Look what happened in Oakland. Look what happened in Baltimore. Look what happened — frankly, it was more violent than what I’m even seeing now….

      • Indian Americans have the highest average income of any group including Whites. Maybe there is “ Indian privilege “

        • I presume you mean Indians from India. Indians called “American Indians” are the people who were in America before settlers from Europe arrived. They do pretty poorly, on average, in America, in my experience.

          • I meant from India. I think the politically correct term for American Indians is native Americans. Kamala Harris’s Indian side make on average about 4x as much as African Americans. Her Jamaican side make Twice as much as African Americans.Evidently She’s privileged on both sides.” White privilege” does not explain all economic disparity in America.

    • Actually, I think the situation is worse now. Most children seem to end up somewhat below where their parents were, at the same stage of their life. This gets discouraging because the children have higher expectations.

      Another issue is that well-educated parents tend to marry each other. People without advanced education tend not to marry at all because the tax law and the benefits are better for unmarried people, living together. (One becomes “unmarried head of household.”) This tends to increase wage/wealth disparity among households. Also, the unmarried couples tend not to stay together very well.

      • A college educated women is 90% likely to initiate divorce. I don’t think college “education” is a recipe for a good marriage, or for higher income earning.

      • This is a can or worms.

        1. Regarding college educated women, I don’t have time to back reference, so if I am wrong, I am wrong. Among those who had “real” college educations, who had real careers, the divorce rate is lower than average. Women tend to return to the home and raise their children – review the issue with women MDs who take breaks from practicing and have license issues returning to work.

        2. Children from families in paragraph one have a huge advantage, marriage is not easy, but they have the money and time to watch their children’s education.

        3. Those of us who were lower middle class had in the sixties intact families, a weekly set of values repeated in church, and a school segregated by ability, there were three levels of classes, low, middle, and high. Even in the high in the first years there was division into sections, We did not have discipline issues, we did not have total inclusion of children with learning issues. Basically it was done by IQ examinations.

        4. Education was real, real gym with change of clothes in one sex locker rooms, real math, real science, real English and real arts and crafts/home economics in junior high school. Ninth grade boys cut wood with a real circular saw, no emergency stop, girls sewed clothes with real sewing machines, cooked on hot stoves and baked in hot ovens. They also learned to set tables on which to eat home cooked meals, how quaint.

        For me, education was a way out, it took parents, church and school. Today’s kids with the exception of the very well off are being short changed. In Rochester many of the “working class”: live in smaller towns around and commute, housing costs are very high and rising, the education has advantages in good values, it is not as rigorous by personal observation.

        Dennis L.

        • I lived in a smaller town in Wisconsin. In grade school, there were only about 20 students per grade. In high school there were more students because students living in the country were bussed to high school. Those students had attended one-room schools for students in grades 1 – 8. (I visited one of those schools a few times with one of my cousins.)

          Those of us in town attended class with exactly the same classmates, year after year. Our parents often knew the teachers apart from school. Some students were related to some of the teachers. Keeping order in class was never a problem. There was also a separate Catholic school where most of the Catholic students went. So the public school was mostly Lutheran and Methodist students. Physical education with change of clothes was required from 7th grade up.

          There wasn’t much division by ability with this small a school, but there was a “mentally retarded” high school class. In high school, there were several tracks:
          Business: Typing, shorthand, bookkeeping, working on school newspaper
          Home Ec: Cooking and sewing
          Agriculture
          Industrial Arts: Shop etc
          Pre-college: Aimed at the relatively few who might attend college. Latin was the only language offered.

          I was surprised when I looked back at my yearbook at how many of the very good students were in the business, home ec, ag, and industrial arts tracks. Many of them have continued to live on farms. There were one or two American Indians per grade, but no others from unusual ethnic groups.

          • Interesting. I live in two somewhat different cultures, the city and the country. Both are very successful cultures, both require hard work, intelligence, and luck.

            Farming is incredibly expensive, the machinery is a rolling computer, medicine at Mayo is what it is, intense.

            A dumb farmer can’t survive, a dumb surgeon is weeded out almost immediately. All of life is now very competitive. Those who inherited farms and lacked the ability or ambition to run them are gone, Those who remain are often a multigenerational family.

            One of my inlaws had a daughter who was going to marry a family farmer in IA, large farm, large Catholic family. Prior to marriage she had to have completed her conversion to Catholicism or she would not become part of the family. From what I saw with the huge costs and need to work together, a common set of values was a given, the family depended on that. Ultimately, she did not join the family her conversion/education would be completed two weeks or so after the marriage, that was not good enough.

            Some things may not be what we want, but things have to work.

            Farms take generations to put together and make work. One person going their own way and a divorce court can erase a hundred years work. It is serious stuff. Societies, civilizations take hundreds to thousands of years to put together, they are a wonderful place to live as compared to the wild in which life is brutal and short.

            Dennis L.

            • Dennis, thanks for that perspective on continuity. I think our modern times have led a lot of folks to think we can maintain atomized existences expecting The State or “technology” to provide for individuals. That can work for now, to some extent, but will not be supported in the future.

      • Single Motherhood is a great predictor of Poverty. This is exarcerbated by the No Fault-Divorce Laws. And Family Courts that are often very unjust against the Father.

    • Oh dear, these are all very fine and noble concerns, but they have a very ‘1980s’ ring to them. The debate wasn’t a great showcase for either candidate, certainly neither was at their “best”, but you may not perceive that this election is not about social equality, but about the survival of the United States *at all* in its current form. This isn’t the uniparty back-and-forth we’ve seen in recent decades, I don’t think.

      Trump brought up the attempted and ongoing coup against him, originating with Obama and HRC and involving Biden. That’s Watergate x1million, to have the FBI and CIA openly unseat an elected president.. it’s Kennedy-assassination-level, but all right there out in the open at this point, with all the perps fairly well indicated. Biden wouldn’t discuss Democrat plans for a permanent majority by (should they win) putting any number of extra judges on the Supreme Court, and adding DC and Puerto Rico as states. I can’t remember an election where the power-jockeying was so naked.

      The Democrats are happy to keep eviscerating the country and enriching themselves in the process (as we see with the Biden family taking millions, the Clinton Foundation shaking down the world for millions and billions). Trump wants to cut that shit out, which is why they all hate him so much. I think of Trump as the cranky shareholder at the board meeting who doesn’t want to sell his company (country) to be asset-stripped by the Mitt Romneys (Bain Capital), Clintons, and Bidens of the world.

      You say, “Recent immigrants to USA earn less than others and with little improvement in the second generation.” but this is not the case at all:

      Indian American (2019): $123,453 [15]
      Taiwanese Americans (2018): $102,328[10]
      Filipino American (2018): $92,328[10]
      Australian American (2016): $90,930[15]
      South African American (2017): $90,517[15]
      Chinese Americans (2018): $80,944[10]
      Austrian American (2016): $80,717[15]
      Japanese American (2018): $80,036[10]
      Singaporean American (2016) $79,852[15]
      Russian American (2016): $77,841[15]
      Pakistani American (2018): $77,074[10]
      Bulgarian American (2016): $76,862[15]
      Lithuanian American (2016): $76,694[15]
      Israeli American (2016): $76,584[15]
      Slovene American (2016): $75,940[15]
      Iranian American (2017): $75,905[15]
      Basque American (2016): $75,864[15]
      Lebanese American (2016): $75,337[15]
      Croatian American (2016): $73,991[15]
      Sri Lankan American: $73,856[15]
      Scandinavian American (2016): $73,797[15]
      Belgian American (2016): $73,443[15]
      Swiss American (2016): $72,823[15]
      Italian American (2016): $72,586[15]
      Ukrainian American (2016): $72,449[15]
      Romanian American (2016): $72,381[15]
      Greek American (2016): $72,291[15]
      Polish American (2016): $71,172[15]
      Danish American (2016): $71,550[15]
      Swedish American (2016): $71,217[15]
      Slavic American (2016): $71,163[15]
      Norwegian American (2016): $71,142[15]
      Indonesian American: $70,851[10]
      Canadian American (2016): $70,809[15]
      Czech American (2016): $70,454[15]
      Finnish American (2016): $70,045[15]
      Korean American (2018): $72,074[10]
      Serbian American (2016): $70,028[15]
      French Canadian American (2016): $68,075[15]
      Hungarian American (2016): $69,515[15]
      Portuguese American (2016): $67,807[15]
      Cambodian American: $67,766[10]
      Slovak American (2016): $67,471[15]
      Armenian American (2016): $67,450[15]
      Hmong American (2018) $67,372[10]
      Vietnamese American (2018): $67,331[10]
      German American (2016): $67,306[15]
      Irish American (2016): $66,688[15]
      Ghanaian American (2016): $66,571[15]
      Turkish American (2016): $66,566[15]
      Laotian American (2018): $65,958[10]
      Thai Americans (2018): $65,357[10]
      Palestinian American (2016): $65,170[15]
      Egyptian American (2016): $64,728[15]
      Dutch American (2016): $63,597[15]
      French American (2016): $63,471[15]
      Median American Household Income (2018): $63,179[10]
      Syrian American (2016): $63,096[15]
      Nepalese American: $62,848[16]
      Albanian American (2016): $62,624[15]
      Polynesian American (2018): $61,654[10]
      Guyanese American (2016): $60,968[15]
      Nigerian American (2016): $60,732[15]
      British American (2016): $59,872[15]
      British West Indian American (2016): $60,407[15]
      Cuban American: $57,000[17]
      West Indian American: $56,998[15]
      Brazilian American (2016): $56,151[15]
      Barbadian American: $56,078[15]
      Argentine American (2014): $55,000[18]
      Scotch-Irish American (2016): $54,187[15]
      Jamaican American (2016): $52,669[15]
      Trinbagonian Americans: $55,303[15]
      Cajun American: $52,886[15]
      Moroccan American (2016): $52,436[15]
      Peruvian Americans: $52,000[15]
      American Americans (2016): $51,601[15]
      Scottish American (2016): $51,925[15]
      Jordanian American (2016): $51,552[15]
      Welsh American (2016): $50,351[15]
      Pennsylvania German American (2016): $48,955[15]
      Ecuadorian American: $48,600[15]
      Colombian American (2014): $48,000[18]
      Haitian American (2016): $47,990[15]
      English American (2016): $47,663[15]
      Cape Verdean American (2016): $47,281[15]
      Bangladeshi American: $47,252[15]
      Burmese American (2018): $45,348[10]
      Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac American (2016): $44,733[15]
      Afghan American: $43,838[15]
      Bahamian American: $42,000[15]
      Ethiopian American (2016): $41,357[15]
      Mexican American (2014): $38,000[18]
      Puerto Rican American (2014): $36,000[18]
      African Americans(2013): $33,500[19]
      Iraqi American (2016): $32,818[15]
      Dominican American (2014): $32,300[18]
      Somali American (2019): $20,600[20]

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_the_United_States_by_household_income

      Scandinavian countries are (for now) extremely ethnically homogenous, so to look at social mobility within a high-trust ethnically-homogenous society and expect it to have the same patterns as the mélange you see above is disingenuous and unfair. To the extent that Sweden makes its population resemble the above, it will start to have the issues of a country like the US.

      • Lidia, both GOP and DP are feeding on identity politics like in 2016 and that is fracturing the social fabric of USA. Some people welcome that.

        Neither party has any policy to ‘fix’ the underlying productivity problem, without which there cannot be a general improvement in the living standards in USA or of minorities there.

        It has a material and energetic basis but the parties are fomenting the fracturing with an identity politics that is not aimed at any solution to the real underlying problem but just to get votes. They are appealing to identities, not to fix problems, but just to get votes, and that is dividing USA.

        It is not really just about social mobility, it is about productivity growth and the inability of the USA economy to create more productive, better paying jobs. Issues of disparity, and moreso of poverty, cannot be solved without productivity growth. USA productivity is flatlining.

        That is what the parties should focus on but instead they focus on identity politics, not to solve the underlying problems, but just for the sake of votes, which is totally cynical and contemptable. It is fracturing USA.

        I am not sure what your list of income by ethnic group was supposed to show, it shows wide disparities. In any case, the point that you contended was specifically with regard to recent immigrants and the stats do support my statement, although the context is complicated.

        > According to economist George J. Borjas, most immigrants to the US are at “a sizable earning disadvantage” compared to native-born workers, and the earnings of different groups of immigrants vary widely. Borjas found that intergenerational upward economic mobility averaging a 5% to 10% in increase in income from the first to the second generation of immigrants although there was wide variation among ethnic groups.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socioeconomic_mobility_in_the_United_States#Immigration

        • Oh dear, you seem to be in a little house of mirrors of your own devising. You say you know that things can’t improve, and that that’s why appeals to identity may be successful. But they should try to improve things anyway? Focus on “productivity” that YOU KNOW IS UNATTAINABLE?? This is incoherent.

          My list was to refute your argument that immigrants to the US are struggling and not “socially mobile” FFS!!

          • Let me spell it out. They are focusing on identity politics, which is fracturing USA. They are doing so, not to improve the situation but to get votes. It is bad that they are fracturing USA and they should stop.

            What do I think that they should do?

            They should try to improve the situation with regard to the underlying problem, stalled productivity growth. If they think that they cannot do that, then they should admit it and tell the USA voters straight what the problem is and why they have no polices to solve it.

            The DP and GOP should be honest about what the situation is, stalled productivity growth, and stop dividing USA through pointless, cynical identity politics. Is that clear?

            Pls moderate your language, swearing does not help you to formulate arguments. Your list does not contradict my statements that there is less social mobility among ethnic groups and recent immigrants in particular, which the stats support. Read the initial link.

            Sorry if you are getting frustrated with your line of argument but pls do not abusively take that out on me. No one is your punching bag.

            • If you think the animus of identity division originates from either of the presidential candidates, or even either of the two parties, you are mistaken. The origin is organic, and it is being leveraged by forces not nearly so much in disarray as the RNC or DNC.

              I have abandoned “should” statements, for the most part. The idea that things could change if only presidential candidates would do what you think they “should” do is leading to *your* frustration, it would seem.

            • These candidates don’t care much for the average joe, they just want votes. They want power. Making the other guy look bad gets the most bang (votes) for your buck. Sad but true.

            • The Dems should do this, the Repubs should do that, both should stop dividing the USA through pointless cynical identity politics, Lydia should moderate her language and nobody! nobody! should ever contradict Oh Dear.

              If everyone would just do what Oh Dear advises, the world would be a far far more agreeable place for Oh Dear to live in.

            • Tim, you are learning, yes it most certainly would.

              Of course USA is free to go ahead and have a civil war, it would certainly give the rest of us a giggle.

              Whatever you want to do, I am sure. LOL

            • dear,

              Could you be attempting to reconcile what you want to be(which is very noble, very humanistic) with what is? Lidia’s list is reality, it is not circular reasoning, the difference between the top and the bottom mirrors many stereotypes and it is “clean” data, these are groups from outside the US, they have not been part of the system and differences are consistent with identity politics.

              A stereotype in the US is the inner city. Black males go to prison, Korean males go to universities with their parents putting in long, dangerous hours in a grocery, liquor store in the inner city.A Korean American earns twice the African American. We have spent billions trying to fix this issue, it appears worse now than it has ever been.

              Again philosophy: to my uneducated mind it is an attempt to make the world conform to an internalized, rationalization based on faulty assumptions of reality. Our universities are driving themselves crazy with these ideas. Interestingly one company, Coinbase, pays SJW types to just leave, it is too disruptive. Reality, or nature if you will bats last.

              Dennis L.

            • “They should try to improve the situation with regard to the underlying problem, stalled productivity growth. If they think that they cannot do that, then they should admit it and tell the USA voters straight what the problem is and why they have no polices to solve it.”

              No politician prepared to make such an admission would get to run let alone get voted in and such an admission by a president would in any case be catastrophic for investor and consumer confidence and the $. In other words, it would probably precipitate the collapse of the financial system.

            • Denis, I thought that I was pretty clear that the ‘American dream’ is bust, it has been for a long time, and that it is not coming back. The failure of USA to lift all out of poverty is due to the limits of the USA economy, it is not because disadvantaged persons are physiologically incapable. Humans are adaptable and the skill set tends to fit the economy rather than vice versa. Who knew that the descendants of white feudal peasants could operate ICT rather than just dig?

              Here in UK, we have people from literally all over the world and all sorts do well. Nearly all ethnic groups do better in UK schools than native Brits and the earnings gap has narrowed. There are still some disparities but accomplishment generally comes from an opportunity that is due to the health of the economy. The problems of USA are the problems of USA, and they are economic and social, they are not rooted in physiology or ethnicity.

              Back on philosophy it seems: I have just finished reading Nietzsche’s TAC and your comment is ironic. The drift is entirely reality, the dismissal of assumptions, and a scientific world view. It is moral and political philosophy and he wanted to do to politics what natural philosophy has done to science, and very much with a view to physiology and its improvement. He was still a moralist, and I distance myself from that, as I explained before. Liberal democracy is not perfect, and maybe not even ‘rational’, but it has ‘worked’ pretty well.

              The American dream is over, the only question now is whether USA can avoid the American nightmare – and whether they even want to. The nightmare of collapse is coming soon enough anyway but it seems that many in USA just cannot wait that long for social chaos. The political and social breakdown is largely superstructural to the disintegration of economic base in any case, so I suppose that whatever is going to happen will happen, appeals for reason in USA are unlikely to help.

              Thanks.

            • the American dream may be over

              but the denial of that fact is far from over The same applies to the rest of the world to varying degrees—it isn’t just an American problem. There the dream was just writ larger than anywhere else, and so the ending of it is having a greater impact.

              The nightmare has just begun.

              Trump rants, but his ranting is on behalf of the millions who still believe that the great ponzi scheme is viable, and will go on paying out for years to come.

              He couldn’t rant if he hadnt been voted in as ranter in chief

              He made his position clear well before the 2016 election.

              The position now is, that millions are convinced that the laws of physics can be changed by words alone. Because his words are oft-repeated.
              All authoritarian regimes employ the same technique of propaganda.

              New forms of energy will save us. Even in this sanctum of relative sanity, we see the magic words: ‘technological breakthrough’ repeated time and again. As if saying it will make it happen, or at least ‘they’ will make it happen.

              This thinking is super-magnified into current politics science and economics. (the three wishes of our collective Aladdin’s lamp)

              We wont be around to see if I’m correct, but it is an interesting possibility that as the American dream took a century or so to come into being—could it be that it will take a century for the denial phase to peter out till we reach the stage of admitting that the party really is over?

            • Harry, the problem of collapsed productivity growth is well known by politicians and certainly in the markets. Everyone knows about it, throughout the world, except for the voters it seems. Parties keep the masses in the dark because it suits them to do so, to try to get votes through silliness, no other reason. It is not because markets would collapse if the cat got out the bag, everyone knows about it anyway – except for the voters.

              Thanks.

            • Economists have been puzzling over stagnant productivity in developed nations for many years, it is true – but for the POTUS to make a specific announcement admitting that they have no policies for dealing with it is an entirely different ball of wax.

        • Given your reference to watching the debates on the BBC, oh dear, I realize now that you are writing from the UK or with a UK perspective. What prompts you spend so much energy insistent about what US politicians should do about US issues? Think how you might feel if I were to start pontificating to you about English, Irish, or Scottish politics after having watched something about it on CNN.

          I would also submit that you really have **no idea** of the magnitude of black criminality, in the US or anywhere else (it’s essentially the same in terms of murder rates). Few people do, because it is WrongThink and there is generally-agreed collusion to suppress it in the media. Europeans and modern Brits can easily be shocked by “American violence” but the vast majority of “American violence” is black violence. This is just one of those “inconvenient truths”.

          While GWB’s concept of a “pie” that was “growing higher” masked this to some degree, you are right that currently-declining prospects have the capacity to bring racial disparities to the fore. We just don’t have the luxury anymore to pretend things are otherwise, however. I don’t see how your harping on blacks’ “upward mobility” is helpful to anyone given the situation we are in. What I can tell you from my own region is that there seems to be money around to hire six-figure-salaried black lesbian diversity cöordinators at the same time working-class white men who used to have actually productive jobs are committing suicide.

          If there really were “white privilege” today, why are there so many race-fraudsters pretending to be “PoC”s?

          The black-lesbian-diversity-coordinators are (to me) a kind of desperation move, like the Easter Islanders erecting the Nth round of useless moans to The Gods for salvation. Their group might have collapsed anyway, but the moans kind of did them in ahead of time…

          • “Think how you might feel if I were to start pontificating to you about English, Irish, or Scottish politics after having watched something about it on CNN.”

            UK has access to all USA media, including all the tv stations (android) for they are worth. We have all been connected on the web for decades and the average web Brit probably knows as much about USA as the average web USAer.

            If most USAers do not know about the stats then they are probably at a disadvantage to web Brits because we have known about that for decades.

            USA has serious social, and above all economic, problems. The only question is how it will handle that. The parties seem to be pushing you toward social chaos, just to get votes. Some welcome that. I have suggested the path of honesty about the situation and I stand by that.

            Btw. I always welcome your input into UK current affairs, so pls feel free on that count.

            Thanks.

          • through an accident of geology, whether we like it or not, the usa finds itself in the (temporary) position of the prime global economic system

            The UK occupied the same position in the 19th c

            we both imagined it was eternal, both chose to ignore the basic reason behind it.
            We left the EU on the fantasy that we could return to that.

            I know–I’ve talked to a lot of brexilunatics. (Britain will be Great Britain again)

            That said, the world hinges on the current doings of the USA. We have no choice, and it would be foolish not to be actively concerned that the current captain of HMS world is clearly off his head, and steering the ship into the breakers yard so he can profit off the scrap value.

            We see trump as the symptom, not the cause of imminent decline. It is going to be messy for all of us. He is merely the boil on the backside of society.

            In 50 years, maybe a lot less, all the USA will have left (if they are lucky) is posturings of past grandeur-=–just like we brits are good at now

          • Lidia, the US has proved, at immense financial, social, and personal cost, that even affirmative action cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. I doubt they are ready to learn that lesson.

      • “…this election is not about social equality, but about the survival of the United States *at all* in its current form.”

        Thanks for this! It’s where the mind must remain fixed.

  2. Some time ago, I believe worldofhanumanotg said the Fourth Turning has been cancelled. I don’t remember what he said exactly, but the oldsters have won.

    The Strauss-Howe book said the Silent Generation will NOT produce a President, but given yesterday’s result, it appears Biden will win. (And I am a Republican to the bone)

    It looks very likely that there will be finally a President for the Silent Generation (1928-1945).

    With the generational theory in the crapper, I do predict that the GenXers will be doomed. The millennial, those born after 2000, will be different; they will be VERY ruthless, heartless and efficient, and will inherit the world after Singularity.

    • GenX born 1965 to 1980 or so.

      now 40 to 55 years old.

      so most of their lives have been in the peak years of world prosperity up to 2019.

      so essentially, they have had on average the most prosperous lives in the entirety of world history.

      not bad, eh?

      now they will be experiencing decreasing prosperity as a sort of economic midlife crisis. Is their glass half full or half empty?

      and then, anyone born 2000 or later?

      all reaching adulthood post 2019, so they are the first generation who will spend their entire adult lives experiencing the fullblown effects of unstoppable relentless decreasing prosperity.

      decades from now, the few still alive might be telling wondrous stories of life pre 2020.

      • I gather the force of Kulm’s argument is that the GenX exactly because of their pampered young years in ~peak BAU are going to be very weak-vulnerable to the berserk (smash it all down / or no show up at all bipolar) younger gens stacking up in row behind them..

        In other words, there could be a brief episodic period when GenX finally takes over trying to mitigate ongoing turmoil (chiefly via ~BAU derived means), but it will be a pyrrhic sort of victory governing over ungovernable, only catalyst to further decline/collapse phase.

      • agreed gen x had the best possibility to realise what they wanted. That said it can now be taken away. To bad so sad. I am one of them 1971.

    • Thanks for remembering the concept I tried to bring up, it was more like the “4th turning” being prolonged into say 4.5-5.5th turning – massaged via our omnipresent megatrend of older generations staying around (in power or placated to hold off change) for longer.

      Obviously, it’s not “original idea” per se, I was inspired by reading on some ancient world transition/crisis periods where they had similar problem of accumulated older elites from the ~long previous run of affluent times, which sort of blocked moving society into another plane “smoothly”

      In aggregate one could expect this megatrend of dis-proportionally weighted generations stacked against each other will only strengthen the Seneca Cliff effect, as the future deluge when the system snaps will be likely that much quicker, deeper, more destructive..

    • The young are being brought up in a very ideological and historically/culturally ignorant environment (who fought WW2 kids?) – this itself will make them ruthless, like the young Nazis who believed they were making a fine new world.

      My younger siblings don’t have an idea which hasn’t been implanted in them, and their only reading or consumption of ideas through media and Youtube is ideological – none of the breadth of the old cultured humanism which can only come from many hours of wide reading and the true, detached and sceptical, discussion of ideas.

  3. Meanwhile, in Nicaragua, authorities fight covid with a most zennish approach, doing (almost nothing. Result: 23 deaths per million (in UK, for example, the official number is 620, and in USA 638).

    “No curfews, no lockdowns, no “stay at home”, no psychosis, no covid-calamities. There has been much talk about the Swedish corona strategy but the strategy of Nicaragua has been by far more successful, with many fewer deaths, no “economic rescue” for big banks and only limited damage to small and medium sized businesses.
    In the midst of the worldwide economic debacle caused by covid hysteria, food self-sufficient, small business based, impoverished Nicaragua, has seen its exports grow over 10% the past 8 months because it did not shut down its economy. Precisely because it sustained its economy, it has not had to take on huge loans in order to face the emergency.
    Thus, its foreign debt levels remain within a readily manageable range, below 50% of GDP. (On the other hand, the economies of neighboring countries such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, are hurting badly with debt levels soaring).
    I went out on Sunday afternoon in the barrio where I live in Managua. Bars full of people, even small family-run restaurants full of guests. No masks. The local convenience store which still has the “only-masked-customers-allowed” sign hanging from the door no longer refuses to let maskless people in.
    There is no mask-wearing official policy in Nicaragua except for a recomendation that only patients with respiratory conditions or personnel taking care of them should wear masks. The wearing of surgical gloves by patients, on the other hand, is strongly discouraged as it poses a serious risk of contagion both of coronavirus and other respiratory diseases
    Schools haven’t closed down, which is very good for the country’s school children, since they provide a nutritious meal a day to 1.2 million children, a food security measure contributing greatly to improved public health for families across Nicaragua.”

    https://off-guardian.org/2020/09/30/nicaragua-the-country-that-didnt-swallow-the-covid-blue-pill/

      • lots of sunlight often directly overhead for the past 6 months?

        a not-too-rich country where many/most citizens are outdoors a lot?

        vitamin D?

          • Obviously the thing is not that virulent at all. After all, we’ve only now reached 1 million deaths worldwide, out of a population of over 7 billion. Allegedly. Goodness knows by how much they have overstated it.

          • David, they reached it by not imposing lockdowns. Lockdowns isolate people, which is a major cause of stress. They prevent normal productive work, which is a great demoraliser. They prevent regular outdoor exercise, even simple walking to work or to shop, which creates morbidities. In sum, if you want to maximise the final covid death toll, you can do little better than impose lockdowns. A classic example of medical science treating the disease and not the patient.

    • Ugo Bardi has pointed out, wisely, that ‘action bias’ on the part of governments can really screw things up, when doing nothing much might have led to acceptable results.

      We have a further problem in that we tend to reach for expensive and elaborate solutions -ventilators, testing, vaccines, lock-downs (the most costly of them all) – and ignore the simple, rather cheap ones, such as masks, closing only super-crowded venues, paying attention to vitamin levels, etc.

      • True agree, but for the continuous operation of JITs you better have the workforce in those basic industries (food, utilities, transport, ..) tested, vaccinated etc.

        The lock down was crucial in order to sedate that “youth hard partying” disease spreading vector, not done successfully in many places as clearly seen by now (summer). Ideally, they could live for year or two differently. Yep, I know nice advice (or edict) in theory only..

        ps doing nothing could have resulted in scenario of one of the stronger strains (Spain, Italy) of the virus going just everywhere

        ps2 which in itself could be only a myth as some explain it by the viral load impact per case anyway, i.e. long hours in confined bar or dance club producing the most damage to ones immune system vs random low intensity contagion type of spreading

        ps3 so the best option would had been to put anybody bellow 65yrs of age and not in JIT occupation on strict house arrest for large part of the year, trololol

  4. A very strong competitor for the title of Song with the Most Appropriate Lyrics for Human ‘Pocalyptic Predicament in a Controled Demolition Phase:

    Broadcast me a joyful noise unto the times, lord
    Count your blessings
    We’re sick of being jerked around
    We all fall down

    Well, look behind the eyes
    It’s a hallowed, hollow anesthetized
    “save my own ass, screw these guys”
    Smoke and mirror lock down

    The papers wouldn’t lie!
    I sigh. Not one more.

    We’re dug in the deep the price is steep
    The auctioneer is such a creep
    The lights went out, the oil ran dry
    We blamed it on the other guy

    Sure, all men are created equal
    Here’s the church, here’s the steeple
    Please stay tuned, we cut to sequel
    Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

  5. The debates were a circus. Biden did suprisingly well, no major gaffs. They must of upped his meds. Wallace to my mind was openly biased against Trump. The youtube feed had a window as big as the view of the candidates and commentary from Pundits appointed by unknown means that continually attacked trump. I have never witnessed such open attempts to tell the people how to vote. Trump wasnt on top of his game. This was not the route of clinton we saw in the debates in 2016. The proud boys comment… How about denouncing all violence? How about we try to get along? How about we base our judgment of people on their actions not their beliefs or their race? The question was a set up. Inherent to it was saying radical left gets a pass for violence. trump fell into the trap.

    • Biden showed he could act badly as well. I can’t see that this helps his cause.

      Biden indicated during the debate that he would remove the Trump tax cuts. He is also running on a platform of shutting down the economy for COVID, presumably only if necessary, but a person never knows. Raising taxes and shutting down the economy sounds like a recipe for disaster.

      The Democrats have been strong endorsers of the “science” that comes from all of the bad models that the academic community has put together. They feel that this makes their views superior. Except that their view of how the economy works is far too close to Greta Thunberg’s. The economy doesn’t really work that way.

      Trump disregards a lot of this science (or pseudo science), making them angry.

  6. A few tidbits from the Democratic Party platform:

    Combating the Climate Crisis and Pursuing Environmental Justice

    “We will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and, on day one, seek higher ambition from nations around the world, putting the United States back in the position of global leadership where we belong… We will follow science and the law by reducing harmful methane and carbon pollution from the energy sector.”

    “We agree with scientists and public health experts that the United States—and the world—must achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, and no later than 2050.”

    “To reach net-zero emissions as rapidly as possible, Democrats commit to eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035 through technology-neutral standards for clean energy and energy efficiency. We will dramatically expand solar and wind energy deployment through community-based and utility-scale systems, including in rural areas. Within five years, we will install 500 million solar panels, including eight million solar roofs and community solar energy systems, and 60,000 wind turbines, and turn American ingenuity into American jobs by leveraging federal policy to manufacture renewable energy solutions in America. Recognizing the urgent need to decarbonize the power sector, our technology-neutral approach is inclusive of all zero-carbon technologies, including hydroelectric power, geothermal, existing and advanced nuclear, and carbon capture and storage.”

    “Democrats believe we can build the clean energy infrastructure of the future using American-made materials. We will support measures to build a clean, equitable, and globally competitive manufacturing sector, including national Buy Clean and Buy America standards to incentivize production of low-carbon building and construction materials, like steel, cement, and timber, here in the United States. We will apply a carbon adjustment fee at the border to products from countries that fail to live up to their commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement, because we won’t let polluters undermine American competitiveness.”

    “We will reduce harmful air pollution and protect our children’s health by transitioning the entire fleet of 500,000 school buses to American-made, zero-emission alternatives within five years. We will lead by example in the public sector by transitioning the three million vehicles in the federal, state, and local fleets to zero-emission vehicles. Democrats will additionally support private adoption of affordable low-pollution and zero-emission vehicles by partnering with state and local governments to install at least 500,000 public charging stations from coast to coast.”

    https://democrats.org/where-we-stand/party-platform/combating-the-climate-crisis-and-pursuing-environmental-justice/

    • For your information:
      https://scitechdaily.com/may-2020-had-the-highest-monthly-atmospheric-co2-reading-ever-recorded/

      The second chart is the killer. It shows the smooth rise in average CO2 through the World Meteorological Conference in the 1970s through the UN Framework, the Kyoto Protocol, the Copenhagen Accord, and the Paris Agreement. All of them together have had no effect whatsoever.

      Proof from the observatory on Mauna Loa that all these past agreements were an expensive exercise in futility. As will be all future agreements. The whole thing is a puppet show behind which the global autocrats continue to enrich themselves at our expense. For almost fifty years we have watched this empty green virtue signalling, and it has all been lies.

      • These agreements were basically agreements to send manufacturing to low-wage countries, encouraging the development of these countries. Some of these countries, including China and India, had available coal resources that they could ramp up to enable this transition. These agreements did nothing helpful.

      • Thanks for sharing this, Robert.

        “The rate of increase during 2020 does not appear to reflect reduction in pollution emissions due to the sharp, worldwide economic slowdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The reason is that the drop in emissions would need to be large enough to stand out from natural CO2 variability, caused by how plants and soils respond to seasonal and annual variations of temperature, humidity, soil moisture, etc. These natural variations are large, and so far the emissions reductions associated with COVID19 do not stand out…”

        Natural CO2 variations are large. Indeed. If one hasn’t yet been absorbed into the fold of the Global Warming / Climate Change religion one might suspect that global CO2 output is largely beyond the control of human beings.

        However, don’t give up yet, true believers, as the high priests write, “If emissions reductions of 20 to 30 percent were sustained for six to 12 months, then the rate of increase of CO2 measured at Mauna Loa would be slowed.” You must keep the faith!

    • “Within five years, we will install 500 million solar panels, including eight million solar roofs”
      Solar panels are practically worthless, in my estimation. Low EROEI, intermittent. What a terrible idea.

      • Agreed! Also, the more that are added, the more difficult it is to keep the whole electric system in balance. They are also unhelpful in winter except near the equator.

  7. oh wait:

    https://www.breitbart.com/economy/2020/09/30/american-airlines-to-begin-furloughing-19000-workers-after-pelosi-fails-to-agree-to-deal-with-mnuchin/

    “American Airlines said it will begin furloughing 19,000 workers after lawmakers and the White House can’t agree on a coronavirus relief deal.

    The major airlines have held off on layoffs and mass furloughs under the terms of a $25 billion payroll support program Congress passed in March. The deal was aimed at helping the airlines cope with shutdowns, quarantines, and a crash in bookings, but at the time it was passed, lawmakers believed demand for air travel would recover in a few months.

    The March legislation’s ban on cutting jobs expires October 1. Demand for air travel has recovered a bit since the depths of March and April, but passenger volume remains 70 percent below pre-pandemic levels.”

    great news?

    unnecessary non-essential redundant airlines will now be forced to downsize to a level that equals the new normal lower demand.

  8. “The best is already over for a global economic recovery that started off at a sprint and is turning into a slog.

    “That’s the warning from Wall Street economists heading into the final months of a traumatic year. Some $20 trillion in stimulus from governments and central banks has pulled the world’s economies most of the way back to pre-pandemic levels. But for multiple reasons, the last stretch is set to be the hardest…

    “With their revenues squeezed, businesses could face problems repaying debts — leading to more bankruptcies, and making lenders more reluctant to extend credit even to viable firms.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-30/the-global-economic-recovery-has-slowed-from-a-bounce-to-a-grind

    • “Some $20 trillion in stimulus from governments and central banks has pulled the world’s economies most of the way back to pre-pandemic levels. But for multiple reasons, the last stretch is set to be the hardest…”

      In other words, the whole process has failed, and we are further way from a sustainable recovery than ever.

      “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” I’m not too fond of Dickens, but that comment is spot on.

  9. “The collapse in aviation caused by the coronavirus pandemic could wipe out 46 million jobs worldwide, according to new research that highlights just how damaging a prolonged downturn in air travel and tourism is for the global economy.

    “The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), a Geneva-based coalition of aviation industry organizations, said in the report published Wednesday that more than half of the 88 million jobs supported by aviation could be lost…”

    https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/30/business/coronavirus-aviation-jobs-atag/index.html

  10. “During the same March to April time period that saw billionaires’ gains spike, more than 22 million Americans lost their jobs. Those numbers have recovered somewhat, but …eight million more people are unemployed today than were jobless in February.

    “The same price shifts that made luxuries like food delivery cheaper have caused the inexpensive grocery store items that poor households rely on to become pricier.”

    https://time.com/5894969/the-recession-isnt-over/

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