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.


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.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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2,450 Responses to Reaching the End of Early Stimulus – What’s Ahead?

  1. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Traders are betting that the Bank of Russia will put interest rate cuts on hold after the ruble’s 8% slump against the dollar in the past three months.”

  2. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Rising debt of Chinese property developers are in the spotlight again, as liquidity issues at top developer China Evergrande trigger investor concerns.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “As China moves to tackle excessive borrowing in the real estate sector, it is walking a tightrope between providing cash-strapped local governments with revenues from land sales and keeping a lid on rising house prices.”

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “China is investing tens of billions of dollars in new mega-refineries even as its fuel demand is expected to peak within five years, raising the risk it will flood the region with cheap exports.”

        • Oil demand likely has already peaked, which is the problem.

          • Harry McGibbs says:

            Art Berman is pointing out that U.S. oil consumption has started slumping. “Recovery peaked in July at 65% of the five-year average and fell to 58% in September”, he says.

            • Interesting! I will have to check and see for myself. The weekly reports (which are what would be available for September) tend not to be terribly accurate, but they do give an indication.

              I am supposed to be doing a recorded Zoom panel discussion with Art Berman and and Richard Heinberg, moderated by Chris Martenson, on October 12.

              I found out after I agreed to do the panel discussion that the only way a person can view this panel discussion is by paying for the Peak Prosperity Digital Seminar: October 24 – 25 for $199 or $249. It is not really shown as part of this panel discussion, however. It will be part of a panel discussion on a “Bonus Video” called “Expensive Energy,” that participants can choose to view after the Digital Seminar is over.

              The overall seminar is called, “How to Prosper in the Post-COVID Future.” I can see why Chris didn’t want me to speak as part of the regular seminar. Key benefits are said to be

              BONUS PRESENTATIONS & BENEFITS – The panel discussion with Art Berman and Richard Heinberg is part of this.

            • Tom says:

              I attended one of Chris Martenson’s three day seminars back in 2015. I can save anyone the $249 and tell you what his resilience action plan includes:

              1. Invest your savings in gold because the markets are set to crash big time.
              2. Learn to grow your own food.
              3. Build social capital by getting to know your neighbors.
              4. Buy a subscription to Chris’s web site where you can get more resilience tips and action alerts from Chris and interviews with knowledgeable people like Gail.

              That’s about what the three days boiled down to. He seems to have no trouble finding people to pay money for this stuff. The seminar I attended was full.

            • Harry McGibbs says:

              $249. Wow. You’d need to be at least somewhat prosperous already to attend, lol.

      • According to the article, “Property sales growth has surged this year, helping the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.” So it is like the US. Those who are rich buy more property. Those who are poor may drop out, but this doesn’t really affect the property market.

  3. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Singapore’s overall unemployment rate rose to 3.4% in August… The rate nudged above a 3.3% peak hit during the global financial crisis in September 2009, the data showed.”

    [Still seems an impressively low percentage to me]

  4. Harry McGibbs says:

    “UK businesses took out 50% more loans in a three month span than they did in the entirety of 2019, new figures from the banking industry show.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Pubs and restaurants face a “cliff edge” in October with far more jobs likely to be cut than previously thought, MPs have been told…

      “”Ninety-one percent of our members said that the job support scheme wouldn’t be able to help them retain jobs because of the additional costs and restrictions that they were facing.””

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “A 400-strong ensemble of freelance musicians has played outside Parliament to highlight the plight of the music industry during the current pandemic.”

      • It seems like authorities would figure out that pubs and restaurants can’t really live with restrictions. Even people voluntarily staying at home is a problem.

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          Scotland has just shut pubs and restaurants for a large swathe of the country for 16 days and those that stay open have to close at 6pm and are not allowed to serve booze.

          • Robert Firth says:

            Harry, your post highlights the reason my thoughts increasingly turn to an aphorism by William S Burroughs:

            “Control is never a means to any useful end. It is a means only to more control.”

          • Minority Of One says:

            In those areas where pubs/restaurants are allowed to remain open, serving about 30% of the population, can stay open till 10 pm, I think. But pubs are allowed to serve drinks only outdoors. So most pubs outside the lockdown area will still have to close because they have no outdoor seating. Plus it is now winter weather. Nothing to stop those in the lockdown zone travelling outside it for a pint, if they don’t mind getting hypothermia.

            I believe that independence for Scotland has never been so popular as now (well over 50% for), but I don’t understand why. The UK govt, which applies Covid laws to England only, is a bit less draconian re Covid.

            • Minority Of One says:

              >>In those areas where pubs/restaurants are allowed to remain open… can stay open till 10 pm, I think

              My mistake. 6 pm it is, and no booze.

              Covid in Scotland: Extra police patrols as pubs prepare to shut at 18:00

              “Hospitality venues in the rest of Scotland will be allowed to open, but will only be permitted to serve non-alcoholic drinks and food indoors between 06:00 and 18:00”

            • It had better be an early dinner, if restaurants close at 6:00pm (18:00).

      • Robert Firth says:

        A sad story anyone with half a brain could have seen coming. A job support scheme is useless if the recipients are not allowed to do their jobs; and it they are allowed to do them, it is unnecessary. The UK has trapped itself and its workers in a negative sum game, and the government cannot even see what they have done.

  5. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Major European economies are downgrading already dire economic forecasts on the back of a second wave of coronavirus infections sweeping through the continent, with over 6.3 million cases now reported in the region.”

  6. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The coronavirus pandemic has put millions more workers across the developed world out of jobs than official unemployment statistics suggest, according to economists’ estimates — threatening economic recovery prospects in the months ahead.

    “More than 25m people in the euro area and the US are officially unemployed, according to figures published last week.

    “But economists say the true number of people who have lost work because of the pandemic is far higher, after taking account of those whose jobs are temporarily protected by state-subsidised furlough schemes, those who have dropped out of the labour force and those who cannot work as many hours a week as they would like.”

  7. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The collapse of pre-election U.S. stimulus talks threatens to inflict another wave of economic pain on Americans and curtail a recovery that’s already slowed.”

  8. AlpineJan says:

    There is a group of German lawyers assuming Covid is a hoax. They claim to cooperate with American lawyers to file a class action.

  9. davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    GDPnow is plus 35.3% for Q3.

  10. Malcopian says:

    As a child in the 1960s (UK), I remember that, as far as ice cream went, there wasn’t an awful lot of choice – though probably the Americans were way ahead of us, as far as consumerism was concerned. Things improved as the 1960s progressed, and already by the end of the 1970s there was consumer choice galore.

    We can see consumer choice here as part of complexity. It’s beginning to look like demand for oil peaked in 2018, so countries around the world are going haywire as people have to cope with less disposable income. Tim Morgan over on Surplus Energy Economics speaks of the necessity of ‘delayering’: the deliberate reduction of complexity, which would involve also consumer choice, meaning fewer brands, and who knows, even ice cream flavours.

    Now is a good time to remind ourselves our Charles Hall’s hierarchy pyramid of EROI.



    [ Charles Hall, one of the founders of EROI methodology, initially thought an EROI of 3 was enough to run modern civilization, which is like investing $1 and getting $3 back. But after decades of research, Hall concluded an EROI of 12 to 14 might be needed as illustrated in the figure below (Lambert and Hall 2014).

    This will give you a good idea of what Hall means by EROI (Hall 2011):

    If you’ve got an EROI of 1.1:1, you can pump the oil out of the ground and look at it.
    If you’ve got 1.2:1, you can refine it and look at it.
    At 1.3:1, you can move it to where you want it and look at it.
    We looked at the minimum EROI you need to drive a truck, and you need at least 3:1 at the wellhead.
    Now, if you want to put anything in the truck, like grain, you need to have an EROI of 5:1. And that includes the depreciation for the truck.
    But if you want to include the depreciation for the truck driver and the oil worker and the farmer, then you’ve got to support the families. And then you need an EROI of 7:1
    And if you want education, you need 8:1 or 9:1
    And if you want health care, you need 10:1 or 11:1
    We begin to go over the net energy cliff as soon around 14 if you consider the arts to be an essential component of civilization. Twelve is needed for healthy care, 9 or 10 for education, and 7 or 8 to support a family, so somewhere between 7 and 14 according to how you define civilization (Fig. 12).

    Murphy (2013) found that society needed at least an EROI of 11. So much net energy is provided by any energy resource with an EROI of 11 or higher, that the difference between an EROI of 11 and 100 makes little difference. But once you go below 11, there is such a large, exponential difference in the net energy provided to society by an EROI of 10 versus 5, that the net energy available to civilization appears to fall off a cliff when EROI dips below 10 (Mearns 2008).

    Weissbach (2013) found that it is not economic to build an electricity generating power source with an EROI of less than 7.

    • Malcopian says:

      To illustrate my point, this UK comedy sketch by ‘The Two Ronnies’ is taken from the mid-1970s. I’m sure you wouldn’t have had such a large choice of ice cream flavours a decade earlier. How many ice cream flavours will there be left, as we slide down Seneca’s cliff?

    • I think that it is the overall EROI of the energy mix that matters. You can’t substitute a low EROI energy source for a higher EROI energy source, and have the economy work well.

      As I see the situation, the higher the average EROI, the higher the selling prices that can be maintained for energy products, without government subsidies. The high prices help transfer the surplus energy to the rest of the economy, through taxes and through dividends to shareholders. The latter often end up benefitting pension plans.

      As the population rises, average required EROI likely needs to rise, so as to provide adequate support for the world economy.

    • Dennis L. says:

      It looks about right, I would expect traditional education to go before healthcare.
      Here in Rochester there are more and more doc in a boxs springing up, per visit charge of say $60 – I assume cash or CC.
      Education looks like there will be a significant downsizing in the next year or two.

      Peak oil arrived, no one called it right but Gail. We are living it now.

      Dennis L.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Good points, Dennis. However, I am a little more optimistic about education. The education industry is on the brink of a drastic downsizing, but since it long ago got out of the education business that will be a blessing. Perhaps real education, as it has been known since the Hellenistic age, will then be able to recover.

        To paraphrase Alfred North Whitehead, the US graduate in 2020 knows less tham Plato, less than Aristotle, less than Archimedes, less than Thucydides, …

  11. The American Institute for Economic Research has an article up called, The Pandemic that Killed Debate

    The latest smear target is neuroradiologist and health policy expert Dr. Scott Atlas, formerly of Stanford. A longtime lockdown dissenter, his principal and latest offense seems to be agreeing to serve on The White House’s coronavirus task force, although Anthony Fauci — a researcher who funds grants, and who is not a public health expert — is permitted to do so without adverse media coverage. Where Dr. Atlas and Dr. Fauci differ is in their fundamental approach to the virus: Fauci believes we can never return to normal, while Atlas believes all low-risk groups should do just that, with protective measures targeted towards vulnerable populations. Atlas believes epidemics end with herd immunity, while Fauci apparently believes they end if you lock down well enough for long enough, and then fundamentally change your way of life because you now have the insight that more pandemics will occur.

  12. Oh dear says:

    “These things don’t work out with higher oil prices; they work out with overthrown governments and wars. Many people die, but not necessarily from epidemics themselves, to bring population down in line with available energy supply.”

    Gail, a smaller population may not be such a bad thing.

    It is generally assumed that smaller populations lose their genetic diversity and are more liable to extinction as they do not have the variations that allow for adaptation. An empirical study seems to suggest otherwise: genetic diversity is retained and the genome is instead cleaned of deleterious mutations, which otherwise can ‘pile up’ and tend to be resistant to elimination. Which would be all that we could have hoped for on that front. It has become almost a ‘dogma’ with conservationists that smaller populations are genetically bad for a species, but that may not actually be so.

    It could be important for us also to draw out the potential ‘positives’ of collapse. If ‘history’ has determined that our civilisation, and its mass population, is coming to an end, then it is not simply an ‘end’ but also potentially a new ‘beginning’. Our current civilisation was one ‘experiment’ in history, and its ‘failure’ is its ‘result’. But that does not imply that there will not be other cultures that will arise with their own ‘plusses’ in our place. A healthier population would be such a ‘plus’.

    Industrial civilisation has been a glorious dissipative structure, it has performed its ‘function’, and physics will ‘pick up’ and ‘carry on’. If civilizational ‘progress’, like agriculture and industrialism, does not necessarily lead to healthier, happier populations, as studies seem to suggest, then collapse may actually be a ‘mercy’ on the human species. It may be that we have ‘performed’ our ‘grand function’ to ‘burn off’ the carbon and that history will be ‘easier’ on us in the future. There may be other counter-intuitive ‘plusses’, like cultural accomplishments, that we cannot foresee. Who knows?

    ‘Always look on the bright side’?

    > Genetic diversity of small populations: Not always “doom and gloom”?

    Is a key theory of evolutionary and conservation biology—that loss of genetic diversity can be predicted from population size—on shaky ground? In the face of increasing human-induced species depletion and habitat fragmentation, this question and the study of genetic diversity in small populations are paramount to understanding the limits of species’ responses to environmental change and to providing remedies to endangered species conservation. Few empirical studies have investigated to what degree some small populations might be buffered against losses of genetic diversity. Even fewer studies have experimentally tested the potential underlying mechanisms. The study of Schou, Loeschcke, Bechsgaard, Schlotterer, and Kristensen (2017) in this issue of Molecular Ecology is elegant in combining classic common garden experimentation with population genomics on an iconic experimental model species (Drosophila melanogaster). The authors reveal a slower rate of loss of genetic diversity in small populations under varying thermal regimes than theoretically expected and hence an unexpected retention of genetic diversity. They are further able to hone in on a plausible mechanism: associative overdominance, wherein homozygosity of deleterious recessive alleles is especially disfavoured in genomic regions of low recombination. These results contribute to a budding literature on the varying mechanisms underlying genetic diversity in small populations and encourage further such research towards the effective management and conservation of fragmented or endangered populations.

    • I haven’t been reading about the subject of loss of genetic diversity. My impression has been that it doesn’t take a very large sample, if it is not all from the same closely related group, to get adequate diversity. It would not surprise me if 100 were enough. Certainly, 1000 individuals with a variety of backgrounds would be sufficient. We might expect the “least well adapted” to be lost at a greater rate than others. This might be for the best.

      Also, more radiation to increase diversity might be part of the self-organizing system’s plan. This might come from spent fuel pools, for example.

      • Ed says:

        My impression from reading is 10,000 is a viable group. When we are talking about human population on planet 10,000,000 is a small population. It is the step down by 100 or 1000 that we need. No need to go down by a factor of 100,000,000

        • Oh dear says:

          Gail, in a sense, what is ‘living’ and ‘thinking’ is the overall dissipative structure – just as we say that a ‘person’ ‘lives’ and ‘thinks’ rather than the organs that comprise the person. Persons comprise the ‘organs’ that work together to allow the wider dissipative structure (society, economy) to function, to dissipate energy, to ‘maintain’ itself and to ‘grow’.

          The ‘value’ of the ‘organs’ is their functionality within the ‘organism’, they are ordered to its ‘health’, to its ‘life’. So it is with the ‘organs’ of the human body and so it is with the ‘organs’ (persons) of the wider, ‘living’ dissipative structure (society, economy). ‘Organic function’ (biology) is ordered to wider dissipative function (energy) and biological organisms are ‘organs’ to wider dissipative structures.

          The ‘values’ through which we regard the ‘organs’ of the body ‘reflect’ their ‘value’ to the functioning of the body. Even so, the ‘values’ that appear in consciousness ‘reflect’ the manner of functioning of the wider dissipative structure (society, economy), the functionality of its ‘organs’ (persons) and their ‘ordering’ to its ‘health’ and to its ‘life’.

          That systemic functionality, and the ‘values’ that are ‘relative’ to the dissipative structure and to its functioning, condition our ‘perspective’ toward the ‘level’ of the population according to its ‘adjustment’ to the dissipative structure and to its functioning.

          The present, capitalist dissipative structure functions through a magnificent, reckless growth that requires an ever-growing abundance of persons, producers and consumers, a constant multiplication of its ‘organs’ (persons) that allow it to function. The multiplicity of the ‘organs’ has its ‘value’ to the functioning of the structure and the ‘values’ through which we consider the multiplicity of persons ‘reflects’ that ‘value’.

          The bourgeois ‘values’ of ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’ (Bentham), and ‘each person an end in their own right’ (Kant), concern the functionality of the multiplicity of the ‘organs’ (persons) required by the capitalist, consumerist dissipative structure. It is ‘correct’ that we should now ‘think’ like that because that allows the present dissipative structure to function.

          Post-collapse dissipative structures (societies, economies) are likely to have much less energy available for their maintenance and growth. They will require and maintain entirely fewer human ‘organs’ (persons) to provide for their functioning. The ‘organs’, and their number, will be ‘adjusted’ to their functionality within the new, smaller, less expansive dissipative structure.

          A ‘modicum’ of ‘organs’ (persons), a lower population ‘level’, will have ‘value’ to a more constrained wider structural dissipative function and ‘values’ will ‘reflect’ that. People will ‘value’ a ‘lower’ population level, and perhaps a better ‘adapted’ population, because that is what then has ‘value’ to the wider dissipative structure. It is, in effect, the wider dissipative structure itself that is ‘thinking’ and ‘valuing’ through persons and ‘ordering’ them to itself.

          Conscious ‘values’ are epiphenomenal to the ‘value’ of the ‘organs’ (persons) and to their functionality within the wider ‘living’ dissipative structure (economy, society), just as the ‘values’ by which we regard the organs of the human body concern their ‘value’ to the functioning of the human dissipative structure (person).

          What ‘lives’ and ‘thinks’, ‘wills’ and ‘values’, and ‘orders’ to itself, is the wider dissipative structure, just as the ‘person’ ‘thinks’ and not just an organ thereof. The ‘thinking’ and ‘willing’ of the wider dissipative structure, and its ‘evaluations’, concern the ‘ordering’ of its ‘organs’ (persons) to its own functioning, to its maintence and to its growth. It is a ‘living’ thing and its ‘values’ are ‘ordered’ to its continued existence and to its functioning.

          The cosmos is the widest dissipative structure, and is itself an ‘organism’. All other dissipative structures (stars, solar systems, ecosystems, societies, biological organisms) are its ‘organs’.

          • Oh dear says:

            Ed, I must apologise for misdirecting that post, I could have sworn that I clicked on the ‘reply’ above your post, which would have put the post beneath the post beneath your own.

          • Perhaps; it is hard to envision the cosmos as thinking. It is more a matter of understanding what is consistent with how the order of the cosmos must actually behave.

            If, early on, the earth needed life on the planet to maximize energy dissipation, the cosmos might arrange life from elsewhere to speed the process along.

            Now, the cosmos perhaps can understand that world population needs to be lower. The way that this can be arranged is by a lab accident in Wuhan and a Chinese government that is bent on covering up what happened and not losing face with the outside world.

      • Oh dear says:

        It is difficult to estimate ancient population levels but these guys at the university of Helsinki suggest ‘330,000 people at 30 ky ago to a minimum of 130,000 people at 23 ky ago’ in Europe. The population of Europe today is 747,756,312, so a Palaeolithic population of 330,000 was 0.044% of the present population. The population has seen a 226492.82% increase.

        Likely our historical location within dissipative structures that entail large populations, first agricultural and then industrial, conditions our ‘perspective’ to ‘value’ a larger population. ‘The greatest happiness of the greatest number’, as the bourgeois philosopher Jeremy Bentham put it. Likely ‘angst’ at the prospect of a population crash is conditioned by those ‘values’.

        A post-collapse population might find those bourgeois ‘values’ quite alien to their own conditioned ‘perspective’ within their own dissipative structures. ‘Values’ are ‘relative’ to the dissipative structure and to its manner of function. They are likely to be concerned with the maintenance of a much smaller population that is proportioned and well adapted to a situation of limited resources, and their ‘values’ are liable to be quite different to ours.

        Initially, as you suggest Gail, the population is likely to be much lower than 30 ky ago, as people learn how to adapt and to structure dissipation in unfamiliar conditions that have been transformed since the Palaeolithic. The landscape is largely stripped bare of the means that provided our hunter-gatherer ancestors with sustenance. The environment too will take time to recover to a more ‘natural’ condition. Smaller groups will be ‘scattered’ across the continent.

        > Human population dynamics in Europe over the Last Glacial Maximum

        The severe cooling and the expansion of the ice sheets during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), 27,000–19,000 y ago (27–19 ky ago) had a major impact on plant and animal populations, including humans. Changes in human population size and range have affected our genetic evolution, and recent modeling efforts have reaffirmed the importance of population dynamics in cultural and linguistic evolution, as well. However, in the absence of historical records, estimating past population levels has remained difficult. Here we show that it is possible to model spatially explicit human population dynamics from the pre-LGM at 30 ky ago through the LGM to the Late Glacial in Europe by using climate envelope modeling tools and modern ethnographic datasets to construct a population calibration model. The simulated range and size of the human population correspond significantly with spatiotemporal patterns in the archaeological data, suggesting that climate was a major driver of population dynamics 30–13 ky ago. The simulated population size declined from about 330,000 people at 30 ky ago to a minimum of 130,000 people at 23 ky ago. The Late Glacial population growth was fastest during Greenland interstadial 1, and by 13 ky ago, there were almost 410,000 people in Europe. Even during the coldest part of the LGM, the climatically suitable area for human habitation remained unfragmented and covered 36% of Europe. (dot pdf)

    • Tim Groves says:

      a smaller population may not be such a bad thing.

      It’s not the destination but the journey that may be irksome.

      To reach a smaller population, a lot less people are going to have to be born each year or a lot more people are going to have to die young.

      Your value judgement about that is likely to vary considerably depending on your place in the scheme of things. Are you willing to forgo having children? Are you willing to die before your time or witness your own children die before you do and then proclaim that this may not be such a bad thing?

      • Ed says:

        I am happy with a limit of one child per couple.

      • Oh dear says:

        Tim, thank you for your reply.

        I expect that post-collapse dissipative conditions will themselves ‘manage’ the population. It will be proportioned to the dissipative structure of the time and to its manner of function.

        I do not envisage a deliberate or rational pre-collapse ‘downsizing’ and my ‘values’ do not come into it. The ‘logic’ of the present, capitalist dissipative structure precludes such a societal effort.

        See my reply to Gail, above, which explains some of what I foresee.

        Thanks again for your enquiry.

        • Tim Groves says:

          Oh, dear, thanks for a clear response. Sorry I jumped to a confusion in assuming you were alluding to deliberate pre-collapse “downsizing”.

          I also expect post-collapse dissipative conditions to downsize the population drastically. I don’t see the process as a good thing for the people caught up in it, but it seems inevitable given that the industrial food production and distribution system will be disrupted and degraded by the collapse.

          • Oh dear says:

            Yes, it would be ‘completely insane’ to go around telling people that it is ‘wrong’ that they should have kids, let alone hoping that people will die younger. I strictly keep my ‘values’ adapted to dissipative conditions today, and tomorrow will just have to take care of itself.

            ‘Today’ is hardly my responsibility, let alone ‘tomorrow’, and neither should it be my burden. The key to a happy life is to know the limits of one’s responsibilities and to stay ‘sane’ in the ‘here and now’.

            It will not be ‘good’ that ‘downsizing’ pressures will be put on populations after collapse but it will be ‘good’ that smaller populations will be better able to adapt to those conditions.


    • Nehemiah says:

      “a smaller population may not be such a bad thing.”

      Perhaps not, but getting there might be awful.

      “It is generally assumed that smaller populations lose their genetic diversity”

      It depends on how small. So small that it is subject to genetic drift, yes, but that is very small indeed.

      “An empirical study seems to suggest otherwise: genetic diversity is retained and the genome is instead cleaned of deleterious mutations,”

      The abstract you quote simply says that a captive fruit fly population lost diversity s l o w e r t h a n e x p e c t e d. That is still bad, but in any case not relevant to the human situation.

      I remember over a decade ago there was a “landmark” study of mammal populations living under natural conditions which concluded that genetic purging was a slow and insufficiently effective process in very small populations, but, again, this is not a situation that applies to man.

      The rule of thumb worked out by geneticists for mammalian population is the 50/500 rule: to avoid inbreeding depression due to genetic drift, an effective population size of at least 50; and to maintain longer term genetic potential, an effective population of at least 500. Keep in mind that to get an effective population size in this range, you usually need a considerably larger census (=total) population for various reasons I won’t go into. Some have argued for much larger Ne sizes numbering in the thousands, but I find the arguments I have read against these much larger requirements convincing. If you were gathering a small, isolated community, that you thought might remain isolated for many generations, such as some small religious communities, I would argue for doubling the 50/500 rule for “insurance.”

      By far the most important factor in purging deleterious alleles is the strength of natural selection rather than population size. Specimens with a larger than average number of deleterious mutations is more likely to succumb to predation or hardship than genetically healthier individuals. This also applies to man when living under more or less natural conditions (not necessarily hunter gatherers, though).

      “which otherwise can ‘pile up’ and tend to be resistant to elimination.”

      They have been piling up in the western world for roughly 8 generations, and for a shorter length of time in other countries. In particular, sanitation, vaccines, and general knowledge of the germ theory of disease have brought childhood mortality down to an unnaturally low level in all but the most isolated and “backward” populations, and to almost nothing in the most advanced countries. This is a mutational load disaster, and it was the primary concern that inspired the eugenics movement in the late 19th to early 20th century.

      If we are lucky, we will experience a catastrophe so severe that we forget all about that self-defeating germ theory of disease, and hopefully we will become so stupid in the near future that literacy entirely disappears so that we cannot relearn it from old books. It is imperative in the developed world that we raise early childhood mortality at least 30 fold, and a less drastic increase in poorer places such as Africa. For 200 years, we have been working to decrease childhood mortality, when we should be working instead to raise the childhood death rate. Perhaps I should write letters to UNICEF and the WHO explaining why they need to reverse their current health policies. We need more death, lest people in their desperation be tempted to support eugenic policies once again as succeeding generations continue to weaken in body and mind.

  13. MG says:

    The problem of the population is that the people have become accustomed to the growth that is here just during the last few centuries thanks to the fossil fuels. The majority of the population is not prepared to accept the stalling growth, which accelerates the collapse itself.

    The implosion is something that the majority of the people can not imagine. But it is here. There will be no recovery, as a part of this implosion are erroneous beliefs in automation, green economy etc. totally ignoring the skyrocketing debt.

    The small number of the people who see the reality is not believed by the majority. Even your family members do not believe you. There will be no growth, no recovery, as there is no energy for that with the current huge human population and the environmental pollution.

    Using the Latin proverb “Memento mori” in modern times sounds ridiculous or strange. When I told to a catholic priest that I think abou the end of the world every day, he tried to downplay it, which is the real picture of our times when even the spiritual people are not able to accept the finite nature of the reality we live in.

    There are people who become greedy now, as the deflation is inevitable and the cheap goods become a big temptation. But what can this polluted world running out of energy offer you?

    The sad thing is when you see your friends and the relatives drowning in this mess and you can not save them, as they do not want to believe that the world is imploding, can not grasp it…

    • Very few people can think about the possibility of overshoot and collapse affecting us, in the near term. Young people especially find this impossible to believe. We really don’t know exactly how things will play out, on what time scale. Perhaps that is for the best.

      • MG says:

        Because of the growth of the last centuries, the people have become really greedy. In an effort to save the growth they take measures that are crippling and self-destructing, as they often act in haste vis-a-vis the rising complexity.

        When the complexity rises, there is a need for deeper and deeper analysis in order to take correct measures, which requires more and more time and resources. The recent falling of the planes because of the software bugs revealed what is happening on smaller scale everywhere: the people take wrong measures because they act in a hurry to save the growth.

        Recently, I have visited the dentist. Before the coronavirus, she was so attacked by the impatient people, that she had to put a notice in the waiting room stating that the people should come to the dentist in proper clothes, not in the dirty working overalls, that she needs breaks, needs to go to the toilet etc.

        Then the coronavirus came and only small number of planes is in the air and due to the strict hygienic measures, the dentists can accept only a limited number of the patients per day.

        The world slowed down, because of less work, the people have lower incomes, which means no growth, they have to satisfy the mortgages and the debt they have.

        The coronavirus materialised the wall of the crippling complexity that limits the growth.

      • Xabier says:

        And yet there has never been so much accurate information on past collapses available: any number of Collapse videos on Youtube, for instance.

        But they would require an attention span which can stretch to about an hour in most cases, and a mind not dazzled by Techno-Utopian promises, open and curious.

    • Robert Firth says:

      MG, early in this pandemic I reread the Ars moriendi, but gained little comfort from struggling through a lot of rather bad Latin. I feel a better course of action is to review ones life, and lay the result at the feet of whomever.

  14. Harry McGibbs says:

    “President Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted that he told his team to stop negotiating with congressional Democrats on a stimulus package until after the election.”

    • That’s important it means these Congressional $2-3T (or more) are canceled at least till Q1 next year or if the incumbent looses the election anyway.. Hm, so the synthetic money dept. at FED is going to have very bad upcoming Christmas, working over time to get that alt tool ready..

      Perhaps there is no rush at all, plenty of time: Chinese kept docile no stress, Russians have -stans on color revolution fire and Europeans are preoccupied with appeasing the Sultan among their other weird cultural activities of the day..


  15. Nehemiah says:

    Gail wrote: “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.”

    Proximity to hydro-electric plants, which may linger for centuries in some prime locations, will become the preferred sites for mass production manufacturers. Settling in one of these locations now could pay off well for one’s descendants.

    • mass production requires five things

      mass energy

      mass input of materials

      mass output of products

      plus mass transport and mass markets to take those products

      it is critical to have all those working in harmony and balance, having one or two doesn’t work.

      having lots of energy available is like having an electric light switch but no bulb in the socket

      • Good way of putting the problem!

      • Nehemiah says:

        Even the Roman Empire had a fairly sophisticated level of mass production. When Adam Smith wrote _The Wealth of Nations_ (1776), England also had mass production, Yes, England was burning a bit of coal, but not a great deal, and not yet for transport.

        A key factor in the absence of motor transport seems to be access to water transport. Water transport may also be supplemented by electrically powered railways to the extent that some areas can produce enough hydro electric to fuel them. Electrical generation is a 19th century technology.
        Think, for example, of the hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls.

        Even without a large scale power grid, local electrical generation is likely to remain with us for a very long time, since electricity is too useful a fuel to completely abandon, and not super-advanced technology. However, I am sure it will cost a lot more, but fueling machines with electricity will probably still be cheaper for certain purposes than hiring large numbers of human workers. Goods will move much slower than today, but they will still move, just as they did in the pre-industrial past.

        When civilizations in the past traversed a cultural valley, they afterward climbed to a higher peak. After the next valley, man will again climb to a new peak of complexity, but this time it will be a lower peak. I expect much lower, but still higher than the valley-of-undershoot that they emerged from. And it is quite possible that communities near a hydroelectric plant will not fall as far off of today’s peak as other locales. The higher supply of local energy will allow them to maintain a higher level of complexity than other areas. There is a close link between energy flows and complexity.

        White’s law – › wiki › White’s_law
        White’s law, named after Leslie White and published in 1943, states that, other factors remaining constant, “culture evolves as the amount of energy harnessed per capita per year is increased, or as the efficiency of the instrumental means of putting the energy to work is increased”.

        • Lidia17 says:

          Electricity is not a fuel.

          • Robert Firth says:

            Lydia, a necessary truth captured in five words! Thank you, you have made my day.

            Electricity is an energy carrier: a very good one, because all it needs is wires. To the Romans, similarly, aqueducts were an energy carrier: they carried water, which kept hale and healthy the workers who were their main source of energy.

            Of course, the Romans regarded aqueducts as essential services, and mandated a 200 year life for them; today we are lucky if an electric wire has a 20 year life, because we have lost the ability to think about the future.

            But, just as aqueducts require a reliable source of water at the other end, so do our electric wires require a reliable source of energy. And it seems Nature is depriving us of that source, even as the green revolutionaries are trying to persuade us we do not need it. A fatal convergence of fact and fantasy.

        • We have a problem with prices that are too low for producers for fossil fuels of all types. This is a huge problem because it drives these producers out of business. You need fossil fuels for fixing electricity transmission lines and for maintaining the hydroelectric dam itself–removing sedimentation, for example.

          Electricity is helpful for some things, but it is generally not very helpful for growing and transporting food. We would starve if we needed to depend on electricity.

          Electricity also doesn’t work for paving roads or for building buildings, at least with our current technology.

  16. Nehemiah says:

    “Stimulus,” lol. We have seen two kinds of stimulus. One has been mailing a $1200 check to people (maybe another later), which, spread over several months, can only slightly slow the contraction of a huge economy.

    Unemployment checks replace existing income (somewhat more than that for lower paid employees, and less than that for the better paid), but in the aggregate are not preventing a fall in private demand, and the increased debt which finances these subsidies will be a net drag on economic growth in the future.

    Second, the Fed’s “easing,” which acts by increasing bank reserves which facilitates increased bank lending IF, and only if, there is demand for additional bank loans from qualified borrowers, but not if we are in a “balance sheet recession” where few qualified borrowers want to go deeper into debt until they have reduced their current debt service obligations.

    Financial system: the current financial system was invented by John Law in the 17th century. It eventually ended in catastrophe, and the world returned to gold and silver until the 20th century when our financial thinkers decided the John Law system (google it) would work if only wiser and nobler technocrats were running it. What is the John Law system? Instead of backing a unit of currency with a reserve of gold, it is backed with a reserve of debt. Every dollar in today’s economy represents a unit of debt. Theoretically, if ever US dollar denominated debt in the global economy were paid in full, so that everyone were debt free, there literally would be no dollars remaining in circulation. The physical greenbacks would all end up in a vault at the Fed, and the larger part of the money supply, which is not physical, would simply evaporate upon repayment. I do not know how this precarious (IMO) system will interact with a world of declining energy supplies.

    Historical curiosity: John Law was born in 1671. Exactly 300 years later, in 1971, President Nixon severed the US dollar’s last link with gold, thus putting the whole world onto a system of fiat floating currencies all ultimately backed by promises to pay more units of currency. Was 1971 chosen for symbolic purposes, or is this just a coincidence?

    Commodity based money can gradually rise in value (deflation) as production of goods and services rises, but money which represents a unit of debt must be serviced by generating more debt (in the form of bank loans which increase the money supply). Thus, debt and money supply must rise together in order to generate enough money in the economy to pay off previously generated debt (money), plus interest which is the banks’ profit. I think that is why we are locked into a cycle of permanent inflation, whereas the classical gold standard, which backed paper money with a large fractional reserve of gold rather than debt, cycled between periods of inflation (when money was borrowed faster than it was repaid) and deflation (when money was repaid faster than it was borrowed).

    Oil prices: Resources are determined by physics, but prices are set by markets (or sometimes governments). Current low prices are because there is a supply cushion. (If you don’t believe me, listen to Art Berman: )
    Eventually, the supply cushion will dry up and prices will skyrocket. Just look at what has happened to the price of rhodium (over $14,000 per oz recently) or helium

    A price for oil so high that no one is able and willing to pay, not even the armed forces of the world’s major powers, will be astronomically high, so production from existing wells (where most of the costs have already been sunk) will continue for a long time to come. Drilling new wells, so long as reserves exist, will always resume when total production from existing wells falls below total demand. The fact that weak bidders get priced out of the market as prices rise is irrelevant. The strong bidders alone are sufficient to support a very high price when supplies become scarce.

    Tariffs: jobs are not the only or the most important argument for a protective tariff. The fewer of its own necessities a country produces, the more vulnerable it is, both financially and militarily. Further, the chain of innovation and productivity increases that raise living standards both tend to be concentrated in goods production. Manufacturing’s beneficent spillover effects are huge.

    Speed of collapse: the speed and severity with which a complex system collapses is not knowable in advance, not even in theory with perfect knowledge. There is an element of unavoidable randomness in the pathway that collapse in a complex system happens to follow.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Thank you, Nehemiah, for a most cogent analysis. John Law used to be an object lesson in bizarro economics, until the whole profession migrated to that world.

    • You have believed a lot of common thinking.

      Let’s talk about the price of helium. Helium is not an energy product. It is used in fairly small quantities, for some limited uses. Blowing up helium balloons for parties may be “out,” but who cares? A higher price will ration what is available among the available buyers. This is also true, if there is a shortage of garlic or onions in one part of the world. It is a tiny piece of the total picture; our lives don’t depend on it.

      Energy prices are very different. The prices tend to depend on what end products customers can afford to buy, using their earnings, available credit, and subject to current regulations. Can they buy a house? A car? An airplane ticket to London? Oops, not an airplane ticket to London, no matter how much funds they have. Too much threat of COVID!

      Energy products are used in every part of the system. Without enough energy products, the system tends to collapse.

      An easy comparison to oil shortages is coal shortages, at the time of World War I, the Depression, and World War II. This was a Peak Coal problem, with the UK experiencing Peak Coal in 1913 and Germany experiencing Peak Hard Coal about 1938. The problem was too low coal prices. Coal miners could not make an adequate living. The result wasn’t high prices; it was gluts of unaffordable food and unaffordable oil. The result was World War I and World War II. Our idea of what goes wrong, when there is too small a supply of energy products is too limited. We get a combination of

      -Huge wage disparity. The poor cannot afford to eat well. They can’t afford cars or homes. Has anyone heard complaints of this sort?
      –Propensity for epidemics, because of the many poor who don’t eat well and live in crowded conditions. Anyone notice an epidemic recently?
      –Tendency toward population unrests and a desire to overthrow governments, to protest low wages. Anyone notice any of this recently?

      These things don’t work out with higher oil prices; they work out with overthrown governments and wars. Many people die, but not necessarily from epidemics themselves, to bring population down in line with available energy supply.

      • as i sum it up

        all conflict is over resources

        differences are only a matter of scale

      • Bei Dawei says:

        This should be its own (top of the page) post.

        • You are right.

          Economists think in terms of their overly simple models. If there is too much, the price goes down; if there is too little, the price goes up. Everyone seems to believe these overly simple models.

          Energy is what provides jobs that pay well, besides providing food and the ability to pay back debt with (non-negative) interest. When there isn’t enough energy, all kinds of bad things happen. And besides the bad things happening, the price of energy products tends to fall, rather than rise, causing production to fall.

      • Nehemiah says:

        “Let’s talk about the price of helium. Helium is not an energy product.”

        True, but not relevant. Energy prices have a long history of behaving exactly like the prices of other commodities, such as helium and rhodium. The reason oil prices are not lower is not because oil is currently in short supply (it is not–supplies are currently more than adequate to fuel weak global demand). Rather, supply is more abundant than demand, and theory and experience both say that under that condition, prices will be low–which they are. The real test will be when demand rises faster than supply OR supply falls faster than demand. Your theory says that will crush prices, but, in all of history, supply shortages have never crushed prices. Except in the presence of price controls, prices have always risen sharply under such circumstances. I predict that history will repeat: supply shortages of anything, including energy, will drive prices up, not down. Fortunately, we are both likely to live long enough to see our respective theses tested.

        “Energy prices are very different. The prices tend to depend on what end products customers can afford to buy,”

        So do helium prices and rhodium prices. Nothing will sell if the price is higher than anyone is willing and able to pay. What is the last thing that people will quit buying? The last they they will give up buying is the thing that is most, not least, essential to life: energy! One source of energy is food. This is the primary energy source that must be provided before other forms of energy can be accessed. When supply of energy from food falls below demand, do prices crash? No, they rocket upwards. The second most important source of energy is the energy to fuel our machines (which replace human and animal muscle). Like the energy from food, the energy from oil and other underground resources rises when supply falls below demand. To say that energy production will cease when *everyone* gets priced out of the market is correct, but what is *incorrect* is to say that energy production will cease when the *average* consumer gets priced out of the market. What will happen is that the average consumer will just buy less but pay more for each unit of energy purchased, and the wealthier consumers, private and public, will still buy as much as they want, but will pay much more for it than previously. Again, like any other commodity, such as wheat, rice, potatoes, and other essential energy sources, and like non-energy commodities too.

        “An airplane ticket to London? Oops, not an airplane ticket to London, no matter how much funds they have. Too much threat of COVID!”

        Most international travel has stopped because governments have temporarily suspended or sharply reduced freedom of cross border travel. Some countries have even curtailed travel between provinces. Not really a supply and demand issue for now.

        “Energy products are used in every part of the system. Without enough energy products, the system tends to collapse.”

        And that is even more true for energy from food. Yet are food prices collapsing? Anyone who shops knows I hardly need to answer the question. (And, yes, I know that food is more essential than oil, but, just to head that line of reasoning off at the pass, previously you argued it was the most essential resources (energy) that respond “in reverse” to supply and demand dynamics, and not less essential resources such as helium and rhodium, so food should act exactly like oil, perhaps more so. Instead of food prices skyrocketing while those least able to afford it starve as I predict, by your theory food production, and therefore everyone’s food consumption as well, poor and rich alike, should go to zero in a famine. Yet what does history show?)

        “An easy comparison to oil shortages is coal shortages, at the time of World War I, the Depression, and World War II. This was a Peak Coal problem, with the UK experiencing Peak Coal in 1913 and Germany experiencing Peak Hard Coal about 1938. The problem was too low coal prices. Coal miners could not make an adequate living. The result wasn’t high prices; it was gluts of unaffordable food and unaffordable oil.”

        Which depressed prices, causing the gluts to get drawn down, after which prices rose again. Every commodity trader has seen this pattern time and time again. Watch or listen to your local farm-and-market show, and they will frequently talk about this pattern as well. “The cure for low prices is low prices,” as the old saying goes.

        “The result was World War I and World War II.”

        Not the result. WW I was caused by the Austrian Empire’s determination to annex little Serbia, and the network of often secret alliances that this triggered into action. It was not a secret international strategy to get rid of Britain’s coal glut. The rest of Europe could not have cared less about the UK’s temporary coal glut.

        WW II was a bit different. Germany’s invasion of the USSR was planned years in advance. They knew they would need more oil for the coming war effort, so they launched a very ambitious coal-to-oil program in the 1930s. I don’t know every detail, but I imagine coal production ramped up faster than the coal-to-oil factories could be built and use the available supplies. By the way, Germany’s experience is a cautionary tail in regard to the idea that we can quickly or easily replace oil shortfalls with liquified coal. Germany’s all out effort, in spite of its early start, never was able to fill the supply gap. Also, the energy contained in the “synthetic” liquid fuel was considerably less than the original energy content of the coal, apparently another drawback of coal to liquids.

        “Our idea of what goes wrong, when there is too small a supply of energy products is too limited. We get a combination of

        “-Huge wage disparity. The poor cannot afford to eat well. They can’t afford cars or homes. Has anyone heard complaints of this sort?”

        Yes, this was a common complaint in the 1930s *and* even in the “roaring” 1920s. The presence of this condition does not prove the existence of an energy shortfall.

        “–Propensity for epidemics, because of the many poor who don’t eat well and live in crowded conditions. Anyone notice an epidemic recently?”

        Perhaps I was one of few who were paying attention, but all my life epidemiologists have been warning that modern civilization was perfectly designed to facilitate a devastating global pandemic. And *abundant* energy is one of the key factors that make pandemics more likely, since abundant energy fuels rapid, large scale transportation on continental and global scales. Increased long distance travel also contributed to earlier epidemics in the past 2000 years. Reduced energy availability would make pandemics less likely, or slow down its spread if one did occur.

        “–Tendency toward population unrests and a desire to overthrow governments, to protest low wages. Anyone notice any of this recently?”

        Totally orchestrated by partisan activists, planned literally years in advance, and funded to the tune of tens of millions of dollars by globalist oligarchs who want to replace Trump with compliant lackeys such as “Chinese Joe” Biden and Camel Harris. This does not prove the presence of an energy deficiency. Au contraire, there is currently a global oil surplus (based on actual measurements), something that has happened many times in the last hundred years.

        For example, I remember in the 1990s the price of a barrel of oil hit a nadir of less than $11 as barrel and many oil wells were getting “shut in” because they were no longer profitable. But was that the death knell of the oil age? No, just a normal commodity cycle.

        About 1986, Reagan made a then-secret agreement with Saudi Arabia to hold global oil prices down to underprice the Soviet Union. Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, with economies based on energy production, were plunged into a regional depression, with many employers placing “not hiring” signs in their shop windows to keep away pesky job seekers, much worse than the “Great Recession” of 2008-9. But did that signal the end of the oil age? No, it was just another cycle, although a bit artificial.

        1930s: oil was very cheap, production was low, demand was low, prices of everything were falling, unemployment was extremely high. Many Marxists were saying it was the end of capitalism. Was it all because we lacked enough energy? No, it was driven by a combination of financial imbalances (like now) and bad policy responses by politicians and central banks, and also some unfavorable age demographics (like now).

        We will know when the oil is running short not because prices will collapse but because prices will go to the moon. (I wish I were having this debate with Alice Friedman at so I could type the classic “Honeymooners” line, “To the moon, Alice! One of these days, to the moon!”)

        “they work out with overthrown governments and wars. Many people die, but not necessarily from epidemics themselves, to bring population down in line with available energy supply.”

        Isn’t this rather tautological? in the absence of rationing or price controls, supply and demand will always be in approximate balance, whether people are thriving or dying.

    • tim says:

      “Speed of collapse: the speed and severity with which a complex system collapses is not knowable in advance, not even in theory with perfect knowledge. There is an element of unavoidable randomness in the pathway that collapse in a complex system happens to follow.”
      Very very true and very well put!

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        We can, however, hazard a guess that a growth-dependent financial system might not last all that long once its “real” economic underpinnings enter a state of irreversible de-growth.

  17. Malcopian says:

    Why are stock-market prices rising despite the Covid pandemic?


    The crisis has disproportionately affected small businesses and low-income service workers. They are essential for the real economy, but not so much for equity markets.

    With little chance that rates will rise in the foreseeable future, prices of assets such as houses, art, and gold have been driven upward. And tech firms’ revenue streams have benefited from low interest rates.

    Despite elevated macroeconomic volatility, interest-rate spreads over government debt have narrowed in many markets, and the number of major corporate bankruptcies to date remains remarkably low.

    A big piece of the puzzle: the economic pain inflicted by Covid-19 is falling on small businesses not listed on the stock market. Government programmes that helped keep them afloat are beginning to lapse.

    Plenty of otherwise viable businesses also will fail, leaving large publicly traded companies with an even stronger market position – yet another reason for the market euphoria.

    One likely outcome, if deglobalisation makes it more difficult for corporations to shift their operations to low-tax countries, will be a reversal of the decline in corporate tax rates.

    Until lofty stock-market valuations are underpinned by a broad-based recovery, investors should not get too comfortable with their outsize pandemic profits. What goes up can also come down.

    • I would agree, “What goes up can also come down.”

    • Robert Firth says:

      Thank you, Malcopian; a review well worth reading. But it should not be a “puzzle” why government largesse has gone mostly to those already rich; it is again exactly as classical economics predicts: the primary rent seekers take the first cut, and the “trickle down” indeed soon becomes a trickle.

      The solution is not top down but bottom up: better jobs, more energy leverage, for the workers, and their surplus income, however small, will trickle up through the economy, through shopkeepers, merchants, entrepreneurs, and finally cities. But as Gail has never tired of telling us, that leverage is no longer possible.

  18. Kris Nor says:

    This article from Rune Likvern is very good (he has 20 years experience from several international oil companies).

    It’s about the dollar (DXY index), GDP, credit impulse and oil price. It’s a little scary because it seems there’s difficult to see more GDP growth in the world (as total).

    • Thanks! I know Rune fairly well. I even spent an afternoon with him in Norway.

      • This is a very long article, with many very complex charts. He has good ideas, but it takes some time to understand everything he is trying to connect together in this post (debt, economic growth, energy growth, level of the dollar).

    • Thanks for the link, the graphs, especially the [credit impulse->oil price] seems to confirm my suspicion that the next big print fest must be massive; at least on the order of $20-60T globally per 1-2yrs. Obviously, in terms of sequencing, there could be some steps taken (perhaps even negative) to get us there first, so could arrive soonish or in 2023-27 window..

      Another important question is the apparent effort of CBs to phase in blockchain money distribution directly to the consumers as they are not keen to blow even bigger bubbles in the stocks and other asset classes evidently not trickling down.

      So, it could go as follows: severe depression 2020-21, attempted blockchain stimulus 2021-23, not much demand among terrified commoners as result, so yet another all boats rising stimulus salvo ~2023-27, => total crash and pandemonium before 2030..

      • Xabier says:

        Plausible, worldof.

        Which prompts the reflection that the worst fate of all is -perhaps – to know one’s fate……

        • Robert Firth says:

          Or perhaps, not quite to know it:

               I have no words.
          My voice is in my sword. Thou bloodier villain
          Than terms can give thee out!

               Thou losest labor.
          As easy mayst thou the intrenchant air
          With thy keen sword impress as make me bleed.
          Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests;
          I bear a charmèd life, which must not yield
          To one of woman born.

               Despair thy charm,
          And let the angel whom thou still hast served
          Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb
          Untimely ripped.

          (Shakespeare, ‘the scottish play’, Act V scene viii)

      • Rune doesn’t really give forecasts himself, at least that I noticed.

      • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        “… my suspicion that the next big print fest must be massive; at least on the order of $20-60T globally per 1-2yrs.”

        very possible.

        and, if all of the big players govs/CBs join in somewhat equally percentage wise, then no single big player country will experience a plunge in their currency.

        voila: stability. 😉

      • Nehemiah says:

        My forecast: severe recession 2020-2022; weak US recovery 2023-2028; long recession begins in 2029, which future historians will look back on as the beginning of the next Dark Age.

    • It’s kind of interesting that one can (in layman terms) arrive at similar threshold number about the max affordable oil price for ~2020s (~60-70$) as Rune does, while merely observing – projecting the famous triangle of doom price megatrend.

      Perhaps it all just stems from the macro thermodynamic forcing of the “cooling/fading” entropy, hence when observed via the lens of Surplus-OFW-RuneLikvern- … it “must” come to directionaly rhyming conclusions.

  19. Pingback: The Fracking Industry Is Hurting. Its Future Should Be an Election Issue - Resilience

  20. Chrome Mags says:

    ‘Study finds altered mental state in nearly one-third of COVID-19 patients’

    “After they were discharged, only 32% of the patients with altered mental function were able to handle routine daily activities like cooking and paying bills. And patients with altered mental function had significantly worse medical outcomes. Patients with altered mental function — the medical term is encephalopathy — were also nearly seven times as likely to die as those who did not have that type of problem.”

    • Xabier says:

      Concerning, possibly, but perhaps we should also bear in mind that these are the very worst cases, which actually needed to go to hospital ?

      And it’s only about 10% of those – for most people, it’s not significant at all, even if they have been hospitalised.

      And in another hospital, and another country, the %’s would probably be different again.

      There is a now very distinct campaign afoot in the media, with obvious political manipulation, to make people overly fearful – without in any way calling it a ‘hoax’ ,which it clearly is not.

      I had some horrible flu-like bug way back in 2004, and its effects lasted quite some time – exhausted, difficulty concentrating: but, guess what, such things are not the end of the world! We have ridiculous expectations of taking some drugs and bouncing back instantly -sometimes it happens, sometimes not.

      I’m growing tired of all the ‘long-haul’ bleating -where have the people with real guts gone?

      ‘Don’t let it dominate your life!’ is good motto going forward – even the Devil speaks the truth sometimes.

      Really, we need more unbiased information as medical understanding progresses, and far less scare-mongering by those who seek to profit both financially and politically from this tragedy.

      Their behaviour is disgraceful, and not public-spirited and humane as they like to pretend.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Xabier, that was my thought also: were these patient’s problems caused by the virus, or by the treatment? The referenced article carefully does not say. A genuine medical article would at least have identified possible causes and suggested further lines of investigation. You are right: this is naked scaremongering.

        • People who have been on ventilators tend to get mental problems, especially if they have been left on them for long periods. Before doctors understood that ventilators don’t really work well for COVID, half of those hospitalized ended up on ventilators. We would expect a lot of fuzzy thinking from this group, after they finished treatment.

          • Dennis L. says:

            This also happens with sedation or general anesthesia and it is recognized more and more. The disease may be cured, the mental state may be much less than prior to surgery. Personal observation, it is worse with age.

            Dennis l.

          • Xabier says:

            It’s probably rather a good thing that most of the ventilators bought in a panic by the UK govt. apparently stayed in their boxes.

        • Xabier says:

          It would certainly appear that the treatments being applied in – perhaps inevitable – ignorance in the early days were rather more harmful than beneficial.

          With the former patients who seem to be in something of a wrecked condition, we really do need to know more about what was done to them.

          There seems to be a determined attempt to keep a state of high alarm on the boil, come what may, when actually things are looking up somewhat – particularly with greatly improved pharmaceutical approaches.

          Vague reports and scaremongering only assist those who seek to claim it is ALL a hoax, and who do thereby endanger lives.

          • Robert Firth says:

            Xabier, your comments confirm my own observations. During my last two years in Singapore, I worked on something called a “smart health” initiative. One reason is that I was invited; the other is that I had earlier experienced my own health emergency. And after a few months into the project, I realised that the main obstacle to smart (or smarter) health care was that the entire middle tiers of the medical profession believed in treating the disease and not the patient.

            The top tier, such as the surgeon who spent eight hours giving me heart surgery, were well aware that health is fundamentally holistic; the bottom tier, such as the Malay nurses (all female) who later gave me a whole body sponge bath (as a European I have no nudity taboo, and was both surprised and pleased that they showed no reluctance) were wholly sympathetic and compassionate. But in between, I was largely treated like a lab rat.

            And I suspect that the great majority of US health care experts regard us as lab rats.

            • Xabier says:

              A customer of mine was left with this advice by his expiring father – himself a doctor:

              ‘For God’s sake, stay clear of the bloody doctors!’

              There was a horrifying case here last year of a lady who was in any case doomed with inoperable cancer, who thought what the hell why not when she was asked if she would care to help with some experimental treatments – seemed more like torture to me, a true ‘lab rat’ experience.

              Quite easy to see how so many medical professionals can slip into doing barbarous things for totalitarian regimes.

            • Slow Paul says:

              As a RN I can relate to your experience. Senior doctors are more comfortable discussing with the patient about potential interventions and outcomes. Younger doctors will to a larger degree send patients through all kinds of intrusive examinations and diagnostics without even looking at the patients. Most nurses I’ve met are naturally inclined to think and act in a holistic manner. I guess it comes down to experience, and that the system is set up with a business bias where these “middle tier” doctors must (and are inclined to) produce results.

            • Robert Firth says:

              For Xabier and EN: Thank you for your replies; it seems my experience was not unique. The surgeon (female, by the way) took a lot of time, valuable time I’m sure, to explain exactly what was planned for me, even the details of the operation, and even down to pointing out the veins she would extract to replace the arteries in question. What? Don’t worry, veins regenerate. And they did. She also said I had about a 90% chance; I suspect she shaded this a little, but only a little, and was grateful for her trust.

              Only once did I see her disconcerted. The day before I was to be wheeled into the prep room at 0800, she asked me whether I needed anything. I replied that the toiletries bag in my room did not contain a razor, and I would appreciate one. She instantly ordered one to be brought, but looked at me a little strangely.

              I could read her thoughts: “You are going for heart surgery tomorrow, and you are worried about a few whiskers?” And I thought in return, “I am going for heart surgery tomorrow, so I must tell the truth.” And therefore I replied: “If I am to meet the Lord Osiris, I would prefer to do so clean shaven.”

              But not on that day, it turned out.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      ‘Study finds altered mental state in nearly one-third of COVID-19 patients’

      Its actually quite a bit higher from the data I’ve been observing.

      If you get through the second week (when most crash), and no blood clots in week three, this is your next challenge.
      The first week is the easiest, even with high viral loads.

    • Tim Groves says:

      So what else is new about the new virus?
      People get this with bog-standard flu too.

      Acute influenza-associated encephalopathy/encephalitis (IAE) in adults is a rare but well-known complication of influenza virus infection. The diagnosis is difficult to make due to the absence of distinctive clinical symptoms and validated diagnostic criteria.

      The neural complications of influenza are shown in box 1. The commonest of these, particularly in young children from Japan and Taiwan, is influenza virus associated encephalopathy. Influenza virus associated encephalopathy is an acute non‐inflammatory encephalopathy that presents with seizures and coma on the day, or the day after, influenza symptoms start.1 Influenza is characterised by the abrupt onset of a fever greater than 39°C, respiratory symptoms (rhinorrhoea, cough, and sore throat), myalgia (particularly of the back and limb muscles), and headache.2 In infants symptoms are often lethargy, poor feeding, apnoea, and interstitial pneumonia; older children may also have less specific symptoms of croup, otitis media, diarrhoea, and vomiting.

  21. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Dr. Pailin Chuchottaworn, head of an economic steering panel has told the Thai government reopen Thailand now order or face a total economic collapse.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “A private infinity pool, gourmet meals — and two temperature checks a day. Welcome to five-star quarantine in Thailand, where well-heeled tourists can live in luxury while obeying some of the world’s strictest anti-coronavirus measures.”

      • Strict antivirus rules create huge problems! You cannot have a functioning economy, without major industries (like tourism) and with many workers at home.

    • avocado says:

      That’s the problem, that most countries are not professionals. So two different worlds arise, infected and clean, and it’s difficult to put them in contact. If say the Japanese had been ruling world health practices this wouldn’t be happening. Now it’s too late, but in case another pest is to come I know who is likely to avoid it

      • Nehemiah says:

        The USA has done a distinctively poor job of coping with this outbreak, worse than some third world countries, so if you are a foreign power contemplating a potential conflict with the US, or an anti-American terrorist organization, bio-weapons development must surely be high on your list of priorities now.

        • avocado says:

          Beating Fauci looks easy indeed, but it’s not just the USA

          • Nehemiah says:

            I know, but there is bad and really, really bad. Almost all developed countries got the number of infections and deaths down sharply after a few months, but not the US: we plateaued at a high level while the graphs were plummeting in other countries. Thank God this was not something a lot more lethal. On paper, we were the best prepared country in the world, but in practice we just couldn’t get it together.

  22. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Suicides rise after virus puts squeeze on India’s middle class.

    “Even before Covid-19 hit, white-collar workers were under immense pressure as India’s growth stalled. Suicides among professionals have climbed for two consecutive years, averaging 23 a day in 2019, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.”

  23. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Belarus police have detained 317 people and deployed water cannon during mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko.

    “The opposition says Mr Lukashenko must quit, as his 9 August re-election was widely seen as fraudulent.”

  24. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The events of 2020—the coronavirus pandemic; the killing of George Floyd; militias, social-media mobs, and urban unrest—were like hurricanes that hit in the middle of that earthquake.

    “They did not cause the moral convulsion, but they accelerated every trend. They flooded the ravines that had opened up in American society and exposed every flaw.”

  25. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The vast wave of monetary stimulus that has kept emerging economies afloat since the coronavirus pandemic hit earlier this year has begun to ebb, just as pressure mounts on these countries to finance their recovery and their huge build-up of debt.

    “The combination risks creating a damaging spiral of falling currencies and rising borrowing costs, triggering debt crises and defaults, economists have warned.”

  26. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Global debt substantially increased after the 2008-09 global financial crisis (GFC), amounting to more than three times world GDP in 2018. Nonfinancial corporate debt was a main contributor to this expansion.

    “Practitioners and academics have increasingly raised concerns that the larger firm indebtedness could become a threat to the global economy and trigger a financial crisis comparable to the GFC.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened these fears.”

    • When I look back at the actual report, I find that China’s corporate debt ratio was rising rapidly until mid-2014, then suddenly leveled off. (Thinking back, it seems like that might have been when China cutback lending to non-state firms, and concentrated on lending to state owned enterprises.) Some of those firms then started trying to borrow in the US dollar market, if I remember correctly.

      This report indicates that of the ratio of corporate debt to GDP was flat for developed countries, but was rising elsewhere. This strikes me as strange. I thought the ratio of corporate debt to GDP was rising in the US. I strongly suspect that the ratio of corporate debt to GDP was falling in Europe and Japan, obscuring what was happening.

  27. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Bonds were a safety net when stocks fell, Investors fret they aren’t anymore.

    “A reliable link between stocks and government bonds that defined a popular investment strategy for decades has broken this year. Some investors worry the rupture is permanent.”

    • The reason why the strategy no longer works is because interest rates have gotten too close to zero, and all the current funny money is keeping them there.

      Usually interest rates would fall, causing the value of the bond to rise, offsetting the loss of value of stocks.

  28. avocado says:

    Some places such as Mumbay and Manaus seem to be about to get herd inmunity, but perhaps too late to impact US election

    • It is not clear that there really is anything such as herd immunity for COVID, at least not for very long.

      I found some articles from August, indicated that in the slums of Mumbai about 60% of people had had COVID. One analysis from September says, Mumbai may develop herd immunity by December-January: TIFR report

      The article ends by saying,

      However, the model hasn’t accounted for the threat of reinfection, which has emerged as a concern in the past fortnight.

      • avocado says:

        Yes, there are contradictory reports whether inmunity is long lasting or not, that’s the only problem. We’ll have a clearer picture by year’s end

      • Dennis L. says:

        My bet is herd immunity is real even for COVID. We as humans have been here for a long time, some of us are going to make it, some will not. That can be distressing to many, it is the way of a self organizing universe, we do not make the rules.

        In trying to understand our time, the last idea, we do not make the rules, may explain part of our current, worldwide predicament. Energy/capita is declining, old ideas don’t work, accepting that is back to kubler ross stages of grief. Kubler seems to be one of those rules of thumb that work.

        For me, to date I have only taken maybe four major ideas away from your writings, this idea we are not master’s of our own destiny is one of them. It can be disturbing at first, but with acceptance it can be peaceful, one less thing with which to deal.

        Dennis L.

        • “I have only taken maybe four major ideas away from your writings, this idea we are not master’s of our own destiny is one of them. It can be disturbing at first, but with acceptance it can be peaceful, one less thing with which to deal.”

          Good point! We don’t have to save ourselves; we don’t have this burden upon us. This is really a religious belief as well. We have a tendency to think that we are the center of the world, but we really are not. There is a self-organizing system, with perhaps a Higher Power backing it up, which really “calls the shots.”

      • Nehemiah says:

        There are so many low quality studies being published on this subject that one cannot trust any of them until you scrutinize the details. Some of these studies are just an embarrassment.

  29. avocado says:

    Control of the WHO should be given to countries with no authoritarian regime and the best epidemic practices, such as Taiwan, Japan, S. Korea, Singapur, Thailand (a bit authoritarian) and even Liberia

    I think I’d even have a chat with the Vietnamese

    • Maybe, maybe not.

      Perhaps we don’t need a World Health Organization. Back when we had lots of energy for everything, we thought we could do things that we really cannot do. Damping down cases now almost certainly means, “More cases later.” It means a perpetual high-energy cost chase that detracts from other economic activity.

      Also, health care providers have no clue regarding the adverse impact of trying to shut down countries.

      And, we have just seen in the US White House, the folly of trying to rely on almost daily COVID tests for trying to keep the illness out. There really is no way to produce a lasting COVID-free community.

      • avocado says:

        As far as I know, most of these countries didn’t used national lockdowns, or they were very short. They’re the only true professionals

        But it seems it’s too late for places where the bug has already spread to control it

      • Nehemiah says:

        quote: Damping down cases now almost certainly means, “More cases later.”

        First, even if that is the best one can hope for, it is a worthwhile goal that will save lives. Too many people getting sick at the same time is the worst possible scenario. Second, it is not necessarily true. Once an epidemic burns out, it may not return at a non-trivial scale for a very long time. Some afflictions even disappear and never return.

        In the absence of an effective and relatively safe vaccine, the only way to defeat an epidemic is to get the rate of spread below an R-naught of 1 and hold it there, and you do that by SLOWING DOWN the rate of spread. That is why a major outbreak can be defeated by multiple measures each of which is only partially effective. You don’t have to give total protection to any individual, just make sure that each 100 contagious persons will collectively infect less than 100 other persons before they cease to be contagious. When this outbreak first occurred, the average carrier infected a little more than 6 others, an exponential rate of spread. Now that precautions are widely taken, it spreads more slowly. From a public health perspective, this is entirely a good thing.

        • We haven’t ever gotten the R-naught below 1.00 on a world basis, which is all that counts, as far as I can see. See Figure 1 of my post, above.

          In fact, the world case count is up again today, when I looked. It is pretty much irrelevant if the R-naught is below 1.00 in a particular country, unless the world R-naught can be brought down.

          We have managed to wreck a whole lot of economies, however. I can see a point to being cautious, when a person doesn’t really understand how high the fatality rate is, or how to treat the symptoms of the disease, but we now know that it doesn’t lead to a high number of fatalities, especially if people have high Vitamin D levels, and perhaps high zinc levels. We also know of a number of treatments, some of them quite inexpensive. We have a vaccine lobby, however, who wants us to believe that a vaccine is the only solution.

          • Nehemiah says:

            I don’t know what the global R0 is, but some countries have definitely gotten it below 1, even in Europe (Czech Republic did early). Could the whole world get it down? I certainly believe it could, but, if not, the countries that did would just need strict border controls to keep out or temporarily quarantine arrivals from countries that were lagging. Even without getting the R0 below 1, we can learn a lesson from outbreaks in the pre-vaccine era. Eventually, every outbreak ran its course, and life returned to normal until the next outbreak.

            • You do know the global R0 is greater than 1.0, if you looked at my chart. The number of cases just keeps growing and growing. I looked at the numbers again this morning, and the world number of cases (7 day average) keeps rising and rising. It was the highest it has even been today.

  30. avocado says:

    As I can see from different sources, the range of people willing to accept a vaccine as soon as the government approves it goes from 97% in China to only 40 in Switzerland (Russia 60, US 30)

    • avocado says:

      I put it wrong for the US, it’s the other way round, 30-35% of rejection

      I am surprised of the Helvetians

      • Switzerland was likely few decades ago in the first “happy” wave of lets vaccinate for everything, our pharma industry is world’s top, don’t you know etc. And then slowly came the studies and real experience with not conclusive or often negative impact on health. In essence it shows the population has adjusted-learned to more realistic approach towards vaccination.

        • Xabier says:

          Interesting. It contradicts the current liberal meme in the US and UK that only dim rednecks, white supremacists, etc, are against vaccinations, not knowing what is ‘good’ for them……

          Great reserve towards the big medical corporations is quite simply both sensible and rational.

          • Nehemiah says:

            “the current liberal meme in the US and UK that only dim rednecks, white supremacists, etc, are against vaccinations,”
            the more political someone is, the more likely he or she is to believe that vaccines are unsafe. Those who are “very conservative” are one-and-a-half times more likely to believe this than moderates.

            Yet, the same is true for those on the left: compared to moderates, those who are very liberal are also one-and-a-half times more likely to believe vaccines are unsafe. It seems that it does not matter what your politics are, the more partisan, the more likely you believe vaccines are harmful.

            • avocado says:

              This could be the case in the US, but Helvetians are the less extremist people on Earth!

            • Tim Groves says:

              The more adverse effects on health you’ve witnessed personally among family and friends, the more cautious you are likely to be about accepting more jabs.

              It is an easy thing to trust the government, The WHO, the doctors and other health authorities and accept anything they tell you is “for your own good you understand,” if you are a lifelong conformist who has been educated beyond your intelligence and you possess a smug sense of your one importance as a child of the state and the society in which you live.

              But those of us who live at least with one foot outside of the Matrix don’t have the credulity to believe anything we’re told by officials without investigating it for ourselves.

    • Xabier says:

      Of course in China they would simply ascertain what the govt. is planning and say ‘Yes’ automatically.

      After all, resistance would lead to a lower social credit score and make life impossible.

      • Xabier says:

        The Vaccine Tsar in the UK recently admitted that for low-risk people, mostly those under 50, any vaccine might well be more dangerous to their health than the virus itself.

        And they are, therefore, not contemplating administering it to this group.

        • Ed says:

          and over age 70 it is unlikely to be effective. I guess that leaves us 50-70 year olds. I will not take it. will leave the country first if need be.

          • Lidia17 says:

            Ed, how will you leave if you can’t cross the border without a record of vaccination? Better make contacts with some good forgers! Otherwise, become Amish and move to a state that still has religious exemptions.

  31. davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    America the land of opportunity:


    #12 Overall, more than 60 million Americans have filed new claims for unemployment benefits so far in 2020. That number is far higher than anything we have ever seen before in all of U.S. history.

    #15 This number is hard to believe, but it is being reported that almost 90 percent of New York City bar and restaurant owners couldn’t pay their full rent for the month of August.

  32. mat says:

    With the “end of growth” publication I took it very seriously and purchased a farm where we are now totally self sufficient. We farm with horses, have nurtured the soils have a thriving insect and animal life here. We even have the luxury of a number of forms of electricity, with solar cells, sunflower oil powered diesel generated electricity if we need them, Hot was from the wood stove too!! We have no debts and use our income to purchase assets that produce things and are easily repaired. A simple kind of life that is heavy on working from early daylight to nightfall.. but the lifestyle is great.
    So I planned for this.. yes even the pandemic.
    Maybe the virus will get us or old age will diminish our lives but our health so far is good as we get a lot of exercise and yes even sunshine to strengthen our immune system.

  33. Oh dear says:

    Ironic name, Schlumberger. Slum mountain?

    > ExxonMobil to axe 1,600 jobs in Europe

    Hard-hit US oil major steps up efforts to cut costs in face of pandemic

    …. The global oil industry has been struggling since the coronavirus sapped demand this year as lockdowns grounded aircraft and kept cars off the roads. That shock, along with a surge in Saudi Arabian supply, sent oil prices tumbling. West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, in April traded in negative territory for the first time.

    While prices have bounced back, producers have cut costs significantly. Exxon said in July it had reduced capital and exploration spending by about $2bn compared with the first quarter, and that it had “identified significant potential for additional reductions”. 

    The company joins a growing lists of oil producers and service groups to announce job cuts. BP said in June it would axe 10,000 jobs to help cope with the impact of the pandemic, while Royal Dutch Shell last week said it would cut up to 9,000 positions by the end of 2022. Schlumberger, the world’s biggest oilfield services company, is in the process of downsizing its workforce by a fifth — or 21,000 roles.

    Exxon last week indicated it may report a third quarterly loss in a row, having recorded a $1.1bn loss in the second quarter.

  34. Ed says:

    Biden’s green new deal seems to be to build more cars and truck and more roads for them to drive on. Not green in my mind.

    • But if the plan is given a nice name, it will likely sell well!

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        And then we can mine, smelt, manufacture and spend our way to a healthier biosphere and a brighter, more prosperous tomorrow, lol.

        • Dennis L. says:


          “Prior to mining, smelting, manufacturing, living on an all natural diet life span was somewhere in the twenties. A graph below shows what it was in all natural 18th century.

          This is from Wikipedia.

          Variation over time
          Era Life expectancy at birth in years
          Paleolithic 33
          Neolithic 20 to 33
          Bronze Age and Iron Age 26
          Classical Greece 25 to 28

          Immediately above also from Wikipedia.

          I guess it would work, it would be a hell of a platform were one running for public office. Sure would explain why the Greeks in statues look so good, they never got old.

          Dennis L.

          • Robert Firth says:

            Dennis, people lived to a ripe old age in most of those past times. The wikipedia numbers are drastically skewed because of that weasel phrase “at birth”. A far better metric is life expectancy at age 5, which factors out the huge infant mortality of earlier times.

            • Xabier says:

              If you made it to 30, and were not a still-breeding female (childbirth was extremely dangerous until the latter part of the19th-century), then getting to 50+ was quite normal,and average life expectancy outside the cities far higher even than that.

              An awful lot of people, even among the upper classes with ample space and good nutrition and exercise, were felled by TB in their late-teens and 20’s – it really stands out in biographies of the time.

            • Nehemiah says:

              “childbirth was extremely dangerous until the latter part of the19th-century” — Sometimes the good news is the bad news is wrong. Before medical science started taking over from midwives in the 17th century, death during pregnancy was not much higher than it is today. When physicians replaced midwives, the maternal death rate rose sharply for over 200 years (apparently the invention of forceps had a lot to do with this)–at least among those women whose families were sufficiently well off to afford medical professionals rather than old fashioned midwives. Eventually, the physicians got better. Sadly, this bad bit of historical research about historical maternal death rates got ensconced in peoples minds and lingers on long after it was shown to be wrong. “Bottle feeding lowers IQ 10 points” is another example of bad research that just won’t die.

          • Nehemiah says:

            Be cautious using Wikipedia as a source. In the past, if you made it to age 20, you were likely to live into your 50s or 60s, Among both hunter-gatherers and pre-industrial farmers, about 1 in 3 children would die by age 6, and almost 1 in 2 would be dead before age 20. Almost identical numbers have been found in a wild gorilla population.

            In a 1912 lecture, Karl Pearson (google him if curious) said that within a sample of 19th century farmers, about one third of children had died in the first 5 years of life, but, if one of the parents died in adulthood of causes other than accidents, then about two thirds (on average) of that couple’s children would die in the first 5 years. The theory is that these elevated death rates were because children with higher mutational load were more subject to death from infection (which is a form of predation).

            By the early 20th century, childhood mortality had fallen to extremely low levels in the more advanced countries, and nowadays it is below natural levels even in most of the poorest countries, except for a few remote populations living in primitive conditions and not understanding the germ theory of disease. That means that mutational load must be rising rapidly among nearly the whole of the human species. This is good news for the political and cultural left, whose adherents tend to have physical and mental characteristics associated with higher than average mutational load.

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          “Wind farms to power EVERY home in Britain in ten years: Boris Johnson will tell party conference he wants to make UK ‘the Saudi Arabia of green energy'”.

          • Xabier says:

            Fatuousness from Boris which it is hard to beat!

            I suppose they might try to assert that wind farms will power the UK’s Mars Project…….

          • Norman Pagett says:

            David Mackay’s Book, Renewable energy without the hot air.


            It’s free to download, or the book is available in print to rich people

            Mackay’s book should be compulsory reading for all lamp-rubbers, politicians and economists.

          • Robert Firth says:

            I agree with Norman that David Mackay’s book is a must read. But meanwhile, let us do the math. An onshore 3MW wind turbine can (in principle) produce 6 million kWh per annum, enough to power about 1200 UK households. But the average output is only about 25% of that, since the wind does not blow continuously, so make that 300 households. There are about 28 million households in the UK, so we will need about 90,000 windmills. Each windmill will cost about USD 4 million, so the total cost will be $360 billion, and Boris must erect 9000 every year, or 30 every working day, assuming a six day week. By contrast, the Netherlands built 2300 turbines in 18 years, and Germany built 30,000 in 17 years.

            With offshore wind, forget it; the average life of those windmills is about 10 years, so he will be erecting new windmills forever. But given how long the UK has taken to not build HS2, and to not build the third runway at Heathrow, Boris will probably generate about enough energy to blow the whistle on a carousel.

  35. Ed says:

    There is a science fiction book by Fred Rothganger “Time of the Stones” in which the path to peace and prosperity is an absolute limit on the number of humans and an agreement by all nations not to steal resource from others.

    • It doesn’t matter how low the limit on human population is put, there is still a problem. Hunter gatherers burned down whole forests, with their limited population size and technology. They killed off major species.

      Any species must be balanced with other species, in terms of abilities. The virus that seems to be getting the best of human population now is COVID-19. It is getting the best of us, not by killing humans off, but by our outsized reaction to it.

    • Oh dear says:

      Sadly, ‘fiction’ is presumably the operative word.

      The real world works like the real world works, as competitive organic function in motion.

      The world is conducted entirely on the basis of ‘power politics’, balances and shifts in power proportions and interests between geopolitical players. It is no different to the plant and ‘animal’ kingdom. ‘Power politics’ drives both conflict and system stabilities.

      Everything else, UN etc., is just a front for that. The ‘Security Council’ is just the winners of WWII.

      That is just how it is, always has been, and always will be. Resources are generally scarce in proportion to organic appetite.

      There is little point in celebs moral posturing about its ‘wickedness’. That is just another, pettier form of interpersonal competition, ‘look at what a better person I am.’ It is like teenagers showing off their new sneakers to their gang mates to rise in the pecking order.

      ‘Moral’ presentations are just strategies to dress up other strategies, by states and people alike. All life is will to power, that is just how things are in the real world and it drives both conflict and also stability for a time.

      Sad, but that is how it is.

      • Oh dear says:

        ‘Moral’ presentations are just strategies and strategies to dress up other strategies, by states and people alike.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Thank you for the preview. This is a book that should not be treated lightly; it should be tossed aside with great force. Even in the reviled genre of science fiction, there were still authors who could write. This author is not one of them.

      • Ed says:

        “reviled genre” OMG this is worse than the dem vs repub blind hatred. It is a progressive view of AI by an AI researcher. We meet at the N.I.C.E. conference (neuro-inspired computational elements). This book is a follow on to “Susan” an original view of what AI can be.

        • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

          “There is a science fiction book by Fred Rothganger “Time of the Stones” in which the path to peace and prosperity is an absolute limit on the number of humans and an agreement by all nations not to steal resource from others.”

          that “agreement” is one of the most outlandish SF ideas that I have ever heard of.

          possibly matched by “an absolute limit on the number of humans”.

          sorry, but the author has a very poor grasp of human nature.

          only cheap abundant energy resources will allow some prosperity (never enough for all humans) which might be somewhat helpful to increase the level of peace in the world, but human nature has a way of hoarding prosperity which usually rises above efforts for peace.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Ed, I thought my previous posts would have identified me as an avid reader of science fiction. My choice of words was intended as irony.

        • The cover itself tells it is a politically correct, BLM propaganda

    • Nehemiah says:

      In international politics, “agreement” is a nice word for a scrap of paper. As for an artificial limit on population size, unless it were very unequally applied by eugenics-minded technocrats who would guarantee higher reproduction by a genetic elite and less breeding by everyone else, you would eventually run into grave genetic problems (“failure to thrive”) that would threaten the population with extinction. In the absence of professional breed management, a population must be allowed fluctuate in a stochastic pattern as it does in a state of nature. That means booms and busts.

  36. Oh dear says:

    BON has a new article on spiked about the liberal marshalling of Biblical plague themes against Trump in an attempt to gain some ‘authority’ to their pre-existing political positions. It is little different to how social powers tried to weaponize pandemics in the Middle Ages to subjugate the masses to the status quo ideology.

    Indeed. It is also akin to infants in the school playground, skipping around and chanting, ‘Trump has got the lurgy! Trump has got the lurgy!’

    Last week we saw the resort to childish torts of ‘You are a racist, Don. You are a racist and everyone knows it, everyone knows it,’ in what was supposed to be a serious, adult presidential debate. None of which is to say that the ‘right’ is much better. USA politics seriously needs to grow up.

    The whole artice is well worth a read.

    > And a plague shall cover the land of Trump

    The anti-Trump lobby views Covid as divine retribution for the masses’ blasphemy against experts.

    …. ‘Karmic retribution’ is of course only a slightly more PC, hippyish way to say what people in medieval times thought about plagues: that they were divine punishment. Punishment of avaricious individuals or of entire sinful communities. A key metaphor in this pre-modern understanding of plagues-as-retribution was that these judgmental diseases were inescapable. No one – not Pharaohs, not the wealthy, not even a reality-TV star who becomes the most powerful man in the world – could hide from their pox-ridden reprimands. As Susan Sontag writes in her masterful AIDS and its Metaphors (1989), the pre-modern view of disease as retribution was an ‘essential vehicle for the most pessimistic reading’ of humanity’s capacity. ‘[T]he standard plague story was of inexorability, inescapability’, she wrote. This insistence on inescapability, on the plague as discoverer of all sinners, wherever they cower and lurk, infuses the cynically joyous commentary on Trump’s illness. ‘Fate leads the willing, Seneca said, while the unwilling get dragged’, writes Dowd. Fate. That pre-Renaissance idea. It’s back.

    …. This is what’s really going on here: Covid’s judgment, this plague-like retribution, is being marshalled by the old technocratic elites as a cudgel against what are presumed to be Trumpworld’s chief moral errors. The scepticism about lockdown, the broader doubting that experts have all the answers to our moral and political dilemmas, their temerity to clarify the huge political differences between ordinary people and the woke elites (what CNN refers to as ‘the sickness of hyper-partisanship’) – this is what the plague is apparently admonishing. Isn’t that funny? That a random virus should give retributive voice to the pre-existing views and prejudices of the liberal elites? The progressive view embodied by Sontag – that disease is ‘not a curse, not a punishment, not an embarrassment – without meaning’ – has been replaced by the view of Covid as lethal reproachment for the sins of Trumpism, the ills of politics, and the thoughtcrimes of dissenters in 21st-century America.

    …. And there you have it, in terrifying black and white, in explicit Biblical writ: if Trump stays in power, America will be visited by floods, fires and plagues; death will come to your door; pestilence will be visited upon the land. This pre-modernism among those who fancy themselves as modern – as enlightened and ‘woke’ – is striking. It speaks to their own profound inability to come up with a vision for the US that might inspire voters, so instead they must invoke a PC version of Leviticus and warn people that if you don’t choose us then you will be consumed by hellfire and disease. And it confirms what they find so distasteful about so-called Trumpworld – the fact that it has dared to question expert authority, pushed aside the liberal elites who believe that they are the only people sensible enough to rule, and propagated the apparently outrageous idea that ordinary people (eurgh) have something to contribute to the discussion about how we deal with Covid-19 and other crises.

    This is what lurks behind the irrational, anti-Enlightened treatment of Covid as a metaphor for the sicknesses of 21st-century America – the desperation of the bruised old elites to regain their authority over a people whom they view as too dumb, vulgar and destructive to govern their own lives. Now that’s sick.

  37. Harry McGibbs says:

    “As we hurtle into autumn, families across Lebanon are bracing for an unfathomably bleak winter, where many will starve and struggle to warm themselves.”

  38. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Humour, resignation, despair: Living with inflation in Iran:

    ““Last week, I examined a young woman with a benign lump in her breast at the clinic,” a doctor wrote on Twitter. “I told her, ‘Do another sonography in six months, it’s unlikely it will grow, but if it does you better operate’. She came back and said I want to operate now. When I asked the reason, she said, ‘Now I can pay for it, in six months I might not be able to’.””

  39. Harry McGibbs says:

    “With electrification and renewable energy on the rise, Big Oil is striving to adapt to a transformation that could eventually render their business obsolete if they don’t latch on to the opportunities it brings.

    “The result could be a massive sell-off of assets as the biggest petroleum players concentrate their oil and gas production to the countries where oil and gas is cheapest and easiest to produce.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Six Norwegian offshore oil and gas fields were shut on Monday as more workers joined a strike over pay, companies and union officials said.”

      • Given the elevated price levels (cost of living) in .no these guys must be pulling at least 100-200k salaries, which is obviously insane vs. other places around world (per industry) at the time of depressed energy prices..

        • Slow Paul says:

          I can confirm this salary level, but in addition to this they have a 2 week on / 4 weeks off rotation, live where ever in the world and still have all travel expenses covered. In other regions it is normal with 4/4 or worse rotation.

          • Yes, I meant the upper boundary as incl. all the “offshore” bonuses on top of it.. Basically, even with the elevated price level (adjusted) the .no crew guy is living ~upper middle class continental lifestyle.. That’s rather exceptional as Gulfies use lot of immigrant labor (perhaps only foreman-specialists are western), the US crews make less, Russian WAY less (but elevated vs rest of the industry in the country – and bottom positions also staffed with migrants from -stans) etc..

    • The catch is that electrification doesn’t necessarily look like that good an option, either. But it does fit with the “grass is always greener on the other side of the street” theory.

    • Robert Firth says:

      More rubbish from CNBC. Electrification and renewable energy are chimeras, as OFW has abundantly documented. But look at this:

      “The result could be a massive sell-off of assets as the biggest petroleum players concentrate their oil and gas production to the countries where oil and gas is cheapest and easiest to produce.”

      That should be “concentrate … *in*”, and “where oil and gas *are*” When did media companies start hiring people who could not even write the Queen’s English? Or is that now a sign of systemic racism?

      • Nehemiah says:

        They may flub grade school grammar, but at least they have a college degree and can check off the affirmative action boxes for Human Resources–you know, the important stuff. The latest research, by Becker, finds that the average world IQ is only 82.

  40. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The riddle once posed in the 1960s by former French finance minister (eventually president) Valéry Giscard d’Estaing is about to be solved. Giscard bemoaned a US that took advantage of its privileged position as the world’s dominant reserve currency and drew freely on the rest of the world to support its over-extended standard of living.

    “That privilege is about to be withdrawn. A crash in the dollar is likely and it could fall by as much as 35 per cent by the end of 2021.

    “The reason: a lethal interplay between a collapse in domestic saving and a gaping current account deficit.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “If the U.S. economy is going to recover from the coronavirus recession, it will have to do so without much help from overseas.

      “Americans have resumed buying imported goods with nearly as much enthusiasm as before the pandemic. But people in other countries are not returning the favor.” [I guess a weaker $ might help there if it didn’t crash the whole system].

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “Seven out of 10 US oil and gas jobs lost because of this year’s crash will not be reinstated by the end of next year, as a humbled industry overhauls the way it operates, according to new projections by Deloitte.”

      • Nehemiah says:

        A big horsefly in the ointment is: with what will the rest of the world replace the USD as the global reserve currency? There truly are no good choices as yet. The only thing on the horizon that might be viable is IMF Special Drawing Rights, but that would be backed by a basket of currencies in which the USD would occupy a large share. Of course, the world could go back to gold, but so far no government wants to do that. I expect the USD to maintain its dominant position for years to come. We may not be the financial thoroughbred we used to be, but we’re still the fastest horse in the glue factory.

    • We will have to wait and see how this all plays out. Other countries are definitely struggling. Perhaps it is a race of the bottom for all currencies.

  41. Harry McGibbs says:

    “A bet by investors that Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s new prime minister, was poised to precipitate a wave of consolidation across the country’s “shattered” regional banking sector has begun to sour less than a month since he took power…

    “All of this comes after years of increasingly ominous warnings about the health of Japan’s regional banks, which at the end of last year had more combined assets than the entire Italian banking system ($3tn) but whose businesses were described by the outgoing financial services minister in July as “shattered”.”

  42. Harry McGibbs says:

    “British finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday that the country’s public finances were vulnerable to small increases in interest rates because of a huge stock of government debt which has rocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    ““Now that we have so much debt, it doesn’t take a lot for suddenly ‘yikes’ – we have to come up with X billion pounds a year to pay for higher interest,” Sunak said…”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “New UK car registrations fell 4.4% in September from a year earlier, according to the motor industry. That made it the worst September this century…

      “September is normally second to March as the industry’s most important sales month, because licence plate changes typically prompt a spike in demand.”

    • Borrowers everywhere have the issue having so much debt that even a small increase in interest rates would greatly increase outlays for interest payments (or monthly payments for homes and stores).

    • Robert Firth says:

      “Thrift began with civilization. It began when men found it necessary to provide for tomorrow, as well as for to-day. It began long before money was invented.

      Thrift means private economy. It includes domestic economy, as well as the order and management of a family.

      While it is the object of Private Economy to create and promote the well-being of individuals, it is the object of Political Economy to create and increase the wealth of nations.

      Private and public wealth have the same origin. Wealth is obtained by labour; it is preserved by savings and accumulations; and it is increased by diligence and perseverance.

      It is the savings of individuals which compose the wealth–in other words, the well-being–of every nation. On the other hand, it is the wastefulness of individuals which occasions the impoverishment of states. So that every thrifty person may be regarded as a public benefactor, and every thriftless person as a public enemy.”

      (Samuel Smiles, of course, “Thrift”, 1875)

    • Nehemiah says:

      Every major country seems to be “going Japanese.”

  43. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Top business leaders around the world say the global economy is experiencing its worst crisis in one hundred years and have called for urgent reforms to be implemented in the G-20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia in November.”

  44. MG says:

    The current by-election for the Senate in the Czech Republic shows the fall of social democrats and communists and the rise of the populist right-wing party “catch-all” party ANO and liberal party The Pirates.

    This is more in line with Japan where a liberal “catch-all” party LDP rules for decades.

    The “catch-all” party is also the current leading party in Slovakia, where the party OLANO comprises a broad spectrum of anti-abortion Chritians, the greens, the NGO activists etc.

    As the populations are ageing and the system is imploding and atomizing, the “catch-all” parties seem to achieve more and more importance.

    • It sounds like the “catch-all” party is the “not what we have now party” or “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence” party.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Gail, a good point. But I read it slightly differently: the “catch all” parties rise is part of the recognition that not only is globalism collapsing, so is the spell of the globalist ideology. I hope the oligarchs in Brussels have a well stocked Fuehrerbunker.

  45. Lastcall says:

    The great reset was already baked in.
    Convid has done wonderfully in distracting attention from the shenanigans and incompetence of those in postions of graft. The narrative has been very well controlled.
    I don’t for one moment doubt that it was inevitable that Limits to Growth would play out, but it would have been nice to have not given the covid get out of jail card. So convenient.

    In other crazy news, in NZ we see our largest city continue to grow, and with an election due in a few weeks, policies focus on enabling this growth. This is a city short on water, with tired infrastructure, swallows some of our countries most productive farmland, has massive congestion problems, inequalities/ghetto-isation occuring, and productivity suffering. All electionering is focused on building more infrastructure.
    There will be no change in direction other than going off the rails.

    Other absurdities are numerous; heres a few that I shake my head over.
    Not far from me is a pristine spring that supplies 70% of NZ’s bottled water. Now owned by Joker Kola. This natural wonder is now a massive source of plastic pollution.
    The medical system (MSM reports) seems to have no interest in any stories regarding vitamin D or other health enhancing approaches to reducing covid risk; its all masks and/or vaccines.
    The Green Nasty Party here is all for a green new deal; hydrogen from our surplus hydro-electric power is touted as part of our future energy mix. We can’t even economically contain this gas, and many other places have tried and failed already. Methinks the people involved have magic wands to entrance the wanna-believers.

    Fossil fuels equals freedom of choice in our Western Civ. Once they are gone, our freedoms will very quickly follow.

    • adonis says:

      World policy and programs in the population field should incorporate two major
      (a) actions to accommodate continued population growth up to 6 billions by the
      mid-21st century without massive starvation or total frustration of
      developmental hopes; and
      (b) actions to keep the ultimate level as close as possible to 8 billions rather than
      permitting it to reach 10 billions, 13 billions, or more

      • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        policy and programs will have very little impact.

        the controllers are disease and famine and war.

        the world continues to add 200,000 or so per day, though this addition may be nearing a tipping point.

        prosperity is relentlessly decreasing even now, and this will only accelerate if population increases.

        but human extinction will end all suffering, so that is the great hope for humanity.

        • Xabier says:

          But some suffering – even disease and pain – may have an effect that is good and desirable:

          ‘Out of Darkness comes the Light.’

          Of course, human extinction, as we are an animal which can imagine its own demise and hypothetical future pain, would end the fear of death and suffering, which casts a shadow over even the happiest life.

          Personally, I find human brutality and stupidity far more distressing than ill health and the certainty of death.

      • Robert Firth says:

        I disagree. “World policy” has been a disaster every time it has been tried. World policy shut cut its dirty throat, and those who advocate it should be exiled to St Helena, as Napoleon was, there to be buried in unmarked graves.

    • Curt Kurschus says:

      The NZ Greens are most decidedly not green. Except perhaps in the sense of insisting on the legalisation of cannabis. Certainly not in the environmental sense.

      The touted green hydrogen is expected to not only support sustainable growth here in New Zealand with green energy for our cars and trucks, but also be an energy source we can export to the world.

      So wonderful will that be! Net energy negative hydrogen from New Zealand will fuel sustainable growth everywhere without the need for any fossil fuels. Pardon? Have the Greens never opened a single textbook on Physics, Chemistry, or even perhaps basic arithmetic?

      Not that it matters. Voters love them for it. It must be true, and it must be Green. Humans have a desperate need to feel good about plundering the Earth right to the end.

    • Each part of the world seems to have its own craziness. We all need to find solutions that we can believe in, even if they are fairy tales.

      • Dennis L. says:

        History seems to be in agreement, it appears with the Reformation Western Civilization began believing we were more in control than reality, the old myths were a Prateo rule of thumb, wrong 80% of the time in the rules, right 80% of the time in results. We are focusing too much on the exceptions, we need a common set of rules and a hope there is more than what is the reality we know, sometimes that reality of crushing. At the same time an open mind to the exceptions should be kept, there are times when they are correct and new rules are needed.

        Dennis L.

        • Once researchers of all types learned how to make computer models of how they guessed the system worked, faith in our ability to fix the system seems to have gone into overdrive. No one stopped to think that (1) the models might be wrong, and (2) we don’t really have the power to fix the problems.

          • Robert Firth says:

            Gail, as a former IT person I have a slightly different view. (1) The models are indeed wrong; (2) they are deliberately wrong because they are designed to give exactly that result: we indeed have the power to fix the problems. We the modellers, that is.

          • Nehemiah says:

            and (3) the fix, if there is one, might be unpleasant or unpopular. I can easily think of ways we might have mitigated what is coming by acting decades ago, but I cannot imagine that mitigation would ever have enjoyed either popular or elite support.

      • Robert Firth says:

        But fairy tales had a certain basis in rationality: nobody ever claimed to find a pot of hydrogen at the end of the rainbow. Today’s fantasies would make even fairies blush. (Titania is blushing in Edwin Landseer’s painting, so it must be true)

    • Nehemiah says:

      People love growth, and no wonder. Although it is popular to complain about the shortcomings of GDP, the fact is people in the same country (not comparing different people in different countries) usually are happier when GDP grows faster, and miserable when it contracts. A large share of the population, rich, poor, and middle class, benefits from growth, and benefits more as the growth gets faster. That is why politicians love to promise growth. Even the old line Communists used to seek popular support by promising they would grow faster than under capitalism. Nobody wants to talk about the post-growth age because our experiences with economic “stagnation” are all negative, to say nothing of our experiences with contraction. The unpleasant truth is that the de-growth phase of the current mega-cycle really will be much less happy for most people than growth was. Many people probably will not survive it. One day, close-knit communities and organized religion may provide people with psychic compensation for their lower standards of living and higher mortality rates, but that will not be a rapid transition.

  46. Tim Groves says:

    Yet more unintended negative consequences of the ill-considered mandatory face-muzzle rules pushed by those oh so liberal and oh so progressive officials of the nanny state. 🙂

    “Now that dentists have reopened their doors, they’re having patients show up with a nasty set of symptoms, which the doctors have dubbed ‘mask mouth,’” reports FOX News. “The new oral hygiene issue — caused by, you guessed it, wearing a mask all the time to prevent the spread of the coronavirus — is leading to all kinds of dental disasters like decaying teeth, receding gum lines and seriously sour breath.”

    “We’re seeing inflammation in people’s gums that have been healthy forever, and cavities in people who have never had them before,” Dr. Rob Ramondi, a dentist and co-founder of One Manhattan Dental, told FOX News.

    Beyond embarrassing and painful, dental infections are life-threatening confirms a study by the American Stroke Association:

    “Patients with gum disease were twice as likely to have a stroke caused by hardening of large arteries within the brain than those without gum disease.”

    One Manhattan Dental told FOX News that they estimate 50% of their patients are suffering from mask-induced dental problems.

    • Lastcall says:

      ‘Face nappy’ is my pick of the descriptors….

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      yes, it seems that mouth breathing is the problem, so when I wear a mask (willingly in most public situations) I try to be conscious to not mouth breathe.

      good thing I rarely have to be out in public.

      the public probably feels the same way.

    • adonis says:

      beautiful Tim i suspected as much that masks would compromise ones health along with hand sanitizers eventually something bad would come from that as well

    • Malcopian says:

      During the Second World War in the UK, some people developed a fetish around gas masks – a fetish that some also indulged in even after the war. I suspect we can expect similar fetishes around facial masks in years to come.

      Around 2011 I was starting to take notice of the terrible conflagrations in the icy regions of Russia. This year and last, klymate change has really hit home. And now peak oil has come to pass, causing riots and weird politics around the world as disposable income shrinks. And all the while the oil price is rather low, as Gail predicted it would be. Do people in general realise we are in the middle of peak oil? All this and a pandemic too – such as it is – along with face masks and loss of liberty. Fines and arrests for not wearing a mask or ignoring lockdowns. Who would ever have imagined a dystopian future like this, just a few years ago?

    • The problem with face masks causing dental problems, and dental problems in turn causing strokes (and also hearth disease) needs to be much more widely known.

      I personally wear a face shield instead of a face mask whenever a “face covering” is required. Usually, a face shield is “good enough.” I carry a disposable mask in a baggie in my purse, if I absolutely need to use it. There is only on small store I ran into that objected to the face shield. Face shields are available online. You may need to buy a package will multiple face shields. They can be cleaned by wiping off with soap and water.

      • Jason says:

        There is no evidence that gum disease causes or worsens the heart or blood vessels. There is a small correlation between heart disease and gum disease, but since both have multiple variables to their cause, no direct linkage can be made. I’ll give you one example. Gum disease is in part your body”s overreaction to certain bacteria and their byproducts residing between your gums and teeth. Heart and artery disease is in part your body”s inflammation response and damage to those vessels. The one thing in common is an individual’s tendency to having high inflammatory reactions. Controlling the number of bacteria on your teeth will help with periodontal disease, but will have no affect on your bodies inflammatory response. I have seen no difference in my patients oral health from wearing masks, and find it irresponsible for a professional to spread that opinion without data and controls to back it up. I can think of many reasons the pandemic would cause a decrease in not only oral health, but overall health in certain individuals. That’s why I take with a grain of salt most of what I read on internet as when the topic strays into my field of knowledge the b.s. becomes evident, and I’m sure the same for every field.

        • Thanks for giving your thoughts on the subject. I know that my dentist’s office has at times had signs up, taking about the need to control gum disease because of its potential impacts elsewhere. It never occurred to me that this could be information that was not really right.

          • Jason says:

            It helps to keep patients coming back in regular intervals, and not really a lie, but not really the truth either.

  47. adonis says:

    my take on the election biden will win due to medical complications for trump remember when trump won from hilary clinton same thing she was unwell and trump won a pattern that is repeating coincidence or planned anything is possible when the elders are at the helm.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million votes, against the weakest candidate the Dims could find.
      While I could never vote for Biden, he should easily defeat Trump.
      Trump can steal the process, which seems to be his strategy.
      End stage capitalism has not been good for the US.
      I have only been back in The States for a short time, and my wife wants out again.
      I’m kinda enjoying the Third World experience.

      • Jason says:

        I think they found a weaker one.

      • Dennis L. says:


        Name one policy you would enact which would make a difference and have it possible to get that policy enacted. You are a very smart guy as are so many here, with no sarcasm, I am impressed.

        Dennis L.

      • Nehemiah says:

        I think those 3 million votes were concentrated in a few big states, especially California. Project Veritas says Hillary’s popular vote win can be entirely accounted for by voter fraud in California, but however that may be, racking up big wins in a few big, liberal states only takes you so far in the electoral college. If you abolish the electoral college, then the first time one or more third party candidates prevent anyone from getting an absolute majority (this is not uncommon in close elections), the election will be thrown into the House. If my info is correct (I am not an expert), the House will vote by delegation, not by individual votes, and Repubs always control a majority of House delegations. Imagine the howls of fury as Dems realized they had screwed themselves!

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      yes, my personal take is that Biden will win. The 2016 pre election polls were abbsurdly fayke in the direction of the D side often plus 10% or more, but this year smells different.

      also “huge” is control of Congress. If the House stays D majority and the Senate flips to D majority, then they will have vast power to implement their ideas about “the green economy” which will be disastrous to the economy in due time.

      in any event, 2021 and the following 3 years are going to be an American horror movie, which some will find entertaining even as millions fall into poverty.

      if the D side wants to rule over that mess, I think they will be sorry for their November success.

      be careful what you wish for.

      • The [Green Economy] explained here.. ft. Max Blumenthal

        ps although they make some factual mistakes as well, e.g. the industry is moving away from Cobalt in batteries, in fact there exist wide range of Li- batt chemistry, essentially you need only the key lithium (binding with whatever) for which there are a lot of near surface mining sites (~lesser enviro/energy footprint)

        • This is a video about Josh Fox and others suppressing the distribution of Michael Moore’s film “Planet of the Humans,” because they wanted to advance a different agenda.

          • Well, that’s just the intro – it’s more about the “Blood & Gore” type of mainstream quasi lefty politics with its shift towards industrial scale renewables just prolonging the BAU trainwreck by other means..

  48. adonis says:

    my take on what is really going on an attempt at mass hypnosis which is working get the worlds population to believe that trump is co-vided and is pumping his weak body with scary untested drugs. Why you say ? To sell the world the world the vaccine we must make people want their medicine that way we can truly infect the whole world. A game of mass perception is currently going on which means trump is a double agent . Remember one thing to keep BAU going on life support for another fifty years we must cull the population and bring in the green economy.

    • Tim Groves says:

      As a theory, your take has much to commend it. I’ve had my suspicions that Boris was hyping his cold last spring for the same reason.

      I had a long chat on the phone with an old Australian friend yesterday who reacted with hostility when I questioned whether the virus was any worse than regular bog-standard flu. I pointed out to him that the tone of his voice when he responded demonstrated that he was experiencing a strong emotional reaction to the fact that my opinion differed from his, and so it would be better not to discuss the subject further. This stopped him in his tracks because he hadn’t realized that he was angry because I didn’t share his take.

      We agreed that neither of us knows the whole truth of the matter, but he strongly insisted that you can’t trust social media, blogs and non-mainstream sources but even though the mainstream is unreliable you have to trust them on things like this. “A perfect normie,” I thought. He’s a good mate, all the same.

      It’s OK to disagree and to discuss points of disagreement, but I think that unless you are in parliament on engaging in a public debate, it really is pointless to engage with people on subject where they are hostile to one’s views. And more and more I find most of my friends, relatives and acquaintances “just don’t get it.”

      • Minority Of One says:

        I don’t know anyone in my day-to-day life that ‘Gets it’. Invariably get a hostile reaction. The masses in the UK are well and truly goosed. My teenage daughter is usually rather hostile, but yesterday when I mentioned that only about 1 in 10,000 people have died from Covid so far, she did seem to calm down a bit.

    • Perhaps Trump, like most of the rest of us, is captive to the US medical system. There seems to be a need to try out everything that might work, especially on a a high profile person with the illness.

      The press will tell us the outcomes of the illnesses of the many high-profile people who are catching the illness. They tend to be in positions where they are “put in harm’s way” by their many contacts with people. Some of them may be super-speaders as well. This will help advance people’s understanding of how the illness actually resolves.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Ah, the latest covid meme, the “super spreader”. Four hundred years ago, they were Jews poisoning wells. A thousand years before that, they were left handed people. And in pre Roman England (or Albion) they were people who danced around the balefire widdershins.

        In my own lifetime, I have seen the lessons of the scientific revolution thrown away. We are on the threshold of a new dark age, Get used to it.

  49. Dennis L. says:

    Love him or hate him, this man is a leader.

    Trump outside Walter Reed.

    Dennis L.

    • If you are going to tell people to get back to work, you really need to set an example yourself. I imagine Trump will be back on the job tomorrow, even more than today.

    • Dan says:

      If he is a leader and the virus is fake then why does he flip flop so many times??? A leader no….a old man who lives life like he is a god yes! The most frustrating thing I find is the silence from Gail when there is talk about how he made the economy great when for the last ten years she has been preaching collapse no matter what….I would bet the farm when Biden wins which, sorry to say but he will , she will be back on that soap box! 😨😵 ….. Forgot I am supposed To adhere to the group think and talk!!

      I think that it’s the lack of economic knowledge that is making this site more and more irrelevant so might as well go talk cheap politics . If it wasn’t for Harry Mcgibs I would not come here anymore

      • Self-organizing systems act strangely. They act based on how each individual perceives the problem. This behavior isn’t necessarily controlled from above; in fact, it is unlikely to be controlled from above. Control itself takes energy.

        Maybe these strange twists are things we need to live with and understand. We would like a neat, orderly world, but it really doesn’t act quite that way.

        Throughout the ages, bacteria and viruses have had the upper hand. We are trying to block the natural order. It is not clear that it actually be done, even though we have some people (Anthony Fauci in particular) saying that it can be done. The number of cases would normally grow quite rapidly. We are doing well in keeping deaths from rising rapidly at the same time as cases rise. We sometimes lose sight of that.

      • Xabier says:

        You are talking to yourself, Dan: no one here -as far as I can recall – has ever praised Trump for ‘making the economy great’.

      • Dennis L. says:


        At the beginning of this year no one knew how to deal with COVID, masks on, masks off? To ventilate or not to ventilate? How was it spread, WHO stated it would not spread, it was not a pandemic.

        Does he live his life like a god? Well, maybe yes, note his wife and his latest child. His latest plane is a bit bigger than his previous 757 don’t you think?

        Yes, Gail does refer to collapse, she does refer to deflation, she is not always prescient in what will come, the whole crowd that has been preaching collapse from ASPO on were not right, yet. But she and all of us here have grown, we have started to get a grasp on some of the interacting issues and many have at last come to a conclusion that maybe there is more than what we see, someone may be behind the curtain.

        I have a farm and I will not bet the farm on Biden. If Trump comes out of this we have a leader who cares more for he country than himself. How do politicians making less than $200K per year end up as multi millionaires?

        Group think? Nope, this place is open and polite and some of us owe that to Gail, we have have explored ideas and done so in a civil manner.

        Harry? Well, he has interesting quotes, some work some do not. Economic knowledge? What is that? Is it all economics? N. America had all the resources, the American Indians often butchered people on top of piles of rock or threw them into cenotes to appease the gods, they did not use what was in front of them to destroy their environment, human sacrifices were easier. Simple guess, the medicine men did not know science, lacked a Newton or a Leibniz. Scare the population to death, get lucky, sacrifice a few virgins, drought goes away, the reputation builds, strong medicine I think the westerns called it. Wrong ideas have consequences when not in agreement with reality, nature bats last.

        Stick around for a bit, the site goes up and down in interest, the people are interesting, it is a journey.

        Dennis L.

        • Norman Pagett says:

          Of all the Earthtribes, it was a matter of chance which one came up with the key to unlock the world’s wealth and resources (nothing to do with economics)

          the key was cheap plentiful iron

          with iron, you can access everything else.

          The tribes that gets the iron-access first dominates the rest–until they discover the secret too of course/

          The American Indians did not possess the means to use what was in front of them—other than the buffalo.

          But you lost me on this bit:
          >>>>If Trump comes out of this we have a leader who cares more for he country than himself. <<<<<

          Unless I'm missing something, it would be had to find anyone more self seeking.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Well said, Dennis. Gail is not an economist; she is an actuary. The difference is that actuaries try to get the right answer, while economists try to find the politically correct answer. For example, when fiat money became politically correct, economists came up with MMT.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Thank you, Dan, a valuable alternative viewpoint. I have no quarrel with your comments on Trump, even though that very form of reference is an implicit acknowledgement of the length of his shadow.

        But on the issue of our economic knowledge, I must respectfully disagree. There seems to me to be more, and better, economic knowledge here than almost anywhere else. We often disagree, substantially disagree, on our views of what happens next, but we all recognise that economics as a science is as predictive as astrology. It is a guide not to the understanding of either the present or the future, but rather as a guide to our flawed perceptions of those things, and the reason why they are often (and fatally) flawed.

      • Nehemiah says:

        Dan wrote: ” the silence from Gail when there is talk about how he made the economy great” — why shoot fish in a barrel? If you want to hear people frothing at the mouth about how awful the “orange man” is, just turn on the tele. Frankly, it gets old for most people. One often hears cries of alarm along the lines of, “The economy is in deep doo-doo and the politicians are making it worse!” So what else is new? This has been going on since LBJ. It will continue under the next president too. Ditto for other major economies. There is no way to set our houses in order without forcing austerity on the voters, and voters will put up with only so much austerity. Even totalitarian Red China gets nervous about belt-tightening. Everyone will keep kicking the can down the road until they run out of road. Some just kick it a little faster.

        • Unfortunately, austerity simply leads to debt that cannot be repaid. Commodity prices tend to collapse. Banks may fail. Austerity doesn’t really solve the problem either. It gets to be wars, epidemics and overturned government that are used to solve the problem. With fewer people and fewer programs for people, there may once again be enough resources (especially energy resources) to go around.

          • Nehemiah says:

            Unfortunately, once your debt level rises to a point where you cannot “grow your way out of it,” austerity becomes inevitable. The only question is whether the austerity will be managed in a thoughtful and careful way, or whether it will be imposed upon a people crudely by circumstances. You can safely disregard these people who talk as though austerity is a choice. It is not. Austerity will come–one way or another.

            Every household that has ever reduced its consumption so that it could service its debt has imposed austerity on itself, but households that avoid making those hard choices, that continue to roll over their debt for as long as possible, borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, do not escape austerity forever.

            Now, I am aware there are people who say that we can just print our way out of it, or words to that effect. They are mistaken, probably because they don’t understand how QE actually works. Once you start actually monetizing the debt (which is not what real QE does), you are on the highway to monetary hell. There is no free lunch. Any choice that is made will have unpleasant consequences. Printing is only a viable solution if you are a small private counterfeiter. It does not scale up to a nation-size solution. “Fallacy of composition.”

            • I think what you end up with is wars between countries. Also, uprisings that overthrow governments. You get too high wage disparity, leading to trivial diseases causing epidemics among the poor and the weak.

              Maybe QE, or some other new financial program, does something to allocate what limited goods and services are available. But it cannot make up for inadequate energy resources per capita leading to too few goods and services produced.

              The first round of problems from the shutdowns comes in poor countries. Many of these people lost their jobs, and their countries have not been able to solve the problem by QE. Instead, the people without jobs eat very poorly and succumb to epidemics.

            • Artleads says:

              “The only question is whether the austerity will be managed in a thoughtful and careful way, or whether it will be imposed upon a people crudely by circumstances.”

              I’m working (and seem forever to have been working) on the thoughtful and careful. Among other things, those require creativity, systems thinking, and some tweaking and empowering of those. It’s beyond difficult, for we’re dealing with one’s own failings, the fact of individualism precluding others filling in where one is deficient, etc.

    • Xabier says:

      It’s really upset the Lefties, that’s for sure:

      ‘How dare he take those drugs, and how dare he get up on his feet so soon! etc. It’s deeply amusing.

      Trump is, clearly, a buffoon: but his political and ideological enemies are far, far worse.

      • Dennis L. says:


        From the Godfather, approximate quote: “Better your friends underestimate your strengths and your enemies overestimate your weaknesses.”

        Dennis L.

      • Ed says:

        Xabier, exactly.

      • Minority Of One says:

        Not sure why you say ‘Lefties’. Listening to the BBC’s radio 4 News each morning, it is nothing but anti-Trump diatribes from right-wing nutjobs who have the cheek to call themselves journalists. You are spot on that the angle from the BBC is how dare he get better so soon and suggest Covid is not as bad as the MSM make out, avoiding at all costs to mention that globally Covid has killed only about 1 in 10,000 people, until now.
        But this is not a Left or Right point of view. Here in the UK my perception is it is just about everyone that is on anti-Trump overdrive. I am no friend of Trump’s either, but he is surrounded by crooks and incompetents, not least the elite of the Democrats, the multinational corporations and the security services, who have spent much of the last 4 years trying to bring him down. And now it looks like they are hellbent on destroying the global economy.

  50. Chrome Mags says:

    For those interested, Trump’s Covid-19 treatments I just saw posted on TV News are: Remdesivir, Regeneron, Dexamethasone, Supplemental oxygen, zinc, Vitamin D, Famotidine, Melatonin & Aspirin.

    They should have a split screen on the TV news with Trump’s vital signs on a side screen, like oxygen count, blood pressure, pulse rate, etc.

    • Dexamethasone is a steroid that seems to be very beneficial for COVID. Getting that whole long list looks somewhat like overkill.

      There seem to be reports now that Trump could leave the hospital tomorrow.

      • Dennis L. says:


        Trump took a risky course, if he emerges and goes back to work an implication is assuming some risk and not absolute safety, the country can return to work. We have a male, over seventy, over weight, the disease is not prevented with a vaccine but treated post infection.

        Leaders are paid to lead, in most cases one expects to see them out front. The next week will be interesting. There is no security, only opportunity.

        As an aside, last night my pub was empty, Friday it was packed, I sat outside, alone. Nation assessing risks of COVID after President contracted same? If he returns to work, will that affect the nation’s perception of risk regarding disease? On the other hand, if he does not, that could be more than interesting.

        Dennis L.

        • MASKTHIS says:

          Id vote for trump if he was dead. I question his choice of treatment. Rem And Reg? seriously? Myself dex and oxy if i was in his shoes. We all know he is a risk taker but the thing about luck… It runs out.

          • Slow Paul says:

            I guess he decided to “keep america great” or bust. No glory in staying in bed while losing the election.

    • Lidia17 says:

      I remember they had something like that for Reagan’s bowel polyp surgery (or at least it seemed that way).

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