Posts Tagged ‘society’

China’s Coming Collapse

The Middle Kingdom’s prosperity is an illusion. And when China finally falls, we’ll all feel the pain.

By Jason Kirby, Canadian Business Online (H/t David Gordon)

As fearmongering election campaign ads go, it’s hard to top the "Chinese Professor," which flickered across the Internet just before Americans went to the polls last fall. In the spot, set in a sleek Beijing lecture hall 20 years in the future, a sharply dressed Chinese instructor explains to his Asian students why previous empires, from Ancient Greece to the U.S.A., turned to dust. The Americans failed because they lost sight of their principles, he says in Mandarin, with subtitles. They overspent, overtaxed and over–borrowed. "Of course, we owned most of their debt," he cackles, as the class joins in. "So now they work for us."

If you missed the ad, put out by the conservative group Citizens Against Government Waste, no matter. The notion that China’s headed for superpower status at the expense of the United States has been repeated so often that many in the West now take it as an undisputable fact. With breathless enthusiasm economists predict China’s red–hot economy will power past America’s to become the world’s largest in just 15 years. Bookstore shelves are filled with titles like China’s Ascent and When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, in which author Martin Jacques argues America is in denial about the fact China is its "usurper and ultimate replacement." Hollywood’s even getting in on the act with a remake of the 1980s Cold War paranoia flick Red Dawn, in which Soviet soldiers overran a Midwest American town. Only this time, the marauders are Chinese. Having conquered American capitalism, the People’s Liberation Army is coming for America’s Capitol, too.

It’s easy to find evidence that ostensibly confirms China’s unstoppable ascent. Try this: Go to Google News and type in "China," along with any laudatory adjective, then add the suffix "–est." Do so, and you’ll learn that China is building the world’s third–tallest skyscraper ("China usurps U.S. in skyscrapers"); it produces the smartest children ("Chinese students outperform U.S. in recent test") and now boasts of the world’s fastest trains ("China’s fastest train leaves rest of world behind"). This super–country narrative has become so pervasive that the majority of Americans take it for granted. At the end of last


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Full Bore to the Vanishing Point

Full Bore to the Vanishing Point

By James Howard Kunstler 

Highway through desert in New Mexico

      Last evening at twilight I was driving my rent-a-car up Interstate Five north of Seattle with a vivid testicular fear of being trapped in the very metaphor of a failing society racing into a dark future. All around me loomed the monuments of an out-of-control financial credit Moloch – the tilt-up chain store boxes with their giant logos glowing against the distant craggy peaks of the Cascades (many of them active volcanoes which, like Mt. Saint Helens, might blow their tops any day). At every compass point sprawled the McHousing pods of American dream mortgage time-bombs silently blowing families to financial smithereens, and banks with them, including, incidentally last Friday, the state of Washington’s own Shoreline Bank just off I-5 north of Seattle, seized by the FDIC. My way was lighted, as darkness finally stole in, by the endlessly replicated dispensaries of fast food-dom (pizza-burgers-chicken-fries-and-shakes) provoking this nation of overfed clowns to ever-greater feats of gluttony, medical catastrophe, and bankruptcy. And, of course, these were my fellow-travelers in the perpetual stream of cars plying this great thoroughfare of the tragic western littoral, burning up gasoline that had traveled all the way from the sands of Abqaiq or from some sweltering platform off the Niger Delta, where dangerous, angry, armed men in Zodiac boats plot mayhem nearby among the mangrove thickets. Not to mention the row-upon-row of idle cars parked in the lagoons surrounding the countless malls and strip-malls and auto dealerships that flanked I-5 for fifty miles north of Seattle. Cars, cars, cars, as far as the eye could see where the sodium-vapor lamps cut through the crepuscular murk. Sasquatch was a no-show. But Sasquatch don’t drive.

      This was the week when the US housing fiasco got even more extra-special interesting as the Bank of America suspended mortgage foreclosures in twenty-three states, and the Connecticut Attorney General (Richard Blumenthal, who is running for Chris Dodd’s senate seat) declared a 60-day moratorium on foreclosures (a political ploy do ya think?). Also of interest, Ally Financial suspended foreclosures in twenty-three states – and note, by the way, that Ally is the mutant offspring of the bailed-out General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC), which also spawned the infamous DiTech Mortgage finance company (remember those non-stop TV commercials a few years back) which specialized in jumbo…
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WILL THE “CULT OF THE EQUITY” INVESTOR DIE?

WILL THE “CULT OF THE EQUITY” INVESTOR DIE?

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

Portrait of a Kodiak Bear

RBS recently published a dramatic and very bearish research note that described equity investors as “the world’s worst cult”.  While I thought the note was a bit over the top it did raise some interesting and thought provoking topics.  More specifically, they said:

“The big turnover in the US economy will lead to dramatic turns down in valuations we suspect – and may finally destroy the world’s worst cult: the cult of the equity, which has no basis in fact, or history, but yet seems universally accepted.”

The credit crisis is a reflection of our excesses and this is best reflected in the markets.   We have become a society that values those who get rich quick over those who create sustainable and productive businesses.  This is nowhere more apparent than it is in the financial sector which has become the epicenter of the crisis.  Our bloated financial sector steals our best minds and puts them to work doing little of real value while rewarding them excessively.  The excess growth of this industry has coincided with Main Street’s obsession with Wall Street.  While the buy side reaps the rewards of 2 & 20 or 2% funds fees for what is effectively an index fund (sorry mutual fund managers) the sell side reels the small investor in with the myth of becoming the next Warren Buffett.  The result?   What RBS would call the worst cult in history – an economy that has become transfixed with making money by effectively doing nothing.

We have spent more than we have and lived well beyond our means.  We buy every new Apple product, houses because we believe it is a right and not a privilege, and think of debt as a way to keep up with the way of life that God bestowed upon us.  It is not sustainable and this is becoming clear to us all as the economy appears to be in a perpetual stall.  The worst part in all of this is that we have tried with all our might to prop up a sector that has failed us all.  While Main Street struggles Wall Street is back to their old tricks.

banks WILL THE CULT OF THE EQUITY INVESTOR DIE?

As a nation I sometimes wonder if a depression wouldn’t set us straight.  I have often cited the “greatest generation” in this regard.…
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An Age of Miracles and Wonders

An Age of Miracles and Wonders

Courtesy of Tim at The Psy-Fi Blog 

Low angle view of a woman with outstretched arms against blue sky

S-t-r-e-t-c-h

Stretch your arms out to either side and imagine you’re looking at the economic growth of the human race over its entire four thousand year documented history. From the fingertip on your right hand to the first wrinkle on its index ftinger more or less covers the first three thousand eight hundred years. From there to the end of the index finger on your left hand represents growth over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

We truly live in an age of miracles and wonders. Medical advances have ensured more people live longer than ever before, scientific achievements have created a world in which we’re surrounded by astonishing labour saving creations and inventions which allow us to waste the time we’ve saved and the extra years of life we’ve been granted. Meanwhile our economic understanding of how this happened has, well, gone nowhere very interesting really. How did we achieve this state of grace?

Science and Medicine

View of female pharmacist holding and yellow and white box

 One thing’s perfectly clear – the massive economic growth seen over the last couple of hundred years doesn’t have an awful lot to do with economics. Perhaps the prevalence of capitalist doctrines has prevented excessive government intervention in free markets at too early a stage, but otherwise we’ve veered about wildly while booming and busting our way to a greater level of wealth and health than ever before seen on the planet.

On the other hand this has had a lot to do with medical advances. Medicine has ensured that our useful lives are greatly extended – although a lot of the increase in average lifespans so often discussed is down to vast decreases in infant mortality. Still, we no longer die en-masse of septicaemia. Better, though, improvements in healthcare have extended the useful working lives of people: imagine a world in which most people were dead by 45. Heck, no politicians.

From Third World to First

Along with this we’ve seen incredible advances in science and engineering. In my father’s living memory he recalls the arrival of electricity, sewage disposal and tarmac to his home village. My grandmother was born before the Wright Brothers took flight and outlived – by far – the Apollo program. Yet her grandfather lived in a world virtually unchanged for a millennium: a world of hard…
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The Future of Cities

The Future of Cities 

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith Of Two Minds 

Man In Bowler Hat And Suit Standing In Front Of City

The energy consumption of cities will certainly decline in the coming decades, but cities may not disintegrate as many expect.

Among those who understand Peak Oil and the fragility of global supply chains, it is widely assumed cities will quickly become hellholes of squalor and extreme violence once liquid fuels are no longer cheap and abundant. Perhaps, but history suggests cities are highly resilient adaptations.

What never ceases to amaze me is how few people who expect cities to implode have any grasp of the size and scale of cities which thrived for hundreds of years without any fossil fuels.

Fernand Braudel’s masterful three-volume history of European Capitalism (Civilization & Capitalism, 15th to 18th Century) The Structures of Everyday Life (Volume 1)The Wheels of Commerce (Volume 2) and The Perspective of the World (Volume 3) is in effect a history of trade and the rise of urban centers. Paris and other cities were already huge, complex centers of commerce and wealth in the early 16th century.

In Asia, the Chinese T’ang Dynasy capital of Ch’ang-an (A.D. 618-907) contained hundreds of thousands of residents, and drew in the wealth of all Asia: The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of T’ang Exotics.

Even today, you need to rent a bicycle to tour the vast ruins of the old Thai capital of Ayuttaya, which had a population in the hundreds of thousands in the 15th century.

If cities are so fragile, how did they grow to vast size without any high-density fuel other than wood, and no transport other than animals and human energy?

Yes, these were not "modern" cities in terms of energy consumption, but it terms of exotic goods available, plentiful food, high culture and intrigue, they were thoroughly modern.

Rather than attempt an over-arching synthesis of the vast literature on urbanism, I will make a few points which I think are suggestive of the enduring value of cities, and of the ways in which wastrel (and thus unsustainable) cities might lower their energy consumption and increase their sustainability.

1. 68% of all trips within Tokyo are by foot, bicycle or subway/transit. 95% of the trips in Houston are by private vehicle. Houston is not Tokyo, but this is a way of suggesting that when liquid fuels become costly/scarce, not all cities are equally…
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Where Have We Been; Where Are We Going?

Where Have We Been; Where Are We Going?

clevelandCourtesy of James Howard Kunstler 

     Driving down the broad avenues of Cleveland, Ohio, was like flipping through the pages of a picture book about the rise and fall of our industrial empire. Where demolitions had not removed things — a lot was gone — stood the residue of a society so different from ours that you felt momentarily transported to another planet where a different race of beings had gone about their business. 

     Among the qualities most visible in the recent ruins of that lost society is the secure confidence expressed in its buildings. Even the most modest factory or business establishment built before the 20th century included decorations and motifs devised for no other reason but to be beautiful -- towers, swags, medallions, cartouches — as if to state we are joined proudly in a great enterprise to make good things happen in this world. This was true not just of Cleveland, of course, but the whole nation, for a while anyway. 

     Equally arresting are the changes visible in the collective demeanor from the mid-20th century, especially after the Second World War, when the adolescent panache of a rising economy had morphed into the grinding force of a place devoted to the production of anything. The memory of the Great Depression lingered like a metabolic disorder, and the spirit of the place was no longer caught up in the muscular exuberance of self-discovery but the sheer determination to stay powerful and alive. This phase didn’t last long.

     By the 1970s, signs of a new illness were clear. Production was moving someplace else, incomes and household security with it. An existential pall settled over the city as ominous symptoms of waning vitality showed up in the organs of production. Steel-making and car-making staggered. Even the Cuyahoga river caught on fire, as if fate was a practical joke. Major retail was moving elsewhere — to the suburban outlands — where so many of the people who worked in the downtown towers had already fled. The population that remained in the city center was made of recently uprooted agricultural quasi-serfs who had only just come up to the city a generation before to make better livings in the factories that were all of a sudden shutting down. It seemed like a kind of swindle and they were understandably angry about…
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Is Obama Gorbachev?

Powerful read, as always but more so, by Jim Kunstler. - Ilene  

Gorbachev portraitIs Obama Gorbachev?

Courtesy of James Howard Kunstler

    The eulogy for Walter Cronkite as "the most trusted man in America" on the CBS "Sixty Minutes" show said a lot about the condition of this nation — though it did not signify what CBS thought it did.  It wasn’t about the death of one hugely esteemed individual; it was about the broad institutional failure of TV news in general and the current grievous loss of legitimacy and authority in shaping a national consensus of reality.  Watching the old clips of Cronkite delivering the evening news years ago, one couldn’t help weighing the contrast with the current spectacle of snide, combative, overbearing idiocy acted out nightly by the likes of Kudlow, Olberman, Kneale, O’Reilly, Matthews, and Dobbs as they shout down their invited guest commentators, pander to their demographic, and diss their rivals for ratings.
      It was instructive to notice that the program following "Sixty Minutes" — in the supreme weekly slot of 8p.m. Sunday — was a childish and stupid "reality" show called "Big Brother."  This said even more about the craven quality of the people currently running CBS. It was also a useful lesson in the diminishing returns of technology as applied to television, since it should now be obvious that the expansion of cable broadcasting since the heyday of the "big three" networks has led only to the mass replication of video garbage rather than a banquet of culture, as first touted. 
Declaration_independence      It should remind us more generally that when a society’s operations become broadly fraudulent and unreal, authority and legitimacy wither.  This is analogous to the position Barack Obama now finds himself in.  He was elected as the politician most trusted in America to change the fraudulent and unreal operations of the US government.  Don’t bother protesting that all politics is necessarily unreal and fraudulent. If it were so, you’d have to argue that the US Constitution was wholly a fraud, as well as Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton and the rest. It only has strong tendencies in that direction. (The Declaration of Independence was itself a direct strike against the fraud and unreality of British royal governance in America.)
     As president, Barack Obama is faced with the


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“Trumped by Darwin?”

Courtesy of Mark Thoma at Economist’s View

"Trumped by Darwin?"

elk, Darwin, natural selectionRobert Frank returns to the point he made in Alpha Markets, i.e. that Charles Darwin provides the "true intellectual foundation" for economics. Though the example this time is male elk rather than bull elephant seals, the central point – and it’s one worth giving more thought to – is that "Individual and group interests are almost always in conflict when rewards to individuals depend on relative performance." In these situations, which occur frequently in economic and social relationships, the assumption in neoclassical economic models that the maximization of self-interest is consistent with the maximization of social interest does not hold, and failure to recognize this has " undermined regulatory efforts … causing considerable harm to us all":

The Invisible Hand, Trumped by Darwin?, by Robert Frank, Commentary, NY Times: If asked to identify the intellectual founder of their discipline, most economists today would probably cite Adam Smith. But that will change. … Charles Darwin … tracks economic reality much more closely. …

Smith’s basic idea was that business owners … have powerful incentives to introduce improved product designs and cost-saving innovations. These moves bolster innovators’ profits in the short term. But rivals respond by adopting the same innovations, and the resulting competition gradually drives down prices and profits. In the end, Smith argued, consumers reap all the gains.Charles Darwin

The central theme of Darwin’s narrative was that competition favors traits and behavior according to how they affect the success of individuals, not species or other groups. As in Smith’s account, traits that enhance individual fitness sometimes promote group interests. For example, a mutation for keener eyesight in hawks benefits not only any individual hawk that bears it, but also makes hawks more likely to prosper as a species.

In other cases, however, traits that help individuals are harmful to larger groups. For instance, a mutation for larger antlers served the reproductive interests of an individual male elk, because it helped him prevail in battles … for access to mates. But as this mutation spread, it started an arms race that made life more hazardous for male elk over all. The antlers of male elk can now span five feet or more. And


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ValueWalk

Goldman Sachs & JPMorgan Among Top Ten Most Prestigious Internship Programs

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Google And NASA Named The Two Most Prestigious Internship Programs To Have On A Resume, According To Latest Vault Career Intelligence Survey

Infosys Has The No. 1 Best Overall Internship Program; Abbot Has The No. 1 Health Care Internship And No. 1 Program For Data Analytics And Engineering; Captech Has The No. 1 Consulting Internship

Q3 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Vault’s Survey Also Looks at Trends Influencing the Internship Search

New York, NY, (Tuesday, October 27, 2020) Vault, the top career intelligence platform, has ...



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Zero Hedge

CDC Reaffirms Warning Against Nonessential Travel, Including Cruises

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

By Evan Gove of Porthole Cruise

The CDC has updated a level 3 warning to avoid nonessential travel, citing cruises in particular as a known spreader of COVID-19.

The update on the CDC website doesn’t leave any room for interpretation: 

Cruise passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been ...



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Phil's Favorites

Trump's trade war - what was it good for? Not much

 

Trump's trade war – what was it good for? Not much

When you push an opponent, he tends to push back. AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

Courtesy of Rebecca Ray, Boston University

The 2016 election was a referendum on free trade, which many blamed for destroying millions of American manufacturing jobs. In 2020, it could be about the merits of trade wars.

During President Donald Trump’s first term, he tore up deals, launched a trade war with China and renegotiated NAFTA. His campaign claims the war was a succes...



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Biotech/COVID-19

In rural America, resentment over COVID-19 shutdowns is colliding with rising case numbers

 

In rural America, resentment over COVID-19 shutdowns is colliding with rising case numbers

Business restrictions early in the pandemic, when rural towns had few cases, triggered a backlash that haunts them now. Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

Courtesy of Lauren Hughes, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Roberto Silva, University of Colorado Denver...



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Politics

How to track your mail-in ballot

 

How to track your mail-in ballot

Make sure you know when your ballot is arriving, and whether it’s been accepted for counting back at your election office. erhui1979/DigitalVision Vectors via Getty Images

Courtesy of Steven Mulroy, University of Memphis

Many voters who want to participate in the election by mail are concerned about when they’ll receive their ballot – and whether it will get back in time to be counted.

The pandemic has caused interest in ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Doc Copper/Gold Indicator Breaking Out Again?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

The Doc Copper/Gold ratio broke above a 2-year falling channel back in 2016 at (1). Following this breakout, it rallied for the next year. During that year, Copper related assets did very well!

The ratio peaked in the summer of 2018 and created a series of lower highs over the past two years.

The strength of late has the ratio attempting to break above dual resistance at (2).

If the ratio continues to push higher and succeeds in breaking out, Copper, Basic Materials (XLB), and ...



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Chart School

Dow Gann Angle Update

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Time to see what happens to the Dow post US elections.

The Dow Gann Angle Target 3 (from 2007 top) is on the table, and what a ride that will be. The FED went BRRRRR is all the fundamental news you need to know. Gann angles are very good tool to see how the masses are pushing price.


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The last two US elections saw Bitcoin and the DOW rally well for 6 months, due to stimulus. The most bearish 2020 US Election case for the markets is a Biden win with the Senate and Congress controlled by the Democrats, somehow this blog feels that is very unlikely. So what could go wrong!


...

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Digital Currencies

Bitcoin: the UK and US are clamping down on crypto trading - here's why it's not yet a big deal

 

Bitcoin: the UK and US are clamping down on crypto trading – here's why it's not yet a big deal

Where there’s a bit there’s a writ. Novikov Aleksey

Courtesy of Gavin Brown, University of Liverpool

The sale and promotion of derivatives of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to amateur investors is being banned in the UK by the financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It is a...



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Mapping The Market

COVID-19 Forces More Than Half of Asset Management Firms to Accelerate Adoption of Digital Marketing Technology

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

There is no doubt that the use of technology to support client engagement initiatives brings both opportunities and threats but this has been brought into sharp focus this year with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The crisis has brought to the fore the need for firms to enable flexibility in client engagement – the expectation that providers will communicate to clients on their terms, at their speed and frequency and on their preferred channels, is now a given. This is even more critical when clients are experiencing unparalleled anxiety from both market conditions and their own personal circumstances.

...

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The Technical Traders

Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling System Suggests Market Peak May Be Near

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Our Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling system is suggesting a moderate price peak may be already setting up in the NASDAQ while the Dow Jones, S&P500, and Transportation Index continue to rally beyond the projected Fibonacci Price Expansion Levels.  This indicates that capital may be shifting away from the already lofty Technology sector and into Basic Materials, Financials, Energy, Consumer Staples, Utilities, as well as other sectors.

This type of a structural market shift indicates a move away from speculation and towards Blue Chip returns. It suggests traders and investors are expecting the US consumer to come back strong (or at least hold up the market at...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia - The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

 

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia – The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

Courtesy of Lee Adler, WallStreetExaminer 

The numbers of new cases in some of the hardest hit COVID19 states have started to plateau, or even decline, over the past few days. A few pundits have noted it and concluded that it was a hopeful sign. 

Is it real or is something else going on? Like a restriction in the numbers of tests, or simply the inability to test enough, or are some people simply giving up on getting tested? Because as we all know from our dear leader, the less testing, the less...



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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

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Promotions

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Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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