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The Periphery is Failing

The next big economic dislocation might be only weeks away
Tuesday, August 27, 2013, 4:04 PM

For years we've preached the From the Outside In principle of markets: When trouble starts, it nearly always does so out in the weaker periphery before creeping towards the core.

We saw this in the run-up to the housing bubble collapse, as sub-prime mortgages gave way before prime loans, and in Europe, as smaller economies like Greece, Ireland, and Cyprus have fallen first and hardest (so far).  We see this today in accelerating food stamp use among poorer U.S. households.  In each case, the weaker economic parties give way first before being followed, over time, by the stronger ones.

Using this framework, we can often get several weeks to several months of advance notice before trouble erupts in the next ring closer to the center.

Which makes today notable, as we're receiving a number of new warning signs.  The periphery is giving way. » Read more

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Why We All Lose If the Fed Wins

Fighting the wrong battles
Monday, August 19, 2013, 7:20 PM

If we hold the view that humans are behaving unsustainably in terms of any of the 'three Es'  the economy, energy, or the environment  then any rapid resumption of a paradigm of exponential growth in our consumption of natural resources or in our growth of debt over income simply takes us more quickly to the bitter end of this story. » Read more

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The Growing Appeal of Intentional Community

Choosing to live with others of like mind
Tuesday, August 13, 2013, 11:16 AM

Tired of being shunned and marginalized by your conventional friends and family? It’s a common situation for those who have “woken up” in a world dead set on remaining asleep as the default solution to systemic unsustainability.

One time-honored way to avoid isolation is to band together with others of like mind in communities.  The current terminology for this is intentional communities, living arrangements organized around shared values and conscious decisions rather than government or market forces. » Read more

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Doing the Next Thing

Steady steps is what it takes to build resilience
Tuesday, August 6, 2013, 6:14 PM

The whole reason we spend our time looking at where the world is going is so that we can position ourselves to have as prosperous, joyous, and fulfilled a life as we can, while leaving behind a better world for those who will follow us.

Today I can say with complete sincerity that I am a better, more fulfilled, happier, and healthier person than I was ten years ago. » Read more

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The Fed Matters Much Less Than You Think

It can't control the real economy
Thursday, August 1, 2013, 1:18 AM

This lemming-like belief in the power of the Federal Reserve generates its own psychological force field, of course; the actual power of the Fed is superseded by the belief in its power. We can thus anticipate widespread disbelief at the discovery that the Fed is either irrelevant or an impediment to the non-asset-bubble parts of the economy. » Read more

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Class, Race, Hierarchy, and Social Relations in 'The Long Emergency'

Reality does not have an ideology
Monday, July 29, 2013, 7:07 PM

After the second novel in my World Made By Hand series (The Witch of Hebron) came out in 2010, I was beset by indignant reviews and angry letters from female readers over my depiction of gender and class relations further along in the 21st century. The fictional future economy I described was, in its broad outlines, similar to the future sketched by Chris Martenson and his stable of writers — a re-set to a far more local, much less complex, and downscaled economy, with a lot of formerly modern comforts and conveniences missing from the picture. » Read more

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Bankers Own the World

And are ultimately destroying it
Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 1:41 PM

Today, some of the most celebrated individuals and institutions are ensconced within the financial industry; in banks, hedge funds, and private equity firms. Which is odd because none of these firms or individuals actually make anything, which society might point to as additive to our living standards. Instead, these financial magicians harvest value from the rest of society that has to work hard to produce real things of real value. » Read more

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Our "As You Wish" Markets Have Reached the Cliffs of Insanity

Next stop: the Pit of Despair?
Friday, July 19, 2013, 12:41 PM

In the classic fantasy rom-com The Princess Bride, the beautiful maid Buttercup orders the farm boy Westley to perform numerous tasks to test his servitude. No matter the magnitude of the request, Westley simply answers "As you wish" and makes it so. Buttercup eventually comes to view Wesley with similar devotion, and true love is born.

Similarly, investors have fallen back in love with the capital markets, whose continual response their increasingly irrational hopes has been "As you wish." » Read more

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Get Ready for Rising Commodity Prices

Driven by hot money seeking a low-risk haven
Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 9:27 PM

The human mind seeks a narrative explanation of events, a story that makes sense of the swirl of life’s interactions.

The simpler the story, the easier it is to understand. Thus the simple stories are the most attractive to us.

But conspiracies and power groups do not always provide comprehensive explanations for what we observe. » Read more

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Living Two Lives

And what to do about it
Friday, July 12, 2013, 3:12 PM

You know that something is very wrong.

Even if you ascribe to the recovery meme and ingest the current narrative that the economy is about to take off and that stocks and houses will once again make us all rich, you know deep down that the story of perpetual exponential growth has an ending.

Maybe not immediately, but someday, certainly, the doctrine of endless growth will have to end. And you know that in all likelihood it won't end on human terms, in a manner of our careful choosing, but on some other terms set by exhausted ecosystems and depleted resources interacting with our highly complex economic and financial systems. » Read more