Daily Digest

Daily Digest 9/9 - The Collapse Of Complex Societies, Falling Rates Punishing Savers, A Solar-Powered White House?

Thursday, September 9, 2010, 9:55 AM
  • Consumers Shun Credit Cards
  • Retailers: Reality Check Time
  • In U.S., Confidence in Newspapers, TV News Remains a Rarity
  • FSN In Depth: Joseph A. Tainter Ph.D, The Collapse of Complex Societies
  • Falling Rates: Good for Debtors, But Bad for Savers
  • Fed's Move to Buy Treasurys Posing Serious Risks: Mishkin
  • Atlantic Capital Management Special Report: Another Perfect Storm
  • RBA May Lift Rates Amid Sustained Growth In Labour Force
  • Russia May Limit Sunflower Oil Exports After Harvest
  • Ireland Breaks Up Anglo Irish As EMU Debt Jitters Return
  • Put Solar On The White House
  • 20 Years Left: Mammals Plunge Into Extinction

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Economy

Consumers Shun Credit Cards (Ilene)

Another cause for reduced credit-card use is financial reform aimed at protecting consumers, which has decreased the number of new cards given and cut available spending limits, the Javelin report said. Federal legislation that limits overdraft fees, caps on fees banks charge merchants for debit-card transactions and credit-card legislation mean banks have to recoup losses and are only giving cards to the most creditworthy borrowers, the study said.

Retailers: Reality Check Time (JimQ)

The chart below tells the story that retail CEOs have been ignoring for a decade. Consumer credit has advanced from $1.5 trillion in 2000 to $2.4 trillion today. This 60% increase in consumer debt has allowed workers who have barely increased their earnings to spend like they made a lot more money. This debt fueled consumption binge led major retailers to expand in order to keep up with the delusional consumers.

In U.S., Confidence in Newspapers, TV News Remains a Rarity (Davos)

Americans continue to express near-record-low confidence in newspapers and television news -- with no more than 25% of Americans saying they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in either. These views have hardly budged since falling more than 10 percentage points from 2003-2007.

FSN In Depth: Joseph A. Tainter Ph.D, The Collapse of Complex Societies (woodman)

Political disintegration is a persistent feature of world history. The Collapse of Complex Societies, though written by an archaeologist, will therefore strike a chord throughout the social sciences. Any explanation of societal collapse carries lessons not just for the study of ancient societies, but for the members of all such societies in both the present and future. Dr. Tainter describes nearly two dozen cases of collapse and reviews more than 2000 years of explanations. He then develops a new and far-reaching theory that accounts for collapse among diverse kinds of societies, evaluating his model and clarifying the processes of disintegration by detailed studies of the Roman, Mayan and Chacoan collapses.

Falling Rates: Good for Debtors, But Bad for Savers (SolidSwede)

With the regulated rate that financial institutions can borrow from one another at almost zero, banks are paying savers next to nothing. The average returns on interest-bearing deposit accounts slipped to 0.99 percent in July, according to Market Rates Insight, which tracks bank rates. It is the first time its measure has dipped below 1 percent since the 1950s, when its data begins.

    Crash Course DVDShare the Crash Course with your friends and family – buy the DVD today (NTSC or PAL)

Fed's Move to Buy Treasurys Posing Serious Risks: Mishkin (Robert C.)

In a rare public dissent with the central bank, Mishkin, a professor at Columbia Business School who left the central bank in 2008, called the Fed's move to use receipts from maturing mortgage-backed securities to buy more Treasurys "one of the most important decisions the Fed has made in a very long time."

Atlantic Capital Management Special Report: Another Perfect Storm (pinecarr)

Zero Hedge is happy to announce its most recent collaboration, this time with Atlantic Capital Management, whose special reports we will post in the future on a periodic basis. We start off with the September report , which is divided into three parts: Part 1 – The Economy Can Go From Bad to Worse, Part 2 - Self-Similarity (on High Frequency Trading and fractal systems), and Part 3 - The Myth of Valuations. We hope you find the report as interesting and informative as did we.

RBA May Lift Rates Amid Sustained Growth In Labour Force (pinecarr)

AUSTRALIA faces the prospect of higher interest rates sooner rather than later after the unemployment rate fell to 5.1 per cent today.

Russia May Limit Sunflower Oil Exports After Harvest (pinecarr)

Market participants estimate Russia will harvest 4-6 million tons of sunflower seeds this year, while the country consumes 5.5 million tons per year.

Ireland Breaks Up Anglo Irish As EMU Debt Jitters Return (pinecarr)

Ireland is to break up the nationalised lender Anglo Irish Bank, hoping to end a disastrous saga that has shattered confidence in Irish finance and left taxpayers with daunting debt.

Energy

Put Solar On The White House (SteveS)

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House. In 1986, President Reagan removed them and they were never replaced. Years later, Unity College in Maine adopted the panels where they have lived ever since. Until now.

Environment

20 Years Left: Mammals Plunge Into Extinction (Jeff B.)

At the 136 sites across northern Australia that have been repeatedly surveyed since 2001, the mammal populations have dropped by an average of 75 per cent. The number of sites classified as "empty" of mammal activity rose from 13 per cent in 1996 to 55 per cent in 2009.

Article suggestions for the Daily Digest can be sent to [email protected]. All suggestions are filtered by the Daily Digest team and preference is given to those that are in alignment with the message of the Crash Course and the "3 Es."

14 Comments

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
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suesullivan
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Doubling of cotton prices will inflate clothing prices come Jan.

http://money.cnn.com/2010/09/09/news/economy/cotton_shortage_could_inflate_clothing_prices/index.htm?cnn=yes&hpt=T2

First, a drought in China, the world's largest cotton producer and consumer, damaged crops there and forced the nation to ramp up cotton imports to make up for the shortfall.

Meanwhile, the world's second-biggest cotton producer, India, restricted its exports to protect domestic supplies and prices.

At the same time, Pakistan, another major cotton producer, was hit by devastating floods, further exacerbating the cotton shortage and boosting raw cotton prices even higher.

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DRHolden
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Re: Put Solar on the White House

There is solar on the White House and it was even put there during the W was there.

http://www.solardesign.com/projects/project_display.php?id=14

I question the real value in these kinds of movements.   I wonder how many of the people involved have solar on their house?  Let's focus on what we each need to do, and let it spread from there, instead of pointing fingers at a government that obviously can't even take care of itself.

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TNdancer
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Re: Put Solar on the White House

"Let's focus on what we each need to do"....

 

Amen. 

Inovation, like charity, begins at home !  Cool

 

PV electricity, LED lighting, super insulation and wood heat.

 

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Re: Daily Digest 9/9 - The Collapse Of Complex Societies, ...

Sue, do you think Hemp could help in a time of cotton shortage?  From what I understand (and I might be wrong), Oregon has legalized Industrial Hemp but the hold up is the Feds.

Just curious.

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Re: Daily Digest 9/9 - The Collapse Of Complex Societies, ...

Government Employment since 1976, by Calculated Risk - Menzie Chinn at Econbrowser posted a graph of total government employment over the last decade: The "Ever-Expanding" Government Sector, Illustrated In response to the comments to his post, here are a couple of additional graphs: This graph shows federal, state, and local government employment as a percent of the civilian noninstitutional population since 1976 (all data from the BLS). Federal government employment has decreased over the last 35 years (mostly in the 1990s), state government employment has been flat, and local government employment has increased. Note the small spikes very 10 years. That is the impact of the decennial census.The second graph shows government employment excluding education as a percent of the civilian noninstitutional. The percent of federal and state government employment (ex-education) have all declined. Local government employment has been steady - so overall government employment (ex-education) as a percent of the civilian population is down over the last 35 years.

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Re: Daily Digest 9/9 - The Collapse Of Complex Societies, ...

A vision of gloom and chaos - Just in time for the new year, Ian Bremmer and Nouriel Roubini have delivered a 4,000-word thumbsucker on the global political economy. Essentially, they take Mohamed El-Erian’s idea of a “new normal” and start getting very specific about where and how it’s going to fall apart.

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Poet
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Re: Daily Digest 9/9 - The Collapse Of Complex Societies, ...
rjs wrote:

Government Employment since 1976, by Calculated Risk - Menzie Chinn at Econbrowser posted a graph of total government employment over the last decade: The "Ever-Expanding" Government Sector, Illustrated In response to the comments to his post, here are a couple of additional graphs: This graph shows federal, state, and local government employment as a percent of the civilian noninstitutional population since 1976 (all data from the BLS). Federal government employment has decreased over the last 35 years (mostly in the 1990s), state government employment has been flat, and local government employment has increased. Note the small spikes very 10 years. That is the impact of the decennial census.The second graph shows government employment excluding education as a percent of the civilian noninstitutional. The percent of federal and state government employment (ex-education) have all declined. Local government employment has been steady - so overall government employment (ex-education) as a percent of the civilian population is down over the last 35 years.

Thanks for the enlightening article. It's heartening to know that the talking points  and myths (that radicals use about the numbers of government employees increasing as a percentage of population) are actually false.

Unfortunately it seems that even as the PERCENTAGE of population has somewhat decreased, PAY and unfunded pension liabilities have drastically increased - we're all gonna be on the hook now...

Poet

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irongamer
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Re: Daily Digest 9/9 - The Collapse Of Complex Societies, ...

FSN In Depth: Joseph A. Tainter Ph.D, The Collapse of Complex Societies is really interesting.

Supporting a complex society requires a lot of energy. I believe we have the energy and technology. The system was built in the 1950's and has enough fuel to power the US for ~1000 years. One would hope that would be enough time to find better sources of energy or refine the sources already available. That is not to say that we need some major cleaning up of our political systems, we have way too many complex systems in place.

I know many people have a knee-jerk reaction to nuclear power.  This is hard to overcome due to the nature of us using it when it was poorly understood and some very poor handling. I've been out to the Hanford Site, toured the clean up, and stood in front of B reactor. The reckless handling of the material and technology back in the day is pretty atrocious. There still is some debate about safety of the clean up workers of today.

By the way, I highly recommend the tour if you can find the time. http://www5.hanford.gov/publictours/

I believe we have the technology to effectively handle nuclear energy and waste using either molten salt reactors or liquid fluoride thorium reactors. The benefits far out weight any negatives. The design is proven, a number of different MSR have been run over several years in the past. The MSR/LFTR design creates less waste and should replace our current solid fuel designs. The MSR/LFTR can even burn off a lot of the waste created from current reactors.

History of where MSR and Thorium reactors:
http://energyfromthorium.com/2006/04/22/a-brief-history-of-the-liquid-fluoride-reactor/

Some pros and cons of the system:
http://wapedia.mobi/en/Molten_salt_reactor

Cheaper then coal:
http://energyfromthorium.com/2010/03/23/energy-cheaper-than-from-coal/

CO emitted from green, non-green energies, and nuclear:
http://www.cleanenergyinsight.org/interesting/wednesday-fact-series-greenhouse-emissions/

I have noticed an increasing number of articles in more mainstream information flows, so maybe the word is getting out and someone will jump on the opportunity.

The thorium MSR design was birthed for the use of war but died because it could not as easily create nuclear weapons. It would be a shame to see this technology fade because it was not good for creating weapons. *sigh*

PS

Yes, my avatar, if you are familiar with its source, is a bit ironic taken in context with the subject matter. =)

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Doug
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Re: Daily Digest 9/9 - The Collapse Of Complex Societies, ...

irongamer

You may want to look here: http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/thorium-energy-solution/43994

And at Chap. 17A, B and C of the Crash Course.

Energy has been discussed exhaustively on this site.  We don't have 1000 years worth.

Doug

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irongamer
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Re: Daily Digest 9/9 - The Collapse Of Complex Societies, ...

Yeah, I have seen some of those videos before.

I have also seen estimates that put ~1000 years worth of thorium if only powering the US at its current usage. I can't find the article at the moment.

Most of the current nuclear opponents argue against thorium as a solid fuel, which I agree. If argued from that view point there are not many benefits. A number of the current rebuttals against thorium has only been as solid fuel and not in a MSR or LFTR. Also the fact that a 8 MW MSR was run for a number of years with no problems, seems to me that most people in the industry just like to run things as is. New or different is scary to most folks, although MSR's are not really new... *shrug*

Just reposting the idea, since the audio clip dealt with energy as being a problem with increased complexity.

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straight
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Tainter and Hugh-Smith

With Charles's writing and now the featured article on Tainter we are starting to get to the finer points of understanding a collapse.

If you have not read Charles's awesome series of articles on the future of work [or survival +] then I recommend them to you.  Charles has a fantastic grasp of how this collapse may well play out, and it seems to me that it is firmly along the lines of Taniners work; ie a drop in complexity and a move to the informal.  I think CHS has a more hands on understanding of how this collapse will play out at the ground level... his writing really is very very good.

This collapse is of course a very good thing!  Anyone that has read any of the great philosophers, and in here I put Ivan Illich as the most relevant to our present predicament, may well have come to the same conclusion as me, that a fulfilling social and personal life is based on the princiapals of mutual respect and a profound level of interpersonal interaction... any Americans reading this might not understand that! you really have acted like bullies for far to long!  the sad thing is that it may stop simply because you cant afford to keep it going. 

 

 

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SteveS
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Re: Put Solar on the White House
deanrholden wrote:

There is solar on the White House and it was even put there during the W was there.

http://www.solardesign.com/projects/project_display.php?id=14

I question the real value in these kinds of movements.   I wonder how many of the people involved have solar on their house?  Let's focus on what we each need to do, and let it spread from there, instead of pointing fingers at a government that obviously can't even take care of itself.

There is always real value in citizens exercising their rights and calling the government out when they are not leading by example.

I think it would send a strong message to put (more) solar panels on the White House. I know I am very dissapointed that this administration, which talks about alternate energy, does little or nothing in walking the walk. It's called leadership and we haven't had any in a long long time. Most people don't like going out of their comfort zones; being the first in their neighborhood to take action. When they see it happen from the top, it makes it more palatable. The White House vegetable garden was a good example. What's amazing is how much controversy these little steps cause, which is probably why we don't see it more often. And that is shameful.

And yes, I have solar hot water, passive solar heating, and solar PV.

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idoctor
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Re: Daily Digest 9/9 - The Collapse Of Complex Societies, ...

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