Daily Digest

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Daily Digest 7/22 - American Empire 'Collapsing,' Cash Becoming Obsolete In Urban China

Saturday, July 22, 2017, 9:49 AM

Economy

There are more renters than any time since 1965 (Adam)

The total number of U.S. households grew by 7.6 million over the past decade, Pew reported. However, the number of households headed by owners remained relatively flat, while households headed by renters grew by nearly 10 percent during the same time period.

Staving Off the Coming Global Collapse (Andre P.)

Basu is the former chief economist of the World Bank, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and professor of economics at Cornell University, so he is no flake in the economics department. But this does not prevent a display of alarming ignorance of both the power of exponential growth and the state of the ecosphere. Income and consumption doubling every four years? After just 20 years and five doublings, the economy would be larger by a factor of 32; in 50 years it will have multiplied more than 5000-fold! Basu must inhabit some infinite parallel universe.

Pentagon study declares American empire is ‘collapsing’ (Afridev)

Having lost its past status of “pre-eminence”, the U.S. now inhabits a dangerous, unpredictable “post-primacy” world, whose defining feature is “resistance to authority”.

Danger comes not just from great power rivals like Russia and China, both portrayed as rapidly growing threats to American interests, but also from the increasing risk of “Arab Spring”-style events. These will erupt not just in the Middle East, but all over the world, potentially undermining trust in incumbent governments for the foreseeable future.

Cyberwar looms as diplomats dither (Terry L)

Cyber intelligence operations could increase the risk of accidental war, according to researchers at the Australian National University's National Security College.

Early results published earlier this month supported the idea that the world is sleepwalking to war, much like Europe did in the early years of the 20th century.

In Urban China, Cash Is Rapidly Becoming Obsolete (Yoxa)

There are certain parts of the Chinese internet that have to be seen to be believed. Coming from outside the country, it’s hard to comprehend that Facebook or Google can be completely blocked until you are forced to do without them. It’s tough to fathom how critical the messenger app WeChat is for everyday life until the sixth person of the day asks to scan your QR code — a sort of bar code — to connect the two of you.

Jeff Sessions wants police to take more cash from American citizens (lambertad)

Asset forfeiture is a disputed practice that allows law enforcement officials to permanently take money and goods from individuals suspected of crime. There is little disagreement among lawmakers, authorities and criminal justice reformers that “no criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime.” But in many cases, neither a criminal conviction nor even a criminal charge is necessary — under forfeiture laws in most states and at the federal level, mere suspicion of wrongdoing is enough to allow police to seize items permanently.

Is Gerrymandering a Threat to Democracy? (Tiffany D.)

In Politico’s “Gerrymandering Isn’t Evil,” much of the argument is called a myth, a too-simple explanation for bitter partisan battles promoted by well-intentioned reformers. Evidence from political science research shows only weak correlations between gerrymandering, polarization and electoral competitiveness.

Is it really a dire problem, the solution of which will right all wrongs?

A Stock Market Crash Is Coming (GE Christenson)

The Fed and other central banks have added many $ trillions to their balance sheets since 2008. Official U.S. national debt is roughly $10 trillion larger in ten years. Consumer prices are higher, stocks and bonds have been levitated, the DOW and S&P are trading at all-time highs, and the markets haven’t crashed … YET. Something will puncture the bubble in stocks and bonds. Bubbles in currencies and confidence in central banks also await pins.

Can the Mall of America survive the retail apocalypse? (jdargis)

As usual, the internet gets the blame. The shift to online shopping has taken its toll on traditional mall anchors, such as Macy’s, JC Penney and Sears. But there are other issues. America has too much retail space and too many crappy malls. “It’s much less about technology than it is about overbuilding,” says Bruce Batkin, chief executive of Terra Capital Partners, a commercial real estate lender.

The Mall of America is different and its survival points to what has gone wrong in retailing and where it is heading. It’s a shift that will have profound consequences.

Gold & Silver

Click to read the PM Daily Market Commentary: 7/20/17

Provided daily by the Peak Prosperity Gold & Silver Group

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."

5 Comments

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5969
Energy Propaganda Continues

As we sail into the late stages of abusing a once-in-a-species energy bequeathment, we should be alert for ever-increasing attempts to paint over the predicament.

Fortunately, the WSJ is there to provide almost daily examples.  Here's today's.

Norway Takes Lead in Race to Build Autonomous Cargo Ships

July 22, 2017

OSLO—Two Norwegian companies are taking the lead in the race to build the world’s first crewless, [electric] autonomously operated ship, an advance that could mark a turning point in seaborne trade.

Dubbed by shipping executives the “Tesla of the Seas,” the Yara Birkeland now under development is scheduled in late 2018 to start sailing fertilizer 37 miles down a fiord from a production facility to the port of Larvik. Using the Global Positioning System, radar, cameras and sensors, the electric ship is designed to navigate itself around other boat traffic and to dock on its own.

“We want to go zero emission,” said Mr. Ostbo. “Even if some say climate change is not reality, it’s a business reality because clean sources of energy are more affordable than fossil fuels.”

 "Zero emissions"?

How does such an easily disproved concept get into the article unchallenged?

(1) the batteries require an enormous output of carbon to produce.  For Tesla batteries, roughly 8 years of regular car emissions goes into the battery pack before it is even used.  Oh, by the way, the battery packs get replaced about, oh, every 8 years, give or take, which is also not-coincidentally the extent of the Tesla battery warranty.  

(2) Electricity is not carbon free.  Even in the best case countries baseload electricity comes from coal, natural gas, and nuclear each of which have their own carbon profiles, obviously.

3)  Even if we semantically decide that somehow the ships' batteries  are only charging from solar or wind, there too we'd do well to note that the manufacture and installation of *those* were accomplished almost entirely with fossil fuels.  

I think it's important to not create false impressions - that way we can have realistic conversations.

 

thc0655's picture
thc0655
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 27 2010
Posts: 1708
Detroit riots started 40 years ago today

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-12th-street-riot

The 1967 Detroit Riots were among the most violent and destructive riots in U.S. history. By the time the bloodshed, burning and looting ended after five days, 43 people were dead, 342 injured, nearly 1,400 buildings had been burned and some 7,000 National Guard and U.S. Army troops had been called into service.

In the sweltering summer of 1967, Detroit’s predominantly African-American neighborhood of Virginia Park was a simmering cauldron of racial tension. About 60,000 low-income residents were crammed into the neighborhood’s 460 acres, living mostly in squalor in sub-divided apartments. 

The Detroit Police Department, which had only about 50 African Americans at the time, was viewed as a white occupying army. Accusations of racial profiling and police brutality were commonplace among Detroit’s black residents. The only other whites in Virginia Park commuted in from the suburbs to run the businesses on 12th Street, then commuted home to affluent enclaves outside Detroit.

The entire city was in a state of economic and social strife: As the Motor City’s famed automobile industry shed jobs and moved out of the city center, freeways and suburban amenities beckoned middle-class residents away, which further gutted Detroit’s vitality and left behind vacant storefronts, widespread unemployment and impoverished despair. 

A similar scenario played out in metropolitan areas across America, where “white flight” reduced the tax base in formerly prosperous cities, causing urban blight, poverty and racial discord. In mid-July, 1967, the city of Newark, New Jersey, erupted in violence as black residents battled police following the beating of a black taxi driver, leaving 26 people dead.

We still have a looong way to go in the US before we see this level of urban violence.  But we ARE moving in that direction, though the reasons are not exactly the same as in '67.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5969
Weekly update 7-21-17

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 30 2009
Posts: 4236
Traders Fear Hard Landing in Emerging Markets

Traders Fear Hard Landing in Emerging Markets

Bloomberg-10 hours ago

... Inc. exchange-traded fund that tracks emerging-market debt is causing jitters ... Still, as a proportion of the $400 billion invested in emerging-market bond .

State pension changes will cost 7 million people £10000 each

The Guardian-15 hours ago
Workers in their late 30s and early 40s will see their retirement age rise to 68 after the government's announcement. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/AFP/Getty ...

 

Christopher H's picture
Christopher H
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: May 29 2009
Posts: 148
When empires fall, the internal reaction is always the same....

As soon as I read the Nafeez Ahmed piece about the recent report issued by the US military, my mind immediately went to an essay by Ugo Bardi that I read several years back -- "Peak Civilization: The Fall of the Roman Empire."  In that essay, Bardi references an account written by a 5th century Roman patrician detailing the challenges that the collapsing empire faces, yet still resolute that Rome will re-establish its greatness because... well, that's what Rome has always done.  His story -- one that places Rome at the center of the world -- cannot allow him to conceive of a world in which it is not the preeminent power, a world that was rapidly approaching him like an oncoming train, and one that everyone was powerless to stop.

Here's the excerpt:

Now, I would like to show you just another document from the time of the Roman Empire. It is "De Reditu suo", by Rutilius Namatianus. The title means "of his return". Namatianus was a patrician who lived in the early 5th century; he was a contemporary of St. Patrick, the Irish saint. He had some kind of job with the imperial administration in Rome. It was some decades before the "official" disappearance of the Western Roman Empire; that was in 476, when the last emperor, Romolus Augustulus, was deposed. You may have seen Romulus Augustulus as protagonist of the movie "The Last Legion". Of course that is not a movie that pretends to be historically accurate, but it is fun to think that after so many years we are still interested in the last years of the Roman Empire - it is a subject of endless fascination. Even the book by Namatianus has been transformed into a movie, as you can see in the figure. It is a work of fantasy, but they have tried to be faithful to the spirit of Namatianus' report. It must be an interesting movie, but it has been shown only in theaters in Italy, and even there for a very short time; so I missed it. But let's move on.

Namatianus lived at a time that was very close to the last gasp of the Empire. He found that, at some point, it wasn't possible to live in Rome any longer. Everything was collapsing around him and he decided to take a boat and leave. He was born in Gallia, that we call "France" today, and apparently he had some properties there. So, that is where he headed for. That is the reason for the title "of his return". He must have arrived there and survived for some time, because the document that he wrote about his travel has survived and we can still read it, even though the end is missing. So, Namatianus gives us this chilling report. Just read this excerpt:

"I have chosen the sea, since roads by land, if on the level, are flooded by rivers; if on higher ground, are beset with rocks. Since Tuscany and since the Aurelian highway, after suffering the outrages of Goths with fire or sword, can no longer control forest with homestead or river with bridge, it is better to entrust my sails to the wayward."

Can you believe that? If there was a thing that the Romans had always been proud of were their roads. These roads had a military purpose, of course, but everybody could use them. A Roman Empire without roads is not the Roman Empire, it is something else altogether. Think of Los Angeles without highways. "Sic transit gloria mundi" , as the Romans would say; there goes the glory of the world. Namatianus tells us also of silted harbors, deserted cities, a landscape of ruins that he sees as he moves north along the Italian coast.

But what does Namatianus think of all this? Well, he sees the collapse all around him, but he can't understand it. For him, the reasons of the fall of Rome are totally incomprehensible. He can only interpret what is going on as a temporary setback. Rome had hard times before but the Romans always rebounded and eventually triumphed over their enemies. It has always been like this, Rome will become powerful and rich again.

There would be much more to say on this matter, but I think it is enough to say that the Romans did not really understand what was happening to their Empire, except in terms of military setbacks that they always saw as temporary. They always seemed to think that these setbacks could be redressed by increasing the size of the army and building more fortifications. Also, it gives us an idea of what it is like living a collapse "from the inside". Most people just don't see it happening - it is like being a fish: you don't see the water.

The situation seems to be the same with us: talking about the collapse of our civilization is reserved to a small bunch of catastrophists; you know them; ASPO members, or members of The Oil Drum - that kind of people. Incidentally, we can't rule out that at some moment at the time of the Roman Empire there was something like a "Roman ASPO", maybe "ASPE," the "association for the study of peak empire". If it ever existed, it left no trace. That may also happen with our ASPO; actually it is very likely, but let's go on.

There is little different in Dr. Ahmed's account of this recent US military study.  The participants in that group all believe in the story that the United States is destined by Providence to be the preeminent power in the world.  It's the organizing framework of their worldview.  So, when confronted by facts that tell a story of the US empire collapsing, they cannot conceive of anything other than doubling down in order to keep it going -- because to think of anything else would be, for lack of a better word, unthinkable.  So, they dig in their heels, believing in their stout hearts that they can help to will the United States to victory after victory in the foreseeable future.  Meanwhile, the freight train of changing national and global demographics, dwindling resources, financial chicanery, social unrest, asymmetric warfare and ecological collapse continues to barrel down the tracks toward us, and there is nothing that any of us can do to stop it, we can only hope to get out of its way the best we can.

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