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Daily Digest 11/22 - Homebuilders Get Desperate, Multiple Risks Are Converging on Markets

Thursday, November 22, 2018, 11:28 AM

Economy

Free Vacations, $100,000 Discounts: Homebuilders Get Desperate (Adam)

From builders’ perspective the news is discouraging. New home purchases tumbled in September to the weakest pace since December 2016. Sales of previously owned homes dropped for a sixth straight month, the worst streak since 2014. Homebuilding stocks have lost more than a third of their value this year. Of course, rising wages may help put more houses in reach. Starter homes are still in demand, and some smaller, more affordable markets such as Columbus, Ohio, and Grand Rapids, Mich., remain as strong as ever. But the shift is especially striking given the robust U.S. economy.

Multiple Risks Are Converging on Markets (thc0655)

My answer is always the same: We can be certain the crisis is coming and can estimate its magnitude, but no one knows exactly when it will happen or what the specific catalyst will be.

The second part of my answer is to prepare for the crisis now. When it happens, it could unfold very quickly. If you’ve been paying attention to the stock market lately, you know how quickly selling fever can spread once it starts. Just look at these past two days alone.

Police ‘give up’ on town where vigilantes patrol and crime is solved on Facebook

Police cars and control rooms sit empty in Hartlepool, County Durham, where locals solve their own crimes on Facebook as there are not enough officers.

Cleveland Police have been hit hard by cuts since austerity measures were introduced by George Osborne eight years ago.

Report: Saudi royals turn on king's favourite son after killing (tmn)

Senior US officials, meanwhile, have indicated to Saudi advisers in recent weeks they would support Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz - who was deputy interior minister for nearly 40 years - as a potential successor to King Salman, according to Saudi sources with direct knowledge of the consultations.

Latin America Has Fewer Guns, But More Crime (thc0655)

In this years' update to the Small Arms Survey, published by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, we find that civilian gun prevalence — legal and illegal — is not especially widespread in Latin America, even by European standards.

Amazon data breach exposes customer names, emails (Thomas R.)

The disclosure from Amazon comes as it gears up for the busy holiday shopping season. The Seattle-based company is expected to grab as much as half of all online sales by the end of this year, according to Bain & Co.

Amazon shares closed higher today, up 1.4 percent to $1,516.73. The price was down 0.2 quarter percent in after-hours trading around 5:25 p.m. ET.

Oil Companies Lose $1 Trillion As Prices Crash (Michael S.)

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said that “no option has been taken off the table” in response to the bottlenecks and price crashes for oil Canada. The statement referred to mandatory production curbs, which has been floated even by Canadian oil executives. The price discount for WCS is costing Canada $80 million per day.

Harvest 2018 Keeps Going and Going and Going (newsbuoy)

One month ago, I wrote a column about farmers in the Midwest who endured late planting due to April snows, record-setting rainfall in early summer, hailstorms, and then rain and snow delaying harvest through the entire fall. It's been a tough year for farmers in nearly all corners of the Midwest. Loss of crop yield and quality downgrades have cut into an already slim bottom line for farmers this year.

The Poop On Manure (newsbuoy)

Using manure that has been freshly dug from the barn, coop, or paddock poses problems. Depending on the kind, it may be very high in ammonia, or contain so much nitrogen that it will burn the roots and stems of any plant it comes in contact with. It might also be full of weed seeds. Fresh manure may also contain pathogens from the animal’s gut. Storing manure allows it to mature in the same way that compost does—bacterial action causes a buildup of heat that will, ideally, kill weed seeds and other pathogens.

The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us (John F.)

Public figures talk and act as if environmental change will be linear and gradual. But the Earth’s systems are highly complex, and complex systems do not respond to pressure in linear ways. When these systems interact (because the world’s atmosphere, oceans, land surface and lifeforms do not sit placidly within the boxes that make study more convenient), their reactions to change become highly unpredictable. Small perturbations can ramify wildly. Tipping points are likely to remain invisible until we have passed them. We could see changes of state so abrupt and profound that no continuity can be safely assumed.

As Immigrant Farmworkers Become More Scarce, Robots Replace Humans (tmn)

The smart machines can assemble 60 to 80 salad bags a minute, double the output of a worker.

Enlisting robots made sound economic sense, Taylor Farms officials said, for a company seeking to capitalize on Americans’ insatiable appetite for healthy fare at a time when it cannot recruit enough people to work in the fields or the factory.

Gold & Silver

Click to read the PM Daily Market Commentary: 11/20/18

Provided daily by the Peak Prosperity Gold & Silver Group

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5 Comments

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2011
Posts: 2041
Collapse fiction: Insights into the Bottleneck

The term “population bottleneck” is used in evolutionary biology to refer to the loss of genetic variability that occurs when a population size is suddenly reduced by abrupt environmental change causing a large percentage of the population to die off.  Assuming complete extinction is avoided, small groups of survivors may then reestablish one or more colonies and often are required to move to new niches

These stories offer visions of:

1) what niches might remain viable post bottleneck, and

2) what niches are available to transition the die-off phase.

It should be obvious (though perhaps a bit horrifying to contemplate) that surviving the die-off / transition phase is a prerequisite to become a participant in the recovery phase.  The recovery phase is where I imagine that  “building a world worth inheriting” happens.

Here are a couple of the recurrent themes

Should a breakdown in the complex global commerce networks occur suddenly, humanity would face a threat of tremendous magnitude.  Precipitants of a sudden collapse might include things like a bombing in the oil fields in the ME, an EMP, asteroid strike, sudden loss of ocean transport, loss of the monetary system crippling global commerce, a pandemic making travel or shipping impossible.  The loss of the distribution network by which food is moved from farms to population centers hundreds and thousands of miles distant would be the most immediate and devastating.  Similarly, disruption of the water distribution system (which requires electrical pumping) would be immediately devastating to desert communities.

If the breakdown were slower, say with 1-2 years warning, food and water could be stock piled, wells dug and gardens planted.  The die-off would be blunted in many areas.

Though in both the slower and sudden scenario, city dwellers without ability to grow their own food or collect rain and well water will do very poorly.

In rural areas, subsistence farms can keep most of the local population alive both during the transition and during a recovery.

During the recovery period, non-farmers may want to seek out small walk-able towns surrounded by farms and located along rivers or railroad tracks.   Crafts, sewing, metal working, medicine, dentistry, education and commerce could begin again in this location. 

Moving to a small town, starting a garden and befriending the local farmers in a CSA arrangement pre-collapse would seem smart.  Get the hell out of a big city.

--------

The Bandit and the Soldier—Niches for the transition phase

In the scenario of a rapid collapse, one of the major and most successful niches during the transition phase will be that of the bandit.   Unable to grow or gather his own food, he will seek to raid the stores of others:  this will include the stores of warehousessuburban Preppers and farmers.  Bandits may start working individually, but will quickly organize into teams (or use already existing gang structures) and increasing coordination / organization will begin to show.  Quick raids on farms by mobile raiders will make them hard to defend against and counter.  This niche is especially attractive to the sociopath who relishes the "I can get away with anything I want to do" situation,  but will also find lots of participation from hungry non-sociopaths who don’t see any other way.

Farms will need to organize into communities of their own to defend their food production capability and stored food.  The soldier will figure prominently in defending clusters of farms.  Fixed defenses (forts, walls, hedges, moats, etc.) will once again surround towns and clusters of farms.  Communications will have to be established to sound the alarm for mutual defense.  Observation towers will be needed (drones?) to keep watch and alert everyone to an attack.  Forts and castle-like structures will return to the land scape.

I would expect cannibalism during the die off phase.  Starving people hunt the deer, bear, raccoons, ‘possum’s and squirrels to extinction.  Then what?   It makes sense to turn to the other overly abundant mammal, other humans.

The Uruguay Rugby Team survived their mountain plane crash by cannibalism

Cannibalism has several advantages during a die off:  (not to imply that it doesn’t horrify me or that I am recommending it…  but I expect it in the most severe collapse.)

1.   freshly killed human flesh is basic food.

2.   killing others eliminates competition for desperately scarce resources. 

3.   a person who has already been killed will not kill you and your family later.  This is, after all, a die-off.

Taboo’s and ethical principles prohibiting cannibalism will be overcome.  One trick is to frame the people to be robbed, killed and eaten as “bad.”   This psychological mechanism seems to render the instinctive prohibition against killing others fairly silent.

“Make my day, punk.”

I believe that it is important to not overly spiritualize the difficulty of a bottleneck.  Some, like Daisy Luther, even recommend facing the brutality of this process preemptively to be better prepared to face it.

skipr's picture
skipr
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 9 2016
Posts: 168
happy days (not)

Unfortunately I think you are right on target SP, except that I would add the clearcutting of all the forests for fuel.  Look what happened in France when nothing more than a modest fuel price increase happened:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46233560

I also think that the safe areas will be the ones with minimal resources.  So if you can figure out how to survive in Death Valley go for it.

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 30 2009
Posts: 4240
Venezuela economy shrank 16.6 pct in 2017, central bank ...

Venezuela economy shrank 16.6 pct in 2017, central bank ...

Reuters-17 hours ago
CARACAS, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Preliminary data compiled by Venezuela's central bank shows the economy shrank by 16.6 percent in 2017 compared with the ...
dtrammel's picture
dtrammel
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: May 3 2011
Posts: 8
Another Good Series of Stories to Check Out

Along with the books you list SP for post industrial/collapse fiction, I would recommend the four "After Oil" anthologies edited by John Michael Greer.

After Oil: SF Visions Of A Post-Petroleum World

(disclaimer: I have stories in two of the books)

as well as many of the books you can find at Founders House Publishing. Greer has several fictional books too.

Greer also blogged at the old "Archdruid Report", on what he calls the "Long Descent" of our current society's eventual collapse. He closed that blog down in 2017 and now blogs about more spiritual subjects (he is a druid afterall) as well as the occassional post about collapse too at Ecosophia.net".

There is a archive mirror of the Archdruid Report up, if you haven't had the chance to read it.

---

Now as for my thoughts on a Fast Collapse/Slow Collapse...

Your list of possible triggers to a fast collapse are good, but I can't see any of them bringing about a total collapse of the global economic and political system. Most of those triggers will be local or regional and leave a sizable portion of the global system still running. In the effected areas it will get ugly, but the global PTB will still try their hardest to keep something running so they can survive in their guarded mansions. The rest of us 99% will have to rely on ourselves and our tribe 

Perhaps a big enough asteriod impact or super volcano eruption that does put us into your population bottleneck situation but I suspect that our population is going to see many smaller downward pressures, like the opiod epidemic, which will cut down on the number of people in the World.

For a fast collapse situation I think about all you can do is prepare, as you would with a hurricane or earthquake. Make sure you can get by without government help for 30-60 days and then go about your day to day lives.

As for a slow collapse, I'm absolutely convinced were already living in one.

Between Peak Oil and other mineral resources getting harder and harder to get, economic inequality the like which we haven't seen since the Guilded Age, political instibility and the rise of nationalism and authoritariaism we are facing a situation that will likely give us a global reversion back to a tech level like the 18th or 19th centuries. Bill Gate's grandchildren might still have cell phones and private jets but mine will be wearing homespun and grow their own food. Perhaps there will be trades and crafts that some will work at, but industry will be local.

That's a slow collapse I think we will manage on the personal level. College will be unaffordable so we will send our children to trade schools or apprentice them to a good teacher. We will barter in the grey economy for most of our needs and live off the grid. Medicine will be what your local herbilist can get you. Police will abandoned some areas as local warlords and gang leaders take control. Those that don't make the change will live shorter hungry lives and die of illinesses or violence. I have zero trust that governments will help us with a smooth transit.

The one thing that does make me worry about the long term survivalbilty of the human race is climate change. With 3-4 degrees of warming baked in already, by the next century we could be facing your population bottle neck.

At 61, thats not a world I will see. What I can do is what is spoken about here. Learn to be more resilient and do with less.

 

Mark_BC's picture
Mark_BC
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 30 2010
Posts: 522
I think we're going to see a

I think we're going to see a sudden transition as a new glogal currency is brought in probably next year, most likely a gold backed SDR with each of the national currencies contributing a portion of it. So we'd probably see something like a 10 fold devaluation of the US dollar as it gets repriced, but I don't expect hyperinflation.

But this systemic shock could create some break downs in the global just-in-time distribution system so that the scenarios that SP outlines might emerge in some areas, particularly in the larger urban centers of the US.

I think TPTB will try to institute a global digital currency and ban cash but I don't see how this will work as society devolves and the average person won't be able to afford a smartphone.

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