2009 Predictions: Its Hour Come Round At Last
Sharon December 15th, 2008
writing this a little early this year – _Independence Days_ is due in a
couple of weeks, and I anticipate a great deal of distraction as the
end-of-the-year predictions really start pouring out, so I thought I’d jump the gun and make mine now.
But first, how did I do last year? (And note, just ’cause I got some
right last year doesn’t mean that you should take my word as gospel – I
don’t think that everything that comes out of my ass is the high truth,
and neither should you ;-))
I called this year “Here be Dragons” arguing that this was when the
maps we use to make sense of the world begin to fail us. I think that
was pretty accurate – I think most people still don’t really understand
how badly our maps have failed us, how the operation of our economy,
our ecosystem, our culture is simply different than what we’ve been
taught. I think we can all see that most experts are pretty lost too –
not because they are simply stupid, but because they aren’t prepared to
work off the map. The stories we tell ourselves shape what we can see
in the world – and the conventional narratives have undermined our
understanding of the realities.
Here are my predictions for 2008 and my comments on how they came out:
1. This year, the words “peak oil” will go mainstream, but this
mainstreaming will not be matched by a subtle or nuanced understanding
of what the words mean. That is, peak oil will be used for political
purposes, and not necessarily ones anyone will approve of.
– I called this one. As oil prices rose, CNN and the rest of the
MSM couldn’t get enough of PO poster boys Simmons and Kunstler. But,
of course it wasn’t really possible to create, in that media, a complex
enough understanding for people to realize that peak oil hasn’t gone
away just because prices have collapsed, that, in fact, for the long
term, the collapse of prices probably ensures that we’re past peak oil.
2. By the end of the year, there will begin to be runs on preparedness equipment and food storage, a la Y2K.
– It wasn’t quite as dramatic in the equipment department as Y2K,
although woodstoves and electric bikes were backordered like crazy.
But the big story was people fighting over bags of rice at Costco and
other stores back in the spring. And unfortunately, for other reasons,
I think we may see this one again. Called it.
3. The NeoCons will not go gently into that good night – there
will be at least one serious surprise for us. G-d willing, it won’t
involve the word “nukuler” or any of its cognates.
– I’d give myself 50% on this one – I think the build up with Russia
was indeed a final Neo-con attempt to make themselves seem like the
best answer to a scary world (and Alaska as our DMZ), but it wasn’t as
dire as I feared.
4. Hillary will not win the 2008 election. Neither, despite all
the people who keep sending me emails saying he will, will Ron Paul.
– Got it.
5. The economy will tank. Yup, I’m really going out on a limb here.
– Got it.
6. Many of us will find we are being taken more seriously than
we ever expected. We will still be taken less seriously than any
celebrity divorce, however.
– This was certainly true for me – I don’t really know how John
Michael Greer, Kunstler and Orlov, for example, felt about it, but I
was surprised at how seriously my predictions were taken, and how few
people thought I was over-reacting, even when doing, say ABC affiliate
radio interviews. But, of course, there are limits to seriousness
– fairly few people really critiqued the worldview, but comparatively
few people paid attention, either.
7. We’ll see food riots in more nations and hunger will increase. The idea of Victory Gardens won’t seem so crazy anymore.
– Yup. 31 nations and counting had some form of food riot this
year. And Michael Pollan wrote “Farmer in Chief” and the “White House
Farm” idea hit the blogosphere.
8. The biofuels craze will begin to be thought the better of – not in time to prevent the above.
– Called it. The collapse of oil prices of course is doing its own
work, but even before that, we were finally seeing serious questioning
of the premise of biofuels hit national discourse, at least in Europe.
9. We will see at least one more image of desperate people,
walking out of their city becuase there’s no other alternative. And a
lot of images of foreclosures.
Part one of this is the only one I got wrong, and that only partly.
People were walking out of Houston, and a whole lot of people were
walking around looking for Gas in Memphis and Atlanta, but it didn’t
quite have the resonance of Katrina or 9/11 – the media wasn’t paying
attention, so it wasn’t the kind of iconic image that I was expecting.
The second part I called.
10. TEOTWAKI, if it ever happens, will be delayed long enough
for my book to be released this fall and to make back at least the
advance, so my publisher won’t have any reason to try and sue me ;-).
– I’m not sure, but I think I might have actually made back my
advance by now (all 4K of it), and my publisher is still in
business. Who knows, I might actually make a pittance!
Ok, what about the coming year? While I think 2008 was when most
people first realized something was wrong, I’m going to go out on a
limb here (ok, not a huge limb, but a limb) and say that 2009 will be
the year we say that things “collapsed.” I don’t think we’re going to
make it through the year without radical structural changes in the
nature of life in most of the world. I’m calling it, a la Yeats’s “Second Coming” the “The Year ‘Its Hour Come Round at Last’”
What do I mean by collapse? We throw that word around, but it is
easy to misunderstand. I mean that the US is likely to undergo a
financial collapse a la the Great Depression – widespread unemployment,
lots of people facing hunger, cold and the inability to get health
care, a disruption of what we tend to assume are birthright services,
and a sense that the system doesn’t work anymore. I don’t claim that
we are headed by Thursday to cannibalism, however – what I think will
be true is that we will often do surprisingly well in the state of
collapse, as hard as it is.
In previous years, I was fairly lighthearted about my predictions –
this year, I don’t find it possible to be. I really hope I’m wrong
about this. And I hope you will make decisions based on your own
judgement, not mine. These are predictions, the results of my analysis
and my intuitions, and sometimes I’m good at that. But I do not claim
that every word that comes out of my mouth or off my keyboard is the
truth, and you should not take it as such. You are getting this free
on the internet – consider what you paid for it, and value it
1. Some measure of normalcy will hold out until late spring or early
summer, mostly based on hopes for the Obama Presidency. But by
late summer 2009, the aggregate loss of jobs, credit and wealth will
cause an economic crisis that makes our current situation look pretty
mild. With predictions of up to a million jobs lost each month, there
will simply come a point at which the economy as we understand it now
cannot function – we will see the modern equivalents of breadlines and
stockbrokers selling apples on the streets.
2. Many plans for infrastructure investments currently being
proposed will never be completed, and many may never be started,
because the US may be unable to borrow the money to fund
them. The price of globalization will be high in terms of reduced
availability of funds and resources – despite all the people who think
that we’ll keep building things during a collapse, we won’t. We will
have some variation on a Green New Deal in the US and some nations will
continue to work on renewable infrastructure, but a lot of us are going to be getting along with the fraying infrastructure,
designed for a people able to afford a lot of cheap energy, that we
have now. The most successful projects will be small, localized
programs that distribute resources as widely as possible.
I pray that we will have the brains to ignore most other things and
set up some kind of health care system, one that softens the blows
here. If not, we’re really fucked – the one thing most of us can’t
afford is medical care as it works now in a non-functioning economy. Unfortunately, my bet is that we don’t do something about this, but I hope to God I’m wrong.
3. 2009 will be the year that most of the most passionate climate
activists (and I don’t exclude myself) have to admit that there is
simply not a snowball’s chance in hell (and hell is getting toastier
quickly) that we are going to prevent a 2C+ warming of the planet. We
are simply too little, too late. That does not mean we will give up on
everything – the difference between unchecked emissions and checked
ones is still the difference between life and death for millions – but
hideously, regretfully and painfully, the combination of our growing
understanding of where the climate is and the economic situation will
force us to begin working from the reality that the world we leave our
children is simply going to be more damaged, and our legacy smaller and
less worthy of us than we’d ever hoped.
4. 2008 will probably be the world’s global oil peak, but we won’t
know this for a while. When we do realize it, it will be
anticlimactic, because we’ll be mired in the consequences of our
economic, energy and climate crisis. Lack of investment in the coming
years will mean that in the end, more oil stays in the ground, which is
good for the climate, but tough for our ambitions for a renewable
energy economy. Over the long term, however, peak oil is very much
going to come back and bite us all in the collective ass.
5. Decreased access to goods, services and food will be a reality
this year. Some of this will be due to stores going out of business –
we may all have to travel further to meet needs. Some will be due to
suppliers going under, following the wave of merchant bankruptcies.
Some may be due to disruptions in shipping and transport of supplies.
Some will be due to increased demand for some items that have, up until
now, been niche items, produced in small numbers for the small number
of sustainability freaks, but that now seem to have widespread
application. And some may be due to deflation – farmers may not be
able to harvest crops because they can’t get enough for them to pay for
the harvest, and the connections between those who have goods and those
who need goods may be thoroughly disrupted. Meanwhile, millions more
Americans will be choosing between new shoes and seeing the doctor.
6. Most Americans will see radical cut backs in local services and
safety nets. Funding will simply dry up for many state and local
programs. Unemployment will be overwhelmed, and the federal government
will have to withdraw some of its commitments simply to keep people
from starving in the streets. Meanwhile, expect to see the plows stop
plowing, the garbage cease to be collected, and classrooms to have 40+
kindergarteners to a class – and potentially a three or four day school week.
7. Nations will overwhelmingly fail to pony up promised commitments
to the world’s poor, and worldwide, the people who did the least harm
to the environment will die increasingly rapidly of starvation. This
will not be inevitable, but people in the rich world will claim it is.
8. We will finally attempt to deal with foreclosures, but the
falling value of housing will make it a losing proposition. Every time
we bring the housing values down to meet the reality, the reality will
shift under our feet. Many of those who are helped will end up
foreclosed upon anyway (as is already the case) and others will simply
see no point in paying their mortgage when, by defaulting, they could
qualify for lowered payments (as is already the case). Ultimately, the
issue will probably self resolve in either some kind of redistribution
plan that puts people in foreclosed houses with minimal mortgaging,
with foreclosures dragging down enough banks that people find it
feasible to simply stop paying mortgages that are now unenforceable, or
with civil unrest that leads people simply to take back housing for the
populace. I don’t have a bet on which one, and I don’t think it will
be resolved in 2009.
9. By the end of the year, whether or not we will collapse or have
collapsed will continue to be hotly debated by everyone who can still
afford their internet service. No one will agree on what the
definition of collapse actually is, plenty of people will simply be
living their old lives, only with a bit less, while others will be
having truly apocalyptic and deeply tragic losses. Some will see the
victims as lazy, stupid, alien and worthless, no matter how many there
are. Others will look around them and ask “how did I not see that this
was inevitable?” Many people will be forced to see that the poor are
not a monolith of laziness and selfishness when they become poor. We
will know that we are in our situation only in retrospect, only in
hindsight – our children will have a better name for the experience
than we will, caught up in our varied personal senses of what is
happening Meanwhile, each time things get harder most of us will
believe they are at the bottom, that things are now “normal” and adapt,
until it becomes hard to remember what our old expectations were.
10. Despite how awful this is, the reality is that not everything
will fall apart. In the US, we will find life hard and stressful, but
we will also go forward. People will suck a lot up and retrench. It
will turn out that ordinary people were always better than commentators
at figuring out what to do – that’s why they stopped shopping even
while people were begging them to keep buying. So they’ll move in with
their siblings and grow gardens and walk away from their overpriced
houses, or fight to keep them. Some of them will suffer badly for it,
but a surprising number of people will simply be ok in situations that
until now, they would have imagined were impossible to survive. We
will endure, sometimes even find ways of loving our new lives. There
will be acts of remarkable courage and heroism, and acts of the most
profound evil and selfishness. There will be enormous losses – but we
will also discover that most of us are more than we think we are – can
tolerate more and have more courage and compassion than we believe of
An early Happy New Year, everyone. May you know better than you deserve and see others at their best in these hard times.
John Williams of ShadowStats.com is predicting hyperinflation this year. That will be "interesting" if it happens. I hope not. But if it does happen then that will certainly be referred to as a collapse with no question
Do you have permission to reprint this?
I love Sharon Astyk.
I love that, in the face of all this, she is DOING something about it. And still finds time to write about it for the benefit of everyone else.
Anyone who is not familiar with her should visit her site (link is on Damnthematrix’ post).
Zounds! Public sentiment toward the accelerating economic fiasco
has shifted, seemingly overnight, from a mood of nauseated amazement to
one of panicked grievance as the United States moves closer to an
apparent comprehensive collapse — and so ill-timed, wouldn’t you know
it, to coincide with the annual rigors of Santa Claus. The tipping
point seems to be the Bernie Madoff $50 billion Ponzi scandal, which
represents the grossest failure of authority and hence legitimacy in
finance to date in as much as Mr. Madoff was a former chairman of the
NASDAQ, for godsake. It’s like discovering that Ben Bernanke is running
a meth lab inside the Federal Reserve. And out in the heartland, of
course, there is the spectacle of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich
trying to desperately dodge a racketeering rap behind an implausible
What seems to spook people now is the possibility that everybody in
charge of everything is a fraud or a crook. Legitimacy has left the
system. Not even the the legions of Obama are immune as his reliance on
Wall Street capos Robert Rubin, Tim Geithner, and Larry Summers seem
tainted by the same reckless thinking that brought on the fiasco. His
pick last week for chief of the SEC, Mary Shapiro, is already being
dissed as a shill for the Big Bank status quo. In a few days we’ll
discover what kind of bonuses are being ladled out by the remaining
Wall Street banks with TARP money and a new chorus of howls will ring
This is very dangerous territory. In dollar terms, the numbers
being applied to the various problems are so colossal — trillions! —
that the death of our currency seems assured. And in defiance of
congress’s express intentions, none of the TARP "money" has been
applied to its targeted purpose of buying up "toxic" (i.e. fraudulent)
securities hidden in the vaults of banks, pension funds, and municipal
George W, Bush’s personal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler
is designed solely to postpone their bankruptcy and mass job layoffs
until after the holidays. Otherwise, the $17.4 billion will probably be
used by the companies to underwrite the extensive legal work required
for the moment they must declare bankruptcy — when Mr. Obama is in the
White House. Meanwhile, the President-elect
has ramped up his
job-creation target overnight from two to three million, and some
observers are catching a whiff of Soviet-style economic engineering
("…we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us….").
The years since Jimmy Carter have produced an astoundingly flaccid
public, sunk in various addictions and distractions, but this is about
to change. The darkling mood of political protest and violent activism
that saturated my own young adult years is scudding up again on the
horizon. Mr. Obama’s pick for attorney general, the mild-looking Eric
Holder, may be the key figure in the early months of the new
government. If he doesn’t commence some aggressive investigations and
prosecutions — beginning with Henry Paulson for insider trading when
he was in charge of Goldman Sachs and shorting his own company’s
mortgage-backed securities — then the whole Obama enterprise could fall
under suspicion of illegitimacy. The bums who ran the US banking sector
into a ditch have to account for their turpitudes. They can’t be
allowed to hide under a TARP.
Unfortunately, the legal system, and probably the legislative
system, will be so buried in procedural bullshit from the unwind of
countless enterprises and institutions, and the sorting out of the
remnants, that it remains to be seen whether this generation of
people-in-charge can even embark on a fresh start of anything connected
to real everyday life in America. All this is starting to alarm the
tattered residue of the middle classes, and from here it’s a very short
path to them being really pissed off.
When legitimacy erodes, anything goes. Nothing is respected
including rules and personalities. The center doesn’t hold and the new
vacuum there is a tumultuous place. The same crisis of authority and
legitimacy is spreading from nation to nation now. Soon, China will
contend with a discontented army of the unemployed. Greece has been in
an uproar for two weeks. Belgium’s government just collapsed. Trade
barriers are going up. Exports are falling away. The world’s energy
markets are not immune to these disorders. I would expect problems with
the currently seamless supply lines that bring America two-thirds of
the oil we use. Even a mild disruption of oil supplies could attach an
anvil to the ankle of an economy already falling off a cliff.
Right now, the overwhelming sentiment is to get this country back to
where we were, say, ten years ago, when everything was humming nicely: Clinton
nostalgia. We’re definitely not gong back there, though. It’s an idle
wish. And any set of policies designed to lead in that direction will
prove very disappointing. Our destination is a land of much
smaller-scaled local economies. We could retain our federal ties if the
federal government can scale back appropriately from the bloated,
feckless enterprise it has become. Otherwise, it might only get in the
way and make matters worse, and the public in one region or another of
North America might reach a decision that they are better off without
it. That would be what’s called a revolution.
Putin says ‘cheap gas era’ ending
OK so now I know the fate of the UK market. Next year will be inflation by all accounts, when the price of hole sale supply is pushed we know there going to be high inflation from the general supply of energy. quite frankly I don’t like what I am seeing. The timing of this announcement is a clear message, and comes at a time where people are trying hard to use as less energy as possible
I love making year-end future predictions even more than breaking new years resolutions. I agree with most of your well thought out and astute predictions and would add my own:
1) Frustration and fear will begin to give way to anger. Fear is already building as many are helplessly watching their 401-ks, IRAs and life savings evaporate and many more will lose their jobs. Confidence in the "system" and our "institutions" was lost long ago, the new phase will move to blame.
2) The US will officially lose most of it’s credit worthiness mid to late 2009, which will also spell the end of our dominance in being the world’s reserve currency. We’ve exploited both in running a fictitious economy based on debt instead of production. No amount of duct tape, paper hanging or deceit will offset the dire consequences. This will get dangerous as our nation will begin to take what we need in the form of oil and other resources. Unfortunately, other nations will do the same. Through 2009, we’ll see this bullying directed towards those nations who are rich in resources and unable to defend themselves but there is a good chance that by 2010, the bullies will begin to collide.
3) The international banking elite will openly consolidate their operations in an attack on national sovereignty. Their plans for an international currency will be inharmonious and inequitable as the factions compete in the grab for power – control of the new mega central bank. They will think that they have pulled a coup but it will not stick.
4) The anti-globalization; anti-new world order sentiments will begin take root in earnest. The brush fire that started in Greece will begin to spread through Europe. This move will be met with increasing militaristic action by an evolving international police military and paid security thugs.
5) The US, and its cronies, will launch another deadly false flag operation – I don’t even want to speculate as to what exactly that will be but it will smack us like a baseball bat.
6) A great awakening will begin to spread – the sinews of revolution. People will seek the things that matter most; family, friends, security, nutrition, shelter, energy and basic freedoms. Unfortunately many things will be shattered but in the end; and 2009 will only be the beginning, I’m optimistic that our collective realization, spiritual growth and renewed self reliance will be the foundation for building a better nation for future generations. It will be the glue that bonds us in an unselfish understanding that we are stronger when together and that we individually hold the power to create a greater society.
Won’t have to wait long for certain of those predictions. From Karl Denninger’s site:
"WARNING TO BANKING EXECUTIVES: If you do not return the bonuses, stock options and country club memberships bought with taxpayer bailout money, YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS will be made public in a manner designed to "incite" a reaction by the public. (Special emphasis on the word "incite!)
You have until Friday, December 26, 2008 to return the money. There will be no negotiating, no obeying of court orders of protection, no way to prevent being dealt with harshly.
I don’t care about your employment contracts, I don’t care about your civil rights and I sure as **** don’t care about the law or the courts.
You guys have ****ed this country for the last time. It’s time for you to be paid back and I intend to see that you receive your payback."
[Ed. note: The above comment was posted on Denninger’s forum. Denninger himself said of it: "I don’t like this one bit, it is way beyond
"polite discourse" (and IMHO quite possibly into a realm that one
should not cross) but it is entirely predictable, and unfortunately, is
unlikely to be an isolated incident."]