Economic dominoes continue to fall

Passing the world oil peak has had, and doubtless will continue to have, relatively little impact on the long-term price of gasoline. The economic implications of getting through the first half of the Oil Age have been much more significant, a trend that seems likely to continue until the collapse is complete.
We’ve seen 106 banks fail, so far, including some of the monsters. Others were perceived by the Obama adminstration as too big to fail, so we tacked on a series of taxes to future generations of Americans. A majority of those taxes will never be paid because the whole country is bankrupt (and not merely financially). Regional banks are suffering, too. We’ve seen house prices plummet under the weight of massive foreclosures and a bubble pumped up by the likes of Greenspan and Bernanke. We’ve seen entire airlines disappear, along with a plethora of other companies. The nation’s largest car company was socialized when we the people took ownership. (Against our wishes, of course. Isn’t faux democracy great?) Unemployment has risen, and continues to rise even as the Obummer administration throws massive fiat currency at every enterprise they deem worthy (expectedly excluding you and me). Suddenly, shopping at Wal-Mart is all the rage because, despite lies from the federal government, prices continue to rise for the average consumer.

The financially wealthy have improved their lot by stealing from the middle class, then calling in the troops to protect the thieves. The property of rich folks has always been more important than the lives of the poor, a fact that will continue to create misery for the “other” 99% of us until the entire industrial economy fails. Personally, I can hardly wait.
What’s next is anybody’s guess, but it’s obvious the economic dominoes are clack, clack, clacking away. Losses from commercial real-estate lending pose a huge threat to U.S. banks. Citigroup is among the large banks in dire shape. JP Morgan has traded in the formerly profitable enterprise of commercial banking for the risk-free venture of taxpayer-funded investment bank. The United States is already bankrupt, although few have recognized how badly we’ve overshot the economy (I suspect even fewer recognize the far more dire case of ecologic overshoot). In short, the soul of capitalism has been sucked into the black hole created by the wizards on Wall Street, never to be revived again. The too-little, too-late response from oil companies and civilized governments: a fight to the death for the last drops of black gold.
We’ll give up war as soon as the typical member of the National Rifle Association turns over his automatic assault rifle to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
Virtually no neoclassical economists saw this coming, and with good reason: The dismal science is not a science. A stone-age shaman with a handful of chicken bones is a better forecaster than your typical economist. Even the Grey Lady has exposed neoclassical economists as latter-day hucksters, finally recognizing there are limits to growth: “all biophysical economists see only very bleak prospects for the future of modern civilization.” I disagree only with the tone, which suggests civilization is redeemable.
This post is permalinked at Energy Bulletin.

Comments 31

  • Joe Bageant chimes in again in two-part harmony with Guy’s new piece:

  • Is Wal-Mart suddenly all the rage? If the largest purveyor of goods deals strictly in inferior products, how is an ever-lasting economic depression not the perfect way to establish a monopoly and thereby political dominance? (Have we forgotten teaching the children that “greed is good” so that they will leave the house?) We have failed to care about having other options. We want our products to come from as far away as possible. Our impacts are hidden from our eyes by our own design. We call our vast wastelands of cars (both speeding and parked) names like: city planning, civil engineering, or even -development. The thing about waste is that you can’t get it back.
    Individual people and families are redeemable. (At least some that I have met.)

  • Dave Lindorff makes it three-quarters of a quartet, with this anecdotal perspective.
    Bubbleboy, I’ve come across many individuals and families who go well beyond redeemable. It’s western civilization, with its dependence on violence, oppression, and hierarchy, that I find so repulsive.

  • I know. I was just trying to be positive about something.
    Kool-Aid is my favorite inferior good. Lemon is the best flavor sometimes.

  • I like Joe,
    I can see a pattern here, we are all stuck on this schtick!
    Oh yeah, Matts T’s piece in the Rolling Stone is a beauty.

  • 1. An automatic rifle is illegal to own.
    2. Therefore a “typical” member of the NRA doesn’t have one.
    Please get your information corrected.

  • John, many commonly employed practices are illegal. A short list would include use of illicit drugs, exceeding the posted speed limit, jaywalking, pirating music and videos, and drinking alcohol on a public beach. I’ve never seen data on the frequency of these practices, or NRA members with automatic weapons, but I have no reason to believe they are atypical. How about you?

  • My opinion is that a “typical” member does not own one.

  • Obummer administration … priceless.
    And, thanks •

  • Oh, and one more thing … isn’t it more correct to say “too big to be allowed to fail”?

  • Guy you had better hope there are plenty of NRA types in the area of your “mud hut” or you and your community will not survive even a week after the collapse you are preparing for. What good are all your efforts if you cannot defend any of it or yourself from those that are not prepared. This collapse will not be an orderly affair,far from it. By the way spraying ammo all over the countryside that cannot be replaced from full automatic weapons will be a very short lived method of driving off intruders. When I think about the likely train of events of a collapse it can certainly keep a fellow awake at night.

  • Once again a great and all too poignant post from Mr. McPherson. Thanks, Guy, for including the link to the NYTimes article as I had “missed” it. Alas, it merely reflects the “too little, too late” condition in which we are all finding ourselves fully immersed. Thanks, too, for including the link to the MarketWatch article, which I read a few days ago, and hope many, many more have absorbed its content, too.
    And thanks to Stan Moore for the link to the Bageant article as I have, over recent months, found his prose quite “entertaining” despite the similarly dire perspective of the content most of us here share.
    Regardless, I think I would be remiss if I didn’t bring attention to a superb video, which aired on PBS about a week ago (available online), and the accompanying interview transcript with the(?) principle player that is only available online.
    FRONTLINE: The Warning (video)
    The “important” information that will be exposed is that Alan Greenspan through most of his tenure as Fed-Chairman believed that fraud, especially in financial markets, was a GOOD thing. More importantly, that as of June ’08, the derivatives market was “valued” at more than $680-TRILLION, or more than 10-times the total GDP of every country on Earth COMBINED! If that’s not a preeminent example of fiction, not to mention fraud, I don’t know what is. It should be apparent that all the economies of the planet’s countries are, in fact, running on “fumes” and there is no “filling station” just ahead.
    BTW, John, it’s really not too difficult to take a “semi-automatic” firearm and convert it to full-auto. I’ve met more than a few “gun nuts” who also possess the machining equipment to make the job a “snap.” Of course, it won’t be “selectable” and will take a little more doing to convert back to semi-auto. Moreover, I’m not sure anyone can “identify” a “typical” anything.

  • I graduated with a degree in economics. I just cringe when I see Greenspan and his warped view in action. How ironic that these fools have damaged the financial system and we face resource depletion at the same time in history. What is really sad is a lack of reaction by the public to being ripped off. As things get worse one must assume that people will turn off the 300 channel cable and try to do something to save themselves or will they?

  • A pretty good essay on economics in the context of the latest Nobel Prize can be found at:
    My new defintion of economics is not that it is a science, but an art; to be more specific, economics is the art of justifying greed.
    Stan Moore

  • a sad story from BBC would seem to me to represent either a genuine Black Swan – type event or perhaps a case of rabies…
    BTW, years ago I went to that beautiful area of Canada with a buddy of mine and remember car camping in a National Park in Quebec when I got so cold at night that I went into the shower with all my clothes on and stood next to the running hot shower stream to try to get rid of the chill. I don’t know which is better, Eastern Canada or Western Canada, but I have seen great natural beauty on both ends of that fine country. Great raptors, too (and raptor biologists)!
    Stan Moore

  • An “assault rifle” is merely a made-up media term and means nothing. You won’t find an “assault rifle” at a gun store.
    Two, automatic weapons are strictly regulated and illegal for most of us to own. You won’t find too many in an NRA member’s homes.
    Sadly you make some good points in this posting, but by insulting gun-owners with false information you’re calling into question if anything you said here is true. The faltering economy has nothing to do with firearm ownership. Why even bring it up unless you have an ax to grind against gun owners.
    Like it or not, the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear arms. Would you have dismissed the First Amendment by saying “Muslims will give up their Korans before…” or perhaps suggest we should give up our protections against unreasonable search and seizure in the pursuit of world peace?
    And Collin, no, that’s a myth too. It’s not easy to convert a semi-automatic to an automatic. Funny how people who hate guns are such experts on them.

  • Been around coyotes for 40 years at least and never heard of this although they have been caught eyeballing babies in strollers. I think it will turn out to be rabies.

  • John, I’m a lifelong gun owner, but not a member of the wing-nut NRA, which promotes gun ownership but not necessarily responsibility. Guns for hunting? Sure. But who needs an assault rifle or a handgun to hunt deer? Yet the NRA fights for the “right” to own any type of weapon. By the way, a cursory check reveals that the 2nd amendment protects militias, not individuals. But we rarely confuse the issue with the facts, here in the land of gunpoint optimism.

  • Guy, Be careful, we, as people who are ‘rooting’ for the demise of industrial civilisation are now being regarded as psychotic, if we believe what Carolyn Baker has to say on the issue. I believe it is almost impossible not to be somewhat misanthropic if one is non-anthropocentric. Your thoughts,please?

  • Guy, Have you ever watched George Carlin’s take on saving the planet? It is a must watch. I tend to go along with much of what he says. Don’t you think it is somewhat arrogant and self important that we think we are that much of a threat to the planet. After all once we are extinct, the planet will have billions of years to regenerate and recover. As Carlin says when we become too much of a nuisance the planet will shake us off like bad case of fleas.

  • Stan,
    I was questioning what Guy said about the typical NRA member. I merely said that a “typical” member does not have one. So how was I insulting gun owners? I was defending gun owners. I happen to be a gun owner as well as a life member of the NRA.
    The trouble with these blogs is that whatever is written somebody will always misconstrue.

  • I am a gun owner, but not an NRA member. I think the courts have applied the constitution as amended to private gun ownership and I happen to believe that citizens should be allowed to own any weapon they can afford, including 50 caliber full automatic machineguns, howitzers, or anything. I construe the constitution to mean a citizen should be allowed to arm himself for protection from his government. I feel far more at risk ultimately from government than from common criminals.
    At the same time, there are severe sanctions for breaking the law and I am not intent on breaking the law to prove a point. I do believe that you should not do the crime if you are not willing to do the time, and I am not willing to go to prison or risk it in the interests of the full expression of gun ownership.
    As far as hunting goes, you never know when they will raise bag limits and full auto with a 30 round clip will come in handy
    I also believe that people who are afraid of guns are looking at the wrong end of the barrel for what should be the source of their fear.
    A gun in the right hands is a blessing, in my view, and in the wrong hands is a deadly tool, but nothing more. Far more humans have been killed by those in authority (military, police, etc.) and sanctioned by society to take life than by criminals. There is literally no comparison.
    Stan Moore

  • craig, I was thoroughly disgusted by Carolyn Baker’s latest piece. If she actually loved human life, and human individuals, she would be cheering for a rapid collapse. I’ve covered this ground before. By the same token, faster collapse means we’ll take far fewer species down the extinction abyss with us … so I disagree, albeit slightly with Carlin in this exceptional case. The planet might shrug us off like fleas, but we’re killing the living parts of the planet along the way.

  • Guy, Phew! I thought I was losing my mind for a minute. I am relieved you agree with me on the Baker issue. There appears to be some contradiction in her stance if you compare her latest article to some previous one’s, particularly the one on economic collapse. By the way I too, do not agree entirely with the Carlin piece but you have to admit it is a touch of genius.

  • I agree with you Stan if based on a pure historical body count all the criminals in history cannot compete with government and authority when it comes to the death and destruction they have caused. As for Guys assertion that only hunting rifles be allowed those people that do not like guns or hunting would like to seize all guns period and they make that quite plain. Militias that are organized by government and not by the people themselves then become just a tool of central authority as the police and army already are. Disarming the populace is always preferred by the elites so they can do what ever they like with impunity. From a practical standpoint the NRA must defend everything or it will lose everything to “common sense laws” or “reasonable gun laws” as your rights then erode away to nothing as has happened in England. When a government says you have no right to defend yourself then in plain english they have told you that you are expendable. Besides here in Arizona or anywhere else in the U.S. you cannot walk in and buy a true “assault rifle” since they must be selective fire with a full auto switch setting,they just look like the military version. By the way many hunters now use AR15 clones for hunting with the legal 5 round magazine in place to conform to hunting regulations. Because of the military design that they are based on they are a more rugged rifle and easy to get parts for. Example Remington R15 and R25.

  • From an Australian perspective some of the comments here on guns, gun control etc are completely insane. The way you guys think is completely foreign to other advanced ‘democratic’ nations.
    Just thought I would let you know, sounds like you guys are in this
    nra type consensus ‘constitution’ trance nonsense. Ideology is blinding!
    If stanley’s reasoning is anything to go by, sounds like you guys
    are keen on land mines as well.
    Although, Guys reasoning is sound.
    Read an article recently that the American public have a long history of paranoia with regards to governance and their government.
    Many examples of this have been illustrated here.

  • Matt at the point of collapse of your “advanced democratic nation” with a population of 25 million and all that space you will look very attractive to the 200 million indonesians living just north of you and the 3 billion in china plus india if they can get there. We will not be in a position to help you like we did at the battle of the coral sea when japan decided to pay you a visit in 1942. I guess you can always throw rocks. Good luck from an american perspective.
    As for american paranoia about are government I certainly would think that the washington/wall street/banker lowlifes ripping us off for several trillion dollars might upset some people and perhaps we have not been paranoid enough.

  • Matt one other thing. I respect your perspective from down under but the reliance on governance and government is a huge reason we all now face this mess.

  • different locations different realities
    I think I prefer my ‘truth’, and I am sure a
    Dane and/or a Norwegian would prefer theirs as well

  • I like having my guns. I would prefer that most other people not have any :) I fear my government, but it has nothing to fear from me.
    Many nations feel that the death penalty is barbaric. I would like to see it dramatically expanded, including implementation for lying politicians, corrupt law enforcement personnel and bureacrats in the judicial system who practice or tolerate deliberate injustice.
    I do agree that there are different cultures within the civilized world and that my own USA is the one culture that feels exceptional based on the power of mythology even as it simultaneously is rigged to implode, explode, erode, corrode and do the Humpty Dumpty.
    I am in favor of making land mines illegal worldwide and nuking the national capital of any nation that refuses to sign. But the constitution protects my guns and I’d like to keep them for symbolic reasons. Plus, they are simply more fun than video games.
    Will Obama be unable to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo because he is too busy running wars as the US Commander in Chief?
    He could always buzz over there in a stealth bomber and refuel on his way to drop a bunker buster over an Iranian nuclear facility.
    I heard today from Dr. David Ellis of Arizona as he wanted me to communicate with another Dr. (Tischendorf) who I have not met, but whose name reminds me of some old Prussian Warlord. But I really like David Ellis and he has written some of the best natural history papers on raptors, their plumages, their nests, etc. ever written in my opinion. I am still hoping that some day I can travel with him to Mongolia to study saker falcons while there are still some left and while the airline industry is still relatively intact.
    Enough musings in my 2009 Rambler (internet version).
    Guy — do have you plans to set up an XMas tree this year at the mud hut and do you expect to find bargains at the local shopping malls?

  • I don’t know about a Christmas tree, but I suspect the six-year-old’s Halloween ghost tree will still be up, as it was last Christmas (it’s a dead branch filled with homemade “ghosts”). There should be lots of bargains at the few stores remaining in business this holiday season, but they aren’t selling anything I want … no durable goods have been on sale in this country for decades.