Saturday, January 2, 2021

"Housing Crash Is Coming! US Housing Enters 2021 In A Massive Bubble"

"Housing Crash Is Coming! 
US Housing Enters 2021 In A Massive Bubble"
by Epic Economist

"Record-high housing prices might be fueling homeowners and real estate investors hopes for brighter days in 2021, but experts are alerting that some dark clouds are ahead for the U.S. housing market. The unprecedented demand is being prompted by the growing work-from-home professional landscape and the inability to travel, which have resonated in record-high property sales, and in a significant pricing bubble that is already being registered in several major cities across the nation. 

However, the unsustainable price increase could lead to a more dramatic decline when the housing market crash happens. And in this video, we're going to show you by the charts how the U.S. housing market has entered the most splendid bubble in history, and when it bursts it could make 2021 the most devastating year to buy homes in America. 

According to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, nationwide the prices of single-family houses climbed 8.4%, the biggest year-over-year increase since March 2014. The index is based on the “sales pairs” method, which compares the price of a property that was sold in the current month to the price of the same property when it was sold previously, going back decades. As compared to the National Association of Realtors’ house price index, which is as a function of “median prices,” prices jumped 15%. 

Amongst the main drivers for this considerable spike in prices is the reduced housing supply and the record-high demand, as well as the extension of mortgage deferral periods. By contrast, related to all the previously mentioned, high unemployment rates may reverse both elevated prices and supply shortages. At this stage of the crisis, the bleak economic outlook for the forecasted 20 million out of work Americans might force unemployed owners to sell their homes, increasing supply and keeping demand for housing down. 

But one factor that has been keeping the market afloat is the record-low interest rates since borrowing has never been so inexpensive, which of course, fuels the demand for housing by making mortgages more affordable. The Fed has been constantly handing trillions of dollars to the markets to keep rates down, ignoring the massive bubble the market has entered and the consequences of it on the debasement of the dollar's purchasing power. 

Moreover, the shift to working from home arrangements and the popular preference for homes over apartments or condo towers, as well as a dose of panic-buying have also contributed to keeping the housing market heated. As Wolf Richter reported in Wolf Street, several major U.S. cities are registering skyrocketing prices, with Los Angeles having the most splendid housing bubble of them all.

The report also highlighted that in Portland, Boston, Tampa, Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Dallas price surges in the range of 1 percent in October from September and in a 7 percent average year-over-year were also registered. In essence, as Ritcher explained in his report, the Case-Shiller index tracks the number of dollars it takes to buy the same house over time, thereby, it measured the purchasing power of the dollar in relation to houses. That's why it is considered as a form of measuring “house-price inflation". And what all of those charts have shown us is that the dollar has lost its purchasing power with regards to houses at the fastest pace ever.

But as prices keep soaring, fewer people can afford to buy a home, as a record of 34% of young Americans are now living with their parents, even with household formations on the rise. Consequently, that forces younger workers to rent, but as many of them are returning to their family's homes, that has pushed the rental vacancy rate to all time lows, especially since other age cohorts have been leaving cities by the millions and preferring to risk buying a house, leading the homeownership rate considerably up.

So, between the Fed's record-low interest rates, Congress' fiscal stimulus package, a huge debt-fueled demand, and record-low supply the housing market is now much hotter than it was during the apex of the 2006/7 housing bubble. And it goes without saying that this also means it is now set for a much larger crash. This is the world's biggest asset bubble that we're talking about. And Powell's statements show that the Fed doesn't have any plans to properly address the unsustainability of the housing market, which has been proven in each and every one of these charts, which leave us wondering what will effectively happen to our economy when the collective bursting of both the biggest stock market and housing bubble occurs at the same time. It seems that we're headed to a major financial catastrophe, and at this point, and by the size of the damage already done - there's no more escape."

Musical Interlude: Gnomusy (David Caballero), "Footprints on the Sea"

Gnomusy (David Caballero), "Footprints on the Sea"

"A Look to the Heavens"

"In the center of this serene stellar swirl is likely a harrowing black-hole beast. The surrounding swirl sweeps around billions of stars which are highlighted by the brightest and bluest. The breadth and beauty of the display give the swirl the designation of a grand design spiral galaxy. 
The central beast shows evidence that it is a supermassive black hole about 10 million times the mass of our Sun. This ferocious creature devours stars and gas and is surrounded by a spinning moat of hot plasma that emits blasts of X-rays. The central violent activity gives it the designation of a Seyfert galaxy. Together, this beauty and beast are cataloged as NGC 6814 and have been appearing together toward the constellation of the Eagle (Aquila) for roughly the past billion years."

"The Brutal Truth About Violence When The SHTF"

"The Brutal Truth About Violence When The SHTF"
Selco interviewed by Daisy Luther

"Are you prepared for the extreme violence that is likely to come your way if the SHTF? No matter what your plan is, it’s entirely probable that at some point, you’ll be the victim of violence or have to perpetrate violence to survive. As always, Selco is our go-to guy on SHTF reality checks and this thought-provoking interview will shake you to your core.

If you don’t know Selco, he’s from Bosnia and he lived through a year in a city that was blockaded with no utilities, no deliveries of supplies, and no services. In his interviews, he shares what the scenarios the rest of us theorize about were REALLY like. He mentioned to me recently that most folks aren’t prepared for the violence that is part and parcel of a collapse, which brings us to today’s interview.

How prevalent was violence when the SHTF in Bosnia? It was wartime and chaos, from all conflicts in those years in the Balkan region Bosnian conflict was most brutal because of multiple reasons, historical, political and other. To simplify the explanation why violence was common and very brutal, you need to picture a situation where you are “bombarded” with huge amount of information (propaganda) which instills in you very strong feelings of fear and hate. Out of fear and hate, violence grows easy and fast, and over the very short period of time you see how people around you (including you) do things that you could not imagine before.

I can say that violence was almost an everyday thing in the whole spectrum of different activities because it was a fight for survival. Again, whenever (and wherever) you put people in a region without enough resources, you can expect violence.

We were living a normal life, and then suddenly we were thrown in a way of living where if you could not “negotiate” something with someone, you solve the problem by launching a rocket from an RPG through the window of his living room. Hate stripped down the layers of humanity and suddenly it was “normal” to level an apartment building with people inside with shells from a tank or form private prisons with imprisoned civilians for slave work or sex slaves.

Nothing that I saw or read before could have prepared me for the level of violence and blindness to it, for the lives of kids, elders, civilians, and the innocent. Again, the thing that is important for readers is that we were a modern society one day, and then in few weeks it turned into carnage. Do not make the mistake of saying “it cannot happen here” because I made that mistake too. Do not underestimate power of propaganda, fear, hate, and the lowest human instincts, no matter how modern and good your society is right now and how deeply you believe that “it can not happen here”.

I’ve mentioned warlords and gangs in several of my articles. Were they responsible for the majority of the violence or was it hungry families? Fighting of the armies through the whole period of war brings violence in terms of constant shelling from a distance from different kind of weapons. For example a few multiple rocket launchers (VBR) could bring in 30 seconds the destruction in an area of 3-4 apartment buildings, and being there in that moment and surviving it gives you a completely new view on life. Snipers were a constant threat and over time you simply grow a way of living that you constant scan area in front of you where your next steps gonna be. Are you gonna be visible and from where? Etc.

Most brutal violence was actually lawlessness and complete lack of order between different factions and militias, so in some periods there were militias or gangs who simply ruled the cities or part of the city where they were absolutely masters of everything in terms of deciding of taking someone’s life. In lawlessness, you as one person could be really small and not interesting, or join some bigger group of people to be stronger, some family or militia or gang.

An example of a gang would be group of people of some 300 or 500 people who “officially” were a unit or militia and operate for some faction, but in reality they operate mostly for themselves. That included owning part of the black market, having prison (for forced labor or ransom), attacking people and houses for resources, smuggling people from dangerous areas. Violence from those kinds of group was the most immediate violence, the most visible in terms of SHTF talking. If those people came on your door you could obey, fight, or negotiate, but mostly you could not not ask for help from any kind of authority, because there was no real authority.

In any society, no matter where you are living, there are a great number of people who are waiting for the SHTF to go out and do violent things. Small time criminals or simply violent persons who are not openly violent because system is there to punish them for that. It is like that. Some gang leaders that I knew were actually completely sick people with a strange type of charisma that makes people follow them, weird situations that can happen only in a real collapse. They are people who just waited for their time to rise. Those kinds of people together with criminal organization that are already there in any city in the world will be the backbone of SHTF gangs.

Who were the most likely victims? A very simple answer would be that the most likely victims were people who had interesting things without enough defense. But it was not always that simple. For example one of the first houses that got raided in my neighborhood, right at the beginning of collapse while there was still some kind of order, was a rich family’s home. They had a nice house with bars on the windows, a pretty good setup for defense, and they had enough people inside so they could give pretty good resistance to the mob. But they got raided simply because they were known that they are rich, so they were attacked with enough force to be overwhelmed.

It was not only about how much manpower you had and how well-organized defense of your home was, it was also about how juicy a target you were. If you are faced with 150 angry people attacking your home because they are sure you have good stuff inside your chances are low, no matter how good and tough you are. People who were alone were a pretty easy target and old people without support of family or friends.

It was not always about killing someone or violence. For example, if you were alone and without resources but you had something else valuable like some kind of skill or knowledge you could easily be “recruited” for some faction or group, not by your will of course.

What were some ways to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of violence? How do you recommend that people prepare themselves for the possibility of violence? It can be done in steps, or in layers:

Do not be interesting (or attract attention) when the SHTF. This means a lot of things, for this article I can give a few examples with shortened explanations because it is a huge topic:

Do not look like a prepper (before or after SHTF). There is no sense in announcing that you are prepping for EMP, civil collapse, apocalypse, or whatever. With that you are risking the probability that when the SHTF, people will remember that you have interesting things in your home. Your home should look ordinary. For example, if you are living in the city on a street where all houses look similar, there is not much sense in making your home look like a fortress. You’ll just attract attention.

Your defense should be based on more subtle means. Some examples are having means to reinforce doors and windows quickly when you need it, or to reinforce them from inside. Make changes in your yard to funnel possible attackers where you want them to be (trees, fence, bush…). You can make your home look abandoned or already looted.

Think about what survival is! Survival is about staying alive, it is not about being comfortable at the expense of losing your life. I have seen many times people lose their lives simply because they were too attached to their belongings (house, car, land, goods…) so they simply did not want to leave something and run in a particular moment.

Everything can be earned and bought again except life. Forget about statements like “I will defend it with my life” or “over my dead body” or similar because the real SHTF is usually not heroic or noble. It is hard and brutal. When you are gone you are gone and there might be nobody to take care of your family just because you have been stubborn or trusted in movies when it came to violence. To rephrase it: Be ready to leave your home in a split second if that means you and your family will survive, no matter how many good things you have stored there.

Be mentally ready for violence: In a way, it is impossible to be ready for violence, especially widespread violence when the SHTF, but you can minimize shock when that happens with some things. If you are not familiar with what violence is, you can try to get yourself close” to it today (in normal times). It can be done, for example, by doing some voluntary work for example in a local hospital, ER or similar… or simply by working with homeless people. Sounds maybe strange but activities like this can get you a bit of a feeling of what it is all about, not to mention that you can learn some practical and useful skills for SHTF.

Have means and skills (physically) to defend – or to do violence: No matter how old or young you are, your gender or religion I assure you that you are capable of doing violence. It is only a matter of the situation and how far you are going to be pushed. It is not just “some people are capable of violence.” Everybody is capable. Not everybody enjoys doing it or is willing to do it so easily.

In today (normal times) you can learn some violence skills and you should do it, again no matter if you are a woman or old or young. You should own a weapon and know how to use it. You should practice with it, or have at least some basic knowledge about hand-to-hand combat. The worst case scenario is to have a weapon that you try for the first time when SHTF. Be familiar with your means for defense, let your family members know what they need to do in case of attack of your home, have plan, and go through it. Only through practice will you minimize chances for mistakes.

Use common sense: I know lot of survivalists almost dream about how they are going to use weapons against bad guys when SHTF, and that they will be something like super heroes from movies, saving innocents and killing villains. Truth is that in a real collapse, a lot of things are kind of blurred and you are not sure who the bad guys are. Good guys turn out to be lunatic gang members who want to bring food to their kids. There are no super heroes when SHTF, and if some of them show up they end up dead quickly.

There is only you and your skills and mindset and what you prepared. Use violence as a last resort because of the simple fact that by using violence you are risking of getting killed or hurt. Remember when SHTF there is maybe no doctor or hospital to take care of your wound. It is a time when even a small cut can eventually kill you through infection and lack of proper care.

Reader questions:
"I’m a single mom with a household full of girls. In an SHTF situation, what would our best strategies be to remain safe?" Just like I have mentioned before, strategy is always same for any part of survival, and shooting from the rifle is pretty similar no matter are you man or woman. Being single mom with household full of girls on first look make you as a ideal target in some situations, but we are talking here in prepper terms so there is no reason not to be perfectly well prepared as a single mom with girls.

But yes I admit it is not perfect situation, even if you are prepared well, some things are sure, you need to connect with other people even more. House with couple of girls will always look like easy prey for some people. It is like that.

"Were people in the city safer than people in the country? Can you tell us more about rural living during this time?" In my case definitely no. In the essence it always come to the resources and people. City meant more people less resources, country (rural) meant less people more resources, and because that level of violence simply was lower. That was most important reason.

There are few more reasons why it was much better in the country. People in the country (rural settings) were much more “connected to ground” they were more tough if you like, they grew their own food, had cattle, lived more simple life prior SHTF and when everything collapsed they had less problems getting use to it. Yes they also did not have electricity and phones, running water or connection to other places but they adapted easier to the new life because they had more useful skills then people in the city. Life was harder for them too than prior to the collapse, but they had means to get resources: land, woods, river…

Another thing is that people in small rural communities “in the country” were more connected to each other, people knew their neighborhood and some things were easier to organize, like community security watch, help in case of diseases and similar.

"What types of weapons did people have for self-defense?" It was different political system prior the collapse where it was not so usual to own a weapon legally. And to own one illegally could mean a lot of troubles. Right prior to SHTF, it became possible to buy different weapons on the black market but still, a majority of people did not own weapons. When it all collapsed, it was possible to get a weapon through trade.

Because of the military doctrine here prior to the collapse, we used “East Bloc” weapons. A favorite was AK-47 in all different kind of editions, or older weapons like M-48 rifle, SKS rifle, 22 and similar. People used what they had, so in one period you would be lucky if you had any kind of pistol and knife. Later through the different channels weapon become more available so people had them more. A lot of that was actually junk that some warlords somehow “imported”. Weapons 50-60 years old without proper ammunition, or not in operating condition. A lot of people simply did not have a clue how to use any kind of weapon so a lot of accidental deaths happened.

I remember people storming abandoned army barracks that was mostly looted, but they found in one building a lot of RPGs while other part of the same building was burning. Two guys were trying to figure out a single-use RPG, and while they were messing with it clearly not knowing how that thing worked, they accidentally armed it and launched a rocket that flew through the crowd, not hurting anyone and exploding in wall 100 meters from where they stood. They were smiling, clearly happy because they thought they figured out how that thing worked.

"What weapons do you suggest to have for SHTF?" It is a never-ending discussion and a favorite prepper topic, and I must say that whole discussion is overrated. I have used them in a real situation, and tried and tested lot of different kind of weapons and what works for me may simply not work for you. For example, here for me good choice is AK-47 rifle, maybe for you wherever you are it is very bad choice.

Good advice is: you need to have a weapon that most people have around you because of multiple reasons: spare parts, repairing, ammunition availability, possibility that you can pick that rifle from other people and you know how to use it. What caliber and similar is a matter of discussion again. I am talking from the point of owning a rifle. Another thing is that you need to know how that weapon works. Luckily, most of my readers live in an area where gun laws are great comparing to region where I am. You have much more choices when it comes to owning a weapon and practicing with it. Use that.

And do not forget that using a weapon in a real life situation is not like shooting at beer bottles with your friends after a barbecue. In real life you might be in a situation to use a weapon while you are tired, dirty, and hungry and while someone is screaming next to you. It is going to be maybe when you are not ready to do that, maybe in pitch dark, maybe after you have been awake for 48 hours. At least think about that.

"When should you use violence?" Contrary to some popular beliefs in the prepper community, the point is to use violence only as a last solution. The reason is as I mentioned already, the risk that you can be hurt or killed too, but also once you do violence you change your own rules, or push it more forward, and it is easy to get lost in violence. There are consequences to that, and you are not going to be the same person ever again.

Violence is a tool, not a toy. You need to know how to use it as best as possible, but also to avoid using it when it is not necessary. It is a good idea to set up a clear set of rules (mentally too) when you are gonna use violence and to try to stick to it. For example you will use weapon if someone tries to break your home and attack you, and you need to be ready to do that without hesitation.

"What else should we know about post-collapse violence?" Think with your head and research. One thing that is absolutely important when it comes to understanding how violent it is going to be and what can you expect in your own case of SHTF, is to understand how much media can influence people in making their decisions about violence.

In my case, the media built up situation where people feared so much from other people that they actually hated them. They hated them so much that they actually strip them down from humanity. In a real-life example, it works in a way that people killed other people, including kids and women, because they hated them so much because media told them.

It may look ridiculous and not possible to you, and you might again think “that can not happen here” but please trust your own resources, look for independent information, not mainstream media, in order to get the right information about what is really happening in the beginning of collapse. Do not be pulled into “popular opinion” just because the “man from TV” (whoever he might be) told you so. It is easier today. Because of the internet, you have much more choices for correct information than in my time. But still be careful, you might find yourself rioting together with 500 people just because you trusted some media."

"More information about Selco: Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today. He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations like Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months. Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world."
Read more of Selco’s articles here: 

"Reality Avoidance"

"Reality Avoidance"
by Morris Berman

"It’s quite amazing how the news is endlessly about race, or gender, or very little that has anything to do with reality, which the Mainstream Media and the American people avoid like the plague. What then is real?

1. The empire is in decline; every day, life here gets a little bit worse; all our institutions are corrupt to varying degrees; and there is no turning this situation around.

2. A crucial factor in this decline and irreversibility is the low level of intelligence of the American people. Americans are not only dumb; they are positively antagonistic toward the life of the mind.

3. Relations of power and money determine practically everything. The 3 wealthiest Americans own as much as the bottom 50% of the population, and this tendency will get worse over time.

4. The value system of the country, and its citizens, is fundamentally wrong-headed. It amounts to little more than hustling, selfishness, narcissism, and a blatant disregard for anyone but oneself. There is a kind of cruelty, or violence, deep in the American soul; many foreign observers and writers have commented on this. Americans are bitter, depressed, and angry, and the country offers very little by way of community or empathy.

5. Along with this is the support of meaningless wars and imperial adventures on the part of most of the population. That we drone-murder unarmed civilians on a weekly basis is barely on the radar screen of the American mind. In essence, the nation has evolved into a genocidal war machine run by a plutocracy and cheered on by mindless millions.

Most Americans hide from these depressing, even horrific, realities by what passes for ‘the news’, but also by means of alcohol, opioids, TV, cellphones, suicide, prescription drugs, workaholism, and spectator sports, to name but a few. This stuffing of the Void is probably our primary activity. In a word, we are eating ourselves alive, and only a tiny fraction of the population recognizes this."

The Poet: Arthur O’Shaughnessy"Music and Moonlight"

"Music and Moonlight"

"We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone seabreakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems…
We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Ninevah with our sighing,
And Babel itself in our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth."

- Arthur O’Shaughnessy

The Daily "Near You?"

El Tejo, Cantabria, Spain. Thanks for stopping by!

“Sigmund Wollman’s Reality Test”

“Sigmund Wollman’s Reality Test”
Robert Fulghum
“In the summer of 1959, at the Feather River Inn near the town of Blairsden in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of northern California. A resort environment. And I, just out of college, have a job that combines being the night desk clerk in the lodge and helping out with the horse-wrangling at the stables. The owner/manager is Italian-Swiss, with European notions about conditions of employment. He and I do not get along. I think he’s a fascist who wants pleasant employees who know their place, and he thinks I’m a good example of how democracy can be carried too far. I’m twenty-two and pretty free with my opinions, and he’s fifty-two and has a few opinions of his own. One week the employees had been served the same thing for lunch every single day. Two wieners, a mound of sauerkraut, and stale rolls. To compound insult with injury, the cost of meals was deducted from our check. I was outraged.

 On Friday night of that awful week, I was at my desk job around 11:00 P.M., and the night auditor had just come on duty. I went into the kitchen to get a bite to eat and saw notes to the chef to the effect that wieners and sauerkraut are on the employee menu for two more days.

That tears it. I quit! For lack of a better audience, I unloaded on the night auditor, Sigmund Wollman.

I declared that I have had it up to here; that I am going to get a plate of wieners and sauerkraut and go and wake up the owner and throw it on him.

I am sick and tired of this crap and insulted and nobody is going to make me eat wieners and sauerkraut for a whole week and make me pay for it and who does he think he is anyhow and how can life be sustained on wieners and sauerkraut and this is un-American and I don’t like wieners and sauerkraut enough to eat it one day for God’s sake and the whole hotel stinks anyhow and the horses are all nags and the guests are all idiots and I’m packing my bags and heading for Montana where they never even heard of wieners and sauerkraut and wouldn’t feed that stuff to the pigs. Something like that. I’m still mad about it.

I raved on this way for twenty minutes, and needn’t repeat it all here. You get the drift. My monologue was delivered at the top of my lungs, punctuated by blows on the front desk with a fly-swatter, the kicking of chairs, and much profanity. A call to arms, freedom, unions, uprisings, and the breaking of chains for the working masses.

As I pitched my fit, Sigmund Wollman, the night auditor, sat quietly on his stool, smoking a cigarette, watching me with sorrowful eyes. Put a bloodhound in a suit and tie and you have Sigmund Wollman. He’s got good reason to look sorrowful. Survivor of Auschwitz. Three years. German Jew. Thin, coughed a lot. He liked being alone at the night job – gave him intellectual space, gave him peace and quiet, and, even more, he could go into the kitchen and have a snack whenever he wanted to – all the wieners and sauerkraut he wanted. To him, a feast. More than that, there’s nobody around at night to tell him what to do. In Auschwitz he dreamed of such a time. The only person he sees at work is me, the nightly disturber of his dream. Our shifts overlap for an hour. And here I am again. A one-man war party at full cry.

“Fulchum, are you finished?”

“No. Why?”

"Lissen, Fulchum. Lissen me, lissen me. You know what’s wrong with you? It’s not wieners and kraut and it’s not the boss and it’s not the chef and it’s not this job.”

“So what’s wrong with me?”

“Fulchum, you think you know everything, but you don’t know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire – then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. Learn to separate the inconveniences from the real problems. You will live longer. And will not annoy people like me so much. Good night.” In a gesture combining dismissal and blessing, he waved me off to bed.

Seldom in my life have I been hit between the eyes with a truth so hard. Years later I heard a Japanese Zen Buddhist priest describe what the moment of enlightenment was like and I knew exactly what he meant. There in that late-night darkness of the Feather River Inn, Sigmund Wollman simultaneously kicked my butt and opened a window in my mind.

For thirty years now, in times of stress and strain, when something has me backed against the wall and I’m ready to do something really stupid with my anger, a sorrowful face appears in my mind and asks: “Fulchum. Problem or inconvenience?” I think of this as the Wollman Test of Reality. Life is lumpy. And a lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not the same lump. One should learn the difference. Good night, Sig.”

"How It Really Is"


"Covid-19 Pandemic Updates 1/2/21"

"Covid-19 Pandemic Updates 1/2/21"
 Jan. 2 2021 12:09 AM ET: 
The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 83,948,500 
people, according to official counts, including 20,173,382 Americans.
At least 1,826,600 have died.

"The COVID Tracking Project"
Every day, our volunteers compile the latest numbers on tests, cases, 
hospitalizations, and patient outcomes from every US state and territory.

"Helpless People"

“The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident 
which everybody had decided not to see." 
~ Ayn Rand

“Almost all Americans have had an intense school experience which occupied their entire youth, an experience during which they were drilled thoroughly in the culture and economy of the well-schooled greater society, in which individuals have been rendered helpless to do much of anything except watch television or punch buttons on a keypad.

Before you begin to blame the childish for being that way and join the chorus of those defending the general imprisonment of adults and the schooling by force of children because there isn’t any other way to handle the mob, you want to at least consider the possibility that we’ve been trained in childishness and helplessness for a reason. And that reason is that helpless people are easy to manage.

Helpless people can be counted upon to act as their own jailers because they are so inadequate to complex reality they are afraid of new experience. They’re like animals whose spirits have been broken. Helpless people take orders well, they don’t have minds of their own, they are predictable, they won’t surprise corporations or governments with resistance to the newest product craze, the newest genetic patent - or by armed revolution. Helpless people can be counted on to despise independent citizens and hence they act as a fifth column in opposition to social change in the direction of personal sovereignty.”
- John Taylor Gatto,
Related, highly recommended:
Big Brother & The Holding Company, 
"Heartache People"

Friday, January 1, 2021

Must Watch! “My Eye Opening First Day Of 2021; Take Advantage Of Your Time; Americans Can't Stop Spending Money”

Jeremiah Babe,
My Eye Opening First Day Of 2021;
 Take Advantage Of Your Time; Americans Can't Stop Spending Money
Full screen highly recommended, in absolute contempt and disgust.

"The End Game: Prepare For Economic Collapse 2021 Apocalyptic Market Crash!"

"The End Game: Prepare For 
Economic Collapse 2021 Apocalyptic Market Crash!"
by Epic Economist

"Today, we are leaving a year of economic collapse events. We are about to witness the downfall of society as we know it and the rise of a new reality. The collapse of the United States economy will have several more chapters and we'll be here reporting every one of them. In today's video, we decided to bring economic experts' insights on how the end game will be played. So be ready for the next apocalyptic stock market crash and the collapse of America. 

In a recent publishing, the award-winning global macro asset management firm Crescat posted a letter to investors written by the founder and CIO Kevin C. Smith, and partner and portfolio manager Tavi Costa describing how markets are expected to perform over the next phases of the collapse and outlining how policymakers have set our economy for its greatest demise. The strategists point out that markets are cyclical, and currently, while stocks trade at record high valuations commodities are historically undervalued. That's the set up for a major change in the performance of both asset classes. As they presented in this chart, similar conditions were seen during the 1972 Nifty Fifty and 2000 Dotcom bubbles. 

As capital tends to move towards the highest growth and lowest valuation opportunities, investors are expected to rotate or completely move away their assets from expensive deflation-era growth equities and fixed income securities and head towards cheap hard assets, ultimately reversing the 30-year downward trend of money velocity. Our current system based on Modern Monetary Theory and its two-fold and monetary stimulus is colliding head to head with an accumulation of years of reduced investments in the basic industries such as materials, energy, and agriculture. That's why, according to their analysis, the "end game" for both of the Fed's asset bubbles in stocks is inflation. And it has already arrived on the commodity front. 

For that reason, Smith and Costa advise that investors should turn to hard assets such as gold and silver to protect their wealth. The monetary metals are amongst the most scarce resources on the planet, however, they have been facing a fresh surge of investor demand. By scrutinizing the supply conditions, the precious metals have been in the disinflationary zone since the precious metals mining industry’s latest peak in 2011, when gold and silver miners started to be criticized by investors as being capital destroyers. As a consequence, the industry's spending patterns have completely changed over the past decade. Major companies have purposely underinvested in replacing their reserves to create a supply cliff for the industry while also significantly boosting free cash flow.

Another key driver for the upsurge in gold prices in terms of demand is the falling real interest rates, which, according to the experts, are a combined reflection of central bank interest rate suppression tactics and investors’ rising inflation expectations. The lastest plunge lower in real yields, which is being shown inverted in the chart, was different from the price of gold - a clear signal of a strong imminent upward trend for the metal once again.

Overall, the outlook for gold is connected with the major imbalances we are seeing in the U.S. economy right now. The Federal Reserve's ability to prevent inflation is severely impaired at this point. Instead, it has actually become the main funding mechanism to it through its monumental purchases of US Treasuries, allowing the US government to run a large fiscal deficit. In reality, the Fed has no independence in the matter whatsoever. It has to keep funding the government’s fiscal stimulus programs as the lender of last resort. And as we learned with the repo crisis, liquidity can also be necessary in the short-run to avoid the collapse of the equity and corporate bond markets, but only to a certain extent - not at all as a firehose inside the markets as we are witnessing right now, because, in turn, it pushes commodity prices up and unleashes a massive real-world inflation. That's the direct byproduct of the newly printed money, and it is the killer of record overvalued financial assets. In other words, even if everything else fails to spark an apocalyptic stock market crash - which seems highly unlikely since our economy is already shaking to the core - inflation most definitely will. And that's, my dear viewers, is how the game ends with a major economic collapse and a new one era begins."

Musical Interlude: Herb Ernst, "Awakening Stars"

Herb Ernst, "Awakening Stars"

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Braided, serpentine filaments of glowing gas suggest this nebula's popular name, The Medusa Nebula. Also known as Abell 21, this Medusa is an old planetary nebula some 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Gemini. Like its mythological namesake, the nebula is associated with a dramatic transformation.

The planetary nebula phase represents a final stage in the evolution of low mass stars like the sun, as they transform themselves from red giants to hot white dwarf stars and in the process shrug off their outer layers. Ultraviolet radiation from the hot star powers the nebular glow. The Medusa's transforming star is near the center of the overall bright crescent shape. In this deep telescopic view, fainter filaments clearly extend below and to the left of the bright crescent region. The Medusa Nebula is estimated to be over 4 light-years across.”

The Poet: Mary Oliver, "One"


"The mosquito is so small
it takes almost nothing to ruin it.
Each leaf, the same.
And the black ant, hurrying.
So many lives, so many fortunes!
Every morning, I walk softly and with forward glances
down to the ponds and through the pinewoods.
Mushrooms, even, have but a brief hour
before the slug creeps to the feast,
before the pine needles hustle down
under the bundles of harsh, beneficent rain.

How many, how many, how many
make up a world!
And then I think of that old idea: the singular
and the eternal.
One cup, in which everything is swirled
back to the color of the sea and sky.
Imagine it!

A shining cup, surely!
In the moment in which there is no wind
over your shoulder,
you stare down into it,
and there you are,
your own darling face, your own eyes.
And then the wind, not thinking of you, just passes by,
touching the ant, the mosquito, the leaf,
and you know what else!
How blue is the sea, how blue is the sky,
how blue and tiny and redeemable everything is, even you,
even your eyes, even your imagination."

~ Mary Oliver

"Today Is The Day..."

"We are fast moving into something, we are fast flung into something like asteroids cast into space by the death of a planet, we the people of earth are cast into space like burning asteroids and if we wish not to disintegrate into nothingness we must begin to now hold onto only the things that matter while letting go of all that doesn't. For when all of our dust and ice deteriorates into the cosmos we will be left only with ourselves and nothing else. So if you want to be there in the end, today is the day to start holding onto your children, holding onto your loved ones; onto those who share your soul. Harbor and anchor into your heart justice, truth, courage, bravery, belief, a firm vision, a steadfast and sound mind. Be the person of meaningful and valuable thoughts. Don't look to the left, don't look to the right; we simply don't have the time. Never be afraid of fear."
- C. JoyBell C.

The Daily "Near You?"

Northwood, Ohio, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"No Special Hurry..."

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”
- Ernest Hemingway, “A Farewell To Arms”


“Maybe we’re not supposed to be happy. Maybe gratitude has nothing to do with joy. Maybe being grateful means recognizing what you have for what it is. Appreciating small victories. Admiring the struggle it takes to simply be a human. Maybe, we’re thankful for the familiar things we know. And maybe, we’re thankful for the things we’ll never know. At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.”
- “Grey’s Anatomy”

Greg Hunter, "Weekly News Wrap-Up 1/1/21"

"Weekly News Wrap-Up 1/1/21"
by Greg Hunter’s

"More this week on the 2020 election fraud, this time in Georgia, and, yes, there was more proof and lots of it.  We find that Georgia voting machines were sending information to China, ballots were being shredded and people were caught on camera running the same stacks of  ballots through the counting machines three and four times. If that’s not election fraud, I don’t know what is. As more and more fraud is exposed, the cover-up grows more and more desperate.  More than just voter fraud is being revealed, and it looks like treason and sedition.

The Marxists on the Left would like you to think the election is over and everybody will just have to choke down the massive fraud. After all, the Deep State globalist Democrats cheated Joe and others in fair and square - right? The fight is far from over, and each revelation of more fraud and crime destroys the myth that Joe Biden actually won. Keep your faith because this fight is far from over. Biden lost in a landslide, the massive fraud just covered it up.

Gold and silver are up for the year, and Bitcoin is way up. What is going on? Is this the year the dollar falls and falls big time because of all the money printing and election chaos? The U.S. dollar is already off more than 5% since Election Day. Will the plunge intensify in 2021?

Have a Happy New Year, and please continue to “Fear Not.” They want you to be afraid - Don’t Be!!"

Join Greg Hunter of as he 
talks about the year ahead in the Weekly News Wrap-Up.

"How It Really Is"


"2021 Can't Be Any Worse, Can It?"

"2021 Can't Be Any Worse, Can It?"
by Michael Reagan

"What a difference a terrible year makes. Last year at this time, my wife, Colleen the travel agent, and I were getting ready to take 40 of her clients on a 15-day cruise out of Dubai to India and back. This year, thanks to the COVID-19 virus and the strict lockdowns imposed to fight it, the world's travel industry barely exists and Colleen and I will be spending January under house arrest.

Unfortunately, house arrest has become the new normal for 40 million Californians. We've been locked down, masked up and ordered to stay in our basements for so long by Gov. Gavin Newsom that many of us have forgotten what freedom feels like or what it's like to simply eat in a restaurant.

The news is filled with stories of people and businesses leaving this state in droves because it has become so unlivable in so many ways. Californians who can afford it are moving to red states like Arizona, Texas and Florida, where taxes are lower, homes are cheaper and governors are not nannies and wannabe dictators. Life in Los Angeles is especially unpleasant, which is why I've rented an escape house for my family two hours away in the sleepy Santa Ynez Valley.

Most of L.A's 10 million people are not so lucky. They're stuck living 24/7 in a locked down city with tens of thousands of homeless people and drug addicts living under overpasses and on the sidewalks. But many well-to-do citizens are buying second homes outside the city in places like Palm Springs, Desert Springs and up here in the Santa Ynez Valley.

My friends here in Santa Ynez tell me the local real estate market is on fire. Houses sell in a day. One real estate guy predicts home prices will double in two years. Ditto for homes in Palm Springs and other places close enough to L.A. for people to commute to but far enough away to escape the slow-motion destruction of a great city. Life has gotten so depressing in L.A. that a friend of mine flew five hours to Miami just so he could eat dinner inside a restaurant.

That's the kind of madness that 2020 has brought us. Some folks are saying that the COVID-19 vaccines will let people go back to normal in 2021. But based on what our future pessimist-in-chief Joe Biden has been saying, I don't think that's going to happen. Listening to his dark speeches about the sad state of the union, how it's only going to get worse and what dumb things he plans to do about it is like listening to Jimmy Carter squared. Carter had his problems in the late 1970s with a high Misery Index, which was a way to gauge the economic conditions of the average American based on the inflation rate plus the unemployment rate.

But the future Biden is talking about will be Total Misery for all Americans. He's saying we won't get the vaccines to enough people, and even if we do, we're still going to be living in a masked and locked down country that resembles 2020 California, not 2019 California.

Pessimism like that from a U.S. president is not normal - or healthy for the country. You may hate President Trump for a lot of reasons, but you can never fault him for not being optimistic and upbeat. Other presidents - most recently my father, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama - looked on the bright and hopeful side of things. Biden is the opposite. He looks on the dark side, the Jimmy Carter side. He and the liberal media sing the same grim tune - that things are bad and they're going to be bad in the future, maybe forever.

On Jan. 20 we're going to lose the only guy in Washington who was consistently optimistic in 2020, one of the most horrible years in our history. I'm an optimist and I used to think 2021 couldn't be any worse than 2020. But with Biden and his crew about to take charge of our lives, now I'm not so sure."

"Covid-19 Pandemic Updates 1/1/21"

"Covid-19 Pandemic Updates 1/1/21"
 Jan. 1, 2021 2:07 PM ET: 
The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 83,755,900 
people, according to official counts, including 20,116,278 Americans.
At least 1,823,000 have died.

"The COVID Tracking Project"
Every day, our volunteers compile the latest numbers on tests, cases, 
hospitalizations, and patient outcomes from every US state and territory.


"Words ought to be a little wild, for they
 are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking."
- John Maynard Keynes

"Forecast 2021 — Chinese Fire Drills with a Side of French Fries (Jacobin-style) and Russian Dressing"

"Forecast 2021 - Chinese Fire Drills with a Side of 
French Fries (Jacobin-style) and Russian Dressing"
by Jim Kunstler

"As I write, the presidential election is still not resolved, with dramatic events potentially unfolding in the first days of the New Year. I’m not convinced that Mr. Trump is in as weak a position as the news media has made him out to be in these post-election months of political fog and noise. The January 6 meet-up of the Senate and House to confirm the electoral college votes may yet propel matters into a constitutional Lost World of political monsterdom. The tension is building. This week’s public demonstration by one Jovan Hutton Pulitzer of the easy real-time hackability of Dominion Voting Systems sure threw the Georgia lawmakers for a loop, and that demo may send reverberations into next Wednesday’s DC showdown.

There may be some other eleventh-hour surprises coming from the Trump side of the playing field. As I averred Monday, we still haven’t heard anything from DNI Ratcliffe, and you can be sure he’s sitting on something, perhaps something explosive, say, evidence of CIA meddling in the election. There have been ominous hints of something screwy in Langley for weeks. The Defense Dept., under Secretary Miller, took over all the CIA’s field operational functions before Christmas — “No more black ops for you!” That was a big deal. There were rumors of CIA Director Gina Haspel being in some manner detained, deposed and…talking of dark deeds. She was, after all, the CIA’s London station-chief during the time that some of the worst RussiaGate shenanigans took place there involving the international men-of-mystery, Stefan Halper, Josepf Mifsud, and Christopher Steele. Mr. Ratcliffe seemed to be fighting with the CIA in the weeks following the election over their slow-walking documents he had demanded.

What else does Mr. Trump know about this rumored inter-agency feud? Or a number of other fraught matters surrounding the election, and also questions concerning the harassment he suffered from the four-year rolling coup run by his Deep State antagonists (many of them CIA). What does he know of China’s infiltration into our national affairs, of which the Biden Family’s business deals with CCP-connected companies is only one piece? Or of China’s relationship with Dominion systems - China is rumored to have acquired a 75-percent interest in the company as recently as October.

In any case, the president cut short his holiday break in Florida before New Years Eve to fly back to Washington. The company line is that he wants to exhaust all the prescribed legal procedures to contest the November 3 vote tally. And if none of it avails to correct the outcome, he might move on to… something else. If even the so-far publicly revealed evidence of the Biden family’s influence-peddling schemes overseas is true - and the emails and corporate memoranda from Hunter’s laptop seem genuine - then it would be Mr. Trump’s duty to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president. And outside the constitutionally-mandated process in the national legislature, that would leave him some sort of other emergency executive action.

Mr. Trump has called for a gigantic assembly of his supporters on January 6 in Washington. He didn’t call them there to watch him get humiliated. Something is up. You can feel it in the air. I’ll give it a fair chance that Donald Trump is the one with his hand on the bible come January 20. One caveat to all that: 2021 is going to be very rough sledding, with many discomforts, traumas, and things left behind for America. Whoever occupies the Oval Office is going to be buried in trouble. In theory, I would have preferred to see a Democrat left holding that awful bag, if only as payback for all their bad faith and dirty fighting of the past four years. But Mr. Trump is apparently willing to shoulder that burden, and, in such an existential emergency, he’s likely to be a better leader than the corrupt and feckless Ol’ White Joe.

Okay, I’m going to just come right out and splatter a bunch of individual forecast predictions up-front in this lead chapter, and if you’re interested, you can continue on to the finer points and arguments below. I’m grateful for all of you interested readers coming here twice a week, and for those of you who keep this outfit afloat with your Patreon support. A healthy, sane, purposeful, and upright 2021 to you!

A Bill of Particulars for 2021:

• The election is re-adjudicated, fraud subtracted from the tally, and President Trump is declared the winner.

• The mail-in vote for the Georgia Senate seat runoff is disqualified as systematic fraud is revealed. Stacy Abrams is indicted for organizing the fraud.

• A number of political celebrities, DC swamp rats, K-Street hustlers, media figures, and tech company executives are arrested and charged with serious crimes around election fraud.

• The CIA is purged and reduced to a strictly analytical role for advising the executive.

• The FBI is likewise purged; Director Wray is charged with obstruction of Justice.

• Following the reversal of the news media’s election narrative (and the actual election results), Black Lives Matter and Antifa are loosed upon a number of cities and wreak considerable destruction, but eventually get their asses kicked by federal troops. City mayors who allowed the havoc to proceed are arrested, charged with abetting insurrection, and removed from office pending trial.

• Nancy Pelosi replaced as Speaker of the House. Mitch McConnell replaced as Majority Leader.

• US Attorney John Durham brings charges against lawyers involved in the Mueller Investigation, including Andrew Weissmann, Aaron Zebly, Brandon Van Grack and Jeanie Rhee. Mr. Mueller is named as an unindicted co-conspirator due to mental incompetence.

• A special Prosecutor is named to investigate the Biden family business operations; indictments follow late 2021.

• Stock market enters long, deep asset value deflation through first and second quarters and bottom-bounces the rest of the year. S & P falls to 550 range; DJI under 10,000; Nasdaq under 3000.

• The dollar DXY index falls under 80 by 2nd quarter, 60 at year end.

• US GDP down by 40-percent year end 2021.

• US oil production (minus natural gas liquids) down by 40-percent, year-end 2021.

• Banking system thrown into disarray due to non-payment of rents and mortgages. Federal government intervenes with direct renter relief payments. Home owners in default are allowed to remain in their houses on provisional basis (which is never reconciled).

• Bubonic plague outbreak among homeless of Los Angeles as rats proliferate in their encampments.

• Pension funds collapse as broken chain of rent-and-mortgage payments destroy Real Estate Investment Trusts.

• Federal government forced to organize massive food giveaway programs.

• Millions enrolled in make-work projects a la the New Deal (some of them of value).

• New York City forced to curtail subway service to bare minimum as money runs out.

• California Governor Gavin Newsom recalled out of office.

• George Soros and several directors of Soros-funded NGOs charged with racketeering and election campaign finance crimes.

• General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford are back seeking bankruptcy protection. This time, their assets are sold and reorganized into smaller companies. No bailouts.

• Covid virus fades from the scene by 3rd quarter, but economic carnage remains. Huge amount of restaurant equipment sold for dimes on the dollar.

• Bitcoin “Hodlers” becoming Bitcoin “Sodlers” as cryptos tank.

• “Woke” hysteria evaporates as Americans struggle with desperate reality-based problems of everyday life.

• Collapse of higher education begins in earnest as college loan racket implodes. Scores of colleges and even some universities shutter; others shrink drastically in desperate effort to carry on.

• Hollywood celebrities apologize en masse for past “Woke” behavior, beg forgiveness from cancel victims and fans. Nevertheless, collapse of the movie industry continues as, post-Covid, Americans desperately seek the company of other people instead of canned entertainments, which they have grown sick of.

• Professional sports collapse as business model fails. Impoverished Americans start-up low-cost, local baseball and football leagues.

• Twitter and Faceback become public utilities.

The Covid Crisis and Economic Meltdown:  I won’t have a whole lot to say about the Covid-19 virus that others have probably analyzed better elsewhere, so I’ll make it short. In the fog of pandemic, it’s hard to know who or what to believe. The outbreak in early 2020 induced similar official responses and social changes in many other nations, raising the question: did the whole world get played? If so, it was quite a stunt. Was it intended as a cover to enable the much blabbed-about “Great Reset?” More on that below.

One big mystery is how, in China, the disease seemed mostly contained within Wuhan and its Hubei province, and how rapidly that country got over it compared to so many other places around the world where the illness lingered and got a second wind in the fall. All that said, it’s apparent that, in America, the virus was gamed opportunistically by the Resistance and its news media handmaidens, first to make Mr. Trump look as bad as possible, then to promote the mail-in ballot scheme that led to a fraud-riddled election.

Much of the confusion about the disease itself - ventilators or not… masks or no masks… hydroxychloroquine or not… lockdowns or not - ended up damaging the authority of the medical and scientific experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx, Surgeon General Adams, the NIH and the FDA, and is still not settled to many people’s satisfaction. And, as if we didn’t already have a big enough problem with failing institutional authority, that scientific failure added to our already acute cultural corrosion. I’m suspicious of the statistics regarding true case numbers and the official spinning of Covid-19 deaths actually from other causes, as well as the tests that produced so many false conclusions. It seems pretty obvious in these tense weeks post-election that The New York Times, CNN, and other media have worked to ramp up the Covid hysteria to distract the public from emerging news about the contested election.

What’s quite clear about the whole Covid-19 episode to date is how badly the states’ government response harmed the small businesses of America that make up at least 40 percent of the economy. According to Bloomberg News, more than 110,000 restaurants shut down, 17 percent of them permanently out-of-business, surely with more to come with the winter lockdowns. More than three million employees lost their jobs in that industry alone. Data from the University of California Santa Cruz indicates that nearly 317,000 small businesses closed between February and September, 60 percent for good.

The nation’s economic affairs were in considerable disorder before the Covid-19 virus threw things into more desperate disarray. Decades of off-shoring industry decimated the working class. In much of Flyover Country, the working class has been reduced to a demoralized idle-and-addicted class with a strikingly high suicide rate, especially for men. The situation only improved marginally under President Trump, who, after all, was bucking practically all of corporate America, which liked the benefits of off-shoring just fine.

I believe that working class will return to laboring, and not in the giant American factories of the kind we had in the 1960s, but because the government social safety nets will be running out of financial mojo in the coming decade. So, they will have no choice but to labor - at the same time that many automated activities we’ve enjoyed will not be running much longer. A lot of that automation has been applied, for instance, in agriculture, where one person could plow or harvest hundreds of acres a day riding in the air-conditioned cab of a multi-million-dollar rig guided by GPS, allowing the driver to watch movies while he “worked.” Well, that agri-business model is about to fail. The scale is all wrong and the capital requirements are too exorbitant. Bottom line: many idle working-class folk have a future in agricultural work. They don’t know it yet. Expect, also, more opportunities as household servants as American society becomes more distinctly hierarchical, and in more fine-grained strata than merely the rich and the poor. Far from being an evil outcome, consider how important to human psychology it is to have a place in this world, both in terms of purpose and a physical place to call home. And, anyway, how wonderful is the former working-class’s current plight as drug-addled, often homeless, and suicidal? Would you want things to stay that way, or can you imagine new social arrangements to meet new economic realities?

The consolidation of commerce into a few giant companies such as Walmart, Target, Amazon had reached a deadly and tragic pitch before Covid-19, destroying all lesser organisms in the business ecosystem, and thousands of local Main Streets in the process. With the Covid lockdowns, the big boxes were somehow exempted from closure. Though they seem to be triumphing for the moment, these giant national chain merchandising outfits are in their sunset phase headed for twilight. As I’ll surely state again in this forecast, the macro-trend is for downscaling and re-localizing in everything, all activities. The chain-stores and big boxes depend on systems and arrangements that won’t persist, for instance, the long supply lines from the factories of Asia. The end of mass motoring will also prove problematical for commerce at the giant scale smeared all over suburban landscapes. And, of course, Amazon’s business model of home delivery for absolutely anything and everything, was perfectly suited to the Covid-19 crisis - though in the longer term its model will prove fatally flawed, since it depends on trucking every single item to its customers, and the reason will become evident further down.

The catastrophic failure of so much small business in America through 2020 will provide the seeds for a rebirth of small businesses when the giants fall. A lot of equipment will be available at dimes on the dollar. Rents will be cheap. Enterprising people will have to be careful about where they decide to set up for new businesses: better Main Street than out on some empty strip-mall. Consolidation will be working in a different way - not to make companies bigger, but to bring many small businesses closer together in places people can get to without a car (what used to be known as a business district or downtown or Main Street). America is not going to need nearly as much shopping infrastructure as we had before 2020, and also not nearly as many restaurants. But we’re going to need some of these things and done in a new way. I can also imagine new businesses that would have been unthinkable a year ago. At some point when Covid-19 exits the scene, people will want to get together with other people very badly. Think about opening a dance hall or a nightclub with live music, even a life performance theater.

The American economy had already entered a zone of dangerous structural fragility before Covid-19 stepped onstage. As Tim Morgan and Gail Tverberg argue so well in their respective blogs, the economy is an energy system that, in the advanced techno-industrial form, depends absolutely on fossil fuels, which have become a problem the past two decades, leading to the present inflection point bringing on de-growth, the onset of a long emergency, and what others call a fourth turning. Same things, really. We’ve entered a state of contraction, and it’s in the nature of large economic organisms to move from contraction to collapse fairly quickly, because the complex interconnections in their systems ramify and amplify each other’s failures. The virus has made it all worse, and faster.

Oil: Hardly anyone paid any attention to the oil story this year with all the frightful distractions of Covid-19, the economic havoc of lockdowns, and the janky election. The oil story is probably more important than any other single factor in the current situation, and is largely responsible for America’s economic mess. Everything in the USA runs on oil and our business model for doing that is broken. De-growth changes everything.

From 2000 to 2008, we were on a downward slide with our conventional oil supply - the kind of oil where you just drill a pipe into the ground and the oil flows out, or, at worst, gets sucked out by a pump-jack - all-in-all, a simple procedure. In 2008, total US oil production was under 5-million barrels-a-day, down from the old production peak of just under 10-milliion b/d in 1970. And of course, our consumption kept going up to about 20-million b/d by 2008. So, we were importing most of our oil then.

That created terrible problems for our balance-of-payments in international trade, but we fudged that by pretending for decades that deficits don’t matter, as Veep Dick Cheney famously put it. The result, via the recondite and pernicious operations of financialization - that is, replacing a production economy with one based on the sheer manipulation of money and its derivatives - was the 2008-9 Great Financial Crisis. The GFC was presaged in the summer of 2008 by the price of a barrel of oil reaching just under $150 - which badly strained what remained of real productive industry. The dynamic in play induced political authorities to quit regulating wild misconduct in finance and banking, as they attempted to replace productive industry with money games. These malfeasances played out most vividly in real estate and the “innovative” securitized mortgage bonds that were gamed to a fare-the-well by the banks. The abstruse crimes have been chronicled widely elsewhere (e.g., my 2012 book "Too Much Magic"). But consider, also, that all the mortgage fraud of the early 2000s was based on the last gasp of the suburban expansion, and understand that suburbia was entirely at the mercy of mass motoring, which depended on affordable oil.

So, oil shot up to just under $150, the economy wobbled, the banks and the automobile companies had to be bailed out and central bank interventions became normalized, including zero interest Federal Reserve policy, a desperate legerdemain to keep up the appearance of a sound economic-financial gestalt. And that led to the “shale oil miracle.”

It was more a stunt than a miracle, really. First, you had this suite of techniques that could be employed to goose the last bit of oil from otherwise unproductive source rock. These included computerized horizontal drilling and the injection of fluids plus chemicals to fracture the impermeable rock and release the oil. This was “fracking.” It was not new but had not been scaled up into a major activity while the easier pickings were good. It was way different from the old simple method of drilling a pipe in the ground and letting it flow out of permeable rock. The old simple method cost about a half million dollars (in current dollars) per well to drill and start the oil flowing. Shale oil, with all its complications, cost between $6-12 million per well. The old 1960s conventional oil wells produced thousands of barrels a day for decades. The new shale wells produced maybe 100-odd barrels a day for the first year and they were done after four years. The depletion rate was horrendous.

Shale oil was made possible by the Federal Reserve’s ultra-low-interest, easy lending policies. They made a lot of cheap capital available, and hundreds of billions migrated to the new shale oil plays in expectation that they would produce excellent steady revenues. Big institutional investors like pension funds and insurance companies especially were looking for reliable revenue with bond interest rates so low due to Fed policy. They thought they’d be swimming in shale oil company dividends and revenue streams from loans to shale drillers that paid better than US treasury bonds. One thing for sure, they thought: America wasn’t going to stop needing lots of oil. So, shale oil seemed like a sure thing. Except that after a few years, it turned out that nobody was making any money producing shale oil.

It just cost so damn much to get that stuff out of the ground. And the depletion rate was so savage that you had to drill and re-drill incessantly. And what was worse, the economy had evolved to the stage where there was no sweet spot for oil prices. Oil over $75 destroyed the business model for productive industrial activities that relied on cheap oil; while oil under $75 destroyed oil companies because they couldn’t make a profit at the well head. The melodrama played out over ten years through several rounds of Fed Quantitative Easing (money creation from nowhere) and relentless run-ups of government deficits. The oil companies themselves were caught in a “Red Queen syndrome” (ref.: "Alice Through the Looking Glass") in which they were producing as much and as fast as they could just to keep up their cash flow to make loan repayments, without generating any profits - and quite a few companies couldn’t even keep up with their loan repayments, so shale was a total bust for them and they went bankrupt. It all came to a head in early 2020.

Just before the Covid-19 virus hit, shale oil production stood at over 9 million barrels a day, with another roughly 4 million from conventional oil, offshore oil, and natural gas liquids, for a grand total of nearly 13 million barrels a day in US oil production, a new record! That was 3 million b/d higher than the previous peak of 1970, at just under 10 million b/d. Quite a feat! Added to that was just under 5 million b/d in natural gas liquids. Daily US consumption was around 20 million b/d heading into 2020. It fell briefly during the initial Covid panic to around 15 million b/d and bounced back a little to around 18 million b/d in the fall of 2020. So, production appeared to be basically equal to our consumption.

However, the quality of the oil skewed the equation of “oil independence.” Shale oil tended to be ultra-light oil, composed mostly of gasoline-grade distillates. Fine, America uses a lot of gasoline because we drive everywhere and incessantly so. The trouble is, shale oil contains little of the crucial heavier distillates: diesel fuel, which the trucking industry and heavy machinery depends on, aviation fuel (basically kerosene), and bunker fuel, a heavy oil fuel for home heating and ships’ engines. Neither did those nearly 5 million barrels a day of natural gas liquids, which were really only used for cutting heavy oil, which was mostly what the USA did not produce and was not well-equipped to refine. The bottom line was that the US had to swap a lot of gasoline to other countries to get heavier distillates to keep the economy going. It worked, but it was awkward and involved a tremendous amount of transport. So, America’s oil situation coming out of 2019 was superficially stabile but fragile.

But entering 2020, shale oil production was in collapse. The lack of profitability finally caught up with the industry. Investors finally noticed that the shale oil producers couldn’t make money. At one flukey point in the Covid-19 spring of 2020, the oil markets became so disordered by collapsing demand that oil on the futures market cratered to a surreal negative-$40 a barrel. It soon corrected to the positive-$30-40 range, which was not nearly enough for the shale oil business to turn a profit. Consequently, the companies could not get new financing to continue their “Red Queen” operations, and without new financing they could not keep up cash flow… and they crapped out. Thirty-six producers filed for bankruptcy in 2020, including Chesapeake, Oasis, Lonestar, Ultra, Whiting, and Chaparral. Oil field service companies that are subcontracted to perform the drilling and fracking have also gone bust.

Shale oil production fell by roughly 2.7 million b/d from March to May 2020, recovered a little at mid-year and stumbled again with the winter wave of the virus. Oil analyst Steve St. Angelo predicts that total US oil production (shale and everything else) will fall to between 9.5 and 10 million b/d in 2021, which would put us back to 1970 levels when the nation’s population was just 205 million (compared to 330+ million today). So, that’s a lot less oil-per-capita, to view it from another angle. Independent oil analyst Art Berman is predicting a more severe production crash by midyear 2021 to roughly half what it was at year-end 2019. Nafeez Ahmed, Director Institute for Policy Research & Development, is simply calling this the end of the oil age. Ahmed says it “will begin over the next 30 years, and continue through to the next century.”

I believe it will go down much quicker than that because falling production is so destructive to the business model of industrial society that it will induce gross economic, social, and political disorder. All that disorder will generate self-reinforcing feedback loops making a return to previous levels of comfort, convenience, prosperity, and order much less likely. The net effect will be a much lower standard-of-living among formerly “advanced” nations, and also falling populations. We’re just experiencing the beginning of that process with the destruction of America’s middle-class. It is the essence of the long emergency. We just can’t tell right now how far down these dynamics will drive us, and how fast. 2021 is likely to manifest intense disorder in the USA as people reel from the loss of small businesses, economic conditions deteriorate further, and political grievance gets amped up by institutional failure to resolve, or even address, our many problems and quandaries.

As for transitioning into a “sustainable economy” powered by “renewables” such as solar and wind power, that just ain’t going to happen - unless you’re talking about oxen and firewood, and a human population about ten percent of what the planet currently carries. All our fantasies about a high-tech utopia driven by wind and sun depend on a fossil fuel economy to produce the hardware for it and then the replacement parts for the hardware, ad infinitum. It’s not worth going into it further here, but if you want to see more elaborate arguments, they’re in my recent book "Living in the Long Emergency" (BenBella Books, 2020).

The So-called Great Reset: Life in the USA, and other “advanced” nations will reset, but not in the way that most people blabbering about “the Great Reset” think or say it will.

Surely, there are groups, gangs, claques, and covens of people in the world who have some consensual agreement about how things might work, and how they would run them to their benefit, in their hypothetical ideal disposition of things. For instance, the so-called “Davos Crowd.” What are they? A convocation of bankers, market movers, politicians, business moguls, tech entrepreneurs, Hollywood catamites, black ops runners, and PR errand boys who have plenty of financial and political mojo in their own realms, but not enough collectively to carry out the kind of global coup that comprises the standard paranoid Great Reset fantasy. That they meet-up in an ultra-luxurious setting out of a James Bond movie every year stokes terrific fascination, envy, anger, and paranoia that they are capable of anything beyond a festival of ass-kissing, mutual self-congratulation, and status-jockeying, which are the actual activities at the Davos meet-up.

For another thing, in the USA, at least, there are too many pissed-off people with small arms, hardened by years of proffered bad faith and dishonesty from the political/media/higher-ed complex, to just bend over and take it up the back-door from a gang of seditious, would-be aristo-totalitarians with lèse-majesté dreams of nostalgie-de-la-boue Marxist redemption. If you have any doubt about how disruptive angry people with small arms and lots of ammo might be to condescending elites, just review the events in the Middle East the past twenty years and imagine those dynamics transferred to Kansas.

What does the “reset” fantasy supposedly include? A “new world order,” a phantasm of a unified world government, which is preposterous because the macro-trend at this moment of history worldwide is the opposite of consolidation and centralization of power, but rather breakup, downscaling, and re-localization. Why? As you saw in the Econ chapter, because the scale, pitch, and range of all our activities must be reduced to survive in the post-industrial conditions of resource and capital scarcity. And it will happen whether we like it or not and despite anybody’s objections.

What else is in the Reset grab-bag? Supposedly a single world currency, also absurd for reasons already stated - unless you are talking about gold and silver, which may eventually become the universally-accepted medium of exchange (and store of value, index of price) if the post-industrial contraction is severe and destructive enough. But fuggeddabowt “digital currencies,” especially in the USA because too many people are “un-banked,” or otherwise depend on cash-money in the informal “gray” economy of just-getting-by (and there will be a lot more of these types as the middle-class gets pounded further down into the mud), plus a large cohort of digitally-capable people just plain ornery about being herded into an IRS surveillance cul-de-sac - and the whole lot of them will fight like hell to prevent government-sponsored crypto-dollars from replacing what used to be considered money. And, if, in the unlikely event that rebellion fails, it’s back to gold and silver by default - and that might literally mean by default.

Now, I grant you that there are fer sure problems with all the major currencies, especially the USA dollar, and they are all liable to become worthless eventually for all the usual and traditional reasons. The US dollar is especially vulnerable since its status as the world’s “reserve” currency - a reliable medium of exchange in global trade - is no longer consistent with the true financial condition of our country, which is morbidly obese with debt that will never be repaid - a terminal case. There will eventually be some kind of default, either the straightforward way, by declaring nonpayment to bond-holders and creditors outright, or by sneakily engineering a hyper-inflation of the money supply to destroy the value of the dollar. If either of those events plays out, the nation will be thrust into serious social and political disorder, blame will get cast, people will get hurt, and it will be a while before the finer points of the social contract get pasted back together - such as any agreement to introduce a “new dollar” of some kind to replace the ruined old one. By then, the old USA may not still be standing intact, and it would be up to states or regions to address the money issue.

I don’t believe it will be settled as a new digital money for reasons outlined above, but also because digital money is utterly dependent on the Internet, which, in turn, is utterly dependent on a reliable electric grid, and both systems are susceptible to going down in the kind of socio-political convulsion that would attend financial collapse. Not only would transactions become impossible, but records of money ownership - “wallets,” or files - could be permanently lost, wiping out fortunes. This obviously includes Bitcoin and things like it. Blockchain is only as strong as the chain, and without the Internet there’s no chain at all. So, again, gold and silver must enter the picture, perhaps backing a paper currency, perhaps circulating as coin.

In the meantime of such a crisis, very little of daily life would come out the other end looking the way it used to in the years prior to 2020. We’ll see a Great Reset, all right, but not some totalitarian gruel dished out to the plebes from the Davos steam-table or any other elite catering service. It will be an emergent, self-organizing phenomenon, from the ground up, in which everyday people will have to improvise new systems at the local level for getting food, arranging for shelter, and creating business activities around their most fundamental needs: food production, transport, trade, manufacturing, energy supplies, medical care, cleaning, building, et cetera.

I’ve been saying for a while that this might amount to “going medieval.” Could be better, could be worse. Well, there it is. There’s your Great Reset for you. Stand by and prepare to scramble.

The Abyss Stares Back: The federal eviction moratorium passed by Congress with the spring 2020 onset of Covid-19 will expire at the end of January as things stand now, placing 30-million renters at risk of losing their dwellings. Another 28-million house-holders have been placed in a mortgage moratorium. What happens a month from now? Well, for one thing, don’t overlook the brutal fact that these moratoria don’t excuse anybody from having to pay all the back rent and back mortgage installments that were suspended for the year. The federal government just can’t keep rolling that forward forever because it thunders through the banking system. If landlords don’t get paid, they cannot pay their mortgages - and most rental real estate is mortgaged to allow for a coherent cash-flow, tax payment, and business model. Neither can the landlords pay their taxes to the municipalities (states and US government). The cities are especially harmed by collapsing tax revenue because they can’t keep with infrastructure repair, can’t cover pensions, or schools, the vicious cycle of urban decay.

How are people who have lost businesses and livelihoods going to come up with the money to make up these back payments. They probably will not. So far, there is no national discussion of that problem, but we’re seeing the first signs of an emotional response in rent rebellions under the banner “cancel rent.” This quandary points to the likelihood of a campaign for the federal government to bail out renters and homeowners, and/or a campaign for the program that made its debut in the 2020 Democratic primaries, “universal basic income” (UBI). Either one of those has a fair chance of happening as America’s economic collapse proceeds and politicians panic.

These programs won’t work. As soon as they are bailed out for their old debts, the renters and home “owners” will start racking up new back-payments if they have not done enough to generate a regular income, or simply can’t because the economy is so broken. And then what? Another bail out in six months? All the money creation to fuel that wheel of futility will only hasten the inflationary depreciation of the dollar as ever more money is created from thin air to make these bail-outs and hand-outs. The kind of UBI that was bandied about in the 2020 primaries, especially by candidate Andrew Yang, amounted to $1000-a-month. Most renters probably could not cover their monthly rents out of that, not to mention all the other costs of living. So then what? $5000-a-month? If you’re going to give away large sums of money for nothing, why not just make every impoverished American a millionaire? (And then watch the price of a Dunkin’ donut go up to $150.)

A parallel crisis has also ripened in commercial real estate as companies adjust to their employees working from home and try to get out of their leases – or just bail if their leases are up for renewal. The office building may not be altogether a thing of the past, but it won’t be like it was before 2020, and the problem is most acute in a place like New York or Chicago where midtown is chockablock with megastructures that went from being assets to liabilities virtually overnight. We have no idea what will become of them, but I doubt they will be retrofitted into apartments for two reasons: 1) the cost would be out-of-this-world, and 2) the apartment tower is just an accessory to the office tower, and if the office towers are obsolete, so are the apartment towers.

This leads to what I have been saying since I wrote "Too Much Magic": our cities are going to contract substantially; the process is going to painful; and there will be battles over who gets to inhabit the districts that, for one reason or another, retain value - waterfronts, older small-scale, low-rise neighborhoods. Covid-19 plus riots-and-looting have prompted people-of-means to resettle hastily in the suburbs. But this trend is a head-fake. Facing the oil problems that we do, the suburbs will quickly follow the cities into disutility and dysfunction. The people who moved there the past year will discover that they made a major mistake, especially if they bought a house.

The more permanent shift will be to America’s small cities and small towns, places scaled to the energy and capital resource realities coming down on us, including the need to live closer to where your food is grown.

This snowballing national existential fiasco certainly suggests the need to reorganize the American economy and the choices are pretty stark. The Democratic Party and the whole left-leaning side of the transect is inclined to attempt centralized control of economic activity in a way that strongly resembles the gigantic national experiments of the 20th century that went by the name of socialism. I mean… what else can you call it? It doesn’t really exist anymore in practice, not even in China, which is now merely totalitarian racketeering state. The 20th century was a moment in history when everything really was growing in scale, and with it came a wish for controlling all that by national governments. It was tried in many places and everywhere it was tried it ended in tyranny, hardship, and mass murder

Things have changed. They have reversed. Things are contracting. So, the other choice we have is to go with that flow, scale down the things we do and the terrain we occupy and the range of things we think we can control. That will ultimately be the only choice, of course, since the urge for a new statist socialism is against the current impulse of history, and therefore against nature. It will fail and then we will have to get with the program that the zeitgeist actually offers.

Wokesterism: Sometimes societies just lose their shit and go crazy and that is kind of what happened to America in 2020. The distress had been building for years, especially since the GFC of 2008-9 when the middle-class began dissolving in earnest. Now, their grown children discern that the future is going to be very unlike the recent past, and that their programmed hopes and dreams do not jibe with what that future actually requires of them: rigor, realism, earnestness, and rectitude. It’s too much for them. It’s too painful. And they’re not ready for it. They retreat into fantasy, cynicism, and ambiguity. So instead of virtue, we got virtue-signaling and, in adults who ought to know better, the kind of bratty behavior you’d expect from 13-year-old girls.

The ground for this was prepared by a society that opted to turn most of its important institutionalized activities into rackets, most particularly, higher education, which entered a late-stage metastasizing expansion fed by government guaranteed loan racketeering. The loan racket allowed the universities and colleges to jack up their tuition extravagantly, which prompted them to regard their debt-burdened, overpaying students as customers, which evolved into just plain pandering to their every wish.

Already in place, as a legacy of the 1960s, was a faculty of crusaders and activists in revolt against the bourgeois indignities of their own comfortable lives, making common cause with all other imagined “victims of oppression” as a form of careerist theater. They concocted curricula of bullshit disciplines for various victim-identity cohorts to monetize their grievance obsessions, and it all worked splendidly until Covid-19 ripped through the campuses and started blowing up the whole business model. And now college enrollments are headed down an estimated 20 percent for 2021, and an awful lot of the not-so-well-endowed schools will be going out of business, with even better-endowed schools soon to follow.

Another thing happened in parallel to the grievance hysterias on campus. The half-century-long civil rights campaign that went up a dead-end with all the family-destroying social services policies of the late 20th century, became such a manifestly embarrassing failure with an ever-growing hostile and dangerous underclass, that, in abject shame and disappointment, all of white liberaldom had to come up with an excuse for that failure, which finally fluoresced as Critical Race Theory with its hobgoblin-in-chief, systemic racism.

Hence: Black Lives Matter, based on the fantasy that white policemen were engaged in a genocide against people of color. Really, what you had with Trayvon Martin of Sanford, FLA, Michael Brown of Ferguson, MO, Tamir Rice, of Cleveland OH, and a long line of insta-martyrs, was a series of extremely ambiguous incidents at best, and, at worst, episodes of teens with poor impulse control acting out in ways very likely to get them into big trouble. And then, finally, with the maddening Covid-19 upon the land, and temperatures rising around Memorial Day, came George Floyd, middle-aged ex-con (home invasion, armed robbery, etc.), sometime porn star, hustler, a drug abuser who was “turning his life around” in Minneapolis, suddenly trapped under the knee of officer Derek Chauvin….

Black Lives Matter can be simply understood as a well-funded hustle, and by “hustle” I mean a program for dishonestly extracting goods from others, a crude “street” variation of a racket. BLM also features a patina of moral fakery, namely its supposed “Marxist” credo - an attempt to appear intelligent and political where it is actually merely criminal. In reality, it’s just a destructive force, a vehicle for punishing its perceived enemies, especially the police who are supposedly (but not in reality) perpetrating racist genocide. This gets to the heart of the Wokesterism more generally in all its aspects from Critical Race Theory to cancel culture to the #Me Too game. Its animating purpose is coercion, the wish to push other people around, to find excuses to punish them, and to do it for the sheer sadistic pleasure of watching them squirm, suffer, lose their livelihoods, and perish. That’s it. The rest is sheer bullshit.

In the new year, the ongoing economic carnage will be so severe that the nation may not have time for the finer points of Woke theory and philosophy, or the patience to hear tedious explications of identitarian complaints. Women will have to stop pretending to be an alt version of men, and begin conceiving of some plausible role for themselves as a complementary division of the human race in a new and harsh struggle to thrive. Woke cries of “racist, racist, racist” will no longer be greeted with supplication, apologies, and cosseting. Claims of special victimhood will be laughed out of the public meetings. For the first time in decades in the USA, everyone will have to pull his-or-her own weight, and shut the fuck up about it. Hard times will shake America out of its squishy fantasies and concentrate millions of minds on looking after their basic needs without mommy-hugs, participation trophies, or affirmative action line-jumping.

Antifa, a Woke auxiliary with a really bad attitude, spent most of the Covid-19 year as a social space for youth meet-ups as all the usual social venues - campuses, bars, coffee shops, parties, concerts, etc - all got locked-down. In Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, Minneapolis, MN, Philly, PA, and NYC, NY, where feckless politicians forced police to stand down, or crippled them with sanctions against the use of force, or just fired a bunch of them wholesale, Antifa rioters discovered that it was especially fun to play adult versions of capture-the-flag or ring-a-leevio on warm summer nights with the cops. They got to wear groovy street-fighting outfits and wield umbrellas against gas attacks, and the hormonal young men showboated acts of derring-do with fireworks, skateboards, baseball bats, and, more than once, alas, firearms. If they happened to get rounded up by the police, the local DA’s let them go and many returned to the fun riots time after time, all summer long.

A lot of property got damaged, statues of famous Americans got pulled down, spray-painted, peed-on, busted up, decapitated. Businesses having a hard enough time staying afloat under the Covid lockdowns, had their storefronts smashed, equipment and merchandise looted. Fifty years from now, wrinkled old Antifas will recall how romantic it was. In 2021, the public will lose patience with any further Antifa antics in the streets. They will just get their little umbrellas shredded and their asses kicked, and they’ll go weee-weee-weee back to whatever the equivalent of a crash-pad is nowadays, or to mommy’s basement. We’ll also learn a thing or two about who was funding Antifa in 2020, paying for their airplane tickets to stage their fun riots in city after city, and make sure they were well-supplied with pallets of bricks, Roman candles, and bear spray. Many of today’s Antifas will be tomorrow’s agricultural laborers. Having spent their youth rioting, drugging, playing with their gender presentation and their phones, they won’t be qualified for anything else.

Chinese Fire Drills with Russian Dressing: Donald Trump attempted to put the schnitz on the established order of things between the US and China, which had steadily turned against our own national interest. For a couple of decades, they sent us cheap manufactured goods and we sent them US treasury bond paper. China liked that arrangement well enough, but it really wasn’t working out so well for us. Having given away our manufacturing sector to them, and everybody else in East Asia, our working class no longer had decent-paying jobs and were increasingly strapped to buy all that cheap stuff made in China, even at low, low Walmart prices. So, Mr. Trump made a stink about it and slapped tariffs on Chinese goods, and they have lately been dumping US treasury paper instead of loading up on it as before. They still hold over a trillion dollars’ worth, and they can’t dump a whole bunch of it at once without destroying its value. And we still buy a lot of stuff from China, though the relationship is now very fraught.

Some say we’re at war with China, that it’s a new kind of war, an information and infiltration war. Just what and who does China own in the USA? The American people are starting to find out. Gawd knows what else our unreliable Intel Community knows. Perhaps China owns our CIA now. Perhaps that’s why Mr. Trump has been so busy stripping away the CIA’s various perqs and capacities. We’ve learned for sure that they bought and paid for the Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, through a series of lucrative business deals made by his son, Hunter, with a subsidiary of China’s own Intel Agency. Nobody seems to care about that at the moment - but maybe they will care more as we approach his hypothetical inauguration.

It’s pretty clear that China put a bid on Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), a majority member of the House Intel Committee. They sent a little fortune cookie named Fang Fang over to California some years ago when Mr. Swalwell was a member of the Dublin, CA, city council, and she hung with him for years, bundling campaign money and helping him rise into a congressional seat. He was rumored to be playing hide-the-winter-melon with her, for years. Was he owned? Nobody seems to care for now. Perhaps that will change.

And, of course, we learned some time ago that Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) had a Chinese (national) chauffeur and go-fer for twenty freakin’ years - including her years as chair of the Senate Intel Committee. He vamoosed to China when his identity as a spy was revealed. Nobody cares. That’s what a sloppy-ass country we’ve become.

China, apparently, has thousands upon thousands of carefully placed agents throughout America, especially in big academic research centers and American tech companies and even the news media. Reports say that a Chinese company purchased a 75-percent interest in Dominion Voting Systems for $400-million from Staple Street Capital in October 2020 in a shadowy deal run through the Swiss Bank UBS. It has been demonstrated that Dominion voting machines used in the recent national US elections, were connected to the Internet, though, by law, they are not allowed to be connected. Weird, a little bit. Connected to whom? So far, nobody seems to care.

Oh, and there was China’s Lunar New Year gift to America almost a year ago: Covid-19. Thanks, China. What do we actually know about how that went down? Apparently, they are busy as I write destroying virus samples in the Wuhan lab.

Will this so far informational and economic war between China and the US heat up and become a different kind of war? I don’t think there’s much in it for China to go that route. Anyway, they’ve got their hands full waiting to see if their bought-and-paid-for errand boy, Mr. Biden, actually becomes president and also perhaps waiting to see exactly how the USA falls apart in the coming year. They will lose a lot of customers for patio furniture and sundry other stuff, but then they won’t have to worry about us monitoring all their activity elsewhere around the world, where, let’s face it, they have a lot going on. The main thing is, China is nearly as fragile as we are, only in different ways. They don’t have whole lot of oil reserves, and they’re burning almost 13-million barrels a day, of which they produce close to 5-million and import the rest. Not a great situation, and not appreciably better than our own. Their banking system is at least as janky as ours, probably worse, since their banks only have to answer to the CCP and they can paper-over any financial sucking chest wound. A global depression could create serious unemployment problems for them, and hence political pressure on and within the CCP. For 2021. If, by some chance, Donald Trump ends up back in the White House, things could go a bit more non-linear.

Reports emerged only days ago that President Xi Jinping will be undergoing brain surgery for a worsening aneurysm. They imply a power struggle in the CCP to ensue in the event that the surgery doesn’t turn out well. I can’t confirm these rumors, but there it is… just sayin’….

Russia appears best positioned to sit out the economic disorders of the West and the discontents of China. Russia has already been through a traumatic economic and political collapse and emerged much lightened, streamlined, and viable. Due to punitive US sanctions, she has had to develop an import-replacement economy, supplying more of her own needs. She has about twice the proven oil reserves as the USA and less than half our population. She has been steadily acquiring gold reserves and has been making noises about establishing a gold-backed currency - which would be a real novelty in a world of fiat junk money. She has a well-educated and relatively homogenous population of capable people who have recovered psychologically from the 75-year-long political mind-f*ck of communism. She has an arsenal of world-beating hypersonic nuclear weapons. She has rational and intelligent political leadership. And Russia just passed a law stating that anyone who brings false #MeToo accusations against another citizen faces five years in prison. One looks on in awe!

Europe: Achhhhh. Fugeddabowdit. No oil. No mojo. Buried in debt. Failing social safety nets. Over a million hostile Muslim immigrants looking to burn the joint down. In 2021, the EU will break down and states will scramble desperately to shore up their economies. They will not succeed. Disorders follow and governments will fall. Angela Merkel waves goodby to das volk. Boris Johnson faces a no confidence vote in parliament. Macron survives and gets very tough, but France grows poor and bitter. Everybody starts saying nice things about Victor Orban.

There’s the whole shootin’ match. Forgive me for leaving out only about ten thousand other topics and issues, including climate change, about which I will only say: believe it or not, we’ve got more urgent things to worry about. Happy New Year everybody!"