Saturday, November 19, 2022

"The End Of The Retail Industry As We Know It Today"

Full screen recommended.
"The End Of The Retail Industry As We Know It Today"
by Epic Economist

"This holiday season may be the last for many struggling U.S. retailers, and that’s a haunting prospect for the entire sector. Even industry leaders are afraid that sales and profits will fall short of expectations again – after three-quarters of disappointing results. This period is typically the most profitable time of the year for many businesses, but each new survey shows that consumer spending is going to be way down in 2022. At the same time, some troubling trends are squeezing the life out of the industry from both sides, and they aren’t likely to go away any time soon. If these companies fail to recover from their losses over the next few weeks, we will soon see a lot more decaying buildings with boarded-up windows where thriving retail establishments once existed. The health of the retail industry is critical to the health of the overall U.S. economy, and right now the outlook suggests that a bloodbath is about to begin.

Roughly 57% of consumers who plan to spend less on holiday shopping in 2022 mostly blame rising costs, and about the same rate reports being worried about finances. Retailers have already taken a series of measures to attract customers' attention and increase sales volumes, such as hosting holiday sales earlier than normal and ratcheting up discounts to move merchandise. But so far their efforts haven’t really paid off.

“As we look ahead, we expect the challenging environment to linger beyond the holiday season and into 2023,” Chief Financial Officer Michael Fiddelke said on the call with reporters. The executive pointed to some worrying trends currently plaguing the industry – and, unfortunately, they aren’t going away any time soon.

A tsunami of retail theft is drastically reducing the company’s gross profit margin and further aggravating Target’s financial problems. In its latest quarterly report, the discount retailer revealed that inventory shrinkage — or the disappearance of merchandise — has reduced its gross profit margin by $400 million so far in 2022 compared to 2021. “And we expect it will reduce our gross margin by more than $600 million for the full year,” Fiddelke added, detailing that there are "a handful of things that can drive shrink in our business and theft is certainly a key driver”. “We know we're not alone across retail in seeing a trend that I think has gotten increasingly worse over the last 12 to 18 months. So we're taking the right actions in our stores to help curb that trend where we can, but that becomes an increasing headwind on our business and we know the business of others," he said.

With almost two-thirds, or 63%, of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, it is clear that in 2022, more people fell out of the middle class. In 2021, that rate was sitting at just 57%. “Consumers are not able to keep up with the pace that inflation is increasing. Being employed is no longer enough for the everyday American. Wage growth has been inadequate, leaving more consumers than ever with little to nothing left over after managing monthly expenses,” LendingClub financial health officer Anuj Nayar highlighted in a recent report.

Even though wages have increased nationally by an average of 5.2%, the price of everything else has climbed much higher, Schiff outlines. “On an annual basis, real average hourly earnings decreased by 3.0% from September 2021 to September. It was the 18th consecutive month of declining real wages on an annual basis. This means while you got a 5.2% raise over the last year, your purchasing power dropped 3%. In other words, you have more dollars in your pocket, but you can’t buy as much with them. In effect, you got a 3% pay cut this year,” the economist notes.

With reduced buying power and carrying massive levels of debt, the average American consumer is completely drained, and so are retail sectors heavily reliant on discretionary spending.

Some of the hardest hit businesses are in the entertainment sector, and even media giant and specialty retailer Disney is reporting a collapse in its operations, suffering over $1.4 billion in streaming losses and a stock drop of around 39% for the year."
Comments here:

Musical Interlude: 2002, “Sea of Dreams”

 2002, “Sea of Dreams”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Magnificent island universe NGC 2403 stands within the boundaries of the long-necked constellation Camelopardalis. Some 10 million light-years distant and about 50,000 light-years across, the spiral galaxy also seems to have more than its fair share of giant star forming HII regions, marked by the telltale reddish glow of atomic hydrogen gas. The giant HII regions are energized by clusters of hot, massive stars that explode as bright supernovae at the end of their short and furious lives. 
A member of the M81 group of galaxies, NGC 2403 closely resembles another galaxy with an abundance of star forming regions that lies within our own local galaxy group, M33 the Triangulum Galaxy. Spiky in appearance, bright stars in this colorful galaxy portrait of NGC 2403 lie in the foreground, within our own Milky Way.”

Chet Raymo, “At Home In An Infinite Universe”

“At Home In An Infinite Universe”
by Chet Raymo

“They are questions that bedeviled thinkers for thousands of years: Is the universe infinite or finite, eternal or of a finite age? It is certainly hard to imagine a universe that extends without limit in every direction, or a universe without a beginning or end. It is equally difficult to imagine a finite universe; what is beyond the edge? Or a beginning or end in time; how can something come from nothing? How can what is cease to be?

The problems are so intractable philosophically that their resolution has generally been left to the theologians, which from a philosophical (or scientific) perspective offers no solution at all. Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for proposing a philosophical resolution (an infinite universe) that offended theology.

An escape from befuddlement is provided by Einstein's theory of general relativity, which- for example- can describe a finite universe without a boundary, as the "two-dimensional" surface of a sphere is finite and without an edge. Unfortunately, multi-dimensional curved space-time is so counterintuitive that it is difficult to get one's head around it without mastery of the mathematics. Given a choice between the ancient myths of your local preacher and the obtuse mathematics of the physics professor, it's not hard to guess what most folks will opt for.

Meanwhile, I'm reading a meditation on infinity by physics professor Anthony Aguirre, in a collection of essays called "Future Science." He discusses contemporary cosmological theories based on general relativity, and in particular the rehabilitation of the idea of an infinite and eternal universe, or, more precisely, that our universe might be just one of an infinity of infinite universes. He writes in conclusion: “What seems clear, however, is that infinity can no longer be safely ignored; beautifully constructed, empirically supported, self-consistent theories have brought infinity from idle curiosity to central player in contemporary cosmology. And if correct, the worldview these theories represent constitutes a perspective shift unlike any other: in comparison to the universe, we would be not just small but strictly zero. Well, I can't imagine many folks racing to embrace that conclusion.

Oh, but wait. Aguirre adds one final sentence: "Yet here we are, contemplating - if not quite understanding - it all.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Ozark, Missouri, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

Canadian Prepper, "90% of People Will Die Like This..."

Full screen recommended.
Canadian Prepper, 11/19/22:
"90% of People Will Die Like This..."
Comments here:

"You Decide! Crash, Correction or Chill?"

Full screen recommended.
Dan, iAllegedly, 11/19/22:
"You Decide! Crash, Correction or Chill?"
Our economy has been called many things lately. Is this a Crash, correction or just a chill with where we’re at? Please let me know your input on what you think of this."
Comments here:

"It Is Inevitable..."

“We do not rest satisfied with the present. We anticipate the future as too slow in coming, as if in order to hasten its course; or we recall the past, to stop its too rapid flight. So imprudent are we that we wander in the times which are not ours and do not think of the only one which belongs to us; and so idle are we that we dream of those times which are no more and thoughtlessly overlook that which alone exists. For the present is generally painful to us. We conceal it from our sight, because it troubles us; and, if it be delightful to us, we regret to see it pass away. We try to sustain it by the future and think of arranging matters which are not in our power, for a time which we have no certainty of reaching.

Let each one examine his thoughts, and he will find them all occupied with the past and the future. We scarcely ever think of the present; and if we think of it, it is only to take light from it to arrange the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means; the future alone is our end. So we never live, but we hope to live; and, as we are always preparing to be happy, it is inevitable we should never be so.”
- Blaise Pascal

"Crime and Punishment"

"Crime and Punishment"
From private fraud to public folly, 
where goes sound money, so goes civilized society...
by Joel Bowman

"The more I see of the monied classes,
the better I understand the guillotine."
- George Bernard Shaw

Buenos Aires, Argentina - "Fraud, farce… and fury. Nary a day goes by, it seems, when some shyster or another is not exposed for diddling the books, fiddling the numbers and filching investor funds. While the world waits to learn the fate of Mr. Bankman-Fried, a scandal-weary public seized a pound of flesh yesterday when another Silicon Valley darling, Elizabeth Holmes, was sentenced to more than a decade in prison for defrauding investors. The Wall Street Journal: "Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos Inc. who was convicted of defrauding investors, was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison, capping the extraordinary downfall of a onetime Silicon Valley wunderkind who promised to revolutionize blood testing.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila, who oversaw the trial in which Ms. Holmes was found guilty of running a years-long fraud scheme at her blood-testing company, delivered the sentence Friday in federal court. A jury convicted Ms. Holmes in January on four charges that she misrepresented the startup’s technology, finances and business prospects to investors."

Elizabeth Holmes... Anna Sorokin... Billy McFarland... Martin Shkreli... and of course, the latest (and probably largest) conman of them all, Sam Bankrun-Fraud. Is it just us, dear reader, or does there seem to be a hot run of conmen lurking around the traps these past few years?

Time was when Joe Public could rely on his congressmen to rip him off, extort his earnings and generally hound, harass and harangue him at every turn. Now he has a whole new cohort of brigands, who didn’t even have the decency of getting themselves elected to public office, fleecing him at every turn. For shame!

It’s the Money, Stupid! Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, where goes sound money, so too goes civilized society. (See "It’s the Money, Stupid!" for details.) With honest earners and savers losing a government-guaranteed 8% of their purchasing power annually (officially, that is... unofficially it’s likely much higher), dishonesty starts to look appealing to some. Why do things “by the book” when the state itself is cooking them?

Sound money underpins sound transactions, in which decent individuals trade their savings (their time) for their desired goods and services. By attacking the integrity of money – undermining its function as a steady store of value, reliable unit of account and accepted medium of exchange – the state lays waste to the social contract that undergirds civilization itself. Promises are broken... contracts become meaningless... and where once good faith and common decency stood, suspicion, deceit and chicanery take root.

What would be the point of “breaking” a more or less functioning society, you wonder? Isn’t squeezing the Middle Class a bit like killing the golden goose? Why would a financial elite want to set their own country on course to Argentina, or Venezuela, or Zimbabwe?

Bill took up the question in his three-part essay earlier this week, "Middle Class Delenda Est." But Dan has a theory, too... maybe it’s just the government doing what Harry Browne described all those years ago... “The government is good at one thing. It knows how to break your legs, and then hand you a crutch and say, 'See if it weren't for the government, you wouldn't be able to walk.”

Break the financial system, in other words, then offer you a “solution”... which just happens to accord nicely with their own maniacal goal set and which will cost you even more of your liberty and privacy along the way.

Here’s Dan, calling out the government’s sinister modus operandi: First destroy the currency (and the Middle Class) with inflation. Then, increase your leverage over them by replacing the money with the technology of surveillance and control. That’s what we’ve claimed is the plan of the current American financial regime. Financial Repression is the only way to get your way out of $31 trillion in debt without defaulting.

Here’s a question for you: Do you think it’s a coincidence that the same week the third-largest digital asset exchange melts down that the New York Fed announces a 12-week pilot program to test a proto Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)? 

Hmm. You can read more about it here. The authorities say the point of a CBDC is to lower transaction costs and promote access and ‘inclusion’ in the financial system. When they let their guard down, they also talk about how digital money can give or deny permission to buy certain things, or even where you can travel (as if the G-20 statement earlier this week calling for international vaccine passports wasn’t bad enough). Location tracking and programmable money are closer than you think.

What do you reckon, dear reader? Is this just another “helping hand” from your duly elected better angels in public service? Or a wolf in sheep’s clothing, one who’s appetite is in direct opposition to your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? Leave your thoughts in the comments section, below..."
Related: 

"How It Really Is"

 

"After All..."

“The acceptance of ambiguity implies more than the commonplace understanding that some good things and some bad things happen to us. It means that we know that good and evil are inextricably intermixed in human affairs; that they contain, and sometimes embrace, their opposites; that success may involve failure of a different kind, and failure may be a kind of triumph.”
- Sydney J. Harris

And, of course, the universal and inevitable excuse…
“A person who is going to commit an inhuman act invariably 
excuses himself to himself by saying, “I’m only human, after all.”
- Sydney J. Harris
I've always wondered...
Everyone says “Only human…” compared to what?
Billy Joel, "Only Human"

"US Consumers Are Doing Exactly What They Did Just Prior To The Crash Of 2008"

"US Consumers Are Doing Exactly What
They Did Just Prior To The Crash Of 2008"
by Michael Snyder

"We never seem to learn from our mistakes. Just before the financial markets crashed and the economy plunged into a horrifying recession in 2008, U.S. consumers went on a debt binge of epic proportions. Mortgage debt, auto loan debt and credit card debt all skyrocketed, and so when the economy finally crashed all of a sudden there were millions of Americans drowning in bills that they were unable to pay. Well, now it is happening again. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, during the third quarter of 2022 household debt increased at the fastest pace that we have seen since the first quarter of 2008

"Households added $351 billion in overall debt last quarter, taking the total to $16.5 trillion, according to data released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Tuesday. That’s an increase of 8.3% from a year earlier, the most since a 9.1% jump in the first quarter of 2008. The debt figures aren’t adjusted for inflation."

This is a recipe for disaster. As I have been warning my readers for years, you want to have as little debt as possible when economic conditions get really bad. Unfortunately, even though everyone can see that economic activity is slowing down all around us, consumers are piling on debt at a stunning pace. In particular, mortgage debt and credit card debt both really soared during the third quarter…

"Most of the latest increase came in mortgage debt, by far the biggest liability on household balance sheets. It rose by $282 billion in the third quarter, and by $1 trillion from a year earlier, to $11.7 trillion. Mortgage and home-equity debt combined are up by $2 trillion since the pandemic began.

Credit-card debt also increased by the most in 20 years, with balances rising by 15% from a year earlier. The surge comes as the average interest-rates on card borrowing has climbed above 19%, the highest in data going back to the mid-1980s, according to Bankrate."

I really feel bad for those that purchased homes at or near the peak of the market. So many Americans have overextended themselves to get the homes of their dreams, and as prices plummet in the months ahead millions of them will soon be underwater on their mortgages just like we saw in 2008 and 2009.

Even more troubling is the fact that Americans are racking up such huge credit card balances. The New York Fed is telling us that there are now 555 million open credit card accounts in this country. But only 329 million people live here. That is madness.

Meanwhile, large companies all over the nation are starting to lay off workers. In fact, we just learned that Amazon will be laying off approximately 10,000 employees…"Amazon reportedly plans to lay off 10,000 corporate and technology employees as soon as this week. The cuts would affect the company’s devices organization, retail division and human resources, people familiar with the matter told the New York Times."

This will be the largest round of layoffs in Amazon’s history, and Jeff Bezos is now giving out advice on how to best deal with the coming economic downturn…"The business leader offered his starkest advice yet on a faltering economy in an exclusive sit-down interview with CNN’s Chloe Melas on Saturday at Bezos’ Washington, DC, home.

Bezos urged people to put off expenditures for big-ticket items such as new cars, televisions and appliances, noting that delaying big purchases is the surest way to keep some “dry powder” in the event of a prolonged economic downturn. Meanwhile, small businesses may want to avoid making large capital expenditures or acquisitions during this uncertain time, Bezos added. He also told CNN that we should “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”.

Wow. How many times have I said the same thing to my readers? When Jeff Bezos starts sounding just like The Economic Collapse Blog, that is definitely a sign that it is late in the game.

Other big tech companies have been conducting mass layoffs as well, and that list includes Facebook and Twitter…"Last week Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, revealed that it will cut 13 per cent of its workforce, while Elon Musk axed half of Twitter’s employees following his successful takeover of the social media site. The announcements are the latest in a slew of job cuts across Silicon Valley, as experts warn the tech industry is facing a ‘triple whammy’ of a slowing economy, inflation and an end to pandemic-driven growth."

If the Federal Reserve does not start reducing interest rates, we are going to see a tsunami of layoffs in 2023. And if the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates, it is likely that we could eventually see millions of Americans lose their jobs. Aggressively hiking rates at the beginning of a major economic slowdown is suicidal. But the Federal Reserve is doing it anyway.

On the consumer level, piling up debt just as economic conditions are starting to really deteriorate is a really foolish thing for Americans to be doing. Unfortunately, we just witnessed the greatest consumer debt binge since 2008 during the third quarter. As I stated at the beginning of this article, we never seem to learn from our mistakes. The times that we are moving into are going to be incredibly challenging, but reducing the amount of debt that you are carrying will make things a bit easier.

Sadly, most people out there aren’t going to take that advice. Instead, most people are going to continue partying even as the system falls apart all around them. In 2008 and 2009, countless Americans that had been living comfortable middle class lifestyles ended up losing almost everything.

You don’t want to be one of those victims this time around. We are going to see so much financial pain in 2023, but much of it could have been avoided if people would have made much different decisions ahead of time."

"Digital Coupon Madness At Kroger! This Is Crazy! What's Coming?"

Full screen recommended.
Adventures with Danno, 11/19/22:
"Digital Coupon Madness At Kroger! 
This Is Crazy! What's Coming?"
"In today's vlog we are at Kroger and are noticing massive price increases! Kroger has put out the most digital coupons we have ever seen, and are taking advantage of the deals while they are available! We are here to check out skyrocketing prices, and a lot of empty shelves! It's getting rough out here as stores seem to be struggling with getting products!"
Comments here:

Friday, November 18, 2022

Canadian Prepper, "We're in A Lot of Trouble..."

Canadian Prepper, 11/18/22:
"We're in A Lot of Trouble..."
Comments here:

"Forced To Shop At Walmart; Home Sellers In Denial; Home Sales Plunge; The FED Knows What's Coming"

Jeremiah Babe, 11/18/22:
"Forced To Shop At Walmart; Home Sellers In Denial; 
Home Sales Plunge; The FED Knows What's Coming"
Comments here:

"What Happened to the Pax Americana?"

"What Happened to the Pax Americana?"
by Brian Maher

"The wealth of another region excites their greed; and if it is weak, their lust for power as well. Nothing from the rising to the setting of the sun is enough for them. Among all others only they are compelled to attack the poor as well as the rich. Robbery, rape, and slaughter they falsely call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace."
- Tacitus

"Some 30 years ago the Pax Americana covered each corner of Earth. It crowned history itself - the “end of history” was how one fellow styled it. American capitalism, American democracy represented civilization’s apex. Its zenith. Its very perfection. Yet the gods are a jealous, wrathful lot. What the gods will not abide is human hubris. Mortals may not approach Olympus.

Russian political scientist Georgi Arbatov divined their wicked intentions at Cold War’s end… He sneered: “We are going to do the worst thing we can do to you.” Which was what - precisely? “We are going to take your enemy away from you.”

We hazard he was correct. As we have written before: A superpower requires an enemy as the policeman requires crooks… as the psychiatrist requires madmen… as the Church requires its devil. Absent an enemy it loses its direction. Its vigor. Its √©lan vital. It flounders - adrift, aimless and rudderless. Between world wars, berserker Winston Churchill lamented “the bland skies of peace” that vaulted high above Earth. Those same bland skies of peace overhung Earth at the Cold War’s conclusion.

Now jump ahead 30 years… after plenty of heavy weather has barreled on through… after the gods have worked their mischievous will… The Pax Americana has been reduced to a ridiculous caricature. Iraq and Afghanistan sent it heaving into history’s hellbox. Russia is presently driving the last remaining nails through the casket cover. China stands by with its own hammer should Russia fall down.

Meantime, the world has witnessed the shining jewel of American democracy these past several years. If that is democratic perfection, asks the world, may we please beg off? We would like to be excused.

They have witnessed American cities descend into scenes of riot, of mayhem, of chaos in 2020. They see Americans at each other’s throats, red-state America and blue-state America. They have seen the statues come down. They have seen segments of America call the nation’s founding myths into contempt and ridicule. They witnessed millions and millions rage against the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. These Americans believed the election was rigged and thieved, fraudulent and illegitimate.

Many Americans - though apparently fewer in number - likewise disbelieve the outcomes of this month’s midterm elections… elections which remain undecided in many instances. Are they right? Are they wrong?

We stand aloof in serene detachment. We defer judgment to you, our reader. Yet if masses of American voters no longer trust the electoral process… what is the future of American democracy? Is this the alabaster city shining on the hill that glistens in the mists? Is this the model the world would mimic? Through these veins courses the reddest American blood, patriotic blood. Yet we fear the answer is no. Even China - China! - has ventured to label American democracy a “joke.”

We did not appreciate the jest. Yet at certain times, in private moments, often in the silent watches of the night, we are seized and hagridden by doubt. We fear for the American future. In these pages we often denounce this government policy or that government policy. Some have even asked us why we maintain residence in these United States if we believe things run to such lunatic domestic settings. Why stay?

Here we take our leaf from the great Henry Louis Mencken, Baltimore’s sage. He was posed that very question some 100 years ago. His answer then is our answer now: “Why do men visit zoos?”

Below, Jeffrey Tucker wonders if a peaceful breakup of the United States would ironically represent the best method to heal today’s deep political fissures. Jeffrey’s take is certainly controversial - perhaps even heretical. Yet we believe it is worth a few minutes of your time. Please, read on."
"One Nation, Divisible"
by Jeffrey Tucker

"Sometimes the utterly unthinkable becomes a reality and, to everyone’s surprise, it works out better in the end. Such is the case with large nation-states that split up based on geography, language and political values. No disaster befell Czechoslovakia when it became the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The moving around of borders and jurisdictions is part of the trajectory of history, even if every generation believes that what exists now should exist forever.

And then suddenly it does not. We tend to think breakups happen to other countries but not here at home. And yet the U.S. is at least as fractured now as many unviable nation-states of the past. We seem to be nearing the point where a single rule for everyone no longer makes sense. So let’s just play a little game and imagine what it might look like.

Disunited America: The political stability of the United States is a particular sore point, given the 19th-century experience with an attempted breakup. There had been many prior threats to end the union but after the Northern victory, the idea of manifest destiny became entrenched and so too did the notion that the U.S. is the one indispensable nation, forever to be exactly the way it is.

A friend from a foreign land asked me why Hawaii is part of the U.S. The answer is obvious: conquest. Alaska was different: a commercial transaction that ended up as part of the union some 10 years into the Cold War as a security measure. Otherwise, it’s hard to make sense of these two states as wonderful as they are.

The U.S. was formed out of 13 colonies, beginning as a loose confederation with no operational central government. That came 12 years later. Generally, it has worked, and worked best when the system functions as it is supposed to: checks and balances; juridical limits on the powers of everyone, including the judiciary; and a high respect for the decentralized structure that leaves most political decisions to the states.

How much strain is this under today and what might happen? Could it break up? It’s not something to rule out. Moreover, it might be the most peaceful and prosperous path toward solving the intractable political problems in this country. It doesn’t mean war. It doesn’t mean economic isolation. It merely means a greater degree of self-governance than we currently have. Handled properly (which is of course highly unlikely) a breakup could be the best step forward.

The Technological Problem: The advent of huge nation-states has an ancient origin tracing to the imperial ambitions of much-vaunted leaders seeking to make their mark on history. The modern origins of such things has a 19th-century root in a different idea: Geographically large states are better at making wealth than smaller ones. The internal markets can be more diverse and robust with better control over the rules of the game. They can be more internally self-reliant and better protected against invasion.

Whether and to what extent that was true, technology today makes such arguments far less relevant. The problem of geographic proximity is ever less a concern in a digital world in which location is not as relevant as access to a network. This reality makes geographically noncontiguous political arrangements more viable than ever before.

In this way, it is no longer a necessity to be trapped inside the political territory of your residence. Many public services can become subscription models. And whether and to what extent those subscriptions pertain to geography as such — water, fire, ambulance — all depends on the service in question. Law and litigation need no longer be restricted by proximity.

The Schools: The rise of the gigantic American territorial state coincided with the advent of universal public schooling and compulsory attendance laws. People these days forget that we haven’t always had those. The main purpose was to instill civic values that preached the importance of compliance, unity and conformity. Not everyone went along but over time, they triumphed mightily. They might have been inefficient and often nonperforming but they achieved their real purpose.

Until two years ago. Unthinkably, they shut down. It was an enormous error even from a ruling-class point of view because it introduced the whole of America to the possibility of other options. Homeschooling was under a cloud and then suddenly it was mandatory. Parents did not like what they saw on Zoom and millions of people are now out in full force to push a change at the local level.

There is poetry here. The public schools are now under pressure as never before, which means that a central pillar of the unitary nation-state is suddenly in question. There are already many bills in Congress that would finally abolish the Department of Education. It’s way past time to do so.

The Money: Another factor in the building of large unitary states was the belief that the nation-state money would obtain more power and reach the more people who used it. This happened in the U.S. for sure, and it was in many ways a betrayal of history. In the early 19th century, all monies in the U.S. were based on gold and silver but foreign coins circulated freely. Most monies in the world have different names for the same thing. They cobbled together a central system of coinage by the 1880s and then a central bank by 1913. By 1971, the gold backing was gone.

No question that the dollar has benefited from the large state but we now have new ways of doing money and finance too and they are ever less dependent on geography. Any currency can become any other currency with a few clicks. And if crypto currency really is our future - and a private form of money circulates alongside a public one - this reasoning behind a unitary state has fallen apart. Forget about the whole FTX saga. That’s just a temporary blip and is actually healthy for cryptos in general because it’ll shake a lot of frauds out of the tree.

Not Soon but Maybe Later? The political divisions in the U.S. have become an enormous distraction from what should be the main job of individuals and communities in society: building better lives. That happens not through the game of capturing power and control from the other tribe but through finding ways to cooperate with others in the great project of finding peace and prosperity.

A nation doesn’t necessarily have to be forced. You can still feel like an American but have full citizenship in one of 20, 50 or 500 smaller states, each of which can have its own constitution, court system, legislature and chief executive. Nor would this mean the end of liberalism as it is historically understood. Peace and friendship can prevail between people of different political loyalties and attachments.

The transition from here to there could be painful, to be sure, but things are very painful as they are, as multiple tribes continue to tear each other apart in the great mission of grabbing the brass ring of power. It was not supposed to be this way. But the centralization and betrayal of the founding principles made it so.

My father was a great American patriot but he was also friendly to the Texas secession movement. I’m pretty sure that he favored it. Many Texans do, and the same with many in blue states too. The federal government as we know it is not the right technology for making a peaceful and prosperous world of tomorrow. Might it all break up? Might we all be better off as a result?"

Musical Interlude: Alan Parsons Project, “Ammonia Avenue”

Alan Parsons Project, “Ammonia Avenue”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Globular clusters once ruled the Milky Way. Back in the old days, back when our Galaxy first formed, perhaps thousands of globular clusters roamed our Galaxy. Today, there are less than 200 left. Many globular clusters were destroyed over the eons by repeated fateful encounters with each other or the Galactic center. Surviving relics are older than any Earth fossil, older than any other structures in our Galaxy, and limit the universe itself in raw age.
There are few, if any, young globular clusters in our Milky Way Galaxy because conditions are not ripe for more to form. Pictured above by the Hubble Space Telescope are about 100,000 of M72's stars. M72, which spans about 50 light years and lies about 50,000 light years away, can be seen with a small telescope toward the constellation of the Water Bearer (Aquarius).”

Free Download: Jiddu Krishnamurti, "The Book of Life "

"You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. 
That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, 
that is why you must sing and dance, 
and write poems and suffer and understand, for all that is life."
- Jiddu Krishnamurti, "The Book of Life"

Freely download "The Book of Life" and many other works
 by Jiddu Krishnamurti, here:

The Poet: Neil Gaiman, "What You Need To Be Warm "

"What You Need To Be Warm" 
by Neil Gaiman

 "A baked potato of a winters night to wrap
your hands around or burn your mouth.
A blanket knitted by your mother's cunning fingers. 
Or your grandmother's.

A smile, a touch, trust, as you walk in from the snow
or return to it, the tips of your ears pricked pink and frozen.
The tink tink tink of iron radiators waking in an old house.

To surface from dreams in a bed, 
burrowed beneath blankets and comforters,
the change of state from cold to warm is all that matters, and you think
just one more minute snuggled here before you face the chill. Just one.

Places we slept as children: they warm us in the memory.
We travel to an inside from the outside. 
To the orange flames of the fireplace
or the wood burning in the stove. 

Breath-ice on the inside of windows,
to be scratched off with a fingernail, melted with a whole hand.
Frost on the ground that stays in the shadows, waiting for us.

Wear a scarf. Wear a coat. Wear a sweater. 
Wear socks. Wear thick gloves.

An infant as she sleeps between us. A tumble of dogs,
a kindle of cats and kittens. 
Come inside. You're safe now.
A kettle boiling at the stove. Your family or friends are there. 
They smile.
Cocoa or chocolate, tea or coffee, 
soup or toddy, what you know you need.
A heat exchange, they give it to you, you take the mug
and start to thaw.

While outside, for some of us, the journey began
as we walked away from our grandparentshouses
away from the places we knew as children: 
changes of state and state and state,
to stumble across a stony desert, or to brave the deep waters,
while food and friends, home, a bed, even a blanket become just memories.

Sometimes it only takes a stranger, in a dark place,
to hold out a 
badly-knitted scarf, to offer a kind word, to say
we have the right to be here, 
to make us warm in the coldest season.
You have the right to be here. "

- Neil Gaiman

"Bank Runs Have Started in Germany - Are We Next?"

Full screen recommended.
Dan, iAllegedly 11/18/22:
"Bank Runs Have Started in Germany - Are We Next?"
"The energy debacle is so bad in Germany that people are starting to hoard cash. There is a run at the banks that will only get worse. The regulators are concerned that there will be massive power outages and that people will not be able to handle this. People will race to get their money out of the banks. When will outages come here?"
Comments here:

"How It Really Is"

 

Once upon a time...

"The Middle Class Delenda Est.", Part III

"The Middle Class Delenda Est.", Part III
Fed loans, printing press money, 
sham giveaways and other tools of the elite...
by Bill Bonner and Joel Bowman

Baltimore, Maryland -  "We doubt we will win a Nobel prize for this, not even in the category of “Political Crackpottery” or “Fed Follies.” But, perhaps posthumously, it will merit a footnote in the still unwritten “Cynics’ Guide to Political Philosophy.” For here we explain why and how corrupt elites tend to devour the middle classes who support them. Alert readers may notice some wrong turns and dead ends. Don’t worry about them; we are exploring new territory, as yet unmapped.

We’ve seen a number of things already: Government is run by a small-ish elite. They use it as a way of transferring power and wealth from the middle-class to themselves. Why the middle class? Because that’s where the money is. The rich tend to be firmly ensconced among the elite themselves…or have ways to protect what they’ve got. And the poor have nothing to take. That leaves the great multitudes in the middle, like lambs at a wolves’ picnic. But if the elite depend on the middle class, why would they want to sacrifice it? That is our focus for today.

Let us begin with an update. Houses are where the middle class keeps the bulk of its wealth. And here’s Vitaly Katsenelson, from yesterday’s Fatal Conceits podcast with Joel (listen to the whole episode, here): "Let me just give you a couple numbers. If you bought a house in 2019, or even in 2021, it would've cost you roughly $420,000. The interest rate was 3%, so it would've cost you roughly $15,000 a year in mortgage payments.

When rates go up from 3% to 7.6%, as they are today, now the mortgage payment goes up to $30,000. What's important to understand is that the median American household makes about $75,000 a year, or about $60,000 after tax, roughly. So in other words, when interest rates were 3%, it used to consume 25% of someone's income. Today it would consume, if you were to buy a house at today's prices, at these interest rates, it would consume half of someone's income."

Housing today is unaffordable. What has to happen is that, for the housing market to return to the prices and the affordability of 2019, of 2020, of 2021, they basically have to decline something like 30 or 40%. And it’s likely to get worse. MarketWatch: "Fed’s Bullard says benchmark interest rate in 5%-7% range may be needed to bring inflation down." "The Federal Reserve’s benchmark interest rate may need to rise as high as 7% to put downward pressure on inflation, said St. Louis Fed President James Bullard on Thursday. “To attain a sufficiently restrictive level, the policy rate will need to be increased further,” Bullard said."

Hook, Line and Sinker: You could dismiss the financial news as normal market chop. But there’s more to the story – deep currents, beneath the surface, that carry you along, like a leaf on a river, no matter what you think or what you want. We have seen that the destruction of the middle-class comes about…even though it doesn’t seem to make sense. The Fed actually did lower rates to absurd levels – which lured people into overpriced houses at underpriced mortgage rates. And then, the Fed did increase rates, so that millions of middle-class families will have a hard time making their mortgage payments.

The federal government did spend far more money than it could raise through honest taxation…and did rely on inflation (by issuing more printing press money) to make up the difference. So did the feds make the middle class dependent on mortgage tax breaks as well as low, Fanny-backed mortgage loans, student loans (and forgiveness!), stimmie checks, PPP loans during the Covid Hysteria…and much, much more

And now, their intellects dulled by Facebook and TV, and trained by the government to expect something-for-nothing, 63% of Americans “strongly support” direct payments from the feds to fight inflation. Yes, they are ready to fight this fire with buckets of kerosene!

Inflation is transparently harmful to the wealth-producing sector of our society. That is, it is particularly harmful to the middle class. The common man sells his time. And inflation devalues time. Lenders won’t wait…shopkeepers won’t wait... employees won’t wait – everyone needs to hurry to make and spend his money as fast as possible. There are no long term payouts. Long term capital investments are abandoned. Money is not put on deposit, where it will ‘grow over time.’ Lines form at gas stations, welfare agencies and bakeries. Time is wasted, and tomorrow disappears as the struggle to survive becomes a daily routine.

Real wages fall. And along with them fall middle class standards of living. And soon, the middle class vanishes. A few claw their way up among the rich. Most sink down among the poor – desperate for another handout from the feds. That is what happened in Ancient Rome, leading to the collapse of the Empire in the 5th century. And it is a story we’ve seen over and over since then. The money goes. The middle class goes. And then the whole country goes down the drain.

Enemy of the State: But if inflation is so harmful, why does it exist? The simplest explanation is that squeezing the middle classes is subject to the law of declining returns too. As more and more wealth and power are taken, the middle classes put up more and more of a fight. Politicians who promise “read my lips…no new taxes”…and then increase taxes, as George Bush the Elder did…are cast aside. Borrowing, too, has a negative feedback loop. As the feds borrow more, they drive up interest rates…increasing their own costs, and crippling the economy that they depend on for tax revenue.

What does that leave? How then can the elite keep the flow of money and power headed their way? Inflation. As long as they can get away with paying their bills in ‘printing press money,’ it is a painless way to keep the jig up. The record was set by the Trump team during the Covid Hysteria. In a 12-month period, it ‘printed’ and disbursed new money at the fastest rate in history.

But there’s more to this than a simple fiscal ‘mistake’ or even a calculated rip-off. There’s another, deeper and more sinister aspect to it. In order to impose their own will…the elite must reject the wisdom of the dead…and overcome the natural reluctance of the middle classes. The ‘common man’ wants to live in his own house, not in a high rise collective. He prefers his own car to public transportation. He distrusts the experts, depending instead on his own ‘common sense.’ And he expects common decency from his fellow man, not special pronouns or race-based exceptions.

The elite organizers of the Davos Conference tell him that in the future, ‘you will own nothing, and you will be happy.’ But he doesn’t buy it. So, he will have to be destroyed. More to come…"

Joel’s Note: As elites jet-set around the globe in their private jets, admonishing hard-working commoners for daring to question the cost of gas (“You’re lucky we left you any at all, peasant!”) the north braces for its coming Winter Catastrophe. Temperatures have already dropped to minus 20 degrees celsius (-4 F) up in Laramie, Wyoming, where Dan Denning is hunkered down. “It’s pretty cold here today,” writes Dan. Right. And it’s “pretty dangerous” over in East Baltimore, too.

Of course, extreme temperatures don’t have to be such a big deal… not with abundant energy for heating and cooling the climate to our desired levels. Modern Man used to be pretty good at that. Your Australian-born editor lived in Dubai for a spell, back in the go-go days of the 2007-08 “Dububble.” Temperatures regularly hit 50+ degrees celsius (122 F) in the scorching desert emirate. And yet, our local mall had a ski slope inside. We recall fondly many a Sunday afternoon spent laughing at grown men in dishdashas snowballing down the artificial slopes. Ah, good times…

And yet, fast-forward to the year 2022, even advanced, industrialized nations face the prospect of freezing this winter. Europe is a long way ahead of the curve on this one, having “gone big” on the whole green energy transition. As a result, they’re felling ancient forests for firewood and burning trash to stay warm. (Wait, don’t forests absorb CO2? Best not to ask…)

Meanwhile, back in the US, up to a quarter of Americans face blackouts and grid failures in the months ahead. From Bloomberg: "Large swaths of North America may face blackouts and other energy emergencies during bouts of extreme cold this winter as coal and natural gas supplies tighten, according to a US regulatory agency.

The electric grids at most risk of supply shortfalls are in Texas, the central US system stretching from the Great Lakes to Louisiana, New England and the Carolinas, the North American Electric Reliability Council said in its seasonal assessment Thursday. Severe weather may stress grids by causing demand to soar while supplies of natural gas, coal and back-up fuel oil are all tight, leaving little room for error, according to the report."

As Europe and the US scramble to secure tight oil and natural gas reserves, they’re vacuuming up supply from the market, leaving poor nations without any energy, at any price…"

Jim Kunstler," "A Smoldering Fuse"

"A Smoldering Fuse"
by Jim Kunstler

"Thirty-seven billion more dollars for Ukraine? (That’s thirty-seven thousand millions of dollars, by the way.) Bringing the total this year to a click-or-two over ninety billion (ninety-thousand millions), on top of whatever Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX company funneled through that sad-sack international money laundromat - soon to be the darkest backwater of a European failed state since Field Marshal Melchior von Hatzfeldt of Westphalia left Bohemia a corpse-strewn wasteland after the Battle of Jankau (1645).

It really doesn’t matter how much more money we pound down that rat-hole, you understand, because by the time various parties - the weapons-makers, Volodymyr Zelensky, sundry members of the US House of Representatives, The Biden family, the World Economic Forum - are finished creaming off their fair shares, poor Ukraine won’t have enough cash-on-hand to replace six fuse-boxes in Zaporizhzhia.

Against this backdrop, the USA enters a holiday season near-death spiral as unspooling scandals battle a collapsing economy for supremacy of the alt news sites. Case-in-point: the aforementioned FTX monkey business, a metastasizing tumor of the body politic. This complex fraud will smolder for a few weeks before it explodes into an extinction-grade event for the Democratic Party. The usual suspects among the mainstream media are trying to ignore it for the moment, but the shreds of this exploding money-borg are already sticking to guilty parties far and wide across the political landscape.

FTX commander-in-chief Sam Bankman-Fried remains at large after steering the crypto-currency trading platform into a bankruptcy so hideously tangled that the assigned liquidator in court proceedings, one John Ray III, who oversaw the Enron aftermath years ago, was boggled by what he’s found so far (and it’s early in the game): Namely, a company run by a handful of twenty-something drug freaks with no idea what they were doing, no record-keeping, and a slime trail of misappropriated investor’s funds leading to Kiev and Geneva through various crooked American political action committees, and the halls of Congress - with echos in ballot harvesting shenanigans which shaped the outcome of this month’s US elections.

Mr. Bankman-Fried is still scheduled as a main speaker for Accenture’s Nov. 30 DealBook Conference in New York ($2,499 for a ticket), along with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Odds on him showing up? Or even being alive elsewhere on this planet then?

The extended family Bankman-Fried is the quintessence of Woke aristocracy. Dad Joe Bankman and mom Barbara Fried are both law professors at Stanford. She also acted as a money-bundler for the Democratic Party and ran two non-profit “voter registration” orgs (against the IRS laws which only permit non-partisan organized voter registration). Brother Gabe Bankman-Fried headed a non-profit named Guarding Against Pandemics (funded by Sam), which lobbies Congress to construct new platforms for medical tyranny. Aunt Linda Fried is Dean of the Columbia U’s Public Health school, and is associated with Johns Hopkins, which ran the October 2019 Event 201 pandemic drill (sponsored by the Gates Foundation) months before the Covid-19 outbreak.

Sam’s girlfriend, Caroline Ellison, ran the Alameda Investments arm of the FTX empire (that is, FTX’s own money laundromat). Her dad, Glenn Ellison is chair of MIT’s Econ School. His former colleague on the MIT Econ faculty, Gary Gensler, who specialized in blockchains there, is now head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, an agency that Sam Bankman Fried was attempting to rope into a regulation scheme to eliminate FTX’s crypto-currency competitors. Caroline’s mom, Sara Fisher Ellison is an MIT econ prof specializing in the pharmaceutical industry (fancy that!). Caroline Ellison is currently on-the-run.

The sum total of all this professional and academic accomplishment is also the quintessence of Woke-Jacobin turpitude in service to a political faction that seeks maximum moneygrubbing while acting to overthrow every norm of behavior in the conduct of elections, and perhaps in American life generally. That’s some accomplishment. It’s also a lesson in why the managerial elite of our country are no longer trustworthy. They have gotten away with crimes against the nation for years, which has only made them bolder and more reckless.

Wait for the FTX bankruptcy to unwind, along with all the political ramifications it entails, not to mention the financial afterburn in the whole crypto market, very likely extending into and befouling the rest of the banking system. This is going to be a clusterf**k for the ages, and will propel the USA into a depression with no visible horizon."
- https://kunstler.com/

"Strange Prices At Target! Stock Up! What's Next?"

Full screen recommended.
Adventures with Danno, 11/18/22:
"Strange Prices At Target! Stock Up! What's Next?"
"In today's vlog we are at Target and are noticing very strange prices! We are here to check out skyrocketing prices, and the empty shelves situation! It's getting rough out here as stores seem to be struggling with getting products!"
Comments here:

"Economic Market Snapshot 11/18/22"

"Economic Market Snapshot 11/18/22"
Market Data Center, Live Updates:
Down the rabbit hole of psychopathic greed and insanity...
Only the consequences are real - to you!
Your guide:
Gregory Mannarino, 11/18/22:
"Expect The Global Money Supply To Double, 
And The World Economy To Collapse Faster"
Latest Market Analysis, Updated 11/18/22
A comprehensive, essential daily read.
Financial Stress Index

"The OFR Financial Stress Index (OFR FSI) is a daily market-based snapshot of stress in global financial markets. It is constructed from 33 financial market variables, such as yield spreads, valuation measures, and interest rates. The OFR FSI is positive when stress levels are above average, and negative when stress levels are below average. The OFR FSI incorporates five categories of indicators: creditequity valuationfunding, safe assets and volatility. The FSI shows stress contributions by three regions: United Statesother advanced economies, and emerging markets."
Job cuts and much more.
Commentary, highly recommended:
"The more I see of the monied classes,
the better I understand the guillotine."
- George Bernard Shaw
Oh yeah... beyond words. Any I know anyway...
And now... The End Game...