The Decline of Suburbia

March 28, 2008

MinnPost (a new online Minnesota news site that is quite good) ran an article today on the growing malaise spreading throughout suburbia nationwide.

To most readers it will be just another in a growing corpus of economic gloom & doom stories that have been popping up over the last year or so. When read through the lens of peak oil and energy scarcity, though, it can be seen as confirmation of what Kunstler, Ure and other such folks have been saying for years now. Housing values down, tax receipts down, crime up, etc.
Is this the start of the decline of the burbs? I suspect the answer is ‘it depends,’ since the pain isn’t being distributed equally right now. Some areas are definitely suffering more than others depending on what state you live in, what businesses support the local community, and so forth. The fact that energy costs are being cited as one of the reasons for the problems affecting these areas is significant to me.

If this trend does continue, I think we’ll see more stories like this, this and this. As a kid born & raised in the burbs, the thought of seeing my former & current neighborhoods transitioning to slums is unsettling, but as energy prices continue to rise, I think it may also be inevitable.


“You are going to cause a riot, a revolution, and this time, it is going to be bloody.”

March 28, 2008

I expect to see more stories like this as the year moves on.

The spring thaw is coming, and I plan to get my veggie garden in by the end of April.  Not only is it a healthy choice, but it will also likely make economic sense.
HT: Urban Survival 


No Comment Needed

March 27, 2008

 

The Truth about Corn Ethanol

Welcome to Squanderville

March 26, 2008

Here’s an interesting article from Time Magazine regarding the current financial mess we are in. The end of this story isn’t particularly pretty if you’re an American citizen, but not so bad if you’re Chinese, Korean, etc.

I’ve been watching the financial crisis develop for a number of months now, and while I’d like to believe differently, I am pessimistic about the way the American economy is heading. Gas prices are still relatively stable, but I’m seeing more and more evidence, both concrete and anecdotal, that food prices are rising, and doing so at a fast clip in some cases. My family’s food bills seem to be creeping up… thankfully spring is on it’s way and with it the re-opening of the farmers’ markets and my nascent vegetable garden.

While I think the US economy is slowing down and may truly go into a depression at some point, I don’t think the wheels are about to fall off. I’ve thought that we were in major trouble several times in the past, and the resiliency of the system has continued to amaze me. Some of this is psychological, I think. The US dollar, like other fiat currencies, is worth what people think it’s worth, and a large mass of people fervently wish that it keeps as much of it’s value as possible. Many global fortunes will be destroyed if the dollar becomes more useful as toilet paper or heating fuel rather than as a medium of exchange. The power of positive thinking in action, I guess. Or, it could be that on the deep political level, a number of decision makers around the globe also understand that the “full faith & credit” of the US is also backed up by a large arsenal of weaponry, both conventional and nuclear.

A possible ray of hope: housing prices in my neighborhood have dropped far enough that some houses are starting to sell. A rough estimate so far is that housing prices have taken around a 20% haircut in my immediate neck of the woods. YMMV, of course. My one neighbor a few houses up is doggedly sticking to something close to a 2005 price for their home, and are swinging in the wind as a result.

The rest of this post deals with some personal & health issues. If you’re not interested, then thanks for visiting.

Read the rest of this entry »


That Was Quick…

March 16, 2008

JP Morgan has acquired Bear Stearns today, with fast-tracked approval from the Fed.

Morgan is acquiring Bear for a measly $2 per share;  a nice piece of business for them considering Bear opened Friday’s trading at $54 and has a book value of $84 per share.


A Real Bear Market

March 16, 2008

Bear Stearns, the investment bank & Wall Street icon, is in talks to be acquired… quickly. As I wrote about a few days back, Bear is in serious trouble and is on life support thanks to the quick intervention of JP Morgan and Fed. After a week’s worth of posturing about the strength of it’s portfolio, Bear quickly reversed course on Friday and was promptly rewarded by having it’s stock price knee-capped.

Read the rest of this entry »


If It Sounds Like Failure, Is It?

March 14, 2008

We usually don’t hear about bank failures too often. If one does go under, it seems like it’s usually a small, rural one. The bank gets into trouble, it goes illiquid, is closed by the local state banking commission, and it’s assets are taken over by a larger institution. No one outside of the affected parties worry if the East Overshoe Savings & Loan goes under… it’s a different story when the dying institution is one of the bulwarks of Wall Street.

Read the rest of this entry »


Quick Post on Gas & Oil

March 12, 2008

How quickly our perspective changes…

According to CNN, oil prices have ‘retreated’ to only $107 and change on news of a surprise jump in oil inventory. A few months back oil at over $100 was a sign of economic doomsday… now it’s just business as usual. The number 100 is one of those big psychological barriers that looks really nasty, but once breached it loses a lot of its ability to inspire fear.

In a related news story about spiking gasoline prices, this article notes that prices will spike in late spring, and then return to a more normal level of around three dollars per gallon. The underlying message: $3 gasoline is now the new baseline for gas prices in the eyes of economists… it is no longer the high end of the price spectrum.

A quick plug as well… a friend of mine works for a company that has put out a new website that collects opinions about pretty much everything. I’ve registered and have been polluting the meme stream there with stuff related to energy, economics and the like. If you’re bored and have some time to kill, check it out. It could use more voters and more opinions. Here’s one of the opinions I’ve put out there… I’d link it here, but WordPress strips javascript code out of their websites.


Sorry For the Lack of New Posts…

March 1, 2008

Life has been hectic, and I haven’t had the time or excess brain cells to write anything worth posting recently.   I hope to be back with something worthwhile soon.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.