Stuff

My long weekend has ended and I’m now back at the daily grind. I got the opportunity to read several books over the last 10 days or so that have given me some new things to think about. I’ll touch on them briefly here today and hope to expand on them in subsequent posts.

  • One of the reasons I like Kunstler’s term of “The Long Emergency” is that we are not simply looking at the terminal decline of oil production; there are a number of variables in play besides that. The more I look at things, the more they look like a giant game of “Clue”. Our way of life will soon be killed. Will it be due to abrupt climate change leading to catastrophic losses of food that triggered a global war, or will it be declining oil production jacking commodity prices into the stratosphere and thereby touching off a global economic meltdown? Perhaps it was widespread drought that caused nations to overtax their aquifiers and lead to loss of arable land and declinign food production? Or, maybe it’ll just be greedy bastards getting wealthier at the expense of the majority of the world’s population through normal economic manipulations? There are a number of issues heading at us, and no-one really knows when they’lll hit, in what order or how hard. In the overall scheme of things, it probably doesn’t matter a whole lot. Those people who are fully dependent on the system will be screwed regardless.
  • Speaking of getting screwed, I’m starting to see more advertisements up around here regaling people with offers on how to avoid home foreclosure and bankruptcy. As 2007 unfolds, I’m expecting to see more and more of this.
  • Minnesotans, be proud. James Howard Kunstler officially ripped us in his blog offering this week.
  • I had the opportunity to go to the dome again this weekend to see the Vikings narrowly avoid losing to the Cardinals. This might be just my warped perspective, but it seems like the number of panhandlers around the stadium is on the increase.
  • While I piously observed “Buy Nothing Day” on Black Friday, my wife more than made up for my tightfistedness. I’m of two minds regarding this. I’m a scrooge at Christmastime due to my distaste with the commercialization of the holiday, and we hemmorhage cash every year. At the same time, my oldest child is finally understanding what holidays are, and Christmas is (naturally) one of his favorites. His glee at seeing the tree go up in the living room made me smile. I’m convinced that economic hard times are awaiting us sooner or later, so buying some things now while our cash is worth something seems like a good idea, as long as the goods being procured will still be of use in a low-energy world. In other words, XBox bad; steam pressure canner good.
  • Speaking of the dollar melting down, 321 Gold has another interesting article predicting doom for the greenback. These kinds of posts are pretty common there, being a contrarian/gold bug financial site, but the arguments in this particular posting are persuasive to me. The dollar has lost about 30% of it’s purchasing power relative to the Euro since 2002, and the fundamentals behind the US economy have only continued to worsen. Once China decides that they can lose the US consumer market and is willing to write off a good chunk on the nearly one trillion dollars they are currently holding, life will get interesting for Americans. Once again, savers are being punished through their savings being watered down. When foreign banks start dumping their dollars, my guess is that the Federal Reserve will waste no time in flooding the markets in an attempt to keep the dollar afloat. Welcome to hyperinflation. I won’t feel so bad about my mortgage when my house is valued at 4 million dollars or more. Having to pony up $25 for a Big Mac will make the whole concept of a “value meal” even more dubious than it already is, though.
  • Finally, the head of PEMEX is predicting that production at the Cantarell field is due to drop fourteen percent per year from 2007 to 2015. Mexico is currently the number two supplier of petroleum to the United States, and 66% of it’s output comes from Cantarell. Keep watching this story, for as oil and natural gas production drops in Mexico and Canada, it will affect the USA much more than drops in the Middle East will.
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