Anyone who has studied their Scripture knows we ought to be seeing the next Horseman of the apocalypse pretty quickly now, since the oceans are bittered (at least off Japan) and Death is riding around Africa and trying to hop plane rides to the U,S,
But mainly, the world end is taking its own sweet time getting here.
Take Ebola, for one.
OK, there’s a second confirmed case in Dallas and we’ve got some spare change on two more cases being discovered in America before the week is out. That’s just looking at numbers. Another number to think about: PR Department overtime (if any) at CDC keeping people from panicking.
The other BIG Slow-Mover is the market.
The decline of last week was fairly painful, but we’re due to get a break because options expire come the end of the week and Wall St. doesn’t like to pay bears (short side players) their due, so a modest rally is quite predictable.
But the really bad part about the world ending slowly is we’re being treated to examples of mass stupidity in the political arena.
The Gallup polls numbers, that I follow fairly closely, paint a picture of a country that is slowly losing its belief in elected officialdom. Over time.
This would not be particularly concerning if it didn’t fit with some some macro-scale anthropological prototypes, such as the decline of the Anasazi.
Instead of watching news channels for clues about the future, a read of Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter is a good starting point. From Wikipedia:
Tainter begins by categorizing and examining the often inconsistent explanations that have been offered for collapse in the literature. In Tainter’s view, while invasions, crop failures, disease or environmental degradation may be the apparent causes of societal collapse, the ultimate cause is an economic one, inherent in the structure of society rather than in external shocks which may batter them: diminishing returns on investments in social complexity. Finally, Tainter musters modern statistics to show that marginal returns on investments in energy, education and technological innovation are diminishing today. The globalised modern world is subject to many of the same stresses that brought older societies to ruin.
However, Tainter is not entirely apocalyptic: “When some new input to an economic system is brought on line, whether a technical innovation or an energy subsidy, it will often have the potential at least temporarily to raise marginal productivity” (p. 124). Thus, barring continual conquest of your neighbors (which is always subject to diminishing returns), innovation that increases productivity is – in the long run – the only way out of the dismal science dilemma of declining marginal returns on added investments in complexity.
And, in his final chapters, Tainter discusses why modern societies may not be able to choose to collapse: because surrounding them are other complex societies which will in some way absorb a collapsed region or prevent a general collapse; the Mayan and Chaocan regions had no powerful complex neighbors and so could collapse for centuries or millennia, as could the Western Roman Empire – but the Eastern Roman Empire, bordered as it was by the Parthian/Sassanid Empire, did not have the option of devolving into simpler smaller entities.
Another dandy read is Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive:
In the prologue, Diamond summarizes his methodology in one paragraph:
This book employs the comparative method to understand societal collapses to which environmental problems contribute. My previous book (Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies), had applied the comparative method to the opposite problem: the differing rates of buildup of human societies on different continents over the last 13,000 years. In the present book focusing on collapses rather than buildups, I compare many past and present societies that differed with respect to environmental fragility, relations with neighbors, political institutions, and other “input” variables postulated to influence a society’s stability. The “output” variables that I examine are collapse or survival, and form of the collapse if collapse does occur. By relating output variables to input variables, I aim to tease out the influence of possible input variables on collapses.
While it’s fun having access to real cutting edge futuring technology such that we expect a China spying story to pop any minute now, and we know that people gifted with prophetic dreaming are about to go have another look, most of the look-ahead can be gathered with only the faintest of headlines and a decent framework.
Thus, the first bit of good news is that the world is not-yet ending. The bad news is you’re either at work or heading there shortly.
If we were a really intelligent life-form, wouldn’t we have figured some way to sleep in on Mondays?
Thus, the End of the World is a process more so than an event. (With the possible exception of nuclear war). So too, seems getting started on Monday mornings..
First off, there’s hardly anything big on tap until Wednesday which is when retail sales come out. Although the conspiracy boards are all awash in chatter about imminent market collapse in Europe because of an international “Too Big to Fail” exercise, we’ve taken enough meds this morning to work past that one.
(Besides, the futures are up a tiny bit, at least went I looked earlier.)
Producer prices also come out Wednesday and then Industrial Production from the Fed Thursday. Housing Starts come Friday.
What really ticks me off is that the Consumer Price Index which used to come more of less like clockwork on the 15th won’t be out until Wednesday of next week. Other than no excuse for it (although I’m sure there is one) it’s really too bad because it might have been an interesting “kick it up a notch” ingredient for options this week.
But alas, didn’t someone say the end of the world was a process, not an event?
Futures up 41…blah, blah, blah. Is it time to run back up to 1,975 yet on the S&P before continuing down, or is this the pause that re-crashes?
A bit late to file a theft report, but we have to wonder what would happen if….
Good thing the Political Correctness Police don’t have arrest powers. We’d be Lifers by now.
I’ve complained a bit (to the wall, mostly) about the power flickering around here this morning as powerful thunderstorms have rolled through East Texas. Dallasonians got mostly off the hook, but as these storms move northeast from here, up into the ArkLaTex and beyond, more storm reports should show up in news footage through tomorrow.
We are all too often beset with media imagery of couples in Hollywood busting up. For a change, here’s an AARP piece on some of the many tinsel town couples who have made a go of long term marriage.
On that note, a fine and happy Monday and have fun car-dashing.