Decent into Anarchy

Robert Kaplan, writer extraordinaire for The Atlantic wrote both an article and a marvelously prophetic book back in 1997 that I mentioned many times in old columns.

The book was released in paperback in 2001 and was summed up, in part, this way by Amazon reviewer John Miller:

Kaplan’s vision of the future is a bleak one, full of ethnic conflict as the world falls away from a cold war that at least provided a kind of stability in even the shakiest of countries. That’s gone now, of course, and Kaplan’s descriptions of life and politics in Sierra Leone, Russia, India, and elsewhere are keenly troubling. Much of the book–but not all of it–has already seen print, mainly on the pages of The Atlantic Monthly and The Wall Street Journal. It is brief in length but not in importance.

The book is still worth reading because Kaplan does a marvelous job of capturing the “slow trend” aspects of how we’ve descended into whatever we call nowadays.  The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War is still worth reading, but, like any book that is predictive in nature, its usefulness degrades over time.  It was a gem.

I was therefore pleased this weekend to offer Peoplenomics readers some of the thinking of my friend Howard B. Hill, whose new book is out.  Because in it, he explains in easy-to-understand terms, why another Global Financial Panic is coming.

In Finance Mon$ter$, insider Hill weaves his own story as a pioneer and innovator together with the story of the the structured finance revolution up to and through the global financial crisis. He explains how to avoid the coming you-know-what, but you’ll also see from reading the dynamics how that might not…  Optimistically, we still have some ways to avoid it, but tick-tock..

You’ll get to know the people who drove the business, and what drove them. You’ll see what they were doing, and go onto the trading desks where it happened. You’ll understand the decades of developments that made the meltdown possible, and why mortgages to just three percent of the people in America became a threat to the global economy.

What especially makes Hill’s book worth buying is its predictive nature.  Not that the politics and the checkbook armies will actually let us avoid catastrophe…my sense is it is unavoidable.  Yet somehow, through it all, Hill remains optimistic, even if it’s a long shot.


I’m not so sure.

I spent part of the weekend working on an interesting new theory, however.  That is the unlike the Great Depression of the 1930’s that wasn’t ended until first World War II and then Korea pulled us out of Depression, the modern analog is being played out differently.

What would our history have been like if WW II had been started the week after the Wall St. collapse in October of 1929?  Would we have been on a different trajectory?  Could the Great Depression have been truncated, or perhaps averted altogether?

Yet when I stepped back, it seemed almost like that’s what we are (and were) doing.  We had a 10-year Depression and 10-years of War.  What if now, in the wake of 2001’s front doorstep of the Second Depression, government strategy was, instead, to run the Depression and War concurrently this time for upwards of 20-years?  Sure has that feel, doesn’t it?

How would that look?  Does the data support the notion?  I think so, but my research continues.

In the meantime, Howard’s book is a key piece of the puzzle.  That’s because in the Great Depression there were far more bankruptcies and much more financial pain.  While we might be able to avert that, is it possible that (as Howard book explains in detail) the core forces are still around and the promised “transparency” of markets is still more narrative than reality.

It’s a deep ponder to begin the week with, but here’s a fine resource that – like Kaplan – offers important guidance into the world of tomorrow which won’t be anything like the world of Monday morning.


We  do see the Kaplan’s Anarchy spreading:

At least 47 were killed in a suicide bombing in Nigeria this morning.

While the Russian ruble recovered somewhat this morning, there is a growing “war chant” as Russia continues aerial incursions and the situation in Ukraine is unstable at best.

Oh, and apparently the government of Egypt is throwing in with the Islamic State.

Obama Selling Jobs – in China!

Here’s a Monday head-scratcher for you:  Why would the president of OUR COUNTRY go to China to talk about jobs?

The back-asswards logic goes something like this:  The US will make it easier for Chinese to come to the USA (presumably to spend some of those IOU’s we have swapped them in order to keep our flailing economy financed  and in return we will get some jobs putting the Chinese up in hotels while they buy America out from under us…with our own money (those IOUs).

This is the kind of illogical Obamanation that led to the considerable democratic party ass-kicking at the polls.

If Mr. Obama was serious about jobs for Americans, he’d be up in Detroit talking about it, not making political hay with the frigging Chinese.

If this visa program can “support up to 440,000 US jobs” do you care run either a) run out how many Chinese coming to the US it really means?  Or, b) should the person who came up with how 440,000 jobs would be “supported” be called by the lazy mainstream press to ask how many people actually get new jobs instead of prevented layoffs? 

Because that’s how this kind of crap is calculated.  Not getting fired fort a few months is a “job supported by” in Washington’s statistical weasel den.

What was sold to the American people as a “constitutional scholar” is looking ever more, I hate to say it, like  a slow learner when it comes to foot-in-mouth disease.

Case 2:  More Foot in Mouth

Vice President Joe Biden was just trying to get some things worked out harmoniously with the republicans Friday on immigration.

Regardless, if good form was followed, the “Boss doesn’t snap at subordinates” even if the sub happens to be vice president and was only doing his job as best he could.

Praise publicly, scold privately, is the concept which apparently didn’t make it into curriculum at Harvard Law, perhaps?  (Maybe my online MBA program was worth something, after all.)

At this rate, I expect to see executive amnesty to be an announced in Mexico City.


A reminder that stock and futures markets will be open, but the US bond market will be closed tomorrow for the (whatever we’re calling it) holiday tomorrow.

It used to be Columbus Day, but I think there will be cross or effigies burning’s in our front yard is we screw this up so I will let it go with a simple don’t let anyone forget the Chinese sailed the whole global route in in the six years ending in 1491…but that’s something the Sinophobe’s don’t want mentioned.

Wait!  It’s Veteran’s Day…that’s OK… I can support that…

Other than Consumer Sentiment and Retail Sales I don’t see any reason to write about the economy much until Friday.  UFO reports would be more interesting…

Futures are flat. 

Polar Vortices and Other Nonsense

Just like Columbus Day, we used to have cold fronts.

Not any more:  Normal cold fronts coming down, as they do, from the Arctic are now called “Polar Vortexes” and press releases are flying since cold fronts were no good for marketing.  Vortex, did you say?

Bloomington, Ill. (November 10, 2014) /   Last year showed us that winter weather can come sooner, end later, and hit unsuspecting parts of the country. That could mean heavy snows, dangerous ice and some altogether rough driving conditions. It could also mean unforeseen time stuck in your car. State Farm wants to help drivers prepare themselves and their cars for the unexpected…especially for the next polar vortex.

Coming to check my anti-freeze, maybe?   Last month I saw this one:

JACKSON, Mich., Oct. 13, 2014 / — Homes and businesses served with natural gas from Consumers Energy saved about $295 million during last winter’s polar vortex due to the energy provider’s extensive underground storage system.

Yessirree Bob; no doubt about it:  Cold fronts are gone, polar vortexes are here to stay…and as long as they are here, let’s monetize them, shall we?  Keeps the PR Depot. head-count up.

We’ll schedule a polar vortex to coincide with the global warming / climate change narrative and send Ure to the Arctic for some optics

Who comes up with these nuevo labels?

Be reassured, though, that I won’t know the world is insane for sure, though, until we start calling taxes something like “mandatory citizen co-participation contributions.”  But judging by the smell of feedlot America, there’s more bullshit where this kind of thinking came from.

That, dear reader, is what “progress” is called on a Monday.

The biggest story of the day is that a virus that makes people stupid has been discovered.  You’ve probably always suspected as much, but this….well, it explains so much, doesn’t it?

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