Retail Sales – and the “Need” for War

There’s a book from the 1960s which all the old-timers around here have read: Report from Iron Mountain – on the accessibility and desirability of peace.”

So controversial was (and still is) the book that it has an extensive Wikipedia entry and offers insights into the modern economy’s “grow or die” problems.

“The heavily footnoted report concluded that peace was not in the interest of a stable society, that even if lasting peace “could be achieved, it would almost certainly not be in the best interests of society to achieve it.” War was a part of the economy. Therefore, it was necessary to conceive a state of war for a stable economy. The government, the group theorized, would not exist without war, and nation states existed in order to wage war. War served the vital function of diverting collective aggression. They recommended “credible substitutes” and paying a “blood price” to emulate the economic functions of war. Prospective government-devised alternatives to war included reports of alien life-forms, the reintroduction of a “euphemized form” of slavery “consistent with modern technology and political processes”, and – one deemed particularly promising in gaining the attention of the malleable masses – the threat of “gross pollution of the environment”.

Vax and climate, come to mind? When you’ve been acquainted with the book, as I was early in my journalism career, it fills in a lot of “missing pieces” needed to understand how the world operates.  Another book, was it 2002?  Was Robert Kaplan’s The Coming Anarchy” which is still worth a read.

I haven’t studied books like this, Red Dragon Rising, and The Coming Real Estate Crash (1979), or Barry Lynn’s The End of the Line: The Rise and Coming Fall of the Global Corporation out of some fixation with collapse.

Like reading Velikovsky’s views on cosmic disaster, or Victor Clube’s The Cosmic Serpent (1982) such books outline the edge of the road that humanity seems to run off  periodically.  In our discussions here, the Petri Dish and agar problem.  Where the agar is food grains, energy sources, lithium, rare earth metal stocks, and ongoing consumer behavior that is predictably just past what’s genuinely affordable.

Understand that consumption is a flywheel, of sorts.  If it falls, countries change.

It’s like China just overnight.  Not looking good.  They had to cut interest rates to stimulate growth.  While at the same time, stopping disclosure of Youth Unemployment.  Two stories to read thoughtfully because they may be harbingers of relational change between the U.S. and China: Global stocks stuck near 5-week lows, China cuts rates | Reuters covers the rates angle while China halts youth jobless data as economy falters explains the youth jobless problem.

I would only remind you that the “youth problem” can be solved in short order with a good flare-up war.  Especially one to take over Taiwan (on the pretext of reunification of a breakaway province) which will eat some resource (tilling the soil for more production) while at the same time keeping a lot of youth preoccupied wearing uniforms.

Certainly, all the news in China is not bad:  China can become world’s number 1 car exporter by 2023: Moody’s.  But we also noticed that Tesla has had to cut electric vehicles priced in China for what is this, the fifth time?

On balance, though, China has “issues” – another is China’s Deepening Housing Problems Spook Investors – WSJ – and a national distraction – like Ukraine fighting is for the U.S., U.K., and NATO – seems rather closer than anyone would like to imagine.

Yet, with the death toll in the Maui fire now headed into the 300 region, the U.S. is two wars (UKR and Niger plus a war workalike, national disaster) and thus may be inclined to be less confrontational.  I hope we don’t see, but that’s not how we call the odds.

We just watch the live webcams in Taiwan and read current weather Marine weather forecast for Su-Ao | Marine | Taiwan, Global Ports and wait for what we fear will be inevitable.

Since I live in “extensible headspace” it’s easy to construct a possible future along any of several axes.  But on the technology axis, China sweeping into Taiwan would put incredible importance on the construction of new fine-pitch semiconductor plants in Phoenix and not far from Austin.  Which then brings up the usefulness of an attack on American home soil of a nuclear weapon.  And given who’s running the fentanyl and dirt weed in from the south the attack vector should be pretty obvious.

But too much “if-then” for a nice summer’s morning.  Let’s push on to some hard data;

Retail Sales Reported

+0.7 percent.  About one percent per year growth?  THAT is the War Party’s campaign in 2024?  This is where we get back to practical blocking and tackling…

Where retail grew and shrivelled.
A few minutes after the report little change in the market where the Dow futures have been cycling 250 to 300 in the preopen Europe is down about one percent earlier too Expect more war cheering shortlywatch how markets react

Even before the data, however, it was clear where the market was headed in the overnight numbers.  (Yes, I went short a bear-side index fund at Aug 14, 2023 3:58 PM ET, but that’s purely speculation on my part…)

Aggregate Index is trying to break hard down
What should be noticed is that the bottom of the farthest right trend channel reveals us heading to test the lower trend boundaries

If those boundaries are broken, I’m afraid – wars increasing or not – the future begins looking Depression-like in our view.

Chart comparing 1929 collapse and present times from Novemb er 2021
While you might think the two run ups are not exactly the same and youd be right youd need to have read the papers on the informational paradox in play Essentially the faster communications operate the less slowly massive market asymmetries arise This reduces the slope of the Bubble but does little to change its ultimate outcome Go read <a href=httpseconpapersrepecorgarticlekapcompecv 3a12 3ay 3a1998 3ai 3a2 3ap 3a97 114htm>Youssefmir Huberman and Hogg<a> I know I know you skipped that issue of <em>Computational Economics<em> in 1998 But that was when I was just finishing the dime store MBA Oh to have walked <a href=httpsenwikipediaorgwikiPARC company>the halls of X PARC<a>

A reader did ask overnight:Thoughts on Michael Burry’s 1.6 Billion put against the Stock market?

After taking a look at Michael Burry of ‘The Big Short’ fame reveals potential big bets against the market, tech stocks, all I can really say is that given similar data inputs, intelligent people will reach similar conclusions. I did short at the close, remember?

Some contexts for the young: I remember, gosh, must have been the late 1950s, talking with Pappy about some claim of espionage that had popped in Time Magazine (which was good, at the time and we fought over who got to read it first – discussion winner at the dinner table debates was assured!).  “Sometimes, it’s easier to claim espionage than admit that two engineers – regardless of culture – will come to very similar conclusions if they have similar input constraints.”

Sure, the Russians had TRIZ (teoriya resheniya izobretatelskikh zadach, literally theory of inventive problem solving) going for them in the Cold War, but although a less structured approach, American engineering and production know-how won, at least for a while.

The “evolved” problem is that it’s no longer (and hasn’t been for decades) the issue of U.S. and Russian slide rules giving the same answer.  It’s that EVERYONE is coming to same answers.  Doesn’t matter if it’s Iran, Israel, India, Pakistan, North or South Korea…everyone’s hip to heavy water and criticality.  Beyond which, it’s just decimal points and time on task.

A Lesser Watched Data Point

In the midst of everything else, a really interesting report on new business formations is out from the Census folks:

business formation data
I am amused at speculation that the Covid event was a conspiracy Not saying it wasnt but it shows what piss poor planners any such conspirators are This Census data tells us people prefer working at home and a move toward mass decentralization is starting People with half a brain WONT be going back to work for the Man Doing their own deals sorry

Let’s get back to looking for flashes in the pan…

Trending or Flashing?

10-days to turn himself in?  Looks like a flash, but maybe going off to orange more this time: Donald Trump and 18 allies indicted in Georgia accused of 2020 election meddling.

Not much to say about it, though John Dean’s remark was interesting:  Nixon’s ex-White House counsel John Dean sums up magnitude of Trump’s Georgia indictment in five words.  Who’s going to flip is where the bets are clustering.

Claims and Counter-claims in Ukraine – pretty much usual.  But is this related? Massive explosion at gas station in Russia’s Dagestan kills 30, injures scores more.  Probably didn’t have anything to do with Ruble: Russia’s central bank raises interest rates to 12% after currency plunges.  But the more pressure on Putin, the higher the flash potential over Kyiv…

In the Uranium War, notice how when the West declares a war, the term used is intervention That other word bleeds to much.  As in West African Army Chiefs to Meet About Possible Niger Intervention.  Make no mistake! “Intervention is War, wrapped in a flag and sold to to low IQ-citizens.  Which lately is most of ’em.

In the U.S. we had V.E. Day (May 8, 2024 is the next one).  But who’d have thought of someone celebrating a V.U. day? Taliban to Mark August 15 ‘Victory Day’ Against US.

Just in time for the next Financial Crisis, the last of the 2008 collapse has been cleaned up:  UBS To Pay $1.4 Bn To Settle US Fraud Charges On Subprime Loans (  Not kidding when I say this clears the decks for our pending Wave 3 down…

Around the Ranch: DEWs?

Really interesting discussion and research on DEW systems tomorrow on the Peoplenomics side.  A great counterpoint – expanding thought from my consigliere as well.

I always enjoy an email repartee with Bullish Bob Bagley, whose investment emporium is in the nice part of Dallas.  You will remember that some time back I mentioned the house red wine here is Carlo Rossi Paisano. Seems like Bob has converted, too, but to Rossi’s Burgundy of all things!

“I bought my original bottle at $12.45 and got another email from Total Wine today.  So I was looking at what I could add to my original burgundy flavor, only to discover Bidenomics has hit my Carlo Rossi from $12.45 a bottle to $15.99, 28.22% increase.  You were saying to lose weight you have to get used to being hungry; add to that being thirsty!!!!!!

Remember when I wrote the book “How to Live on $10,000 a Year“?

That’s now the annual food budget – for two.

Cooking has, as a result, become bi-polar.  One day it’s skimpy tacos or mac-n-cheese.  Filet mignons or T-bones the next. The wine helps to deny the reality of collapse.

Off to take dinner money off the table…

Write when it changes,

author avatar
George Ure
Amazon Author Page: UrbanSurvival Bio:

37 thoughts on “Retail Sales – and the “Need” for War”

  1. Wordslinger:

    I still bet the world wobbles on despite frightening situs in Euro-land and Asia (to say naught of the perpetual mess here in USA). But, maybe that’s due to being downwind from the Windy City? I’ll be the one dangling feet in lake applying SPF 2,000.

    Good take on the smashing retail sales #. Less than 1% per yr doesn’t sound upbeat. But, the Fed remains in a cleft stick of their own cutting. It would be insanity to raise rates again. Keep an eye on the TNX. We are smack on the 10/18/22 peak. Most will watch closing nummer. Charts track intra-day and … so do I.

    $10k / year for groceries for (2). Ditto. Held my nose and looked at the weekly grocery bill when Mrs. Egor arrived home yesterday. Ugh. Maybe it’s $12k?

    Nice steady rain here overnight through morning. The cat is miffed.

    Write when you get square.

      • Experienced 2 inches rain last night, and barber in town has 3 inches in his gauge. Lawns are green.

    • just the two of you I’m guessing..
      ours runs 550.00 per person if you eat all meals at home.. or the equivalent to one cup of coffee and Danish and one cheese burger if you eat out..
      it always surprises me that people don’t consider what the cost is for what they eat or utilities away from home..most people consume a great deal of their utilities at the company expense..

    • our grocery expenses is enough to choke a that fuel is skyrocketing..prices will to.. a soda that was a quarter is right at 3 dollars with tax..
      if you count it as an make 30 percent a year plus..all other prices will adjust accordingly.. a little in a little out ..a company has to make a profit..

  2. Kiss This !

    Ure were warned, warned, warned again and again..for YEARS.

    Dont look now – but THE Bear has emerged from his looong slumber and is ANGRY.
    Anger and RUSsian Bears’ is a terrible mix..for the World. Western blindness seems uncorrectable short Eye transplant surgery..

    So surgery it IS, stat.


  3. re: “Sales”
    feat: Missing something


    My most recent read-in-progress from the library is “The Myth of Normal (trauma, illness & healing in a toxic culture) by Dr. Gabor Maté.

    Speaking of the library, children’s storytime last Saturday was attended by the RCMP in the interests of maintaining law and order. I don’t know what stories Miss Assuma Gender, Skirt Browning, and Moxie Cotton delivered to the children at the ‘Read by Queens’ event. The CBC report on matters advises that there were no charges or arrests following the fracas outside the reading venue.

    God save the King!

  4. “….,the construction of new fine-pitch semiconductor plants in Phoenix and not far from Austin.”
    – On that note. Musk just bought six hundred acres just outside of Austin. The reason / project is a secret.., for the moment.

  5. “I bought my original bottle at $12.45 and got another email from Total Wine today. So I was looking at what I could add to my original burgundy flavor, only to discover Bidenomics has hit my Carlo Rossi from $12.45 a bottle to $15.99, 28.22% increase.”

    let me get you a recipe…save the bottles and refill em yourself..

    here you go..
    they say 4.50 a jug.. I think they are considering the jug cost..
    my most expensive wine was 10.. average cost is about a quarter a bottle..
    I think I’m getting fairly good at it now..the dandelion is mellowing out with age..
    I made grape wine using the grapes from my son in laws fathers grape vines . the first bottling it was at 10 percent..the wild yeast didn’t die off and it fermented 3 more times.. it tastes great but gas a kick like the fruit punch I had in the service.. I don’t know how strong it is. kick like a mule. needless to say I don’t share it’s stronger than 10 percent probably 3 times that and I have no way to know.

    the cost of the wine kit is way higher than I started out with..but you’ll make it back after a couple of batches..

    • .Yerp – got some “legacy” Elderberry Wine lying around here somewhere – woo does it have a kick, or it used to.

      Still has debris/floaters on the bottom of bottles. Had labels made up – printed – a real hoot. I breakout a bottle or two for holidays decoration..”Ohh you fancy” is the general vibe we be going for.
      The reality of the situation is more like that Werewolf at Traders Vics, sipping on a Margarita, and his hair was perfect! “who to howl, howl to who”

      .. where the BCN grew up.

      • Wow… there is a learning curve just like everything first batches tasted like diesel fuel..led is more in wine..
        reading about your elderberry wine I thought I should check out that replication of a 200 a bottle desert wine.. so I went to sample it..dam that’s good lol.. about fifty bottles worth.. been waiting to bottle it until I can get the bottles.. I am going to make the bottles .. a Moai bottle..I just have to make the mold then cast them..its for Xmas an apricot peach and yum its good

        • LooB – absolutely luv the Moai bottle idea..f-ing cool. Built my better half a ceramics studio in CA and have just broken ground on one here about 5 xtimes the cost of one in CA.
          I have been learning/making Mayan “ogiebogie” scary head lanterns (coils), that are same size as typical jack-o-lantern. Better half throws a bowl with a very wide brim for his hat.
          Use native sourced clays, red & white-ish(high iron) that I pay local village kids to dig and screen&clean. Hats get glazed, “ogiebogie” man gets fired cone6 and stays in natural redish brown color.
          I immediately thought of a Moai bong for my first practice project. Bong making has taken me about 10 different bongs to get “good” at it. Thinking ultimately a Moai head lantern (candle/LED powered)
          Yes – we have standing offer to purchase, “wholesale” from several tourist gift shop owners and art dealers all the production. Funny thing is we are both RETIRED, and not really interested, dammit!

          Dont know Loob, I think U might a _ _ _ _ _, like Me! -

      • My folks made Elderberry wine when I was a kid in the country. We patrolled the country roads where the Elderberry bushes lined the ditches and filled buckets with berries. I even got to taste some at 5yrs old. The stuff cures the common cold! (Cough! Cough!)

  6. Hunter Biden’s case moved to Los Angeles and his top lawyer wants to remove himself from the case.
    – Could it possibly be that the Fed’s are actually going to prosecute and seek jail-time ?
    .., Nahhhhh !

      • Re: evenhandedness
        feat: pumpkins vs. glass slippers


        Kim Kardashian, billionaire daughter of a late lawyering member of the mid-90’s “Dream Team” passed her first year California bar exam equivalent a couple of years ago. Even then there was apparently buzz for her Pop’s Firm to hang out her shingle. How could “Cinderella” have ever made it in Hollywood without some pixie dust from her Fairy Godmother? Happy Hour today may well go down better with a few lines of American poetic justice on the side. May I recommend “The Hunter” by Ogden Nash?

    • When a client runs out of “green” attorneys tend to want to “run out”.

      Ignore the “stated reasons”, any excuse will do … as long as they can “run out” when the “green” runs out.

  7. Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari found inflation “still too high” after retail sales came in stronger than expectations. According to Kashkari, the Fed is “a long way away from cutting rates.”
    The S&P closed below the 50-day moving average for the first time since March 28.
    Fitch just doesn’t like anyone this month., threatens JPMorgan/Chase with a credit downgrade and fifty other banks. “They’re not out of the woods yet.”

  8. Speaking of DEWs. Perhaps the Hawaiian fire could be documented/reconstructed using doorbell and other webcam sources.

    When you find the website that we can bet on let us know. I haven’t read today’s indictment but did read the last indictment scored through PBS. I’ll take action on Trump is hit. Uncharted territory for the courts.

    Read the full indictment against Trump for his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election


  9. MAUI death toll now at 101.
    Governor emphasizing  opening Lahaina bypass road asap for access to West Maui.  Old Lahaina town remains blocked off limits.

  10. Now that I am telecommuting, my total food bill is a lot lower. I stop at a couple of different grocery stores when I shop, to get exactly what I want, and keep a lid on prices. If Winco carries something, it is usually cheaper.
    I still eat out on weekends, but not extravagantly. I typically eat out when breakfast and lunch specials are available.
    Check out kids are offering me a senior discount more often.
    I did go to couple of movies this summer. Enjoyed the splurge.
    Labor day sales are coming up.

    • Exactly… so is your toilet paper and utility costs.. workers use the majority of infrastructure costs at the workplace..
      very few calculate what they spend on coffee and lunch to their grocery expense.. I calculate 15.50 per person per day.. give or take 500.00 a month..and that’s going up..

  11. There’s a book from the 1960s which all the old-timers around here have read: “Report from Iron Mountain – on the accessibility and desirability of peace.”

    Document Type: CREST
    Collection: General CIA Records
    Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST):

    Release Decision: RIFPUB
    Original Classification: K
    Document Page Count: 1
    Document Creation Date: December 16, 2016
    Document Release Date: October 12, 2004
    Sequence Number: 12
    Case Number: Publication Date: November 5, 1967
    Content Type: NSPR

    File: Attachment
    Size: 128.71 KB

    The CIA has a file on “Iron Mountain,” but it’s just a satire…


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