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This Weekend Is Y2K for GPS Systems: Experts Warn the Grid, Finance, & Transportation Are at Risk

This Weekend Is Y2K for GPS Systems: Experts Warn the Grid, Finance, & Transportation Are at Risk

This weekend, on April 6th, we’re having another Y2K. This one is on GPS devices, as they roll over from “week 1024” to “week 1.”

  1. Best case? Nothing happens.
  2. Not so great case? If you have a Garmin or a TomTom on which you rely for navigating, you could run into trouble.
  3. Worst case? Some experts warn that the power grid, transportation, and the financial system could be affected.

What’s this all about?

First, here’s what’s going on.

The rollover issue itself is caused by the fact that GPS systems count weeks using a ten-bit parameter. This means they start counting at week zero and reset when they hit week 1,024. The first count (or “GPS epoch”) started on January 6th, 1980, and the first reset took place on August 21st, 1999. That means the next one is due April 6th this year. (source)

The good news is, devices have successfully been through an epoch before. The bad news is, some devices could go haywire and we’re way more tied into the GPS grid than we were when it happened in ’99.

What’s the worst case scenario?

Relax. I don’t think planes will begin crashing into the ocean.

But, if you have an older device and you haven’t been updating it, there is the possibility that the epoch could cause big problems.

When the rollover happens older devices may reset their date, potentially corrupting navigation data and throwing off location estimates. GPS relies on precise timing data to operate, and each nanosecond the clock is out, translates into a foot of location error.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Preppers save for a rainy day: Why financial planning is crucial for surviving an economic downturn

Preppers save for a rainy day: Why financial planning is crucial for surviving an economic downturn

Image: Preppers save for a rainy day: Why financial planning is crucial for surviving an economic downturn

(Natural News) As a prepper, one of the first things that you need to learn is the importance of financial preparedness. Don’t wait until an economic collapse before you start settling your debts or saving money. (h/t to TimGamble.com)

The basics of financial preparedness

Personal, business, or government debt is bad. It will stress you out, and it makes you more vulnerable to economic downturns.

To become financially prepared, you must first eliminate consumer debt. This includes credit cards, car loans, payday loans, personal loan, and installment plans.

To clear your debts, you may need to make sacrifices, such as:

  • Putting off major purchases.
  • Avoiding impulse purchases (e.g. luxury items, etc).
  • Bringing your own lunch to school or work.
  • Having a major yard sale to raise some money.
  • Starting a second job.

Making these sacrifices may seem hard, but keep in mind that in the end, the benefits will be more than worth it. (Related: 7 obvious warning signs we are heading for an economic meltdown.)

Second, you need to have emergency savings. Start by holding yard sales or getting a second job. Put the money somewhere safe, such as an insured certificate of deposit(CD). A CD is a type of federally insured savings account with a fixed interest rate and fixed date of withdrawal or maturity date. CDs don’t usually have monthly fees and they are different from traditional savings accounts in several ways. Savings accounts let you deposit and withdraw funds rather freely.

However, with a CD you agree to leave your money in the bank for a set amount of time (know as the “term length”). If you do access the money in a CD, you will need to pay a penalty. Term lengths can range from several days to a decade. The standard range of options for CDs is between three months and five years.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Demise of Democracy

The Demise of Democracy

Leonardo da Vinci Vitruvian man c1510

Leonardo wrote: “Vitruvius, architect, writes in his work on architecture that the measurements of man are distributed in this manner”:

The length of the outspread arms is equal to the height of a man.
From the hairline to the bottom of the chin is one-tenth of the height of a man.
From below the chin to the top of the head is one-eighth of the height of a man.
From above the chest to the top of the head is one-sixth of the height of a man.
From above the chest to the hairline is one-seventh of the height of a man.
The maximum width of the shoulders is a quarter of the height of a man.
From the breasts to the top of the head is a quarter of the height of a man.
From the elbow to the tip of the hand is a quarter of the height of a man.
From the elbow to the armpit is one-eighth of the height of a man.
The length of the hand is one-tenth of the height of a man.
The root of the penis [Il membro virile] is at half the height of a man.
The foot is one-seventh of the height of a man.

It’s almost silly to write anything on Brexit right now, because at right now+1 everything may have changed again. But almost silly is not the same as completely silly. At this point, whatever the outcome will be, it will serve to ridicule the idea and image of the UK as a functioning democracy. Something that ironically all participants in the Kabuki theater claim to be intent on preventing.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Finance, Fossil Fuels, and Climate Change

Finance and Fossil Fuels: Mark Hudson and Katelyn Friesen

Finance, Fossil Fuels, and Climate Change

Networks of Power in Canada

In our home country of Canada, the disparity between climate rhetoric and practice was recently pushed into the spotlight when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – an avowed climate champion – purchased on behalf of Canada an unfinished bitumen pipeline from Houston-based corporation Kinder-Morgan. The construction and operation of this pipeline will contribute to a planned increase in oil and gas extraction that will blow Canada’s already-weak Paris commitments out of the water.

This has led to some head-scratching in Canada. Why has Trudeau expended so much political capital and CAN$4.5 billion of national revenue on expanding a pipeline – particularly one that actually has a pretty shaky business case? If his government is vocally committed to action on climate change, why is it hell-bent on digging up and sending yet more of our high-carbon, oil-sands bitumen out to be burnt?

This line of questioning has turned the gaze of many inquiring minds toward examining the power of the fossil-fuel industry in Canada’s national politics. Is the industry on its own powerful enough to drive federal policy, even when that policy clashes with highly-publicized commitments on climate change?

Outright denial, once the favoured elite option, and still held in reserve as a fallback position at the centre of global capitalism, has given way to a new elite consensus. ‘Climate change is happening; “humans” are the main cause; it’s serious; it will have major costs.’ From there, however, the dissonance begins.

In order to understand power, we have to look not just to the fields of extraction and their ruined landscapes, nor only at the immediate effects on water, air, wildlife, and the nearby communities that rely on all three. We also have to look up and down the commodity chain. Attention is currently fixed downstream, at the politics and power manifesting in decisions about who and what is expendable in order to get the bitumen to market.

Tar sands, Alberta. Photo credit: Dru Oja Jay, Howl Collective
Tar sands, Alberta. Photo credit: Flickr/Dru Oja Jay, Howl Collective/CC BY 2.0

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Vampire finance sucks the lifeblood out of the economy

Vampire finance sucks the lifeblood out of the economy

We need democratic control of the financial sector. An interview with Saskia Sassen

The World Economic Forum. Photo by Studio Roosegaarde (Flickr)

Every year to coincide with the World Economic Forum, the Transnational Institute based in Amsterdam launches a State of Power report to expose and deepen our understanding of the mechanisms that elites use to maintain power and concentrate wealth. For its eighth edition, the report has focused on the financial sector, asking why it has grown more powerful despite causing the financial crisis of 2008. The report features this interview with renowned sociologist Saskia Sassen who has written extensively on how finance has changed the nature of cities today and how its logic of extraction has fuelled new forms of expulsions and dispossession. The interview concludes with a discussion of fractures in the power of ‘high finance’ and how citizens’ movements might take advantage to advance a democratic control of money. 

How powerful is finance today and from where does it derive its power?

First, finance shouldn’t be confused with traditional banking. We need banks – they sell money – whereas finance is a mode of extraction, just like mining: once value has been extracted they don’t care what is done with it. A traditional bank wants its customers’ children to be future clients, so it cares about relationships, but finance doesn’t care at this personal level, except if they are very, very rich.

Second, finance is a dangerous sector because financiers have learnt how to financialise just about everything. And they do this not through traditional banking practices, but through algorithms and highly speculative manipulations. They have invented instruments to serve themselves rather than whoever they are advising. Which means they often don’t lose even when their clients do.  

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

DEBT is the Achilles Heel of the globalist establishment… and pulling your money out of the banking system is the way to deal a DEATH BLOW to tyranny

Image: DEBT is the Achilles Heel of the globalist establishment… and pulling your money out of the banking system is the way to deal a DEATH BLOW to tyranny

(Natural News) After U.S. markets peaked in September nearly two years after Donald Trump’s victory came with the promise (and delivery) of pro-growth policies, investors got a scare in December when several factors combined with interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve to drive down indexes.

The Dow Jones, Nasdaq, and the S&P 500 all finished the year lower than they were in September. Worse, there are predictions that 2019 could hit markets harder. 

Bank of America just polled 234 panelists who manage more than $645 billion in investments where they think global growth is heading over the next 12 months, and 60 percent said it will be negative. 

On top of this potential nightmare scenario is the fact that governments around the world comprising the largest economies have nearly all become debtor nations that are one economic calamity away from global collapse.

As noted by Robert Gore at The Burning Platform blog, France’s Yellow Vest protesters may have inadvertently hit upon a way to bring about the collapse of the fiat money and debt system that is sustaining the very governments which increasingly suppress the people they are supposed to serve.

Gore notes that in recent days the French protesters — whom, you recall, took to the streets in response to a massive gasoline tax pushed by President Emmanuel Macron to fund France’s contributions to combat “global warming” agreed to at the Paris Accords in 2015 — have advocated a run on the country’s banks. Such a run, if it occurs, could actually start a chain reaction that would spread to other ostensibly wealthy countries including the United States.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

10 Years Automatic Earth


Winslow Homer Mending the nets 1881
 

Yes, it’s 10 years ago today, on January 22 2008, that Nicole Foss and I published our first article on the Automatic Earth (the first few years on Blogger). And, well, obviously, a lot has happened in those 10 years.

For ourselves, we went from living in Ottawa, Canada to doing a lot of touring starting in 2009, to support Nicole’s DVDs and video downloads. We visited Sweden, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Austria, Denmark, US of course, with prolonged stays in France, Britain, New Zealand, Australia, times that I miss a lot here and there, to now with Nicole settled in New Zealand and my time divided between Athens, Greece and the Netherlands.

We met so many people both online and in the flesh in all these countries it’s impossible to remember everyone of them, and every town we found ourselves in. Overall, it was a humbling experience to have so many people share their views and secrets, especially since we never stayed at hotels (or very rarely), we were always invited to stay with our readers. Thank you so much for that.

Since we started publishing 8 months before the fall of Bear Stearns, and we very much predicted the crisis that followed (we had been doing that before as well, since 2005 at the Oil Drum), we were the first warning sign for many people that things were going off the rails.

There are still to this day people expressing their gratitude for that. Others, though, not so much. And that has to do with the fact that governments, media and central banks came together to create the illusion of an economic recovery, something many if not most people still believe in. Just read the headlines and the numbers, on housing markets, stocks, GDP, jobs. Unfortunately, it was an illusion then and it still is now.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The energy of Bitcoin, the information economy and the (possible) decentralization of the world

The energy of Bitcoin, the information economy and the (possible) decentralization of the world

The near vertical rise and fall in price of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin in recent months has been accompanied by reporting about the energy used to run the Bitcoin network. The amount is enormous, more than enough to supply the entire country of Ireland.

Many other cryptocurrencies operate under less energy-intensive designs. But the more than 1,000 other digital coins beyond Bitcoin certainly use a considerable amount of energy though there is no overall estimate I’m aware of. (For the technically minded, here is a discussion of two popular methods associated with validating transactions, one of which is considerably less energy-intensive.)

We’d like to think that the information economy of which these newfangled currencies are part bears lightly on the broader environment. But as I pointed out in my piece “The Unbearable Lightness of Information,” much of what happens in the information economy is simply focused on extracting more resources more quickly to create more goods and services for more customers. The physical economy isn’t disappearing. It is merely being exploited more completely using digital information.

And beyond this, “Every person who works in the so-called information sector of the economy must be housed, clothed, schooled, provided transportation, provisioned with household goods, given opportunities for entertainment and recreation, [and] supplied with a wide array of public services.”

Having said all this, I find one aspect of the blockchain technology behind the explosion in digital currencies to be promising. This technology offers a possible path for decentralizing banking and finance and myriad other Internet-related services we’ve come to rely on from big corporations.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

James Howard Kunstler: It’s Time To Be Honest With Ourselves

The major systems our society relies on are failing
The ever-eloquent James Howard Kunstler returns to our podcast this week to discuss the dangers of the ‘comprehensive dishonesty’ he observes in our culture today.

We occupy ourselves with distractions (e.g., the fear du jour that our media continually manufactures) and diversions (e.g., our empty social media addiction), while ignoring the erosion of the essential systems around us. Making matters worse, the leaders we assume are focusing on these issues aren’t or are woefully out of their depth.

It’s time for society to take a hard look in the mirror and be honest about the shortcoming it sees. Identifying them then opens the door to deciding what to do about them.

Without the courage to be honest, we condemn ourselves to a failing status quo that likely has little remaining time left:

What we’re seeing is the result of behavior of people who have no idea what they’re doing. Most of the major systems that we rely on are entering a state of failure of one kind or another. And, of course, the larger problem is that they’re interlinked, and that their failures will be mutual and self-amplifying.

These systems include the energy system that has powered industrial civilization, the oil and gas industries which you’ve talked about a lot and I think that our listeners understand pretty well — although the finer points of it, like the ‘energy return on investment’, is something that’s certainly not understood by the general public, or most of the officers in our government, and certainly not in the New York Times, Washington Post or other major media outlets. They just don’t get that.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Automatic Earth Primer Guide 2017

 


Pablo Picasso Bull plates I-XI 1945
Nicole Foss has completed a huge tour de force with her update of the Automatic Earth Primer Guide. The first update since 2013 is now more like a Primer Library, with close to 160 articles and videos published over the past -almost- 10 years, and Nicole’s words to guide you through it. Here’s Nicole:

The Automatic Earth (TAE) has existed for almost ten years now. That is nearly ten years of exploring and describing the biggest possible big picture of our present predicament. The intention of this post is to gather all of our most fundamental articles in one place, so that readers can access our worldview in its most comprehensive form. For new readers, this is the place to start. The articles are roughly organised into topics, although there is often considerable overlap.

We are reaching limits to growth in so many ways at the same time, but it is not enough to understand which are the limiting factors, but also what time frame each particular subset of reality operates over, and therefore which is the key driver at what time. We can think of the next century as a race of hurdles we need to clear. We need to know how to prepare for each as it approaches, as we need to clear each one in order to be able to stay in the race.

TAE is known primarily as a finance site because finance has the shortest time frame of all. So much of finance exists in a virtual world in which changes can unfold very quickly. There are those who assume that changes in a virtual system can happen without major impact, but this assumption is dangerously misguided.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Banks Are Evil

Barandash Karandashich/Shutterstock

Banks Are Evil

It’s time to get painfully honest about this 

I don’t talk to my classmates from business school anymore, many of whom went to work in the financial industry.

Why?

Because, through the lens we use here at PeakProsperity.com to look at the world, I’ve increasingly come to see the financial industry — with the big banks at its core — as the root cause of injustice in today’s society. I can no longer separate any personal affections I might have for my fellow alumni from the evil that their companies perpetrate.

And I’m choosing that word deliberately: Evil.

In my opinion, it’s long past time we be brutally honest about the banks. Their influence and reach has metastasized to the point where we now live under a captive system. From our retirement accounts, to our homes, to the laws we live under — the banks control it all. And they run the system for their benefit, not ours.

While the banks spent much of the past century consolidating their power, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Actin 1999 emboldened them to accelerate their efforts. Since then, the key trends in the financial industry have been to dismantle regulation and defang those responsible for enforcing it, to manipulate market prices (an ambition tremendously helped by the rise of high-frequency trading algorithms), and to push downside risk onto “muppets” and taxpayers.

Oh, and of course, this hasn’t hurt either: having the ability to print up trillions in thin-air money and then get first-at-the-trough access to it. Don’t forget, the Federal Reserve is made up of and run by — drum roll, please — the banks.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why We Are So Bad at Solving Problems

Before you raise your voice, please allow me to say that I do indeed know this starts to feel like a set of Russian dolls, and this is a re-run of a re-run. It’s just, I didn’t start it. Got a mail yesterday from the people at OpEdNews.com asking if I would allow them to repost something I wrote over a year ago. And since I’m notoriously bad at remembering anything I wrote even just 24 hours ago, when I read what they wanted to republish, it was almost like a whole new world opened up for me. And I kind of liked it.

And only then I saw that what they had read, which was published May 2, 2015 as Quote Of The Year. And The Next. And The One After, was actually largely a rerun of a January 1 2013 article. But, you know, when someone tells you “Your essay is excellent. And as one who has been closely attuned to such matters for nearly 50 years I can say with confidence that your theme is fresh and current as any other we should be reading and heeding today. In fact, I think it is timeless.”, A) you feel young, and B) you say: who am I to disagree with that?

So this today went up at OpEdNews.com, and is now once again up at The Automatic Earth as well. Because I do still think it’s relevant and important to acknowledge that “we are going to evolve through crisis, not through proactive change.”, and that we are nowhere near realizing how true that is, and how much that denial, unfortunately, guides our existence. We’re either not even smart monkeys, or we’re that at best. We need a lot more self-reflection than we are getting, or we’re going down. And my bet, much as it pains me, is on door no. 2. From May 5, 2015:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New Harbor: A Time For Staying Out Of Harms Way

New Harbor: A Time For Staying Out Of Harms Way

Preserving your financial capital

Given the brutal start to the markets in the first three weeks of 2016, we thought it a good time to check in with the team at New Harbor Financial. We have had them on our podcast periodically over the past years as the market churned to ever new highs, and have always appreciated their skepticism of these liquidity-driven “”markets”” as well as their unwavering commitment to risk management should the party in stocks end suddenly.

So, how is their risk-managed approach faring now that the S&P 500 has suddenly dropped 8% since Christmas? Quite well. Their general portfolio is flat for the year so far — evidence that caution, prudence and hedging can indeed preserve capital during market downdrafts.

We’ve invited the New Harbor team back on this week to hear their latest assessment on the markets, as well as how they’re approaching their portfolio positioning moving forward:

We spend a lot of time talking about position sizing. Right now we have very little in the stock market. We never cheer for a crash in the sense that we know a lot of people would likely get harmed in such a scenario, but we also spend our time assessing reality and probability. The likelihood of probability for a crash certainly has never been non-zero, but it has developed a greater likelihood than it had even just a few weeks ago. There has been a notable sentiment change.

I’d like to point out: we’re not even a month into the year and we have already clawed back over two years’ worth of gains in the stock market. Even if you look at the S&P 500, which has been the most lofty because of its capitalization-weighted nature, where we are at right now takes us all the way back near the end of 2013.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Reinventing Banking: From Russia to Iceland to Ecuador

Reinventing Banking: From Russia to Iceland to Ecuador

  • In Russia, vulnerability to Western sanctions has led to proposals for a banking system that is not only independent of the West but is based on different design principles.
  • In Iceland, the booms and busts culminating in the banking crisis of 2008-09 have prompted lawmakers to consider a plan to remove the power to create money from private banks.
  • In Ireland, Iceland and the UK, a recession-induced shortage of local credit has prompted proposals for a system of public interest banks on the model of the Sparkassen of Germany.
  • In Ecuador, the central bank is responding to a shortage of US dollars (the official Ecuadorian currency) by issuing digital dollars through accounts to which everyone has access, effectively making it a bank of the people.

Developments in Russia

In a November 2015 article titled “Russia Debates Unorthodox Orthodox Financial Alternative,” William Engdahl writes:

A significant debate is underway in Russia since imposition of western financial sanctions on Russian banks and corporations in 2014. It’s about a proposal presented by the Moscow Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church. The proposal, which resembles Islamic interest-free banking models in many respects, was first unveiled in December 2014 at the depth of the Ruble crisis and oil price free-fall. This August the idea received a huge boost from the endorsement of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It could change history for the better depending on what is done and where it further leads.

Engdahl notes that the financial sanctions launched by the US Treasury in 2014 have forced a critical rethinking among Russian intellectuals and officials. Like China, Russia has developed an internal Russian version of SWIFT Interbank payments; and it is now considering a plan to restructure Russia’s banking system. Engdahl writes:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Political Consequences of Financial Crises

The Political Consequences of Financial Crises

LONDON – I may not be the only finance professor who, when setting essay topics for his or her students, has resorted to a question along the following lines: “In your view, was the global financial crisis caused primarily by too much government intervention in financial markets, or by too little?” When confronted with this either/or question, my most recent class split three ways.

Roughly a third, mesmerized by the meretricious appeal of the Efficient Market Hypothesis, argued that governments were the original sinners. Their ill-conceived interventions – notably the US-backed mortgage underwriters Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as the Community Reinvestment Act – distorted market incentives. Some even embraced the argument of the US libertarian Ron Paul, blaming the very existence of the Federal Reserve as a lender of last resort.

Another third, at the opposite end of the political spectrum, saw former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan as the villain. It was Greenspan’s notorious reluctance to intervene in financial markets, even when leverage was growing dramatically and asset prices seemed to have lost touch with reality, that created the problem. More broadly, Western governments, with their light-touch approach to regulation, allowed markets to career out of control in the early years of this century.

The remaining third tried to have it both ways, arguing that governments intervened too much in some areas, and too little in others. Avoiding the question as put is not a sound test-taking strategy; but the students may have been onto something.

Now that the crisis is seven years behind us, how have governments and voters in Europe and North America answered this important question? Have they shown, by their actions, that they think financial markets need tighter controls or that, on the contrary, the state should repudiate bailouts and leave financial firms to face the full consequences of their own mistakes?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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