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How We Got Here: the Global Economy’s 75-Year Stumble to the Precipice

How We Got Here: the Global Economy’s 75-Year Stumble to the Precipice

Not only will there not be a recovery, but there can’t be a recovery, as those brittle extremes have been lost for good.

How did the global economy end up teetering on a precarious financial precipice? To formulate a cogent answer, let’s take a whirlwind tour of the history of the global economy 1946-2020.

Before we start the tour, I want to return briefly to my first Musings of the year, which was posted on January 4, 2020, before Covid-19 was officially announced on January 23, 2020. (The Musings Reports are sent weekly to patrons and subscribers at the $5/month or higher level.)

Instability Rising: Why 2020 Will Be Different:
“Economically, the 11 years since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09 have been one relatively coherent era of modest growth, rising wealth/income inequality and coordinated central bank stimulus every time a crisis threatened to disrupt the domestic or global economy.This era will draw to a close in 2020 and a new era of destabilization and uncertainty begins.”

The long-term trends set up a row of dominoes that the pandemic has toppled. But any puff of air that toppled the first domino would have toppled all the dominoes of fragility, instability and unsustainable extremes that characterize the global economy.

The whirlwind tour of the global economy’s history must include these essential dynamics: energy, currencies, globalization, debt and financialization, which broadly speaking refers to everything that renders finance (borrowing, leverage, speculation) more profitable than actually generating goods and services.

The “glorious thirty” (Les Trente Glorieuses) years from 1946 to 1975 were decades of rising prosperity in the developed world (Europe, Japan, North America) and rapid development in the first tier of developing countries in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. (Decolonized nations and China struggled with political, social and economic turmoil.)

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

Never Before Have I Seen So Much Fake Unemployment & Jobs Data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Department Nails It

Never Before Have I Seen So Much Fake Unemployment & Jobs Data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Department Nails It

Labor Department today: People on state & federal unemployment insurance jumped to 31.5 million, worst ever.

Bureau of Labor Statistics today: 4.8 million jobs created, unemployment dropped by 3.2 million.

BLS under-reported unemployment by 13.7 million, based on data from the Labor Department. What’s happening is infuriating. Read and cringe.

Normally, the jobs report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is released on the first Friday of the month. And the unemployment claims report is released Thursday every week. But this month, the monthly jobs report was also released today because of the 4th of July weekend. And now we have this delicious situation of both reports on the same day, with the Labor Department’s unemployment insurance data – people who are actually receiving unemployment benefits under state and federal programs – calling the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ survey-based report a liar. And we’ll go through them.

What the Labor Department reported today:

The total number of people who continued to receive unemployment compensation in the week ended June 27 under all state and federal unemployment insurance programs, including gig workers, surged by 937,810 people in the week, to 31.49 million (not seasonally adjusted), the highest and worst and most gut-wrenching ever:

The number of people receiving state unemployment insurance (blue columns in the chart above) has essentially been flat for three weeks (it ticked up this week), as many people got their jobs back while many other people were newly laid off. But the number of people on federal unemployment programs, including gig workers (red columns), has been soaring.

What the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today:

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

2 Aircraft Carriers Lead ‘Show Of Strength’ In South China Sea As Navarro Slams Beijing For “Spreading The Virus”

2 Aircraft Carriers Lead ‘Show Of Strength’ In South China Sea As Navarro Slams Beijing For “Spreading The Virus”

On the eve of Independence Day, the White House is once again stoking tensions with Beijing, as President Trump continues to embrace aggressive rhetoric toward China as a key campaign issue that (he hopes) will help bring out more Trump voters worried about Biden and/or members of his family’s dubious business ties to China and Ukraine.

Media reports claim that the US is sending not one but two aircraft carriers into the South China Sea, one of the hottest flashpoints on earth right now (at least, one of the hottest flash points that’s not situated along India’s land-border), as the US Navy holds military exercises in the area, a major middle finger to Beijing and the PLA-Navy.

The USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz are scheduled to hold some of the Navy’s largest exercises in recent years in the area, which is frequently beset upon by American destroyers sailing within 12 miles of certain islands developed by China that are the subject of competing international claims.

The exercise will involve the two carriers as well as 4 other warships along with round-the-clock fights and missions.

The news comes as Peter Navarro, who has seemingly been relegated back to a supply closet office in the West Wing now that the trade deal is dead in the water, has apparently been let out of his cage long enough to rant about Beijing and the CCP leadership’s unforgivable failure to contain the coronavirus.

Perhaps it’s because China has seemingly been on a agricultural commodity buying spree in Latin America?

For a while there, it seemed like China would buy up ever-more American agricultural products for the simple reason that they were cheap and China needed the supplies.

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

The World’s Most Important Oil Consumers And Producers

The World’s Most Important Oil Consumers And Producers

Following last week’s release of the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2020, I began to review and analyze the data. Today I take a deeper dive into the numbers on petroleum. Oil accounts for a third of the world’s energy consumption. That is the greatest share for any category of energy. In 2019, the world consumed a record 98.3 million barrels per day (BPD) of oil. This was nearly 1 million BPD higher than consumption in 2018, and marked the 10th consecutive record for global oil consumption.

Over the past 35 years, global oil consumption has risen by 39 million BPD, an average increase of 1.1 million BPD each year. Last year’s rise fell just short of that average.

In recent years, BP has begun to provide more granularity in the Review. In previous years, the oil consumption category included biofuels. Now, they have split biofuels into a separate category, so the consumption numbers above are for just oil and derivatives of natural gas and coal (e.g., synthetic oil).

The U.S. continues to lead all countries in the consumption of oil, but China has had the fastest consumption growth for several years. Below are the Top 10 global consumers of oil for 2019.

Related: Saudi Arabia Eyes Total Dominance In Oil And GasOil consumption fell in most developed countries and rose in most developing countries. A notable exception was Germany. Although consumption in OECD countries fell by 0.6% and consumption across Europe was down 0.3%, Germany bucked the trend and saw its consumption grow by 0.9%.

The biggest percentage increase in oil consumption was in Iran, which was the world’s 11th largest consumer. Demand there jumped by 10.0%. Iran was the only country in the world with a double-digit percentage increase in demand.

In contrast, double-digit decreases in oil demand were seen in Iceland (-12.7%), Venezuela (-11.6%), and Pakistan (-10.5%).

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

The US Military Has Its Knee on the Throat of the World

The US Military Has Its Knee on the Throat of the World

The 2021 Defense Budget is making its way through Congress. The annual drama of this event has always been of particular interest to residents of the north Pacific Coast, as the US Navy’s nursery lies only twelve miles off our coast. This is where many of the weapons purchased by Congress take their first baby steps of testing and training before deployment. As a requirement for approval of the Navy’s Environmental Impact Statement regarding these exercises, the Navy must consult us every few years. This opportunity to confront Navy personnel has provided an opportunity to become acquainted with the environmental effects of these weapons, and, just as importantly, the menace their ever-increasing lethality constitutes for life on earth.

I watched some of the Armed Services Committee hearings on the budget. Generals and other military representatives were visibly pleased with their new product. As Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, observed, “The character of war is changing frequency”.

The messy, scrappy, unsatisfying, asymmetrical wars in the devastated Middle East have lost the interest of our warriors, as two worthier adversaries, China and Russia, have been conjured up, and now grip their attention. Although our budget comprises over 40% of the world’s military spending, and China and Russia spend respectively one-sixth and one-tenth of ours, the Pentagon refers to them generously as “near-peers”.

China and Russia are not eager for these roles. We have had to torment them, like reluctant bulls in a bullfight. We sail our warships within twelve miles of their shores, conducting vast military exercises in the South China Sea, the Black Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Japan Sea.

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

Connecting the Dates – US Media Used To Stop The ‘Threat’ of Peace

Connecting the Dates – US Media Used To Stop The ‘Threat’ of Peace

This is not a column defending Donald Trump.

Across my career I have said more positive words about the scolex family of intestinal tapeworms than I have said about Donald Trump. (Scolex have been shown to read more.)

No, this is a column about context. When The New York Times reports anonymous sources from the intelligence community say Russia paid Taliban fighters to kill American soldiers, context is very important.

Some of that context is that Mike Pompeo said, “I was the CIA director – We lied, we cheated, we stole. We had entire training courses.” So we know for certain that U.S. intelligence agencies lie to you and me. We saw it with WMD, and we might be seeing it again now.

But that’s not the context I’m referring to. 

We could talk about the context of the fact that the Taliban does not need to be paid to kill American soldiers because their entire goal for the past twenty years has been to kill American soldiers. Paying them a bounty would be like offering the guy sleeping with your wife twenty bucks to sleep with your wife.

But that’s not the context I’m referring to. 

We could talk about the fact that the U.S. has been funding the Taliban for years! Yes, we fund them, sometimes arm them, and then fight them. This is barely a secret. So for all intents and purposes, the U.S. does the same thing our corporate media is now accusing Russia of doing (with no proof).

But that’s not the context I’m referring to. 

No, the context I’m referring to is how our military industrial complex (with the help of our ruling elite and our corporate media) have stopped Trump from pushing us toward the brink of peace. …Yes, the brink of peace.

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

“Panic-Driven Hoarding Of Bank Notes”: People Aren’t Abandoning Cash During The Pandemic, They’re Socking It Away

“Panic-Driven Hoarding Of Bank Notes”: People Aren’t Abandoning Cash During The Pandemic, They’re Socking It Away

Habits change in the midst of a global recession, not to mention a global pandemic. We have already looked at how the pandemic has caused seismic shifts in many industries, but it is also causing a shift in how people think about, handle and (in this case) hoard cash. 

While we have been told non-stop that the pandemic is going to prompt the demise of paper currency and the words “digital dollar” continue to make appearances in government white papers and studies, the Bank of England found that there was actually a marked increase in bills in circulation in places like the U.S., Canada, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Australia and Russia. 

And while we continue to hear arguments about a cashless society being more efficient and less virus-friendly, it would still pose a major challenge to implement and would – in the case of this study – directly contradict how people are handing their cash during the global pandemic, according to Bloomberg

Charles Goodhart and co-author Jonathan Ashworth wrote in their study: “While the economic shutdowns and increased use of online retailing are currently diminishing cash’s traditional function as a medium of exchange, it seems that this is being more than offset by panic driven hoarding of banknotes.”

“Cash in circulation has actually been growing strongly,” they continued. And while it may just be a small portion of a percentage of the cash that Central Banks have printed, the velocity of money can’t be ignore for inflationary purposes.

The research stands at odds with President Donald Trump’s former economic adviser Gary Cohn, who recently advocated for the disappearance of cash. Up until now, cash use has been on the decline due to credit cards and electronic transferring of money. 

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

A Summer of Protest, Unemployment & Presidential Politics – Welcome to 1932

A Summer of Protest, Unemployment & Presidential Politics – Welcome to 1932

In 1932, as in 2020, the nation experienced an explosion of civil unrest on the eve of a presidential election, writes James N. Gregory.

The Bonus Army stages a demonstration at the empty Capitol on July 2, 1932.
(Underwood and Underwood, photographers; Library of Congress)

An election looms. An unpopular president wrestles with historic unemployment rates. Demonstrations erupt in hundreds of locations. The president deploys Army units to suppress peaceful protests in the nation’s capital. And most of all he worries about an affable Democratic candidate who is running against him without saying much about a platform or plans.

Welcome to 1932.

I am a historian and director of the Mapping American Social Movements Project, which explores the history of social movements and their interaction with American electoral politics.

The parallels between the summer of 1932 and what is happening in the U.S. currently are striking. While the pandemic and much else is different, the political dynamics are similar enough that they are useful for anyone trying to understand where the U.S. is and where it is going.

Tanks and mounted troops advance to break up a Bonus Marchers’ camp of veterans protesting lost wages, Washington, D.C., July 28, 1932. (PhotoQuest/Getty Images)

Multiracial Street Protest Movement

In 1932, as in 2020, the nation experienced an explosion of civil unrest on the eve of a presidential election.

The Great Depression had deepened through three years by 1932. With 24% of the work force unemployed and the federal government refusing to provide funds to support the jobless and homeless as local governments ran out of money, men and women across the country joined demonstrations demanding relief.

Our mapping project has recorded 389 hunger marches, eviction fights and other protests in 138 cities during 1932.

Although less than the thousands of Black Lives Matter protests, there are similarities.

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

The Fed Just Picked the “Big Guys” (Again) Over Individuals

The Fed Just Picked the “Big Guys” (Again) Over Individuals

Fed against people
Photo by Flickr.com CC BY | Photoshopped

In a recent disclosure to Congress, the Fed revealed that it just purchased $429 million in bonds from 86 corporations.

They did this through something called a Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF). Buried on the Fed’s website, the press release explains the intention behind this purchase of bonds:

The SMCCF will purchase corporate bonds to create a corporate bond portfolio that is based on a broad, diversified market index of U.S. corporate bonds. This index is made up of all the bonds in the secondary market that have been issued by U.S. companies that satisfy the facility’s minimum rating, maximum maturity, and other criteria.

According to Agora’s 5-Minute Forecast, the Fed also plans to purchase an additional $320 million of corporate bonds in the near future.

If you read the bolded phrase above from the Fed’s press release, you might think they intend to use this as an opportunity to help the “little guy” weather the recent economic storm.

But the “broad, diversified market index” that the Fed claims it’s rescuing doesn’t appear that broad… or that diversified.

The list includes giants like AT&T, Walgreens, Microsoft, Pfizer, Apple, Walmart, Comcast, Ford, Boeing, Cisco and Visa.

It goes without saying that these behemoths can weather out the storm while the smaller corporations struggle and lay off employees.

Fed Doing Its Best to Make Sure the “Big Guys” Keep Winning

The same edition of Agora’s 5-Minute Forecast sums up another example of a confused Fed:

The fact the Fed is buying corporate bonds at all signals favoritism toward big existing players — indebted lumbering behemoths that can’t innovate. It’s not as if the Fed is going to take the largesse it creates from thin air and spread it around to a plucky but capital-starved startup, right?

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

The ten worst predictions in history: learning from past mistakes

The ten worst predictions in history: learning from past mistakes

Ugo Bardi experiments with new predictive methods.

This post was inspired mainly by the shock I had with the various failed attempts to predict the outcome of the Covid-19 epidemic. It was truly a sobering experience: bad predictions, clueless politicians, arrogant scientists, idiotic journalists, and more. It made me doubt of the usefulness of models in general. I think we are doing several (too many) things wrong with the way we use models and (sometimes) we trust them. I’ll be discussing more on this subject in future posts, for the time being, here is a list of failed predictions that I think can teach us something.

1. Coronavirus Deaths. In 2020, the model developed in large part by Neil Ferguson at the Imperial College in London was the main element that led the British government to engage in a strict “lockdown” policy to avoid the hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of deaths that the model predicted as a result of the COVID-19 disease. Most European States followed suit. It is still early to evaluate how the real world followed the model but, if we look at the result proposed in the “Report n. 9“, we see that the model was clearly overly pessimistic. The authors of the model defended their work saying that their prediction of doom was just one of several scenarios, which is correct, but weak as a defense. In the future, we’ll be able to say if Europeans truly wrecked their economies for nothing but, for the time being, the coronavirus experience can be seen as a sobering experience on the limits of the models as predictive tools.

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

Heat Wave To Bake Significant Parts Of US Through Mid-July

Heat Wave To Bake Significant Parts Of US Through Mid-July  

Extreme temperatures, mostly in the mid/the high 90s, are expected for the first half of July for much of the U.S., reported The Weather Channel

These hotter-than-usual temperatures have already begun this week and will bake a significant part of the country this holiday weekend, with elevated temperatures forecasted through the midpoint of the month. 

Current weather models show a heat dome is expected for much of the country: 

A broad ridge of high pressure and a jet stream that will remain well to the north will allow heat to spread across large sections of the Plains, Midwest, Northeast, and Rockies.

This pattern will be supported by two domes of high pressure – one over the East and a second, stronger dome over the Southwest – that will cause air to sink and warm over their respective regions. The domes will also bring warmer air northward on their western and northern sides and diminish rain chances. – The Weather Channel 

North America Temperature Anomalies: 4-Week Average 

The epicenter of the heat will be centered initially around the Great Lakes area, then spread to much of the Midwest, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast. Temperatures will be 20 degrees above average in the Upper Midwest on July 4. 

“The first half of July looks to have well-above-normal temperatures, at pretty high probabilities, beginning around the Fourth of July or slightly before,” Jon Gottschalck, chief of the Operational Prediction Branch at the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, told NBC News

Many large metropolitan areas in the Midwest and Northeast will be +10 degrees above average through the holiday weekend – an indication that energy demand will surge. 

The most common use of degree days is for tracking energy usage – so we will examine cooling degree days (CDD) in several U.S. regions to determine a spike in energy usage is imminent. 

Midwest CDD

Central CDD

Northeast CDD

Southeast CDD

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

Seriously, Get The Hell Out Of Afghanistan

Seriously, Get The Hell Out Of Afghanistan

With overwhelming bipartisan support, the House Armed Services Committee has added a Liz Cheney-spearheaded amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which throws severe roadblocks in the Trump administration’s proposed scale-down of US military presence in Afghanistan and Germany.

As The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald notes, both parties advancing the amendment cited in their arguments the completely unsubstantiated intelligence leak that was recently published by credulous mass media reporters alleging that Russia has paid bounties to Taliban fighters for killing the occupying forces in Afghanistan. Yet another western imperialist agenda once again facilitated by unforgivably egregious journalistic malpractice in the mass media.

Every aspect of this development is enraging.

The mass media have continued to add to their mountain of Gish gallop fallacies promoting this narrative with a new Daily Beast report citing former senior Taliban figure Mullah Manan Niazi who asserts that “The Taliban have been paid by Russian intelligence for attacks on U.S. forces—and on ISIS forces—in Afghanistan from 2014 up to the present.” The Beast’s own article admits that its source has severe conflicts of interest and is believed to be a CIA asset by Taliban leadership, and that Niazi provided no evidence of any kind for his claim or any further details whatsoever.

These flimsy, poorly-sourced allegations are being hammered into mainstream liberal consciousness on a daily basis now in the exact same way the discredited Russiagate psyop was, and just like with Russiagate the narrative they are being used to shape helps advance military expansionism and new cold war escalations which just so happen to fit perfectly into pre-existing geostrategic agendas of planetary domination.

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

Central Banks & the Hidden Agenda to Control Society

Central Banks & the Hidden Agenda to Control Society

We will be releasing this report this week which includes, as part of the Great Reset, the push to eliminate currency to move toward a digital currency world where they can track everything we do and allow for drastic increases in taxation. They have been suddenly justifying this by claiming that viruses can live on surfaces. So after using money in coins or paper since 700 BC, we have suddenly determined that money is too dirty and we need only digital money to be safe in the future.

The Bank of Canada is the latest to move towards this Gates coalition to control the world population in every way possible. They state on their website:

The Bank of Canada is embarking on a program of major social significance to design a contingent system for a central bank digital currency (CBDC), which can be thought of as a banknote, but in digital form. This project will require us to break new ground. It will take into consideration a wide variety of factors, including policy considerations, diverse stakeholder needs, difficult technical challenges and the development of a technical architecture to realize a CBDC pilot system. 

The future will never be the same. We are staring in the face of a totally new fascist type of authoritarian state. Anyone who disagrees is immediately called a “conspiracy nut” or a “right-wing zealot” because they will never debate the issues — they simply prefer to attack the messenger.

Is America Heading For Civil War? Of Course It Is…

Is America Heading For Civil War? Of Course It Is…

In last week’s article I discussed the issue of American “balkanization” and the rapid migration of conservatives and moderates from large population centers and states that are becoming militant in their progressive ideology. In my home state of Montana there has been a surge of people trying to escape the chaos and oppression of leftist states. Some are here because of the pandemic and the harsh restrictions they had to endure during the first lockdowns. Others are here because they can’t stand the hostility of identity politics, cancel culture and race riots. Either way, they are fleeing places with decidedly leftist influences.

Uprooting and moving to an entirely new place is not an easy thing to do, especially in the middle of a pandemic. For many people, such an idea would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. Believe me, moving to a place like the Rocky Mountain Redoubt is not an easy transition for most. Hopefully these people understand that they will have to make extensive preparations for the rough winter and be ready to work hard in the spring and summer months to survive. Maybe they don’t realize yet how tough it is here; maybe they know and don’t care.

That’s how bad the situation has become – Rational and reasonable people are willing to leave behind their old life and risk it all to keep a margin of freedom.

In my view it is clear that the political left has gone so far off the rails into its own cultism that there is no coming back. There can be no reconciliation between the two sides, so we must separate, or we must fight. I advocate for separation first for a number of reasons:

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

Nuclear powered airplanes, cars, and tanks

Nuclear powered airplanes, cars, and tanks

Preface. After all the research I’ve done on rebuildable, not renewable wind and solar, hydrogen, batteries, and other Green dreams of an endless future of growth based on them, I’ve come to see them as just as likely as nuclear airplanes and cars. Not going to happen.

***

Nuclear Airplanes

Fuels made from biomass are a lot like the nuclear powered airplanes the Air Force tried to build from 1946 to 1961, for billions of dollars. They never got off the ground.  The idea was interesting – atomic jets could fly for months without refueling.  But the lead shielding to protect the crew and several months of food and water was too heavy for the plane to take off.  The weight problem, the ease of shooting this behemoth down, and the consequences of a crash landing were so obvious, it’s amazing the project was ever funded, let alone kept going for 15 years (Wiki 2020).

Although shielding a plane enough to keep the radiation from killing the crew was impossible, some engineers proposed hiring elderly Air Force crews to pilot nuclear planes, because they would die before radiation exposure gave them fatal cancers. Also, the reactor would have to be small enough to fit onto an aircraft, which would release far more heat than a standard one. The heat could risk melting the reactor—and the plane along with it, sending a radioactive hunk of liquid metal careening toward Earth (Ruhl 2019).

Nuclear powered Cars

In 1958, Ford came up with a nuclear-powered concept, the Nucleon car that would be powered by a nuclear reactor in the trunk.

In the 1950s and 1960s, there was huge hype around nuclear energy. Many believed it would replace oil and deliver clean power.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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