Friday, February 6, 2009

Mood Matters

Posting has been, and will continue to be spotty. Apologies, but I'm trying to roll out some IP for licensing, plus my day job. Makes for a hectic week.

That said, there have been some juicy stories that help paint the picture of this coming descent into anger, despair and violence. Again - this too shall pass, but the "mustard seeds" that Kudlow shills about are about to trampled into the mud of a stampede of the "herd" of humanity into a deepening state of negative mass mood. They'll germinate and take root for the eventual Renaissance, but they'll sprout up through the ruins of the current world system that is only now collapsing.

Anecdotal Evidence

Israel no longer in the mood for peace
John Lyons, Middle East correspondent for The Australian
ISRAEL is an angry country about to vote. It goes into its general election next Tuesday as a country that feels isolated, under threat and having been abandoned by the bulk of the international community.

That national mood comes in the wake of the recent Gaza war. In military terms, Israel won it comprehensively. But in terms of image around the world, Israel has taken a pounding, accused of a needless slaughter of hundreds of civilians among the 1300 Palestinians killed during the 22-day war.

That anger was reflected recently by the head of the Government Press Office -- part of the Prime Minister's department -- Danny Seamen, who branded foreign journalists covering Gaza as "a fig leaf for Hamas". The anger is feeding into a siege mentality apparent this week at Israel's top annual security and defence conference in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. The editor of The Jerusalem Post, David Horovitz, told conference delegates he saw a "rising tide of delegitimacy" against Israel following the Gaza war...

Emphasis added. I only use this story as a socionomic marker, not as a comment on the ongoing Middle East struggles.

A sense of despair, but clashing views on how to respond
by Carter Dougherty , International Herald Tribune

DAVOS, Switzerland: At this year's annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, the word "optimist" comes across as an ironic joke, and precious few of the high and mighty who attend this meeting are prepared to guess what comes next. Whether from the United States, Europe, Asia or Africa, the men and women meeting here prophesied gloom.

"We cannot underestimate the challenges and dangers that the world economy faces in 2009," Stephen Roach, chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, said at the forum's traditional opening debate on the macroeconomic outlook. "It will most likely be the first year since World War II when GDP actually contracts," he said, referring to gross domestic product...

Emphasis mine.

Protectionism, unemployment and riots as the global slump deepens
...The collapse of exports in China has triggered a "wave of social instability", noted Michael Sheridan in The Sunday Times. In the southern province of Guangdong, for instance, three unemployed men bombed a hotel to extort money from the management. Europe, too, is facing a winter of discontent. Unemployed youth in Greece have rioted, while one million French workers took to the streets last week. The Russian government is "extremely worried" that recent unrest there caused by the slumping economy will mount, an anonymous diplomat told Canada's Globe and Mail. Meanwhile, British workers have gone on strike to protest against foreign labourers being drafted in to a construction job at Lindsey oil refinery, a move that prompted wildcat strikes elsewhere...

Emphasis mine.

Couldn't have asked for a better headline.

Action Items

The equity markets continue to churn sideways. Whether we are in a "failed fifth" and about to launch upwards for a multi-month bear market rally before the coming gut-wrenching Cycle level third wave decline or whether this is the setup for one more plunge before said expected bear market rally, brighter minds than I will speculate. I will just say that we are still in worst-case scenario land. The elites are going to war against the frugal and against the good companies that kept a strong balance sheet.

What I once took to be overblown caricatures of intrusive government in Atlas Shrugged are now played out as proposed national policy. Who the hell knows how it will all shake out.

Do please keep an eye on things you might never have looked at in the past. Things like:

  • Planting reports for crops. If the credit situation stays tight, a significant number of farmers may not get the credit they need to plant this spring - or at least plant as much.
  • Along with the ag theme, watch how weather plays out this spring. If it is cold and wet, watch how much gets planted. Yes, I am worried about food supplies. Our food distribution system in the U.S. is highly efficient and highly brittle, in my opinion, with no slack or emergency fallback in the form of victory gardens or robust local truck farmers for most communities. I worry because famine seems to be an historical theme in times of serious negative mood.
  • If you are receiving a check from any level of government, might want to keep an eye on how that money is funded or budgeted for and plan accordingly.
  • As usual, local themes will determine your immediate safety and prosperity. Get, or stay, plugged in to your community. Know which way the wind is blowing.

Be safe, save, prepare.

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