Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Guvmint Shutdown?

FYI. On Sunday I was talking with someone who has significant and relatively deep contacts with staffers for Senators and Representatives in Washington, D.C. This person relates that the same story is being told by staffers for both the blue favor and red flavor of politician - that each side thinks it has the best chance to "win" in the court of public opinion if a government shutdown occurs and that they are convinced we will see a government shutdown, possibly a protracted one, come March 4th.

I'm not sure where mood will be, as measured by the stock indices, come early March, but it will be a good test of down deep the anger runs to see how long this shutdown, should it even occur, lasts.

It lends credence to this story making the rounds of the internet (h/t Karl Denninger):

It's Certain: A Government Shutdown Is Coming In Just Two Weeks
by Joe Weisenthal, Business Insider
Barring some sort of deus ex machina, it seems certain that a government shutdown is coming in just two weeks (March 4, when the existing temporary funding bill runs out)...

Granted this is second hand, so take it for what it is worth. If you are expecting a refund from the IRS and have not filed yet, you may already be too late to get your taxes filed with enough time to receive the refund...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Anger Rages in North Africa

Sorry for the light blogging while Libya burns and Bahrain seethes. Too much going on.

Follow along on Al Jazeera:

Libya protests spread and intensify

Amazing how pitiful AJ is making the big mainstream news talking outlets look. Of course, this is right in their backyard.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fox "News" Mood Shaping Fail

It is my personal opinion that the best advertisers, direct mail copywriters and political fixers all have a highly developed antenna attuned to the shifting waves of public mood described by the Socionomic Theory. While they may not adhere to the theory, or even know of it yet, they know how the shape messages that the public is willing to accept and use to explain or describe the underlying mass mood.

But the message-shapers are not infallible and when they fail, it can be ugly for the ad firm, a political campaign or, in the case below, a news channel and information platform. I give you great Fox News Fail of 2011:


FOX Dirty Trick Attempt to Discredit Ron Paul's Straw Poll Victory
from Economic Policy Journal
How scared of Ron Paul is the establishment?

They used their media mouthpiece, FOX "News", to attempt to discredit Paul's straw poll victory at CPAC by playing the booing during the 2010 straw poll results as though it was the 2011 results being booed...

Wow. In an earlier time, with fewer communication tools at the disposal of those who would challenge the Establishment, this type of mood shaping might have had more of an effect in how mass mood got expressed via actions, decisions and the personalities that mood was attached to.

Not so today. The Establishment continues to eat itself and destroy its own credibility.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

1848 vs. 2011

The recent revolts in Tunisia and Egypt and ongoing unrest in Libya, Yemen, Algeria, Bahrain and other countries in North Africa and Southwest Asia reminded me of a bit of European history that might be worth revisiting.

In 1848 a wave of revolts and protests swept Europe.  A continent mostly ruled by autocratic monarchs was wracked by protest.  Vast mountains of politcal pamphlets were printed off and countless hours of speeches filled the air. Protests swept from France to the Russian East and throughout the Hapsburg Empire and the Mediterranean countries.  When the dust settled and the shouting tailed off, not much had changed on the surface:

  • In France, the Revolution of 1848 led to the formation of the Second Republic, which would be overthrown a mere four years later by Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • German agitation for a unified state would remain unfulfilled until 1870.
  • The Hungarian portion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire made a power play and attempted to separate herself from Austria, but after intervention by Tsar Nicholaas I at the head of a large army and a brutal martial law period, this revolt fizzled out.
  • Switzerland had experienced a short civil war in 1847 and in 1848 approved a new constitution turning it into a federal republic, limiting some of the cantonal authority.
  • Sicily rose up against the Bourbons, but a year a half later was reconquered.
  • Mainland Italy was swept by war and revolt that saw the Vatican and the various European power players that had divided Italy up for their own ends beaten back temporarily, though by 1849, the Roman Republic, along with Sicily, had been reconquered.  Italian unification would occur in 1871.

The current pattern of events in the Islamic Autocracies seems to rhyme with the events in Europe of 1848.  I'm sure that Mark Galasiewski and the Asia-Pacific Financial Forecast has much more to say about these revolts and he'll have the wave patterns and context to give you more insight into the magnitude of the emotional wave driving events North Africa and Southwest Asia.

The most likely outcome of the string of revolts we are seeing, and any others to come (Saudi Arabia, anyone?), will be the co-opting (at the fringes) of portions of the movement or the crushing the uprising. That said, the memes that we see being nurtured in these revolts - democracy (probably meaning different things in each country), an end to crony capitalism, opposition to oppressive security apparati - could very well come back to haunt or inspire these countries in future eras by defining political debates, sparking organized resistance groups or just propelling otherwise ordinary individuals into political or social prominence. Any concessions made to co-opt the Middle Class or segments of society could also opent he door for further demands. These memes, and some of the young people being beaten, shot at or water-cannoned will be energized by the waves of positive and negative mood that will sweep the region in the years and decades to come.

As a final thought, if you think that failed revolutionary movements have little effect on history, please note that the Communist Manifesto was published in 1848.  The Soviet Union was founded in 1922.  The wheels of time grind slowly, but they grind fine...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Socionomic Sarkozy: Multiculturalism Fail

The beat goes on. Multiculturalism, an interesting amalgam of thought that could only gain purchase during an intense and final-phase era of positive mood (in my opinion), continues to come under attack as the foundation upon which it was built - the hopes, wishes and positive feelings of a Bull Market Era, erodes:

Sarkozy denounces multiculturalism as 'a failure'
RUADHÁN Mac CORMAIC in Paris for the Irish Times
FRENCH PRESIDENT Nicolas Sarkozy has declared multiculturalism a failure and has taken issue with Muslims praying on the streets of French cities.

In a televised exchange with selected voters, aimed at setting out his plans for the year ahead, Mr Sarkozy echoed the recent critiques of multiculturalism by British prime minister David Cameron and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

“It’s a failure,” he said. “The truth is that in all our democracies, we’ve been too concerned about the identity of the new arrivals and not enough about the identity of the country receiving them. This raises the issue of Islam and our Muslim compatriots...

This is just the pre-season (assuming we are about to roll over into a chasm of negative mood). Things could go from rational discourse on the relationship between citizen and state to something much uglier in a hurry.

Sarkozy is attempting to harness the Us vs. Them aspect of negative mood to build some sort of common identity. Chances are that the "tribes" built up during the positive mood era are going to be much more appealing to people than the nation-state concept. We shall see...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Anger 1, Established Order 0

He's gone:

Hosni Mubarak resigns as president
from Al Jazeera
Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has resigned from his post, handing over power to the armed forces.

Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, announced in a televised address that the president was "waiving" his office, and had handed over authority to the Supreme Council of the armed forces.

Suleiman's short statement was received with a roar of approval and by celebratory chanting and flag-waving from a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Cairo's Tahrir Square, as well by pro-democracy campaigners who attended protests across the country on Friday...

Who knows what the blowback will be, but friends, this is an enormous event. A population previously regarded as apathetic and well-controlled by "The Powers That Be" rose up in anger and struck down a Pharoah. Mood matters.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is the Anger in Egypt About to Be "Grounded?"

UPDATE: Wrong. Mubarak has stated he will hang on and "...work for a peaceful transitions of power."

Per Al Jazeera, a chant heard in Tahrir Square: "We're off to the presidential palace. We're going as millions of martyrs." END UPDATE

Looks like the Egyptian protestors may, just may, see Mubarak ousted.

VIDEO EMBED REMOVED on 3 March

While I hope for their sakes they don't get stuck with Suleiman in charge, we could be close to an event that could "ground" some of this anger and emotional energy that has built up over the last month.  From the point of view of Israeli and U.S. national interests, I would think Suleiman would be preferred, but it may be that events have gone to far to allow him to hold onto power.

Grounding the Emotional Energy

I'm not sure if the concept of "grounding" is an orthodox socionomic concept, but I carry around in my head an idea that, once a populace has latched onto a symbol for their emotional state (in this case, Mubarak) there are ways to satisfy or balance this emotional state by seeing that symbol either destroyed (in negative mood times) or elevated to prominence (in positive mood times).

I still suggest the Al Jazeera news feed for news out of Egypt. They've proven themselves head and shoulders above all the other news sources I turn to, including Stratfor, during this crisis.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Socionomics on a Roll

Exciting events related to mood, markets and events are popping up all around us. Here are a few select ones to think about as I get dug out from the blizzard last week both at home and at work:

Socionomics Summit 2011

I want to make sure you know about the upcoming Socionomics Summit to be held in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 16th. I was invited to speak, but unfortunately personal events have prevented me from attending this year. I would strongly suggest you take advantage of this opportunity and attend the conference. It is easy and inexpensive to get to Atlanta. It's a beatiful city in Spring with lot's to do if you happen to have a significant other who might not want to attend the Summit themselves.

While there, you'll have a chance to interact with some of the most cutting-edge thinkers in the realm of Socionomics in an intimate setting. Go! You will regret it if you don't. I am already bummed out I can't make it and it is not even mid-February.

Egypt

The anger in Egypt continues to simmer. Their market remains closed, so I don't have a new chart for you. Egypt is a pivotal country in the region, so continue to keep an eye on events there. Even if the Mubarak regime (or one just like it with a new figurehead) retains power, this has been a mood event of enormous significance. The Egyptian populace was long regarded as apathetic and beaten down with no will or organizational capability to resist the Authoritarian state. Recent events have proven that wrong.

Cops can tell you that 90% of law and order is perception by the populace. With a significant portion of the populace having stood up to the cops and lived to tell about it - at least at the moment - it could be a marker of a huge shift in how Egyptians relate to the Central State.  At the end of the day, the way to bet is on the security services and the Army coming to some agreement, to the direct, personal agony of some of the protest leaders, but the precedent has been set and sometimes you get beat by an inside straight...

Select Papers on Non-Conscious Drivers of Will and Decision-Making

I ran across a couple of papers that might be of interest.  Socionomics turns the cause-effect chain for decision-making, social phenomena and market trends of large groups on its head, when viewed from a "common sense" point of view.  Here is some more evidence that much of what we think about consciousness and behavior is not necessarily so...

These articles address "Free Will" on an individual basis and discuss evidence for non-conscious effects and drivers on goals and behavior.  Something to think about when you plan to break a bad habit or learn a new skill.  More food for thought in terms of how the Socionomic Theory might be used to describe behavior down to the individual level if nothing else:

New Socionomist

And a new Socioniomist was released on Friday.  Some really good stuff on the mounting evidence in favor of the Socionomic Theory, including a nice overview of work being done at MIT and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign describing how mood expressed on Twitter and blogs can indicate markets moves that occur 3-4 days later!