Archive for the ‘C.O.A.T. – Riots’ category

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #468: End Of Days

December 8, 2008

Vauxhall Insignia 2.8 V6
An adequate way to drive to hell

Yes, this is a car columnist. Yes, this is a column about cars.

It also presents the most frank assessment of our economic doom.

I have spoken to a couple of pretty senior bankers in the past couple of weeks and their story is rather different. They don’t refer to the looming problems as being like 1992 or even 1929. They talk about a total financial meltdown. They talk about the End of Days.

Emphasis added by me.


It is impossible for someone who scored a U in his economics A-level to grapple with the consequences of all this but I’m told that in simple terms money will cease to function as a meaningful commodity. The binary dots and dashes that fuel the entire system will flicker and die. And without money there will be no business. No means of selling goods. No means of transporting them. No means of making them in the first place even. That’s why another friend of mine has recently sold his London house and bought somewhere in the country . . . with a kitchen garden.

These, as I see them, are the facts. Planet Earth thought it had £10. But it turns out we had only £2. Which means everyone must lose 80% of their wealth. And that’s going to be a problem if you were living on the breadline beforehand.

Eventually, of course, the system will reboot itself, but for a while there will be absolute chaos: riots, lynchings, starvation. It’ll be a world without power or fuel, and with no fuel there’s no way the modern agricultural system can be maintained. Which means there will be no food either. You might like to stop and think about that for a while.

Emphasis added by me.

Oh, you can read it again and again and wonder if his tongue is planted in his cheek. That’s what the Brits are very, very good at doing. But reading through it carefully, all to the end, and no, he’s telling the truth you won’t see on front pages.

Update: Jeremy Clarkson on car sales decline — here’s a BBC video with him on the radio briefly mentioning key points written above. You decide. I don’t see tongue-in-cheek. (Thanks to Alan Pritt for this!)

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #463: The Ws

December 7, 2008

You Can Only Bury Your Head In The Sand For So Long

People don’t seem to understand, or maybe they just don’t want to understand, or maybe the talking heads are trying to keep them from understanding, how bad this is, this crisis, this financial crisis, this “slowdown”, this “contraction”.

Let me help. The U.S. is broke. States and municipalities are in debt up to their eyeballs. Trillions of “dollars” are being spent by government agents in a desperate attempt to hold back the flood of bankruptcies and liquidations — bankruptcies and liquidations that MUST eventually occur — for another month or two. The international banking system teeters on the brink of implosion. In the eyes of Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke, everyone has become too big to fail, because these guys know that failure of one could mean a collapse of all. The entire human web of interdependence — not simply in the financial realm of Collateralized Debt Obligations and Mortgage Backed Securities and Credit Default Swaps and Futures and Options and Bonds and the like, but of tangible infrastructure, like food and water and power and fuel and all of things we need to survive — it is all hanging together by a thread. And in some parts of the world the thread has already frayed away to nothing, exposing people to the real-life horrors of collapse.

Emphasis added by me.

This is a post many of you will note in passing right now and then come back to later in panic. He goes over the Ws:


You’ll be repeating those to others at some point in 2009.

Or having people on TV reciting them to your face.

That’s if you still have electricity.

For those of you who mocked my term “micro-terrorism,” especially note this:

Terrorists in countries such as Colombia frequently attack the power-grid infrastructure, often leaving homes and businesses without power for weeks at a time. The power-grid infrastructure in the United States is virtually unprotected and remains an exceptionally soft target for both domestic and foreign-based terrorists.

Previously here:


Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #455: China 3

December 5, 2008

China ‘faces mass social unrest’

Rising unemployment and the economic slowdown could cause massive social turmoil in China, a leading scholar in the Communist Party has said.

“The redistribution of wealth through theft and robbery could dramatically increase and menaces to social stability will grow,” Zhou Tianyong, a researcher at the Central Party School in Beijing, wrote in the China Economic Times.

“This is extremely likely to create a reactive situation of mass-scale social turmoil,” he wrote.

Emphasis added by me.

Imagine being a Chinese peasant barely surviving by planting rice.

You’re enticed to get a job in a nearby factory. Suddenly, you no longer live in your old, drafty, rotting home. You live in a shiny company barracks. The pay is shit, but it beats bending over and ripping stalks of rice out of a lake of ankle-deep mud. And you can actually dream of a future.

Then those fucking Americans and Europeans cheat the shit out of the world and your factory closes down because those goddammed Americans and Europeans have plunged millions of your buyers into economic distress.

You’re kicked out of your company barracks and have nothing to look forward to. You can’t do that rice shit ever again. Someone has taken over that patch. And there’s no safety net of Unemployment Insurance in China. Besides, you saw a future. You want it back.

Damn right China is going to have unrest.

The questions are:

1) What lessons will the current Chinese leaders learn from it?

2) Will the unrest grow large enough to topple the current Communists?

3) Would a subsequent regime understand the only way out is to let go?

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #445: Zimbabwe 2

December 1, 2008

Soldiers rampage at Harare bank

Because of a national cash shortage, Zimbabweans can only withdraw small amounts of money every day – often barely enough to buy a loaf of bread.

The country’s economic freefall has been accelerating and the latest annual inflation rate was 231,000,000%. Just one adult in five is estimated to have a regular job.

Earlier, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported that water in the capital had been cut because of a shortage of purification chemicals, as authorities try to contain a cholera outbreak.

At least 425 people have died in recent months from the disease, which is spread by contaminated water.

The outbreak has been fuelled by the collapse of Zimbabwe’s health and sanitation systems. The disease is easily treatable but hospitals lack medicines and staff.

I didn’t even raise the point of communicable disease outbreaks in American Gotterdammerung.

Zimbabwe is one of our possible futures.

Previously here:

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #373: Zimbabwe

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #443: Crush

November 29, 2008

By now, everyone has probably heard about the Wal-Mart employee trampled to death when a Black Friday mob rushed the store’s entrance.

Rex Hammock comments with I find it tragic that the NYT would call the Walmart death a “fitting” beginning to the holiday season:

Again, this is in a country where, even in good times, people will drive 30 miles to save 1% on sales tax. This is a country where each year, we read about fist fights breaking out over Tickle Me Elmos and Wii Fits. But today, because we are in the midst of a “crumbling economy,” when people line up for something the New York Times itself has hyped, the paper uses that fact as proof for how awful things are. Again, people are so desperate they’ll do anything for $400 flat-screen TVs.

Emphasis added by me.

Yes, Rex. And for gasoline too.

Now imagine how much worse it will be when the goal is to get food.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #310: Israel

October 5, 2008

Stocks plunge in hard day of trading

Just days after US President George Bush signed into law a far-reaching $700-billion bill to bail out the tottering US financial industry, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange remained shaky, registering sharp losses on Sunday.

By noon, the TA-25 Index had already dropped 6.33 percent and the TA-100 Index fell by 7.08%.

The Tel-Tech Index dropped by 11.5% and the Real Estate Index dropped by 11.04 percent.

Emphasis added by me.

This is the first trading market to open since Friday.

An augur of Asia in a few hours from now?

Welcome again to Day Zero.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #240: Violence

September 25, 2008

Tempers flare at pumps; Easley says gas coming

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Lines crawled out into the streets leading up to the Exxon gas station on Pineville-Matthews Road on Thursday morning, as it was one of the few stations in Charlotte with fuel.

Exxon actually hired security guards to help with the lines.

Emphasis added by me.

And most importantly:

There were also reports of tempers flaring at the pumps. NewsChannel 36 reporters saw a fight break out at one station after someone cut in line.

Emphasis added by me.

These people are not hungry. They are not homeless. They don’t have the terror of where to find their next meal or where to sleep. They have money, they have jobs, they have homes, they have food, they have possessions that still have value.

Yet they cannot manage themselves in a reasonable manner during a time of temporary frustration.

And all of you laugh at my portrait of human behavior during a time of open-ended and nationwide frustration?


September 24, 2008

This post is a Sticky. It will remain here until the alleged bailout by Congress has been approved.

Update, Friday October 3, 2008:

For new posts, scroll down to the next one.

I’ve seen posts elsewhere by people stating they’d rather see the collapse of the entire economic system instead of having the current alleged bailout go through. They believe they could live through the consequences of that.

They are so wrong.

Get Depression 1.0 out of your head right now.

We are not that people. We are not that population.

A collapse on the scale we are in danger of right now is unprecedented in all of human history. There is absolutely nothing else to compare it to. This is a strange land we have never before visited.

I’m going to take you through a tour of this possible future. I intend to scare the living shit out of you in doing so. I do it not of out some perverse glee. I do it to try to wake all of you up to the very real and probable calamity ahead.


Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #134

June 23, 2008

UPDATE: Order restored on Vliet St.

Milwaukee police said they have restored order but will remain outside of the Marcia P. Coggs Human Services Center after a crowd awaiting free food vouchers became unruly this morning.


Police responded to the building about 7 a.m. after 2,500 people lined up on the sidewalk and eventually began to block traffic in the street. A number of people had rushed the door, and some people became caught in the crush; however, there were no serious injuries, according to Schwartz.


“We want to make sure people stay here in an orderly fashion so they can get what they came to get,” she said. “We’re still trying to figure out why so many people showed up.”

Emphasis added by me.

That spokesperson must be a techmemer. In techemeland, everything is wunnerful, wunnerful, and everyone dreams of being The Next Arrington.

While out here in The Real Fucking World, war is coming.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #020

April 8, 2008

With everything that’s happening, I should think about a new Category: The End Of The Whole Frikkin World.

Three items in one post:

Oil: Oil prices approach record heights

Rice: Rice Jumps to Record on Philippine Imports, Curbs on Exports

April 8 (Bloomberg) — Rice climbed to a record for a fourth day as the Philippines, the biggest importer, announced plans to buy 1 million tons and some of the world’s largest exporters cut sales to ensure they can feed their own people.

Rice, the staple food for half the world, gained 2.4 percent to $21.50 per 100 pounds in Chicago, double the price a year ago. Philippine President Gloria Arroyo announced two rice tenders today and pledged to crack down on hoarding. Anyone found guilty of “stealing rice from the people” will be jailed, she said.

“We’re in for a tough time,” Roland Jansen, chief executive officer of Pfaffikon, Switzerland-based Mother Earth Investments AG, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television from Zurich today. Unless prices decline “you will have huge problems of daily nutrition for half the planet.” Mother Earth holds about 4 percent of its $100 million funds in the grain.

Emphasis added by me.


Soaring prices could lead to increased unrest, such as in Haiti recently, the United Nations said in a report yesterday.

Four people died in two days of rioting last week over food prices in Haiti, the western hemisphere’s poorest country, the organization said on its Web site.

“What we see in Haiti is what we’re seeing in many of our operations around the world — rising prices that mean less food for the hungry,” the report said, citing the United Nations World Food Program’s executive director Josette Sheeran.

Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mozambique and Senegal have also experienced unrest in the last several weeks related to food and fuel prices, according to the report.

Emphasis added by me.

Finance: Citigroup, Wells Fargo May Loan Less After Downgrades (Update1)

April 8 (Bloomberg) — Bank holding companies including Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. have the thinnest safety cushion against losses in seven years.

The margin may erode further in coming weeks. Credit ratings on $704 billion of bonds have been cut this year following the collapse of the U.S. housing market. Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said last week that the downgrades may compromise bank capital ratios enough that some of the largest institutions will no longer be considered well capitalized.

Falling below a regulatory benchmark that is intended to maintain a minimum level of capital to protect depositors against losses would subject banks to more scrutiny from regulators than they have ever experienced.

“This is a nightmare for the country,” said William Isaac, who was chairman of the FDIC from 1981 to 1985. Banks will “raise what capital they can, then they’ll slow down their growth and stop lending, and what should be a mild recession becomes a much more serious one.”

The biggest danger to the economy is that to preserve their ratios, banks will cut off the flow of credit, causing a decline in loans to companies and consumers. Banks have already raised $136 billion in capital, based on data compiled by Bloomberg, and cut dividends. More stock sales and payout reductions are likely to follow, says analyst Meredith Whitney at Oppenheimer & Co.

Emphasis added by me.

The FDIC’s Bair said last week that ratings changes will probably lower bank capital ratios for some U.S. banks.

“It’s a big concern,” Bair said in an interview April 3. “We are dealing with an unprecedented situation.”

‘When Tide Goes Out’

How much commercial banks have already cut back on lending will be known in mid-April when most report earnings.

“All I know is the first-quarter reports are going to be pretty bad, and there’s a lot more to come,” said L. William Seidman, who was chairman of the FDIC from 1985 to 1991. “Our experience was that if the economy got in trouble, it took at least a year for the banks to get into trouble.”

Emphasis added by me.

Does it sink it yet? What I’ve emphasized are quotes from otherwise cautious, even somber, people: financial specialists. They are not given to panic-inducing statements.

Unless things are even worse than everyone is letting on.