Sunday, December 28, 2008

January 2009 – A Year Begins; an Era Ends

*** Potentially disturbing material ***
This month I must begin with a warning that some may find the contents of this post disturbing, especially if you are an Obama fan like me. If you do continue to read, I have suggested a few practical steps to help you prepare yourself for what may possibly be a turbulent moment.

The indications for January are that there is a possibility that something might interfere with Obama taking office as scheduled. There is more information about the reasoning behind this in the MoodCompass excerpt below. While we can all hope that everything goes as planned, and the transition takes place in a smooth fashion, there are some steps you can take to emotionally prepare yourself should a worst case scenario occur.

1) Sit quietly with a paper and pen handy. Close your eyes, and imagine a worst case scenario. Notice your feelings, your thoughts, and your concerns. Remind yourself, as needed, that this is not happening now, and ground yourself. If needed, open your eyes to remind yourself that all is well.

2) Think of those people you would want to connect with should such a thing occur. Who would you want to support you? Who would you expect to need you to support them?

3) Consider who you are today to be wiser and calmer than a you in the middle of a crisis. Let this Wise Self write a note to the you that exists in mid January. Let this Self say to you any words of wisdom that may help you at the time. Write the names of those you would be calling, whether for your own support or for them. Afterwards, ensure the phone numbers for your list is available and add them next to the names.

4) Continuing to dwell on negative possibilities is not helpful to anyone. After completing the exercise, let it all go. Put the paper away in a safe place. Perhaps you will not need it afterall. Continue to live each day to the fullest, and enjoy each moment of your now.

Below is an except from this month's MoodCompass:
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2008 was a difficult year. Many have been expressing relief at the coming of a new year with new possibilities, and hopefully a new direction. If January is any indication of what the coming year will be like, well, let’s just say this has been the most difficult issue we have ever put together.

Each month we recalibrate the cycles for the collective moods and perspectives that we study and put the charts together for the following month. Following that, the cycles are interpreted in the context of current events and anticipated near future events. As much as possible, all of the resulting social mood and market information is integrated into a likely scenario— a hypothesized “big picture.” This month, there is a known event, the inauguration of President Obama. However, the social mood and market outlook does not match what would be expected at a time of hope and celebration. The most likely scenario, as best as all the dots can be connected at this time, appears to be a worst case scenario.

The week of January 5th appears to be one of incredible optimism in the face of very negative current conditions. This could be a good case of Obama mania at its best. However, near the end of that week, or beginning of the following week this optimism abruptly collapses... Then, as Inauguration Day passes, US Society enters “panic mode” and anti-US sentiment around the world increases. Connecting those dots, what conclusions would you draw?

One way or another January marks the end and beginning of an era. It should mark the end of the Bush presidency and the beginning of a new one. Another possibility is that it does not. This would mark a new era as well. Let us all just hope that we got this one very wrong this time.

- - - (current issue viewable by subscription only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

December 2008 – We May Never Pass This Way Again

Below is an except from this month's MoodCompass:
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On November 19 the global context was forecasted to shift from tension that “resolved into action” and in the US the social mood to a “chaos configuration.” This brought three days of severe stock market declines as uncertainty grew around the fate of the U.S. automakers. Following that there was an incredible, although nonsensical market rally, another expression of Mania. Global society continued to express the elevated volatility with civil unrest in Thailand closing two major airports, and terror attacks in Mumbai, India. In the U.S. the response was less dramatic, but no less fatal, as a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death by a manic rush of shoppers, and two men shot each other as their wives argued in a Toys R Us store.

Fatigued by the seemingly endless months of negative forecasts, and with a potential view of “light at the end of the tunnel” as November drew to a close, it was mentioned in last month’s issue that December could hold a moment of relative stability. Unfortunately, this was premature. By the middle of the first week of the month, economic concerns should be accelerating once again as that “chaos configuration” makes another sweep. By the end of the second week, global tensions escalate and the U.S. government appears to go from paralysis to panic mode. While things may become a bit quiet (or stagnant) just before Christmas, on Christmas day or immediately thereafter the U.S. mood shifts to “safety seeking,” global markets decline, and there is a strong surge of interest in potential geopolitical threats. Anyone traveling for the holidays should pay close attention to the development of the global situation as well as any alerts issued by Homeland Security.

As the year comes to a close, one might look back at a year of tremendous change to this country and to the world. The levels of consumption that were taken for granted, especially in developed nations, have been sharply curtailed and continue to decline. In 2007, it was a foregone conclusion that another Great Depression couldn’t possibly happen. Today that possibility is a common topic of conversation. Whatever the outcome of the dramatic transformation we are witnessing, we can be sure that at the very least, the human world will never be the same as it was before this year began. As we said in January, this indeed was the “Year That Changes Everything.”
- - - (current issue viewable by subscription only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November 2008 – Post Election Chaos

My introductory comments last month were a bit premature. They belong better with this month. I sometimes think about everything so much that I get ahead of myself.

This month could get quite disturbing for those of us living in the United States. The purpose of this month's MoodCompass excerpt could be considered an emotional preparation. In these difficult times I sometimes take comfort in knowing that large changes are coming ahead of time. That way when they do come, I can say, "Oh, it's that" instead of being completely surprised. Watching the patterns of mood cycles as I do, it helps me see order in the universe in spite of appearances to the contrary. While not always pleasant or preferred, things are unfolding "as they should." When things get crazy economically, politcally, or socially, sometimes the best we can do is try to surround ourselves with supportive people and remind ourselves of what is most important. This may be one of those months. Keep a cool head and stay centered. Stay connected with supportive others.

Below is an except from this month's MoodCompass:

Last month, as was indicated, the fragility of the global economy was of high concern and world leaders actively attended to keeping the system running. While one of our “big picture” indicators showed an extremely low probability of geopolitical escalation (October issue, page 11), there was a strong indication of “external focus” by U.S. society. We did see large anti-U.S. demonstrations in Iraq and attacks by U.S. troops across the border in Syria and Pakistan. However, these did not grab America’s attention. Interestingly, a similar mood configuration for U.S. society appeared near the two political conventions last spring. Apparently, the usual signals for an external or international focus (the “warrior” configuration), also show up when polarized factions “battle” for an election within a country, even when peaceful and democratic.

In November, the focus returns to the United States as the world closely watches our presidential election hoping for a better future for all. Whatever the outcome of the election, there is a most curious shift that occurs in all of our charts immediately afterwards that builds to an extreme the following week. Perhaps there is a “snag” in the election results, or perhaps the election goes fine and there are new economic issues to deal with which return to the foreground once the honeymoon period of having elected a new president is over with. Without a context, such extremes are difficult to interpret.

After the election, the U.S. social mood shifts to what could be either anger or excitement (or both). The following week this turns to high anxiety, and the week of the 17th to an extreme Manic configuration which would indicate chaos and confusion. The U.S. government’s configuration is one with extreme preoccupation with keeping order the entire month beginning immediately after the election and peaking near the 14th. Be watching the news for a build up of tension and anxiety in this country and for more information on the specific context as to how this will be expressed. Pay particular attention near the 19th of the month when the tension resolves itself into the chaos configuration for U.S. society. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations that is so out of the ordinary that it is impossible to be more specific. Staying informed is your best bet.

As for the markets, look for serious declines in the stock market beginning within days after the election. There should be strong gains in crude oil and gasoline prices through the 14th as the Dollar declines sharply. Following that, deflation is back in the foreground with losses across the board in both stocks and commodities. The bright side is that December may bring a moment of relative stability.

- - - (current issue viewable by subscription only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

October 2008 – Holding the Global Pieces Together

I know things have been pretty tense lately in the U.S. and in the world. Jobs are getting harder to come by and money is tighter all around. The world is changing quickly, this country is changing as well. If we can just get through the next several months of rapid and sweeping changes things should pause at least long enough for us to take a breath and look around. It will not be like it "used to be" -- ever. The important thing is to be flexible on an emotional level. As we watch pieces of our way of life that have been important to us fade away, we may grieve, but we must accept it and move on. There is a time for everything, and the time to fight for a better world or for past ideals is not now. Now is the time to keep your head low, go with the flow, and survive the changes in the tide.

Below is an except from this month's MoodCompass:

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Last month we focused on the United States and a possible market crash between September 16th and the 26th. While at the time of this publication, September 27th, the stock market indices have not reflected a crash in “points,” the month saw the demise of several “great American institutions” such as Lehman Brothers, and Washington Mutual Bank. Many individual stocks experienced declines of crash proportions. Retirement portfolios comprised of unlucky investments were destroyed.

In October, the focus quickly shifts away from the United States to the global scene. As economies around the world lick their wounds from last month, the awareness grows as to just how fragile the interconnected, globalized way of life truly is. While a spirit of unity or common goals might go far to solve the issues at hand, that is not what we find this month. Every nation and sub-group is ready to fight for their own interests. And it is in this spirit of self-assertive self interest that world leaders will try to hold the pieces of the fragile global puzzle together. We wish them luck!

In the U.S. an election draws near. Over the past couple of years occasional speculation has been made in various blogs and publications that something would occur near the election to draw attention away from domestic issues. Interestingly, the configuration for U.S. social mood is externally focused throughout the month even though the economy is in serious difficulty and an important election is about to take place. What a curious coincidence!

- - - (current issue viewable by subscription only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)

For the lastest updates on social mood see

Friday, August 22, 2008

September – The Great Market Crash of 2008

As I wrote this month's MoodCompass intro, I could only wonder when I might get to write about some good news. It just seems to keep getting worse... Here's the excerpt from the September issue:

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How do we say this… Let’s see… THIS LOOKS REALLY BAD!!! Last month we discussed an event or series of events centered around August 8-11 that could change the geopolitical and/or global economic landscape. The Russia/Georgia conflict certainly qualifies. This month, the globalization experiment continues to be severely challenged as cooperation between nations and even within nations continues to deteriorate. The global economy, already damaged, is likely to be severely crippled by the time this month is over.

However, our primary concern this month is not “the world.” It is one country in particular… the United States of America. For the last few weeks, optimism has been on the rise. There have been calls of bottoms in the stock market, beginning with the zany Jim Cramer of CNBC. Analysts have begun suggesting that it is time to buy stocks again. As of Friday (the 22nd), the stock market is up for the month of August. In a bear market, fading pessimism is not a good sign. It is a clear sign that the next leg down is about to start, and this next one looks particularly severe.

There may be increasing signs that the American consumer is not doing well, or that businesses are in trouble. Anxiety among stock market traders may begin to increase as the stock market does not sell off like “it should” in the face of the seriousness of the global and national indicators. Eventually, the rubber band will snap. This next one should be unlike any stock market decline in recent memory.

It is the aftermath of this, how it changes the face of America that is of primary concern. How will all of our lives be affected as the investments, the life savings of so many are wiped out? How do retired persons or those about to retire who did the “right thing” now face that they have nothing of substance to live on? How do businesses large enough to be publicly owned companies continue to retain workers when their capitalization has been practically erased? What is the effect of such extreme socioeconomic changes just before a presidential election?

This is not good news. There is no apparent silver lining. We have taken on the task of warning of approaching storms. It is time to hunker down. This one will be a doozie.

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(current issue viewable by subscription only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)

For more information on MoodCompass, check out

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Next Banks to Fail

I just received this list from Weiss Research and would like to pass it on. This is their list of major banks most likely to fail. They consider a "C" rating to be a "yellow light" and a "D" rating to be an indication that you may seriously want to consider moving your money somewhere else. They also say to be on the alert for the "C" rated banks to be downgraded to "D".

Friday, August 1, 2008

Depression Era Clothing Gives a Heads Up

There is more and more talk about the Great Depression, and still more denial that its 21st century version is fast approaching. The fashion trends for the fall are expressing what our collective unconscious "knows." The quote below from the New York Post heralds this new trend. Expect fashions to get much more plain and depression-era like in the next few years, as this year's is a "lighter" version of the 1930's fashions.

"The duds say it all-- and it's depressing. Taking a cue from the grim economy, this fall's fashions at Banana Republic, Gap and H&M are featuring a distinctly Depression-era trend of cloche hats, pencil skirts, conductor caps and baggy, vintage-style dresses. One of the most popular styles appears to hark back to the impish newsboy getup of the 1930s baggy trousers, caps, pinstriped vests, oxford lace-up shoes and utilitarian handbags."
-- The New York Post, July 28, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

August 2008 – A New Global Reality

August looks extremely interesting. I found it unusually puzzling to put the MoodCompass together for next month. Something big was clearly showing up, but I couldn't figure out exactly what it could be. It must be something outside of the current context, thus the title - A New Global Reality.
Here's this month's MoodCompass excerpt:

This month, something fundamental about our world changes. It may be the way global society conducts business, or perhaps a major revision to the geopolitical situation. Although the extreme scale is clear from the observed and projected social mood cycles, it is difficult to be more specific. While this focal period is only a couple of weeks away, it occurs in a context that is not yet apparent. It takes place in a different reality than the current one; the only one available to interpret the social mood configurations of the coming month.

Near August 8-11 is a global scale “safety seeking” configuration. It resembles the configuration in U.S. social mood at the time of the buyout of the investment bank Bear Sterns in March and the expressed intended bailout of Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac (institutions integral to the U.S. mortgage system) in July. However, what we are concerned with in August is more extreme in scale, and global in scope.

At this same time in U.S. society, we find the “survival focused” configuration. A mini version of this occurred near the end of June. This configuration is marked by a heightened aggressiveness in asserting survival interests or instinctual needs, and a lowered importance or general disregard for the factors necessary to maintain the “economic machine” our society depends on. If prolonged or extreme enough, this configuration can be accompanied by outbursts of civil unrest or disobedience. A public panic crisis event such as we have been urging preparation for would likely occur at or near this type of configuration (see the presentation available at:

In summary, global society is about to enter a new reality. It should be quite interesting. Grab some popcorn and watch the news. Next month, we should all have a much clearer idea of what this global shakeup was all about.
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(current issue viewable by subscription only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)
For the lastest updates on social mood see

Saturday, June 28, 2008

July 2008 - A Wild Ride!

Here's this month's MoodCompass excerpt:

June, we said, was the gateway to at least six months of increasing global chaos and disruption. Life in the U.S. and abroad would be outside of what we have come to know as “normal” in the second half of 2008. Well, we’re here now. After looking closely at the month of July, we are sorry to say that it still looks that way.

In July we should expect a global stock market sell-off, much worse than anything we saw in the month of June. Crude should continue to stay supported, even though global economies are starting to buckle under the weight of the high prices. With all of this turbulence one would expect high volatility in the currency markets. However, oddly enough, all indications are that the U.S. Dollar is unusually stable. It is unclear whether markets are simply non-directional for the entire month or whether some new type of external controls are added to currency markets to stabilize them in very volatile times. Behind all of this global distress appears to be extreme geopolitical tensions. The economic distress this month alone (and it gets worse as the year goes on), could be enough to cause surges in the unemployment lines. We again urge people to prepare for the possibility of a public panic event in the next few months. A presentation can be downloaded at:

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For the lastest updates on social mood see

Saturday, May 24, 2008

June 2008 - Gateway to Chaos

Working for A New Story Foundation is interesting and exciting, but sometimes the work we do in looking at social trends and cycles can be a bit scary. What we see in our forecast for June and through the end of this year, I must say, makes me want to gather my family together and hunker down. Unfortunately, as with many Americans, family components are scattered across the country. I would like to share this excerpt from our latest (June) issue of MoodCompass:

"We recently prepared a long range forecast for the second half of this year for internal planning purposes. To sum it up, the entire second half of the year looks increasingly serious, chaotic, violent, and disruptive. The situations that individuals will be facing in this country and on the planet for at least the next six months should be extremely challenging. While we can’t know the specific events that will take place, what we do know is that the situations that present themselves will be perceived over and over again as far outside what “normal” is supposed to be. The second half of 2008 is a different world, in a sense, from the first half.

What that means is that June is the turning point, a one way door into a very different global context than that with which we have become familiar. Through whatever choices, decisions, and actions are made this month, the world will be set on a course that will bring increasing chaos, disruption, and distress for at least the remainder of the year. Although this is not the end of the world, what is likely, in the coming six months, is runaway inflation in certain sectors concurrent with extremely depressed prices in others; outbreaks of civil unrest in some locations due to disagreements with government policies or to general distress and frustration; outbreaks of public panic in some areas due to perceived or actual disruption of fuel or food (for more information on public panic events:

The focal point for June itself is the third week of the month. There is a high likelihood of a geopolitical crisis and excessive losses in the stock market beginning early in the week."

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For the lastest updates on social mood see

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Change is in the Air – and the Tone is Quite Somber

One of the topics in the news lately is concern over food shortages. While there is no real shortage, a public panic with hoarding behavior and outbreaks of violence can become serious. For more information on public panic and how to prepare for the possibility of this type of event, please see

The following excerpt is from the May issue of A New Story's MoodCompass:

Change is in the Air – and the Tone is Quite Somber

As there has been much talk by various analysts in the media about the worst of the credit crisis being over, one might hope that this indicates a transition to a more upbeat mood. Our analysis of the social mood factors for the coming month, however, shows the global sentiment to have an extremely serious tone. Whether the fears that drive the global situation are based on real or imaginary concerns, by the end of the month there is a likely shared conclusion—that something is going seriously wrong.

For the lastest updates on social mood see

Thursday, February 28, 2008

In Like a Lion - March 2008

If you watch the news or follow the financial markets, March may get a bit scary. If not, you may not notice the fallout from March for a few months. Because the mood configuration for March signals a likely severe stock market decline I strongly encourage you to consider moving funds in IRAs or 401(K)s from growth funds to guaranteed income funds. However, even this is not a sure thing in the current environment. The best investment is cash or U.S. Treasury bonds, regardless of how little interest that pays. The worst investment is almost anything else.

As far as later fallout, the Fed chairman Bernanke testified today that the economy is in serious trouble, that unemployment is likely to rise, and that some banks are likely to fail at some point. Some of this is likely to happen sooner than later. It is not hard to imagine people wondering whether the Great Depression II is upon us by the end of next month. There is little to do financially to prepare at this point. The best thing to do is to invest in mutually supportive relationships. When times are tough, independence is not an asset, it is a liability. Spirituality may be a source of strength for those who have such an understanding. Cherish each happy moment. Our basic values will be challenged in the next few years. We may have to reassess what the most important things in life really are.

The following excerpts are from A New Story's March MoodCompass

Geopolitical Tensions Escalate -- US Stock Market Crashes

The defining shift in mood for February was seen in the extreme change in the way that United States society views the rest of the world. Previously, the world was seen as a relatively stable place to transact business. Although there had been concerns about a slowdown in the U.S. economy, there was an assumption that growth in the rest of the world would well be able to compensate. The shift in February from high Directing to high Manic saw the view of the non-U.S. world change from a growth focus to one of uncertainty, chaos, and fragmentation. Geopolitical uncertainty propelled crude oil to new records in spite of the undue stress such high prices are placing on already fragile economies. In March, this theme of an unsafe world is continued. In such an uncertain geopolitical context, what else can global investors do, but make a massive move to "take money off the table?" Thus the global sell-off ensues. U.S. markets may lose in excess of 15% at the lowest points this month.

March News Highlights

The following is based on a combination of recent events, global trends, and the March oscillations of social mood

Following on increasing geopolitical crises from last month, tensions in Israel reach a high pitch, with violence in Gaza and a new war looming with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Peace negotiations brokered by the US forestall major Israeli retaliation, but tensions remain high all month, punctuated with increasing outbreaks of violence. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are increasingly vocal throughout the month, taunting and threatening Israel. Israeli forces and embassies remain on high alert. Syria may take up sides this round, and Iran reiterates its firm backing of Syria should Israel attack. Israel's PM Ehud Olmert continues to assert that Iran is conducting secret efforts to develop a nuclear warhead, in increasingly hostile tones.

The situation in the Darfur region of Sudan will have become critical early in March. The United Nations gives repeated warnings of a full-scale war spanning the entire region, encompassing neighboring Somalia, Eritrea, and Chad, perhaps spreading into DRC and/or the northern part of Kenya. Widespread starvation will reach critical levels, as food aid deliveries are intercepted before they can reach distribution points. Fragile Kenyan peace negotiations may break down as a result.

The United States will continue to have difficulty in reviving the waning interest of countries assisting its efforts in Afghanistan, even as Taliban resurgence advances on positions long secured by coalition forces. Continued post-election instability in neighboring Pakistan will further stretch the American forces, and may lead to a crisis near month's end. India may make a statement of caution toward the Musharraf government if the instability is not quelled.
Economic conditions worldwide deteriorate through March, resulting in a rapid decline in US stock prices across all sectors (estimated losses 15-20%). There may be scattered news and rumors of renegotiating global currencies agreements, resulting in several sharp drops in the USD. Continued high prices in crude oil will be driven by Middle East instability, tempered by recession indicators in the US, and coupled with record-high reserve levels. OPEC negotiations may be strained as various elements renew their push for a general acceptance of a "basket of currencies," heavily weighted with Euros and Yuan.
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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Deepening Despair, Increasing Geopolitical Concerns: U.S. Social Mood for February

The following is an excerpt from the MoodCompass for February. It is serious, but gives a heads up to what appears to be a very serious month, socioeconomically speaking. February (especially the second half of the month) is a good time to stay close to home and loved ones.

February is a month of exceptional despair (extreme Somber) for U.S. society. The Fed may cut rates, the government may discuss economic incentives or other emergency measures to jump start the economy. However, no matter what is suggested, promised, or actually done, with the high Somber/Directing filter (extreme high West) anything said or done either sounds like it comes from a place of panic, or is responded to with panic. In addition, at any time that some glimmer of hope begins to show, some new bit of bad news that wasn't a part of the previous equation is likely to appear. Back in January, there was great concern expressed about the U.S. economy and the possibility of recession. Those fears have not gone away in February, but a whole new set of worries have arrived.

For the past few months, the rest of the world has been seen as steadily expansive, and as possibly having the ability to compensate for slowing U.S. growth. This view shifts drastically in February. While in January some U.S. analysts may have considered other economies to be "on the right track", and looked admiringly at Asia's growth, for instance, these kinds of commentaries will change to less complementary terms. From the view of U.S. society, the world in February looks suspicious, deceitful, belligerent, and manipulative (high Manic/East). The focus is no longer on how well some other countries are doing, but how dangerous some of them are, and how they cannot be trusted. The high Manic in general signals chaos and unpredictability. We do not know what "they" are going to do next. This sentiment will cause the price of crude oil to climb, even though the global economy is slowing, stock markets are plummeting, and the U.S. Dollar is rising—not a good combination for recovery.