Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The global context changes drastically along with the turn of the calendar. There are clues to what causality we may assign to this, but it’s always difficult to name a context that has not yet been seen. Right around the New Year weekend, geopolitical issues rise significantly, the U.S. government appears weak or vulnerable, and the global system is perceived as breaking down. As the first week of the year begins, economic concerns rise sharply and U.S. government activity level rises. However, before connecting these dots prematurely, there are more clues to examine.
In the first week of the year and into the second, there is an elevated risk of extreme natural event(s) occurring. There are also global themes of national identity and isolationism. This would be the period with the highest likelihood for the Mayon volcano in the Philippines to erupt, or any of a number of related consequences. It would also be a time that Iran would be most likely to seriously flirt with regime change once again, which in turn could create havoc with the world’s energy supplies.
Overall, there is a global shift in mood from optimism that some sort of economic recovery is on the horizon, to one of extreme seriousness, helplessness, and apathy. Perhaps January is our introduction to the next decade. This next ten years should see an increase in scarcity, hoarding, and even wars over basic resources; and natural disasters on a scale we have never seen. The changes in our world will cause us to examine our values, and our lifestyles will surely change. January 2010 is likely only the beginning of a long and painful collapse of the world as we have known it. Welcome to 2010.
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The preceding was an excerpt from the January 2010 issue of MoodCompass. (current issue viewable by research sponsors only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)
Friday, December 25, 2009
Highlights for January: Global economic implosion, Chaos in Iran, Indian/Pacific Ocean region tectonic event(s). A global mood "weather forecast" for January 2010
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The indications for the coming week are for an extreme surge in inflation concerns. While this could be a final surge before deflation sets in for a time, the strength of it could still be quite alarming, especially to those who pay attention to such things on a daily or weekly basis. The likely manifestations to go along with this are a sharp spike back up in gold, silver, and other commodities; a decline in the U.S. Dollar; a dramatic sell-off in U.S. Treasuries; and diminished confidence in the U.S. government, and the global system as a whole.
Dec. 14 - 20: Sharp sell-off in U.S. Dollars and/or U.S. Treasuries. Inflation concerns skyrocket. Global system appears to be breaking down. Diminishing confidence in the U.S government. (MoodCompass, Dec. issue, pg. 2).
Sunday, December 6, 2009
There has already been a lot of skeptical press about the futility of Copenhagen. As desperate as the situation is, as serious as the threats are to the planet, there is little liklihood that any government will be willing to bear the political costs of actually insuring that the kinds of cuts required will actually be made. Climate activists and others who are aware of how serious the situation is, are feeling increasingly desperate.
The Copenhagen climate talks begin on Monday December 7. Social mood projections are for increased violence, protests, and civil unrest beginning on the same day. While outbursts of outrage could show up anywhere on the planet, I have to wonder whether these two factors will intersect in Copenhagen. If they do, will it help draw attention to the climate change problem, or will it only distract from the business at hand? Is there anything that anyone can do that will actually cause needed changes to take place? Important questions that need to be answered.
On the positive side, at least for Copenhagen, our social maps for the month show that increased violence or civil unrest is most likely in Mexico, the U.S., Pakistan and India. The risk is also somewhat elevated in Russia (we have already seen some of that this month). Best wishes for a fruitful and peaceful event to both delegates and protesters in Copenhagen.
Friday, December 4, 2009
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Since September, the global mood has been in a process of peaking optimism within a larger downturn (that is still only just beginning). It has been difficult for many to truly believe in an economic recovery, but more and more have decided to embrace it whole heartedly. While efforts to keep the global consumption machine moving have been no less than heroic, they cannot much longer forestall the inevitable. Trying to spend one’s way out of a situation that resulted from over consumption and over spending in the first place is like trying to pick oneself up by one’s own boot straps. Eventually, the result is falling on one’s face. The topping process in the markets and the recovery is nearly complete. This month is a glimpse at some of the unintended consequences that have been purchased in an attempt to continue to keep the global wheels turning at an unsustainable pace.
Beginning with the second week of December, geopolitical concerns are on the rise. Key global players such as China and the United States may be less than cooperative with each other; Russia may be at odds with Eastern Europe; and we must not forget the wild cards—Iran and N. Korea which may add renewed trouble to the global balancing act at a moment’s notice. Displays of discontent or unrest are more likely on a global scale, and incidents of violence may be seen to be up as well. In the middle of the month, there are indications that inflation concerns will rise dramatically. This should be accompanied by either a sharp sell-off in U.S. Dollars, U.S. Treasuries, or both. Concurrently, confidence in the U.S. government will diminish, and there may be worries that the global system is breaking down. Immediately surrounding the Christmas holiday there may be some relief. However, as the New Year begins, geopolitical worries and systemic risks again come to the foreground as noteworthy threats to the fragile house of cards that have been so carefully stacked in place.
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http://anewstory.org/moodcompass.htm (current issue viewable by research sponsors only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
December highlights: Increased global tension, U.S. Dollar or U.S. Treasuries sell-off, increased discontent or unrest, and possible California earthquake. A global mood "weather forecast" for December 2009.
Friday, October 30, 2009
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There is a sense of desperation to the month of November which is likely to challenge world leaders to find new and creative solutions to long standing problems. There are economic concerns that “stimulus” has not yet been able to make go away, and chronic geopolitical issues that continue to go unresolved. In the first half of the month, the primary focus is economic and currency issues. There may be one last big panic over the fate of the U.S. Dollar, after which it should continue to show new strength. As the seriousness of the economic situation begins to become clear, inflation worries will be replaced with concerns about deflation, and global markets could see a sharp, but likely brief, sell-off. The yet unresolved unemployment situation may require new and innovative responses from federal and state governments.
The focus shifts in the second half to the world arena. A polarization develops between “good guys” and “bad guys” (the identification of the good guys and bad guys would be in the eye of the beholder). There is a societal sense of righteousness and unity against an enemy or cause. While it would make sense that a specific event would cause such a response, there is no direct indication as to whether such an event is likely to occur or what it might be. Because there appears to be some relationship to this polarization with the energy markets, there is a good possibility that it involves Iran and possibly Russia.
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http://anewstory.org/markets/Nov09_MoodCompass.pdf (current issue viewable by research sponsors only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)
Friday, October 23, 2009
The Global Mood "Weather Forecast" for November 2009. US centered economic chaos, Military display(s) of force, Hawaii event, and more swine flu are the highlights.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Even if there is still one more brief, but possibly extreme panic, holders of the U.S. Dollar will once again find their currency gaining in favor. Inflation worries will be a spector of the past, and deflation will once again be the primary concern. We've been here before. This is what it looks like at a social mood top, as markets in general begin to break down once again, and as Treasuries and the U.S. Dollar are sought as "safety." The Dollar may indeed collapse at some point, and inflation may very well soar to unbelievable heights as resources become more scarce. However, for now, and perhaps for some time to come, the Dollar may find support as the Great Recession continues to play out, and the spectre of Depression once again begins to lurk in the shadows.
Excerpt from the October 2009 MoodCompass:
October 19 – 25: A Solution? U.S. government crisis resolved one way or another. U.S. Dollar declines sharply. Inflation concerns up sharply.
From the Week by Week Highlights of Global Mood, Perception, and Behavior on Page 2 of the October MoodCompass: http://anewstory.org/markets/Oct09_MoodCompass.pdf (current issue viewable by research sponsors only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation).
Monday, September 28, 2009
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Strains on the global economy and infrastructure should continue in October. The budgets of states and local economies may be stretched to dangerous levels. The U.S. government will likely be working overtime keeping things together, and one of those all weekend crisis session is not out of the question.
And let’s not forget Iran. It would not be unlikely during the month for discussion and conjecture to arise regarding the direction of the Iran regime, the U.S. position on sanctions or military action, and potential Israeli actions. Such topics as Armageddon may even become part of ordinary conversation in the most intense periods of suspense.
The month ends with a very violent social mood configuration. It is not clear how this may manifest, but it does indicate that November could be even more interesting than October.
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http://anewstory.org/markets/Oct09_MoodCompass.pdf (current issue viewable by research sponsors only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)
Friday, September 25, 2009
The Global Mood "Weather Forecast" for October 2009. Continued economic concerns, widespread civil unrest, and extreme Middle East tension are the highlights.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
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The last few months have seen global society move from the brink of despair to a hopeful optimism that things may actually be starting to get better (even while jobs and homes continue to be lost). Wall Street has given new meaning to irrational exuberance, as bullish sentiment indicators reach extremes that exceed the levels of the market peak of October 2007. There are rumors expressed by some commentators that there never even was a recession to begin with.
In March, we cautioned to look for such an extreme in optimism in the months ahead, as it would be the signal that things would be about to get really bad. We are here now. September is a month of paradox, confusion, turbulence, and cross currents. It is a month where hope continues to push forward, as reality persistently slaps it down. There could be large stock market declines as well as huge market rallies as people struggle to find their bearings. There are indications of high economic concerns on a global scale, yet concurrent concerns about inflation are not out of the question. Another crisis regarding the fate of the U.S. Dollar may reappear, while the Dollar builds a solid foundation from which to rally from in the coming months.
In the geopolitical arena, there is increasing violence likely in Nigeria and more civil unrest likely in Iran. Either of these could cause supply concerns in the energy markets. There is a general deterioration in the desire for cooperation among nations, most notably from Russia and the Middle East arena. Global relationships could also deteriorate with Afghanistan, Pakistan and even India. The United States could begin to show an increasingly unfriendly tone this month as well.
In the natural world, it’s the peak of hurricane season, increasing the likelihood of tropical storms and cyclones. There is also a curious indication of concerns with disease outbreaks in Asia which merits watching. Overall, September should be an interesting, if not painful month, as we all try to orient ourselves to a shifting, changing reality. Global leaders should be working overtime to ensure us that all is well, and above all to “please remain calm.”
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http://anewstory.org/markets/Sep09_MoodCompass.pdf (current issue viewable by research sponsors only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)
Monday, August 17, 2009
The Global Mood "Weather Forecast" for September 2009. Global Economic Crisis, Geopolitical Tension Increase, and Disease Concerns in Asia are the highlights.
Friday, July 31, 2009
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We spoke last month of a War Dance – some posturing and chest pounding among friends. This month, the sound of drums pounding in the distance can be heard. They’re getting closer. The situation in Iran has been simmering. N. Korea has not yet been “tamed.” There may be domestic distractions—health care, the economy, and other things to pay attention to. There are summer vacations that need to be taken, and parties to go to. However, like it or not, it will be difficult to ignore the sound of the drums, especially near the end of the month.
There is a recent expansion of our research into cycles of mood and perception to a personification of the Earth or Nature itself and its “moods” created from a collage of how human’s perceive non-human nature. In August, there is heightened concern about issues related to global warming or climate change. There is a heightened risk of a moderate earthquake in the area surrounding the Indian Ocean. For whatever reason, strong concerns with disease issues are indicated in Asia at the end of the month, going into September (see http://anewstory.org/earth.htm for more info).
If all this was not enough, while Wall Street has been busy ignoring the high unemployment rates and the growing financial issues that Main Street is increasingly faced with, while banks have been finding new ways to risk money, and everyone and his brother are declaring the recession over, the ingredients for new crises have been stewing. As September approaches, a large stock market decline becomes increasingly near.
But that’s almost a month away. Go back to sleep. It’s probably just a bad dream anyway.
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http://anewstory.org/markets/Aug09_MoodCompass.pdf (current issue viewable by research sponsors only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
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While most of our social mood data comes from the United States, the patterns showing up here also manifest in societies throughout the world, and often in a more extreme manner. Last November, exactly where the social configuration indicated “chaos breaks out,” the Mumbai terrorist attacks occurred. Last month, exactly where a “paradigm shift” was indicated, riots and protests in favor of a new leader were seen in Iran.
In the first half of July, is a social configuration known as the “War Dance.” Metaphorically, think of warriors putting on war paint, pounding their chests, and beating on drums. Expect to see a surge in nationalism and the mentality of “good guys” and “bad guys.” The configuration for the US government is indicative of both high activity and “posturing” with the outside world. However, this occurs after the societal “War Dance” indicating that this action is likely responsive. Also, while “forceful,” the U.S. action should be primarily diplomatic (SE over SW).
With all of this, there are no indications of any new major outbreaks of war at this time. However, watch for the “War Dance” posturing and beginnings of a response before the 14th of the month. While at this time, it is not yet possible to pinpoint where the focal point of this “War Dance” will manifest, the most likely candidates are N. Korea and Iran. This “War Dance” configuration reappears at month’s end. Should the government assure that “all is well” at that time, be wary, as this would be coincident with a “denial” configuration.
There are no indications of a likelihood of actual disruptions in the supply of crude oil. However, when people are worried, even needlessly, they can resort to hoarding. Please refer to our Public Panic Crisis Event presentation for more information on this phenomenon (it is available on our website at: http://anewstory.org/documents/public_panic_crisis.ppt). The most likely period for a manifestation of panic in the markets or otherwise is July 23 – 28. The likely public response to rising oil and gas prices near the 13th is unclear.
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http://anewstory.org/markets/Jul09_MoodCompass.pdf (current issue viewable by research sponsors only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Look for global tensions to flare this summer and reach a peak in the fall. If the usual players are involved, then look for: 1) The issue regarding the US Dollar and world reserve currency should continue to increase tensions with the US, China, and Russia. 2) Russia is likely to be doing the natural gas hostage play again, increasing tensions with Europe and former Soviet States. 3) Also, watch for a hot spot in the Middle East due to the instability in Iran, and possible nervousness on the part of Israel and/or Iraq. 4) North Korea should continue to be an uncertain annoyance in the background.
The global economic picture should continue to deteriorate, and markets should generally be down to sideways through October. Unemployment should climb well beyond current levels. Look for valiant government efforts to turn things around by the end of the year. Near year's end should be the beginnings of a turnaround in sentiment that should continue into early 2010. Expect a surge of hope (or denial) in November, and an attempt to see “silver linings” within a context of bad data or news in December.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
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The month of June is showing extremely complex social mood patterns, and the issues under consideration this month should be similarly complex. Following what may be some type of extreme event on or before June 3rd, there is a background of general anxiety throughout the month. With both “East” factors high, the global context is of high level meetings, negotiations and diplomacy. The very symbols of the global system, currency and credit, are likely subjects of discussion and reevaluation.
There is a curious configuration appearing in the mood pattern for US society mid month. It signals a sociological event, a paradigm shift related to identity. What does it mean to be an American? The idea of the United States and its place within the world system are considered and evaluated. Questions such as, “Is the United States past its prime? Is it overextended beyond repair?” “Is the US Dollar still a preferred reserve currency?” are all likely topics of discussion. The resolution to these questions will be interesting to watch as it unfolds. It could be one of resignation, or it could lead to a renewed sense of vision for the American people as well as a new urgency to succeed and lead the way to a global recovery.
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http://anewstory.org/markets/Jun09_MoodCompass.pdf (current issue viewable by research sponsors only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Below is an except from this month's MoodCompass:
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Last month there was an indication of an “unexpected ‘extreme event’ on a global scale.” It was somewhat of a puzzle for us, as the effects on the government appeared to be extreme, yet there was no indication of a stock market crash or heightened geopolitical concerns. If it wasn’t the economy, a war, or a terrorist attack, what could possibly put the U.S. government into such a tizzy? As events unfolded during the month, the swine flu scare was the best fit for this “extreme event.” While we had cited the beginning of the event as likely to be the week of the 13th, the crisis point indicated by our U.S. government chart was April 24-27, exactly where the flu made U.S. (and world) headlines.
As of this writing, there is a downplaying of the seriousness of this flu by the World Health Organization. While its trivialization may or may not end up being a correct assessment, it is important to notice that the alert level is still being maintained at 5. While we are not public health or epidemiology experts in any sense of the word, there are some signals in our social mood and perception charts that encourage continued vigilance for the time being. 1) The global context for the week of May 4 is one of denial of the full extent of a very serious situation. 2) There are indications of a situation that is seen as extremely serious by U.S. society mid to late month with concurrent panic on a global scale. 3) While there may be economic ramifications, the situation does not appear to be primarily economic.
Of course, this is a new month, and there could be completely new problems that fulfill these criteria. The concern is that a brush off of the swine flu and later resurgence of panic regarding its spread or seriousness is much too consistent with the three factors listed above to allow complacency about it just yet. Whether it ends up being “just a flu” in reality or not, panic, and its effect on our daily lives, is all about perception.
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http://anewstory.org/markets/May09_MoodCompass.pdf (current issue viewable by research sponsors only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)
Monday, March 30, 2009
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The stock market apparently made a bottom last month, but it’s not yet time to celebrate. The cycling of moods in April look like a harsh dose of reality clashing with burgeoning optimism. It isn’t pretty. The focus this month is not primarily the stock market. Believe it or not, there are other things happening in the world and in life to pay attention to.
In general, U.S. Society throughout the month is agitated, perhaps even angry. People are tired of hearing about the economic downturn and what needs to be done about it. They are tired of their government fighting about what should and should not be done. While social unrest around the world last month was quite high, it is yet to be seen whether this fuse gets ignited into some massive demonstration or outbreak in this country.
In the marketplace this month, look for a strong resurgence in the energy markets. Expect the price for oil and gasoline to climb throughout much of the month. There is also extreme action indicated in the currency and bond markets. In a global social and economic sense, things are on the unstable side of the scale.
Of particular concern is the week of April 13th. There is the possibility of an unexpected “extreme event” on a global scale. The manifestation in the US government is turmoil and chaos. Whether this occurs in this country, somewhere else, or “everywhere,” the scale is large enough to cause at least two weeks of disruption of the government’s focus. Public opinion of the government during this period should be extremely low as well.
To summarize, I will quote a colleague who is gifted in the use of metaphor: “April this year is like a sick, twisted roller coaster ride at a creepy, run down carnival. You just want to get off the ride and go home.”
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http://anewstory.org/markets/Apr09_MoodCompass.pdf (current issue viewable by research sponsors only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Global Risk of Social Unrest: EXTREME!
Below is an except from this month's MoodCompass:
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March 2009 – Disgruntled, Discontented, and Directionless
The background theme throughout the month is an aimless, anxious, agitation. People, in general, are worried about the future; increasing numbers are concerned with survival needs in the present. To make matters worse, no one is quite sure how to respond to all that is going on.
Global stock markets are near a low and the negativity in social mood is nearing a peak. At such long term cycle peaks, the risk of civil unrest reaches an extremely high probability of occurring; the risk of misunderstandings between governments also rises.
There are numerous opinions about how governments should be dealing with the economic turmoil. While there is little consensus on exactly what should be done, there is much agreement, globally, that whatever is being done, by whoever is in charge, is the wrong thing, and that whatever they are doing is either not enough or is going to make matters worse. In the US, differences between political parties over the past month have been extreme. This month, divisiveness reaches a whole new level, and it would not be surprising to see some type of a demand for action, an insistence that the debate come to a conclusion so that plans can be crystallized and implemented. “Enough talk already! What are you going to DO about it?”
All of this painful agitation and searching for direction should likewise be a theme in the marketplace throughout the month. This is not the end of the economic downturn, but it is near the end of increased disintegration for now. When the next long term peak in optimism arrives, that will be the time to look for things to really begin to get bad!
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http://anewstory.org/markets/Mar09_MoodCompass.pdf (current issue viewable by research sponsors only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)
Sunday, February 1, 2009
President Obama has been saying it's going to get worse before it gets better. The next two months should look pretty bad for the global economy. More people will lose jobs, more banks will be on the edge of failing, etc. However, just when it looks like there will never be an end to all of the bad news, in just a few months from now, things will start to stabilize. It won't be the end of the economic downturn, that is still a few years away (according to the cycles we follow). However, it will mean a reprieve for a bit, perhaps six months, or even more. An upturn in the collective mood would be rather refreshing. I sure would love a surge of good news for a change.
Below is an except from this month's MoodCompass:
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February 2009 – Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Last month was rather interesting. There were so many puzzle pieces that looked so bad at a time that seemed like everyone should be celebrating – the drop in optimism and associated stock market downturn, U.S. Treasuries being sold off even though the stock market was declining, and an increase in anti-U.S. sentiment after a new, fairly popular president was supposed to take office. We were right on with the pieces of the puzzle. There was an actual 5% drop in the stock market on Inauguration Day itself. China, Pakistan, and the Arab world as a whole were less than pleased with the United States the very week the new president took office. However, as a whole, things were more or less “normal.” We must admit that we too were caught up in the expectations that a new president would mean that at least the mood should get better for a moment, and were concerned about what seemed to be a discrepancy. The new president is for the most part doing exactly what he said he would do, what the majority of Americans elected him for, yet the U.S. (and global) collective mood continues to sour.
In February, there are more reminders that things continue to be all too normal. Mid-month the stock market begins to crash (again!). The U.S. government is perceived to be disorganized, incompetent, and fragmented. With this configuration, it is likely that internal fighting and self-interest will impede agreements on any proposed solutions to the economic crisis (which should appear to be getting completely out of control). Whether or not they can get it together next month, we’ll have to see. Regardless, don’t look for any improvements in the economic outlook before spring! This next couple of months of stock market losses might be considered a grand finale of the “show” we have been watching since late 2007. During this period there is a heightened risk of social instability throughout the world, meaning a higher than normal likelihood of demonstrations, riots, and geopolitical escalation.
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http://anewstory.org/markets/Feb09_MoodCompass.pdf (current issue viewable by subscription only; reprinted with permission of A New Story Foundation)
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
The problems that we all have to deal with haven't changed. However, we now have a very gifted leader who will do whatever can and must be done to address the mess that was left for him to clean up. The big question is, will people give whatever is tried a chance to work? Do people, in general, have the patience to wait several years before many of the big problems even begin to get better? I don't envy his position.