Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Global Collapse in Progress - January 2010

In 2009, world leaders put together a concerted effort to forestall economic catastrophe. They took the problems created by excessive consumption and overspending, and attempted to make them magically disappear through overspending and encouraging even more consumption. As the New Year begins, the bill comes due. The party’s over.

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

Global Collapse in Progress - Jan '10 Videocast

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

Who's Afraid of Inflation?

The theme for the coming week is "unintended consequences." The developed world has been in the midst of a manic binge of overconsumption for quite some time. Just like with an individual person, prolonged extreme mania is often followed by a severe depression (after the extreme mania of the 1920's, the depression of the 1930's naturally resulted). World governments have done their best to forestall an economic depression by continuing to pump "stimulus money," the economic equivalent of adrenaline, into the global system. To not have done so would have been catastrophic. Yet, is it possible that they just traded in one set of problems for another? How long can one keep going on stimulants without some sort of breakdown? Should we expect anything less drastic from something as complex as the current world order?

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

Will Increased Violence hurt Copenhagen?

Dec. 7 - 16: Directed Volatility, Outrage Violence is on the increase, and possible displays of discontent or civil unrest. (MoodCompass, Dec. issue, page 10).

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

December 2009 - Spending Sprees and Hangovers

Below is an except from this month's MoodCompass:
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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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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Spending Sprees and Hangovers - December 09 Videocast

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.