“Debt Is Good”

us-debt-graph-2020

Image credit: Club Orlov – The Negative Interest Rate Gap

“Debt Is Good”
“Debt Is Good”
Everybodyyyy…   All together nowwww…
“Debt Is Good”
“Debt Is Good”

It is not at all easy to laugh with your tongue in your cheek, or even with someone else’s tongue in your cheek.  But Dmitry Orlov makes it all seem entirely possible in this beautifully rendered and timeless essay on the ‘ZIRP-NIRP Gap’.

You will enjoy it, I guarantee it.  But be warned, you may accidentally bite your tongue   …or whoever else’s tongue you happen to…   oh, forget it.

Just read the damn thing: The Negative Interest Rate Gap

 

 

Added after publication:

Now, let’s see just how this works.  I have an interest in that sort of interest, you see, not having a great deal of money of my own.  I find it quite interesting.

If I were to borrow $1,000,000 at -7%pa interest, that means that the bank would be paying me $70,000 a year to hold their money, or $5,833.33 a month.  I think I could live quite well on that.  Bring it on.  I would have to withdraw the monthly payment immediately of course in cash, or I would need to pay them a percentage back, because I would then be a depositor.

When I am ready, having accumulated enough to last me for the rest of my life, I could just give them their million dollars back.  With a big thank you.  Why doesn’t the world already operate like that?  A much better system than we have now.  Whoever dreamed that up I wonder?  It must have been the twisted mind of an accountant.

 

 

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The End Of ‘-isms’?

Sometimes The Guardian gets things so right, but other times they get things oh so wrong that one wonders what substance they are abusing now.  This is one of those oh so wrong times:  The end of capitalism has begun

f3ba5014-9489-4812-ab90-576a69c35bec-2060x1236Image Credit:  Welcome to an age of sharing. Illustration by Joe Magee

Not that they are (perhaps I should say ‘he is’,  , the writer of this piece) wrong about the end of Capitalism, the writing has been on the wall for that for quite some time.  But you can’t end ‘something‘ and then call whatever replaces it ‘post-something‘.  It neither makes sense nor grabs the attention.  It simply means ‘what comes after‘ or ‘the absence of‘ something, which could well mean ‘nothing‘.

Nothingism‘, is that what we are being led to expect?

There has to be a meaningful name for what comes after Capitalism …and it has to be a real something, not an absence of something.  What could it be?

Well, I will tell you what it won’t be.  It won’t be anything even remotely like what this article suggests, which is a Techno Utopia where through the wonders of Information Technology nobody has to work.  It’s all automated, don’t you know.  And don’t expect to see the proposed ‘new kind of human being’ slated in the article.  I wouldn’t be holding my breath to see the dream neighbour, the ideal friend, or beautiful people everywhere, or what he calls a ‘sharing economy‘.

Does this guy not know that with the collapse of the Capitalist paradigm, already teetering, and whatever it is (I can think of a number of things, acting jointly or severally) that provides the impetus to pass the necessary tipping-point-of-no-return, everything else (society, commerce, finance, economy, industry, agriculture, you name it…) will inevitably collapse in a heap as well.

In that very same moment, Information Technology will become a historical concept, fondly remembered for a short while and then forgotten completely and forever. Technology – the same.  Jobs – the same.  Money – the same.  Processed Food – the same.  Take-away – the same.  Everything, physical or virtual, made by the current society – the same.

So, where is the Techno Utopia spoken of in this article going to come from?  Listen carefully – IT ISN’T COMING.

Maybe I hit the nail on the head earlier when I flippantly suggested that the next new thing would be Nothingism.  No, that can’t be.  But what’s a word that describes living simply, living locally, producing your own food-shelter-clothing, caring for and sharing with your nearby friends and neighbours, your local community?  I’m not sure there is a name for that.  Localism?  Maybe.  It doesn’t seem to cover everything I am envisaging.  Sharingism?   Maybe.  Whatever that is.  There would have to be a more fitting, less forced, word that carried the same meaning.

Maybe there doesn’t need to be a name.  Maybe it’s the end of -isms.

Aspirational Level? Think Again.

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Image credit:: Global temperature changes since 1850  This is a link to the original image which is expandable and easier to see

 

This is by far the best depiction I have yet seen as to what has actually been occurring with regard to global warming over the last 160 years or so.  It is perfectly and undeniably clear that global temperatures have overall been rising consistently but at varying rates, in bands of time, over that period.

The colour scale on the right, marked off in 20 year blocks of linear time, intentionally has no scalar relation to the graph.  That much should be obvious.  It is there purely so that we can view bands of time by their colour.  The colour is meaningless but it is clear that there are bands of colour (even though the colours change gradually over time) in Mauves, Blue-Greens and Yellows.

Note that these are monthly global average temperatures and the zero line represents the baseline pre-industrial level.  It is not 0°C.  It is whatever the calculated global average temperature was prior to the start of the industrial revolution.  The scale on the left then shows temperatures in °C above or below that baseline.  Actual temperatures are immaterial.  It is the deviation from the ‘normal’ baseline, the zero baseline, that we are interested in.

Note also, that this is a time-series graph, a continuous line, starting from some undecipherable (to my aging eyes) point in 1850 right through to March 2016.  For convenience of viewing, the line goes from left to right (Jan to Dec), exits at the right hand side in mid-Dec and wraps around back to the left hand side still in mid-Dec (as you would expect).

There, that’s all of the mystery taken out of the thing now.  Everybody should be able to understand what is going on (even those dim climate deniers).  Now, let’s take a look at what it is telling us.

The Mauves
The sections of the line (remember it is continuous and the colour of the line changes, as time goes on, in accordance with the colour/time scale on the right) that are coloured in Mauves, indicate the temperature movements during the earlier part of the period from 1850 to around 1900.  It shows that there was considerable variation in temperature back then with some of the readings indicating that there were times when a drop in temperature to as low as -0.5°C below pre-industrial levels.  A careful look however, will reveal that there are about as many monthly readings above the baseline (zero level) as below it.  Indeed there are some readings from these years that are as high as 0.7°C above baseline.  I would suggest that this is the sort of variation that could be expected to be seen in the second half of the nineteenth century because the large scale industrial activity of the twentieth century had not yet begun and the global population was still at ‘normal’ levels ie. below 2 billion.

The Blue-Greens
The line colour variations from blues to greens cover a longer 80 year period between 1900 and 1980 and it is obvious that the readings are still quite variable but there are many more of them above the baseline than below it and the blue-green band does generally appear to sit above the mauve band.  This indicates a slight rise in average temperatures during this period over the previous one.

The Yellows
The yellow coloured portions of the line cover a much smaller timeframe of just 35 years from 1980 to today.  There is a much wider spread of these fewer readings (which is remarkable in itself, because it shows that something is happening, relatively quickly), pretty much all of them being both above the baseline and also above the blue-green band.  This indicates a much more volatile period of temperature change where the majority of the readings are higher than either of the two earlier colour bands.  What is more, the latest readings (the last few years) appear to be breaking away to form a new band by themselves that is way above the average for even the short yellow period …and that is very worrying (not that there is anything we can do about it).

I think we are entering a new period of runaway global temperature rises that could well mark the end of our journey on Earth.  And it is all our own fault.

I am equally sure that there will be those who say “Ah yes, but there has always been variation in global climate.  It naturally goes up and down”.

True, but those natural variations are gradual.  Any movement upward or downward taking place over centuries or millennia, not 30-50 years.  Believe me, this is something different.

Oh, and by the way, remember the COP21 Paris agreement with its (what did they call it? Aspirational?) level of 1.5°C?  Well take a look at the chart.  We have already as good as reached that, unless my spectacles are a little misted up.  And their 2°C ceiling?  Give it another five years and even that will be history.  Then sit back and watch the fireworks show begin.

 

Added after publishing.

If straight lines aren’t your thing, try this alternative .gif of the same data   The ending is quite striking.  Thanks to foodnstuff for the link.

 

“Militant Complacency”

Now that the losing side in the upcoming US Presidential election has all but officially placed its faith in the old Reagan era catch-cry rebadged by Donald Trump – Make America Great Again, the other side of the spinning coin has also all but officially (though I think Bernie may still have something to say about that), with the true ‘militant complacency’ of modern liberals, opted for the ‘more of the same’ approach opposing catch-cry of Hillary (It’s My Turn) Clinton – “America never stopped being great”.  A sentiment of blind logic echoed by the current incumbent of the chair they are both vying for – “America’s pretty darn great right now”.

How can they all be so wrong?  And Why?  Or are they trying to pull the wool over your eyes?

This guardian article has a lot to offer in analysis of the situation: Why must the Trump alternative be self-satisfied, complacent Democrats? – “Convinced that the country’s ongoing demographic shifts will bring victory for years to come, the party establishment acts like its candidates need do nothing differently”.

2801Photo credit: ‘What the Democrats have in mind for 2016 is what we might call a campaign of militant complacency. They are dissociated from the mood of the nation, and they do not care.’ Photograph: Charles Dharapak/ASSOCIATED PRESS