Where's that "Tipping Point"?
I don't know how many times I'm going to have to say this, but I will try once more with the hope that it will sink in: A 'tipping point' is not necessarily a single "event" as it is a massive change in how things work which often is not apparent instantly.
Did the 'tipping point' begin on Sunday morning? Yes. Not only did we have lots of release language surrounding the release of Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma/Myanmar, but there was the release of Paul & Rachel Chandler who had been held by Somali pirates for 388 days.
Then - almost exactly on schedule - time-wise - we've had a big outburst of earthquakes in the area south of Yemen and northeast of Djibouti. And no, we're not talking 2's and 3's. This is an area which hasn't been seismically active and in the past 30-hours it has suddenly popped off - not with one or two - but with 40 quakes on the USGS site.
Meantime, in Indonesia, the Child of Krakatau (Krakatoa) has been active every five minutes.
As I pointed out for Peoplenomics readers on Sunday, there very well could be a once-in-a-lifetime geological event building and here's why: Back in 2009, there were reports of a great crack in the earth that had opened up in Somalia south of the Dabbahu volcano. (see triangle below)
Now, let's see what happens when you draw a line from Dabbahu volcano, through the earthquake swarm in the Gulf of Aden/Djibouti/ Off Yemen quake area. Where does it point?
In the direction of the Indonesia quakes at Merapi and possibly soon Krakatau.
Then there's the matter of "What tipped, and how soon will it be apparent in economics?" Good question, since the tipping period is supposed to be primarily economic in nature, although it's possible it could be otherwise.
The word "failure" is being associated with the G20 talks this weekend, which means global markets are upset this morning. Whether it will just pass, or whether it will escalate remains to be seen.
Commodities have tumbled the most in 18-months as reports that China will raise its interest rates in order to combat inflation, and that in turn would ripple into reduced purchases and that in turn leads to lower prices.
In Europe, Ireland is in the midst of a financial implosion so severe that young people are fleeing the country to avoid being caught in the failing economy. The Dow Jones news service reported this morning that the ECB is standing ready with its $750 billion bailout facility if Ireland needs it, but as was the case of the Icelandic meltdown in 2009-2010, there's nothing simple about such offers.
While the Euro-lenders are waving flags at Ireland, the Portuguese foreign minister says that his country might leave the Eurozone over austerity demands being placed on his country.
Near as I can figure, the failed G20 was like turning on the blender in global economics. As the EU faces troubles and as China thinks about slowing, there's been a big surge in the purchasing power of the US dollar. In fact, the Financial Times notes that the "Dollar rises to six-week high".
What that in turn could lead to would be the Dow tumbling to six-week lows, specifically because the US Dow has been a kind of 'inverse dollar" play. In other words, as the dollar has gone down, more of them would be needed to 'buy the Dow" and this has run up markets.
With the dollar quickly gaining strength, that could put the Dow quickly back down to six-week lows, which by my reckoning might mean a quick visit to the 10,682 level, the intraday low October 4th. Lower if the dollar continues to strengthen.
Very short term, futures are up this morning, perhaps on flight to safety and off in the background, we see there are reports starting to surface that China's banks are stopping real estate loans in order to dampen, or prevent, a Western style housing bubble.
To be sure, none of this looks like a 'life changer, yet. In fact, I've been getting a fair number of emails like this one:
The only thing tipping over today is your credibility and Cliff's. This is funny though since there isn't a sane person that reads your blog that wants you to be right. We all hope you are wrong. Have you thought about what you will do if you are? This would wipe out a lot of your reputation and trash the web bot project.
I've said it before but apparently I need to say it again: A tipping point is not a single event. I have outlined a lot of possibilities but I've tried to say repeatedly not a single event.
If you remember the July 2001 tipping point, it came before the 9/11 attack. July was when - we would later learn - the last decisions about the 9/11 attack were reportedly made while AQ was partying in Las Vegas.
Similarly, when we went through a state-change in October of 2008, I remember getting the same early flood of emails telling me "You guys got it wrong! Frauds! Creeps!" with email cc's to half the population of earth.
Strangely, not a one of these cretins sent an apology when six months later the Dow had fallen to 6,627.
Will this 'tipping point' bring similar change? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But to rush to a decision about it a mere 24-hours is pretty stupid. Specific dates are the hardest part of this project.
Here's a reader who obviously "gets it":
"...thought I'd chime in on 'tipping points'. A tipping point need not be destructive, dramatic or even particularly noticeable at the time. Its just the point that which a particular rush to a particular outcome further down the line becomes inexorable. Almost nobody sees a tipping point at the time, its normally a job for historians. "
Nevertheless, people want to find a single big headline and I keep repeating this, it's not likely to be a single big headline.
If you can't sit back and wait for events to arrive, don't blame me (or Clif) for your own impatience. The forecast is the forecast. Over the longer term, if we're right, I know a lot of folks who are well-prepared for whatever may come.
In the absolute best case, if NOTHING out of the ordinary "run of news" items happens, then we won't need to buy toilet paper for six months and the stored foods we've bought already will be a dandy hedge against higher food prices to come. You saw the latest reports about inflation as measured at Wal-Mart? the government's latest CPI report is due out on Wednesday.
Yes - it's possible we got this all wrong. But until we're some distance into things, I'm not prepared to jump to any conclusions. Experience says (and I've written it up several times as the 'picket fence problem') just gathering the data will decide over times whether it's a hit - or a miss.
As of this morning, I simply don't know. The news over the next month or two should be a good arbiter.
But no, I don't think the "Building What?" story (which asks those vexing questions about WTC 7) is anything other than a sidebar....
Speaking of Tips and Such...
You see where IPv4 internet names are about to run out? Latest guess is the "old" internet (IPv4) will be out of names by March 10, 2011 which is 115 days from now. A well-informed reader telling us:
"November 12 was the deadline for submissions addressing the ARIN planned global allocation policy following exhaustion. Along with a "globally coordinated address transfer policy", ARIN plans a course change to "actively rather than reactively" seek out fraudulently obtained addresses.
Google has a friendly explanation why they don't permit IPv6 access to the common man using IPv4 networks.
See Chapter 3 on this EU region report to read how IPv6 can enable e-Government to oversee e-Administration and e-Democracy. This should help reduce "off-grid" compliance issues."
A note from Robin Landry came in - something he sends to colleagues in the investment community and which he generously allows us to share here:
"The markets made new highs eclipsing the April 2010 highs and the wave count changed to my alternate count. The market is extremely overbought and due for a correction. This decline which got under way a few days ago is a small wave 4 of the rally from the August 2010 low and we need one more rally to complete wave 5 of C of P2. Under the alternate count, instead of the next high being all of wave C, it could be just a of C and after a larger decline lasting several weeks for wave b of C the market could turn back up for c of C to complete wave P2. I am watching the dollar for clues to which count will be the correct one. Everyone is looking for inflation to start up and have driven gold and silver to their recent highs. The extremely high sentiment numbers in the metals suggest a large correction will happen first. If this correction is not impulsive to the downside, I will begin to add positions in the inflation hedges when the market turns back up for c of C of P2. Remember surprises will be to the downside. The attempt to inflate the dollar is being met with anger from the rest of the world and we could end up in a currency war which would not turn out well. To say we live in interesting times is an understatement. I expect we will get the answer over the next few weeks. As always I will update as circumstances warrant.
One possibility to think about is whether a currency war was 'baked in the cake' when the G20 failed, but like I said, all things in time and we won't need to go shopping for much while we wait.
What's Up NASA's Sleeve?
A lot of curiosity about what this is all about:
MEDIA ADVISORY: M10-157
NASA ANNOUNCES TELEVISED CHANDRA NEWS CONFERENCE
WASHINGTON -- NASA will hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. EST on Monday, Nov. 15, to discuss the Chandra X-ray Observatory's discovery of an exceptional object in our cosmic neighborhood.
Scientists involved in the research will be available to answer
questions. Panelists providing analysis of the research include:
- Jon Morse, director, Astrophysics Division, NASA Headquarters in Washington
- Kimberly Weaver, astrophysicist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
- Alex Filippenko, astrophysicist, University of California, Berkeley
Remember that purported "Boeing Engineer" story about the energetic cloud in local stellar space? A fair amount of speculation that some big revelation about Planet X will come from this, but I wouldn't bet the grocery money on it.
Worth a read: Art Carden's comments in Forbes "Full Frontal Nudity doesn't make us Safer: Abolish the TSA."
"Papers Please?" is one thing. Not sure what this is...I mean besides plain weird...
(continues below ad)
Coping: What's Ahead in Peoplenomics
A couple of people wrote and asked a fine question: "What's ahead in Peoplenomics?" A few even wondered if the outcome of the tipping point story would influence where Peoplenomics content would go.
The answer is: No impact at all. Peoplenomics has - and will continue to be - focused on how to live a better, longer, a higher-quality life by observing some of the age-old values like thrift and common sense. Not that common sense is any too common, here lately.
This weekend, for example, we got into a discussion of something I call "decoupling" - which is the getting of oneself to point of minimal entanglements with the rest of the planet. Self-sufficiency has many things to recommend it, as does thrift.
Although we have been in a high inflation economy for as long as most people alive can remember, the idea of building your own version of 'spaceship earth' in your own back yard is not only doable, but desirable.
I got a dandy email from a reader who's already a good ways along this path that makes some very sound observations:
"I read your latest Peoplenomics report tonight, issue 481-B...
I am 50, and up until this last year was single. I have lived the life that you have related in your update. It has worked spectacularly for me. For some reason, at 19, in Secretarial School, they had a small class on budgeting...in it I learned about keeping housing at 25% of your 'net' income. That secret has helped me my whole life, first with renting and then with buying my first (and only so far) home which I bought in 1994.
That 25% of net, has allowed me room for a car payment when necessary, health insurance, emergencies, etc.
In the beginning, I did not have enough extra money to save...but I always paid my bills and lived within my means...as soon as I started making more than what I needed to live, I saved that extra.
At 40, during the 2000 recession, I was laid off, spent the next 18 months going back to school to finish my degree, worked part-time jobs, and then graduated at 41, with $17,600 in tuition debt. When I went back to school, with the principles you outlined and that I had followed, I had no debt at all except for a $545.00 mortgage payment.
Little did I know, after graduation, I would work contract for 3 months, but then the bottom would drop out and I would be unemployed for 14 months. I tried hard to find a job, and ended up cleaning kennels, working construction odd jobs, just trying to bring money in. I utilized the only 2 credit cards I had and ended up $29,800 in debt (plus the college debt), but never gave up...my house had appreciated in value, so I called up a broker, and I had my re-finance all lined up waiting for me to find that job...I found a job in February of 2003, refinanced in one month, took out $48,000k equity, started a new $100k loan and reduced from a 7.5% interest rate to a 5.25%, paid off all my cc debt, helped out a few family members, gave some gifts, and put $10k seed money in the bank for a rainy day, and started over. What I found out during that 18 months going back to school and then followed by 14 months of unemployment (except for that 3 month contract job) was you needed MORE than 6 months set aside to make it during hard times.
The reason I made it was I had lived beneath my means since 19 to 40 and learned a whole lot about doing without, buying classy but inexpensive, taking good care of the things I had, buying very nice things at garage sales (which 90% of my house is furnished from garage sales), and always remained positive about my life and had and have a prayer life...I also bought used cars that I could afford, and kept them long after they had blown engines, just replacing engines and moving on...
I was raised during a time when it was who you were and what you did with your self and word so I knew that character was more important than owning 'things' or how you looked.
One CAN look good and live good and feel good on a lot less, but one has to work up a game plan.
I have never read the millionaire next door, but my sister said she read it, and I have all those traits.
Now...in 2003, I guess you could call me dead broke, $29,800 in debt with cc that I used to support myself through 18 months of going back to school and 14 months of unemployment...which I was able to do because I had meticulously paid them off each month when possible; and $17,600 in student loan debt.
So, when my life hit a snag, I had already developed the discipline to make it through the tough times.
My recommendation to anyone in this time, is do the the things you spoke about in your report...get out of the car payments, get out of debt, live beneath your means, save the difference, buy used and classy and clean...take pride in your things and take care of them...teach your spouses, children, and friends if they will listen....that they too, can achieve independence.
I came through ALL that and never missed one payment on anything and have over 800 credit score.
Oh, I paid off my 10 year student loan early in 6 years...the payment was $179.80.
Today, I am married, I helped my husband clean up his credit and follow my principles, and he has excellent credit...we own both of our cars, 1995 pickup, 1998 Volvo, we have savings, I refinanced again last year (2009) reducing my mortgage debt and interest to 4.69% (I am the only person I know who refinanced their mortgage and paid down $30k instead of taking OUT money)....and I am going to pay off the house this December. We also made a plan when we met 6 years ago to buy some land...and we bought 5 acres last December, and we have a well, and are working on the rest...he's 54, I am 50, and we feel like we are decoupling and making another life for ourselves. I have 4 brothers and 4 sisters and no, I have not been able to convince them to join me...but there is acreage for sale around us, and we are just waiting for the 'tipping point' in their own lives for the time when they will listen.
We are patient.
3 of them are in devastating debt, just holding on from living the American dream...I shared my story with them while it was happening and afterward, but my warnings fell on deaf ears. At the time, I was ridiculed for 'my fear of being in debt.'
Did my parents 'teach me' these things...no...who did? Life, looking around, and paying attention AND gaining the understanding of building a life that's worthwhile from the INSIDE OUT...not the outside in....meaning, like you said, what you take with you is between your ears....and within your heart and spirit.
I guess I'll close with another time honored, maybe thousands of years principle...."save up in times of plenty for times of lean...."
Thank you for your efforts on our behalf.
A fine note - and really, that's what Peoplenomics is all about, learning to use the economic resources of life to buy meaningful things. Does that mean living in squalor or low tech? No, not hardly.
What it does mean is that when new social phenomena come along - which don't necessarily provide long-term return on investment (social media comes to mind as an upcoming topic) we try to retain the mental acuity to ask "Toward what end? And, of course, our standard #1 question : "How does this help me live better?"
All of which gets me back to wondering what the "American Dream" is anymore.
When I was a lot younger, The Dream was going to work for one company and being with them for 40 years, getting a phat retirement plan, and living happily ever after at one of two condos on the waterfront - one up north for the summers and one in the South for winters. A ski boat, fishing gear, golf clubs and plenty of rum. A plane of our own, some globe trotting, and more.
That was then and this is now. My current version of the American Dream is keeping a good garden and putting up with the weather in one place year-round. A reduced required income (the monthly nut) by investing in solar panels and energy efficiency and growing our own food. A small home with tons of insulation and a good collection of books. Being able to go for walks. A yard big enough to be physically demanding at times, but small enough to make sense.
Far cry from two condos and problems left to others and a maid? Yep - but that was all part of a previous Dream.
Our kids are changing their American Dreams around, too. Now in the 30's and 40's, they are coming to realize that if they really want to have even the scaled-down version of the American Dream (the small house with a garden version) they'll need to adopt a much higher level of thrift than they'd previously considered. It's OK to be mad, but the 60-something are mad, too...their Dream went "Poof!" too.
This is one of those intergenerational screw-ups. Everyone is to blame.
We 60-somethings gave our kids - now the 30-40-somethings - everything they could possibly ever want. Mostly spoiled them rotten when we could. They got the idea that Life was Easy. Surprise! It's not.
And their Easy Times, in turn, got them sucked into a lifestyle that supported the every whim of their children as well. World's run on dhild worship long enough.
Now that the 60-somethings see their retirement Dreams imploding, the 30/40-somethings are getting pissed at us older people, like it was entirely our fault. It's not. We should have spared the rod less often and been more strict in our teaching of thrift and hard work.
The 30/40-somethings are likely angry because they will have to work longer and harder. Can't blame 'em. But on the other side of the ledger, my two sisters and I each held our first jobs (20 hours per week) from age 13 on.
Today, most of our kid's friends held their first job by maybe 18 or 19, but often than not it was 20-something.
As a society, we're gong through a tremendous change right now - everyone's Dreams are being rewritten in order to become reasonably achievable. The 'wealthy retirement' dream is out the window. Gen-X Dreams are toast, too.
From a socionomics viewpoint, this is what makes long waves in the economy. We're in a long-term contraction. As the elder grownups downsize their dreams, the 30/40-somethings have to rein in theirs...and that means their kids will have to go without something, as a result.
Not that it will be a bad thing - IMHO we've become far too child-driven as a society, largely I suppose to give cell phone companies a market of 8 to 12 year olds, I suppose.
Across the board - a change in consumption patterns is swirling about, and that in turn has nasty economic consequences. Good for the planet, strengthening for families, bad for Wall Street.
The local branch of the National Bank of Dad has made a lot of loans to the 30-40 somethings, never requiring interest, and never having been paid back on even one of them. So as some of us old-timers start trying to happily rebuild our downsized dreams and share out-dated notions like thrift, hard work, and a skeptical view of 'free lunches' try to remember us "seniors" (galls me to use that word) don't usually charge for babysitting the grandkids and a whole lot more. 20-years of clothing, food, and education, for openers. A loans that are magically forgiven without a 1099 or bankruptcy being involved.
Point is: America's dreams are adrift and there's not a better condition under which to craft new ones of sounder design that the last batch that's presently in failure mode.
Send your comments to email@example.com
Reader Action Department:
Now on our premium content site: Peoplenomics.com
Once We Tip
A number of readers have read Clif's latest post at HalfPastHuman (which deals with Aikido and the sub-art of falling as much as with related mental arts) and have asked two questions: "What does this post mean?" as though I should have some particular insight into flying without and airplane. I have none to offer, preferring to spend more effort on remaining upright than being tossed across a room. The other question is "What's after the tipping point for Peoplenomics?" This second question is much easier handled under the subject line "Decoupling", as in 'personal decoupling' from the prevailing paradigm; because it's where the battles of personal freedom are really fought. It begins by deliberating 'decoupling' from the world around you.
Watch John Waterman's Video Series on the TIPPING POINT UPDATE! LINK BELOW: