Correlation may not prove causation, but it gets suggestive after a while.
Gatherings: 12,000 miners are on strike in South Africa, risking police bullets. Protesters are back in the street in Bahrain, risking army bullets. Thousands of Apple's iChinese assembly line workers are striking, risking god knows what. Now 70% of Venetians want independence from Italy. And the Greeks are unlikely to let Frau Merkel's vacation go unremarked. In 56 Spanish cities and towns, thousands marched to protest Spain's continuing turning of the austerity screws. And a group of gutsy women are marching into Pakistan's tribal area to protest the continuing US drone war. How was your weekend?
Confessional: The actions of both the Fed and the ECB in recent weeks has been a tacit admission that their previous solutions did not work. Demand has not picked up, nor has capacity utilization, so the risk of serious inflation is fairly low even though some energy-related price increases continue. Wages are stagnant at best, falling in real terms. And the Fed's promise to keep interest rates near the zero boundary says they do not expect things to pick up any time soon. What is needed is a stimulus, a fiscal stimulus. What the US is going to get is austerity, just as the EU continues down that same road. It won't work, they know it won't work, but they cannot help themselves. It's a herd thing and a morality play.
Misdirection: All the noise and angst being spent on “War With Iran” is pretty much hooey. A few hundred Iranians hidden in the Atlas Mountains along the Persian Gulf, armed with missiles, can stop the oil tankers instantly. Because after they sink the first one, Lloyds won't insure them and without insurance they are not going to move. Checkmate, at best. The real threat in the Middle East is the possibility that the House of Saud will collapse into chaos, the Wahabi mullahs take over and set out to deal with those Shia infidels in Iran, and that will put a plug in the Strait of Hormuz.
Show Me the
Money Voters: Of late, Romney has been raising more money than Obama; but Romney is getting his in great gobs from a handful of insanely rich fellows, while Obama managed to raise $181 million in September with an average donation of $53 and with 98% of all contributors giving less than $250. If people counted more than money, the race would be over.
Energy is Everything: Without energy nothing happens. No energy, no production, gross or otherwise. Take away petroleum and transportation stops. Take away the coal and gas that make our electricity and the 21st century fades back 500 years. Petroleum is going away. Coal and natural gas must go away before they make the world uninhabitable. There are no easy choices. Worse, there are no good choices.
Qui Bono: The world-wide drug trade is worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Where's this money go, who profits? Not the peasants growing coca in the Andes or the opium farmers in Afghanistan. Not the street-level dealers in the West. Not the middle-men either, those who cook the coke carry the heroin across borders. A small number of criminals at the top make a lot. So do the bankers who help them. And so does the private prison operations in the US, who set quotas for the police and courts to fill.
Evil: an internal Romney campaign memo advising the candidate to “rescind President Obama’s executive order restricting government interrogators” from torturing detainees. President Bush's head of the Office of Legal Counsel says that any return to the use of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” would be “indisputably illegal” - just as it was when Bush condoned it.
Pay Me Now & Pay Me Later: Today, climate change costs the world $1.2 trillion a year and kills at least 400,000 people every year, plus another 4.5 million people a year who die from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels as we pour CO2 into the atmosphere, so that the costs and the deaths will increase as time goes by.
The Parting Shot: