Monday, August 17, 2015

The Decline and Fall of (Fill In The Blank)

  • From the International Business Times: "Sexual orientation in the UK: Half of young people say they are not 100% heterosexual." By "young people," the study means 18-24 year olds. 72% of older Brits placed themselves squarely into the "heterosexual" category. Poisoned by political correctness for decades, the UK succumbs. It is amazing to think that this is a nation that, barely 100 years ago, ruled half of the world, whether that measure be by population or by surface area.
  • Victor Davis Hanson writes "There is no California." 

... There is no California, which is a misnomer. There is no such state. Instead there are two radically different cultures and landscapes with little in common, each equally dysfunctional in quite different ways. Apart they are unworldly, together a disaster.
A postmodern narrow coastal corridor runs from San Diego to Berkeley, where the weather is ideal, the gentrified affluent make good money, and values are green and left-wing. This Shangri-La is juxtaposed to a vast impoverished interior, from the southern desert to the northern Central Valley, where life is becoming premodern.

Clearly, China’s currency wants to fall more than Beijing thinks advisable. The country is growing not at the 7.0% that Beijing claims for each of the first two calendar quarters of this year. It’s more like the 2.2% that people in Beijing are privately talking about, and even that figure looks high when one considers underlying indicators. 

    In the first half of this year, rail freight was down 10.1%, trade volume was down 6.9%, and construction starts by area were down 15.8%. Electricity consumption? That rose, but only by 1.3%, and that figure was undoubtedly inflated upward. The New York Times has written about the false reporting of this number, and statistic mavens can talk about difficult-to-explain abnormalities in the power figures.
      Sector-by-sector, output statistics for the first half were either off or up by only small percentages. Most tellingly, steel production fell 1.3%, the first such drop in almost 20 years.

      1. The China slowdown.
      2. Collapsing commodity prices.
      3. A credit crises in the resource sector, mostly to develop new projects (but see "Some Shale Still Profits at $30").
      4. The dominoes are beginning to fall (e.g., the disruption in the economies of the BRICS).
      5. Credit markets "roll over"--essentially credit markets seeking realistic assessments of risk have reversed the course of the credit markets.
      6. Interest rate shock--as central banks reserve currencies (U.S. dollar and U.K. pound) increase their interest rates, and investors move to those currencies.
      7. Bull market third longest in history (i.e., indicating a bubble).
      8. Overvalued U.S. market (see points 1, 6 and 7). 

      • "Why gas prices are rising as oil falls to 6-year lows." Short answer: too much regulation. Slightly longer explanation: gasoline has to be reformulated for metro areas in summer per government emissions regulations, so a short-fall/problems with a couple refineries has pushed supply of gasoline down and, therefore, prices up.
      • "The Secret Plot to Destroy Russia" at The American Interest. A tongue-in-cheek account (imitating C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters) discussing the bad decisions that have ham-strung Russia.

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