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Economic dominoes continue to fall

Passing the world oil peak has had, and doubtless will continue to have, relatively little impact on the long-term price of gasoline. The economic implications of getting through the first half of the Oil Age have been much more significant, a trend that seems likely to continue until the collapse is complete.

We've seen 106 banks fail, so far, including some of the monsters. Others were perceived by the Obama adminstration as too big to fail, so we tacked on a series of taxes to future generations of Americans. A majority of those taxes will never be paid because the whole country is bankrupt (and not merely financially). Regional banks are suffering, too. We've seen house prices plummet under the weight of massive foreclosures and a bubble pumped up by the likes of Greenspan and Bernanke. We've seen entire airlines disappear, along with a plethora of other companies. The nation's largest car company was socialized when we the people took ownership. (Against our wishes, of course. Isn't faux democracy great?) Unemployment has risen, and continues to rise even as the Obummer administration throws massive fiat currency at every enterprise they deem worthy (expectedly excluding you and me). Suddenly, shopping at Wal-Mart is all the rage because, despite lies from the federal government, prices continue to rise for the average consumer.

The financially wealthy have improved their lot by stealing from the middle class, then calling in the troops to protect the thieves. The property of rich folks has always been more important than the lives of the poor, a fact that will continue to create misery for the "other" 99% of us until the entire industrial economy fails. Personally, I can hardly wait.

What's next is anybody's guess, but it's obvious the economic dominoes are clack, clack, clacking away. Losses from commercial real-estate lending pose a huge threat to U.S. banks. Citigroup is among the large banks in dire shape. JP Morgan has traded in the formerly profitable enterprise of commercial banking for the risk-free venture of taxpayer-funded investment bank. The United States is already bankrupt, although few have recognized how badly we've overshot the economy (I suspect even fewer recognize the far more dire case of ecologic overshoot). In short, the soul of capitalism has been sucked into the black hole created by the wizards on Wall Street, never to be revived again. The too-little, too-late response from oil companies and civilized governments: a fight to the death for the last drops of black gold.

We'll give up war as soon as the typical member of the National Rifle Association turns over his automatic assault rifle to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Virtually no neoclassical economists saw this coming, and with good reason: The dismal science is not a science. A stone-age shaman with a handful of chicken bones is a better forecaster than your typical economist. Even the Grey Lady has exposed neoclassical economists as latter-day hucksters, finally recognizing there are limits to growth: "all biophysical economists see only very bleak prospects for the future of modern civilization." I disagree only with the tone, which suggests civilization is redeemable.

Editorial Notes: I appreciate Guy's cogent summary of the latest economic news. I fervently wish that we could all stop throwing the word "collapse" around so easily and prolifically. I don't think any one of us has a crystal ball. Things are going to get harder and less comfortable, no doubt about that. But the collapse of "civilization"? I think we need to hold that thought. -KS

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