Sunday, December 08, 2013

Winter Wonderland here for the last few days, it can go away now!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Creepily Close

by James Howard Kunstler
     Things that can’t go on, the prophet Herb Stein once observed, go on until they can’t. Criticality eventually bushwhacks credulity. The aggregation of rackets that American life has become is rolling over like a great groaning wounded leviathan and the rest of the world is starting to freak out at the spectacle. Instead of a revolution, we’re having a suicide party.
     But don’t worry, a revolution would not be far behind. My guess is that it would kick off as generational rather than regional or factional, but it would eventually incorporate all three. A generation already swindled by the college loan racket must be chafing at the bureaucratic nightmare that ObamaCare instantly turned into at its roll-out, with a website that wouldn’t let anyone log in. Isn’t technology wonderful? I wonder when the “magic moment” will come when all those unemployed millennials join a Twitter injunction to just stop paying back their loans. If that particular message went out during this month’s government food fight, it would do more than just get the attention of a few politicians. It would crash the banks and snap the links in every chain of obligation holding the fiasco of globalism together.
     So far, the millennials have shown about as much political inclination as so many sowbugs under a rotten log, but it is in the nature of criticality that things change real fast. In any case, the older generations have completely disgraced themselves and it is only a question of how cruelly history will treat them in their unseating. The last time things got this bad, the guys in charge divided into two teams with blue and gray uniforms, rode gallantly onto the first fields of battle thinking it was a kind of rousing military theatrical, only to find themselves in a grinding four-year industrial-scale slaughter in which it was not uncommon for 20,000 young men to get shot to pieces in a single day — one day after another.
     Of course, things are a bit different now since we became a nation of overfed clowns dedicated to getting something for nothing, but despite the abject futility of American life in its current incarnation, there is room for plenty of violence and destruction. The sad and peculiar angle of the current struggle is that both sides in government wish heartily to keep all the rackets of daily life going — they just disagree on the distribution method of the vig.
     What amuses me at the moment is the behavior of the various financial markets and the cockamamie stories circulating to explain what they are doing in this time of perilous uncertainty. One popular story is called “the energy renaissance.” This is a fairy-tale that pretends that we have enough oil at a cheap enough price to keep driving to WalMart forever. Of course, shale oil wells that cost $12million to drill and produce 80 barrels-a-day for three years before crapping out altogether do not bode well for that outcome, but the wish to believe over-rides the reality. Another laughable story du jour is “the manufacturing renaissance.” This story proposes that the “central corridor” of the USA, from North Dakota to Texas, is about to give China a run for its money in manufacturing. The catch is that any new factory opening up in this scenario will be run on robots — leaving who, exactly, to be the customers paying for what these factories produce? Think about it for five minutes and you will understand that it is just a story calculated to goose up a share price here and there, and only for moment until it is discovered to be just a story. What interests me most is what happens when the stories lose their power to levitate the legitimacy of the people who tell them.
            Well, Christine LeGarde, chief of the IMF, tried to read the riot act to the American clownigarchs over the weekend, but they’re not paying attention to her. What has she done for her own country, France, lately anyhow. They’ve got their own set of rackets running over there. The Chinese are getting a little prickly, too, since they are sitting on a few trillion in US promises to pay cash money in the not so distant future. The Chinese are beginning to apprehend that future perhaps never arriving.
     In case you haven’t heard: America is “in recovery.” We can play all the games we want with money, or what passes for money these days. And then the moment will come when we can’t. That moment begins to feel creepily close.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Hula Girl!...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Arches National Park...Utah...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Posted For Fair Use And Discussion.****-nation/commotion/


by James Howard Kunstler

Now that Lawrence Summers has removed himself from consideration as Federal Reserve chairman, President Obama is free to launch him into Syria as the first human rehypothecation weapon of mass destruction, where he can sow enough confusion between Assad’s Alawites and the Qaeda opposition to collateralize both factions into contingent convertible capital instruments buried in the back pages of Goldman Sachs’s balance sheet so that the world will never hear of them again — and then the Toll Brothers can be brought in to develop Syria into a casino / assisted living complex that will bring hundreds of good jobs to US contractors in the region.

No doubt the stock markets will fly like eagles today. Nobody knew what monkeyshines Mr. Summers might have pulled over at the Fed and it was making investors nervous, as well as the big banks who employed Mr. Summers occasionally as some kind of policy bagman. So a big sigh of relief blew over the Northeast Region of the nation like the gusts of autumn air that swept away a fetid hump of stale, wet tropical weather that ruined all the ladies’ party hair in the Hamptons this month.

Now that Syria has been disposed of — that is, indefinitely consigned to failed state purgatory — the world can focus its remaining attention on the almighty taper. I’m with those who think we’ll get a taper test. That is, the Fed will cut back ten or fifteen percent on its treasury bond purchases to see what happens. What happens is perfectly predictable: interest rates shoot above 3 percent on the ten-year and holders of US paper all the world round fling them away like bales of smallpox blankets and… Houston, we’ve got a problem. After a month (or less) of havoc in the bond market, and the housing market, Mr. Bernanke will issue an advisory saying (in more words than these) “just kidding.” Then it will be back to business as usual, which is to say QE Forever, which might as well be saying “game over.”

One must feel for poor Mr. Bernanke. He’s tried to run a long-distance foot-race against reality and now it’s breathing down his neck near finish line. The idea was to pump enough artificial “money” into the economy to give it the appearance of motion, but all he accomplished in the words of my recent podcast guest, Eric Zencey, was a commotion of money, and the commotion was pretty much limited to a few blocks of lower Manhattan, two ribbons of real estate running up the East Side and Central Park West, and a subsidiary disturbance out on the South Fork of Long Island. Everybody else in the country was left to stew in a tattoo-and-malt-liquor torpor at the SNAP Card application office.

The Fed can only pretend to try to get out of this self-created hell-hole. The stock market is a proxy for the economy and a handful of giant banks are proxies for the American public, and all they’ve really got going is a hideous high-frequency churn of trades in conjectural debentures that pretend to represent something hidden in the caboose of a choo-choo train of wished-for value — and hardly anyone in the nation, including those with multiple graduate degrees in abstruse crypto-sciences, can even pretend to understand it all.

When reality crosses the finish line ahead of poor, exhausted Mr. Bernanke, havoc must ensue. All the artificial props fall away and the so-called American economy is revealed for what it is: a surreal landscape of ruin with nothing left but salvage value. Very few people will get a living off of the salvage operations, and there will be fights and skirmishes everywhere by one gang or another for control of the pickings. The utility of money itself may be bygone, along with the legitimacy of anyone or anything claiming institutional authority. This is what comes of all attempts to get something for nothing.

By the way, for those of you still watching the charts, notice that gold and silver may bob up and down week-by-week, but the price of oil remains stubbornly above $105-a-barrel no matter what happens. That is the only number you need to know to predict the fate of industrial economies.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gassy Politics

First: Paul Sabin’s stupid op-ed in The New York Times Saturday shows how intellectually bankrupt and pusillanimous the “newspaper of record” has become, in step with the depraved and decadent empire whose record-keeper it supposedly pretends to be. Sabin is flame-keeper for the theories of the late cornucopian demi-god Julian Simon, a business school professor whose great idea stokes the wishful thinking that has overtaken a class of American leaders who ought to know better, and spread through the public they serve like a fungal infection of the brain. The core of Julian Simon’s great idea is that material resources don’t matter; human ingenuity will overcome all limits.
  Maybe that’s a temporarily comforting thought for leaders in business, media, and politics, who don’t want to face the realities of peak resources and climate change, but it guarantees a harsher economic outcome since the wishful public will do nothing to prepare for the very different terms of daily living that are already shoving them into hardship and desperation.

     Julian Simon, who died in 1998, is best remembered now for a bet he made in 1980 with biologist Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb. The bet was supposed to determine whether the converging difficulties of our time should be taken seriously. The two men picked a menu of commodity metals and bet whether the price would rise or fall by 1990. Ehrlich bet that scarcity would drive the price up; Simon bet that they would go down. Simon won the bet only for temporary circumstantial reasons, namely that the last great discoveries of cheap, easy-to-get oil ramped into full production by the mid-1980s and pushed a final orgy of global industrial development until 2008, when things really started falling apart. By then, Julian Simon has been dead for a decade.
     Simon’s idea lives on in the wishful thinking around shale oil and gas, which have led the American public and their leaders to believe that we’re in an “energy renaissance” that will lead to “energy independence.” Just the other day, Senator John McCain made the inexcusably dumb remark that the US is now a net oil exporter. This is a man who ran for president five years ago, talking completely out of his ass.

     Now oil is well over $100 a barrel, a price that the American economy, as currently configured, cannot endure. That price is crushing the kind of activity we have depended on lately: the house-building and lending rackets associated with the creation of suburban sprawl. $100 oil is especially corrosive to the problems of capital formation, because without more racket-driven “growth,” we can neither generate new credit, nor pay the interest on old credit. We’ve used accounting fraud in banking and government to cover up this failed equation. But it has only led to greater deformities in markets and a general fiasco in the management of money all around the world, and it is spinning out of control right now. If these conditions were to crash the global economy and the price of everything fell in a deflationary depression, with oil back under $60 a barrel  — then it would not pay enough to frack the shale rock, or drill miles under the ocean, or do any of the very expensive operations of what’s called unconventional oil recovery.

     For The New York Times to keep hauling out the sorry-ass figure of Julian Simon to “prove” a specious and dangerous point surely shows the limits of one thing: intelligence in the media. Because of that and other related failures in the transmission of ideas, this is now a nation that cannot construct a coherent narrative about what is happening to it.

     Now, second: Syria. The world has pretty much lined up against President Obama’s proposal to issue a cruise missile spanking to Syria for supposedly gassing its own citizens. Nobody thinks this is a good idea, some for reasons of tactical advantage and some on the idea’s basic merit, or lack of. Mr. Obama pulled his punch over a week ago by standing down and taking the issue to congress for approval. I’m convinced he did that because he would have been impeached for launching an overt act of war — despite similar actions by his recent predecessors. The proposed spanking was a bad idea from the start. There was no visible threat to the national interest from Syria’s bad behavior within its own borders. The gas attack was a terrible act of depravity, but firing missiles into Syria wasn’t going to bring back the dead. It was only going to cause more death. There’s no advantage to the US for supporting either side in the Syrian civil war. The spread or deepening of any kind of disorder in that region will threaten a critical portion of America’s oil imports.

     In the background of this, things are becoming unstuck in the seriously ill and constipated realm of international banking. The aforementioned deformities caused by central bank interventions, market manipulations, Too Big To Fail carry-trade rackets, and misreporting of financial data have begun to shred currencies in nations at the margin (India, Brazil, Indonesia) and that illness may prove contagious. The global economy depends on some basic faith that major financial institutions are sound, and that they trade in sound instruments that represent real wealth. That is all being called into question now, and how long will it be before a general paralysis freezes the entire letters-of-credit system that underlies global  commerce?

     The Syria soap opera has also managed to upstage the imminent mud-wrestling match between congress and the executive branch over the national debt limit and related matters of government spending. These problems appear for now to be completely intractable.  If the government overcomes the latest version of this recurring dilemma, it will only be due to generating even more layers of accounting fraud to an already well-papered piƱata that is just waiting to be smashed. While this goes on, the American public gets pushed deeper and deeper into a financial abyss, haunted by re-po men, lying bank officers, verminous lawyers, and chiseling hospital administrators.

      All this is a recipe for a political explosion. What happens if the US Government starts gassing its own citizens? It happened in 1967. That one only made people cry. Maybe next time, they’ll use a different kind of gas. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Along the roadside on way to Torrey, Utah...

Monday, September 09, 2013

Up in Zion National Park...

Between a Rock and a Laugh Track
After the British parliament put the kibosh on following the American punishment brigade to Syria, and then NATO, and the UN wrinkled their noses at the project, well, that pretty much left President Obama to twist slowly, slowly in the wind — washed, rinsed, and hung out to dry. It looks like a watershed moment in the USA’s increasingly klutzy career as the world’s hall monitor. International power relations are suddenly in flux. A phase change has occurred causing all that was solid a few days ago to melt into liquid.
     The Iranians are having a good laugh, for now. Mr. Assad of Syria responded with a beaming smirk. However, any sentient observer can see this region of the world for what it is, a political demolition derby which, left to its own blundering devices, would blow up the whole arena when the last player sputters to a standstill.
     First of all, it seems to me that extremists in the Republican-dominated US House of Representatives have been quietly searching for a pretext to impeach President Obama. Committing an overt act of war without congressional approval would have been a good case, legally, despite the fact that executive branch war-making has been absolutely the rule for decades in Washington. The British parliamentary move against the avid David Cameron pretty much begged the question for American legislators. The foggy part is whether they would actually come back to Washington from the fried dough alleys of their state fairs and mount a “debate” about whether it would be a good or bad thing to whack Syria for gassing more than a thousand of its own citizens.
     Lately when America mounts a high moral horse about how other nations behave, we have gone into these places and smashed things up, bringing much more death and destruction than we anticipated. The hope is always that some surgical military operation can correct a political illness, but a cruise missile is not exactly a scalpel and once the patient is blown to pieces it is rather hard to patch up the body politic again. You’re just left, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, with a lot of bloody fragments fought over by political rats and cockroaches.
     Syria is a real crossroads both for America’s policy in the region and for its position on the world stage. The region is in a state of destructive turmoil that is likely to lead to the further fall of regimes and the breakup of states. Many of these states are figment nations anyway, with boundaries drawn in the 20th century by the winners of the two world wars. The discovery of oil from North Africa to Iran and beyond has been catastrophic for everybody in the world, but most vividly for the exploding populations of these mostly desert states, which could not have supported so many people without the artificial support of petro-money. Now, faced with the specter of peak oil production, the whole region is flying apart from the stress of population overshoot, including countries like Syria which never produced much oil itself.
    But the drama over the trade in the oil remaining only becomes more intense. For instance, the position of Saudi Arabia, pretending to sit quietly on the sidelines through all this, is curious. There are rumors, unverified, that the gas incident in Syria happened because Saudi Arabia sent canisters of Sarin to the Syrian rebels, who then mishandled them and gassed their own neighborhood. The world’s recent experience with so-called “intel reports” about weapons has made everybody skeptical of claims made by politicians that a particular country poses a danger to others.
     Otherwise, there is a whole other strategic realm of concerns around the petro trade and its financing that is totally off the radar screen of the mainstream media. For instance, the sometimes erratic but brilliant blogger Jim Willie describes the larger struggle of Russia, Iran, China, and other interested parties to displace the US dollar dominance in oil trade — in particular a dollar based on increasingly sketchy US Treasury bonds, which has deformed global banking, roiled currencies, and made the settling of international accounts problematical for everybody else in the world. The opposition to the US, and its client / partner Saudi Arabia, the story goes, would replace the dollar with gold-backed oil trade and a logistical work-around based on a growing pipeline system from Iran and beyond, in Asia, to desperate customers in Europe. The implications are a collapse of the dollar (and the US bond market), a wedge between European and American interests, and a dominant partnership of oil-and-gas rich Russia with China — that is, a major power shift from west-to-east.
    Who knows how much of this has informed President Obama’s decision process. The stall in the American whack-attack against Syria may itself be a symptom of the swirling new conditions in world finance and power relations. In any case, a great empire — which we have been — can’t afford to make idle threats. The outcome of the Syria melodrama may be that the US has been knocked down a big step in its ability to project power without terrible consequences to itself.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

iPhone 4 shot somewhere deep in Bisti Wilderness area...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Conserve water now before we have none to conserve!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sunset on the way to Torrey, Utah

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Posted For Fair Use And Discussion.****-nati...where-to-hide/

Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide
By James Howard Kunstler

The Federal Reserve answers only to God, but Ben Bernanke’s must not have known that his boss was such a prankster. All of a sudden here is the interest rate of 10-year Treasury paper rising like an angry carbuncle on Ben’s pale tuchus just when he thought he could sit back and watch the mud wrestling contest between Larry Summers and Janet Yellen.

Poor Ben, sedulous student of the Great Depression, who didn’t notice that the country had changed from a nation of farmers and factory workers to a nation of pole dancers and waiters, now awaits his sublime moment of Hooverization. Like poor President Hoover, he gets to hang around the pilot house half a year after he runs the garbage barge of US finance aground on the shoals of wishful thinking and accounting fraud.

Everyone who has to pay attention to the order of things in the universe — meaning those not stewed on crank or drank, or waiting on line for a SNAP card, or leafing through the tattoo catalog, or waiting for a Kim Kardashian gangbang guest shot on Duck Dynasty, or lost in the alt reality of their cell phone — is suddenly very nervous about the order of things in this little corner of the universe. Sag Harbor is starting to live up to its name and down along the Hamptons the tide has gone out to feed a Tsunami of margin calls that soon will give the phrase “under water” a whole new life in the twisted mythology of capital. The immortal Bill Gross even sent out an SOS on Twitter at the end of the week. No wonder folks have got the heebie-jeebies.

The fear is that the central banks have finally lost control of a situation that they have only pretended to control since 2007, when the grotesque racket of mortgage re-bundling caused a psychotic break in the banking system. The prescribed therapy for that was half a decade of ZIRP and maxing out the national credit card. The ugly truth now emerging through this fog of psychosis is that the bond market probably can’t be saved, and without it all other paper markets are toast, including the stock markets and very possibly the entire fiat currency system.

In the background, of course, is the energy melodrama. How can anybody with half a brain suppose that the late turbo-industrial economy could “recover” with oil priced at $107 a barrel? Anyway, all the “recovery” memes floating around the collective media zeitgeist are based on a handful of doctored and massaged GDP numbers universally known to be false. In short, the USA can’t run the current setup on oil over $100 a barrel and has been trying to compensate for that basic fact by lending itself money. So has virtually every other advanced economy, and now they are all in trouble so there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide — and for us, nowhere to export our financial quandaries to.

Japan is the most interesting corpse in the pathology lab. It shot its wad twenty years ago and has been self-cannibalizing ever since. It has no oil or gas of its own, and now it has a runaway nuclear meltdown that is getting only slightly less attention than its financial meltdown. I used to think that Japan had no choice except to go medieval. Now I wonder if there will be anything there in ten years but a depopulated archipelago of steaming radioactive kelp. They can’t possibly buy more US treasury paper and must desperately need to dump their accumulated holdings, and when they do they will start a financial chain reaction that will flense the pretense of value from all the world’s sovereign debt paper. It may already be happening.

If you prepare for anything, prepare for a world without financial pretense. Credibility is caught in that riptide developing off the Hamptons. When the water goes out, all you will see is ugly things wriggling in the mud, and when the water comes rushing back in again, all you will see is a spectacle of drowning bankers. The only higher ground to go to will be your local community, if you have one, and even there it will be a struggle to make sense of what has happened to the world.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rock erosion near Canyonlands National Park Utah, Canon 5DMkII with 12-24mm lens...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

iPhone 4 shot in Bisti...
For years I had heard that getting a good picture of Shiprock was not really possible, there were major obstacles to you had to shoot it from the highway or you couldn't get permission from the tribal nations to get close...well a nice person at a gas station in Farmington made all those arguments mute...told me how to get there...thanks to that person bigtime!!...


Monday, August 12, 2013

Bryce Canyon

In the Valleys of Blog
by James Howard Kunstler
     The psycho-historians must be having a field day with all the “taper” chatter fogging the valleys of Blog. The topic certainly presents a sticky hairball of a compound dilemma to anyone who cares about the fate of the nation. If the Federal Reserve tapers its monthly purchase of US Treasury debt paper plus a nearly equal amount of dodgy mortgage foam frothed up by Washington’s housing bubble machine… well, then, the equity markets will tank, or so the theory goes. If they don’t taper, they’ll permanently disable the function of the financial markets, and possibly blow up the global currency system.
     Of course, they recently demonstrated that tapering itself is not necessary to move the markets; a rumor of tapering will get the job done.  But that’s a theory for the moment, too, because by so doing the markets may have already priced-in any actual taper to follow.  Meaning that such taper talk probably won’t work very well in repeat applications.
    Outside the fetid terrarium where US economists live, like skinks kept as pets by bankers, other forces are in motion. For instance, there’s the non-theoretical, non-financial economy, which is now apparently based on the trade in tattoos, and the journey by automobile from the nearly foreclosed home to the tattoo studio, and to the hamburgers, pizzas, and fried chicken thighs consumed on each end of the journey. Judging from the sheer number of tattoos-per-capita, one might think that a certain tattoo saturation point had been reached in this country, unless the market can be expanded, say, to maternity wards where newborns can get full “sleeve” and neck jobs on Medicaid.
     Over in Europe, the members of the EU are being eaten alive by a carnivorous sub-species of giant financial hairball, and another theory says that whatever “money” can get out of there (while the getting is good) will flood into the USA, and more specifically into those very equity markets spooked by the chatter of tapering QE. Perhaps Fed officials (and their pet skinks) are hoping that some of that “money” will sop up whatever US Treasury paper the Fed tapers off buying. (After all, who else would buy the stuff ?) That would only be plausible, though, if the interest rates went up, which they might anyway. But if they do they would turn around and bite the US Department of the Treasury on its fat butt by increasing the percent of government spending needed to pay interest on debt to a level that would effectively put the government out of business — in which case we’d be in the grips of the same carnivorous hairball that’s eating Europe, and then all that “money” would have to find yet another continent to flee to. You see how complicated it gets? This is giving me the vapors. Anyway, those interest rates on US Treasury paper would have to go up a fat lot to compete with the allure of an equity market frothing toward the 20,000 hash-mark.
     Personally, I would not encumber my view of things-to-come in such a rococo maze of theoretical conjecture. Rather, I would settle for the simpler diagnosis that we’re just flat fucked, having made all the wrong choices on just about everything for a very long time. Speaking of wrong choices, the smartest money in the betting pool for the next Fed chair pick shifted strangely last week to the lugubrious figure of Lawrence Summers, who was the longest of long-shots just a week before. This is the same Lawrence Summers lately on the payroll of CitiGroup and other institutions utterly dependent on Federal Reserve policy. They had to find a revolving door big enough for King Kong to push Larry through. This is the same Larry Summers who remarked not long ago that Quantitative Easing was not an effective way to stimulate the economy. Apparently he did not notice that QE is wonderfully effective for juicing the tattoo economy because it produces vast new quantities of citizens who perceive themselves to be losers.
            Mr. Summers will be entering the scene the way Vincent Price used to enter a Hammer Studio horror film — reliably delivering some deadly unpleasantness. I don’t think a more perfect figure might be found for piloting the garbage barge of American finance over a Niagara Falls of consequence..

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Politics is everywhere!  This was on a pretty deserted hwy heading down to Canyonlands from Capital Reef National Monument...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

just outside of Canyonlands National Park...


Up in Zion National Park...

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Up in Arches National Park in Utah...

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Three Amigos in the Malpais...we had an epic time on our adventure!

Arches National Park

The Dreadful Summer Wind

by James Howard Kunstler
   The world is swiftly moving to the dangerous place where nations won’t be able to do business with each other because they don’t trust the institutions that control wealth, which includes central banks, commercial banks, and governments. It will happen when the purveyors of international commodities, oil especially, refuse to accept the letters of credit issued by untrustworthy intermediaries. And when that dark moment arrives, nations will throw tantrums. The USA may be the loudest baby in the playpen.
     The USA is veering into a psychological space not unlike the wilderness-of-mind that Germany found itself in back in the early 20th century: the deep woods of paranoia where our own failures will be projected onto the motives of others who mean to do us harm. Of course, even paranoiacs have enemies. There are quite a few others who would like to harm the USA, at least to bamboozle and paralyze us, to push back against our influence on their culture and economies. But the tendency here will be to magnify the supposed insults while ignoring our own suicidal behavior.
     Historians will remark that it was a beautiful August with bright days and cool nights for sleeping, and the Hamptons were ablaze with self-satisfied egos, and that nobody was paying attention to all the mischief that was set in motion the previous spring, not to mention the many seasons of bad behavior that preceded it. And when they returned from vacation, lo, the world was in crisis. What a surprise.
     The USA cannot come to terms with the salient facts staring us in the face: that we can’t run things as we’ve set them up to run. We refuse to take the obvious actions to set things up differently. Instead, we’ve tried to offset the accelerating losses of running our unrunable stuff with accounting fraud, aimed at pretending that everything still works. But the accounting fraud has only accelerated the gathering disorder in the banking system. That disorder has infected our currency and the infection is spreading to all currencies. What a surprise that the first pandemic to strike an overstressed global immune system was not bird flu after all, but a sickness of money.
     Near the center of that money sickness was the blitzkrieg against gold and silver in the spring, when arrant serial selling dumps were executed against the money metals to un-money them. The net result was only that a lot of that ancient money flowed from the places pretending it was valueless to the places that never adopted that pretense. At stake in that rather massive movement was the supposed value of the other stuff that pretended to hold value, namely sovereign bonds, and especially the treasury paper issued by the USA. After all, US Treasury bonds and notes were, in the eyes of bankers, the functional equivalent of cash-in-hand. Alas, the world was starting to choke on it — not least the US central bank itself, which had been gorging at the monthly auction buffet for years and was now stuffed to the gills. In fact, it had grown too fat to even leave the room where the buffet had been set up.
     Anyway you look at it, there is no escape from the looming crisis of confidence. The “primary dealer” banks and commodity exchanges behind the spring gold smash are out of tricks and out of gold to play tricks with. Their partner, the US Government has two tricks left: confiscation of gold in private hands a la Franklin Roosevelt’s ploy of 1933, or punitive taxes on private sales of gold. What worked in 1933 might not go over so well now, in a land full of preppers armed to the teeth and long-simmered in gall. It brings to mind the bumper-sticker about prying things from people’s cold dead hands. As for the tax gambit, I venture to say that many holders of gold hold it in expectation that there may shortly be no effective government left to depend on to do the wrong thing. Meanwhile, over in the land of paper wealth, the interest rate on the 10-year US Treasury bond clicks up a basis-point here, a basis-point there, like a remorselessly rising sea level. It won’t take many more clicks to put, for instance, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York under water.

     I felt sorry for President Obama, going about the country trying to appear historically heroic without doing a damn thing, really, to face down to the monsters in our own midst. But then one hears the rumor of Larry Summers’ imminent appointment to chair the Fed, and it is no longer possible to feel sorry for Obama, but rather to feel sorry for the nation laboring under such a conclave of would-be wizards.
     I just don’t see how the world financial system doesn’t blow up this fall, when the digested remains of the last miso-glazed oyster tidbit passes through the cloacal fundament of the prettiest girl in Sag Harbor. When it does blow, at least the NSA will have its prepared “to-do” list, and then perhaps all the unemployed can be enlisted at $8 an hour to harass the rest of the people trying to go about their daily lives. The roar you hear in the distance this September will be the sound of banks crashing, followed by the silence of business-as-usual grinding to a halt. After that, the crackle of gunfire.