Monday, May 07, 2012

The Coming Disaster - part-1

Will a world wide disaster destroy civilization? Or even a regional disaster destroy our nation? Will the end of the world come next December? Or TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it)? This is the first of a small series of articles I intend to write on the subject. The number of people preparing for TEOTWAWKI has risen dramatically in the past couple years, rivaling the Y2K scare. "Preppers" has become a regular show on TV in the past year, and even some of the warehouse stores are catering to the survivalist crowd.

A couple years ago, I made a general forecast of what disasters might befall this world, and came out with about 7% chance of some world changing event occurring in the following 12 months. I had intended to update that number the following year, but in truth there wasn't much change the year after, and it slipped my mind. Things have changed somewhat now, and I will make a similar forecast in the near future, but with a little more detail than the last one. But that doesn't mean I am not preparing. But I am not preparing for TEOTWAWKI. Those people are preparing for the end of the road. I am simply preparing for any sort of bump in the road.

God told the Church that He would spare them from the last hour of tribulation (and in truth, the idea that someone can prepare for that is laughable). But history shows that God will not spare His people from the little tribulations that occur along the way. In the past, there have been economic disasters, weather disasters, volcanoes, earthquakes, wars, famines, pandemics, and pestilences. In many cases, Christians (and Jews) did better than others, and in a few cases they fared worse. In Proverbs 6, the Bible tells us to "consider the ant" and in Luke 25:32-38 Jesus told His disciples that after He departed from them, to keep a sword and a purse (a weapon and money).

A couple days ago, the most important monthly economic factor came out. The monthly payroll report on how many jobs have been gained or lost in several areas of the economy. I look mostly at private sector jobs, and at manufacturing. This month, private sector added 130,000 after adding 166,000 last month. To break even, we need 200,000 each month, so this basically erased the gains we had made in some of the preceding months. In manufacturing, we need 20,000 a month to call it good news, and this month only got 16,000. With the exception of a few months here and there, when we buoyed up, the US and even the world economy have been slowly sinking. Oh, the numbers can be made to look good, especially for short periods of time, but the reality is that a few people at the top are getting richer, and most of us at the bottom are getting poorer. Some of it is a "great conspiracy" against us, but most of it is our own doing.

We the people spent, years ago, the money we need now, and we continue to spend more than we can afford. When I tell people what they actually need to do to get their financial house in order, they look at me like I am crazy and tell me "they deserve better." Well, maybe they do, but things are not getting any better, and in not too distant a future, their choices will be taken away from them. Still, the US economy is one of the most resilient in the world, with many layers of security and multiple safety nets and other safety mechanisms, so it is not likely to completely crash anytime soon. But in other places in the world, economic chaos is just around the corner.

Europe has likely already passed the tipping point, and there will be no rescue from a slow slide into disaster. Greece has already defaulted once, and may again. Spain, Portugal, Italy and possibly France may default sometime in the next couple of years. While a wholesale run on the banks is unlikely in Europe, a couple of small scale runs have already happened, removing more than a quarter of the deposits from banks in Greece, for instance. A repeat of that will likely happen in other countries, and each time it happens, it will require another bailout.

France and Greece just had elections. The people in those countries, asked to try to live within their means responded with a hearty "Hell No! Give us our freebies, consequences be damned!" They through out the governments that were trying to help them, and elected socialists. Things are not going to get better in Europe. Every time the Central Banks try to drag them back from the brink, it is harder to do, and has less of a lasting effect. As the situation worsens, one country after another will default on their debts, as Greece did, and people will pull their money out of that nation's banks ahead of such defaults. Where that money will go, I don't know.

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