World economy – through one observer’s eyes

There are caveats, even before we begin.

For years, I was most bearish about the economy then, as I got myself personally sorted out, became less so, more of “well it ain’t happened yet”.  Four American banks defaulted a couple of Januarys ago and yet they didn’t. Not officially.  All sorts of things were happening which, by normal measurements, meant the economy was tanking again. And yet it wasn’t.

One of the reasons is that the players are also the regulators and if they say a 2 billion default is not a 2 billion default, then it’s not a 2 billion default.  But for how long can that game go on?

I personally moved to a more Capitalists at Work stance, not bullish by any means but equally not slitting the wrists just yet.

Somehow, I might have been wrong to move from the bearish and here is some evidence to back that:

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/so-whats-happening-in-the-shipping-reports/

It looks like transportation service requirements are dropping dramatically all over the world people are moving less of … well … everything.  With an economy that still hasn’t recovered from the LAST recession, this is not good news.

The tankers are piling up outside Galveston.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-11-12/something-very-strange-taking-place-coast-Galveston

Freight shipments are way down year over year.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-11-12/us-freight-%E2%80%9Cplummets%E2%80%9D-worst-october-2011

Ok, these stories are both from Zero Hedge. There’s this one on Brickmuppet about Maersk laying off 4,000 people.

http://brickmuppet.mee.nu/portents_in_the_shipping_industry

Now Maersk is primarily container shipping, so the shipping issues are going far beyond oil.

The Baltic Dry Index is in the tank.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/baltic-dry-index-drops-to-lowest-level-since-1986-1.2940711

https://gcaptain.com/baltic-dry-falls-below-500-for-first-time-ever/

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/us-ports-providing-evidence-why-fed-may-raise-rates-michael-haltman

https://www.superstation95.com/index.php/world/750

I also posted this a couple of months ago.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/slump-in-oil-by-rail-shipments-boosts-car-storage-business/

It looks like rail shipping is in trouble as well.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-12/sorry-warren-buffett-things-just-went-bad-worse-us-railroads

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/us-economy-still-track-erico-matias-tavares

This from the WSJ.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/quiet-u-s-ports-spark-slowdown-fears-1447583406

The big problem is that nobody’s buying. 

There’s logic in this. I’ve stashed away as much as I can and I’m sure as hell not going to blow it on anything beyond the boat and even then it is being done quite carefully. So, no take-out meals, no trinkets and baubles, no schemes where someone can do what I can do myself. No more clothes buying – I’ve quite enough for needs. I can’t afford to travel and when I do, it will be by boat.

That’s just me. Multiply that by the millions who are doing similar, who are sitting tight, watching, not being drawn into anything, no home repairs, no car repairs, nothing. We are not keeping the economy afloat ourselves, except for what is prised out of our accounts.

ASDA know it – they are in trouble, as people buy only from the out-of-date shelf or from Aldi, people are buying everything else from pound shops. I mean the people in the middle or lower, which is where I am now.

And yet First World schemes continue to bombard us – requests to “work together” at the website, meaning pay them.

Meanwhile, the feckless class, including all the pollies, charity heads etc., the left coming out with ideas that your pot you’re sitting on is not yours, it belongs to the community and needs redistributing to the needy, meaning themselves, in other words, it’s theft of property. No more free rides, folks and the takers are not liking it.

Some of you might have noted and frowned at: “I’ve stashed away as much as I can.”  As much what? Money in the bank? And if there is a crisis, what is that money then worth?  Tinker’s cuss?  In my case, it’s small change – the ones in trouble are those who do actually have assets because once the theft starts, it will snowball.

Those paying off homes – what happens?  If it crashes in stages, then the banks can still call in the loans.  If the banks go first, then all bets are off and odds are you just get to stay in that home but also law and order disappear and it’s lap of the gods on home defence.  What happened in former days, e.g. the rancher days in America, when home defence was down to the homeowner?  Days of the gangs.

I’d suggest we needn’t leap to this sort of thinking yet and if it is dire, there’s nowt you and I can do, so why worry now?  But it doesn’t hurt to have contingency plans, just in case.

As for stimulating the economy – purr-lease:

Government technology promotion agency Innovate UK, the former Technology Strategy Board (TSB), surprised many last year when it agreed to spend no less than £800,000 on a piece of software that would “minimise building waste” sent to landfill by construction companies.

The happy recipients for this bizarre project included two SMEs, Sustainable Direction Ltd, Waste Plan Solutions Ltd and the University of the West of England in Bristol. In the real world, such software might cost £5,000 maximum. In addition, there is no market for the product as companies already strain to reduce the amounts sent to landfill and avoid excessive charges.

Sadly, it was just another example of the kind of worthless project signed off by Innovate UK, a group of about 100 apparently expert individuals based in Swindon. This wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t for the critical role Innovate UK’s huge budget plays in accelerating emerging companies and technologies in the UK.

This is what happens when people up there start tinkering with the economy for political ends, ideological ends, shafting many professions which always employed many but because it was mainly men employed, those industries could go. Instead, everything’s poured into service industries worth diddly squat in a crash – they produce nothing, they just run things.  Everyone’s now a manager or a servicer, no one actually produces things of value to any society.

Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B awaits.

6 comments for “World economy – through one observer’s eyes

  1. January 21, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    One more here via Chuckles:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/01/21/gov_needs_to_hire_thousand_techies/

    The government needs to bring in “thousands” of digital tech folk to lower the high number of failing IT transformation projects, the chief executive of the civil service has said.

    Addressing the Public Accounts Committee about findings that one-third of big government projects will fail in this Parliament, John Mazoni said transformation projects need far more digital and commercial bodies on the ground.

    “We are taking steps to significantly ramp up the pace at which we are bringing these in,” he said. “It’s hundreds in the commercial area; it’s probably thousands in the digital area. We have to bring those [roles] in.”

    Tony Meggs, chief executive of the newly named Infrastructure and Projects Authority, was also grilled by MPs about the body’s portfolio of 149 high risk projects with a combined lifetime value of £511bn.

    • Hereward Unbowed.
      January 21, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      How did they ever run an empire with only paper, pen and ink?

      Was it to do with; hard work, fastidious attention to detail but first and foremost – getting it right first time and on budget.

      Computers are great for architects, engineers, space race aeronautics, astronomy et bloody cetera but are just an excuse for much else, because evidently until AI – they can’t solve the world’s ills.

      But Dell salesmen can and all day and day, weeks, months, years run ring rounds British politicians [remember Bliar and the NHS attempted computerizing of the central health records fiasco – and £12 billion down the toilet?] and civil servants purchasing departments with greedy eyes and all ears but with naught in between.

    • January 22, 2016 at 12:40 am

      UK Government IT projects always fail and go over budget. The problem is not the function but the functionaries, who arbitrarily shift project goalposts for political reasons and generally haven’t a clue about project deliverables. I.E.what software can and can’t do. Not to mention their complete cowardice and lack of ruthlessness when it comes to making decisions.

      Been there, done that.

      • Rossa
        January 23, 2016 at 11:35 am

        Totally agree. My cousin is an IT Systems Architect on government contracts in a number of areas and explained the whole sorry mess to us when we went to his father’s funeral. I don’t understand all of it but the gist was quite simple. The bureaucrats are not techies, have no idea how to budget (after all it isn’t their money they’re spending) and when there is either a change at the top of a dept or the government changes years of work are often trashed and started again. Classic new broom syndrome.

        He said the irony is that often they have to go back to a plan that was put in place by a previous group of administrators but they had to start from scratch again because this was ‘new’ and of course technology and software had moved on since then. We are talking over years of time.

  2. Errol
    January 21, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    Government will never learn. It needs to start off by defining a failure clause.

    The biggest problem is politicians think short term and they’re all utterly ignorant so assume ‘IT’ can do anything. They ignore security, auditing, basic good practice in favour of hiding the problems and flaws. Government, as with everything it does, is rubbish because it doesn’t understand the market.

  3. January 22, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Thanks, gents, enjoyed those.

Comments are closed.