Tag: econolypse

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Yeah, But What About Diesel?

The price of gasoline is now above six bucks at my local Valero, which is one of the more affordable stations in this part of San Diego. Diesel is higher, and that’s a problem for truckers and the cost of transporting goods to retailers.

But there is another dimension that I hadn’t considered. Back home in Northern Maine, farmers are planting crops for autumn harvest. My dad reminded me that tractors and other equipment typically run on diesel. Higher costs transporting food is a bad situation, but the spike to grow food is far worse—especially if some smaller farms simply can’t afford to operate.

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We All Need a Smiley Break

Flashback two years, to May 2, 2020: SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns compelled Californians to avoid anyone and to otherwise practice so-called safe social distancing. The seeming hardship would pale compared to racial riots that would erupt weeks later.

One of my neighbors literally put on a happy face—among several encouraging, or funny, street decorations to adorn this University Heights property and/or the sidewalk straddling Meade Avenue. Seems like every time I walked by something different greeted. Thank you.

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What is Inflation?

Everywhere you look, there are reports about rising inflation, which is presented as increases in prices of goods. As a longtime journalist with a reputation for making complex concepts simple and straightforward to understand, I must correct the glaring mistake made by the majority of news reports: Inflation and rising prices are not the same, although there is an undeniable relationship between the two.

Inflation isn’t prices going up but the value of money going down. Spending power decreases. The classic case is late-1923 Germany, when, because of hyperinflation, “a loaf of bread cost 140 billion marks. Workers were paid twice a day, and given half-hour breaks to rush to the shops with their satchels, suitcases, or wheelbarrow, to buy something, anything, before their paper money halved in value yet again” (source: “Loads of Money“, Economist).

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I Wasn’t Prepared for This

On Valentine’s Day, we rushed to be among the people signing up for “The Prepper’s Roadmap”. Initial enrollment ended on February 18, and we paid $197 for the privilege. The course seeks to educate enrollees about how to prepare for calamities, whether they be natural disasters (like earthquakes or wildfires here in San Diego) or crisis of human instigation (like cyberattack that takes down banking systems or power grids), among others. I would recommend the educational series, if the first-round of registrations hadn’t closed. You can’t sign up today; in the future, though.

My wife and I aren’t so-called preppers—and we never expect be. Meaning: If you’re looking for a horde of food or supplies during an apocalypse, we won’t have it. Our apartment is small and we aren’t of the mindset. That said, we do recognize the increasingly dangerous times in which we live, when looking at advancing economic crisis or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for example. Not being naturally paranoid about catastrophes and preparation for them, Annie and I liked the idea of getting some no-nonsense advice from someone who is sensible rather than the typically fanatical.

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Return to Nextdoor

I last quit Nextdoor on July 28, 2020, protesting the ridiculously ambiguous tenets of the so-called “Good Neighbor Pledge”. My account is now reactivated. Testing the limits of that pledge is one of my goals in what may be a temporary return. Why bother? You ask the right question.

Burgeoning crude oil per-barrel costs, surging inflation, rising prices on seemingly everything, the Russian-Ukraine war, and potentially devastating consequences (globally) from the West’s sanctions against Russia are precursors to economic crisis of frightening magnitude. S-o-o-o, my neighbors and I may have reason to buy and sell or barter items some time in the not-so-distant future.

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Park Your Butt, Not Your Car

Southern California continues to suffer from the self-inflicted economic devastation imposed by our esteemed governor, Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom. He has imposed a partial, second statewide shutdown in response to increasing confirmed SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—cases. Pandemic deaths aren’t rapidly rising, which, in my journaled opinion, is the metric more important to making policy that harms millions of businesses and leads to massive job losses.

What is the harm? Locally, according to San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation: “Forty-one percent of businesses surveyed saw revenues decline by 81 to 100 percent; 93 percent saw staffing declines of one to 50 employees”. Additionally, “minority-owned small businesses have been disproportionately impacted by COVID”. Explicitly: “More than 90 percent of minority-owned businesses have seen their revenue decline, with most experiencing steep revenue declines of 81 to 100 percent”. EDC released the most recent data—collected May 28 to June 8, when the state started reopening—on July 1, or 13 days before Newsom reimposed new closure measures.

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I Agree

Along several sidewalks in the neighborhood, kids who have been forced home by school closings express in chalk positive sentiments about beating back or overcoming the global crisis presented by the conjoined pandemics: Viral—SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), better known as COVID-19—and socioeconomic. One message moved me more than the others, for being affirmative against adversity.

“We Can Do This” is a proclamation of will, of determination, of taking responsibility—with the plural meaning everything. We can be two or more all the way up to collective humanity. But the importance is greater, as the sentiment explodes in context: In California, like a handful of other states, Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered all 40-million citizens to “stay at home” and practice so-called “social distancing” behavior as a strategy to slow spread of the contagion. All businesses, but a handful considered to be “essential”, are closed. We are apart physically—separated by six feet or more—but we are close in desire.

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Let the Bears Eat Bear Stearns

I agree with Gretchen Morgenson, writing for the New York Times. The Fed shouldn’t bail out Bear Stearns. The fed crossed a line by keeping afloat a major architect of the housing debacle.

I wrote my first blog post about the housing bubble in August 2005, a year after deciding not to buy a home in the Washington, DC suburb of Bowie. It was already clear to me in summer 2004 that something akin to a repeat of the dot-com bubble was taking place in the housing market.

Had we bought in 2004, we would likely hold a mortgage that exceeds the house’s reduced value. We could never have moved to San Diego. 

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When the Boom Busts

I have repeatedly blogged about the impending housing market crisis. While not as apocalyptic as my stated position, SmartMoney story “Home Crunch” warns of problems on the coasts, where inflated home prices and risky mortgages will pinch many home owners.

In my neighborhood, signs of a sales slowdown are everywhere. Two houses around the corner have been on the market for months. A year ago, they would have sold within a week. Some houses are selling, but the turnover clearly is slowing down.