Our 2022 fundraiser starts today. If you know you want to give, please go directly to the Tip Jar, which tells you how to support us via check, credit or debit card, and then come back pronto! We will be very grateful! And we also very much appreciate those of you who played early-bird and have already contributed. We will count your donations in our tally.
We like to play Janus at this juncture: look back over the past year and into our crystal ball.
If someone in 2006, when we started this blog, had written up some of the events to come, no one would have believed them. Oh, perhaps an epic financial crash would be plausible….but massive bailouts with no accountability? Millions of preventable foreclosures? Globalist elites using trade treaties to gut national laws and regulations?
Add to that, the US continuing its Middle East nation-breaking, to the benefit of no-one save the US military-intel complex?
Donald Trump becoming President, and the Democrats even before he took office trying to undermine his legitimacy and then spending two years on an investigation to nowhere? And having turned the knobs to 11 for years and demonized his supporters, Trump opponents are surprised they’ve unleashed forces they can’t control? Deteriorating health, from Covid deaths shrugged off and the world ex China a big disease reservoir, to an ongoing high level of opioid deaths, as well as a marked rise in gun fatalities?
And grinding relentlessly in the background, global warming going from a possible big problem in 2100 to an imminent threat in the 2020s: water shortages and pervasive wildfires in the US West, crop shortfalls and scorching heatwaves in Europe, and mass flooding in Asia, yet with the officialdom doing virtually nothing to arrest the destructive path?
Last year, we described this trajectory as early stage collapse.
The wheels came off in 2022. The decay path is steeper than all but the gloomiest might have imagined. The US is detonating its hegemony out of hubris and stupidity, and ay high environmental and social cost to boot. Western ruling classes truly and deeply believe that every problem can be solved by better propaganda. They are thus allergic to meat-world problems like the corrosive effects of an unchecked pandemic, supply chain breakdowns, betting your military on over-engineered wunderwaffen that aren’t reliable in battle, and now widespread. potentially crippling energy shortages now that winter is coming.
After months of the West refusing to negotiate or even implement a 2014 solution to the civil war in Ukraine, Russia went to war on the side of Donbass republics. The US got the conflict it wanted, but not with a Russia it had assessed properly. In an outcome Russia could not have dreamed would occur, the military response and even more so, economic sanctions blowback, are accelerating the end of US dominance. The West is sending money and weapons into a burn pit in Ukraine.
The US and its allies are also wrecking their economies due to being unwilling to climb down from their self-harming sanctions. Unless Germany works out soon with Russia how to get normal gas supplies, not only will its citizens go cold this winter, but many businesses will shutter permanently, resulting in not a mere recession but a full blown depression.
And the US is acting as if the economic crippling of Europe is a matter of no concern, when pressure on energy markets and loss of EU manufacturing will amp up our already destructive and destabilizing inflation. If European banks implode, the US financial system will be pulled into the vortex.
Even worse, the open displays of colonial-cringe support for blonde, blue-eyed Ukrainians versus the indifference to US inflicted or supported deaths of Iraqis, Palestinians, Syrians, Libyans, and Yemenis helped crystalize quiet but resolute opposition by key countries like China, India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa to pressure from US to side with them. And it’s not as if access to fertilizer, key commodities, and discounted Russian oil didn’t factor into these decisions.
India entered into a wide-ranging economic deal with Russia, as has Turkey. Russia is also increasing its ties with Iran. In a further humiliation for the US, not only has Saudi Arabia refused to pump meaningfully more oil to help the US with high oil prices, it has now entered into a major trade and investment pact with China…and will likely make a point of avoiding using the dollar. In another sign of the rapid fall in US influence, more and more countries, not just Iran and Argentina, but now also Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, are considering joining the BRICs.
We’ll skip over the pointless provocation of China over Taiwan, save to observe that even the doggedly pro-US Financial Times acknowledged in a headline last week that US has ‘no good options’ on Taiwan as China resets status quo. Um, China did warn, in no uncertain terms, that there would be serious consequences if Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit went ahead. But the US seems incapable of respecting clearly-presented red lines.
These fractures in the geopolitical order are generating desperate, profligate efforts to deploy non-Russian energy sources, no matter how inefficient or carbon-costly they are. So Poles will be burning even dirtier coal to get through the winter. LNG is the new hot ticket, even though fracking releases methane and requires water, another critical resource under stress. Needless to say, transporting LNG by ship is inefficient compared to gas by pipeline. And there’s the wee problem that most LNG produced now is already subject to long-term contracts, it takes time to ramp up new output…and tankers are in short supply and their makers already have full order books.
Just before the Labor Day weekend, the West has doubled down on its delusions, with the G7 stating that it is proceeding with its plan to cap the price of Russian oil, this after Russia has said it simply won’t sell oil and petroleum products to countries that cap its oil price.
It appears that Western and European efforts to control resources (the US nation-breaking exercises in the Middle East, sanctions of Iran and Venezuela, the demonization of Putin and efforts to destabilize Russia after Putin and his allies stopped Western looting and significantly renationalizing Russian energy producers) are finally up against opponents they can’t overwhelm or sufficiently corrupt. And this unfortunate loss of influence (from the Western perspective) is happening just when competition for resources has become far more acute, with far bigger stakes (witness the energy catastrophe facing Europe this winter).
And with these seismic events abroad, the winds of change are blowing fiercely in the US as well. The overturn of Roe v. Wade. The continuing efforts to end Trump as a political force, both by the Never Trump Republicans and the Administration. And last but far from least, the ravages of Covid, with the US putting in a “worst in class” performance among wealthy and even middle-income nations. The officialdom continues to give recklessly awful advice, bizarrely indifferent to the evidence of failure: falling life expectancy (now below China!), labor shortages and supply chain problems due to Covid cases and Long Covid, and increasing evidence of rising health costs with more infections.
When more energy is pumped into a system, it reaches the point where it undergoes a state change and becomes less ordered. Ice melts to water. Water becomes steam. It’s not hard to see structures starting to crack. But when a state change occurs, the system goes chaotic compared to before.
It’s not hard to see that economic and political conditions will soon trigger an economic crisis, likely soon followed by a political crisis in Europe unless something breaks in EU leadership soon, as opposed to broader society later. And with the appallingly poor quality of leadership in the US and Europe, it’s not as if anyone has the imagination or ability to change course.
This would all be wonderfully exciting, like watching a volcano blow, if we all didn’t have to live with the consequences. But that’s where Naked Capitalism comes in.
What passes for news and analysis today is overwhelmingly polluted by propaganda. Our soi-disant leaders try sweeping problems under rugs, to the degree that they are lumpy and even starting to move, or blame the Evil Putin rather than assess and address complex issues in a systemaic manner. But they are symbol manipulators rather than problem solvers. If they can makes things look good in a press release, PowerPoint, or in Excel, mission accomplished!
But to make sound decisions, you need to have good information. Naked Capitalism has developed a globe- and expertise-spanning community that is deeply interested in getting to the bottom of things, from mortgage securitizations and foreclosure abuses to crypto to Covid developments and protective measures to permaculture and beer recipes. And thanks to your invaluable information collecting, screening, aggregation and sometimes course-correcting, we keep adding new beats, covering vastly more ground than we used to, despite having what amounts to 1.7 full time writer equivalents. If you value this informational heavy lifting, please go straight to the Tip Jar and give generously.
Our hallmark status of being early and accurate comes from the ongoing process of testing information and reasoning. Naked Capitalism was one of the first to describe that Donald Trump had paths to an election win. We recognized that the yawning chasm between UK and EU positions would produce repeated impasses during the Brexit negotiations. We were alarmed by the Biden Administration escalating with China when that could only produce a crisis over Taiwan where neither the US nor Taiwan were likely to prevail. And we’ve been ahead of the curve on other significant topics, like water shortages and the growing encroachment of the surveillance state. As readers have often said, reading Naked Capitalism is like getting next month’s news today.
Naked Capitalism has long straddled a position few occupy, providing both hot takes and near think tank-level analysis. A few of many recent examples: Nick Corbishley on the war on cash and Mexican president AMLO bucking American directives; Lambert on #CovidIsAirborne and the implosion of the Democratic Party, KLG on corruption in medical and bioscience research, and Jerri-Lynn on India reorienting its foreign policy in a multi-polar world, and John McGregor and Conor Gallagher opening new beats on European, Turkish, and Pacific politics. Yours truly correctly anticipated how the “gas for roubles” mechanism would work, and has continued to provide in-depth coverage of the economic war with Russia.
We’d like to do more. We’d like to do it even better. Imagine how much trouble we could cause if we ever got our hands on some real money!
Please support our efforts. Give whatever you can, whether it’s $5, $50, or $5,000, via our Tip Jar. Even a small donation helps us meet our fundraising goals. If you are one of the winners in this two-tier Covid economy, please give generously, particularly on behalf of loyal readers who are under stress and aren’t able to donate as much as they’d like to.
And if you aren’t able to make a financial contribution, rest assured there are other ways to help! More than ever, we depend on all of you to promote Naked Capitalism and bring in more readers. You can help by sending articles, Links, and Water Cooler to potentially receptive friends, family members, and colleagues, by linking to our posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, talking up the site, making comments and sending cute animal photos.
In our accompanying kickoff post, we what your donations will fund and will tell you when we’ve hit each of these monetary goals. Our first goal is $23,000 for digital infrastructure essentials. That may not sound very sexy, but this is our plumbing. When your plumbing is not working, I bet you notice! We’ve increased it from last year because we’ve moved to a new host (yeah better performance but nothing is free) and we’ve also been clearing out some overdue tasks. High on our list was geting another payment platform besides PayPal. We pushed our new host/code wrangler Dave to get one boarded by the fundraiser…only to find some deal-killers at the 11th hour.
We particularly like checks! No processor fees! And that should make those of you allergic to PayPal happy. You can give via check made out to “Aurora Advisors Incorporated,” sent to:
Aurora Advisors Incorporated
164 Peachtree Circle
Mountain Brook, AL 35213
Be sure to let us know if you have sent a check so we can add your contribution to our fundraiser tally. Please send an e-mail with the subject line, “Check is in the mail” with the $ amount, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be warned that it may take a while to deposit them between the state of the postal service and my liking to deposit big batches of checks in person (and our bank is not local). I hope any delay in depositing your generous checks does not mess up your bookkeeping.
You can also use the Tip Jar to donate by credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Please note PayPal allows you to use your regular credit or debit card.
We also want to warn you: as much as we feel very guilty about it, we lack the capacity to thank donors individually. Or to put it another way, with our thin staffing, we’d have to cut way back on posting to be able to do that. We hope you forgive us for having to give top priority to continuing to generate the content you appreciate so much.
Again, we hope you’ll support our work in ways big and small. You’ve helped us build a community, and with your continued backing, we aspire to make it even better in the coming year.