Some swell pessimism porn for all you doom mongers


Clusterstock has thoughtfully assembled a list of the most bearish financial pundits, but really, they’re all a bunch of perkypants compared to Jim Kuntsler, except for Dimitry Orlov, who also basically predicts we’ll be living in caves and grubbing for worms as penance for our excess while society collapses around us. Such prognostications apparently fill them with glee.

Bizarrely, they both fly around the world in jets on well-paid speaking tours telling us how jets and the electricity to power the microphones they speak into will soon be a distant memory, and would you like your worms sauteed or raw.

Who do you trust on the economy?

The video above comes from a Mother Jones fundraiser held recently out on the west coast. You can view the rest here, but this one in particular got me thinking about which sources I actually trust for economic news.  Turns out, not that many. Before I list them though, I should tell you that economics, and really anything dealing with math, is about as far from my personal forte as you can get, so I specifically go with sources who A) explain everything clear enough for a blockhead like me and B) supply lots and lots of evidence to back up whatever they say.

The first source is Bob Morris who blogs…here at this site, actually. Bob and I see eye to eye on issues of social and civic justice, so I can be pretty sure that when he’s mad about something, the bailouts or the stimulus or what have you, I’ll probably be mad too by the time I’m done reading. If he’s worried, I’ll be worried. Not only that, but Bob has Sue the accountant around to mind his economic p’s and q’s, and DJ to make sure nobody gets too comfortable with their fancypants liberalism.

The next one is TPM Media. These guys have a lock on the sharp-elbowed muckraking that newspapers used to do. They’re making calls, knocking on doors, and scouring the web for all the information you could ever want about the government and its handling of the economy.  What’s extra fun is if you subscribe to their RSS feed, they update constantly throughout the day with little bites of information, and then eventually someone will take all those pieces and tie them together in one massive investigative piece. The comments section on each of their posts is always active, with readers backing up, or refuting, the author with their own digital muckraking.

The last source is Hale “Bonddad” Stewart who blogs for the Huffington Post. His bio says he’s “a former bond broker with several regional firms. He has been involved with the financial markets since 1995. He is a graduate of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s LLM program with a dual concentration in international and domestic taxation.” You can tell he probably knows what he’s talking about, but he’s also very good at supplying evidence for every claim he makes. A lot of evidence. Take a look at this one explaining the Fourth Quarter GDP. See what I mean?

So what sources do you trust for news on the economy crisis? Or if you’ve got a chip on your shoulder, tell me who you don’t trust on the economy. Who should I be reading, and who should I avoid at all costs? Tell me in the comments!

Dr. Doom is now guardedly optimistic

Nouriel Roubini may be about to get kicked out of the pessimism porn club as he now is saying if governments continue being proactive, we may survive this thing after all.

Meanwhile, Ron Paul raises the bar for disaster chic, saying we have a 15-year depression coming – but then he’s been a nutball buy-guns-and-gold crank for decades. Now that others are making similar pronouncements, he probably feels the need to get in front of doomster pack again with more radical apocalyptic visions.

Perhaps Jim Kunstler and Ron Paul should have a contest for most Dystopian Vision of Impending Doom, with John “Is the US becoming a hollow state” Robb getting runner-up honors, as they all appear convinced that things are relentlessly grim.

Disaster Chic: De-Globalization and the Middle Ages

marcello. black death. Florence. 1348
The Black Death in Florence (Marcello, 1348)

The Disastronauts have something new to dread with the global financial crisis, and it comes with mean sounding buzzwords like “De-Globalization.” And you thought “Protectionism” was austere. Zachary Shtogren at BigThink has this:

Like stateless castaways out of the sequel to Casablanca, foreign workers who were making hefty salaries in emerging markets are now waiting for the next outbound flight. Even the gilded class has been affected. Expat professionals in Dubai, hit with last-minute condo and car payments they can’t meet, are leaving the keys on the counter and their Mercedes in the airport parking lot. Over 3,000 vehicles sit collecting dust in the desert sun at the moment. A shocking $1 billion in capital fled emerging markets last week alone.

Ouch, sounds like everyone’s running home and slamming the door behind them. But Second World author Parag Khanna disagrees. Globalization isn’t going anywhere. He sees the 21st century as nothing if not a new Middle Ages, as he puts it, “an age of plagues and progress, commercial revolutions, expanding empires, crusades, city-states, merchants, and universities.” Doesn’t sound too much like Disaster Chic. In fact, it sort of sounds exciting, right? There’s more:

AIDS, malaria, SARS, and other maladies could become plagues like the 14th-century Black Death. What will be the impact of the coming migratory hordes, potentially unsettled by wars and environmental disasters? Who will be the next Mongols—small, concentrated hordes who violently establish their own version of peace, law, and order?

Yipes, there sure were a lot of “hordes” back then, but surely it won’t be a real “Dark Age.” We’ll be able to find solutions to these crises quickly, right? How long could it take?

Establishing a new system of global governance will take centuries, hence the uncertain leadership and complex landscape of the mid-21st century. The next Renaissance is still a long way off.

Maybe now would be a good time to invest in cryonics. We’ll wake you when Da Vinci gets here.

Stephen Colbert’s Doom Bunker

Something to make all you pessimism porn and disaster chic aficionados feel positively giddy. El Kañsas. A Werewolf Congress. Cars turning into decepticons. It could happen, you know. Be scared, be very scared.

However, something even more hideous lurks. Listen to the video to find out what the most horrific of all the perils is.