Another Canary in The Coal Mine…

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Another canary in the coal mine has just dropped to the bottom of its cage.Camaro sales 2

A few weeks back, I wrote about evidence that the bubble-ized new car business – “sales” inflated by the same kinds of financial flim-flam that gave us the housing bubble just about ten years ago – is on the verge of popping.

And may have already popped.

Now comes another indicator.

Sales of Chevy’s Camaro muscle car and its two rivals, the Ford Mustang and the Dodge Challenger, have stalled.

Suddenly, too.

As if they just ran out of gas – all three of them – all at once.

This after several years of double digit increases.    

Now, the reverse is happening.Canary lead

Camaro is down an ominous 15.4 percent for the year to date (January to July) despite the current model benefitting from an update that few, if any people could find fault with. The car looks virtually the same as the previous version – which was hugely popular – but is now several hundred pounds lighter and so it’s both quicker and more fuel efficient than it was before. That kind of thing usually increases sales of a muscle car.

It hasn’t.

Same thing over at Ford and Dodge. Both of their muscle cars have been improved recently and neither has lost any of the attributes that made them successful… until now.

So what’s up?

The better question is, what’s down?broke

How about the financial ability of the middle class buyer (this is the demographic that buys cars like these) to afford them?

Or – perhaps more to the point – their willingness to buy them?

Interest rates are still low; gas is still cheap.

But such things don’t matter when you can’t afford the car itself. Or begin to fear not being able to afford other, more important things – like the monthly mortgage. Or (more coming) your Obamacare premium.

These are not practical cars. They are muscle cars. Largely useless for anything except having fun.

For two people.   

While they have back seats, these are technicalities. A Camaro is nearly as unfit to carry passengers in its backseats as a Corvette (which has no back seats at all). The same is true of Mustang and Challenger, though to a somewhat lesser degree regarding the latter because it is a bigger car than either the Chevy or the Ford.

Still.back seats

They are all of them just about the worst possible choice for a car that has to get you to work in the winter (rear-wheel-drive and high-performance tires and not much ground clearance being the snow-day equivalent of trying to lose weight on a diet of Super Sized McDonald’s meals) or transport the family. And while their gas mileage is quite good for the power/performance they offer – if you can control your urge to use their power/performance (and in that case, why bother?) they are none of them exactly Prius-like.

Insurance is likely another factor. Buy any of these and the mafia will hit you with premiums probably twice what you’d pay for a Camry (which has back seats fit for people).

Get a couple of tickets for using these cars – and if not, why bother? – and that is a certainty.

But, here’s the thing: All of these costs are optional – like going to Disneyland with your family.

And what is the first thing most families do when they begin to feel uneasy about their finances – and their financial future?

They stop spending money on things they don’t need.

And no one needs a muscle car.Camaro rear

They are indulgences, cars people buy when they feel good about their finances; when there is money to spare on something fun.

Fun is the first casualty of a financial bubble’s popping.

Karl Brauer of Kelly Blue Book – which tracks used car prices and market trends generally – agrees. Cars like Camaro, Mustang and Challenger are “discretionary rather than functional purchases,” he says.

Indeed.

Exactly.

When there is trouble in Detroit – in the economy – sales of such discretionary purchases are the first to wilt. But it likely will not stop there.

And hasn’t. See here.

Even with the life-support of essentially free loans – interest rates low enough such that the “cost of money” is effectively nil – and car loans extended to six years routinely and lately seven or even eight years not uncommonly, people are becoming leery of signing up for $500 a month car payments.

Their financial Spider Sense is tingling, warning them to pare down.chtulu

This is smart policy given the at least 50-50 odds that Hillary Clinton will ascend to the Decidership in a few months from now. Because that will mean (among many unpleasant other things) the certainty of Obamacare Forever – and that is going to cost everyone who is still foolish enough to get out of bed in the morning and perform productive work even more of their already diminished dollars. Note that several major families of the insurance mafia have already pulled out of the exchanges, citing costs. What do you suppose Hillary’s solution to this will be?

And a new War is very likely, too. Hillary is champing at the bit for one.

But even if we are spared Hillary and get Trump as the lesser of the two Cthulhus, the economy – macro – has been running on vapors since at least ’08. A leaky balloon kept inflated, kinda sorta, by an unprecedented ad-hoc crew of pump crews.

But that only works for so long.

About ten years, it looks like.

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50 COMMENTS

  1. In addition to all the excellent comments already made, we mustn’t forget the cars themselves. The Dodge Hemi motor is a piece of crap. I’m not familiar with the Camaros, but let’s face it: Anything Chevy makes is crap. And I doubt that the modern ‘Stangs are any better, as even Ford has been pretty bad for quite a while now. So, could it be a clue that maybe some people are waking up and just realizing that even if they can afford it, why flush their money by buying crap? Not to mention the fact that these new vehicles are so complex and so over-burdened with needless electronics and computerization, that they are essentially disposable. I mean, once they are out of warranty, they are economically unviable to own.

    Saw a not very old Camaro in a parking lot last week. I was amazed! The thing looked like it was 40 years old. Clear coat and paint were shot already. Couldn’t have been more than a year or two out of warranty. And by shot, I don’t just mean “failing”, I mean the clear coat was gone, and so was most of the paint!

    Saw a Charger a little while back in almost as bad shape, too. Muscle cars? LOL! More like “weakling cars”. I’ll bet neither one of the above were even paid off yet.

    • Hi Nunzio,

      I think a big part of the problem is that because they’re so complicated/laden with electronics, and accordingly priced close to $40k, for the most part the buyer demographic is twice as old as it was during the original muscle car era. Guys in their 40s and 50s vs. guys in their 20s.

      These middle-aged guys drive the cars until they are out of warranty, at which point they become very costly to keep used cars, which keeps the younger guys away.

      The cars get thrown away. Keeping them past 20 or 30 years is very rare now vs. what used to be the case. This is perfectly understandable as an economic issue. What teenager is going to spend $3,000 on an ECU and EFI set-up to replace the croaked one in a ragged out 15-year-old 2010 Camaro that’s worth maybe $6,000?

      True story from a Gen Xer (me): When I was in high school in the ’80s, many of my friends drove original-era muscle cars in various states of decrepitude. But these cars – from the ’60s and ’70s (and some from the ’50s) – were abundant in the ’80s.

      We ’80s-era teens could afford to keep them them running and knew how to keep them running, too. The cars were simple mechanical things, for the most part. Really cheap to maintain. A brand-new universal Holley 650 carb cost about $100. A new fuel pump, $30 – and now the entire fuel delivery system is new.

      Today, the cars are very complex – and very expensive – electro-mechanical things beyond the budget and skill set of most young guys.

      Most play video games instead.

      They can afford a PlayStation.

      They can’t afford a $3,000 ECU and four $200 a piece cats plus four $75 a piece 02 sensors.

      • Great points, as usual, Eric!

        Yeah, the guys in their 20’s and 30’s are still living at home with Mommy and Daddy these days, and driving their parent’s cars, or just not driving -doing the hipster thing, with bicycles and Uber and skinny jeans and all that, so you’re right, it’s the older guys who are buying the phony muscle cars.

        And man! Do I yearn for the days of used cars for $800, and carbs and mechanical fuel pumps! I’m so sick of electronics. Even on the 15+ year-old vehicles I drive. One little thing goes wrong, and you spend more dignosing it, because there are so many electronic components and modules that can fail -and they’re simple compared to the new cars!

        Oh, and even if the cars were simpler today, the kids in most places still couldn’t have any fun with them, because of so many states having yearlly inspections, which are getting more and more stringent. i.e. you can’t make any mods; car won’t pass if it has any rust; etc.

        I feel so sorry for the kids today. It’s virtually impossible to have any fun anymore, no matter how innocent; and they’ve been brainwashed and conditioned even more so than we were to just accept it; and they’ve never truly been educated, so they just don’t know any better.

      • As a rule teenagers get new or fairly new cars from mommy and daddy these days. My daily-driver commuter bad weather car is what the modern version of an 80s teenager would have. Every so often something in the $0-$50 range needs attention. Teens never went to the dealership to buy parts at full list except out of desperation and with the internet and self serve salvage yards that level of desperation is harder to reach.

        A story you might like except of course for the fact the car was restored for the kid:
        http://jalopnik.com/astoundingly-nice-guy-restores-womans-old-beetle-for-fr-1786102201

  2. Don’t forget there’s less need to _own_ any vehicle with services like Uber & Lyft.

    I agree health insurance costs will be the killer, though.

    I now pay $600+/month for a non-subsidized “silver” plan, $6,000 deductible, $13,600 out of pocket limit (my insurer, UHC, has lost so much money that they won’t be offering plans here in 2017.)

    Were I single again, I’d move south of the border in a heartbeat.

    Where an “anywhere but the U.S.” traditional health insurance plan, with a $2500 deductible (pays 100% after deductible, no coinsurance) & a $5 million lifetime limit costs someone my age under $100/month.

    • I think the real reason is that the companies are now trying to put 6 and even 4 cylinder engines in muscle/pony cars

      I dont care if the V-6 makes MORE power than last years 8,
      it just doesnt feel right or sound right.

  3. We have just had two years of record-setting vehicle sales in the US. The party was going to end sometime. But my sense is that 2015–2016 will be remembered as the last big sales years for new private autos. These will be the good ol’ days.

    I’m not that concerned about self-driving cars replacing conventional ones. Instead the cataclysm will be the result of all cars being made more and more difficult and expensive to own and drive, so that as time goes on, fewer and fewer people will keep a car, let alone buy a new one.

    The people wringing their hands about supposedly outlawing cars that cannot drive themselves at some point down the road because most people will have a self-driver? They miss the point, which is that the urban planners and bureaucrats don’t want any cars: they want everyone in mass transit. Modern planning has as a stated goal making cities more car-unfriendly.

    An unstated purpose of many of the newer vehicle mandates, such as the draconian fuel economy standards phasing in, is to make new cars more expensive. As Eric notes, higher average costs are already a problem for most families now, and regulations will just increase the cost that much more. I expect fuel costs to increase dramatically and stay high from now on, which will further kill the market for such vehicles as muscle cars and light trucks as discretionary buys.

    The rush of new car sales recently is the last gasp of an auto-centric buying public. It’s all downhill from here. Years will pass before we fully realize this, but it is happening. Used vehicles will be targeted as “unsafe” and “gross polluters”, as has happened with Paris banning cars more than 19 years old from its streets on weekdays. In 30 years we might see few average people with the ability to own and drive any vehicle, thanks to all of this.

    The powers that be can’t stand the idea of the average Joe having mobility to use as he pleases. Now they have discovered the magic combination to end all that. The sales drops we see today are just the first harbinger.

    • That lyin damn Robert Earl. just last night he was saying the road goes on forever and the party never ends. Maybe it was just him he was referring to.

      I was installing roofs as fast as I could back in ’08 when the big crash and the highest petroleum prices we’ve ever seen helped send everybody to the house. Roofing materials more than doubled in price, nobody could get a loan and you could hear the housing markets brakes lock up along with everybody in the construction trade. One day you’re trying to find roofers and the next you’re trying to find rufies…..being conscious just didn’t seem worth the effort.

      But all of this is part and parcel of moving everybody into cities. It was done en masse in the 30’s and it ended the family farm as the required acreage to raise a family and sent most to town to subsist on welfare and govt. jobs works. It’s been a bit slower process since but making automobiles non-affordable will complete the job. TPTB will heave a big sigh when everybody’s a company store slave and they can own virtually every square foot of the earth.

    • It was about 20 years ago I attended a meeting of Urban Planners (I being on the local P&Z board). The New Urbanist leading the presentation showed a slide of a water color drawing (remember those?) that showed the “City Center”. He said, “You notice there are no cars. This is AFTER the Revolution.” The crowd erupted in laughter and applause. A cold chill ran down my spine.

      I knew then, we were cooked.

      The real problem is that folks think, “It’s that dang Federal GovCo.” No, it starts and your local City Hall and Court House. Where do you think those rising to the top of the political cesspool come from? It’s that guy or gal that’s sitting in the next pew at church that sees themselves as saving the rest of us from ourselves. The “Little Lenins” among us that we can’t/won’t confront because…well…we know them and gosh, they seemed like such nice folks at the covered dish we had last week.

      We live in a field of Clover but call it a garden.

      • If you mention this sort of thing on a mainstream website you’ll be attacked as a conspiracy theorist. On jalopnik they have a writer from that ilk. When I mention their plans…. oh the names I’m called.

        Then one day these same people will wake up to the new urbanist world and then it will be a good thing.

      • Flush Twice….it’s a long way to the mayor’s house, and it is definitely downhill! They don’t call politics a cesspool for nothing!

    • No shit. I live this every day. Not only does a vehicle going 80 down that hill to not have to use all the fuel it can get lugging up over it at less than 50mph saves fuel but the most dangerous truck out there are those 60mph limited rigs. It’s not uncommon at all for a large pack of traffic to come up on a couple or more 60 mph trucks and then we have big rigs not only trying to avoid a wreck in two lanes but using the shoulder too. There is an effect that makes every truck or vehicle have to slow at a much faster rate than the one in front of it. It finally turns into truckers having to stand on their brakes and hoping they don’t run over the one in front which may be the 4th or 5th truck back from the slow trucks.

      I, for one, would ban all vehicle not capable of doing 60 mph to the service roads. That would include many trucks I’ve driven. Speed differential has always been the dangerous factor, opposed to speed itself. That article was based on a single fatal accident, very likely caused by someone with head up ass who doesn’t watch what’s going on behind them. An older trucker and I were talking recently and we both agreed safety comes more from watching your mirrors than what’s in front of you. There may be a trucker out there driving uberfast but it’s not the norm. I get into Pecos country on I-20 and I run it against the speedlimiter at 79 because the speed limit is 80. When it changes to 75 I may still run 79 simply because almost the entire amount of traffic is moving that fast.

      As far as truck tires go, our sorry economy caused by NAFTA, CAFTA and GATT among other legislation has killed off high quality tires with most tires now coming from China no matter what it says on the side. Most of the best tires out there come from Japan……with combination of American and Japanese names. Back in the 70’d I paid $300/tire for Michelins and Goodyears and now we have $265 tires from China many companies use because profits are down for nearly everything. This entire country survives on trucks and diesel but the general public doesn’t seem to savvy and politicians just flat don’t care. I’ve recently turned down several jobs that paid by the mile, not because they’re pay per mile was low but because their trucks would cost you $80 per shift in wages due to slow speed. Time is money and vice versa.

      • It used to be very common for semi-truck engines to last for 1,000,000 miles using regular diesel engine motor oil. Newer semi-truck engines are less heavy duty and have restricted exhaust which causes less fuel mileage thanks to the EPA. Now, in order to even have a chance of getting 1,000,000 miles on the engine you must use the very expensive synthetic oil.

  4. For a lot of us, this “recession” reality depression is now a DECADE old. And this year been worse, believe it or not, then last year, which was pretty bad too.

      • The only reason the official numbers show growth is that inflation is way understated. If actual inflation numbers, instead of the very much cooked CPI, are used, the 1.1% growth becomes a contraction. Indeed, if you accept the figures at shadowstats, there has only been one quarter of real growth since the year 2000.

        Call me cynical, but I really think that the only people who could possibly believe the government inflation numbers are those who send their servants out to do the grocery shopping.

        • Plus we have 25% unemployment, 5 times what the govt. shows. They like when people have been unemployed long enough to give them lee to drop them from employment rolls.

          I whole-heartedly agree with richb. In the first quarter of 2015 Tx. alone lost 25% of the non-ag workforce. But every quarter saw a significant amount losing their jobs….and these jobs weren’t to be replaced by any job. In the last quarter of 2015 people, like me, were still losing a lot of work, weeks at a time and some went from some of the highest paying jobs in the patch to complete unemployment.

          Politicians aren’t even going to mention that and neither will any govt. agency. But things are popping now……like hell they are. Wages for the few jobs left continue to drop. I know this because I live it and speak to many others who live it too. I got a job offer of $12/hr busting ass driving a truck hauling aggregate, a rough ass job. I quit a job in ’88 making $10/hr because I was going nowhere, scraping by and not only that but working 48 hrs a week and working for my own company. $10/hr doing work they had to get an employment agency to find someone who could perform it.

          Cops would have a nervous breakdown trying to do the job i do every day.

          Here a while back there was a commenter here who said a loaded truck would stop faster than an empty one, a real fucking genius and one representative of typical 4 wheel driving fools. It’s the people on this site that give me hope that at least some people understand physics. Shit!

          • Let’s not even talk about the more than 90 million people who can work, and don’t. I’m not going to say the jobs that were there 20 years ago are there today, but there are jobs. Then again, with welfare paying as well as it does if you work the system…

            If the Housecoat Hildebeast gets in, I don’t know how much worse it can get before people begin eating each other. Things are getting to the point where civilization breaks down in some areas (some are already beyond). The next two terms might be worse than the last.

            I fear the abyss will start to stare back. I hear they are pushing for carbon taxes to become real asap.

            Shit, the libertarian candidate (who I used to respect) supports them.

            http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-gary-johnson-libertarian-transcript-20160729-snap-story.html

  5. Slumping sales is a common election year phenomenon, buyers get nervous right before the regime changes. Not only automobiles but practically everything. Focus on payment rather than purchase. The canaries in the mine would be a rise in delinquencies, repossessions, foreclosures, and bankruptcy.

  6. While I agree that a crash is coming, I’m not sure that slumping pony car sales are the canary in the coal mine….not quite yet.

    These cars represent a very small market niche. The current crop of 400+ hp Camaros and Mustangs have been out for two to three years. The latest improvements you mention for the Camaro are significant, but not dramatic; merely incremental.

    Fact is….everyone who wants (and actually can afford) one of these beasts has already bought one.

    PS. While the Apex trim versions like a Shelby Mustang may be near $80K, you can get a nicely equipped 5.0 GT out the door for $40k…or less. Just trying to keep it real. 😉

    It’s not that “nobody” wants fun, performance cars any more. But they will have to be a bit more practical. Look for lower tier BMWs, Mercedes and Audis to take up the slack.

    • Hi Mike,

      Maybe – but note the slumping sales of other types of cars as well; luxury cars especially. Same dynamic – I submit.

      Even $40k is a pile of money to put toward a car. Even for a person with an $80k annual income. And most people don’t earn anywhere near $80k annually.

    • Also heard it’s an easy way to sell your used car at a good price.

      Especially if you’re some kinda vehicle hoarder with more than you can even use and in dire need of some cash flow.

      Might make sense to convert indulgence assets into money you use to purchase more capital assets you use to make more monthly revenue.

      Start fixing things for people on credit, if its mostly your labor involved. Take trades when they find out they can’t make good their debts, but fight hard to get it at a steep discount for your troubles.

      Especially fix some things for guys with the power and skills to collect all the delinquent debt assets you might find out you’re holding.

  7. eric, I was speaking to a friend yesterday and he was watching a car auction in Ca. I don’t remember which company but all at least $100K to 3-4 times that. I mentioned we’d watched a movie the wife bought 2Fast2Furious, a real POS, waste of time, stupid-ass (I’m reaching for adjectives here)thing.

    I said I hadn’t seen a car auction in 10 years or so, they depress me. He said I couldn’t ever have afforded any of these cars anyway but I mentioned a Yenko Camaro in that unmentionable movie, something I could have afforded when they were new if I’d wanted to eat dog food or just bum off other people, one of those things you’ve probably seen as I have.

    We discussed how the new muscle cars would have been in another zipcode racing the cars on that show. He also mentioned that the other zipcode would have had to have been 90210 since a new Z-28 costs $80K.

    That’s about or a bit less than a new El Camino in Australia with the 560 HP option costs.

    Meanwhile we’re all eating white bread and beanie-weenies and using our Berkey water filters to try and not intake all the pollution in our water. In fact, he’s been drinking triple distilled water for decades. My only alternative, and it’s probably not much better than city water and not nearly as good as Berkey or triple distilled water is beer…..and wine.

    Not sure what people do for a living to buy a new Z but it ain’t driving a truck or if it is, they don’t ever get to drive the car cause they not only don’t ever get home but don’t have one. I’ve known a few like that that since they were going to virtually live in a truck had a P.O. box and a storage locker somewhere.

    The newest audit shows the gap between the haves and have nots has continued to widen ever faster.

    No wonder we paid for that luxury underground super-secure facility in the NE where all the pols and servants will go when everything goes to hell. They wouldn’t let me be a slave/servant or you either since we might be living high eating politician kidney pie or just throw their sorry asses to the “wolves” that are managing to stay alive.

    • Hi Eight,

      Yup.

      I took my Trans Am out yesterday (first time in weeks; I find I have less and less time for anything fun) and the thought occurred to me: The only reason I have this car today is because I bought the car many yesterdays ago, when cars like it were still very affordable, even if you were 25 and had a used Corolla budget.

      Today, the used Corolla budget buys you…. a used Corolla.

      • The used Corolla budget only buys a clapped out Neon, Escort, or Cavalier. Corollas cost too much thanks to its stellar reputation for reliability and the long lasting effects of Cash For Clunkers.

  8. In my case, I decided against a V6 Mustang in favor of a Subaru Outback for just the reasons you describe. The deciding factor in my case was practicality: in my home state of PA, we get snow, and we have steep hills and have a mountain range going right through the middle.

    Although it’s just me, the wife and the kitty cat, we find that the cargo space in the Outback comes in mighty handy when we go on a road trip and need to stow luggage, or when we need to take the lawn mower for its annual tune-up, or when we bought a new dishwasher and saved the delivery charge.

    What’s more, the H-6’s 256 horses are quite adequate to meet my need for speed (or passing a convoy of trucks going uphill on the turnpike). After all, I can’t legally go faster than 70.

    If I lived in a flatter place where snow is at least a rarity, and I had access to something with some usable carrying capacity, then I’d go with the Mustang. I’d stick with the V6 to reduce costs of fuel, insurance and run-ins with the law.

    • Bryce – it’s folks like you who are the problem with the economy, at least according to the Keynesians. Don’t you know you are supposed to spend, spend spend, and costs be damned?

  9. These are extremely expensive cars and I have to think there is only so many people who want one. Isn’t it reasonable to expect that we are starting to hit that threshold? They are also typically not driven that often so what is the reason to trade one for a new?

    I’d imagine that prior to the new generation of these cars sales where well down in the early 2000’s. We’re just seeing a turn over of those prior owners.

    Although it’s easy to read other things into it.

    • Hi Todd,

      That’s certainly a factor. And if it were just these kinds of cars… then I’d put it down to mainly that. However, it’s more than that. Sales are slumping generally.

      This isn’t at all surprising to me given the average transaction price is now well over $30k – while the average family income is only about $54k.

  10. I saw the other day that the sales for high-end classics and exotics is down for the second year in a row. Those buyers used to be the ones that were impervious to the market.

    There is always uncertainty in the months leading up to an election, but I’ve never seen it like this. Our company is having a great year, but we are preparing like it is going to end tomorrow. I don’t think we are alone.

    • Hi Yeti,

      I just happened to be at an auction the other day, picking up a bike for a friend of mine who made the successful bid. I got to talking with the manager, who told me that prices for classic cars are way off.

      Another harbinger…

      • It is across the board.
        In the financial markets (where I work, but not allowed to name names), there are a LOT of things “off”. Brexit was an unexpected thing. They weren’t caught with pants down, but had to employ contingency plans. They also want us to be FORCED to contribute (more) to our own retirement. (“More” because these idiots forget the SS and Medicare was extracted at gunpoint the first time, and then is taxed again as “income” when distributed – and let’s not forget, if a husband and wife are aging, and one dies before the other, the other can only get ONE income – not both, even if the contributions exceed the distributions. )

        You will soon be forced to pay for your retirement by contributing to the rough equal of 401(k)s – which, per Greece, can then be “nationalized” – TAKEN, by government order. And I’m hearing that those SS contributions will soon be stopped based on a “needs” test – if you own your home or have an income, you don’t “need” that money.

        I keep telling you “NAP”ers – the game only works when everyone is playing by the same rules.
        They’re obscuring the aggression, but if we don’t start watering the tree, AND SOON, AND LIBERALLY, we won’t have the option to even LEAVE. The objective of the taxes is to ensure that you are destitute – like the Jizya tax of Islam. The purpose of these animals is to enslave you – and the chains are most effective when you don’t see and feel them.

        The Sheep want to be wolf-free. They herd together, erect signs, and graze peacefully, and pretend that prevents wolves from existing.
        And in one of the parables, the sheep realize the wolf has fangs and claws, and their hooves can still hurt the wolves. So at the next attack, these sheep band together and kick a wolf to death, then take his fangs and claws, and conceal them for future attacks.
        After these sheep successfully defend themselves from a wolf attack, (a) the other sheep ostracize them, as these sheep have, “Bad things!” (Tooth and claw), and (b) the farmer, on seeing the dead wolves, demanded to know who had done this. When the sheep who had defended themselves stepped forward, he killed them.

        We either make the world right, or we die before the herd. Because they will NOT leave us alone, they WILL damage us.

        It’s economics, which – like politics – is continuation of war by other means.
        In this case, politics is taking an interest in you, whether you take an interest in politics or not. Economics is the same. You learn it and rule it, or you fall prey to it.
        Review the SPDRS.com blog. The open letter to congress is there, explaining how Americans should be forced to pay for their retirement, because we aren’t saving “enough.” That’s just ONE facet of it.
        And every financial institution is working towards the same goal – it’s a running joke here, they work for one, then another, then the third, then back to the first…
        Like the FDA and the drug companies, changing the people back and forth… Regulators and producers, everyone knows everyone else, they’re all friends, all working TOWARDS THE SAME GOAL… to produce repeat customers, favorable laws (for them), and avoid any responsibility for their personal acts.
        Financial markets are the same. Overheard a discussion with one of the high-ups, an Exec VP or such; the chat boiled down to, “no matter what happens, we make money, so who cares what happens to the average person?” And he was TALKING to one of those “average persons” – my boss, who is “upper middle class.” And my boss is shucking and jiving and rolling on his back peeing himself in adulation of the attention of this “superior man” (in the Confucianist meaning). It was like watching a dog submitting before the Alpha.

        And no one sees the problems. Yet we are ruled by “might makes right” – because The State has all these people and guns. And will f*ck with us when it wants, how it wants.
        We should be shooting already, but most of us are Betas or Omegas – Civilized. Useless in the true sense. (And I made some bad choices, so I’m in there, too.) But we don’t HAVE to play by THEIR rules – and remain sidelined and impotent, subject to their whims.
        We need to reach down and find our balls, sooner rather than later, because tolerating evil only enables it, validates it, allows it to grow stronger.

        Like fixing bugs in computers, the sooner you find it, the lower the cost.
        Find an issue in the design phase, cost is X.
        Find the issue while coding, cost is 2X.
        Find the issue in testing, cost is 4X.
        Find the issue in User Acceptance Testing, cost is 8X+.
        If the customer finds the bug in Production, the cost can be 10X to (out of business).

        If there’s one evil man, it can take you 2 or three people to take him out.
        If he’s allowed to grow and cement power, he’ll attract a gang of psychophants and bullies, and now you need your own gang or posse – and no guarantee of winning, already.
        And if they declare themselves a government – a king, say – you’ll lose an army trying to remove them.

        And in the meantime, that government is bleeding you dry of energy, time, money, self-respect, and dignity.

        We ARE living on our knees.
        We’re just told we’re free, and lick the iron fist in the velvet glove…

        • I am amazed daily that the entire financial construct has not collapsed, and have been for about 20 years. I have had some darned good company there, too. Ron Paul among the best.

          When it comes, it will be all-the-worse because of the various props the establishment have used to hold it up. They are good at what they do, even though it is insane.

          (Not original to me but) the governments of the world, especially ours, are the only entities in the world who can take valuable commodities like paper and ink, combine them, and create something utterly worthless.

          By the way, we just watched “The Big Short” on Netflix. Speaks to the issue of the housing bust in an amazingly accurate way for a movie. I recommend it.

          • The collapse is inevitable, it is only a question of when. Of course the longer Congress, et al, kick the can down the road, the worse the fall will be.

          • I think they have found a way to kick the can down the road essentially forever.
            based on when I’ve been playing, the prices jump about every 20 years. Just long enough for the next generation to grow up “wanting.” (Riffing on, “Happiness comes not from having what you want, but wanting what you have.” No drive to acquire, no materialistic consumption.)

            Suddenly, fuel or power or costs (or all) jump. So there’s a “normal” of consumption, and then the costs jump suddenly, as a generation comes of age.
            Next generation, it repeats.
            Each “new normal” is just playing with monopoly money, the value hasn’t changed for each generation – only the dollar values.

            Worthless rats running the system…

      • classic cars from the 60s and early 70s are going to dive in the coming years as the boomers become to old and feeble to handle them. Our generation who will still want them because we grew up in the malaise era won’t have the cash to support the sky high prices the boomers paid thanks having our careers throughout the era of financialization and bubbles with all the taxation to support the boomers and government corruption.

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