Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Upscale real estate has taken a tumble in major markets. A number of world banks are in a shaky situation. This time around it looks like the big money players are in trouble. The financial picture looks dicey. In the US there's a tendency to try and put off any big financial pull backs until after elections. They might not be able to pull of that trick this time. Of course, in the past I've underestimated the powers that be's ability to paper over financial trouble.
Militarily there are some interesting things going down. It's almost impossible to find out what Turkey is doing in Syria. Last I heard they had moved in some tanks. Supposedly it's to fight ISIS, but their main concern is to keep the Kurds from gaining any more territory. There's trouble in the South China Sea. North Korea rattles its sabers so often they are like the boy who cried wolf. What one has to remember is that sometimes there really is a wolf.
Russia's Putin is in a tight situation. His main legitimacy is as a war president tough guy. He's had some easy gains like in Ukraine's Crimea. Support for Syria has been more troublesome for him. Russian strengths have been showcased, but his forces are dangerously close to clashing with Western forces. Do we really want to see Russian and American planes dogfighting?
Putin has only been able to hold onto power by giving the Russian people reasons to feel strong again. He has disabled any effective political opposition. However, the Oligarchs are lurking in the background, waiting for their chance. Low oil prices and Western sanctions have make life more difficult. If Putin falls there's no one with clear legitimacy to take his place, nor is there a democratic path to find a replacement.
In the US we have the two most unpopular candidates ever running for the highest office in the land. Americans are more polarized than ever.
The regular flash points could get out of hand. Iran has been threatening US ships. US involvement in Africa's conflicts has quietly been growing. India, China, and Pakistan have issues -and they all have nukes. A world war could even start in someplace completely under the radar like in the Stans, where some low grade conflicts are ongoing.
Natural disasters are a wild card. I see the hurricane season is actually producing conditions that threaten the US. It's been ten years since Florida has been hit by a major storm. Since then there's been something like 1.5 billion dollars spent in vulnerable areas. That's insane. We've seen in Louisiana that it doesn't even take a major storm to cause massive damage.
Imagine if major volcanoes or earthquakes happen in any of the world's populous and wealthy areas? How would that affect world stability?
I'm not saying we are doomed. Good leadership and some lucky breaks could get us past the worse of the dangers. Sometimes it's not the crisis that matters so much as the response to it. WWI was not so much caused by the assignation of an Archduke, but by people who wanted a war and used it as an excuse.
All us little guys can do is to keep our eyes open and our heads down.