WND column

The Dire Sign of Dubai

In 2007, the international financial elite knew very well that there were serious problems with the world’s largest banks. Perfectly good loans were being called, long-standing corporate relationships were being cast aside for short-term benefit and there was a palpable perception of something wicked on its way. While news of the so-called credit crunch was duly reported by all the major newspapers, few outside the financial world had any idea that consequences such as the meltdown of 2008 were rapidly approaching.

But if you knew what to look for, it was fairly obvious that something big and ugly was developing, which was why I wrote that “the United States was fast approaching an interesting juncture” in my WND column published March 24, 2008. In a similar manner, what appears to be the minor matter of a Dubai-based corporation requesting a six-month moratorium on its debt payments looks very much like a warning that the next stage in the global financial crisis will be upon us soon.

UPDATE – Karl Denninger notes the irony of an Arab government being more free market-oriented than the USA:

Dubai’s government said it hasn’t guaranteed the debt of Dubai World, the state-controlled holding company struggling with $59 billion in liabilities, and that creditors must help it restructure.

“The company received financing based on its project schedule, not a government guarantee,” Abdulrahman Al Saleh, director general of the emirate’s Department of Finance, said in an interview with Dubai TV, when asked whether the government was backing the debt. “Lenders should bear part of the responsibility.”

NO evidence for global warming

Perhaps in part due to my respect for actual science, I find most scientists to be contemptible. But this news exceeds even my cynically low expectations of the charlatans. Is throwing out the original data really the scientific norm these days? Because I can testify that game developers, engineers, and computer programmers are all significantly more rigorous about protecting and saving their legacy information.

SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based. It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years. The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation….

The CRU is the world’s leading centre for reconstructing past climate and temperatures. Climate change sceptics have long been keen to examine exactly how its data were compiled. That is now impossible.

Hang on… until yesterday, weren’t the CRU scientists claiming they weren’t providing the data because they had obtained it from various governmental organizations who held the rights to it and they had no permission to release it to the public? Was Real Climate deceived by the CRU or was Real Climate lying when they wrote the following on November 23, 2009: CRU data accessibility. From the date of the first FOI request to CRU (in 2007), it has been made abundantly clear that the main impediment to releasing the whole CRU archive is the small % of it that was given to CRU on the understanding it wouldn’t be passed on to third parties.”

This is more than a smoking howitzer, it’s a meganuke that would – in a rational world of genuine science – blow away the AGW/CC charade permanently. It also proves that scientists should always be regarded as shady con men unless and until the scientific evidence they produce in support of their hypotheses indicates otherwise. Needless to say, all of “the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data” should immediately join the original data in the trash Every so-called “scientist” at the CRU who was involved with this fraud should be immediately fired. And those who stole taxpayer money on the basis of the scam should be prosecuted, along with those who junked the data if they did so – as suggested in the CRU emails – in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Score yet another one for the scientific skeptic. Never place any trust in an expert who can’t explain himself to your satisfaction. Especially when he’s asking you for money.

VPFL Week 11

93 Judean Front (9-2)
35 Winston Reverends (5-6)

93 Alamo City Spartans (8-3)
51 Greenfield Grizzlies (4-7)

71 Bane Silvers (6-5)
48 Black Mouth Curs (4-7)

68 Mounds View Meerkats (6-5)
55 Burns Redbeards (3-8)

82 Masonville Marauders (5-6)
99 Valders Valkyries (5-6)

Vikes are a bit banged up, but this is when having the best backup RB in the league comes in handy. I hope Chilly has the good sense to keep AD on the bench, let him get healthy, and ride Chester Taylor to a win over a collapsing Chicago team.

“Hopelessly compromised”

The mainstream European media is finally getting around to covering Climategate and reaching the obvious conclusion: this is “the worst scientific scandal of our generation”.

Back in 2006, when the eminent US statistician Professor Edward Wegman produced an expert report for the US Congress vindicating Steve McIntyre’s demolition of the “hockey stick”, he excoriated the way in which this same “tightly knit group” of academics seemed only too keen to collaborate with each other and to “peer review” each other’s papers in order to dominate the findings of those IPCC reports on which much of the future of the US and world economy may hang. In light of the latest revelations, it now seems even more evident that these men have been failing to uphold those principles which lie at the heart of genuine scientific enquiry and debate. Already one respected US climate scientist, Dr Eduardo Zorita, has called for Dr Mann and Dr Jones to be barred from any further participation in the IPCC. Even our own George Monbiot, horrified at finding how he has been betrayed by the supposed experts he has been revering and citing for so long, has called for Dr Jones to step down as head of the CRU.

Our hopelessly compromised scientific establishment cannot be allowed to get away with a whitewash of what has become the greatest scientific scandal of our age.

Being merely human, scientists merit no more inherent trust than anyone else… and rather less than most when their careers and wallets are on the line. Most scientists are useless, venal government-funded worker bees attempting to get along by trading on the accomplishments and reputations of the relatively small number of genuinely innovative scientists who have utilized the scientific method to make positive contributions to Mankind.

As for peer review, it is little more than an editorial charade that transforms science into a political exercise and should be eliminated entirely. As one observer inaccurately but aptly commented, Einstein began his career in science at the post office, not Princeton. (It was actually the patent office, but the point stands.) Science is too important to be left to scientists.

UPDATE – Even the NYT has been forced to cover the story outside of its usual self-appointed role as defense attorney:

“This whole concept of, ‘We’re the experts, trust us,’ has clearly gone by the wayside with these e-mails,” said Judith Curry, a climate scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology.

That is a succinct summary, yes.

RGD: a review from Norway

T. Tucker posts his thoughts on Amazon:

Vox Day’s latest book is both a refreshing and sobering look at the economy. Refreshing in that it throws off the straight-jacket of the Keynesian/Krugman lie that we can borrow our way out of a debt crisis and sobering as you realize that our politicos don’t have a clue about the right thing to do…. Interesting, well documented, and easy to read with points illustrated by easy to read graphs and charts, an excellent overview of the times we are in and the troubles to come.

I appreciate the review, especially because it’s always interesting to learn what aspects of the book appealed to different individuals. Since I created nearly all the graphs myself in OpenOffice Calc, it’s good to know they’re not completely illegible. And on a tangential note, behold the power of the basic economic concept known as price elasticity. Although today is only the second day since it was priced correctly, the Kindle version of RGD has already become the fifth-bestselling book in the Economics category at the Kindle store.

The conventionally priced hardcover, on the other hand, doesn’t rank in the top 100 in Economics and is #39 in Economic History compared to #3 for the ebook edition.

Warning: feminist committing historical analogy ahead

You have to know a bit about Rome to understand how amusing this clueless female attempt to draw upon history is:

When the Roman Empire was broken, Diocletian fixed it. He completely revamped the imperial government, discarding centuries of tradition in favor of a new organizational structure designed to meet the challenges of the day. You can do stuff like that when you’re an emperor. It was sort of a one-man Constitutional Convention.

Considering that Diocletian’s economic reforms were a complete failure – his Edict on Maximum Prices is a byword for futility among economists – he was responsible for the bloodiest Roman religious persecutions since Nero, and his abdication led directly to an empire-wide civil war, it should be readily apparent that the historical example of Diocletian is not the ideal one for a would-be reformer to cite. It’s almost impressive that the woman managed to outdo Thomas Friedman and his wistful dreams of Communist Chinese autocracy with this historically illiterate analogy.

Although I have little doubt that given his dithering over Afghanistan and the warnings of a Dubai default, it’s not going to be long before abdication will look more than a little attractive to Obama.

UPDATE – the poor woman still doesn’t realize how dim-witted her attempt to look scholarly by citing history was:

You know what they think is the most important thing about Diocletian? Price controls. I’m serious. The Edict on Maximum Prices: that’s what they think is the big deal. The second thing they know about him is the Christian persecution. Not one of them even mentions the division of the empire, which by any measure was one of the most critical and formative moments in history (one we’re still living with). None of them mentions the Tetrarchy. None of them is aware of what I would have thought was basic knowledge: that Diocletian fundamentally restructured the Empire and reformulated its constitution.

First, Diocletian didn’t fix anything; most of his policies were failures. As the Cambridge Medieval History writes: “It is natural to think of Diocletian as the projector and of Constantine as the completer of a new system of government for the Roman Empire, which persisted with mere changes of detail until it was laid in ruins by barbarians. But in reality, the imperial institutions from Augustus onwards had passed through a course of continuous development. Diocletian did but accelerate processes which had been in operation from the Empire’s earliest days….” Of course, “the new type of monarchy” which Diocletian and Constantine established between them was a more centralized, more absolutist one, so it should come as absolutely no surprise that a feminist would find inspiration in it.

Second, she simply doesn’t understand that the salient point isn’t that Diocletian restructured the Empire, it is that the form his restructuring took was absolutely insane and led to precisely the sort of violent power struggles that could easily have been predicted from the failures of the First and Second Triumvirates, to say nothing of the four wars of the Diadochi that preceded them. After Diocletian’s abdication in 305, the Tetrarchy lasted precisely ONE year before the inevitable civil wars began; these lasted 18 years until Constantine managed to defeat Maximian, Maxentius, and eventually Licinius in 324.

Also, Diocletian’s Edict on Maximum Prices is the most important thing about his rule today; it is far more intellectually significant now than the fact that a Roman Emperor elected to centralize power and establish a fundamentally flawed administrative scheme that failed on numerous occasions in the past. Sure, the division of the empire affected the course of history, but then, so did the foolish decision of Perdiccas to marry Alexander’s sister and in a very similar manner.

Today, there is no one pushing the notion of four co-presidents and persecutions of American Christians are mostly limited to refusing to let Boy Scout troops meet at schools and refusing to say “Merry Christmas”. Price controls, on the other hand, are still being enacted around the world despite the fact that Diocletian’s Edict offers powerful evidence that not even an autocratic government with a determined and violent dictator at the helm can successfully debase the currency or enforce predetermined price levels.

All that being said, note that I am definitely in favor of a third party, a fourth party, and a fifth party. Regardless of whether you are on the left or the right, you should be able to recognize that America badly needs alternatives to the present bi-factional party ruling on behalf of the banks rather than the liberal or conservative bases its two factions purport to represent.

A crack in the denial

Even a credulous, skeptic-smearing Warmist is capable of seeing that the response from the CRU-defending camp has not been even remotely credible:

Pretending that this isn’t a real crisis isn’t going to make it go away. Nor is an attempt to justify the emails with technicalities. We’ll be able to get past this only by grasping reality, apologising where appropriate and demonstrating that it cannot happen again.

The amazing thing, of course, is that this guy still believes that science is on the side of the AGW/CC charlatans and that the fabrication, fraud, and deceit are on the skeptical side. But now that the smoking howitzer has been found, it should be relatively easy to unearth and expose the many other dishonest actions of the so-called “climate scientists”.

The problem faced by true believers like this guy is that grasping reality and refusing to permit non-science to replace genuine science will destroy the entire AGW/CC industry.

Dubai and debt-deleveraging

I expect the fears of a Dubai World default to be the first indication of many debt-deflationary shocks to come. The reason for what would appear to be a big overreaction to what is a relatively small problem is that everyone who is anyone in the financial world is thinking that if the legendary sovereign fund of Dubai can’t afford to service its debts, then who possibly can?

On Wednesday, Dubai World, the government investment company behind some of the emirate’s most ambitious projects, said it was seeking to delay repayment on a tranche of its debt.

The company has $60bn (£35.9bn) of liabilities from its various companies including Nakheel, the property firm behind the Palm Jumeirah, the world’s biggest artificial island, and the Nakheel Tower, the world’s tallest building at 1km high. It also owns DP World, the ports operator that bought P&O Ferries. Nakheel is due to make a $3.52bn Islamic bond repayment, plus charges, on December 14. The company also unveiled a restructuring programme, to be headed by Aidan Birkett, Deloitte’s managing partner for corporate finance.

Traders feared that the request for a six-month standstill was a sign that the Dubai Government was struggling with its other debts – and that the full impact of the financial crisis globally may not yet be over.

As I wrote at the beginning of RGD, it is not over. It has only begun. It may be worthwhile to remember that Austria’s Creditanstalt bank didn’t declare bankruptcy until May 1931, 19 months after Black Tuesday. It has been less than 14 months since the U.S. Congress created the Office of Financial Stability in order to establish the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

RGD on Kindle

Now that Amazon has finally gotten their act together on making the Kindle edition available and getting the price right, it appears that RGD is an even better bargain on Kindle than I had hoped.  While the retail price is $1.99, Amazon is selling it for only $1.59 in the USA; the international price is $3.59.  It will be interesting to see if more people give it a shot than they would have at the usual $9.99 price.  Personally, I don’t think any ebook should be sold for more than $4.99; higher prices are merely an artifact of old pricing patterns that should soon disappear.  If you have a Kindle, why not go ahead and give it a shot… it’s less than a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck!

In the meantime, Clint has posted a review there which should suffice to answer the frequently asked question of whether the book is suitable for non-economists or not:

I am not an economist. I do have a basic understanding of economic principles, but tend to glaze over when I start looking at economic charts and in depth analysis. In this book, there are various explanations and scenarios that are presented. I was able to follow each and every one of them. Not only that, but there was an appropriate amount of humor injected into the text to keep a non-economist entertained.

Here are the strong points from my vantage point: The highlights of various schools of economic thought were covered in an effective and fair manner. Potential outcomes for our current economic crisis are presented, with a “Vox-style” handicapping of each scenario presented. Historical data from not only the Depression of the 1930s, but similarities with the Japanese economic condition of 20 years ago and even other comparable situations were presented and explained in a way that helps to see why he draws the conclusions that he does. I know more about economics now than ever before because he does not rely upon any one economic school (Keynes, Austrian, etc) to dominate the conversation, but draws upon them all….

Conclusion: I highly recommend the book.

I know how it can be difficult to write an intelligent and meaningful review of a book, so I very much appreciate the time and effort spent writing them.  If you have one, don’t forget to send the link to me so I can post it here, and sooner rather than later, at the RGD book site as well.

UPDATE: RGD is now the 6th best-selling economics book on Kindle. Chalk up another one for price elasticity and the law of supply and demand.