Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘global economy

Has Coronavirus disrupted global economy? In what way?

By Alison Griswold & John Detrixhe. Feb.26, 2020

There are still more questions than answers as Covid-19, the disease caused by a novel coronavirus, spreads.

The global “risk” put a major dent in stock markets around the world as investors head for the relative safety of bonds. Oxford Economics forecasts that the virus could knock as much as $1.1 trillion off equity markets this year, depending on the severity of the impact.

That uncertainty is illustrated in corporate filings and earnings calls, as analysts and executives try to calculate the impact of the epidemic on supply chains, the global economy, and things like commodity prices.

Many execs say it’s still too early to assess the effects of the coronavirus spread, but some are beginning to dial back expectations, according to a Quartz review of calls and transcripts since Dec. 1, 2019 on financial research platform Sentieo.

Tech companies have been among the hardest hit in the stock market in recent days.

Firms like Apple and HP, the multinational maker of laptops and printers, are sensitive to supply chain disruptions and have led declines over the past five days.

Others whose core business is hardware component production are already warning of a decline in sales.

Chipmaker Infinera said yesterday that it had baked in a $15 million hit to revenue from coronavirus in the first quarter.

Steven Fieler, CFO of HP, on Feb. 24:

In Q2, we expect a negative impact to our top line, bottom line, and free cash flow, although we view the impact as temporary with limited impact to our second half. In total, net of mitigations, we have factored in an $0.08 EPS impact into our Q2 guidance.

We are also expecting to have a significant impact to free cash flow in Q2, with negative impacts to working capital due to delayed production and manufacturing timing and back-end loaded revenue linearity. Again, this should be temporary and not materially impact the full year.

Christine Gorjanc, CFO of wireless security camera maker Arlo Technologies, on Feb. 24:

Coronavirus is impacting our business on the supply side as our vendors do not have sufficient quantities of the required components to fulfill our demand because the component factories are operating at considerably reduced output.

Additionally, in the second quarter, we have new product introductions planned that we believe will be impacted by the component shortages, as well as delayed delivery of some of the manufacturing equipment from China.

To take this into account, we have built in an impact of between 5% and 10% to our original revenue expectations for the first quarter and are expecting an impact to be between 20% and 25% for the second quarter.

Paul Oldham, CFO of semiconductor supplier Advanced Energy Industries, on Feb. 18:

Due to the uncertainty created by the novel coronavirus outbreak, we are providing a wider guidance range based on our team’s current assessment of our supply chain, product delivery, and production planning. In the near term, we expect to see some increased costs for expedite fees, transportation, and factory utilization as we actively work with our suppliers and customers to mitigate the challenge and fulfill our increasing backlog.

Energy company stocks can fluctuate based on expectations for economic growth—as an economy revs up, it tends to use more energy.

Anthony Petrello, president of oil and gas driller Nabors Industries, on Feb. 21:

Oil prices are reacting to fears of reduced economic growth in crude oil demand in China and elsewhere. These fears have been triggered by the recent coronavirus outbreak in China. The impact to global oil demand is uncertain, though reports estimate consumption in China has declined by as much as 3 million barrels per day.

Consumer discretionary companies can tumble when people are worried about their jobs and put off making purchases that aren’t vital.

Food and hospitality companies with operations in China are also impacted amid worker shortages and as consumers stay home.

Jesse Timmermans, CFO of e-commerce fashion firm Revolve Group, on Feb. 25:

Our expectations factor in an estimated 1- to 3-point negative impact to net sales growth as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with the expected negative impacts focused on the first and second quarters. The negative impact is due primarily to supply constraints on our own brand manufacturers as well as our third-party brands that’s sourced from China.

We are also experiencing a negative impact on consumer demand in the Greater China region in our REVOLVE segment, but this is a much smaller impact given the relative sales mix from this region. The situation remains fluid and uncertain, so our estimate of the negative impact from the coronavirus outbreak is based on our best information as of today and is subject to change.

Michael Stornant, CFO of footwear manufacturer Wolverine Worldwide, on Feb. 25:

While the prospects for growth in 2020 are very promising, our outlook is tempered by first half headwinds from the coronavirus situation and some continued softness in the US wholesale channel. We expect 2020 reported revenue to be in the range of $2.29 billion to $2.34 billion, including $30 million of negative first half impact from the coronavirus and $10 million in negative impact from foreign currency.

Financial firms are closely linked to the state of the economy and changes in interest rates. Their stocks will be buffeted as quarantines disrupt their customers’ businesses through supply chains and worker staffing, forcing them to seek credit and potentially delay repayments.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, at investor day on Feb. 25:

It’s very hard to tell you. So I don’t want to guess. Obviously, we hope it’s contained. It’s a human casualty. I mean, you do feel terrible for it. The only question is, when you have South Korea and in Japan now with these rapidly increasing curves, how bad is it?

How do they get there? They’ve been talking this morning about they don’t know who patient No. 1 was in Italy. And did that come from—I had this nightmare that somehow in Davos, all of us who went there, got it. And then we all left and spread it.

The only good news from that is it might have just killed the elite but—so I just don’t know. Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m not sure if it helps to guess.

Industrial companies have so far taken a lighter hit in financial markets, but coronavirus has cropped up the most on their calls of any sector, per Quartz’s analysis.

Joel Wine, CFO of transportation services company Matson, Inc., on Feb. 25:

We expect COVID-19 to negatively impact a number of our businesses, and we estimate the financial impact to operating income and EBITDA to be approximately $15 million.

Sy Feng Chong, CEO of engineering group Singapore Technologies Engineering, on Feb. 24:

Around half of the COVID-19 impact will be felt at our aerospace sector.

Contributing factors include customer demand reduction, supply chain, and workforce redistribution. For example, if airlines continue to scale back the flight schedule, it will affect our aerospace MRO business as more airlines—airline customers adjust or delay maintenance cycle.

Not every company is losing value because of the virus.

Shares of Zoom, the video-conferencing platform, are up more than 50% so far this year, on what appears to partly be virus-induced demand for its services. “Almost everybody is calling us, given the coronavirus,” Zoom CEO Eric Yuan told CNBC earlier this month. “Our usage is very, very high since the last month, the last week. Almost every day, that’s a record usage.”

But for every Zoom that’s apparently profiting, many more companies will take at least a short-term hit.

These discussions between analysts and execs show just how broadly coronavirus has already touched the global economy, and the depth of the uncertainty over how long its effects will linger. One thing’s for sure: On corporate conference calls, coronavirus will keep spreading.

Who controls the world?  Control flows through the global economy

“When the crisis came, the serious limitations of existing economic and financial models immediately became apparent.”

“There is also a strong belief, which I share, that bad or oversimplistic and overconfident economics helped create the crisis.”

00:34 Now, you’ve probably all heard of similar criticism coming from people who are skeptical of capitalism. But this is different.

This is coming from the heart of finance. The first quote is from Jean-Claude Trichet when he was governor of the European Central Bank.

The second quote is from the head of the U.K. Financial Services Authority.

Are these people implying that we don’t understand the economic systems that drive our modern societies? It gets worse.

“We spend billions of dollars trying to understand the origins of the universe while we still don’t understand the conditions for a stable society, a functioning economy, or peace.”

TED shared this link

How power winds up in the hands of a few — and leaves us all vulnerable:|By James B. Glattfelder
What’s happening here? How can this be possible? Do we really understand more about the fabric of reality than we do about the fabric which emerges from our human interactions?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. But there’s an intriguing solution which is coming from what is known as the science of complexity.

To explain what this means and what this thing is, please let me quickly take a couple of steps back.

I ended up in physics by accident. It was a random encounter when I was young, and since then, I’ve often wondered about the amazing success of physics in describing the reality we wake up in every day. In a nutshell, you can think of physics as follows.

So you take a chunk of reality you want to understand and you translate it into mathematics. You encode it into equations. Then predictions can be made and tested.

We’re actually really lucky that this works, because no one really knows why the thoughts in our heads should actually relate to the fundamental workings of the universe.

Despite the success, physics has its limits. As Dirk Helbing pointed out in the last quote, we don’t really understand the complexity that relates to us, that surrounds us.

This paradox is what got me interested in complex systems. So these are systems which are made up of many interconnected or interacting parts: swarms of birds or fish, ant colonies, ecosystems, brains, financial markets. These are just a few examples. Interestingly, complex systems are very hard to map into mathematical equations, so the usual physics approach doesn’t really work here.

What do we know about complex systems?

It turns out that what looks like complex behavior from the outside is actually the result of a few simple rules of interaction.

This means you can forget about the equations and just start to understand the system by looking at the interactions.

And it gets even better, because most complex systems have this amazing property called emergence. So this means that the system as a whole suddenly starts to show a behavior which cannot be understood or predicted by looking at the components of the system.

So the whole is literally more than the sum of its parts. And all of this also means that you can forget about the individual parts of the system, how complex they are. So if it’s a cell or a termite or a bird, you just focus on the rules of interaction.

As a result, networks are ideal representations of complex systems.

The nodes in the network are the system’s components and the links are given by the interactions. So what equations are for physics, complex networks are for the study of complex systems.

This approach has been very successfully applied to many complex systems in physics, biology, computer science, the social sciences, but what about economics? Where are economic networks?

This is a surprising and prominent gap in the literature. The study we published last year called The Network of Global Corporate Control was the first extensive analysis of economic networks. The study went viral on the Internet and it attracted a lot of attention from the international media. This is quite remarkable, because, again, why did no one look at this before? Similar data has been around for quite some time.

What we looked at in detail was ownership networks. So here the nodes are companies, people, governments, foundations, etc. And the links represent the shareholding relations, so Shareholder A has x percent of the shares in Company B.

And we also assign a value to the company given by the operating revenue. So ownership networks reveal the patterns of shareholding relations. In this little example, you can see a few financial institutions with some of the many links highlighted.

Now you may think that no one’s looked at this before because ownership networks are really, really boring to study. Well, as ownership is related to control, as I shall explain later, looking at ownership networks actually can give you answers to questions like, who are the key players? How are they organized? Are they isolated? Are they interconnected? And what is the overall distribution of control? In other words, who controls the world? I think this is an interesting question.

And it has implications for systemic risk. This is a measure of how vulnerable a system is overall. A high degree of interconnectivity can be bad for stability, because then the stress can spread through the system like an epidemic.

 Scientists have sometimes criticized economists who believe ideas and concepts are more important than empirical data, because a foundational guideline in science is: Let the data speak. Okay. Let’s do that.

So we started with a database containing 13 million ownership relations from 2007.

This is a lot of data, and because we wanted to find out who rules the world, we decided to focus on transnational corporations, or TNCs for short.

These are companies that operate in more than one country, and we found 43,000 transnational corporations. (That’s a lot of interactions)

In the next step, we built the network around these companies, so we took all the TNCs’ shareholders, and the shareholders’ shareholders, etc., all the way upstream, and we did the same downstream, and ended up with a network containing 600,000 nodes and one million links. This is the TNC network which we analyzed.

And it turns out to be structured as follows. So you have a periphery and a center which contains about 75 percent of all the players, and in the center there’s this tiny but dominant core which is made up of highly interconnected companies.

To give you a better picture, think about a metropolitan area. So you have the suburbs and the periphery, you have a center like a financial district, then the core will be something like the tallest high rise building in the center. And we already see signs of organization going on here. Thirty-six percent of the TNCs are in the core only, but they make up 95 percent of the total operating revenue of all TNCs.

So now we analyzed the structure, so how does this relate to the control? Well, ownership gives voting rights to shareholders. This is the normal notion of control.

And there are different models which allow you to compute the control you get from ownership. If you have more than 50 percent of the shares in a company, you get control, but usually it depends on the relative distribution of shares. And the network really matters.

About 10 years ago, Mr. Tronchetti Provera had ownership and control in a small company, which had ownership and control in a bigger company. You get the idea. This ended up giving him control in Telecom Italia with a leverage of 26.

So this means that, with each euro he invested, he was able to move 26 euros of market value through the chain of ownership relations.

09:57 Now what we actually computed in our study was the control over the TNCs’ value. This allowed us to assign a degree of influence to each shareholder. This is very much in the sense of Max Weber’s idea of potential power, which is the probability of imposing one’s own will despite the opposition of others.

If you want to compute the flow in an ownership network, this is what you have to do. It’s actually not that hard to understand. Let me explain by giving you this analogy. So think about water flowing in pipes where the pipes have different thickness. So similarly, the control is flowing in the ownership networks and is accumulating at the nodes.

So what did we find after computing all this network control? Well, it turns out that the 737 top shareholders have the potential to collectively control 80 percent of the TNCs’ value.

Now remember, we started out with 600,000 nodes, so these 737 top players make up a bit more than 0.1 percent. They’re mostly financial institutions in the U.S. and the U.K. And it gets even more extreme.

There are 146 top players in the core, and they together have the potential to collectively control 40 percent of the TNCs’ value.

What should you take home from all of this? Well, the high degree of control you saw is very extreme by any standard. The high degree of interconnectivity of the top players in the core could pose a significant systemic risk to the global economy and we could easily reproduce the TNC network with a few simple rules.

This means that its structure is probably the result of self-organization. It’s an emergent property which depends on the rules of interaction in the system, so it’s probably not the result of a top-down approach like a global conspiracy. (Why Not? If almost all these financial institutions are located in the USA and England?  Where Capital is concentrated and politically acted upon?)

Our study “is an impression of the moon’s surface. It’s not a street map.” So you should take the exact numbers in our study with a grain of salt, yet it “gave us a tantalizing glimpse of a brave new world of finance.”

We hope to have opened the door for more such research in this direction, so the remaining unknown terrain will be charted in the future. And this is slowly starting.

We’re seeing the emergence of long-term and highly-funded programs which aim at understanding our networked world from a complexity point of view. But this journey has only just begun, so we will have to wait before we see the first results. (Like how to predict a financial crisis?)

 Now there is still a big problem, in my opinion. Ideas relating to finance, economics, politics, society, are very often tainted by people’s personal ideologies.

I really hope that this complexity perspective allows for some common ground to be found. It would be really great if it has the power to help end the gridlock created by conflicting ideas, which appears to be paralyzing our globalized world.

Reality is so complex, we need to move away from dogma. But this is just my own personal ideology.

Note: Go a little deeper in the core and you discover a dozen of old money families that made their wealth in 1840 in the USA and England during the industrial revolution.

The World in 2025: 8 Predictions for the Next 10 Years

By  ON May 11, 2015

In 2025, in accordance with Moore’s Law, (lay it all on this law in matter of technology), we’ll see an acceleration in the rate of change as we move closer to a world of true abundance.  (Behavioral change?)

Here are eight areas where we’ll see extraordinary transformation in the next decade:

1. A $1,000 Human Brain

In 2025, $1,000 should buy you a computer able to calculate at 10^16 cycles per second (10,000 trillion cycles per second), the equivalent processing speed of the human brain.

2. A Trillion-Sensor Economy

The Internet of Everything describes the networked connections between devices, people, processes and data.

By 2025, the IoE will exceed 100 billion connected devices, each with a dozen or more sensors collecting data.

This will lead to a trillion-sensor economy driving a data revolution beyond our imagination.

Cisco’s recent report estimates the IoE will generate $19 trillion of newly created value.

(I doubt NSA will be pleased: Not many analysts to process all this massive collection of data. Pending the huge data center in Utah was planned for that many sensors)

3. Perfect Knowledge

We’re heading towards a world of perfect knowledge.

With a trillion sensors gathering data everywhere (autonomous cars, satellite systems, drones, wearables, cameras), you’ll be able to know anything you want, anytime, anywhere, and query that data for answers and insights.

(A vast difference between retrieving facts and comprehending the mechanism of any knowledge based system)

4. 8 Billion Hyper-Connected People

Facebook (, SpaceX, Google (Project Loon), Qualcomm and Virgin (OneWeb) are planning to provide global connectivity to every human on Earth at speeds exceeding one megabit per second. (People will prefer to subscribe to Chinese platforms in order to avoid spying by NSA on personal communication)

We will grow from three to eight billion connected humans, adding five billion new consumers into the global economy.

They represent tens of trillions of new dollars flowing into the global economy. And they are not coming online like we did 20 years ago with a 9600 modem on AOL.

They’re coming online with a 1 Mbps connection and access to the world’s information on Google, cloud 3D printing, Amazon Web Services, artificial intelligence with Watson, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, and more.

(How this progress will save the billion humans suffering from malnutrition and famine?)

5. Disruption of Healthcare

Existing healthcare institutions will be crushed as new business models with better and more efficient care emerge.

Thousands of startups, as well as today’s data giants (Google, Apple, Microsoft, SAP, IBM, etc.) will all enter this lucrative $3.8 trillion healthcare industry with new business models that dematerialize, demonetize and democratize today’s bureaucratic and inefficient system.

Biometric sensing (wearables) and AI will make each of us the CEOs of our own health.

Large-scale genomic sequencing and machine learning will allow us to understand the root cause of cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative disease and what to do about it. Robotic surgeons can carry out an autonomous surgical procedure perfectly (every time) for pennies on the dollar.

Each of us will be able to regrow a heart, liver, lung or kidney when we need it, instead of waiting for the donor to die.

(And the cost? How many will still be able to afford it as monthly retirement shrinks, according to  Moore’s law?)

6. Augmented and Virtual Reality

Billions of dollars invested by Facebook (Oculus), Google (Magic Leap), Microsoft (Hololens), Sony, Qualcomm, HTC and others will lead to a new generation of displays and user interfaces.

The screen as we know it — on your phone, your computer and your TV — will disappear and be replaced by eyewear.

Not the geeky Google Glass, but stylish equivalents to what the well-dressed fashionistas are wearing today.

The result will be a massive disruption in a number of industries ranging from consumer retail, to real estate, education, travel, entertainment, and the fundamental ways we operate as humans.

7. Early Days of JARVIS

Artificial intelligence research will make strides in the next decade. If you think Siri is useful now, the next decade’s generation of Siri will be much more like JARVIS from Iron Man, with expanded capabilities to understand and answer.

Companies like IBM Watson, DeepMind and Vicarious continue to hunker down and develop next-generation AI systems.

In a decade, it will be normal for you to give your AI access to listen to all of your conversations, read your emails and scan your biometric data because the upside and convenience will be so immense.

8. Blockchain

If you haven’t heard of the blockchain, I highly recommend you read up on it.

You might have heard of bitcoin, which is the decentralized (global), democratized, highly secure cryptocurrency based on the blockchain.

But the real innovation is the blockchain itself, a protocol that allows for secure, direct (without a middleman), digital transfers of value and assets (think money, contracts, stocks, IP). Investors like Marc Andreesen have poured tens of millions into the development and believe this is as important of an opportunity as the creation of the Internet itself.

(The Intelligence agencies will outpace all these cryptocurrency  programs)

Bottom Line: We Live in the Most Exciting Time Ever

We are living toward incredible times where the only constant is change, and the rate of change is increasing.

Image Credit:


Has the time come to do Epic Shit? Permaculture, Humanure, Sober Happiness

What would you do if you were in charge with protecting thousand of acres of woodland from fire? Like these recurring wild-fire in Australia, California, Spain, Portugal…?

 posted on May 20, 2010 in Activism

The Methane Midden: Epic Shit & Jean Pain Composting

Jean Pain was a visionary in the Provence region of  France during the 1970′s.

He was charged with protecting over a thousand of acres of woodland from fire, but his quick and able mind, love of life long learning, and a deep concern for the future of our Earth led him to accomplish something much more indeed.

Jean Pain spent a decade working through the techniques of a fantastic system to use the ever renewable waste brush from his woods into life-giving humus.

And Jean took it to an entirely new level – he began to heat water in his compost piles, enough that he heated greenhouses and his own home. He also began studying up on methane production and he put a batch “methane digester” into his piles to use the “waste” heat from the bio-reactions to provide the ideal environment for methane production.

Before he died, his techniques had reached a level that he was able to produce methane and hot water for up to 18 months – enough for two winters – while also powering his truck, cooking, and producing electricity with the methane gas.

And No special machines, just a deep understanding of Permaculture before the word was even coined.  Partner with Nature to meet your needs.

Jean Pain was a visionary, but his techniques, if anything, are too simple.  They are not sexy at all.

Try writing for a grant to heat water with rotting garbage while going up against a Solar Hot Water array or a wind turbine, let alone algal bio-diesel or whatever comes next.

Compost heat doesn’t create jobs; doesn’t need research studies and cannot be outsourced so it has no place in the Global Economy.

Know what?  Neither do I .  Jean Pain is a hero of mine for doing something that no one cared about because he knew it was just so very right and would be necessary to help save us from ourselves.  I read an awesome quote this week that pushed me over.

“The time has come to do Epic Shit.” Larry Santoyo, Permaculturist

Last week I scored a dump truck load of VERY green chipped mulch.  The rest is now history.

This project is going from drawing board to reality far quicker than I typically work, in fact the next step is typically being formulated as I am driving the wheelbarrow on the step I am currently on.  I knew I was going to do it at my home – that meant keeping it tight on space, visually acceptable, and must fit into the current plan.

Finally, it was to be a temporary structure – 6 months at most.  So I ended up with a 12×10 foot print using straw bales to contain the mulch. Why Straw?

It has structural rigidity, is a great insulator, but also breathes.  The 16″ thick bales would contain the pile into tight angular dimensions and keep the dogs and kids from knocking the pile down.  The insulation would help me get away with only a 2′ thick compost layer around rather than the 3′ I would have preferred if I had more space and material.

The following with be a pictorial journey through the afternoon today – with the help of my friend Kevin, we completed this in about 4 hours.

First I prepped the ground by removing a perennial bed that had succumbed to quack grass.  I chopped the ground up with a mattock as much because the quack needed punishing, but also because a mattock is possibly my favorite tool to use of all time.   Then leveled it with some old wood chips to make it look pretty.

10×12 – in the background you can see the chips soaking in their bins.

Next up was to lay down some temporary weed barrier for the quack, and start building the sides.  Gods do I love to build with straw – so fast!

Bales are on end to save space and stitched together with 2′ pieces of rebar for some rigidity.

Next up was to throw some mulch down to hold the cardboard pallet slips down, and then put the two steel 55 gallon drums in place.  The drums will act as the batch digesters.

Now the Methane Midden is really taking shape – Woot!

With the digesters in place, it was time to put in the heat exchanger.  Compost will heat up ALOT.  The material for this project was at 140 degrees 3 days ago before we broke down the pile to soak it.  Methane production occurs between 85 and about 103 degree.  Over about 105 the bacteria start to die off, 101 is about peak production.

Jean Pain figured out that you needed to cool the digerster tanks, so he pumped water through a hose wrapped around the tanks.

So I bought 240′ to augment the one hose I could spare.  After cooling the tanks, the hose is then laid out throughout the pile to absorb some of the heat from the composting, so the exit water is up to pile temp, typically 130-150 degrees!

290′ of hose wrapping the two barrels, then we threw in 8″ of soaked mulch and laid on our first row of heat exchanger.

The hose is essential to pull the heat from the pile, and it takes a 60′ hose laid out like this to make one lap of the composting layout.

I did absolutely no math on this point, the hoses come in 60′ chunks and we laid them out to make one fit per layer.

I figured 6-8″ between layers should be enough to both heat the water in the hoses, but not too little that the water pulls so much heat that the bio-reaction is slowed.  Time will tell is my intuition was off.

Here we are about 75% done, laying the fourth and final “rung” of heat exchanger:

Isn’t it GORGEOUS?! This project just feels so right!

That is about as far as we got today.  I ran out of mulch about half way through the next layer.  I will finish the pile alternating leaves and grass clippings.  Would like it to be mounded over the top of the digesters about 8″ and will then cap the entire pile with either straw or mulch for insulation and to prevent evaporation.

Some items that may not be evident in the photos.  The heat exchanger is set up counterflow.  That means that the coldest water enters at the top of the barrels, which is where the slurry should be warmest, and then runs through the 290′ of hose around the digesters.

At that point it is at the bottom of the pile, at which point it climbs 4 “rungs” of 60′ hose laid out about every 8″ through the pile.  Total hose length is 530′  for no reason other than that was what it took to do the above and “make it look right” – no fancy math here, just intuition.

Still have some very serious issues to overcome on how to store the methane, and some minor ones on plumbing the tubing.  I am good friends with the head of our village’s waste treatment plant and he is keen to see this project work.  Had him over for a beer as I put the last of the mulch on, we have some ideas that appear workable.

We do have some time – it will take about a week for the pile to hit peak temp and a few more days to heat the water in the drums.  Then we add the slurry, plumb in some tubing to take away the methane, start taking temp readings, and put up the “No Smoking!” signs.

“The time has come to do Epic Shit!”

Note: I watched a documentary on a French TV channel on this pragmatic philosophy of “Sober Happiness“.

There is this 75-year-old French/Algerian “peasant/philosopher Pierre Rabih. This guy has been living in one of the harshest land in France, the Ardesh.

At the age of 25, he married the French Michelle and purchased a run down cottage in this remote area of France. For 15 years, this couple raised their children from the produce of the harsh land that they transformed into a green field. The neighboring community would not come to aid on the premises of not encouraging this family to live under this “survival environment

In the last decade,  Pierre Rabih has been a frequent host on TV interviews, seminars and talk shows exposing his philosophy.

Pierre Rabih has also his own one-week practical sessions for people flocking from around the world to learn how to live this Sober Happiness concept.

The basic idea is that earth cannot sustain increased production in order to satisfy people who want to enjoy this consumerism habit. What is needed is for people to learn how to live soberly and feel happy satisfying their daily needs.

If everyone on this planet wants to live the life-style of the developed nations elite classes, billion will die of famine and live in misery.

Who won the Recession? Argument in Foreign Policy

One might think that a crisis brought on by rapacious, unregulated capitalism would have changed a few minds about the fundamental nature of the global economy.
There is no lack of anti-capitalist sentiment in the world today, particularly as a crisis brought on by the system’s worst excesses continues to ravage the global economy.

SLAVOJ ZIZEK published on November his argument in Foreign Policy under “How the Left lost the argument” of Capitalism

See Stephen Galloway on how Hollywood won the recession. 

“One would be wrong.

If anything, we are witnessing an overload of critiques of the horrors of capitalism: Books, newspaper investigations, and TV reports abound, telling us of companies ruthlessly polluting our environment, corrupted bankers who continue to get fat bonuses while their banks are bailed out by taxpayer money, and sweatshops where children work overtime.

Yet, no matter how grievous the abuse or how indicative of a larger, more systemic failure, there’s a limit to how far these critiques go. The goal is invariably to democratize capitalism in the name of fighting excesses and to extend democratic control of the economy through the pressure of more media scrutiny, parliamentary inquiries, harsher laws, and honest police investigations.

What is never questioned is the bourgeois state of law upon which modern capitalism depends. This remains the sacred cow that even the most radical critics from the likes of Occupy Wall Street and the World Social Forum dare not touch.

It’s no wonder how the optimistic leftist expectations felt:  the ongoing crisis would be a sobering moment — the awakening from a dream — turned out to be dangerously shortsighted.

The year 2011 was indeed one of dreaming dangerously, of the revival of radical emancipatory politics all around the world. A year later, every day brings new proof of how fragile and inconsistent the awakening actually was.

The enthusiasm of the Arab Spring is mired in compromises and religious fundamentalism; Occupy is losing momentum to such an extent that the police cleansing of New York’s Zuccotti Park even seemed like a blessing in disguise.

It’s the same story around the world: Nepal’s Maoists seem outmaneuvered by the reactionary royalist forces; Venezuela’s “Bolivarian” experiment is regressing further and further into caudillo-run populism; and even the most hopeful sign, Greece’s anti-austerity movement, has lost energy after the electoral defeat of the leftist Syriza party.

It now seems that the primary political effect of the economic crisis was not the rise of the radical left, but of racist populism, more wars, more poverty in the poorest Third World countries, and widening divisions between rich and poor.

For all that crises shatter people out of their complacency and make them question the fundamentals of their lives, the first spontaneous reaction is not revolution but panic, which leads to a return to basics: food and shelter. The core premises of the ruling ideology are not put into doubt. They are even more violently asserted.

Could we in fact be seeing the conditions for the further radicalization of capitalism? German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk once told me that, if there is a person alive to whom they will build monuments 100 years from now, it is Lee Kuan Yew, the Singaporean leader who did more than anyone else to promote and implement the marriage of capitalism and authoritarianism — an arrangement he euphemistically referred to as “Asian values.” The virus of this authoritarian capitalism is slowly but surely spreading around the globe, nowhere more so than China.

Faced with today’s explosion of capitalism in China, analysts often ask when political democracy as the “natural” political accompaniment of capitalism will enforce itself. But what if the promised democratization never arrives?

What if China’s authoritarian capitalism is not a stop on the road to further democratization, but the end state toward which the rest of the world is headed?

Leon Trotsky once characterized tsarist Russia as “the vicious combination of the Asian knout [whip] and the European stock market,” but the description applies even better to today’s China. In the Chinese iteration, the combination may prove to be a more stable one than the democratic capitalist model we have come to see as natural.

The main victim of the ongoing crisis is thus not capitalism, which appears to be evolving into an even more pervasive and pernicious form, but democracy — not to mention the left, whose inability to offer a viable global alternative has again been rendered visible to all.

It was the left that was effectively caught with its pants down. It is almost as if this crisis were staged to demonstrate that the only solution to a failure of capitalism is more capitalism.

See Daniel Altman on how Nouriel Roubini won the recession. 




January 2023

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