June 22, 2013
Double, double toil and trouble. Fire burn, and cauldron bubble …
Macbeth Act 4, scene 1, 10–11
Over the last week’s readings of economic news, I noticed that: 1) Interbank funding between the countries of the Eurozone has dropped to the same rate it was at when the Euro was launched, fifteen years ago, according to ECB figures. 2) The SHIBOR (China’s version of the LIBOR) shot up suddenly, last week, causing fears that, as its growth slows and its own bubbles burst, China may be heading toward a credit freeze, similar to what happened to the LIBOR in 2008 – with similar repercussions in markets around the world. 3) Even with signs the US economy is growing, stock markets around the world dropped precipitously at the Fed’s announcement, on Wednesday, that it expected to begin tapering off on its QE3 bond buying by the end of the year. (Though, to be fair, Mr. Bernanke did couch the announcement in the obligatory, “Good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise” terms.)
What all of this means, I am not qualified to say, but it seems to be freaking out a goodly number of folks in economic circles. http://business.financialpost.com/2013/06/21/world-faces-perfect-storm-as-liquidity-dries-up/
Here in the US, with the housing market having heated up fairly precipitously over the last year – much of it from investors buying up higher end foreclosed homes – home prices have risen, mortgage rates are increasing at a time when wages are not keeping up, banks are increasing foreclosures on homes that had previously been in limbo during the robo-signing scandal and mortgage-backed securities – including, lately, jumbo mortgage-backed securities – are making a comeback.
Again, I don’t know what this means, but looking at it all together, it seems suspiciously like the financial world is hurrying toward the same stupid mess it got itself into only five years ago. I hope I’m wrong.
In the meantime, here at home, my own small caldron of woes bubbles away. The same rabbits (I’m assuming) that ate my first bunch of transplanted peppers and tomatoes also ate most of the second bunch. So I tried a third transplanting, the other day, though the three tomato plants and one pepper plant can hardly be called a bunch. This time, I planted them in the earth boxes and set them next to the side porch where they would get full sun. So far, the rabbits haven’t found them and they are looking quite healthy.
With the goodly amount of rain we’ve gotten over the last two months, the grass keeps overtaking my backyard garden. And, now that summer has arrived – with temperatures in the low to mid nineties and humidity still around 50% – I can tackle it only for about an hour a day in the early mornings. Not enough, so far, to diminish its rampant enthusiasm for growth.
As a result, while the corn, beans, onions and potatoes have flourished, the squash, melons and cucumbers have not. The weather is drying out now, with the onset of summer, so perhaps I can still get ahead of the grass in time for the cucurbits to play catch-up. I hope I’m right.
The jobless young neighbor, who had wanted to earn some money by painting my side porch, never showed up. I suppose I’ll need to get out there and tackle it myself, this fall. Nor have I been able to reach the roofer who was going to work with me on tackling the re-roofing in stages. Jobs have picked up here in Springfield over the last year. Perhaps these absences mean my neighbors have been able to find more permanent jobs. I hope that’s so.
And it seems to me, this is where most of the ninety-nine percent of the world still find ourselves these days – perched precariously on the cusp between signs of growth and signs of grass, hoping if we fall off that cusp, it’s on the one side rather than the other.
It is the way of declining empires, I suppose, and of the globalized world it has spawned. For, truth be told, the one percent who run the Empire and its globalized world perch atop that same cusp. In their hurry to reap the harvest for themselves, they have not tended the grass. More of their garden disappears every day.
Double, double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble … The witches of climate change, diminishing resources and financial instability stir their brew as we all wait to learn Macbeth’s fate