Saturday 4 August 2012

It Takes A Worried Man To Sing A Worried Song

The advantage of looking at geophysics on the web is that the data is relatively reliable.  It is the interpretations and predictions you need to watch for, but even those tend to be cautious.  The volcanoes, earthquakes and actual weather events have their own uncertainties for the future but you know what you have in the present.

Currently, the volcano scene looks relatively quiet; Ijen in East Java is on high alert and may become livelier but may not.  The earthquakes occurring seem to be a little different from the usual patterns and the run close to Puerto Rico was a worry, but this often occurs without a big one hitting hard in urbanised areas.

In the Atlantic area, though, it is looking as though the hurricane season may become more active.  A depression has been over The Bahamas but Tropical Storm Ernesto is on its way towards Jamaica and somewhere into The Gulf. 

How big or bad it will become will emerge in the next couple of days or so.  On the other side of the Atlantic Tropical Storm Florence is also on its way west at present following in the path of Ernesto.  There have been damaging typhoons already in the Pacific and China Seas.

But in the USA the weather has turned nasty causing large areas to be declared as disaster areas with drought, storms and other problems impacting on crops and the general economies.  This will be costly and are not the sort of thing politicians want in election years.  The bad news could get worse.

But when we turn to the economics, something that you might expect humans to be able to deal with and influence the way things are done and the consequences we are in a tunnel without apparently any exits.  We do not know clearly why or how we got there nor how to get out nor in which direction to go.

The latest major concern, substantially ignored by the main media because it is difficult to understand is the bond markets.  Here the data is far from reliable, we think we know the patterns but they can change rapidly without warning and we have theories to address the issues which compared with our theories in geophysics amount to wishful thinking and voodoo practices.

The politicians roam around from conferences to the media and back again assuring us that they will be able to come up with effective political solutions if only the banks and the public will behave and do what they are asked.  The economists look in their toolboxes and discover their tools are the wrong ones and do not fit.

While this is going on a variety of interested parties and experts are proclaiming their own views.  As very many of these are self serving, based on data which is old, related to past events in different circumstances and plagued by a reliance on equations which no longer have a solution, it is difficult to understand or predict.

Amongst all this is the suggestion that with all the money flushed into the systems and all the governments and their major agencies buying each others bonds the system is reaching break point.  As these bonds also have been used for bolstering the work of bust banks there are very serious problems here.

Add to that all the pension schemes relying on such bonds as a critical basis for their existence.  Then there are the raft of others who have bought into them, notably in many countries, local authorities using them as reserves.

As an extra, if the bond markets do go into free fall, all the low interest rate policies, forced on economies to stimulate them will fail and the rates could move up very sharply.  As many of the “investments” made from this money are far from that and could become money drains in the near future it does not look good.

So which are the best guesses to follow?  Would you bet on the markets or the geophysics? 

Above is a statue from the ancient Hittite Empire, where did they get to?  And why is he looking puzzled?

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