Monday, May 28, 2012

Daily Briefing for Monday, May 28, 2012

Oak Trees, Bank Runs, Inappropriate Words, and Immigrant Tsunamis

I recently received some really good coupons from Northern Tool, and so on Saturday I went to their store to see if anything they had in stock would interest me.  This time of year in Texas, you tend to park anywhere you can find shade, and so I pulled next to a massive live oak next to the parking lot.

When I got back into the truck, I noticed a large plaque next to the tree.  Apparently, this particular tree was over five feet in diameter and thus was estimated to be over 700 years old.  The plaque went on to recount the various world and Texas history events during which the tree would have been alive.  As I sat there and read the narrative, it dawned on me that I was one of many people over the 700 year period who likely sought shade from this tree.

We've seen a lot in 700 years.  Hell, we've seen a lot in the last 100 years.  A global pandemic (1918), two world wars, two financial depressions, the mass production of hand held communication devices enabling me to send pictures of our dogs roaming the countryside to Kendel several thousand miles away at nearly the speed of light, the invention of airplanes and monster trucks, and the discovery for cures to all sorts of diseases plaguing the earth for centuries - we've seen and accomplished a lot. 

It reminded me of the fact that regardless of whatever plagues our country in the coming months and years, we have consistently shown that we will bounce back.  Given that, should we bother to prepare at all?

The tea leaves would tell you the answer to that question is an unequivocal "yes."  Here's a recap on the European financial front:

CNBC's Jim Cramer: "I'm predicting bank runs in Spain and Italy in the next few weeks. Without coordinated policy there will be financial anarchy."

The UK prepares for a "collapse of the euro" (their words, not mine): by giving immigrants "a really hostile reception" (again, their words and not mine) as discussed here and here.

The New York Times, which never fabricates stories (Jayson Blair), reported late last week about the sharp increase in bank runs and currency conversions out of the Euro and into the Pound and other currencies

Permabear Marc Faber: 100% chance of global recession.

Lloyds of London is "preparing for euro collapse."

From the Financial Times: "Greece’s public finances could collapse as early as next month, leaving salaries and pensions unpaid."

Meanwhile, Iran continues to play with its Fatwa Chemistry Set, whipping up a batch of enriched uranium large enough to put the snap, crackle and pop into five nukes.  Many, however, speculate our beef with Iran has less to do with their science project and everything to do with their decision to begin accepting any form of currency for its oil - instead of the global standard use of the U.S. dollar for oil trades (a move away from the U.S. dollar in oil trades would significantly weaken the dollar; some believe it would be catastrophic.)

Syria continues to resemble Hogan's Alley.  This past weekend, over 90 civilians were killed, including 30 children, in that country's ongoing resolution.  The number of UN-backed observers there grows geometrically, despite a large number of Americans who are opposed to our troops being involved in such an operation.

Back here in America, the U6 unemployment rate remains stuck at 14.5%.   The folks at ZeroHedge put together this profanity-peppered tirade about the growth in the defense budget and how it's affecting our debt and thus our future.  And in case you thought you were safe reading this blog, check out the list of words that DHS would prefer you not use in an email or read on line:

So what are we to do with all of this?  Be like that oak tree.

You don't get to be a 700 year oak tree without doing a few things right.  Here's what we can learn from it:

  1. Develop deep roots.  Anchor yourselves.  And by that I mean, get your affairs in order.  Live within your means.  Build meaningful relationships.  Develop and grow your spiritual life. 
  2. Always stay green.  The live oak tree is an evergreen, shedding its leaves in the spring while simultaneously putting out new ones.  Stay alive.  Stay healthy.  Get in good physical shape.  Get your diet in order.  Never stop learning new things - new skills, new ideas, new interests.
  3. Help others when you can.  When you can provide shade in the heat, people tend to keep you around.  Provide shade to others needing your time and expertise.
Crises come and go.  Be the live oak that outlives them all.

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