It is Obvious

Chris Rick has got altogether too much to say

Head for the hills – same route as last time

Posted by chrisrick13 on June 7, 2018

It is obvious: the sun will rise tomorrow

With poor provenance I read a paper that concluded that just 5% of the population disappearing would cause a collapse of our society in a very short time.

Failure of card processing last week caused a good deal of chaos.  That would be one of the key events.  Crucial systems collapse and there aren’t the people there to fix them.  Or they are there but can’t get to the processing centre because the trains are not running because drivers are missing or the petrol station has no fuel because the tanker driver is not available.

The interactions and dependencies roll on but it does show how vulnerable our society is.  Take out a small amount and society collapses.

There is nobody alive knows how to make a pencil or has the skills.  It is all done by large machines.  If the machine breaks down then there are no more pencils.  Same for a lot of other (important) stuff.

The TSB had similar problems as it moved to its new owner’s computer systems.  The train timetable changes created a lot of problems.  Both of those are still not fixed.

Suppose that your bank with all your money (bits and bytes actually), stopped responding to any of your attempted communication and denied you access to that money.  Suppose that every other institution of government is so busy that nobody cares about any of your bleating.  The phrase ‘paper millionaire’ takes on a new relevance and meaning.

This is possibly the main reason that our banks cannot be allowed to fail.  All credit and debit cards suddenly stop working.  Not just a percentage over a few hours but all of them for many days.  The banks know this and just carry on doing what they want to do knowing that government and everyone else is powerless.  How many bankers are in jail for what they did?  Many should be.  At the time of the credit crunch the banks promised the government over the weekend that unless they threw them lots of money then no cash machine would work on Monday and all bank branches would be closed.

Since then, nothing that will stop this happening again and stop the threat being repeated.

With zero interest rates (and many negative) and lots of QE in place (never to be repaid) there is nowhere to run to if there is another problem…and there will be.

I can see a few triggers.  Italy is one big trigger.  It needs different handling to Greece.  Not sure that it will get it.  Have you noticed that oil prices are high?  The coming sale of Aramco is the reason for that.  Need oil price high for Saudi Arabia to get a good price.  Hold on a moment though.  Why does Saudi Arabia need to sell?  What happens afterwards.  Have you noticed that prices leap up rapidly in response to oil increases.  Then only slowly go down when oil goes down in price.  “We buy our oil many months ahead at the prevailing rate.”  We (I) am not stupid – just impotent.

There are others but I have to mention Brexit – the main reason I don’t write much at the moment.  The dire predictions about exit have not materialised.  The optimistic outlook for Brexit is not proven.  We do not know what the economic effects will be.  My view is there will be huge turmoil and then very quickly a return to pretty much as it was before with some different mechanisms for trade and some changes in trading partner ratios.  I wonder if Trump will view a tariff on UK steel differently to EU steel and if we can do something in agile fashion to avoid it and take away trade from the EU?

Any way you look at it there is trouble ahead.  If I could just nail the date then I would be…a paper millionaire.

Have you got some gold in your investments?  Somewhere safe and I mean safe from the government grabbing it.  Have you got some cash you can lay your hands on?  Folding money.  If the banks do close their branches and cash machine then for a short while cash will be king.  Maybe long enough to fill your back bedroom with cans of beans!

It is obvious: the sun will rise tomorrow…probably

2 Responses to “Head for the hills – same route as last time”

  1. Mark said

    Can you share a link to the article which said 5% disappearing would cause societal collapse? Be interesting to see.
    Forgive me, but it sounds ridiculous. Which 5%?
    If every trained medical professional vanished (probably less than 5%), we’re screwed.
    But if everyone earning under $1/day disappeared (certainly much, much more than 5%), society wouldn’t even blink.
    TSB – catastrophe. Train timetables – disaster. Neither impacted on me, or on anyone I know, more than minimally.
    If you think banks are the rulers of the multiverse, buy shares in them.
    The sun will rise tomorrow.
    I won’t waste my paper money by adding to banks profits by buying precious metal. Nor fill my spare room with beans.
    And neither will you.
    Looking forward to an interesting journey on Thursday.

    • Mark said

      Given this more thought…

      The basic premise is that losing ‘just 5%’ of the population would cause collapse, and that is a presented as a surprising fact.
      Hence 3.3 million people in the UK (source ONS).
      Normal death rates are around 1,400/day, or 511,000/year (ONS).

      Does your paper assume the 5% cease to exist? Or drop dead? Or die of an infectious disease? That has a profound effect on the clean-up effort.

      Let’s assume a middle course of drop dead of a non-infectious disease. That sounds like a lot of corpses to deal with. 17,000 in the London Borough of Ealing, for example. But Ealing make 170,000 rubbish/collections every week, so they could probably cope, albeit with some loss of ‘dignity’ for the dead.

      The death industry couldn’t cope, so either bury you own dead in the back garden, or mass graves. We’re talking on average 1 household in 10 losing a member.

      Could workplaces continue to operate if 1 person in 20 vanished? My opinion would be yes, no problem. Most would barely notice. Hospitals would, but then again there are suddenly 5% fewer patients.

      Sounds to me like society wouldn’t collapse.

      I look forward to reading the paper. Hopefully it has a conduit for feedback.

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