The days are short and dark. Over at Agora, Jim Rickard has published his end-of-year commentary. Here is his blurb from his frequent email.
The End Of Cities Means The End Of Economic Growth. We’re Getting There
We’ve all seen reports of an urban exodus now underway. Major American cities are ungovernable and bordering on collapse. The situation began to unravel with the spread of coronavirus last March, (the virus arrived earlier but the exponential spike in cases emerged around March 10, 2020). It was then followed by extreme lockdown orders, which did not stop the spread but did destroy the economy. Events took a turn for the worse in late May with the riots in reaction to the George Floyd death. Right around the time that merchants were ready to reopen, their store windows were smashed and buildings were burned, sending shop owners and office workers back into hiding. The riots continued throughout the summer. A “defund the police” movement sprang up and police budgets actually were cut in many cities. Not surprisingly, crime surged with murders, gun violence, robberies, looting and assault all on the rise. By then, many urban residents had had enough. They sold their city homes or just walked away from leases. Car sales soared as city dwellers bought them to get to their new homes in the country. Moving vans were impossible to find because so many people were moving at once. Conservative estimates are that 1,000,000 people have moved out of New York City alone. The actual number could be higher. The same is true in Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, Baltimore, Chicago and other major cities. In case you thought that exodus might stabilize, it didn’t. A new spike in coronavirus cases in November and December was the last straw. This has all happened so quickly, few have had time to internalize the implications. This article spells things out. Cities are the greatest wealth-creating engines in the history of civilization. The word “city” is cognate with the Latin word “civis” which is the root of civilization. Cities are concentrations of talent, creativity, finance, research and capital which are used to generate even more wealth. When you destroy cities, you destroy wealth creation and ultimately destroy the economy. This is one more mega-trend that markets have not priced in.Jim Rickard, Agora Financial, 20 December 2020
I realize that Jim did NOT specifically call this an end of civilization, but the implication is there. That which does not grow, dies. Without a viable economy, our society, and therefore our civilization, dies.
Overall with a whimper, punctuated now and then by moments of sheer terror, blood and fire. But mostly, things just slow down and stop working.
The Christmas RV bombing in Nashville is an example: the bomb was placed (intentionally or not) next to an AT&T facility. Knocking out one fairly unremarkable building in downtown Nashville triggered days and days of breakdown of communications over a large chunk of territory. Not ALL of it, of course. But AT&T is a big company and a big contractor for other companies and for government agencies. As I understand, there was impact on landlines, cellular service, radio communications for emergency response, and more.
Only the perp died at the scene: three or six people were injured. A few million dollars in damage was done.
But the indirect effects and costs? Impossible to ever do more than estimate, it is a massive hit. How many people REALLY died because 9-1-1 centers couldn’t dispatch medics and ambulances in a timely manner? How many MORE will die prematurely because of the juxtaposition of Pandemic Panic, a major holiday shutdown, stress from uncertain conditions, and this attack? How many millions of dollars will be lost because of MORE closed offices and business, and scared tourists going to Memphis or New Orleans instead of Nashville? How much time and money will be wasted on investigating this suicide vandal/arsonist to the nth degree?
Now consider Jim’s thoughts. Now deep in the second (or is it third?) wave of Lockdown, seeing more and more of their lives and fortunes frittered away, how many more businesses will shutter? How many more people will pull their stakes and head out? How many more stupid city and State governments do MORE stupid things to further crush their economies and societies?
As 2020 has already proven, change – BAD changes – can come very, very quickly. And as actions cascade onto one another, we cannot easily predict the results.
Western Civilization and American Civilization is highly centralized. Here in the Fifty States, can we understand what might happen if just a half-dozen mega-cities melt down. Economically, socially, politically? What if we lose New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Seattle? Even for a short time?
The effects will be staggering. Supply chains will break down MORE. Financial matters may screech to a halt. Millions will lose jobs, often permanently.
To some, it will seem like the end of the world as we know it. For many, not just in those urban areas, it may be the end of their world: death, disease, poverty, are all likely results.
But I do not think it will be that way. I think that there are enough people with enough sense and guts to work around those big urban cores. Small cities will replace these dinosaurs, and more. Western civilization may ultimately collapse, but its replacement will already exist. There may be an interregnum but I do not see a dark age.
Nasty, but not fatal to most of us.
And the outcome? A realization that liberty is the only option, and that megacities are a bad idea. I can live with that. And I think you can, too.
The darkness of the Biden Collapse might only be a prelude to a darker Harris Collapse. But that will just be the darkness of a bad night before a bright, new dawn. Not just for the Fifty States, but for the world.