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Daily Digest 6/29 - Central Bankers Issue Strong Warning, Great Lakes Creep On Unsuspecting Shores

Chris Martenson - June 29, 2014 - 09:06
  • Dr. Paul Craig Roberts Interview
  • Central Bankers Issue Strong Warning on Asset Bubbles
  • Changing farming practices could cut the intensity of heat waves
  • Pushed To The Limit
  • Negative Nominal Interest Rates: Highway to a Cashless, Statist Hell
  • In Home Loans, Subprime Fades as a Dirty Word
  • Conservation 2.0: How Land Trusts Can Save America's Working Farms
  • Creeping up on unsuspecting shores: The Great Lakes

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Categories: Economics

Axel Merk: The Fed's Next Move

Chris Martenson - June 28, 2014 - 09:10

"If you're not concerned, you're not paying attention" say Axel Merk, founder and Chief Investment Officer of Merk Funds.

Like many, he sees today's excessive high-price, low-volume, zero-volatility markets as an unnatural and dangerous result of misguided intervention by the Federal Reserve. But Axel has additional perspective than most, as the senior economic adviser to his family of funds is a former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis and a former FMOC member:

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 6/28 - Venezuela Blackout Leaves Commuters Scrambling, Edible Gardens Go To The Ballpark

Chris Martenson - June 28, 2014 - 06:56
  • Venezuela blackout leaves commuters scrambling, silences president
  • Here’s when housing will recover — for real
  • How to mine cryptocurrency and save the planet
  • Our Economic Growth Is a Mystery. Obamacare Is the Reason.
  • Here Are the 43,634 Properties in Detroit That Were on the Brink of Foreclosure This Year
  • Thinking Local
  • Edible Gardens Go to the Ballpark
  • Hot Zone

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Categories: Economics

Worker-Owned Co-ops Get $1 Million in NYC Spending

Photo by Premshree Pillai / Flickr.

New York City’s budget for the 2015 fiscal year includes a new item that supporters of a fairer economy will want to celebrate: $1.2 million set aside for the development of worker-owned cooperative businesses.

"Support shows that they understand cooperatives can be a viable tool for economic development that creates real opportunity."

The spending is a small fraction of the $75 billion budget, which the City Council approved on June 26. But, according to a statement by U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, it's the largest investment in the sector ever made by a city government in the United States.

Cooperative businesses are both owned and operated by employees. They focus on maximizing value for all their members as well as creating fair and quality jobs.

“This is a great step forward for worker cooperatives,” Melissa Hoover, executive director of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, said in a press release. According to Hoover the co-op funding received widespread support from city council members, which “shows that they understand cooperatives can be a viable tool for economic development that creates real opportunity."

Here’s how the city’s newly adopted budget describes the program:

Funding will support the creation of 234 jobs in worker cooperative businesses by coordinating education and training resources and by providing technical, legal and financial assistance. The initiative will fund a comprehensive citywide effort to reach 920 cooperative entrepreneurs, provide for the start-up of 28 new worker cooperative small businesses and assists another 20 existing cooperatives.

"A healthy local government’s budget is balanced, transparent, responsive, and inclusive," reads the opening statement of the 2015 Budget Summery. A healthy business runs quite the same way, and armed with this funding New York City worker-owned co-ops are set up to prove it.

Liz Pleasant wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Liz is a graduate of the University of Washington's program in Anthropology, and an online editorial intern at YES! Follow her on Twitter @lizpleasant.

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Categories: Economics

Will Detroit's Water Be Privatized or Recognized as Commons?

Shareable Magazine - June 27, 2014 - 14:22

When it comes to a person’s fundamental needs being met - nothing is more basic and human, than to share.  Right now the people of Detroit are being attacked by an unelected regime that represents the interests of the banks and large corporations. Their latest campaign has been to turn residents’ water off.

Categories: Economics

Introducing The New (Full-Length) Crash Course

Chris Martenson - June 27, 2014 - 10:36

Last week we announced that we've spent the better part of the last year completely rebuilding the entire Crash Course video seminar.

Each chapter has been completely updated with recent data, better visualizations, and a more polished look and feel. We've also added several brand-new chapters on important new developments to the Three E story (i.e., quantitative easing, shale oil, environmental stressors) that weren't in the picture when the original series was created back in 2008.

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 6/27 - What Crude Oil Says About Silver, The Right To Be Forgotten

Chris Martenson - June 27, 2014 - 07:13
  • Detroit Needs Residents, but Sends Some Packing
  • The $124,421 Man
  • What Crude Oil Says About Silver
  • Why The COMEX Is Corrupt
  • Google begins removing links under “right to be forgotten” ruling
  • When The Herd Turns
  • Dimples Are Cute, But Can They Also Save Fuel?
  • The Farmland Boom Appears To Be Over

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Categories: Economics

Should You Raise Goats?

Chris Martenson - June 26, 2014 - 12:04

Raising goats is a great way to save money and become more self-sufficient as a family. Goats are really easy to raise and can provide you with meat and milk.

Despite what you may have heard, goats aren’t smelly, messy or eat things like tin cans. Many people who own goats compare them to dogs – they play, don’t smell bad, and can be trained to follow you or play. Goats are very social animals and are very friendly to raise.

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Categories: Economics

Building a (Shared) Community: Asheville ShareFest Goes Off!

Shareable Magazine - June 26, 2014 - 10:45

The Big (Sharing) Day

Categories: Economics

Challenges & Opportunities of a Shared Economy in Melbourne

Shareable Magazine - June 26, 2014 - 10:38
I hosted the Sharing Economy Leaders Forum on Thursday 29th May at Henley Club Melbourne.   This event brought together 25 sharing innovators to discuss the vision for Melbourne to become a Sharing City, identify common opportunities and challenges, plus facilitate introductions and networking.
Categories: Economics

Off the Cuff: Anything Goes, But Nothing Matters

Chris Martenson - June 26, 2014 - 10:04

In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and James Howard Kunstler discuss:

  • Engineered Interference
    • Prices have no bearing on real market forces right now
  • Strange Bedfellows
    • Iraq's woes are creating all sorts of unnatural alliances
  • The End of Wishful Thinking?
    • We're losing hold of our happy delusions
  • The Resilient Living Learning Curve
    • Building skills often means failing a lot on the way

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Categories: Economics

Getting the Accelerated Crash Course Featured on Slashdot

Chris Martenson - June 26, 2014 - 09:09

Slashdot is an extremely popular and influential website with a highly-educated audience base (lots of engineers and IT professionals).

If an article get featured on Slashdot's front page (aka "the Firehose"), it can receive millions of views in a very short time. Slashdot's firehose traffic is famous for overwhelming unsuspecting servers.

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 6/26 - Turning Fuel Into Food, Going Deep For Coal In Wyoming

Chris Martenson - June 26, 2014 - 07:43
  • China's cities grant hukou for house purchases like Portugal offering citizenship for house purchases
  • Iraq About US Dollar, Hyperinflation Trouble in 2015: Gordon Long
  • Decline of U.S. Shale Energy & The End Of Precious Metal Manipulation
  • The ISIL Threat And Iraq
  • Mark Cuban: 'I Think the Student Loan Bubble is Going to Burst'
  • In Wyoming, Going Deep To Draw Energy From Coal
  • Monthly Steel Review: Asian and US demand look likely to improve – but European markets appear subdued
  • Presentation for the Council Working Party on Shipbuilding
  • Bio-fuel from Whisky distilling in Scotland
  • U.S. Eases Longtime Ban On Oil Exports
  • Hydrogen breakthrough could be a game-changer for the future of car fuels
  • Turning Fuel Into Food

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Categories: Economics

A Local Economy Solution to Africa's Poaching Problem

Photo by Flowcomm / Flickr.

Entering Kenya’s Maasai Mara Reserve, as I did last March, is like driving up the loading ramp of Noah’s Ark. Within minutes, you’ll see zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, and herds of antelope. There will be a pride of lions lounging yards away from your safari vehicle. Conga lines of elephants will file past you, looking as if they just trundled out of the first day of creation.

The economic benefits of ecotourism are rarely  distributed equitably.

But this Eden of animals only appears untouched. Just beyond the sanctuary gate lies a patchwork of shantytowns and farmland that you rarely see on National Geographic specials. And although it may not look like a war zone, this place is a frontline in Africa’s escalating war against the animals that it peacefully coexisted with for centuries.

A new report suggests that peace can be restored—but only if two things happen. First, African governments must get serious about tackling their poaching problem. Second, the ecotourism industry, which has historically benefited only a few, must be transformed so that its profits reach a larger segment of the population, winning allies for wildlife from among Africa’s villagers, who often clash with the animals. Those clashes have been increasing, and unless we can find a way to for humans and animals to live in peace, the prospects for Africa’s wildlife won’t be bright.

Rural Africans are not to blame. There are a lot more of them around than ever before, so conflict is inevitable. As human population soars, the animals, which once roamed unfettered across Africa’s vast savannas and trackless rain forests, are being squeezed into a handful of game reserves. When the creatures stray out of their protected islands into newly settled areas—which still contain the water holes and migration routes that their ancestors used—trouble ensues.

Elephants trample crops, lions kill sheep and cattle, wildebeest and zebra compete with domesticated herds for precious grass and water. Rural Africans retaliate by poisoning the big cats, shooting the elephants, and plundering antelope and other ungulates for bushmeat. That is the part of the war where a truce is still possible. If the animals can be induced to stay where they belong, and the people can be convinced that they are no longer a threat, then peace can break out. I saw this happen in Tanzania, where the Living Wall project builds unbreachable fences that keep lions away from livestock. It has cut losses dramatically for the Maasai, who no longer stage retribution attacks against lions—a win-win for both animals and humans.

But there is another war that won’t be so easy to win. It is being conducted by organized commercial poachers who are targeting rhinos and elephants. A recent study shows how incestuously intertwined this criminal war on wildlife is with Africa’s other wars.

The report, titled “Ivory’s Curse,” was issued jointly earlier last month by the conservation group Born Free USA and C4ADS, a nonprofit that specializes in defense issues. It documents how terrorist groups like al-Shabaab and Boko Haram are bankrolling their mayhem in part from the spoils of wildlife poaching. It details how rebel militias, organized crime groups and, sometimes, national armies are participating in a slaughter that has driven rhinos to the edge of extinction and already eliminated elephants from many areas where they used to thrive.

Poaching is a uniquely tough nut to crack. There are desperately poor Africans, on the one hand, and, on the other, Asia’s nouveau riche, who are willing to pay a king’s ransom for rhino horns and elephant tusks—items there for the taking to anyone with a gun. There are also vast wilderness areas, virtually impossible to fully patrol, and governments that can scarcely afford to pay their wildlife guards a living wage. The situation is made even more dire by Africa’s ethnic conflicts, civil wars, and rampant political instability.

Luxury safari lodges that charge more than $400 a day are a stone’s throw away from the thatched huts of dirt farmers.

Worse still is when governments collude with the bandits who are despoiling the wildlife they are sworn to protect. Consider Tanzania, a country with over a third of its sovereign territory set aside for wildlife. Hosting over 1 million visitors a year, Tanzania earns a almost 20 percent of its GDP from tourism, according to the U.S. Library of Congress. Yet its leaders appear torn between the desire to protect this precious asset and the impulse to plunder it.

Ten years ago the Selous Game Preserve in southern Tanzania boasted more elephants that any other park in Africa. Two-thirds of those elephants have been killed since 2009 in a poaching frenzy aided—and perhaps even orchestrated—by officials in Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, according to Ivory’s Curse. Varun Vira, one of the report’s co-authors, said in an interview with YES! that the agency’s previous minister, Ezekiel Maige, somehow managed to build a posh oceanside mansion worth several times his government salary before he was sacked for corruption.

Such graft, however, is the symptom of a larger problem: Africans at all levels of society are not yet convinced that their wildlife is worth preserving. And even when they are convinced, they, understandably, have other priorities—like jump-starting their flagging economies and growing enough food to feed their growing population.

These goals, however, are not incompatible with conservation and the lucrative tourism it can bring. The problem is that the rising tide of tourism in places like Tanzania is not yet lifting everyone’s boats. Luxury safari lodges that charge well-heeled guests more than $400 a day are a stone’s throw away from the thatched huts of dirt farmers who can’t afford to keep food on their table during years when the seasonal rains don’t arrive on time.

Community-run ecotourism projects are common in the southern African countries of Botswana and Namibia.

So the bottom line is that Africa’s wild areas will never be safe for the animals until the people who live next door are feeling secure and have got a tangible economic stake in their preservation. For starters, there need to be a lot more locally owned and managed tourist ventures that are committed to plowing back a portion of their profits into community development projects. Granted, community-based conservation enterprises are hard to get right. Rural Africans don’t always have the skills to run successful businesses; the benefits of ecotourism are rarely equitably distributed; tribal conflicts, corruption, poor local infrastructure—in short, any of Africa’s familiar laundry list of ills can sink idealistic projects in a heartbeat.

But there are notable successes too—like the lion-proof fence project mentioned earlier. There are private game preserves like the Mara North Conservancy I visited in Kenya, which hires locals and operates schools and health clinics in town. Such community-run projects are common in the southern African countries of Botswana and Namibia, which may be one reason that both countries have, according to Vira, so far largely succeeded in keeping the elephant poachers at bay. People who are enjoying the benefits of wildlife tourism don’t harbor poachers.

Most hopeful of all is the growing awareness among the growing civil society and educated middle class that something priceless and uniquely African is being squandered. If this unease translates into political will to get serious about protecting wildlife, and a more equitable way to share the benefits of wildlife tourism with rural Africans, then all may not yet be lost.

Richard Schiffman worte this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Richard's work has appeared in the New York Times,, The Christian Science Monitor and leading literary journals. His “Spiritual Poetry Portal” can be found here.

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Categories: Economics

Picking Up Speed

Chris Martenson - June 25, 2014 - 13:55

There's been so much happening across the world lately that it's time for a global update on a variety of subjects.

Yet, these developments stand in stark contrast to the US equity markets, where there's virtually nothing worthwhile to report on.  Our "markets" no longer resemble anything that might provide useful, actionable information.

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Categories: Economics

Rebuilding Detroit Two House Auctions at a Time

Shareable Magazine - June 25, 2014 - 08:56

By now, everyone knows the plight of blight that Detroit, Michigan has faced over the last decades. With sky-high unemployment rates and a dwindling population, one of the Motor City's most visible under-utilized assets are the vacant houses and lots that litter once-vibrant neighborhoods. The Detroit Land Bank, through its Building Detroit program, is trying to turn that around by auctioning off homes across the city -- two per day, every day of the week.

Categories: Economics

The Occupy Portraits: A Photo Essay

Shareable Magazine - June 25, 2014 - 08:41

Above: Los Angeles - What Marco hopes for: "... free education."

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 6/25 - Gas Prices Hit Six-Year High, 1/4 Of Americans Have No Emergency Savings

Chris Martenson - June 25, 2014 - 07:06
  • Marxist Rebels Sabotage Bondholders in Colombia Selloff
  • Singapore to launch gold contract as Asia eyes price alternatives
  • KCBS Cover Story Series: California Drought Turning Central Valley Farmland Into Dust Bowl
  • Gas Prices Hit Six-Year Seasonal High
  • Oil prices spark economic growth concerns
  • About a quarter of Americans have no emergency savings, poll finds
  • Consumers Will Spend More on Health Care in 2015, Report Predicts
  • Starbucks hikes prices on brewed coffee, lattes, bagged beans
  • Rising food prices mean difficult choices for hungry Montanans
  • Calif. drought expected to push food prices higher across U.S.

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Categories: Economics

12 Survival Hacks Using Just Leaves

Chris Martenson - June 24, 2014 - 13:57

A lot of great uses and ideas of how to use leaves and vegetation in survival situations. From rope, to cooking, and even for shelter.

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Categories: Economics