The Egyptian pound is down to its lowest level against the dollar in eight years and Egyptians are scrambling to convert pounds into dollars. Currency reserves are at 15 billion, just enough to cover three months of food imports, as Egypt is a food importer. And Egyptian banks are bringing in dollars from abroad while stocks are falling.
Consumer spending is down to its lowest point since May. Consumer confidence is at its lowest point since June. The media is shouting about the “fiscal cliff” but most people aren’t following the topic. What they do know is that they can expect another 4 years of the same and they’re hanging on to their money over the next 4 years, preparing to ride through the storm.
It takes a live birth rate of 2.1 children per woman to maintain a stable population. Birth rates across Southern Europe have plunged below 1.5, and are expected to drop even further as Euro Zone economies continue to contract. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan are converging on birth rates closer to 1.0, literally halving their population each generation. Even the Black Plague didn’t do that.
The preliminary University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters consumer sentiment index fell to 74.5 from 82.7 in November. Consumer spending already faltered months ago. The third-quarter report on gross domestic product revised an already weak original annualized estimate of 2.0% in personal consumption growth down to a pathetic 1.4%. Personal consumption expenditures decreased by 0.2% in November.
At the center of government in Washington DC we can see a preview of the new feudalism. Food stamp use has gone up in Washington DC by 35 percent and at the same time the Beltway counties have gotten rich twice as fast as the rest of the country to the extent that they now represent 7 of the 10 wealthiest counties in the country.
In just five years, China has surpassed the United States as a trading partner for much of the world, including U.S. allies such as South Korea and Australia, according to an Associated Press analysis of trade data. As recently as 2006, the U.S. was the larger trading partner for 127 countries, versus just 70 for China. By last year the two had clearly traded places: 124 countries for China, 76 for the U.S.