Guest Contribution: The Great Slump is Not Yet Half Over

By David Papell and Ruxandra Prodan

 

Today, we’re fortunate to have David Papell and Ruxandra Prodan, Professor and Clinical Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Houston, as Guest Contributors.


The United States is well into the fourth year of what Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff call the Second Great Contraction and Bob Hall calls the Great Slump, exceeded only by the Great Depression of the 1930s in its length and severity. While the Great Recession of December 2007-June 2009 ended over two years ago, the recovery has been characterized by very slow growth and persistently high unemployment. When will the Great Slump end?
We recently presented a paper, “The Statistical Behavior of GDP after Financial Crises and Severe Recessions,” at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Conference on the “Long-Term Effects of the Great Recession.” We ask two questions. Do severe recessions associated with financial crises cause permanent reductions in potential GDP, or does the economy return to its trend? If the economy eventually returns to its trend, does the return take longer than the return following recessions not associated with financial crises?
The paper develops a statistical methodology that is appropriate for identifying and analyzing slumps, episodes that combine a contraction and an expansion, and end when the economy returns to its trend growth rate. We consider (log) aggregate real GDP, so that the first-difference is the economy’s growth rate. Since long-term growth is generally positive, the data will be trending. We search for a pair of structural changes in real GDP. The first break is characterized by a negative change in the intercept and a change in the slope, while the second is characterized by a change in the slope. We estimate three types of models. The less restricted model constrains the slope following the second break to equal the slope preceding the first break, so that long-term growth is unchanged. The more restricted model also constrains the level of GDP following the second break to equal the level that would have been attained if the first break had not occurred, so that the slump does not affect potential GDP. In a few cases where neither type of model appears to be appropriate, we estimate an unrestricted model where long-term growth can change.
Real GDP for the U.S. fell by 5.3 percent from the peak of December 2007 to the trough of June 2009, and the Great Slump shows no sign of abating. In order to identify comparable historical experiences, we analyze the Great Depression of the 1930s for the U.S., severe and milder financial crises for advanced economics, severe financial crises for emerging markets, and postwar recessions for the U.S. and other advanced economies. Five slumps following financial crises are of sufficient magnitude and duration to qualify as comparable: the slumps lasting 7-1/4 years for Denmark (1989), 7-3/4 years for Australia (1990), 8-1/2 years for Finland (1990), 9-1/2 years for Sweden (1990), and 12 years for the U.S. (1929), with the first year of the slump in parentheses. Four of the five slumps, including the Great Depression for the U.S., did not affect potential GDP as the more restricted model cannot be rejected in favor of the less restricted model. The exception is Finland, where long-run growth was unaffected but potential GDP was permanently lower. Figures 1 and 2 depict the results for Sweden and Finland, where potential GDP is affected for the latter but not the former.
papell_prodan1.gif

Figure 1: Sweden

papell_prodan2.gif

Figure 2: Finland

The “lost decade” for Japan starting in 1992 is often used as an example of the severe effects of a major financial crisis. While Japan’s slump lasted for 10 ¾ years and it experienced severe effects following the crisis, they are not the same effects that the U.S. is experiencing during the Second Great Contraction. Real GDP fell from peak to trough by only 0.23 percent, an order of magnitude smaller than for the U.S. during the Great Recession. Moreover, long-term growth in Japan decreased after the crisis, as both the more restricted and the less restricted models are rejected in favor of the unrestricted model. It is the decline in long-term growth that caused the “lost decade,” not the aftermath of a severe recession caused by a financial crisis. Figure 3 depicts the results for Japan. While the downturn is barely visible, the long-term growth effects are clear.
papell_prodan3.gif

Figure 3: Japan

The other historical episodes that we study do not provide comparable historical experiences. The magnitude of slumps following postwar recessions for the U.S. and other advanced countries is too small, and the duration is too short, to provide insight regarding the duration of the Great Slump. While the magnitude of slumps following severe financial crises in emerging economies is large, their duration is no longer than the duration of slumps following U.S. recessions.
We now become more speculative. If the path of real GDP for the U.S. following the Great Recession is typical of the historical experiences described above, the Great Slump will last 9 years but will not affect potential GDP. Assuming that the Great Slump started in 2007:4, it will not end until 2016:4.
Is this scenario plausible? We start with results presented by Menzie Chinn in his September 7, 2011, Econbrowser post. Figure 4 depicts (log) real GDP through 2011:2, potential GDP through 2012:4 from the Congressional Budget Office, and survey mean forecasts of real GDP through 2012:4 from the Wall Street Journal. If growth increases starting in 2013, it would require a 4.16 percent annual growth rate over the following 4 years for real GDP to equal potential GDP in 2016:4. This is also depicted in Figure 4. The postulated 4.16 percent annual growth rate is lower than the average annual growth rate in the last four years of the slumps for Denmark, Australia, Finland, Sweden, and the U.S., 4.40 percent, although higher than the average excluding the U.S. during the Great Depression, 3.77 percent. It is also consistent with recent CBO projections.
papell_prodan4.gif

Figure 4: Implied GDP growth for the United States

History does not always repeat itself, and we do not know the ultimate shape and duration of the Second Great Contraction. The overarching message of Reinhart and Rogoff (2009), however, is that the “this time is different” syndrome leads people to mistakenly believe that the current financial crisis will be different from past financial crises. Taking comparable historical experience as a guide, the Great Recession will not ultimately affect potential GDP, but the Great Slump is not yet half over.


This post written by David Papell and Ruxandra Prodan

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22 thoughts on “Guest Contribution: The Great Slump is Not Yet Half Over

  1. ReformerRay

    Yes, people want to assume that this time will be different – on the positive side.
    This time will be different on the negative side. The U.S. economy is unbalanced due to 37 years of a goods trade deficit that has reduced manufacturing share of GDP below 15%. The Great Slump may be half over but potential GDP has been permanently reduced, not by the slump, but by reduction of domestic production of manufacturing goods.

  2. Steven Kopits

    The post-1990 period is problematic. This involved the collapse of the iron curtain, which led to the collapse of the eastern European economies. Hungary, as I recall, did not emerge from the 1990 shock until 1997. And neither did Romania (which Ruxandra, who curiously also speaks Hungarian, knows). But these were not financial crises; they were crises associated with the dramatic opening of formerly closed economies. Finland, I recall in particular, was much exposed to the Soviet Union and faced a difficult restructuring following the latter’s collapse.
    Also, any such analysis must have a pretty clear thesis about how much oil the US economy is consuming in 2016. Will there be enough energy?
    My back of the envelope calculation puts US oil consumption at cc 17 mbpd in 2016, versus 19 mbpd today. Can that be squared with 4%+ GDP growth from mid-2012? That would imply nearly 6.3% annual efficiency gains in oil utilization per unit of GDP. That can’t be done. Period.

  3. GK

    Actually, even the chart is optimistic.
    Once the trajectory gets steep, people feel good again. According to the chart, that is only about 14 months away.
    I doubt it. Why would ‘growth’ continue as if some law of nature? The US is aging demographically, and feminism has created laws that have destroyed the most productive unit of organization there is – the two-parent family.

  4. Menzie Chinn

    GK: You truly have outdone yourself with your statement:

    …feminism has created laws that have destroyed the most productive unit of organization there is – the two-parent family.

    It is almost as ludicrous as your comment on Waxman-Markey and global climate change:

    Regarding climate change :

    The Earth gets about one 200 millionth of the sun’s light. Sunspot and solar flare activity is a far bigger force than the annual cycle of leaves falling (releasing CO2) and regrowing (absorbing CO2).

    The annual leaf cycle is a far bigger force than human combustion of coal and oil.

    So in short Sunspots >> Natural Vegetation >> Human fossil fuel use.

    So, the answer according to Algorians is :

    Pass laws that destroy the economy in order to make a 0.0001% change in the factors that affect Earth’s climate!!!!!!! Brilliant!!!!!

    You truly do have a remarkable mind.

  5. tj

    I like the way the authors used 3 models to measure breaks from trend and it is an interesting topic.
    What are the policy implications in terms or repeated rounds of temporary stimulus versus permanent policy changes versus __? What are the implications for debt/gdp breaks from trend. I apologize if the authors addressed these issues in the paper, but these are thoughts that occurred to me as I was reading the summary above.

  6. 2slugbaits

    I hope Menzie has recovered from Saturday night’s game.
    I don’t quite understand how a recession could persist for close to a decade and somehow not affect potential GDP. Unemployed people lose skills. Workers lose discipline. Capital depreciates.

  7. Menzie Chinn

    2slugbaits: I was in Beijing, so I had no idea what happened (actually, I still don’t).

    Regarding the impact of the recession on potential GDP, I happened to investigate this issue at the request of a reporter. As of August 2011, CBO predicts potential GDP in 2018Q4 at about 3% below what it did in January 2008 (and estimates it is 2.6% below, in the current quarter).

  8. mclaren

    This article seems like the worst kind of vacuous mathematical-masturbational curve-fitting. It appears bereft of any underlying mechanisms that would explain the shape or slope of these curves.

    As others have pointed out, America now finds its GDP growth oil-constrained. This alone makes the current American economic situation distinctly dissimilar with previous economic contractions.

    However, even more factors make this kind of curve-fitting thoroughly incredible. For example, scientists now predict that all sea life will be fished out of the earth’s oceans by 2050. Isn’t America’s fishing industry part of our GDP?

    We see comparable problems in the near future with massive droughts caused by global warming. Is not America’s agricultural sector part of U.S. GDP? I seem to recall that agribusiness accounts for fully 30% of California’s GDP? What will happen when global warming turns the San Joacin Valley into a desert?

    Globalization is ending as we speak. Spikes in oil prices which will soon shut down globalization entirely due to skyrocketing fuel prices (it makes no sense to build widgets on the cheap in China if it costs a fortune to ship ‘em to America).
    The enormous global die-offs caused by massive famines will crush global GDP over the next few decades as plagues and famines sweep across the planet courtesy of massive droughts and floods produced by global warming. Pandemics are not good for any nation’s GDP. Over the next 30 years, for example, the epochal reduction in the glaciers of the Himalayas threaten two of the earth’s great rivers, the Yangtze and the Ganges, and forbode starvation for at least a billion people. These kinds of global food price shocks and oil shocks along with the end of globalization cannot possibly occur with sharply reducing U.S. GDP (and global GDP along with it).

    America will lose millions of hectares of arable land as global warming relentlessly advances. States like Arizona or Southern California will find their cheap-oil-and-freeway-based economies untenable in the face of ever-inreasing oil prices. California is currently the 7th-largest economy on earth. When skyrocketing oil prices force Southern California to depopulate because pople can’t afford $12 a gallon gasoline in a Happy Motoring Freeway Culture, this will have massive effects on U.S. GDP.

    Too, automation continues to relentlessly advance, and experts now predict that much of the current educated white-collar middle class workforce in America will find itself out of work courtesy of computer/algorithms/robots/internet offshoring. How does American GDP continue to increase when companies like Google now represent the future — companies which create more revenue with ever fewer employees, companies whose business model can be replicated by other countries because they’re based on nothing but algorithms and computer automation?

    We’ve already seen that America has stoppd innovating. The basic technological engine driving U.S. GDP growth is already faltering due to internet outsourcing. The Kindle can’t be manufactured in America because the U.S. no longer has the technology or the expertise to produce such cutting-edge devices. As offshoring and automation relentlessly advance, American expertise will continue to erode, dragging down U.S. GDP with it.
    None of these issues seem to get addressed by the exercise in curve-fitting in the paper above.

  9. GK

    ..feminism has created laws that have destroyed the most productive unit of organization there is – the two-parent family.
    I stand by it. Menzie, you have no clue how deeply feminism has destroyed this society.
    Read this :
    http://www.the-spearhead.com/
    http://www.avoiceformen.com/
    Until you get a clue about blatantly anti-male laws like VAWA and the Bradley Amendment, you don’t know enough to comment, Menzie.

  10. mclaren

    Menzie Chinn and others may reply that much of my comment represents the old “lump of labor fallacy.” Surely as automation advances, this will eliminte old jobs but create new ones.

    However, the assertion that “this time it’s different is never true” is one we must take care with. Sometimes, things actually are different because of vast transformations of the economy.

    Consider, by way of example, someone in the early 1800s who predicted that human slavery would soon vanish in all advanced industrial countries. A Menzie Chinn of the early 1800s could easily scoff “But you’re just saying `this time it’s different,’ and that’s always wrong.”

    But in that case, human slavery did vanish from all advanced industrial nations within only two generations, due to steam power & the growth of factories using that power. In 1800, `this time is different’ turned out to be correct.

    The following articles describe how current advances in automation, represented variously by IBM’s Watson project, Google’s driverless cars, the “second economy” described by W. Brian Arthur, and the network of algorithms + internet connections + databases discussed by Arnold Kling, has brought all advanced industrial economies in today’s world to a significant break with the past.

    “The Robots Are Winning”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/the-robots-are-winning/2011/10/24/gIQAEoc1CM_blog.html

    “A Robotic Cross of Gold”
    http://modeledbehavior.com/2011/10/24/a-robotic-cross-of-gold-real-variable-bias-the-macroeconomy-exists/

    “Jobs vs. Value”
    http://modeledbehavior.com/2011/10/18/jobs-vs-value/

    “For the Myth of the Macroeconomy File” (baffling title, not really appropriate for this piece)
    http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2011/10/for_the_myth_of.html#more

    “The Second Economy”
    http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Strategy/Growth/The_second_economy_2853

    Economists like Menzie Chinn and David Papell and Ruxandra Prodan have, I believe, underestimated the magnitude of profound economic changes wrought by the current spate of robotics + algorithms + databases + internet connections.

    As Arnold Kling remarks:

    Average annual job creation from business startups has declined from 3.5 percent of employment in the 1980s, to 3 percent in the 1990s to 2.6 percent in the post-2000 period. This represents more than a 25 percent decline in the pace of job creation from business startups.

    (..) Between March 2008 and March 2009, expanding and new businesses created jobs at a 12.4 percentage point rate. While this is still many jobs being created in even very difficult times, it represents a substantial decline relative to the 16.5 percentage point rate in 2006 and the lowest rate in at least 30 years.

    W. Brian Arthur notes:

    What used to be done by humans is now executed as a series of conversations among remotely located servers.

    Physical jobs are disappearing into the second economy, and I believe this effect is dwarfing the much more publicized effect of jobs disappearing to places like India and China.

    So the main challenge of the economy is shifting from producing prosperity to distributing prosperity. The second economy will produce wealth no matter what we do; distributing that wealth has become the main problem. For centuries, wealth has traditionally been apportioned in the West through jobs, and jobs have always been forthcoming. When farm jobs disappeared, we still had manufacturing jobs, and when these disappeared we migrated to service jobs. With this digital transformation, this last repository of jobs is shrinking–fewer of us in the future may have white-collar business process jobs–and we face a problem.

    To which Arnold Kling adds:

    The standard view in economics is that wants are unlimited, so that in the long run as old jobs are destroyed new jobs are created. But will reality conform to this theory? Brian Arthur is suggesting that it might not. I have an article coming out in about a month at American.com that speculates along very similar lines.

    What if there are many people whose marginal product is so low that there is little social cost to their engaging in leisure rather than in work? How do we adapt to that? As Arthur puts it,

    Perhaps some new part of the economy will come forward and generate a whole new set of jobs. Perhaps we will have short workweeks and long vacations so there will be more jobs to go around. Perhaps we will have to subsidize job creation. Perhaps the very idea of a job and of being productive will change over the next two or three decades.

    We have additional evidence that this time, things really may be different — that the “lump of labor fallacy” may this time turn out itself to be a fallacy.

    With the help of a small army of researchers and associates (most importantly, Chris Matgouranis, Jonathan Robe, and Chris Denhart) and starting with help from Douglas Himes of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) has unearthed what I think is the single most scandalous statistic in higher education. It reveals many current problems and ones that will grow enormously as policymakers mindlessly push enrollment expansion amidst what must become greater public-sector resource limits.

    Here it is: approximately 60 percent of the increase in the number of college graduates from 1992 to 2008 worked in jobs that the BLS considers relatively low skilled—occupations where many participants have only high school diplomas and often even less. Only a minority of the increment in our nation’s stock of college graduates is filling jobs historically considered as requiring a bachelor’s degree or more.

    Source: “The Great College-Degree Scam,” Richard Vedder, Chronicles of Higher Education, 9 December 2010.

    If the “lump of labor fallacy” really is correct, why have 60% of the new college graduates since 1992 wound up working in jobs that don’t require a college degree — jobs like taxi driver and barista? The “lump of labor” fallacy says this shouldn’t happen. But if Kling and Arthur are correct, then the waves of transformation that started in the 1790s with the invention of the steam engine and moved workers first from agriculture to manufacturing, and then in the 1950s from manufacturing to services, have now reached their end. Because once algorithms + databases + robots + the internet take over the service jobs, what jobs are left? Very few.

    Consider also this recent post by Sam Harris, “The Future of the Book”:
    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-future-of-the-book/

    Writers, artists, and public intellectuals are nearing some sort of precipice: Their audiences increasingly expect digital content to be free. Jaron Lanier has written and spoken about this issue with great sagacity. You can purchase his book here, which most of you will not do, or you can watch him discuss these matters for free. The problem is thus revealed even in the act of stating it. How can a person like Lanier get paid for being brilliant? This has become an increasingly difficult question to answer.

  11. Gian

    “the epochal reduction in the glaciers of the Himalayas threaten two of the earth’s great rivers, the Yangtze and the Ganges, and forbode starvation for at least a billion people.”
    Indian crops depend more on rainwater and groundwater extraction over a million sq km rather than few thousands of sq km of glacier melt.
    If anything, the global warming is increasing rainfall over India.

  12. ppcm

    mclaren
    Interesting and provocative comments,the dissimilarities of civilizations and economies have been dealt with,well before.
    Each civilization is several economies,but not one only. Fernand Braudel expanded on this subject in a book named “grammar of civilization”
    Not dealt with,are countries willing to be global,when unable to balance their domestic jobs with competitive international markets or technologically substitutable functions.
    Not dealt with are economies that have made a complete revolution between labour and capital. Economies that are striving to be an international corporate holding,printing money and hoping to purchase the right assets,engineering and labour elsewhere.The fate of holdings and their often poor added value,may be seen in a micro world.They are deemed to be survived by their operating subsidiaries.

  13. Finn0123

    Dr. Chinn,
    As I look at this analysis I can say I agree with the authors in terms of their approach and thought. At the same time, I have a nagging thought I was hoping you could help me reconcile with the above analysis.
    Here’s a chart looking to aid in my discussion: https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?graph_id=57743&category_id=3901
    In looking at personal consumption and 70% of potential GDP (representing the rough estimate of consumption’s contribution) we see a sizeable gap betwen where consumption should be and where it is. In order to fill this gap, consumption will, naturally, have to increase; nothing too controversial.
    Where I get confused/concerned is how consumption will rise to potential assuming (and perhaps my assumption is wrong and negates the whole discussion) past consumption was based on having access to housing-related credit markets (such as home equity and the ability to ‘flip’ houses for profits). I have a tough time believing home equity will return to a point where it can be accessed in such amounts in the next 5 years and even if it did, I have a tougher time thinking banks will be willing to give consumers access to it as they did. In some sense consumers have had their largest credit card cut up and not replaced with new credit lines.
    I understand deleveraging can potentially free up cash flow to allow further spending, but can it free cash flow enough to represent the increased growth needed to return to trend (the 4+% mentioned in the post) and not just keep growth at a historical rate (say 3 to 3.5%)? It would seem there is an increasing potential for GDP growth to resume on a new trend line rather than return to the old (I know the arguments between trend stationary GDP and unit root am not trying to focus on this in terms of theory and schools of thought).
    I just can’t seem to wrap my head around where the rapid consumption will come from and welcome any insight you (or others on here) can provide.

  14. Steve Smith

    I really wonder about the marked contrast of the Japanese case vs. the others, and the implication for our own scenario going forward.
    Could the reduced rate of growth be partially due to demographic effects? I know that Japan is facing the problem of aging and diminished fertility. What would all of these slopes look like if they were normalized to GDP per capita?

  15. Jimmy

    How is it that an economist can be left-wing?
    I mean, leftism requires total ignorance of economics, so the notion of a left-wing economist is a complete contradiction of terms….
    A left-wing economist is like the notion of a vegetarian butcher.

  16. Jimmy

    It appears that the comment that Menzie attributes to GK is not from GK, by following Menzie’s own link.
    It would be appropriate for Menzie to correct his false claim, and apologize to his readers for making it.

  17. acerimusdux

    Hmm, the comments section is just bursting with creative thinking today, even moreso than usual. The more interesting concerns raises to me seem to be the potential impacts of global warming, peak oil, and even robotics. However, while all might have significant long term effects, it is hard for me to imagine any of these would significantly disrupt a 5 year forecast.

    With regard to climate, while it is clear that something needs to be done in the near term, even the IPCC report, when assessing potential impacts, focuses on the “mid to late 21st century”.

    And with regard to oil, projecting U.S. consumption to fall to 17 million bpd by 2016 seems quite pessimistic. Or optimistic, if one considers the desirability of such a projection for reducing global warming. But good or bad, I don’t think it seems realistic. I’ll put my chips on 19-20 million bpd.

    And as for robots, anyone who knows what a Roomba is knows they are expensive, and they aren’t very efficient yet even at vacuuming floors. Maybe in another half century they’ll be a significant industry.

  18. mclaren

    acerimusdix remarks: while all might have significant long term effects, it is hard for me to imagine any of these would significantly disrupt a 5 year forecast.
    The logical fallacy in this claim startles in its sheer magnitude.
    It cannot have escaped acermimusdix’s notice that using this reasoning we can push forward 1 year and then claim “it is hard for me to imagine any of these would significantly disrupt a 5 year forecast,” then we push forward 1 more year and make the same claim, then we push forward 1 more year, and so on.
    The logical and necessary result of such reasoning is that the unbounded future must resemble the near past. But empirically, we know that it is not so — experience with the economy proves it. An economist who made such a claim in 2006 would find hi/r predictions catstrophically mistaken by mid-2009.
    The essential problem with this reasoning is the economist’s mathematical addiction to linear regression modeling. Such a linear methodology assumes that “the future will resemble the near past if the time window is short enough.” But this is a well-known failure of linear mathematical modeling methdology. Nonlinear models, while much more complex, capture the real economy far better than linear models.
    Mike Mandel summarizes this issue when he bitterly criticizes recent Nobel economics laureates:
    …Today’s awards to Tom Sargent and Chris Sims simply leaves me stunned. Let me give you a brief excerpt:
    “It is not an exaggeration to say that both Sargent’s and Sims’ methods are used daily … in all central banks that I know of in the developed world and at several finance departments too,” Nobel committee member Torsten Persson told the AP.
    I’m not sure why this is supposed to be a good thing. None of the central banks foresaw the financial crisis, none of them foresaw the weakness of the recovery, and none of them had the right policy prescriptions. This lack of ability to predict big shocks and their aftermath is a central flaw of the Sargent-Sims approach. Sargent is well known for his work on rational expectations, which has a tough time with ‘irrational’ booms and busts. And Sims’s work on ‘vector autoregressions’ has a difficult time anticipating sudden shifts in regime, such as the shift from the Great Moderation to the today’s incredible volatility.
    Mike Mandel, “Nobel prize irrelevancy?”
    http://innovationandgrowth.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/nobel-prize-irrelevancy/
    As regards his comments about the alleged future drop in U.S. oil consumption, Peak Oil isn’t about consumption — it’s about price. Jeff Rubin makes this point succinctly:
    The peak in our oil consumption will be determined by our ability to pay ever rising prices for the fuel, not by the ability of those same prices to drive new sources of supply.
    The energy industry’s task is not simply to find new fuel sources but to find new supplies of oil our economies can afford to burn. While the energy industry has an impressive record on the first count, it has a much less impressive track record on the second.
    It has taken successively higher prices to get that extra barrel of oil out of the ground. The price of Brent oil, the benchmark used for most of the oil traded on world markets today, has traded in triple digit range since the beginning of this year.
    Maybe that is why the world economy seems to be teetering on the brink of another recession. But if our economies will no longer be growing, neither will oil production.
    Some people might call that an oil peak. Others might say we are simply running out of the oil we can afford to burn.
    Jeff Rubin, “Peak Oil Is About Price, Not Supply,” 19 October 2011.
    http://www.jeffrubinssmallerworld.com/2011/10/19/peak-oil-is-about-price-not-supply/
    Gian’s assertion that the shrinkage of Himalayan glaciers will not pose a threat to Indian farmers is simply counterfactual.
    “Two billion face water famine as Himalayan glaciers melt,” Joydeep Gupta, IANS, 6 February 2008
    http://www.indianmuslims.info/news/2008/feb/06/two_billion_face_water_famine_himalayan_glaciers_melt.html
    “All told, some two billion people in more than a dozen countries—nearly a third of the world’s population—depend on rivers fed by the snow and ice of the plateau region. (..)
    “For all its seeming might and immutability, this geologic expanse is more vulnerable to climate change than almost anywhere else on Earth. The Tibetan Plateau as a whole is heating up twice as fast as the global average of 1.3̊F over the past century—and in some places even faster. These warming rates, unprecedented for at least two millennia, are merciless on the glaciers, whose rare confluence of high altitudes and low latitudes make them especially sensitive to shifts in climate.”
    Source: “Tibet, the Himalayas, Melting Flaciers and Global Warming.”
    http://factsanddetails.com/china.php?itemid=1734&catid=6&subcatid=38
    Or take a look at the worldhungernotes.org website, where you’ll find articles like
    “Melting Mountain Glaciers Will Shrink Grain Harvests in China and India”
    http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/08/asia/brown.htm
    The assertion that global warming won’t cause massive famines in India is equivalent in surrealism to claims that the earth is hollow and full of reptoids.

  19. Ted K

    Although I probably agree with Menzie on most things economic and political (I would say probably around 75%) I have to say I actually agree with GK’s thoughts on feminism related to divorce rates (i.e. destruction of family).
    Certainly one would have to agree that the vast majority of the feminist movement (there are different schools and degrees of “feminism”) has contributed to higher divorce rates. I doubt even feminists would disagree with that (Unless currently going through the monthly affliction).
    Unless a person would prefer to blame the pill for the birth of feminism (the pill was created by male scientists by the way, along with the diaphragm), in which case it becomes an argument of which came first, the chicken or the egg.
    It has been hinted to me on occasion I am a “sexist” though. I usually shrug my shoulders at the notion of spouting facts as implicating me of “gender bias” though…..

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