‘Gimme Shelter’ for Refugees

[This article was originally published on September 28, 2015. DSI updates and republishes this article annually to draw attention to the plight of refugees worldwide.] Oh, a storm is threat’ning, My very life today, If I don’t get some shelter, Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away War, children, it’s just a shot away, It’s just a shot away, War, children, it’s just a shot away, It’s just a shot away  1969, Rolling Stones, ‘Gimme Shelter’, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, ‘Let it Bleed’ album This is now. Over 30,000 Palestinians gathered along Gaza’s border with Israel on Friday, March 30th, to vent their pent-up frustration in a protest that quickly turned violent. Israeli forces reportedly killing 15 at the border fence. In the course of Israel’s creation in 1948 and its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, more than half the Arabs living in pre-1948 Palestine are thought to have been forcibly displaced. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Palestinians represent one of the oldest refugee populations on earth. South Sudan has suffered years of civil war in the process of becoming a nation in 2011, leaving it one of the poorest countries in the world. South Sudan cannot provide its people the basics of adequate healthcare, education, and income opportunities. Children are paying the price with their lives. More than 5.7 million South Sudanese cannot feed themselves, and food insecurity continues to rise, poised to reach six million in 2018. Nearly four million people are displaced because of conflict and hunger, including two million who have fled to neighboring countries since December 2013. Uganda hosts more than one million refugees from South Sudan; 60 percent of the displaced are...

Cascading Black Swans – 2018

December 30, 2017 By Richard L. Wottrich, Senior Consultant, International Services  There are shadows in 2018 that are contradictory. Central banks are turning off the stimulus spigots at an excruciatingly slow pace. Yet the entire U.S. yield curve is flattening and a steep credit market correction is in the cards. A Danish energy company just issued a 1,000-year bond with a maturity date of 3017, and some corporations are selling negative interest rate bonds. Global stock markets are at record highs, yet extraordinarily low volatility across most asset classes belies investor worries. Total global debt has topped 325 percent of total GDP as government sovereign debt jumps past $63 trillion [Pew Research Center analysis of International Monetary Fund data]. China’s shadow banking assets grew more than 20 percent in 2016 to 64 trillion yuan ($9.8 trillion), equivalent to 86.5 percent of GDP. The U.S. unemployment rate has fallen to a 50-year low, yet wages have hardly budged.  And Congress just passed a corporate tax bill that blows a hole in the U.S. budget. Yet no one seems to be concerned. As Alfred E. Neuman said, “What me worry?” What are the “Black Swan” risks and events that could cause this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ world to collapse. Or is that just foolish worry. Has exploding technology taken the risk out of humanity’s endeavors? This is our take on plausible Black Swan risks on the horizon. Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Event  Governments are concerned about North Korea’s burgeoning nuclear weapons program. We however are far more concerned about their ability to create an EMP event, which would detonate a nuclear device in...

Six Mega Trends – 2018

“If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.” – Confucius Charting global mega-trends is perhaps a fool’s errand, but there is order in the fractal universe – if you know where to look. Certain historical currents run strongly and are perhaps not immediately apparent, but nevertheless their impact will be felt in 2018 and beyond. 1. Insurance and Climate Change Zillow recently reported that $400 billion in Florida real estate values could be at risk from climate change by 2100. Property insurers will not be willing to insure real estate unless rates are substantially raised. Homeowners will naturally lower coverages to fit their budgets. Many will move away. Behaviors will change. Meanwhile many homeowners whose homes were flooded by Hurricane Harvey have no flood insurance – they cannot afford it. But a wealthy owner of a $2 million home on Bird Key in Florida gladly pays $25,000 a year for that same flood insurance. That owner knows their claim will likely be in the hundreds of thousands, so the federal flood ‘insurance’ subsidy is a bargain. Right now insurance rates are set on arbitrary vectors, such as zip codes. But risk analysis and big data will fine tune these methodologies and homeowners at the greatest risk from climate change will face enormous insurance rates – many will move. These mismatches in insurance coverage and uneven federal flood insurance subsidies will ultimately be reflected at the ballot box, changing political behavior in favor of working to control and plan for climate...

Giants

Alfred Stieglitz posing in front of a painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, as taken by Ansel Adams, New York City, 1939, as photographed at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia,...