As we describe longer-form in our fundraiser kickoff post, 2022 has been demanding. And we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished with our tiny, thinly resourced site in giving you wide-ranging, prescient analysis in face of geopolitical fractures, economic train wrecks, and in the US, domestic efforts to stoke civil war. If you are proud of us too, please go immediately to the Tip Jar to give by check, debit or credit card. Support world-ranging information screening, incisive commentary, dry humor, and cute animal photos.
As Tommy S wrote:
Damn, you people of NC, you never cease to impress. I’ve been reading for 35 years urban studies, but I had no idea that ‘economies of scale’ didn’t apply to those huge builders. And then the constant update about nasal stuff in the works. I’m doing my best to spread that news, and Corsi boxes…..you people are the best…..who knows how many lives you may have saved?…….seriously….the real facts since Covid started ….about masks etc…and how it spreads……..thank you….
Below we recap how we’ve navigated this treacherous terrain since our last fundraiser, thanks to the generous and loyal support of our donors, and the considerable and extremely valuable input of our knowledgeable commentariat.
What We Did Last Year: Discerning the Future Early
In some ways, 2022 was like 2021: a remarkable level of hopium and official negligence, continuing aggressive efforts to silence dissident voices, all against a backdrop of visible, widespread institutional failures, reflected in the damning decline of US life expectancy and other metrics.
The past year again showed Naked Capitalism to be right and early, just as we were when we launched this site to chronicle the coming financial crisis.
This year, the economic and military war with Russia, provocation with China, and the real economy and human health costs of Covid have exposed deep deficiencies in institutions, systems, and above all, what passes for leadership. For years, we’ve focused on the lack of operational competence of large organizations, most visibly governments but also critically important private sector players, ranging from hospital systems and pharmacy benefit managers to electrical utilities to trucking companies.
Worse, managerial classes have abandoned the tedium of dealing with complex and breakdown-prone physical production for the glamor of symbol manipulation. We’re seeing ever more extreme pathologies as that pesky real world proves to be not so responsive to elite sloganeering.
It isn’t just that institutions seem incapable of even mapping the full scope of a problem properly. We’re now regularly seeing officials nominally in charge act as if vehemently criticized diktats like a G7 cap on Russian oil prices will of course work because they are important people and can therefore get their way. As Lambert has said, it’s as if they’re like children driving a toy car with the steering wheel and brakes disconnected, and yet they merrily keep fooling with the controls as if that will accomplish anything.
Note Lambert’s image is charitable. The “collective West” doubling down on self-destructive sanctions is set to inflict Depression-level damage on Europe. And the excuse is “because Ukraine” when it’s actually “because our egos”.
The Russia conflict has become a crucible for the West, exposing many of our leaders and systems as wanting. And even though Russia is grinding down the US hegemony just as it is the Ukraine army, our own elites are piling on by looting rather than institution-building (witness Ukraine a a military-surveillance state profiteering boondoggle).
Similarly, climate change isn’t an existential threat but a business opportunity. And too many NGOs are in the business of taking money to never deliver. Look in the US at the same organizations that failed to secure abortion rights legislatively, in the era of peak feminism, fundraising on failure.
By contrast, tiny Naked Capitalism always and ever punches well above its weight. We expanded our coverage last year while keeping our high standards:
Chronicling the US shooting its empire in the head. We’ve long had “Imperial Collapse Watch” in Links. But never did we imagine the US would set out so energetically to bring that into reality.
After the anti-Russia sanctions solidified a deepening China-Russia relationship, memorialized in an important joint statement in early February, the US managed to isolate itself further by repeatedly eye-poking China, with the big escalation of an official visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
And the US is losing more geopolitical ground. India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa have refused to condemn Russia despite repeated US arm-twisting. An early UN vote on a Ukraine-related matter found only a minority of members effectively or actually siding with Russia. That’s flipped in the latest Russia-related vote, with the US only getting minority backing.
Assessing the economic sanctions blowback. Even though the unprecedented sanctions against Russia are a subset of the hegemony teardown story above, it merits its own treatment. Not only has Russia not keeled over from shock and awe sanctons, but it’s the US and EU economies that are suffering via Russia merely following Napoleon’s advice: “Don’t get in your enemy’s way when he is making a mistake.”
For instance, despite vocal and virtually unified criticism from experts, the US and G7 announced they were in full steam ahead mode on Friday on trying to cap the price of Russian oil. That day, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen cheerily announced that she would push for an EU gas price cap at a September 9 emergency meeting.
Since Russia having already said it wouldn’t sell oil (and presumably not gas) under those conditions, EU leadership is guaranteeing a cold and desperate winter. And the US won’t escape unscathed.
As an aside, some of the best commentary these first two big topics comes via YouTube channels, such as Alexander Mercouris, Alex Christoforu, Military Summary, and New Atlas. Unfortunately, consuming information via listening to presentations is very-time inefficient. That places big demands on our thin staff. It regularly takes an hour each day, which at 1 x 7 is almost a full day of work a week, every week. So our chronic time stress has become even more acute.
Tracking Covid-19. Thanks to the ongoing advice of our Covid brain trust, Ignacio, IM Doc, GM, and KLG, Lambert relentlessly following the scientific literature and CDC data (such as it is), and the considerable input of the commentariat, Naked Capitalism continues to have the best coverage of Covid, outdoing the mainstream media. We were early to recognize that the US was putting all of its Covid response eggs in the “magic vaccines” basket, and urged readers to implement additional protection strategies, like ventilation and masking, recognizing that the vaccines did not confer durable or sterilizing immunity. And we’ve been proven right as the US has gone from aggressive enforcement of jabs to Emily Litella mode.
Disappointingly but predictably, our hard-won Covid expertise is proving useful in reporting on the latest CDC public health failure: monkeypox.
Analyzing inflation and supply chain shortages. Too few soi-disant experts are willing to attribute this inflation to a reduction in global productive capacity, first due to Covid (labor force reductions, off and on lockdowns in China, continuing backlogs and bottlenecks) and now due to massive energy price increase and other sanctions-induced
Expanding our subject and geographic reach by adding KLG, John McGregor, and Conor Gallagher to our team. We warned that Jerri-Lynn was leaving big shoes to fill when she retired. But as much as we miss Jerri, we believe we have turned this challenge into an opportunity by further increasing our scope.
Watching the Biosphere. We continue to provide extensive and often in-depth coverage of events and systems in the biosphere, like species loss (bees, other insects, and birds), soil, rivers, coral, bears, salmon, and bogs, and the larger issue of whether the biosphere can be priced, as well as efforts to reverse or limit damage and regular highlights in Links of promising technologies.
Scanning for the Jackpot. If you read William Gibson’s The Peripheral carefully, the Jackpot starts in 2027, so we appear to be ahead of schedule. The Jackpot is a 21st century take on the Four Horsemen, except in Gibson’s version, human civilization survives, even though most people and other living creatures don’t. Considering the Jackpot as an emergent phenomenon, with features like corrupt and incompetent elites, Covid and pending medical disasters, and accelerating damage to the biosphere, enables the commentariat to look at political responses and personal/local efforts to minimize damage, like permaculture.
Dogging CalPERS. CalPERS receded a bit to the background only by virtue of the explosion of geopolitical and economic developments, but we’ve been calling out their continued bad conduct, like dumping private equity stakes at a loss but with cleverly timed and priced sale in a way that enabled staff to meet bonus targets.
Some of our accomplishments are continuing core activities:
Upholding rigorous standards of reporting and analysis in the face of a captured and credulous mainstream media. We challenge you to identify another publisher that does as much as we do with so little. In addition to our Ukraine/Russia, Covid-19 coverage, and US political coverage, other fresh examples are Nick Corbishley’s ongoing exploration of the war on cash and aligned efforts to implement more surveillance technology.
Upgrading our technology. Showing much patience, our former host Keith Freeman allowed us ample time to migrate to a new host, outside the US, with our backups in a different country. So we think we are as well protected as we can be, given the givens. However, sadly, we had also gone far down the path of implementing a new payment service in addition to PayPal, with which we had hoped to go live just before the fundraiser. We discovered some deal-killers disconcertingly late in the game. So we’ll continue to look, but as bad as PayPal is, the alternatives don’t meet our requirements.
Getting first dibs on Michael Hudson’s posts. Michael Hudson graciously and regularly gives NC the first publication opportunity because he likes you! Or at least most of you :-)
Maintaining expanded Links and overall writer effort. Due to increased news and noise flow, we increased the coverage of our daily Links feature during the Trump era from a former maximum of 45 articles and tweets to 55 to 60. This represents a significant extra effort, day in, day out. We have been able to maintain, and even increase, our level of original reporting and the range of our original posts by increasing our level of staffing, not just by bringing Nick Corbishley on board but also having Lambert take on more Links coverage, and now having an extra original post every Wednesday, with KLG and Conor Gallagher alternating.
We also continue to feature posts from our regular guest writers: Tom Neuburger and Hubert Horan.
Fostering the best commentariat. Naked Capitalism depends on its commentariat. We’ve reluctantly put in more tripwires, and appreciate that most of you have borne getting caught in moderation with good humor. But that means more comments to moderate.
Your support enabled us to add a very seasoned moderator, katiebird, to assist our already overstretched comments DJ Jules Dickson. We have yet another moderator who is being trained by Jules and katiebird. We look forward to announcing their official start soon.
And we did this all despite yours truly having to deal with my mother’s estate (far more hassle than it ought to be due to family dynamics) and getting a medical procedure in NYC to deal with a vaccine injury.
How This Fundraiser Works
Please give whatever you can. $5, $50, or $5000 are all appreciated. If you can only afford to give a little, then give a little. If you’re doing well, then please give more. If you are prospering, we hope you’ll include us in your good fortune.
We’d like to get broad-based participation from the Naked Capitalism community. Our target is 1100 donors for this fundraiser. Some have told us they are in tough shape now and can’t give but hope to contribute when their finances recover. So if you are having a good year, can you dig deeper and give more to make up for loyal readers who can’t participate in this fundraiser?
It will all even out in the end. Everything you do – reading, commenting, giving, and sending us information and antidotes – is essential to making this community work. You can help right now by following this link to make a donation.
Our accompanying kickoff post gives a high-level view of what we’d like to do. Over the course of the fundraiser, we identify specific things that your donations will fund and tell you when we’ve hit each of these monetary goals.
The first goal is funding for digital infrastructure essentials.
This plumbing may not seem very sexy, but imagine what happens when your water is cut off or your power fails! This is a critical foundation for this site, so please help us keep it sound.
Our recent hosting upgrade and need to tackle overdue tech asks, plus general inflation, means our nut has gotten bigger. So our first target is $23,000. Once we’ve hit that, we’ll let you know what our next item is.
How to Give
There are multiple channels for donating, and you will see them all when you go to our Tip Jar.
We really like checks! To give by check (which saves us PayPal/credit card fees), please make it out in the name of “Aurora Advisors Incorporated” and send it to:
Aurora Advisors Incorporated
164 Peachtree Circle
Mountain Brook, AL 35213
At the same time, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the headline “Check is in the mail” (and just the $ amount in the message) so we can count your contribution in the total number of donations.
Thanks again for your interest and generous support!