Posts Tagged ‘retail apocalypse’

A Domino Effect Awaits As Debt-Ridden Western Economies Collapse

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

Democracy survives because it pacifies people. Take a group, tell them that decisions are difficult but we are going to take a vote, and everyone calms down because no one is to blame for failure. When you fail, your reputation takes a hit; when a group fails, no one is to blame so everyone rationalizes the failure as success.

As part of that pacification, democracies possess a unique ability to thrive for a short time and then self-destruct. Because they make people feel at ease, those people then invest confidence, time, energy, and money into the various schemes that occur under democracy, all of which consist of manipulating appearance to signal demand, which causes a trend or herd behavior favoring it.

Think of how people make money in the modern world: they invent a product, it becomes a fad, and people buy lots of it; this can even happen with negative fads, like the panic over healthcare or desire for “green” products. The strength of democracy comes from this ability to mobilize masses with dollars wadded in their sweaty, filthy little hands.

In this sense, all of our consumer economy is a bubble. A new thing arrives, and it appears important, and everyone else is doing it, so it appears mandatory in order to compete or at least keep up with the Joneses, and so “everyone” buys it, and investors get behind it, only later to figure out that it was not important after all.

Most technologies fail because they are not relevant. Most trends die early, with only the first layer of investors making money and everyone else getting chumped. But if you build your economy around consumer demand, you will find that what goes up must come down and it will take down everything that relies on it.

We can see the future doom of Western economies through the beginning of an economic domino effect (via /.):

In the U.S., retailers announced more than 3,000 store openings in the first three quarters of this year. But chains also said 6,800 would close. And this comes when there’s sky-high consumer confidence, unemployment is historically low and the U.S. economy keeps growing. Those are normally all ingredients for a retail boom, yet more chains are filing for bankruptcy and rated distressed than during the financial crisis. That’s caused an increase in the number of delinquent loan payments by malls and shopping centers. The reason isn’t as simple as Inc. taking market share or twenty-somethings spending more on experiences than things. The root cause is that many of these long-standing chains are overloaded with debt — often from leveraged buyouts led by private equity firms. There are billions in borrowings on the balance sheets of troubled retailers, and sustaining that load is only going to become harder — even for healthy chains. The debt coming due, along with America’s over-stored suburbs and the continued gains of online shopping, has all the makings of a disaster. The spillover will likely flow far and wide across the U.S. economy. There will be displaced low-income workers, shrinking local tax bases and investor losses on stocks, bonds and real estate.

Retailers grew based on the idea that the type of society we saw in the 1980s would exist forever. Not only was the 1980s the last of the postwar wealth boom, but it was also based on the strength of the Anglo-Saxon elite who were no longer in charge of the culture but were still at the helm of most of the major businesses.

Now we have replaced those with incompetents in the name of political correctness, replaced our population with a third world and second world substrate, and based our thoughts of future value on fake internet traffic by impoverished outcasts and bots which means that what we think is gold, is actually feces, and having sold feces at gold prices, we are about to see our future values… re-adjusted.

The grim fact of democracy economies is that they depend on constant growth because they have no consistency, and so they rationalize all forms of broken policies as a means of maintaining the stream of money through the society, like air through a jet engine, because when the flow stops, everything falls apart at once:

To expand their economies, countries need to expand their populations, particularly at a time of low productivity growth.

“More warm bodies” makes sense as the motto of a system based on mass culture and mass mobilization as democracy is.

The good news in all of this is that as consumerism fails, so also goes the illusion of democracy as a long-term model, and with it goes also the parasitic and destructive notions of greed, diversity, equality, pluralism, tolerance, and individualism. As we watch the dust rise from the collapse, it will become apparent that civilization and social order are more important than those, and in fact always have been, even while we were deluded by visions of infinite wealth and growth.

Why American Retail Is Dying

Saturday, August 19th, 2017

A friend asked me today to investigate what sort of laptop they would buy, and in the course of research I found myself looking at NewEgg, Amazon, Walmart, Costco and, on a whim, Best Buy. They wanted it quickly, and no method is quicker than purchasing it locally or semi-locally. But there were some shocks in store.

First, Amazon is not the good deal it once was. Prices mysteriously adjust themselves to what their algorithms think you can pay, and shady merchants have taken over much of the search results. NewEgg fared well, but as always there is the feeling that their best deals are close-outs which manufacturers have dumped at cost on the mail order site in order to clear them out. Costco has the same feeling, and fewer options, but they stuck to the Sears-style “good, better, best” with three options in each category and a few outliers. This made shopping easy, and it would not surprise me if most Americans are not using this as their primary choice now. Walmart was bizarre, having implemented algorithms too smart for their own good, which then specialized in low-end machines with very little difference between them. They know what people buy, but not what they would buy if given only a few options which pushed them upward toward better machines for only a hundred dollars more. People spend $500 on phones, but $400 on laptops that will last three years at the outside? Bizarro world.

But Best Buy was the most instructive. The corporate stodges, who are not so much a type of person but the mentality formed of people above demanding “results!” and people below who are noncommittal to any course of action, or in other words the typical human organization where each person is using it for their own ends, have decided that this year is the year of the 2-in-1 laptop, so that is all you can get there. They do “good, better, best” within a narrow spectrum that emphasizes the better machines, but in doing so, offers few inspiring options and marks everything up by a couple hundred dollars. Their profit comes from people who do not know any better than to go look at what’s new, buy it for an outrageous price, then take it home and use it until it breaks or gets boring, then repeat. This company is not struggling because people prefer online, but because it is an inferior option. For the number of laptops they have, there should have been more choices, but instead the heavy hand of manipulation was there, trying to sweep us sheep into their little plan.

If anything came from this, it is that the Costco and NewEgg options will dominate. NewEgg lets you choose from a wide variety of machines and assumes you will either figure out which one you need or find someone to do it for you, and they have no salespeople and almost no customer support. Costco chooses a few machines that are not cutting edge, but being older are more thoroughly debugged, and you pay $50 more if anything than at NewEgg, and have very few choices because for most humans, the appeal of sorting through eleven pages of laptops is limited. Walmart, Amazon and Best Buy seem to have — much like Western Civilization — destroyed themselves with their own cleverness.

Recommended Reading