Summary: Last month we looked at the big questions that 2014 might answer. Today we look backwards, at the thousand words-plus posted daily in 2013. Let’s look not at the posts that got the most hits (shown here), those are seldom the ones that look significant a year or so later. What posts of the past look useful or prescient when seen from this perch on the first day of 2014?
“Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.”
— Thomas Szasz in The Second Sin (1973)
So let’s look back at some stories that benefited readers in 2013.
- Change in focus
- Forecast: continued slow growth in the US economy
- Forecast: no reaction to revelations about the Security State
- Debunking climate activists with climate science
- Other stories covered
- What did you find useful or interesting?
(1) Change in focus of the FM website
In 2013 the content of the FM website shifted. As always, bulk of our content consisted of analysis of current conditions and trends. But there were fewer posts giving forecasts. My vision has clouded, perhaps from anger — eliminating one of the most valuable functions of the FM website. In exchange we provided more posts about ways to reform America (the most frequently requested subject, which turned out to be of little interest to readers).
(2) Forecast: continued slow growth in the US economy
Let’s start with the big one. I forecast continued slow growth in the US economy, as I did in 2011 and 2013. This looks correct. Results through Q3:
- An exciting real GDP growth of 4.1% QoQ annualized in Q3, but only 2% YoY.
- Stripping out the change in inventories, real growth was an adequate 2.5% QoQ annualized in Q3, but only a too-slow 1.7% YoY — same as in Q1 and Q2.
- Average annualized GDP since 2H 2009: 2.3% (only repeated bouts of fiscal and monetary stimulus have kept it above the 2% “stall speed”).
This slow growth, with most of the benefit going to the rich, is perhaps the defining characteristic of the past 6 years — shaping our politics and society.
What happens in 2014? I cannot even make a good guess. I wonder if anybody can. We are in uncharted territory after five years of massive fiscal and monetary stimulus.
(3) Our reaction to revelations about the Security State
How would we react to these revelations about NSA surveillance? This was one of the few forecasts I made this year. The week that the Guardian published the first Snowden revelations I wrote The NSA news might be a birthday for the New America! (7 June 2013, with a wealth of links):
These are special days! The New America approaches as the Second Republic (under the Constitution) dies. Powerful elites are the agents. Our children are its victims. We are the cause. Our reaction to the NSA revelations will prove this to any who wish to see.
Seven months later, the revelations have been larger than most of us dreamed. Yet our reaction has been less than many of us hoped — and much as I feared: so far no reforms. Zero. A display of pusillanimity (contemptible fearfulness) which would make the Founders weep.
As the scandal ages and we accept NSA surveillance as the new normal, I expect few reforms. See Marcy Wheeler’s look at Obama’s weak proposals.
Two posts about this are valuable even today. I recommend reading them, even re-reading them.
- For details about these revelations, and the lies we’re told about them, see the posts by Marcus Ranum explaining . The most valuable: The Empire Strikes Back: The Demonization of Snowden Begins, 15 June 2013.
- To understand our peril look back to see the America’s courtiers rush to defend the government – from us, 22 June 2013. Even now I find it shocking to see so many of our best and brightest working against us.
(4) Debunking climate activists with climate science
Note that, as usual on the FM website, this hewed closely to consensus opinion of the relevant authorities (here, climate scientists) yet still angered people on both sides of the debate. The climate activists were incensed at mention of the data showing the pause in surface temperature warming. The “skeptics” were outraged at mention of the consensus among scientists that slowing solar activity probably would have little effect on Earth’s climate.
Despite the intense controversy and rapid progress of the climate sciences, these posts about the basics of climate change from 2012 and 2013 still look good. I read these today with astonishment. Climate is the most heavily covered subject in science during the past decade, and the public still remains ignorant of the answers to these questions.
- What we know about our past climate, and its causes
- Good news! Global temperatures have stabilized, at least for now.
- What can climate scientists tell about the drivers of future warming?
- What can climate scientists tell us about the drivers of future warming? – part two of two
- When did we start global warming? See the surprising answer.,
- Still good news: global temperatures remain stable, at least for now. — Scientists look at the pause
- The slow solar cycle is getting a lot of attention. What are its effect on us?
Two posts in 2013 were especially valuable:
- One of the most important questions we face: when will the pause in global warming end?
- Possible political effects of the pause in global warming, 26 August 2013
(5) Other stories covered
Readers of the FM website have been at the leading edge of coverage of many vital issues. Click these to see the posts. Some of these subjects are only now starting to get the recognition they deserve, although you read about them long ago.
- Climate change
- Monetary Policy
- Income Inequality
- Growth of the New America
- The radiation from Fukushima
- Propaganda: we’ve become gullible, and so easily governed
- Conservatives and the Republican Party: their ideology and political movements
- The coming of the robots (aka the next wave of automation, the next industrial revolution)
- Posts about war: 4th generation war, the clash of civilizations, the Af-Pak War, and terrorism
(5) What did you find useful or interesting?
Post a comment about what posts or themes you found interesting or useful.
Or what you found to be wrong, or useless.
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