DEATH OF MALLS 4post 1 of 2 today
Okay, so indoor malls were a long ago casualty limping along until recently when twenty year long trends finally drove the next to last nail in their coffin ( expensive consumption entertainment hybrid, rising costs, higher rents comparatively, dropping consumer purchasing power ). Their replacement Big Box stores had lower costs than indoor malls initially but had the same purchasing power decline issue, inventory issues ( Big Boxes had to carry Big Selection ), rising costs, real estate bubble costs and, a biggie, exponential acquisition costs ( as profits shrunk due to rising costs companies merged but after a certain point the loan costs became a bigger cost than the merger supposedly saved ). Outdoor malls had the advantage of saving costs by combining stores just like the indoor malls did but without the initial or ongoing costs. Their footprint was much lower than Big Boxes, reducing real estate costs. They could have variety and inventory but that cost was shared across different businesses. They were the benefits of both without the downsides.
Now, when outdoor malls themselves start getting into trouble financially, yes, that is indicative of larger systematic issues. But those go back TEN years. Headlines calling this a canary in a coal mine are desperately casting their ignorance about ( or, more worrisome because you pretty much expect dumb asses to be littering the group in heaps, they are energy decline deniers which are, unknowingly, granted, whores for the elite calming the sheep so that they don’t stampede ). Sure, the middle class is shrinking and their equity wiped out in the ‘07 meltdown. Sure, costs are double or triple as work disappears and the few employed take cuts in their hours. Yes, GLOBALLY the consumption paradigm is dying and overproduction is killing most companies with completion of a desperate nature. But malls dying are a dishonest indication. The end results will be the same, I grant you that. Too many factories churning out too many products that nobody can afford to buy because nobody is working, just like the Great Depression except this time there are too many people to feed rather than too much food for too few people so you can add the guerilla global warfare to the tab rather than the historical Industrial National Global War of yore. But fundamentally retail has nothing to do with any of this so much as debt does. Retail was just a cog in the machine that expedited things. Without retail, debt is still as busy as ever increasing.
Since the middle class was castrated, as a force gathering debt sufficient to keep the central bankers in business they are yesterday’s news. As one, they got into a staggering amount of debt to buy up in real estate and by using their McMansions as ATM machines. And as one, the banks used derivatives to multiply their profits from that phantom real estate equity. They had no choice as EROI from petroleum started to decline, which meant quite simply that energy output declined. And energy output must increase to pay the interest to pay the banks. Once it stops growing-it doesn’t even have to shrink, just stop increasing- the banks can’t stay in business all that much longer. So they play all their BS tricks like government bail outs and increasing their derivative bets to get much closer to potential failure. And it all works for a time and the stock market goes to 20k and the can is kicked down the road. Until. It doesn’t. Which means you can’t time the collapse.
Which means by focusing on the retail sector instead of the derivatives you target the wrong indicator, which means you are focusing on the wrong problem. Retail used to be a much smaller component of the economy, so obviously it doesn’t have to exist in its present form to have economic activity. We went from near 100% agriculture to near 100% manufacturing ( if you consider mechanized and petroleum input based agriculture manufacturing ) to nearly 100% retail consumption. Retail can rise and fall and have less impact than economic collapse. But central bank failure is a different bird altogether. Since we did go global in trade, bankers have a stranglehold on that trade through money control. No functional bank means no trade means no goods like imported oil ( we can argue all day about the percentage of oil imported because of our supposed Fracking Miracle, but even on its best day we still import HALF of our oil, AND those imports are much higher EROI oil than fracking so that is the more important half at that. EROI oil is like a solar panel. The manual says 100 watts. The net is less even on a sunny day. Using fracking oil is a solar panel on an overcast day ).
Focusing on retail trouble and ignoring net energy and banking failure is like looking at a full bathtub as your water supply and ignoring the floating turd in it. And when you add in religion to the death of malls ( I won’t name any names but most doom writers are also Jesus Freaks. Nothing wrong with them if that is what they practice in the privacy of their own homes, but problematic when inserted into economic analysis. Like, why fill the gas tank before I go on a trip in the winter down a rural deserted road when I know the rapture is due, right? ) you completely skew any rational discussion. Again, nothing wrong with panic and paranoia. But you must know your real enemy, not a Potemkin Army supposedly threatening your front while the real one is at your back. The death of malls, exactly the wrong problem we needn’t worry about ( like the fake terrorist threat. Nation state intelligence organizations fund terror groups to their own ends. It isn’t the imminent sack of western civilization, at least not in this country. Rednecks worried enough about jobs or the virtue of their women to lynch Blacks will have few problems eliminating any Muslim threat in their area of operation. New York and Flint are on their own with the shock troops of demographic takeover ). Now that clear thinking has reared its ugly head, that concludes this series.
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