Economic Malaise, Midwestern Drought, and Other News Items

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Unemployment, the energy crisis, monetary confusion—nothing was going right during the economic malaise of the mid-1970s.

The following collection of brief news items was drawn from multiple sources. 

Economic Malaise

President Ford means well and, of course,
everyone in the nation hopes that he can pull an economic
miracle rabbit out of his hat. But don’t count on it.
Economics is one of Ford’s weakest subjects, former
Presidents Johnson and Nixon have left the U.S. dollar
completely drained of any “hard” backing, the world
monetary situation daily reaches new heights of confusion,
and changing weather patterns (coupled with ever-rising
population and demand for food and fiber) point only to
compounded shortages and disruptions in the near future.
The tough times–on a global scale–are not over,
and there’s little that Ford or anyone else can do about it.
In this country, look for more inflation, rising
unemployment, stopgap government “cures” that generally do
more harm than good, and other economic ills during the
coming months.

Midwestern Drought

Despite the small amount of relief offered to farmers by a few late summer rains, this year’s
scant moisture and blistering heat has taken its toll
throughout the Midwest. The U.S. Department of Agriculture
now estimates 1974’s corn crop at only 4.96 billion bushels, 12% below 1973’s 5.64 billion bushels and near two
billion bushels less than the USDA’s spring forecast. As a
result, look for higher beef and pork prices next year and
pressure on the federal government for export controls on
U.S. grain.

Honorary Oil Spills

Seattle environmentalist Douglas Scott
wants to name each reeking oil spill that befouls
Washington State’s shoreline in the future… after one of
the state legislators who recently voted to let petroleum
tankers into Puget Sound!

Smoky Mountain Land Prices

Land prices–at least the prices of
large tracts near North Carolina’s Smoky
Mountains–are suddenly softening after years of
steady hikes. The reason? Speculators who have insanely bid
up such property in hopes that they could eventually
subdivide it and cover the lots with condominiums and ski
reports now find that the necessary financing simply isn’t
available. So–in the middle of continued general
inflation–we have an isolated case of deflating
values. Look for such spot disruptions in your area.
Perhaps that farm you want isn’t out of reach after all!

Antifreeze Shortage

Stock up now on antifreeze. Its main
ingredient–ethylene glycol–is in short supply
(because manufacturers can make more money selling it to
the polyester fiber industry). Result: The $1.75-$2.50
antifreeze of last year will soar to $4.00 or more this
coming winter if it’s available at all.

Impending Depression

Albert E. Sindlinger, who circulates a
private letter to 300 ultra-plush subscribers (U.S. Trust
Co., General Motors, the White House), has–for the
first time in 26 years–bluntly predicted a
depression, according to New York magazine. “By the first
half of 1975,” says Sindlinger, “we could have 8 to 9%,
unemployment, big salary cuts, and a crash in the stock
market.” Sindlinger, by the way, has taken his own words to
heart and sold all his personal stock holdings and put the
cash he received in a safe-deposit box. He says, “I’d be a
damn fool if I didn’t.” Sindlinger, of course, is not
alone. David Rockefeller, President of Chase Manhattan Bank
(one of the most important in the world), forecasts “at
least a few bank and industrial failures in the next six
months” and “the possibility of a panic”.

Simplify Your Life

As Paul Ehrlich has pointed
out, this is a good time to sever every
unnecessary tie that might prove uncomfortable when and if
the worst comes to pass. Stock up on food, simplify your
needs, learn to do more for yourself, become more
self-sufficient. But then, that’s good advice anyway, isn’t