Wednesday, September 22, 2010


   An odd news blip on NPR caught my eye yesterday. It seems the mortgage side of GMAC halted all foreclosure processes in 23 states yesterday . As is usual with the now impotent NPR, no reason was given. A search of Bloomberg Business News revealed little more by way of explanation and explication. I brought it up with the neighborhood finance wizard and he offered the possibility that perhaps GMAC was halting foreclosures for fear of adding to an already bloated inventory and thereby further depressing prices. His explanation was of course plausible but I wondered if there could be another explanation. In the local Jackson Hole free newspaper this morning, Wells Fargo halted  the foreclosure of the Inn at Teton Village,a large hotel on the hook to Wells for $19+ Million. AS is usual in banking matters, no explanation was given.  I did turn up some worrisome tidbits.
       It seems that JPM in Florida is a mortgage "servicer" operating under the MERS(mortgage electronic Registration System). Even though servicer sounds like a whore for the real estate banks, it's really more like a pimp working for GMAC in Florida. As a pimp, the servicers job is to collect the monthly mortgage payment and deliver it to the holder of the mortgage, likely a MBS after taking out a cut for the service. So it seems JPM foreclosed on properties in Fla when in fact they did not  technically own,  and in fact never  had never owned . And here it gets worse. Neither JPM nor Wells Fargo had the legal right to foreclose but they did anyway because the borrowers who were living in the house without making mortgage payments had no reason to show up in court for the foreclosure. So let's say the house gets foreclosed upon and later resold. Would Wells Fargo be liable if it conveyed a  bogus title?  Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism writes:
"In the event that the loan goes into foreclosure at a later date, the then-current owner of the loan files the foreclosure and sells the property to a new owner, often at auction. The land records would show a deed of transfer from the investment bank to the new owner. This creates a break in the chain of ownership of the mortgage rights. In many cases, the transfer of ownership of the mortgage loan has gone from the original lender, through several owners, and then to the foreclosing bank, none of which is recorded on the property title history. Technically, the foreclosing bank has no recorded title rights to foreclose in the first place
There are reports that some title insurers are indicating that they will not insure for this title defect.
Yves here. Some readers may take this all to be unduly alarmist. But confirmation that this problem is real and potentially serious comes via a new “gotcha” practice by Wells Fargo on foreclosure sales. Wells is sufficiently concerned about the risks of selling properties out of foreclosure that it is springing an addendum on buyers, shortly before closing, which effectively shifts all risk for any title deficiency on to the buyer.
Now why is this a big deal? Go reread the boldfaced sentence above. If a bank like Wells does not have the right to foreclose, it cannot have clean title to the property. So the bank could conceivably be selling something it does not own.
Let’s say you buy a vase from a store. You open the box when you get home and find out the box is empty. You’d clearly be within your rights to get your money back.
With the Wells Fargo addendum, even if the bank has sold you the equivalent of an empty box, you have no recourse to Wells. Zero. Zip. Nada."
       What occurred to me is that GMAC  kerfuffle may in fact just be the tip of a finance iceberg in which most of the big mortgage banks have  criminally mishandled the mortgages they issued and foreclosed upon. If some or many of these foreclosed and bundled mortgages are bogus, the title companies wont touch them and the bundled mortgage backed securities which containing these mortgages which were already toxic may become untradable. If that becomes the case, the  already concealed losses of these bad banks could become  finally realized.  The TBTF banks of which Wells Fargo is one, are fraudulent overbearing rapacious corrupt giant squid continuing to dip their blood funnels into the heart of America as stated by Matt Taibi. They are  corrupt lying corporations  whose insolvency has been concealed by  our willing indebted politicians who are the water carriers of banks like Wells Fargo. The banks own our politicians and it is this chain of ownership that must somehow be broken. These corrupt banks can be fought by the people. The first and easiest way to battle them is to have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with them. Close your bank accounts, your savings and CDs and walk, no Run. Our family recently moved to another local bank in Jackson. Anyone who is foreclosed by Wells or a servicer of Wells needs to at the very least contest the foreclosure. Demand that they provide proof of a clear title. The big corrupt TBTF banks need to be reined in and returned to their proper role as handlers and conveyors of financial transactions, just the way they were  in the days when  Glass-Steagall  was the law of the land. The giant Wall Street banks have destroyed the world economy and are continuing to claw at what is left in the periphery of the economy into their maw. None of these sociopaths have been punished, indicted or in any way reined in.  There are many parallels between our current predicament and what happened at the Estates General with Louis XVI and the Bourbons in France at the end of the 18th century. France was deeply in debt and there were attempts to increase public spending  to buy France out of debt. Taxes were assessed, and lest we forget, the Bastille was stormed, an event in which old Louis lost his head. I wonder if anyone in the administration reads history. As we have been told, those who don't read about the mistakes in history will be condemned to repeat them.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Saudi Collapse

I expend a great deal of time analyzing the fragilities and pressure points of our industrial system and while there are many possible scenarios impacting on oil supply and production, one of the more likely would be a collapse  and overthrow of the Saudi Royal family. This spring Al Qa'eda suggested that it might be a good time to kidnap Christians and Saudi Princes.  It was probably no accident that last month a Saudi Prince by the name of  Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, now in exile in Cairo, issued an open letter to his fellow royals, suggested that his fellow princes should consider fleeing the kingdom  lest they lose their heads in a revolution in the streets. Interesting recommendation. This statement impelled me to  google news reports and data about the KSA and I found some disturbing trends which merit revelation of the secretive kingdom. The first is population. In the 1970's as oil production began to ramp up with the discovery of the world's largest oil field, the Ghawar. At that time the population of Saudis was about 6 million. As of 2000 it had exploded to 23 million(28.7 million is you count the 5 million + foreign nationals) and projected to rise to 50 million by 2030. In the 1980's per capita  net income was $28,000 and  that has fallen to $7000 by 2009 as revealed by an article in  July 13 2010 Fortune by Ilan Berman. He contends that the KSA is polarized by wealth and income disparity mirroring many other countries around the world. The CIA Factbook had some stunning statistics: 38% of the population is between the age of  0 and 14 and 60% is between 15 and 64.  There are an estimated 30,000 Saudi princes projected to grow to 60,000 by 2020, many of them drawing huge salaries doing nothing beyond jet setting around the world to destinations like the Four Seasons resort here at Teton Village or secretly contributing to nascent Wahabbist causes around the middle east.
     KSA has no manufacturing base outside of the oil and petrochemical industry and must import most of its food.It makes so little stuff of consequence that it had to use imported box cutters to storm the cockpits of the hapless  9-11aircraft. Despite the fact that the 9-11 terrorists were mostly Saudi citizens, the US government continues to sleep with the devil and the Obama Administration is no different than the equally undistinguished predecessor Bush Administration. KSA supplies the world with about 8.6 million barrels a day of mostly high quality low sulfur oil, just a bit under the current production leader, Russia.We get about 12% of our oil from KSA, behind Canada and Mexico. Saudi Arabia is said to be the only country with spare production capacity but even that boast by Aramco is subject to some doubt. Should a Wahabbist revolution occur in Saudi Arabia with a cessation of oil exports, the shock to the world economy would likely be profound. If a  revolution were to occur similar to what happened to its neighbor to the north(Iran) , the implications to the energy import dependent US economy would be obvious. The US has strong military ties to the kingdom as the recent $60 billion arms and aircraft deal indicates, but F15-16 fighter aircraft would have little value quelling  internal dissent. Despite the fact that the kingdom has the worlds largest petroleum reserves, power blackouts are a common occurrence in Saudi Arabia and an attack upon the electrical grid and communications infrastructure could quickly disable any response by the Royal Family and the military. I was not able to find any articles about the likelihood of internal dissent leading to revolution probably because of the tight control upon the media by the government but the demographic statistics I have cited point to some worrisome trends.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Black Swan from Outer Space

    The solar cycle or the sunspot cycle refers to the 11 or 22  year cycle in which the amount of sunspots counted on the surface of the sun increase and then decrease over a period of years. Whether you are in a waxing or waning phase is one of the determinants of good long range high frequency radio reception. I am a Ham and aficionado of short wave radio and we hams tend to keep up on where we are in the sunspot cycle. While googling on the sunspot cycle, I  stumbled upon an reference to  a perfect storm scenario of  damage to our communication and  navigation infrastructure and  our electrical grid  as a consequence of a possible future severe solar storm. Some of the links were hysterical apocalyptic reports from bloggers gone batty but the single useful link was a 132 pg paper from the National Academy of Sciences 1.5 day meeting in May of 2008 entitled
Severe Space Weather Events--Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts.
       I have a long time interest in astronomy, astrophysics, and communications  and I found the paper well written and fascinating. Severe Space weather is a  very significant low probability-high consequence event that I would like to address in  this blog.
      The key to understanding the magnitude of this low frequency/high consequence(LF/HC) solar storm event is the foreknowledge of the way our complex society is organized. Modern industrial society is characterized by a series of complex interwoven networks, like a massive Venn diagram or spiderweb. It is a web of dependencies and inter dependencies in a complex adaptive system highly reliant upon electrical energy. I have discussed such system vulnerability in previous discussions and one particular aspect of this system vulnerability has to do with how these systems are organized. One example I offer is how information travels between computers and servers corralled and mediated by appropriate software. The engineers and managers of such systems are of course under the thumbs of bean counters who demand low cost high speed networks, ie., efficient networks. They do not emphasize robustness. A robust network would have multiple alternative nodes and pathways  and back up systems which would normally go unused except in a system overload or failure. Building robustness into the system costs money and as a consequence in many systems as in the general world, bottom line considerations rule.Such efficient systems are vulnerable to failure or collapse.
        The most vulnerable part of our system is the electrical part, as electrical energy drives virtually all aspects of modern communications, command and control functions, finance, navigation and transportation . Electricity is distributed in most of our societies though electrical grids and that is the rub. We tend to generate our electricity in huge ie efficient  water cooled power plants and distribute this electricity boosting voltage by giant transformers to overcome the resistance in the transmission lines. Once the electricity reaches its destination, step down transformers restore the electricity to low voltage current we can use in our homes and factories. Electricity and magnetism are blood brothers and we have now come to how   electromagnetic superstorms  from our sun could overwhelm and collapse our electrical grid.
      The sun is a dynamic hydrogen fusion reactor which occasionally erupts releasing huge amounts of energy in the form of coronal mass ejections(CME) and solar flares. The magnitude of such storms is captured in a paragraph from the NAS paper:
A major turning point in our understanding of space weather came with the discovery of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in the 1970s and with the recognition that these, rather than eruptive flares, are the cause of non-recurrent geomagnetic storms.16 Large-scale eruptions of plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun’s corona, CMEs contain as much as 1016 grams or more of coronal material and travel at speeds as high as 3000 kilometers/second, with a kinetic energy of up to 1032 ergs.17 Eruptive flares and CMEs occur most often around solar maximum and result from the release of energy stored in the Sun’s magnetic field. CMEs and flares can occur independently of one another; however, both are generally observed at the start of a space weather event that leads to a large magnetic storm. To be maximally geoeffective, i.e., to drive a magnetic storm, a CME must (1) be launched from near the center of the Sun onto a trajectory that will cause it to impact Earth’s magnetic field; (2) be fast (≥1000 kilometers/second) and massive, thus possessing large kinetic energy; and (3) have a strong magnetic field whose orientation is opposite that of Earth’s.18
   Some recent solar storms was a   blackout in Quebec during the magnetic superstorm of March 1989 and the disruption of the Anik Canadian  communications satellites in 1994, as well as some less well known events such as the disruption of Allied radars in 1942 by an intense solar outburst and the brief  loss of communication by Air Force One on a visit to China in 1984. The real Grand daddy superstorms were the storms of 1921 and  the so called Carrington Event in September 1859. Here is a description from the paper with a stunning conclusion :
The strongest geomagnetic storm on record is the Carrington Event of August-September 1859, named after British astronomer Richard Carrington who witnessed the instigating solar flare with his unaided eye while he was projecting an image of the sun on a white screen. Geomagnetic activity triggered by the explosion electrified telegraph lines, shocking technicians and setting their telegraph papers on fire; Northern Lights spread as far south as Cuba and Hawaii; auroras over the Rocky Mountains were so bright, the glow woke campers who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning. Best estimates rank the Carrington Event as 50% or more stronger than the superstorm of May 1921.
"A contemporary repetition of the Carrington Event would cause … extensive social and economic disruptions," the report warns. Power outages would be accompanied by radio blackouts and satellite malfunctions; telecommunications, GPS navigation, banking and finance, and transportation would all be affected. Some problems would correct themselves with the fading of the storm: radio and GPS transmissions could come back online fairly quickly. Other problems would be lasting: a burnt-out multi-ton transformer, for instance, can take weeks or months to repair. The total economic impact in the first year alone could reach $2 trillion, some 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina or, to use a timelier example, a few TARPs.
     Later in the paper I read estimates of $1-2 Trillion a year with estimates of 4-10 years to fully repair the damage. And that is just in the US! The crucial point to realize is that the US has not had a superstorm event of note since 1921 and 1859 when the electrical and communications infrastructure was in its infancy.
   Vulnerability varies across the country. Here is a map of the US with a circle of highest vulnerability as well as a map showing the percentages of transformers likely to be knocked out in a superstorm. Vermont appears at highest risk of 97 % and much of the southern states seem to be untouched.

The Midwest,NE and NW sections of the country
 are at greatest peril. The barrage of accelerated particles from the sun disrupt and rearrange the earths magnetic field inducing ground currents which are amplified by the long grid transmission lines which act like giant antennas transporting dangerous current and voltages to distant regions, melting the copper windings in the huge transformers   as well as aging or damaging communication satellites and even posing grave risks to gas and oil pipelines. In such a blackout there is a cascade of breakers tripping and it is here that the real cancer of dependencies begin to manifest itself. With a loss of electric power, you have a loss of for example, water power. In many facilities like hospitals and defense establishments back up generators would kick in for a time but lack of water dooms electrical production due to lack of cooling, not to mention lack of water for human and animal consumption and agriculture and industry.
Communication is lost and much of the grid is under the command and control of computerized systems. Most of the large transformers are one off structures taking months to re manufacture. It is not possible to do field repairs in most cases and backup transformers are not routinely stockpiled. An additional complication is that is is difficult or impossible to model such a cascade of failures or run drills to prepare for such exigencies without shutting down vast areas of production and distribution of electricity. The paper lists the various agencies and branches that would have to respond to such a disaster and it is obvious that NASA and NAS are working hard to develop mitigating strategies to deal with such an apocalypse of electrical failure. For example, new frequencies and computer codes have been developed to add robustness to  GPS navigation but a sentence in the paper said it will be fully implemented in perhaps 15(!) years. An early warning system is obviously part of the preparation but the stunning speed which the particles can make the 93 million mile trip from the sun adds another layer of complication. It can arrive in as little as 17 hours as  in the Carrington Event and predicting the magnitude of the impact is problematic. Shutting down a grid for what amounts to a false alarm would be extremely costly and disruptive.
      My final comment deals with my skepticism of the level of adult behavior and competent leadership from our national government which was showcased for all to see with Katrina, a Category 3 hurricane.
   It is uncommon for the government to post alarming information to the general public and the core of the ruling class generally spare no efforts concealing worrisome negative information from the 310 million sheep who are waiting for an opportunity to get milk from the Federal tits, as my former senator Al Simpson patronizingly remarked recently. Deficits are an order of magnitude higher than stated, most banks are insolvent, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are soft brown fetid mush looking for a fan blade,public sector pensions are killing the states and we're in a depression with no effective economic and political planning.  As a  final digressing aside, our  dear leader spends his time going on daytime yap TV "The View",here answering the burning questions of the day concerning, Lindsay Lohan, his Blackberry and Snookie. I know he feels he has to do his bit with bread and circuses and brainless politicking but performances like that fill me with dismay. My real abiding fear is that  if such a solar superstorm were to occur today, it would be clusterfuck on steroids.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

No Jobs=No Future

      An hour ago I was driving back from Jackson listening to a segment on NPR entitled"Barely getting by", dealing with the issues of low wage employment. The figure that caught my attention was since the 1970's, wages corrected for inflation have fallen 20%. I had previously read that real wages since the 80's have remained stagnant. Another figure given was that the 20 years since 1950 saw real wages rise over 60%. After about 1980 wage disparity between the folks at the top and the bottom widened such that the US now ranks last among the Group of 20 nations in income disparity. I notice from the latest Newsweek ranking the US #11 in a ranking of 100 countries for livability. These are disturbing trends which bode ill for the future of a country which was undeniably the dominant  country after WW2 for ideas, manufacturing prowess and economic power. I will not try to debate when the US economy derailed because by some metrics like GDP and productivity, all seemed well. But about 30 years ago President Reagan began running huge fiscal budget deficits and promoting deregulation  of many industries under the neoclassical economic banner of a curious theory called "trickle down" economics and getting government off the back of big business. This doctrine  began under a republican administration but was expanded under the Clinton and Bush administrations,  actively promoted and cheer leaded by the Delphic Chair of the Federal Reserve, Allan Greenspan, who aggressively advanced the Finance industry while ignoring and demeaning the manufacturing sector. This was to be a new economy of ideas, of information, which came to mean digital information with the advent of ever more powerful computers.
       When the depression era Glass-Steagall Act segregating investment from conventional banking activities was repealed in the late 90's, our fate as a nation was sealed, although few people in government besides CFTC Head Brooksley Born commented about the repeal at the time.  The large multinational companies and the expanding banking sector began the movement to Globalization  which included  secretive changes to the tax system  written by  and beneficial to them. These changes allowed deferment of taxes on earnings overseas and in some cases like a leasing business, virtually permanent deferment.  If you were the CEO of a company like GE, what was there not to like? You could close a US factory and deduct all the costs  as well as the costs of setting up a foreign subsidiary. You could dump all those expensive  increasingly obese US workers with their underfunded pensions and increasingly expensive health care costs. Thus began the job arbitrage warned about by Ross Perot in his famous "sucking sound" of jobs disappearing south of the border under the newly adopted NAFTA legislation. But the corporate bean counters quickly realized that there were countries with a lot cheaper workers than Mexicans . The new corporate friendly environment of Asia, primarily China seemed just the ticket. Again what was there not to like? The US tax system practically invited the move to China: a young dynamic labor force willing to work for slave wages, no environmental, safety work rules or legal oversight, no pensions or health care worries. And so so it went. Outsourcing of manufacturing exploded overseas and the share of US GDP devoted to the making of things went into a steady decline to where it is a minuscule 10% today. The government also encourages and enables companies  to add robots both here and in China to perform manufacturing formerly done by human beings. For every dollar you spend  on a US manufactured good, you spend almost $4.00 for one of Chinese origin, this whole pathetic process is of course worsened by the undervalued yuan which of course is in the long time interest of those corporations and the Chinese government.
     Jobs previously performed by US workers are "gone" and even VP Biden has told us "They are never coming back." This administration and previous administrations are blindingly, stupefyingly stupid  making  such dangerous remarks. They  do not seem to understand that  a formerly working public who has lost everything and has nothing left to lose might,  just maybe, be a mob who might be capable of  taking vengeance upon a clueless ruling class who they perceive has sold their future to a  sweatshop slave culture and  left them nothing left to lose.
      The solutions crafted by Obama and Biden's dream team are the same as previous administrations: tax incentives, R&D tax credits, job creation credits, tax deferments and so forth. These tired recycled ideas using yet more borrowed money have never worked  because they are subsidies as a substitute for real job creation and they add yet more tangled skeins to an already hopelessly complex business tax system. I have previously said to lower the corporate taxes from 35% to something between 15 and 25% but make it a flat tax, no deductions for anything. Goldman Sachs wouldn't be able to deduct the enormous salaries to top executives and the $15.9 Billion in year end bonuses awarded last year even as they received over $16 Billion from Joe Taxpayer. Nor would GE be able to move its leasing business overseas and never pay taxes on profits. If you are an American company doing business here, you will have your headquarters here. Not in the Persian Gulf like Dick Cheney's Halliburton or to an offshore Mailbox like Stanley Tools  a few years back. I would favor a large readable label stating where the product was manufactured.  Let the costs speak for themselves.
       Eventually as energy costs rise, trans ocean shipping costs will doom a lot of trade, especially heavy or bulky items. But we in the US NEED JOBS NOW The government needs to tell the large corporations that they will no longer be able to arbitrage their labor force  to low wage countries hop scotching to the lowest cost producer courtesy of the US tax system which subsidize their game.
      The point I would like to emphasize in this final paragraph is that this globalized wage arbitrage represents a monumental long and short term security  and economic threat to the United States.  It baffles me that the media and politicians have ignored the risk that off shoring of manufacturing poses to US security and defense. You simply cannot lose the skills of our machinists and skilled craft persons arbitraged to China which will certainly be the economic and military rival to the US  in this century. Every dollar handed to the Chinese communist government to increase its manufacturing and engineering and technological prowess represents one more nail in the coffin representing America's economic future. We enable their success while condemning our own. The only beneficiaries of such a suicidal policy are the large multinational corporations. Changing tax policy to favor domestic manufacturing can be implemented immediately with the stoke of a pen and does not need to be phased in. It is time we build factories in this country  and begin the process of rebuilding out manufacturing base by eliminating tax advantages favoring overseas production. The time is now to rebuild our skilled job base.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hindenburg Omen

         For those of you that are not familiar with the Hindenburg Omen, here it is. It is an tool used by stock market technicians from I assume the Hindenburg School to call for a stock market crash when the number of 52 Wk highs and lows exceed 2.2% of stock market volume coupled with a rising 10 wk average. I gather the omen has poked up it's ugly snout from time to time lately. I leave it to the reader to decide on its validity. I have my own set of omens and they have been piling up like cord wood lately.
      I try to be a big picture guy as the title of this blog suggests and prefer to look at trends beyond economics, politics and social change because we have a multiplicity of inputs influencing our civilization in a seemingly chaotic fashion. These inputs are subject to positive and negative feedback loops  and other known and unknown variables which can render short term prediction unreliable or impossible in a particular specialized  field like economics, but  I contend that it is possible to develop a big picture view which can inform how we can live and plan for this uncertain future. Over in Germany, the Bundeswehr has been hard at it working on  military contingency plans. Der Spiegel, an excellent German magazine obtained a leaked document with some interesting conclusions which wont surprise anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the importance of oil to industrial economies. A link from is here. I read the leaked report (not yet fully translated)and didn't learn any new facts to alter my weltanschuung(sorry, couldn't resist!), but I am pleased that there are think tanks in some governments that are in fact thinking.  We have people in the US  who have been sounding similar alarms to the Bundeswehr Think Tank but most have been outside the mainstream media and perhaps the Pentagon and DC think tanks just have better internal security. Similar documents may be out there and they just haven't been leaked yet. The leaked document has a few key points which I have iterated many times in the past and I will do so again. The key emphasis of this blog is the importance of the influence of petroleum to an industrial economy. I have hit this time and again and here it is one more time. Oil doesn't just influence our  industrial economy. Heretofore cheap Oil energy IS OUR ECONOMY, or  95% of our economy. Oil not only drives virtually all transportation of people and goods but provides the chemical base stocks for the various polymers and products of our globalized lifestyle. With cheap oil energy  already gone, it is pretty obvious that the cost to the entire world's industrial lifestyle will be going up.The wealthy industrial nations will be able to hang on longer than the poor nations as long as the oil exporters continue to accept our dollars for their oil. The entire globalized world economy runs on oil and it is obvious to this observer that barring some new cheap oil energy substitute, the industrial economy of the past 250 years will soon be drawing to a close. The leaked Bundeswehr study spends a lot of time listing mitigating strategies to this petroleum decline.
       As the cost of energy goes up, the possibility of growth in our industrial economy will go down. At some point the  ever rising cost of  energy will force contraction in economies, in effect negative growth.This will mean the end of the current globalized industrial model. It think it is also obvious that it means the end of our debt based industrial model. Debt is credit advanced based upon the promise of future growth. With growth you can pay back the principal of the loan and the interest. If you have growth you can also use leverage to increase your profits. Without growth a debt and credit based economy is dead. Without growth, leverage is dead as a wealth enhancing tool. Ditto fractional based lending, securitized mortgages, derivatives and all the rest of the toxic garbage proffered up by our bloated financial industry. The end of cheap energy spells the end of our debt and credit based industrial civilization. Not the end of civilization mind you. A new civilization will rise to replace the current now flawed energy profligate version. We are at such an inflection point and it behooves all of us to start thinking about the changes we will need to make to our lifestyle to adapt to this new succession.