by Jeff Nielsen
The collapse in the “civilian participation rate” (the number of people working in the economy) and the “velocity of money” (the heartbeat of the economy) indicate an economy which is not merely in decline, but rather is being sucked downward in a terminal (and accelerating) death-spiral.
However, even that previously published data, and the grim analyses which accompanied it could not prepare me for the horror story contained in data passed along by an alert reader. U.S. “gasoline consumption” – as measured by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) itself – has plummeted by nearly 75%, from its all-time peak in July of 1998. A near-75% collapse in U.S. gasoline consumption has occurred in little more than 15 years.
Before getting into an analysis of the repercussions of this data, however, it’s necessary to properly qualify the data. Obviously, even in the most-nightmarish economic Armageddon, a (relatively short-term) 75% collapse in gasoline consumption is simply not possible. Unless we were dealing with a nation whose economy had been suddenly ripped apart by civil war, or some small nation devastated by a massive earthquake or tsunami; it’s simply not possible for any economy to just disintegrate that rapidly, without there being some ultra-powerful exogenous force also at work.