World View: North Koreans in Supposedly Rich Rice Belt 'Starve to Death'

World View: North Koreans in Supposedly Rich Rice Belt 'Starve to Death'

This morning’s key headlines from

  • North Koreans in supposedly rich rice belt ‘starve to death’
  • North Korea faces worst drought in 50 years
  • Relations between China and North Korea fall to a new low
  • Spain’s banks requesting massive bailouts

North Koreans in supposedly rich rice belt ‘starve to death’

Thousands of people have died of starvation in the last three months in North Korea’s supposedly rich agricultural heartland of Hwanghae Province. According to one North Korean source:

“A few dozen very weak people could be found on each farm. The farms put in place measures to deal with it, but these were fairly useless. By the time April had passed, something like ten people had died of starvation on each farm.”

Food production fell sharply at the end of 2011 due to flooding, and then most of the harvest was diverted to the military or to the élite in Pyongyang. Daily NK

North Korea faces worst drought in 50 years

North Korea’s western coast region, on the border with China, is experiencing the worst drought since 1962. Advance weather forecasts indicate that little rainfall is expected in June. Yonhap (Seoul)

Relations between China and North Korea fall to a new low

The episode that we reported last week ( “18-May-12 World View — Today’s Schadenfreude: North Koreans kidnap 29 Chinese fishermen”) has ended with the return of the Chinese fishermen to China. But China’s blogosphere is infuriated by images of of the crew members stripped to their longjohns, saying that they were beaten and starved. One story said the kidnappers ripped down the Chinese flag on one boat and used it “like a rag.” This comes several weeks after various other diplomatic insults from the North Koreans, including where they defied Chinese wishes by testing a nuclear-capable long-range missile without even notifying the Chinese. Apparently the North Koreans treat the Chinese as contemptuously as they treat Americans. AP

As China builds its military in preparation for launching a war with the United States, there’s been a lengthy discussion in the Generational Dynamics Forum forum whether China’s first military strike will be an invasion of the Philippines or an invasion of Taiwan, or something else, and whether the first strike will be met with appeasement or counter-strike by the United States. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, It’s worth pointing out that China’s decision may not be entirely rational. The thing that distinguishes generational crisis and non-crisis wars is that non-crisis wars do tend to be rational, while crisis wars tend to be built on pure emotion. The attack by the American South on a northern fort, leading to the American Civil War, was not a rational decision, in that the North was three times as large as the South. Similarly, Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor was an emotional decision that could not have succeeded in the long run. As I read the behaviors and statements coming out of China today, I see China as a country giddy with military power to the point of mass hysteria, and way overconfident. At the same time, China’s military is strongly built up on several fronts — on the border with India, in the South China Sea, across from Taiwan, and in other places. At some point, probably not in the not too distant future, the Chinese will make an emotional decision to launch a war on one, two three, or more fronts, leading to a world war, and that will be that.

Spain’s banks requesting massive bailouts

Rarely does a day go by any more when the economic news out of Europe isn’t disastrous. On Friday, Spain’s fourth biggest bank, the newly nationalized Bankia SA, asked for a bailout of €19 billion from Spain’s government. On the same day, the president of Catalonia, one of the wealthiest of Spain’s 17 regions, said that Catalonia needed a bailout, to help refinance €36 billion of debt maturing this year. Meanwhile, the government itself has pledge to implement an austerity program that will save more than €45 billion in debt, something that many analysts say is impossible. Oh, I almost forgot: S&P cut the debt rating Catalonia to one notch above junk status, and cut the rating on Bankia and two other Spanish banks to below junk status. Reuters and Bloomberg

It’s truly astonishing how helpless the politicians are, and how “kicking the can down the road” has been a total failure over and over and over. The philosophy behind kicking the can down the road is that if you can stall long enough, then growth will magically start occurring, just as it has in all the decades since the end of World War II. But this is where Generational Dynamics theory comes in, and tells you what’s really going to happen. The current era cannot be compared in any way to the decades since the end of WW II. This is a generational Crisis era like the 1930s, and the only macroeconomic models that can tell you anything about what’s coming are the macroeconomic models from the 1930s — and the news that those models bring you is not good news. Even massive monetary and fiscal stimulus will do no good, as we’ve already seen time after time, and in fact will make the final disaster only worse.