Forget the Year of the Ox, according to Bruce Sterling of Seed Magazine, 2009 is the Year of the Panic. He lists 7 reasons why; for example, let's take look at insurance:
4. Insurance and building codes. Every year, insurance rates soar from mounting "natural" catastrophes, obscuring the fact that the planet's coasts are increasingly uninsurable.
Insurance underlies the building and construction trades. If those rates skyrocket, that system must keel over. Once people lose faith in the institution of insurance?—?because insurance can't be made to pay in climate-crisis conditions?—?we'll find ourselves living in a Planet of Slums.
Most people in this world have no insurance and ignore building codes. They live in "informal architecture," i.e., slum structures. Barrios. Favelas. Squats. Overcrowded districts of this world that look like a post-Katrina situation all the time. When people are thrown out of their too-expensive, too-coded homes, this is where they will go.
Unless they're American, in which case they'll live in their cars.
But how can dispossessed Americans pay for their car insurance when they have no fixed address? Besides, car companies are coming apart with the sudden savage ease of Enron's collapse. Indeed, the year 2009 is shaping up as a planetary Enron. Enron was always the Banquo's ghost at the banquet of Bushonomics. The moguls of Enron really were the princes of contemporary business innovation, and the harbingers of the present day.