DrumBeat: August 16, 2007

OECD fails IEA reliability test

To correct for earlier over-optimistic forecasts, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has reduced its estimates for non-OPEC oil production by 410 kb/d from second quarter 2007 onwards. This change has been little noticed in the press.

According to the July 13 issue of the IEA's Oil Market Report, the original non-OPEC forecasts for 2005 and 2006 proved over-optimistic to the tune of 1.0 mb/d. This discrepancy is mostly due to decreasing OECD production. Moreover, OECD supply has consistently come in below initial forecasts for the past ten years.

This has forced the IEA to introduce what is called a "reliability adjustment", reducing their total non-OPEC forecasts with 410 kb/d, applied from second quarter 2007 onwards.

IEA relies on national forecasts, so who are the culprits? The country-by-country adjustments are as follows...

High asphalt costs haven't hit Yuma - yet

Larry Brown of Abacus Project Management Inc. assists contractors with bid estimates and is helping with building construction and parking lot expansion at Arizona Western College in Yuma. Brown said rising costs have hit California worse than Arizona but that they are bound to make a local impact soon.

"It's really a man-made shortage," Brown said. "Refiners came up with better techniques for crude oil, which is used in the making of 'hot mix,' used to make asphalt paving ... but now it's also used for diesel fuel."

Ultra-Deepwater Plan Released

The U.S. Department of Energy has released its 2007 Annual Plan for the Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Research and Development Program.

Analysis: Iran gas to Europe a problem

Although a recent deal to transport Iranian natural gas to Europe through Turkey could undermine U.S efforts to isolate Iran’s oil and gas economy, it may also provide an attractive alternative to European reliance on Russian supplies.

Exit Iran's oil minister, and a pipeline too

India's quest to expand the use of natural gas as a major energy source has experienced several recent setbacks.

The prospects for the US$7.5 billion Iran-India-Pakistan (IPI) gas pipeline took a big hit with the dramatic firing of Iran's oil minister, who had reportedly agreed to sell gas to the two countries at a discount. Further, the Indian government has dramatically reduced the estimated gas reserves of recent finds that were announced with much fanfare.

Nozari unlikely to favour big oil companies

Working in Opec's second-largest producer could get even harder for international companies after the replacement of Iran's oil minister on Sunday.

Canada troops assert Arctic sovereignty

"We're here to show the world we'll be watching if they trespass on Canada's Arctic," says Al Fry, HMCS Fredericton's executive officer.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has vowed to "vigorously protect" Canada's interests in the North, "as international interest in the region increases."

Prominent Iraqis criticise oil law

A statement, signed by 419 Iraqi oil experts, economists and intellectuals, expresses grave concern that the newly proposed law would deprive Iraq from its most vital natural resource, oil, and give foreign oil companies ultimate domination over Iraq's oil wealth.

Lagging oil output slows Iraq economic growth

The International Monetary Fund said economic growth in Iraq has been slower than expected as the violence-wracked country struggles to ramp up oil production above the current 2 million barrels a day.

Argentine Economy Probably Slowed in June on Energy Shortage

Argentina's economy, the second-largest in South America after Brazil, probably slowed in June as cold weather and a lack of investment in the energy industry led to rolling blackouts and electricity cuts for companies.

Venezuelan says accord is within reach

Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips may reach a compensation deal with Venezuela's national oil company within weeks over at least $5 billion worth of assets, the country's chief negotiator said Wednesday.

Iran's President to Capitalize on Oil Wealth: When will the country's oil bourse finally start trading?

Plans to open an Iranian oil bourse to compete with NYMEX in New York and the IPE in London have been continuously deferred for the past two years. At least three deadlines have expired without any progress being made. The bourse, which will be located in the Iranian Free Trade Zone on the island of Kish, is meant to attract international oil trading to the Middle East.

Outside observers say the potential for an oil-trading platform in the Middle East is promising but its main risk will be stability. Oil markets, like currency markets, react much more intensely to political instability than other capital markets. The Iranian nuclear issue won't do the country any favors in creating the best circumstances for a successful oil bourse.

Greece Prepares for Construction of Russian-backed Oil Pipeline From Bulgaria

Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline has been under discussion for over a decade. But the soaring demand for oil and the accompanying high prices have given the project a decisive push. If plans hold to schedule, construction begins in 2008 with oil flowing by 2011. In recent years significant oil reserves have been found in central Asia and shipment by tanker across the Black Sea is a principal means of bringing that oil to European and American markets.

SCO Seeks Deeper Energy Ties

Russia, China and the Central Asian states are expected to call for an intensification of energy ties and multipolarity as their leaders meet at a Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Bishkek on Thursday.

Zimbabwe: Support Strategies to Mitigate Fuel Crisis

ZIMBABWE'S energy sector is going through its most trying time in the post-independence era.

As far as electricity is concerned, reports indicate that the whole of sub-Saharan Africa is facing shortages this year and beyond.

Korea Paints `Hollow’ Picture for Energy Development Abroad

South Korea unveiled an ambitious plan last week to raise the "self-sufficiency" level in oil and gas development from the current 3 percent to 28 percent in the coming decade by increasing production of its state-run and private companies abroad.

Without concrete details, however, the government is criticized for only drawing a "hollow" picture amid the intensifying energy war around the world in the 21st century, according to experts.

ConocoPhillips settles royalties lawsuit

ConocoPhillips has agreed to pay the government $97.5 million to resolve a lawsuit alleging that a company it acquired last year, Burlington Resources, paid less than it should have in royalties for natural gas produced on federal and American Indian lands.

Teppco units agree to fuel-dumping fines

Subsidiaries of Houston pipeline company Teppco Partners will pay nearly $2.9 million in fines for discharging jet fuel, gasoline and oil into streams and rivers in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, federal regulators said Wednesday.

Mexico’s flimsy raft of climate change measures

Latin America’s second largest economy is the world’s twelfth largest greenhouse emitter. Its annual emissions of carbon dioxide equivalent reach 525.8million tonnes per year, according to the World Resources Institute.

One of the biggest sources of Mexico’s greenhouse gas emissions is the use of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, to generate power. Traffic-related pollution and illegal deforestation are also cited as major contributors to climate change.

Crown prince of nuclear power

As energy demand rises and costs escalate, and as pressure mounts for developed countries to rein in CO2 emissions, many see nukes as the only scalable means of churning out cheap electricity and putting a dent in global warming at the same time.

That's one reason hedge funds and other investment firms, which wouldn't touch uranium as recently as two years ago, have snapped up more than $1 billion worth of the radioactive stuff during the past year.

Cape Wind foes debate energy project

Vinick outlined economic, navigational and environmental risks to siting an expansive utility-scale wind farm in the sound and pushed for locating turbines in deeper waters.

Gordon pointed to the possibility of greater energy independence for the United States through renewable energy projects such as Cape Wind and asked why not here and now. "The pressure and the price impact on fossil fuels will continue to rise."

Biodiesel plant stirs hopes in Grays Harbor

The big news at Grays Harbor underscores how the U.S. landscape is being transformed by the rush toward alternative energy. Skyrocketing fuel prices, a desire for reliance on domestic energy sources and concerns over greenhouse gases have created a perfect climate for biofuel development.

Water for biofuels or for food: it's one or the other

Biofuels, hailed by many as the green solution to offset a coming oil shortage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, are not a cure-all solution, experts at a water conference in Stockholm warned this week.

Biofuels, which are made from crops, require huge amounts of water, a resource that is already in short supply in many parts of the world. Bioenergy could thus end up diverting water resources desperately needed for food crops.

Dave Cohen: For Russia, An End To Growth is In Sight

Russia's resurgent oil production has fueled growth outside of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (non-OPEC) since 1999. The end is now likely in sight for yearly increases from the Federation. Growth has slowed since 2004, and although most analysts expect increases to continue in the near term, Russia is poised to peak or plateau sometime in the 2010-2012 period. If you are concerned about peak oil, it is necessary to track events in the world's largest oil producer. The eventual outcome is uncertain, but a peak in Russia's oil production in the medium-term seems all but assured.

Russian scientist calls for fusion research program by year's end

A leading Russian nuclear scientist said the country must adopt a federal targeted program on the research and potential use of fusion power as an alternative energy source by the end of 2007.

Erin wanes, Dean waxes

Neither the latest five-day forecast nor the latest computer models show Dean as a threat to Florida or the U.S. East Coast, although it could reach the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico early next week, with its path still uncertain.

Clash over oil sands inevitable: Lougheed

A war is looming between Alberta and the federal government over pollution caused by oil sands development that will far surpass any previous federal-provincial battle in its political and economic stakes, former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed predicted Tuesday.

BP Trinidad commits to natural gas exploration, despite concerns over reserves

BP Trinidad and Tobago has pledged to continue investing heavily in natural gas exploration, dismissing a recent report that found the Caribbean nation's reserves will last only another dozen years.

There’s Money in Oil, Oystermen Find

In an arrangement that is a Louisiana seafood specialty, though one that can’t be fried or covered in sauce, an oysterman here in the nation’s top oyster-producing state can make as much, if not more, collecting damage settlements from oil companies as from harvesting the bivalves themselves, according to a recent study by two Louisiana State University economists.

Australia: Coal may be left under city water

UP to $31billion worth of coal buried under Sydney's catchment area may never be extracted unless it can be mined without disrupting the city's future water supply.

While the Sydney Catchment Authority yesterday stopped short of proposing a moratorium on mining, it recommended a tougher approval process.

Gas storage plan may go cold

EXXONMOBIL has again raised doubts over the future availability of hydrocarbon reservoirs in Bass Strait for the storage of greenhouse gases.

Scrabbling around for plan B

As J.K.Galbraith pointed out in his wry classic The Great Crash 1929 – required reading for anybody interested in the vagaries of economics, not to mention the funniest work of serious economic history ever written – economic panics offer an unequaled glimpse at the gaping chasm between expectation and reality that opens up when people think they can get something for nothing. It also has real implications for the future of industrial society, since resources flushed down the ratholes of subprime mortgages, speculative hedge funds, and the like will not be available to deal with the pressing needs of an oil-dependent civilization slowly discovering that it’s already on the far side of Hubbert’s peak. All these are relevant, but the spectacle of empty air opening up beneath yesterday’s speculative boom also does a fine job of pointing out one of the most pervasive bad habits of contemporary thought.

...Those who argue that the world still contains ample supplies of oil that just haven’t been found yet, like those who insist that innovation will take care of the problem by pulling some currently unknown technological rabbit out of a hat just in time, tend to respond to such questions as “but what if you’re wrong?” in the same tone of irritated superiority as a Wall Street financier might have done a few months ago if asked what would happen if subprime defaults got out of hand. There’s an oddly incantatory quality to this nothing-can-go-wrong rhetoric, as though it will all work out fine just as long as everybody agrees it will.

Blaming labor for peak oil problems

Does it cross anybody's mind that the rising price of doing business in Alberta constitutes clear proof that cheap oil's days are over? That this is, in fact, a textbook case illustrating the principle of peak oil? As supply tightens, the pressure to go after more difficult-to-exploit sources of energy will rise, and so, accordingly, will the cost of that energy.

MMS Says Operators Beginning Evacuation Preparations for Erin

Based on data from offshore operator reports submitted to the MMS, personnel have been evacuated from a total of five production platforms, equivalent to 0.6 percent of the 834 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Petrobras: Oil Fields Beneath Salt Layer Not In Plan

State-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, isn't incorporating in its new business plan production for potentially massive oil resources in ultra-deep fields under a salt layer of the Brazilian shelf.

Exxon Says Gorgon LNG Too Expensive, May Move

The massive Gorgon liquefied natural gas project off the coast of northwest Australia can't go ahead at current cost levels and may be moved from its proposed location at Barrow Island, Credit Suisse analysts Wednesday cited Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Rex Tillerson as saying.

"All aspects of Gorgon are being looked at, up to and including moving the site from Barrow Island (presumably to onshore)," Credit Suisse analysts Mark Flannery and Edward Westlake said in an email to clients after a 90-minute meeting with Tillerson Wednesday in New York. We "may know more by the end of the year, but all partners are agreed that it cannot go ahead at current cost levels," Credit Suisse said, paraphrasing Tillerson's comments.

Are You Scared?

Some suggest that efforts to reshape today's world are pointless when today's world will not exist in ten years. This view holds that "peak oil" will impose an inescapable world-changing transition to the "post-carbon" era. Without abundant cheap oil we will all be living local existences. Washington will be far away and insignificant in our lives. Wal-Mart will cease to exist due to the rising costs of materials and transportation. Sporadic or absent electricity will place a premium on manual skills and hand labor. The food we eat and much of the material goods we use in daily life will come from our local economy, and the Washington power crowd will be a vanishing relic of the past.

While I respect this view and believe that peak oil will drastically change all our lives, I also believe that there is time before the worst effects are felt. Now more than ever we need responsible collective action to begin making preparations, investing in alternative energy, and promoting sustainable living. The ruling class also sees these changes coming, but their response is to secure maximum assets for themselves, squeeze our economy for their short-term gain, and leave the common people to scrap among themselves.

Charitable Efforts for the Environment

While modern nations focus efforts on reducing pollution, little effort is directed at poor nations, which include most of the world’s people. Controlling pollution in poor nations is a low priority, and understandable considering the challenge to provide food, clean water, and basic health care to all citizens. However, there are simple steps that can greatly reduce pollution in poor nations at little cost. Environmentalists should push government and charitable organizations on three issues: the mass production of solar cookers, ban plastic shopping bags, and force refiners to produce clean diesel fuel.

Wave and Tidal Energy Rise

Your perception of the new world of energy is flawed. If you're like most of the public, you've swallowed the Kool-Aid that the existing energy regime is giving you. Namely, that ethanol, coal-to-liquids, and liquefied natural gas will save you. Wrong!

Our best hopes for energy independence (or more properly put, a "local energy base") aren't power supplies that can be loaded into tanker trucks or onto barges. Off the northern coast of Scotland, the turbulent waters of the North Sea deliver their best energy yields not when man-made devices move them, but rather when they move man-made devices.

Absentee owners lease their farmland

Because of changing demographics and rising farmland values, more farms are ending up in the hands of urbanites who have never worked the fields and probably never will. These owners hire management companies to lease the land to farmers and collect the rent or share of the crop.

For widows and children who inherit farmland, keeping it can make more financial sense than selling it. They don't have to pay capital gains taxes and can expect an annual income. Many, such as Millman, hang on to it largely because they have a sentimental attachment to land that's been in the family for more than a century.

For a growing number of investors, cornfields have turned into gold mines because of the surge of interest in ethanol.

British climate bill nearing completion

Britain is likely to put forward legislation within three months to cut carbon emissions by at least 60 percent in the fight against global warming, environmentalists said on Wednesday.

Aviation greenhouse curbs may fall short: experts

The aviation industry may be more damaging to the environment than widely thought because aircraft not only release carbon dioxide but they also produce other harmful gases that warm the earth, experts said.

Hope on Climate Change? Here's Why

In the field of environmentalism -- where brows tend to be frozen in furrow and despair is a professional credential -- Gregg Easterbrook of the Brookings Institution is notable for his optimism. And one cause of his sunniness is smog in Los Angeles.

Global Warming Simplicities

The global-warming debate's great unmentionable is this: We lack the technology to get from here to there. Just because Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to cut emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 doesn't mean it can happen. At best, we might curb the growth of emissions.

Is it just me, or does it seem like the MSM, which last week was screaming to the hilltops about an impending market crash, suddenly is keeping its collective mouth shut, even as stocks continue to slide? I wonder if a message went out, saying, "Unless you want to be held responsible for causing a panic, put a sock in it while we try to contain this thing."

They did cover it this morning, on the NBC morning show, bringing in Maria Bartiromo to tell us how bad it was getting.

Guess I've been watching the wrong channels! I'm watching CNBC now during lunch and the sense of mayhem is palpable.

Where is Cramer?
He can use his bells, whistles and Bullya noises to shout the market back into its sound logic senses. After all, all the fundamentals are still, well, fundamental. Expectations are where they are expected to be. The internet is big. Cable TV news is big --in the words of JFC (in the words of my father).

You see panic when you have a predicted CAT 4 headed (best case) towards Cantarell, second best GOM, and worst case both, yet oil down $3. People are selling like crazy to raise cash.

In fairness to oil prices, yen is down 3% as well.

This is the same MSM that didn't bother to warn what I think most people on this board were predicting 6 months ago.

By the time CNBC says things are bad, you might consider buying.

Yes, it could be strange that we could relatively cheap crude/gasoline, but still have spot shortages.


By the time CNBC says things are bad, you might consider buying.

Exactly! When the MSM says it's the end of the world, and there's fear all over their faces and voices, that's the time to buy - if you're not making in your pants yourself that is. It will be a big gamble though and a wild ride, no doubt.


Bull Trap.

I agree for the most part. I would recommend most people just stay out for now. I'm short via QID and I've got some buy/writes going on the QQQQs.

It's my version of a market neutral strategy, but is biased towards more downside.

Cramer is not the brightest bulb on the tree, but he's right about there aways being a bull market somewhere.

If you don't understand it, don't buy it.

The final for the Dow was blatant market manipulation. The rest of the world will not fall for it. The recovery of 300 points in the last 40 minutes for no reason at all, is bull. Wait til tomorrow, it being Friday. Just as I finish writing this, Ron Insana comes on and says it was "too perfect", and he doesn't know if he believes it.

Hello Cid Yama,

Very intriguing point! So maybe tomorrow we will see the market plummet 600 points, but then the 'Plunge Protection Team' [PPT] will drive it back up again in the last trading hour. Any idea how long the PPT can do this?

And at what point does the PPT covertly convert, then stand for...wait for it... an unannounced, corrupt, but very exclusive bigbuck$$ 'Plunge Profit Team'?

I have no idea if any of this is really possible, but I want to know more please.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

And at what cost?
How much money does it take to reverse a 300 point selloff?

How much money does it take to reverse a 300 point selloff?

It's been done.
This morning with the wave of a magic wand. Dow is up 300 points on opening.

Isn't it amazing how we humans can cause the price signal to move up and down with waves of our magic wands?

Click your red ruby slippers together and repeat after me:
There's no place like FOMC,
There's no place like FOMC,
There's no place like FOMC,

See Dorothy? All you got to do is believe.

Your federal tax dollars at work, or something like that.

There a link or youtube to what he said?

Dow recovers most of a 340-point drop

Financials bounced back led by a nearly 13% in shares of Bear Stearns. The company, which heralded the recent credit market crisis when two of its hedge funds ran into trouble, has been talking with potential investors, including Chinese banks about new funding, said Richard Bove, analyst at Punk Ziegel & Co.

The firm is talking about selling as much as a 20% stake in the company, Bove said

Also helping financials, a report by rating-agency Fitch said that U.S. brokerage firms are well funded and have sufficient capacity to absorb losses from marking their assets to market.

You know, a lot of these Hedge Funds getting margin calls have short positions too. I suspect a lot were hoping to cover as the market continued to go down but got forced into as others covered before them.

Keep in mind Options on Oil Futures expired today and stock and index options expire tomorrow. Index options expire on the open.

I wouldn't read anything into the events of a single day. The trend is clearly down until it changes otherwise.

The dow and nasdaq closed lower and the nasdaq 100 was off over a percent, so I'm not sure what the party on CNBC was all about.

My thoughts exactly

Every Market in Asia is down over 11% since the Dow touched 14,000.(except, I don't think Shanghai is down that far, I could be wrong, but their market is pretty isolated from the world.)

Two Fed actions in the first 50 minutes of trading today. The actions also are buying almost all Mortgage Backed securities. This is desperation!

Collateral Type Submitted Accepted Stop-Out3 Weighted
High Low
Treasury 7.550 0.000 N/A N/A 4.50 3.75
Agency 21.850 0.472 4.90 4.900 4.90 4.50
Mortgage-Backed 36.075 11.528 5.07 5.104 5.15 4.65
Total 65.475 12.000
Treasury 16.700 0.250 4.80 4.800 4.80 3.50
Agency 22.350 0.000 N/A N/A 4.95 4.00
Mortgage-Backed 38.000 4.750 5.15 5.233 5.28 4.50
Total 77.050 5.000

Asian markets for Thursday final bell:

Nikkei 225 16,148.49 -327.12 -1.99%
Hang Seng 20,672.39 -703.33 -3.29%
Singapore Straits Times 3,152.16 -121.09 -3.70%
S&P/ASX 200 5,711.50 -76.50 -1.32%

US Dow Jones down 122 at this moment but was down over 170 earlier.

1) http://www.bloomberg.com/markets/asia_index.html
2) http://www.newyorkfed.org/markets/omo/dmm/temp.cfm
3) http://finance.google.com/finance

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

Definitely UGLY.

FED can't stop PANIC as I mentioned last couple days. And that smell is filling the air.

TSX COMP (Toronto) is down 455.59 or 3.5%...shocking, and the beginnings of Panic.

Bank of Canada actions meaningless at this point.

The Bank of Canada, for the second time in less than a week, took rare public action to reassure panicked investors and stabilize domestic financial markets, announcing Wednesday that it was expanding the number of securities that would be backed by its cash injections.


Thier press releases may actually be aggravating things.

Strap on your skiis.

Yahoo's update at 12:45 was

Stocks continue to tumble as investors liquidate everything they can in an effort to raise money and de-leverage portfolios.

What do investors do with the fruits of their liquidation? Hold cash?

Also, How does selling de-leverage portfolios? Is this another way of saying they're "Cutting their losses"?

Tom A-B

The fruits of their liquidation may go to paying margin calls although on bonds and CDOs rather than on stocks. If margins for CDOs work like margins for stocks, they purchase a CDO but only put in part of the face value and use the CDO as collateral on the rest (or worse, use existing CDOs as collateral to purchase new CDO, hence the leveraging). But when the collateral CDO's value becomes questionable, they have to pony up more cash.

What investors do with the fruits of their liquidation is build strongholds and safehouses and then stock them up with years of supplies before the hordes start searching them out for answers. Most of these places are probably located in remote areas of South America.

Rove is planning on a head start!!

Stocks continue to tumble as investors liquidate everything they can in an effort to raise money and de-leverage portfolios.

Is it just me, or are the people writing these stories overusing the word "tumble", a pretty weak verb to desribe what's been happening lately? A tumble is when you kinda trip over yourself a bit and fall on your hands and knees, and then get back up and continue on relatively unscathed. How about this:

"Stocks continue to plummet face-first onto jagged rocks soaked in salty lemon juice as investors liquidate everything they can..."

Perfect :)

They haven't fallen that badly yet... but if it does come soon, please use such metaphors. All the more illuminating. I wonder if MSM outlets would consider such use of language?

"You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created."
Albert Einstein

Are you kidding? Look at the treasury market. It's on a fricken tear as the cash goes into them. Look at the charts on the six month to two year. Unbelievable action reminiscent of 9/11. If you can get a 10 year chart, you'll see what I mean.

Specifically, when they deleverage, they are literally selling securities and using the proceeds to pay of the loans. The banks are the ones plowing this payback into treasuries.

What is an "action" in market terms?

In the past, the Federal Reserve would loan money to member banks (to prime the liquidity pump) by temporarily "buying" US government debt instruments. These were called "repos" or repurchase agreements in which the member banks would agree to purchase the instrument back some time later, thus making this a temporary cash loan to the bank with the US security instrument as collateral.

Recently the Fed has begun doing "repos" against mortgage backed securities, something that I can find absolutely no record of it ever having done before. An "action" by the fed is the temporary injection of cash via this mechanism to calm the markets and assure them that there is plenty of cash to go around. This is what Don Sailorman has pointed out before as how the Fed fights deflation.

Since July 19th, the Fed has injected over $225 billion dollars into the economy, which was subsequently reloaned to whomever the member bank could get it to (in order to create more mortgage backed securities) so they could sell those, pay off the loan and make a profit. It's not working though because the Dow is falling like a rock anyway, down nearly 1300 points since its high in early July and down nearly a thousand points in the last couple weeks.

Foreign markets are collapsing too and foreign banks are doing the same thing. In Europe the panic is worse as the European central banks have loaned out nearly half a trillion Euros trying to calm the European markets over the last months.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

Europe finished down 3% or so generally. More crashing indices...

DJ Stoxx 50 3,562.10 -103.62 -2.83%
Bloomberg European 500 251.70 -8.72 -3.35%
FTSE 100 5,897.70 -211.60 -3.46%
DAX 30 7,297.74 -148.16 -1.99%

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

little early GZ - FTSE finished down 4.1% according to reuters - lowest since 2003

Oops! Yep, jumped the gun:

DJ Stoxx 50 3,546.67 -119.05 -3.25%
Bloomberg European 500 251.26 -9.16 -3.52%
FTSE 100 5,858.90 -250.40 -4.10%
DAX 30 7,270.07 -175.83 -2.36%

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

I don't think we're all the way to capitulation day. To me it seems like most investors and the MSM are just getting used to the idea that this is something serious and it will have long term consequences. Once everybody gives up the idea that we're going back to 14000 by the end of this year and a few more big skeletons float out of the closet, that's when the stampede for the exits will begin.


By no means is this the end, but just like 1929...it will play over several months. Even after everyone will say, it is all over, oops...here we go again.

"I don't think we're all the way to capitulation day."

Exactly, they tried to enginneer the appearance of a capitulation, touching on a 10% correction and the 200 day moving average then rebounding 300 points in the last 40 minutes of trading. As Ron Insana said, it was "too perfect".

:) Good album.

As of 1:55pm EDT, the DOW has risen spectacularly in 45 minutes, and is now down only 170 points. Earlier it had been down as much as 310 points. I still think people will just grab the profits and run, but maybe that is what the PPT wants - to put more cash in the hands of those buying. After all, it's just the US taxpayer who ends up on the hook if that's what is happening.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

The time to watch is the last 30 minutes. If they mean to stay in or the PPT is busy, it will hold fast, otherwise it will tank.

Now that was a demonstration of investor optimism...or external action (PPT).

'All the noise and plunging all day was nothing...actually everything is just fine...move along'

Sweet, I will sleep good tonite knowing that this is all over. :-P

Just wish I didn't miss that buying opportunity. Darn.

What if the decline in liquidity around the world is a direct result of the PPT shoring up the stock market :P

can someone point me in the direction of any hard evidence that this ppt exists?


I was skeptical myself. There are other references if you google it. It's not at all clear what specific actions they have taken or ar prepared to take.


Hello igdonp,

Japanes stock market currently down a lot! It will be interesting to see if the PPT can pump this back up before their market close:

Asian Markets Fall; Tokyo Down 5.4 Pct.
Man alive, I betcha the Tums and Pepto are being consumed in huge quantities to fight off the market traders' heartburn. The volativity in the markets globally must be driving everyone nuts. Too bad most of them don't know about Overshoot & Peak Everything as the root cause.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

It probably wouldn't be successful, but we could start a class action lawsuit against the Fed for market fixing.

I saw a comment elsewhere on why oil is falling. People are cashing out since there has been a recent run up anyway and they need cash due to the liquidity crunch. So this has nothing to do with oil and everything to do with short term needs for cash in hand.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

What about the dollar's gains in the last 3-5days?

does anyone keep a chart of a dollar - neutral price of oil?

As Kunstler put it, regarding the credit implosion:

"a black hole -- with dire gravitational powers of suckage"

Says it all :)

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

I saw a comment elsewhere on why [price of] oil is falling.

... and I thought The Market had come through and created vast amounts of new oil for us out of thin air because, after all, demand is inelastic and therefore supply must have magically increased. Shucks.

"This market is going down like free beer. ... I would say if there had been a day when we're trying to price in a worst-case scenario, this might be it."
— Art Hogan, Jefferies & Co

Hello TODers,

Sadly, many of our computers are coal-powered at the cost of many lives yearly. Yet, many are unaware of how many labor over twice as deep as most coal miners to provide fertilizers for the food we eat.

My latest post, with many supporting weblinks, on how human-induced seismicity may cause a cascading series of Saskatchewan earthquakes to precipitate a global NPK disaster:


Dedicated to the underground miners everywhere that risk their lives daily. Hope the Utah miners are rescued soon!

EDIT: Achilles has two heels: Ghawar and Saskatchewan; Oil or Fertilizer. Which heel was vulnerable to depletion--I cannot tell, can you? Priced Guano lately?

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Funny you mention Guano. However I do think that Guano will go nothing but up in cost... Sadly I have been looking at it for hydroponics but it so far out of sight for what I want to do.

However Guano was vital for the USA at a time for growing crops. It will be interesting to see if the USA goes back to that where caves that have guano are considered to be national security so to speak.

One has to wonder!

Hello SlicerDicer,

Thxs for responding. Very little guano in caves anymore.

Sadly, we may find that the most important future export from Iraq is not the oil, but our digging up the shallow Iraqi graves to harvest the bones, just as the European farmers had to scavenge the battlefield graves at Waterloo and Austerlitz.

I guess geiger-counters could even find hidden mass graves by the weak radiation still emanating from the absorbed depleted uranium.

I certainly hope your TODer non de plume has nothing to do with a dire future of hacking and cutting bones. I would much prefer you help build a global network of bat & bird shelters.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?


Pigeons would be a relatively easy source for guano for city dwellers. I suggest reading Pigeons : the fascinating saga of the world's most revered and reviled bird / Andrew D. Blechman. for a quick an enjoyable read about these amazing birds.

I read this book with the typical bias towards pigeons: they are disease-carrying, flying rats, who should be exterminated because they lack natural predators in urban environments. As they are not considered to be a protected species in the state of Nevada, my father (a lifelong sportsmand and hunter) actively spent time attempting to cull the pigeon population near his home.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn the following. Pigeons have been domesticated for thousands of years since the Egyptian empire. Until the rise of commercial chicken and turkey farming in the 20th century, pigeons were a staple meat of the American diet. Pigeons were used as messengers in conflicts as recently as WW2. Pigeon fanciers have breed pigeons for their physical morphology (like dog breeders) to produce exotic and unusual strains of pigeons. Pigeon racing is a sport still practiced today by such disparate participants as Mike Tyson and Queen Elizabeth!

Pigeon coops would be relatively easy to build and would not take up much space. Pigeons are easily captured with a net and some seed and are ubiqutious fixtures everywhere that humans live in numbers. They are prolific breeders, can subsist on scaps of food, and plenty of information exists on their breeding and care.

The threat of disease from pigeon guano is greatly exaggerated. The NYC health department (and I trust that they know at least a thing of two about pigeons) provides the following Facts about Pigeon-related Diseases.

Three human diseases are known to be associated with pigeon droppings: histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, and psittacosis.

Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by a fungus, which grows in pigeon droppings. It also grows in soils and is found throughout the world. When cleaning droppings a person may breathe in some of the fungus, which in cases of high exposure can cause infection. Common activities, such as cleaning off windowsills, will not result in high exposures.

Symptoms of histoplasmosis begin to appear about 10 days after initial infection and include fatigue, fever, and chest pains. Most people, however, do not show any symptoms. Those with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients or people living with HIV/AIDS are generally more at risk of developing histoplasmosis. The disease cannot be transmitted from person to person.


Cryptococcosis is another fungal disease associated with pigeon droppings and also grows in soils throughout the world. It is very unlikely that healthy people will become infected even at high levels of exposure. A major risk factor for infection is a compromised immune system. According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 85 percent of cryptococcosis patients are HIV-positive.


Psittacosis (also known as ornithosis or parrot fever) is a rare infectious disease that mainly affects parrots and parrot-like birds such as cockatiels, and parakeets, but may also affect other birds, such as pigeons. When bird droppings dry and become airborne people may inhale them and get sick.

In humans, this bacterial disease is characterized by: fatigue, fever, headache, rash, chills, and sometimes pneumonia. Symptoms develop about 10 days after exposure. Psittacosis can be treated with a common antibiotic.

Since 1996, fewer than 50 confirmed cases were reported in the United States annually. In New York City, psittacosis is very rare with less than one human case identified each year. According to the CDC, about 70% of infected people had contact with infected pet birds. Those at greatest risk include bird owners, pet shop employees, veterinarians, and people with compromised immune systems. No person-to-person cases have ever been reported.

The threat from pigeon guano is primarily to people with compromised immune systems. Pigeon guano is no more dangerous than the droppings of other domestic pets.

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. -- Thomas Jefferson

A better plan would be to build bat boxes directly over garden compost piles. That way the bat droppings go directly into the compost, and from there into the garden. The regular mixing of the compost will prevent any problems associated with a buildup of the droppings. As a plus, the increased bat population means a reduced insect population.

The 'modern' managed way of dealing with this matter:

You have animals that forage for grass/green stuff, you shepherd the animals into 'safe shelter' at night, then muck out the shelters and place the concentrated material onto the crop-land.

Bat guano as a 'source' is no different than oil - needs specialized locations and was the result of many years of accumulation.

As for bone harvesting - making car outta the bones makes it easier to break em up. Just a helpful hint.

eric blair says:

As for bone harvesting - making car outta the bones makes it easier to break em up.

Well, Eric, you're either an alchemist or confused. Bones are mostly calcium, phosphorous, oxygen and hydrogen according to Wikipedia. So how do you get carbon from them?

James Gervais
Hope was the last evil to escape Pandora's box.

Well, Eric, you're either an alchemist or confused.

Neither. But if one was a careful reader of TOD, you'd know that.

according to Wikipedia.


Bone char, also known as bone black or animal charcoal, is a granular black material produced by calcinating animal bones: the bones are heated to high temperatures in the absence of air to drive off volatile substances.


As settlers followed the trail west to establish homesteads and farms in the great American Heartland, they found the prairies littered with bones of the slaughtered buffalo or American Bison. Most settlers found the bones to be a nuisance, clearing them from their land, stock piling them and then destroying them. That is until fertilizer plants back East expressed interest in them.

Hello TODers,

My thxs to those that replied. Human-induced seismicity is a real, ongoing problem. More mining-induced seismicity has killed and injured some of the Utah rescue miners:

Cave-in at Utah mine kills 3 rescue workers
At least 6 others injured on 11th day of effort to find trapped workers
Tragically gone bad, but yet the MSM makes no mention of the connection of coal deaths to our electricity.

If human-induced seismicity was more fully understood, then extrapolated to superdeep potash mining: then I believe very careful societal use and recycling of the elements NPK would be achieved. Time will tell.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

If human-induced seismicity was more fully understood,

There is the case of waste injection done in the 1960's that caused local tremors - I'm doubtful that the whole "lets inject CO2" plan will end well.

But hey, forward blindly with the techofixes!

Hello Eric Blair,

Yep, we humans just blunder ahead until we even make the rocks attack us in bursts, or the ground thunderously pulsates under our feet from our efforts. I hated my original posting being validated so quickly by the additional human-induced seismic deaths of these rescue miners.

It makes me greatly fear what could potentially happen in Saskatchewan and other deep mineral fertilizer mines as the extraction/depletion continues. If a significant mining seismic event occurs that drastically curtails global NPK supplies for two cropping seasons--> we will be dying by the BILLIONS. =(

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Funny you mention Guano.

You mean when TGHTF (The Guano Hit The Fan)?
Nothing new under the sun : "deforestation, over population, topsoil erosion could have contributed to the population's sudden disappearance"...

"There’s an oddly incantatory quality to this nothing-can-go-wrong rhetoric, as though it will all work out fine just as long as everybody agrees it will."

---Someone recently said that the cornucopian denial process along with the subprime defaults together with the unfunded liabilities situation amounted to trying to balance the entire population blindfolded on the head of a pin.
As long as nobody's blindfold falls off it's okay.

It's a simple reason for this belief. In the history of history, the US stock market has ALWAYS rebounded, and the supply of oil ALWAYS rises back to meet demand.

Things have always gotten better and I would think the TOD position is not the easily defendable one.

Now, whether or not you believe either or both of these trends are likely to continue or not is very much subject to debate. One would have to believe any argument that says, "This time is different" be met with much skepticism both in the derivitives market and the peaking of oil.

I'm short the market and am having a fantastic week, but I'm not ready to believe the end is near and will cover very quickly when attitudes inevitably change.

The good news is, you may be right.

We're no angels.

Rd: Hope on Climate Change? Here's Why

Here's just another example of the notion that technology will save us. The author uses the fact that smog reductions have occurred in cities such as Los Angeles thanks to the application of newer technologies, such as the catalytic converter. As he writes:

But the overall argument for a cap-and-trade system is strong. The answer to global warming will eventually be technological -- the production of energy without the production of heat-trapping gases.

This comment is about climate change and suggests that all we need to do is set up a cap and trade system to internalize the costs of reducing CO2 emissions, while continuing to provide energy at the same levels we now enjoy. The writer doesn't understand that it takes energy to sequester the CO2, thus the EROEI will bet worse for traditional sources such as coal. It will be even worse for tar sands and oil shale, as these are already marginal sources in terms of EROEI.

Those of us who have the technical knowledge already know that it won't be easy and may not be possible to provide the quantities of energy enjoyed by today's U.S. citizens to tomorrow's people of the Earth. While we may hope for some future miracle of science, science is not about miracles. There is no free lunch awaiting in the labs to solve the energy supply problem and this is even more true for the problem of climate change.

E. Swanson

Global warming can and will be solved by a series of magic incantations to the gods of the market place. Just give the market the right signals and we will find a way to repeal all sorts of physical laws, especially those of physics and chemistry. And we won't sacrifice one iota of our lifestyle or slow down our incessant destruction of all things natural.

There won't be free lunches but an endless series of tasty, sugar laden snacks that cause no harm.

Funny you mention that TStreet.

Below is a link to a comic page where you can get just what you ordered.


All we need to do is find someone that can do that and bang, no more worrying about food ever again.

Though we are really going to have to change some of those LAWS of Nature everyone keeps harping about.

Those of us who have the technical knowledge already know that it won't be easy and may not be possible to provide the quantities of energy enjoyed by today's U.S. citizens to tomorrow's people of the Earth.

It is not clear to me that the level of energy use we (in the "developed world" enjoy is good for us. Obesity is not limited to our bodies -- everything about our culture is obese and out of scale.

A lower energy regime will benefit us all -- but of course in the short run there will be some serious adjustment problems. No addiction is given up easily, and energy addiction will prove no exception

From Paal yesterday: its by now commonly known (at least here at TOD) that no WT delivers much more than a continuous 1MWh on an annual basis.

Paal, even at 20% a 2.5MW wind turbine delivers 4.38 MWh. At 43%, achievable by GE according their press release, a single turbine would deliver 9.4 MWh, an order of magnitude larger than your number.

How does that work? Is the 2.5 MW rating just a guideline? 20% of 2.5 MW is .5 MW which should deliver .5 MWh continuously not 4.38 MWh. In looking at the article you linked and doing some quick calculations I figure that the average wind tubine in their new farm will be producing 1.10 MWh for the average hour.

500,000,000 (KWh) / 1,000 = 500,000 MWh

500,000 (MWh) / 52 (# of turbines) = 9,615 (MWh/turbine)

9,615 (MWh/turbine) / (365 days * 24h) = 1.10 (MW/turbin)

I may have screwed up the units, but I still fail to see where 4.38 MWh and 9.4MWh come from much less the 43% efficiency.

- Scott
"Try sour grapes; you might like them."

Artaxt, you're right - it should be 1.1MW per turbine.

And 1.1MW actual over 2.5MW nominal is 43% capacity factor. Also see my response to jokuhl below. Thanks for your help :)

Do those units need one more detail to make this statement meaningful?

"at 20% a 2.5MW wind turbine delivers 4.38 MWh."

Unless I'M the one turned around again, then:

A Megawatt is a rate of flow,
A MWH is that flow potential quantified into time (Hours).

The above quote would have to state a number of MWh's PER DAY, even if that sounds like you are using an extra time unit.. right?

The topmost statement from Paal that "no WT delivers much more than a continuous 1mwh on an annual basis" is the reverse error.. it should be Megawatts continuous, or Megawatt Hours cumulatively, into, say a year.. if you are rating a WT's output.


Do those units need one more detail to make this statement meaningful?

Oops. Jokuhl, you're right. It should read

A 2.5MW turbine at 20% is 0.5MW continuous or 4.38M kWh annually.

A 2.5MW turbine at 43% is 1.1MW continuous or 9.62M kWh annually.

I now believe Paal meant to say no existing turbine produces more than 1.0 MW continuously, averaged over a year. And he's about right.

4.38M kWh? Mega-kilo-watt-hours?

I could understand 4380 MWh/yr, or 4.38 GWh/yr.

But Wh/yr is really only used for measuring consumer-end usage, as I understand it. Any electricity generator can't produce more Wh than are actually drawn from it...right?

It's still useful as the basis for a generator's capacity.. I would expect at this point that there will be a place for every watt generated to go to..

of course, they do produce a good chunk more than is bought, lost in transmission and efficiency costs, so it seems sensible to know what was generated as well as what was consumed.

hi JN2 !

That's exactly what I meant –

BUT that continuous 1MW annual production from a 2,5 MW Wt - is not possible for most locations, as (at least in European waters) this 43% efficiency is happening around 10 m/s winds.
There is nowhere in Northern Europe this 10 m/s is coming in as average annual speed … nowhere ,… Actually far form – as I mentioned a BAD WT survey for Norwegian WTs coming in at a mere 20% of generating capacity.

Some WT-farms were down under 15% of nameplate …

Have a fast peek at this table - and you see the gist to the problem - This tabel shows someting round about a 20% utilization as per nameplate (fill the tops into the valleys ... and we level out at some 20%-pluss.... or from memory some plus/minus 6 GWh annually)

I am NOT against WTs – not at all ,
BUT I see the importance of trying to understand what “they are” - and how to utilize them wisely.
Maybe one day we will have to arrange some particular work-tasks scheduled to take place when the wind is around - they did this before… you know..

With all the financial bad news going around, can anyone explain the sudden strength in the dollar? The dollar has gained about 3% against all major currencies in the last two weeks. Why would a collapse in the credit market give strength to the dollar?

Sometimes economics is just too confusing.

Ron Patterson


We have had this discussion before. Foreign currency markets are dominated by the central banks buying and selling their own currencies. They put the rates where they want them to be.

I think a better question is why is the dollar being forced higher, and I think the answer to that is possibly that, if there is to be a "flight to quality", the feds want bonds to look much more attractive than commodities. Note the simultaneous takedown in gold, oil, copper, etc.


makes you really question the concept of "free markets"...

Francois, how could or would the Fed influence the commodities market? Could you elaborate a bit please? Thanks.

One of the ways that I am familiar with is the use of the future markets. As long as very few market participants intend to take physical delivery of the underlying commodity, then an entity that has unlimited paper dollars can sell future contracts at a loss to bring down the future price. This will in turn affect the spot markets through arbitrage.

The smoking gun for this kind of activity is the HUGE (trillion dollars in the case of oil) derivative positions on the books of the BIS (Bank for International Settlements) which is where central banks report their positions.


Uhhhhh... Francois, the FOREX, you know the FOREX where the daily volume is over four times the size of all other US markets combined, is not a futures market.

The FOREX is a spot market! It is a live market where one currency is exchanged for another on the spot to the tune of 1.5 trillion dollars a day. There are no futures contracts sold on the FOREX.

There is a futures market in currencies. The biggest one is the CME. But the volume there is absolutely miniscule compared to the volume on the FOREX.

Well hell, somehow I thought you would have known that.

Ron Patterson

but was the question not "how would the fed influence the commodities market?" Stop talking to francois like he's an idiot - it's below you, especially when you haven't bothered to read the post he's replying to.

You are correct, I am talking to him like he's an idiot. And I am sorry. I should never reply in kind when someone talks to me like I am an idiot.

Francois wrote:

We have had this discussion before. Foreign currency markets are dominated by the central banks buying and selling their own currencies. They put the rates where they want them to be.

"Little boy, we have been through this before. Didn't you get it the first time. Here is how it is and get it straight this time"

Sorry but it really pisses me off when people talk down to me like that. I should learn to have tougher skin. And I did read his post. Remember I wrote the original post that started the thread. Tarzan asked Francois to eloborate his position. He did and I replied.

Again, I am sorry I got so pissed off at Francois's silly answer but he simply should know better and he should not talk down to me. The FOREX is made up of member banks all over the world. I don't know how many of them there but I would guess there are several hundred of them. They all conspire to fix the exchange rate, a rate that changes from minute to minute? Give me a break.

Those member banks make their profit by pocketing the difference betweek the bid and asked price. They make billions. They don't give a damn what the exchange rate is. Why should they? Banks are in the business to make money. They make their money regardless of what the exchange rate is. They have no interest in risking billions trying to prop up one currency or another when they can make money without taking any risk whatsoever.

Ron Patterson

I should never reply in kind when someone talks to me like I am an idiot.

I need to remember this one for my "one on one" with my boss this month!

Ron addresses everybody as if they are idiots.
Please do not forget Ron's statement last Nov.
that he is only here for entertainment.

I was going to say similar...but not "flight to quality" but more a "flight to familiarity".

There is a secondary factor of the complex Forex markets trading against each other as they slide - which also gives the appearance of relative strength of the USD. (but this is not a major reason)

Foreign currency markets are dominated by the central banks buying and selling their own currencies. They put the rates where they want them to be.

Francois, That is total bullcrap! Banks do not have the power to set currency exchange rates. And until you understand that very simple fact you will never understand anything about the currency market. Economics is a cloudy subject, very confusing. But somethings are just so damn obvious that a blind man could see it.

Over 1.5 trillion dollars are traded daily on the FOREX. Banks simply do not have that kind of money to gamble with trying to set the exchange rates. That is almost $700 billion an hour! Most FOREX volume is international trade, payments for goods and services. Next comes speculators, buying and selling, trying to make a buck. And that includes all the funds, trying to guess which way the currency market is going.

And the exchange rate changes by the minute. It bobs up and down every few seconds. Just look at Live FOREX Quotes and realize that about 11 billion dollars a minute are changing hands causing those quotes to jump around like that. Then imagine that banks are gambling at least half that amount, over 5 billion dollars a minute in an attempt to set the rates where they want them to be. Good lord man, get a life!

Again Francois, if you make a very serious, and silly, claim that banks control the exchange rate you need to supply some proof. Not only that but you need to also supply a resonable explination as to why banks would risk billions upon billions of dollars to do?

The FOREX is also the world's largest market In fact, it is huge! Daily volume is estimated in excess of US $1.5 trillion. In comparison, the combined daily trading volume of the US Treasury Bond Market and all of the US Stock Markets averages under $350 billion.

Okay, back to my original question. The stockmarkets of the world, including the S%P and the NASDAQ are down in excess of 10% this morning. This was supposed to have been set in motion by the collapse of the mortgage market. But why in heavens name would this also cause a sudden surge in the dollar?

And please really no dumb-ass answere like "banks set the exchange rate at whatever rate they desire".

Ron Patterson

I read the simply answer is when people start looking for liquidity they go to the us dollar and us bonds because they are the 'safe and reliable' place to put your money. Therefore this sudden surge for dollars put pressure on the dollar to go up. That was the simple answer I read online.

That is almost $700 billion an hour!

11 billion dollars a minute

I think you meant 62.5 billion an hour and 1 billion a minute. Otherwise, you meant 16.8 trillion dollars are traded daily.

- Scott
"Try sour grapes; you might like them."

Scott, you are correct. I did my math in too great a hurry. Sorry.


- Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side?
And hain't that a big enough majority in any town?
- Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn.

I'm just having fun doing math today. The value of currency exchanged in a day is still staggering, and I agree that the collusion necessary to fix exchange rates doesn't really fit with how much is going through the system. The banks might deliberately influence the exchange rate, but they surely can't "fix" it.

- Scott
"Try sour grapes; you might like them."

It looks like a paradox, but that's what happens in a credit crunch - everyone needs liquidity so the demand for dollars shoots up. What is most shocking for me in this story, us that a great deal of the investors in US "toxic" mortgages are European and Asian banks... so the bubble riders are mostly europeans and asians that are supposed to value financial discipline so much! For how long are we going to repeat mistakes from the past?

Personally I intend to wait until the storm peaks and sell dollars then; the fundamentals pushing it down are still there and will be even worse when this thing ends (ok, if it ends).

I recall reading an article last year that predicted a liquidity trap would lead to increasing demand for dollars, at least in the short term.

Liquidity trap
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


In monetary economics, a liquidity trap occurs when the economy is stagnant, the nominal interest rate is close or equal to zero, and the monetary authority is unable to stimulate the economy with traditional monetary policy tools. In this kind of situation, people do not expect high returns on physical or financial investments, so they keep assets in short-term cash bank accounts or hoards rather than making long-term investments. This makes the recession even more severe.

In normal times, the monetary authority (usually a central bank or finance ministry) can stimulate the economy by lowering interest rate targets or increasing the monetary base. Either action should increase borrowing and lending, consumption, and fixed investment. When the relevant interest rate is already at or near zero, the monetary authority cannot lower it to stimulate the economy. The monetary authority can increase the overall quantity of money available to the economy, but traditional monetary policy tools do not inject new money directly into the economy. Rather, the new liquidity created must be injected into the real economy by way of financial intermediaries such as banks. In a liquidity trap environment, banks are unwilling to lend, so the central bank's newly-created liquidity is trapped behind unwilling lenders. . .

. . . Milton Friedman suggested that a monetary authority can escape a liquidity trap by bypassing financial intermediaries to give money directly to consumers or businesses. This is referred to as a money gift or as helicopter money (this latter phrase is meant to call forth the image of a central banker hovering in a helicopter, dropping suitcases full of money to individuals). . .

During a crisis, big investors take teir money back to "safe" bets. Historicaly, the safest bets are dolars and US treasure bounds.

Big investors also are amazingly ununwiling to look at fundamentals and accept that things change. In fact, they trust complex mathematical models and historical trends without losing their time learning math or history.

And that is simply great for my country, since those same people bought expensive titles and stocks, measured on an expensive Real. And now, they are selling cheap titles and stocks valued on a cheap Real!!! Foreigners lose both ways. I only hope our central bank will take advantaje of the situation and sell some of the reserves it accumulated when the money was comming in.

One reason is that US-based financial institutions (banks, hedge funds etc.) are short of cash. Currently, they find it much easier to raise cash by selling off their most liquid assets - which happen to be in Europe. Hence money flows back to the US and the dollar rises.

Here is an explanation from today's FT about the recent rise of the dollar against sterling:

Sterling weakness

Published: August 15 2007 14:24 | Last updated: August 15 2007 19:43

When it is hard to find bears on a currency, sell signs should be flashing. So it was as sterling sailed above $2 to the pound. But since its July highs, the UK’s currency has fallen by about 3.5 per cent against the dollar and almost 2 per cent against the euro. The drop began when investors pulled back from risky positions. With high local interest rates, sterling has been a target for carry traders – those chasing yield after borrowing cheaply elsewhere. The pound’s fall against the yen over a month is a more brutal 7 per cent.

While the real economy had little to do with sterling’s initial falls, weaker-than-expected UK inflation data this week have firmly put the boot in. Until recently, interest rates were expected to rise another 25 basis points, to 6 per cent. Few predict this now, especially given the current panic in financial markets. Besides, the minutes for August’s monetary policy committee meeting, released on Wednesday, show that not a single member was hawkish.

Fundamentals may also weigh on the pound further out. Like the US, the UK runs a big current account deficit. In 2006 it reached £47bn – equivalent to negative 3.7 per cent of output. In the UK, however, currency support relies on significant investment income repatriated from overseas and foreigners buying up UK companies and assets. The former is in decline and, if the credit crisis does cause longer-term funding problems, direct investment will suffer too.

In addition, the UK’s recent deficits have been funded by foreign sterling deposits with local banks. These huge inflows – net transactions totalled £21bn last year – reflect the supposed attraction of London for those astride mountains of cash in the Gulf, Russia and Asia. Whether this money hangs around should UK interest rates fall remains to be seen.

What I wrote above also explains why gold is dropping against the dollar - it is much easier to sell gold for cash than it is to sell AAA rated junk.

I keep seeing this comment - that gold is falling. Sure, it has it's ups and down. But falling?

As I write this Gold is down $20.80 to $659.90 today. If that holds, or gets worse, that is one hell of a one day drop.

Ron Patterson

- Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side?
And hain't that a big enough majority in any town?
- Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn.

Same reasons...liquidity. Central banks as well...selling gold in TON lots. Mogambo had the numbers last week.

I agree, that is a very big one day drop. But my point remains, if you don't widen your perspective, things can look a lot more out of whack then they are. Markets go up, markets go down. Let's not put too much emphasis on what happens in any of these markets, especially on a one day or even one week horizon.

There are probably many technical reasons Ron, but the overriding reason is fear.

I'd also imagine there is a great rush to reduce risk and maintain liquidity by liquidising risky assets overseas. Especially for those whose cash has been locked-up in illiquid assets in the US or hedge funds who won't allow redemptions. They can't get their money and they can't borrow any money, so they sell whatever they can to get working capital. Then there is the unwind of all those bearish positions against the dollar.

As the knock on effect gains ground, we'll probably see business's also succumb, causing a fire-sale of inventories to fund cash-flow. Eventually, ordinary people will join in dumping anything and everything to raise cash.

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

What money can be salvaged from the markets has to go somewhere. The US greenback is still regarded as the safest currency in which to park your money.

Once investors have liquidated assets, then what?

I expect to see a move into cash flow generating assets, especially food and energy related assets.

Hello Westexas,

I thought that fertilizer stocks would be a slam-dunk to go the opposite direction of the declining global stock market. But now it seems that so few people understand the non-substitution of NPK that they are willing to trade the practically guaranteed photosynthetic return for useless currency. Imagine planting each corn seed wrapped up in a worthless 'currency burrito'.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

I thought that fertilizer stocks would be a slam-dunk to go the opposite direction of the declining global stock market.

'cept they need a source of energy and raw materials to 'fix' into product.

And a population to buy 'em.

Imagine planting each corn seed wrapped up in a worthless 'currency burrito'.

How does that work when the M3 expansion is all 0's and 1's?

Imagine planting each corn seed wrapped up in a worthless 'currency burrito'.

Fukuoka-san was one that recommended placing seeds in clay/dung balls.
Your currency burrito may be quite practical after all.
Wipe, roll, plant!


What about the flip side-this mess continues enough for a deep recession. The fed forced to really lower rates to stave off the rest of the arm resets due this fall and winter. Oil price drops down with demand. Peak effects, along with any serious mitigation, pushed out several more years.

I know the Fed's Poole is stating a major calamity is required for the rates to drop, but the above is the scenario I fear and it seems to be gaining traction.

The question remains, what do you do with the cash?

In regard to oil demand, IMO, net oil exports will fall faster than demand in importing countries may decline. This is especially true as time goes forward, since the Export Land Model suggests that the decline in net exports will accelerate with time.

I'd like to add our usage patterns are much different from in the 1970's. No one has really presented evidence that oil usage will drop very much even if we enter a recession. Traditional recessions are a few percent decline in economic growth 2% is considered the end of the world for example. Assuming that oil usage today is less elastic and we are still a bit wealthier then in the 1970's we should see less of a decline. Also understand fewer people will be able to trade out of a less fuel efficient care since they will back off on major purchases. Next people that are going back to renting will actually have more cash on hand then when they owned a home in some cases almost 50% more. So they will actually be in better shape to handle higher prices for gasoline. On the plus side if possible I'd suspect people will in general rent closer to work then when they owned their own home.

But... The actual number of people losing their homes is probably fairly small over the total number of households say less than 5% so the final effect on gasoline usage will be small. So overall the primary effects for a while will be asset deflation homes cars etc etc. As the market gets saturated along with a slow down in consumer spending. I prices have to go much higher before we get a real drop in usage I'd guess over 6 dollars a gallon and only at say 10 dollars a gallon will we probably see significant reductions. You can see that any demand drop should be pretty small until we start to get higher prices and more unemployment.

I expect oil prices will come back strong once this first minor market correction is over. Right now it seems to be just the wealthy losing money and the subprime crap it will be a while before real economic losses start to happen.
At the moment despite all the gloom and doom understand we where way way above fundamentals so it will take a while to even get back close to a sane market and more time to fall below that. And even more time before we have a real crunch.

So the demand destruction/price dance probably does not really get started until later in 2008.

However I'm beginning to think KSA may use the turmoil to make further cuts in production if they really are in decline they would be foolish to pass up the opportunity.
In fact they may begin cutting production now and announce later in Sep. This in my opinion is the big oil related event we need to watch for since KSA has been given a reasonable excuse to make cuts will they take it ?

US oil consuption will fall on a recession simply because the rest of the world will have greater purchasing power. There will be no debit financing your use.

Now, where this demand destruction will happen, and what will people think, I don't know.

Investors are liquidating assets for a reason. To meet margin calls. To staunch the flow of blood. We won't be seeing much free liquidity to do anything. Drowning people who make it to the beach aren't in a hurry to get wet again.

And remember, once overseas assets are liquidated, there will be no other place to run.

>I expect to see a move into cash flow generating assets, especially food and energy related assets.

Not necessarily, At least for a while. If we do enter a period of deflation, consumers will lose there jobs and demand for all goods and services will fall. This includes energy and food. It could be a while before energy and food shortages develop again.

Another piece of the puzzle you probably haven't factored in, is the amount of leverage used by hedge funds and other investors to maximize their profits. I also suspect that a lot of money was simply lost (spend on inflated assets such as homes, equities, commodities, etc) that could be come worth only a fraction of their purchase price. If we do enter a period of deflation, there will be a lot less money floating around to re-invest.

I would expect that in the future, demand will gyrate over many periods lasting for months or possibly for years. Its seems logical that we will experience periods of demand destruction, causing demand for energy fall below production. As time passes, energy supplies will fall (because of depletion and lack on future development because of lack demand), while demand slowly recovers. Then we'll experience another period like we did over the last couple of years where demand exceed supply and prices rise again. The whole cycle will likely repeat unto some other forces (economic, geopolitical, social) take over. Although I would expect the general direction of each cycle to be much lower than the previous cycle.

I am still concerned that at some point, at least some exporters will stop exporting in order to preserve their reserves for domestic consumption and for essential trade goods only. This is when the whole demand vs supply process ends and a new paradigm shift begins.

Propably it is the Yen carry trade unwinding.

"Yen carry trade unwinding."

For more on todays carry unwind: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a_U7IR0YSWuk&refer=home

When someone says "carry trade" in reference to currency, I picture some poor wretch schlepping a wheelbarrow full of dollar bills to the store to buy a loaf of bread.

Bloomberg is showing ALL commodities down today:


First time I've seen such a red page in my life. And silver is down as much as 9.5% so far.

Don't panic, don't panic...

The Yen Carry Trade is now unwinding and today the dollar plunged against the Yen. Looks like Dollar is about to fall big time. Yen/Dollar below 113. Believe it has crossed a threshold.

Just to gain perspective - the dollar was in the 80's for much of 1995.

"the dollar was in the 80's for much of 1995."

For 4 months in 1995.

The yen in the early 1980s
During the first half of the 1980s, the yen failed to rise in value even though current account surpluses returned and grew quickly. From ¥221 in 1981, the average value of the yen actually dropped to ¥239 in 1985. The rise in the current account surplus generated stronger demand for yen in foreign-exchange markets, but this trade-related demand for yen was offset by other factors. A wide differential in interest rates, with United States interest rates much higher than those in Japan, and the continuing moves to deregulate the international flow of capital, led to a large net outflow of capital from Japan. This capital flow increased the supply of yen in foreign-exchange markets, as Japanese investors changed their yen for other currencies (mainly dollars) to invest overseas. This kept the yen weak relative to the dollar and fostered the rapid rise in the Japanese trade surplus that took place in the 1980s.

The effect of the Plaza Accord
In 1985 a dramatic change began. Finance officials from major nations signed an agreement (the Plaza Accord) affirming that the dollar was overvalued (and, therefore, the yen undervalued). This agreement, and shifting supply and demand pressures in the markets, led to a rapid rise in the value of the yen. From its average of ¥239 per US$1 in 1985, the yen rose to a peak of ¥128 in 1988, virtually doubling its value relative to the dollar. After declining somewhat in 1989 and 1990, it reached a new high of ¥123 to US$1 in December 1992. In April 1995, the yen hit a peak of under 80 yen per dollar, temporarily making Japan's economy nearly the size of the US.

Post-bubble years
The yen declined during the Japanese asset price bubble and continued to do so afterwards, reaching a low of ¥134 to US$1 in February 2002. The Bank of Japan's policy of zero interest rates has discouraged yen investments, with the carry trade of investors borrowing yen and investing in better-paying currencies further pushing down the yen estimated to be as large as $1 trillion.[5] In February 2007, The Economist estimated that the yen is 15% undervalued against the dollar and as much as 40% undervalued against the euro.[6]


Your point being?

"For 4 months in 1995."

Indeed, it closed at 89.80 on 3/16/95 and didn't close above 90 until 8/3/95.

My point is simple - perspective is everything.

I see a lot of hand wringing going on here (as well as a fair amount of glee) regarding moves in the financial markets. While we may indeed be in the midst of a panic. The apparent assumption that many are making that this is the beginning of the end simply is warranted. This might be "it" - but it might also just be a market "correction" induced by a liquidity crunch, and that alone.

yen/dollar monthly average 1995


This isn't going to happen in a single day or week. There will be no end to this til the exposure to bad loans(and their various incarnations) is known. We still have ARM's to reset. We still have a sh*t load of revelations ahead of us. By November 1 it will be obvious to everyone, even antidoomer and wizofaus.

Cid, You may be right. And I am certainly a champion of the positive aspects of collapse. But I have been studying issues surrounding resource shortages, overpopulation and the excesses of growth economics for more than 30 years. I've learned in that time that there is an incredible resiliency in this system and it won't be broken as easily as I might like. I would agree with you about November, by then we will know a little more about what this is all about.

Hi shaman,

Thanks and a small q:

re: "is an incredible resiliency in this system"

What do you mean by "resiliency"? I know what the word means, I just don't quite see how it applies when we're talking about a world (global economy) that runs on ever-increasing energy inputs from the physical world. Could you maybe give some examples?

I'm really (and truly) interested.

Aniya, I was only referring to the ability of the global economic system to consistently confound predictions of imminent collapse. Anyone who pays attention understands that the whole house of cards can't go on forever. Still, if we mark Bretton Woods as the advent of a truly global economy (debatable, of course, but its a convenient marker), it has survived the OPEC embargo in 73, the Iranian debacle of the late 70's, the meltdown of the silver market in 81 (courtesy of the hunts), the S&L scandal, the "Asian Contagion of 97(?),the "dot com bubble," as well as numerous bouts of inflationary or deflationary pressures.

Right, this is the crucial question. It's one thing to conclude that the whole system ought to collapse but that doesn't mean it will. Essentially, this is the 'miracle' of modern finance that markets can be regulated and manipulated in subtle ways so that there are down turns but not all out crashes. Or so it seems each time the system is tested. Each time the question is: will the house remain standing this time around?
The resiliency seems to be in the ability to quickly and effectively shore up weak points in various ways. And a big weak point is always investor confidence, and consumer confidence. The ability of the Fed and the government to make symbolic moves to calm nerves and invoke optimism is impressive. (witness the lowering of the Discount rate this morning).


Thanks both of you,

A follow-up question.

Do you think, then, that the "house" can somehow accommodate the reality I'll call "less energy input from the physical world"? Or, is it a matter of, say, accommodate yes, but lots of people fall off/out.

Can the "system" somehow make itself (how to phrase this is questionable but hope you'll understand what I'm asking) - to into something that can function with decreasing energy inputs - and still support people?

I guess what I'm wondering is - not to limit the Q to "collapse" or "not collapse" - but to ask - can it change in ways that might become somehow "steady state" or not contingent on the growth we normally think of as being fueled by FF input?

Do you think, then, that the "house" can somehow accommodate the reality I'll call "less energy input from the physical world"?

Not many posters here think that things will continue there have been.

The 'arguments' that go on here are all about trying to figure out HOW "the house" is going to react.

Hi Eric,

Yes, things won't "continue" as they have been.
I guess I'm always interested in specifics about how things might work - if they can. Like sometimes it seems obvious to me that there's a short list of things that we should stop doing right away, and others we need to start doing. In between what looks obvious to me, and others who understand in detail how the economy works, (and maybe even see some of the same obvious things) - there's a gap we can look at. (Maybe).

Can "the house" be spoken to? Guided, Redirected, influenced? Trained? Modified?

Example of list:

immediate conservation of gasoline. Which measures are practical and doable.

preserve farmland, convert to organic, and support education of young farmers.

Look at water supply and convert it to "true renewable" for transport and purification.

The only real energy we'll be left with after some period of time is from "true" re-newables - wind and solar, and the capacity to make and maintain them (using them), as well.

Active support for the legal rights of women and children (nationally, internationally) - human rights and civil liberties.



I agree. btw, here's a really good ARM Reset graph of the coming 72 months.


Between Nov and Feb they peak.

Is all this fear mongering necessary? People buying loafs of bread with wheelbarrows of money, Dollar going down to nothing, its the same crap every week and it never happens. I think some people just get off spewing doomer garbage.

Just because you're detached from reality, doesn't mean the rest of us are. If you can hold your ground while all around you run for the exits, it means you don't grasp the situation.

What are you talking about? Granted, my time here is pretty limited (a couple of months,) but this is the first I've seen people be really jittery about anything. If anything, I would say that the majority of posters are remarkably upbeat. That being said, the market seems to be going to hell in a hand basket right now. I never expected to get anything from Social Security, but it sure would be nice to get the $100k or so I've but into my 401k back, and hits of 10% in 3 weeks don't help.

- Scott
"Try sour grapes; you might like them."

"Is all this fear mongering necessary? People buying loafs of bread with wheelbarrows of money..."

By November 1923, the purchasing power of money was being halved almost hourly. Germans rushed to convert their savings, if they had any, to durable goods. The endurable image of wheelbarrows of money to buy a loaf of bread is comically accurate.


...but it can't happen here, right antidoomer?

not likely, Comparing the 1923 German Economy to the 2007 US economy is like comparing the economy of Savanah, Georgia (no offense) to the economy of New York City.

Thanks, I feel much better.

I'm curious. Why do you come here day after day to stick your finger in the doomer dike? Is it out of some sense of duty to humanity? Or is just a job?

It must be kind of frustrating, no?

Duty to Humanity.

Luckily for you, your fellow Bush-lovers have set up hundreds of fan sites all over the Internet where the praise of Junior never ends. He is all-knowing, the master of climate science, the greatest diplomat of our age, the Communicator with God, and of course an infallible economist. Or was I talking about Kim Jong Il? Capitalism always works, rich white Christians never fail, abiotic oil is proven by Creation Science, and we are too winning in Iraq. So there's never any fear over there. Except for the mongering of fear by the members among their enemies, with endless threats to round up war protestors, create blacklists (whoops, that was Thomas Friedman), arrest Congress, nuke Iran, even calls for a second 9/11 to destroy a "liberal" city like San Francisco (you might have heard about that one). But they say all these things with a smile, so they will keep you much happier than we will from our future detention camp cells.

Who you calling a bush lover? Hate the guy, and never voted for him once. I just believe if society puts our heads together to find solutions rather than throw your hands in the air and do nothing we can have a healthy bright future. I believe science and technology can save us from oil. I want to get off oil as much as anyone here, and want to do it soon, dependency on other countries is not good. So I enjoy reading people like Alanfrombigeasy and others here who draft up solutions!

I believe science and technology can save us from oil.

The problem is not saving us from oil, but saving us from human nature, in which it‘s left over hard wiring from our evolution is very much at odds with a stable and peaceful population. That I fear, technology will never tame, and in fact technology will probably just exacerbate the problem. Kind of like giving chimps a case of booze and the keys to the family car.

Bruce, you have it exactly right. The problem is human nature, not anything else. Every animal produces offspring far in excess of what his niche can support. Otherwise evolution would have been impossible.

Not only are human societies never alone, but regardless of how well they control their own population or act ecologically, they cannot control their neighbors’ behavior. Each society must confront the real possibility that its neighbors will not live in ecological balance but will grow its numbers and attempt to take the resources from nearby groups. Not only have societies always lived in a changing environment, but they always have neighbors. The best way to survive in such a milieu is not to live in ecological balance with slow growth, but to grow rapidly and be able to fend off competitors as well as take resources from others.
Steven LeBlanc, “Constant Battles: The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage” page 73

Ron Patterson

Oh not the "It's human nature" argument again. Would any one of you who resorts to this end of debate tactic please tell me how YOU know what human nature is. You might as well say, its that way cause God made it that way. Or maybe better, "because I said so!"

Your ignorance of human psychology and evolutionary history is not my problem. Get thee to a library or shut up.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

try answering the question instead of attempting to insult me.

So let me guess, from your answer I'd say that you believe that "human nature" is part mind and part biology? So let's start with a couple simple question, how does psychology impact biology and vice versa?

That's not a simple question and I am going to politely assume that you know that. And if you don't then you need to spend some study time learning why.

But what we are referring to here via the generic term human nature is more correctly referred to as behavioral genetics, that part of human behavior that is determined by our genes (and hence shaped by natural selection). There is a large body of evidence that certain core behaviors that weigh against our ability to successfully mitigate certain types of problems are inherent in who we are, and thus working against these behaviors, while not impossible, is very very difficult.

How much can "nurture" (what we learn) override "nature" (what we are)? Is it enough to alter the potentially disastrous drive that leads to overpopulation? The evidence so far is not very favorable on that point. How much "nurture" and what type is needed to overcome the "nature" that dictates that we prefer those more like ourselves than those less like ourselves?

Rather than bow to cornucopian BS arguments that we'll change because we have to change, I prefer to examine actual human history. And human history is full of cases where on regional scales we destroyed environments, depleted resources, overpopulated the local ecology, and destroyed the arability of the region's land. And now we are doing the same on a global scale. I am left waiting for someone to demonstrate why the global behavior will result in a different outcome from the regional examples of that same behavior but none have ever demonstrated why. They simply dance around the problem and then ignore it, much as you appear to be trying to do right now. (And if you are not, then perhaps I misunderstand you but you ought to write more clearly then.)

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

I prefer to examine actual human history. And human history is full of cases where on regional scales we destroyed environments, depleted resources, overpopulated the local ecology, and destroyed the arability of the region's land. And now we are doing the same on a global scale.

*clap* *clap*

Grey - thanks for taking the inquiry seriously, even if you couldn't avoid the personal jab at the outset. I'd encourage you to hesitate before telling someone that they "need to spend some study time learning why" regarding anything. You just might be showing that you don't understand that question.

Be that as it may, your equation of human nature with "behavioral genetics" is more like the type of answer that I was expecting. Now, I'm not going to enter into a long debate about the validity of that august field of research. But I would like to make a few observations about what it means to rely on it (or any other such "field"). I'm not talking here about the contents of knowledge (ontology), but the how of that knowledge (epistemology).

I'm going to take a wild guess here and say that you probably aren't a geneticist yourself (am I right?). So your knowledge of "behavioral genetics" is all at least second hand (reading work by geneticists) and probably a smattering of third hand (reading work by journalists about geneticists). I've read many of your posts so I do know that you are a thinking person, so I'm not trying to suggest that you simply accepted everything that you have read about this.

I do want to point out a couple of things about this form of knowledge, though. For even if you do put your own critique to works you read, to repeat them as evidence of some sort of "truth" is a form of appeal to authority. Appeal to authority, of course, is a long standing debate tactic and for good reason. If we agree that the authority appealed to really does have an inside knowledge, than it has dramatic influence. However, if we disagree about the quality of the authority, well then, we don't get very far.

Now, I'm not saying that I disagree with any particular geneticist. I've met a few and they were all very bright, honest people. What I do want to explore is the foundation on which their authority to speak about "human nature" is built. I'm sure you'll agree that "behavioral genetics" is a relatively new field. Certainly, people have spoken of "human nature" for far longer than the field has been around. So how is it that "behavioral genetics" has come to claim the truth about "human nature" above all other ways of thinking about it? (To be clear, I am not suggesting that everyone now believes in "behavioral genetics," clearly that isn't the case, but I am using it because you chose it and you are representative of one way of thinking about "human nature."

My guess would be (correct me if I'm wrong), that your acceptance of what the geneticist says is the result of your acceptance and belief that the form of science the geneticist is engaged in has some sort of connection to "truth." In essence, you are a scientific man - someone who believes science reveals certain truths about our existence. Now, of course, if you have thought much about the history of science you will know that the "truths" about our existence have changes over the decades. Some would say that this is because we have increased our knowledge and indeed that may be the case, but it doesn't change the fact that what was "truth" according to our best scientists at one point in time is not the same "truth" as at another point in time. So, who is to say that the "truth" revealed by "behavioral genetics" in the year 2007 will remain the same in, say, they year 2025?

And if this moving target of "truth" is indicative of science (and I for one believe that this is actually one of the strengths of science in general), well then, the non practitioner should probably be real careful about the certainty with which the say they know what constitutes "human nature."

Again, I want to emphasize that I am not especially concerned with the field of "behavioral genetics." It is only one of the many fields of human knowledge that claims to know "human nature," I am skeptical about all of them. What I am most after here is putting a little doubt behind those claims to know "human nature." We must always recall when doing so that we are speaking about knowledge. And how that knowledge is known is critical in understanding it. Too many people here deploy "human nature" as a way to end debate - as if everyone knows and agrees about what the truth is about humans.

Let's not play philosophical word games.

The value of a science is in how well it describes reality, which is a function of how well it puts forth falsifiable theses that can be tested. No science is absolutely right and when anyone says they "know" something, at least from a scientific perspective, what they are saying is that the current science indicates this to be true.

What is interesting today is that the current science is tracking human history better than before. It's not perfect so it probably needs further revision but before the last few decades we (we as a species) had a horrible tendency to assume that what we thought was what our ancestors must have thought - i.e. that "progress" is "normal".

Instead we are finding that the work of behavioral genetics gives us strong clues about why prior civilizations collapsed, and why our own is likely to collapse unless we can counter behaviors that are probably genetically based. This is not an impossible task but it's not going to be easy either. Yet so far we have not done this at all. Instead we continue on with our monkey brained approach assuming that we can continue to grow things. Oh, yes, we admit that nothing can grow infinitely (*wink wink* *nod nod*) but it can grow while WE are alive, right? (*nudge nudge*) That's the monkey brain at work again doing what it's been selected to do - create conditions optimal for passing genes downstream.

My point to you is two-fold - while you can play semantic games (I won't bother), homo sapiens has never, ever faced all of these environmental crises at one time and not seen his civilization(s) collapse. At best, a few civilizations managed to survive one of these crises. This is not just about peak oil. It's about resource depletion generally, loss of arable land, loss of biological habitat, loss of ecological diversity, climate change, overpopulation, etc.

I freely admit that our civilization appears to be better "armed" to address these problems than prior civilizations but hey, I am biased because I grew up inside this civilization, shaped by its context. I could be very wrong in that assessment. But even if I am correct, we remain with the problem that I stated above - no known civilization has ever faced all of these problems concurrently on a regional scale and survived. And you still have not demonstrated why a global civilization doing the same thing to the entire planet is going to end up with a different result.

So in the end, your pedantic screed is rather useless and nothing but a sidetrack to the core issue - history gives us certain facts. Facts are distinguishable from theories (like behavioral genetics) but when the facts support the theory, the theory is considered a reasonable representational model of reality until a better theory arises or new facts arise which disprove it.

I await your proof that current human civilization must of necessity turn out differently than its predecessors.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone


It is clear that your vision of science is what is often called a "correspondence theory of reality." It can not be proved without reference to itself. And while testable hypotheses go a long way toward demonstrating the usefulness of science, it does nothing for its truth value. Science is as much engaged in interpretation as any other structured thought process.

But I am intrigued by the way you skip over any real defense of science (oh sure, it "tracks" history better because you are using science's own measuring stick - ask a strict constructionist whether the bible tracks history better than science and you'll be told the bible, because that person is using the bible as a measuring stick) in order to get into your rant about reasons for collapse being found in genetics.

Just for the record, I'm with you on the likelihood of collapse and the our probable inability to prevent the worst aspects of it. But did you notice that in not one place where you talk about this do you mention what the connection is between genetics and collapse. Oh sure, you say it gives us "strong clues," but you don't say what those clues are. By doing this you both make the assumption that you're interpretation is correct and prevent any one from checking it, because you don't make it explicit. And you make some passing throwaway comment about our monkey brain and growth without ever saying what that connection is. Sorry, but if that's your idea of science...

So, while you may think I'm fiddling while Rome burns, what I see from where I stand is someone desperately trying to solve a problem with the very mindset that created the problem in the first place. If that's just a game to you, that's fine, but to me it directly addresses the question that is at the center of your concern - how do we respond to the very real problems confronting us.

As for answering the assignment you gave me at the end of your passage - have you ever considered that the problem might be civilization itself? Remember, the civilizational era occurs in only the last 6000 years, but humans have been around for between 100,000 and 200,000 years. So it is very possible, even likely that this civilization will end up like those that preceded it. But as for that demonstrating that our behavior is based in our DNA, how exactly is that the result of testable, falsifiable theses?

I didn't think I had to state the connection but apparently I do. Life is genetically programmed to beget life. Also, life feeds on life. These two forces have tended to generally result in an equilibrium for most species in most times and in most places. The number of predators is controlled by the number of prey. The number of prey is controlled by the number of predators. This is simplistic but sufficiently accurate for this discussion.

Now homo sapiens is not the first species to get the upper hand within an ecological niche so what we are experiencing is not unique, except perhaps in the scope. We have no record of any prior species dominating the entire planet's ecology to the extent that we do. That is (so far as we know) the sole difference between homo sapiens and other species that have achieved brief dominance in some ecological position.

You seem to be asserting that homo sapiens was fine for tens of thousands of years before civilization (and agriculture). I'll take issue with that statement right there. We were not fine. Because of our brains, our hands, and our use of tools, we were slowly transforming the world around us. Our population rose and continued to rise because of our very successes in the process of natural selection. To wit, we were being selected and the species we hunted were not. Thus, agriculture appears (to me) to have been a response to the inability of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to support as many of us as were being born. And with agriculture came civilization, but the population problem already existed. That is the problem that drove us to agriculture and civilization in the first place. Thus the core problem is not civilization (though civilization has its issues) but population growth.

As for the testable hypothesis, that is simple - is the drive to procreate genetic or learned? This particular behavior is genetic. I am aware of no studies that have suggested otherwise. Now, given that we are intelligent creatures capable of abstract thought, it becomes at least theoretically possible for us to overcome these genetic drives but overcoming a genetic drive is not a trivial task, especially for a behavior so fundamental.

This is why the primitivists are all wrong (in my opinion) - because humans have not fundamentally changed. We're not going to drop back to the same level of efficiency as Australopithecus and thus any primitive societies will once again (eventually) find themselves against the limits of growth of a hunter-gatherer society. And where two such societies exist side-by-side, the historical tendency has been competition at least as much as cooperation if not more. Thus if one of those societies can go to agriculture again, it will, to gain the inevitable competitive edge that agriculture gives.

I don't see a return to primitivism as any sort of solution. If homo sapiens intends to be successful and last for millions of years, then we basically have to overcome our genetic heritage and control it, direct it, and if necessary, stunt it entirely in certain situations. If we slide back to primitivism, we recreate the very conditions that led to agriculture and civilization anyway because we will once again experience success as hunters and gatherers setting the stage for population growth yet again. The longer term alternative is extinction, not a return to primitivism, unless we gain control of what we are.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

"Let's not play philosophical word games."

I agree with you that we will have a tough time dealing with our behavioural aspects to mitigate the problems we face, but Shaman was raising a perfectly valid concern, and it was well articulated. We should all remain aware of the points he raises. The best paper I ever took at university was on scientific methodology and the philosophy of science. It completely reshaped the way I approached all future study. Often our premises are our greatest failings.

"You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created."
Albert Einstein

Oh not the "It's human nature" argument again. Would any one of you who resorts to this end of debate tactic please tell me how YOU know what human nature is. You might as well say, its that way cause God made it that way. Or maybe better, "because I said so!"

I have read perhaps 100 books on the subject. And you wish me to summarize them all in one paragraph. This says something very profound about you Shaman. And what it says is not very nice.

But....what could one expect. A lot of not too bright people behave in the exact same manner. After all, it's only human nature. ;-)

Ron Patterson

Ah, and once again with ad hominem attack - is that all you got?

And no, I don't expect you to summarize the books you've read. I, too, have read books. Yippee, we're all so learned. What I asked was quite simple. How do YOU know what human nature is? I did not ask about some book.

Simple question, and so far, all I get is insults. Has to make you wonder.

Hi Shaman;
Thanks for sticking up for the better sides of Human Nature.

I'm sorry to see both GZ and Ron peering down over their reading glasses at you. It's like the blind men describing an elephant, and these experts are telling you how many tails they've tugged.. an elephant is clearly just like a rope!

We've got our finer moments and our darker ones, to be sure, and there's no advantage in ignoring either side.

"The cat that steps on a hot stove will never step on a hot stove again, but neither will he step on a cold one.."

What a piece of work is man..


Shaman, go here:

Listen to this lecture on Human Nature by Steven Pinker. It is called "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature." That's you Shaman, one who denies that human nature exist. So Pinker will tell you how I know human nature exist.
The lecture will not tell you everything about human nature because the lecture is only one hour and fifty two minutes long, but it's a start.

Ron Patterson

Hmm, can you provide a link to the post where Shaman denies that human nature exists? Can't seem to find it myself.

And why should I believe that Steven Pinker knows? Maybe he's as confused as everybody else?

James Gervais

Does this video exist anywhere that I can download it? How about a version of the video that doesn't require RealPlayer?

This is an example of efficiency vs. resiliency. MIT's video service solution is efficient. Not resilient.


So are you telling me you simply defer to Pinker to do all your thinking for you? If its that simple it makes me wonder why you bother to write anything at all.

But then you proceed to tell me what I think and miss the mark by a pretty far margin. Well now, I'm not sure just how to take that. Should I assume that you misinterpreted Pinker as greatly as you did me?

Or perhaps I should just leave it alone, because obviously you know the answer, you know the question, you know the shape of the debate, you know which side is right.

I asked a serious question, because I was interested in engaging people on a question about knowledge - and how we know what human nature is. You don't appear to be interested in any actual discussion, just insulting me and shutting down debate. Something along the lines of "here, you moron, here's the truth, now go away."

Well, here's a little news for you Ron, I have about as much use for people who have the "truth" and are going to cram it down everyone's throat as I do for people who have "faith" that the rapture is near.

But, maybe I have you wrong, I'm willing to listen if you're willing to be civil. But my patience with "I know better than you" attitudes won't last forever.


Thanks for the link up to the MIT lecture series.

Sitting still and listening to all of Pinker is certainly a test upon the ADHD nature of the human creature.

(For those who desire a deep dive into neuro science rather than discussion of history and literature may wish to bypass the first, oh say 25 minutes.)

Hi Ron, Shaman and everyone.

Thanks for this thread. Reading this over, it gives me (for one thing) a better idea (I think) of where Ron is coming from.

re: "I await your proof that current human civilization must of necessity turn out differently than its predecessors."

I didn't get the idea that anyone (Shaman) is saying it "has to" turn out differently - perhaps more

1) Can it?

2) If so, how?

I also have the sense that Ron is arguing from also wanting the little sliver of possibility to manifest itself. (Perhaps, like,"And to figure it out here - would be nice." Really.) (Yes?)

My view of the population and other related issues is - I don't know how this fits in with your (collective) studies of human history, in terms of agrarian v. pre-ag societies...however...it seems to me that a radical ordering of priorities on the part of male persons along the lines of actively supporting the legal rights of women (and children) would go a long way toward "solving" (or at least "dealing with") the population problem.

Oh not the "It's human nature" argument again. Would any one of you who resorts to this end of debate tactic please tell me how YOU know what human nature is. You might as well say, its that way cause God made it that way. Or maybe better, "because I said so!"

Human beings are the most studied lifeform on the planet. You act like "human nature" is this great unknowable. The study of human nature is a school of science called Psychological Anthropology.


Also, anyone who has been on this planet and dealing with other people for 40 or 50 yrs, probably by now has a pretty good idea how people of his culture will act and react in a wide range of situations.

... anyone who has been on this planet and dealing with other people for 40 or 50 yrs, probably by now has a pretty good idea how people of his culture will act and react in a wide range of situations.

For the first 40-50 years of my life I thought I lived in a rational, science-based culture where, if only I tell my neighbors and family about Peak Oil, they would instantly get it and rally into a new mode of behavior.

But no.

Their eyes glazed over.

It was only then that I realized my internal model of the civilization I live in, and of "human nature" was all wrong.

So the short answer is that 40-50 years of experience gave me very little in the way of a valid model of the human creatures around me. I had never before had reason to confront them with an "Inconvenient Truth".

P.S. If you still your ADHD tendencies, and sit through all of Pinker's lecture, you will see that he goes through the evolution of the various models of what the human mind/brain is; starting with the "Blank Slate" (Tabulli Rossa) theory and then progressing through other ancient concepts such as Noble Savage, Ghost in the Machine, and so forth and progressing to modern understanding of evolution, genetics, MRI scans, etc.

In order to deal effectively with Peak Oil, we must all modulate our internal models of what human nature is is.

We are neither Noble Savages nor Blank Slates nor Denialists. It's much more complex than one simple story.

I think techno-optimism and blind Bush-worship stem from the same souce in the US. The way that Junior screws up and always gets covered for by the corporate media and his radio priests looks an awful lot like the way that our escalating energy and environmental crises got covered until very recently.

So my doomerism is directly related to how people fail to rise up and get angry about the most blatant misrule - as long as it comes from a tyrant wrapped in a flag. If that's what our political culture has degenerated to, why should I believe that we have the guts to reform our energy system?

In fact, just today we've got a stock market falling 300 points, then mysteriously making it up in the last minutes, an ongoing meltdown of the very debt bubble rigged by right-wing bankers to protect right-wing rule, higher troop levels for Iraq, another attempt to provoke Iran into war, and the Democrats letting Bush spy on all of us even as he creates a Constitutional crisis. Are these not related events? Should one's response to Peak Oil not also be a response to dictatorship, rigged markets and economic stats, censored media, and eternal and escalating war?

I would rather take my chances with the doomer anarchy scenarios than live the rest of my life in an increasingly totalitarian state.

In principle there's no reason technology couldn't be used to change human nature. But you would be treading on extremely dangerous ground.

And while I agree that technology very much has the capacity to exacerbate the most destructive aspects of our nature, in general, the prosperity and relief from subsistence needs it has given us seems, at least so far, to more than make up for this.

Eventually we may well destroy or subsume ourselves with our own technology, and that might just be our evolutionary fate. I can think of worse ones.

there's no reason technology couldn't be used to change human nature

Before changing "it", you first have to know what it is that makes us behave the way we do.

But that entails eating from the tree of knowledge. You may not like what you see after you bite into the red pill apple. We are not what we think we are.

Then do something, put yourself and your family into a position to better withstand what's coming. Don't wait for someone else to do it for you, the chances are they won't be able to.

You can have a healthy bright future, but not if you sit on your hands and expect science and technology to save you. Look at the markets now, when every one realises the gig is up they stampede for the exit. What's going to happen when Nature puts out her mother-of-all margin calls on civilisation?

We're going to have to make do with what we've got, so no need to wait for things which aren't going to happen. There's your solution, get on with it!

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

My apologies.

However, we must harshly evaluate how big the crash is going to be before we can design a better car - or decide to buy a horse. Optimism as you describe it plays into the hands of those who want to pretend there are no serious fundamental problems in the American system - which in turn leads to the argument that tyranny and mass arrests will turn public attitudes around.

I believe science and technology can save us from oil.

Yea. Because it has done SUCH a great of 'saving us' to date.

Finite element analysis, better understandings of materials, better machine tools have been a help in making bigger and better wind turbines, ocean wave power and perhaps MUCH lower cost PV panels.

Yet, how is 'science' going to solve the limits of Phosphorous, the limits imposed by pollution, the limits of an economic model that requires constant growth to remain viable?

How is your 'science' going keep the over 50% of the US government budget dedicated to the Department of Defense powered? Electrified rail doesn't strike me as a way to move about tanks and APCs down streets. You were pimp'n batteries for transportation the other day - how are these batteries gonna work to power the planes and tanks?

So I enjoy reading people like Alanfrombigeasy and others here who draft up solutions!

Yea, like his 'save New Orleans, San Francisco and New York City no matter what the cost' plan?

Or how about the 'plan' to char anything that grows to make carbon-zinc batteries?

I think some people just get off spewing doomer garbage.

VS people who get off spewing other POV's w/o analysis?

Think unwinding of the Yen carry trade.

>With all the financial bad news going around, can anyone explain the sudden strength in the dollar? The dollar has gained about 3% against all major currencies in the last two weeks. Why would a collapse in the credit market give strength to the dollar?

Simple. Demand for dollars is rising. Hedge funds, Mortgage lenders are all looking for dollars to pay back investors demanding there money back (redemptions). Classic Deflation scenario. Demand for assets is falling (ie falling home prices, precious metals, oil, etc) while demand for cash is rising. Investors are demanding their money back and hedge funds are liquiditing investments to pay off investors.

Although the dollar isn't rising against all currencies. It appears that the Yen is rising rapidly (carry trade unwinding). Demand for Yen appears to be out pacing the demand for USD.

One thing perhaps people are missing is that both European and Japanese economies are slowing themselves.


Should growth in the Eurozone fall anymore, the ECB could stop raising interest rates. Question is, what will it take for the ECB to start lowering rates.


Likewise, the short economic growth period seems to be over in Japan, and it is not clear what the BoJ might do next.

Whether it is due to US credit market problems, flat production of oil, or some other factors, it does look like there is a general world-wide slowdown to economic growth coming our way.

Question though, given the current structure of various financial markets and practises, is there a "minimum" nominal growth rate at which the global economy can function? And what would be the long term social consequences if global GDP growth were to remain at, say, around 1% for the next 20 years, as opposed to 4%?

I think that Leanan posted a bit about HURRICANE DEAN above.

As mentioned in the last few days, looks like ERIN is just a rain event (not to diminish the risk for people in flood plains).

Hurricane DEAN - now has an eye


Just a note on track and strength (still early maybe), but the models currently have DEAN driving into the YUCATAN as a CAT4. Maybe a CAT2 into CANATRELL?


Oil is down, though, because the latest tracks have Dean going south of most of the oil infrastructure.

I think oil is down due to ERIN being a non-hurricane event...hard to tell with the media.

DEAN is too far out for Traders to get excited YET...of course, I could be wrong.

DEAN certainly looks like it is heading CANATRELL way. And, wouldn't surprise me if traders didn't realize this until later since it isn't a US resource. Only later will they realize how much the US relies on it.

Isn't Cantarell sort of protected by the Yucatan Peninsula, though?

In any case, traders tend to be very short-sighted. They were all panicked at first, then they dismissed the storm because models showed it would miss the Gulf, then the projected track changed and they were all a-twitter again, then it changed again and they went back to worrying about the mortgage crisis.

It's still early. Florida and the eastern seaboard have been ruled out, but that's about it.

I was suggesting it will come out maybe a CAT2 on the other side. (entering CAT4/5)

Anyways...still way to early to predict anything on this track. A couple models still have it threading the needle into the central gulf. Too early.

The latest GFDL model has Dean as a Cat 4 in the GOM & off the coast due south of Mobile by 8/20:


Of course, it is just one of many models, could well be way off. However, if it does end up being a Cat 4 or 5 and slams into Mobile, then we might be expecting a lot of rain here in WNC a day or so later. When Frances came up our way my community got 18 inches in 24 hours; Dean just could be a repeat. I had better get my potatoes dug up at the Community Garden this weekend -- it is in a flood plain, and mountain valleys make great funnels.

I suppose a Yucatan-Mobile path would threaten fewer offshore platforms than a path through Galveston, but there would still be a few that take it hit, wouldn't there?

Mobile? That's a lot further east than most seem to be expecting right now.

Good-bye, Thunder Horse... ;-)


Good-bye Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, and Santa Rosa county. I'd rather be 10 miles W of the eye than 100 miles E of the eye. D@mn! I just put up that trellis for the cukes.

Why can't the 'invisible hand' just swat the darn thing N into the open Atlantic?

Concerning a hit by Dean on the Cantarell fields, I seem to recall that Cantarell is serviced by a relatively few platforms operating in relatively shallow water. Wouldn't that make the impact of the loss of a single platform much worse? And does the shallowness of the Gulf in their vicinity tend to increase the damage probability?


The GFDL model now has Dean as a CAT 5 in the GOM on the 22nd, and it looks to me to be heading straight toward Galveston! Looks like landfall maybe around next Thursday or so.


Of course, this is only an experimental model, it could be wrong. Nevertheless. . .

There are a lot of offshore platforms that could be right in its path. I said I had a bad feeling about this one.


Well if your feeling turns out to be right, I guess we'll have to make you the new chief hurricane forecaster. :)


If I were a gambler I would not bet on Dean wiping out the Bay of Campeche oil assets. If you can look at historic hurricane tracks you might find that track exceedingly rare.

If you get a worldwide recession, fewer cars and homes will be built sending metals down at a time when mine capacity is being expanded if not depleted. Investors counting on their mortgage backed securities for income might have to switch from high-end restaurants to beans and rice. Condo flippers stuck holding the bag at the end of the ponzi scheme might be in the state of fear. Bankruptcy laws have changed. Laid off contruction crews might have to move about to try to find work.

Definitely right. Not likely. And too early to tell...as it is intensifying quickly now...it will spin off more to the north sooner as well.

However, at the moment (adv. 14) it still is showing a more southerly track...NOAA plane is in the air. Now, morning updates will be more accurate as to track.

Well, the talking heads on CNBC this morning are saying that oil is down because of the fear caused by the collapse of the financial markets and stock markets. And they say this is happening despite the serious threat that Hurricane Dean may cause havoc in the Gulf of Mexico.

The fear is that the world economy is in decline and this will cause a decline in demand for oil.

Ron Patterson

Oil is down because today everything liquid is being dumped to meet margin calls.(Not intended as a pun, but once you think about it.) There is real panic in the market, curbs are in and sells are stacking up. We have not even gotten into this sub-prime thing yet. Countrywide is going belly-up. The rest, probably all the rest, are yet to come. We would probably do good to save the major banks. Everybody else is going down the tubes. We have talked about this for at least the last 6 months(longer probably). We all could see this coming and debated this as theoretical speculation; an intellectual exercise. Well, now it's here. No longer speculation. Real and devastating. We knew it was coming, it's here. It's all evaporating before our eyes. The smart ones here are now out. The not so smart ones are looking for a way out, Denial frayed and rationalizing how this is just a correction and desperately looking for straws to grasp.

countrywide: http://stocks.us.reuters.com/stocks/charts.asp?symbol=CFC.N
some recovery, but still a very ugly picture...

Countrywide is terminal. Not a doubt in my mind.

Yep...only a matter of time...likely short.

Okay, here's a question for all you mortgage market wizards. I have a mortgage with Countrywide. What happens to it if Countrywide goes bankrupt (yes, I know eventually some other financial institution will buy it for pennies on the dollar, but in the meantime...)?

If you default on your mortgage, (that is what your asking?), it may take a while to get to you. If your mortgage was bundled into a security, it might be difficult, if not impossible, to determine who actually holds your mortgage. Honestly, it looks like a mess out there. If someone in the future claims to hold your mortgage, have them prove it. They may have trouble doing so. Of course, if it wasn't bundled, and they hold your mortgage, they could forclose. How lucky do you feel.

Actually, I was thinking a little more practically - like, who do I send payments to? Will the checks be cashed? Will they tell me when it's sold?

Though, certainly, your take on the odds of my particular mortgage being bundled and the actual ownership being difficult to track is interesting. Wonder if that could be modeled so as to make a bet on the purposeful default?

One corollary is also interesting. The deeper the financial mess surrounding the mortgage market, the better the odds that a default will go unpunished?

My mortgage is also with Countrywide. I am assuming that if they file for bankruptcy, they just continue processing payments received while under bank supervision. Eventually, they will either be reorganized or disolved, in which case the assets (meaning your and my mortgages) get sold to someone else. If that happens, we'll eventually get letters explaining that we should now send our monthly checks to whomever.

As long as you stay current on your payments, nothing should happen. This is not the first time something like this has happened.

I would suggest keeping all of your records. The possibility of a screw-up needing straightening out with the new guys just might be a possibility.

>As long as you stay current on your payments, nothing should happen. This is not the first time something like this has happened.

Long term mortgages (ie 30 yr) are financed with much shorter term bonds (2 yr, 5 yr, 10 yr). The length depends on what was available on the market at the time and depending on the lenders risk models of future interest rate adjustments.

Lets suppose that in two years time from now, the short term bonds orginally used to finance your mortgage come due. The current institution servicing your mortgage needs to go and finance a new bond to carry your mortgage. Now lets suppose that the market requires much higher rates (8 to 10%) than the interest rate on your mortgage ( ~6%) and therefore their is no way to honor your current interest rate. What do you thing happens? Do you think they will assume the loss so they can honor your mortgage at its fixed rate promised by a defunct lender? Most likely they will offer you either to pay the higher interest rate or seek a loan with another lender. I doubt they would take on a loss.

Another issue to consider if the value of your home drops below the debt you owe on the home. While you might be willing to keep on paying it, the lending service provider may decide its not in their best interest to assume that risk. If you were to lose your job, become disabled, they would be stuck with mortgage that is higher than the value of your home and risk becoming another defunct lender. They may decide to not continue to service your loan, demand you increase the down payment so that the debt is in line with valve of your home, or charge you a risk premium.

I would suspect if home prices drop 15 to 10% in value, people with no to low equity will simply choose to walk away since it would be silly to continue to pour money into an asset that depreciating. It would far more economical to rent, than continue paying a much larger mortgage payment. This would flood the market with even more inventory causing real estate prices to plummet.

At this point its very fuzzy how all this will turn out. I am just pointing out some issues that you probably haven't fully thought about. Best of Luck to you.

For my part, I would hope those scenarios where the mortgage loan owner decides it no longer likes the deal and reniges on it are simply illegal.

"illegal" - How quaint.

Not sure where you are getting your loans(mafia???).... A 30 year fixed rate loan is a 30 year contract between you and the bank. They are locked into that rate as long as you keep making your payments, regardless of what interest rates do. The contract is not voidable at their discretion. So yes...they will take the loss one way or another. I just skimmed through copy of my mortgage documents and there are no clauses about additional down payments if the value of the house drops. So my question to you is, do you have, or know anyone who actually has a mortgage contract with these stipulations because I have never heard of them in the US.

What happens if you move house?

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

>They are locked into that rate as long as you keep making your payments, regardless of what interest rates do. The contract is not voidable at their discretion. So yes...they will take the loss one way or another.

Your mortgage agreement is with the lender you originate the loan with. If that lender goes bankrupt, your agreement no longer applies. The topic was if Country Wide goes BK what happens to my mortgage. Do you seriously believe that the holding company that processes mortgages from a defunct lender is going to agree to the original terms of the mortgage? I think not.

In a another situation, if the interest rates on short term bond rise above your fixed mortgage, you can bet your bottom dollar that the lender is going to court to fight for a contract waiver. I don't the gov't is going to want to deal with "another" lender failure because the force them to honor agreements that will make them go bankrupt. Either way, Waiver or lender bankruptcy, your mortgage rates will adjust when the short term bonds on your mortgage come due.

That is a condition of absorbing the business of the entity going through bankruptcy. They cannot unilaterally change the terms of the contract. They are buying the contract. If they want to change the terms, they have to negotiate with you first. Go back and look at the S&L debacle. People did not have their mortgages ripped from under them or unilaterally renegotiated. And doing so would destroy the confidence in the financial system, which is far more precious to the overall system than some small losses.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

I rather doubt that a bankruptcy court is going to allow any lender to kick out hundreds of thousands of payers of a steady cash flow, just so the lender can increase their inventory of vacant, unsellable houses.

Someone will continue to service you mortgage as long there is a buck to be made. Short of a worst case hyper inflation [where the value of the debt is negligible], there will be an entity out there happy to collect your cash.

The organizations servicing you mortage are very often not the entities owning the underlying mortgage. There is a strong probablity that your Countrywide mortgage although originated by Countrywide is no longer held in their portfolio. It may be floating around in one of those impossible to evaluate AAA CDOs that are frightening a lot of people who should laready have known better.

Precisely why I asked the question, RW. My biggest concern is how do I keep track of who owns the debt.

They will communicate with you if necessary, but it is highly likely that the changes in ownership and even in the firms servicing your loan will occur in the background and not be visible to you. [Note: no personal experience with changes in terms of servicing that I am aware of, but that is how it is supposed to work.]

Jeff Masters thinks DEAN could hit CAT5.

Dean should be able to reach Category 3 or 4 status. Once in the western Caribbean, where the ocean heat content is near the record levels observed during 2005, Dean could reach Category 5 status.


Accu-Weather is saying there's another one forming off Africa now that looks to be even worse than Dean.

I have been watching this one...not much on experimental yet. But it looks very energetic.

Speaking of other hurricanes:

SUPER TYPHOON SEPAT is going to be a MAJOR EVENT. Too bad our media doesn't watch anywhere except Paris Hilton's backyard.

Will still hit TAIWAN at CAT4/5, and then straight into the Chinese farmland and manufacturing centers as a strong CAT 2/3.


It is HUGE.



There is another one coming as soon after Dean will make landfall:

And what happens if it is ALREADY at CAT 5 before it even hits those warm GOM waters????

I had a bad feeling about Dean a couple of days ago, and I'm definitely not feeling better yet!

Global warming will inevitably eventually create a typhoon/hurricane that will reach the theoretical maximum values for wind speeds here on planet earth. Maybe Dean will be the first one. It's not likely but then again everything that is happening with typhoons/hurricanes the last few years has been odd, ranging from the first true South Atlantic hurricane, to hurricanes hitting Europe (never before recorded in human history) to typhoons entering the Persian Gulf. And along the way, as Stuart demonstrated a coupled years ago, there is a clear trend line towards stronger and stronger storms.

Will Dean be the storm that pushes that boundary? Again, not likely but it could. And someday some storm will.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone


The Tropical Wave that just rolled of Africa could be just such a storm. Timed to arrive at near peak heat in the Gulf/Caribbean.

Definitely need to watch DEAN, but FELIX and GABRIELLE are names I fear.

In 2005, there was some talk about making a new category for stronger storms. Not much has come of it.

Maybe they will just call it "SUPER HURRICANE".

But I sincerely hope we NEVER have to entertain this...a CAT5 is destructive enough.

I just had an idea! Let's call it CAT 6! These flashes of brilliance just come to me sometimes...

Then you completely misunderstand the Saffir-Simpson Scale of hurricane strength. Winds of 165 mph do the same damage as (theoretical) winds of 200 mph - in a word, total. The scale is about damage done to human constructed structures, not about the specific strength of the storm. To understand each storm you must understand its specific windspeeds, its duration, and its pressure gradient.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

What a delight to completely misunderstand something. Not somewhat misunderstand, mind you. Not partially, no... I COMPLETELY misunderstand. I feel liberated.

I'll just damn bet you that 200 mph winds will do more damage than 165 mph winds. You see, the force of the wind increases as the cube of the velocity. There just might be a crumb of something that survived the 165 that will blow away with 200.

Although, gotta admit, total destruction is total destruction.

BTW, 200 mph winds are not theoretical. The weather station on top of Mt. Washington, NH, recorded the record of 231 mph before the anemometer quit.

Since I don't have a link to this, it'll sound like BS, but seems like sometime in the last decade plus here in Hawaii, there was a hurricane heading for us - and nearly got us - which was reported as having sustained 200mph winds. At the time that impressed me greatly, as I was hunkered in what was supposedly a "public shelter" which was a junior high school cafeteria with cinder blocks on one end and wood slats for walls. Yeah, I was thinking, THIS will take a 200mph wind, no problem.

The amount of energy in fast-moving wind is impressive. Off the top of my head, isn't terminal velocity for skydivers about 120mph? If so, that's a good threshold for keeping humans in the air. I think a loaded 747 lifts off at about 180mph, and those SOB's are HEAVY.

Best hopes for cement-lined holes in the ground with periscopes for life in the tropics.

In 1992 Hurricane Iniki developed wind gusts which were recorded on Makaha ridge by Doppler radar at 227 mph. At the time it was the highest recorded wind speed for a hurricane. Hurricane Omar, soon thereafter, developed winds recorded on Guam, at 231 mph. There were also reports of winds being recorded at 190+ during hurricane Camille in 1969. Camille was a small but intense Cat 5 which caused unbeleivable devastation along the Mississippi coast. I know because I was a flight instructor in Pensacola at the time and flew in the first government people to look at the damage.The hills around Khe Sahn were the only place I had ever seen such devastation.

The Saffir-Simpson scale is about damage to human structures. Winds in Cat 5 are considered "total" damage. Yes there are degrees of difference but for the purposes of hurricane rating there is Cat 5 and that's the end of the story. What's your Cat 6 supposed to be, destruction of the destruction and spreading the resulting debris on a wider scale?

The scale has nothing to do with the specific power of any given storm. It's a rating system, intended to indicate the expected damage and flooding that a given storm might cause, nothing more and nothing less. You think the scale needs twisted to convey wind speed. Take your argument up with those who defined the scale. But oh no, you don't have time to pursue those sorts of things. Instead you sit here making yourself look foolish.

The scale was developed in 1969 by civil engineer Herbert Saffir and Bob Simpson, at that time the director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center.[1]

The initial scale was developed by Saffir while on commission from the United Nations to study low-cost housing in hurricane-prone areas. While performing the study, Saffir realized there was no simple scale for describing the likely effects of a hurricane. Knowing the utility of the Richter magnitude scale in describing earthquakes, he devised a 1–5 scale based on wind speed that showed expected damage to structures. Saffir gave the scale to the NHC, and Simpson added in the effects of storm surge and flooding. The scale does not take into account rainfall or location, which means a Category 2 hurricane that hits a major city will likely do far more damage than a Category 5 hurricane that hits a rural area.[2]


Category 6

There is no such category on this scale, and any mention of a Category 6 tropical cyclone is fictitious or incorrect.

According to Robert Simpson, there is no reason for a Category 6 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale because it is designed to measure the potential damage of a hurricane to man-made structures.[6] If the speed of the hurricane is above 250 km/h (156 mph), then the damage to a building will be "serious no matter how well it's engineered". However, the result of new technologies in construction leads some to suggest that an increase in the number of categories is necessary. This suggestion was emphasized after the devastating effects of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. During that year Hurricane Emily, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and Hurricane Wilma all became Category 5 hurricanes. A few newspaper opinionists and scientists have brought up the suggestion of introducing Category 6 since then.[7]


1. Williams, Jack. "Hurricane scale invented to communicate storm danger", USA Today, May 17, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-02-25.
2. Wilma's Rage Suggests New Hurricane Categories Needed: History of the Scale. LiveScience.com (2005-10-20). Retrieved on 2007-02-25.


6. Debi Iacovelli (2001-07). The Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale: An Interview with Dr. Robert Simpson. South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved on 2006-09-10.
7. Bill Blakemore. "Category 6 Hurricanes? They've Happened: Global Warming Winds Up Hurricane Scientists as NOAA Issues Its Atlantic Hurricane Predictions for Summer 2006", ABC News, 2006-05-21. Retrieved on 2006-09-10.

So there you go. There's no need for Cat 6, according to those who invented the scale although there are some who are pursuing the idea of a Cat 6, which has so far been resisted because of the lack of need. If you want to tilt at windmills, find some of those who give a damn and go tilt at that windmill. The rest of us seem to be getting along just fine with the scale as it is.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

Jeez, GZ, lighten up. sgage's initial CAT6 comment was funny, period. There can never be enough of that here, IMO.

Think of your audience.

I've posted a list of kml files on my blog for those who want to track hurricane Dean in Google Earth along with data about GOM Oil&Gas infrastructure, it gives something like this:

Hi Khebab,

Nice. Any Chance of adding in the Mexican side?

I'm working on it :)

If Dean were to just continue heading on a straight line almost due west, it would be one of the very few hurricanes in history to have ever done so. Almost all of them do eventually make a turn.

I am still thinking that it makes a right turn past Jamaica, just makes it through the Yucutan-Cuba slot, and roars into the GOM as a Cat 5. Which is just about the worst case scenario for any landfall along the gulf coast.

I have added data about Mexico oil fields (offshore):

Sweet...thanks. Nice work.

*clap* *clap*

Nice work. Thanks

A Truck Stop Perspective

How do you tell them about Peak Oil in "Oil Country?" They all -- with very few exceptions -- tell me there's plenty of oil in the ground (if they'd just let'em drill in Alaska, fer chrissake), and laugh it off. Then they look at me kinda sidewise, like I'm not quite right in the head. Yet they all tend to agree that fuel costs will continue to rise. Usually "those damn oil companies" are mentioned. Sometimes their eyes glaze over when I get going on the subject, telling them that oil is a global commodity and that Exxon-Mobil doesn't control the price, but I keep trying.

An interesting tidbit that I didn't fully expect is that corn ethanol is not that popular. Most folks nod their heads and agree when I describe the downsides of corn ethanol. It's an easy sell, I gotta admit, with the skyrocketing cost of milk, etc. These people understand that sort of thing. Most of 'em know a dairy farmer, or a former dairy farmer (many are being driven out of business by the higher costs). Rising cost of feed equals rising costs down the line. Same with wheat -- rising costs of fuel, fertilizer, pesticide, even seed.

Then comes a late freeze followed by rain, rain, and more rain, as it did this year... suddenly an early bumper crop turns out to be a major fizzle, and the farmer can't even get half of it out of the field because it's a quagmire. Meanwhile, the harvest crews have moved on, tired of waiting. What's a poor dirt-farmer to do?

As one gentleman farmer (a crusty ol' geezer) put it: "We've got a tiger by the tail, no mistake!" I couldn't have said it better.

Hi Earthbound,

I like those perspectives. Keep 'em comin'.


Thanks Don, I got a million of 'em. And the highway doth provide every day (for now).


Hi Earthbound,

Yes, thanks for the view from the road. Something that seems to work is to tell people the US was the first major oil-producing region - the world's number one exporter.

Then what happened?

Moody's Warns of Potential for LTCM-Style Hedge Fund Collapse


Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Moody's Investors Service warned the global credit rout may cause a major hedge fund to collapse, along similar lines to the demise of Long-Term Capital Management LP in 1998.


``A possible consequence of the repricing of risk assets would be the failure and disorderly liquidation of a hedge fund or other institution of sufficient size as to disrupt markets, as LTCM threatened to do in 1998,'' Mahoney said.

Oil, Metals Pace Commodity Declines on Credit Woes, Stock Slump


Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Oil, nickel and copper led declines in commodity prices on concern expanding losses in global markets will erode demand for raw materials.

Crude oil in New York dropped as much as 2.9 percent as a Tropical Storm Erin moved away from rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Nickel tumbled 5.5 percent to its lowest in a year and copper dropped 4.8 percent, the most since May 17, leading a third day of declines among metals in London. Gold fell for a fourth day.

If memory serves, someone predicted a decline in Chinese oil production earlier this year, based on HL (not me, I don't remember who posted the note).


China’s Reliance
On Oil Imports
Reaches a Record

August 16, 2007

BEIJING -- China's dependency on crude-oil imports hit a record 48.8% in July on a drop in domestic oil production and record volumes of oil coming in from abroad.

Analysts say it is inevitable the key 50% threshold will be broken as China's efforts to raise oil output won't be enough to offset increases in crude consumption, but record volumes of oil imports in recent months have led them to revise their expectations of the timing of the breach.

China's crude-oil dependency is defined as net imports as a percentage of net imports plus total domestic output.

In July, China imported a record 14.83 million tons of crude, with exports totaling 70,000 tons, preliminary data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

According to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics yesterday, China's crude-oil output totaled 15.47 million metric tons in July, equivalent to 3.66 million barrels a day. This was 1.7% lower than a year ago.

EIA Data

China 2006 Monthly Average — 3.686 million b/d
China 2007 5 Month Average — 3.722 million b/d
China 2006 July — 3.716 million b/d
China 2007 July — 3.660 million b/d

Down 1.5% year-on-year for July. Clearly, it looks like somebody's Hubbert method has struck gold again in so far as the EIA data shows that Chinese production is clearly falling off a cliff.

A One Month Trend

Sarcasm is just one of the many oil & gas analysis services I offer.

Sarcasm is just one of the many oil & gas analysis services I offer.

I'm sure that your services are in high demand.

In any case, if memory serves, the original post on China (not mine) focused on the HL method and the extremely high water cut in the Daqing Field, in the vicinity of a 90% water cut.

It now appears that the world's two largest oil consumers and the world's two largest oil producers are all characterized by flat to declining oil production and rising consumption.

You will be in good shape as we transition to a sarcanol based econmy!

BTW, thanks for the write-up of Russian production. I've been looking for an up to date summary piece on Russia. Certainly the East Asian (CN, JP, SK, TW) economies are so thirsty that they are becoming desperate for Russian oil as an alternative/supplement to the Persian Gulf sources.

Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch

Until I talked to Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, it never occurred to me that our universe might be somebody else’s hobby. I hadn’t imagined that the omniscient, omnipotent creator of the heavens and earth could be an advanced version of a guy who spends his weekends building model railroads or overseeing video-game worlds like the Sims.

But now it seems quite possible. In fact, if you accept a pretty reasonable assumption of Dr. Bostrom’s, it is almost a mathematical certainty that we are living in someone else’s computer simulation.

This is the guy's web site. His argument is basically that given enough intelligence species, enough time, and enough computer power, simulated realities would outnumber real ones, so chances are, we're all simulated.

He admits that one thing that could put a spanner in this idea is if there's something that causes advanced technological species to go extinct.

I wonder if he's ever read Tainter....

There was a movie awhile back based on a concept like this. Called the 13th Floor if I remember correctly. It is in essence a murder mystery but with a Virtual Reality twist, and ultimately deals with the idea of a reality within a reality.

Was a neat flick, I'd recommend it for a rainy night.

Yeah, "The 13th Floor" was a good film. It came out around the same time as the Matrix, and was completely muffled by it.

In any case, this Bostrom fellow has been making a big fuss out of this idea, often giving reporters the impression it is his. In fact, the basic principle dates back at least to Plato. Moreover, I reckon any thinking man with a knowledge of computers would have at some point wondered about the same concept.

Konrad Zuse (the creator of the world's first programmable computer, the Z3) is also noted for having developed the idea that physical reality could be a computable phenomenon, and hence, possibly be indeed be running as computer simulation.

Actually, Charles Babbage was the creator of the world's first programmable computer but it wasn't completed because he ran out of money. Programmable devices were actually used in the English cloth making houses to control the weaving, thus making patterns possible [I remember reading that the Romans used similar devices, but to do what, I can't remember]. Thus Zuse can only be credited with the creation of the world's first working programmable general purpose computer.

James Gervais
Hope was the last evil to escape Pandora's box.

Well, as far as we can tell everything is just space, interspersed with a bit of seriously dense energy - like you and me, for example. The only computer that could run a program as complex as the universe would, in theory, be the universe. Quid pro quo. Yes, we are part of a simulation. It's called reality. It's running as we speak.

"You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created."
Albert Einstein

Actually, Eastern religions believe that life is an illusion.

And, Einstein was so in awe of the order of the universe that he felt it could not have existed any other way. Is that any different from being part of a simulation?

Kalpa says:

..Eastern religions believe that life is an illusion.


Is this correct? Because it doesn't have any meaning.

James Gervais
Hope was the last evil to escape Pandora's box.

I'm not an expert, but have done some study of it to say that this view belongs to "eastern religion" is a form of orientalism.

That said, the Hindu's do believe that what we experience on a day to day basis is not "reality" but an illusion of sorts caused by the veil of Maya - in short the distortion of perception.

This still does a dis-service to a huge and sophisticated metaphysical undertaking. Worth your time, if you are so inclined. But you are right, it is not just a matter of life being an illusion.

If you want to undertake the answer to your question, it would take you years of study, reading, and meditative practice. For a brief overview, go to wikipedia and read about "Reality in Buddhism". Or read Alan Watts "The Way of Zen". The early Chinese belief in the Tao, the Hindu maya, and the Buddhists all believe that underlying reality is a universe which is all connected, which is the real reality evidenced by the enlightened.

Alan Watts is good. His lectures may have been my introduction to Eastern Philosophy. Best introduction would be "The Tao of Pooh". Heavy thinking is going in the wrong direction. A gentler "Taoist" approach is best, which "The Tao of Pooh" is. That said, right and wrong, shoulds and should nots, ought and ought nots; are the maya or illusion in Hinduism. Back to Taoism, the Tao "just is". Thus we can see a common thread. Buddhism seeks freedom from desire which leads to all the suffering in the world. Freedom from the wants and wantnots; to get to nirvana, "the just is". Taoism, on the other hand, sees desire as part of the just is and "wanting" freedom from desire, leads to the equivalent of the Hindu Maya. Taoism is best practiced as "going along with the flow". When you're hungry, eat.

"If you want to undertake the answer to your question, it would take you years of study, reading, and meditative practice."

Or one moment of clarity.

"Actually, Eastern religions believe that life is an illusion."

Buddhism, or more specifically, Zen, does not hold that life is an illusion. I can't reach you from here, but you would ellicit a whack! ;-)

"You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created."
Albert Einstein

I enjoyed your original post and found a parallel to it in Buddhism, that is why I responded the way I did. I also find great irony in your response of wishing you could "whack" someone across the globe in the name of zen!!! I was trying to keep things simple, but agree that this subject is much more integral to Tibetan forms of Buddhism than Zen, though its basics should be attempted by all students of Buddhism since it has its root in Taoism. And, I apologize for not posting the link to wikipedia here.

I want to know why it is imperative that "intelligent" life forms pursue development of machines that do nothing more than count ones and zeros when, in fact, there are infinitely more interesting things to do.

Well, as I understand it, he was thinking more that scientists would be running simulations trying to understand their ancestors, more than of Sims-like games.

But yeah, that's what I found most interesting about this story (which is getting play on MSNBC, CNN, etc., as well). The built-in assumption that advanced technology, once achieved, can never be lost, and that it would be used it play an advanced version of The Sims. The guy's at Oxford, and yet he seems incapable of imagining that what we're doing now may not continue forever, nor be universal.

Kinda makes me wonder if that saying is correct, about the educated being perfectly prepared for a world that will no longer exist.

Ha! Yes, I wonder if the good professor would consider the possibility that his existence, not to mention his professorship at Oxford, owes entirely to the deaths of zillions of tiny diatoms in a Cretaceous sea.

...but maybe that's just too mundane a thought.

Right. 'In theory, theory should work like real life, but in real life it doesn't always work out that way.'

I think we get way too in love with the notion of our notions.. cognito ergo sum.. and then 'Descartes thinks he thinks, therefore he thinks he is.'

I just have to wonder.. if yeast are so darn smart, is it possible that we are Their Simulation? If so, I bet Bob Shaw's line got a real Oooh, Ahhh!

While this might be an amusing thought game - does it really add anything to our knowledge? Perhaps the application of Occam's Razor is appropriate here?

He argues that Occam's Razor points to us being sims.

But that's not why I posted it. I posted it because I found it striking that an obviously educated man like him sees only two possible futures for an intelligent species: ever improving technology or extinction. He doesn't seem to have even considered collapse.

It's something Tainter and especially Diamond have written a lot about. We humans tend to assume that what is, will always be. The idea that this fossil fuel fiesta is a temporary aberration, not the natural human condition, doesn't cross most of our minds. Even the very well-educated ones.

I didn't see the Occam's Razor point in the paper (didn't read in detail, but did do a search). Hard to see how it could be used though since our being Sims would necessarily be a derivative of another whole set of assumptions about existence in general. Oh well .

I'm not surprised by the single path of development foundation of his argument. It is a fundamental part of the modern western mind - progress and all that.

While I find Tainter and Diamond interesting - I'd encourage you to expand your "collapse" reading to include Arnold Toynbee. A bit older material, but to my mind Tainter and Diamond owe more to him than either lets on.

I've considered this possibility more than once...and consider it about the only reasonable case for the existence of "gods".

My biggest argument against it is that the universe is too predictable and stable - no signs of the guys running the simulation deciding to tinker here and there, which is no doubt what humans would do if we had one.

Was Douglas Adams right? Does this mean that the answer to the ultimate question is 42?

Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against the absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. -- Thomas Jefferson

I wonder if he's ever read Tainter....

It wouldn't make any difference, don't bother with singularitarians they're nuts, cornucopians on crack.

Are you saying that when they call me crazy they are referring to a deviation from the simulated path? :-)

No wonder the cubicle jockeys scare easy.

Boy, add this together with the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, which is also nonrefutable, and you've really got a hypothesis. But are there infinite numbers of different computer simulations or an infinite number of simulations in the same computer, or both?

The "Many Worlds" interpretation of QM is the most logically tenable one since it derives directly from our most successful predictive theory without additional assumptions or privileged frames of reference; its sole drawback is that it makes most people insane to think about. We practicing Tralfamadorians do not have that particular hangup.

Unfortunately, humans in nearly all branches of the multiverse think in terms of metaphors, and the strong metaphor du jour at these 4D coordinates in this thermodynamic slice is "computers". The brain is a computer, reality is a computer, life is like a computer, etc. Prior to this is was telephones: the brain is like a switchboard, neurons are like phone wires, etc. You can run this back to phlogiston and further. Leanan makes a good point that it's ridiculous that 'collapse' is not considered as a likely option. But beyond that, who's to say that "more advanced" techologists would still be messing with computers and doing simulations? There's a limit to what you can do or would want to. My computer already thinks it's Ray Kurzweil and that it will live forever; I know otherwise. So it goes.

I'm not a simulation; the jury's out on the rest of you...

we're all simulated.

Yes, but the logic consequence is that the guy on the couch running the sim, he is also nothing but a simulation. And the guy running that simulation is also a simulation. In fact, the hierarchy of simulations would be unbounded.

This is not science, because it is utterly untestable. It makes no detectable difference in our world. Strikes me as rather poor philosophy too, i.e. useless, or worse. License for irresponsibility. Really it's anti-philosophy. A love of wisdomlessness.

Thanks, JimK,

Nice and succint.

US Primaries 2007

In response to many requests - and not only from the US - here are most of the prominent names to date in the primaries. If your favourite is not yet included, please remember that we'll be adding others along the way. We'll also be charting the presidential candidates for all the parties when the race begins.

Please keep in mind that The Political Compass is a universal tool, reflecting the full spectrum of political thought, and applicable to all democracies. US politics are generally fought within a more confined space. While in mainstream America, Clinton, for example, may be seen as left leaning, in the overall political landscape, she is a moderate conservative. Someone like Kucinich, while seen by his severest opponents as an extreme left winger, would qualify as a typical social democrat in a European context.


What's that quote about the US Property Party having two right wings?

Tesla Roadster to Make First Road Trip

The Tesla Roadster hits the highway later this month for the electric sports car's first public road trip, a 200-mile journey from San Francisco through the Sierras to Lake Tahoe. Sure, it's a publicity stunt but one designed to demolish the perception that electric cars are short-range put-put mobiles more suited to suburban cul-de-sacs than the open road. As the Silicon Valley startup gears up for production of the zero-to-60-in-four super car this fall, it will use the final prototype of the Roadster for the August 29 road trip.


TTAC notes that there will be a recharging stop along the way.

As Dmitri Orlov said, in the US we have the Capitalist Party and the OTHER Capitalist Party.

Re the Compass.
When I ran it on myself it made me rise an eyebrow. With the results it shows for the candidates IMO the programming was done by someone with real unusual world views, to put it really mildly.

what i think we need is an idiot index ..... and the closer to bush a candidate is , the lower the index. mutt romney scores near zero right along with his hero, el'befuddleoso.

I think Ron Paul probably belongs in the purple quadrant. I'm sure he would place himself there.

Interesting that there is absolutely nobody in the orange quadrant, and in US political culture there would be no way for anyone to be there. Hardly anybody of note in the green quadrant, either. The US is truly exceptional in contrast to the rest of the world in that regard.

Holy crap! I just turned around to the teevee and I see the Dow is down over 300 points. Nuts! This ain't lookin' good...

When I gazed into my crystal ball some weeks ago I saw a support level at 12,000...well, it might have been 10,000. My ball is scuffed and difficult to see into. The good ol' GE stock has been making me a living for a long time and I wont bail on it now...The captain said as he went down with the ship.

The Russians are putting the world on notice that they have a military and they intend to enforce their claim to resources in the Artic.


...snip...'An American general said that US fighter jets have had to scramble to intercept Russian bombers on an increasingly regular basis.

“Over the last few months the Russian air force has been flying a little bit more than we’ve seen in the past,” said Gen Gene Renuart, commander of Norad, the joint US-Canadian agency in charge of defending North American airspace.


“Certainly they are ranging farther than they have in the more recent past.”

The development is the latest in a series of indications that Russia’s armed forces have recovered some of the swagger that they lost in the long and humiliating decline that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In the latest display of military might, aircraft from Russia’s strategic nuclear bomber command flew sorties over the North Pole yesterday, giving the world a timely reminder of Moscow’s claims to the Arctic.

While the sorties were passed off as exercises, few doubt that the Russian air force’s growing presence in the skies has a political dimension.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has made rapid rearmament and military modernisation a top priority amid a row with Washington over US plans to station a missile defence shield in central Europe.

Since he threatened to aim nuclear weapons at Europe at the end of May, Russia’s navy has declared its ambitions to reopen a base in the Mediterranean for the first time since the Cold War. Air force bombers have also flown close to both British airspace and a US base on the Pacific island of Guam.'...snip...

I'm just depressed that Putin is using his oil dividend in such an unimaginative way. Six nuclear aircraft carriers? How passe. You want to stick it to Uncle Sam, you create cheap mass-produced weapons that drive America's scarce infantrymen crazy.

My candidates:

One of those big radio-controlled monster trucks with an EFP bomb in the bed.

An RPG with a micropulse radar chip (like those used in stud finders) to hit helicopters.

A robot Kalashnikov.

And my favorite, Mr. Missile, the $10,000 cruise missile guided by GPS and powered by a Gluhareff propane jet engine. I estimate the payload at 2000+ lbs, a range of 200 miles, and a blast radius as big as the circular error projection (50 feet). Unload it from a van, launch it off a highway, and drive away.

And it's all so much more fuel-efficient than the stuff the Russians make now.

Oh great.

Why not just post links to instructables and sourceforge for the source code, machine tool cutting path instructions, and assembly diagrams for your above projects?

*ponders if the parent is the kind of 'technology' that will 'save us' that posters like theantidoomer keeps mentioning as that list sure looks like technology to me.*

If their Gas and Oil is truly starting to tip towards the Y-line again, I wonder how sustainable either their new military posturing or their Arctic drilling projects are going to turn out to be.. now that their resource-base doesn't 'necessarily' include the old East Bloc.

Anybody got info on the kind of depths they'd have to be drilling to way up North there? Sure sounds like it's got all sorts of complexity issues ready to nip at its heels..

Of course I'm ready to hear that it's also just so much classic Red-baiting.. keep the folks worried about Ivan and Gay Marriage again and again, and they won't have time to think about curbing their energy bills or joining in some local political action projects..

Off topic, but laughed my ass off last night. Watching the discovery channel and they had a program about Jellyfish. Seems off the coast of Asia, this exotic species of Jelly which are HUGE used to bloom once every 40 years. They bloomed in 2002 and have not stopped. They seem to be voracious and threatening the fishing industry. The Japanese govt sought a solution so special nets were used to trawl through and slice them up, thus destroying the protoplasmic menace. Nice video of fishermen chopping them up and washing the remains overboard.

In classic example of law of unintended consequences, turns out that when disturbed or attacked the jellies natural response/defense was to eject billions of reproductive cells, so not only was the action not effective, it was further contributing to this massive bloom.

ya got to luv it


Not off topic at all, ej. Just one more reminder that we are messing with things that we don't understand.

"Just one more reminder that we are messing with things that we don't understand."

That is the story of humanity since agriculture was invented.

sgage - Your comments parallel my favorite 800 lb gorilla Ishmael.

"That is the story of humanity since agriculture was invented."

ever since someone started locking up the foodstores...

Or fighting against the current instead of swimming with it...

"You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created."
Albert Einstein

The Elephant in the Room - 9.5 Billion of us by 2050

*warning - pdf alert*

Given business as usual maybe, but that ain't gonna happen.

Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy is an article written by Philip Atkinson for FamilySecurityMatters.ORG. The article is so reprehensible that FamilySecurityMatters.ORG took it down but Google caught a snapshot of it.

This article demonstrates the shift in thinking of some of those that back the current administration. It's insane but there it is - demands for George Bush to use nukes against Iraq and declare himself president for life.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

"Contributing Editor Philip Atkinson is the British born founder of ourcivilisation.com and author of A Study of Our Decline. He is a philosopher specializing in issues concerning the preservation of Western civilization."

Maybe he should write a book. He could call it something like "My Struggle."

"He could call it something like My Struggle."

lol - good one

This guy is a fine piece of work. Ironically, his father was a socialist and a supporter of George Orwell. In his own words he explains how his father choose to live among the middle class instead of the educated elite upper class. Young Phil had a tough time integrating with the proletariat toughs. Because he got picked on and ostracized as a kid growing up, and has been a social outcast his entire life, it's given him the wisdom to see the necessity of waging genocidal war to protect western civilization.

I wonder if young Adolf regularly got his ass kicked on the playground also?

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. -- Thomas Jefferson

Yikes, that guy is scary. He demonstrates how vulnerable democracies are when widespread ignorance and a herd mentality can be manipulated to derail it so easily.


Democracies are vulnerable to widespread ignorance and a herd mentality even when they aren't being manipulated. Just like housing markets or stock markets.

I've read lots of crap about Iraq written by people who don't seem to live in the real world, but I think this is just exceptionally moronic:

The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead. Then there would be little risk or expense and no American army would be left exposed. But if he did this, his cowardly electorate would have instantly ended his term of office, if not his freedom or his life.


If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege while terrifying American enemies.

This guy doesn't even try to be coherent: first he says Bush would be out of office in no time if he used nukes, then he says he should have done it anyway and the military at least would have been happy, and finally, he assumes millions of Americans would be willing to move to Iraq to repopulate it after it was destroyed by nukes. WTF?

The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead.

Paul Harvey:
we sent men with rifles into Afghanistan and Iraq and we kept our best weapons in their silos.

From a 'pure' economic POV, the use of the nuke would have been cheaper. The after-effects are accepted to be harsh however. And I'm sure there were people pitching a 'nuke 'em' approach within The Government.

Eventually, the expense of playing 'soldier to conquer foreign lands' will become too expensive in energy to maintain. What then? Will a 'nuke 'em and leave the Earth salted' doctrine be what happens? Can that be done with the big fusion class weapons? Or with 'mythical' micronukes?

My dad, a right-of-Reagan Faux News devotee, has long supported the use of neutron bombs in the Middle East. Kill 'em all - Arabs, Israelis, Iranians, etc. - and leave the oil.

Have you ever explained to him that's not how a neutron bomb works?

No, because I think that is how it works. While the "no damage to infrastructure" thing is exaggerated, I imagine the oil would be okay. Oil infrastructure, maybe not, but the oil would still be there.

In any case, he and (most) other right-wingers don't really want to kill every man, woman and child. Rather, they have a John Wayne view of the world. Kill a few, and the rest will fall in line when they see you mean business. They'll love you for it in the end.

Yes, I know, this didn't work in Iraq. But that's because we weren't forceful enough. It would have been more compassionate to kill a few early on, to establish order. Being "weak" led to the insurgency, which has led to more death and suffering than would have occurred had we come down hard at the beginning.

Or so the theory goes.

Actually I think that was the theory behind Saddam Hussein. Before we invaded, there was an article (sorry, no link) in the Seattle Times about our lack of understanding of Middle Eastern culture and why a central despot such as Saddam was necessary. Maybe we are belatedly taking that lesson to heart (and, lest people object to the implications of the term 'belatedly', I do not in any way think we should act like Saddam--I merely think that, as with Vietnam, we should have better understood the realities of different cultures before we decided to invade).

Actually I think that was the theory behind Saddam Hussein.

And lets say it is a workable, correct theory.

Is that the way American's want to be seen to work in the world?

And, more important, in a world with fission/fusion weapons, a shrinking energy pie, and low(er) cost DNA manipulation - is that a world vision that can work?

John Robb seems to think not.
In less than a decade, then, biotechnology will be ripe for the widespread development of weapons of mass destruction, and it fits the requirements of small-group warfare perfectly. It is small, inexpensive, and easy to manufacture in secret. Also, since dangerous biotechnology is based primarily on the manipulation of information, it will make rapid progress through the same kind of amateur tinkering that currently produces new computer viruses.

It is a workable correct theory. History demonstrates that correlation very nicely. But you asked the real question, eric, the one that matters:

Is that the way American's want to be seen to work in the world?

And I know that I don't want my country seen that way. Maybe I am being stupid in the grander scheme of things but it's not an image of which I would be particularly proud.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

And I know that I don't want my country seen that way. Maybe I am being stupid

Not at all. If you have words and ideas that are shown to work, you can use words to obtain change,

If all you have is a big stick that you swing, eventually you get tired swinging it. And if you are busy swatting every little bug everywhere you have an interest, that too becomes tiring.

[It is small, inexpensive, and easy to manufacture in secret.]

Robb doesn't give any citation for these claims which are very counterintuitive. I can't see biological weapons being produced in some rented dive in the inner city. I do agree that assymetric warfare is an extremely efficient means of attacking an enemy and is very useful in the city and difficult to counter (Larry Bonds gives some pretty scary examples in "The Enemy Within" which came out in the 90's). But it can easily be performed with weapons readily available or producible on site and results in tremendous economic cost to the attacked country. How much has the anti-terrorism program cost us since 9-11?

[Is that the way American's want to be seen to work in the world?]

Obviously not, although I am not sure we will be remembered much more favorably at this point. It is sad that, as Leanan's original post pointed out, there are Americans who think this way.

Robb doesn't give any citation for these claims which are very counterintuitive.

Not at all counterintuitive. If one has a passing familarity with biotech and what is going on - the prices have dropped and the capacity has risen.

An example of open source biology tools.

L-Breeder garlic p5-bioperl-devel
Makefile genpak p5-bioperl-run
adun gff2ps p5-bioperl-run-devel
ariadne gmap paml
artemis gperiodic phylip
avida grappa platon
babel hmmer povchem
belvu jalview primer3
biococoa kinemage protomol
biojava lagan psi88
blast lamarc py-biopython
blat libgenome pymol
boinc-simap linux-foldingathome rasmol
chemeq lsysexp recombine
clustalw mafft ruby-bio
crimap migrate seaview
distribfold molden seqio
dna-qc mopac sim4
dotter nab tRNAscan-SE
embassy ncbi-toolkit t_coffee
emboss ortep3 tinker
fasta p5-AcePerl treepuzzle
fasta3 p5-Bio-ASN1-EntrezGene treeviewx
fastdnaml p5-Bio-Das wise
finchtv p5-Bio-Phylo xdrawchem
fluctuate p5-bioperl xmolwt
# pwd

L-Breeder is a program which allows you to display, breed, and
genetically engineered L-system forms.

WWW: http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/dawkins/software/yan/L-Breeder/

Adun is a new extendible molecular simulation program that also
includes data management and analysis capabilities.

WWW: http://diana.imim.es/Adun

ARIADNE is a package of two programs, ariadne and prospero, that compare
protein sequences and profiles using the Smith-Waterman algorithm, and
assesses statistical significance using a new accurate formula,
described in Mott, 2000, "Accurate Formula for P-values of gapped local
sequence and profile alignments" J. Mol Biol. 300:649-659.

And on and on. That is my just taking 5 mins with the tools I have 'on my desk' And I'm not in the DNA business.

I can't see biological weapons being produced in some rented dive in the inner city.

Which is not at all what he's said.

How much has the anti-terrorism program cost us since 9-11?

All depends on how one wants to do the accounting. All that future borrowing spent now on the WoT has made all kinds of capitalists rather well off. So, if one asks them, I'm sure its not a 'cost us' POV.

It seems rather abstract. It's another thing to actually take human life. Just to say, sometimes people talk - and the talk can give one the illusion of something to hang on to...

There was a fire at the Chevron refinery in Pascagoula this afternoon. I believe the plant has been shut down temporarily.


National energy expert will discuss electricity options
Wednesday August 15, 5:09 pm ET

Bryan Hannegan, vice president of environment for the Electric Power Research Institute, will discuss energy options for the future in a public forum Aug. 21 in Albuquerque.

We plan to attend.

"china's nunpu oil find shows the pitfalls of estimating reserves"


oops ! 632 million, not 1.2 billion

worldwide we will have to find 50 of these each year, not 25 to replace production.