DrumBeat: January 25, 2008

Oil prices: OPEC's high wire act

The cartel struggles to keep oil prices high, but not high enough to kill the economy. Long term, are they investing enough to meet worldwide demand?

...Over the next two decades, the world will need to ramp up oil production from 85 million barrels a day currently, to about 117 million barrels a day, according to the Energy Information Administration. Nearly two-thirds of that new production is expected to come from OPEC.

There have been well-publicized concerns some oil-rich states are tapping the profits from their nationalized oil companies and using the money not for re-investment in oil production, but to fund social programs like roads, schools and healthcare. The concern isn't that poor people are getting services, it's that the world won't have enough oil.

But experts say that's mostly unfounded.

Peak Oil Passnotes: Stagflation Beckons

This week, in fact this year, has seen the equity markets fall and fall hard. Maybe not plunge back to the range they were in between the years 2002 and 2005, but the volatility and the worries over the economies of the U.S. and UK has taken the edge off current thoughts of growth.

In turn you would expect to see the price of oil tanking. Well, it has fallen, as low as $87 per barrel. But then again one year back it was at $49 per barrel, and no one was really talking about recession. So one can hardly call the figure of $87 a slump.

PDVSA debt rise will not affect ratings-Moody's

NEW YORK, Jan 25 (Reuters) - The massive debt increase in Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA will not affect its credit ratings, Moody's Investors Service said on Friday, adding that it expects the company's debt load to keep growing in the future.

"PDVSA's financial leverage remains relatively modest, with total debt-to-capitalization in the area of 20 percent, the ratings agency said in a statement.

BP trims Alaska oil spending plans on tax overhaul

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - BP has shelved a $1 billion Alaska heavy oil project and trimmed a planned boost in 2008 capital spending due in part to the state's recent tax overhaul, company officials said Friday.

Ameriwest Energy: 4.9 million barrels of oil recoverable with CO2

Ameriwest Energy Corp has announced the results of a reservoir study of the South Glenrock C Unit (SGCU) located in Converse County.

...According to the study's base case, the estimated remaining OIP in the C Unit is 17.67 million barrels of oil (MMSTB) of which 4.9 MMSTB may be recovered from a continuous CO2 injection program over 25 years, according to detailed simulation predictions.

Valero suffers refinery fire in Caribbean

Valero Energy Corp. officials experienced a fire Friday in the company's Aruba refinery in the Caribbean. As a result, the entire refinery has been shut down.

The fire began in a vacuum tower of the refinery at around 9:45 a.m. Central time and firefighters in Aruba extinguished the fire at 11:15 a.m. One Valero employee was treated for heat exhaustion, but no injuries were reported. All non-essential personnel have been sent home. The refinery employs 775 individuals.

Trader says gas debt talks with Ukraine fail

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A gas trader, half-controlled by Russia's gas export monoploy Gazprom, on Friday said it had failed to reach a deal with Ukraine over a $598 million Ukrainian debt for gas supplies from Russia and Central Asia.

Analysts and market observers closely follow all pricing and debt disputes between the two countries, as Ukraine accounts for 80 percent of Russia's gas transit to Europe.

Brazil sugarcane industry eyes EU biofuel market

SAO PAULO (AFP) - Brazil, the world leader in making ethanol from sugarcane, is homing in on Europe's biofuel market following a decision by the European Commission to combat climate change by reducing the dependency on petrol.

The EU plan calls for biofuels to be used in at least 10 percent of fuels used in transport in the 27-nation bloc by 2020.

For Brazil's sugarcane industry, the news is seen as a golden export opportunity.

Nigeria oil exports to fall sharply in March-trade

LONDON (Reuters) - Nigerian crude oil shipments are expected to tumble sharply in March because of maintenance work at the Bonga field and a force majeure at the Forcados terminal, traders said on Friday.

The March loading schedule is estimated at around 1.72 million barrels per day, down 420,000 bpd from the previous month.

Plenty of oil remains, Exxon manager says

As a public affairs manager for ExxonMobil Corp., Sara Tays is frequently asked if the world's oil supply is on the verge of running out.

Tays, the featured speaker at the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce's luncheon Thursday, said this concern was first raised in the late 19th century.

Demand has increased exponentially since then but new technology is constantly uncovering new supplies and the end is not yet in sight.

OPEC to monitor US price impact - Venezuela oil min

CARACAS (Reuters) - OPEC will monitor the impact on oil prices of a U.S. economic slowdown at its meeting next month, although it is premature to say if America's problems will hurt crude values, Venezuela's energy minister said on Friday.

Venezuelan crude oil sales to the US bounce back

Similarly to the previous months, Venezuelan crude oil shipments to the United States slightly increased in November compared to the previous year, and particularly to November 2006, but byproducts exports reinforced their downward trend.

Buying local helps the neighbors

Independent merchants are seeing a growth in the desire among their customers to buy local, according to a nationwide survey of more than 1,300 independent retailers. The survey -- commissioned by the Independent Business Forum, a trade association network, and administered by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance -- found that even in during these tough economic times, small businesses are doing OK, especially when they play up “their local ownership and community roots.”

High oil prices prompt a scramble for Africa

Even if prices tumble, interest in West Africa is likely to be sustained by its strategic location between the U.S. and Asian markets, and the low sulphur content of its oil which makes it less corrosive to refine and more environment-friendly.

But with talk of "peak oil" -- a plateau in world production -- gaining currency among even seasoned oil executives, any prolonged decline in petroleum prices seems unlikely.

StatoilHydro shuts Oseberg South field due storm

OSLO (Reuters) - Stormy North Sea weather has forced StatoilHydro to shut its 54,000-barrel per-day Oseberg South oilfield, the Norwegian energy group said on Friday, adding that it sought to restart production on Saturday.

StatoilHydro also reduced manning at platforms at four other North Sea fields but plans to continue production at Snorre, Huldra, Visund and Kvitebjoern.

Iraq expects to raise oil production

Iraq expects to increase oil production this year to 3.7 million barrels a day and hopes to sign contracts to boost the output from oil fields that aren't producing to capacity, Iraq's oil minister said.

Iraq's oil production is at its highest since before Saddam Hussein fell in 2003, Hussein al-Shahristani said in an interview Thursday night on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting.

Russia Novoil refinery halts diesel output

"Diesel production at NovoUfimsk is on halt for a third day and people say it will take about a week to fix the problems," one trader, a regular offtaker of volumes from the refinery, said.

...Another trading source said the Ufa group was behind the promised schedule of diesel deliveries, both for the domestic and export markets, but the management has pledged to catch up with the schedule, especially on the export front.

New energy deal to make Serbia major hub for Russian gas supplies to Europe

MOSCOW: Russia signed gas and oil deals worth US$2.2 billion (€1.5 billion) with Serbia Friday as part of a long-term effort to lock in its role as a major energy supplier to Europe, a push that worries some Western leaders.

The two agreements, which Russian officials said would make Serbia an important hub for the distribution of Russian gas, are just the latest bid by Moscow to build or acquire European pipelines, storage facilities, ports and energy companies.

Price watchdog growls at petrol companies

THE ACCC finally declared war on the oil industry last night, saying price gouging by greedy petrol companies was hurting every Australian.

Sheriff’s office gas fund request refuels debate

Sheriff Gobble asked the Finance Committee Wednesday for $195,000 from the county’s general fund to provide vehicle fuel for his department through the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2008). Halfway through the budget year, his budget is almost exhausted.

The sheriff also asked for an additional $30,000 for his vehicle maintenance line item.

The sheriff was severely criticized by County Mayor D. Gary Davis and Commissioner Jim Smith for taking no conservative action when it was first determined fuel funding was going to be insufficient for the year.

“In six months you’ve doubled your (fuel) budget and you’ve shown no intention to cut consumption,” said Mayor Davis.

UK: Massive wind farm 'turned down'

Plans to build one of Europe's biggest wind farms on the Isle of Lewis are set to be turned down, BBC Scotland understands.

The BBC's Gaelic news service, Radio nan Gaidheal, has learned that Scottish Government ministers are "minded to refuse" the 181 turbine scheme.

More than 5,000 letters of objection to the proposals were received by the Scottish Government.

It is believed environmental concerns are behind the decision.

Bill Gates new project: Farming

DAVOS, Switzerland (CNN) -- Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates announced a new direction Friday as he pledged $306 million in grants to develop farming in poor countries, leading the charge for corporate responsibility at a major meeting of business chiefs.

..."If we are serious about ending extreme hunger and poverty around the world, we must be serious about transforming agriculture for small farmers, most of whom are women," Gates said.

Straw Tiger

Chinese farmers could earn more money by cutting their country’s coal consumption. Straw residues from agricultural production are becoming an appealing feedstock for cofiring in power plants.

Eating As If the Climate Mattered

Notably, all food at the NCSE conference was vegan, and there were table-top brochures with quotes from the U.N. report on the meat industry, discussed more below. And the IPCC head, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri declared, as the AFP sums it up, "Don't eat meat, ride a bike, and be a frugal shopper."

Warning that rising costs make livestock production untenable

NFU Scotland's livestock committee, comprising sheep and beef farmers, has warned retailers that significant shortages of product are on the horizon unless prices improve. There is concern that farmers are set to sell their breeding stock as rising costs make businesses unsustainable.

The warning follows news that the pig industry is to stage a mass rally outside the Houses of Parliament on March 4.

China Halts Coal Exports Amid Shortage

SHANGHAI, China - China's Transport Ministry ordered ports on Friday to temporarily stop loading coal for export as the country struggles to meet domestic needs amid mounting power shortages.

...The Transport Ministry's emergency notice, posted on its Web site, ordered railways and other transport networks to make hauling coal and food a priority in coming weeks. Ocean shippers should stop loading coal for export and divert shipments, if needed, "for domestic thermal coal requirements," it said.

It warned of "severe" consequences for failing to comply with the order, to stay in effect through the Lunar New Year holiday in February and the annual session of the national legislature in early March.

South Africa Declares Electricity Emergency

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South Africa will ration electricity, increase prices and encourage a switch to solar energy, all part of emergency measures now being undertaken amid power outages that have caused chaos and misery nationwide and threatened to choke economic growth.

Neighbors like Botswana and Namibia, which rely heavily on South African energy exports, have also been badly hit by the disruptions in the region's economic and political powerhouse. The outages have undermined confidence in South Africa, with more incidents like the stranding of hundreds of people on tourism icon Table Mountain spreading through the media to other countries.

South Africa: Power cuts threaten 22,000 farming jobs

Harvesting is heavily dependent on cooling systems, and unscheduled power cuts have made it difficult to plan ahead. Government wants Eskom to commit to scheduled and unchanged two-hourly power cuts between 4pm and 6pm or 6ams and 8am when it's the coolest.

South Africa: Power cuts cost milk industry R100m a month

Disrupted irrigation schedules, lower milk yield by cows suffering from heat stress and damage to electrical equipment are adding to farmers' woes.

They are particularly vulnerable to losses because milking is generally done early in the morning and in the afternoon, in peak power usage periods.

South Africa: Guns vs. butter

When one looks at the chronology of government policy-making, it appears that when the hard choices needed to be made, the decision was for guns before butter. More specifically, the government chose to spend billions of Rands on arms that we do not need (and in some cases do not have the capacity to use) instead of adequately investing in infrastructure to lay the basis for long term economic growth. This infrastructure includes diverse aspects, such as our road networks, water purification and sewage systems. Electricity generation and distribution is currently the most topical case in point.

Australia: Holiday petrol runs dry

Shell last night warned of looming shortages in the more expensive fuel after production problems at its western Sydney refinery.

While the company claimed the shortages were tied to equipment failures yesterday, one Liverpool outlet said it had been dry since last Saturday.

Tajikistan: Citizens Ponder Bleak Future Amid Harsh Winter

The harshest winter in decades is plunging Tajikistan into a socio-economic crisis, as officials find themselves squeezed in a tightening vice of tough choices. The country currently is grappling with an energy emergency, with some areas now left totally without electricity. Efforts to solve the crisis, however, could cause a disastrous spike in inflation in a country where over 50 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Temperatures in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, have hovered around minus-20 degrees Celsius over the past few weeks. The minus-22 reading recorded in Dushanbe on January 19 was the lowest recorded temperature in the city since 1982. The country’s antiquated infrastructure has not been able to cope with the cold, prompting drastic cuts in electricity.

Energy Crisis Looms In Maryland

BALTIMORE (WJZ) ― With the average BGE Electric bill set to go up another $100 a year, Maryland is in the midst of an energy crisis.

Blame the rising costs on a wholesale market that the state has no control over.

The new increases will mark an 85 percent total increase since deregulation.

Mexican Oil Fights Theft

During 2007 the Integral Program to Combat the Illegal Market detected 323 clandestine tubes connected to PEMEX installations.

Of the 323, 296 hoses were found illegally installed to refining segments and the rest in closed areas, oil pipelines, and gas and basic petrochemistry lines.

Two secret tunnels were also discovered under construction to reach PEMEX segments last year, one in San Pedro de las Colonias, Coahuila and another in Mazatlan, Sinaloa.

India, France Agree to Talks on Nuclear Cooperation

(Bloomberg) -- Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed to discuss a civilian nuclear-cooperation agreement, which may help India to plug a power shortage using reactors from companies such as Areva SA.

Climate change ‘will lead to warfare over food and water’

Climate change will have a long-term impact on the nation’s security as wars break out over food and water supplies around the world, a report said yesterday.

Hundreds of millions of environmental refugees will seek new places to live, with many of them heading for Britain, according to the report for the Oxford Research Group.

...It was “almost certain” that, by 2050, droughts, food shortages and flooding would lead to the mass movement of up to 200 million environmental refugees, the paper, An Uncertain Future: Law Enforcement, National Security and Climate Change, said.

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Future of Cars – Part 1

Since the end of World War II, the private gasoline-powered automobile has become the center of life in America. Our suburbs, commerce, recreation, religion, indeed nearly every imaginable aspect of our lifestyles has been centered around the mobility the ubiquitous, affordable private car has brought us. The lure of the private automobile is not unique to America. There are few other cultures in the world today that are not trying to emulate America as soon as their economic circumstances permit – think China and Russia. There now are about 240 million cars, light trucks, and motorcycles in the U.S. (not to mention another 700 million or so elsewhere in the world). The number is increasing by nearly 4 million each year. Something has got to give.

Shell says shuts Australia gasoline unit for months

SYDNEY/SINGAPORE, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Friday it will keep a gasoline-making catalytic cracking unit at its 85,000 barrels per day (bpd) Clyde refinery in Australia shut for several months following an unplanned outage.

The shutdown at Clyde and the partial closure of Shell's 125,000-bpd Geelong plant, have prompted the refiner to ship in hefty volumes of clean products from Singapore, which traders said could be largely gasoline, raising prices by $2-4 on Friday's Asian close.

Shell Seeks Gasoline in Singapore as Sydney Stations Run Short

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc sought to buy cargoes of premium gasoline in Singapore after a refinery fault in Australia led to fuel shortages in Sydney.

Gold soars above US$920 as power crisis closes mines

SINGAPORE - Gold and platinum hit all-time highs on Friday after a power crisis closed South African mines, with dollar weakness, firm oil and expectations of more interest rate cuts in the United States providing additional support.

South Africa's three main gold producers and the world's biggest platinum miner suspended production at all their mines in the country on Friday due to a power crisis, helping send precious metal prices to new highs.

Sasol says power woes to "impact on production"

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Sasol, the world's top maker of motor fuel from coal, said on Friday its output would be affected by a request to cut its electricity demand, but was able to maintain output for the "foreseeable future".

South Africa is in the grip of a national power emergency, and the state-owned utility Eskom has asked big power consumers to reduce their demand for electricity.

World's top oil consumers discuss record crude prices

Brussels/Davos - The energy ministers of the world's biggest oil consumers held a conference call on Friday to share their concerns over high world oil prices and urge China and India to help stabilize the situation, officials in Brussels said.

IEA Calls OPEC Group for Gas Producers an 'Own Goal'

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency said setting up an OPEC-style group to control natural-gas supplies and prices would be a mistake because utilities might increase electricity production from other sources of energy.

"If such a gas forum is formed it gives the wrong message to consumers and could be an own goal," Fatih Birol, the IEA's head of research, told a press conference today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Utilities may worry that such an organization would be able to control gas prices and opt for other sources of fuel, he said.

Bulgaria sees South Stream pipeline operational by 2013

SOFIA (Thomson Financial) - A 10 bln eur pipeline carrying Russian gas to Europe via Bulgaria should be up and running by 2013, Bulgarian Economy and Economy Minister Petar Dimitrov told a parliamentary debate on the subject today.

Gazprom strikes new supply deal with Lithuania's Lietuvos Dujas

VILNIUS (Thomson Financial) - Lithuania's Lietuvos Dujos gas distribution company signed a new supply deal with Russian giant OAO Gazprom, a company spokeswoman said today, a move that could hit customers' pockets hard.

The spokeswoman confirmed that a deal had been inked but refused to give details of the amount and price of the gas, saying the information was confidential.

However, new gas prices announced by Lietuvos Dujos yesterday evening showed an average increase of 67 pct to 1,250-1,620 litas (531-688 usd) per 1,000 cubic metres, depending on the amount consumed.

Former chairman of China's No. 2 oil company faces corruption charges

BEIJING: The former chairman of China's No. 2 oil company, Sinopec Corp., has been expelled from the Communist Party and referred to prosecutors on charges of corruption and bribe taking, state media reported Friday.

Chen Tonghai "abused his position to obtain improper benefits for his mistress and others and led a corrupt life," state broadcaster CCTV reported on its main evening national news broadcast.

20,000 wind turbines - plus a 15% rise in electricity bills

The cost of household electricity bills is expected to rise by up to 15 per cent if Britain is to meet compulsory climate change targets announced yesterday.

Feds Launch Investigation Into Oil Companies

BIDDEFORD, Maine -- The federal government’s Office of the Inspector General is launching an investigation into the business dealings at two of the three oil companies owned by Curro Industries in Biddeford.

Curro is accused of taking money from customers then failing to deliver fuel.

Brown calls for a 'green' World Bank

DAVOS (AFP) - Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Friday for the World Bank to assume an environmental role capable of taking on the global challenges posed by climate change.

UN climate envoy expected to become South Korean PM: reports

SEOUL (AFP) - The United Nations special envoy on climate change is expected to be nominated as South Korea's next prime minister, media reports said Friday.

The nomination of Han Seung-Soo is likely to be officially announced next week, Yonhap news agency quoted a source close to president-elect Lee Myung-Bak as saying.

EU aims to adopt energy, climate laws by spring 2009: presidency

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The European Union aims to enact sweeping new legislation on energy and climate change by the spring of 2009, the EU's Slovenian presidency said Thursday.

"We are counting on a constructive approach and support of the member states and the parliament for a final adoption of the package by spring 2009," said Slovenian Environment Minister Janez Podobnik.

Japanese PM pledges initiatives on climate change, development

LONDON (AFP) - Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda pledged Tokyo-led initiatives on climate change and economic development in the near future in a comment piece in the Financial Times on Friday.

Writing ahead of a speech to the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, on Saturday, Fukuda wrote that "combating climate change and fostering development, particularly in Africa, are two of the issues that Japan, as chair of the 2008 meeting of the (G8) ... is pushing hard to address."

He wrote that he feared that "recent instability in the world economy might hijack the debate and dominate the agenda."

EU Aims to Choke Carbon Emissions

The work of the European Union is often seen as technical, dull and remote: It's hard to gin up much general interest in, say, another green paper on financial regulation, however incisive it may be. But today's announcement in Brussels was a blockbuster: a sweeping package of measures to combat climate change that sets a global standard and means major changes for how Europe gets its energy.

Scientific Group Releases New Statement on Climate Change

The world’s largest society of Earth and space scientists has released a new statement on climate change that unequivocally names human activity as the cause of global warming.

"Earth's climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming," according to the first paragraph of the new statement by the American Geophysical Union. The statement cites many components of the Earth system that are changing at unnatural rates, including rising global temperatures, ice melt, sea level rise and the distribution of precipitation around the globe.

"The facts are well-established now that the Earth's climate is warming," said Bette Otto-Bliesner of National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado at a press conference today in Washington, D.C., held to release the statement.

Dulles Rail Project All but Dead

With Federal Funding at Risk, Some in Va. Say Demands for Major Revisions Can't Be Met

The federal government will not fund the Metro extension to Dulles International Airport without drastic changes, officials said yesterday, effectively scuttling a $5 billion project planned for more than 40 years and widely considered crucial to the region's economic future.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and Federal Transit Administration chief James S. Simpson stunned Virginia politicians at a meeting on Capitol Hill yesterday when they outlined what Simpson called "an extraordinarily large set of challenges" that disqualifies the project from receiving $900 million in federal money. Without that, the project would die.

"The sheer number and magnitude of the current project's technical, financial and institutional risks and uncertainties are unprecedented," Simpson wrote yesterday in a follow-up letter to Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D). "I have serious concerns whether it would be appropriate to continue further investment."

Here is the letter that the FTA sent to the Governor.

There are already a lot of recriminations about this. There are a lot of people that are upset at the no-bid contract that was awarded to Bechtel (lead contractor for the Big Dig), and thus there are concerns about substandard construction and cost overruns. And of course are upset at the way Bechtel pushed for aboveground rail in a busy business district, and ignored requests for an underground route.

There were concerns on the part of the FTA that there was no funding plan in place for the 2nd half of the project (that would take the line out to the airport).

There were concerns that the Airports Commission doesn't have experience managing large projects like this, which of course increases the danger of cost overruns.

There is of course talk about how the Feds under the current administration really don't like rail at all in any form, and would rather build either roads or BRT. They changed the scoring system to make it much harder to get any project off the ground. Of course they don't have any problems with shoveling money into Iraq, but that's another matter entirely.

One question I have for Alan is why is it so (*&(*& expensive to build heavy rail. 5 billion for a 23 mile segment seems like a lot, but I don't have anything to compare against, so perhaps it is a reasonable estimate for this type of project.

Truly hilarious that the feds would be complaining about no bid contracts. They never met a no bid, sole source contract they didn't like. But that would be for truly useful projects like Iraq. Not that I support sole source contracts. But this administration has zero credibility in managing its way out of a paper bag.

And, of course they hate rail or anything that would interrupt are rapid descent over that large cliff called peak oil.


A last minute demand without notice for impossible to meet conditions !
Please note that the federal share (in the federal city) was only 18% !

Years of wrangling and effort to raise the monies, and then blindsided by the pro-oil ideologues of the GWB administration. A blatant bias against non-oil transportation. A badly needed project.


Utter and complete BS !

Best Hopes for the next 361 days,


PS: The Federal process, to Ration by Queue (and the Dulles extension has waited decades in queue) inherently raises costs and complexity. It is NOT designed to lower costs, but to raise them.

A comparable might be the CTRL projects to bring high speed rail into downtown London. 5.2 billion pounds (about $10 billion) for 108 km (67 miles). However, the Dulles extension need not have cost as much, but then it would NEVER get federal funding !

Who did you think was going to pay for Iraq
and the "Stimulus" package?

"Systems collapse not primarily because of rebellion from below
but because of the weaknesses of the dominant classes and the impossibility of
their maintaining their level of gain and privilege. It is only when the existing
system is weakened in terms of its own logic that the push from below can
possibly be effective."

-Immanuel Wallerstein

The federal share of the project was $900 million (about 18%), the balance from state and local sources.

But raising $4+ billion from local and state sources was a difficult challenge that took lots of political and economic deals. Now unwound by a single bureaucratic move.

Best Hopes for 90% Federal Funding for Urban Rail, just like the funding for the Interstate Highway System,


More and more, depending on the Fed will be futile.

Better is to go the Eisenhower Interstate route:

That this is indispensible to the Pentagon.

Pentagon rail to Dulles?

Yeah, I know - I live in the middle of this area. If this project had gone through, we would have a station walking distance from home. They had actually gone so far as to start some of the utility relocation.

It is far too early to say where things go from here. There is a public meeting next Monday of the task force that the county has set up to work up a new master plan for the area - I would be tempted to go to see what the consensus is.

Our state government isn't in a good shape right now. The House is held by the Republicans who refuse to consider *any* form of tax increase whatsoever. Our state gas tax is among the lowest in the nation, but any increase whatsoever is out of the question. Yet 'transportation' is always one of the things highest on the list of things that people want (primarily more roads, I guess, but things like rail and bike lanes also have trouble).

Last session they went so far as to pass a set of "abuser fees" - essentially fines to people with bad driving records can can amount to thousands of dollars, and the author of the bill was of course an attorney who specializes in traffic cases. No, no conflict of interest there. That was the Republican solution to raising money for transportation projects. The outrage has been so great that they are in the process of undoing that - even the author of the bill has bailed on the concept.

I live in the area as well. The Post article mentions a new 1% car tax on new vehicle sales, and three bills under consideration contain a gas tax increase.

No tax at all up to 2.0 liters, then $500/liter for used and $1,000/liter for new each time they change hands. Utility vehicles might get different treatment, but they have to be utility vehicles, not this minivan/SUV stuff sneaking through.

Last year I had to take a flight to DC. I chose National over Balt or Dulles in spite of the higher cost and scheduling problems. The ease of getting on the subway made all the difference in the world. Still impressed by it.

Don't you mean Reagan National

Yes, Ronald Reagan National Airport over Baltimore-Washington International Airport or John Foster Dulles International Airport. With all the acronyms on this site, I thought an abbreviation might be tolerated.

BTW, wasn't it George Washington National Airport originally? And how does it keep the name National when, I think, international flights leave from there?

I can drive MY VEHICLE on any road in the USA. Railroads, including the right-of-way, rail beds and rail traffic control systems are all privately owned by companies with no desire to support efficient low cost rail systems with any real level of competitioon between companies supplying service on the rail system.
If the government would acquire all the railroad right-of-way, trackage and railroad traffic control systems nation wide and then open access to those rails to any private enterprise, Then I would give strong support to rail. This type of public/private operation works very well for both highways and airways and could work equally well for rails.
Can you imagine if trucking companies owned all the highways and only the one company that owned each segment of the road could operate on that segment and NO public vehicles were permitted on the road? Or if all the airways were owned by the individual airline companies and only each airline that owned that particular part of the airways was allowed to operate in that air space and NO corporate/private avaition was allowed to operate at all?
I can not give support to continued massive financial support for antiquated structures like our current all private rail systems. It simply does not work to the benefit of the public. Even 100 to 150 years ago people used horses and horse & buggies for transportation becasue railroads were not organised to provide the transportation they needed.

In my dreams, each state would have a single RR system. It would be owned by the public, but not by the government. Instead, an elected board of trustees would be responsible for operating the system in the public interest, and be accountable directly to the voting public. If people wanted more/better rail service, all they would need to do is vote in trustees that were dedicated to doing that, and to pay the increased fares that this would require. Those wanting absolutely lowest fares could vote for that ticket, and they would then get what they pay for. Providing the citizenry with a direct political feedback loop in addition to the economic feedback loop of the marketplace would best assure an outcome that is both socially and economically optimal.

This arrangement would cover both passenger and freight, which would all be under the same management. This would eliminate the problem of Amtrak being a 2nd class citizen because it doesn't own the rails it runs on.

Routes that crossed state lines could be operated on a cooperative or joint-venture basis between the two neighboring states. I would not envision any route that ran longer than between two cities; traveling longer distances by rail would require changing trains at each city.

This arrangement would get the federal government out of the railroad business altogether, except possibly to arbitrate any disputes between states. It would also get corporations out of the railroad business.

I think this would work great if we could ever get it set up. Working out the financing for the initial buyout, and getting both the FedGov and the corporations out of the way would be the really difficult part.

Community investment trusts. Doesn't have to be only at state level, but could work fine at muni or regional level too. Requirement that ownership, investment and control remain within a bounded geographic area. That form of ownership is a very good replacement for corporations. Which, of course, is why corporations try to stop them, a classic example being the big telcos attacks on muni wireless and the demise of community cable tv.

Historically, it was this sort of coop that wired and powered the rural areas in US.

cfm in Gray, ME

I can drive MY VEHICLE on any road in the USA.

Nope. A few 'roads' have restrictions. Like number or people, weight, or if you have or have not paid a toll.

If the government would acquire all the railroad right-of-way, trackage and railroad traffic control systems nation wide and then open access to those rails to any private enterprise, Then I would give strong support to rail.

Not necessary - under the natural monopoly concept, the government can say 'yes you own the railway, now you must allow others on it at X regulated price'

Wallerstein is merely paraphrasing Aristotle, The Politics.
It is always easier to retain power than to seize it, thus the old rulers shall always be considered the responsible party for their own demise.
Wallerstein gets credit for paraphrasing the best, you would enjoy reading from the original.

Their mistake was in asking for federal funding at all. I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that the FedGov is only going to be part of the problem and not part of the solution, and should therefore be bypassed, ignored, and defied to every extent possible by those that actually are trying to solve problems. The more local the funding and control of a project is kept, the more likely it will be to actually succeed. This is the new paradigm.

We've gotten so used to the FedGov being a limitless trough from which a limitless number of pigs can be fed. That is quickly coming to an end. Between the consequences of peak oil & other resource scarcity, the damage starting to be done by GCC, the enormous waste of Iraq and other Bush boondoggles, the mountain of debt, the massive trade deficits and hollowing out of the US manufacturing base, etc. -- all of that is adding up to bills starting to come due now. The US is about to enter an era when the FedGov is going to find itself so constrained that it won't really matter all that much who is in charge, they won't be able to come up with the money to even keep existing programs going, let alone fund any new initiatives.

State and local governments are going to be under severe fiscal stress also. Fortunately, when it comes to transport projects, there is a projected cash flow from user fees that one can work with. The trick will be to come up with a way to package the deal so that the debt service can be covered even with relatively conservative and pessimistic assumptions. This won't work everywhere, but as energy prices rise and ever more people find themselves really needing mass transit, more and more projects should become financially viable. This assumes that the muni bond market at least can be kept afloat.

The US is about to enter an era when the FedGov is going to find itself so constrained that it won't really matter all that much who is in charge, they won't be able to come up with the money to even keep existing programs going, let alone fund any new initiatives.

That sounds remarkably like:
... They will be lucky to be able to answer the phones...
by Kunstler.

State and local governments are going to be under severe fiscal stress also

The state and local gov's will be bankrupt. Between their bonds going to zero worth(via Ambac et al insolventency) and lower revenue via lower taxes.

This assumes that the muni bond market at least can be kept afloat.

This is assuming alot I believe.

As the next wave of Loan Resets hit this summer, you are going to see 1929 crash next October.

$2 Trillion (that's 200 million million) of losses exposed between now and then.

Write that one down. 1929 Next October.

Warren Buffett is supposedly riding to the rescue for the muni bond market. I don't know if he can pull it off, but he might be able to. That isn't the sector that is particularly problematic right at the moment.

Some states and municipalities will be in severe fiscal stress and may go under, but I wouldn't be so quick to assume that all will, and certainly not all at once.

'That isnt the sector that is particularly problematic right at the moment.'...I beg to differ...'Traders are pricing in a 71% chance that MBIA will default in the next five years and a 73% chance that AMBAC will default in the same time period.' 'The triple-A credit rating of the bigger bond insurers is crucial because any demotion could lead to downgrades of the $2.4 trillion of municipal and structured bonds they guarantee.' 'If credit insurers turn out to have inadequate reserves, the credit default swap (CDS) market may well seize up the same way the commercial paper market did in August 2007. The $45 trillion of outstanding CDS is about five times the $9 trillion US national debt. The swaps are structured to cancel each other out, but only if every counterparty meets its obligations. Any number of counterparty defaults could start a chain reaction of credit crisis. The Financial Times reported that Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan, said when asked about bond insurers: "What [worries me] is if one of these entities doesn't make it ...? The secondary effect ...? I think could be pretty terrible." Even Warren Buffet cant come up with $2.4 trillion to bail out the bond insurers. As I understand the situation Mr Buffet has started a new bond insurance company and has limited his involvement to taking on only solid risk. I have seen no news of Mr Buffet involving himself in existing bond insurance comapanies.


...snip...'Maintaining an AAA credit rating is of utmost important to bond insurers like MBIA because they need a strong credit rating in order to guarantee debt. Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch are all reviewing the financial strength ratings of bond insurers, which write insurance policies and other contracts protecting lenders from defaults'...snip...

For the insurers to maintain the necessary triple-A rating, their capital reserve would have to be repeatedly increased along with the premium they charge. There will soon come a time when insurance premium will be so high as to deter bond investors. Already, the annual cost of insuring $10 million of debt against Bear Stern defaulting has risen from $40,000 in January 2007 to $234,000 by January of 2008. To buy credit default insurance on $10 million of debt issued by Countrywide, the big subprime mortgage lender, an investor must as of January 11, 2008 pay $3 million up front and $500,000 annually. A month ago, the same protection could be bought at $776,000 annually with no upfront payment'...snip...

Credit-default swaps tied to MBIA's bonds soared 10 percentage points to 26% upfront and 5% a year, according to CMA Datavision in New York. The price implies that traders are pricing in a 71% chance that MBIA will default in the next five years, according to a JPMorgan Chase & Co valuation model. Contracts on Ambac Financial, the second-biggest insurer, rose 12 percentage points to 27% upfront and 5% a year. Ambac's implied chance of default is 73%'...snip...

Interesting article by Peter Schiff- "To line their own pockets, Wall Street willingly exposed shareholders to risks they never would have assumed with their own capital". That is how the game is played. http://www.europac.net/externalframeset.asp?from=home&id=11574

I'm not sure how this is all going to pan out, but just a couple of things to keep in mind:

1) Municipalities themselves are not defaulting on their debt to any significant extent right now. There is always the odd one or two, here or there, now and then. I'm not aware of any sudden upsurge beyond the normal background noise, though. There is some speculation about growing foreclosure rates plus a general economic downturn putting municipalities into such fiscal stress that they will be at high risk of default. This might happen in some places, although it is a little early to know for sure. There is no reason to single out municipalities, though. If things get that bad, plenty of corporations are likely to default as well. This is why I said that I didn't see munis as being a particularly troubling sector right now.

2) It soounds like the Buffett initiative will provide a pathway for municipalities when it comes time to issue new debt. If the fallout from AMBAC and MBIA hits municipalities too hard, they might just issue new debt through Buffett in order to refund the old.


Take a look at this site sometime.

Pension Watch


Thanks, I will check them out.

The muni market isn't the problem. it's the mortgage backed bonded insuring part of the equation that's the problem. some say that muni bond insurance is basically just marketing. they don't really need it. some states I believe have just not gotten insurance when issuing bonds.

The municipal bonds here are paid with property taxes, which most certainly ties directly to the mortgage muddle, and we'll all recall Orange County's messy bankruptcy in 1994 as a foreshadowing of what can happen. Their bonds were insured, no?

the mortgage insurer problems have nothing to do with munis. I don't think any muni bonds will go to zero SOLELY because of an insolvency at a bond insurer.

Nope, they'll just get a free (NOT!) haircut with every bond issue and they'll be inspected like a first round private placement every time they want to go to the funding well. That'll put a crimp in development, yes indeed.

A couple of decades ago, a Single A municipality would issue binds and pay a premium interest rate over a AA or AAA municipality (revenue bonds were often a 1/8th or 1/4th or so premium over general obligation bonds as well). The spread between A & AAA could approach 1%.

Then someone came up with a great idea, have a AAA insurer insure the A muni for significantly less than the risk premium ! Transform A into AAA, lower the interest rate, pay the insurer and pocket the rest of the savings !

We will just go back to status quo ante. Buffett will set up a modest deal for AA munis to go to AAA, but he seems likely to stear clear of A munis. A munis will pay a premium interest rate.


Write this down:
1929 style crash NEXT October. 80 years, 2 generations later.

I don't recommend holding equities right now but I wouldn't short anything either. The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.

"I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that the FedGov is only going to be part of the problem and not part of the solution, and should therefore be bypassed, ignored, and defied to every extent possible by those that actually are trying to solve problems. The more local the funding and control of a project is kept, the more likely it will be to actually succeed. This is the new paradigm."

I heartily endorse this not-so-new truism. This is also another reason why we cannot be called "reversalists." We want action, change, adaptation, evolution, all of which go far beyond anything starting with the prefix "re," as in reform, reverse, etc., except REvolution and REvolt.

Some local governments are beginning to fight back...


'Local governments versus financial giants
The city of Baltimore is filing suit against Wells Fargo, alleging the bank intentionally sold high-interest mortgages more to blacks than to whites - a violation of federal law. Cleveland is filing suit against investment banks such as Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo for creating a public nuisance by irresponsibly buying and selling high-interest home loans, resulting in widespread defaults that have depleted the cities’ tax base and left entire neighborhoods in ruins. The cities hope to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, including lost taxes from devalued property and money spent demolishing and boarding up thousands of abandoned houses.

"To me, this is no different than organized crime or drugs," Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said in an interview with local media. "It has the same effect as drug activity in neighborhoods. It's a form of organized crime that happens to be legal in many respects."

The Baltimore and Cleveland efforts are believed to be the first attempts by major cities to recover social costs and public financial losses from the foreclosure epidemic, which has particularly plagued cities with significant low-income neighborhoods. Cleveland’s suit is more unique because the city is basing its complaints on a state law that relates to public nuisances. The suit also is far more wide-reaching than Baltimore’s in that instead of targeting the mortgage brokers, it targets the investment banking side of the industry, which feeds off the securitization of mortgages.'

Madrid is seen as a model of fast and cost-effective subway expansion. They are just finishing (several projects a few months behind) the largest subway expansion in history, which now gives Madrid the second largest (after London) subway system in Europe (larger than Paris, Berlin, Moscow). 331 km (almost 200 miles) for only 4.2 million metro population.

80.9 km (about 49 miles) in 4 years for 4 billion euros (almost $6 billion at today's exchange rates, a bit more than US$4 billion when started).

It is worth noting that this is long lived infrastructure. The subway I took to the ASPO-Boston convention opened in 1897. The tunnel bores (perhaps 40% to half of the 1897 cost) are original. The tracks last about 50 years, the electrical about 40 years, rolling stock 40 years (but I use 1923/24 streetcars :-), the stations were rebuilt in the 1920s to handle larger volumes of people and are being rebuilt again for ADA access.

Best Hopes for 49 miles of new Subways in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington DC, and SF Bay area (all with plans for expansion) and LOTS of Light Rail from 2010 to 2014, and more after that.

Ed Tennyson believes that the Silver Line to Dulles should be extended to downtown Leesburg, so that would be most of DCs 49 new miles.


Why can't all those well paid No. Va federal employees finance this project themselves? How do the poor folks here in Decatur County, Iowa benefit from this project? If every taxpayer in this project's service area had pitched in a buck a week over the last 40 years then this project would have been done 30 years ago. This rail line doesn't exist because the locals haven't been convinced to pay for it. It is the same for every other rail project in the world. If it's such a good deal for local economies then local economies should make the investment.

Apply your double standard to highways, then I'll take you seriously.

Local contribution was 81%, $4.1 billion (WAY TOO MUCH BTW). It would have saved 25,000+ barrels of oil/day, a decent percentage of US military use. The federal government pays no property taxes of their property, which reduces the wealth of the area.

Let us *STOP* wasting money on ALL agriculture subsidies (does me no good, just higher prices at the grocery store). Drought, hail, tough luck, use your savings or sell out.

And STOP *ALL* ethanol subsidies and support immediately. The money wasted (and it is wasted) on ethanol should be spent to provide 90%, not 18% federal funding on a REAL oil saver ! The Dulles extension will save 25,000+ b/day for over a century. Far more than all the ethanol in Iowa will (net).

And we need tolls on your Iowa Interstates and US highways to repay, with interest, the 90% federal funding to build them.


Let us *STOP* wasting money on ALL agriculture subsidies (does me no good, just higher prices at the grocery store). Drought, hail, tough luck, use your savings or sell out.

I don't know if you're serious or not, but just in case you are... Farming subsidies are necessary. You might argue about how the program is run, but subsidies are necessary.

Subsidies aren't just disaster assistance. They're mostly price insurance, in case there's a surplus and prices drop. It's all very well to say "lower the price in the grocery store," but how will farmers continue, if the price they're getting is less than it cost them to grow the stuff?

Farming is not like manufacturing widgets. If, say, Nintendo runs out of Wiis, the worst thing that happens is some kids don't get any at Christmas and cry all day. If the food runs short, though - some customers aren't going to live until next Christmas. The free market takes too long to work for agriculture.

Flawed as they are, farm subsidies are about the last thing I would give up.

I saw it as Alan being facetious, showing where other subsidies exist and calling thomas deplume out for his hypocrisy over rail subsidies.

I wondered about that. But reading the part about ethanol subsidies, well, I had to take his post as serious. I would get rid of ethanol subsidies in a heartbeat, if I could.

considering his "Does me no good" comment and his past support for saving New Orleans, San Fanscisco and New York at the cost of all other cities because *HE* values those 3 cities, I read it as not tounge in cheek.

What happens to the poor if they don't get propped up is a concern. Riots are not pretty, and I'm rather sure no riots would be something Alan would find valuable.

Sometimes I just have to stir the pot to see what's cooking. Alan gave good reasons for federal support but only in the context of fairness in subsidies are handed out. I believe subsidies need to be balanced nationwide. I would prefer to have tax deductions and a multitude of credits and allowances eliminated and replaced with per capita subsidies via block grants to the states. It is one of the few repub ideas I like. Let the special interests fight it out in the state legislatures.

Another monkey wrench from the Bush's Cabinet to hold up or kill any project or legislation that would reduce our 'addiction to oil'. This week, Bush's EPA administrator killed an effort by California and 16 other states to lower their greenhouse gas emission through lowered emissions from vehicles, which would have increased auto fuel economy ratings above current targets. The EPA administrator went against staff recommendations to allow the increased ratings.


What is arguably most outrageous about this -- among all the outrageous aspects of the story -- is that at a time when the USA federal government is borrowing money to drop from helicopters in a phony, futile "economic stimulus package" the same federal government is killing the true stimulus for economic revitalization and long-term sustainability.

If we want to do some economic revitalization, why not do some big and helpful public works projects? We need to rebuild our urban infrastructure to be more resilient and sustainable -- why not keep many people employed building rail projects throughout the country?

The money spent would actually give us an important positive product, and the people employed in working on rail and related projects would have money to spend in their communities.

I honestly think that the current administration is trying to drive the USA into a massive brick wall at high speed -- all the better to declare martial law, I suppose.

I do not trust the Democrats to do better, by the way. The top Democratic Party leadership is most clearly complicit in the war crimes and economic crimes committed by the USA and the corporatists who run the government. As John Pilger recently wrote, the Democrats cannot challenge the fascist status quo, because to do so would show that they themselves are deeply enmeshed within the corruption.

This is why we have no move in a positive direction. My guess is that a new Democratic administration will do very, very little to right these wrongs in spite of all kinds of promises about "The First 100 Days" of a new administration and similar rhetoric.

We are on a collision course with reality, and our leadership is fighting over who gets to sit in the drivers seat when we actually hit the wall.

maybe that is the answer, it doesnt sufficiently facilitate the looting of the treasury to be worthy.

No one said late stage capitalism was going to be fun. This is just the thugs looting what is left. We are ruled by the least capable and most morally corrupt members of society. This is not a surprise in a collapsing and degenerate state.


Was it you who posted the link to "kakistocracy"?


This stimulus will mainly cause even more money to leave the country for more of those all important baubles that we know are so good for the long term health (not just economic) of our nation and the planet. The package is otherwise known as the Chinese stimulation package and is going to a lot of people who are quite well off, anyway.

Recessions come and recessions go but we haven't had a real recession for so long that we think we are immune.

I believe John Edwards has at least spoken out against this madness and said we should emphasize real green jobs for now and for the future.

Anyway, perhaps those of who are receiving this windfall can think of something useful to do with our money. Perhaps a thread with some good ideas in this regard would be useful

Anyway, perhaps those of who are receiving this windfall can think of something useful to do with our money. Perhaps a thread with some good ideas in this regard would be useful

There was some discussion of this in yesterday's DrumBeat. It was also much discussed last night at dKos. I guess it depends on what you want to achieve. Being a Democratic site, a popular suggestion there was to donate it to a Democratic candidate. People here seem mostly disillusioned with US politics, so perhaps donating it to a charitable cause?

Some wanted to "punish" the government by not spending the money. Use it to pay down debt, save it, but don't spend it.

Suze Orman last night recommended paying off debt, and if you're debt-free, investing in the stock market. She thinks savings accounts will be no good. We're headed back to 1% interest rates, so inflation will eat away at your money.

Others suggested shopping - but only locally.

The CNN talking heads last night said there are two situations that don't help stimulate the economy. 1) if you pay down debt and 2) if you buy what you always do, and the extra money only covers the increased cost (higher gas and food prices, say).

As for me, I'm still thinking it over. I don't have any debt; if I did, I would pay it off. I am leaning toward buying something durable, that I will enjoy and use, and that will maintain its value. Maybe one of those "$100 laptops" (it's actually $400, and comes with one to give to a child in a developing country). Or "glass" for my camera. High-quality lenses hold their value very well, and it's something I would use and enjoy in the meantime. I might even make a little money doing so.

A bicycle can always come in handy.

I've got one, and don't really have room for another. Heck, I don't really have room for the one I've got.

I want an electric folding bike, not least because of space reasons. But I'm hoping better models will become available if I wait.

So they're finally shipping? Man, that thing was vaporware for the longest time.

And is it really better than a regular Dahon?

As far as I was aware the folding bikes were not constrained VS the high speed motor that was geared down 13:1 was what was needing to be shipped from Japan where they were being made.

Sheesh, what a crappy website. They don't describe the features all that well.

If you really want to help the economy, save it. Savings includes paying down debt, so that would be #1. If you don't have any debt, then invest it somewhere, just not in traditional stocks. Oil trusts are somewhat depressed, because everyone has assumed that a recession means oil prices will collapse. My personal favorite would be an ETF that shorts the market. :)

If you want to help yourself, buy food that will keep for a while. Or buy a little gold or silver.

The idea of spending it to consume more is borderline obscene. We are where we are today because we've been living beyond our means. Shifting the debt burden from individuals to the government (i.e. to future generations) just perpetuates the same diseased system. We need to become savers and producers, not consumers.

I confess...I don't really want to help the economy. I think it's doomed, no matter what I do. No matter what Helicopter Ben does, even.

I'm already saving a lot more than the average American, and frankly, I expect to be screwed on that. Honestly, I think one reason we are such rabid consumers is the lesson of the '70s: buy it now, because tomorrow, it will be more expensive. And inflation will eat up your savings.

I'm half-inclined to just blow it. Take a road trip, watch some baseball. While it's still possible. It's only $600 - not enough to even get in the door of an energy mutual fund.

I'll never see any of that money because I'm poor and a veteran, not a bloated McMansion-indebted McFool.

But if I did get it I'd look into getting "junk" silver US coins, because those will do much better than US paper (not thin enough to roll cigs with and not absorbent enough to wipe your bum with) or US zinc-junc pennies.

Other possibilities I'd consider good are: Survival foods, look into what the Mormons are storing, you may not agree with 'em but they are dead serious. Ammo - learn prices and get it as cheap as you can but good quality. Or into something you can use to be productive - like a lathe, tools, etc.

And always always always buy American and buy local.

How about a Dec08 $140 crude call option? Do your part to help drive up prices and encourage energy prep - and get a fat bonus if Bush decides to bomb extra nations, etc.

I would have no idea how to buy one of those. (Can you buy just one?) Or what to do with it once I had it.

I have a financial advisor, but his vision of the future doesn't bear any resemblance to mine.

You can buy just one - though if you go through the effort to set up an account, you might wish more.

I am NOT an expert or fiscal person of any stripe, I've basically ignored money except to raise and spend large amounts of other peoples' money to get specific things done. But I spent a half-day familiarizing myself with options on the internet in the first half of last year, and researching firms and types of accounts, for the sole purpose of buying crude call options. It's absolutely a gamble, but if you think your understanding of the world is better than that of the folks taking the other side of the bet, it makes some sense.

If I can do it, anyone can. Whether anyone should is another question, but you can't lose more than what you pay for them upfront, and the world doesn't yet believe in peak oil.

ymmv.... and good luck.

I know I'm a few hours behind here Leanan, but what are your thoughts about gold/silver? And here I am talking about primarily as a store of value.

I'm no expert, so take this with a few grains of NaCl...

I am not a big fan of gold/silver. I have some. I was a coin collector in my misspent youth, and still have them. And I have jewelry, mostly given to me by my parents as gifts. Some gold, and unbelievable amounts of cheap silver jewelry bought overseas.

But I believe in diversifying, and would never put everything into precious metals. I have serious doubts about how well they would hold their value. You can't eat them. During the Great Depression, jewelry and heirlooms went for pennies on the dollar.

There's also the fact that so many people own gold these days. It's not like it was in the old days, when ordinary folk had maybe a thin gold wedding band. Everyone and their brother has huge gold rings, chunky gold chains, gold bracelets, gold earrings, gold nipple rings, you name it. Even the kids in the ghetto. Could be a lot of people selling, not that many buying.

That is why I'm leaning toward buying things I can use and enjoy. If they don't hold their value, oh well, at least I had the use of them.

An electric assist folding bike is what I want too. I've been thinking of buying a Dahon and converting it with a kit. I've had my eye out for a used Dahon MU SL. At 19 pounds, this bike is 16 pounds less than my current bicycle. The kit I have my eye on is the bionx. It weighs 14-18 pounds depending on the model, but some of that weight is in a replacement wheel. Some people have apparently already done this. Of course, the above combination is pricey (~2k), but you end up with an ebike that is lightweight.

How about putting it into something solar? There is always room in the attic for more insulation. Once installed it will last for the life of the home, or longer, if it is moved to another home. Or a solar water heater. Free hot water after the electric goes off is a nice bonus. Solar systems last 25 years or more. Or buy a 50cc scooter that gets 100 miles to the gallon. You will be the envy of the neighborhood at $5 a gallon. Replace all your incandescent lights with CFLs (compact fluorescent lights). Get a new energy efficient fridge. Lots of stuff we can do as individuals. And that is what it will come to. All these actions save you money, save oil, save the environment, invests in local services and, thanks to the "stimulus rebate", doesn't cost you anything. How about it? This is a lot better than buying things we don't need.

Most of your suggestions apply only to people who own their own homes and don't plan on moving anytime soon. I rent, and all things considered, I intend to keep renting. I don't want to be tied down to a house. Unfortunately, it also means upgrades like solar panels, appliances, and insulation are out.

I don't see any need for a scooter, either. I just don't drive that much. Even my electric bike musings are more for entertainment than anything. I live two miles from work. I can walk. Unless the weather's awful. In which case, I'm not going to bike or scooter, either.

As a renter I have :

installed gaskets behind switches & outets (surprisingly effective in reducing infiltration)

Caulked (with permission)

Bought my own refrigerator (landlord used old one as a spare) which I will take with me.

Installed Relectix (bubble wrap with aluminum coating) in my windows during extreme weather, I leave some up all year, some goes up & down

I am considering buying a Chinese gas tankless hot water heater (~$250) and installing it. But payback is close to 4 years, and I am unsure I will be here that long.

Bought a MacMini computer (31 watts with Airport off, 33 watts with it on). LCD screen that I reused from old PC varies slightly, between 48 and 51 watts.

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency,


It might be more possible to work stuff like that out if you're dealing with a small operation. I live in a complex owned by a corporation in another state, and it's not possible to do stuff like that. Not to mention I would get no payback for much of it, because I don't pay for my own heat or hot water. (And I doubt they even notice how energy-efficient I am, among my hundreds of neighbors.)

I've already done what I can (energy efficient bulbs, etc.). Did it years ago.

One question you can ask is, is there anything that you buy regularly, which you might be able to make yourself / reduce the cost of with capital expenditures. To reduce the cost of food, better cooking equipment (vacuum sealer, bread machine), better storage equipment (canning shelves, pantries) and more cookbooks can help. BTW, my bread machine is still getting regular use. Alcohol? Brew it yourself. Buy the carboys, siphons etc. Entertainment--unencrypted satellite receivers or good antennas may make it less useful to have cable. DSL modems are cheaper to buy than rent. Cell phones--a pay-as-you-go plan is much cheaper than a regular plan, if you only use the phone in emergencies. Plunk the $50 or $500 down and you'll often come out ahead.

Do a cost/benefit analysis. Paying for the cell phone is probably a better long-term choice than putting money in the bank.

Don't just look at the energy-related money sinks. Anything which reduces your long-term expenses can be an investment. In terms of hours-of-entertainment-that-I-didn't-need-to-pay-extra-for, my PlayStation2 was actually a very good deal.

My bread machine is gathering dust, and has for years. I don't eat much bread these days, and I'm trying to eat even less, given recent research.

I did buy a toaster oven awhile back, not least because it's more energy-efficient.

I don't drink, don't have a cell phone, and got my DSL modem for free (in exchange for signing up for a year - which is already up).

I'm already pretty frugal. Came out of college dirt-poor with a lot of debt, so I had to be.

One thing I also consider is the cost of an item after you buy it. I am still using the 13" TV my boyfriend gave me in college. All my friends are buying huge plasma or LCD TVs. Super Bowl season is the best time to buy. I sure would like to watch nature documentaries and sports in HD, and I could afford to buy one. But they are energy hogs. Similarly, I'm thinking twice about the new FIOS they installed in our complex. Those who have signed up for it report a noticeable bump in their electric bill.

FIOS ? Unknown or unclear to me.


When you Google it, it's the first hit.

Why is this 23-mile project projected to cost $5 billion when the 22-mile Munich maglev has a budget of just €1.8B ($2.6B USD)?

The Munich Maglev budget "estimate" is just promoters BS.


Our (Khebab/Brown) middle case is that Russia's net oil exports approach zero around 2024, in 16 years.

From one of my Wall Street correspondents:

Russian Crude Oil Shipments Scheduled to Fall by 9% in February
2008-01-25 04:40 (New York)

By Alexander Kwiatkowski and Grant Smith
Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Russia, the world's second-biggest
oil exporter, is scheduled to ship about 9 percent less crude
from its main terminals in February.

Mish has a good discussion of corporate debt and making interest payments with more debt:


It seems to me that the bottom line is that there is not enough energy out there to to generate the economic activity that will allow businesses, consumers and governments to fully service the debt that they have taken on. So, even if you can make your mortgage payment or even if you don't have a mortgage, what about your neighbors? And, what is the prospect for actual corporate earnings in an energy constrained future?

"But he said that the government was not considering freezing planned electricity-gobbling industrial projects, like a big new aluminum smelter, as had been suggested by Eskom."

From the SA electricity article above.

Nothing uses electricty like aluminum.

Let's see, SA. Which is more valuable, aluminum,
gold or platinum.

Pick two, eh?

"there is not enough energy out there to to generate the economic activity...to fully service the debt"

Better. The debt was only generated by the promise of
future energy growth. We're barely able to
cover the debt now with energy flows maintained.

With energy negative growth (I sound like CNBC!)
systemic collapse inevitable.

Wow, thank you for this heads-up.

It seems to me that the bottom line is that there is not enough energy out there to to generate the economic activity that will allow businesses, consumers and governments to fully service the debt that they have taken on.

I agree that this is the central question.

More from Mish along the lines of "Cheap is the New Chic" Meme:

What's cruel to homeowners are the work around plans guaranteed to make the participants debt slaves forever. Those bailout plans were specifically handcrafted so that only those with no equity would benefit.

Those "bailed out" may be happy at first, but eventually the participants will realize they are being played for suckers. A day of reckoning will come when people $40,000 underwater on their home and struggling, start to realize they can walk away and save up a down payment by renting rather than paying off a mortgage where they can never catch up.

Others, struggling, but still making payments will eventually come to resent those who walked away and became debt free. They too will walk. And thus walking is guaranteed to become more and more socially acceptable over time.

With the economy heading into recession, many will be forced out of a job. For those, walking away will be the only way to survive.

Remember the catchphrase "throwing away money on rent"? The bottom will come when people start bragging about the day they stopped "throwing away money on an overpriced house". That's a long ways away from here in terms of both price and time. For a hint at how long, please see When Will Housing Bottom?

Did you read the article on the expected exports reduction in Nigeria? One of the causes is expected to be increased domestic use.

Identical thought being expressed by the real estate blog "L.A. Land" at the Los Angeles Times. From:

Banks and lenders fear this kind of thinking -- that walking away from a house could be the smart economic move -- appears to be on the rise. Wachovia, in a conference call yesterday, warned investors that increasing numbers of homeowners are walking away from their homes by choice: "... people that have otherwise had the capacity to pay, but have basically just decided not to because they feel like they've lost equity, value in their properties..."

Calculated Risk notes this is "one of the greatest fears for lenders ... that it will become socially acceptable for upside down middle class Americans to walk away from their homes."

A commenter on L.A. Land this morning writes, "I am one of these people. My condo has dropped in value from $520K in 5/06 when I bought it to $350K now. My ARM payment will probably go up $900 per month in June. "Despite all this, I would be willing to stay if the bank would refi the loans to a 30 year fixed, but since I'm not a 'hardship' case they'd apparently rather foreclose. I guess the only way I could qualify for loan mitigation is to get my boss to fire me, stop making payments, and wreck my credit. In fact, my bank won't even talk to me until I miss a couple of payments.

"I have purchased a cheaper place in a nearby area now, while my credit is good, and will stop making payments on house #1 after house #2 closes. I know the foreclosure will be on my credit for 7 years, but I will have saved a lot of money.

Looks like this is getting out of hand.

W Bengal bird flu 'is spreading'

Experts in Bangladesh have warned that the outbreak of the virus is far worse than the government is reporting. "Bird flu is now everywhere. Every day we have reports of birds dying in farms," leading Bangladeshi poultry expert MM Khan told the AFP news agency

This one disturbs me:

Correspondents say that the problem is made worse because many poor and illiterate farmers are sometimes misinformed about basic hygiene.

Dead birds are reported to have been dumped in village wells and ponds by people not aware of the risks from the H5N1 virus

Roger Roger, Vector Victor! Eeek!

It's not easy to dispose of all those dead birds. They discourage burying or composting, because people dig up the carcasses and eat them. Incineration works, but it's expensive, and not always available in rural areas of Third World countries. Open burning is strongly discouraged; the virus can spread via the feathers, etc., that blow off the pyre.

No argument...but it has to be DISPOSED of...not dropped into your water supply...umm....REALLY REALLY REALLY BAD IDEA!!!

Agreed, but as Leanan says, those people lack the resource required to properly dispose of the birds, and further, any attempt that does not destroy the carcass becomes an invitation for someone else to steal the carcass for food (short term perceived gain of not starving versus longer term possible risk of maybe getting sick).

Regarding China & Coal Exports:

Door #1:

Ocean shippers should stop loading coal for export and divert shipments, if needed, "for domestic thermal coal requirements," it said.

Door #2:

Ocean shippers should sell coal to high bidders, foreign or domestic.

Kind of funny how energy exporters (and food exporters) tend to choose Door #1. Another recent example was:

Iran curtailed natural gas exports to Turkey;

Turkey curtailed natural gas exports to Greece;

Greece curtailed natural gas exports to?

Of course, I wonder how China will react as net oil exporters curtail their oil exports to meet domestic consumption?

It is just me or does it seem like the Olduvai cliff is rearing its ugly head.

There have been MANY reports of GRID/ELECTRICITY generation shortfalls globally...its astonishing.

IIRC, the following countries have had problems, or are warning of them:

IRAQ(other reasons)
South Africa
Afganistan(other reasons)
Gaza (other reasons)

I am sure I missed a few. But the list is getting very long recently.

The importance of stable electricy to the global economy CANNOT be understated. Already it is disrupting gold production, metal smelters, agriculuture, food processing...

Hate to say it...but it looks like COAL could be on a plateau too...Peak Oil will only make it slower to realize new projects, and inflate costs significantly.

Let's hope its just a hiccup, and growth of everything resumes in February. :P

No worries, you can always listen to Larry Kudlow:

"Sell Oil! Buy Financials!"

If I ever had the opportunity to meet Larry Kudlow, I would have to smack him. Anybody have a blunt instrument I might use?

That would be a long line you'd have to wait in, Durandal

Others to add:

Missed Tajikistan

Canada - Ontario (warnings for the future)

Baltimore (article above)

Sure there are many more...but it is amazing that the grid is so strained in countries of differing levels of growth and economic power.

Didn't someone write an essay a few years ago predicting spreading blackouts around 2008?

Isn't that the premise of the revised Olduvai gorge released in 2006?

Bad things start in 2008 with spreading blackouts.

I don't like it when people make accurate predictions...he must mean something else...can't be right...I hope. :P

I have a sinking feeling that bad things are happening TOO FAST. Ugh.

I'm still waiting for someone to disprove Olduvai Theory. But hey, we can't have some lunatic engineer not being disproved. I'm certain some knowlegable professionals here on TOD can help us out. Right?

Let's see,

Population still growing unchecked - check
Oil plateauing - check
Natural Gas supply constraining - check
Electric grid wavering - check
Food supplies tight - check
Prices impact capex, infrastructure buildout - check
Economy stressed - check
Politics impotent/no leadership - check

Seems to me we are IN the catabolic stage of collapse.

There is something like a cliff coming up...cascading collapse. Let's hope it is years away.

Climate chaos in full swing: - check
Polar Ice sheet melting accelerating - check

Anything else ?


but wait! that's not all you get...

A lame-duck US president: - check
A weak set of presidential candidates: - check
An inexperienced new US president with a new administration suddenly in charge right as crisis heats up: - check
World financial markets entering chaotic occilatory period: - check

They couldn't write soap operas this badly...

You forgot that Hillary already has 8 years experience in the White House. Just like when Bill had the title we get two presidents for the price of one.

two liars for the price of one

You can probably add:

Top soil depletion - check
Fertilizer shortage - check
Severe and extended droughts - check

Disposing of masses of dead birds is a problem. It is worse with dead people.

It is worse with dead people.

Yeah, just what are we going to do with all the dead bodies?

there was that SF movie with Charlton Heston "Green Sun" (?) hummm...no free lunch ever i guess. Anyone to pick up the tab ? Maybe we share ...?

PS. the film "Green Sun" was about recycling everything...

Soilent Oil (It's Green Oil!)

Recently termed "Vivoleum" at an oil industry conference:

You do what they did in the second world war. You put the
dead bodies in buildings and set the building on fire. If you want you
can take the wedding rings to use as identification later.
Disposing of the dead is difficult

It's a sensitive subject but the ovens used in Germany were specially designed to not use additional fuel (once warmed up) to burn up the bodies very completely. I think it has to do with good bottom to top convection of air creating a very hot flame. Much more hygienic than allowing bodies to rot, fostering pests and disease. And in any quantities you can't just bury the problem.

One of the arguements made by a holocaust denier at his trial was that the documented deliveries of coal to the concentration camps was insufficent to fuel the crematories for the claimed number of victums. This assertion was refuted by chilling testimony from survivors who explained that coal was used only to reached the required operating temperature. After that, fat Jews were used as a source of fuel to maintain that temperature.

Yeah, just what are we going to do with all the dead bodies?

We? What makes you think we won't be among the dead bodies? Privilege? Intelligence? Solar power? Look on the bright side: at least you'll be actively composting and fighting that soil depletion problem.

Burn them for hydrogen?

(Bring out your dead!)

Pretty much the ultimate 'doomer' subject is what to do with all the bodies.

The insects have solved it. Wild predators all solve it. Traditional Chinese farmers solve it. Even stranded Uruguayan rugby teams have solved it, with the Pope's blessing after the fact.

Sausage & phosphorus. It's like being an organ donor, only without tissue-typing.

If we're looking at going from 7 billion to below 1 billion in under a hundred years - likely - it ain't a matter of whether but who. Don't like it? The universe doesn't care. It's the flip side of the green revolution.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Can you say compost?

Cyprus to import water. They don't mean the bottled kind.

Dry riverbed of the Yangtze at Wuhan.

We could add add add all day.


Public still in stupid land - check

The update to the Olduvai Theory was written in 2006 I believe, and it's very doomy reading. Things are supposed to start really going to pot in 2008.

I'm not sure if the same guy is the one doing the War Socialism page, www.warsocialism.com and it's more to do with dieoff than war or socialism lol.

As I recall, Pitt the Elder convincingly countered at least one aspect of the Olduvai Theory based on The Simpson Paradox:


Nate Hagens invited him to write a full -- guest post --rebuttal.

I, for one, would welcome it as PTE -- along with Robert Rapier --is probably the most rigorous debater on this site

That was interesting, but not all that relevant. The Olduvai theory predicts a much greater fall in per capita energy than can be explained away in the fashion Pitt does.

That was interesting, but not all that relevant. The Olduvai theory predicts a much greater fall in per capita energy than can be explained away in the fashion Pitt does.

Which would be a good point, except that per capita energy consumption has been rising, with the all-time record being the most recent year.

Duncan can predict all the falls he wants, but so far he's been completely wrong.

My little example was simply to explain the underlying error that most likely skewed his thinking and has made his predictions so persistently wrong. The fact of the matter is, though, that he has made testable predictions, and they've been wrong - the world wasn't wracked with permanent blackouts last year, the US grid didn't fail due to natural gas shortages, per capita energy hasn't declined, etc. - so at this point there's no reason to believe Duncan's other predictions are much more likely. His track record as a prognosticator is terrible, at least based on his Olduvai stuff.

This is why nobody likes conversing with you Pitt.

Try one more time and this time address my point.

Your application of Simpsons Paradox does in no way "explain away" the massive drop in percapita energy that Duncan predicts.

I can address his "failed predictions" seperatly if you'd like.

Which would be a good point, except that per capita energy consumption has been rising, with the all-time record being the most recent year.

I don't think world per capita is important now. We know there is strong current growth in Asia, especially. What's happened in the developed economies that are dealing with diminishing returns, full build out of infrastructure... essentially energy saturation? Developing economies will mask the effects of Peak Oil in that they will be trying to grow as fast as possible in spite of it. Developed economies may respond to Peak Oil more sensitively in the beginning because their economies are fine tuned to the use of energy.

1999 346.6
2006 340.5

France, Germany, Sweden, Greece, Switzerland, Israel, South Africa, hong Kong, Japan... all past a prior peak.

Pitt referenced a paper by Richard Duncan claiming that it predicts earlier blackouts (the paper said circa 2007-2008) then references another paper that says... *drumroll* 2008 blackouts. Pitt then claims that Duncan moved his "failed" predictions back. No one checked the references and thus allowed Pitt to lie in public as if he had proven something when Duncan had made no basic change to his call.

Further, people like Pitt are going to nitpick over exact timing precisely so they can call a theory they dislike as "disproven" while giving wide leeway to theories they support. Duncan originally predicted 2012 and only moved that date forward based on incoming information about oil and gas reserves. As we all know, those are very poorly documented so demanding absolute precision, based off global oil and gas reserves, is just being a sophomoric pedant.

Pitt referenced a paper by Richard Duncan claiming that it predicts earlier blackouts (the paper said circa 2007-2008)

For the reading impaired, allow me to quote that link:

"A fifth advance is proposed in this study. It forecasts that electrical blackouts in the US -- due to a shortage of natural gas in North America -- will precipitate the Olduvai 'cliff event' worldwide (i.e. 'avalanche' or 'trigger') in ca. 2007."


"The following study indicates that the 'cliff event' will occur about 5 years earlier than 2012 due an epidemic of 'rolling blackouts' that have already begun in the US. This 'electrical epidemic' spreads nationwide, then worldwide, and by ca. 2007 most of the blackouts are permanent."

It's ironic that you claim a link says something it doesn't to accuse me of lying. Not surprising, given past history, but kind of funny nonetheless.

people like Pitt are going to nitpick over exact timing precisely so they can call a theory they dislike as "disproven"

I'm not calling it "disproved"; I'm calling it garbage. It's based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the available data.

"Trains haul coal from the mines to coal-fired electrical generating plants, in many cases, hundreds of miles from the mine mouth.

Fewer coal trains running means less coal delivered to coal-fired electrical generating plants — per unit of time. [There is only so much rail trackage and coal-loadout infrastructure currently available. What prudent investor wants to build more?]

Less coal delivered to those generating plants means less electricity generated and fewer oil refineries operating, thus producing even LESS diesel fuel!"

-Perry Arnett

Sasol in Sa should be talking about this now.

So in addition to choosing, SA should add
coal to the list as well.


Duncan revisited his theory in 2001 and moved the cliff forward a few years to the 2007-2008 time frame. It had originally been in the 2012 time frame. But that's peanuts. It does not matter if the cliff is in 2007 or 2012 if we have any cliff at all. What homo sapiens absolutely must do is avoid that cliff! And yet here we are running willy-nilly straight for that cliff. Amazingly, his 2001 projections have otherwise seemed to have been pretty close to the mark so far.

The other thing I find amusing is that as we approach the cliff and these problems arise worldwide we have idiots saying that there is no problem because they see no problem here at home in the good ole USA, the center of the current empire. Hey, Rome rotted at the edges first too. Arguing that it's not happening here yet so this invalidates that it IS happening elsewhere demonstrates a gross ignorance of history.

People are going to keep poo-pooing your ELP calls, WT, but one day they may very well regret it. They may regret it straight to their deathbeds.

They may regret it straight to their deathbeds.

Or death alleys, death tents, death garbage bins etc.



Add Tajikistan, and there are a whole host of countries in South America. I know Brazil is worried about shortage because the drought is set to force closure of several hydroelectric projects. I've read of problems in Argentina and Chile but don't remember exactly, and also Bolivia.

I think you will be adding Southeastern United States this summer. They are talking about needing to close from one to three nuclear plants this summer if water levels stay low.

The list is definitely getting long.

Got Tajikstan in my update above, but totally didn't search on South America.

I have heard of some warnings from down there, but nothing happening yet...so they are on the WATCH list like Ontario, and Baltimore, etc.

Water shortages in Georgia, Florida are not going to help this summer.

Seems to be getting longer everyday.

Balkans is not a country.

Anyway you could insert Albania. I also missed Zambia in the list. Nigeria. Nepal. China.

Sorry, I know. Read a story about general shortage warnings in Balkans - without reference to a specific country.

Add Brazil, Chile, Argentina.

And the Central American countries.

"Let's hope its just a hiccup, and growth of everything resumes in February. :P"

Exactly. DC/Wall St., "I hope we fix this systemic
crisis so we can conitinue doing what got us here
in the first place."

Don't be alarmist - the future is in converting our vehicle fleet to Electric Vehicles and therefore you must be incorrect.

Besides, any day now we will build hundreds of new Nukular power plants and giant off-shore wind farms which will allow us to continue motoring happily forever.

Power shortages and T&D issues - how silly!

Ahh...man...but I have this alarm bell ringing.

Ok, since you say so. :P

I am sorry everybody, nothing to look at here. Move along.

Before you imply we can't use electricity to power our cars you first have to provide proof that more blackouts are happening than normal and also why. is it because of bad gov't policies like in china? is it because these countries are growing so fast?

Besides, any day now we will build hundreds of new Nukular power plants and giant off-shore wind farms which will allow us to continue motoring happily forever.

there is no evidence that any of that needs to be done.

July 2007 EPRI-NRDC Definitive Study: PHEVs Will Reduce Emissions If Broadly Adopted

The EPRI-NRDC studies finally give an environmental stamp of approval to PHEVs. Scientist have confirmed that unlike gasoline cars, plug-ins will get cleaner as they get older -- because our power grid is getting cleaner.

For people looking for the most effective way to end our addiction to oil, PHEVs have made sense because carmakers can build them now, with today's technology and using today's infrastructure. But they've needed definitive proof that PHEVs won't increase pollution. The main study shows that under all nine scenarios for both rates of market penetration of PHEVs and the evolving power grid's characteristics (capacity/carbon intensity), PHEVs will vastly reduce greenhouse gases for the next 40 years. In the second study, for the next 20 years, even if, worst-case, we still use lots of coal, nationwide air quality for other emissions will also improve.

Three more points: Both reports match up well with previous studies. They reinforce the Pacific National Lab's January 2007 findings that we won't have to build new power plants for cars that charge at night. And we're gratified that General Motors recognizes this study as validation of its decision to evolve to the electrification of transportation.


You've provided no proof that there is enough generation capacity to power our cars with electricity. Why should he have to provide proof?

A couple of studies isn't proof? If I wanted to I could just find out how much energy my car uses and conserve that much energy while it's plugged in and no more power generation would be needed. I guess everyone could do this.

in the last 10 years we've added cell phones, computers and power-hungry televisions to the grid. why can't we plug in cars for 30 minutes to 3 hours(some cars may need more time). if we plug them in at night we would be using energy that's WASTED. if there is too much strain on the grid prices will go up and people will conserve.

If there is no demand. there is no energy "wasted". They do not burn the coal or natural gas and plants run at part load or are shut down. (exception Iceland in the summer, when they have excess hydroelectric power and the reservoirs are full of snow melt).

LCD televisions use less power, not more. Cell phone electrical demand is trivial.

why can't we plug in cars for 30 minutes to 3 hours...

Because many (most ?) people will plug them in when they get home, blowing the grid.

Best Hopes,


You forgot to mention computers which use a ton of power. People will plug in their cars at night when it's CHEAPER. unlike televisions and air conditioners which you'll plug turn on to use, you don't have to charge your car right away. you probably won't even charge it every day. it's possible you have already charged it at work.

Televisions Will Consume More Energy Than a Fridge

If there is no demand. there is no energy "wasted". They do not burn the coal or natural gas and plants run at part load or are shut down.

PHEVs will generally recharge at night using excess power from plants that can't shut down completely -- so they don't add to the peak load. PHEVs might one day actually help reduce it by providing power from parked PHEVs' batteries during daytime hours


People will plug in their cars at night when it's CHEAPER.

An unwarranted assumption about consumer behavior. Some will some won't.

Laziness, needing to drive out "later" that evening (7:30 meeting), shift workers (Spouse A gets off at 5 PM, Spouse B works 10 PM to 6 AM) will increase the peak demand.

Best Hopes for Realistic Expectations,


People will plug in their cars at night when it's CHEAPER. unlike televisions and air conditioners which you'll plug turn on to use, you don't have to charge your car right away. you probably won't even charge it every day. it's possible you have already charged it at work.

Yes, because people like not being ready for an emergency or unexpected event and having to call a cab or grab a bus or run to their neighbor's front door...

Oh, and the companies I have worked for have always encouraged me to use company resources for my private use.


You forgot to mention computers which use a ton of power.

Ohhhhh. 300 watts. 100 watts for a laptop.

Now, how much does a 'car' use for a mile? 15kW?

Yup John, just unplug the computer and plug in the car. That'll work.

Care to share "your math" with us?

In Houston in the summer time Max elctr power occurs about 6 pm. When they crank up the AC, washer & dryer, dishwasher turn on lights and then we should also plug in the car.

Running a 20 HP motor for one hour requires the same energy as a 2 HP air conditioning compressor running for 10 hours. 15 KWH's.

Sound feasible to you? Of course most McMansions run a 5 HP AC. Would you be happy with a 20 HP car? A 20 HP car will require 20 KWH's to recharge counting charging losses.

Three more points: Both reports match up well with previous studies. They reinforce the Pacific National Lab's January 2007 findings that we won't have to build new power plants for cars that charge at night. And we're gratified that General Motors recognizes this study as validation of its decision to evolve to the electrification of transportation.

Don't get me wrong I'm a elect car advocate, but it is not going to be BAU in the sunny south in the summer with the current grid. Massive elect car populations will require an aux charging source. Or not BAU, unless you can sleep at 88 degrees and high humidity, then fine.

And just think how much of personal transportation could be wiped out the morning after a thunderstorm, ice storm, or blizzard. I've often had my power go out for the whole night; one summer I had this happen twice. Those cars charging all night wouldn’t be. Imagine the surge when everything goes back on - hot summer with everyone running their air, with the added load of everyone charging their EV’s after a night of no power. At least with a hybrid I could drive to work or the nearest gas station unaffected by a local blackout.

Is it because of bad gov't policies like in china? is it because these countries are growing so fast?

Ah, so true. Err... not so true. After all, bad government policies (Iraq War for oil, denying climate change, ignoring peak oil) and exponential growth *aren't* part of the wider issue of peak and sustainability.


Bulgaria has not experienced serious power shortages (yet), just several infrastructure related. The electricity system is pretty much on max though.

What we see I would describe as "pre-peak-oil knock-on effects". Poorer countries that relied on oil&NG for electricity are no longer able to afford them, and what is worse they are not able to invest in alternatives. IMO we will rarely see articles titled "A power shortage in country XXX due to shortage of diesel". It's more subtle than that - basically pricing out poor countries from oil&NG as fuels is removing the easiest and least capital intensive generation sources, in practice the only ones they can afford to build. An economist would say that in this case they should invest in alternatives - which is the other way of saying the "Let them eat cake" argument.

IMO PO will turn out to be a problem for the poor. There are enough alternatives for the rich guys to muddle through. Some of them (like CTL or nuclear) are currently facing resistance, but it easy to foresee this will reverse once the public is faced with power or fuel shortages.

In Africa, and in many other areas, wealthier people and companies have backup diesel generators that routinely kick in because of almost daily power outages--a trend that I expect to see developing eventually in the US.

Why not have a half dozen KW of solar and a good AGM battery bank instead of the diesel. Seems like a better bet in the long run.

6 kW solar panels at wholesale prices of ~$5/Watt will cost you some $30,000. Batteries and installation will add a similar amount on top of that. In addition the typical PV average load factor is 20%, so in reality you will have only 1.2kW continuously.

I recently saw a 5kW diesel generator in Target. Price tag = $300

Now you try to sell a Nigerian or Kenyan the $60,000 solar system instead of the $300 diesel generator. Yean, maybe after 40-50 years of running the solar system will pay off from the saved fuel costs, but the problem remains that there is no way on Earth they will be able to put down those $60K - more than an average Nigerian or Kenyan will earn for their whole life.

I recently saw a news story about the rolling blackouts in South Africa, and wondered how the neighboring states were faring...

Both the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) and the Chamber of Mines in Namibia said the power shortage leading to anticipated load-shedding countrywide, in the wake of power cuts from South Africa, is worrisome.
"Businesses are likely to be affected. It means there will be no new mines opening or any other big project," bemoaned Shaanika.
Rössing Uranium Limited told New Era that a reduction in the mine's current electricity usage will have a negative impact on its production of uranium oxide with production loss anticipated at 5000 tonnes of ore per day.


The power shortages are causing production cuts at the largest mine in Namibia. No word on if it will affect the construction of new infrastructure at Rössing.

More importantly, it has put the brakes on New Uranium Mining Projects.

Reading the Oil Drum for more than two years I can't help but notice that things start to move from theory to reality. Reading what the shortages imply for agriculture and mining (S.Africa etc.) it shows us how interrelated everything is and that an analysis that only considers fuel distribution (e.g. to farmers) but not supply chain problems for everything else, is not realistic at least in the short term.
Sometimes I can't help but feel a bit uneasy.

Seems it would be easier to make a list of those countries NOT experiencing energy problems. Iceland comes to mind as one. I can't think of mnay others NOT having ANY problems regarding energy supply/capacity--particularly in relation to meeting AGW emission caps/targets while meeting the increasing demand for energy. The USA, Canada, and EU don't make the list.


Short list, huh?!

Right. Even Saudi Arabia has people shivering in the cold for lack of whatever it was--heating oil?

Yeah, might have to add some of the Gulf countries. But even they need to import finished energy products, and I recall some, like Saudi, having problems in this area. Then there's undercapacity of the electric grid for Gulf citizens flush with extra spending money buying electronic devices. I thought the Finns might make the list, but not according to this, http://monamolsson.blogspot.com/2007/10/power-shortages.html and Sweeden and Norway seem to have similar issues.



I think you missed 3: Maine, Australia & Britain.

Here's where it started:

"Within days of the December 18 conversation, Uzbekistan imposed massive increases on Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, boosting the gas price from between $100-$115 per thousand cubic meters (tcm) to $145 tcm. As recently as 2006, Kyrgyzstan was paying Tashkent $55/tcm.

TEHRAN, Iran -- An Iranian official said Turkmenistan was "immoral" for halting gas exports to Iran in the depths of an unusually cold winter in its bid to change the terms of a supply contract, Iranian state radio reported Tuesday.

Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan play energy games
Within days of the December 18 conversation, Uzbekistan imposed massive increases on Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, boosting the gas price from between $100-$115 per thousand cubic meters (tcm) to $145 tcm.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
By Eurasianet See all articles by this author

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan: Poverty-stricken Tajikistan plunged deeper into a winter energy crisis Thursday as neighboring Uzbekistan cut down natural gas supplies due to payment delays, an official said.

My file of Coal URLs for anyone interested. Some of them I have not accessed in months but I believe most of them still work. Alert: The first link is very pro nuclear and anti coal. Or more correctly, it is pro nuclear because of the dangers of coal:

Coal verses Nuclear

EIA Index of Coal Data

EIA World Coal Production, Imports and exports in BTU

EIA World Coal Production in Short Tons

EIA World Estimates of Recoverable Coal

BP Coal Consumption

Ron Patterson

Shell chief fears oil shortage in seven years

World demand for oil and gas will outstrip supply within seven years, according to Royal Dutch Shell.

The oil multinational is predicting that conventional supplies will not keep pace with soaring population growth and the rapid pace of economic development.

Jeroen van der Veer, Shell’s chief executive, said in an e-mail to the company’s staff this week that output of conventional oil and gas was close to peaking. He wrote: “Shell estimates that after 2015 supplies of easy-to-access oil and gas will no longer keep up with demand.”

The original memo and confirmation of the story by Shell's company secretary can be read here

This was also the lead story on NPR's Marketplace this morning, so, while the term "Peak Oil" wasn't used, it was definitely a little MSM head's up as to what we face.

It will be interesting to see whether any of the other MSM pick up on the story, since the memo is now in the public domain.

Shell's chief exec's estimate of 2015 is around five years sooner than the timing suggested by Total Oil's boss in the Economist last week. Hope that's not the start of a trend.

World demand for oil and gas will outstrip supply

That is the closest you will ever hear of Peak Oil.

It is and will be framed as "Supply Not Meeting Demands"

Further details why will never be explored.

Black Swan:

It is beginning to sound like one rogue trader at SocGen might have succeeded in not just very nearly doing a repeat of Leeson's job on Barings Bank, but also of throwing gasoline on the global market panic fire last Fri/Mon, and even spooking Helicopter Ben into making a panic 75 basis point rate cut.

Developing. . .

Don't buy this one...sorry.

I don't think 5-7 billion ANYTHING spooks the US FED, or any other FED.

It's chump change, in the global scheme of things.

I agree. I've been keeping an eye on this story since it broke. I don't see a black swan. Just another corporate cockroach.

Apparently the problem was that SocGen was dumping $50B-$75B worth of securities, aquired over months by a "rogue trader", into a falling market, exactly when a huge number of the market participants were on holiday in the US. They lost $7B in the sale of those securities.

Dumping $50B-$70B is huge. I recall a day a few years ago when a New York order clerk accidentally sold $7B instead of %7M of the S&P in one shot at the end of the day and moved the market several hundred basis points.

Frankly this action seems inconceivable to me - the bulk sale under these market conditions, not the rogue trader running up the position in the first place. I cannot imagine blindly unloading massive positions, in a single shot, on a day with reduced market depth. If this description is accurate, then I have to wonder whether the action wasn't a deliberate attempt to move the market at a vulnerable time.

As soon as I heard that story that little alarm on my BS detector went off. It was a "rogue trader" - yeah, that's it! Hey maybe it's true, I have no knowledge, but it sure sounds like a desperate excuse.

Isn't a "rogue trader" a character on EverQuest, kinda like a "rogue thief"?

rogue trader is someone who trades whatever for rogue beer or rogue beer for whatever. my personal favorites are seahorse pale ale or dead guy ale.

Maybe he thought he was the "ROGUE Leader" attacking the Death Star!!!!

The World turns, with or without U.S.


In Florida one version of a rogue trader is a person that walks into a bank, claims to have a weapon, and robs the joint (I think of this as small time thieves robbing big time thieves). It is becoming a far more common occurence in these troubled times according to the Orlando Sentinel, the Mogambo Guru, and the FBI...So now that we have far more 'Homeland Security' than ever before the FBI are catching far fewer bank robbers than ever before...Makes me wonder if we doubled the size of the FBI would the number of bank robbers caught drop to 20% or zero? :) Someone with a grasp of exponential functions needs to work on this.


By The Mogambo Guru

'I was surprised as hell to see that Total Fed Credit (TFC) was down by another $1.7 billion last week. This is Big Important Stuff (BIS) because it is this selfsame TFC which creates, as if by magic, new credit to be instantly available in the banks, which is turned into money when someone borrows it from the banks, which makes the money supply go up, which makes the price of something go up immediately (as this new money is used to bid up the price of something, as why else would you borrow money?), and which eventually makes the prices of everything go up as the money gradually diffuses throughout the economy, which makes life miserable for people who don't make more money with which to pay the higher prices, and they get angry
and desperate, which probably explains why the Orlando Sentinel newspaper reports that bank robberies in Florida increased 40% in 2007.

A relevant piece by Paul Gores of jsonline.com had the headline, "Bank robberies on the rise", with the subhead, "And more criminals are getting away, FBI statistics show". The point is that not only is bank robbing 40% more popular than last year, but the FBI used to solve 75% of bank robberies in 2003, but only about half now'...snip...


No problem. It will solve itself. The banks are almost out of cash.

I suppose the bank tellers will be handing the bank robbers a bundle of CDOs in lieu of cash? Not a bad idea for the banks as they could get those bad debts off their balance sheets. Perhaps the alarms and cameras in the banks will be turned off during robberies so that no the cops cant catch the crooks and return the CDOs to the banks? The bank tellers will be encouraged to offer the crooks more CDOs than they can carry so the bank will provide hand carts. Then the banks could write down the stolen CDOs at 'full value' (marked to mirage)...Capitalisim, aint it great? :)

Still doesn't make sense...who in their RIGHT mind would do that in one or two days...who?

It rings of deeper things. Not some lowly trader who made nothing from it.

As far as I am concerned, just another distraction from the realities of the economy. "it wasn't the economy, it was a rogue trader"

Why doesn't Ben retract his cut then, definitely don't need another 50 bp next week then...yeah right.

"...who in their RIGHT mind would do that...?"

Perhaps Bin Laden or some other big investor needed liquidity AND wouldn't mind seeing some more chaos in the financial sector? You don't have to crash planes into buildings to mess with the markets.

This entire SocGen story reeks.

And no one in France decided to clue in Bernanke,
who then said the rate cut was a mistake.

Please. So the rate cut will be removed?


"P.S. SocGen announced a huge $7.1 billion loss from a single rogue trader. They are calling it "fraud", but of course it is plain old failure to supervise. The scheme was apparently the regular "hide and roll", common in all such trader hanky-panky. But the loss size is astonishing, particularly coming from a low-level 100k/yr equity trader. Something smells fishy here - for example, how could a lowly employee put on such big positions? His book must have been in the high tens of billions and that's not easy to do, or hide, no matter how well he knew "the system". Sophisticated risk and compliance systems have multiple layers and cannot be "gamed" by a single person. Hmmmm...

But if the loss was the responsibility of just one tiny trader, then SocGen's risk management system is worse than swiss cheese: high in fat and full of holes. Incroyable!"

Posted by Hellasious

And SocGen was voted #1 in Derivatives Trade last year.

Too many posts from too many financial sites are leery.

In France everyone still knows just who everyone else is, in the sense of birth, heritage, schooling,family connections. No way is some shnook from nowhere even getting a decent job at SocGen. No way at all.
The only story here is what is hidden.

Here it comes:

You win the gold star.

"French bank Societe Generale lost not the initially reported $7 billion euros but up to $70 billion euros from rogue trader Jerome Kerviel’s actions.....

" The entire gaggle of banker goons and press parrots have their reasons for insisting on focusing entirely on subprimes. It makes the problem more marginal, more understandable, more excusable. Dumb lenders gave home loans to bad borrowers. OK! Follow this path of incredibly easy math. The total of all US$-based mortgage bonds is $10.4 trillion. A conservative estimate of the prime mortgages within this giant mass is $7 trillion. We all know it is more, so bear with my lowball for argument sake.

"French bank Societe Generale lost not the initially reported $7 billion euros but up to $70 billion euros from rogue trader Jerome Kerviel’s actions. That’s $103 billion dollars to you and me folks. Furthermore, evidence is mounting that Societe Generale conducted an aggressive market sell-off just 48 hours after discovering the rogue trader’s losses."


Correct me if I'm wrong, but this article is throwing around $10.4 and $7 trillion.

Start thinking about how much that is.

SocGen started the debacle on MLK Day.

And they're trying to blame $103 billion losses on a 20 something year old kid.

This is systemic failure.

And SocGen is panicked.

The CIA still has "promis" software, several iterations past.

"The bond insurers are the big story these days. Ambac was downgraded by the debt rating agencies last Friday. MBIA, ACA Capital and a small gaggle of bond insurers are sitting on a mountain of dead credit default swaps. One day we might awaken to learn that those who thought they had a profit from credit default swaps are actually holding nothing, since the counter-party is dead as a doornail. If only we could arrange counter-party risk holders to reside on the planet Mars, outside our system. A credit default swap is an insurance contract against $10 million in debt securities, such as mortgage bonds or corporate bonds. As distress is felt, the bond loses value while the swap rises in value. The 50% annual rise in the credit derivative volume of outstanding contracts owes mainly to the burgeoning growth in credit default swaps. As mortgage loans flooded the banking system, and their bonds flooded the credit market system, some measure of insurance was taken out. Too bad pay days on those insurance claims will be absent. Watch the municipal bonds insured by Ambac and MBIA. They might be forced into sales by institutions soon, or else just permit the munis to run naked without insurance at all."


Something gave way on MLK Day.

" The advent of the modern world-system, the capitalist world-economy, required for its efficient operation a somewhat higher level of accuracy in forecasting, without which the investment process so central to its functioning would never have acquired the extensiveness and level of risk-taking that has enabled it to expand and flourish. There was consequently considerable social support and social sanction for a new mode of certifying truth, the mode we have come to call science, or more accurately modern science. -Immanuel Wallerstein

Massive futures trading losses at British and French banks… thank goodness for the Glass-Steagall Act here in the US! Oh, that act was repealed because of lobbying by financial interests. Well then, never mind. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/wallstreet/weill/demise.html

Those pesky Black Swans keep raising their ugly little heads, don't they? Things that worked in the past, just don't seem to work the same way anymore (i.e., financial bailouts, power grids, etc.).

I think this trader is a fictional character. If he's real, they probably paid him to go along with the story. An antidote to the panic was desperately needed.

Nope he was real. They had his picture on CNBC this morning. He was fired and seven of his supervisors and higher managers were also fired.

An antidote to the panic was desperately needed.

The sell off, that is the unloading of the positions acquired by this trader, was what caused the sudden drop in the European market on the 21st. Had that not happened there would have been no panic. His initial loss was only about 1.5 billion. But the unwinding of his positions sent their losses down another 5 billion or so and sent the market into a nosedive.

Ron Patterson

The entire world sold off heavily from the prior Friday selloff in the US - trillions of dollars. Even with his picture, I think it's bogus.
The mood on Wall Street that Friday was that the bond insurers would go under, and possibly big banks too. I wonder what excuse they will have for the next big selloff.

Even assuming he was fully leveraged, I agree that this was not the cause of the worldwide crash. This much money comes out of the markets all the time. It just added fuel to what was already a fire.


Here's an exchange a friend and I had. His take on points 1-5(made by someone else) are in Italics.

Note: My friend Has been in that field for a long time.

There is no way the SocGen snafu was perpetrated by a single lowly trader. No way.

The bank management claiming that they lost the money because of "bad luck" is absurd. The management was going to unwind a huge amount into the markets with no one noticing??? BS!!. In all cases that I have seen where a "rogue trader" was exposed, management tried to keep things quiet so they could unwind the mess without causing waves. Usually they fail miserably at this activity. This was the case, yet agan, here.

1. The guy was trading plain vanilla stock index futures,not exotics.

Not so. The Allied Irish Bank scandal of a few years ago saw the guy lose $ 750 million using plain vanillas. I used to construct exotic/unusual derivatives using plain vanilla options, but in combination with other plain vanillas. You can get some nice leverage with these. Still, to run up $ 7 billion in losses would take a rare genius, as well as flipping a position incredibly quickly.

2. The market is electronic and order entry takes place from terminals that are programmed to accept up to a certain size order, depending on authorization level. Above that and the system asks for a manager's confirmation and also sends a warning to the risk managers/compliance people. Given the size of the trades needed to build such a huge position (~30 billion euro notional) within such a short period of time (supposedly 3-4 weeks), I doubt there is/was a SINGLE order-entry terminal in the entire bank's dealing room that had authority to execute them. The systems are VERY sophisticated and are built with rogue traders in mind, as well as regular errors. The British papers are reporting that the guy managed to bypass the computer systems so that the Soc. Gen management saw nothing but blank screens when they wanted to see what was happening with the derivatives department.

Yes, they are sophisticated, but what one man can do another can undo. I would also say that the notional amount was closer to $ 100bln (EUR 70 billion or so - again British papers) given the size of the losses and the size of the fall in the markets on Monday. I would agree that for a person with a supposedly limited understanding of computers, his undoing of a very complex system is somewhat suspicious.

3. Even if the guy was able to circumvent the system restrictions, he had to somehow fund the positions, i.e. post margin of a couple billion euro. That's big, big money even for SocGen.
See comments above.

4. Such big trades would have immediately rang alarms at the clearing stage and on the daily blotter, i.e. the day's open positions.
See comments above.

5. Big positions would have also raised alarms at the exchange and regulatory level, who would have immediately called the bank, at a management level.
See comments above

6. And last but not least: the trader was supposedly co-operating with the bank on Saturday and took the whole blame. This is the largest ever trading loss by a rogue trader, an amount so large that the bank must raise fresh equity capital.... and they let the guy go? He's reported "missing" and wanted by the police. Ahuh, ahuh...

He was "sweated" by the bank on Saturday apparently (French Press). Bank management wanted to keep it quiet so they could unwind te mess. Not really possible given the notional size in a market which was trending against them. Mnagement can be very stupid in matters of markets in my experience. This is plausible, the bank "letting him go" that is.

Even with his picture, I think it's bogus.

Nonsense! For some people everything is some kind of clandestine conspiracy.

The French government demanded a full accounting Friday of how a rogue trader at Societe Generale managed to lose 7.0 billion dollars, as it emerged he gambled on over 73 billion dollars -- more than the bank's current value.

Every trade he made has been scrutinized and publicized. Every manager he had, and their manager and their manager, has been fired. But perhaps you are correct, perhaps the bank deliberately lost 7.15 billion dollars. I cannot think of any reason they would do that but if it is necessary to make it fit into your conspiracy theory, then so be it.

Ron Patterson

Maybe people would prefer a conspiracy theory, because your theory (three levels of management above this kid were all unaware that he had gambled on 73 BILLION DOLLARS) is a lot scarier.

Hello TODers,

This link basically claims the kid did not have the skills to do this massive trading at all:

Societe General's 'Hacker' Trader Had Only Limited Computer Skills
The French banker accused of operating a multibillion-dollar fraudulent trading scheme apparently knew Microsoft Office, Visual Basic, and little else.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

The family is saying Kerchival is being made into a scapegoat and Wall Street Journal writer David Gaffen blogs:

Was the Fed Tricked?

The revelation that Societe Generale is taking a $7 billion write-down due to the activities of one rogue trader — and additional reports that the French bank may have been unwinding those positions on Monday, a thinly traded, volatile day when Asian and European markets were rocked with losses, puts the Fed’s move in a new light. Namely, that they were taken in.

“They were sucker punched,” says Barry Ritholtz, director of equity research at Fusion IQ. “What we see now is that it was a very ill-considered attempt to intervene in equity prices.”

I would love to see some forensic accountants' report on what really happened at this bank. If I was Bernanke: I would rendition this young man out of France [for his own protection], then get him to testify on what really went down:

Many experts said it was difficult to believe a lone trader could have successfully hid such colossal losses."

"The feeling in the dealing rooms is that it is not possible for an individual to do all that. They think Societe Generale has overdone the fraud to cover up some bad market operations," said Elie Cohen, an economy professor and research director for the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Was the Fed Tricked?

If they feel they were tricked, the Fed won't cut next week.
The chance of a 50bp cut is over 90%. So, no.

And the MSM ignore that Asia started the selloff while Europe slept and that the PPT had a holiday.

Hello The_Rage,

Now the Washington Post reports:

Loss at French Bank Raises Doubts
Questions Mount Over Explanation That Trader Lost $7 Billion

"It is difficult for everyone to understand how a single person, in a relatively short period of time, can cause losses as significant in a solid and reliable banking house," Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Friday at a news conference during a visit to Luxembourg.

Fillon said he has ordered his finance minister to investigate the fraud at France's second-largest bank, giving her eight days to submit her findings.
This may only be the tip of the iceberg once the forensic accountants dig into this mess. Time will tell.

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

Three levels of management doesn't suggest rogue. It suggests standard business practice. Consiracy? No, just regular corporate practice.

What's the difference between such corporate practice and organized crime? Only the intervention of a lobbyist or politician. The NSA/FISA scandal for example. Until Congress immunizes the telcos, that's organized crime.

cfm in Gray, ME

Hmmm...let's THINK for a second.

You are a SENIOR MGMT person at SOCGEN...you find out that there is some bogus positions in the order of what 70 billion?. Ok fine.

What do you do?

Sell it all in one day...yeah that's right..sell it all, sell it fast, sell it at any price...no matter the loss.

Sure...I buy it.

Maybe its a conspiracy of utter stupidity!

Maybe its a conspiracy of utter stupidity!

Maybe you've just described the management of more organizations than we've dared to admit.

It doesn't explain Shanghai losing 7% in one day. Remember that Shanghai A-shares are off limits to foreigners. We will see further selloffs in the not-too-distant future.

Blowin' in the Wind

Despite public subsidies to the UK wind industry of over $500 million the government has so far only seen that such a massive investment provided less than half of one percent of the UK's electricity needs. In August 2007, the BBC's Radio 4 Costing the Earth program reported that figures proved that government financial incentives were encouraging wind industry firms to cash-in on massive government subsidies and build wind farms on non-viable sites across the mainland. Even in Europe's windiest country, the winds are just "too variable", with most turbines consistently under-performing. Having analysed figures submitted to the UK electricity watchdog Ofgem on every farm's load factor, Engineering Consultant Jim Oswald explained to the BBC, "It's the power swings that worry us. Over a 20-hour period you can go from almost 100 percent wind output to 20 percent."

The recommended "load factor" to make a wind farm economically viable and efficient is just over 30 percent. However, many of Britain's onshore farms have been running at around 20 percent, with some, in urban areas, dropping as low as 9 percent. Oswald believes that an over-reliance on wind power will result both in major power failures across the UK and an increase in electricity bills of up to 50 percent.

I dont know whether to laugh or cry...


Massive wind farm 'turned down'

The wind farm was to be built at Barvas Moor on Lewis
Plans to build one of Europe's biggest wind farms on the Isle of Lewis are set to be turned down, BBC Scotland understands. The BBC's Gaelic news service, Radio nan Gaidheal, has learned that Scottish Government ministers are "minded to refuse" the 181 turbine scheme. More than 5,000 letters of objection to the proposals were received by the Scottish Government. It is believed environmental concerns are behind the decision. An official announcement from the Scottish Government is not expected for a further two or three weeks.

''This is going to allow us to go back to living like normal people Dinah Murray Anti-wind farm campaigner''

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "No final decision has been taken and ministers are working towards finalising and announcing a decision in the near future

"This is going to allow us to go back to living like normal people" did a couple of centuries ago, shivering in their dark, unheated crofter's huts.

living like normal people did a couple of centuries ago

She (and the politicians) doesn't realise that is the implication of the decision - they think they are making a completely rational decision.

The windmills are a solution to a problem that hasn't been properly explained to the people.

What do you expect them to think and say if nobody will admit to the effects of imminent peak oil or peak gas, to say nothing of dangerous climate change or population overshoot.

Nobody has told them that, all the local people see is the choice between BAU and a mass of, to them, unsightly windmills.

You can't fix a problem without first recognising (and admiiting) what it is.

She (and the politicians) doesn't realise that is the implication of the decision - they think they are making a completely rational decision.

Remember the person ultimately responsible for the decision is Alex Salmond. A little about him from Wikipedia.


In 1980, he joined the Royal Bank of Scotland, for which he worked until 1987, first as an assistant economist, then as the Oil Economist and latterly as Royal Bank Economist. While with the Royal Bank, he wrote and broadcast extensively for both domestic and international outlets. He also contributed regularly to oil and energy conferences. In 1983 he devised the “Royal Bank / BBC Oil Index”, which continues monthly publication to this day.

Surely he can't be so stupid? I'm not too sure he won't push the project through but wants to make a political point first. The alternatives just get uglier if he is really using PO to drive a wedge between Scotland and England, hold a referendum and declare independence claiming the oil fields then he really is a dangerous man. I'm just hoping he steps in to calm things down and this has just blown up because somebody in the Scottish Executive isn't "on message" and has incorrectly signalled the rejection of the wind-farm.

Heated by peat fires.

Oh , sorry, Peak Peat....

Someone posted this article earlier then it was gone as I was responding.

I selected the same line!

Normal people use generous amounts of ENERGY...I know, energy comes on a line connected to the house or at the gas station, and Milk comes from the store in a box or bottle.

I think Mogambo would have a great line to respond to this...but I will fight the urge to write it.

I deleted it, because 1) it was already posted up top and 2) it quoted way too much. I could have cut down the quote, but it seemed kind of silly, when it was already posted.

With a bit of background for those not familiar with Scottish politics.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The SNP (Scottish National Party) has already turned down new nuclear power in Scotland against the wishes of the UK government. Now they're going to say no to wind-power? What's their leader Alex Salmond up to? After all he's an ex Oil Industry economist (Royal Bank of Scotland)and if he didn't know of PO before becoming Scottish First Minister you'd think he would by now.

For those not familiar with Scottish Devolution most decision making processes are devolved from London to Edinburgh. The UK Parliament can over-rule the Scottish parliament but at considerable political cost.

As the SNP's sole reason for existence is to gain full independence from the UK for Scotland (motto "It's Scotland's Oil") things look tricky going forward. Last thing we need is civil war in the UK. No smiley.

Of course the only reason Labour lost control of Scotland to the nationalists was because of the stunning incompetence of Tony Blair and the contempt felt for him by many over the Iraq War in particular. The change to Gordon Brown didn't happen until after the Scottish elections.

Some more in general for non Scots.

First of all, Salmond is effectively a Peak Oil Denier. He (and his party) take the line that there is another 20 billion barrels of Oil left under the north sea and that were it just Scottish Oil, then Scotland would be sitting pretty. That he was an Economist with RBS tells all: They still cannot understand why North Sea Production falls year on year despite having it explained to them.

Even after Emailing the famous DTI graph , plus links,plus peak oil snippets and articles to his Party ComsMan I got bland assurances only. This was before the last Scottish Elections where the SNP lied blatantly about an oil powered future for 30 years to the electorate.

It will be interesting to see what Smart Alec's response will be to this come monday.

And I have to hand it to the man: Alec Salmond has run rings round his opponents. And yes, Alec did not win the election, Labour lost it.

The situation is even more wierd: The Lib Dems are overall pro Wind , Anti Nuke Except where a local Lib Dem MP is confronted by Anti Wind objectors (voters) in the MPs constituency .

I could look it up, but I am willing to bet that Lewis is LibDem country.

So, (we have been here before recently :-(...)

Anti nuke
Now Anti wind?
If anyone believes solar could work in Scotland,then I have a bridge in London I want to sell you.

What does that leave?
The Lanarkshire Coal Fields and carbon capture?

We are fast running out of road.

Now personally I am very pro-nuke, as repeatedly stated on other threads. Four good sized nukes would power Scotland. Add tidal, wave and carbon capture and we could sell energy to Northern England (disclosure : I was born North English, but have now lived in Scotland longer than England and have been very happy here).

But we dont have time for this bull. We are running out of road.

Incidentally, the adjacent shire of Moray has now got significant wind power with more planned. Alec Salmonds constituency is Banff and Buchan on the Moray coast. I am against a wind only strategy, but North East Scotland is one of the more favourable sites for wind in the UK: Steady winds, low population density.

What we really lack is true political leadership and honesty with the electorate.


This was before the last Scottish Elections where the SNP lied blatantly about an oil powered future for 30 years to the electorate.

There are only 5 million people in Scotland. Reckon there's over 30 years supply for Scotland alone in the Scottish sector of the North Sea? Salmond says he wants to turn Scotland into another Norway (small country - huge oil power).

Our middle case shows Norway approaching zero net oil exports--and a minimal level of oil production--around 2025.

This gets more and more bizarre


Fury at wind farm decision blunder

By Dave Lord

THERE WAS outrage last night after the Scottish Government issued a press release stating permission had been granted for a massive wind farm in rural Perthshire—only to claim 16 minutes later there had been an “administrative error.”

The astonishing blunder left campaigners both devastated and deeply suspicious.

It read, “A 68-turbine wind farm near Aberfeldy will be the third largest wind farm in Scotland, capable of generating 204 megawatts of electricity, enough for over 100,000 homes.”

Energy minister Jim Mather was then quoted, apparently welcoming the development.

On receiving the press release, The Courier immediately contacted the Scottish Government press office in a bid to clarify the announcement but was told the Griffin application had in fact not been approved by ministers.

A spokesman said the release should have referred solely to increase in capacity at Mid Hill.

He said there had been an “administrative error” and maintained a decision had “definitely not” been taken with regard to any Perthshire wind farm.

It really looks as if the Scottish Executive is in a complete mess over energy policy.

(motto "It's Scotland's Oil")

Which should soon be revised to "It Was Scotland's Oil"

Interestingly, the British Government heavily downplayed the likely reserves of oil in North British waters in 1974 on the eve of the Scottish referendum for Independence.

This was confirmed by Government papers released under the 30 year rule.

Had that knowledge been available, it may well have been Scotland's Oil.

Re: Energy Crisis Looms In Maryland

Sounds to me like Maryland is doing the right thing by promoting conservation, the 15% reduction in energy use by 2015 mirrors what we are trying to do in Minnesota. As these conservation programs are weighed, we will find the residential sector is where the biggest energy savings gains can be made, at the lowest cost, with a great societal benefit. Most conservation programs will target the largest (commercial) energy users first, we need to have a parallel, residential program put in place with adequate resources made available.

I have read several books on Peak Oil, Simmons, Deffeyes, Heinberg, etc. but now I am in the mood for another one but don’t necessarily wish to read the same stuff over again. I am thinking about The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World. Has anyone read this? Does it have any interesting stuff or is it basically stuff that has been covered in other books.

Anyone, anyone, Bueller, anyone?

Ron Patterson

Ron, I have an advance copy of Robert Bryce's new book, Gusher of Lies. It's not a peak oil book, but it does have a discussion on PO and mentioned The Oil Drum pretty early in the book. I am working my way through it. It's a pretty interesting read so far. Bryce really lays into both political parties, and debunks the myths surrounding energy independence. I think if officially releases in 2 or 3 weeks.

Robert, thanks a million for the tip. I will probably get the book and read it. Of course on this list we all know that energy independence is a lie. And many politicians do also, they just lie about it. Remember Cheney's smirk when Bush mentioned energy independence in the State of the Union Address?

However, reading the description of the book on Amazon, I am troubled by this line:

Consumers concerned about peak oil and the future of global energy supplies need to understand that energy security depends on embracing free markets and the realities of interdependence.

Really? I don't think embracing free markets will help energy security one whit. Of course we all understand the realities of interdependence in these days of the global economy. But there is nothing there that guarantees, or even promises energy security. In fact we are seeing, in the Chinese headlines posted above, energy insecurity and how that leads to a closing of free markets. If China embraced free markets and sold more coal they would become more energy insecure.

Ron Patterson

It is going to be a very controversial book. Readers here will agree with most of it, but will sharply disagree with some of it - especially his take on Peak Oil. He essentially downplays the issue, and takes an economist's view. But, he doesn't cover PO very much in the book. He really rips into Thomas Friedman in the book. Very irreverant.

He really rips into Thomas Friedman in the book

I think I'm going to have to read it for that alone. :)

Throw in some rips into Fareed Zakaria and we'd really be getting somewhere.

Naomi Klein rips Milton Friedman too.

My favorite market quote from Kevin Phillips:
“We can begin with a simple premise: Democracy and market economics are not the same thing. Worse, the attempts to confuse and conflate them in pretended equivalence stood out at the millennium as a destructive aspect of U.S. politics. As noted, the rollbacks of democracy sketched in these chapters have accompanied the elevation of markets—-the fulfillment of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the European Union (launched as a common market) and the World Trade Organization, and the ascent of the Federal Reserve Board as the protector and liquidity provider of financial and securities markets.

Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and the two Roosevelts would probably have been appalled. Politics and government down through the ages, while often brutal or grossly deficient, have been the subject matter of Plato and Aristotle, Aquinas and Machiavelli, Locke, and a few of America’s own great names. Markets, by contrast, descend from fairs of late medieval Europe, church-permitted safety valves for gambling, money-lending, and other forms of license. The idea that they have turned into a vehicle for human governance lacks any base beyond the occasional financial publication.”
—Kevin Phillips, Wealth and Democracy (New York, 2002), p 417-418.

For a book to read now - for those of us concerned about peak everything and the financial meltdown, climate change, even bird flu - Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine is the one to read. The US is being driven into the ground by the Republicrat parties just as the World Bank and IMF drove so much of the rest of the world into the ground. Where we imposed free-market fundamentalism on others, now we are reaping its imposition on ourselves. The bulk of our leadership class - the piranhas - believe it and most of our citizenry has been trained to believe it - it resonates harmonically with our neurons no matter the result. The whole US is being driving deliberately into a disaster (opportunity). The piranhas are counting on a military solution. Deregulate, privatize and taser.

As someone noted upthread around the Wallerstein reference [Westexas?], virtually every "solution" coming out of the established powers will make things worse - because they are trying to keep things going and it's the keeping things going that itself is the cause of the problems. Solutions have to come from outside that group. The powers that be will spend all their energy trying to stomp out those community solutions, branding them Homegrown Terrorism - thank you Jane Harman (D).

To that list of areas with electrical problems, one can add Maine, were our long time utility Central Maine Power has been deregulated and now sold off to a Spanish corporation. Does anyone want to guess where that process is going?

cfm in Gray, ME

Been a long time since I read that one, but IIRC, it's more optimistic than the average peak oil book. Right wing types seem to prefer it for that reason. (All hail the free market, provider of hydrogen fuel cells, etc.)

Ron, I thought The End of Oil by Paul Roberts was an excellent book. (I've also read Simmons, Deffeyes, and Heinberg, etc.) The book is very well-written, possibly because Roberts is a writer, not an industry type like Simmons or Deffeyes. However, it is unlikely you will learn anything new.

The End of Oil is a decent book, but probably not for Darwinian. It's a bit dated at this point, he is way too optimistic about natural gas providing a bridge to allow alternative energies fill the gaps, and, if I remember right, he was fairly pro hydrogen fuel cells.

Cities study dearth of healthy food

LOUISVILLE — In some urban areas, it's easier to buy a Twinkie than a stalk of broccoli.

Large cities such as Philadelphia, New Orleans and Chicago, as well as smaller ones such as Louisville and Troy, N.Y., are studying and trying to address the issue of grocery gaps — the lack of full-service supermarkets in lower-income neighborhoods.

...Mari Gallagher, a Chicago-based researcher whose firm has studied the issue in cities including Detroit, Chicago and, most recently, Louisville, says the lack of supermarkets with fresh fruits and vegetables, when combined with low car ownership and an abundance of fast-food and higher-priced convenience stores can nurture poor eating habits.

"it's easier to buy a Twinkie than a stalk of broccoli."

Makes sense really, given the perishability of one vs the half life of the other. There's a cartoon or two on the longevity of Twinkies.

More like what it was, with a substitution for the cracker barrel. Maybe it's the new leading edge.

If it was just the perishability of the stuff that they were worried about, they could offer canned vegetables. Instead they offer junk food.

They might have better luck trying to get a farmer's market set up somewhere.

I have been on my own and buying groceries for over 50 years. Grocery stores stock what people are buying. I have noticed over the years, particularly when food was being bought with food stamps so one could tell, that the "poor" bought very few fresh fruits or vegetables. And they were in the store becasue I bought a lot of them (biggest total part of my food budget is fresh fruit/vegetables). The poor would have carts loaded with prepared garbage foods (like Twinkies, frozen foods like pizza, TV dinners, etc...) and other high priced low quality foods. Very seldom any flour, sugar, beans, rice in bulk sizes (which are cheap!)[hint, you can bake a loaf of bread for 1/4 of what it cost to buy one - And have a better for you loaf of bread]
Fresh fruits and vegetables are very perishable. Grocery stores will only start stocking them when they have a reasonable expectation that their local customers will be buying them. If the local customers were asking for the fresh fruits and vegetables, then the management of the stores would have them on the shelf.
Repeat: Grocery stores stock what customers are buying! Your focus really needs to be on educating the "poor" and not on berating the grocer.
One other note, fresh fruits and vegetables in grocery stores are far more prone to "grazing" losses than frozen foods that have to be thawed/heated before consuming.

I'm on food stamps and an extremely anomalous shopper - I buy things bulk, on sale, etc. 8 lbs of 99c pork chops which are marinated and last a month. Quaker's Old Fashioned Oats. Beans. Bell/anaheim/jalapeno fresh peppers on sale, bananas if they're cheap, carrots etc on sale. Frozen veggies like broccoli and brussels sprouts. Rice. Campbell's chicken soup for those when one of us has a cold. There's been the odd frozen pumpkin pie bought, the odd Starbucks' "doubleshot", etc., but by and large it's staples.

I know what you mean though, I've seen how a lot of food stamp shoppers buy, and it's frozen pizzas, twinkies, tons of soda and fruit juice, and I don't think I've ever seen a fellow food stamper buy brussels sprouts!

So there are a few of us who aren't on the junk-food bandwagon, but yeah we're rare.

Ravenswood water-main break unlikely to be city's last this year
Pipe bursts; pavement may take week to repair
This is from Chicago:

The break in the 1800 block of Montrose Avenue follows a similar disaster that occurred just six months ago at Cottage Grove Avenue and 67th Street and is unlikely to be the last of its kind. Several hundred burst each year. The water infrastructure of many of the city's outlying neighborhoods was built during a population boom from about 1880 to 1920 and is nearing the end of its life expectancy, said officials with the city's Department of Water Management.

Obsolete cast-iron pipes like the one that broke early Tuesday make up more than 20 percent of the city's 4,300 miles of water mains, officials said. They are slowly being replaced -- this year about 40 miles will be redone -- with pipes made of ductile iron, an alloy that is stronger and less susceptible to damage from sudden fluctuations in temperature.

How much of the rest of the nations water system as at risk like this?


I know Toronto is no better. A significant portion of the water budget goes to fixing(not replacing) broken ancient water mains.

They raised a new levy this year on water to help replace the pipes slowly.

This infrastructure is only going to cost significantly more with inflation.

It's only a few years since Chicago replaced the last of the wooden mains. Probably a handful have been missed.
Only from memory,I think it was 2001 I saw the excavation at Wabansia & Wood and the crew laughing at the oddities they found. And those old pipes would still be working were they not a bit too shallow and if they were not resting in soft ancient beach sand.
Also they were not designed for the sort of vibration that current heavy trucks and nearby heavy construction create. Amazing craft and engineering.

Broken water mains are a regular occurrence in Kansas City and its older suburbs. A broken water main downtown today cause at least one high-rise office building to be without water and covered the street with ice.

In the February, 2008 issue of Scientific American, there is an article titled "Arabian Brainpower", about Saudi Arabia's plans to build a world-class research university (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology - KAUST).

Here is a link, but one must have a digital subscription to read it.

The plans for the university are quite astounding (here are some quotes from the print edition):

...it will also allow women and men to study side by side.

To initiate world-class research in Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah is personally granting KAUST an endowment of $10 billion or more - at least as much as that of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which currently ranks among the top half a dozen university endowments in the U.S.

KAUST will enjoy the legal autonomy that is seen in enclaves elsewhere in Saudi Arabia for foreign oil workers - women will be allowed to drive, for instance, and the religious police will be barred from the premises.

The nascent university's biggest challenge may be drawing top-rated talent to a geographically isolated university with no track record. As enticement, KAUST will offer new labs with the best equipment and award grants to scientists. "Researchers won't spend 50 percent of their time chasing after funding," Al-Khowaiter says.

KAUST will also endeavor to overcome any isolation researchers might feel by keeping them linked with the rest of the world - allowing scientists to maintain appointments at other universities, for instance, and paying for travel to any meeting across the globe.

To attract students, the university will initially offer full scholarships, not only to all graduate students but also to overseas juniors and seniors to cover the remaining tuition at their current institutions in return for commitments to enroll at KAUST.

...KAUST will rely on interdisciplinary centers devoted to specific challenges, including energy research, water availability and sustainable development.

That story got quite a bit of coverage in the MSM. Google it if you're interested and subscription-less.

this is a story about great point energy and peabody's jv to build a coal to gas plant in the powder river basin. the claim is that this technology will sequester co2 for underground "storage" (presumably for eor) no volumes were given

Anyone seen this?


Apparently, this guy may have helped to cause the rout in the euro markets that prompted the Fed to lower the interest rates. Pretty impressive thing for a 31-year old frenchman to accomplish single-handedly. It never ceases to amaze me the depths to which the financial markets can sink.

Look upthread. It's already being discussed.

Sorry, I searched for Société Générale and the guy's name before posting, but couldn't find anything.

Try SocGen. You don't expect Internet users to type in "Société Générale," do you? ;-)

As economy tumbles, retirees scramble to cope

Rising food and fuel prices, falling interest rates and screeching declines in worldwide stock markets have Wait and thousands of other retirees paring spending to levels some haven't seen in decades, forgoing dinners out, cutting back on groceries and canceling plans to visit grandchildren.

Forgoe eating out? THE HORRORS! I swear, the amount of retired people that go out to eat every blooming night is astonishing. The day many people will learn to live within their means will be the day that they're begging on the streets.

We'll be seeing plenty of multi-family homes. People who have 6,000 square foot homes will have their children, grandchildren, and siblings all living under their roof. Good riddance to the McMansion.

One thing the article points out is that wealth is unevenly distribute among retirees - extremely so. There are many who have more money than they know what to do with, and can eat out every night if they want.

As a group, retirees are wealthy. People 65 and older have an aggregate net worth - assets such as homes, cars, stocks and savings accounts minus liabilities such as debts - of $14.45 trillion. That's more than one-quarter of the nation's total personal net worth, according to an analysis of the most recent data from the Federal Reserve-sponsored Survey of Consumer Finances.

But a closer look shows life in retirement isn't all cocktails at the country club. The median income of people 65 and older in 2006 was $16,443, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, an independent nonprofit group.

There are a hell of a lot of them living on about $600 a month. I guess those folks don't make the news is all.

We are going to be seeing a lot more stories like this in the future.

Two big mistakes:

1) Continuing to be invested in a big way in stocks. Under the old paradigm, it was assumed that the long-term trend was for upward growth, broken by occasional temporary bear markets. Paradigms are now shifting, and the long-term trend will be decline, broken by occasional temporary bull markets. That's no place for anyone to be (except maybe a few sharp traders who know how to work shorts and can risk big losses), but it especially is no place for anyone at or close to or beyond "retirement age". It really wan't wise to have very much of one's portfolio allocated to equities even under the old paradigm (because it could take as much as 10-15 years to make up lost ground after a downturn); it is suicidal now (at least for ordinary, non-wealthy people).

2) Being 100% reliant on a fixed income, especially Social Security. We all know about the games the FedGov is playing with the inflation indexes, and it is only going to get worse. There is no way that any source of fixed income is going to keep up with inflation, even if the economy and financial system somehow more or less holds up. You MUST assume that any fixed income source is going to be vulnerable to inflation, which means you must find some way of minimizing your vulnerability. For many people, this is going to mean re-examining our assumptions about "retirement". As long as you are able to work and earn an income, your options are open and you are a little less vulnerable. Even if one has to cut back to part time and downshift to a less demanding form of paying work (which could possibly include self-employment), that's still going to leave one less vulnerable. It is also going to mean re-examining our assumptions about expenditures. The new reality is that if your income (from Social Security, other fixed income, wages, etc.) is just barely covering your living costs, then your living costs are too high. You MUST leave yourself some savings each month that you can reinvest in PM and other inflation-proof, low-risk investments.

The "golden years" they ain't gonna be! Unfortunately, I doubt that there is one person in 100,000 that really knows this yet. Millions continue to be misled into making financial and lifestyle decisions that will make their future situtation much worse than it would have to be.

Besides liquidating any remaining debts and owning their home free and clear, the best investment that anyone approaching their 60s or 70s can make is in reducing their vulnerability to energy and food price increases as much as they possibly can. If you don't have to make any house payments or pay rent, don't have to buy much in the way of fossil fuels or FF-powered electricity, and don't have to buy much food, then you'll be insulated to a very great degree from the coming inflation. Health care and the implications of inevitable increasing infirmity will then be your main challenges remaining.


I noted on Sharon's response thread that maybe people should consider growing their food hydroponically rather than in soil. This wasn't meant to detract from soil gardening but rather that it is a viable alternative. In fact, although I didn't mention it, I had played around with organic hydroponics 20 years ago for strawberries and tomatoes.

Interestingly, I was reading a farm diary in the Feb/March 2008 issue of Farm and Ranch Living last night and there was a diary from a farm that uses a neat sounding hydroponic system that certainly lends itself to home food production. But first, from the diary:

"...Now, we grow strawberries and vegetables year-round using less space (down from 40 acres to 1 acre), less water (same as a family of four) and less labor (two employees, not including family)...

Lettuce normally takes 60 days in the ground (if you can get it to root this time of year), but it takes only 24 days from seed to head in our stackers regardless of the weather..."

The units they use come from a company called Hydrostacker http://www.hydrostacker.com

Ok, consider this: A group of neighbors could combine the money they would have spent for equipment for their own food gardens to set up a neighborhood hydroponic food production area. Although hydroponic systems usually use chemical fertilizer, there is no reason they couldn't use organic fertilizer (I used fish emulsion during my trials.) if people wanted to or chemical fertilizer wasn't available. Such a system would also probably lend itself to aquaponics.

I have to admit I've been a fan of hydroponic systems for a long time but I had some problems with mine (mainly that I was growing strawberries - our main cash crop - in 6' long, suspended bags) so I didn't pursue it. In fact, there is a long thread I started years ago on Timebomb2000.com some place.

So, think about it as an option.


PS a good book is Hydroponic Food Production by Howard Resh, ISBN 0-88007-222-9. My copy (sixth addition) has 567 pages but I think there is a newer addition so it might have more or less pages.

Interesting thought. I'm starting to plan for the addition of a sunroom on the south side of my house. This would serve mainly as a passive solar heating project, but I was also thinking that it would be useful for seed starting and for some wintertime food production. Hydroponics would be a good idea to include within.

One of my HVAC/R classes includes sizing of ducts and heating/cooling of systems. We are looking for projects to study if you care to share your work. Retrofits are very valuable in the learning process.

I had a friend in NC who built and ran a hydroponic operation for growing lettuce. This was the kind you see with the roots intact in a little plastic bag.

Impressive operation. The entire greenhouse was a couple of hundred feet long with what amounted to a long slow conveyor that moved the racks of lettuce from one end to the other. The hydro was drip fed from a pipe along the top of the lettuce troughs and collected in a gutter on the bottom for pumping back to the top. Essentially, the new sprouts were placed in one end and the mature lettuce heads (bib type, not sure of actual variety) were taken from the other end in a continuous cycle.

I don't suppose the conveyor system would work for general gardening,except perhaps for plants with similar growing cycles, but otherwise, it would still be an arrangement that would minimize human labor input.

I have nutritional concerns about hydroponics. The effect of soil on food is subtle and not perfectly understood. Agribusiness has been leaching the soil of nutrients, preferring to add nutrients back in via fertilizers. However, commercial fertilizers don't have much besides NPK. The result is a stunning decrease in the food value of the food produced by agribusiness.

Are there any studies of the nutritional value of hydroponically-grown food, comparing it to organic food grown in actual soil?


I think the real key to nutritional value is the cultivar that is grown and I'll get to that. I happen to use Grow More brand of soluble for fertigation (there are lots of other brands, some are organic like Earth Juice or generic like fish emulsion). The thing I like about the soluble I use is that it also contains trace minerals (boron, copper, iron, magnesium, molydenum and zinc). These are often lacking in production Ag soils. In my case, I do also provide a lot of ammendments to my beds including glacial rock dust for trace minerals and oystershell flour for calcium.

The essential problem has been that new cultivars that are used in production Ag aren't bred for nutrition but other qualities such as shipping, shelf life or to resist a pathogen/pest. For an idea of what is going on, check out: http://www.growermagazine.com

This whole cultivar thing is what is going to get new home food producers - they'll just buy what their garaden center has (probably a hybrid) or becuse it is an "heirloom." In just tomatoes alone, I have trialed at least 30 varieties over the years but currently only grow three. Same on corn and everything else. So, besides learning how to grow stuff people have to also learn what is the appropriate cultivar for them to grow.

But, you know, all in all, if people have to actually grow some of their food, they'll be more interested in having something even if it isn't perfect nutritionally.


Magnesium is not a trace element, manganese is, high levels of magnesium makes for sticky soil, so calcium must be added, if memory serves me, the ideal ratio for Ca to Mg is 7 to 1.

You're right- an el typo on my part. My Mn got translated to Mg.


Yeah, I grew some hydroponic flora back in the 70s...but I didnt inhale. :)

I noted on Sharon's response thread that maybe people should consider growing their food hydroponically rather than in soil.

One way to test the idea - take brix measurements. If there is a difference in sugar content then there is a nutritional difference that is quantifiable.

I don't know if this link was posted yet but it shows some indications that the recession actually began in mid 2007 judging by downturns in orders of 'stuff' from China and Indonesia.


That would be the implication from the unemployment rate data as well. The "official declaration" of a recession is notorious for lagging very badly behind reality. In the past, some short recessions have been over before they were even declared.

I figure that we won't get the "official" announcement admiting that we have been "officially" in recession since July or October 2007 until sometime after, say, November 4, 2008.


That's why some economists are against the stimulus package. They say by the time it starts working, the recession will be over.

The trouble is that the paradigm is shifting and nobody has yet realized it. Under the old paradigm, the stimulus package would "work" if enacted soon enough. Under the new paradigm, it won't put us back on the growth track, because we've run out of track; it is all downhill from here. Under the old paradigm, the economists would have been right that with too much of a delay, doing nothing at all would be preferable. Under the new paradigm, it probably would have been wiser to not do this at all. The government will need the money, and the taxpayers need to learn to do without it.

I think you're wrong here and this is a case of wanting to see a crisis to prove your outlook based on peak oil. recessions at almost any time can't be fought by a rebate check. never have, never will.

'the government will need the money'...FOMALOL...

War costs
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, updated November 9, 2007, shows that with enactment of the FY2007 supplemental on May 25, 2007, Congress has approved a total of about $609 billion for military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Afghanistan and other counter terror operations; Operation Noble Eagle (ONE), providing enhanced security at military bases; and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). A 2006 study by Columbia University economist Joseph E Stiglitz, the 2001 Nobel laureate in economic, and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes, leading expert in US budgeting and public finance and former Assistant Secretary and Chief Financial Officer of the US Department of Commerce, concluded that the total costs of the Iraq war could top $2 trillion.

I think some are realizing it. I'm seeing more and more articles like this:

Worries That the Good Times Were Mostly a Mirage

My feeling is that a lot of mainstream types recognize that what we are facing is not a normal recession.

I think some are realizing it. I'm seeing more and more articles like this:
Worries That the Good Times Were Mostly a Mirage
My feeling is that a lot of mainstream types recognize that what we are facing is not a normal recession.

When you are shaping the internalization of new paradigms to a population of 300 million, You don't come out with "We're all gonna die" right off the bat. It's a desensitizing process. A jolt here, re-assurance there. Another bit of scary thoughts, more re-assurance. Another jolt, less re-assurance.

In each case the individual news item is not remembered. The sound bite delivery methodology guarantees the source or details are not remembered.

If successful they will come to believe they knew it all along.

Along the entire way, possible courses of action are presented. Each one is weighted for profitability and how likely the public would actually accept it.

But the choices are controlled throughout the process.

We need to put this all in context.

The Economy will never return to normal beyond this point.

No matter which choice the FEDs make in dealing with the general liquidity crisis, the economy will SUFFER horribly and it won't last 6 months and we will start the new bubble. This one will linger...maybe in historical memory.

Following that we have converging crisis of Peak Oil, Peak Food, Climate change and over population.

We are/have entered the long emergency, and we are witnessing the end of growth as we know it in 2008.

So if that is what you are thinking by "the recession will be over"...then I agree.

It's not what I'm thinking. It's the conventional wisdom on the subject.

Though I still think it's possible the party could go on a lot longer than people think. Just as oil production is bumping along a plateau, the economy might, too.

Didn't mean you =- personally. Just in general...those that think that.

A little something I've stumbled across

An OpEd piece in the NYT by an Italian writer on the Naples garbage crisis:

Our Fetid City (Naples Garbage Crisis)
New York Times | 1/15/2008 | Elena Ferrante

AT night the mice and the dogs are masters. The garbage is piled up to the second floor of the houses, and in the darkness it comes alive. Plastic bags and sacks vibrate, emitting the sounds of things pulled apart, scavenged.

By day the rats disappear, the dogs are quiet, and men, women, children reappear. The traffic, normally chaotic, here and there is stopped by overturned garbage cans and the trash that blocks the streets. The garbage — thousands of tons of it — has gone uncollected for three weeks, because all the available landfills are full. The evil odor of decomposition and burning waste moves down the hills of refuse and slides along the streets, enters shops, doorways, houses.

But this city, a million people, keeps going. What makes people angry is not the inhabitants of the suburb of Pianura heatedly protesting the reopening of a garbage dump near their houses, but the more general acquiescence of Naples, the habit of surviving in inefficiency and disorder. Crime, in this city, has become a destiny; it has the power of things that are well known but about which there is nothing to be done.

Hello WT,

Thxs for the info. It will be ugly when these mountains of trash catch fire overwhelming the efforts by the firemen to put them out--can you say firestorm!

Maybe some one has posted this already.
A complete list of energy shortfalls.


Does anyone here have information on the oil that has been found in South or North Dakota or nearby state? Anyone able to say what the real scoop is --- how big a field, how long it will last or how the quantity relates to US daily usage? Thanks, in advance.

Not only do I have the scoop, I get paperwork now that I have to sign so they can continue drilling on our little patch. A shirt tail relative died intestate when I was in my teens ... once a dinky North Dakota gas field plays out I have just enough room to put up a little cabin. This is happening all over up there - puddle suckers at work.

Small potatoes, attractive now due to starvation, is my estimate. No figures to back it up, but if there were anything big up there it would have been exploited long ago.

The Bakken formation. Two relatively thick shale layers with a "creamy filling" of occasionaly sandy dolomite. Even the creamy filling of the formation is generally very tight in terms of both porosity and permiability. The apparent key to successful wells is encountering facturing and / or staying within the dolomite and encountering streaks of better than normal porosity and permiability.

The good news is that there is a lot of squares miles of this hydrocarbon bearing strata under the Dakotas and Alberta. The bad news it that it has been tough to uneconomic to extract in most of those square miles. Most of the recent activity has been a relatively small area [IIRC the town of Parsol?]. Some nice wells have been completeed using very long horizontal deviations carefully steered to stay within the creamy filling and massive frac jobs.

The bottom line: ??? but don't let estimates of the original oil in place get you overly excited about the likely production rates or the ultimate recovery.


a description here http://www.searchanddiscovery.net/documents/2006/06035flannery/index.htm
"integrated analysis of bakken ........"
i think the "analysis" concludes,that this middle dolomite member is productive on positive structures (anticline) and possibly where a combination of structure and stratigraphy have trapped the oil. imo some of the "potential reserve" values are wildly optomistic.

The EB referenced a Weekend WSJ article on one guy's Peak Oil preparations. It's up on the WSJ website, behind a paywall.

In a World Short Of Oil, Provisions Must Be Made
Mr. Wissner of Middleville
Stocks Up on Rice, Gold;
No Faith in a 'Techno Fix'
January 26, 2008

MIDDLEVILLE, Mich. . . . Aaron Wissner, a Grand Rapids, Mich., middle-school computer instructor, is part of a growing community of so-called peakniks, who are convinced that peak oil production is nigh and that there will be difficult consequences.

Mr. Wissner has had more than a few fretful nights since he became "peak-oil aware," as he calls it, about 30 months ago. In embracing the theory that the world's oil production is about to peak, Mr. Wissner has tossed himself into a movement that is gaining thousands of adherents, egged on by soaring oil prices, the rarity of big new oil finds and writings on the Internet. . .

. . . In the dining room, their son gurgled and cooed as Ms. Sager spooned baby food into his open mouth. "We're not there yet," she said. "It's easy to forget that growing your own food is a lot of work."

Something to cut the food supply? Kinda hits a couple of themes.

Calif. farmers want to sell water

It just makes dollars and sense right now," said Bruce Rolen, a third-generation farmer who grows rice, wheat and other crops in Northern California's lush Sacramento Valley.

Instead of sowing in April, Rolen plans to let 100 of his 250 acres of white rice lie fallow and sell his irrigation water on the open market, where it could fetch up to three times the normal price.


Hello TODers,

A glimpse of our future:

NAIROBI, Kenya — The political bickering continued in Kenya on Friday, and so did the violence, with young men in gangs from opposing ethnic groups killing one another in the streets with machetes and bows and arrows.
As mentioned so many times before: IMO, Peak Outreach is the best way to minimize the scale and duration of machete' moshpits.

The mothers cry as their babies die.....

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

Hi Bob...'bows and arrows'??? I suppose the 'youths' ran through all their AK-47 ammo using full auto? ...And, no one told them that their first shot would be their best opportunity? Meanwhile the companies making and selling ammo are doing a 'booming' business...sorry, couldnt resist that one. :)

Hello River,

Thxs for responding. Kenya is just getting started, roughly 1,000 dead so far:

‘We never thought it could happen here’

...Lilian Kasarani (35) is not Kikuyu but her husband, a teacher, is. When their home in the Rift Valley was attacked along with others, she and her husband picked up their two small children and ran, leaving the house they had worked hard to build, and even their car. They now live with relatives in Nairobi, too frightened to return.

Her six-year-old son, Bob, sits motionless with vacant eyes. She says: “He wakes up screaming at night, saying, ‘Have they cut daddy up? Is he dead?’” He refuses food.

Her 18-month-old daughter, too, refuses food and has gone back to being breast-fed. Lilian, a master’s student in engineering, sobs: “We have nothing. Everything we worked for has gone. I wish I was dead.” She does not know how Bob (he is a second-grader) or her husband, a teacher, whose hands now tremble, will cope at school.

There is possibly not an individual in Kenya who has not been touched by the violence, either directly or through a family member or friend.
Needless to say, the complete link is a gaping gut-wound read. But this is nothing compared to the Congo:

Congo: The Overlooked Crisis

Warfare, disease and malnutrition are killing Congolese at a rate of 45,000 per month, a study released Tuesday by the International Rescue Committee (irc) has found. Combined with Congo’s 1998-2003 war, a total of 5.4 million people have died in the past decade—nearly 1,500 per day.

“Congo’s loss is equivalent to the entire population of Denmark or the state of Colorado perishing within a decade,” irc president George Rupp said.
Sounds about the approximately right decline pace for US Southwestern states WTSHTF postPeak, and I sure people will also be saying,‘We never thought it could happen here’.

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