DrumBeat: September 23, 2008

Oil Short Squeeze Prompts Call to Curtail Speculators

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. lawmakers may seek to include commodity speculation limits in legislation designed to rescue banks from bad mortgage investments after a squeeze in oil trading sent crude to a record gain.

...``I know for a fact that some members of Congress are working to include speculation legislation in the financial markets legislation,'' CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton said yesterday in an e-mail. ``Those efforts, I think, may get fueled by the large spike in oil prices.''

Any move to include commodity limits in the legislation to rescue Wall Street risks encountering opposition from the administration and delaying the law. President George W. Bush called on Congress not to load the $700 billion legislative rescue plan with ``unrelated provisions.''

U.S. Says 67% of Gulf Oil Output, 62% of Natural Gas Idled

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. energy producers have resumed output for about 33 percent of oil and 38 percent of natural-gas production in the Gulf of Mexico after storms in the region.

Energy companies reported that 4 rigs and 203 production platforms remain evacuated from hurricanes earlier this month, the Minerals Management Service said today in a statement on its Web site. About 870,000 barrels of daily oil production remains shut-in, along with 4.56 billion cubic feet of gas.

Petroleum industry group spent $1M lobbying in 2Q

(AP) The American Petroleum Institute, a trade group for the oil and natural gas industry, spent more than $1 million in the second quarter to lobby on oil and gas issues, according to a recent disclosure report.

The organization, which represents about 400 companies, lobbied on bills dealing with pollution, access to and development of oil and natural gas fields, taxes, refineries, pricing, alternative fuels, and a defense authorization measure related to chemical facilities.

Exclusive: The methane time bomb

Arctic scientists discover new global warming threat as melting permafrost releases millions of tons of a gas 20 times more damaging than carbon dioxide

The first evidence that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed has been discovered by scientists.

The Independent has been passed details of preliminary findings suggesting that massive deposits of sub-sea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats.

Russia Denies Plans "Unilateral Partition" Of Oil-Rich Arctic

MOSCOW (AFP)--Moscow has no plans to carry out a "unilateral partition" of the oil-rich Arctic, Russia's foreign ministry said Tuesday, rejecting reports that sparked anger in the region last week.

"Russia strictly abides by the norms and principles of international law and is firmly determined to act within existing international agreements and mechanisms," the ministry said in a statement.

OPEC exports up 159,000 bpd in 4 wks to Sept 7 - LMIU

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC seaborne oil exports, excluding Angola and Ecuador, rose 159,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the four weeks to Sept. 7, climbing just prior to a group decision to rein in output, Lloyd's Marine Intelligence Unit (LMIU) said on Tuesday.

LMIU said oil shipments from 11 OPEC producers, including Iraq, rose to 23.644 million bpd from Aug. 17 to Sept. 7, versus 23.485 million bpd in the previous four weeks.

No Plan B for British Energy

Perhaps the Government likes the "comfort blanket" of having arguably the most experienced nuclear power duo in charge. EdF's partner in Britain's nuclear new-build will be the French reactor designer Areva. "Never mind the final BE sale price – look at the industrial logic," seems to be the view of many in Whitehall. Why? Because some real fears are emerging about Britain's short- to medium-term energy problems.

Some eminent people now argue that the future could be bleak indeed. One of the country's leading energy experts has warned that we are about to be plunged into a Dickensian world of darkness.

Nigerian militants say army carried out air strike

LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigerian oil rebels said on Tuesday the military had launched an air assault on militant camps in the oil-producing Niger Delta but said they were maintaining a unilateral ceasefire announced on Sunday.

Georgia claims downing of Russian drone

TBILISI - Georgia on Tuesday claimed to have shot down a Russian drone near one of its rebel regions and a key oil pipeline, as U.S. President George W. Bush underlined support for Georgia at the United Nations.

Moscow denied the Georgian claim, describing it as a "provocation."

Indonesia's Poverty Trap

Rising food and fuel prices this year have hit hard for the bottom third of households, which spend 65 per cent of their income on food and drink.

If Indonesia wants to significantly reduce its poverty rate, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says that its economy needs to grow at least 8 per cent a year.

Petrobras to Search for Subsalt Oil in Angola

Petrobras will conduct seismic tests for subsalt oil deposits in Angola, the Company's Executive Manager said in Sunday's edition of the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper.

Enbridge returns to partial service after Ike

Enbridge US unit said repairs on its 16-inch Manta Ray offshore gas gathering system in the Gulf of Mexico were near completion and the line could return to partial service Thursday despite a continuing force majeure outage due to Hurricane Ike.

North Carolina: Gas Shortage Fuels Fights

Fights broke out between motorists waiting in long lines for fuel at an Asheville station and managers called police for help.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that three fights occurred Monday at Roadrunner Shell. Station manager Marsha Messer directed lines of cars in her lot and said people are panicked about the shortage.

Some experts say Asheville's distance from the Colonial Pipeline could be adding to the shortage. The pipeline is the main source of East Coast gasoline supplies that were reduced after Hurricane Ike closed oil refineries on the Gulf Coast.

WNC governments conserve fuel, cancel programs

Asheville – County and city governments around Western North Carolina have imposed fuel conservation measures including canceling events and limiting travel as gas remains in short supply this week.

Distributors also wait at the pump

Customers aren’t the only ones waiting in line for gas.

Tankers are returning with half a load and some have been turned away from the fuel terminals, said John Wright, owner of Wright Oil Company in Hendersonville.

Fuel is delivered along the pipeline up the East Coast, and gas is kept in storage tanks, or terminals, along the way. Spartanburg and Belton, S.C., and Charlotte and High Point/Greensboro are the closest terminals. Suppliers determine what allocation of gas a company can buy each day, and Marathon is the supplier for Wright Oil Company.

“We’re allocated on a daily basis how much we can pull from the terminals,” Wright said. “There’s just not enough to go around.”

Tennessee: Rationing and drastic steps ruled out in fuel shortage

State emergency officials said Monday that the Nashville gas crisis was not considered serious enough to employ more drastic measures like rationing, even as the dissection began to determine what caused the fuel crisis here and in other parts of the Southeast.

Tennessee: Gas Shortage Keeps Workers Home

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Because of the gas shortage, quite a few people aren't showing up for work -- including some teachers.

Businesses are losing money and being forced to get creative to keep customers served and positions staffed.

Tennessee: Police Referee Gas Spats

On Friday, police responded to 34 "gas rage" calls; 27 more calls in Saturday and two on Sunday.

"These calls are being classified as disorderly persons calls. Police officers are not responding with lights and sirens and by the time they get there, by and large, things have worked themselves out," said Metro police spokesman Don Aaron.

Georgia: Scarce gas fuels angst

Northeast Georgia drivers had to look a little harder than usual to find a stocked gas station this weekend, but spot fuel shortages across the region didn't keep drivers off the road, according to state Department of Transportation officials.

Will the Chevy Volt save the world? - Please! It isn't even enough to save General Motors.

To put the Volt in perspective, it is an expensive, low-volume automobile that will have no visible impact on GM's market share, CAFE average or profitability. One cynic calls it "a Viper for tree huggers."

Unexpectedly, Las Vegas hit by downturn

Two factors make the current downturn harder for Las Vegas than previous ones, according to analysts.

One is high gasoline prices, which will hit the pockets of the more than half of Las Vegas visitors who drive in by car or bus. No one knows how $4-a-gallon gasoline will affect their spending decisions, said Margaret Holloway, senior credit officer at Moody's Investors Service.

US Senate Bill Kills Tax Credit For Clean-Diesel Project

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- A U.S. Senate vote Tuesday on tax legislation could be the death knell for a partnership between ConocoPhillips (COP) and Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN) that promised to generate as much as $175 million in tax credits annually through the production of cleaner-burning diesel fuel.

Soap makers and producers of biodiesel, a diesel additive made from vegetable oil, joined lobbying forces to help kill the $1 per gallon tax credit for the Tyson-ConocoPhillips venture.

The Changing Face of Abortion

Financial barriers seem to be one of the most persistent obstacles in the fight to reduce socioeconomic disparities in abortion rates, say experts. Medicaid coverage of birth control varies by state, and the bureaucracy can be difficult to navigate. The current Guttmacher study did not look at the socioeconomic status of women having abortions, but the institute's previous research has shown the abortion rates for women below the federal poverty line to be much higher than for more economically advantaged women. "When you don't have access to affordable birth control, rates of unintended pregnancy are going to be higher. That's a sad and real-life consequence of the health insurance gap," says Laurie Rubiner, Planned Parenthood's vice president of public policy.

Other shifts in demographics bolster Rubiner's claim that the women having abortions today are increasingly under economic duress: Compared with 1974, they are much more likely to already have children, as well as to be unmarried. "Women are making a decision, 'Can I feed another mouth,'" says Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization of Women.

Take Over ExxonMobil Instead

The Federal government is acquiring an investment portfolio that resembles my own—all losers, no winners. Why can’t the government take over a profitable company for a change and maybe help solve climate turmoil at the same time?

A suggestion: Take over ExxonMobil.

Environmental laws wedge state into hydrological corner

We can no longer afford to succumb to irrational environmental policies and judicial decisions. It is time for action. It is time to identify the problem and implement a solution.

One of the main problems is the Endangered Species Act and its lack of flexibility in light of the drastic impact of its mandates on the economy of an entire state, and, most importantly, on human beings and their livelihoods. The immediate solution on this front is the bipartisan legislation that we introduced last week with other members of the California delegation. The California Drought Alleviation Act gives the secretary of the interior the ability to temporarily exempt the delta pumps from the ESA during times of extreme water shortage -- such as now -- in order to fill reservoirs to provide for agriculture and urban use.

Polar bears resort to cannibalism as Arctic ice shrinks

(CNN) -- Summer is over in the northern hemisphere, but it's been another chilling season for researchers who study Arctic sea ice.

"It's definitely a bad report. We did pick up little bit from last year, but this is over 30 percent below what used to be normal," said Walt Meier, a research scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Mexican oil production falls 9 percent

MEXICO CITY: Mexico's state-run oil company says output fell 9 percent to 2.83 million barrels a day in the first eight months of the year.

Petroleos Mexicanos says sagging oil production is due a drop at its main Cantarell oil field. Output there was down by 26 percent to 998,000 barrels a day.

The company said Monday that the decline helped cut exports to 1.43 million barrels a day, down 16 percent from the year-ago period.

Delays Start to Plague Giant Saudi Downstream Projects as Ras Tanura and PetroRabigh Plants Slip Behind

Saudi projects could be regarded as safe, as the financial muscle of state-owned giant Saudi Aramco virtually guarantees the financing of these politically important projects. Nevertheless the delays and soaring costs will add significant inconvenience to all parts in a market where growth is evaporating and future demand levels, as well as investments, become increasingly uncertain.

Saudis Cut Oil Sales To Large Global Customers - US Refiner

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Saudi Arabia is cutting oil exports to some of its biggest global refining customers, but not in the U.S., an independent U.S. refiner said Monday.

"There are Saudi cutbacks, but it did not affect us," a person familiar with the refiner's crude purchasing said. "It affected some of their big global customers."

Some of these large customers may have refineries in the U.S., but are only seeing supplies cut to assets outside the country, the person said.

UN's Ban questions faith in "magic" of markets

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 23 (Reuters) - The global financial crisis endangers efforts to reduce world poverty and demands a new approach with less "uncritical faith in the 'magic' of markets," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday.

..."We face a global financial crisis. A global energy crisis. A global food crisis," Ban said.

Pakistan: 6 killed, 20 injured, 3 banks burnt to ashes in Mingora violent skirmishes

SWAT (APP): At least six persons were killed and 20 others injured while three branches of various commercial banks were set on fire during the day-long violent skirmishes between the angry mob and the local police against continuous unrest, power and gas outages in the restive Swat valley on Tuesday.

The officials of local police told reporters that the unruly mob went on rampage and clashed with the police protesting against the lawlessness, continuous power and gas outages in Mingora city for the last couple of days.

80,000 Kenyans risk losing jobs due to energy crisis, warn manufacturers

APA-Nairobi (Kenya) Nearly 80,000 Kenyans risk loosing their jobs due the energy crisis facing the country, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) warned on Monday.

Speaking in Nairobi, KAM chairman Vimal Shah said industries in the country face closure as power costs escalate.

Capitol Matters: No 'Open-Road Tolling Facilities’

HARRISBURG — Get ready to add “Open-Road Tolling Facilities” along Interstate 80 to a list of state-sponsored projects that haven’t been built in Pennsylvania.

It was just weeks ago that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission distributed concept drawings of what an ORT would look like. The drawing shows a utilitarian metal gantry spanning the highway with sensors or video cameras to record the license plates of passing vehicles. Motorists would be billed by mail for the toll.

Energy Prices Climbing, Leading More Buildings to Co-Generate

The energy crisis of the 1970s created long lines of cars, with drivers waiting to fuel up at gas stations. These days, increasing fuel demands and rising prices are forcing the cost of everything from groceries to construction materials and other everyday expenditures ever upward. Heavy demand on the overtaxed utility grid has resulted in periodic blackouts in some major cities during summer months. Since utility costs comprise part of a building’s maintenance budget, maintenance costs for residential buildings also have been affected.

These factors have forced the administrators of some cash-strapped buildings to take the unusual step of issuing special assessments to pay for spiraling utility costs. Boards and managers of other buildings are looking at their utility usage and thinking about how to lower—or even just freeze—their costs. More buildings are obtaining multi-year contracts for various services, but such deals are only short-term fixes for the long-term headache of exponentially rising costs.

Oil Man T. Boone Pickens Pressures Presidential Candidates on Energy

Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens spoke at the National Press Club in Washington Monday and called on both presidential candidates to come up with a plan to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Pickens has spent millions of dollars on national television ads, promoting his plan for the United States to move away from oil and toward natural gas for its transportation needs and wind power for its electricity needs.

US generals planning for resource wars

ANALYSIS: The US military sees the next 30 to 40 years as involving a state of continuous war against ideologically-motivated terrorists and competing with Russia and China for natural resources and markets.

In January, the next president of the United States will conclude America's timetable for withdrawal in final negotiations with the Iraqi government.

Further evidence of America's future military intentions is contained in recently published strategy documents issued by the US military.

Under the auspices of the US department of defence and department of the army, the US military have just published a document entitled 2008 Army Modernization Strategy which makes for interesting reading against the current backdrop of deteriorating international fiscal, environmental, energy resource and security crises.

China's August oil demand strong but outlook muted

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's apparent oil demand grew a strong 7 percent in August from a year earlier, as energy firms made a last month of massive imports to bolster stocks for the Olympics, even as domestic demand started to flag.

Oil spike jolts investors

Somewhere, Daniel Yergin and Jeff Rubin are smiling.

Yergin, the chairman of Boston-based Cambridge Energy Research Associates, and Rubin, the chief economist for CIBC World Markets, are two of the biggest oil bulls in North America.

Energy 2030 TO illustrate Abu Dhabi's 'Vision 2030'

ADIPEC, one of the largest international petroleum exhibitions and conferences in the world, is working closely with The Petroleum Institute and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)Loading..., to host the Energy 2030 Conference. Now in its second year, 2008's edition will illustrate Abu Dhabi's 'Vision 2030' and its commitment to leading the global debate for energy resources of the future.
Matt Simmons is one of the keynote speakers, with a presentation entitled Are We Nearing The Peak Of Fossil Fuel Energy?

Not all oil sands plans face huge cost hikes

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The multibillion-dollar cost jump that has hit the Fort Hills oil sands development is not representative of other proposals in the industry, which is struggling to deliver projects on time and on budget, the new head of Canada's main oil and gas lobby said Monday.

Still, cost pressures that have plagued the industry have not disappeared, raising the possibility that more developments could be delayed and the forecast for Canadian oil production reduced again, said David Collyer, who took over as president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers last week.

'Dirty oil' tag confronts new energy spokesman

The oil and gas sector must do a better job of communicating its social and economic benefits to rehabilitate a tarnished image, says the incoming head of the country's largest industry group.

David Collyer, the new chief of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the energy industry must do a better job of conveying its contributions to society to avoid being labelled as a greedy industry that damages the environment.

Environment will take back seat to economy, says oil patch czar

CALGARY -- The United States will likely soften its stance on environmental issues tied to the much-criticized oil and gas industry as that country faces tough economic times, according to the new face of Canada's energy lobby organization.

Dave Collyer, who took the helm of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers last week, on Monday said the all-important U.S. market will put the economy on the top of its priority list rather than the environment.

ANALYSIS - U.S. agriculture squeezed by demand, climate

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - U.S. agriculture faces the daunting task of growing enough crops to meet the demands of both a hungry world and the booming new biofuels industry while reducing its impact on climate change.

NASA researcher discusses climate change

Global warming isn’t all bad news. Government policy might not be changing, but public awareness of the problem is on the rise.

That was the message James Hansen, NASA administrator and researcher, delivered Monday afternoon to a packed house at the Spahr Engineering Classroom.

U.S. regulators review huge NYMEX oil price surge

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. regulator of futures markets said it was reviewing the historic jump in crude oil prices on Monday to assure the trading was valid.

The U.S. crude oil expiring contract for October soared by $16.37 to settle at $120.92 a barrel. At one point, the contract was up by $25.45 a barrel, or 24 percent.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said it commented on the price increase as part of its ongoing investigation of oil trading.

"CFTC surveillance and enforcement staff are closely monitoring today's large movement in the price of crude oil," said acting chairman Walter Lukken.

"We are working closely with NYMEX compliance staff to ensure that no one is taking advantage of the current stresses facing our financial marketplace for their own manipulative gain."

Oil falls toward $108 as traders mull bailout plan

LONDON - Oil prices fell to near $108 a barrel Tuesday in a choppy market driven by uncertainty about whether a $700 billion U.S. plan to buy bad mortgage debt will stabilize the financial system.

Oil prices had surged Monday in volatile trading, spiking more than $25 a barrel at one point, as investors fled to oil amid unease about the mammoth bailout plan.

"People are looking for a safe haven," said Gerard Burg, a minerals and energy analyst with National Australia Bank in Melbourne. "With all the volatility we've seen in the price, I don't know how much of a safe haven oil really is."

Crude Oil Futures Post Record Gain as “Peak Oil” Expert Calls for Rally to $500 a Barrel

Crude oil futures zoomed more than $16 a barrel yesterday (Monday) - and traded as high as $130 a barrel - thanks to a steep decline in the U.S. dollar and speculation that the Bush administration’s plan to bail out the financial sector might actually jump-start the U.S. economy.

The record single-trading-session gain came on a day when CNNMoney.com republished a brand new Fortune magazine story in which author and noted "peak oil pundit" Matthew R. Simmons stated that crude prices were headed for $500 a barrel.

Crude Oil Explodes Higher to $130 Illustrating Irrational Markets

The financial markets being hit by ever larger and more volatile waves of panic today saw crude oil surge from Fridays close of $102 to a high of $130, this is as a direct consequence of last weeks decision by the US governments decision to initially buy up $700 billion of bad bank debt that looks set to eventually run in the many trillions. The proposed plan is highly inflationary and hence scared capital is attempting to seek safe-havens.

Why "Drill, Baby, Drill!" Does Not Translate Into Effective National Energy Policy

The overall quantitative picture for United States oil production today is one where the effect of increased drilling is essentially like putting more straws into the same cup.

Actually, it’s worse than that: if it were only that bad the slopes in the graphs would be -1, and they are actually steeper than that. This is a bit counterintuitive, because what’s actually happening is rather complicated. Some drilling activity really is just putting another hole into the same old reserves. But drilling certainly does find new, previously untapped, resources, too. The problem, as Ken Deffeyes has pointed out in his book Hubbert’s Peak, is that all our new technology, and the recent increase of drilling activity, is mostly going into smaller and smaller discoveries. Our domestic oil supplies are pretty well picked over, and the “low-hanging fruit” remaining—the shallowest, lightest, most-permeable, and largest reserves of domestic oil—are few and far between.

Gas Stations Remain Empty Across Metro Atlanta

ATLANTA (MyFOX Atlanta) -- The drought at the pump is still hitting Atlanta hard. Now, state and industry officials said they are working as fast as they can to restore fuel and are urging people not to panic.

Many motorists drove around metro Atlanta on Monday searching for any gas station that had fuel. Throughout the day, vehicles were lined up at gas stations in a desperate attempt to fill up on gas. Experts said Georgia’s gas shortage will likely continue for the next couple of days.

The Race for Energy: What Will It Mean for Western Firms?

Rising energy demand from China and India has unleashed a worldwide race to secure access to scarce fossil fuel resources, a more difficult proposition with the emergence of national oil companies in the resource-owning countries. While Western companies will likely feel the pain of increasing energy costs, there is a potential upside to global energy scarcity, according to experts from Wharton and The Boston Consulting Group: Renewable and nuclear energy present huge opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs, underscored by concern over a global stalemate surrounding curbs on carbon-dioxide emissions.

Canada: How do the Conservatives rate on energy policy?

How will we get around as fuel becomes very expensive and is rationed? How will our economy and jobs survive the shock of energy shortages and prices? How does Stephen Harper feel about conservation of energy?

Ignoring the problem of peak oil doesn't make it go away.

Businesses Told: 'Go Green to Save Money'

Businesses were today given a blueprint for cutting costs by going green - and told that "green is the new mean". The 51-point plan is published the same week as a study showing that businesses that become greener can boost their value by up to 80%.

UK: Villagers combine to combat climate change

VILLAGERS in North Curry and Stoke St Gregory are doing their bit to combat the problems of climate change and peak oil.

The Save It! group in North Curry has joined with Stoke Green in Stoke St Gregory to raise people’s awareness of climate change and associated issues.

UK: Have a say on our future survival

We get used to driving around in cars and buying food which is out of season here and has to be flown in from all over the world.

We can at present still do this if we choose to, but as the oil supplies reduce and prices escalate, this will no longer be a choice.

Australia: Luxury car tax bill passes Senate

The federal government's luxury car tax increase finally passed parliament's upper house on Tuesday night after being heavily amended by cross bench senators.

The government's four bills seek to lift the luxury car tax, which applies to cars worth more than $57,180, from 25 per cent to 33 per cent.

School shines in green drive

After a year of turning off lights, wrapping hot water cylinders and producing its own power, Inglewood High School has come up trumps.

The school aimed to cut back 15 per cent of its electricity demand between July 2007 and June 2008 through the enviropower project.

It ended up saving 17 per cent and the year-long pilot has been heralded a success by the school and partners Venture Taranaki and the Ministry for the Environment.

Portland, Oregon: Interview with the general manger of Zipcar

The city of Portland created a "peak oil task force" in July 2006 and asked Scott to chair it. The task force delivered its report in April 2007 concluding, among other things, that rising oil prices are inevitable. The sooner Portland residents adjust to doing things in ways that are less dependent on oil, the task force said, the less disruptive inevitable changes will be.

We asked Scott about changes he has seen in Portland that were brought by rising gas.

Opposing Views: Should the U.S. Allow Offshore Oil Drilling?

Our lives revolve around oil. Oil brings food to our stores, comprises the fibers in our carpets and makes the plastic in our DVDs. With demand so high it’s no wonder attention has turned to supply, with some advocating the U.S. lift the ban against drilling for oil off its coasts. Is offshore oil drilling a golden opportunity, or would it only create a tidal wave of disaster?

Life Changes

With higher energy costs driving up the price of everything -- driving your car as well as eating -- and warnings that Earth's increasingly hostile climate is only going to reduce man's capacity to produce food, what some yearn for is the promise that this is all just a temporary setback.

That your cruise-controlled, climate-controlled, shrink-wrapped, fossil-fueled lifestyle isn't going away.

Bring on the carbon army

As the economic crisis deepens, the worsening state of the environment is predictably losing prominence in politics, the media and public debate. It always happens: when times are good, green is good. When times get tough, out goes the green stuff.

This time, however, it is different. The science has moved on. Climate change is no longer a matter of speculation and no longer can it be seen as a long-term concern to be ignored while we deal with more pressing economic shocks: although that is what could easily happen.

Greenland: roar of melting glacier sounds climate change alarm

ILULISSAT, Denmark (AFP) - Flying low over the vast, white expanse of Greenland's Ilulissat glacier, one of the biggest and most active in the world, the effects of global warming in the Arctic are painfully visible as the ice melts at an alarming rate.

..."The ice in some places on the coast is now melting four times faster than before," says Abbas Khan, a Dane who studies the movements of Greenland's glaciers at the Danish Space Centre.

McCain pledges to renew Australian alliance

AUSTRALIA has looked to the US for leadership on global climate change and it is "time for us to answer that call", John McCain says.

Writing in today's The Australian, the US Republican presidential candidate says he will work with the Rudd Government to establish a global framework that would encourage China and India to become part of the solution to man-made climate change. Senator McCain says he is committed to a market-based cap-and-trade system aimed at reducing carbon emissions. And he wants a closer bilateral partnership on other key issues such as nuclear proliferation, trade liberalisation and combating terrorism.

Greenland's ice cap melting faster than expected: experts

COPENHAGEN (AFP) - Greenland's ice cap, which covers more than 80 percent of the island, is melting faster than expected because of global warming, a Danish researcher said on Monday.

The 1.8-million-square-kilometre (695,000-square-mile) ice cap, which accounts for 10 percent of the planet's fresh water, is losing about 257 cubic kilometres (62 cubic miles) of ice per year.

In 2080, it is expected to lose 465 cubic kilometres (111 cubic miles) per year, according to new estimates presented by a Danish-US team of scientists at the International Research Center in Fairbanks, Alaska.

The net loss in 2080 would be "81 percent greater than today" and would cause "sea levels to rise by 107 millimetres" (4.2 inches), the team's head researcher Sebastian Mernild said in a statement received in Copenhagen.

Re: U.S. regulators review huge NYMEX oil price surge

Yesterday's massive pop in the NMEX October oil contract only demonstrates that using one contract for setting oil prices at one location is a bad idea. The impact(s) of Hurricane Ike are just beginning to hit the market for crude, which has been relatively low due to the inability to refine oil after the refineries along the TX/LA coast were closed down.

Note this comment from MarketWatch this morning:

The Gulf of Mexico's still slowly recovering from Hurricane Gustav in August and Hurricane Ike in September.

About 76.6% of oil production and 65.5% of the natural-gas output in the Gulf are still shut in as of Monday, according to the U.S. Minerals Management Service.

I think it's likely that oil will stay high after the refineries begin to process crude and as the short fall due to shut in Gulf production works thru the system.

E. Swanson

What I find odd is that the average gas price for the Gulf coast ($3.678/gal) is still below the national average ($3.718/gal) (source: EIA). Atlanta is running out of gas, but the prices aren't all that high. Yesterday I was talking to a buddy of mine and he said that in Nashville the gas is $5.00/gal, but they still have gas. Driving through North Georgia and Western NC this weekend, I didn't see any gas higher than $4/gal. Maybe the oil companies decided this time they wouldn't raise the prices to create all these hysterical calls about price gouging, but instead we have shortages.

And of course somebody in that article wanted to waive the fuel emissions standards, but Atlanta already has a problem with ozone on hot days where they tell us not to go outside but I can imagine that waiving fuel standards would make the city unlivable.

It's more than hysterical calls about price gouging. Gas station owners are being subpoenaed. They have to show their bill of sale proving that they aren't hiking up the price too much over wholesale.

That means they can't charge the customer what it costs to replace their stock...just what it cost them to buy it.

I can't help but find this funny! (In a black sort of way) Who would have ever thought that the U.S. would become communist under a republican president?* Nationalized insurance companies, re-nationalized mortgage companies, nationalized bad loans... and now they're dictating the price for which people can sell goods. I'll know we've truly arrived when the black market shows up. Why if I had libertarian leanings, I would be swearing I'd never vote for another republican again (I don't have libertarian leanings, but I can appreciate the viewpoint).

Incidentally, according to AAA the price in metro Atlanta is $4.01/gal, which is higher than the national average at least. In Nashville, the average price is higher, $4.06/gal.

*On consideration, maybe it's not so surprising. Look at what Schroeder did in Germany: he was a social democrat (on the left) and he destroyed more of the socialism in Germany than the conservatives have.

It's state law, not national law, that the subpoenas are being issued under.

However, these are all "red" states.

IMO, this is another facet of the "What's the Matter With Kansas?" problem. Most of the "red staters" actually hold views that are closer to the Democratic party than the Republican. They side with workers and consumers, not business. They are against taxes, but many are dependent on the government services and benefits that those taxes pay for. They've been peeled off by the GOP using social/religious issues. Which, oddly, doesn't really match well with the libertarian side of the party, which doesn't care who you are sleeping with, as long as they can make money off it.

For awhile, I thought the Democratic party would fade away, with the two wings of the GOP (Christian conservative and libertarian) becoming our two parties.

The problem with your Republican split is that it doesn't leave room for "big gov't social Republicans". The libertarians want small gov't and few rules, and Christian side wants a socially restrained gov't but also a less invasive one. The big-gov't side is in power right now, and that's the part that feels more like traditional democrat to me.

No, the problem with my Republican split is "imperial overreach." They screwed up. Newt got his chance for small government, and it was a disaster. That basically killed the small government faction in the GOP, aside from lip service.

Two political parties really isn't enough to reflect the entire spectrum of US politics, but that's what we're stuck with, because of the structure of our government. It's not changing unless the constitution changes.

I am plecked off about this bailout, but not at all surprised. I think Tainter is right. We can expect ever bigger and more intrusive government as resources get scarcer.

"imperial overreach" is exactly right. Republicans give lip service only to smaller government. Both Reagan and Bush are spend! Spend! Spend! leaders who try to appease the masses with more bread and circuses. I really wish we could give the Libertarian approach a try - but I think it's too late now. Sadly I agree it looks like more intrusive and bigger government.

Does anyone actually think that government will do a better job of running Freddie and Fannie or the rest of our growing portfolio of zombie companies?

Better job running Fannie and Freddie than who? The guys who turned those companies into zombies?

I don't think they could of done worse, at least they wouldn't have split the mortgages into tranches and sold them as bonds after bribing an underwriter to rate them all "AAA". Even the crooks in the government aren't that creative, it takes Wall St. to turn high finance into felonies.

Screw the libertarian approach. That's the approach that has been used with the financial market. That's why we are where we are now. Libertarian? C'mon. That means doing away with plant managers, ceos, oversight, auditing, traffic rules. Jeezus, you gotta have rules, and you gotta have enforcement of those rules, which require people to occupy a position of responsibility to ensure proper order in society are upheld. BUT, those folks must be held to account, and that's our problem, WE are not holding these people on wall street to account. Email you congress critters and tell them that you will do everything in your power to vote them out next term. Don't bother with telling them you're pissed. They could care less. At least I have Marcy Kaptur. She's the only one standing up to this FUBAR. Libertarianism is an excuse to screw yer neighbor.


Yup - militarism and imperialism is an attempt by those at the top to keep the circus going as long as possible. As the news article up above points out - the US military is seeing its future as a 'resource acquisition and protection' business.

"Two political parties really isn't enough to reflect the entire spectrum of US politics.."

You didn't happen to catch the NPR interview with Amedinejad this morning did you? He was being grilled about restrictiveness in their democratic process, and he replied 'Well we have more freedom than you.. at least we have Eight Candidates to your Two!' At which point the NPR Interviewer sidelined it by saying we'd talk about American politics some other time..



Question, if 7 of the candidates have a Ralph Naderesque chance of winning the presidency vs. the other candidate, does it matter how many candidates you have? Also, Mr. Amedinejad is incorrect in any case. There are atleast 5 candidates for president (Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney, Chuck Baldwin, Barack Obama, and John McCain). Just because nobody pays attention to them doesn't mean they aren't running.

Yes, it matters. The two main parties control the entire discourse, which would be challenged with uncomfortable ideas by the 'upstarts' if inclusive debates were part of the program. Then there would be both exposure for the Ignored candidates, and either turnovers or changes in policy-position by the front runners. As it stands the system is stuck because there is no information flow, no active debate of important issues.. just Blah, Blah.

I don't doubt that Ahmedinejad made or makes some factual errors, but his point was clear enough, especially when it's the pot calling the kettle black, as our particular kettle (USA) paints itself as whiter than white at every opportunity.

Total agreement Bob.


Please can somebody tell me why raising the price at the pump is illegal 'gouging', while raising the spot price of West Texas Intermediate isn't? Free markets? I don't think so!

Viewed from outside the USA it isn't clear to me why anybody would want to continue to invest in a country where the rules change adversely for investors without warning or consultation.

Because our elected officials decided to cater to the gibbering idiot community.

Imperial overreach is driven by AIPAC and they own both parties, except the most conservative parts of one party and the most liberal of the other.

That's why Paul and Kucinich get marginalized by the media.

While I would never vote for Kucinich, if he were voted in one would get on with life. It wouldn't be utterly unacceptable like the current character.

Hi Mus,

re: "While I would never vote for Kucinich..."

Could you possibly expand upon this?

i.e., how come?

Just curious.

Because I'm what many would call a paleo conservative, opposite end of the spectrum.

There is always some respect for an opponent that states his position clearly and honestly. Sometimes one can negotiate a deal with them.

Can you name any other candidate that was:

- a strong Constitutionalist

- willing to hold the scumbags in Washington accountable

- wants to end the occupation

- is PO aware

- is AGW aware

- has a true history of standing against the crowd and being right

- speaks openly about what we face

Kucinich not getting elected president now is one of the top five stupidest choices the US electorate has ever made. The other four are anything having to do with BuCheney.


"Imperial overreach". What ever happened to the good old days when it was just a "lust for power"? As the late, great George Carlin might note, we moved from four syllables to seven, and have buried the human behavior behind jargon.

But, oh, to be in the halcyon days when we could refer to it in a single syllable, "greed". Simpler, happier times.

Like Sec. of the Treasury Paulson referring to "toxic debt" for bad loans. Semantic gymnastics.

"Lust for power" doesn't quite convey what I mean. Both parties lust for power. That's kind of the point of politics.

The Republicans, however, could probably have a lot more power than they currently have, if they hadn't been so arrogant.


Christian side wants a socially restrained gov't but also a less invasive one.

They want government imposition of their 'Biblical' world view on the culture despite the fact that they have generally lost out in the free marketplace of cultural ideas since the 1950s. Jesus now. Jesus Forever. Or else.

See the Handmaid's Tale to get a glimpse of the the world Christian Conservatism would like to build.

I'll take the corporate thieves and militant imperialists any day over the the CCs - at least you can logically predict what they'll be for or against given pure, rational self-interest. Greed is predictable. Self-righteous religious radicalism is terrifying - never know what an irrational fanatic will hate and wish to see dead or destroyed on a given day - God has to inform them daily.

And what the hell is a 'paleocon' anyway? Aren't those the Pat Buchanan types who don't like Jews or Blacks?

I agree with you on everything but the militant imperialists. Every militant imperialist government eventually has waged irrational wars at a cost that ruined it. One more war will do it for us if we're not done already.

The Paleocons are not people I like, but at least they can count. They were among the most sensible critics of NAFTA, Bush's invasion of Iraq, America's insane debt and import binge, and the Christian takeover of the Right. But they demand that the benefits of small government be delivered directly to non-urban whites, perhaps more honestly than libertarians. They are utterly the opposite of most libertarians when it comes to immigration and free trade. Paul Craig Roberts, a former Reagan official, has become a most eloquent spokesman for the Paleos and the Constitution.

If I trusted that after the Collapse we modern types could live safely in the cities and trade manufactures for the crops produced by Paleocon farmers, I might consider that acceptable, but the farmers are likely to be theocons who will never rest until they've destroyed all the gays and minorities and gotten their hands on the remaining nukes. The Handmaiden's Tale shows that even 20 years ago an intelligent person could figure out where this movement was headed.

See, maybe we can live in peace after all. We really don't give a shit about what people want to do in the city, as long as they STFU and get on with the program.

Whose program?

I'm thinking more along the lines of the Greek city-states. They all spoke the same language, and in later times we would say they were all part of the Greek nation. Because cities did serve useful functions even in the Bronze Age, a city could control enough land around it to have a baseline economy. Athens, in particular, could trade for the rest. Sparta, notably, refused to have a city but ended up with a fantastically interventionist culture that defies current ideological labels.

However, in practice these different societies did not get along or trade peacefully. They spent all their time trying to invade each other, overthrow their governments, and even collude with non-Greeks to harm Greeks. They also were colonizers, which ultimately means they had a growth economy that would run into limits of some form. Ultimately they were all overrun by their backwoodsy Macedonian cousins who just happened to have the most militarily talented dynasty of all time. Yet the Macedonians aspired to sophistication; Phillip hired Aristotle to tutor Alexander. Clearly whether one was rural or urban, expansionist ideology was always a seduction. Or to put it in Greek terms, theos and neos always defeat paleos.

Which means whether we consider slavery or homosexuality sickening, it's only a matter of time before a demagogue will convince enough of us to go on an armed crusade against its stronghold.

When I find a solution you all will be the first to know. I'm trying to contact Gort from The Day The Earth Stood Still.

Hi Prodigal,

re: "Christian side wants a socially restrained gov't but also a less invasive one."


Based on my personal sample of two CC friends, I offer this quote:

"I'm against abortion and gay marriage, so I vote Republican."

Which revealed the extent of her interest in the issues (i.e., all the issues, including these two). Among other things.

"I'm against abortion and gay marriage, so I vote Republican."

I'd say your friends have correctly identified two major differences in the parties, a third one being Republicans generally favor the death penalty, while Dems oppose.
Care to name some others?
Two sides of the same coin.

As far as a socially restrained government goes, don't forget that Roe vs. Wade was a decision handed down by a small group of men.
American citizens never were able to exercise their right to vote on this most significant issue.

They want government imposition of their 'Biblical' world view on the culture....See the Handmaid's Tale to get a glimpse of the the world Christian Conservatism would like to build.

So what do you base this observation on?
The movie or the book?
In case you hadn't noticed they're FICTION!

Self-righteous religious radicalism is terrifying - never know what an irrational fanatic will hate and wish to see dead or destroyed on a given day

Perhaps you are confusing fiction with reality again as I challenge you to provide some evidence of these outlandish claims. At least as it pertains to your prejudiced view of Christianity.

Honestly Leanan, how can you allow such tripe to remain posted?

In case you hadn't noticed they're FICTION!

You say this as if there is something inherently wrong with fiction. In case you hadn't noticed, most of our great literature is fiction.

I said that there is something wrong with ascribing the motives and actions of recognized, responsible group of society to something one saw in a movie or read in a novel.
If Prodigal had made his accusations based on verifiable events, a stated policy or in this case, biblical passages, we would not be having this discussion.

That's right. I was watching a documentary on Andrew Jackson a few nights ago, he and his colleagues created the modern democratic party as "the common people's party" and was opposed to the bank of the united states crowd. It strangely mirrors what's happening now, except instead of the bank of the united states, we've got the financial industry and "the economy" that dictates policy. The republicans have somehow managed to convince a lot of people that they can be the common people's party at the same time they stand up for the mercantilists or corporatists (similar interests to those of the bank of the united states).

It does look like the GOP is having some trouble, from what I could see yesterday Bush and Boehner looked like they weren't able to keep the libertarians in line. Maybe this will be the wedge issue that drives them apart? Doubtful, but the disagreements are in plain view now whereas in the past objections (if there were any, I don't know) were made behind closed doors and the image of a united GOP was presented.

The theme of modern conservatism is "knowing your place". Which is why modern conservatism comes from the South.

It means on bull**** issues you stand up for the prejudices of the little guy, who in turn accepts that your plantation owners have been endowed by God with the sole power to make wise decisions on issues that really affect physical reality.

Put into practical terms, I will never forget what William Tecumseh Sherman told his superiors about how the military occupation of the South should proceed, from his experiences in the South. He said that they should confront the plantation owners with straightforward dictatorship, for the owners would learn to work with it, but that they should rule the common Southerners in the manner of the French bureaucracy, by pretending to consult their prejudices and then doing whatever they pleased. As for the South's violent young men, "we must either kill them or employ them."

I think much of the history of the United States, not just the South, is contained in Sherman's cynical advice.

Fascinating. Sherman the best military mind of the entire Civil War. The first post-Roman Roman.

He was certainly not blinded by a love of democracy or equality. Luckily he recognized that someone with his views needed to stay out of American politics; he stated "if nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve."

Ulysses Grant was his best friend in the Army. Years later Mark Twain was Grant's editor. I would certainly have loved to hear a conversation that included Twain and Sherman, because I am perverse and cynical but those two would have blown my mind.

Which, oddly, doesn't really match well with the libertarian side of the party, which doesn't care who you are sleeping with, as long as they can make money off it.

Thanks Leanan! That got a big laugh out of me.

Asheville, NC

I'd say about 90% of gas stations in Asheville are out of gas and those that have gas have extremely long lines with the Police directing traffic (and preventing violence). Price is around $4/gal. Many reports of surrounding areas in the same condition with most stations out of gas. Only a few reports of fights so far, but expect there will be more in the future. There's a higher percentage of independent stations in this area, so it's more screwed than others. Stations are so afraid of getting turned in for "price gouging" (several stations were already turned in back when hurricane Ike first hit) that they're simply not charging enough to keep supplied and they're shutting down. IF you can get gas it's being rationed by the stations to $20 or $50 depending on the station - which is 5 to 7 gallons.

Some observations and lessons learned from the present mini-crisis:

1) The government at all levels has been largely silent, except to urge people not to panic buy. There has been NO information given to the public wrt the true supply situation and what might be available where and when. Best to count on this being SOP in the future, and plan accordingly.

2) There has been no official rationing scheme implemented. Some gas stations have implemented their own ad hoc rationing, mainly as a crowd control measure. Thus, don't assume that just because the government hasn't implemented rationing yet that there is no rationing.

3) The emphasis in the media and amongst government officials has not been on the supply disruption, but on "price gouging". This is due in large part due to lack of understanding of the situation and of basic economics, but is also probably intended to be a distraction. Scapegoat the petroleum industry and the service stations as a substitute for being honest with the public and dealing with the real problem. Expect similar behavior in the future.

4) People in general have been slow to become aware of the problem and slow to react to it. Most people seem to be driving as normal, very little noticeable curtailment in motoring activity. Most people don't realize there is a problem and start dealing with it until they are almost out of gas, and so is the service station they were going to refill at. I have had discussions with people at my workplace to discuss what they are going to do if they can't get enough gas to drive to work. Some are open to carpooling, but some have personal reasons why that won't work; they have NO backup plan, and just assume that they are going to find someway to drive themselves to a workplace that is 20+ miles away from where they live. Expect similar denial and lack of realistic contingency planning on the part of the majority of the population during future supply crises.

5) Fortunately, I have arranged my life so I do live reasonably close to my workplace. I do walk the 1.7 miles back and forth to work each day. It certainly does remove a lot of anxiety from one's life to not have to be so very dependent upon motor fuel and to not have to worry about refilling my car every week or two. I'm also noticing some more bicycles on the street now. It is definitely a good idea to have some way to get to work other than driving, and if one does not have such an alternative, then re-arranging one's life so that one does should be a high priority.

6) This Sunday, for the first time I noticed a significant impact to the local economy: most of the parking spaces in the business district of my small town were empty. We have lots of small shops catering to the tourist trade, and usually things are pretty busy here in the fall. Since downtown was almost empty, that must have hurt them a lot. I can only assume that people were finally cutting out the discretionary weekend trips in an effort to save gas (or because they were uncertain that they would be able to find enough gas to get back home). The lesson is that when there is a more protracted supply crisis, it won't take too many weeks before the retail/consumer economy starts hurting.

7) No signs of black market entrepreneurship yet. That may come soon if this goes on much longer. Expect such "alternative market channels" to take a few weeks to establish themselves when mainstream market supplies are disrupted.

Why aren't the Dems all over this gas shortage as another example of GOP incompetence? To distracted by that very unpopular bailout plan?

I see this gas shortages as a consequence of the "just in time" business strategy. There is a serious lack of warehousing of fuel at the local level. If every county had a rotating 30 day supply of fuel in reserve then the failure of a pumping station a thousand miles away wouldn't leave anybody without fuel. The same could be said of many other commodities including food.

Perhaps because the gas shortages are perceived to be because of panic buying. (link to a typical news article).

If it isn't happening on their way to work (in Washington DC), it just isn't happening. Maybe next week.

And it isn't happening in Washington DC because that is near the Colonial Pipeline terminus, and all the spigots in between have been shut off to maintain MOL so that the folks in the Imperial Capital get whatever there is to be gotten. Those of us who live in flyover land are unimportant and don't matter.

And it isn't happening in Washington DC

Getting closer?

Google Trends - "gas shortage"

1. Tennessee, United States
2. Georgia, United States
3. South Carolina, United States
4. Alabama, United States
5. North Carolina, United States
6. Kentucky, United States
7. Missouri, United States
8. Florida, United States
9. District of Columbia, United States
10. Ohio, United States

Don't call them "Black markets"... They are Anarcho-Capitalist markets :)

Stations are so afraid of getting turned in for "price gouging" (several stations were already turned in back when hurricane Ike first hit) that they're simply not charging enough to keep supplied and they're shutting down.


The pain would be a lot less and a lot shorter if governments simply didn't do anything to *help*.

Hurricane damage is temporary and geographically limited - PO will be global and permanent. IMHO, government meddling is going to turn a difficult problem into a total disaster.

After reading reports like this, it amazes me that our energy and oil exploration and production companies aren't hot as blazes.

They are down. ( PSPFX, OEPIX ).

People think something else is more important?!?!!?

So, is there a shortage of product, or are the owners of the independent gas stations unable (or unwilling, IMHO) to pay for their next tank fillup because they won't break even or make a small profit from the next tank of gas?

If I am an astute observer, most retail gasoline stations don't make very much money on the gas anyway, they make the majority of their profits from tobacco, soft drinks, beer, and convenience items which are inside the store. Sheetz is a good example of this. Two years ago, they started building stores in North Carolina and they priced their gasoline up to 20 cents cheaper than those around them. This drew huge amounts of traffic into their stores, and more than offset their losses in the sale of gasoline. Well, competitors whined about their tactics because they sometimes went below the wholesale price of gas, and the great old State of NC told Sheetz to stop selling gasoline for less than they paid for it, or face fines and potential revocation of their licenses to operate. I dare anyone to find a Sheetz in NC, even one close to Asheville that is out of gas right now. Sheetz, like Wilco, is smart, and like WalMart, they own their own fleet of trucks to ensure their supplies of gas are adequate to keep their prices lower than their competitors, and keep the customers coming inside the store to buy the profit items.

So now, if it truly ISN'T a supply problem, then it's time for the independent stores to revamp their in-store offerings, and mark up the smokes and beer to help pay for the next tanker of fuel. If not, they may as well capitulate and go out of business. In case you didn't know, this is what competition and Capitalism are all about.

Here the left has been trying without success to get Socialism in the US for over a century, and the solution was under their noses the whole time: Stop calling themselves Socialists, and instead call themselves Republicans! So counterintuitive! Why didn't anyone think of it sooner?

Only Nixon could go to China.

Right-wing socialism is called fascism....

This is not what communists do. They do away with insurance, mortgages and loans and other indications of property. This is more in line with national socialism, especially the shifting of patriotic feeling to AIG as a great national asset or to the financial system.

It is important to recognize this difference because it is a long held tactic of national socialists to use red baiting to gain power. There is a long association between national socialist sympathizers such as white power organizations and the republican party. The current president's father made quite a play for them when he was getting started in Texas and his grandfather was a straight out Nazi collaborator. So, we need to be cautious about claims that what is going on is similar to communism. It is not.

The national socialists generally don't want to eliminate profits, they want to assure them. This seems very much where our present track is leading.


Excellent observation! You're spot on.

Eternal vigilance is possible if we all pitch in I think.


...sounds like one of them thar conspaaracy tharries I read about on that there inner-tube

No, no... it is like a series of tubes. It is not a tube. The tube is where you go to get stupider. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtOoQFa5ug8


The united states has had allot of things similar to the old ussr. intact there is one thing we improved on. while their senate was powerless, it had a lower retention rate compared to us. 98% vs their 92%

I think there are laws on the book that limit price increases to a timeframe too, but im not sure. One thing is sure, the shortages are the result of prices not being high enough... If we had been charged an appropriate price then there wouldnt be shortages.

Some stations (here in the Atlanta area) are putting per person/per visit maximum on the pumps in effect rationing the supply.

Delivery trucks are doing "splash and dash" trips, instead of filling up the underground tanks, they half load and move on to another station - wholesale rationing in other words.

Very interesting stuff.

Under those circumstances, it seems like the economically rational thing for a gas station to do in a sudden emergency is to turn off their pumps and refuse to sell gas until the emergency is over...

So if you owned a gas station and shutdown until the next delivery to ensure that YOU (and others) have gas, does that fall under "price gouging"?

Would be the logical thing to do if there is an actual shortage, ensure supply for you and yours since the government is so interested in taking care of their own.

There's little doubt in my mind that gas station owners already save the bottom of the tank for their friends and family. Why not? I doubt this is illegal, and if they cannot charge market rates for the gas anyway, they may as well sell to people they like...

I am aware of a local station that is officially "out of gas", but still has a little in the tank and turns on the pump when a local law enforcement patrol car needs a refill.

Exactly how it works in the UK when supply gets low - only its official policy. Police, doctors and nurses only.

Get a group of people one trusts together and buy a load of gas and never open the station to the public. Dispense it out the back door at night.

Some years ago we had a problem with a local pipeline and it was very difficult to get gas because they controlled prices. No problem to buy unleaded race gas in 55 gallon drums, other then at the time it was like 6$/gal.

I definitly would if there is a shortage, hell its yours since you paid for it. If things break down I wonder what the local management will do at the chains stores. Save it for yourself and just quietly hang the "out of service" sign on?

That means they can't charge the customer what it costs to replace their stock...just what it cost them to buy it.

And more importantly, it doesn't allow a price that would balance supply and demand.


Perhaps you should consider not ascribing human emotion to the refinery industry. Some states have laws which prevent price gouging. In other states the marketing folks set the prices as best maximizes cash flow. With dropping crude prices the last 2 months or so the refiner profit margins (the spread) have increased significantly. They had actually reached very low levels but the refiners couldn’t adjust upwards for fear of dampening demand too much. Even without bumping prices up the refiners are seeing much better profits right now.

The refiners are not public utilities. They don't exist to make fuel affordable for everyone. They are corporations which have a legal mandate to maximize returns on behalf of their stock owners. I've worked in the oil patch for 33 years. I can assure you that such decisions are made on basic economic principles....and not on anyone's naive idea of right or wrong.

I can see how refiners might be shy of reducing demand, that makes sense. But opposingly, isn't there the "law" of supply and demand. If supply is short and demand is outstripping supply, shouldn't price of the refined product go up? It seems like the refiners are overshooting presently.

BTW, I found an article about what Leanan was talking about:

Gas Price Gouging Complaints Flood Georgia Investigators

Georgia is among six states with price averages remaining above $4.00 a gallon and gasoline supply remains an issue as well with spot shortages in some areas.

The high prices have resulted in an outpouring of complaints from consumers and the state has launched a price gouging investigation.

Since Gov. Perdue issued an anti-gouging order last Friday, 900 complaints were filed and the state issued 30 subpoenas for pricing information. More action is expected.

The law of S&D is just one in a book of many laws. Competion in the market place is another law. Years ago I hung out with gas marketing guys. They never spoke about the profit per gallon...it was alweays the sales volume that drove them. Selling millions of gallons for a few pennies less per gallon generated the profit...not selling their gas for a few pennies more than their competitors but selling a smaller volume. Despite all the conspiricy theories out there, there are few businesses as competative as retail fuel sales. Have you ever driven buy any type of store and saw all their prices hanging on a sign so you could just drive down the road and decide where you were going to make that next purchase? It may be hard to beleive but the gas marketing guys don't give a damn what profit the refiner makes. Their entire goal is to maximize cash flow. This means $/gallon X gallons sold. Alienating customers with even the appearence of price gouging doesn't balance well the many millions of $'s they spend trying to generate customer loyalty.

I agree with your characterization of corporations. The words "right" and "wrong" do not exist in corporate lexicon except when paired with "legal" or "illegal." An action is "right" if it results in profit and is legal. An action is "wrong" if it is legal and results in a loss. An illegal action may be "right" if the action results in a profit and the corporation does not get caught or "wrong" if the action results in a loss and the corporation does not get caught. It would be "wrong" in the case of profit or loss if the corporation gets caught.

I think your basic idea is correct, but simplifying what you're saying, a corporation will see an action as "right" ("wrong") if and only if it is profitable (unprofitable, respectively) in terms of NPV (net present value). Legality is completely irrelevant, except inasmuch as it may affect profitability.

(Note that NPV is significantly different than "the long run". If a corporation can make a million dollars by an action that will result in the end of humanity in 100 generations, they will do so, because the value of humanity in 100 generations is too small to consider.)

And the cool part is, stockholders actually get to sue if the corporation chooses morality over short-term dividends!

Exactly. Corporations are not people. They do not feel. They have no emotions. As one famous wag once said, they have no soul to save, no body to imprison.

Of course all institutions are like this - but the pure profit motive of the corporation puts greed above everything else whereas other institutions must at least pay lip service and sometimes more to other concerns.

We treat nat gas and electricity as regulated utilities so why not liquid fuels. There is no difference in fuel characteristics between the majors. On the one hand regulation would smooth out seasonal variations in price and on the other hand ensure a share of the market by way of regional monopolies. All interested parties (financial sector, oil companies, retailers, government, consumers, fleet owners, independent truckers, etc) would negotiate terms of trade on an annual basis. It ain't free market but it could set the foundation for equitable rationing as supplies shrink in the future.

I'm not sure about the "legal" mandate to maximize returns on the behalf of their stock owners. All accounting books I've read typically say something like "the primary purpose of a corporation is to maximize profits for shareholders." It is not described as being a law.

But that is not the point I want to make. Either way, a law or a primary purpose, this fundamental concept is at the core of what is wrong with our economic system. A corporation has been given the legal status of a person. As a person, a corporation has the same responsibilities any of us do; to do business in an ethical and balanced manner. By putting profits ahead of all other considerations, you open the door for a slow, but steady, disintegration of the accuracy of the financial statements of the corporation.

I don't want to imply all corporations suffer equally from this often fatal flaw. However, if we look back in time, it is obvious how often profits for shareholders become profits for executives instead. Executive bonuses become based on fudged balance sheets and income statements. In the worst cases, the abuse kills the company leaving the shareholders with nothing; an ironic twist to the original mandate:(

I don't have a solution, although doing real jail time, not country club jail time for financial fraud, would be a good start for the worst offenders. Sharing a cell with "Big Bubba" might get the word out:)

That's what you get from price controls. No one is going to sell for under the spot market price for physical delivery.

these are the only facts I can find on any news or government sites, it seems this is being supressed by the MSM.

The Colonial Pipeline mentioned below, runs from Houston, TX to NJ. This is the primary pipeline servicing Atlanta, Asheville NC, as well as Tennessee, and Alabama. Widespread Gasoline shortages have been noticed and reported in Atlanta, Nashville, Asheville, Huntsville and Tallahassee.

Larry Shirley, director of the N.C. State Energy Office noted today that Western North Carolina seems to be particularly hard hit by the fuel shortage. He issued the following statement:

The aftereffects of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav appear to now be hitting the state with more force than last week. Many stations in the western part of the state are out of fuel, with the vast majority being independent stations who are the first to be closed out of the terminals during short supplies. The outages appear to be centered around the Asheville area and points to the south and west. Supplies in Charlotte and Greensboro appear to be tightening. Other points of note:

– At least two terminals in Charlotte are out of fuel but one is expecting more gasoline tonight; diesel supplies are very spotty and unsure

– One terminal in Greensboro is getting about one-third its normal supply and is very low but operating; strict and tight allocations for branded companies are in place

– One terminal in Selma is low but has some diesel and gasoline on hand; receiving small batches; expect to continue to receive product for 3-4 days and then things will go “slack.”

– Plantation pipeline appears to be operating at a decent rate but Colonial, our largest, is very erratic and spotty; Colonial isn’t sure how long the pipeline will continue to operate because of lack of refined product to put into it.

– One of the primary refineries for low sulphur diesel is down in TX and this is affecting Colonial’s transport.

– Nine refineries are down in Texas, accounting for 2.3 million barrels/day; another ten or eleven refineries are in start-up mode or operating at reduced runs; this amounts to about an equal amount of capacity that is impacted to an unknown degree; start-up times for refineries, once repairs are made and power restored, can be a week to ten days in length.

–School systems seem to be in fairly good condition; however, Charlotte/Mecklenburg had to obtain its last three loads from Virginia, not a good sign given the location of terminals in Charlotte.

– Crude oil production in the Gulf is showing 89.2% shut-in.

– Natural gas production in the Gulf is 75.4% shut-in

– Eleven of 26 natural gas pipelines are not operating.

– Information will hopefully be available tomorrow on what is happening with the Spartanburg terminals which supply the western part of the state.

– When considering how long it takes for new product to come up the pipeline at 2-5 mph, supplies could be tight for a lengthy period while we are still waiting for much of the refinery capacity to get up and running, supplying refined product to the pipelines.

Don't worry the regulators are making sure nobody gouges you! After all that's their job, and boy how they've done it. But never mind you can just look away and read all about the latest adventures of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Hannah Montana and O.J. Simpson, keep looking at the celebs and you might just end up looking like this:


after all why worry?

media consolidation

Rome had the coliseum to entertain the masses with spectacles while the Roman Empire fell. Today, we have the internet, HDTV's and satellite radio for 'spectacles'.

But, it doesn't change the fact that the empire is falling.

Too bad we import every bit of equipment for the internet, digital TV and satellite radio. I guess as the dollar loses value, we will find whether people first cross off electronics or oil as something they can no longer afford to import. Rationally, you'd give up oil last, but I can't help but think of the movie "Free Enterprise", where the guy buys laserdiscs instead of paying his power bill, thus ends up with no electricity to run his laserdisc player.

Back in the UK our very own Gordon Clown has done his bit of distraction today by offering between GBP 100 and 700 (means tested) for people to buy a computer for their children. Last time i looked there were plenty of computers in the schools and libraries. But maybe it's just one more broken promise? Among the pledges broken by Gordon Brown this last year are:
• Ensuring low inflation and stable growth
• Five-year sentences for all gun crimes
• Using new powers to ban alcohol in trouble spots
• Introducing individual budgets for personal care
• Abolishing child poverty
• Empowering Parliament to make the final decisions about peace and war
• Five hours of sport a week for all pupils
• Increasing house-building
• Counting people in and out of Britain
• Building ten new eco towns

Also they are going to give away a million theatre tickets. Never mind that the New Economics Foundation has issued a report saying the world has slid into "ecological debt", having used up all the natural resources the planet can provide this year and we have been increasingly "overshooting" nature's budget each year since the 1980s.

Buying them an abacus might have been better, since it seems that we will not have electricity.
Still, at least Gordon has ended the boom and bust cycle decisively.
Not much chance of any cycling now, save to see if the soup kitchen is open.

Yesterday's massive pop in the NMEX October oil contract only demonstrates that using one contract for setting oil prices at one location is a bad idea.

Not true. All the markets influence the prices at the other markets.

All yesterday's massive pop in the expiring October contract shows is that speculators were very stupid to pile so massively into shorts and drive the price down to $90 after two hurricanes.

That move affected nobody except the idiots who got squeezed.

I disagree with your claim that "That move affected nobody except the idiots who got squeezed."

First off, there's the public perception based on the declining futures price. As the price went down, the pundits began to say things like: "See there, the price is going down...Looks like the oil problem is over folks...Time to go out and buy those remaining gas guzzler SUV's and PU's...". I think lots of folks went back to BAU until the hurricanes hit, thinking that the "crisis" of high oil prices had passed. The trouble is, the market was not giving the proper signal to the consumer, which is (as those of us who have studied Peak Oil understand) that oil has become expensive and is likely to continue to increase in price over the longer term.

Then there's the an ongoing effort in Congress to extend the tax credits for renewable energy systems. With the decline in oil prices, that effort has been pushed to the back burner several times. The latest was what happened to H.R. 3221, which began as a bill to extend the renewable tax credits, but was then hijacked to bail out the real estate mortgages of the banks and the S & L's. The language to extend the tax credits was dumped twice along the way. This week's scramble to bail out the financial world will push the pending bills to extend these credits off the table until after the elections. So, we will get no reading on who is in favor of those solar credits and who isn't before the election.

Is that all due to a few idiots who got squeezed by shorting oil futures? Or, is it part of the overall failure of the people working within the financial system to understand the real world outside of NYC, London and Washington? Once Peak Oil is obvious, all those suburban mortgages will become nearly worthless until other sources of transport energy have had a chance to reach significant levels of use, i.e., until a large fraction of the vehicles on the road are no longer running on oil products.

All the financial manipulations and scams on Wall Street can do nothing to actually put more oil into the market, once the depletion of existing wells exceeds new supply. This has been a rather obvious fact of geology for more than 35 years. Maybe the Government should be nationalizing the remaining assets of Big Oil, instead of bailing out the banks, so that the U.S. Government could have a say in oil production and imports, instead of allowing the short term fluctuations in the market. For example, it may be necessary to set a floor price on transportation fuel, so that the consumer will get the longer term message. Better yet, maybe it's finally time for direct allocation (can you say, rationing?), which would allow lower prices while providing at least some fuel to every consumer.

E. Swanson

First off, there's the public perception based on the declining futures price.

That was a consequence of the speculative pile-on into shorts, not the price pop when the shorts got squeezed.

If the market can't punish the idiot shorts with a squeeze like the one we saw yesterday, the entire country will see the problems the Southeast is now seeing with gasoline supply.

Losing money is how idiots learn, and if they don't learn, they're removed from the markets because they lose all their money.

A pretty good chance that these idiots are also the same ones protected by the anti-shorting laws in securities.
The short squeeze stung but it looks like they where able to cover. So these are some very deep pocketed shorts and I'm personally doubtful that profit is the motive for the extreme shorting in the oil markets.

I am glad you said it-I get tired of continually hearing that purposeful manipulation is not happening-it has been pretty blatant recently. Yesterday's short squeeze was the wildest ever, and I wouldn't be surprised if they are back today making the same bet with OPM (perhaps taxpayers'?).

Losing money is how idiots learn, and if they don't learn, they're removed from the markets because they lose all their money.

Too bad this formula isn't going to be applied to Wall Street. I say nationalize ALL of Wall Street, ALL insurers, ALL Banks--the WHOLE financial system--and operate it as a non-profit for the benefit of the entire country. It would be good to do the same for ALL energy industries.

If we are to survive the future, the greedquest must be eliminated now.

In this case, how would you avoid corruption, or the development of a crippling bureaucracy, or some sort of federalist oligarchy? My understanding is that the only point to having for-profit companies was that the competition from other for-profit companies would lead to gains in efficiency that out-weighed their profits. (Or else, what motive is there to make a profit when a non-profit ought to have lower costs since it isn't required to make money for it's stakeholders?)

That said, for me personally, I've always felt that using credit unions was more attractive than for-profit banks because they give less fees and the interest rates I've found to be comparable. Right now I use a for-profit for my checking account and ATM access and a remote non-profit for savings and investment. It seems okay now, but how would you ensure that it stays that way?

Seems like the corruption in the financial industry is already endemic, as is the crippling bureaucracy. Might as well have it all federalized anyway.

I have a minute to respond at this time, so I will just say that the structure of the federal government must change to allow for more democracy and further checkas and balances. I will post something more detailed later.

Madisonian Federalism has three branches and three levels, which we all should have learned in High School Civics or not been allowed to graduate. Anyway, there are a few other countries who have taken the number of branches and expanded them to four and five, while some have added another level. (Okay refresher time: Branches--Legislative, Executive, Judicial; Levels--Local, State, Federal/National.) Madison's theory of Checks and Balances included another actor that was amended out of the Constitution in an act I belive ensured the system would become corrupted: The losing candidate for President became Vice-President in an attempt to mimic the Roman Republic's dual Counsels who could veto each other's decisions. What myself and others have discussed is the need for additional branches to provide more checks and balances at the national level (provided one wants to retain a national government). Most important is that officers for the new branch(es) be elected, not appointed. And because US history proves the greatest abuses of power arise in the Executive branch, the Executive will have its powers pared and duties reformulated.

Clearly, the biggest failure of the Executive is its role as regulator and law enforcer. The Departments and agencies that do this work, like the Justice Department, will be removed from the Executive and become another branch, with the Departmental heads being elected to two-year terms and their chief aides subject to congressional approval for two-year terms (the same will apply in the other executive departments, too). The same treatment will be provided for the Treasury Department and its new bank--the FEDs replacement. And if we make ourselves collectively responsible for ourselves' wellbeing through singlepayer-universal heathcare, I would also suggest we do this for all other usual insurance--home, life, vehicle--while allowing private insurance to provide esoteric policies like special liability applied to franchise sports players, for example; and I would place this new Department alongside the new Treasury Department.

The above changes leave the President to manage defense and veterens affairs, energy and transportation, commerce and labor, interior and agriculture, and state, while one--homeland security--and parts of others will be eliminated, all will lose their regulatory agencies as noted above, and others will be merged together--Heath and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Education would be merged into the new Treasury complex. Implied by these moves is repeal of the 1946 Full Employemt Act which gave the president responsibility for maintianing full employment and thus the health of the economy and other similar statutes.

Tainter probably wouldn't like this solution as it makes the federal government more complex, but it also makes it more democratic and accountible, and greatly reduces the opportunities for corruption. Likewise, the Legislative side also needs to be modified by adding a third house which would be totally resposible for oversight of all aspects of the federal government. It would be limited to introducing only legislation related to its oversight capacity, but it would also vote on all other legislation and be subject to the supermajority rule for over-ridding vetoes.

Aside from the new legislative branch, the overall size of the federal government should remain about the same, and in some respects it should become much more efficient and accountible. It merely expands upon Madison's mechanisms for balancing power within government, which are now quite clearly out-of-whack. It removes a considerable amount of power from the president and makes him/her subject to greater accountibility. It would be nice to design a new government from scratch, but I think a reformulation is easier for people to accept as most of the institutions remain. My point personally is to reformulate government so it can fulfill its rationale as made clear in the Preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Please note how little of the above is taking place currently or has over the past 28 years. Much of what's occurring now is actually a crisis of governmental structure as its design wasn't made for these times or for political parties or for the amount of corruption corporations and their amorality can inject into government. That no discipline of corporations has occured for their excesses is also a crisis related to the structure of government. The great majority of the structural problems and related corruption exists in the Executive. In most states, the main executive officers are elected; the same must happen at the federal level as Congress has proven unable to disapprove of a plethora of bad nominees over the years, with the most recent bunch being the worst I can recall. I would also make the Justices of the Supreme Court subject to direct election for terms of 6 years. I believe we need more democracy, and we need it in a hurry.

"If we are to survive the future, the greedquest must be eliminated now."

I second the E-motion.

Truely sorry to hear of your misfortune re Shorts. That explains alot, but this comment of yours is main point I was and continue to make.


I still want to have some of your soup and chat. What's the name of your establishment in Corvallis?





Maybe the Government should be nationalizing the remaining assets of Big Oil, instead of bailing out the banks, so that the U.S. Government could have a say in oil production and imports, instead of allowing the short term fluctuations in the market.

How about we just buy them outright? 700 billion would go a really long ways, help GM, Ford Chrysler retool, buy the American Oil companies, and build a train system worthy of 1st world country.

Giving it to wall Street, hell you might as well flush it down the toilet.

It would also buy aboutt 3.5 trillion rounds of ammo.

Yep, that will work too. Might even buy the factory, 100years of raw materials and enough left over to keep the generations of chemists happy. :-) If our congress critters are going to be passing out money, it might as well be spent on something useful like the last surplus check was.

Near the end of the 1989 movie "Slacker", a strange young man drives through the early morning streets of Austin in a Ford Falcon with megaphones on its roof, ranting about his idea for a government weapons giveaway program. He lists every kind of gun and edged weapon he can think of, and then he says, "I know it's coming."

I must admit, that's one of my favorite parts. All the bad things I thought were going to happen back in those days are happening now, and when I watch that movie it's like a prophecy of a face-to-face version of the Internet that will survive the collapse. The overarching but obscure theme of the movie involved Bob Black, author of "The Abolition of Work", who argued that we should all do our jobs as badly as possible and rip off our bosses at every opportunity until the system collapses. "Workers of the World Relax!" I lived nearby in Montrose in Houston back then, with empty houses and savings & loans on every corner, ruins all about, and it seemed for a dreamy moment that it all could happen.


Starts at about 1:13, ends about 2:22

There was great commentrary in yesterday's DB about holding our Congress to account - I wrote to all three, and told them quite frankly that if they permit the Paulson/Bernake no-strings bailout, they'll never see my vote again. Maybe it's time for a global-recall threat to get their attention - All the polls showing that their constituents are 2:1 against it seem to have had little effect. But something has to be done, and time is short. We just can't bear an additional burden of $4800 per taxpayer to "rescue" these thieves.

My nastygram to my congress critter was so nasty, I'm likely on some watch list now. Recall ability is something that I believe we need to have. The problem is, putting recall ability would likely take an act of Congress, which isn't going to happen. Why hand the American populace a noose that they can put around their congress critter's necks?

For starters, Congress should get rid of Nancy Pelosi. We need a take-no-prisoners leader in that position immediately.

Secondly, Congress must SLOW DOWN... Getting cowed by blame-switching psychology is not helpful.

They must require Bernanke/Paulson resignations. This is the pair that ran the arcade as long as they could sell tickets.

The forth thing is to start arresting Wall Street execs. Securities fraud is illegal. Let's call this WHAT IT IS.

We're going to pay a huge price for this and it isn't just money... New York will no longer be the center of global finance, if we don't rock the status-quo hard.

New York will no longer be the center of global finance...

This is a bad thing?

Who is going to be able to afford all the box/wall street seats at the new Yankees and Mets stadiums?
"I think we're lost." To which Yogi responded "Yeah, but we're making great time."

I was thinking about that, watching the "farewell to Yankee Stadium" on ESPN Sunday night. While Wall St. and Washington DC were freaking out, they were partying in the Bronx. Will anyone be able to afford the new, more expensive seats in the new, more expensive Yankee Stadium?

There are other uses for stadiums. See:

The Superdome during Katrina.

The soccer stadium used as killing fields during Pinochet's coup in Chile.

So yes, they might get into Yankee Stadium, but they won't enjoy it.

I'm sure there will still be baseball, no matter what.

But whether they'll be able to charge thousands of dollars for a ticket, that's another story.

If the finance center moves to say: Peking or Moscow, what are the chances the dollar remains the reserve currency?

The stakes are incredibly high. Supporting securities fraud is wrong. We must denounce it unquestionable terms.

Will, I agree that we should not support securites fraud. Unfortunately, it appears that this is just the way the system works.

Economist Michael Hudson has written extensively on the dollar as an instrument of American Imperialism. My feeling is that the current system must go. I would prefer that it wither away peacefully.

Will, IMHO there is no chance that the dollar will be replaced by the renminbi or rouble, both are way too small for the job of reserve currency. Also no chance of the finance center going to Peking or Moscow in the next few years.

As regards the finance center moving, London is already the banking center and so the financial center in many respects, in FX it has an average daily turnover of $500+ billion, more than the New York and Tokyo combined.

There are more than 550 international banks and 170 global securities houses have set up offices in London, New York has 250.

London is the biggest market in the world for derivatives traded over-the-counter with 36 per cent of global turnover.

London is the world’s largest fund management centre.

More than half of the global foreign equity market and seventy per cent of Eurobonds are traded in London.

New York is ahead on bond trading and securitization.

Remember London is in the middle of the map:-) The availability of skilled personnel and the nature of the regulatory environment are the two most important competitive factors affecting international financial centres. Obviously 911 had a big impact and getting visas has become harder, Enron and WorldCom collapsed, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was introduced. Of course London has had its share of problems but not on the same scale, recently the tax and regulatory burden has increased and sopme firms have left for low tax cities but not New York.

As a consequence of the financial crisis it is unlikely that any centre will speed up deregulation.

What type of "regulatory environment" makes London so great? Why can't Seoul, Singapore or Frankfurt do the same? Don't they want to?

The "regulatory environment" phrase covers a number of things such as quality of life in addition to having a more "relaxed" set of regulations compared to the US with the SOX and Patriot Acts. London scores pretty well with lots of nice housing, schools, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, parks etc. There has been a tradition of general respect for property, money & IPR laws for a long time. English is also the lingua franca of the finance world and is spoken as the first language unlike Seoul, Singapore or Frankfurt. It's easy to get to all of Europe...

Oh yes almost forgot, for non-doms there is no tax to pay:-) It's almost perfect, congestion charges to keep down the traffic (masses) so the limos can get through faster.

Seems to me that Seoul, Singapore or Frankfurt can do whatever they want, having great "regulatory environment" but since their language is not english it is impossible for them to be financial capital of the world? Having english as the global language surely is beneficial for the english-speaking world! Other countries simply get brushed aside.

New York will no longer be the center of global finance... Is this a bad thing?

No. Not necessarily. Depends on where you live? Depends on what you call good or bad?

If the centre of global finance moves from New York to Shanghai, the Chinese call the shots. If it moves to Dubai, the middle eastern oil sheiks call the shots.

But I can assure you, wherever it goes, chances are you will be affected where you live. And not for the better in terms of purchasing power.

Now a more austere, mere subsistence-level way of life, it can be argued, is a very good thing. Ask the folks in Zimbabwe.

As always depends on perspective.

I really like this quote from the guy of Kentucky. I would love to hear it from either Obama or McCain and I can't stand Obama, but I'd vote for him happily if he said this.

“This massive bailout is not a solution. It is financial socialism and it’s un-American,” said Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky.

Nothing wrong with socialism like in the Netherlands for example. People live good lives in the Netherlands, and it is accepted that the filthy rich pay high taxes so that the country can afford good healthcare for all, education for rich and poor and support for disabled, sick and unemployed people so that they dont have to sleep in the gutter. And of course, the Netherlands has low unemployment so the scaremongering of higher taxes equals misery and high unemployment is nonsense.

In general corruption is alot less socially accepted in the Netherlands, I'm in Maastricht now. The small time stuff, such as petty theft is generally accepted as "IT happens", but big time crooks such as Paulson and Bernanke wouldn't be able to go home at night or talk to their neighbors. 1000 years of homogenous cultural history will provide that for you and makes it easier to absorb immigrants, instead of the MTV/Pop/Advertising culture that is the states. At this point the two "cultures" of states are more like Wallonia and Flanders stuck together as Belgium and unhappy about it.

Talk to us after the smoke clears in 100 years or so, its a possibility. I like South Limburg alot, but there are problems here too so noplace is perfect. True democracy is messy with lots of arguments, only China has a "Harmonious" Society atleast thats all they allow to be shown on TV...:-)

Are you on a business trip or?

Do you really think Americans would hate a system like the Dutch? Sure, its not perfect, but certainly better than appalling inequities with no safety nets for the weak in society and ordinary people go bankrupt because they get cancer? Thats just awful! And in the Netherlands, people get to share the benefits of trade, while in America, the normal working man gets shafted by the corporations and big wigs who get all the gains of globalization. Where's the democracy and justice in that?

Do you really think Americans would hate a system like the Dutch?

Hate is a strong word, probably too strong. But I wonder whether you ever been to the States, outside of Manhattan or San Francisco, which would provide some perspective.

So let's try it in reverse. Somewhere I have a (non-digitized) slide of a rather charming, almost-postcard scene looking over a canal and towards some houses in Delft. But here's the problem: the houses are barely wider than the front doors are tall, certainly no more than 2.5m wide and probably no more than 9m deep (though that's harder to tell.) They have been taken for tool sheds, or just unintelligible objects. The conversation goes something like this:

What are those?

Those are houses.

Those are houses? Really? You're kidding, right?


My God, I sure wouldn't want to live there!

The first time I had that conversation, we took a ruler up to the screen. That's why I'm sure about the size of the houses.

Everything has its price, and people become accustomed to their own set of prices. So I don't think that, even now, you could sell Netherlands life in the USA, except maybe to a few people like some on TOD. It's not only those houses (and even the more normal ones tend to be tiny), but the enormous tax rates - much higher income tax, on top of double-digit VAT, on top of staggering automobile "fees" - would sink your sales pitch so deep into the abyss that it might be compressed into dwarf-star matter.

Chacun à son goût. Well, OK, that's French, but it reminds me that the French-origin and Dutch-origin people in Belgium can't stand each other one little bit, even though I wouldn't know how to tell them apart until they opened their mouths and spoke. So I suppose that European social issues and life-ways can be as inscrutable to me as USA issues and life-ways seem to be to you...

The guy says he likes the Netherlands because it is not as corrupt as the USA-you respond that only a corrupt society can have large houses, and people like large houses, therefore a corrupt society is a small price to pay. Are you Karl Rove?

My goodness, you are in a bad mood. Please remember than strawmen are highly flammable, their combustion generates more heat than light. Who says that "only a corrupt society" can have large houses and other evidences of prosperity?

Now, as to the 'corruption', few have even noticed it in any practical way until just now, and many may have yet to notice it. As I've said before, they were far too busy reveling in the spoils. Unproductive Total Zero Moron Job that should have been automated out of existence years ago, but more than offset by: liar loan, interest-only, pay your bills out of the increase in value on the house. Who could ask for more? Who would want to bother to turn off the teevee and get, say, an education?

But even under more sensible practices, such as demanding at least 20% downpayment, houses would have been large, just less gargantuan, and other evidences of prosperity would have been abundant. Houses like the ones in that slide would still be condemned as substandard in almost all localities just for their size, unless they were trailers in a trailer park in a locality that permitted trailer parks. And a European or Netherlands lifestyle would still have been an impossible sell, and not just because of houses, but because of other indicators of prosperity. (These are only blog comments, not books, so the houses stand in for a more extensive set of goods and services.)

Well, I live in an RV at least 6 or 7 months every year and have done so for over 15 years. A little over 250 sq. ft.

I wouldn't be doing it if I did not like it. If I had to go back to a house in a city instead of a farm, then I would live in the RV full time.

OK, the Netherlands have smaller houses mostly because its very densily populated, so that's not comparable. I'm talking about the system, like leaving sick and disabled people in the gutter, bankrupting millions of people because they get cancer or other nasty diseases, leaving the fruits of globalization to the corporations and not the working man (and people wonder why there's such strong anti-trade rhetoric in the US?), a class society with higher education favoring the rich and a society with poor social mobility (in contrast to what "the american dream" tells), a system that grossly favors the employer over the employee, no paid parental leave, no vacation, no support after losing the job, no union power. I mean, is this really freedom?

Well, except that New Jersey is about as densely populated. And except for old apartments in Hoboken, the dwellings, on the whole, are not nearly as tiny as in the Netherlands, although the older ones are slightly smaller than in some other areas of the US. And hardly anybody in New Jersey goes anywhere on a bicycle, they drive.

On the flip side, I met one Dutch couple, a schoolteacher and a Rijkswaterstaat engineer living in the 'suburbs' (i.e. the dense areas of individual houses and duplexes that pass for suburbs in the Randstadt) who did not normally drive. When I asked why, they patiently explained about the expense of the taxes, fees, and "inspections", and said they couldn't afford it. (Straw-man builders, please note: they did not seem at all unhappy, in fact a number of Dutch citizens expressed great pride in their moral freedom. It's just that on the whole, so much was so incompatible with everyday US practice and opinions.)

Now, it may be about to change, but until now and for the moment, it's almost unimaginable that a couple with similar (i.e. quite good) jobs in the US would be unable to afford to drive. (Unless they're among of those cherry-picked people the US press wails about, who commute 100 miles / 160km one way - then it might be a problem.) That sort of thing, gets repeated in various little ways, no one of which might be decisive, but they do add up. And that helps to tell me a Netherlands (or other European) lifestyle would be a hard sell indeed.

Normal highly educated couples can of course afford to drive in the Netherlands, it would be very interesting to see the budget of that family. You say that such a couple would always afford to drive in the US, but what if they get cancer or severe disabilites? How many millions of people go bankrupt because of it in the US?

Not to mention of course, that the couple you talked to work far less than the similar american couple, so just by working 300-400 hours more per year would definitely increase the size of their wallets (live to work or work to live?).

but the enormous tax rates - much higher income tax, on top of double-digit VAT, on top of staggering automobile "fees" - would sink your sales pitch so deep into the abyss that it might be compressed into dwarf-star matter.

I don't know if you are saying this as your perspective or as that of the "typical" American,but it is based in wrong-headed ideology that overrides common sense and simple math.

To wit: I had a neighbor (I've told this story before,so move on if you've read it) who was of Swedish ancestry whose wife was Swedish. They were considering moving to Sweden. They did an analysis of the tax burdens of each when all forms of taxation were included and came to the conclusion that the tax levels were the same. Of course, the Swedes get better education, free health care, less crime... etc.,for the same taxes.

Yeah, the US is Utopia.


In this particular case I'm simply looking out at the world and reporting what I see. And what I see is that - for the most part - many of the choices people make are diametrically opposed to the choices they would need to make to live in almost any part of Europe without creating undue friction for themselves. I simply don't picture most people I know, even New Yorkers, living a European lifestyle as happy campers. That is, not on a day-to-day basis: it's one thing to spend several hundred dollars a day over there for a brief stint as a tourist and come back with a glowing report, but it's another thing to live year in and year out on a normal budget.

As to your Swedish neighbors, that story, on its face, seems unintelligible because of the relatively high tax rates in Europe. (Except for rich Europeans, who domicile themselves in any of a dozen tax havens.) Were they fairly poor, or did they live an unusual (n.b. "unusual" is not necessarily "bad") lifestyle, e.g. no car? AFAIK, Sweden is similar enough to the Netherlands to have far higher income tax, far higher VAT (substitute for sales tax), and still have the equivalent of property tax, has corporate taxes, though perhaps (?) capital-gains taxes might be lower or zero as in some countries? Can you flesh it out a touch more or point to where you have done so? For example, what major expenses were they counting as tax burdens, and what were they counting as non-tax expenditures?

Sorry, no. It was too long ago and we never went into great detail, anyway. I know they looked at every obvious and "hidden" tax, such as sales tax, income tax, all the payroll stuff, health insurance, etc., etc.

The woman worked at ESRI, the premier GPS/mapping services and software company in the world, so was unlikely to be stupid or sloppy in this.

Can only tell you that their analysis ended up with about 50% of income going to such expenses in both countries.

Ever looked closely at your phone bill, for example?



I'm here on business, I usually come "across the pond" about 2 to 3 times a year. Your culture is accomstomed to alot of social benefits, but you also actually have a culture, we have MTV etc etc. If the Netherlands keeps its open immigration policies you'll have the same problems we do. It works when a country is like family and has a shared sense of values, ie responsibility to each other. Once you start adding "worthless brother in laws" or in our case "welfare queens" who don't share your values and are just gaming the system, a system such as yours just falls apart. Look at Germany's resistance to Turks and former East Germans and your own attitude toward Muslims is changing. Most West Germans I have known wish the wall was raised higher.

Shared values, and shared culture make alot of things possible. As right wing as I am, I could easily live in Europe, I would prefer Switzerland, Finland or France because I like to shoot but any country would be OK. Like it or not, we're a tribal animal and prefer to "take care of our own". Most Americans wouldn't hate it, but would try to find a way to game the system since they don't share your values.

The Welfare Queens gaming the system? Not even Chump Change.. you watch the news this week?

Our president committed treason and war crimes,but is still in office to avoid "distracting" from the issues at hand. What makes you think any action will come now?


There does seem to be a realization that this is going over like a lead balloon. I've noticed the coverage on CNN has changed. They - at least the business dept. - seems to be trying to convince people of the terrible things that will happen if this doesn't pass. We have only seven days, or the credit markets will lock up, people won't get their paychecks, the housing industry will be decimated and they'll all lose their jobs, etc.

Now they're trotting out elderly people who remember the Great Depression.

There has to be some way of getting their attention. But how?

From Jared Diamond's Princeton talk:

A theme that emerges from Norse Greenland as well as from other places, is insulation of the decision making elite from the consequences of their actions. That is to say, in societies where the elites do not suffer from the consequences of their decisions, but can insulate themselves, the elite are more likely to pursue their short-term interests, even though that may be bad for the long-term interests of the society, including the children of the elite themselves.


Maybe the market will get their attention. Denninger thinks yesterday's market was a vote against the bailout.

And this might be the way to spin it for the man on the street:

In order to balance out the new deficit spending individual income tax rates would have to DOUBLE.

That's right - to bail out the fat cats on Wall Street your taxes will almost certainly double within a year or two.

So, let me get this straight...

My taxes will double.
My house will be worth maybe half as much.
My 401(k) will likely drop in value, as well as any other investments I have in the stock market.
My income won't change.
And, my fuel bill will probably double.

In the next few years.

Smells like a recipie or hyperinflation, civil unrest/rioting, or outright government coup. Or any combination of the three.

Welcome to the United States of Argentina.

I'd say that now is the time to buy gold and short sell the market, but good luck getting your hands on gold and, well, short selling has been ruled out by the powers that be.

That Argentina guy recommended gold...but in the form of cheap gold rings. He said when you actually went to trade it in, they would give you the same amount for any piece of gold. A small gold ring, a rare collector's coin, an ingot...they'd give you the same.

Also, you really didn't want to be seen bringing in fancy gold pieces. Better to appear like you're regretfully selling your dear grandmother's wedding ring.

The Argentina guy is not quite right. The spot price is different for US Gold Eagles, Krugerrands, Canadian Maples, or 'lump' gold. Purity is the key and your cheap gold rings are unlinkely to be very pure.

Buying pure gold is neither difficult, nor extraordinary. I've bought on several occassions in the past five years and sold on two. You take (today) ~$950 in cash (spot + commission), drive to your favorite coin shop and trade it for an ounce of gold. Then you drive home. That's it.

If gold is too rich for your blood you can do the same with silver for (today) ~$14/oz.

In Washington State you don't even have to pay sales tax.

There's nothing fancy about this transaction. It's no different than going into a jewelry store except that most places won't accept a credit card.

The thing to understand about gold is that it is more of an insurance policy than an investment. None of us want the economy to go to Hell in a handbasket but some of us believe that is almost unavoidable at this point and wish to take out an insurance policy. Precious metals are that poilicy.

Happy exploring in your local coin shops!

-- Jon

The Argentina guy was talking about in Argentina, during the height of the economic crisis. (His pick for best investment: American body armor.)

The Yugoslavia guy said gold really wasn't worth that much in their crisis. You couldn't eat it. He recommended things like cast iron cookware, toiletries, and canned gravy.

When it comes to gold or silver (or any supposed store of wealth) just remember that in any transaction there is a buyer and a seller.

If you are buying, the guy selling clearly has a different view of it's value in the future to you, ask yourself why he is pepared to let you have it - if he is Yugoslavian you will know why.

One thing that comes through, reading those accounts of recent crises past...you really don't get to think about future value that much. Everyone's thinking of the present value. People were trading for things they wanted to use immediately, such as food or soap. That's why the pawn shops could offer the same for a cheap wedding ring as for an ingot. The people trading it in needed the money. And there wasn't much demand for gold, so there was no incentive for the brokers to offer more for bigger/better pieces.

I'm not sure gold will hold its value all that well this time around. Even if the government doesn't confiscate it. A lot of people own gold, even people who don't have a lot of money. So if TSHTF, there could be a lot of people selling, and not much demand.

Thus, the oft-repeated refrain of mine: Have you hugged your bag of NPK today? Ft Knox: gold bullion stacked into machine-gun bunker formation outside to protect the seeds and I-NPK inside.

From earlier posts by other TODers: over $200 billion yanked from money market funds [MMFs]. This is what freaked Hanky-Panky, Bernanke, and your average Peaknik-Yankee.

Assuming that most of this money did not get shifted overseas to supposed safe havens, it seems logical to see it eventually withdrawn from the 'Bank of Serta', then directed into true, future-oriented, biosolar defensive investments vs a mad dash for big SUVs & HDTVs.

The paltry NPV interest yields of MMFs were suddenly not good enough as many decided a defensive shift into 'real asset futures' offered greater promise, protection, and control: the Rainwater Prophecy writ large. Don't we all wish we could have a well-stocked Eco-Tech Bunker plunked down on numerous acres of rich topsoil?

Going forward postPeak, I expect we will find ever more weblinks of people trying to do their best effort Rainwater emulation. You can't eat gold, but I/O-NPK leveraging towards possible food surpluses is what creates value in other objects. IMO, minimizing potential Liebig Minimums while striving for Liebscher's Law of the Optimum, in all processes, is the basis for a sound Foundation for Optimal Overshoot Decline.

Of course, much easier said than done, but I think it offers a slightly better declination path than Jay Hanson's Thermo/Gene Collision timeline or ArchDruid Greer's grinding Catabolic Collapse.

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

Dunno about Rainwater, but Matt Simmons' farm is organic. No bags of NPK for him. I think that will be the trend, rather than synthetic fertilizer becoming a trade item.

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for responding. For verbal [text?] precision, I think you meant Matt will not use I-NPK or Industrial sourced fertilizers. Just to head off any possible confusion and to help bring TOD newbies up to speed: the Elements N, P, and K, plus the other essential trace Elements are found in both I & O fertilizers:

O-NPK: Organic or natural fertilizers such as manures, guanos, composts, yard clippings, food residues, bone meals, etc. Can range up to twenty times or more bulk and/or weight than equivalent potency I-NPK, but the added mulch is a plus. IMO, I would include raw, non-beneficiated P & K rock/dust in this category too.

I-NPK: Industrial sourced fertilizers such a sulfur extracted from sour crude & natgas, [N]itrogen products such as ammonia and urea from Haber-Bosch natgas plants, [P]hosphorus from mined ores that are subsequently chemically beneficiated with sulfuric acid, Potassium [K] from ores like-beneficiated, plus the overall blending process to create DAP, MAP, and other high-potency finished products.

There is a mind-boggling variety of these products, even 'enriched' items which are blended I-NPK and O-NPK in the same bag. That is why I use the simple acronyms to try and bring some clarity to this subject.

Your thoughts on this are quite alternate from mine on this topic.
1. I predict that physical gold will hold its value quite well and will always be welcome as payment. Paper denoninated assets, including US dollars, stocks, bonds, paper commodities on the other hand will have their intrinsic value reduced. Bailouts, monetization and defaults will lead to inflation and hyper-inflation. How can it be avoided at this point?
2. Confiscation is not worth worrying about. The government could ask for it, but who would be dumb enough to give it to them?
3. I disagree about "a lot" of people owning gold. My opinion is that it is not mainstream at all. My bet is that not one person in a thousand has more than an ounce of gold. The people that own physical gold are not going to be desperate to sell it when TSHTF. They will be likely prepared with other physical assets to the best of their ability. As a case in point, the physical market is very tight right now in gold and silver.

I predict that physical gold will hold its value quite well and will always be welcome as payment.

I disagree. It might, it might not. You can't eat it. During the Great Depression, the wealthy bought up jewelry and other valuables for pennies on the dollar. I could see that happening again.

Paper denoninated assets, including US dollars, stocks, bonds, paper commodities on the other hand will have their intrinsic value reduced. Bailouts, monetization and defaults will lead to inflation and hyper-inflation. How can it be avoided at this point?

Well, Stoneleigh and others are predicting deflation, not inflation. Cash will be king. I've no doubt they'll try to inflate the debt away, but whether it will work is another question. We are very dependent on debt, and if it's clear we're trying inflate away our obligations, who will lend to us?

The people that own physical gold are not going to be desperate to sell it when TSHTF.

I wasn't talking about people who have gold as an investment. I mean people who own gold as jewelry. In the old days, ordinary people didn't own a lot of gold. They'd have maybe a thin gold wedding band.

Today, even poor people own gold jewelry. (Sometimes it seems the poorer the person, the more gold they have. ;-) Not just wedding rings, but class rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, piercings, etc. You see gold jewelry even on babies.

I don't even like jewelry, but I have a lot of it, given to me as gifts. Including a heavy gold bangle that probably weighs more than an ounce. My mom has a ton of gold jewelry, and her sisters and mother have even more.

My grandmother ran a restaurant in a seedy section of town. Her customers who didn't have money would trade jewelry for meals, so her collection is truly immense.

I accept that "cash" will be king. However, it will not be cash dollars in greenbacks that can be replicated digitally and by printing. The cash will be hard currencies, including precious metals. I don't know who Stoneleigh is but I wonder if his/her "cash" is indeed dollars, or not?

I also agree that a lot of jewellery gold will be melted down. It is happening now. There will be a transfer of unprepared peoples' gold and other tradeable assets as the crisis deepens. I guess we agree that the investment gold in secure hands will be tightly held.

The argument that you can't eat gold would only come into play if times were truly dire. In semi ordinary times, gold/silver could certainly be bartered for a robust quantity of food. If gold could no longer be bartered for food, then there would be rampant starvation, and maybe it wouldn't be worth living anyway.

I don't know who Stoneleigh is but I wonder if his/her "cash" is indeed dollars, or not?

Stoneleigh is a former staff member of this site, who now has her own blog. She is Canadian, so I assume her assets are in Canadian dollars.

The argument that you can't eat gold would only come into play if times were truly dire.

I think it's quite possible times will become truly dire.

In semi ordinary times, gold/silver could certainly be bartered for a robust quantity of food.

I am not expecting times to be ordinary, even if they are not "truly dire." In the end, gold and silver, just like paper money, is only worth what we agree it's worth. Evaluated purely on supply and demand terms, I expect the supply to be much larger than the demand.

I guess this inflation/deflation argument won't be settled until the US dollar is either "king" or debased/defaulted into oblivion. You win, if there is a long term dollar bounce and the price of commodities in paper dollar terms become cheap. I highly doubt that the US will be able to continue the charade of propping up the "strong" dollar much longer. At that hyper inflationary juncture, the gold/silver will be cash and dollars will be only paper. There may be a later savage juncture that cash (e.g. gold/silver) are no longer accepted, but I highly doubt it will get that bad. A lot of the gold/silver will end up in the hands of the people producing the energy/food and water. They may even demand payment in those terms.

A lot of the gold/silver will end up in the hands of the people producing the energy/food and water. They may even demand payment in those terms.

They might. Or they might stop accepting gold and silver, because they already have too much of it and it's not easy to convert it into things they need to supply their businesses.

IMO, the future is so uncertain that nothing is a safe investment. Doesn't mean it's not worth investing in gold or anything else...but I wouldn't put it all there. Or anywhere, really.

Well, I guess it depends on how bad you think things will get.

During civil war or famine, small amounts of gold might not be of much help. But if we only suffer a major economic meltdown and if the US government doesn't outlaw private ownership of gold (as it did from 1933 to 1971) then gold is likely to be an excellent store of value.

The US never outlawed silver with which one might hedge their hedge in gold.

(Studying history is invaluable in times like these.)

-- Jon

The Argentina model would never play out here.
Argentina always had a black market even in the good times, gold, foreign currency, smuggled cigarettes, smuggled electronics, etc, where even most common people on the street participated to one degree or another.

The only thing that remotely compares in the US is the drug subculture.

The man in the street only knows $$ and barter because that is how the very extensive underground economy functions, so in this specific area I would predict that it would follow the Yugoslavia model.

Argentina is also 97% white, so the disagreements are mostly social (ie a single fracture line) and not nearly as violent.

In addition you may want to look at Argentina today. One of the most noticeable differences is a draconian tax code with almost limitless discovery, enforcement and confiscatory powers.

Expect this here, heck if the underground economy were eliminated today we would not have a deficit. Many who compalin about the lack of this or that will get what they got coming, because as you will see the underground economy will be mostly eliminated. Like they got the mob on tax evasion, but down to the guy that steals a couple hundred bucks with false claims.

This is not necessarily a bad thing for honest citizens.

The silver coins are probably more practical for everyday transactions. I suspect that if things really do get that bad, one might be able to buy a loaf of homemade bread for one or two silver dimes. A few dozen rolls of silver dimes, quarters, half dollars, and dollars would carry one along for quite a while.

Gold and silver are a good security hedge. There's even a chance to make a bit of profit in the current market. During the Depression, there just wasn't much money about. My grandmother had to barter most of the time, and the few silver dollars in circulation had much value. Assuming you cover your other bases, having some precious metals on hand could offer opportunities to buy up land and resources. Lots of people came out of the Great Depression wealthy. It's also helpful to live on a farm where you can survive regardless of money.

The most important investment now is to become debt free. Those without debt will be much better off. That's the first measuring stick. Got debt when wages drop? If so, you're screwed. Prices for goods dropped. The dollar had huge value. Wages and employment dropped. Debt stayed the same and became an impossible burden for many.

Good point, Leanan. Also, presumably life goes on even as the economy is collapsing all around one. Young couples will still want to get married, and will still want wedding rings, and will be willing to barter something to acquire them.

Not necessarily. Some people already don't buy wedding rings or diamonds anymore because of the perceived cost in blood. Such cultural practices might be considered backward, corrupt and decadent by the generations that follow ours. They might be considered symbols of a culture that polluted the world and killed so many people. After all, who wears fur anymore?

You are a starry-eyed optimist.
You think your income won't change?
Dunno what you do, but if you sell anything to the public you are likely to have hard times.
If you are employed by local government or the Government, if you keep your job wages are likely to be frozen whilst inflation eats it's value away, which should do for those on fixed incomes or pensions as well.
Of course, you may rely on investment income.
In that case, how does the stockmarket look to you?

While gold might be a good investment it is worth remebering that in the fairly recent past gold ownership was outlawed in the US.

From the Great Gold Robbery

"Fear of devaluation spurred a panic, which Roosevelt invoked to justify seizing people’s gold. On April 5, 1933, Roosevelt commanded all citizens to surrender their gold to the government. No citizen was permitted to own more than $100 in gold coins, except for rare coins with special value for collectors. Morgenthau announced on the same day that “gold held in private hoards serves no useful purpose under present circumstances.”[5] Gold was thus turned into the same type of contraband as Prohibition-banned rum."

This gold was bought from citizens at artificailly low rates and was to be stored in Fort Knox as a repository. Fort Knox has never been audited, though an attempt was made under the Reagan administration, the results were not made public though the adminstration subsequently dropped any further inquiry into returning to a gold standard. It is thought by some/many? that the gold has been shipped back to English and European bankers who had lost much of their stores from the economic success of the US and as a result of WWI.

The more things change ...

income tax rates would have to DOUBLE.

So you are saying this is almost as bad as the democrats winning the election?

The democrats should be against it because QUADRUPLING taxes isn't going to go over so well, eh?


Just for the record...I didn't say that. Denninger did.

I merely highlighted it as probably the most useful soundbite in his article.

Well, it's coming. Hopefully just the double part.

Many people are looking at Paulson as treasury secretary. This part of him is asking for TARP.

But there is another side to Paulson that few see. He is a member of the board of directors of the IMF, and he is not asking for anything.
He is telling them to pay up or else.

If they choose not to go along with Paulson as the de facto trustee, most likely all liquidity will be cut off.

Er, the Republicans have already given us the largest tax increase in US history. It just hasn't hit yet.

Beef up and shore up FDIC, do the money market insurance thing (with adjustments so it doesn't set up a perverse incentive for people to move funds from banks to money market funds), and provide some sort of insurance for pension funds (above and beyond what the gov't does now), IRAs, 401Ks, 403Bs, and annuities. That will protect ordinary citizens from any immediate catastrophe, and needs to be done immediately. As for the rest, the FedGov shouldn't be in the business of bailing out corporations, speculators, or well-connected corporate CEOs.

Paul Krugman admitted to beign a tad freaked last Thursday when the money market funds started to "break a buck" "portending a run on the banks". He believes THAT was the critical domino in any collapse, but that got addressed by the government dign the things you reference.

Therfore, there is time to think through any further action - something that is not likley to happen. Congress has to go on another break and campaign.


A greenie for your sentiment, nelsone. However, no one could be more explosively, logically nasty to this "bailout" idea than Chan Akya at Asia Times Terminal Velocity But does Congress care? No, they are on the take themselves:

The demand for Congress to pass some $700 billion in new purchasing power for the US Treasury acting in its own capacity goes beyond the dictionary definition of chutzpah, by making the very people responsible for driving the US economy aground also most likely to benefit from its recovery. It seems that there is hardly enough time to man gravy boats one last time in Washington, every lobbyist has gotten something valuable in the past week.

And yet, as is obvious, the "American" financial press, and especially the general MSM are pimping for this as though the world will end as soon as next Friday if this isn't done in the next couple of days.

As Leanan noted above, this is really all a giant "What's the Matter with Kansas" moment. Like lemmings, we will all "choose" to jump off the cliff together-- that's what Democracy is all about in the USA, after all. The right to choose anything you want from a pre-selected menu of options.

(And yes, I know lemmings don't jump off cliffs-- only people are stupid enough to do that)

A confidence game: also known as a bunko, con, flim-flam, gaffle, grift, scam, scheme, or swindle is an attempt to defraud a person or people (known as the "mark") which involves gaining his or her confidence.

I don’t think most of us (myself included) had paid much attention to ”sub-prime mortgages," "securitization," "derivatives" and, more ominously, "negative equity" until recently. Exotic derivative instruments with alphabet-soup initials command notional values in the hundreds of trillions of dollars, but nobody knows what they’re really worth. What is becoming apparent is that these complicated instruments were purposely designed to obscure which should have been the tell that we were being scammed.

Kevin Phillips, a political analyst on PBS, and the author of Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism (2007) gave a thorough analysis of the sting with it’s latest manifestation “The Bailout” last Friday night on Bill Moyers Journal. He’s also one of the few political writers who acknowledge the reality of Peak Oil and how that might affect our economy going forward.


Bill Moyers: In the preface of his book, Bad Money, Kevin Phillips has written that these economic tsunamis usually come to fruition in August and September. And sure enough, here we are in September with the financial system coming down around our ears.

Kevin Phillips: Americans, ordinary Americans don't have much of a role in this partly I think because they don't really know the dimensions of what's involved here. This is the denouement of the 25-year debt buildup which was undertaken mostly by the financial sector putting themselves on steroids to get bigger and bigger and bigger. And we've finally gotten to the point where the bubble isn't sustainable anymore.

…the United States in the last 20 years undertook an enormous transformation of itself with no attention paid. What makes all this so frightening is the country is at risk because of the size of the financial sector that has never been graded on its competence and behavior in any serious way. They are the economy at this point.

The pie in a financial economy goes to the one or two percent — or even less- that have capital skills and education. We have never had so much polarization and wealth disparity and just groaning wealth right at the top of ladder as we have now under finance.

…the central component of the rise of the financial sector is the rise of the debt industry. Mortgage, credit cards, all these gimmicks that Wall Street sells—

It's been a bipartisan phenomenon. You can go back to the 1980s and say Reagan and George Bush, Sr., got a bubble started. Clinton got in and got an even bigger bubble going and then George W. Bush with the biggest bubble of all. But it's not that the Clintonites didn't play. They did. Bob Rubin as Secretary of the Treasury — I mean, if he was a Hindu and he was being reincarnated, he'd come back as a pail because this guy bailed out everything you can imagine. They had the Mexican loan bailout. They had the long-term capital management bailout, the Russian Southeast Asian currency bailouts.

Bill Moyers: So this disaster has bipartisan parentage.

Kevin Phillips: We've had 25 years of what I call financial mercantilism, which is the government aiding and pushing and bailing out the financial sector. It's not going to change. But I do think finance is going to lose its control over the economy in the sense that the public is going to be so angry they're going to insist on more regulation.

I think what we’re doing (with this bailout) is like a drunk will feel better and get over his hangover better sometimes just by having more liquor. And I think what we're seeing with the actions of the Federal Reserve Board is the people who are the arsonists, the people who pumped it all up, who blew up the bubble are now racing to show up in firemen's hats and say, “We're gonna solve it. We're gonna take care of all this. Oh, and by the way, we're gonna keep pumping in the gasoline that we pumped in before that made a good flame.”

BILL MOYERS: So who do you trust anymore?

Kevin Phillips: There are seven sharks in the tank with the economy. And the first is financialization because we're so dependent on this industry that's sort of half lost its marbles. The second is that you have this huge buildup of debt, absolutely unprecedented anywhere in the world. The third is you've now got home prices collapsing. The fourth is you've got global commodity inflation building up. The fifth is you've got flawed and deceptive government economics statistics (Opacity). The sixth is that you've got what they call peak oil where the world is, to some extent, running out of oil. So it's not just commodity inflation, it's a shortage of oil. And then the last thing is the collapsing dollar.

The people who have the connections with the lobbies and the big donors have absolutely no problem with all these bailouts and rescues. But they don't dare admit it because who's rescuing the laid off worker? Nobody's rescuing them…

I think when the mark (Americans) finally catch on to this swindle and discover that as a result we’re substantially poorer than we believed we were we’re gonna be pissed off!


"I think when the mark (Americans) finally catch on to this swindle and discover that as a result we’re substantially poorer"

it will be too late, so piss all you like. Remember if you can't see the mark it's YOU, but i can help you win, i mean earn, it all back as I have this wonderful bridge.

Really. Where is this...Bridge?

It's in New York. It's a very nice bridge, but alas, they can't afford to maintain it any more.

I thought it was in Alaska and it went nowhere...

Our tax dollars hard at work... Hmm, the Alaskan governor must have lobbied hard for this- who is she, by the way...?

Where is this bridge? Wherever you want it of course, all part of the service. Now I have several parties interested in this but since you have first call (even though I have never met you) I just need you to advance me a holding fee. Please send me your bank details...

I've read Bad Money and can highly recommend it.

I think we are beginning to see what "mark to market" means.

It's something like "lambs to slaughter".

With strident language Roosevelt hurled blame at businessmen and bankers: "Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men....The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization."


Exactly. All this strident language on the internet blogs is diversion. Congress will lead us to slaughter, we will go meekly, bleating loudly all the way.

The art of rhetoric has taken a back seat to the 10 second sound bite. Unfortunately, the loss has been to our peril.

The great English speaking orators of the twentieth century - Roosevelt, Churchill, Kennedy (Diefenbaker & Trudeau in Canada) - did not spare or mince their words. Strident, inspiring, and bold language once was the repertoire of public discourse and a reassuring sign that our civilization was in the capable hands of leaders who were not shy to articulated their vision of public office and the commonweal.

Today our political power brokers filter everything through focus groups and spin doctors. Manipulation, not the common good, is the modus operandi of contemporary public administration.

Strident language among the assembly is what keeps the tyrant in check. The fact that the legislators in many western countries are afraid to use it is not a promising sign for our future.

NeverLNG, the fact that strident language is found primarily in the blogsphere is very much diversionary. Time for the people to wake up and behave more like goats than sheep.

From the NYT

The vice president and the other White House officials will be talking to members of the Republican Study Committee, the group of free-market conservatives whose members have raised objections to the plan. Tony Fratto, Mr. Bush’s deputy press secretary, said Mr. Cheney and others hoped to reassure the critics that the proposal is an emergency response to a critical problem, and not an “abandonment of the belief that our markets work and our free market system works."

I say "Baloney", Mr. Cheney. BALONEY!!! Either your "free market" is free, or it isn't. Either your "free markets" work or they don't.

I wish to reassure my critics that the fact that I work a job is not an "abandonment of the belief that my little dog Rex can crap out Kruggerands"...

Now put into the context of Phillips' previous book, "American Theocracy", and it gets really scary.

Kevin Phillips: Americans, ordinary Americans don't have much of a role in this partly I think because they don't really know the dimensions of what's involved here. This is the denouement of the 25-year debt buildup which was undertaken mostly by the financial sector putting themselves on steroids to get bigger and bigger and bigger. And we've finally gotten to the point where the bubble isn't sustainable anymore.

…the United States in the last 20 years undertook an enormous transformation of itself with no attention paid. What makes all this so frightening is the country is at risk because of the size of the financial sector that has never been graded on its competence and behavior in any serious way. They are the economy at this point.

The pie in a financial economy goes to the one or two percent — or even less- that have capital skills and education. We have never had so much polarization and wealth disparity and just groaning wealth right at the top of ladder as we have now under finance.

I just want to remind people that Paul Kennedy's fourth stage - before collapse - is the Acquisitive Stage. Just one more sign that collapse is virtually certain...


WSJ Breaking News Headline:

Chrysler LLC is aiming to launch full "portfolio" of electric vehicles cars and trucks, and sports-utility vehicles starting in late 2010, a person familiar with the company's plans said.

But not before the car manufacturers have their hand out.
"sports-utility vehicles", yes i forgot you need a two ton vehicle to move one person.

From above:
McCain pledges to renew Australian alliance
AUSTRALIA has looked to the US for leadership on global climate change and it is "time for us to answer that call", John McCain says.

I would look to American politicians for ways on how to procrastinate and delay this. Is it really that difficult to say no more gas guzzlers, starting from one month away from today?

Looks like CNBC has a story on it:

Testing the Cars as Chrysler Goes Electric

Yes, Chrysler. After a year of being the subject of suggestions that the company has a weak product pipeline and lacks a growth plan, the country's #5 automaker is making a big splash showing some electric models it plans to roll out in 2010.

IIRC, Chrysler already owns the GEM NEV company. They might as well re-invent themselves as an all-electric vehicle company - I see no other pathway to survival open to them at this point.

Chrysler is dead. Finished. They will file for bankruptcy in 2 years maximum.

Why not a PT Cruiser Hybred or EV? Lack of vision - lack of leadership!

Wow. If this is true, they just might save their own hindquarters! In my opinion, any car company that wants to survive needs to halve the size of the displacement of the engines in their vehicles, and/or make them plug-in hybrids. Logistics aside, that is. *small smile* Until they're affordable, ride your motorcycle, scooter, bicycle, public transportation, or walk. When you need a "TRUCK" you'll rent one for the day.

I would guess that it takes a lot of lithium to push a jeep. I still don't think they understand the resource issue. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

They can put that much lithium in a Jeep -- just as long as they don't make very many Jeeps.

A few expensive playthings for the rich, and a lot of cheap, small, low-speed, short-range minimalist vehicles for the rest of us. That's going to have to be the formula.

I will go to Autobloggreen.com to check out the verdict. But the only way Chrysler could put out mass-produced electrics from scratch in 24 months is to import them from a Chinese company that already had them in the pipeline. Since they're electrics they skip the smog testing process, but the crash tests could be a challenge.

Okay, I've decoded the PR.

There are 4 vehicles being hustled here. One is a converted Lotus, meaning you can't afford it. One is a NEV, which is easy to rush out because it doesn't have to pass a crash test but not what I mean by an electric car. Finally we have hybrid conversions of a Jeep and a minivan.

If the Lotus is the car that will arrive in 24 months, then I was wrong; instead of importing from a Chinese company they're importing from a Malaysian company and converting it in a small shop.

The hybrid prototypes use wheel motors, which makes for a fabulously simple conversion from a mass production standpoint, but wheel motors have been pretty expensive. I'm betting they won't be out by 2010.

Minivans are cleared to serve in taxis in most cities, as far as I know. Maybe by 2010 the Post Office will have to use these things too. Probably a winner.

The Jeep gets into an interesting area: do we buy 4-drives for objective reasons or because they are big and scary and make manly noises? The torque of four wheel motors could be a revolution for off-roaders. This ought to be successful, but I think buyers are too stupid to understand it.

Now all they have to do is stave off bankruptcy for several years. My bet: someone foreign will own much of Chrysler by the time any of these cars see daylight.

The American car companies are in the same situation as the majority of the American people - on CNN today they reported that over 60% expected things to get better over the next year! - they imagine that after a lull things will return to 'normal'.
So EV's are just a way to retain all the convenience and performance of ICE cars, and all commuting patterns etc, and at the same time make America energy independent.

Battery challenges for hybrids are more pronounced than for pure EV's, as you would need to charge up more frequently which batteries don't like.

In reality these vehicles will be coming in when most people are in very straightened circumstances, and credit tight.
In view of that, the UltraBattery which combines ultracapacitors with conventional lead-acid batteries greatly extending their resistance to deep discharge whilst doing the job at a lot less cost than lithium, albeit with more weight and less performance, looks interesting:
Green Car Congress: Furukawa Battery and East Penn Sign Sub-License Agreement for UltraBattery

I'd see this powering folks electric scooters and bikes, which are likely what most will be able to afford.

Mitsubishi is also gradually rolling out this little beaut:
Iceland’s Future Could Be Electric - Wheels Blog - NYTimes.com

Van versions of this would make great delivery vehicles

I can't see anything the American car companies are planning which is in touch with what I would guess are likely to be the financial constraints in the near future.
They are an attempt to carry on the American Dream by another means.

I can't see anything the American car companies are planning which is in touch with what I would guess are likely to be the financial constraints in the near future.

I think you have it exactly right. Very few people will be able to afford $40k for a car. Or even $20k.

I am studying why are not home owners making energy efficiency improvements in the northern US. One of the major reasons is that they are afraid of taking on more debt in uncertain economic times. Fuel prices are expected to rise 30% this winter, but the number of efficiency improvements loans applied for is down from last year.

The spiral of poverty. Prices rise. You get poorer. That takes the funds you needed for efficiency. You can't change. Prices rise.

My advice has shifted to suggesting people get ready to double up in houses and put in the infrastructure to make that more comfortable.

You should start a blog Dave. I remember you posting about how to heat only one room, but I cannot find them again.

Cheers, Jon.
I do have a blog but do not get around to maintaining it.
Insulating one room is pretty simple stuff as long as you don't forget to make sure your pipes don't freeze.
Of course, it means you have to insulate your internal walls too, so you may be able to do the entire house for not much more!
I'll try to get something together on my blog, and post it here so that people can put their info in.
But briefly:
You have to sort out what your budget is, what the climate is- warm or cold summers, does it often go below freezing and how long for etc, and what the construction of the house is.

If you live in a climate which can get hot in the summer the first thing I would consider is an attic fan:
Solar Utilities Network: Attic Fans

Back to looking at the problem from cold:

Check for drafts first - they can pull the heat out of a room in no time, but put in enough ventilation or you will get mould.

This site gives a good guide to the alternatives for insulation for different wall and roof constructions:

If you have a brick built house with a cavity wall you can have insulation pumped in.
If it is a solid brick or stone structure then the best way is to build outside it, and insulate the new structure effectively.
The big enemy is damp, so take account of that whatever you do.
Because of planning permission or expense - for instance if you are in an upper story flat - you may have no option but to so the insulation inside- see the Celotex site again for info on this, and be very careful of damp.

In the attic space go for at least 270mm of insulation - that is for Britain, other countries may vary.
You can also buy insulation in blankets which go directly under the tiles if you have an inhabited attic space.

If your main living area has a high ceiling, consider a false roof, which will give you plenty of space for insulation.
If you are just insulating one room, then don't forget the space between the floorboards of the room above.
In large,open plan housing then stud partitioning is fairly inexpensive, but don't forget that you will need a double skin for insulation.

For areas where you don't have room to put in insulation, consider using aerogel, which provides huge amounts of insulation as it is around 37 times as efficient as fibreglass:

It is fairly expensive, at $5sq ft, but useful for instance in the rebates of windows - it is surprising how much heat they can loose.
Talking about windows, obviously if you can afford double or triple glazing that is the way to go.
Less expensively, consider insulated curtains.
And really cheaply, buy the bubble plastic they use in gardening, and attach it to your windows when it gets cold - you will find it at the gardening stores.

Lastly, a couple of thoughts on selecting and sealing one room for the winter.
Choose a room with easy access to the bathroom , and with a kitchen area, as cooking will provide much of your heat.
Bedrooms can be a space in this area, or if the climate is not too severe or you are tough enough you can put on old fashioned things like pajamas and night-caps(!) before heading off to bed in another room.
Your bathroom may be in or out of the heavily insulated area also, but if it is out of the heated area use heat tape to prevent the pipes freezing:
How To Install Heat Tape
If you have a bathroom which is conveniently near enough to the area you intend to insulate that it can be done inexpensively, that is great, but if you have a second bathroom you may want to cut off the water to that part of the house in the winter an drain the pipes to prevent them freezing - putting in a valve to do this is easy and cheap, or you could use more heat tape.

Try to design your layout so that as and when more funds become available you can extend the insulated area without wrecking too much - if I were just insulating one room I would make most of it fairly temporary and movable rather than beautiful.

Hope this is helpful, but please bear in mind that it is 20 years since I was building, and most of the materials we are talking about were not in use then, nor was there undue concern for insulation.

I will put these notes up on my blog, for a proper re-write later - if anyone, hopefully with more recent knowledge than I, can contribute, that would be most helpful! - post it here and I will incorporate it.

Here is the link to the rough draft on the blog, just saying the same as this! - but if anyone has a contribution I will incorporate it, so I post the link here so that the contributor can check I got it right!

IMO this quick trot out is so they can get in line for their


Another update.

The battery packs on the Jeep and minivan are way too big for the 40 mile range they're claiming. These vehicles will not be good deals with 22 kwh battery packs when lithium runs $500/kwh or more.

The Volt appears to be a much better optimized design.

Commenters have also pointed out that wheel motors in a Jeep could be bad news when crossing a creek. One of the stories I saw indicated each car had only one big motor, which means it can't be a wheel motor.

by Jason Linkins , The Huffington Post, September 22, 2008

A critical - and radical - component of the bailout package proposed by the Bush administration has thus far failed to garner the serious attention of anyone in the press. Section 8 (which ironically reminds one of the popular name of the portion of the 1937 Housing Act that paved the way for subsidized affordable housing ) of this legislation is just a single sentence of thirty-two words, but it represents a significant consolidation of power and an abdication of oversight authority that's so flat-out astounding that it ought to set one's hair on fire. It reads, in its entirety:
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
In short, the so-called "mother of all bailouts," which will transfer $700 billion taxpayer dollars to purchase the distressed assets of several failed financial institutions, will be conducted in a manner unchallengeable by courts and ungovernable by the People's duly sworn representatives. All decision-making power will be consolidated into the Executive Branch - who, we remind you, will have the incentive to act upon this privilege as quickly as possible, before they leave office. The measure will run up the budget deficit by a significant amount, with no guarantee of recouping the outlay, and no fundamental means of holding those who fail to do so accountable.

My hair isn't on fire, but I am smelling smoke.

If the congresscritters pass this, they might as well just adjourn and go home. They will have abdicated all responsibility, and turned the US from a republic into an authoritarian dictatorship.

It's the Patriarch Act.

This "bailout plan" is the financial equivalent of the Patriot Act and the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of Force rolled into one. It is shock and awe being waged on economic terms (ala Naomi Klein).

The sad thing is that with $700 billion you can pay for 200,000 offshore wind turbines (at $3.45 million a piece) or 1,260 Princess Amalia type offshore wind farms producing potentially 548,100 GWh of electricity or enough to power 157,000,000 households and removing 280 million tonnes/year of CO2 (or 18% of 2000 total CO2 emissions for Canada and the US).

alanfrombigeasy get in line right now for some rail money, it should be pocket money.

Now where's that list of other things that couldn't be afforded?

Yeah, like SCHIP.

The moment I read Section 8:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

the strains of an old Supertramp song played in my head:

Now they're planning -- the crime of the century.

Might as well max out everything you can if this passes, hyperinflation is coming and in about 2 years a million dollars will by you a cup of coffee at the local diner. My euro friends are freaked, everytime the dollar goes down, they lose sales.

I wonder. To have hyperinflation, you have to have wage increases. Labor no longer has the power to demand wage increases, especially in a bad economy.

Even now, businesses are having a hard time passing on their higher costs, because customers just won't pay.

Rather than hyperinflation, we may instead get a lot of unemployment

Did anyone demand wage increases in Zimbabwe? It would take a very brave man to ask Robert Mugabe for a raise.

I wouldn't imagine there is much "work for pay" in Zimbabwae right now so everyone might be staying home or be too busy trading things on the black market. Read a story about Germany in the 20s where the guys were paid twice a day and their wives would go spend it right away before it devalued. They burned money to keep warm, it was cheaper than firewood...*OUCH. Wish I had a crystal ball, this scares the daylights out of me. $700 billion for what? A bunch of houses for the DEA to use?

According to this article, things are surprisingly normal in Zimbabwe.

The government's hope is to bolster the asset values of real estates, financial instruments etc. If enough money is pumped (inflation) in to these dead assets, some of them may eventually increase in dollar price. Another way that money can enter the system is another stimulus package (helicopter drop) that is bigger than the last.

They have unions in Zimbabwe.

Construction Industry Workers Get Wage Increase

The Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades Workers' Union said on Wednesday that it had secured agreement of employers to increase minimum wages for workers in the industry to $9 billion per month with effect from June 1.

ZCATWU deputy general secretary Mr Muchapiwa Mazarura said the two parties had concluded a collective bargaining agreement to increase wages of all categories of workers in the construction industry by 260 percent.

Dunno about you, but I'm not expecting a 260% raise any time soon.

Leanan - It's important to point out that the primary reason that wages have lagged far behind economic growth is the manipulation of statistical figures. When they estimate inflation they take out food and energy as well as increases (historical now) in real estate values for CPI calculations. When they base increase in wages on a Consumer Price Index minus the above factors they are able to arrive at inflation rates of 1.5% to 2.5% rather than the true inflation rate of 5 to 7%. when you extrapolate that over 20 years you are talking about a significant erosion of real income for working people.

I was just listening to a News story where they justify high salaries for CEO's who manage institutions that need to be bailed out by taxpayers.

"This is going to be a very technical project so we will need to retain the most talented people."

I am outraged that these criminals never stop looking for a public ATM.

It's important to point out that the primary reason that wages have lagged far behind economic growth is the manipulation of statistical figures.

I don't buy it.

The primary reason is that labor has been eviscerated (partly due to peak oil, I suspect).

Hello, all. For all you people who couldn't make it to Sacramento:

Robert Hirsch Wrap Up For Monday at ASPO Sacramento

- asked to give some wrapup comments, hit some highlights

- most people think of peak oil as sharp
- instead, it's been a fluctuating plateau
- plateaus are not flat, there are lots of ups and downs within a band
- Europe was on a plateau for six years, the range was 3%

Biggest Thing Coming
- the onset of decline, we are going to fall off the plateau

- small numbers are very important
5% decline of oil in 1973 led to recession
- doesn't take much to create significant economic troubles
- 1% of world oil consumption is enormous ~860,000 barrels/day whether to produce or to conserve
- 3% to 5% changes in production cannot be identified as a trend until years later

Time Frames
- many people think decline will start in 2-5 years
- but doesn't make a difference because it will take us at least twenty years to catch up to this problem
- everyone needs to think about what this means to you personally; where you have your money is important as we enter decline; the normal, standard things no longer apply
- if you're involved in business, think about alternate scenarios

My Thoughts
- this past week was dramatic if you understood what what going on
- this may have been prototypical of what we can expect when peak oil is generally realized by the public
- when that realization occurs, there will be hell to pay, week after week
- understand what happened this week because we will see it again and have it in spades

The Best Ideas and One Liners
"willful human blindness" --> really does describe what we're dealing with getting people to understand peak oil

- when people start to really suffer from peak oil, they are going to clamor for fixes NOW

- "peak roads" we probably have enough roads; entrenched special interests that aren't necessariy negative need to pay their mortgages too and they will want to keep the current system going

- "proactive choir" we are the those people who put in their time to further peak oil education; keep it very simple when discussing to elected's, for instance

- point was made that panic was likely required for real action; I deplore that, but think that it's realistic; with everything going on now, politicians are going to have to get hit over the head before they will react

- re: rates of change, I encourage everyone to examine the rates of change like the 1% equalling the 860,000 barrels or how long it takes to bring new vehicles to the market; the more you look at these rates, you're going to see that this problem is going to run away from our best efforts

- state and local governments are starting to act, including opening up offshore drilling, there will be a shock they have to deal with; demand destruction almost always means tax reduction making their jobs harder
- they have lots of pressing problems and trying to introduce peak oil during this is not going to be easy
- there is denial, faith in technology, faith in government: these are the things standing in the way of people getting peak oil

- "biggest robbery in history" was applied to the resources in Africa; the biggest wealth transfer in history in many directions, not just money to Middle East; this is going to bite us back

- I acknowledge the organizers because there is a mixed audience and it's not easy to satisfy it but they've done a great job

- don't think of this as an energy problem: this is a liquid fuels problem! We can't take pv and run our cars.
- in the near term, we have $50 to $100 trillion dollars (a big investment!) in equipment that requires liquid fuels
- we have to keep that fleet going or the economy shuts down and we have anarchy
- yes, we will have electricity problems, but keep the sharpness between the liquid fuels problems and electricity

- think about the world in stress, environmental regulations will definitely change; we don't have to trash the earth and we won't but we are going to have to select rules to keep and others will go away

- "Rebuilding our energy system will be the biggest construction job in history" I suspect that this will be true; there will be opportunities and some organizations will thrive

- there was a call for a leader to give it to us straight: but that will bring us to the "week of realization" I mentioned earlier; the mere announcement is going to cause chaos, just like 73 or 79, it's not as simple as we think to say what needs to be said

- shipping costs going up, globalization is starting to unwind

- compromises and pragmatism will be necessary; if you've been fighting for something for a long time that's going to be hard, but it will be needed in the future if we are to get anything done

- don't make this a partisan issue

- Interesting that the National Oil Companies (NOCs) are now becoming International National Oil Companies (INOCs); interesting how "the majors" (Exxon etc.) are now the little guys on the world stage

- the best is the enemy of the good; we may have to think in the situation we're about to enter that good is the enemy of the adequate

- the U.S. is not finished; there will be pain but we're going to reorganize!

Note from aangel:
Nothing further to add, Dr. Hirsch got the big points of the day while adding his unique perspective.

Thanks for the update!

"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." - Nazi Reich Marshall Hermann Goering, at the Nuremberg War Trials

Its apparently obvious that Americas leaders have taken to heart and hold close to their breast the fear
rhetoric they exploit on the peoples. They throw wording like "To big to fail" or "Toxic debt" and "financial armageddon" mixed in with "falling into the abyss"
Ranking right up there with "Nuclear mushroom cloud over Manhattan" and "Weapons of Mass destruction" of this there can be no doubt, wool must be expensive when so many sheep get sheared all at once. An old dirty joke goes..."When the sheep hearder found that mounting sheep which were placed facing over a cliff,
they pushed back" Too bad American sheep arent as boisterous in the prone position, They actually take it lying down.

Some Beatles this morning?

Comrades JPGR writes:

You say you want revaluation
Well you know
We all want to make some cash
You tell me we need legislation
Well you know
Taxpayers buy up all the trash
But when you ask for a trillion
Don't you know that we can't count that high
Don't you know it's gonna be alright

You say you'll save the institutions
Well you know
Sen Bunning will kill the plan
You ask us all for contributions
Well you know
No deposit on dog food cans
But if you want money for all the friends of Hank
All I can tell you is you're smoking some real dank
Don't you know it's gonna be alright

You say we'll scrap the constitution
Well you know
We'd all love to be the man
You tell me there'll be no dilution
Well you know
Get those warrants while you can
But if you go carrying pictures of FDR
You better forget about that wasteful war
Don't you know it's gonna be alright

European Banks: Too Big to Rescue?

So far European banks have been spared the convulsions that are ravaging the US financial system. This is surprising because some of the major European banks have leverage ratios (often over 30, in some cases close to 50) that must, under current market conditions, be considered a disaster in waiting.

The Automatic Earth

Does anyone have any comments, information, links to any discussions on this?
The blogsphere is rather Americo-centric, and there seems very little discussion on it.
Is this the next shoe to drop?
At least apparently we are not organised enough to organise a 'rescue' on the lines that Paulson plans for the US!

Paulson's plan includes buying assets from foreign banks. So the US taxpayer can get to bail out Deutschebank as well as Goldman Sachs.

Most of the $700bn is earmarked for Goldman-Sachs's derivatives, I understand.
The rest is mostly window dressing, with a few bones thrown to foreign creditors, and a bit for old friends at Morgan Stanley.

700 billion is a drop in the ocean. Total "value" of derivatives: 516 TRILLION.

"We try to be alert to any sort of mega-catastrophe risk, and that posture may make us unduly appreciative about the burgeoning quantities of long-term derivatives contracts and the massive amount of uncollateralized receivables that are growing alongside. In our view, however, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal."

Warren Buffett in 2002, from marketwatch.com.

A better measure is the fair value of outstanding contracts since it's an attempt to assess potential losses and gains rather than face values. Whilst there are trillions the cost of settling these is much lower, nevertheless still a big number.

Much of the derivatives are covered by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) Master Agreement and this contains rules governing how they should be settled in the event of a default or credit event as it is called. Last week there was much work going on to settle these and the market did not meltdown despite huge numbers of transactions being settled. The agreement allows for amounts to be netted across all contracts.

Watch out for regulator infighting as Christopher Cox the SEC chairman has made a push for greater authority:-)

thx liferaft, interesting link

Let's see : $ 700 billions : $ 560 000 billions = 0.00125 or "SPEND 1 REVITALIZE 800"

They're gonna save that huge Runnaway-train with a small Draisine, What are they waiting for(?), pass the bill yesterday ........

From wikipedia :

Derivatives are financial instruments whose value changes in response to the changes in underlying variables. The main types of derivatives are futures, forwards, options, and swaps.

yes Mr. Stockman, Please give me 100 hectograms of that forward-cake, and a few handfuls of those option-fruits!

I don't think it matters much if the leverage ratio is 12:1 or 30:1 in this situation. Both ratios suggest that nearly all of the money behind funds loaned out is debt and not equity.

A good housing bubble is plenty enough to wipe out an 8% equity stake (12:1) just as it is a 3% equity stake (30:1). This housing bubble is one for the record books, and a 50% drop in housing prices should cause most banks to be insolvent. If the banks keep on paying dividends and fat executive bonuses (which they are), it'll be just that much worse.

PS: Even if the ratios did matter, my understanding is that US banks engage in many accounting tricks to pad their ratio. Their true leverage is generally much higher than their reported leverage, which is limited by law.

A few words about the Paulson plan from Krugman's blog:

The premise of the Paulson plan– though never stated bluntly — is that these assets are hugely underpriced, so that Uncle Sam can buy them at prices that help the financial industry a lot, without big losses for taxpayers. Are you prepared to bet $700 billion on that premise?

But how can we help the financial situation without making that bet? By taking an equity stake. That way, if it turns out that the feds are pumping money in at above-fair prices, at least they get ownership, just as a private white knight would have.

There is no, repeat no justification for refusing to grant equity warrants that provide some taxpayer protection. This is, for me, an absolute deal or no-deal point.

Makes sense to me...

is that these assets are hugely underpriced

How do you know? I thought it was junk that nobody wants?

It is junk that nobody wants, therein lies the problem. If we go back to BAU wrt housing prices, things will be fine with the Paulson plan because "underpriced" assets will be back at "normal" prices and we (the taxpayer) won't lose much. However, who actually thinks we're going back to BAU? Haha, fat chance. The housing bubble is burst and ain't coming back for a long time.

Technical Analysis (TA) – 10th Post

Thank you for your support. I will make at least a few more posts because writing these have helped me learn and forced me to pay really close attention to the market. This is a very funny website in some ways. Over the years, I have noticed that there is a presence on this website of some very heavy hitters. I am going to guess that some of the oil Smart Money (SM) either reads TOD or has someone on their staff who does. The main reason is for TOD's huge range of information and its “meat grinder” makes for stuff that even the SM can use. Also, its readership makes for a place for them to distribute their own “information.”

So, on TOD you have a few of the big guys reading the posts of the little guys, and vice versa. That to me is funny. In any case, I love the cynical, curmudgeonly attitude of the posters on this website. Unlike say Crammer's website, there is a basic “take it with a grain of salt” aspect that is a fundamental part of TOD.

I have some money to invest because I sold our big house and moved into a smaller one. Some have pointed out that TA won't help with the many surprises that are getting dumped on us. I agree. I'm just hoping that I can pay as much attention as I can to what is going on – I don't have any other hope.

“Short selling ban not working” http://www.cnbc.com/id/26838820 I'm not surprised, much of the elite has been betrayed recently. First several hedge funds were hit with the dive in the price of oil, then many, many more were hit with this super short squeeze. I saw a hedge fund manager on cnbc on Friday and he was really angry! Many of the “insiders” are finding our they are really “outsiders.” This has got to tick them off, especially after they supported the SM for so long. I'm guessing that a lot of folks are now getting out of the financials, just to show their displeasure. Also, the “do not short” list is also an implicit list of stocks to sell, otherwise they wouldn't be “protected.”

From 9/22/08: Today's sharp oil price spike was the result of a “short squeeze” with buyers taking delivery of West Texas Intermediate crude...[because] they knew full well that there is not enough physical oil to satisfy speculative requirements," says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. http://www.cnbc.com/id/26839626

This may an indication that unlike for gold and silver, the Smart Money (SM) has a hard time keeping the demand for physical from impacting the paper price. Of course all of the buyers taking delivery are members of some SM group. To have crude oil storage on hand one would have to be a big boy, but I'm guessing that storage could be leased. I also think that it is interesting that “”they” knew full well that there was not enough physical oil to satisfy speculative requirements.” This is interesting to me because the people who got squeezed should have known that too. I am still looking for a website that has daily crude oil short ratios. Does anyone know a website that provides these for free?

It looks like the SM finally went too far, I have been hearing rants all day from the most normally unaware people about the bailout plan. People are waking up! On the down side, this is usually when the SM comes up with a suitably horrific distraction. Nothing like a little fear to get people's brains to shut off again. I'm still waiting for Paulson to take a break from urging us to give the banks a couple of trillion and to provide his rationale and the numbers proving that the bailout will save the banks.

At the end of the day the USO price was about 74% of its max, and UGA was about 80% of its max. USO went up about 6% and UGA about 5%. At this time (11:00 am) oil is down a bit, gold is down a bit and the dollar is up a bit (vs EURO), all of which are slightly bearish for oil.

As far as my TA on OmniTrader is concerned, I got really frustrated at the lack of signals, so went in and took all of the filters (confirming signals) off of the strategies that I created and made a new reversal strategy with no filters. Now I have plenty of signals, but please keep in mind that the unfiltered signals are “unconfirmed” (I am still using the filtered strategies too). Now I have a weak (63/99) long signal for USO using the unfiltered volume and reversal strategies, and a weak (1/5) recognized “common gap” pattern.

All in all, and with today's movement, I don't feel real confident about making any trades in oil.

UGA (gasoline) had a stronger long signal (84/99) from my unfiltered strategies with a stronger (2/5) “belt hold” recognized pattern. With Wednesday's inventory numbers bound to be very bad, there might be a chance for UGA to go higher even if USO stays low. My fundamental analysis side says that with the inventory numbers, both should be higher, but the SM has shown the power to force an ignore of anything.

The retail situation for gas here in Atlanta keeps getting worse and worse.

For my TA, I am using OmniTrader (20-day backtested, end-of-day [EOD]) with the pattern recognition module (short, med, and long), and I trade USO as a proxy for oil, and UGA as a proxy for gasoline. I am using the standard strategies for breakout, trending, and reversal (all filtered and non-optimized), one that I created with all 75 systems, another one I created with only the volume systems (both optimized and minimally filtered), and an unfiltered version of the reversal strategy. Once again I have put myself out as a fortune teller – a sure way to end up looking like a fool. I am not an expert at TA, I am a beginner. Please add to this analysis, and don't feel shy about flaming me if I said something dumb. I definitely want to stay out of the group of the “stupid people losing money.”


Buffet says Technical Analysis (TA) is a waste of time, and he tried it many years ago, but sheez what does he know?? He just says understand what you are investing in and be patient.

"I got really frustrated at the lack of signals, so went in and took all of the filters (confirming signals) off of the strategies that I created and made a new reversal strategy with no filters. Now I have plenty of signals"

You were frustrated after how long? I bet you have plenty of signals, read TOD and you will get some more:-) I assume this OmniTrader is software so what makes you think you can beat the guys with millions to spend on software?? Most expert traders at the mutual funds can't even beat teh index reguluarly.

This OmniTrader does it by any chance cost you any money? If so you might want to consider taking off all the filters and returning it for a refund. What's that, they don't do refunds, how strange:-)

By the way you sold your big house and moved into a smaller one, good move now you can waste the cash on trying to beat the market. Maybe you have spent the last couple of years paper trading to prove your theory? Or were you just too impatient? Keep up the posts i want to know what happens.

Generaly... I just look at the 'OmniTrader' as another tool... Let's see what it has to say. I for one don't mind an analysis from this kind of software- it gives us all an insight as to what the trends look like...

Besides, I think TonyW has Prius envy... My Prius is bigger and badder than his... More cargo space. And it goes longer without having to stop and fill up...

I use TOD to get a lot of great oil investment information. And, for a while I made a good return on my money using an almost pure fundamental investment strategy. Then I let my overall bullishness on oil get the better of me in the recent downturn, and I lost a good bit of money. Why? Looking back, it was mostly because I wasn't watching the price and volume closely enough and I didn't have any good stops in place. I am not looking at technical analysis as a way of beating anyone (I feel like I am just along for the ride), it is mainly my way of reducing my losses. So far it has helped with this, so I will keep it up. It has helped me short the market when my nature was to go long, and I made a decent profit because it forced me to set profit goals. It has also kept me out of the market when there were confusing signals and news. At the very least, it forces me to set stops that will keep me from ever having as great a loss as I did recently. Some times it confuses the heck out of me, but I consider this a positive because it makes me more cautious.

I agree with you that technical analysis is not a magic bullet, and that it can be just as dangerous as any other method. Mainly I am using it to force myself to pay attention to what is going on, and to cut back on the amount of times when I let my emotions get the best of me and I act like a big dummy.

The main reason that I am using OmniTrader is that it is very automated. I wish that I had the success of Buffet, but whenever I tried buy and hold, it turned into hold and lose. Heck, even Buffet's stock is down about 16% from the 52 week high.

Buffet may say whatever he wants about TA. And he may have a few deals that make headlines which are based on fundamentals. But I guarantee that behind the scenes, he is using TA. He's certainly not going to admit it...

The truth is that the market is totally out of control, and at the mercy of computer controlled trading.

. I have added you to my very short list of posters that I find informative and helpful. You've just joined the ranks with Nate Hagens and Memmel.

While I play the market via the poker player school of trading, I value your new hyper technical analysis and its clever predictive abilities..Please continue to post. Thanks for your efforts.


Generaly: I generally only give investment advice to people I dont like, but here goes.

Forget Omnitrader, or anything with the word omni in it. The Omni hotels suck even, the name is a curse.
Making a small fortune in the markets is easier when you start with a large fortune. And starting with a large fortune is no guarantee. Its a myth that uber wealthy people make money in the markets...au contraire, they have a fortune already...why risk losing it?
Apparently your software is placid on this hard fundamental...real traders on the floor talk more like longshoreman or steelworkers and really dont go for shop lingo....thats for the suckers.

But keep us informed okay? Someone here was selling a bridge in Brooklyn earlier and I saw some aluminum siding for sale on Craigslist, come back when you score the big one!

The Bailout The Bailout The Bailout.....

There are a lot of ways of looking at it. One is that it represents the ultimate form of 'trickle-down' economics in which the central banks and big financial institutions get the money and everyone else is supposed to benefit as these institutions do their socially responsible investing..... anybody gagging yet??

Many of us see what's coming as the saving of the fatcats at the expense of impoverishing the rest of us. Some have suggested that opposing the bailout represents the 'Atlas Shrugged' scenario. I think the more apt metaphor would be Samson bringing down the temple in a final moment of despair, wiping out the partying Philistines as well as taking his own life. If we peons are going to be impoverished, why shouldn't we make sure the fatcats are as well?

Because we peons live to take orders, and we've been trained to accept that a white man in an expensive suit is wiser than we are. If we get rid of him, then we'd have to choose some among our own to function as an executive, and we'd hate their guts for being "uppity".

Now note that the ancient Greeks filled some political offices by lottery, but the government was simple and backed by a tradition of tribal solidarity.

I think there is a LOT to this sentiment. I came from a typical white, ethnic, working-class community in small-town Illinois and there is a big notion that if you succeed by leaving the community you 'put on airs.'

white man in an expensive suit is wiser than we are

For all your talk about the white man, I don't think the Bernake and Paulson's of the world give a rats rear end what color the rest of us are. There is GREEN with greed, and there are the "peasents", race has nothing to do with it. White, black, brown or yellow, if you ain't rich, you don't matter. Focusing on race is counter productive. Poor white trash hate all rich people equally, too bad the ghetto colors your thoughts so much.

Face it, if OJ was poor, guilty or not, he would have went to jail. Since he had money, it didn't matter what color he was or if he did it.

You may be right about race, but being a practitioner of dialectical materialism, it appears all the suits doing the talking are white, and in suits.

Also, the ceo's of every corp bailed out so far seem to be white, and have business suits on.
Am I missing something?

Am I missing something?

And, they so seem to be fellas at least 50 years old.

Ahhh... The world of Wall Street CEO's. White? Check. Male? Check. Corrupt? CHECK.

Good point, but King George's cronies come in all shapes and sizes, ala Condi and Gonzo. My guess is that its more Harvard, Yale or similar institution. That's a pretty exclusive club, not much diversity in that environment, a little bit of color and definitly not any poor or middle class people without connections no matter what color.

Paulson just seems to be taking care of his friends in my mind, more cronyism than racism in my mind. I also would imagine that CEOs of color would be less risky in running their businesses since they would also be less likely to expect any handout. They also may actually have a sense of shame, which Bernake and Paulson clearly don't.

Hell, I'm white and I begining to hate any white guy in a suit after watching this, even though I primarily detest lawyers and accountants of all colors and creeds. I prefer to keep any anger I have directed at those who actually deserve it.

Yes,exactly. The people who go to those schools are (many of them) planning for careers in investment banking or the Federal Govt. In the case of the bankers, it's so they can get rich. In the case of the ones who want to go to Washington, it's so they can influence others and so they can insulate themselves and their friends from the consequences of their (bad) actions if they need to later. (See the Jared Diamond quote above). Not everyone who goes to these schools is like that but plenty are, and they're pretty unapologetic about it. The idea is to gain advantage in whatever (preferably legal) way possible, otherwise why go to this kind of school? The point is to be prepared to meet whatever challenges life throws you. If you are thrown the curveball of the devastating problem of peak oil, then you want to be able to ask for lots of money quickly from the govt so you can keep your lifestyle.

The book "The Entropy Law and the Economic Process" has an excellent section on the topic of "elites"--who are they, what they do and how they function. It is the best summary I've seen.

The current bailout, however it plays out, reminds me of Dmitry Orlov's phrase "boondoggles to the rescue"!

In fact the training part long pre-dated Paulson, but then it's irrelevant whether the upper class is genuinely racist or not. It indoctrinated racism to keep poor whites from defecting to the Left, and it has been spectacularly successful in the US, South Africa and Israel. Where the poor are all the same color, the workers often got very radical and very powerful. In all-white Germany the rich turned to Hitler, who was propagating a new bigotry that performed the function of breaking the Left. (Germany was not particularly anti-Semitic before 1918.)

The class conflict exists first. The racism or other form of caste prejudice is manufactured to fracture the lower class for easy exploitation. Slaves were first bulk-shipped to Virginia AFTER a rebellion by poor whites required that they be given land and status.

This is not a ghetto rant, this is a cold-blooded systems analysis from the descendant of some of those poor whites who wants to break the cycle NOW.

There are alot of reasons people don't defect to the left in the states, but thats a six-pack topic.

Alot of poor counties in the south have the least racism of anywhere, simply because everyone's lived together for so long and they are all the same....they hate outsiders more. Yes, its there in someplaces but I don't think any country anywhere will ever be rid of it. So yeah, the class conflict exists first then the hatred of the "other" gets exploited. This is the reason socialism only works in homogenous societies like Japan, its like an extended family. Multicultural societies like the states produce a reaction similiar to the deadbeat brother-in-law, ie "I don't want to help that worthless SOB!". Everything works well in prosperity, but in hard times the mob always wants a scapegoat. I nominate the lawyers, economists and accountants for our common scapegoat. They're mostly white guys in a suit if that helps us agree?

The good news is we will have 100% employment.

We all work for the government.

The bad news is the tax rate is 100% also.

In the old communist world we said they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work. Another version is called serfdom. You can call it what you want but all systems pretty much have an elite that lives to a much higher standard at the expense of the remainder. Sometimes this is done by looting the resources, e.g. oligarchs, United Fruits... at other times the masses willingly give up their rights for the "greater good" e.g. religions (I am always amazed at the number of religious shows in the US).

"at other times the masses willingly give up their rights for the "greater good" e.g. religions "

It also describes the ideal of communism, but I'll take religion over Marxism any day of the week.

Marx's demand to give up religious illusion is a demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.

I think we all have our illusions, they all serve a purpose irregardless of what they are.

The Free Market will save us

Listening in to Congressional hearings now.
The normal mantra is that the Free Market consists of willing buyers and willing sellers meeting in an open marketplace to negotiate a fair price.

So why don't we have all the current players buy and sell to each other?

No. The Fed (Treasury) is going to show up with an open check book (700B plus) and say 'I'm willing to pay cash for the trash that no one else will buy'. Is that a free market or a free give away of taxpayer wealth?

From today's Asia Times Online, "E pluribus hokum or When the gamblers bail out the casino",

Paulson's dreadful scheme will become law, because Americans love their bankers. The bankers enable their collective gambling habit. Think of America as a town with one casino, in which the only economic activity is gambling. Most people lose, but the casino keeps lending them more money to play. Eventually, of course, the casino must go bankrupt. At this point, the townspeople people vote to tax themselves in order to bail out the casino. Collectively, the gamblers cannot help but lose; individually they nonetheless hope to win their way out of the hole. Americans are so deep in the hole that they might as well keep putting borrowed quarters into the one-armed bandit. They have hardly saved anything for the past 10 years. Instead, they counted on capital gains to replace the retirement savings they never put aside, first in tech stocks, then in houses. That hasn't worked out. The S&P 500 Index of American equities today is worth what it was in 1997, after adjusting for inflation (and a pensioner who sells stock purchased in 1997 will pay a 20% capital gains tax on an illusory inflationary gain of 40%). Home prices doubled between 1997 and 2007 before falling by more than 20%, with no floor in sight.

As it is, many of the baby boomers now on the verge of retirement will spend their declining years working at Wal-Mart or McDonalds rather than cruising the Caribbean. Some of them still have time to tighten their belts and save 10% of their income (by consuming 10% less), plus a good deal more to compensate for the missing savings of the 1990s.

Altogether, they'd rather gamble, and if that requires a bailout of the house, they gladly will chip in to pay for it. After all, today's baby boomers won't pay for the bailout. The next generation of taxpayers will pay for Paulson's $700-$800 billion. If that enables the present generation to keep borrowing rather than saving, it is no skin off their back. If home prices continue to collapse, the baby boomers will die in debt anyway, working at low-paying jobs until the day before their funerals.

Kinda says it all. Have a nice day:-)

many of the baby boomers now on the verge of retirement will spend their declining years working at Wal-Mart or McDonalds rather than cruising the Caribbean

I don't know where these guys get the idea that working at Wal-Mart or McDonalds during your golden years is a bad thing, being active keeps you healthy. As a teenager flipping burgers, I knew alot of seniors who did this and they were the happiest people I knew.

Hank and Ben could not have been too impressive in front of congress. Dow has dropped 100 in the past hour to stand (at 1826 GMT) under 11000 at 10,0913.66, a decline of 102.03 or .93%.

Slipping, slipping, slipping.

Basically they were saying: We're going to run a "reverse auction" where holders of garbage paper will name their price and we will take out the taxpayer's checkbook and start writing checks for the prices named by the reverse auction sellers of garbage paper.

Once the Congressmen understood that this is what is going on, they were somewhat unhappy (or pretended to be so for the TV cameras).

On a local radio talk show, one caller asked a good question: Instead of writing 700B checks for trash, why not write checks for solar panels, for wind farms, etc.? Then US taxpayer will get something other than garbage paper. Good question.

Do you have a link?

This one sure caught my attention. "Oil spike jolts investors", Calgary Herald:

Yergin, the chairman of Boston-based Cambridge Energy Research Associates, and Rubin, the chief economist for CIBC World Markets, are two of the biggest oil bulls in North America.

Did I hear right? Yergin, Mr. Underestimate-the-price-of-oil is now considered a big oil bull?

Stated that way, I suppose he is!

I think the "hitter" was left off.

The article is a bit unclear but methinks that probably the "reporter" confabulated Yergin's speech and Rubin's speech.

That is a good joke. So is Yergin.

Wouldn't heifer be better than bull?


The JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff) plan for "more war" ahead? Does anything ever change? At the end of WWII MacArthur wanted to push on from Japan and invade China. Truman did not allow him to do so. MacArthur wrote to Congress to try to get a declaration of war. Truman fired him. The country had suffered enough war.

I recall after my dad completed 100 combat flights over N. Vietnam he returned and told stories at the supper table about the Russians hiding SAM batteries in villages and the USAF commanders did not have permission to bomb them. Some in the leadership wanted to give them hell anyway. Eventually the war had to be called off due to lack of political support on the ground in S. Vietnam. It was called "peace with honor." Before the war ended Richard Nixon resigned and left Washington in a helicopter. His vice-president Spirow Agnew was convicted on bribery charges.

rainsong -

Truman did not fire MacArthur at the end of WW II, nor did he fire him because MacArthur wanted to push on from Japan and invade China.

Rather, Truman fired MacArthur in 1951 during the Korean War, and the main reasons were i) disagreement over war strategy, and ii) MacArthur's trying to make an end run around Truman by lobbying members of Congress to get support for his adgenda.

I really can't picture MacArthur actually wanting to invade China, as I'm pretty sure it was MacArthur who said something to the effect, 'Never get involved in a land war on the Asian mainland.'

There was also the unauthorized flying of nuclear weapons to bases in Japan. MacArthur was planning to drop at least ten nuclear bombs on Chinese troops just inside north of the Yalu River.

'Never get involved in a land war on the Asian mainland.'

Inconceivable! :)

(Apologies to those who haven't seen the princess bride)

Oil production just passed a mile stone, Cantarell fall below 1 million barrel per day.

Petroleos Mexicanos says sagging oil production is due a drop at its main Cantarell oil field. Output there was down by 26 percent to 998,000 barrels a day.

Mexico down 9%, well, Mexico is all set for no exports in 3 years. I dont think Mexico's consumption will fall even though the economy is in lacklustre shape.

Yeah, they'll just call up uncle Hugo from down south and he'll set 'em up just nice... Of course, that's less that'll go to the US...

If he's such a revolutionary he should hold back and let nature take its course. Viva Zapatismo.

Why aren't the presentations on the ASPO conference available on the conference web site?

I think they'll sell DVDs of the presentations later.

And some of the individuals will put their presentations up on their web sites.

According to Bernanke, the Fed would like to get out of dealing with crises and get back to monetary policy. LoL!

Meanwhile, Sarkozy says that those responsible for the financial meltdown should be punished. He also suggested today that the EU and Russia should form an economic community together (something I've suggested needs to happen many times).

Looks like people are backing away from the coming economic implosion.

I could have sworn Sarkozy was a neocon. Then I heard him offer Russia and Georgia a ceasefire that had no role for NATO and started wondering.

A European-Russian economic community makes plenty of sense but where does the power lie? Who safeguards Eastern Europe? Won't Europeans fear that it's the first step to Russia getting votes in the European Parliament based on its large population?

What about NATO? (Please wreck it, please, please!)

Sarkozy's looking out for France. They may be a member of Nato, but not much of one.

The perfect bail out: Take it right to the source of the problem and knock a point and a half off of everyone's mortgage. 0.75 points come from the government (a risk free payment to the banks) and 0.75 points come from the banks which end up with less risky mortgages. ARMs are eliminated. The government recoups by seeing lower mortgage interest deductions on tax returns over time. Banks end up with both liquidity and paper that is no longer junk. End of crisis.


Your plan isn't perfect-it leaves out the most important part which is that Paulson or one of his cronies gets to decide (with no oversight from anyone) which financial institutions get your money. Your plan is about solving the economic problem troubling the nation-Paulson's is about making money-big difference.

From CR--

From the Independent: Hedge funds suffer mass redemptions

Hedge funds could have an unprecedented level of cash pulled out by investors this quarter, according to insiders, just as they faced millions of pounds of losses from last week's shock regulation of short selling.
The redemptions seem to have started in earnest, although currently the evidence is mainly anecdotal. One UK hedge fund manager confided that last week had the highest number of investors rushing to withdraw funds that he has known. The industry will know for sure whether it is a drip or a deluge when the data providers release their statistics for the third quarter, next month. One market analyst said: "I know even the good hedge funds have been suffering withdrawals recently. Investors are very nervous."
Roubini predicted that the next phase would be hedge fund withdrawals:
“The next stage will be a run on thousands of highly leveraged hedge funds. After a brief lock-up period, investors in such funds can redeem their investments on a quarterly basis; thus a bank-like run on hedge funds is highly possible. Hundreds of smaller, younger funds that have taken excessive risks with high leverage and are poorly managed may collapse. A massive shake-out of the bloated hedge fund industry is likely in the next two years.”

Paul Krugman of the New York Times caught Paulson telling a whopper of a lie.


Paulson said in his testimony:

We gave you a simple, three-page legislative outline and I thought it would have been presumptuous for us on that outline to come up with an oversight mechanism. That’s the role of Congress, that’s something we’re going to work on together. So if any of you felt that I didn’t believe that we needed oversight: I believe we need oversight. We need oversight.

But the proposal says explicitly:

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

I wanna know:

Who put that language in the plan? I want THAT person to stand up and say "I did it, and this is why."

The rest of this is bullshit. I wanna know who wanted us to grant $700 billion without review by any court or agency, and why they think this is the right thing to do.



Simple enough?

I don't see the infamous Section 8 as a pure naked power grab. There is more going on here.

In my view Paulson is essentially desperate to preserve an independent Wall Street. He sees himself as the final fire wall holding back enormously increased government involvement in and even ownership of banks etc. It is an attempt to save a private Wall Street through autocratic means.

My guess is it doesn't work. The financial system will be propped up but it will be done through a big chunk of government ownership.

"Preserve an independent Wall Steet" = bail my bankrupt ass out!!!!


Haven't heard any black helicopter or Queen of England talk lately.

"Ah, the burning of the Wallstag!"

Any of our conspiracy friends have any insight to add? I'm always open to new analysis.

What do we have to add? The things happening in recent weeks are the things that got us denounced as kooks last year.

Many such kooks said that the looting of the Treasury would come last. Here it is. No Queen needed.

As with most things wrong with America today, TJ warned us about it almost 200 years ago.

I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

The central bank is an institution of the most deadly hostility existing against the Principles and form of our Constitution. I am an Enemy to all banks discounting bills or notes for anything but Coin. If the American People allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the People of all their Property until their Children will wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered.

BTW, good answer Super390, just cause we're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get us!

The who is simple enough: it was Paulson's plan he signed and submitted to Congress himself. The why seems obvious: control the $'s and you have absolute control.

Supposedly, the reason for that clause is "We have to act quickly or we're screwed." That is supposed allow him to act quickly.

"....or we're screwed"

The crux is who are "we"?

Uncle Sam's credit is still very very good. The $ is down but the government gets very good rates on it's debt these days.

All the government has to do is say, "We are taking over banks W, X, Y, and Z and these banks cannot fail" and the financial system is propped up. It could buy those banks for a lot less than $700 billion.

But, of course, that would mean the end of American capitalism as we know it.

They will do that if they have to. That is the final option they won't openly talk about. In the meantime, Paulson wants to keep Wall Steet independent by pretending there is no option other than a big bailout at taxpayer expense. And he has attempted to scare the public into that viewpoint.

A national debt of 10 trillion dollars is roughly half the value of residential real estate in the United States. People on average owe more for their homes than they have equity in them and the bad news is the government owes nearly double what the entire United States owes on their homes. Supposidely the Feds took in about 1.6 trillion in income, corporate, and other taxes in 2007.


They took in about 870 billion in social security and payroll taxes, they paid out more in social security and medicade combined than they collected. The social security surplus funds were spent instead of set aside for people's retirements. The government did not deposit any T-bills into that account. The government workers who fullfilled long govt. careers do not need social security, they were given government pension funds instead. They were not allowed both unless they had two long careers.

According to this article the debt does not seem as scary, although there is a note about 59 trillion in future social security and medicaid obligations:


Nor is the United States a leading debtor in all the world in terms of debt per GDP.


We need to remove the cap on SS tax and let the rich help pay for supporting the elderly and poor. It's a joke when people talk of equal pay for equal services. I can't expect any SS service at retirement. I'm clearly paying 15% of my income to support people receiving payments now.

Wall Street just got an important vote of confidence from Warren Buffet.

Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway to invest $5 billion in Goldman Sachs

NEW YORK (AFP) — Tycoon Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway has agreed to buy five billion dollars of stock in Goldman Sachs, and could double its stake within five years, the Wall Street bank said late Tuesday.

Under the terms of the agreement, Berkshire Hathaway is buying five billion dollars of perpetual preferred stock bearing a 10 percent annual interest rate, Goldman Sachs Group said in a statement.

Notice the terms: 10% annual interest.

Now Uncle Sam should get the same type of deal for his investment! Paulson is attempting to get capital from the government for next to nothing!!

[stock futures are currently up nicely on the news]

That pretty well seals it-if there was even a sliver of doubt, it is gone now-Goldman is going to be getting a hell of a lot of taxpayer money.

Doubtfull. Buffet lives in Nebraska and is not a part of the social clique that caused this mess.

If he's putting his money in then he's confident that Goldman is least in need of taxpayer money, and given GS's manoevers over the last year, it actually could be that they are the one investment bank that managed to unload the toxic waste off their books.

What, me not want oversight???

An astrologer predicting peak oil:

Ray thinks we're at the end of the oil peak - he correlates "peak oil" to Uranus (signifying the bubble in his terms) in Pisces (liquids), and that in the second half of Uranus in a sign the bubble pops, which we're seeing now in the fall of oil prices, according to Ray. When Uranus goes into Aries he thinks oil will stabilize and the bubble will then be in weaponry and other Aries-type things.

Is he speaking on the ASPO conference?

While we are into astrology, here is another one for laughs: http://www.mahendraprophecy.com/

Mahendra is blaming high price of oil on Saturn instead of Uranus.
He is also predicting Obama victory. However, Obama should be worried because Mahendra predicted John Kerry was going to win last time :-)

This makes me think of the Mayan 2012 date, did they predict when WT and Khebab's ELM theory really kicks in and kills any notion of globalization?

Someone here said: "An end of this world is not the end of THE world." or something like that. Good quote whereever its from.

One for the scientists. I was surprised by the size of the bomb crater at the Marriott Hotel in Pakistan and so looked up some information.

Firstly, the Marriott bomb details:

"The blast left a crater 24 feet deep and 59 feet wide, ministry official Rehman Malik told a news conference"

"The Interior Ministry said 266 people were wounded, 11 of them foreigners, after the bomber blew up a truck packed with 600 kg (1,320 lb) of explosives including artillery shells, mortar bombs and shrapnel"

Secondly, an forensic engineering report on the truck bombing of the Murrah Building (pdf warning)

The crater, Figure 1, was approximately 28 feet in diameter and 6.8 feet in depth. According to the design drawings and observations on site, the thickness of the pavement was 18 in. and the underlying soil was dry sandy clay. From information about the truck reported to have contained the explosive device, the center of the explosive is estimated to have been 4.5 ft above the ground surface.

As summarized in Table 1, the detonation of TNT having a mass of 4,000lb results in a crater whose dimensions are consistent with those measured at the Murrah Building. The equivalent mass of TNT is used here, as is the practice in explosive effects, as a measure of the energy yielded by the bomb.

Seems to be a huge difference. Could artillery shells and mortar rounds account for it? Not looking for a conspiracy, just curious.

Burgundy -

The Pakistan bomb crater is indeed huge. Clearly, this was the result of the detonation of a very large quantity of explosives, probably at least over 1,000 lbs. Such is not unreasonable, as even a medium size commercial truck can carry several times that amount.

Still, it was a crude 'air coupled' explosion, and as such wasted a most of its energy in just compressing air and blowing things around. One could have done the same amount of damage to the building with but a much smaller amount of explosives if they were 'mechanically coupled' to some part of the building structure. In the same vein, when you see some of these impressive vidoes of building demolitions, the amount of actual explosives used is surprisingly small in relation to the overall effect. It's all a matter of placing the explosive where they can be most effective.

Anyway, it appears that some very unhappy people in Pakistan are beginning to express their anger in very tangible and dramatic ways. One thing is certain though, the people who carried this out were not just a bunch of cranks, but were people who had access to a serious amount of explosives. It must have been highly organized and backed by some serious political entity. I suspect this is just the beginning in Pakistan.

Wolf, at the Financial Times, which is not exactly a communist lefty rag, thinks the Paulson gambit is rubbish:

The simplest way to recapitalise institutions is by forcing them to raise equity and halt dividends. If that did not work, there could be forced conversions of debt into equity. The attraction of debt-equity swaps is that they would create losses for creditors, which are essential for the long-run health of any financial system.

The advantage of these schemes is that they would require not a penny of public money. Their drawback is that they would be disruptive and highly unpopular: banking institutions would have to be valued, whereupon undercapitalised entities would have to adopt one of the ways to improve their capital positions.

If, as seems plausible, a scheme that imposes such pain on the financial sector would be rejected out of hand, the next best alternative would be injection of preference shares by the government into decapitalised institutions, on the lines proposed by Charles Calomiris of Columbia University. This would be a bail-out, but one that constrained the behaviour of beneficiaries, not least on payment of dividends. That would make it far better than dropping benefits on the unworthy, via mass purchases of overpriced toxic paper.


American readers will be pleased to know that their funds for bailing out AIG have gone to a worthy cause, as they were nearly in trouble due to their kind help to the European banks in evading the laws on capital ratios:

But the case of AIG, the US insurer, also shows the importance of another, hidden, link across financial markets, namely massive evasion of regulatory requirements. AIG’s last annual report reveals that it had written coverage for more than $300bn of credit insurance for European banks. The comment by AIG itself on these positions was that they were “for the purpose of providing them with regulatory capital relief rather than risk mitigation in exchange for a minimum guaranteed fee”.


Monies might as well be used to support drug cartels.
Of course, no-one will go to prison.

Dry pumps avoidable with quicker response

As we go to work today, the number of gas stations out of gas will have escalated and the situation won’t abate much over the coming weeks. This shortage, for the most part, was avoidable.

I advised Gov. Sonny Perdue of the impending crisis on Sept. 11, well before Hurricane Ike made landfall. I suggested that the state implement rationing of some form or, perhaps, limiting purchases at the pump. While he acknowledged my concerns, my suggestions fell on deaf ears.

...The pipelines supplying this fuel start in the gulf coast and stretch in a gentle arc toward the Northeast, terminating somewhere near New York. After Gustav hit, these pipelines and refineries were barely up and running when they were again forced to shut down for Hurricane Ike. They are now slowly returning to working status, but the key word here is “slowly.”

...When will we realize that we desperately need to change our way of life? Sooner rather than later, I hope, although I am as guilty as the next person. I commute back and forth in my ridiculous SUV with its 11.5 miles per gallon.

Now, ask yourself, what can you do to help?

Tex Pitfield is president and CEO of Saraguay Petroleum in Atlanta.

The energy squeeze vs capitalism in one sentence

IT companies cry foul over power cuts

The MSEDCL asked them to reduce power consumption by 10 per cent. When companies are growing by 15-25 per cent, it is fundamentally impossible to reduce power consumption.

Another example of divine right. They have been threatening to move out of pretty much every Indian city. Not sure where they intend to go.

They don't want to pay market prices for diesel. They don't want to pay income taxes (most IT exporters have a zero tax regime). The diesel is used for captive power plants to run air-cons at 18 deg C. Any threat to the status quo and they threaten that there will be dire consequences for India.


Re:The Changing Face of Abortion

"When you don't have access to affordable birth control, rates of unintended pregnancy are going to be higher."

The last time I escorted my young son to the gas station bathroom, I had to refuse his request for 75 cents for the "Magnum, Ribbed for her Pleasure" "balloons".
So tell me how 75 cents is more of a cost than an abortion?
Any woman who values her "reproductive health" so little as to not require the use of a prophylactic from her partner is asking for alot worse than an unwanted pregnancy.

Your argument is misleading. It might hold if you only ever had to buy one condom. But that's not true. You can't re-use them. (Or you shouldn't, though I know people try.) Some people would need more than one a day. The expense is not insignificant.

On the contrary, the article misleads by making birth control seem unobtainable for large portions of society.

It is estimated that between 6 and 9 billion condoms are distributed around the world every year.

I told my story only as an example as to how accessible prevention is, though I understand there's always going to be a portion of the populace to whom beer and cigarettes are first priority.

Hello TODers,

I am finding it extremely difficult trying to keep up with all that is going on in the world as posted here on TOD--aren't you? Whew! Anyhow, a few links on fertilizer:

China and India waking up to fertilizer

..Fertilizer had the highest increase in cost over the past year, driven primarily by emerging markets in Asia. “It’s just been tremendous,” FitzPatrick said.

Projections from the International Fertilizer Association indicate that demand for fertilizer is not going to waver, especially for potash.

Potash Corp.: Poised to Soar Once Hedge Fund Worries Subside

..Nouriel Roubini also seems to think the next step of the crisis will be the de-leveraging of hedge funds. However, it would still be hard to envision a commodities selloff as great in magnitude as the one we recently saw, given the already vast depreciation in equity prices.
IMO, an interesting read. Ag-stocks have been gyrating tremendously lately as those that need cash NOW have been butting heads with those who are hoping to profit in the future.

Lastly, a look at the history of cats as O-NPK:

...The process of mummification – invented by the Egyptians – is examined.

Animals were also mummified so they could accompany the dead into the Afterlife. In Victorian times cat mummies were so common, they were sold by the ton.

Around 400,000 were imported into Liverpool in the 1850s to be used a fertiliser...
Just shows the value and potency of properly prepared O-NPK-- ancient kitty-cats, thousands of years old, put to good use to power the Brits' topsoil. My guess is they marketed this under the brand name of: MEOW-MIX.

There is a large band of clouds near Puerto Rico rated by the National Hurricane center highly probable for tropical cyclone formation (<50%).

It's disorganized, though, and heading for North Carolina if anything forms. Houston refineries shouldn't worry too much :)

It's tough to tell what tropical disturbance 93L is up to, as the storm has significantly deteriorated overnight. Dominican Republic radar is down, and visible satellite loops show little heavy thunderstorm activity or organization to the cloud pattern. However, pressures at Punta Cana on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic are the lowest they've been for the week--1006 mb. I expect 93L will regenerate north of the Dominican Republic today and spread heavy rains to that country and Puerto Rico this afternoon and Thursday.

(from Jeff Master's blog)