DrumBeat: October 2, 2008

John Michael Greer: Cassandra's View

In this setting, the presentations and talk at the conference took on a surreal quality, as though the global civilization we were discussing – the one running out of cheap and easily available fossil fuels – was on some other planet. I’m not at all sure how many of the attendees took the time to connect the energy that provided climate-controlled air, fluorescent lighting, PowerPoint slideshows and overabundant snacks for the conference with the sinking lines on graphs that tracked our world’s rapidly depleting oil, coal, and natural gas reserves. I’m even less sure how many of them traced out those graphs to their logical conclusions and thought through the likely impacts on their own lives; even in peak oil circles, this is surprisingly uncommon.

Some of the presentations, certainly, showed no trace of such reflections. To my mind, at least, the most pathetic of them – and I use this word with its full meaning of “evoking pathos,” not in its current sense as a general-purpose insult – was offered by Christer Lindstrom, a pleasant Swedish businessman who wants to solve peak oil by building countless millions of little four-seat computer-guided monorail cars to replace today’s urban automobiles. No hint of the fantastic capital expenditures needed to build a new transportation grid in cities sprawled across three continents, no reference to the immense burden on the electric grid such a project would impose, darkened his presentation.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Bailouts & Shortages

How does peak oil fit into all this? Somewhere in the next few days (or perhaps weeks) the U.S. Congress either will or will not pass some sort of multi-billion financial bailout that is supposed to restore confidence in the financial system and set the economy growing again. Many find this absurd. The U.S. has problems in the trillions of dollars so bailouts in the 100s billions are unlikely to have more than a short term impact. While an "affordable" bailout may unfreeze loans, it certainly will not solve the myriad of economic problems that are accumulating.

In recent months, world oil consumption has been dropping due to high prices and the worsening economic situation. Whereas worldwide demand for oil had been increasing by about 1.5 million barrels a day (b/d) every year, that is probably down to a few hundred thousand b/d annual increase and if current trends continue, demand for oil seems likely to go into an actual decline.

If, as seems probable, the financial bailouts do little good and the world goes into a prolonged period of recession, then we have seen the peak of world oil production. Demand will drop, production will be slowed, and new multi-billion dollar oil projects will be deferred or cancelled due to lack of demand for oil or the capital to pay for them.

A more liquid market: Offshore terminals and other tricks could promote greater trade in LNG

Natural gas is cleaner than other fossil fuels, and gas-fired power plants are relatively cheap to build, prompting a “dash for gas” by European and American utilities in recent decades. Demand for gas is still growing in rich countries, even as their thirst for oil has faltered. But domestic supplies have been shrinking. Europe, in particular, is becoming ever more dependent on gas imported by pipeline from Russia.

That is where LNG comes in. It allows producing countries to profit from “stranded gas” located far from big markets, and lets consuming countries diversify their supplies. The gas for the Adriatic terminal will come by ship from Qatar. Another 14 countries, from Indonesia to Equatorial Guinea, export LNG; 18 import it. Whereas global gas consumption is growing by 2-3% a year, according to Royal Dutch Shell, another oil and gas firm, demand for LNG is growing by 7-10%. It now accounts for a quarter of the international trade in gas.

Russia, Ukraine to switch to market gas prices in next 3 years

NOVO-OGARYOVO (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine and Russia will switch to a new pricing scheme for Russian gas based on European market prices in the next three years, Ukraine's prime minister said on Thursday.

"In the next three years we will move over to usual market prices," Yulia Tymoshenko told her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during talks at his residence of Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow.

Iran Would Trade Halt in Enrichment for Fuel Guarantee

An Iranian official suggested on Thursday that his country would consider stopping sensitive uranium enrichment if guaranteed a supply of nuclear fuel from abroad.

Shell Defers Planned Maintenance at Refinery in Louisiana

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's largest oil company, will defer planned maintenance at the Motiva refinery in Norco, Louisiana, to recover from a shutdown caused by hurricanes.

ConocoPhillips sees 3rd-qtr output flat to lower

NEW YORK (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, said on Thursday the hurricanes that swept through the Gulf of Mexico in the third quarter hurt operations at its refineries and weighed on its oil output.

The storms curtailed Conoco's output by about 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, putting its quarterly production at flat to slightly below the second quarter level.

District 6 City Council Candidate Statement: Phoebe Anne Sorgen

We cherish wildlife and open spaces. Dead wood and underbrush that are fire hazards will be removed, while maintaining as much habitat as is safely possible. Invasive flammables such as eucalyptus should have been replaced by native species long ago. Public paths should have been opened long ago. During evacuation, they may save lives. The City will save funds and prepare for post peak oil by allowing community gardens on unused city land that is currently mowed, such as the field below Cragmont Park.

China’s solar giant makes U.S. move

In another sign that the financial crisis is not slowing the solar industry, Suntech, the giant Chinese solar module maker, made a big move into the United States market on Thursday. The company announced a joint venure with green energy financier MMA Renewable Ventures to build solar power plants and said it would acquire California-based solar installer EI Solutions.

Price of Oil: Speculation vs. Fundamentals

The speculation versus fundamentals controversy is, in some respect, what Sherlock Holmes might have called ‘The Final Problem’. It is final because the peak-oil quandary has, to a considerable extent, been settled: a majority of observers now accept that a global peaking of the oil output is quite conceivable, and could – not will – happen in the near as opposed to the distant future. The background to this update of a previous article with almost the same name is a short piece in the New York Review by George Soros, based on his testimony before the US Senate Commerce Committee Oversight Hearing on June 3, 2008, at which time he stated that “there is a bubble superimposed on an upward trend in oil prices”, where this trend is caused by “demand growing faster than the supply of available reserves”. Readers should focus on this remark, and especially the word ‘available’, because available doesn’t mean the same thing as existing.

Oil falls towards $94, focuses on demand

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil fell more than $4 toward $94 a barrel on Thursday, as the U.S. dollar rose and as the U.S. Senate's approval of a $700 billion bailout of the financial sector failed to allay concerns over weakening fuel demand in the world's top energy consumer.

Credit crisis hits $20b UAE loans

Until recently, project finance was a popular way to fund large industrial initiatives, including oil extraction facilities. Now, banks are charging a much higher rate for such loans, often making them prohibitively expensive.

Political rows overshadow Russia-Ukraine gas talks

NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Russia and Ukraine tried to reach a deal over natural gas supplies on Thursday, in talks overshadowed by political turmoil in Kiev and a deepening row over Ukraine's arms sales to Georgia.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko met outside Moscow to try to hammer out an agreeement over the price Ukraine will pay next year for the Russian gas on which its economy depends.

Medvedev Defends Gas Pipeline Against U.S. Influence

(Bloomberg) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said third countries shouldn't interfere in a planned natural-gas pipeline to Germany after a U.S. diplomat called for the project to be reconsidered.

``We hope that states outside the region that have nothing to do with the project won't try to influence its progress,'' Medvedev said today during talks in St. Petersburg with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Europe and Russia both have options

Common wisdom says that Europe and Russia are bound by an umbilical cord - energy. EU members are dependent on Russia's oil and gas, while Russia depends on the enormous export revenues that the European market generates.

But over the next decade, both sides have more options than commonly assumed. And as the Georgia conflict vividly demonstrates, for geopolitical reasons each might exercise those options.

Nigeria oil union extends deadline for Chevron deal

LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigerian blue-collar oil workers' union NUPENG said on Thursday it had extended a deadline for threatened strike action over a labour disupte at U.S. oil firm Chevron until next Wednesday.

Oil's green costs set to rise as Canada vote nears

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Already struggling with the soaring costs of developing the Alberta oil sands, Canada's energy industry now also faces the prospect of tighter environmental controls regardless of which party wins the country's upcoming general election.

Environmental groups have pushed the harmful effects of oil sands development into the public consciousness in Canada and the United States, leaving political parties no choice but to respond in their campaigns for the October 14 vote.

Mississippi: County ends 2008 with $200K deficit, mostly due to fuel

Neshoba County ended the fiscal year 2008 with a deficit of nearly $200,000, mostly because of higher fuel and energy costs, officials said.

While the county's general fund, as a whole, stayed pretty much within budget over the year, County Administrator Benjie Coats told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that the Road Department was over budget by about $400,000 when the fiscal year ended.

Many stories surround gas shortage

While no one has committed unleaded assault at this QT, employees have seen almost every other type of behavior during the fuel shortage.

“We’ve had fights and shouting matches and people breaking in line,” Holsonbake said. “I heard somewhere that people themselves are smart, but in a group they can become panicky animals. I believe it.”

Just then, a van tried to bypass the queue and jump in line at the pumps. Holsonbake spotted the ploy, caught the driver’s eye and made a slashing motion across his neck, as if to say, “I saw you cut.” He pointed to the exit like an umpire ejecting a foul-mouthed manager. The van skulked away.

Atlanta's Mail Carriers Hit By Gas Shortage

ATLANTA, Ga. -- Before he can even begin his route, Stanley Whitney feels the bite of the gas shortage nawing at his nerves. He looks at his gas gauge near empty.

"This job is dependent on gas," said Whitney.

"For the most part our delivery vehicles gas up at commercial stations just as everyone else does," said Michael Miles, spokeman for U.S. Postal Service's Atlanta district.

Whitney is one of 4,000 postal carriers within the Atlanta district that covers a vast area from the Tennessee line to north of Macon. Their routes, their stops add up to about 12,000 gallons of gas a day.

"Our concern is that of the general public in that we are going to find ourselves in positions where our letter carriers, our delivery vehicles simply can't find gas," said Miles.

Cops Forced to Carpool

The gas shortage in the Tennessee Valley hits those paid to protect you. Chattanooga Police tell us their fuel supply is so low, they're now having to put two patrolmen in one car.

Researchers Working To Avoid Next Gas Crisis

In laboratories all over America, including one at Georgia Tech, researchers are looking for ways to avoid the next gasoline crisis.

"It's already helping to relieve some of the pressure we're feeling," said Koros.

Dr. Koros and his team at Georgia Tech are leading the country in developing a technology that will refine the fuel refining process.

"Every BTU that I don't burn up making the fuel,? Koros said. "I get to use to do something like driving down the road."

Coal scarcity hits India Nalco Sept alumina output

BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - India's National Aluminium Co's Damanjodi alumina refinery operated below capacity in September due to a coal shortage, but is now near normal, a senior company official said on Wednesday.

The Damanjodi refinery, in the eastern state of Orissa, normally produces about 4,500 tonnes of alumina a day, but had been down 10 to 12 percent.

A $29 million green parking garage

To build the LEED-certified car park, the designers used recycled steel and concrete from a bonding mixture that required less energy than cement. Reflective glass panels decorate the structure, maximizing natural light and reducing electricity consumption. Rooftop photovoltaic panels harness solar energy to generate one-third of the garage's electricity. And its water-recycling system channels nonsewage water to the sprinklers.

Italy's Enel opens biggest wind farm in U.S.

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian power company Enel SpA (ENEI.MI: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has inaugurated its biggest wind power project, a 250- megawatt U.S. wind farm, Enel said on Thursday.

The Smoky Hills plant in the state of Kansas will be operational by the end of the year, Enel said in a statement. It is the biggest wind power project built in Great Plains state.

Western US may face "crippling" black outs

A new study released this week highlights what experts have been saying for years: the U.S. faces significant risk of power brownouts and blackouts as early as next summer that may cost tens of billions of dollars and threaten lives.

The study, "Lights Out In 2009?" warns that the U.S. "faces potentially crippling electricity brownouts and blackouts beginning in the summer of 2009, which may cost tens of billions of dollars and threaten lives."

"If particularly vulnerable regions, like the Western U.S., experience unusually hot temperatures for prolonged periods of time in 2009, the potential for local brownouts or blackouts is high, with significant risk that local disruptions could cascade into regional outages that could cost the economy tens of billions of dollars," the report warned.

Oil Spike: Will a Financial Bailout Push Crude Back Up?

Congress might bail out more than just Wall Street—it could bail out OPEC, as well, keeping oil prices high and climbing into next year.

Despite all the market turmoil and fears of the biggest bang since the Great Depression, crude oil has stubbornly stuck around $100 a barrel. Its most recent rebound came amid fresh hopes Congress would cobble together a bailout package, after earlier pessimism that the U.S. rescue package would be too little to save the economy.

But one school of thought says that any sort of financial rescue package will shore up the world’s biggest economy—and oil consumer—enough to send crude oil back toward record highs. We spoke with oil bull Jeff Rubin, chief economist at Canadian bank CIBC World Markets, who earlier predicted $200 oil within a few years.

When Will Financial Markets Become More Intelligent Than Henry Paulson?

More government regulation of financial markets? Fugetaboutit. The real question about financial markets going forward might be whether we're willing to let the markets run themselves. In other words, Will we humans let machines take charge of the global money game? Because at some point soon, they will be able to run it better than we can.

Back in 2001, I had a conversation in Toronto with a quite-prescient Thomas Homer-Dixon, who had just published a book called The Ingenuity Gap. His basic premise: Humans are building systems as complex as weather, and human brains can't keep up. People can no longer understand and control the globally-networked technology we're creating. Amazingly, one of the examples he used that day was the global financial system - proclaiming that a meltdown was coming that no one would understand or know how to stop.

More Insights: Clean Energy and the Credit Squeeze

Global venture-capital investments in clean technology rose 37 percent in a year, to a record $2.6 billion for the third quarter (July through September), according to the Cleantech Group, a research firm. Companies involved with smart-grid applications, algae and thin-film solar had a particularly good quarter.

And while some analysts are optimistic about clean energy’s ability to weather the current storm, the Cleantech Group — whose numbers cover North America, Europe, China and India — anticipates a fourth-quarter pullback as financial conditions deteriorate and even venture capital firms close their wallets.

World's first seed bank

A few short decades from now, agricultural crops will face entirely new growing environments. In many countries, the coldest growing seasons of the future will be hotter than the hottest ever recorded in the past. Here's change you can believe in: The 11 hottest years on record have all occurred in the past 13 years.

Should we assume rice, wheat and corn varieties will be unaffected under environmental conditions they have never experienced? They won't. If today's corn varieties are still in the field in southern Africa two decades from now, production will drop by 30 per cent because of climate change, and we will watch babies starve to death on TV due to our own lack of foresight and preparedness.

Bush Approves Automaker Loan Program: But Will It Arrive in Time?

President Bush on Sept. 30 signed a broad spending bill that keeps government operating in the new fiscal year, and includes $7.5 billion to pay for a $25 billion loan program to help automakers and supplier companies transition plants to building more fuel efficient vehicles.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are all facing liquidity problems as they try to restructure amidst the current economic calamity, and develop new models that will help them meet stricter fuel economy regulations between 2015 and 2020, as well as increased consumer demand for those vehicles. Some analysts believe GM, for example, coud hit a critical shortage of liquidity by the middle of next year.

Starting today, the Department of Energy will begin a two month process in which it will write the parameters around which the auto companies can apply for the loans. Broadly speaking, each company will have to show that the money will be used to modernize plants and technology that will deliver more fuel efficient vehicles to the public.

Crunch time for green housing

Eco-towns are supposed to provide a 'template' for all other new housing, but the credit crunch has cast doubts over their future.

'Car sleepers' the new US homeless

This new phenomenon of middle-class homelessness is hard to quantify, but New Beginnings, an organisation that runs the car park sleeping scheme in Santa Barbara, says they accommodate some 55 people in a dozen parking lots.

Outreach worker Nancy Kapp, once homeless herself, says there is a waiting list for car park spaces and she is getting more and more calls each day from people about to lose their homes.

UK: Million more suffer fuel poverty

The number of households in fuel poverty in the UK rose to 3.5 million in 2006, government figures show.

The figures from the Department for Environment and the Department for Business show this is a an increase of one million on 2005 levels.

Coal to Wood: The Conversion Calculus

Making electricity from wood chips is trendy these days, as I have written before.

But here’s an interesting twist: many newly announced biomass plants will actually be running on old coal boilers. Xcel Energy, a big Midwestern utility, announced this week that it would spend up to $70 million to allow a coal boiler at a small power plant to run on gasified biomass (the plant’s two other boilers already run on biomass).

Russian Oil Output Heads for Annual Decline After Ninth Straight Monthly Decline

(Bloomberg) -- Russia's oil production fell for the ninth straight month in September as producers struggled with rising costs and maturing fields, bringing the world's second- biggest crude exporter closer to its first annual drop in output since 1998.

Production fell 0.4 percent to 9.83 million barrels of crude a day (40.2 million metric tons a month) compared with a year earlier, according to figures released by the Energy Ministry's CDU-TEK unit.

Output in Russia's oil heartland of western Siberia is flagging as older fields mature and companies invest in harder- to-reach regions to tap deposits. In July, parliament approved tax breaks championed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to spur investment in national production.

Oil prices fall, ending brief rally

LONDON (AFP) - Oil prices dropped Thursday as the market refocused on data revealing a jump in American crude stockpiles, after a brief rally in response to the US Senate's approval of a revised financial bailout.

London's Brent North Sea crude for delivery in November dropped 1.24 dollars to 94.08 dollars a barrel.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for November, fell 95 cents to 97.58 dollars a barrel.

Oil May Fall to $50 in Global Recession, Merrill Says

(Bloomberg) -- Crude-oil prices may fall as low as $50 a barrel next year, about half current levels, in the ``unlikely'' event of a global recession, weighing on shares of petroleum producers, Merrill Lynch & Co. said.

Such a scenario, where global growth in Gross Domestic Product falls to 1.5 percent, isn't the base-case forecast, the bank said today in a report. Merrill cut its 2009 average price estimate for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark oil grade, by 16 percent to $90, citing falling demand and the start of new fields in Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Companies Scramble for Ever-Scarcer Resources

NEW YORK (IPS) - As humanity runs out of oil and minerals, the extraction of previously untouched deposits suddenly pays off -- financially. But experts warn that it will likely further accelerate climate change and seriously damage the environment.

Back in the 19th century it was easy to discover an oil well: one could accidentally step in a puddle of "black gold" -- it made its way to the surface voluntarily. But with conventional oil wells running dry, the industry is shifting to so-called "unconventional" sources like tar sands -- but not without problems.

"It takes two to three times more energy to get a barrel back from tar sands than from conventional crude oil," said Steve Andrews, co-founder of the U.S.-based Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO), in an interview with IPS.

Bailout Passes After Ornaments Attached

Gasoline rationing is in force in several southern states with many operators placing a limit of $30 per transaction to insure everyone gets fuel. AAA expects the shortage to last another 2-3 weeks. Most stations around Atlanta are out with pumps covered with out of service signs. Traffic has slowed significantly and lines are forming well in advance of scheduled fuel deliveries so drivers can be assured of having a place in land. Drivers are not only filling their tanks but many are filling gas cans, milk jugs and anything else that will hold gas and that is just adding to the shortage for everyone else. This is a prime example of what we will face on a permanent basis once peak oil arrives in a couple years.

America's Oil Export Problem (Yes, Export)

The U.S. could cut oil imports by nearly 15% tomorrow without using less gasoline, invading a foreign country or driving up prices at the pump. How? By cutting exports.

Yes, exports.

This will come as a surprise to many, but in the past four years U.S. oil and petroleum exports have reached four consecutive record highs--at least since the early '80s. In 2007, the U.S. exported 1.43 million barrels of oil per day; up by roughly half a million barrels of oil per day since 2004.

Credit worries slow OTC oil trading

LONDON (Reuters) - Credit market strains have sliced the volume of over-the-counter trading in oil markets, made traders more careful about who they do business with and some deals harder to finance.

Analysts said this stems from the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, which has toppled Wall St firms and contributed to a near 10-percent slide in crude oil prices on Monday and a partial recovery on Tuesday.

U.S. Approves 900,000-Barrel Oil Reserve Release

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. approved the release of as much as 900,000 barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to two unidentified refiners, after a request for more supplies to ease fuel shortages in the Southeast.

The refiners receiving the oil will be announced ``if/when the shipment happens,'' department spokeswoman Healy Baumgardner said in an e-mailed statement. Today's release would bring to a total of 5.69 million barrels the amount of oil the department has provided since hurricanes Gustav and Ike stormed the Gulf Coast last month.

Gas shortage has politicians making tough calls

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Tired of waiting in long lines or simply running out of gas, angry drivers in the Southeast are lashing out at politicians, demanding that their leaders do more to get fuel flowing to the region.

"We have a gas crisis!" one frustrated motorist recently e-mailed to Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, a Republican running for governor. "Do you exist?'"'

Elected leaders, especially in Georgia and North Carolina, where gas supplies remain low three weeks after Hurricane Ike, are wrestling with judgment calls about how much government should do to respond.

Should they declare an emergency and restrict gas purchases, or let the markets take their course? Should they simply urge conservation or work the phones to try to persuade gasoline distributors to release more of their supplies? And will their actions create more havoc than help?

Whatever the result, somebody is going to be unhappy.

Gazprom, E.ON clinch deal on Siberian gas field

MOSCOW/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Russia's Gazprom, the world's largest natural-gas company, agreed to give German utility E.ON a stake in a Siberian gas field, ending speculation that four years of talks might fail.

E.ON will give back to Gazprom a stake of about 1.42 percent in the Russian company, and the German utility will in exchange receive a quarter minus one share of the Yuzhno Russkoye gas field, the two companies said on Thursday.

Exxon to boost gas output under Sakhalin I in Russia's Far East

YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK (RIA Novosti) - Exxon Neftegas Limited, a subsidiary of U.S. oil major Exxon and operator of the Sakhalin-I oil and gas project off Russia's Pacific Coast, said on Thursday that it plans to boost gas output.

Exxon Neftegas CEO James Taylor said the company plans to raise gas production at the Chaivo deposit, and that this will require the drilling of additional gas wells and the expansion of existing coastal and offshore facilities.

Taylor said the project would help increase gas sales on the domestic and international markets.

Nigeria's Chanomi Creek Oil Pipeline Is Ruptured, Punch Reports

(Bloomberg) -- Nigeria's Chanomi Creek oil pipeline in Delta State has been ruptured, potentially forcing the shutdown of the Warri oil refinery by tomorrow, the Punch newspaper reported,

No group has claimed responsibility for the damage, Punch said, citing ``unconfirmed reports'' that it may have been attacked by militants.

U.S. car sales in September were the worst since 1993

Americans felt too broke to buy new cars and trucks last month, making September the first month with total sales below a million since February 1993.

A drumbeat of bad economic news drove a sales decline for every major automaker as total light-vehicle sales tumbled to 964,873, down 26.6% compared with September 2007, sales tracker Autodata reported Wednesday.

"I'm shocked by what's happened," says Clinton, Iowa, auto dealer John McEleney. Gas prices "have been trumped by the credit crisis" in spooking would-be buyers, he says. His Iowa dealerships sell Toyota, Hyundai, General Motors and Chrysler brands.

Canadian September Auto Sales Rise, Helped by Toyota

(Bloomberg) -- Auto sales in Canada rose 1.7 percent in September as an increase for Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles helped outweigh declines at General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., according to figures compiled by a consulting firm.

...The monthly increase, the second in five months, was buoyed by car sales, which climbed 5.1 percent. Light truck sales fell 2.2 percent.

Mitsubishi Motors set to test electric cars in Europe

PARIS (Reuters) - Japan's Mitsubishi Motors said on Wednesday it will begin testing its electric cars in Europe next month as it aims to beat rivals to the uncharted market and promote itself as the pioneer of the zero-emission vehicles.

Competitors such as General Motors Corp and the Renault-Nissan alliance have been winning the publicity game with promises to be the first mass producers of electric cars, but Mitsubishi Motors has the advantage of being the only mass-production carmaker with a working model being tested on the road today: the bubbly, four-seater i-MiEV hatchback.

New Zealand - Peak oil and public transport: Cullen's revelation

The Green Party have challenged Labour to redirect the billions of dollars earmarked for New Zealand's largest ever roading programme into public transport, following Dr Cullen's admission yesterday that people will choose public transport if it is provided and that Peak Oil is real.

In a speech yesterday, Dr Cullen admitted both that "we have to come to terms with a new set of circumstances - the emerging reality of Peak Oil," and that "we can get people out of cars and onto public transport."

We can't afford to keep Sydney running: Rees

SYDNEY has grossly under-estimated the population explosion that will squeeze its resources over the next 20 years, but the cash-strapped Premier admits it is "pointless" to promise the billions of dollars in extra spending the city will need.

Nathan Rees yesterday signalled deep cuts in the capital spending program and a radical departure from the $140 billion infrastructure strategy of the former premier, Morris Iemma.

...Treasury pressure on infrastructure spending is apparent again today, as the Herald reveals the Government is facing renewed pressure from its officials to dump Mr Iemma's promised $1.36 billion South West Rail Link, a 13-kilometre line to the new population growth centre at Edmondson Park and Leppington. Expressions of interest were invited only weeks ago from companies to build the line.

New Zealand: Lifestyle News Headline Feed Raglan leading the way towards an eco-friendly society

'Transition Town' is an initiative that has arisen from peak oil and climate change concerns.

In a nutshell, it is change at a community level, a transition away from oil dependency to alternative fuels, but more than that too.

So far in New Zealand, just a handful of towns are taking the idea seriously. Campbell Live went to one - Raglan.

Future Scenarios

What will the next 10-20 years be like? With global climate change and peak oil what can we expect? David Holmgren co-originator of the permaculture concept has developed a new website investigating some possible outcomes.

Google presents $4.4 trillion energy plan for 'debate'

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Google Inc. on Wednesday unveiled a $4.4 trillion energy plan to greatly reduce U.S. use of fossil fuels by 2030 by tapping alternative sources, including wind and solar power.

Curb sprawl to help climate? California will try

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation Tuesday that attempts to ease greenhouse gas emissions by giving priority to transportation projects that limit commutes and curb urban sprawl.

Supporters said the legislation is needed to help implement a 2006 law that requires California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

98 months, and counting

Governments moved quickly to rescue our banks. Why does it take any longer to act to save the planet from runaway warming?

Palin: cause of global warming 'doesn't matter'

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said Tuesday that global warming is "real," but stressed that it "kind of doesn't matter" whether or not humans are to blame for climate change.

Human activity has "contributed to the issues that we're dealing with now with these impacts" on the earth's climate, Palin, who is Republican standardbearer John McCain's running mate, said in an interview aired Tuesday with CBS News' Katie Couric.

"I'm not going to solely blame all of man's activities on changes in climate because the world's weather patterns are cyclical, and over history we have seen changes there.

"But it kind of doesn't matter at this point in the debate what caused it. The point is it's real, we need do something about it."

Experts warn species in peril from climate change

ORLANDO, Fla. - Climate change threatens to kill off up to a third of the planet's species by the end of the century if urgent action isn't taken to restore fragile ecosystems, protect endangered animals and manage growth, scientists warned Wednesday as a wildlife summit opened.

"Much of the predictions are gloom and doom. The ray of hope, however, is that we have not lost our opportunity. We still have time if we act now," said Jean Brennan, a senior scientist with Defenders of Wildlife and co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for her work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Small sacrifice can save the planet

AUSTRALIANS will be driving clean electric cars, giving up their lamb roast and rump steaks for chicken and pork, living in higher-density cities and swapping cheap air flights for interstate trains.

In the outback, millions of beef cattle and sheep will disappear from the marginal rangelands, farmers will grow grasses and eucalypts for carbon trading and kangaroos will dominate the bush, potentially becoming one of the nation's biggest export meats.

This image of a sustainable future for Australia has now become a mainstream view with the release of Professor Ross Garnaut's final sweeping report on how the nation can take up the fight against climate change. It can be achieved for a modest increase in our electricity bills - but the overall cost will be less than the impact of the GST.

One could argue that the bailout bill is a manifestation of CPSR—Cornucopian Primal Scream Response—on a grand scale, i.e., there must be some way, somehow that we can maintain an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base. If we can just patch things together for a while, we will soon see more abundant energy sources, lower food prices and rising real estate values.

However, if, as I expect, world net oil exports peaked in 2005 (see above linked article about Russia), the trends for the indefinite future are for a severe contraction in discretionary spending and inflationary trends in food & energy prices. Even the higher end segment is seeing a contraction, or as I have previously put it, “Cheap is the new chic.”

Texas State Fair's luxury sales drop

The State Fair's Grand Place building houses its usual blend of hot tubs, vibrating foot massagers and handcrafted African goods. It's only missing one thing this year: customers.

Luxury goods vendors say they're experiencing the worst sales year on record, up to an 80 percent decrease among some sellers almost a week into the fair. They attribute it to an early decline in fair attendance and spreading fears about Wall Street's crashing stocks. "Last year you couldn't get across the aisles," said Brad Collins, who sells custom-built Western furniture in the Grand Place building. "Now you can shoot a gun in here and nobody would get hit."

Our (Khebab & Brown) outlook for Russian net oil exports:



If it didn't cost $100 in gas, I'd think it might be a good year to go to the fair. It's usually too crowded for us.

I always wondered who bought all the hot tubs at the fair.

Nobody goes to the fair anymore, its too crowded!

It's maddening to watch this bailout thing play out. That old milk cow doesn't give enough milk to meet the balooning demand for milk shakes, so the powers that be propose she be slaughtered so we can have a big bar-b-que. And they want to do this just as soon as possible, so we can get back to "normal."

Paulson Bank Rescue Proposal Is `Crazy,' O'Neill Says

(Bloomberg) -- Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said the $700 billion bank-rescue proposal under negotiation in Washington is ``crazy,'' with potentially ``awful'' consequences for the world's largest economy.

``Doesn't this seem like lunacy to you?'' said O'Neill, who was President George W. Bush's first Treasury chief, from 2001 to 2002, in a telephone interview today. ``The consequences of it are unbelievably bad in terms of public intrusion into the private sector.''

It's about our creditors.

"Asia Needs Deal to Prevent Panic Selling of U.S. Debt, Yu Says"


"We are in the same boat, we must cooperate,'' Yu said in an interview in Beijing on Sept. 23."

"An agreement is needed so that no nation rushes to sell, ``causing a collapse,'' Yu said. Japan is the biggest owner of U.S. Treasury bills, holding $593 billion, and China is second with $519 billion. Asian countries together hold half of the $2.67 trillion total held by foreign nations."

And the understatement of the year;

"Whether some kind of agreement between them to continue to hold Treasury bills is viable, I'm not sure,'' said James McCormack, head of sovereign ratings at Fitch Ratings Ltd in Hong Kong. ``It would be unusual. If it became apparent that sovereigns in Asia were selling Treasuries the market would take that quite badly, it's something to be avoided."

It would be more than a sell off, it would also mean the end of purchases. The end.

Some choice doomer porn here.

This from a friend in Atlanta with strong banking connections: "Reliable word that Bank of America branch managers just received a letter or memo from the USFed instructing them to perhaps be ready for a one-week universal shut-down of the banking system, including access to checking accounts, savings accounts and credit cards. Reliable word has it that BofA bank branches received a shipment of signs last week, reading "WE'RE SORRY, BUT DUE TO CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND OUR CONTROL, WE CANNOT BE OPEN AT THIS TIME."

Spreading rumors?

Bad Leanan

No soup for you


EDIT: Denninger has looked deeper and now believes its all about our creditors. Hmmmmmmmm.


Economic warfare?

OOps I ment to tack this on to my comment up thread about the bailout. solly bout dat

On CNBC it was stated that banks stopped loaning to each other because if one of them goes out of business the loan is not FDIC insured.


Just stated on C-SPAN by one of the reps (forgot the name...damn... He was last to speak before adjourning.) I am paraphrasing:

We were told if we did not vote for the bill Monday the markets drop thousands that day and the next. We were told we would see Martial Law.


Do people not understand when they are being extorted? Do you need to know anything else to know this bill is a pile of steaming BS?

Wow... what has this nation come to...


Emanuel? Hoyer? LaTourette?
I just read those names off the c-span website, but i don't have real media player. I'd say search around the website and if you find that, post it to youtube.

He is talking about Congressional Martial Law. I did hear that Pelosi invoked it. It's not good, since it speeds up the legislative process and means there's less time to consider the bill. But it's not the kind of martial law the executive branch can declare.

Congressional Martial Law has been invoked before.

Martial law, in this context, is a fast track approach to Congress, but the question remains: are the numbers there for passage tomorrow? If the House Republicans were reluctant to vote for a bill on Monday that they read beforehand, are they going to be more willing to back another slate of legislation that is admittedly obscure? Especially when placing one's full trust and reputation on the reliability of the originators... behind close doors, away from the spotlight, with the public howling for blood.

Notwithstanding the clamor from Wall Street and the big boys from the Executive, I would say the odds of passage have diminished not improved since the beginning of the week.

One would think clandestine activities would only heighten the wariness of elected officials to stand against the public outcry.

Then again, what I know about American politics up until now could be written on the cover of a matchbook.

are the numbers there for passage tomorrow?

Who knows? They added a lot of "sweeteners," but that may turn off as many as it lures. Maybe what's happening (global meltdown) is enough to scare them into voting for it. Even if they don't think it will work...they don't want to be the one who killed it if the economy implodes.

No, is a different reference. The speaker in question was the final speaker before the session was closed on Thursday. He was not talking about Pelosi nor the House's processes, he was talking, quite clearly, about the scare tactics used by Paulson. (How the hell does Paulson invoke Martial Law? I doubt seriously Paulson knew of such a provision. I didn't.) He described the public events Paulson claimed might flow from not acting. The representative in question was discussing the initial meetings in which Paulson did his best to scare the hell out of them.

He could not have been discussing Congressional Martial Law because 1. that was done by Pelosi and 2. that WAS enacted.

Our Congress was told the US would essentially fall into chaos if they didn't pass this bill on Monday.

Totally inappropriate.


Yes. I saw it live. I had just stumbled across it and was going to post it but you already had.

The only way they can pass this bill is by creating and maintaining a panic atmosphere. That atmosphere is not justified. Many of us were told in private conversations that if we voted against this bill on Monday... the markets would fall 2 or 3,000 points the first day, another couple thousand the second day, and a few members were even told that there would be Martial Law in America if we voted no.


Of Crashes, Failures and Bailouts - Round III

No. That is from a few days ago. What I saw was LIVE, Thursday evening,end of the session. The House was essentially empty.


Are you sure he wasn't talking about "Congressional Martial Law"?

It's a procedural thing, that speeds up legislation. It's not what most people think of when they think of martial law.

I smell the smell of a engineered collapse..

Wonder if the sign company made them pay cash? ;)

I looked at the link-- there isn't any attribution or documentation other than "a friend in Atlanta."

Leanan-- do you think it wise to post this sort of thing? Is it not irresponsible?

Mind you, I agree with O'Neill, above, and Ilargi and all of the Greek chorus that intones catastrophe, but this kind of post could start a bank run.

Maybe you just want to see how many people actually read TOD?

Jim Willie is a gold bug, but not a kook. At least, no kookier than usual for this site.

I read your post but I didn't open the link-now you have my attention. Jim Willie is kinda wild but he has made some pretty impressive calls IMO.

It could be part of a disinformation campaign, by the banks, to continue to scare Americans into supporting the bailout bill. Who stands to gain the most if the bill passes?


It may be bad info, But Willie would NOT knowingly be part of a It could be part of a disinformation campaign, by the banks. (nor naively suckered into it. He knows the plays AND the game)

Willie has been around the block enough times and should be weighted.

It could well be false, but Jim Willie is NOT a Rense et al weird site/writer.

I've been reading him for about 4 years and he has been way ahead of the curve most of the time.

btw, he's outside the US in Costa Rica I think...

If anyone has not read him before read some of his past stuff before you judge.

Look at these.

Corruption, Whispers & Receivership
September 24, 2008

Panic, Consolidate, Game Over
September 18, 2008

I agree that he is probably passing on info he received, but let me put it this way, I think that the big banks wish for rumors of bank runs (because of the bailout bill, i.e., follow the money) with the same fervor that teenage males wish that a nude pinup girl would come to life in their rooms.


What would you do for $700 billion?

Forget the money... tell me more about what's coming to life.


Westexas now that I think about it you look really cute you can leave the $700 billion on the nightstand.

Westexas now that I think about it you look really cute you can leave the $700 billion on the nightstand.

Yeah, too bad it wouldn't even fit in the room, much less the hotel...


I guess a better way to express it would be as follows: What would people not do in order to get their hands on $700 billion? One tenth of one percent of the booty is $700 million.

I've posted several items and links that illustrate how we got into this mess, while trying to find a short version of the whole story. Unfortunately, no one has yet wrote an abridged version. But there is a full version available at the Deepcapture website organized by Overstock.com CEO Dr. Partick Byrne. Just click either The Story or The Explanation links at page top to start your journey; both provide an answer to westexas's question. IMO, they will kill to get it, and their actions have certainly contributed to deaths via collateral damage via the economic terrorism they have wrought.

Thanks for pointing me to the Deepcapture website. The piece on nut job, Jim Cramer, at CNBC was the first one I read. It will take days to get through the rest of them and, from what I glanced at, it will be time well spent.

Thanks for your feedback. I was beginning to wonder if all my pointing was just a futile exercise.

Yahoo published an article summarizing the Senate bailout bill that is due for a House vote tomorrow:


Sad it does not fix the incompetence on Wall Street that led to such a calamity. Sort of like increasing a school system's budget and not getting significant increases in student test scores.

I made it into a lickable clink

The Bailout: An Owner's Manual

Thanks for the link to http://www.deepcapture.com/ this is fascinating reading. I Googled DTCC and NSCC and then read up on Continuous Net Settlement (CNS).

Naked short selling now makes much more sense to me with regard to T+3 and another 5 days before the red light goes on at the SEC, if 'failed to deliver' exceeds threshold.

The only flaw I see with the whole 'naked short selling' conspiracy, is that the hedge funds, as far as I know, usually trade through Prime Brokers at the Investment Banks - surely, over a six month period, the Investment Banks would have noticed that they were all being massively shorted?

Also, why does the SEC need to ask the hedge funds to report all their short selling trades, when all the information should be available from the NSCC?

Hi HoustonB,

I think your questions are answered at the site, once your explore its entirety. If not, the site's format is a blog, so at the bottom of each item on the main page is a link for comments or questions. When you get to the end of the main story, you'll see that Bear Sterns was brought down very fast because the hedge funds simultaniously withdrew their funds and naked shorted it to death.

I'm worried by this "disinformation campaign," if that's what it is. If you look around the web you'll see that there's an increase in (?)floggers(?) who's only purpose seems to be to stir up emotions without any logical discussion. Above some critical level those emotions are going to be taken out in some physical form. Just going down to the local supermarket I now constantly overhear heated talk that can be deemed 'subversive.'

Worse yet, what if this "bailout"/"rescue package" gets okayed and the economy still keeps going down? Now you'll be dealing with hundreds of millions of angry (and clueless) people potentially running amok. Modern crowd control technology probably works well in defined spaces, but what if you get an 'Iraqi-insurgency' type attacks on infrastructure just to let off steam?


The guy has built credibility through making seemingly unrealistic predictions that have actually come to fruition. That is the polar opposite of disinformation.

We seem to have a failure to communicate here. What if he is accurately reporting information that Bank of America wanted released into the blogosphere? We are 24 hours away from a vote that will hand over hundreds of billions of dollars to favored banks.


Major Insurance Company On Verge Of Bankruptcy: Senator Reid

The market is going to go where the market is going to go, but if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was looking to induce short term volatility for the sake of political gain, he just may have done so.

Mr. Willie doesn't seem like the type to be suckered.

Something like the "corralito" in Argentina is probably just part of the situational development. Not so much a question of "if" but "when". Also remains to be seen what form it would take as these things rhyme but almost never follow the precedent exactly.

I understand your theory but at this point I would consider it unlikely-these zombies might be faking imminent collapse but it is hard to tell as so many of them aren't even trying to run a profitable, sustainable business enterprise. There was no need for AIG to be in trouble-Lehman would be fine if they were still a partnership. IMO these companies aren't faking collapse-they are being gutted and an large % of the first 700 billion won't even be allocated toward financial stability, it will be literally stolen from the shareholders (after having first been stolen from the taxpayers).

I wasn't referring to any one individual specifically. It's just that I notice that a lot of people lately are getting hot-headed and irritated now that their livelihood is being messed with. If it were a face-to-face situation this would be a good time to just excuse oneself, walk-away, and let the other guy cool off. Instead, some choose to stoke the fire.

The most recent item at the top of tomdispatch by Steve Fraser puts the current crisis in historical perspective and Tom Englehardt's intoduction to it does also.

As for quelling mobilized street dissent to the $700 Billion theft, this Amy Goodman item informs us of the deployment of a US Army combat team in violation of Posse Commitatus.

In many respects, Big Government has become the enemy of the people because it is controlled by Big Money, which is to say Big Money is Public Enemy #1.

When it comes to the act of Treason, that has been done, by your President and members of Congress, I seriously doubt if "stoke the fire" is a bad thing, or is too harsh a statement. The fires will burn, and your taxes will feed the flames of revolution.

All they have to do is block credit cards and it would be a bank holiday for most people, and it would block the bleeding of funds that to a large degree might never be paid back.

If they only allowed them to be used by people with very high credit scores, it would have the beneficial effect of preventing many that can pay their debts from walking away.

If it's true...I suspect it's just the typical bureaucratic response to a possible crisis. Doesn't mean they think it's a done deal, or even likely. It could just be the equivalent of telling people to stock up on duct tape and plastic in case of chemical attack, or to put canned tuna and peanut butter under the bed in case of bird flu.

Leanan: I will take your Jim Willie and match it with a Peter Schiff (on Glenn Beck Sept 29) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMrQMUGxTS4

I would be surprised if the government wasn't preparing to do something in the event of a widespread run on the banks. Sheesh, the banks don't trust each other. Why should the public trust the banks? IMO, once the public wakes up to the situation, a run on the banks is quite likely.

There is precedent for this of course in the Emergency Banking Act of 1933.

The act allowed a plan that would close down insolvent banks and reorganize and reopen those banks strong enough to survive.

Roosevelt also got Congress to declare a 4-day "bank holiday" to let the government take a look at the books and calm public jitters.

Of course, I wouldn't expect Bush to bother with the formality of going to Congress. On the other hand, Roosevelt wasn't above political shenanigans:

Despite the importance of the bill, it was passed in immense haste by Congress. Few, if any, Congressmen had the chance to read the bill; most were only able to hear the clerk read it. Quite a few Congressmen vocally protested the haste in which the bill was considered, but nevertheless it was passed sight unseen

The Shock Doctrine 70 years before Naomi Klein's book.

The bill also gave the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to confiscate the gold of private citizens, in exchange for an equivalent amount of paper currency which was subject to later devaluation with relation to gold.


That was the end of any doubts of what was going on, not the start of the process.

I think westexas hit the nail on the head there:

"It could be part of a disinformation campaign, by the banks, to continue to scare Americans into supporting the bailout bill. Who stands to gain the most if the bill passes?"

Leanan-- do you think it wise to post this sort of thing? Is it not irresponsible?

Look, Leanan, your carelessness is already having an effect. The Dow is down 231.14, -2.13%, after early trading.

Keep it up and the system will crash tomorrow.

Ohhh... feel the power!!!

Those damned bloggers on the Internet. Gore's fault, too, for having invented the www in the first place. :-)

Gore's fault, too, for having invented the www in the first place. :-)

What are you talking about? It's a series of tubes...

But hey... The guy who first called it this (a.k.a the senator of Alaska, Sen. Stevens) could his corruption charge dismissed today... Apparently, the tubes/wires/plywood given by Veco Corporation (i.e. a large oil contactor in Alaska) used to build his house might not be 'gifts' after all.

You mean the internets? :)


My brother has a definition of the difference between "being prepared" versus "hoarding".

If you stock up when there is plenty that nobody else wants, that's "being prepared".

If you stock up when everybody needs the stuff too, that's "hoarding".

I'm stocking up on gold, silver, and cash. Only half done with my plan....I hope I'm not too late. At least I'll be WAY ahead of 90% of the populace if things shut down tomorrow.

I hear gold is very tasty, if you put cream and sugar on it.

Goes good with alchohol too...

As regards money, how can it be hoarding if it is yours, How do you hoard what you already own? Yes a run on the banks would be terrible, awful, I can not even guess what it might be like. But the blame does not lie with people doing what ever they wish with the money they rightfully earned, the blame or "moral hazard" as they now say is that fractional reserve banking is predicated on a lie.

What an astonishingly idiotic way to safeguard money. But yes, yes the music's still playing, getting louder all the time I suspect.

Every BofA branch has at least one multifunction printer/copier capable of producing decent quality signs. It would be stupid to pre-print them and hope to keep it a secret. The banks certainly do not want people hoarding cash right now. So this makes no sense no matter how you look at it.

Disclaimer: For the first time in my life I am keeping a supply of cash, but that is not due to this rumor.

Package labeled Pork Chops in the freezer?
Bag labeled DDT in the tool shed?
Buried under the rose bush?
Money belt?

You left out some information and your address


I have my checking account at Bank of America and something happened to me this week that has never happened in all the many years I've banked there.

I have overriding royalty interests on several leases from the days when I was active in the oil and gas business. The lease operators pay the royalties by check each month. These checks are drawn on major independent oil and gas operators. In the past, when I deposited a check, the funds were made available the following day. However, my bookeeper called Monday (sept 29) and told me she had just deposited a check and BofA informed her that the first $4900 wouldn't be available until Wednesday (oct 1) and the remainder until the following Monday (oct 6). She called me all alarmed, wanting to know if I had overdrawn my account or something. This happened again on a check I deposited Tuesday.

I don't know what this all means, but when long-standing procedures are changed it alarms people. I and my account were both sufficiently alarmed to go withdraw some money and stash it under the mattress.

the first $4900 wouldn't be available until Wednesday (oct 1) and the remainder until the following Monday (oct 6).


I would pay attention to this point made by Jim Willie in the article mentioned above...

The October Hat Trick Letter contains some multi-sided evidence of USFed open license to use subsidiary accounts toward the aid of liquidity strains.

Your accounts may be used for the bank's own liquidity purposes.
I have read the same in other articles.

Ya gonna believe Willie or your lying eyes?

I'm really in a quandry as to what is going on.

I have absolutely no knowledge of how this all works. For instance, could Bank of America decide unilaterally to hold funds for a week without the nod of banking regulators? It seems the timing of when these funds are made available would be something mandated by the feds. Could this signal a regulatory change?

Just imagine if they are doing this to people or businesses who move a lot of money. I would think that, for many businesses, being deprived of access to their funds for a entire week could cause extreme difficulties.

Where is Gail the Actuary when you need her? I'll bet she would know, and if she didn't, she'd know where to find out.

Bank of America states this in their policy:

When are funds available after deposit?

Usually on the first business day after the day we receive your deposit. However, depending on the type and amount of your deposit, we may delay the availability of your funds for up to 11 business days. If we delay the availability of funds, we send you a notice and tell you when the funds will be available. A delay may occur under the following circumstances:
You deposit checks totaling more than $5,000 in one day.
You re-deposit a check that has been returned unpaid.
We believe a check you deposit won't be paid.
You've overdrawn your account repeatedly in the last six months.
There is an emergency such as an equipment failure.

For more information on the circumstances under which a delay may occur, refer to the Deposit Agreement and Disclosures.

My credit union has a similar policy, not that I've ever had a check that big :)

Thanks for the heads up, Ben.

Maybe the policy has been in place all along. However, in the past BofA has always made the funds available the day after I deposited the checks. Only one time when I had a personal check drawn on a small, out-of-state bank did they ever put a hold on funds.

Normally this probably wouldn't have even raised an eyebrow. However, with all that is going on with bank failures and everything, it got my attention.

I meant to put that on there, that they've probably had a policy (or similar), but are now enforcing it. They seem to give themselves an out with the "if we think the check may be bad" bit, that leaves it pretty much up to the teller, doesn't it?

"Hmmm. U.S. Treasury. Better put a hold on this one, Bob..."

For the past month we have been fighting with our mortgage company who wants to create an impound account for our taxes. This is despite the fact that we have always paid our taxes, have never been late, called the county clerk to confirm that we are in good standing and have been told repeatedly by "supervisors" at the mortgage company that they would stop calling us demanding that we fund a tax impound account.

My wife was told again this morning by a supervisor that they would stop calling us. We'll see.

I think these companies are desperate for any scrap of cash they can get their hands on and are doing whatever they can to a) get more cash and b) keep the cash in their accounts as long as possible.


I really don't have any inside information on this.

My guess is that the bank has greatly expanded its list of companies on the list corresponding to

We believe a check won't be paid.

I would expect that the list originally named specific companies to which there procedures applied. Now with credit drying up, the procedures are being applied to everyone, or a very long list of companies, perhaps excluding a favored few. People don't have access to their funds as quickly, and business don't either. This could very well cause problems for those who try to time things tightly.

I sold a property on Lake Norman in the Peninsula club


The check from closing was deposited in a BOA account in Huntersville NC, The branch refused too allow funds to post for 30 days. Here in Cleveland Ohio, there is a office for BOfA but not a branch (Cleveland is 1 of 12) of the federal reserve bank locations....thats why BOfA has an office but no branch here. I called the world headqaurters of BOfA in Charlotte and informed them "You can't count on your books as cash on hand, that which you deny my access too" And informed them of the nature of the check and its nearly instantanious verification made easy with the routing number at the bottom of the check. The money suddenly became available and posted on line within 1/2 hour!

Bank of America has been changing a lot of their rules recently. Everything from fingerprinting people to charging fees for cashing checks.

Makes one wonder, if there are really only going to be a very few major banks left soon - the surveillance will be so much easier. I know the savings bank where I do business screens all my transactions against multiple "terrorist" databases.

My sister had something similar happen to her.

It's possible this is a hoax but like all really good hoaxes, it has a basis in reality:

The following quotation comes from an article detailing some of the discussions just before the bailout was proposed.

From the New York Times:

Since the Bear Stearns bailout, Treasury and Fed officials had discussed what a broad government intervention might look like. Although there were suggestions for a “bank holiday” — a temporary, nationwide closing of banks, which had not been done since 1933, to stem panicky withdrawals — Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson dismissed the idea, fearing it would do far more harm than good by scaring people needlessly. They had both assembled teams to map out drastic rescue plans — the “break the glass” plans.


The NYT also quotes the Fed Chairman telling lawmakers (regarding the proposed bailout):

“If we don’t do this,” Mr. Bernanke said, according to several participants, “we may not have an economy on Monday.”

I think what I said here explains a lot of whats going on. Its not a traditional bank run but people withdrawing large amounts of money to cover debts. I'm also copying the text.
It also explains the stock market action. Basically a whole lot of people are now paying debt out of their savings.


I suspect your wrong about the cause of this run on the banks and also why you can't see it.

The run on the banks is caused by people draining their savings to pay mortgage debt and CC debt.
I suspect a lot of it is from small time real estate speculators still holding on to properties and draining cash every month.

Also I suspect people are furiously cashing out their 401k's for the same reason. This drain of money from 401 k's will force private pension plans to sell assets to meet liquidation demands.
This is on top of the natural roll over as the baby boomers retires. Needless to say a lot of liquidity is being drained from the stock market right now because just about everyone is either borrowing or cashing out their 401k plans at the moment.

Its going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

If you withdraw cash from your savings account to pay off the mortgage or credit card, then the cash is going back to the bank. Ditto for buying beans down at the feed store. The store is taking your money and paying off it's bank loan, or just depositing the money in the bank as savings. Again, it is going back to the bank.

Actually, since nearly all money is debt, when you pay off a loan, you are destroying money. If this seems odd, consider how the money was created in the first place.

When a bank makes a loan, it creates the money out of thin air by simply entering the balance on a ledger. One side is an "asset" to the bank. The other side is credited to the borrower. BAnks were granted the authority to create US dollars this way by the Federal Reserve Act. Prior to that act, the bank had to issue a bank note, backed only by the bank. Bank notes were problemmatic, because they were not "legal tender" and would go poof if the bank went under.

As the borrower pays back the loan, the amount on the ledger gets smaller. Eventually, it is 0, and all the money that was created as part of the loan is gone, destroyed....plus interest of course.

The problem is that the interest the borrower paid back was the principal on someone else's loan. There is now not enough money in existence for that other borrower to pay back his loan. The money to pay the interest on existing loans comes out of new loans. This is why deflation and/or a credit squeeze is so deadly to a fractional-reserve fiat currency: constant credit expansion is necessary to keep the money supply from being sucked into a black hole of payoffs and defaults.

The problem is that the success of any debt based monetary system requiring payment of interest requires infinite economic growth - it is a 'feature' of the design.

It is a 'feature' of growth that ever more energy is required.

Oil consumption and the financial system are in a symbiotic relationship - you either have growth of both or decline of both!

Most people don't understand this simple relationship, but I am sure peak 'net exports' of oil will have a huge impact on the viability of long term borrowing in oil importing nations.

Excuse me...I need to run to my ATM right quick!!!

I don't think a temporary bank shutdown on a national basis would involve ATMs. That's the reason banks might need some lead time to prepare.

If they close the banks but keep the ATMs going (perhaps with lower daily withdrawal limits), it's likely in my view that panic would subside in a few days. You would have access to cash, just not your entire balance at once.

In meantime, of course, broad measures (mostly involving helicopters) would be announced and explained to the public.

[In fact, ATM's might turn out to be amazingly useful in times like these to preserve the banking system. Cash is available, just not in massive quantities. Cash rationing.]

It would be simpler to take over the ATM systems and the credit card systems. Most countries in the world have (or had) a postal savings system. The post office took deposits everywhere and put some competition in for the local bank. It didn't make loans, though. Just took deposits so the government was immune from bank pressure on loans to finance the government.

If that's so, then why don't they just tell us, instead of this pack of lies they're feeding us?

I think I know the reason. A majority of Americans might just decide it's time to wean ourselves off foreign debt, cold turkey. They see this as the only way to rid the country of its financial cancer. Think in terms of chemo-therapy. The patient suffers horribly, but the cancer is killed. The patient lives. The alternative is to not take the treatment, the cancer lives and the patient dies.

The current bailout proposal, if "successful," will only restore the system as it was. I'd say the chances of this "success" are about as good as a snowball's chance in hell, but nevertheless, I don't think a majority of Americans want to return to the way it was. Most people realize if we go back to the way it was, the $700 billion will only buy us a temporary respite until the banking and finance industry causes another round of wreckage.

It's the desperate final gamble of addicted gamblers. Unfortunately, the kids have nothing to say about their sodden father's behavior.

I guess you could say the whole original idea of The United States of America was a gamble-- most everyone who knew anything in 1775 knew that common people couldn't run a country, let alone the world.

I keep entertaining the hope that Alexander Hamilton and his crew were wrong, and that the "common sense" of the "common" man can prevail, and resurgent aristocracy is not our inevitable future. Somehow, that seems a faint hope at this point -- not when Goldman Sachs runs the U.S. Treasury.

Can the "commonsense" Sarah Palin bail us out?

The "commonsense" Sarah Palin, by herself, cannot bail us out. And I don't relish the thought of her as President. It would be an unmitigated disaster. That said, when we look at the entire political spectrum, the Sarah Palins of the world do play an important role.

I do not lament the fact that in the United States we have people like Sarah Palin. What I do lament is that we have no counterbalance, no radical populist left. Where are our modern-day Huey Longs? They've been banished from the political landscape by constant pounding from a national news media that demonizes left-wing populism, but sees nothing wrong with the right-wing populist rhetoric of Sarah Palin.

The problem with this story is that it never explains who would buy these dollar based assets if China and Japan decided to sell (in a panic or otherwise). Are we going to buy them? What will we pay for them with? More dollars? China and Japan are the only large countries motivated to own and large enough to such an enormous number of dollars, therefore, they are stuck. When a marginally solvent debtor owes you a small amount of money which he can't repay, the debtor has a big problem. When a marginally solvent debtor owes you a very large amount of money he can't repay, YOU have a big problem.

Yes, you have a big problem, but you are still in business. As an example, you built all these TVs and sold them to a major customer (19%) of all your sales. Yes, it is a bummer if his IOUs are worthless, but you are still in business making and selling TVs to the other 81%. Your customer, OTOH won't be able to buy TVs, oil or anything else on credit-he will have to trade good (probably food or coal) for good.

I don't disagree with you except as to the percentages. I am guessing much more than 19% is paid for with American monopoly money. My point is Japan and China cannot easily threaten to dump the dollar even though at some point they will have to do so. (To paraphrase Ben Stein's father "That which cannot go on forever, won't").

Since we are on a peak oil site, I have to say that while I find our payment of monopoly money to corrupt, non-democratic regimes in the oil producing states (except for Canada for course) for a precious, finite resource at the same time that we are the world's most wasteful oil gluttons to be morally reprehensible, from an economic standpoint we are getting a fabulous deal even if the China gets the low-paying electronic and textile jobs.

With regard to trading real goods in exchange for real goods, that is probably a good idea for sustainability of the human race as a whole. Unfortunately for China and Japan, they don't export oil and we can rebuild our ipod, GAP clothing and Pinto factories fairly quickly if they decide not to take our monopoly money in the future.

I'm not sure that foreign creditors need to sell to spark a crisis. I think they would merely need to quit buying. The US is utterly dependent on the $1 billion per day, or whatever it's up to now, that our gracious creditors extend to us. I suspect that the situation would spiral quickly out of control if they simply stopped buying.

The US gov't. deficit for 2008-09 is projected to be close to 600 Billion, and if revenues decrease in the manner I think they will, that figure could come close to a Trillion. Neither figure includes the costs of any "bailout." Then there is coporate and consumer debt to add to the gov't. number. All told, $1 Trillion is a good guess for what the US will need to be loaned over the course of 2008-09. One Trillion divided by 365 gives $2,739,726,027.40/day in borrowing. Include the costs of the "bailout" plus the 100 Billion in bribes to get it passed to the one Trillion for 1.8 Trillion would require $4,931,506,849.30/day. Then we need to finance the payments for the debt already accumulated, so figure about $5 Billion per day in overseas loans, more than double the daily amount of the 2007-08 fiscal year.

Such an amount is insane. But Depravity Central will likely vote for just that: Insanity.

Is America's biggest export really T-bills?

If America stops buying, many countries cannot sell. They really want us to keep buying, as they get some value from the dollars received.

It would seem that dollars would inflate worldwide if not for other countries pulling them out of circulation and buying T-bills with them, which we're happy to sell to keep our people happy and purchasing.

It does not seem sustainable to keep asking countries to ship us stuff in exchange for T-bills they can't really spend. To raise their own standards, and to prevent shipping everything of value to us for virtual money paid in the future, they need to start buying American products. And that in turn would be healthier for us, but we don't seem to sell products anymore.

Where am I misunderstanding? Have we really built a worldwide game where only we win right now? And if we lose EVERYBODY loses?

Do we actually have a worldwide "T-bill bubble" rather than a dollar bubble? What will pop it, if so?

If America stops buying, many countries cannot sell. They really want us to keep buying, as they get some value from the dollars received.

Ring around the rosie
A pocket full of poseys
Ashes, Ashes
We all fall down

Well, the rhyme refers to The Plague, but it might as well refer to the situation you describe.

If I were manufacturing goods in China or elsewhere, I would demand payment in my national currency. The same goes if I'm an oil exporter. Yes, this would create inflation in my currency as its demand would grow. But at the same time the dollar gets cheaper, which allows me to buy US agricultural goods, weapons, land, businesses, or whatever in greater quantities than before. And since the US now needs my national currency to buy my products, the USA would need to accumulate a reserve of my national currency. At some future point, a tenuous balance would be arrived at and the exchange rate would become somewhat stabilized. (The Bretton Woods agreement established the International Monetary Fund to perform this essential international service, which was discontinued by Nixon in favor of Kissenger's Dollar Hegemony plan.) IMO, the dollar has a long way to fall to reach whatever value it still has.

As implied, the deviation from the Bretton Woods system is at the root of the potential destabilization of global trade. Hopefully, it won't take a global depression and world war to return to such a system, perhaps using some newly created non-national currency--The Global--as the primary reserve currency.

For better or worse, we must have an easily portable medium of exchange to facilitate commerce. The denarius worked until it was debased, as did sterling then the dollar. The gold bugs will demand a return to their standard, which I see as implausible. Now that the dollar crisis is fully formed, we have many countries calling for reform of the international monetary system. Now that the US lacks leverage over those countries, perhaps a sane agreemnet reinstituting something like the Bretton Woods System will be arrived at.

unless the reforms correct the problems that were pointed out in the 'money as debt' movie it's not going to stop the situation.

I assume your pronoun "it's" refers to a new form of Bretton Woods agreement. I wasn't implying it would "stop the situation," which I assume you mean the US financial troubles. Nor was I addressing the "problems pointed out in the 'money as debt' movie."

So, since you are rather vague, it's hard for me to respond.

What I hope we avoid is a repeat of the events of 1929-1933 when very high protectionist tariffs were erected globally that slowed the flow of international commerce, and thus monetary flows, to a trickle, which happened to be a major contributor to the length and depth of the Great Depression. With holders of US debt rightly concerned about its value and redeemability, and the massive amounts of additional borrowing the so-called bailout bill will impose as I note further up the thread--up to $5 billion per day--the world community must make arrangements to abandon the dollar as the main trading and reserve currency before the whole system siezes-up, which would really be a calamity. The merrygoround consumeristic ponzi scam has created gross imbalances in the global economy that will correct one way or another--managed or unmanaged. Economic "pain" is going to be inflicted, but I believe its scope can be limited to the USA and UK, the two economies most out-of-balance.

Most important, the US government MUST return to living within its means. This entails massive cuts in defense, withdrawl from the seven conflicts its now involved in--Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Iran, Colombia, Bolivia, and Venezuela--and cancellation of the Bush tax cuts--just for starters. This would curtail some of the government caused "crowding out" in the credit markets (which I discussed two years ago on this forum), and allow for some recapitalization of the banking system. Such actions will be anathema to BushCo, but that doesn't mean they are the wrong things to do--in fact, I would argue that's why they are exactly the right things to do.

The age of the US Empire is now over. And its excesses will usher in an age of austerity. Let us hope it's no worse than that.

I agree completely.

I feel the same about this as I did about the invasion of Iraq. Al Queda attacks, so we go and invade Iraq. And that only served to exacerbate the underlying problem--terrorism.

In the current case consumers and small businesses can't borrow money and homeowners can't pay their mortgages. So what's our solution? Buy toxic waste from bankers for more than it's worth.

The proposed bailout could actually make it more difficult for consumers and small businesses to borrow money. The Fed will have to go into the markets and borrow the $700 billion gift to the bankers. That, either directly or indirectly, puts the Fed in competition with conumers and small businesses for funds, making those funds more scarce, and more expensive.

And the homeowner who can't, or doesn't want, to pay his mortgage that he is hopelessly upside down in? This does nothing to address that issue. At the end of the day, he's still on the hook.

It'll raise interest rates, leading to increased rates on EXISTING adjustable-rate mortgages, leading to yet more foreclosures.

And guess who will be "earning" the interest on the $700B loan?

The funniest line was right at the end where O'Neill says "we" have no capacity in the federal government to manage a 700 billion dollar portfolio. Newsflash Paul: this is where the hundreds of millions of dollars in fees paid to "expertise" comes in (some of the bailout welfare babies are already lobbying to scoop up this cream also.)

(some of the bailout welfare babies are already lobbying to scoop up this cream also.)

Actually, we have overlooked the real source of the problem, and it's right there under our noses: Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Drugs

Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Drugs

It's been five years since we had a raise in pay
And they disallowed my business lunches today
Somebody must have changed the rules of the game
So we've found a convenient scapegoat we can blame

It's those teenage immigrant welfare mothers on drugs
(They're too lazy to work)
Teenage immigrant welfare mothers on drugs
(They're stealing our jobs)...


Standard and accepted management fees for the investment community, are 1% of total portfolio.

$700 billion total portfolio means, $7 billion just for managing the portfolio. Of course this fee is on a yearly basis. Further more, the portfolio will shrink over time....possibly only costing $10 billion total.

Not bad work...if you can get it huh?

Good Morning America profiled some Main Street Americans this morning regarding how they had been affected by the credit crisis. One of the guys had a retail coffee shop. He said that business dropped precipitously in May and had not recovered. He was making up a shortfall in revenue out his own pocket, while trying to restructure his business loan, so far without success. He didn't know how much longer he could continue to make up for the revenue shortfall, and he was hoping that the bailout bill would free up credit.

To review, this business owner, pretty much 100% on the discretionary side of the economy, is running a monthly loss, and his bank is unwilling to modify his loan. I think that this is the fundamental flaw with the whole bill. It's a desperate effort to maintain BAU--the high consumption auto centric suburban way of life that it is our "birthright."

While we still have some capital and energy, we should be putting it into things like Alan Drake's plans--but that would force us to acknowledge that a finite world has finite limits.

Edit: CNBC just had the CEO of luxury home builder Toll Brothers on. He said that assuming that the bailout bill is passed, things should return to BAU by 2010, because Americans have always aspired to larger homes. I noticed the possibility of reduced energy supplies was not even considered to be worth discussing.

BTW, Dick Armey (who is against the bill), on CNBC noted that most of the senators who voted against the bill are up for reelection. And Dick noted that of course all house member are up for reelection.

Yes, three years of home price declines. Now at a record pace. This will all be fixed by this bill.

We're from the government, and we're here to help you.

To what extent is Case Shiller price index the opposite of real gasoline prices? Land economists have long noted the role of commuting costs in setting land prices. The value of homes is not dropping, it's the value of the land that the homes are located on that is declining. Unless the rescue package magically makes gasoline cheap again, land values in the periphery will continue to sink.

"Unless the rescue package magically makes gasoline cheap again...."


Energy prices. I think that's the key. I don't know why these economists aren't addressing it. It's like they're fighting a blind boxer in the dark (where the blind boxer has the advantage); they don't seem to have a clue where the last punch came from.

Absolutely! Fuel prices are the problem here.

Why did "subprime lending" arise?
To sell off tons and tons of cheaply built fancy McMansions to people who couldn't afford them.

Why were tons of McMansions built?
Because there was ample suburban land located 20-50 miles from populations centers where those homeowners work.

Why was commuting 20-50 miles each way practical?
Gasoline was cheap.

What happens when gasoline becomes expensive?
Nobody wants to live in the McMansions anymore. And yes I agree its a function of the land being less valuable because its so far away from population centers.

What happens then?
Nobody buys McMansions at the same time lots of people try to sell them. The prices collapse, and suddenly people have mortgages for thousands more than their homes are worth, with no way to refinance. The more of them that default, the worse the problem become. Oh feedback.

Peak Suburbia

We're from the government, and we're here to help you.

BTW, Dick Armey (who is against the bill), on CNBC noted that most of the senators who voted against the bill are up for reelection.

Funny you should mention that, because its actually not true. I decided to do some number crunching this morning on this very possibility and found that 8 of the 18 incumbant republicans running voted "No" while only 2 of the 12 incumbant democrats did. So of the 25 senators that voted "No", 10 of them are up for reelection, but of the 30 incumbants up for reelection, only 10 voted "No". I would have thought (as unpopular as this bill is) that more senators up for reelection would have voted "No", but I think there is alot of Koolaid drinking going on in the Senate Chamber.

On a similar vein on CNBC this morning...Erin ? the lady anchor mentioned the price of oil..then stammered..."nobody cares about oils prices anymore!".

Speaking of Dick's...where's the Cheney-man been lately? It always makes me nervous when he hides away someplace. I would rather keep my eye on him.

Speaking of Dick's...where's the Cheney-man been lately?

Cheney to sub for Bush in Reno speech Friday

RENO, Nev.—Vice President Dick Cheney is now scheduled to substitute for President Bush with a speech in Reno on Friday to a conference on hunting and wildlife habitat.

Bush originally was listed as the keynote speaker Friday to the White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy being held Thursday and Friday at the Silver Legacy hotel-casino.

Conference organizers issued a revised agenda Tuesday that shows Cheney will deliver the remarks at 10:45 a.m. on Friday to the conference that will address ways to increase hunting opportunities and improve habitat for game species.

Hopefully Cheney won't be armed for the speech!

Now that's a hoot, Cheney promoting the improvement of habitat!

Now now he did shoot a lawyer so he is not all bad.


I would gladly endure ten thousand more lawyers than suffer any additional days of Cheney being outside of a prison cell.

One of the guys had a retail coffee shop. ... pretty much 100% on the discretionary side of the economy

Coffee, discretionary? Hah ha, yeah right. We might switch from Starbucks to Folgers to chicory but I would guess that caffeine would act just like any other vice drug: sales go up in a bad economy. :)

I'm just kidding in the above btw, Starbucks makes terrible coffee.

According to economist Nigel (I can't recall his last name; but he gets into philosophical debates with Paul Kennedy) the British Empire got its start and funding through the European consumption of coffee, sugar, and tobacco.

Yes...look up the history of the East Indian Tea Company...it's quite interesting.


The Company transformed from a commercial trading venture to one that virtually ruled India and other Asian colonies as it acquired auxiliary governmental and military functions, until by the Government of India Act 1858 the British Crown assumed direct rule, following the events of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The Company was finally dissolved on 1 January 1874, as a result of the East India Stock Dividend Redemption Act.

Yep, commodities all produced with slave labor.

Hello Karlof1,

Recall my earlier postings on the future of potash [Element K] mining:

Mom and the kids pedaling away like mad [chained to their seats], in the middle of a freezing Saskatchewan blizzard, trying to move potash up from 3300 ft below, plus pumping fresh air down to Dad [so he won't suffocate], who is working a pick, shovel, and wheelbarrow way, way down below. I can just see the PTB proudly proclaiming, "Now that's Teamwork!".

For phosphorus [Element P]: it will be slaves in the scorching Moroccan sunlight and heat.

Manual labor was how the I/O-NPK industry got started. That will also be how its postPeak ends.

Hi Bob,

Did you ever read The Time Machine? Do you think you could craft a similar story using the motif you just described?

Westexas, your comment brought the Robinson Jeffers poem "Shine, Perishing Republic" (1924) to mind:

While America settles in the mold of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the
mass hardens,

I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots
to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and
decadence; and home to the mother.

You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it
stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains; shine,
perishing republic.

But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the
thickening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there
are left the mountains.

And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant,
insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught--they say--God,
when he walked the earth.

Thank you for posting this, pi.

To me, coffee shops seem to be doing well when compared to many restaurants. This weekend I went for a Sunday brunch; only two other full tables in a place that was usually packed a year ago; the serving dishes were big, but held less... I figure that the management is accustomed to a low turn-out.

This is way beyond a simple credit crisis. I think the high fuel prices just eat into earnings.

Ahh, the golden calf is led to slaughter. The veal produced will be insufficient to feed the many chosen few. Its been said and Ive been told, "You can't make a silk purse out of a cows ear"...(or was that a sows ear). Either way, its not true. It is entirely possible to make a silk purse out of a cow/sows ear...of course you need alot of cow/sow ears to do it.


The State Fair's Grand Place building houses its usual blend of hot tubs, vibrating foot massagers and handcrafted African goods. It's only missing one thing this year: customers... "Now you can shoot a gun in here and nobody would get hit."

Too bad.

[Rephrasing: Where's Dick Cheney?]

One could argue that the bailout bill is a manifestation of CPSR—Cornucopian Primal Scream Response—on a grand scale

Far be it for me to criticize your nifty acronyms but I find CPSR to be too cumbersome. ELM and ELP are easy to say, in contrast. May I suggest a slight alteration for CPSR?

Change it to Cornucopian Response: Primal Scream, which gives CORPSE.


CORPSE: I like it; fits perfectly!

After reading Roubini's comments, who has a pretty good track record, I think it's time for something like EELP--EXTREME Economize Localize Produce.

Nouriel Roubini: “This plan in Congress is just a sham.”

Live-Blogging the Roubini/Ritholtz Conference Call

5:16: “The events of the last few weeks say we’re one accident away from a systemic financial meltdown,” says Roubini. He points to previous accidents that nearly caused a universe-eating financial black hole: Bear Stearns in March, Fannie and Freddie in July and Lehman and AIG a couple of weeks ago. “We’re seeing the beginning of a silent run on the shadow and traditional banking system,” he says. “There’s a generalized panic” in the financial markets.

5:20: And that’s not the scariest part, he says! The scariest part is that, every time the government steps up its response, the market reaction gets weaker and weaker.

5:22: “We are literally one step away from collapse of entire financial system and even the corporate system.”

5:24: This bailout package isn’t going to do the trick. That’s why the market isn’t cheering it any more: Nobody trusts anybody any more. “We’ve reached the point where $700 billion doesn’t make any difference given reaction of market.”

5:26: The economy was already in “freefall” before September. We’re in for a severe recession, according to a litany of data.

5:28: Treasury should have done more — you can’t just buy and park bad assets. You have to triage, shutting down weak banks and deciding who to save. You have to recapitalize the banking system so they’ll extend credit. You have to reduce debt. Earlier, he said you have to guarantee all deposits, regardless of amount. “This plan in Congress is just a sham.”

5:29: Roubini ends with the words “Great Depression"

I think I just threw up a little.

I continue to feel like we are watching "Peak Oil/Peak Credit, the Movie," on fast forward.

Anyone remember the scene from "She's Having a Baby" when Kevin Bacon found out that his wife was not on birth control? He imagined himself strapped into a rocket sled, being propelled into a brick wall. That seems pretty apt.

That's great about kangaroo meat replacing sheep and cattle. If we could only train them not to jump out of their enclosures.

What we're going to do is use those explosive collars from science fiction movies that track and kill the wearer by radio command. It saves a lot of money on facilities and personnel.

Too true! My neighbour used to farm elk inside 10 foot fences, the roos would just go straight over them.

All venison recipes work for kangaroo. One year a friend cooked Christmas dinner with roast kangaroo, red cabbage and water chestnuts. In the public's mind the need for hunting will outweigh the ecological benefits of switching from traditional red meats. We'll just eat less of them.

I have just visited the US for the first time in 6 or 7 years, and spent nearly 2 weeks in the San Francisco and New York areas (upstate New Jersey to be precise). When visiting the US I always come away feeling that it is the most foreign of places (and I have travelled to a fair few countries in my time). More than ever these past 2 weeks I was struck by the total domination of the motor car in American life. For a foreigner, it is not till you actually travel there that you appreciate that an entire country, its total infrastructure, its very essence, is based on the automobile, and its ability to traverse huge distances in the pursuit of both the mundane and the vital at a tiny cost. The country is now bankrupt, not because of the current financial crisis, but because an unimaginable infrastructure, an entire lifestyle, which was paid for with specie the like of which we can never see again, is on the verge of total and irreversible redundancy. It is truly frightening.

That’s a very unflattering view of the US you paint andyh. I wish I could say you're wrong. If you had visited Texas you would have been even more shocked. There are some folks here that have to hop in their car just to check their mail box. I think we might have had time to adjust our life style if but for two factors. Ignorance of PO is the obvious. But now, the less obvious, but perhaps more critical factor, is how much of this lifestyle was built on credit. We had some cushion for much of this expansion thanks to economic growth. But now the sub prime fiasco has accelerated the problem far beyond our capability to out grow both issues. Collectively, going perhaps as much into $700 billion $’s into additional debt to allow us to borrow more to sustain the unsustainable seems rather dubious to me.

In fairness I should also add we were treated in the most hospitable manner you can imagine by our hosts whilst we were in the US; the above is not meant as a diatribe against the US and all who live in her, but as a terrified observation.

We'd be much grumpier if we had to walk.

I walk to and from work everyday - and to lunch, and the market etc.

actually makes me LESS grumpy - especially as I live in Santa Monica (L.A.) - I walk by lines of cars with angry people on their phones, disconnected from the outside world, angry at the time they waste, frustrated by selfish people doing dangerous and rude moves to gain a car length or two...

and I grin and keep walking

I walked 2.5 blocks to my streetcar stop, took a "made in 1923" Perley Thomas streetcar downown, did two errands (about 14 blocks walking in toto), took the streetcar back, walked one block to my neighborhood grocery, got a ripe tomato and some homemade cottage cheese :-) walked 2.5 more blocks to home and had them for lunch. Beautiful day and nice chats on the streetcar and doing my errands :-)

Hardly grumpy at all !

Best Hopes,


Speak for yourself! I walk to work every day and it does wonders for my attitude.

I have known lots of people who drive long commutes who are very grumpy indeed.

Overweight, grumpy, heavily armed people who suddenly have to walk.

What could possibly go wrong?

The "sub prime fiaso" is a Red Herring. As pointed out at the deepcapture.com website I linked to above, the actual title/name ought to be the Hedge Fund Assault on and raping of America.

Texans are some of the nicest people that you could possibly meet and I'm always amazed at how warm and friendly everyone is.

But it is incredibly car dependent and so is just about every other place that I've been in the US - except for NYC.

Last night, I had a long talk with a Canadian guy who has lived in Texas for the past 17 years. He said that Austin has changed enormously since he first visited it (in 1978 IIRC) and that now everything is centered around automobiles. Also, he said that the social stress was much worse than we see on television and that he expected that things might get "ugly" very soon.

If times get tough, I would sooner be in Canada than the US - just because of the way that the society handles problems.

I'll finish with an anecdote:

The city of Calgary is currently in the midst of a drug epidemic and addicts are using public parks to get high.

So the city has placed yellow waste receptacles all around the downtown parks with signs saying "Please Dispose of Your Used Needles Here".

I'm not a sociologist, so I don't know what can be inferred from this. All I know is that I haven't seen any needles lying around in parks.

If times get tough, I would sooner be in Canada than the US - just because of the way that the society handles problems.

Your anecdote said it all by quoting the sign, "Please Dispose of Your Needles Here." The use of the magic word, "please", still carries some weight north of the border.

The Imperial legislation creating the Dominion of Canada in 1867 empowered the central government of the federated British provinces with the powers of "peace, order and good government." Even the Charter of Rights and Freedoms instituted in 1982 emphasizes the rights to "life, liberty, and the security of the person" within a legal framework that recognizes "the supremacy of God and the rule of law."

Historically, among Canadians, social order is 'the primary directive' if I may borrow Star Trek jargon. Among Americans, the individualized rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" garner primary allegiance.

When TSHTF, I rather my neighbour thinking in terms of "due process" and "the rule of law" than one fixated on the "right to bear arms."

Differences in our histories have led to differences in approaches to problems and cultural expectations. It's why there hasn't been all that much enthusiasm or support in Canada for the notion of American manifest destiny.

Vive la differénce.

From last night's Toastmaster meeting:

How do you get 30 Canadians to leave a swimming pool?

You say "Please leave the swimming pool".

What is the sound of silence?

Canadians in an elevator.

There's an old standby joke: 'How can you tell a Canadian traveling in Europe? He's the one saying "thank you" to the ATM.'

Great fun, until my sister a while back was visiting Portugal when she heard someone in front of her at an ATM muttering in a very low voice, "yes, thank you." English speaking for sure, she asked him from whence he came?

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was the reply.

Consciously or unconsciously, it's bred to the bone.

We were at the self checkout the other day, and as we took our receipt and groceries, the computer said "Thank you for shopping here."

My daughter very politely said "You're welcome!"

To her, it was the most normal thing in the world.

I think you have made the error of small sample size. Fortunately the whole country is not like the San Francisco and New York areas. Although you are correct about auto dependency.

As for bankruptcy, while American debt is fantastically high, so are its assets. And remember the borrowed money is in dollars which can be created at a push of a computer key. And foreign lenders don't seem to agree with you, at least yet.

In bankruptcy debts generally have to exceed assets at least for private entities. In the case of government, bankruptcy manifests itself in wild inflation ala Zimbabwe or civil desentigration as in the case of Haiti. America is not there yet.

Paulson's bail out package includes foreign banks. This is absolutely necessary to keep the game going. Without bailing out the foreign banks along with American banks, it's game up. To continue to be the world financial hogemonon, they have to be bailed out of bad assets too or the dollar loses credibility.

Foreigners then will stop lending sooner rather than later. In any case the whole bail out package, while it is backed by taxpayer money, is in fact financed by borrowing the the money from foreigners since the U.S. continues to run large deficits and does little saving.

The scary thing is, SF and NJ are probably less dependent on the automobile than the rest of the country.

A auto is a liability in SF-- Most people I know just rent one when they need to take a trip outside the city, or use a car co-op.

NJ is a mixed bag - parts are as reliant on a car as Northern Virginia at its worst. Only around NYC is NJ really less than car dependent - which covers a few million people, though.

I think you have made the error of small sample size.

I agree. Most of the rest of the US is immensely more dependent on cars than SF & NY. In fact, SF (with BART) and NY (with its subways & trains, including New Jersey Transit) are among the least car-dependent places in the US.

Also, if he thought the people in North Jersey were hospitable, he'll be really impressed with the rest of the country. :-)=

Hey, hey, no NJ jokes! :)

As a resident of the Garden State (Exit 8) from 1992 through 1999 (and still a frequenter of the state) I am throughly qualified to offer a resident's opinion of the state's public demeanor. :)

Heh-heh. Exit 15W.

I did 4 years @ Exit 9.

A lifetime one summer in Apline.

"As for bankruptcy, while American debt is fantastically high, so are its assets."

Don't leave us in suspense, tell us what those assets are. The only ones I can think of are ANWR oil, and some timber land. Not $10T ($11T tomorrow) worth.

McMansions and related suburban infrastructure--from sea to shining sea.

So the key to solvency is to re-classify liabilities as assets? It's so crazy, it just might work.

There was some talk a couple of years ago about privatizing the Interstate system. Let companies bid for sections, then charge tolls. It might come to that.

Acvtually it's already happening on a state level. A few months ago Penn sold its toll roads to a foreign company. Forget how much exactly but many 10's of millions...maybe even 100's. The company will be responsible for maintenance.

McMansions and highways - assets or white elephants?

We've got fourteen nuclear carrier task forces we can sell. Several thousand tanks and combat helicopters, air superiority fighters, some ballistic missile subs. Of course we wouldn't sell to just anybody.

Who could afford it? Russia? China? The Middle East? Venezuela? Probably about rounds the list. Would you WANT to sell them this? It's like the gun shop owner selling the ex-con a gun so the ex-con can rob the gun store.

That hardware isn't going to be sold. It's going to be used - it's only a matter of time.

Are you sure?

The US can barely afford the cost of the current wars. Can they start a new one without collapsing from the inside?

See prior postings in TOD archives: the North American continent is projected to go into a massive phosphate deficit according to the UN FAO Fertilizer Forecast: we will need the nuclear aircraft carriers to postPeak ferry massive tons of raw phosphate rock across the pond from Morocco.

"...we wouldn't sell to just anybody."

then who ? probably someone with lots of oil to barter. hugo maybe ?

Cheap labor? (Soon)

Although the federal Debt has increased the economy has expanded five times as fast as the debt. The ratio of debt to GDP is better than France, Italy, UK, and Germany and others for starters. In fact, compare the economy of the USA vs. the economy of the EU. The ratio of debt to GDP has been improving for years and I suspect after the current mess it will resume doing so.



Other than inflation, at the moment, the US is ahead of the EU by just about every measurement. Please remember that France with the Dutch in agreement has proposed a fund of 418 Billion (US) to bail out EU banks. However, Germany shot it down today, I believe. Sound familiar?

I’m sorry for the fella that found the nuts & flakes in the Bay area less than friendly and New Yorkers have never lead the nation in hospitably, either. The offset to that would be France in general and Paris in particular if you care to meet lots of rude people. It was always interesting to watch the expression on the face of French waiters, taxi drivers, and workers after they had just insulted you in French to a co-worker when the lady traveling with you answered them back in French. I for one have never been convinced that things are markedly better in Europe. Different, yes. Better, maybe so; maybe not.

All you are saying is that the USA is in a better position than Europe (and the rest of the world), we already knew that - that doesn't make the USA in a good place, you just have further to fall.

In any crash it's the sudden stop that does the damage.

I've just finished reading IOUSA. It's a good account of how, on current progress, the US will be totally unable to meet its promises to its own citizens by 2040 despite its huge assets.

The general theme of book is that the problem can be fixed and that there's still time to do something if people recognise the need soon enough.

But then that's been the story of Peak Oil for 20 years.

IOUSA is now a major motion picture.


Are you saying the country is not bankrupt?

I guess if we are willing to sell off the National Park System to Chinese real-estate speculators, maybe that is true.

Or, we could start with Manhattan -- it was originally bought for a handful of beads. What do you suppose the Japanese would give us for it today? Or will it default to the Indians who claim the original transaction was a fraud?

I offer 60 Dutch Guilders to buy Manhattan back.

Sixty. I hear sixty. The lady over there -- is your hand up? Seventy, over there. The man in the Belgian bowler hat. Seventy once. Seventy-five! Do I hear one hundred? .........

Why pay more then 60?

"In 1626, Peter Minuit acquired Manhattan from native people in exchange for trade goods worth 60 guilders,"


Inflation. And development. Wouldn't you rather have the Chrysler Building than a bunch of old trees and rivers full of fish and wetlands all squishy with oysters?

Wouldn't you rather have the Chrysler Building than a bunch of old trees and rivers full of fish and wetlands all squishy with oysters?


Oysters are definitely not squishy. Here's hoping you never have the displeasure of stepping on one and almost self amputating your foot.

Got a few hanging around? I hadn't realized even the Dutch were euro skeptics.

Hi expat,
The Dutch voted against more integration into the common market and France voted to do the same. These 2 votes brought the movement for more integration to a abrupt halt. The Dutch people had seen the changover to new currency made their prices sky rocket by 33%(my GF told me)! Tax money from Nederland goes to the poorer south and east. They are frugal and don't like to see it wasted by the common market.


Four years ago I was working on a novel in which I assumed the US would bankrupt itself in the War on Terror by sending troops to dozens of countries, after which time its foreign creditors would hold a conference to dictate American budget cuts, specifically ending the War on Terror.

Looks like it's happening a lot sooner, and with a lot fewer wars, than I imagined.

The funny/sad thing is that China is copying this kind of lifestyle. They
are upgrading their roads and highways to accommodate the kind of traffic like we have here in the US. It's kind of scary -- peak oil will be here sooner than people think.

Ditto India. We have all these fancy "gated communities" 20-25 km from the city where people wall themselves up away from the harsh realities of life in India. Some names - Spanish Village, Scottish Highlands,etc etc.

It is just painful to see the govt. announce projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars on elevated roads, flyovers and other car related infrastructure when what they should be spending money is on mass rapid transit, buses and pedestrian facilities.


U.S. oil and petroleum exports have reached four consecutive record highs

I addressed this when Jon Tester made the same claim:


The fact is that these 'exports' consist mostly of hard to sell products like petroleum coke. We export essentially zero oil and gasoline, and what we do export goes to Canada and Mexico. I don't think we want to stop that trickle. What if Canada - our number 1 supplier of crude - decided to do the same?

There's also a "swap" of diesel (exported) for gasoline (imported) which is necessary due to American's choice to mostly buy vehicles fueled by gasoline (and the opposite in Europe). Then there is also the sale of oil to Eastern Canada and purchase of oil from Western Canada - simply following the geography of where the oil it. In general, exports happen when and where they make sense.

Anyway, gross exports don't matter, net exports do, and the US is of course a HUGE net importer of oil and oil products. If we were to stop all exports, the shortage caused elsewhere would just come back to us in the form of more difficulty in finding oil to import.

I suspect we also "import" oil from producing countries that lack sufficient refining capacity and then turn around and "export" the finished product back to the producer.

Well I see the MMS shows a second day of increased shut in crude non-production. 764 M barrels


Apparently, shut-in gas production increased too. Sounds like the pipeline damage must have been pretty extensive in the Gulf.

Per a DB post at 10 PM a couple of days ago, a shift supervisor of a Chevron production platform in the GoM told me, in casual conversation, that pipeline damage was as bad as Katrina/Rita. Months to repair all of it. Months for his 11,000 b/day platform.

IMHO, all the easy repairs have been made.


In spite of the Colonial Pipeline reduced flow, total crude + products consumption including the SPR was down slightly (four week avg). In a global recession with high oil prices YOY you may see a weakening of demand and OPEC slow to respond. They liked to see the price of oil go up whenever they talked about cutting production, they liked less to actually cut production.

If the cartel is broken, you might see the low oil prices again. Will have to wait and see. In the past they eventually regrouped and shut the spigots.

Re: Google plan. I would like to see Jeffrey Greenblatt speaking at the next ASPO conference. It would be nice to see an optimist.

The local rag this morning had this question to ask.

"In the first presidential debate Sen. John McCain said ethanol subsidies must end.
The following is from the GOP platform: ... U.S. government should end mandates for ethanol and let the free market work.
Given our tremendous dependence on agriculture in general and corn in particular is that not a slap in the face?

What do you say?"

My comment follows:
Government collects when the lease is sold, again at the well head, and again when the product is sold at the pump. Ethanol is subsidized. Why can it not stand on its own?

To produce 1.3 gallons of ethanol requires 1 gallon of oil equivalent. The US is currently using 500,000 barrels of oil equivalent to produce 650,000 barrels of ethanol per day, while ethanol only contains 70% of the energy of oil. Then the government pays the blender 51 cents per gallon out of your taxes. So in the long run you are paying more taxes for ethanol than gas.

There must be a 1000 5000 pound 4X4's running the streets of the city that have never seen a dirt road. Thanks for wasting our future supply; you will be the first to suffer the wrath of the coming generations. Energy is the lifeblood of the economy, and the economy is slowly bleeding to death.

The next President will not last more than 4 years and will not solve a single problem. The current problems are beyond their ability to solve. By the time his term is up most of the 20 MPG vehicles will be parked and gathering dust. You will be looking back at the current unemployment rate with awe. I simply feel sorry for everyone that thinks this election will solve any of today’s problems. Future gas lines are not going to be a problem because few will have the ability to pay. If you are currently living pay check to pay check you had better prepare, as you will soon be living meal to meal as long as you can find one. The government is like a rubber band, but it is currently being stretched beyond the breaking point. Your ability to acquire friends and survival skills are your best bet to enjoy a declining life style. 2008 will go down as a turning point in history. Best hopes you can raise a fine garden next year.

Nebraskan’s may be the last to suffer the consequences of the past 20 and the future 4 years of government’s incompetence and corruption. That only means you may have a little longer to prepare.

Part of the issue might be that the people who normally run for a government position usually are doing so to obtain self interests. Most of these individuals have a management or law degree and cannot understand or comprehend some of the topics they need to resolve such as energy and finance. If you truly want to resolve these issues, you elect individuals who do not openly express an interest in running for government office. You elect people who clearly have an understanding of the issues and ideas on how to address them. The current crop of politicians cannot and will not resolve anything when their only interest is themselves.

cause of global warming 'doesn't matter'

Every time I think we've reached peak stupidity, there is someone like Sen. Palin to call it off. This woman is a disgrace... but so was Bush, wasn't he? Think Republicans made a grave mistake - Palin should have been their presidential nominee, not McCain. Looking at the election records, being as dumb as a mushroom just increases your chances.

Sorry for the rant, nowhere else to vent it off

In a stunning turn of events, Joe Biden has been replaced with a caribou for Thursday’s vice presidential debate at Washington University. “The media has been absolutely unfair and cruel to Governor Palin,” said Rick Davis of the McCain campaign, “so its only fair that she gets a level playing field for this debate.”

“Finally, Sarah will get a fair shot,”


The ABC poll said lipstick was the most important issue for Americans by more than a five-to-one margin over the economy, the war in Iraq, healthcare, the energy crisis and global warming. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 100 points.


I hope that Biden has noticed the trend, and will therefore wear lipstick for this debate. Of course, he has the disadvantage of not being a pit bull.

Bankruptcy Bill Joe? He's somehow more qualified that Palin? He has a long history of making things worse - both nationally and internationally. I can understand that they are both unqualified - fine - but Biden will likely be more effective at making things worse faster. Of course, no matter who is elected, they will have long lists of staff dedicated to making everything worse.

Too bad Nader can't run a real campaign.

cfm in Gray, ME

Nader can run a campaign just fine. It's the many institutional gatekeepers that won't allow any dissent beyond those annointed who are the crux of the problem.

Musings about the VP debate:

- I would like to see Tina Fey debate Gov. Palin.

- Do you think Palin will wear one of those radio-receiver gizmos that Bush wore in his debates? Look for stammering or feedback squeeling pain in her reactions.

- Can't wait for the Daily Show's overview of the debates. Should be better than the real thing.

"I would like to see Tina Fey debate Gov. Palin."

how 'bout paris hilton, she is also plain spoken, lives a simple life.......

As a member of the San Francisco Mycological Society, I take offense at comparing Palin and Mushrooms, which have a deep intelligence (read Paul Stamets for a insightful view of this).
I guess I should just mellow out, and have a moose burger and a beer.

...and enjoy some "Northern Lights"...

Way to dank for a VP debate-- Might get the fears.

Checklist for VP debate:

  • popcorn
  • beer (in quantity)
  • kleenex (to wipe away tears)
  • handi-wipes (in case of barfing from laughing too hard)

...and enjoy some "Northern Lights"...

Or Northern Exposure.

And hold the mushrooms.

I deeply and humbly apologize to all species of the Fungi family, which I inadvertently offended. I'm sorry guys, I promise to watch my language from now on.

BTW this Paul Stamets has really fascinating ideas. Turns out mushrooms will help save the planet. He even says that "mushrooms have a very keen sense of humor". Well, I'm counting on this, because I feel even more ashamed now...

Palin is the governor of an oil pumping state - enough said right there.

Add in her religious beliefs, political party, and her basically mainstream American upbringing, and what do you expect?

So let me see if I have this correct. Anybody that has a moral backbone, a political leaning that isn't liberal, and was raised in a way that wasn't the same as you is suspect?

I was raised in the town she was born in, I guess I can't run for office either since I have a "mainstream American" upbringing. By the way what is that exactly?

Palin is the governor of an oil pumping state - enough said right there.

So were both Bushes, Ronnie and Slick Willy. The fact she caused them all kinds of grief from what I've read doesn't matter?

"With regard to the tax that Sarah Palin imposed on oil companies, in her case, she raised the tax on profits from 22.5% to 25%."


Palin's game seems to be to shake down those with deep pockets (in AK that would only be the oil and gas sector or the Feds) for a cut of the pie. I guess the take-away here is that promoting "income re-distribution" is okay as long as you are a certified bible-toting, moose-hunting member of the "un-elite."

I guess the take-away here is that promoting "income re-distribution" is okay as long as you are a certified bible-toting, moose-hunting member of the "un-elite."

There is a fundamentalist disconnect between muttering "Country First" and then discriminatingly giving the oil money rebates only to family and fellow Alaskans.

It is all of us Americans who paid for the purchase of Alaska (see bill of sale below). So we as a country are the investors in the Alaskan venture. And therefore when Alaska turns an oil profit, they should share the proceeds with all of us.

Country First? Not during a Palin money grab.

On the other hand, when Alaska produces an intellectual disaster like "Palin the Energy Expert" (yes she called herself that in the debate), they should keep that version of Seward's Folly to themselves. This is one case where the American mainland has to say, "Thanks, but no thanks."

I understood his comment that since she is a governor in an oil producing state her bias on climate change and other energy related issues should be obvious.

I think your interpretation as a generalization towards all non-liberal, non-likeminded people is yours and yours only. Keep to it at your own expense.

Woooo! Two and a half percent! That'll offset a 400% rise of the price of oil.

What meaningful harm has she ever caused Reagan or either Bush, who lived or died on the religious fanatic vote? Except that Bush Senior, the smart one, wasn't enough of a violent reactionary extremist to make them happy. These were also the ones who forced Cheney to abandon hopes of becoming president because he wasn't anti-abortion enough, so he had to find a Christofascist puppet while he hid in the vice presidency destroying the Constitution in the dark.

Talking about puppets, did y'all notice how this week things got so serious that the puppetmasters shoved the top-puppet aside, he played no real role, while King Henry took over?

Moral backbone? Who said anything about a moral backbone. Obama represents a coal state - amazingly, he supports coal burning. Surprised? I'm not.

And you are welcome to run for office - and as long as you are neither Democrat nor Republican, you will probably get my vote, as I have never voted for either party (might want to reconsider my implied political leanings).

What does make Palin's upbringing mainstream is her apparent utter and complete lack of interest in the rest of the world. Regardless of what one might think of Obama or McCain, both have experience since a young age living outside of the U.S. (arguably, McCain is not constitutionally eligible to be president, being born out of the U.S., but I tend to concur with the mainstream opinion that children of serving military personnel born outside of the U.S. should not be disqualified for the presidency). Neither of those two men are 'mainstream' in the way Palin is - after all, both Senators can name more than one Supreme Court decision, and I am certain both can convincingly say what newspaper they read.

And Palin is mainstream in a way that many people outside of the U.S. still find hard to grasp - a grandmother to be in her mid-40s, with a 17 year old pregnant and unwed daughter. Most people in this conservative part of Germany would be mortified if such were to be part of their family life, and grounds for disqualifying them for serious consideration of a position of authority, but then, German standards weren't used for the woman that McCain has picked to run as vice president. After all, Angela Merkel has a PhD in physics, and she wasn't picked for a supporting role, she instead was elected to the position of Chancellor on her own merits and political skill.

I won't go on - let us just say that Palin is undoubtedly qualified to carry on the fine work Bush has performed so ably, managing to make the U.S. seem like a fraudulent joke.

"I won't go on - let us just say that Palin is undoubtedly qualified to carry on the fine work Bush has performed so ably, managing to make the U.S. seem like a fraudulent joke."

Thanks, but we have made other arrangements.

I have long felt that Joe Biden was the most qualified person this time around, and if anyone here objects to his being plain spoken, he earned the right to be plain spoken. After his many years of service to our country, he now has a debate where the pundits say he has to be careful not to be too rough on Palin, while she has the job of attack dog to prove herself capable of being VP. Talk about double standards.

After watching the debate I think he should have been the one running for president not Obama. As for Palin... Palin was simply Palin'g...

LOL that should be the perfect team:

John McSame and Sarah Paling

Someone should be using that

Personally, I lump them together under one banner:

The McPain Campaign Tag Team

At some point, I expected the ruling class would suddenly come out and say, "Of course global warming is happening, so it's too late to prevent it, so you folks all have to do what we say to endure it." Meaning they will buy up all the land that will stay dry and let the insurance premiums drive us out of our coastal homes, etc.

So what does Gov. Palin say we should do? It sounds like retrenchment, not mitigation. We will let Halliburton, et al build seawalls and replace salt-water contaminated wells with power-hungry desalinization plants, the sinful Democratic coastal cities will be abandoned by the government, and we will plead poverty, screw the rest of the world and burn coal like crazy. Take disaster capitalism up by two orders of magnitude.

There might be a plan behind her stupidity.

Senator Palin? GMAFB

I should have posted this a few days back when the data was released.

Vehicle Miles Traveled in the US since 1983



Incidentally this is why I avoid the term, "BAU". The world, it is a-changin'.

Got a hair cut yesterday and the gal who I always try and get was unusually quiet, usually talks a mile a minute.

I asked “why so quiet?” and she said that business was off and tip were horrible and she started choking up as she said her husband is making her quit as they can’t afford the gas for her 45 mile commute into the city.

She said she will go nuts if she has to stay out in the country all day, every day.

But I guess this is good news eh? Times are a changing.

I sympathize. But at same time, there is absolutely no way that people over the next decade are going to continue driving long distances for low paying jobs.

It's possible I suppose with a motorbike in those few states where the weather is almost always nice. And it may happen again if electric cars become good and cheap. But, for the next few years they are going to be either too expensive or too shitty for long commutes (unless there is a decent wage involved).

If the choice is between no job or a long commute on a motorbike, people will commute regardless of poor weather.
Until they can find somewhere else to live they haven't really got much choice.

This is the thing that I continually remind my wife: Being a less mobile society means that, as a whole, we'll be a poorer society. Most communities lack the resources (natural or otherwise) from which to build a robust economy.

In my community, only a few have access to high speed internet, so telecommuting would be difficult even for those who might have "information sector" jobs.

There are many parts of North America where riding a motorcycle is not practical for months at a time.

I used to ride year round in Virginia between 1986 and 1992, but even there, a foot snow will keep your motorcycle in one place for a few days. (Though there is a trick about using a rope around the back tire which I heard about at a biker bar in Leesburg - the tip originating in Bavaria, apparently.)

But in Winnipeg, where my wife lived for a year, nobody is riding a motorcycle at -40 (F or C - that is where the scale crosses). Snowmobiles, sure, but not motorcycles

Does any one use studded tires for motorcycles, besides the insane ice racers? I have been thinking about getting some studded tires for my bicycle so that I can pedal this winter (Massachusetts).

To the best of my knowledge, those studded tires are illegal, and utterly unsuited to anything but a thick layer of ice or very compacted snow.

The two big differences between a motorcycle and a bicycle in winter conditions is that the bicycle can be easily carried when it can't be ridden, and that a motorcycle has to be part of the traffic flow - I was always more worried about sliding and then getting hit by a car than I was of simply falling.

Don't know about the motorcycle variety but I rode my bicycle all last winter to work every day through a variety of conditions up to 6 in. of fresh snow. Heavily studded tires ,worked fine only dumped it once. Coldest day -11F (motorcycle helmet a must) I'm 55.

I live in Winnipeg now, and the winter cyclists I see don't have studded tires. What I noticed is a beefed up tread - perhaps winter tires for bikes? Or off road tires?


I rode 12 Wisconsin winters. Never used a studded tire. But then I rode on trails, and over frozen lakes. Whats deadly is a little bit of ice on a paved surface. And of course you don't want to mix it up with sliding cars and trucks. Snowy/icy natural surfaces are reasonable for a skilled rider who enjoys a challenge. Paved roads not so much.

Exactly right about ice on pavement - which is why motorcycle riding in the winter is not practical in many areas in North American.

A number of years ago, I was an Ice Racer in Northern Indiana, late 60's - early 70's. No one did the sharp ice pick type studs. What we used were hex head sheet metal screws into the tread part, both front and rear, only 1/4 inch long. They go in from the outside. About 500 studs to a 4.00 x 18 tire. What it gave was a traction comparable to being on dirt, and when you ran over the Squids (idiots that can't ride) no damage was done. It works. Do it.

And to all the Nancy Boy Posers that ride today, I did the 4 years of High School in Northern Indiana, every day, rain, shine, snow, and even Blizzard on a DT2 250. Every day, so stop whining and do it. I still ride rain or shine.

Yeah, I'm sure that having to sit home and watch The Tube all day long would tend to make a person a bit crazy. In fact, I have such a person for a tenant. He's sort of retired, being disabled and living on a SS check of less than $900 a month. And, he just had angioplasty, for which he is in hock so deep that he might as well declare bankruptcy 'cause he's never going to pay it back, especially if he keeps up his steady diet of beer and cigs. He keeps the satellite TV running all day...

E. Swanson

It is false to blame beer and cigarrettes for the inevitable results of a diet high in animal products and grease:


People like your tenant will eventually be forced to eat low on the food chain (and less total kcal), which will eliminate the artery disease.

you do your evident cause no good by posting something so inane

alchol and cigarettes are FAR more harmful than animal products

we've been through this before - humans are NOT biological herbavores - the fossil record is quite clear on human meat eating throughout history - ancient garbage middens are not some sort of plot by the meat industry to promote meat eating

unless you wish to align yourself with people like Sarah Palin who deny science (young-earth biblical types) - you should make arguments that are effective and factually based

for example - you could talk about the amount of water and feed and land it takes to raise animals, the waste management issues (giant pig farms), the issues of overcrowding and disease that results, cruelty etc. etc. - THESE are legit arguments in favor of your personal bugaboo

leave the counter-factual nonsense at home - bring real, science-based arguments and you have a better chance of convincing a skeptical audience

As for me - I like meat in my diet - I prefer grass-fed beef and lamb, free-range fowl and "organic" pork when I can make those choices (as they are healthier and less cruel [by less cruel I do not mean to imply these animals don't suffer - they do, just less]) - increasingly I am convinced that the so-call "diseases of affluence" are caused by refined carbohydrates and hydrogenated vegetable oils and just plain "fake" food products FAR more than diets that include animal products. A sensible diet that eats "real food" with moderation in all things is far healthier than any I've seen (long-lived peoples in the mtns of Abkhasia eat animal products as part of their diet - lamb and yoghurt are common). I believe that eating actual food is the answer - and for me that includes animal products since I have a body that is made to do so...

Another possible cause of diseases of affluence are that human beings are adapted for reasonably frequent, long periods of medium-level energy expenditure (walking, foraging, etc) throughout the day and corresponding level of energy intake. In the modern world, particularly since the modern desk job became very common, many people make either very little physical movement or try and use relatively brief high-intensity gym sessions to substitute for consistent medium physical activity throughout the day, even though these use different metabolic pathways with different long-term health consequences.

(I still stick to my position that, for ethical and longevity reasons, we can't do the experiments that would justify the vociferous health positions many pundits take. The above is a reasonable conclusion from various studies but it's not at the shouting "the evidence unambiguously shows" level of confidence.)

I agree that lack of exercise is probably a leading contributor as well.

which is why I walk everywhere I can and hike and mtn bike weekly, kayak and climb when I can

keeps me sane and helps to avoid the problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle

I wish I had the references that go into the details, but during the Cold War both sides experimented with Chimpanzees in various types of research. It was found that you could kill a chimp (via severe cardiovascular disease) by simply exposing the chimp to severe aggravation.

I guess Dr. Dean Ornish has a point when he claims that damage to heart muscles can be reversed through meditation and a change of attitude.

Google Hans Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome [GAS]--> all life is genetically programmed to make a bad Overshoot situation worse, thus speeding the inevitable dieoff. My Optimal Overshoot Decline postings seeks to harness this force to help minimally protect other species.

Long ago I read that simply giving people a time limit on completing a series of simple math problems caused their blood pressure to rise to unhealthy levels.

"It was found that you could kill a chimp (via severe cardiovascular disease) by simply exposing the chimp to severe aggravation."

I feel lucky to have survived the Debates, then.. We had to watch a half hour of Frodo defeating Mordor to reclaim any hope at all.

Palin's brand of 'Red Meat' might just choke our entire nation.. a truckload of cheerful, hydrogenated misdirection and class-baiting. God save us (from his own fan club!)

Right. As oil supply declines, VMT must also decline. Unless efficiency improvements outrun the decline rate. Which they are clearly not doing at this time. Hopefully the pace will pick up.

Bryn Davidson has some interesting models here where he projects forward oil decline and other factors.


One of the most interesting points he has (fairly late in the slide show) is that eventually product manufacture relocalizes and mitigates transport reductions. He calls that point "peak austerity". It is an interesting way to think about it.

Its important to realize that the decline in VMT is highly correlated with the housing bust and the death of the housing construction industry and not the price of oil. Given that the house construction industry is close to its bottom and further declines are probably not going to have a large impact on oil usage we can expect VMT to level out either flat or slowly declining over 2009.


Looking at that amazing graph I can't help but recall a point I believe you made a couple days ago. That total US oil consumption did not surpass 1979 consumption until 2005. That coupled with the exceedingly steep slope of the VMT line suggest large gains in mpg. I realize that the industrial and heating oil uses portions of the late 70's has been greatly reduced, but what happens when you pull those parts? What was the % of 1979 oil consumption that was for transportation, what do corresponding graphs of VMT compare alongside yearly fuel efficiency mileage look like?

It seems VMT has nearly doubled since 1980. What does that suggest for the strident fuel efficiency gains hybrids and electric will make for VMT. It scares me me, for I'm afraid we will only double our driving.

Hi Doug,

Don't forget those years were the era of cheap airfares, too, which porbably cut millions of miles driven out of the equation. No more cheap flights is going to mean more VMT regardless of what the economy does--unless it really tanks.

Totonelia - what's going on with POT today?

Is it time to "back up the truck" as Cramer would say?

POT was down 20% last I checked. Demand destruction in food production???...Toto knows more about this than anyone I would hazard to quess.


Apparently urea demand is down (not surprising with all the money Washington is pissing away). This has led to speculation that fertilizer demand might be weakening. Then Mosaic missed profit expectations (despite tripling earnings). That's what led to the downgrades by Merril (and later GS).

If fertilizer demand is weakening, for whatever reason, I read that as a troubling sign. Food supplies are already tight. Declining fertilizer use would, I presume, lead to lower yields. Less food and more people (the population is still growing) is an explosive combination.

If fertilizer demand is down, I would expect it is because of the financial situation (particularly, but not exclusively, the credit crunch). Is now a big time for fertilizer use? I wouldn't think so, but I'm not a farmer.

Less food and more people?

Maybe they're eating less and therefore getting thinner, which is supposed to be healthier (did you read that study where the mice near starvation lived a lot longer than the ones who were well fed?)

Or maybe there is less waste of food on the processing (supermarkets, restaurants) side.

In this kind of economic environment, I myself find that I no longer throw leftover food away like I used to. Now I try to make something with it and eat it, this has led to creative new cooking ideas sometimes.

The culprit was actually MOS.

As posted before: I suspect people need cash to buy physical I-NPK and other survival goods, so they sell the agri-shares to get the money. Recall my earlier links where farmers now have to prepay for inputs far in advance of actual application. The I-NPK supply chain is a pull system, not a push system.

It takes a tremendous amount of pull to get P & K rocks moved globally.

Thus, even your local Home Depot and Lowes will eventually replicate the farmers' current problems: If you want two 50 lb. bags of DAP for your little garden, then ante up the cash now, then we will call you next year when we finally get a shipment.

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

Hmmm...with all the downturn in the fertilizer companies today...and having been reading and heading the warnings from toto here on TOD about this impending problem...I was trying to discover supply/demand charts for say..potash.. the POTASH corp had a good one...although based on 2005 data. I calculated from their graph 74 m tonnes production and 48 million tonnes in consumption in 2005. Anyone able to provide current numbers?


Amurka? What happened?

Its almost graduation day. The guest speakers all over the fruited plain are ..yep...business men. CEOs. Big execs of our vaunted industry and corporations.

They speak to the graduating class these words mostly:

"You are our greatest and best generation. We will be passing the torch on to you. You will lead this country....yada yada ."

In fact its all lies and made up bullhocky. After the speech said speaker leaves for his martini lunch at the Rotarians or whatever. Then a brief visit to his $500/hour prostitute,barf queen whore and giggles at all the hapy,shiny faces he recalls staring up to him from the basketball floor that he just left.

All the jobs have been shipped overseas. Whats left is basic scut work jobs at minimum pay, if they are lucky to get it. Some might luck out and go to colleges but it all has to be on student financial aid. Then they find that the IT world has also been shipped out overseas as well.Whats left is picked over by immigrants.

They join the leagues of mindless, trivial masses motoring long distances out on the interstates. Desperate, credit mongers, the life blood of out youth. Wearing the latest jailhouse arwork and shaved heads. Listening to jibberish music that has one verse repeated over and over and over. Ipods or cellphones to eardrums,trying to make sense out of what was supposed to be fortune and fame. They realize at some level they are leading meaningless , empty lives that go nowhere.

I then ask: Amerkuh? What happened?

All of those of prior generations who had the valuable knowledge are now strapped into wheelchairs at the nursying home hallways. Drooling on their lap from the harsh tranqualizers they are given to make them STFU. Sleeping with their heads in their dinner plates. Urinating on the floors. Wondering sometimes whether they really ever lived or was it all a dream?

What happened to the love songs then? Where are our poets? Our philosophers who told us of what great ideals we needed? Our artists?
Where did they go then? Our musicians?

This then is what it all comes down to. The bailout of those who gave those useless empty platitude-filled talks to the graduating classes.

The rest of us morons are just shleps for them. The swarming masses who they market their scuz to. Sheeple.

Where is the rage? Where is it?

Airdale-Rage, rage at the fading light.
Bless/curse me father with your fierce tears.
And do not go gentle into that good night.

PS. I read a bit of poetry last night before retiring. It was an epiphany you see. Sorry for the mess. Now back to hauling grain for the big boyz at ADM,Cargill...etc ...note: I once had a job in the Information Age..A staff programmer and team leader..my pension from that is shot in the ass. The medical plans sucked it all up and whats left is a pittance,not enough to keep my vehicle running. I do not intend to follow my father into the living hell of any nursing home.

Well this poet is right here. Here's a relevant poem:

Permafrost Melts, Nematode Winks

Methane bubbles rise forcefully
from the gargantuan clenched fist
of humanity.

The iron fingers of each finite digit of fossil fuel
steadily rust, one by one,
and soon voracious oxidative processes
will slowly unveil a culling diamond in the palm.

The dark matter of the universe
is calling you, tender primate soldier.

The sharpness of hydrocarbon ascent
is only felt on the way down...


Is that one of yours, VM? Damn good.

The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more methane will forcefully bubble through your fingers.

Hello Airdale,
From the movie Wall Street by the executive shark Gordon Gecko, "Greed, for a lack of a better word, is Good".

Well, we have let the Gordon Gecko's run the US into the ground. The Holy Market has replaced Amurika's values. Listen to the Market they say, it is a unadulterated good and if jobs, the welfare of the people, and finally the country itself is sacrificed then it must be good because the market demands it.

Citizenship has been replaced by consumerism: you 'vote' by buying crap! The sheeple have been gelded by the golden carrot held just out of reach and forever unattainable but mesmerized by its cultural luminousity. If you play by the rules this too can be yours! NOT!

There are leaders out there who are worthy...Ron Paul, Kucinich, Bernie Sanders and others but the IMF/corpos/Plutocrats/Kleptocrats have control of the media. The sheeple have fallen into a deep slumber. They are fed propaganda daily, so much so they can't articulate what class they are in and what values are in their interest to support. Good times weakens the minds of those in its grips while difficulties sharpen the mind and give understanding. I fear the Amerukan people are going to find re-education extremely painful.


Song is poetry put to music.

There are two 'songs' I have thought about lately... Both by Godspeed You Black Emperor. (If you ever listen to them, you'll understand what I mean by 'songs'). The first is 'Providence':

Reporter: D’you think the end of the world is coming?
Guy On Street: The preacher man says it’s the end of time...He says that America’s rivers are going dry. The interest is up, the stock market’s down. You guys have to be careful walking around here this late at night...this...this is the perfect place to get jumped.
Reporter: But d’you think the end of the world is coming?
Guy On Street: No. So says the preacher man but...I don’t go by what he says.

The other is 'The Dead Flag Blues'...

The car's on fire and there's no driver at the wheel
And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides
And a dark wind blows
The government is corrupt
And we're on so many drugs
With the radio on and the curtains drawn

We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine
And the machine is bleeding to death

The sun has fallen down
And the billboards are all leering
And the flags are all dead at the top of their poles...

Edited to fix the bad link and shorten the quote.

Just a reminder, folks...do not quote entire songs or poetry. Just as with articles, there are copyright issues. Post a short excerpt and a link.

The exception is for work old enough to be in the public domain.

"The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And you have burned so very very brightly, Roy"

Perhaps the USA has reached the end of it's adolescent phase, now is the time to mature and start behaving responsibly.

Ya, Roy dies in the end....

Blade Runner is now looking optimistic for a future.
Philip K Dick would smile.

What happened? We the People demanded "results": higher profits and dividends and capital gains than we had any right to expect to earn through honest work and fair exchange; more government programs and benefits than we were willing to pay for through taxes; more imports from overseas than we were willing to pay for with exports of equal value; and enjoying the squandering of our natural resource inheritance rather than building for a sustainable future.

We demanded "results"; what we are getting are "consequences".

Greed is not good. Greed leads to hubris, which leads to folly, which leads to disaster.

Hawaii promoting its 'value' to visitors

HONOLULU, Hawaii (AP) -- Hawaii's tourism industry is offering new deals, incentives and packages as it grapples with a turbulent airline industry and Americans holding tight to their wallets.

Officials on Wednesday unveiled a $4.5 million campaign to lure visitors for the remainder of the year. The effort is part of the more than $12.5 million in emergency funding that has been devoted by the state and businesses to combat a slump in tourism.

Gotta pity places like Hawaii. If they think this is an emergency...

Yeah, it's delusional all right.

It'd be interesting to do a TOD:Local on Hawaii, but there probably aren't enough people from here on the list to get a lot of participation.

I can make a great case for leaving. Problem is, I can make about as good a case for leaving any place I'd GO to. The biggies here to worry about are probably famine and epidemic disease after a reversion to more third-world status before other USA states. Already a large percentage of the doctors are gone. There's only one orthopedic surgeon on the entire windward side of Oahu, and she only stays for "Father Damien" type reasons, considering it a "peace corps" type practice.

I like not wondering how to keep my feet warm in the winter, but increasingly it's seeming like furry boots and evacuation may be a good idea...

Funny you should mention Hawaii. I left O'ahu on Tuesday, and read this article in the Honolulu Advertiser while enjoying refreshments in the airport.

Hawaii must prepare for energy challenges

Hawai'i is experiencing the initial stage of what may be its greatest challenge: the end of cheap, abundant, easily available oil.

At what point will it become too expensive for most of us in Hawai'i to fly interisland, much less to the Mainland? When will it become too expensive for any but the richest of tourists to visit Hawai'i? Will passenger ships pick up the slack? They, too, burn oil.

Most of the food we eat is flown or shipped in by petroleum-burning carriers; it will cost more and more every year to ship food in, and between, our islands.

Messr's Dator and Zapka wrote an excellent piece IMO: plain facts and sober treatment.

Those who stay behind on the island of Kauai can eat chicken. In 1992, Hurricane Iniki hit Kauai dead on. One unexpected result, according to some locals, was breaking of chicken coops and a rapidly expanding wild chicken population on the island. Anyone who has visited Kauai can attest the constant din of wild roosters crowing in many parts of the island. Their only natural predator, well not really natural, is feral cats. I'm not sure if the locals eat them. My sense from many visits is they do not. Since the chickens are found primarily in the populated areas, shooting them would certainly take away from the Hawaiian experience for tourists:)

I bring this up as an indication of what might happen when food becomes scarce. Will we see intentional introduction of non-native animals and fish as a means of increasing the food supply? The classic example of an accidental introduction seems to be rabbits in Australia. Perhaps someone from down under could let us know if wild rabbits have become part of the daily table fare? Or could they become a valuable source of protein when times get tough?

Are there examples in other parts of the world where non-native species have been intentionally introduced to combat famine?

MANY edible plants (breadfruit trees was the mission of the Bounty). The Japanese introduced snails for their troops to eat on some Pacific islands (many of whom starved).

A large number of food animals (cow, horse#, chicken, turkey, sheep, goat, pig, etc.) have been introduced for food. Sailors would leave goats on some islands for future harvesting.

# Not in USA due to laws strongly supported by T Boone Pickens


The earliest example I know of is from the Bronze age. Sheep were left on the Soay islands offshore (northwest) of Scotland, presumably for food and fiber foraging for later expeditions. The islands remain large mammal free, save for the sheep.

I don't know about combating famine in particular, but there's a long tradition of introducing food animals. Polynesians brought pigs, chickens, and dogs from Asia, and they are now found throughout the Pacific.

It's still happening today. The apple snail was recently introduced to Hawaii, likely by Asian immigrants who planned to use it as a food source. Then there's the snakehead that freaked people out in Chesapeake Bay area.

Re: "green" parking garage: see also:

I gotta say, that article cracked me up. "Green parking garage" is an oxymoron if ever there was one.

Last year there was a small fight here over whether to allow the building of a "big box" home-improvement store - in an area for which our local tax dollars already paid consultants for a "transit oriented development" plan, a plan apparently quietly abandoned. (There are already 2 such stores within about 5-8 miles of the spot, one of the same brand.)

In one meeting, a town official asked the developers whether the new store will have energy-efficient lighting. Never mind that the whole business model is to entice customers, in single-occupancy vehicles, from 30+ miles all around. Also, now that they are building the thing, it is plain to see that the walls are plain cinder blocks (and glass). Imagine the heating costs (in Vermont). Who cares about the lights?

I predicted that they won't build, due to the housing collapse and/or financing, but they apparently squeaked through. The housing bust in Vermont is (so far) milder than in most of the USA. We'll see if they actually open it (hire workers, etc), and if they do, whether they'll keep both area stores open for long. Disclaimer: it's on my commuting route, so I am against it for selfish reasons too.

IMO, the 'Green' parking garage looks like an ideal spot for people to nightly sleep inside their cars.

If the greenback goes tits up, we have a substitute ready and waiting in the wings.

From the WSJ via Krugman....

Mackerel is now the coin of the realm in US prisons:

Mackerel Economics in Prison
Leads to Appreciation for Oily Fillets

Packs of Fish Catch On as Currency, Former Inmates Say; Officials Carp

There's been a mackerel economy in federal prisons since about 2004, former inmates and some prison consultants say. That's when federal prisons prohibited smoking and, by default, the cigarette pack, which was the earlier gold standard.

Prisoners need a proxy for the dollar because they're not allowed to possess cash.

Financial Crisis: So much for tirades against American greed

We now know that it was French finance minister Christine Lagarde who begged Mr Paulson to save the US insurer AIG last week. AIG had written $300 billion in credit protection for European banks, admitting that it was for "regulatory capital relief rather than risk mitigation". In other words, it was underpinning a disguised extension of credit leverage. Its collapse would have set off a lending crunch across Europe as banking capital sank below water level.

It turns out that European regulators have allowed even greater use of "off-books" chicanery than the Americans. Mr Paulson may have saved Europe.

He thinks this may result in the end of the EU.

Surprise, surprise. Once again the world proves to be more complicated than the Blame America First Brigade would ever let on.

Caveat emptor, right? Because what is striking is that the financial institutions that are currently blowing up all bought American financially engineered products. Even more striking is how free market America is doing whatever it can to be make sure that the losses are left anywhere except on the doorstep of those that made them.

I'm not sure I heard this correctly on BBC this morning, but I think someone mentioned that Spain - a country not too interested in money derivatives - it doing quite well financially right now.

They were probably referring to Spanish Banks, which have been steered clear of derivatives to some degree through relatively strict regulation.
Just about everything else in Spain is in deep trouble though, with the biggest fall in property prices in Europe and massive personal and corporate indebtedness:

They are in a truly hideous financial fix, in my estimation

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is a man with a mission, which doesn't mean that he doesn't make good reading.

For example, a few months ago, he was writing about how Germans were refusing euro bills from Italy - something unknown in Germany, at least in my personal experience. And especially absurd considering that the coins are clearly from one nation or another, but no one has bothered to reject them at all, for any reason.

There is a strong current in the UK which is completely and devotedly anti-EU, in much the same sense that Kunstler is completely and devotedly ante-suburbia.

Which is important to understand in both cases is that the anti aspect precedes the analytical one - that is, the fact gathering started after the position already existed, and not before.

His writing is still worth reading, in part because he is so good at sticking his fingers into the sore points. But then, he is still writing this - 'If not, check those serial numbers on your euro notes for the country of issue. It may start to matter.' Nothing like seeing someone using his own planted rumors to advance his beliefs to inspire confidence in his reporting.

And he misses one other major point - the Germans aren't currently blaming Spain or Italy for the world's financial problems. They are blaming Wall Street. Which, not so coincidentally, is the major source of the financially engineered time bombs now going off world wide.

It turns out that European regulators have allowed even greater use of "off-books" chicanery than the Americans. Mr Paulson may have saved Europe.

Mr. Paulson is all heart!

Seriously, though, greed in someone else doesn't excuse it in ourselves.

He thinks this may result in the end of the EU.

And the beginnings of relocalization.

Best hopes for a peaceful transition to local economies :)

He is talking his book and is very much against the EU.

The part that is true is that typically the EU banks are leveraged even higher then the US banks.
The UK is also in the weakest position because they hold the most bad US paper after Japan and China, but unlike these two the UK produces nothing.

If Germany has half a brain they will stick with their no bailout policy other then for their own banks. Even if the EU falls apart.

"The number of homes in fuel poverty in England rose from 1.5 million in 2005 to 2.4 million in 2006" (toplink)

- what about 2007 and 2008? Most of the rise in fuel prices has been since 2006! Note this is the number of "homes" not people, and in a country with "only" about 60 million people (25 million homes?). I suppose when people consolidate households in order to survive, the official stats will show a decrease in the number of "homes in fuel poverty".

Here in Vermont this coming winter I think the median household will be fuel poor by their definition (>10% of income on fuels - does "fuel" include electricity?).

It's technically more that 10 percent on heating, although I don't know how they figure out if electricity is being used for heating then yes.

One of the factors that applies in Britain is that people who are confident they'll have enough money choose direct-from-bank-account payments which get substantial discounts whilst those on low incomes either pay on bill receipt (no discount) or via prepayment cards (additional costs). So it used to be likely the case that you're either definitely in fuel poverty or else you were significantly away from fuel poverty. With the recent price rises that's probably changed.

Another point to bear in mind is that houses in the UK are generally signficantly smaller than in the US, so we're probably both using less energy per household currently than the typical American household and there's a lower "limit" on consolidation gains. Ie, a typical house might accomodate 1 or 2 more people without real pressure cooker effects, whereas I get the impression you could add a full "brother-in-law's family" of 4-5 people to a typical American house.

It's feeling a lot like it'll be deflation first rather than inflation; Stoneleigh called it.


Thought this was interesting and on-topic:


He wants to grow biofuels in man-made seawater rivers.

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for the toplink on people sleeping in their cars. Too bad many didn't plan ahead and get a small, used, tow-behind trailer, or a used cabover camper on a pickup truck. These are much more comfortable and convenient:

links to new model websites, first--> cabover campers, second--> tow-behind trailers:



Remember: rabbits have to run like hell, turtles just hunker down inside their shells.

Yeah, those Coleman pop-up mini-campers are sweet.

Once upon a time when I was young, I camped out just east of Sparks, NV at a reststop using a covered picnic table for a matress while I worked for Harrah's in Reno and packed everything I had on the back of a Honda 750 motorcycle. Fortunately, Harrah's had employee lockers and showers, and I only worked there during the summer months. On my weekends, I would ride back to San Jose and stay with my girlfriend, so I was homeless by choice, which wasn't the case the second time while living in Hawaii.

When you're young, it's possible to survive being homeless. When you're old, being homeless can be fatal.

Recent THAI Process News

Haven't seen this info posted so here it is:

Petrobank Energy and Resources Ltd. ("Petrobank" or the "Company") (TSX:PBG) is pleased to announce results from the world's first CAPRITM in-situ catalytic production well (P-3B) at our Whitesands project near Conklin, Alberta.

Since air injection and oil production commenced in August from P-3B, the well has been on continuous production, with no appreciable produced sand. Initial produced fluids consisted of oil and water emulsions from the steam preheat as well as residual drilling mud, which diminished as the well cleaned up. Recently we have achieved oil production volumes of up to 300 barrels per day on low air injection rates, with oil cuts of 40 to 50%. While it is still too early to determine the effectiveness of the catalyst, the produced oil has been upgraded to 11.5 degrees.

THAI Update
Toe to Heel Air Injection

Looks like they have fixed the earlier sand problems and are now doing some actual in-situ upgrading.

Translation: They are producing up to 120 to 150 bpd of 11.5 Degree API gravity oil.

An earlier Oil Drum article on the tar sands play indicated that bitumen is normally below 10 degrees, probably in the 5 to 10 degree range, so it really hasn't shown a massive upgrade. For comparison, the heaviest conventional oil reservoir that I am producing is 22 degrees.

For context, asphalt has an API gravity of 8.



The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index fell nearly 7 percent on Thursday to its lowest level in more than two years, battered by concerns over the outlook for fertilizer producers and a drop in oil and gold prices


Representative Kennedy,

This bailout is absolutely insane! I have witnessed some pretty ridiculous and irresponsible government actions in the short 22 years of my life, but handing $700 Billion over to the very people who created this financial mess is absolute lunacy! I understand all the counter-arguments from congressional and executive leaders, and I say they are all bunk. This is a desperate gamble, using taxpayers money to buy bank assets that have some slim chance of getting us some of our money back? We might as well go over to Foxwoods and try our hand at a roulette wheel.

As a result of the above observations, and the fact that thousands of emails from constituents begging for you to vote no seem to have no effect, I will take a different tone.

I am ordering you to vote NO.

If you vote yes I will work to see you loose your next reelection campaign, even if that means having a republican represent my district.

Instead of a confirmation message, I got this:

**Due to the unusually high volume of individuals emailing Congressional members, the "Write Your Representative" program used to email members of Congress has been experiencing intermittent problems. Computer engineers for the House of Representatives have already begun taking steps to rectify this problem and expect the issue to be resolved shortly. We apologize for the inconvenience.**

Go figure.

The word "NO" causes it to be routed to the spam filter.

Or the "terra" list :p

I like it. Worth repeating here:

Dear Representative Hoyer,

I wasn't going to write you because I had already determined from your voting record that you do not care about us average Marylanders in the 5th District, only your fat cat banker friends in New York. And I was correct, you voted for legalizing their national theft yesterday.

But the stunning upset yesterday by those to the left and far right may give you pause before you sell out your constituents on a re-introduced Economic Emergency bill.

The people are against this bill. We know that the CEO pay cut is a red herring, instead they ought to be prosecuted for fraud. We know that homeowner mortgagee assurances in this bill are weak and, therefore, a complete lie. We know that the Democratic Party, Joe Biden, and Steny Hoyer recently took away our rights to declare personal bankruptcy and are now bankrupting our government, upon which we rely for what is left of the social safety net [military pensions, Medicare, Social Security, FDIC], all for a bailout of Wall Street frauds. We even know that Candidate Obama opposes the provisions that ease mortgage debt on average Americans and instead proposes increasing FDIC coverage for the wealthier depositors. So much for change from the Republican's class warfare.

Either you betray your base, or you are extremely and repeatedly gullible:

Yes this is an economic emergency. Yes there are going to be more bank failures. This bill would not stop it. Yes there is going to be a Greater Depression. This bill would not stop it. This bill just lines the pockets of of your fat cat friends with what we could have used to address the poverty when it occurs.

Franklin Roosevelt, who saved capitalism from itself, is rolling over in his grave.




Needless to say, the Democrats are so eager to cooperate on the deal, that not only do they ignore all their constituents screaming no, they do not even know how to hold out for pork from Paulson like their Republican counterparts.

I think newly forclosed folks ought to be allowed to set up camp on the lawns of those senators and reps who vote for the wall street heist.

India's Reliance Industries has just started testing its new 580,000 kbd refinery.

India's fortunate that the oil price has come down temporarily for the start of this new refinery as it will be needed to meet India's continuing demand for fossil fuel products.

India's demand has been growing at about 150 kbd/year or about 6%/yr.

India Petroleum Consumption


This refinery can process lower cost heavy sour crudes and will be one of the most complex refineries in the world.


After the commissioning, Reliance’s Jamnagar units, including the existing refinery, will be the world’s largest single-location refining facility. The entire refinery complex will have a total processing capacity of 1.24 million barrels a day. The current production of the existing unit is 0.66 million barrels a day.

India has begun to ramp up petroleum production. They are expected to continue until they add over 500,000 barrels within the next two years.


Record oil prices have brought forth many new projects.

OECD oil use is down 1 million barrels a day, OPEC cuts may have been less than drop in demand.