DrumBeat: October 3, 2008

Commodities Head for Biggest Weekly Decline in Over 50 Years

(Bloomberg) -- Oil, copper, and corn drove commodities toward their biggest weekly decline in more than 50 years on concern that the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression will push the U.S. into recession.

Commodities, as measured by the Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 raw materials, have tumbled 9.9 percent this week, the most since at least 1956. Manufacturing declined to a 7-year low in the U.S. and contracted at the fastest pace in 16 years in the U.K. last month. Initial jobless claims rose to the highest since 2001, the U.S. Labor Department said yesterday.

``Panic, risk aversion and liquidation of contracts are characterizing the oil market as well as many other markets at the moment,'' said Thina Saltvedt, a Nordea Bank AB analyst in Oslo. ``Prices are not only being set by fundamentals, but fears of how crises in the financial sector may spread to other parts of the economy.''

Huge Offshore Wind Farm Wins Approval

Regulators in New Jersey on Friday awarded rights to build a huge offshore wind farm in the southern part of the state to Garden State Offshore Energy, a joint venture that includes P.S.E.G. Renewable Generation, a subsidiary of P.S.E.G. Global, a sister company of the state’s largest utility.

The selection, which includes access of up to $19 million in state grants, is part of New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan, which calls for 20 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2020. It also comes on the heels of decisions by Delaware and Rhode Island to let energy companies install offshore wind farms.

Do You Have A Peak Oil Plan? (with video)

An American financial crisis threatening the Canadian economy and fluctuating gas prices may have spurred you to take action to save energy and cash, but do you have a plan in place if the situation gradually gets worse?

There are many Torontonians concerned about how the city and its citizens will fare in a peak oil world when our demand for energy outweighs supply, resulting in big price increases and possibly other consequences.

Randy Park chairs the group Post Carbon Toronto, whose goal is to spread the word and raise awareness about peak oil, a problem it claims the world will start to experience in the next few years.

"Every oil producing region and every oil producing country ... they see their production rise initially ... then it reaches the peak or plateau and then it starts to decrease as the oil fields get older," Park, a professional public speaker with a background in physics, told CityNews.ca.

"Peak oil doesn't really mean that once we hit peak oil it's all gone. It means that each and every next day we won't be able to have as much oil as we did the day before."

BP gas line blows at Prudhoe Bay

Steve Rinehart, a BP spokesman, says the pipeline rupture has resulted in oil wells being shut down as a precaution at two Prudhoe production pads, curtailing daily oil production by 3,000 to 7,000 barrels a day. BP operates the oil field.

Enbridge says Saskatchewan blockades to be lifted

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc is optimistic that the blockades by First Nations groups in Saskatchewan that have halted construction on its C$3 billion ($2.76 billion) Alberta Clipper oil pipeline to the United States could be lifted later on Friday, a spokesman said.

Glenn Herchak, a spokesman for Canada's No. 2 pipeline company, said Enbridge has agreed to boost training and jobs for the two Saskatchewan native groups that put blockades in place on Sunday and Monday.

Pressure groups laud new climate change ministry

LONDON (Reuters) - The new minister for energy and climate change must balance efforts to combat global warming against the country's energy security needs, environment and business groups said on Friday.

They cautiously welcomed Prime Minister Gordon Brown's move to create the ministry under one of his staunchest allies.

Richard Heinberg: Bursting Bubbles

Now the energy bubble is bursting. Not only is global oil production peaking, but resource quality is declining (we are turning from conventional natural gas to shale gas and coal bed methane; from anthracite to bituminous to sub-bituminous coal), and net energy is plummeting (for example, making oil from tar sands has a net energy yield perhaps one-tenth or less that of crude oil from a good reservoir).

The problem with bubbles is that they create euphoria. Everyone forgets that the source of their new-found abundance is temporary, and starts thinking that somehow the rules of existence have changed: from now on, it’s nothing but good times. Champagne for everyone! It’s on the house!

But while unheeded warning signs are there to be detected by those few who are alert to such things, bubbles burst quickly and surprise nearly everyone.

Russian shares plunge on redemptions, crude

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's benchmark index fell within sight of three year lows on Friday as foreign funds took more money out of emerging markets and Moscow indexes underperformed on weaker oil prices and liquidity fears.

Trading was halted three times on the dollar denominated RTS exchange, which said that the 9:30 a.m. EDT stoppage would last for the rest of Friday's session.

Peak Moment: Middle Class Lifeboat: Careers and Life Choices for Staying Afloat

Paul and Sarah Edwards are authors of a timely book "Middle-Class Lifeboat: Careers and Life Choices for Navigating a Changing Economy." In a world of decreasing resources, they ask, how do we financially support ourselves while moving towards sustainable lives? Emphasizing independent income sources, they consider dozens of possible careers from basic services to local-scale technologies. Life choices include lowering costs through simplifying, getting out of debt, and demonetizing (e.g., bartering). Or one can consider an "off-the-map" lifestyle like living abroad, off-grid, or an intentional community. This downturn is not just a cycle, they emphasize: it heralds a sea change.

Crossing Paths In The Walkable City

In her ambitious new book, The Walkable City (Véhicule Press, 2008), Mary Soderstrom writes: "The walkable city, the oldest kind of city is going to be the key to whatever success we have in meeting the challenges of the future."

After all, until the early nineteenth-century people moved only as fast and as far as their feet could carry them. Urban centres had to mirror this fact, whether they developed organically, like in Europe, or according to self-conscious plans, like in North America. Residents lived close to their work until the rise of the suburbs, expressways, and shopping malls separated residential from commercial districts. In many cities since that time, there's been a distinct lack of streets that invite walking. Soderstrom sets off to examine the planning policies and circumstances that have made cities the way they are; to find out what makes neighbourhoods walkable; and to assess how cities can achieve a more walkable, more livable, and greener future.

A Sympathetic Critique of Localisation by Peter North

The paper concludes that to reduce emissions the global economy needs to go through a process of localisation where many currently globalised links are unbundled; but this does not mean a return to a preglobalised past or to an autarkic society. While it is possible to peak oil leading to a move of economic activities incurring high transport costs closer to their markets, with the result that the global economy becomes less integrated but more regional (‘weak’ localisation), it is difficult to see what is progressive about such a new regime of accumulation (welcome associated carbon emissions reduction aside). On the other hand, the extent that the emerging social movement around peak oil and climate change has the capacity to enact its vision of a more localised, steady state and convivial economy (‘strong’ localisation) is currently doubtful. The need would be to build such a movement out of the existing ecological and anti-globalisation social movements.

Power shortage haunts India as nuclear deal cleared

Power outages that stretch hours are a regular event in Shaila Kapoor's life in a smart suburb of energy-hungry India's national capital.

"It's a nightmare," said Kapoor, a teacher. "We've power back-up (from a battery) but it doesn't last long and then we either literally drip from the heat or drive to a mall."

India's massive electricity crunch is a key reason why the government said it was determined to go ahead with a controversial civilian nuclear technology pact with Washington that was cleared by the US Congress and Senate this week.

India: Diesel use in power sector worries ministry

The petroleum ministry has expressed serious concern over an increase in usage of diesel in power generation due to the peaking shortage of 14% and energy shortage 10%. The burgeoning use of diesel is also a matter of worry when the Centre bears Rs 14 per litre on diesel amounting to under recovery of Rs 1 lakh crore.

UK: Customers spurn gas and oil for solid fuel

BIG increases in the price of gas and oil have led to solid fuel making a comeback in the region’s kitchens and living rooms.

Sales in wood and multifuel stoves have gone up by more than 40 per cent in the last year, industry experts say.

Demand is so high stockists are reporting a shortage in some types of stove.

Strong interest in Norwegian offshore oil licenses

A record 47 companies applied for offshore oil exploration licenses for blocks near existing finds off Norway in the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea as a deadline ran out Friday, the Norwegian oil minister said.

Norway, a major oil and gas exporter, began offering unexplored blocks near existing finds in 2003 in what it calls Awards in Predefined Areas. The Nordic country hopes small finds near already operating fields will shore up declining offshore production.

US interested in exploiting Brazilian pre-salt layer oil fields

The United States is interested in cooperating with Brazil to finance projects for exploiting the country's pre-salt layer oil fields, U.S. ambassador to Brazil Clifford Sobel said on Wednesday.

The top U.S. diplomat in Brazil told the press that his country, as well as other nations, are very interested in the new oil discoveries in Brazil

"Our interest is not only limited to the pre-salt discoveries, but also extended to other land and offshore opportunities. The Brazilian oil industry brings us quite a few opportunities," he said when he attended the Rio Oil and Gas Conference,

Sobel said that, with the pre-salt reserves, Brazil may become one of the main oil suppliers to the U.S. in the future.

Mexico senators to tackle oil incentive contracts

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican lawmakers plan to tackle next week the thorny issue of incentive contracts that could increase the role of private firms in Mexico's oil sector, a leading opposition lawmaker said.

Good News for Everyone

Nowadays oil production is on the decline on key oilfields. The Mexican Cantarell field, which alone produces as much oil as the United States and extracts in the Gulf of Mexico, saw production fall by one third over the past year, putting Mexico’s self sufficiency in oil in jeopardy. Russia, the world’s second largest oil producer, saw declines in oil production by 0.8 percent and oil exports by 5.2 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2008.

“There is less oil in the world and production is becoming more expensive,” said Kochetkov, adding that a good share of the world’s oilfields would lose profitability if oil plunged below $75, which, he says, is likely the lowest possible point for oil prices. This matches the low number suggested by Goldman Sachs in September in case of a global recession.

“Volatility will slow down and there won’t be any sharp changes when oil could rise or fall by $15 in one session,” said Kochetkov. “Consumption won’t stop altogether and as the peak of the crisis passes, we’ll see more predictable prices; there is a balance in the market,” he added.

Nigeria Says Pipeline `Breach' Hasn't Disrupted Refinery

(Bloomberg) -- State-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. said a ``breach'' in a crude oil pipeline hasn't disrupted a nearby refinery.

The fault at the pipeline at Chanomi Creek, which supplies crude to the Warri refinery, wasn't caused by sabotage, company spokesman Levi Ajuonuma said by phone from the capital, Abuja, today. He said the refinery is ``working,'' without giving further details.

Shell Says Nigerian Oil Spills From Sabotage Rose 47% in 2007

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's biggest oil company, said oil spills in Nigeria caused by sabotage jumped 47 percent last year.

A total of 18,500 barrels of crude were spilled into the environment in 2007 in ``221 incidents of sabotage and vandalism to pipelines, flow lines and manifolds,'' Shell said on its Web site. That compared with 12,600 barrels of crude spilled in similar incidents the previous year.

Premier, Circle announce Egypt oil discovery

Independent oil and gas producers Circle Oil and Premier Oil announced Friday they had struck oil in their onshore North West Gemsa Concession in Egypt, with initial sustained production at over 3,000 barrels per day of crude and 4 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas.

EPA: BP violated Clean Air Act in Whiting

Federal regulators say BP PLC violated the Clean Air Act by beginning to make modifications at its Indiana oil refinery along Lake Michigan to process Canadian crude before it received the proper permit.

The allegation announced Thursday is included in an amended complaint by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The complaint alleges BP violated the law by making several unapproved changes in 2005 when it altered a unit at the Whiting refinery that converts heavy oils into lighter products such as gasoline.

N.C. ports help reduce gas crunch, Easley says

RALEIGH (AP) - Gov. Mike Easley says gasoline distributors in Charlotte can get more fuel for stations they serve if they haul their trucks to the coast.

Easley said Monday gas at port terminals in Wilmington and two other states should help reduce supply problems in North Carolina - particularly in Charlotte. Some outlets have been empty for days.

Charities run on empty: Lack of gas strands some volunteers who deliver meals, discourages others

Doris Turner had five more meals to deliver when she heard the dreaded ding-ding-ding: the chiming signal from her 1997 Buick Park Avenue that she was perilously low on gas. She knew she had maybe 20 miles’ worth left in the tank, not enough to deliver meals to the five remaining senior citizens who were counting on her.

She started looking for a station with gas on Cascade Road near I-285, “but every station I went to had those bags on the pumps.” She started calling friends on her cellphone; one said there was gas at Northside Drive and I-75.

She headed north. But she never made it.

Winter is coming, officials help residents prepare

Representatives from the Maine Housing Authority, Efficiency Maine, the People’s Regional Opportunity Program (PROP), Scarborough Fire Department and Downeast Energy joined Maine State Sen. Philip Bartlett (D-Cumberland County) in a workshop geared towards showing Scarborough residents how to conserve energy in their home while heating them for the winter. The workshop, hosted in the cafeteria at Scarborough High School Monday, drew an audience of six people.

Road funding options discussed in South Dakota

Data made available to the lawmakers showed that 36 percent of possible fuel tax revenues are diverted for such uses as Highway Patrol operations, snowmobile trails, the State Radio system and aeronautics projects, The Associated Press reported. The road fund could have had an additional $49 million a year ago.

Among the options brought up for consideration to increase funds is applying a sales tax on fuel, in addition to the per-gallon tax. Also a possibility is increasing a 3 percent excise tax on new and used vehicle purchases.

Plentiful natural gas supply good news for La. users

News that this winter won’t bring a natural gas shortage and price spike is music to the ears of Public Service Commission Secretary Lawrence St. Blanc.

“That’s exactly what we’re seeing, surprisingly,” he said Thursday afternoon. “This is good news for us.”

After war, Russia's influence expands

Though Moscow threw relations with the West into crisis by striking with massive force when Georgia attempted to seize breakaway South Ossetia in August, the impact in Russia's turbulent, multiethnic northern Caucasus appears to be in the Kremlin's favor – at least for now.

Many experts in North Ossetia, the most important of the seven ethnic republics in this troubled region because of its historic and current loyalty to Moscow, say Russia would have risked disaffection if it hadn't acted to protect South Ossetia.

Palin to play ball with Big Oil

The Alaska governor may have raised taxes on the oil industry and scrapped a questionable pipeline deal, but in Washington she'll toe the party line.

Former Virginia politician Allen offers insight on energy crisis

Al Gore's We Can Solve It campaign advocates for a complete overhaul of the current American system of energy production, calling for 100% clean energy within the next 10 years. Do you see this as a realistic goal? What role do you see renewable energy sources playing in ending our dependence on foreign oil?

To think that we will be completely free of it in ten years is blissfully absurd. I mean what would he be using for electricity generation, these are just basic questions. If we're not going to be using clean coal, and we're not going to be using nuclear, I don't know what he thinks about natural gas. To think that we are going to get all our energy from solar and wind is just oblivious of reality and to do what he's suggesting, would mean that our electricity rates would be skyrocketing in this country, which would put a lot of people out of work and our country would be less competitive for investment in jobs. The key base load for electricity clearly needs to be clean coal technology, and advanced nuclear which is safer and more efficient than the way we're doing it presently.

Falling Oil Price Is a Positive Note Amid Turmoil

For the last year, rising oil prices have taken a toll on the economy, driving up gasoline and food costs, punishing airlines and automakers, and ripping a large hole in people’s pockets.

But lately, nearly lost amid the chaos in the markets, oil prices have been dropping sharply from July’s triple-digit peak. If that trend continues, as many analysts expect, it will put billions of dollars back into consumers’ wallets and provide badly needed support for a battered economy.

While consumers welcome the decline, which will reduce the nation’s $1.3 billion daily oil import bill, oil producers are wary. Mexico said it might have to cut its budget next year as petroleum revenue dropped. Countries like Russia and Venezuela, which have been riding a wave of energy-fueled nationalism, could be forced to scale back their ambitions and energy projects that require enormous financing could be delayed.

These difficulties could prompt the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to step in forcefully to stem the slide in prices, analysts said. Saudi Arabia, the oil cartel’s most powerful member, has signaled it wants to see oil fall below $100 to bolster the world economy, but it is unclear how low the Saudis and other producers will let prices fall.

Tupi Field Development May Cost $50 Billion, Deloitte Estimates

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's state-controlled oil company, and its partners in the Tupi field may spend as much as $50 billion to develop what is the biggest discovery in the Americas since 1976, according to Deloitte.

``It will be a challenge to finance these massive fields,'' Mauro Andrade, a Rio de Janeiro-based senior manager of Deloitte's Petroleum Services Group, said in an interview in London today. ``We are talking about ultra deepwater engineering. There is still a bit of a development risk involved, although the findings are really quite massive.''

Discontent grows in Kyrgyzstan as election chief flees

Soaring food prices and power cuts, which were endurable in summer, will really start to bite once the cold weather arrives. "A major energy crisis, triggered by domestic factors, not world prices, is looming. Government handling of these issues has not been impressive," warns a report from Crisis Group. "Even more disturbing for the regime, perhaps, is growing speculation within society that it is not just mishandling the economy, but that corrupt members of the Bakiyev administration themselves contributed to the energy crisis."

Energy fears unfounded says National Grid

Fears of power cuts this winter are completely unfounded, according to a report by National Grid, the company which owns Britain's electricity and gas transmission operations.

Scrap exports affect pump supply

Wehmeyer proposes that keeping scrap material in the country will have a positive effect on South Africa’s energy crisis. Iron-ore requires a substantial amount of energy to be turned into steel and there are great costs involved. Wehmeyer says scrap material is a resource that should be kept in the country and its exportation should be controlled. He says that by exporting scrap material, scrap dealers are doing the country a disservice and are giving foreign manufacturers a price advantage as the cost of refining iron-ore into steel is less of a factor in their pricing structure.

Datacentres face energy crisis

An IDC report claims that power use by datacentres in Europe is growing, while the price of energy continues to rise.

European datacentres are facing an energy crisis, it said. Energy use by datacentres grew by more than 13 percent between 2006 and 2007.

Shorter school week a possibility for parish

Bastrop, La. - Around the country businesses and schools have felt the pressure of energy and fuel costs, work and school days are reducing from five to four days. Morehouse Parish schools may join that trend within the next year.

“Because of the energy crisis and fuel costs, Morehouse Parish is considering” a four-day school week, Superintendent Tom Thrower said.

Physicist seeks to resolve energy crisis, will lead team of ‘rising star’ researchers

A new faculty team led by a professor LSU calls a superstar in the field of material sciences plans to tackle the world’s sustainable energy challenges.

Houston with oil at $70 or $300

Houston investment banker Matt Simmons, whose Simmons & Co. survived the 1980s oil patch depression and is thriving as Wall Street investment banks implode, says the economy here is "stronger than horseradish."

Yeah, but are we on the edge of a precipice? Not unless Washington totally blows it, he says.

"Not unless they say, 'Let the fire burn itself out,' " he says. "Look how effortlessly we did away with Washington Mutual and Wachovia. It was done gracefully."

That doesn't mean there won't be hitches with tight credit for a while, but Simmons is convinced such "paper" problems will be worked out.

"I lived through the most terrifying decade of my life when we saw 95 percent of participants in the oil service industry disappear," said Simmons, 65, referring to the 1980s.

"I feel sorry for some of my friends at Lehman Brothers," he said, referring to the 158-year-old Wall Street firm that dropped off the face of the earth two weeks ago. "But that institution basically wrecked itself. They took the wildest risks. They kind of needed an enema."

He's focused on what he considers a much bigger crisis, albeit one that for some time to come will keep Houston humming.

As profiled in the current issue of Fortune magazine, Simmons is the high priest of "peak oil." His thesis is that Saudi Arabia and the world have less oil than is claimed, and that we either are now at or have already passed peak production of oil.

Oil near $94 as market awaits US bailout vote

Oil prices were erratic near $94 a barrel Friday as investors waited to see if a reworked $700 billion bailout package would pass the U.S. Congress and help stabilize the economy of the world's biggest crude consumer.

A short slide by the U.S. dollar against other major currencies was seen as helping boost oil prices, but expectations that U.S. jobless data to be released later Friday would show growing stress in the labor market kept a ceiling on gains.

Australia: Fears petrol prices could double

Petrol prices could double within six years as demand for oil soars but supply barely grows, warns a former chief engineer for petroleum giant BP.

Speaking ahead of a conference in Perth today which will focus on the growing global food and fuel price crisis, Jeremy Gilbert said the world had almost reached peak oil production while demand was tipped to grow by 50 per cent over the next two decades.

Improved extraction techniques meant oil fields were running down faster than expected while discovery rates for new fields had declined steadily since the late 1970s.

Oil and Gas - The Next Meltdown?

Drawing parallels with the current financial meltdown, Matthew Simmons expresses his alarm about gasoline stocks being the lowest in several decades and refinery production down following recent hurricanes. He warns that if there were a run on the “energy bank” by everyone topping off their gasoline tanks, the U.S. would be out of fuel in three days, and grocery shelves largely emptied in a week. In an interview plus excerpts from his presentation at the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO-USA) conference on September 22, 2008, Matt highlights the risks and vulnerabilities in the finished oil products system, and answers questions from the audience.

OPEC oil output falls in Sept-Reuters survey

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC oil supply in September fell, the first monthly decline since April, as violence in Nigeria cut output and top exporter Saudi Arabia trimmed production, a Reuters survey showed on Friday.

The survey indicates that output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, source of two in every five barrels of oil, was falling even before it agreed at a meeting in September to trim output and prop up prices.

Iran's Natural Gas Conference Raises Concerns Over Western Sponsors

Iran is hosting a international conference on its natural gas exports Saturday and Sunday in Tehran. Organizers say the meeting is aimed at developing Iran's rich natural gas sector. Iran is under international sanctions over its nuclear program and the participation of major international energy firms in the conference is drawing criticism.

Sentiment of oil markets is shifting from bullish to bearish

Fears of a global economic meltdown have overtaken the oil markets. Further contraction is a reality — now looming large on the horizon — and the crude markets could not be far behind in taking the cue.

Prices continued to fall on concerns that even a US bailout of its ailing financial sector would not be enough to restore the declining oil demand. Markets lost nearly 10 percent in New York in response to the dramatic rejection of the $700-billion bailout plan by US legislators last Monday, dropping more than $10 a barrel to slip below $100, and they appear poised to keep falling.

Fear comes to a full boil

Just when you thought we were going to sneak past the raging wildfire that has been consuming equities on North American markets this week without getting too badly burned, along come the experts at Merrill Lynch to toss a lit match right into the heart of the oilpatch.

That's more or less what happened Thursday when Merrill's energy analysts put out a research note warning that oil could fall to $50 should the financial crisis unfolding in the United States prove unmanageable and drag the global economy into a deep and prolonged recession.

Unfortunately, it appears that all investors heard was OIL IS GOING TO $50. YIKES!

Russia delays south Europe gas pipeline: report

(MOSCOW) - Russian gas giant Gazprom has delayed by at least two years the launch of the South Stream pipeline linking Russia to southern Europe, a newspaper reported Friday, citing a company document.

The pipeline would be operational by 2015, the document said, two years later than a launch date Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller gave in January, said the Vedomosti daily.

China oil refiners may return to profit in October: association

BEIJING -- China's oil refiners may return to profit this month after benefiting from the recent falling global crude prices, according to an industry association.

The country's oil refining industry would probably shake off heavy losses caused by previous crude price increases and state-imposed caps on refined oil prices if international prices continued to drop, the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association said in a report.

Gas shortages ease up in Southeast

Gas lines here were shorter and less common Thursday than last week. All 111 QuikTrip stations in metropolitan Atlanta had gas Thursday — up from just 25%-50% a week ago, company spokesman Mike Thornbrugh says.

"We're not going to be running out of gas, not even spot shortages," he says. "There may be some stations that are running short on premium only. That will be corrected by the weekend. We are at the point now where we're not just playing catch-up. We think that … (now) we're going to have the luxury of building inventory."

As international airfares soar, Americans stay in USA

Travelers feel the pain of high domestic airfares, which rose this summer more than any year in the past quarter century. Meanwhile, many international tickets have risen to levels too steep for the budgets of many American vacationers and companies. That's translating into softer demand.

Kenya: Kenya Airways May Cut Routes Due to Costs

Kenya Airways may abandon some of its routes due to high fuel prices and reduced air traffic.

Toyota resorts to 0% financing to draw buyers in slow times

Toyota announced Thursday what is calls its most sweeping credit incentive-discount program ever. It came a day after the Japanese auto giant, which so far had escaped much of the auto industry's woes this year, reported a 32.3% sales falloff for September compared with the month a year ago.

In a bid to revive traffic in showrooms, Toyota will offer 0% financing on 11 models through Nov. 3. The deal covers most of the Toyota brand except hybrids and the Yaris subcompact. The company's Scion and Lexus brands are not included.

Carmakers sound alarm at Paris show

PARIS (Reuters) - Top automakers including General Motors and Ford warned of tough times as the Paris Auto Show opened on Thursday amid concerns that slowing demand could force production cuts and job losses.

Financial crisis could dent nuclear plant growth

PARIS - Growth in the construction of new nuclear plants worldwide is at risk because of the global financial crisis, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Wednesday, adding that short-term projects like oil drilling are more likely to go ahead.

During a visit to Paris, Bodman said the crisis could have an impact on the "nuclear renaissance" that is sweeping the industry as countries around the globe search for alternatives to fossil fuels.

Green Energy Boom In Bailout Bill

Houston - Renewable energy providers will reap an immediate benefit from the raft of new incentives in Washington's financial rescue package. Better late than never.

John Berger, chief executive of Standard Renewable Energy, was holding his breath this week. "If it passes, this would complete the mainstreaming of solar energy in the U.S.," says Berger, who generates 85% of Standard's $20 million in annual revenues from solar installations. He figures the new tax credits could quintuple his solar business in a year.

Poet say removing cobs for fuel helps corn grow

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Removing cobs from fields may help corn plants grow better and provide a feedstock for next-generation cellulosic ethanol, said a fuel expert at private company Poet, the top U.S. maker of ethanol.

U.S. needs environmental standards for biofuels

The U.S. lacks criteria to ensure that cellulosic ethanol production will not harm the environment, warn scientists writing in the journal Science. The researchers say that with proper safeguards, cellulosic ethanol can help the U.S. meet its energy needs sustainably.

"Environmental standards are needed now, before the industry moves out of its research and development phase," said Phil Robertson, Michigan State University professor of crop and soil sciences and lead author of the paper. "With production standards and incentive programs, cellulosic biofuel cropping systems could provide significant environmental benefits."

What Clean Tech Is, And Isn't

Three months ago, everyone wanted to know if renewable energy could save America from the escalating costs of fossil fuels. Now, everyone wants to know if renewable energy can save itself.

In the past six months, biofuels have been bruised, battered and beaten as the surge in food prices triggered a public backlash against diversion of corn to energy. Oil and gas prices have plunged and could fall further still if the economy comes crashing to a halt. Meanwhile, the environmental benefits of many purported clean energy projects have been subject to increasing scrutiny.

Using Plants Instead of Petroleum to Make Jet Fuel

Chemical engineers in North Dakota have successfully turned oil from plants—canola (rapeseed), coconuts and soybeans—into jet fuel indistinguishable from the conventional kind, according to U.S. government tests. Working with the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), scientists at the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota turned these plant oils into fuel that had a similar density, energy content and even freezing point.

South Africa: Country to Unveil Africa's First Electric Car in Paris

Science and Technology Minister, Mosibudi Mangena, will on Thursday preside over the unveiling of Africa's first locally developed electric car at the Paris Motor Show in France.

Named "Joule", the ultra sleek zero-emission car is Africa's answer to climate change.

Tiny Smart car evolves into all-electric version

PARIS - Get ready for a new sound — not look — to the tiny Smart cars produced by Daimler. On Thursday at the Paris Motor Show, the company introduced its Smart ED — an all-electric vehicle that makes barely a peep.

The Smart ED — the ED stands for electric drive — can cover about 90 miles without recharging, Daimler said, adding that limited production would start by the end of 2009.

Report: Solar market to reach $100 billion in 2013

Despite projected oversupply in early 2009, leading to significantly lower average selling prices (ASPs), the global solar market will reach $100.4 billion in 2013, up from $33.4 billion in 2008, according to the latest report from Lux Research.

The 'Clean Coal' Myth

The phrase "clean coal" is polluting the energy debate. The phrase is an oxymoron. We can come up with ways to clean up after coal - many of them very expensive and, in the case of coal's greenhouse gas emissions, untried. And we can use coal more efficiently than in the past. But coal itself is not clean and never will be. That is a matter of chemistry and geology.

Join the transition from fear to hope

Do you live in a transition town? And if not, why not? Transition towns are the hottest new trend in urbanism. Or rather in post-urbanism, since their guiding principle is to find ways of living in the cities we’ve already built as the oil that feeds them runs out, and inconveniently heats up the planet in the process. Transition towns aim to keep communities functioning in the face of peak oil and climate change.

Hundreds of plant species are in danger as Kew seed bank faces £100m shortfall

The Millennium Seed Bank is facing a funding shortfall that could force it to halt operations.

Scientists at the seed bank need to raise more than £100 million in little more than a year to safeguard the facility’s future. Failure to secure the money would put the survival of hundreds of species of plant at risk and damage Britain’s credibility as a centre of scientific excellence.

Climate change may be sparking new and bigger "dead zones"

Dead zones are not new; they form seasonally in economically vital ecoystems worldwide, including the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay. Agricultural runoff sparks many of these die-offs; increased use of nitrogen fertilizers has doubled the number of lifeless pockets every decade since the 1960s, resulting in 405 dead zones now dotting coastlines globally.

But lesser-known wastelands are also emerging—without nutrient input from farms. Alarms about such dead zones first sounded in Oregon during the summer of 2002. Usually “we see many schools of fish and lots of different species,” says David Fox of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, but surveys revealed dead fish and invertebrates littering the seafloor. The culprit was hypoxia—low-oxygen conditions, which can occur after the decomposition of organic matter in areas where deep waters well up to the surface.

I don't understand why people seem to be so stuck on the price of oil going up for ever in order to prove the disaster of peak oil. If oil production stagnates and the price holds at current levels, but the financial world keeps falling apart, isn't that still PEAK OIL?!!!

I don't understand why the price has to go up linearly in order to claim that "the sky is falling".

I think there is a tendency toward linear thinking. The reality is usually much messier.

Many peak oilers seem to see the current economic crisis as the end. We'll crash, there will be no funding for renewable energy or new oil projects, and we'll quickly spiral into a dark age.

I suspect that, just as with the price of oil, there will be economic recoveries. The government may have to nationalize the banks. If that doesn't work, they'll nationalize the oil companies and renewable energy companies, too. We'll stagger along, with repeated collapses and recoveries, for quite awhile.

I have long held a somewhat conflicting view with what you expressed, Leanan. I see this economic mess as having the potential to give us time for some of the deepwater projects to come to fruition - Jack # 2, for instance, and Tupi as well. If we can hold off for a bit, and not lose the momentum toward renewable source energy, the transition can be made without being a horrible disaster. Of course we are going to have to change our lifestyles, and the price of energy is going to soar. Those will necessarily happen under any scenario I can imagine. But... with a few years of high prices and some of the much touted efficiency and lifestyle changes, and hopefully practical development of battery technology and all kinds of mass transit, we can reduce our "demand" / comsumption of all types of energy and make the transition without a final collapse into chaos. Then, we can all go visit Rainwater, et al on a friendly basis at their respective compounds.

I still wouldn't go out and buy any stock in cruise lines myself, however.

I think it's going to be messier than that. Jack 2 and Tupi might never happen, for the reasons Tom Whipple laid out in his column yesterday. Demand will be so much lower due to the bad economy, and capital will be in such short supply it will be difficult to develop the new technology needed to extract the oil.

An Apollo-type program to pump oil from Jack 2 might work...but the government might have other things to spend their resources on.

"and capital will be in such short supply it will be difficult to develop the new technology needed to extract the oil"

Possibly one can look at it another way. This so called capital that is vanishing is merely digital money (perhaps some paper too)
As this capital ultimately represents real assets (land, gold, silver, energy etc.), in one form or another, the real capital is still there. Expressed in $ it may be shrinking(housing bubble), but the assets are still there.

I'm not saying this is how it is or that it will play out more or less like it, just trying to broaden my view

I'm not suggesting that all capital will disappear. Merely that people may have other uses for it, that will seem more compelling than extracting oil of questionable EROEI.

Energy and land being the far more important of those real assets. And of course, 'they're not making any more' - in fact, we're rapidly destroying it via erosion, salinization, paving over...). As for energy, the net energy available for us to do things with our other natural capital is in (rapid?) decline. You're absolutely right that digits and paper are merely 'so called capital'. We shall be forced to learn what real capital is all about in the coming years. It matters not one whit how many dollars we 'have' in any form. All that matters is how much net energy is available to us, and how much clean air, water, soil, other species etc.

I agree. Thanks for responding.

Looks like this nasty EROEI thing will really mess up things big time.

the assets are still there

Capital - in the form of money - is a measure of the ability to marshall resources of all sorts. I suggest that the assets are not still there, and that is in part why the financial system is crashing. From today's top links - 400 dead zones now and doubling each decade. [Which is only a count and says nothing of the proportion of the environmental systems destroyed.] The dish is full and the systems are overstressed; all around us we are seeing the destruction of real physical capital.

I'm not discounting other reasons - the 1/2 degree of separation, racketeering and straight up theft.

cfm in Gray, ME

In addition to others' responses, I would add that suburban mcmansion lots, what with their removed topsoil, pesticide-soaked lawns, and soon-to-be decomposing cardboard houses, may be at best worth nothing, and possibly even a liability.

The following supports Leanan's position:

Philip Verleger, an expert on oil markets at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary predicted the price of oil could fall below $50 a barrel if the United States slips into a serious recession.

Out West, the huge drop in prices, coupled with lines of credit drying up, mean difficult times for junior oil and gas companies whose growth relies on spending cash raised through the debt or equity markets.

The lower prices may push some juniors, particularly those focused on gas drilling in Alberta, close to the point where they will find it hard to service their debts, making new spending impossible and stymieing growth, said Jeffery Tonken, chief executive of Calgary-based junior Birchcliff Energy Ltd.

"It's a difficult market, for sure. Commodity prices have fallen so quickly that some companies will be getting close to their credit limits," he said. "And most companies won't grow if they're just using their cash flow ... they'll have to sell assets, raise equity somehow or sell up."


Not sure the $50 per bbl price is credible. Should it be reached most of the tar sands would be uneconomic, there would be a level of financial distress in Alberta which would exceed anything seen under the NEP in the 1980's and we would likely see serious social unrest in KSA and other middle east quasi-states.

Cheap oil could wreck the world economy as easily as expensive oil.

...Of course we are going to have to change our lifestyles, and the price of energy is going to soar. Those will necessarily happen under any scenario I can imagine. But... with a few years of high prices and some of the much touted efficiency and lifestyle changes...

This is not just a lifetyle change... This is a radical re-ordering of society.

Here's what I'm hearing...

1) Increased unemployment
2) Decreased FF production
3) Decreased consumer, government and business spending due to decreased credit available
4) Increased cost and scarcity of food
5) Increased climate change
6) Decreased real incomes for Americans
7) Decreased net worth of Americans, due to decreased Stock Market values and decreased Real Estate/Home Values
8) Increasing government debt, resulting in some/all of the following: Increased inflation; Increased taxes; Decreased government spending
9) Increased economic threat to America due to the addiction to foreign infusions of money to the tune of $Billions per day.
10) Increased security threat to America and it's allies due to rogue nations (Venezuela, North Korea, Iran) and due to rogue international organizations (Al Quaeda, Hezbollah)
11) Increased energy dependence of America and it's allies to unstable or hostile nations of the world (Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria)

This isn't a lifestyle change issue... It's the collapse of a nation; the collapse on an empire.

And sadly, America is really the only one to blame.

Thoughts come to mind of the French Revolution. The same conditions will exist in 10, 20 years as existed in France in 1789... Or that existed in Germany in 1933. We know how both of those situations worked themselves out...

The increased security threat is due to the US's foreign policies, not rogue nations (like Venezuela? if that were so you wouldn't get a drop of oil from them). Ignoring International laws and treaties like the US is doing, as well as their unjust interference in other nations (Iran ring a bell?), makes the US the sole most dangerous rogue nation in the world. And after all these years I still have to see proof that the organisation Al Quada exists. It can be touted by officials and media as often as you like, many people will take it for granted, many groups can claim they are alligned to it(it will get attention), but I still haven't seen proof. I don't take ANYTHING for granted.

Couldn't resist :-)

While all of these are true, we are still looking at PEAK oil, and competing for it, which I think we will be able to do. This whole thing is going to be painful, but most will survive in some different situations. Like, we are going to see decreased demand caused by the economy, while at the same time, we will see declining production. If some of the problems are worked out, society will be able to maintain some semblance of order. Without a severe recession or depression, hopefully not rivaling the 20's/30's in severity, we will have expensive energy available. We will not be relegated to caves, IMHO.

And, there will be opportunists, as there always have been. Life will be almost unbearable, until we figure out the way to adapt as a society. Meantime, WT's ELP pronouncements will be for the fortunate and those who planned ahead. Since I was one of those planning ahead, even before I saw the ELP proposal, I have somewhat of a head start, but everyone else should get busy catching up.

You might want to remember where you live, if indeed it is the states. Russia, Venezuela and Iran have nothing but ill wishes for us now. The time to change things would have been from the 90s and early 00s, but hey both Bush and Clinton blew it. Bipartisanship at its finest. Since we can't change the past policies, its better to atleast be consistent so when the negotiations start everyone knows where we stand. Oh, I forgot.....Obama and his buddy Biden from the CFR are going to fix everything in 10minutes.

I still haven't seen proof of global warming either, but that doesn't mean that I don't trust others opinions on the subject. What to do about it is a whole different subject. BTW, "US the sole most dangerous rogue nation in the world"...feel free to leave.

Germans are not born monsters, but their country became the most dangerous rogue nation in the world. If they had been less industrious and less educated that could never have happened. Do you think that all the Germans who recognized the evil should have just caved in to blind patriotism and fled without debate?

If we must shut down any debate about the idea that America could be seduced by power into acts of evil, that guarantees that it will eventually occur, since opportunists always look for the path of least resistance.

jrc9596 Do you feel unappreciated? At odds with your peer group? Feel persecuted by your "elite" friends?

Here is a site where you're guaranteed to win friends and influence people:


On a related matter:

'Redneck Stonehenge': Utah Farmer Builds Fence From Wrecked Autos to Send Message to Neighbors

HOOPER, Utah — A farmer has erected a fence in his backyard made of three old cars sticking up in the air to send a message to new neighbors that he can do whatever he wants on his farm.

"This is just a fun way for me to say, 'Hey boys, I'm still here,'" said Rhett Davis. "This is my redneck Stonehenge."


You gotta love freedom!

And so I did...

Why is it when it comes to honest dissent and opposing opinions in the U.S., the ignorant resort to the "just leave then"? I remember using that argument in Grade 7.

Contrary to a narrow popular opinion, the U.S. is not the greatest nation on earth. The only great thing about it is the myth - kind of like the Great Pumpkin. I could go on ad nauseum, but let it be said I lived there for 10 years, know some great people, my wife is American and we are getting the hell out of Dodge.

So I think it's safe to say you took the blue pill?

not to mention when translated into popular Arabic means 'little toilet'. almost as funny as the whole. 'i am a doughnut' speech by Kennedy.


And sadly, America is really the only one to blame

I believe there is plenty of "blame" to go around -- most everyone is trapped in this in one way or another. "America" is only part of a much larger problem.

The way I look at it, human activity will be reduced, and that will be good for forests, fish, air, birds, turtles, whales....

Maybe the planet can breathe again, and quite possibly this is the only way that modern industrial society can show any concern for the seventh generation

"...the seventh generation" What's that?


Seven generations sustainability is an ecological concept that admonishes the current generation of humans to be working for the benefit of the seventh generation into the future.

"In every deliberation we must consider the impact on the seventh generation... even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine."

- Great Law of the Iroquois

There's a native american viewpoint that decisions should be made considering their impact on up to the next seven generations (ie, just because something's good for the current generation, say non-sustainable deforestation, if it causes fatal problems for future generations it shouldn't be done). Seven generations was apparently about 100 years in that culture.

One basic link is:


And the apparent reality is that the Native Americans lived pretty well, at least along the Columbia River, for about 20,000 years, and when the Europeans arrived, the forests were abundant and productive and the river and oceans were full of fish.

In about 250 years "we" (European descendants) have nearly succeeded in turning the place into a wasteland.

I would venture that this is a lot more than "American" arrogance, however.

It is generally assumed that native Americans lived rather a harsh lifestyle and very barbaric at that.

Well most of this is historic bullshit.

I suggest a read of Alan Eckart and his very well researched books. Such as "That Dark and Bloody River" and the latest about Tecumseh.

In this narrative he paints a entirely different picture of the life of out native Americans.
One that most are completely unaware of. In fact when prisoner exchanges were demanded by the US government most of the white captives refused to go back to the white way of life. Most preferred the better life with , in this case , the Shawnee and also other tribes.

In fact the US government played the role of terrorism against the indians. They were the ones who always prompted the battles and in many cases did not win eventually due to strategy but instead to sacra ficing more and more lives of their soldiers.

The whites simply defied the treaties and consumed the land without any degree of concern whatsoever, killing the natives as they felt led.

Its all hidden neatly away or expunged.


Susan Faludi's [author of "Backlash" and "Stiffed"] lastest, "The Terror Dream", gets into that too. A large number of the white women didn't want to go back to the white settlements. Faludi is writing about women, american myth and how it plays into "terrorism" in "The Terror Dream", so don't expect a full book about it; it's only a largish chapter.

Yes, the winners write the history books. But I suspect the historical revisionists might be back in force. The reality is creeping out of the dark corners, especially as the European Model is shown to be fundamentally flawed.

The Puritans also had trouble keeping their young men home.

It is generally assumed that native Americans lived rather a harsh lifestyle and very barbaric at that.

Well most of this is historic bullshit."

Airdale I suggest you read up on the history of the Arizona tribes.I don’t know too much about Eastern Indian tribes but there sure was a lot of blood letting between the tribes that inhabited much of what is now Arizona, New Mexico, and surrounding areas. The Apache occupied the Gila River area in Arizona and basically overrunning any of Arizona’s tribes that got in their way. Arizona’s Pima Indians are thought to be the descendants of the Hohokam who were killed or enslaved by other tribes. The Maricopa got their butts kicked by the Mohave and the Quenchan. When they were not at war with them they were fighting the Yavapai. As I recall there was quite a bit of tribal warfare among the various tribes. Some were quite peaceful while others, like the Apache frequently made life miserable for the peaceful tribes. I don't know about BS, but be careful you don't step in one of your cow pies.

Certainly the cliff-dwellers, who lived in holes in the cliffs that must have been exceedingly difficult to supply, must have been afraid of something, or they'd have lived on the valley floor, wouldn't they?

He was discussing quality of life; you are discussing culture. Saying a group had a high quality of life is not necessarily mutually exclusive to being warlike. Depends on the values.

Also, I'd hazard a guess that you'd find the warfare was largely resource-related and helped keep the populations sustainable.


In a related vein... the trend of the US government to employ private contractors for just about everything has a long and illustrious history. The forced resettlement of the Southeastern tribes -- Creeks, Choctaw, Cherokee -- was overseen by private contractors who went all out to cut corners. Who would care if a few thousand redskins died of exposure or starvation?

From Howard Zinn's 'People's History of the USA'

chief rogue nation on the planet is the US

You could argue that the dot-com crash was the first down-cycle in the long decline, at the foot-hills of the mountains and valleys in the crash to come. Certainly even within each crash/recovery cycle there will be commodity cycles as well. It seems that volatility is increasing overall, making investments hard to quantify.

I think it's interesting that many talk about the current stock market drops of 1000 points as almost a crash, when we're still far above the troughs of the dot.com implosion. The stock market was at 7600 as recently as 2002. Things were tight in some sectors but not really bad in the early years of this century.

As easy credit gives way and bubbles deflate, it doesn't seem unreasonable to see the DOW down to 7500 again, or less, without even a systemic failure of any sort. Just a modest recession would seem to take us there, with much lower possible if a real systemic fault kicks in.

"...The stock market was at 7600 as recently as 2002."

If you consider a nominal inflation rate of 5% (6 to 9% would be more accurate)we would be exactly where we are now. If we slide to 7500 that might really be the end of the world.

I read a story about a miser who didn't trust banks and kept his money in a vault and only he had the key. When he died they opened the vault and found the rats has consumed the money. The dollar as an international rate of exchange may soon be an anachronism. We might just discover that the rats have eaten it and little of value is left.

I however was fortunate enough to invest in a commercial development project about four years ago and when the market crashed the project failed. I had so much invested in the project that I lost almost 80% of my net worth. Imagine if I still had all of the imagined wealth...when the crash comes I might have been devastated. Now it's like Dmitry Orlov said in Reinventing Collapse: "...when things crash it will be like falling out of a ground floor window."

Good point on the inflation aspect that I had neglected, but only if you use 'real' inflation versus the published CPI. Many interlocking and self-supporting inaccuracies in the "official" positions.

Really inflation would be the rats in your story.

...only if you use 'real' inflation versus the published CPI.

The CPI should be in the fiction section of Barnes and Noble.


If the Alternative Minimum Tax were indexed to inflation you could bet donuts to dollars the CPI would overstate inflation. Things of little benefit to the rich like Social Security and veterans benefits are indexed to the artificially low CPI.

The AMT affects many who are not rich, and like every tax it should be CPI indexed else it is regressive over time.

Of course, all entitlements are CPI indexed, but with an understatement of the rate they have to exist on less, but at least that's reducing and expense.

Hmmm.....taking more in, paying less out -- that's a pretty good racket!

The AMT had a really sneeaky feature which could trap unsuspecting employees with incentive stock options. Basically, if you exercise options, the paper gain (market price minus option price) counts towards the AMT. If you happen to hold onto the shares until the next calender year, any gain from the sale, is also a taxable, gain -and you get no credit for the previous years AMT. In the worst cases, the employee would hang onto the shares, which then crash. He then has a loss on the shares, but a big tax bill. I've heard of people going broke, but still owing a huge tax bill commiting suicide.

But the main issue today, is that for moderate income people, with high deductions, can end up paying substantial AMT bills. The AMT was meant to insure that wealthy people have to pay a fair share, but the lack of indexing has brought many who are not rich into its reach.

As we expanded our use of energy the economy primarily expanded, with occasional recessions. As the energy available declines, we can expect the economy to primarily contract, with occasional expansions.

"We'll stagger along, with repeated collapses and recoveries, for quite awhile."

I agree. Imagine someone who's had way too much to drink at a party and is passed out under the kitchen table. When he comes to, he starts getting up, hits his head on the table and passes out again. You can imagine this continuing until his inebriated state is past.

I believe this is exactly what will happen with the economy. We'll manage to revive it for one more go, and then BOOM, we hit the limit due to resource constraints and it will come crashing down again. This can happen as many times as it takes to wise up.


"repeated collapses and recoveries"---but each recovery failing to bring the economic activity level up to the point it was at before the previous collapse...

like a ball bouncing before it comes to a stop.

I guess in both cases energy is being dissipated.

Since there will be less and less noisy cement-and-oil economic activity (already I'm seeing a LOT less here!!) there will be more room for nature, and we'll have to act in accordance with nature more, so yay actually!

There may be "recoveries", but none will get us back up to where we are now in terms of real GDP. Not until peak oil is mostly mitigated, which will take decades.

I would say "never."

I completely agree. You can't sell a product that becomes too expensive to produce unless you nationalize it and make the tax payers support the infrastructure.

And I believe we have many historic precedents to show us where that will lead.

The payrolls dropped again!

It amazes me how many people seam to think this stuff just doesn't affect them directly. I have a relative that lost her job this summer and was, in her words, "blind sided". She was a New Home Warranty Remediation Officer!!!

This is like watching a slow train wreck, but I don't know where to stand.

I think anyone with "Home" in the name of their title can't really claim to be blindsided right now. They're all in trouble.

Kind of a surprise...Wachovia is cuddling up with Wells Fargo, and spurning Citi.

Wachovia apparently experienced a silent run on the bank, which forced them into a merger.

Europe could be in even worse shape than the US: French PM says world "on edge of abyss"

The Governator is begging for cash to keep California running.

Wells Fargo was actually in talks first. The Citi deal was the Government's plan "B".

Citi is Plan A now. The FDIC is trying to chase Wells Fargo off.

Banking giants battle over Wachovia

This is just bizarre...

In light of your post down the thread, citing London Banker's commentary on the secret Treasury Dept. conference call, maybe it's not so bizarre. Citi appears to be one of Hank Paulson's Chosen Few...

Some people cannot get loans because there are not enough lenders and credit terms are stricter. People who made bad investments were going bankrupt. Special interests called on government to bail them out. Paulson and Bernanke gave away public funds to private corporations and the citizens assume the bad debt of the baddest players on Wall Street. The government will 'open the vaults' again and this time will give away hundreds of billions of more to inept bunglers who risked it all and lost. The tax cuts voted on go to the upper class. Credit is being rationed unless you are a friend of Paulson.

This week I got a credit card with a $17,000. limit in the mail from Bank of America. I did not request one. I have two other credit cards as it is. I always paid mine off every month. I do not owe anything. Benjamin Franklin got rich without borrowing a penny. People counting on borrowing to make their payrolls are in a wose position than those who set aside cash reserves.

The bailout bill's existence made people panic even more than before, thus the government caused the run on the banks that they predicted.

This may be a separate thread, but I will put it here.

Can any of you tell me when/if Bank of America will start to have problems? I don't want to read about them on the morning after, if you know what I mean.

Depends on if someone runs a scare article pulling deposits out of the bank. Most of these banks are solvent if they don't lose funding and can slowly unwind their stakes in the MBS's. However, shock events drive businesses to insolvency. Basically, if you have more than $100k in BoA, its safe until someone in the media proclaims its not safe. If you have less than $100k in BoA, its safe regardless because Bernanke will print his way out of the mess to fund the FDIC if necessary.

Speaking of Ben printing his way out of this:

1. What happens to TIPS if there is high inflation? Do they have an upper limit, or will they track inflation all the way up? Is there a lag on when the CPI numbers are announced and when your rate changes?

2. What other assets track inflation well? Do commodities or equities rise with inflation?

Forget TIPS. Nothing tracks inflation well because inflation numbers have turned into unreliable garbage. See this link to see where inflation, unemployment, and GDP really lie. Numbers are based on how we used to track such economic indicators.


BofA seems to be one of the banks that the gov't will keep afloat til the end don't you think? After backing them to take over Countrywide and Merrill Lynch both?

This guy, a London banker, listened in on the Treasury briefing, and thinks the bailout is a terrible idea. Evil, even.

Clearly what is going on here has nothing to do with kick starting the credit markets or stabilising the equity markets or restoring depositor confidence in banks. (Treasury official: “No provision in the legislation that mandates re-lending.”) What is going on here is a blatant attempt to provide government funds to a select cadre of firms (not all banks) which are chosen to be the survivors feasting off the carcasses of their less fortunate and less well-connected brethren as the downturn intensifies in the years to come.

The crash in equities will still happen. The debt deflation of the economy leading to mass commercial and consumer credit defaults will still happen. The collapse of many national, regional and local financial institutions will still happen. The bankruptcy of many municipalities and shortfalls in state budgets will still happen.

This bill is about engineering survivor bias to friends of the Bush administration so that they profit disproportionately from the collapse of these markets using the funds provided by the taxpayer via the unreviewable and unconditional authority of the Secretary of the Treasury.

At this point IMO this is clear to everyone-this is why it is important that there is no objective criteria used to determine which financial firms get the taxpayer money. The other problem for the taxpayer is that the politically connected firms are the most reckless and corrupt so it is possibly that this program will grow like a cancer until it is finally stopped. Also, the taxpayers moeny is being used to put the most well run financial firms at a competitive disadvantage.

If the preceding is true - and it has been my suspicion all along - I can tell you how cancer is stopped. The patient dies.

I think Dante is holding open house on a whole new development of levels of Hell created for these people...

It appears to be what is precisely happening happening. Often outside observers have the best analysis, as more equanimity is possible.

This bill is about engineering survivor bias to friends of the Bush administration so that they profit disproportionately from the collapse of these markets using the funds provided by the taxpayer via the unreviewable and unconditional authority of the Secretary of the Treasury.


Like any defeated villian at the end of a movie, the Daddy Warbucks of the Bush regime grabbed the economy and held it hostage. The Democratic Party hastily handed over the ransom. What does the villian usually do next?

At least this time you can't blame just the Republicans -- the House Republicans were the only group that held the line, while the House and Senate Democrats handed over the cash.

When you put together Republicans supporting business buddies with Democrats growing gov't there appears to be no end to their inventiveness and cross-party cooperation.

Republicans are wholly responsible for government's growth since 1981. And the growing Duopoly you note is THE danger.

Umm...we in the US are accustomed to, nay, demand, happy endings, so this story MUST end with the hero dispatching the villain. In this case, well, um, oh never mind. Just another example of our dysfunctional system on display, this time in full panic mode.

Americans like their bad guys dead.

Thanks for that, Leanan. Added to my blog.


Of Crashes, Failures and Bailouts - Round III

Is it known which banks got the invite for the Treasury Dept. conference call?

Well, not only did this guy need to participate in the call to figure out what others figured out earlier, but he does not go far enough into the consecuences.

While the bailout changes nothing as far as the points he mentions, it changes that the productive taxpaying minority of citizens will go into this battle with a much greater burden.

IMO they are dreaming if they think that the few will carry the burden of the many, especially when we have nothing at all in common with them.

I would say the "chosen" aren't just "friends of the Bush administration" as it was the Democrat Party that passed Bush's bill for him, which is a point being vastly overlooked.

When it gets to these levels, forget the convenient republican/democrat, us vs. them rhetoric. To those manipulating these things political ideology is a quaint topic over gin and tonic at the racket club. Make no mistake, this is raw, unfettered, soulless and evil power. Politics is a game for idle lawyers as far as they are concerned.

It's going to be a interesting next week or two, because on Monday the CDS from F&F get settled. We will see who gets blown out of the water.

The Wells Fargo move on Wachovia is a fascinating example of "moral hazard" in action (provoked by the bailout).

The very well-connected CNBC reporter, Charlie Gasparino, reported an hour ago that Citigroup was telling the FED the following: Wells can offer more for Wachovia without FDIC support simply because it plans to shunt Wachovia's bad debt over to the Treasury.

With the Citigroup deal, the cost was much more out in the open. And Citi had agreed to pay the FDIC double-digit billions as insurance against potential FDIC Wachovia-related losses down the road.

But Wells expects to cash in on the bailout, selling crappy Wachovia mortgage bonds to Treasury for inflated prices. And it's passing some of the profits/loot to Wachovia shareholders to make it much sweeter for them.

So the controversy intensifies. And all these machinations were set in motion once the major players knew the bailout would most certainly pass the house.

I had seen a news item, which questioned the solvency of the joint Wells/Wachovia corp. I don't know if it is disinformation by pro-Citi players, or if there could be truth to it. I sure hope the taxpayer won't get shafted by games whose purpose is to concentrate the bad stuff onto a small number of the weakest corporations, forcing the government to take them over.

Just a thought for pondering: If the Fed is giving out money to big banks... and if the big banks aren't lending the money... why not have the Fed (or Treasury) lend the money out directly?

Alexander Hamilton did it and it worked.

Because it depends on who you are trying to "help." Friends of Ben, or friends of almost anyone else.

"why not have the Fed (or Treasury) lend the money out directly?"

I think this has been threatened by Benny Hill Bernanke - "Bring on the Helicoptors !!!"

If the banks don't have confidence in eachother or the consumer, they will not lend, so unless the fed lends directly to the consumer the string they are pushing on will not move.

BTW, what exactly did Hamilton do, and how similar was his crisis to the present one (i.e. would you really expect the same or similar outcomes)?

Hamilton created the First National Bank (a government-owned private bank chartered by Congress and later done away with by Andrew Jackson). Fortunately for Hamilton, he didn't seem to have had any encounters with any financial crisis of the level that we have today; but I figure that a national bank could be encouraged to have a bit more confidence in the economy than the commercial banks are having right now.

What I know about Hamilton is that he championed full repayment of Continental Currency in secret councils, then tipped off his banker buddies so they could go around and buy up the seemingly worthless paper for dimes on the dollar from the impoverished veterans of the Revolution. He was a smart man and a brave man, but by this one act Hamilton showed exactly what American history would be like under the rule of those who are "good with money".

Yes, and for his actions he was rewarded with a place on the $10 bill.

It's not a bad idea.

If I have to choose between quasi-nationalization and actual nationalization, I'd rather go with the real thing. If we are going to let companies lend out billions of dollars, pay their CEOs millions, and then get bailed out when they fail, why not just do it ourselves.

It seems like it would have been better to just have the Fed Gov writing 30 year, 30 year T-Bill yield + 2% fixed rate mortgages, and holding them on our "books".

I am not sure that Fannie and Freddie are all that different from the Government lending the funds out directly. Just puts the funds through a different vehicle, and pick up the losses later.

I think it comes back to the old "privatize the profits, socialize the losses."

As long as we are letting Fannie/Freddie and Wall Street socialize the losses on the bad loans, why not socialize the profits on the good loans?

The only viable explanation I've seen is that banks are afraid to borrow directly from the FED, because this way the others may think they are in trouble. Which could trigger a run on the bank. Which will run the bank to the ground.

IMO this is all a manufactured crisis. The government could have easily prevented it by guaranteeing all interbank deposits, e.g. taking over the counterparty risk. Instead they are offering this 700 billion stunt and putting the "stock market crash" gun towards the forehead of the Senate to make it pass as quickly as possible. It's all so fishy that it stinks.

US banks borrow record amount from Fed

US banks borrowed a record $367.8 billion (£208 billion) a day from the Federal Reserve in the week ended October 1.

Data from the US central bank shows how much financial institutions are relying on the Fed in its role as lender of last resort as short-term funding becomes almost impossible to find elsewhere.

From the same report

Banks' discount window borrowings averaged $367.80 billion per day in the week ended October 1, nearly double the previous record daily average of $187.75 billion last week.

Doubled in a week? Ouch! Where are we headed?

I suppose it depends on why they are borrowing.

It's not to lend, as I keep hearing the credit markets are "locked up".

It could be cashing out depositors, some of whom are hoarding cash, and some who may be drawing on savings where a credit line had been expected?

Other ideas?

In any case, it seems to be a no-confidence vote in the system, and maybe the individual banks as well.

So why is credit so tight for small businesses with good credit?!?!?!?

I thought we passed this "rescue" plan because banks didn't have the money to lend.

It does not appear to be tight on Main Street - at least anecdotally - when I called around to a few of my clients that I know use credit lines. None of them have drawn on them recently, FWIW. This whole pile of crap about businesses not being able to make payroll without credit lines - well, borrowing to make payroll doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Even if it's against a payback on "that next really big job".

Oh, wait, that's California isn't it...?

Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, appeared on the Colbert Report last night. She put the current financial meltdown in perspective:


The Bush Administration doesn't believe in Free Markets, they have invented no risk capitalism...The Bush Administration used 9/11 to invent the Homeland Security Apparatus which has transferred massive amounts of public funds into private hands.

The financial disaster that we're in right now however is the disaster that will keep on giving. If Obama gets into office all of the think tanks that told us we need to bail out Wall Street will then advise us that we are in a Financial Crisis and we will have to delay National Health Insurance as well as reforms and we will need to privatize our infrastructure.

It's odd that you have to watch Comedy Central programming to get substance on TV

Disaster Capitalism seems to be a truly bipartisan affair.

If Obama gets in, we will be screwed. If McCain gets in, we will be raped. What's the difference? I guess I will lodge a protest vote with the Green Party. They are at least interesting, and talk about real things that matter to real people.

There is no hope for American democracy as long as people continue to respond to false choices, and vote for what they are led to believe is "the lesser of two evils."

It is fascinating to see how the Repub/Dems and the media have completely triumphed over people's common sense and their own self-protective instincts, and once again, "manufactured consent" -- "I guess I (regretfully) agree, let's give the bankers $Gazillion, we have to do something." It has taken a week longer than I thought it would -- I figured they had it wrapped up last weekend.

I remind you that there is a big difference between the two parties, they are not equal. Even last night in the VP debate Palin was continuing the standard Republican party line that taxes need to be lowered to improve the economy and government needs to get out of the way of private business. Not only will this not work, it shows they don't even understand what the problem is. The last decade and the current financial crisis have shown forever that tax cuts does not automatically equate to better economy. The current financial crisis is by and large a result of poor or laxed regulation by the government. Government does not need to "get out of the way" government needs to save private industry from itself.

Instead of lodging a protest vote for the national election, here's a novel idea. Vote for the lesser of two evils for the national elections and vote your conscience on the local level. My representative won her election in 2006 by 8 votes. By voting for the Greens or whomever at the local level, your vote will make a difference AND I argue the only way the two party system can be overturned in this country is through grass roots effort from the bottom up. Picking a ringer like Ralph Nader to run for the greens for the presidency without a substantial base of support at the local level is like trying to build a skyscraper pinnacle first. It won't work.

I don't see "financial regulation" and "massive taxation" as synonymous. Small gov't at the national scale, strong state gov't, modest use-based taxes, and clear (but bounded) operating environments would be fine.

Gov't grew hugely over the past 15 years, as did gov't debt, at the same time the financial mess ballooned. Both contributed to the current situation. You can't argue that a big gov't is better -- just more expensive.

A gov't that worked for the people and did a few things well would be much better than a large gov't pandering to special interests that does many things badly.

Gov't grew hugely over the past 15 7.8 years, as did gov't debt, at the same time the financial mess ballooned

The ONE risk that GWB has definitively eliminated is the "risk" of paying off the national debt that he inherited.

How quaint it now seems that there were projections of paying off the publicly held debt in a decade in VERY early 2001, and discussions of what the implications of that would be (I could see a valid argument for keeping one or a half trillion of national debt on the books).

In my lifetime, the national financial system was at it's best around January 20, 2001. Not perfect, but pretty damm good.


I've looked for an informed discussion of the optimum level of national debt, but I haven't found it. I don't think it's a purely academic discussion, as it would seem to be something to shoot for. Have Greenspan et al ever discussed this? What did they come up with?

Sweden (per Magnus Redin) found that paying off 16% of the national debt in one year was "too fast", so they dropped the tax rate for the lowest tax bracket (tax cut for all taxpayers) and spent more on energy efficient infrastructure.

One can wish for "problems" like paying off the national debt too quickly !

There is a need for a risk-free bond in the economy, as both an index and for specific purposes.

Back in late 2000 and early 2001, I read arguments for paying down the publicly held national debt to $500 billion or one trillion dollars and then investing (in one way or another) additional surpluses rather than paying off the last of the national debt.

Since I cannot now conceive of the USA paying off it's debt, I will not "worry" about it.

Thanks GWB for solving ONE problem,


I'm willing to be disabused, as I am certainly no GWB fan, but while living and voting in the 90's it seemed that there were battles every year about ever-growing programs, and the best years were mis-matched parties where not much got passed. The gov't growth I despised then only got worse after 2000.

There is no fiscally conservative national party now except Libertarian.

I agree that having a Democrat in the White House and Republicans in Congress likely leads to less spending, but a Republican in the White House and Democrats in Congress often leads to more. It's about roles: The GOP embraces guns (foreign policy) and no butter (domestic policy), the Democrats are traditionally vice versa. But a President sees himself mostly as Commander-in-chief, a foreign policy and warfare specialist, and Congress sees itself as a fount of domestic spending. So a Democratic president and a Republican congress will find little to do except raise campaign funds.

However, I am no fan of the priorities of the 1990s. There were plenty of warnings back then about crumbling infrastructure; nothing was done. There was a proposed project to completely re-engineer southern Louisiana to restore wetlands and the natural course of the Mississippi; it would have cost $50 billion and was rejected out of hand, but it would have saved thousands of lives. Furthermore, check out Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine", which brutally exposes the pro-business crimes supported by Clinton and Robert Rubin in the name of global anti-socialism, including the conversion of Russia and its former satellites into gangster bordellos. Our pro-capitalist ideology is taking a terrible pounding overseas now for the harm we enforced on Russia and Latin America then.

Our pro-capitalist ideology is taking a terrible pounding overseas now for the harm we enforced on Russia and Latin America then.

I thought it was because "they hate our freedoms and democracy".

Our pro-capitalist ideology is taking a terrible pounding overseas now for the harm we enforced on Russia and Latin America then.

Is it too much to hope that it might be taking a big pounding here too?

The thing is that the ideology exported by the USA/west is a lie. You do not adhere to it yourselves. It is all laissez-faire and free trade until it hurts your interests. In the 1990s the US imposed duties on imports of NEC vector supercomputers because Cray could not compete in performance and lobbied some BS about "dumping". Cray essentially croaked anyway as its successful political meddling forced NCAR, GFDL, etc. to recode for scalar parallel machines.

The export of monetarism to Russia has completely marginalized the "liberals" (pro-western democrats) who associated themselves with shock therapy and IMF style "reform". In South America the same neo-colonialist scam has resulted in a leftist backlash. But CNN and the rest of the scumbag western media will blame the victims for not being democratic enough to swallow this shite. The retards running CNN should understand that they cannot create reality through lies whatever the preachings of Rove and that the rest of the world is listening and can do something about it.

Though I in no way will minimize the monstrous effects of the Bush regime, I must say that at least some part of that 2000 surplus was a result of already allowing too much borrowing to juice up the economy, plus the increasing inaccuracy of the CPI under Clinton. An economy strong enough to pay off the national debt simply was not sustainable without cheap oil, personal debt, and the short-term gains from outsourcing our jobs.

Also, recall that whole bipartisan mantra about ending welfare as we know it so that the budget could be controlled. No one seems to ask how good a deal the poor got after 10 years of welfare reform: are they wealthier, healthier, better educated, or working longer hours for less pay so that the rich could get tax cuts that stoked Wall Street's fires? This new Depression will smash through our weakened safety net based on perpetual-growth assumptions.

Heh, Paleocon I could have guessed you would reply to me on that one! :) I agree that financial regulation and taxation rate are not synonymous, these are two separate issues.

I also agree that the size of the government should be constrained, but I disagree that most power should be in the state governments. A lot of companies now are global in scope and you need a government that can negotiate on equal terms with a parity of power (more powerful ideally). Even California, which if it were its own country would be the world's fifth largest economy, has trouble with companies threatening the state government.

I think that one big problem with our federal government right now is that it's being run for the benefit of the few with good connections rather than the many whom it's supposed to be serving. I don't think the way to fix that is to artificially or blindly limit its size though. My impression is that the federal government might be large right now, but thats because it's giving so many hand-outs to private industry and due to the "security theater" we got stuck with after 9-11 which may or may not be helping anything.

The same goes for taxes. The Republican plan of eliminating the capital gains tax would do nothing to help the financial crisis. They are simply sticking to their blind dogma of the magic of tax cuts without understanding if this will even affect the root cause of the crisis and fix things.

*edit* One more thing... I would actually in support of tax cuts if they were coupled with substantial elimination of loop holes in the tax code, especially for corporations.

Given enough beer, we might be able to come to agreement. My cynical view is that any crisis is an excuse for gov't to devise a solution that requires a bureaucracy and lots of new taxpayer money.

To me, it's good to keep money flows short and close to home. Barter would be optimal (direct trade without money or taxes at all!), but local beats state and state beats national gov't, for those cases where the solution is at least barely adequate.

The problem is that there are no perfect situations, and a strong national gov't always wants to piddle with things to make it "better". You end up with a long money path through Washington, and less comes back than goes in. Centralized money creates massive incentives for graft, gaming the system, lobbying, and political slanting.

I'm sure there are problems with graft and lobbying at my local credit union, and certainly at my town hall, but these problems won't wreck my lift let alone the entire nation.

I think the record of Sarah Palin as an Alaska politician shows that small town America is full of tyrannical extremists who abuse power, reward friends and punish enemies, and cuddle up with the larger economic entities who really control things, protected by the lack of outside perspectives. As governor of Texas, Bush presided over exactly the same situation, and was beloved for it by "values" Americans.

But my main problem with decentralized America is that its power vacuum is always filled at the top by some variant of the feudal baron. In the South they were slaveowners, in the West big ranchers, in mining towns they were the mine owners. In old Europe, old China, old Russia, old damn-near-everywhere they were landlords whose size better insulated them from crop failures such that the peasants turned to them for loans and ended up as serfs. It would have gotten just as bad as in England and Switzerland too in time, screw that NRA yeoman farmer myth.

I think the vast body of evidence shows that in an unmolested private property system this is simply the long-term equilibrium state, and that is what I am at war with. It is all that Tom Paine called tyranny. It is what Gandhi meant when he said that poverty was the worst form of violence. That sounds like bull**** to American ears because we've never been on the wrong end of the pyramid. Conservatives are like all the Society for Creative Anachronism nerds I knew who wanted to play noblemen, but never serfs. Well, I can do the math, I know I'm going to end up a serf under your system, and I think I would rather be a terrorist and a mass murderer.

I'm with you. Let's start our own group:

The Movement For The Overthrow Of The Society for Creative Anachronism

Believe me, the SCA only came into existence once you had suburbs, and it will go out of existence once we're all foreclosed. Lords and barons will not be too popular then.

Might be some Societies for Creative Anarchism by then, and they won't be gaming.

Nicely put Paleocon.

A true "small government" conservative would have given the stewardesses Tasers and made the Airlines use bulletproof cockpit doors after 9/11. No more hijacker prolems with a side benefit of providing a way to deal with the frequent celebrities who go ballistic on the plane....:-)

Instead of giving the money to Paulson, just cut the rest of us a check for our 401k losses and the ability to withdraw the money without a tax problem.

To me 401K have always been a risky ploy, designed to keep people in when they should be out, and centralizing money for easy gov't control.

Yeah, that occured to me when I cleaned an old one out last year to buy eagles. If its my money, why do I have to pay an extra 10 percent on top? Of course, the companies telling you that you can't withdraw it is just ridiculous. I'm sure there are tons of kickbacks here, of course they may be called "plan discounts" just to hide their nature.

To be fair, I mostly pulled my money out for other uses, like starting my own business so now I work from home, but mentally everything in my 401K was "risk capital" so it wasn't hard for me to swallow a loss anyway.

My rationale has long been that when the boomers retire, if not before, the stocks they support will go way down as the retirees cash out. At best, the plans seem to favor "first retire, first served" profits. At worst, it would take only a single new law to force 401Ks to invest 20% in T-bills for "security" or 10% in mortgage security or such. I can't see how Congress could keep their fingers off a big pile of captive money once things get rough.

I look at voting as kind of an evolutionary process. This is why I vote for the lesser of two evils.

For example, Giraffes didn't get their long necks by one giraffe coming along with a neck six feet longer than everyone elses, and then siring the entire next generation. Instead, the ones with necks two inches longer had disproportionate success, and the necks slowly got longer.

So, each election, I will vote for the guy who is slightly less evil, and then when someone slightly less evil challenges him, I will vote for that guy. Thus, in a few million years, we should have non-evil politicians. It creates an incentive to be slightly less evil than the last guy.

The problem is that sometimes evolution doesn't work fast enough. Do you see any donosaurs wandering around? Didn't think so. The country will be ruined by the time we get the least evil people in office that is humanly possible.

Do you see any donosaurs wandering around?

No, but plenty of donutsaurs.

It creates an incentive to be slightly less evil than the last guy.

No; it creates an incentive for both guys to get absolutely more evil and waste time discussing haircuts.

Vote for the lesser of two evils for the national elections and vote your conscience on the local level.

That's why the choice is so ridiculous - because people act like you suggest. Obama was out there flacking for the banks in the looting bill that just passed. I'm thinking of making up a list of reasons to vote differently. One of them: vote against the politician that sells you out the most.

The problem with Nader is that not enough people voted for him - that and the fact he can't run a good campaign. And FYI, Nader is not running as a Green.

Back to my workshop; anyone have plans for a tumbril and guillotine?

cfm in Gray, ME

The other problem with Nader ( was ) that he arguably siphoned off votes from Gore ( mostly ). Which in the case of NH caused their 2 Electoral Votes to go to GWB.
Had this not been so, Florida would have been moot. The Supremes would probably not have gotten involved.
Nader disavows this spoiler role. May he sleep nights in peace.
But I keep thinking how things might have been some different had it not been for his "theoretical" candidacy.

You misunderstood - sorry, I wasn't clear. Gore siphoned off votes that would have better gone to Nader. Do you think Nader would have caved in Florida? I don't think so. Nader is no spoiler; he is pointing out that the emperor has no clothes. Oh, sorry, that't not playing the game.

I disagree. I see very little difference between the parties - judging by what they do, not by the propaganda. I am done with voting for the lesser of two evils, it has failed utterly. I see no evidence that voting for the lesser of two evils is moving the society back toward the center at all, quite the opposite.

Elections are clearly meant both to appease the people by convincing them that they have some role in determining what happens, and to get their buy-in and acquiescence to the evils that are done in their name. Just look at how far we've come in the last few years alone. Torture is not only fine by most citizens, but I hear it's a regular feature on TV shows (I don't watch TV so that's anecdotal).

It would be far more effective if nobody voted, as it would destroy the illusion and cover of some kind of mandate from the people, and expose the system for what it really is.

There are no Greens to vote for here...Ron Paul's the closest thing to a protest vote, although I believe he will get many votes in this state.

Go with Nader-Gonzales, if you want to vote on moral and rational principles.
This would be a existential voting strategy, but one must draw a line in the sand somewhere.
Odds are you live in a state with a clear winner already, so you decision would have little consequences to the actual outcome.
If you are in a State with a close race and somewhat reliable voting system, strategic voting is also a option.
Don't rule out McCane as a choice, as his administration will put this train wreck in the ditch faster, and the survivors may have more resources to work with.

"Don't rule out McCain as a choice, as his administration will put this train wreck in the ditch faster"

McCain/Palin might be the Collapse Party candidates after all. Even with that bright prospect I don't think I could bring myself to ever vote for McCain.

Last night The Daily Show did a segment comparing McCain to Shakespeare's Macbeth. The comparison seemed apt: Macbeth, the noble hero-soldier, consumed by an overriding ambition to become king, in collaboration with an archetypal wife whose vanity knew no bounds. But he is daily haunted by ghosts until he is brought down in ignominy.

That about sizes up McCain.

Not if McPalin drags us into WW3.

WW3? ... It will never happen.
Palin is an Artful Dodger.
Didn't you see her dodging all the questions in her "debate" with Biden last night.
Why dog gone it, she can dodge anything, including nuke-you-lar bombs.

300 people still missing since Ike hit Texas

(CNN) -- Alligators loom over submerged cars. Mountains of debris are embedded in the ground. The bodies of cows, trucks and the remnants of homes lie in and out of the water. And unverified sightings of missing loved ones make the rounds.

More than 300 people are missing since Hurricane Ike hit the Texas coast last month, and the obstacles to finding them are frustrating family and friends who desperately want to know if their loved ones are dead or alive.

These family and friends want answers: Why are so many still missing? Why has the first organized search for bodies, to be held Thursday on the battered Bolivar Peninsula, taken so long?

Islanders who insisted on staying died during Ike

The final hours brought the awful realization to victims of Hurricane Ike that they had waited too long, that this storm wasn't like the others that left nothing worse than a harrowing tale to tell.

...But Ettenger, a chemist at ExxonMobil, didn't evacuate, reasoning that her house had weathered Hurricane Rita in 2005 without a problem. She also did not want to leave Reba, who could no longer climb into Ettenger's Jeep.

Burks and her husband pleaded with Ettenger to change her mind. But she insisted.

Hours before Ike made landfall, Ettenger knew she had made the wrong choice. She called the Burks and described the water pushing up under her feet, the propane tanks and other household items drifting by her windows, and wondered which would float better: her Jeep or her house.

...Ettenger's body was found Sept. 23, tossed on a debris field in a Chambers County marsh about 10 miles from her house.

The death toll stands officially at 68 so far.

Thanks for following up on this story. I was wondering where it had happened to it.

Here's another couple I've just come across.

Hurricane Ike Dumps a Mess on Gulf of Mexico Beaches

Padre Island National Seashore in Texas, the world's longest undeveloped barrier island, now looks as if people have been living - and dumping - on it for decades. Tons of debris swept up by Hurricane Ike last month was carried by Gulf of Mexico currents hundreds of miles from the upper Texas coast to this ordinarily pristine landscape just north of the Mexican border.

Sections of roofs, refrigerators, love seats, beds, TVs, hot tubs and holiday decorations litter the more than 60 miles of gently arcing sand in the national park.

Some of the junk is good for a laugh, like the lifejacket-clad snowman someone placed next to a plastic pumpkin, a small but real palm tree and an acoustic guitar. But it's no joke to wildlife workers who worry the trash will harm birds and other animals, including an endangered turtle that nests there .

Letters From Galveston

City leaders don’t even seem to want their own citizens, much less outsiders, to see their island in this sad state of dishabille or, worse, battered and stark nakedness. For as long as they could, they kept residents at a distance and the media blocked from the hard-hit Strand area and historical district, as well as West Galveston Island, and they have forbidden city employees other than the city manager to speak with reporters. This meshes nicely with what Galveston County Daily News publisher Dolph Tillotson called in an editorial “a desperate effort to avoid embarrassment for the Republican administration in charge of FEMA.” Tillotson, whose editorials usually lean to the right, added pointedly: “It is, after all, about six weeks from a presidential election. Nobody wants another Katrina this time.”

...No one can foresee how long it will take Galveston to recover, but it won’t be anytime soon, and it won’t happen without substantial financial help from Austin and Washington. One year ago, properties on the 22 miles of Galveston Island west of the seawall were collectively worth $1.6 billion, four times the value of taxable property on the 10-mile stretch of city behind the seawall, according to the Galveston County Central Appraisal District. On September 12 and 13, a significant portion of that tax base disappeared overnight.

And as of today
Hurricane Gustav/Hurricane Ike Activity Statistics Update – October 3, 2008

From the operators’ reports, it is estimated that approximately 48.2 % of the oil production in the Gulf is shut-in. As of June 2008, estimated oil production from the Gulf of Mexico is 1.3 million barrels of oil per day. It is also estimated that approximately 44.6 % of the natural gas production in the Gulf is shut-in.

Interesting. One of the families profiled was on a commuter line, but didn't like the rigidity of the train schedule, so moved into the city.

They still had to find a parking space at the commuter rail station. To me, that doesn't really count as being on the line. Driving and finding a parking spot increase the time variability so to be safe one has to allow for the worst case scenario. That means waiting at the station most of the time and an even longer commute.

There was that, but I assume they're still driving in the city. Finding a parking spot is probably even harder there.

Toronto has a decent public tranportation system. So there is a good chance that the car is left a home. On the other hand, many employers are still providing free parking, so maybe that is what has happened.

Employer provided parking shoulded to be treated as a taxable benefit!
Property owners should pay higher taxes on land set aside for parking!

Read my lips: I will raise taxes on motorized individual tranport at every available opportunity (if only I could).

I used to live in the same suburb as these folks (Oakville ON).

There are bus routes connecting to the suburban train station - the downtown train station is connected to the subway.

Bit over an hour commute IIRC.

Article; (Climate change may be sparking new and bigger "dead zones")

The great lakes, which contain nearly 20% of the worlds fresh surface water, are also experiencing this trouble of DEAD ZONES.


I can actaully see the results from trips to Sandusky Oh, Cleveland Ohio, The red coloured<----UK spelling..
blooms are toxic to touch and even breath near. This news strangely isnt MSM worthy. Very odd that nearly 20% of the worlds fresh surface water situated in the USA and shared by Canada, isnt news worthy, when the news is bad!

I live 7 miles south of Erie, as the crow flies. Since I am fluent in obscure indiginous indian langauges and all the great lakes have Indian given names, I will translate them for you.
Erie, means , shallow lake that pale face will screw up.
Lake Michigan, means, Deep lake that paleface will screw up.
Lake Huron, means, Lake with good fish, that paleface will screw up.
Lake Ontario, means, smaller lake with excellent waters to swim nude, that paleface will screw up.
Lake Superior, Superior isnt the real name given by the indiginous Indians...Original name translated...
Lake the paleface will screw up..even its name.

Hello, everyone. I just wrote the following email to a friend who is currently contemplating the acceptance of an offer of early retirement, and I would like to offer it to the TOD community also for constructive critique:
Dear Tom,

I am not an investment advisor, but here are my thoughts:

1) I do not think the stock market as a whole will hold its value well in coming years and decades, for the simple reason that declining productivity and profitability and increasing corporate bankruptcy will translate into declining stock values overall. Not even the heavily hallucinated character of modern fiscal instruments (including first and foremost the dollar itself) will be able to stanch that long-term trend.

In an element of definite and perhaps Providential irony, I just opened up my very first retirement account this past Monday, on the day that the House rejected the bailout and the stock market plunged. There was a palpable fear all over campus that day that was very much in evidence, and my retirement account agent himself was very nervous since his entire investment portfolio was tied to stocks. I myself eschewed stock-based investments entirely in setting up my account, and directed that all my funds be placed in what is essentially a relatively high-yield retirement Certificate of Deposit. My investment agent made no moves whatsoever to advise me against this.

However, I do believe that certain kinds of companies and industries may be expected to go against the grain and prosper in the coming environment of energy scarcity. I think that it will be possible to make money on the stock market in coming years by focusing stock investments on those. Commodities such as gold may also be expected to perform well. Of course, this against-the-grain investing involves a certain amount of work, as well as the assumption of the risk in engaging in the overall direction of something that is very difficult to fathom properly. But I have a couple of books that I am planning to read to help with this:

Stephen and Donna Leeb, The Oil Factor: Protect Yourself - And Profit - from the Coming Energy Crisis

Brian Hicks and Chris Nelder, Profit from the Peak: The End of Oil and the Greatest Investment Event of the Century

2) As far as investment vehicles that are more directly related to the value of the dollar are concerned (including the minority of potentially prosperous stocks just discussed), it is my opinion that these will fare better in coming decades than stocks in general. Many in the Peak Oil movement would disagree with me, as they forecast an eventual bout of hyperinflation that will completely erode the value of the dollar, and of all investments predicated upon its value.

Now I agree with such people that the fiat value of the dollar is largely hallucinatory at this point, owing to the trillions of dollars of unpayable debt that the U.S. has accumulated in recent years, and to the hollowing out of U.S. capacity for genuinely productive economic activity. However, the fact is that a hallucinatory valuation is sufficient for maintaining the effectiveness of the dollar as an instrument for denominating wealth if it can be enforced by other means - means that are extrinsic to the kinds of economic circumstances that would be expected to provide intrinsic buttressing to the valuation of the dollar - and I think that the U.S. has the capacity to do this by means of its overwhelming military power, which is something that almost everyone even in the Peak Oil movement overlooks or discounts.

Another essential point is that I think that the continued prosperity of the financial and social elites whose interests determine actual U.S. policies fundamentally depends upon the successful maintenance of the dollar's hallucinatory valuation. Hyperinflation would crush the prosperity of American elites and their proxies around the world also, and I therefore do not think that U.S. policy makers are going to permit this to happen.

Instead, they will do things like strong-arming creditor nations into continuing to buy up U.S. debt in the form of Treasury Bonds while continuing publicly to participate in the charade of expecting that all this debt can be paid back some day. That is an obvious measure to employ, and I am sure that U.S. governing structures will become increasingly geared toward coming up with all kinds of other clever sorts of ploys to keep the confidence game of dollar hegemony going indefinitely at the barrel of a gun. There has long been speculation, for example, that an important motivation both for the war against Iraq and the saber-rattling against Iran has been to dissuade and prevent oil-exporting nations from denominating their exports in currencies other than the dollar, as this would indeed imperil dollar valuation by making the hallucinatory basis thereof too obvious.

While I have had my doubts about these kinds of speculations, recent events in the markets, combined with my own increased understanding of the need to play this kind of game, have brought me around to the conviction that these speculations are probably correct. Moreover, with well over 100 years of experience in manipulating market economies, and with unprecedented technological tools at their disposal, I am fairly confident that this confidence game to maintain the value of the dollar will hold up fairly well in coming years. Playing this kind of game is indeed something that can be screwed up, but I think that the nature of the game and the effects that various kinds of interventions in the market have are by now sufficiently well understood by elites that a catastrophic screw-up is fairly unlikely.

A good background read, and one that has shaped my speculations above considerably, is a book by economist Michael Hudson entitled Superimperialism: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance. In that book, Hudson argues - persuasively, in my opinion - that the U.S. has managed to create an international system where it is able to use its position as a net-debtor nation as the basis for what amounts to a tribute system where creditor nations are required to essentially swallow increasing levels of U.S. debt indefinitely without saying so, and where the debt of developing nations to the U.S. and other developed countries is successfully used as a means of making the economies of these nations adjuncts to those of the U.S. with the purpose of providing the developed world with cheap raw materials and reservoirs of cheap labor.

There are chapters in the book where Hudson details ways in which institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, as well as U.S. government policies such as foreign aid programs, have been employed as finely tuned instruments to effect this particular form of world hegemony. What Hudson doesn't say, which puzzles me somewhat, is that a basic necessary condition for the U.S. to be able to play the game of using its debt as a means of extracting tribute is its unparalleled military capacity. No creditor nation that genuinely possessed the capacity to challenge the U.S. militarily would stand for what the U.S. is pulling off.

I offer you my admittedly fallible reflections, Tom, in the event that they may have relevance to the decision you are faced with against the backdrop of your own personal situation.

Your analysis has "NEOCON" and "NEOLIBERAL" writ large all over it.

I would offer our abject failures in Iraq and Afghanistan and our helplessness in the face of recent events in Iran and Georgia as proof positive that our military mystique is pretty much in shambles.

I had a friend from Latvia who, back in the 1970s, described Russia as a third-world country with a big army, and look where it got them. I think the U.S. finds itself in a similar situation today.

If the soution to our economic ills were as easy as your analysis indicates, Bush and Cheney would have opted for it a long time ago.

described Russia as a third-world country with a big army

I think for us a better descriptor is a third world country, with a small army that has big fancy war toys.

From which we can probably surmise, "big fancy war toys that it lacks the brainpower to keep repaired in prolonged combat."

We should sell off those nuclear carriers to some rich suckers before a cheap wave-skimming missile renders them all obsolete in one horrible moment.

While I have had my doubts about these kinds of speculations, recent events in the markets, combined with my own increased understanding of the need to play this kind of game, have brought me around to the conviction that these speculations are probably correct. Moreover, with well over 100 years of experience in manipulating market economies, and with unprecedented technological tools at their disposal, I am fairly confident that this confidence game to maintain the value of the dollar will hold up fairly well in coming years. Playing this kind of game is indeed something that can be screwed up, but I think that the nature of the game and the effects that various kinds of interventions in the market have are by now sufficiently well understood by elites that a catastrophic screw-up is fairly unlikely.

A good background read, and one that has shaped my speculations above considerably, is a book by economist Michael Hudson entitled Superimperialism: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance. In that book, Hudson argues - persuasively, in my opinion - that the U.S. has managed to create an international system where it is able to use its position as a net-debtor nation as the basis for what amounts to a tribute system where creditor nations are required to essentially swallow increasing levels of U.S. debt indefinitely without saying so, and where the debt of developing nations to the U.S. and other developed countries is successfully used as a means of making the economies of these nations adjuncts to those of the U.S. with the purpose of providing the developed world with cheap raw materials and reservoirs of cheap labor.

Phil, I wouldn't preach this too loudly. The USA is losing credibility and good will from outsiders quite quickly these days. Deliberately replacing the illusion of 'a good neighbor policy' with 'let's exploit the world's masses for our own selfish gains' looks great on the pages of a Project [manual] for a New American Century, but I think that dream is both dubious and delusional.

The United States is no more/ no less vulnerable to the forces that have raise/extinguished powerful countries in the past. Right now, the Great Republic (the often cited, "best last hope for mankind") is precariously close to overextension and collapse. Pretending one is immortal is characteristic of a testosterone laden adolescent not a mature adult and, moreover, is an attitude that can lead to much heartache and grief.

Hubris can destroy countries as fast as it can people.

Methinks it may be wise for the USA to reach out for friendly help and good will rather than stating out loud to those near and far, "we want to exploit you."

Didn't anyone tell you? It's easier to catch flies with sugar than vinegar.

Thanks for all the replies to this so far. Let me be clear, first of all, that I am NOT endorsing this from a moral standpoint; quite the contrary, I find it morally hideous. It is simply an attempt at a factual description of what drives events based on my own limited and fallible perspecive on things.

Regarding Iraq, a few thoughts:

1) Despite its immense unanticipated costs, and despite major bungling in how it was carried out, I think that Iraq needs to be counted as a strategic success at this point from the perspective of the U.S. power elite. A permanent, militarily controlling presence has been established right in the heart of the world's principal remaining source of oil. In coming decades, this strategic fact will give the U.S. privileged access to that oil, which will soften some of the blows of decline for it AND which will be commandeered as necessary in order to maintain the U.S. military machine at full force.

2) In addition, the results of the recent surge in Iraq need to be considered a success from a tactical standpoint as well. It demonstrates that U.S. military power is not inevitably deployed in an incompetent way.

3) It also needs to be kept in mind that the U.S. is using its military power right now with one of its hands effectively tied behind its back and with a chain dragging a large ball around its ankle. These limitations are entirely self-imposed, however. As the world crisis grows more severe, the U.S. will feel less and less constrained from employing its military capabilities with complete ruthlessness. It is only a matter of time, I think, for example, before we will witness the use of tactical nuclear weapons by the U.S. The abject fear that this will inspire around the world when it happens will do a lot all by itself to facilitate the achievement of U.S. aims.

4) Despite the strategic success that Iraq represents, I think that many elites are privately appalled at the coarse and blundering way U.S. military power has been managed by the Bush Administration in order to achieve Peak Oil and financial hegemony-related strategic objectives. There is good reason to believe that careful management of U.S. military power to successfully attain U.S. objectives will be handled with much more finesse in the future.

5) The only international development that could conceivably thwart U.S. dominance is a grand alliance among the major powers of Eurasia. However, I think that U.S. foreign policy has been consciously aiming at doing everything possible to prevent this from coming about since the publication of Brzezinsky's GRAND CHESSBOARD in 1997, if not before. Also, even in the absence of preventative measures by the U.S., the internal conflicts of interest among the Eurasian powers themselves would make the formation of a Grand Alliance among them capable of seriously challenging the U.S. extremely difficult.

6) The only domestic development that could thwart the picture I am laying out is if the U.S. populace wakes up from its slumber and engages in what would amount to some kind of revolution against its overlords. This does not seem to be a very likely development either. And if a real danger of this happening does develop, the U.S. elite will respond by making the U.S. itself a full-blown police state.

Just some further, entirely fallible thoughts....

I think that's the plan, but here's why I think the plan is collapsing.

1. The surge is an illusion. The US simply paid armed Sunni bands to switch sides outside Bagdad, while it helplessly allowed armed Shia bands to conquer almost every neighborhood inside Bagdad. Eventually you have to pick a winner, because you have proven to everyone that you lack the forces to win yourself.

2. Consider all the disadvantages the Iraqi insurgents had compared to the Viet Cong. They lacked a central command, they fought each other more than us, they lacked a Soviet Union and a China to supply fairly advanced weapons, they lacked a North Vietnam willing to conscript hundreds of thousands of its own citizens to fight in the war while having sovereign territory as a safe haven. Meanwhile the US was supposed to be 40 years more advanced. The truth is, we have not yet seen the full power of people's war. It is improving, while the EROEI of imperial war is collapsing.

3. Even in a non-people's war situation, America's technology is getting so decadent and detached from reality that naval dissidents think a few dozen cruise missiles in the Straits of Hormuz could sink a carrier. This is a Pearl Harbor waiting to happen, but there's no Billy Mitchell to grab the media spotlight with his warnings. I suspect this is true across the board; our heavy tanks, our helicopters, our merchant shipping, all of them could be targeted by mass-produced Chinese weapons in a few years. That leaves the ultra-detached USAF buzzing overhead free to bomb the wrong targets and rally hatred of our wealth and stupidity. It does it so well.

But the single thing that proved to me around 2005 that our empire would die soon was that I had at least expected the Christian fanatics would flock to the recruiting stations to fight their god-emperor's wars. Nowhere near enough showed up, so the Army has had to turn to gangbangers, skinheads, and the mildly retarded. When I saw that, I knew the Christians were too spoiled and cowardly to uphold the legacy of their Confederate forebears. In other words, useless as infantry. Once the whole world knows you're short of infantry, they will tailor their war plans around it.

there is always the draft to regrow the ranks?

I am not arguing that there are those in the United States who proffer jingoism as some panacea to solve all our ills, both real ones and imaginary ones. One only had to listen to John McCain in the debate last week to hear the spiel. What I'm saying is it won't work. It's a sure road to bankrupcy and ruin. Of course that doesn't mean that the people of the United States might not try it. The Germans went for it back in the 1930s and 1940s, but look how it turned out for them.

Beside the things pointed out by Super390, there is the issue of money. For an insightful discussion, you might read the following paper:


and especially the section beginning on page 19, "The U.S. as Renegade: The Militarization of Energy Policy"

Hi Phil,

Thanks - and just FYI, I've actually heard this argument made elsewhere. Anyhow...

re: "the U.S. has the capacity to do this by means of its overwhelming military power, which is something that almost everyone even in the Peak Oil movement overlooks or discounts."

1) There is the matter of US weapons sales. Or, to attempt to quote from memory Chalmers Johnson, “The US is the first empire in history to arm its colonies.”

“Yet there is growing evidence that the sales are increasingly more about dollars and cents for the US military-industrial complex and other major military economies.”

“From 1999 to 2006, the United States completed 56% of all arms sales agreements with the Middle East and South Asia, a proportion almost five times greater than Russia's, the second highest supplier, and over eighteen times greater than China's, a country often mentioned as an emerging "peer competitor" or "strategic opponent" to the United States.”

2) And then there is the issue of “peak oil”, and how this intersects with the ability to fuel the many aspects of “military power.”

“Overwhelming military power” can itself be overwhelmed by lack of fuel. (Among other things.)

re: “Playing this kind of game is indeed something that can be screwed up,…”

Yes, indeed.
I offer the proposition that the intersection of “peak fossil fuels” (and all things “peak”) must be understood in a broad manner in order to be a basis for the kind of strategic thinking you’re talking about here. And, further, that the required understanding is hindered by individuals’ immersion in “the game”. So that it’s quite likely that “the game” cannot be played (literally). Or, cannot be played successfully.

The TED spread has continued to climb again today, as I write this it's at 3.8ish:

Remember, this is the is difference between the U.S. treasury short term rate and the rate that banks charge each other for loans. It's a measure of confidence in the banks, high = mistrust.


That's not good.

After today's vote in the House, it's BAU on the weekend.

What exactly is BAU these days? Well, it's SNAFU.

What's going to be left standing and what's going to be swallowed? Stayed tuned.

Not surprising, an AOL survey following the vote placed the American people decisively at odds with their legislators:
Do you agree with the House's vote to approve the $700 billion bailout?
No 58%
Yes 42%

A follow-up question was equally revealing:
Has the nation's financial crisis impacted you?
Yes, a lot 41%
Yes, a little 40%
Not at all 19%


With the banks battling over corpses (Wells Fargo & Citi are shoving at each other to see who best can cannibalize Wachovia) it is survival of the fittest writ large. Democracy, or the fig leaf thereof, is effectively dead. Like the SS Titanic, it is the first class passengers who will be offered first choice limited seating in the lifeboats. Except this time the captain is reserving best spot for himself and his cronies.

To hell with women and children first. Every man for himself.

Surprise! Surprise! This $700 billion panacea doesn't seem to be achieving what we were promised it would:

Credit still tight after House OK's bailout
No relief for lending stranglehold, even as House sends bill to Bush. Treasurys sink as market cheers bill, tight credit leads some to think rate cut.


And the Dow is actually down 3 points.

This isn't good.

Could it be the people were right and our political and economic elite were wrong?

Something tells me we won't be long in finding out.

Not a scientific poll....but MSNBC's readers don't think the bailout will work.

I think the readers understand the story. Re Wall Street, the potential trillions are fun, but what is somewhat underreported is the new source of investment fee income potentially in the low trillions per annum from year one and likely rising dramatically every year until this program is possibly shut down becasue of mass disgust.

Low billions not trillions (so far).

DownSouth: Could it be the people were right and our political and economic elite were wrong?

I don't think they were wrong. They believed they could sell the American Public a deed to land in the middle of a swamp. They did.

(What exactly is BAU these days? Well, it's SNAFU)

I actually at first glance, thought it was SNAFU.
But I saw it twitch slightly....so I looked closer and
found it was FUBAR camouflaged as SNAFU. Seriously, tilt your head just so...thats it...see it now? FUBAR
Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition...(Foul was changed from the correct vernacular for civil concerns)

Did God Want You to Get That Mortgage?

Says Anthea Butler, an expert in pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York state, "The pastor's not gonna say 'go down to Wachovia and get a loan' but I have heard, 'even if you have a poor credit rating God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you'll get that house, or that car or that apartment.'" Adds J. Lee Grady, editor of the magazine Charisma, "It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, 'if you give this offering, God will give you a house.' And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy."

For a picture of how many evangelicals view the Pentecostal/Charismatic element, you might check out http://www.citybusinesschurch.org/blog/ and http://thinsoc.blogspot.com/2008/06/american-church-and-hubberts-peak.html.

It passed. BOOO!

Is there any word on changes to the House bill before the vote?

If the bill included all the energy incentives from the Senate version (PDF warning), we might find some benefit in the long term. Provided that the people who will be bailed out will invest in those alternative energy systems and pay for the conservation measures. There were also tax breaks for people who purchase plugin hybrid and pure electric vehicles, even though the mainstream electric vehicles aren't really available today.

E. Swanson

SWEET. I was gonna put a geothermal system in my house next year... And now it looks like there's a tax break for it!

I put a geothermal system in ten years ago. Never used (easier to open and close the windows). If I now turn it on, can I get my handout tax credit too?

note: in reality, with a ground water temperature of 61F, it was more cost effective to directly use the water cooling loop portion of the system. Still, that part has only been used once...

Read your page...

You live in Carolina, and are off grid with a solar system (like it would even cost you ANYTHING to turn it on). I get the nice 'cool' wisconsin winters up here (With many days below zero) and will be staring at an ugly heating bill come this winter. I agree with your page... "The first thing to do is go through your entire house and make it highly energy efficient..." And I will be doing that as soon as I close on my house. This is the low hanging fruit. But, I can't let my kids freeze...

As for the handout- I'll take that... :)

There are environmental differences - in the south cooling becomes more important, in the north heating is a greater concern. Sadly, a geothermal system requires consumption of energy -- albeit less than other alternatives.

Many of the systems used by humanity have a large amount of waste energy produced at each independent step in the system. Co-generation systems for the home are one approach to recoup some of the wasted energy. They can produce electricity for the house and use the waste heat from that process to help heat the home. Perhaps coupling a small co-generation system with a geothermal heat pump would reduce the overall energy consumption for your household. Sadly, the overall system would likely have a higher initial cost than the traditional approach.

For folk living in northern climate zones, there are many information sources regarding what can be done to increase the energy efficiency of homes. When living in New England, my house was updated with new insulation, tight storm windows, gas furnace, and a wood fired central hot air furnace. It also was setup to use a shallow water well for non potable water uses. Interestingly, nearly all of the recommendations for increasing energy efficiency equate to good economics, i.e. they save you money.

There are costs associated with a solar electric system. Running the heat pump would bust my daily energy budget in less than two hours. After that, consumption of fossil fuel$ would commence at a gallon per hour rate. Moreover, batteries have a finite lifespan and each discharge-recharge cycle brings closer the time that a new $1500USD battery-bank would have to be purchased.

I'm thinking of investing in wooden arrows.

Yeah, why do I get this vision of various senators smashed out of their skulls on tequila betting each other to work various things into the bill.

"Ashk them for 700 billion without any jushtification!"
"Nah, too easy. I know. Put in something about arrows."
"Noo noo noo noo, make it specifically about wooden arrows!"
"I got it: put in something about independent auditing of collateral."
"Now you're just being silly."

We're thrilled here at Standard Solar! Residential system owners can now receive a 30% credit on their income taxes starting 1/1/09 instead of the previous $2,000.

The world is crashing around us, but it's a blast of great news for renewable energy integrators!

Federal Solar Tax Credits Extended for 8 Years, US Poised to Become Largest Solar Market in the World

If we keep our jobs, we'll think about getting solar. This is good info.

Ali Velshi, CNN correspondent who's been whoring the bailout all over the place, including on Oprah, had to try and explain why all is not well now that he got his wish and it passed.

And now everyone's saying, "Well, we don't know if it will work or not."

Denninger's view: Thanks Jackoffs

You know what to do in November, right?

Print it out, pass it around, email it to your friends. Congress "acts" and your 401k takes a cave-dive - without scuba tanks.

Yes, I know what to do in November. In fact, I'm writing to my congress critters tonight, and telling them to take me off their mailing lists. Since I'm never voting for them again, why waste trees?

I am also not voting this year or ever again. much to the dismay of my mother who his a died in the wool democrat.

I have a couple of requests in connection with a presentation on the relationships between Peak Oil and Global Warming that I am planning to give at my university:

1) Does anyone know of a good web-based resource discussing how Global Warming and Peak Oil both represent disruptions of the natural carbon cycle?

2) Deos anyone know of a resource discussing the exact implications of pending fossil fuel limits in either mitigating or exacerbating climate change (the exacerbation potential presumably existing because of the potential for frenetic coal consumption)?


For your second question, definitely watch the Watson lecture delivered by Dr. Rutledge.


Also review my summary here:

Thanks for the help!

Keep in mind Rutledge's work is considered a bit cornucopian by some, and doesn't include consideration of:

* Hansen's, et al., work on climate sensitivity (Climate Code Red has a good work up based on that research).

* New research indicating there is much more carbon (methane/CO2) in the permafrost than previously believed.

* The new evidence on methane clathrates and permafrost thawing.

Hopefully he has/will updated his thoughts with consideration for these points.


This is a guest post on TOD by Dave Rutledge called The Coal Question and Climate Change.

Thank you too. Both of you together have been a VERY big help.

Here's an example of some seriously dishonest reporting: U.S. Stocks Rise After House Approves $700 Billion Bailout Plan. The headline from the home page linking to the story is "U.S. Stocks Pare Losses After House Passes Bank Bailout; Wachovia Advances".

In fact, stocks dropped as soon as the bailout was passed. Just after 1:00pm, the DJIA was around 10,775. At the time of this writing, it was at 10,475. How does a 300 point drop translate into "stocks rise"? Only if MSM decides to pimp for goverment bailouts.

They have no idea why the stocks do what they do, they just make up stories. Really, they don't even have the time to analyze why the stock was affected the way it was before they announce some reason.

The real reason is that the water buffalo at watering hole #10 passed wind that was noticed by the bird on the rhino's back. Now if the bear at the Chicago Zoo throws up tomorrow after lunch the stocks will plunge 500 points.

Will make stock market predictions for matinee movie tickets.

I understand they just make stuff up to explain the rise and fall in stocks. What is different about this story is that the narrative is blantly untrue. It is like they said "Oil went up because Boone Pickens farted," when in fact oil went down. What's surprising is not the false narrative. It is the fact that they stood truth on its head, and then added a false narrative.

What they are doing is blatant propaganda. The bailout is good, so it must have a positive effect on the market. Therefore, they will report that the market went up because of the bailout, even if it went down.

I suspect it was just a glitch in the updating. They edit the original story as news develops, and sometimes they just change the tenses in the first update, which can produce some very odd stories.

In this case, they may have written the story beforehand, then had to quickly adjust it to reality.

The time on the story was more than 1/2 hour past the end of voting. The market headed south as soon as the voting had completed. I think there was plenty of time to correct the story. I think they waited so long to pull it, because they kept waiting for the market to turn around and go up.

I think you're right that they wrote the story beforehand. But I suspect they were trying to twist reality to fit the narrative (as opposed to inventing a narrative to fit reality, their normal MO) and only abandoned that when reality got so far from their twisting that they couldn't continue.

They did something similar the day the house voted down the bailout. That day the market plummeted long before the vote, it continued to plummet during the vote, and plummeted further after the vote. The slope of the line changed very little throughout the day. Yet their news stories trumpeted, "Market plummets after House rejects bailout!" They wanted reality to fit the narrative that failing to pass the bill would wreck the stock market. I think today should put that narrative to bed (though I suspect it won't). The market was solidly up until the bill was passed, and then dropped about 425 points from where it was when the voting started.

The time on the story was more than 1/2 hour past the end of voting.

IME, that's not unusual, especially for a story concerning the market. There's often a lag of a half-hour or more.

Don't you know, shargash, that in the world of infotainment, all ends happily ever after.

Why let facts get in the way of a good story? Shhhh...be careful... the supporting caste could actually catch on there is something not quite right in this fairy tale world.

What? They already know?

Well, well. At least we know they can't do anything about it. Even their own tribunal has rejected their pleas.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program, "Godzilla eats Manhattan."

They've updated the story:

Stocks erase gains after House vote: The Dow gives up 313-point advance after $700 billion bailout is passed on second try.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks erased most of the session's gains Friday afternoon as investors took a 'buy the rumor, sell the news' reaction to the House approval of a $700 billion bailout bill.

Credit markets remained frozen, despite the vote, with two measures of bank jitters rising to record highs.

Oh, that's fantastic! I think I see the future of the web.

Hey, it's good. A bit more tweaking and it can make Peak Oil completely go away as well. Here's what it did to a story in the drumbeat

"Buy on rumor/sell on news"....nope, thats a horse of a different color.

This is where "Theres more than one way to skin a cat"
Meets the "The three blind mice"
In todays world, good news is bad news. When someone gets cancer, thats bad right?...WRONG!

When someone, or better yet, lots of somebodies get cancer, the market goes UP, Pharma stocks for the drugs, healthcare stocks for the anticipated profits from insurance payments on the insured units...errr I mean people, yeah...the persons is what I meant.
Car crashes, killer tornadoes, raging wildfires, earthquakes, You name it, its all good for the markets. OH OH OH...and WAR, did I forget to mention WAR? Now I know what your thinkin, betcha I do, wink wink. Your thinkin "That aint good fur me" and by golly and gosh gee wizz, your right, but its good for the markets.

I gotta stop watching Sarah Palin so much, Iam beginning to talk like her.

I noticed last night she uses the presidential pronunciation of the word nuclear--"nookyaler."

"Gosh darn it Dmitry, if you keep flying yer planes over my state I might just have to go nookyaler on yer frosty fanny!"


There were no game changers in last night’s Vice Presidential debate, but the American people were treated to more rambling, incoherent non-answers from Republican Sarah Palin.

Among the head scratching moments was this rant about nuclear weapons. Palin starts off on one of her “US Americans — such as” answers about how America uses nukuler weapons safely, yadda, yadda, yadda. Here’s the money line:

” Uh, nukuler weaponry, of course, would be the be-all, end-all of just too many people and too many parts of our planet so those dangerous regimes again cannot be allowed to acquire nukuler weapons, period.”

Huh? Notice how once she realizes she’s not making any sense and talks herself into a corner, she changes the subject. One need look no further than this clip to see that she is the most unqualified, unfit candidate to run for Vice President in modern U.S. history.  The thought of this person being anywhere near our nukes scares the living daylights out of me. How about you?


I noticed Sarah gave us a lot of wink, wink, nod, nod know what I mean. More like seduction than persuasion.

I could NOT believe she actually winked at the camera...is the public that stupid that we will fall for this? (Ooops...had to spend 30 minutes on the phone with a relative, listening to how she is just "straight talk" and "telling it like it is" and how "hot" she is...I'm now sorry I watched the ridiculous thing).

I'm no republican but it must be pointed out that "nookyaler" is an accepted pronunciation.

From webster's


Though disapproved of by many, pronunciations ending in \\-kyə-lər\\ have been found in widespread use among educated speakers including scientists, lawyers, professors, congressmen, United States cabinet members, and at least two United States presidents and one vice president. While most common in the United States, these pronunciations have also been heard from British and Canadian speakers.

There is, of course, no "right" way to pronounce a word (as if God wrote the language). There is only widespread usages. If a large number of educated speakers say it, Websters will include it. It's an empirical dictionary.

Just checked and Palin's usage is included in Webster's 1983 dictionary and Random House's 1987 (unabridged).

Accepted maybe, but accepted by whom? If you're a politician trying to sound folksy, by all means say nukyoolar but if you're an engineer or scientist, it doesn't go over as well. For example, people who have grown up in the south sometimes lose their accent when showing up on national television or in the movies (or in the case of GWB, Hillary Clinton and others, grow an accent while campaigning in the south).

Scientific or intellectual discourse in particular has a different style and tone. It's a different dialect, you don't often hear someone say nukyoolar who deals with this stuff on a day to day basis.

With Palin, it sounded to me more like she was going to the opposite way. She used so many folksy phrases last night it sounded fake, I don't know maybe she really does speak like that. I decided that if they win, it's going to be 4 years of turning the volume down when she gives a speech. It's been 8 years for me with GWB, and I'm just now at the point where I can tolerate hearing him speak.

Gwyndion -

Not to dump on the accent of the upper Midwest, but to me Sarah Palin sort of sounded like a character out of the movie, 'Fargo'.

Of course I know (nooo) that Alaska is a long long way from Minnesota and North Dakota, but both regions are heavily influenced by the accent of Canada. Yah, ya betcha.

Jimmy Carter pronounces "nucular" just like Bush. And he's a nuclear engineer!

As I said, she chose to use the "presidential" pronunciation :=)

Leanan that's not quite right, from the wikipedia article. He was a submariner in the navy and was working on it:

He applied for the U.S. Navy's fledgling nuclear submarine program run by then Captain Hyman G. Rickover.

Carter completed a non-credit introductory course in nuclear reactor power at Union College starting in March 1953.

After that his father died and resigned his commission.

One course in nukyoolar power an engineer does not make. I'm not willing to concede the point yet. ;)

A 90 year old woman shoots herself as the sheriff tries to foreclose on her home. http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/10/03/eviction.suicide.attempt/index.html

This quote from the story says it all about the bailout bill:

"This bill does nothing for the Addie Polks of the world," Kucinich said after telling her story. "This bill fails to address the fact that millions of homeowners are facing foreclosure, are facing the loss of their home. This bill will take care of Wall Street, and the market may go up for a few days, but democracy is going downhill."

Jeez 90 years old. What is popular is France is a deal whereby a house such as this one is purchased and the home seller gets to live in it until they die (all expenses paid by the purchaser). The sale price is adjusted by the actuarial assumptions re date of death. Trillions for grifters and the USA federal government can't even find a few nickels to fund such a program. To quote a recently diseased elderly female neighbour of mine "The golden years-the only thing golden about them is the color of your pee" (I didn't totally understand the joke but I laughed anyway).

We have "reverse mortgages" here.

You're right-very similar.

They forgave her mortage.

This tactic may catch on. Let's hope not.


The second phase of the Georgia - Russia war has just begun.

It's not over in Chechnya, either:


It is hard to say who is less responsible, the US government or the Russian.

Unlike Chechnya, it is not the population of South Ossetia that is planting bombs against Russian "occupiers". This is Georgian terrorism pure and simple and it is not going to be effective at all. BTW, the situation in Chechnya has been "pacified" by essentially letting the rebels run the Chechen government. Kadyrov is the son of a rebel mufti who was active in the fight against Russian forces in 1996. The wahabbis that took over after 1996 managed to alienate a big part of the Chechen population (much like the Taleban).

Hello TODers,

As most already know: I fully support AlanFBE's & JHK's RR & TODevelopment plans to move to fully walkable cities.

In support of this policy move: I urge greater TOD member consideration be given to my SpiderWebRiding proposals and employees convincing their employer to rapidly electrify their downtown parking lots so the employee and family can live onsite in small cabover campers and/or trailers [See TOD archives for details, but I think most TODers, who are much brighter than me, will instantly see this as intuitively obvious].

This parking lot electrification is a rapid and cheap way to speedily re-densify the urban core, and SpiderWebRiding, IMO, is also a rapid and cheap non-FF method to recycle O-NPK and other essentials back to the mostly abandoned exurbs and the vital farmland outside the urban core.

Obviously, the webrider's return trip can import goods essential for the urban core until RR & Mass-transit rebuilding mostly predominates in the task. Recall that I detailed this as AlanFBE's RR & TOD as the spine and limbs, with my idea as the functioning ribcage for close, local Elemental aggregation and dispersion to the final square foot.

In earlier postings I detailed how speedy and careful disassembly of the top 35-floors of a forty story skyscraper could provide many miles of light, narrow-gauge railbed, that would need minimal-to-none energy inputs to properly shape the steel suitable for quick application to the street or sidewalk. Obviously, the same steel-recycling method can be done to vacated bigbox stores and/or strip malls.

The electrification of parking lots facilitates a rapid, but still mobile housing compression function. So, for example, if mostly everyone works a varying four-day week in the urban core: they then motor outside this core [hopefully rooftop carrying some I/O-NPK, tools, wheelbarrows, and seeds too in 'Optimal Turtle Mode'], then quickly setup camp to 3-day assist by de-constructing McMansions, turning compost, pulling weeds, wheelbarrowing manures, planting or harvesting crops, laboring to further build RRs, mass-transit, and greater mileage extension to SpiderWeb Networks, turning swimming pools into fishponds,reforestation by planting trees, etc. At the end of this three day period: the family simply ICE-turtles back to their employer's electrified parking spot.

This massive and quick urban compression will save much energy and money which can be shifted to the more ideal long term plans of walkable, well-built non-mobile housing, and clean cities. The suddenly increased pop. density will make the vital RR & TOD buildout instantly financially viable. This transition will also save additional funds as the outer subsurface suburban and exurban water and sewage networks can be abandoned to concentrate on optimal surface design and resiliency of minimal-usage potable water dispersion networks, as explained in earlier TOD postings.

The basic goal is to avoid repeating the non-optimal Zimbabwe or Haiti style collapses to the Nuahtl Tlameme backpacking scheme [see TopTODer HO's keypost] or worse: the iconic picture of people balancing heavy loads on their heads.

IMO, AlanFBE's Strategic Rail Reserve, Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK, Pres. Clinton's call for closing landfills to force recycling of O-NPK and other Elements, Strategic reserves of wheelbarrows and bicycles, plus all the other excellent TOD ideas can serve us well if we can convince others through successful Peak Outreach to cooperatively drive towards Optimal Overshoot Decline.

Failure will, of course, only increase the numbers, scale, and duration of machete' moshpits.

Heavily brevity edited, but I believe the message is clearly understandable for those familiar with Asimov's Foundations and ideal paradigm shift.

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

Machete Moshpit: good band name.

My Dad was USAF Field Maintenance Mechanic of the Year 1975. One day in the 1990s, I was at my friends' little weekly reading group and I realized that several of the people there had fathers whose job title included the word "engineer". So I asked, and almost every person in that circle had a father who was some kind of engineer: a jet engineer, an air conditioning engineer, a Westinghouse technical representative, a NASA engineer, etc.

We were all philosophy, theater and political science majors sitting there reading novels to each other.

I don't know what it all means, but I don't think this country is going to get repaired. I shudder to think what our counterparts in the following generation are like.

Rather obvious, eh?

Lots of hot air and nothing gets done. All the political protest comes from people that abhor anything to do with actual physical labor and think it is beneath them.

Guess what. Soon they are going to get a real education.

Well, that's fine, but all the actual physical labor down here in Texas is done by Mexicans so who the heck are these "productive" citizens you keep talking about who are going to punish leftists like me? Sounds like a code word that sounds better in German.

When General Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia during the Seven Days, he ordered his volunteers to dig trenches to defend Richmond, but many refused on the grounds that it was work only fit for a Negro (slave). The ones who survived did learn, but then so did the Yankee merchants and clerks who fought them. The people with the most work ethic in the next civil war will be the intellectuals with the most extreme beliefs, which is what makes civil wars so wonderfully nasty.

The productive people have no interest in punishing anyone, they just want to be left alone and get on with their lives.

When the market starts to get tight things will get increasingly scarce for those that produce nothing. If left wing redistribution schemes go too far then we will stop producing other then for our personal needs and engage in barter so as not to have a tax liability.

I have plenty of friends in TX, and neither them or me in AZ and MT have ever hired a non citizen, whether on farms or in manufacturing.

I think things will grow increasingly scarce for everyone.

I fully expect more "re-distribution schemes," from the left and the right.

And yes, it may discourage production. High taxes discouraged Roman farmers. It was easier to get food in the city, by going on the dole, than it was on the farms that grew it. Rome responded by passing laws forcing people to stay on the farm and farm.

It may not be sustainable, but it's pretty much what a government has to do to stay in power. Governments have to provide materially for their people, or they lose their legitimacy. They do that via redistribution.

Yes, but there is more then one way to skin a cat.

The ability to survive quite well and in comfort with what others consider nothing largely insulates you from government intervention.

I disagree strongly with your view that food will be more available in the city.
Perhaps that is because of a very long standing barter relationship with the Hutterites when I'm home.
The quality of processed for transport food in the city isn't very good at any price even now when times are good.

How is the government going to enforce any mandate in a small town where the nearest LE officer is 110 miles away? and their loyalty is to the local people? when there will be innumerable higher value needs of intervention?

Perhaps in the city people might get some low grade gruel they have to wait in line for. That's no life, no dignity.
I rather take my chances, in the field if it comes to it.

This anti-government paranoia sounds like out of the cold war era, move on the cold wars over. If the US is heading for a very deep recession you all better hope for another socialist like Roosevelt to bring in a new new deal. Governments may have trouble controlling inflation, but only government inaction can cause a depression.
Nobody ever has to starve in US, plenty of corn, wheat and soybeans to feed half the world if its diverted away from pigs and beef feed lots. You can live fairly well on cornflakes, taco shells, bread, soy-milk and chicken. About the only shortage is likely to be gasoline. I think I would rather be in a city without gasoline than in a small isolated rural town 110 miles from anywhere.

I think I would want to be where the jobs are. Worst case, I'll be where the jobs are and my family will be in the most decent place to live I can afford, if I have to travel.

I wonder if some of the urban manufacturing blight areas (like whole sections of Pittsburg, and some of my city that hasn't been torn down for residential rebuild) might come back to life, being closer-in and manufacturing-ready?

I think I would want to be where the jobs are.

Exactly. That's why people are leaving rural areas in Zimbabwe for the city, even though Harare is not the greatest city in the world, and the government is trying to discourage people, including by rounding them up and dumping them back in the country.

I wonder if some of the urban manufacturing blight areas (like whole sections of Pittsburg, and some of my city that hasn't been torn down for residential rebuild) might come back to life, being closer-in and manufacturing-ready?

I think they will. Older cities, at least, are where they are for a reason. They have good soil, a water supply, shelter. They are along waterways for transportation, and railways.

In the long run, maybe we'll all have to return to farming...but I doubt that will happen in our lifetimes.

Almost all of us need medical care (and dental care) at some time or the other.

Good luck on getting a set of dentures or X-rays for a broken arm, much less cancer surgery, 110 miles from the nearest large city, and no gasoline to get you there.

The cuisine of New Orleans is built on what can be grown or caught locally, or brought by sailing ship or floated downriver. I can promise you we will not be eating gruel. Red beans and rice (tasty !) is the traditional Monday dish.

Best Hopes for Cities,


Corn prices have fallen to $4.54/bushel

Suicidal number in my opinion, given the cost of raising the stuff. Local grain dealer isn't even ordering fertilizer.

Lots of farmers thinking twice about planting next season.

I was in the slow collapse camp.

Now considering changing my opinion.

I've been wondering if, with the examples of the gas shortages and the King Henry Paulson Bailout, Socialism and Welfare for Bankers and Financiers Act, some of the Catabolicists (Everything should have a label!) are beginning to wonder if fast collapse isn't the more probable outcome...

I was edging toward the fence over the summer... I've been cured:

Fast, hard, nasty crash it is.

Everything is relative, but I don't see any chance for a multi-decadal crash. By 2020 things will either be very bad or very, very, very.... well,you get the idea.

I may post on this soon.


ASIDE: Whomever posted my blog to Reddit, thanks. I was shocked to see traffic from anywhere but here as even the people I have e-mailed don't seem to have stopped by.

Hello TODers,

I appears the Shrub's policy of kick'em when they are down is losing foreign friends fast:

LatAm Reporters Blast Cuba Blockade

Havana, Oct 3 (Prensa Latina) The Federation of Latin American Journalists (FELAP) demanded Friday that the US government immediately end the blockade of Cuba.

The FELAP, comprised of over 80,000 journalists in the region, endorsed the Cuban artists and academics' call, published in the website www.cubahoy.cult.cu.

The announcement denounces Washington's hostile and aggressive policy against Cuba, recently devastated by the path of two powerful hurricanes.

The document, approved by over 7,000 scholars and creators from more than a hundred countries, terms ridiculous a questionable proposal for support from the US government to the Caribbean nation, while denying the possibility of purchasing some necessary materials to rebuild Cuba.

In storm-weary Cuba, tight belts just got much tighter

..Although post-hurricane aid has flowed into Cuba from Russia, China, Venezuela, Mexico, the United Nations, and other sources, the government of Cuban President Raúl Castro this week announced a nationwide food-rationing policy.

Even most Americans think the Govt policy is excessive:

WASHINGTON, Oct 3 (IPS) - The policies of the George W. Bush administration lag behind public opinion on a host of issues relating to Latin America, according to a new poll of likely voters across the U.S.

The poll, released Friday by Zogby International, polled over 2,700 people and found that most of them are in favour of revising policies towards Cuba and think the "war on drugs" is a failing effort.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hello TODers,

Farmers feel squeeze

Jim Nichols braced himself for a big number when he recently called his local grain elevator for a price on phosphate, a key ingredient of fertilizer.

Even so, the Lake Benton, Minn., corn farmer and former state agriculture commissioner found himself laughing -- nervously -- after the fertilizer dealer told him the price: $1,025 per metric ton, up from just $520 a year ago. "It was humorous until I learned that he wasn't kidding," Nichols said. "Then I started to worry."

Indeed, in the eyes of many farmers and agricultural experts, fertilizer prices have seemed to defy the normal laws of economics. Despite the high prices, makers of phosphate and potash -- another key fertilizer ingredient -- say there's an oversupply and on Thursday, Plymouth-based Mosaic Co. said that it would scale back production, the second major company in recent weeks to announce production cuts.

Mosaic, the world's largest producer of phosphate and potash, said it will cut phosphate production by 500,000 to 1 million metric tons over the next several months. That's about 10 percent of the company's annual production. Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, another large fertilizer company, in September idled about 30 percent of its production capacity because of a labor strike.
IMO, banks going broke is not helpful, but I suspect I-NPK companies worldwide are given mostly carte blanche powers [Webb-Pomerene, etc] to stay viable the best way they can because strategic wealth is ultimately based upon food surplus generation.

No country wants to be cutoff from Key Elements like the US was in Element K in 1914. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

Totoneila: I respect you more then you will ever know. I also wonder though, do you know why (Indeed, in the eyes of many farmers and agricultural experts, fertilizer prices have seemed to defy the normal laws of economics)? I know why fert prices are defying the normal laws of economics, at least I believe I do.

Let me offer my view, please correct me if you believe I am incorrect.

The American economy has been highjacked by ...for lack of a better term...Bolsheviks. As the Bolsheviks did to rural and agricultural Russia, so they are and will continue to do, too America. They have already done to Wall Street what they planned to do. The agricultural area (I dont need to inform you) is a beast that requires a different stick to tame than does Wallstreet. I could add further details and substanciate all with facts and minutiae....but I usually decend into allegory and metaphor, as Iam sure you are well aware. You probably (I assume) would offer, that I have an innate ability too see things before and as they happen, with uncanny clarity
albeit with a somewhat eccentric description.

If you dont believe that forces are intent on taking control of Americas agri arena and use such control as a yoke and harness, to the profit of themselves and detriment to all others....please let me know.

Hello Nephillim,

Thxs for responding. Baron Rothschild once said [paraphased], "If you let me flowrate control the money, I care not what other laws you pass."

Even simpler: recall that the first banks were banks of surplus grain storage, and money was created to express this storage. Thus: "If you let me flowrate control the food supply, I care not what other laws you pass."

Make us your slaves, just feed us.

Finally, the most simple or Foundation root level: "If you let me flowrate control the Key Elements N,P,K sulfur & H20, I care not what other laws you pass."

The basic result is my speculative control methodology: the Porridge Principle of Metered Decline, which is the basic tool for Asimovian predictive collapse and directed decline.

Consider Haiti: sure, you can send immediate aid, but if the PTB meter out insufficent I-NPK gradually over time-->Haitian Dieoff is assured.

Nobel Prize Winner Borlaug: Without I-NPK, it's over.

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

Toto; See?...I knew you had all the (details and facts along with the minutiae) GAwwd I love it, when everyone is adding from the same abacus, and doin their homework!

Could owning gold be banned? Hedge fund warning.

The manager of a gold hedge fund has warned that governments have banned owning gold in the past and could do it again if a rush for “the oldest currency in the world” undermines efforts to resurrect the financial system.

...The fear for anyone who is in credit is that the financial system could become geared towards negating debt which, in turn, would destroy the value of their assets. One way of bypassing this threat is to buy gold.

However a general shift to gold would undermine the power of central banks and their influence on the economy.

During WWI Turkey was cut off from coal supplies. They needed wood to operate their locomotives. Palestine was largely stripped of trees. By one estimate nearly 60% of the olive trees in Palestine were cut down. Orchards and groves were taken in order to produce green renewable energy in the form of cordwood. This in turn created hardships amongst those reliant on cheap food.

The current corn situation is such that corn is being sold closer to the cost required to grow corn. Some farm and rural business bankruptcies might occur; causing a greater potential shortfall of corn in the following year.