DrumBeat: October 7, 2008

A Gift From the ’70s: Energy Lessons

The presidential candidates claim to see America’s energy future, but their competing visions have a certain vintage quality. They’ve revived that classic debate: the hard path versus the soft path.

The soft path, as Amory Lovins defined it in the 1970s, is energy conservation and power from the sun, wind and plants — the technologies that Senator Barack Obama emphasizes in his plan to reduce greenhouse emissions. Senator John McCain is more enthusiastic about building nuclear power plants, the quintessential hard path.

As a rule, it’s not a good idea to revive anything from the 1970s. But this debate is the exception, and not just because the threat of global warming has raised the stakes. The old lessons are as good a guide as any to the future, as William Tucker argues in “Terrestrial Energy,” his history of the hard-soft debate.

OPEC exports down 50,000 in 4 wks to Sept 21-LMIU

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC seaborne oil exports, excluding Angola and Ecuador, fell 50,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the four weeks to Sept. 21 and were down sharply from Gulf suppliers, Lloyd's Marine Intelligence (LMIU) said on Tuesday.

LMIU said oil shipments from 11 OPEC producers, including Iraq, fell to 23.528 million bpd versus 23.582 milllion bpd in the four weeks to Aug. 31.

World 2009 oil demand growth cut by 140,000 bpd

WASHINGTON - The ‘deteriorating’ global economy will cut into world oil demand growth next year by 140,000 barrels per day, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Tuesday.

Global oil consumption was forecast to average 86.92 million bpd in 2009, about 780,000 bpd more than this year's demand but 140,000 bpd less than the agency had forecast just last month.

World oil use was projected to rise by only 330,000 bpd this year, about 340,000 bpd lower than EIA's projections last month.

Russian Oil Companies Seek State Loans, Lukoil Says

Bloomberg) -- Four of Russia's biggest energy companies have asked the government to approve state loans for refinancing debt, said a spokesman for OAO Lukoil, the country's second-biggest oil producer.

Lukoil is seeking between $2 billion and $5 billion to refinance loans, spokesman Dmitry Dolgov said by phone in Moscow today. The other three companies are OAO Gazprom, the world's biggest natural-gas company; OAO Rosneft, Russia's largest oil producer; and TNK-BP, BP Plc's 50 percent Russian venture.

The loans may be used for ``force majeure situations'' or long-term investments in energy projects, Gazprom said today in a statement distributed by the Regulatory News Service. The Moscow-based company said it doesn't need to increase its current borrowing program.

Russia's LUKOIL urges Iraq to approve oil deal

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian oil firm LUKOIL urged Iraq's oil minister on Tuesday to remove obstacles to its investment in the West Qurna deposit, a month after China became the first country to renegotiate a Saddam Hussein-era oil deal.

LUKOIL Chief Executive Vagit Alekperov told Reuters Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani was solely responsible for delaying the West Qurna deal, despite Russia's willingness to write off most of the Middle Eastern country's debt.

Kazakhstan drops Gazprom partnership

Kazakhstan's state oil company has decided against forming a joint venture with Russia's Gazprom Neft to run a Kazakhstan-based oil production company, a source close to the matter said.

Kazakhstan confident in oil sector despite crisis

ALMATY (Reuters) - Kazakhstan's oil sector is facing limited access to borrowing due to a global credit crisis but the overall sentiment is good and foreign interest remains strong, the energy minister said on Tuesday.

The liquidity squeeze has hit Central Asia's biggest oil producer hard since last year, raising concerns about banks' ability to refinance debt and putting many projects on hold, particularly in the once-booming construction sector.

Old Libya contract may be corrupt, Statoil says

OSLO: A company inherited by StatoilHydro of Norway may have made payments to win business in Libya that breached U.S. and Norwegian anti-corruption rules, the producer of oil and natural gas said Tuesday after an internal investigation.

Shell Road Fuels Meeting U.K. Biofuel Targets as BP, Total Miss

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc is one of four suppliers meeting U.K. targets for mixing biofuels with road fuel, while BP Plc and Total SA are among companies falling short so far, according to the Renewable Fuels Agency.

Ryanair boss accuses BA of 'scamming' passengers

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has accused British Airways of "scamming" passengers with high fuel surcharges despite the price of oil continuing to fall.

People love angry-faced cars

If a Toyota Prius just looks too friendly for your tastes, you’re not alone. People readily see faces and traits in cars, and a new study suggests that they prefer cars to appear dominant, masculine and angry.

Seas turn to acid as they soak up CO2

The Bay of Naples is renowned for its breathtaking beauty and glittering clear waters. For centuries, tourists have flocked to the region to experience its glories.

But beneath the waves, scientists have uncovered an alarming secret. They have found streams of gas bubbling up from the seabed around the island of Ischia. 'The waters are like a Jacuzzi - there is so much carbon dioxide fizzing up from the seabed,' said Dr Jason Hall-Spencer, of Plymouth University. 'Millions of litres of gas bubble up every day.'

The gas streams have turned Ischia's waters into acid, and this has had a major impact on sea life and aquatic plants. Now marine biologists fear that the world's seas could follow suit.

Peak oil, bailout bunk, and the coming recession

The concept of peak oil started as a geological theory* that went like this: if you knew the amount of oil produced in the past, the rate at which it was produced, and roughly how much oil remained under the earth’s surface, the theory could help you determine when oil production would likely start declining. Over the years however, proponents and critics alike recognized that more factors than just the size of oil resources and the ease of exploiting them would determine when world oil production would peak and plateau.

In the inimitable words of Frenchman Jean Marie Boudaire, “it ain’t the size of the tank [the resource], it’s the size of the tap.” And a veritable suite of factors can tweak “the size of the tap,” or how fast oil can be extracted or produced.

Wars impact production rates. Iraqi production is down because they’ve had bullets flying over their oilfields off and on for about 30 years. Nigerian rebel factions attack and take down oil production facilities with alarming frequency. Nationalism has converted most of the world’s oil reserves to state-controlled national oil companies that in many places produce oil inefficiently. International and domestic politics keep the efficient, well-funded, experienced international oil companies on the sidelines, away from many of the world’s best remaining oilfields. This plus rapid inflation in the cost of oil production equipment and operations has resulted in serious under-investment in projects to produce new oil in the four-years-and-beyond time frame. (The upside here: “inefficient production” will likely lower the ultimate world oil peak and lengthen the plateau production period, thereby giving us more time to plan an adaptive transition.)

It now looks as if a new factor has come into the game, one that could severely limit the rate at which new oil fields are developed over the coming years. This factor is the financial/liquidity crisis and the rapidly deteriorating world economic situation.

Oil weathers the storm

DOWN $US10 a barrel one night, up $US4 a barrel the next. Week after week, oil has been unpredictable; you might even say irascible.

Futures contracts were changing hands at $US147 a barrel in July; now analysts are talking somewhere around $US85 as a floor in the coming months. No one really knows for sure, which doesn't do anything to ease investor concern.

Nor do conflicting theories. The July high gave credibility to the "peak oil" crowd; the fall since then has been attributed to fears of a slowing world economy. And the evil speculators are in the mix somewhere. Probably, it's a case of "all the above" to some degree or other.

Tricks of tapping into oil investments

His bottom line: it is getting harder and more expensive for Australian companies drilling to make economic discoveries. The latest edition of his Who's Drilling bulletin was quite clear on the matter.

"The availability of low-risk, high-return exploration acreage is non-existent," Oaten wrote.

The number of wells drilled per year has increased by about 25 per cent, but what he calls the "discovery size per well" has fallen by about 65 per cent. This means that, in general terms, the costs of finding new reserves are somewhere between 200 per cent and 300 per cent higher than five years ago.

Then comes the kicker: "This has significant implications for profitability for the sector over the next two to three years due to significantly higher future amortisation charges."

Gas shortages linger in places despite deliveries

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Some signs of the gas shortage haven't disappeared in North Carolina's mountains despite increased deliveries of fuel.

Most gas stations have fuel and operators say the situation is greatly improved, but some area pumps still sport plastic bags showing there isn't fuel in them, The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Tuesday.

Buncombe County emergency services director Jerry VeHaun said Monday that 70 to 80 percent of the county's stations had gas. Some stations remained closed, however.

Peru Suspends Oil Contracts, Fires Official In Scandal

Peru's government on Monday suspended a number of recently awarded gas and oil concessions, fired one high-level government official and accepted the resignation of another official due to a widening scandal tied to the concessions.

The government suspended the contracts that gave exploration and development concessions for oil and gas lots to a partnership made up of state-owned Petroperu SA and junior Norwegian company Discover Petroleum.

Bye-Bye Byproducts, Hello Shortages Of Technology Metals

Investors should keep it in mind that subsidies, even those thinly disguised by euphemisms such as bailout or loan follow a kind of Gresham’s law.

Tibet moving on climate change threat

A chilly winter with fuel shortages and snowstorms are not the only consequences of global warming in this region. Flooding has also become a major threat.

After the Arctic and Antarctic, the Qinghai-Tibet plateau has the third largest number of glaciers. However, in the past 50 years, 82 percent of the plateau's glaciers have melted. The plateau has lost 10 percent of its permafrost layer in the past decade, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Pemex Still Struggling to Restore Oil Production

Pemex is still struggling with oil production issues that forced the Company to shut in 250,000 barrels nearly two weeks ago.

The amount of production shut in has fluctuated between 150,000 barrels a day and 250,000 barrels a day during the period, and is still not back to normal, a company spokesman said Monday.

He said the company will have more information later Monday. The episode will erode Pemex's overall production numbers for September and October.

Energy crisis hijacks heating plans

Nearly three-quarters of Mainers who participated in a recent poll plan to turn down their thermostats this winter while 10 percent predicted they will not be able to adequately heat their homes due to rising energy costs.

Those are just two preliminary findings from a large, ongoing survey that examines Mainers’ heating plans for the winter as well as how they are coping with the current energy crisis.

Not surprisingly, the survey found that a growing number of Maine residents will burn wood or wood pellets to reduce their reliance on heating oil. Forty-six percent of households said they planned to burn either cordwood or wood pellets during the coming season.

But the poll — commissioned by the American Lung Association of Maine and the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — showed that 50 percent of respondents already have made cutbacks in “critical” household or personal expenses, such as groceries or transportation.

Macedonia ‘should eye Bulgaria nuke role’

Macedonia should take part in the building of a new Bulgarian nuclear plant or acquire some of Kosovo’s coal mines to avoid a future energy crisis, the country’s president urged.

Unfortunately, the government has so far stayed deaf to these suggestions, Branko Crvenkovski’s office told local A1 TV on October 6 in a written statement.

The Other Scarce Resource

CHEAP AND PLENTIFUL, water was for centuries a manufacturing tool that industry took for granted. But population growth, globalization, and climate change are shepherding in a new water-constrained era. Good, clean water just cannot be replaced—and it is getting harder to come by.

Manufacturers have been keeping a keen eye on rising energy prices; their concerns about water, in contrast, are turning more and more to the risk of running out. "Everyone shares this water model where it's cheap, cheap, cheap—then unavailable," says Scott Noesen, director of sustainability and business integration at Dow Water Solutions. For Dow, water has become a major strategic issue. "It's huge because we're trying to grow around the world, and where we want to grow often has issues of fresh water," Noesen says.

Army Looks to Build World's Strongest Solar Array

The Army says it wants to build what could be the world's most powerful solar power plant, as part of a far-reaching effort to cut back on the service's dependence on fossil fuels. The question is whether the Army will actually make good own its green promises.

Chinese demand will help recovery

Jeff Rubin, chief economist at CIBC World Markets, agrees that the world is in a cyclical recession.

"I will point out that if oil is at US$90 in a recession, it begs the question of where its going to be in a recovery," he said. "And I think it's US$150 --US$250 in a recovery."

"I would argue that not just oil prices but most commodity prices have already discounted a deep global recession," he said.

The tsunami is here: What we're facing could be a lot worse than a recession

On Bay Street, leading the freefall was the energy sector, which lost a whopping 9.4%, its lowest level since May 2005, as oil prices dipped below $90 US a barrel for the first time since February.

To me, it looks like Jeff Rubin, chief strategist at CIBC World Markets and Bay Street's star-studded soothsayer, has lost his crystal ball. He predicted oil at $200 US a barrel oil and a TSX at 14,300 by year-end.

Falling oil prices means Ottawa can no longer count on an energy boom in the West to keep Canada's economy afloat, while us Eastern bastards, who are losing jobs, freeze in the dark.

Asia's Oil Production Expected to Increase, Ease Stress on Global Supplies

After years of putting a strain on world energy supplies, Asia is expected to significantly increase its own oil production next year, a development that could add to downward pressure on prices.

China, India and other big energy users in Asia aren't about to become major oil exporters -- far from it. They still consume much more crude than they produce and that trend won't change.

But several countries, including China, are lifting oil output. The unexpected boost -- some industry analysts had said the region would struggle to maintain production levels in the current decade -- should help Asia meet more of its own demand and reduce stress on supplies for the rest of the world.

Lower Demand and Falling Oil Prices Unlikely to Prompt OPEC Action: Abraham Energy Report

The Abraham Energy Report today issued a special report to subscribers providing analysis on falling oil prices which dropped below $88 a barrel on Monday.

A special Web-only bulletin from the Abraham Energy Report (AbrahamEnergyReport.com) advises subscribers that falling oil prices are due to the slowing world economy and unprecedented lower demand but "it doesn't seem likely that OPEC will take concerted action to defend prices at this time."

Cold comfort for Britons with energy crisis on the cards

IF Britain's Energy Minister was a poker player, he would look tired, worn out and increasingly desperate. His hand of cards would be dismal and though his excuse would be that he had been dealt a very bad hand, much of the blame would undoubtedly be his for not paying more attention to the game and being better prepared.

Britain's energy predicament is certainly not a game, but potentially a national disaster with far-reaching consequences which could have been avoided with sufficient forward planning and investment years ago.

Iran Fighters Force US Plane Down

A US aeroplane has been forced to land in Iran after violating the country's territory, according to an Iranian news agency.

The agency added that the incursion was unintentional, and those on board were questioned and released.

It said five people were interrogated, but allowed to leave the following day after it became clear their trespass into Iranian airspace had been a mistake.

The interrogation revealed that they had strayed over the border unintentionally en route to Afghanistan.

Inflationary U.S. bailout may boost oil: Merrill

LONDON (Reuters) - The inflationary effects of the U.S. government's finance sector bailout could drive oil back above $150 a barrel in the long term, a Merrill Lynch commodities specialist said on Tuesday.

"Near term, the oil price could drop due to the negative effects on the global economy of the ongoing credit contraction," Francisco Blanch, Merrill Lynch's global head, commodities research, told a commodities conference.

"The (U.S.) government-sponsored bank bailout is inflationary and we believe the oil price will go back above $150 per barrel in the long run," he added.

Oil rises to $91 after steep slide

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil rose by $3 a barrel on Tuesday after a large interest rate cut in Australia raised hopes that other policymakers would follow suit to bolster economic growth, a move that would support oil demand.

The gain recouped some of the losses on Monday, when oil fell by $6 as part of an international market rout, and European equities also moved higher after. But oil traders were skeptical the rally would last.

"It's a bit of a recovery, but hardly anything to speak of after very steep falls," said Christopher Bellew, a broker at Bache Commodities.

"It would be foolish to think the dawn has come in terms of oil prices going back up again."

Iran worried by falling oil demand

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran is concerned that the deepening global financial crisis is having a bigger impact on oil demand growth than previously expected, the Islamic Republic's OPEC governor said on Tuesday.

It was too early to say if the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would have to cut production at its December meeting to match lower demand growth, Muhammad Ali Khatibi told Reuters in an interview.

"We are worried about demand," Khatibi said. "The financial crisis is deeper than we expected and this is definitely influencing world oil demand."

Libya Urges OPEC to Cut Output to Halt Price Decline

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC, the producer of more than 40 percent of the world's oil, should cut output after crude fell 38 percent from its July record in the wake of the credit crisis, Libya's top energy official said today.

``With oil prices collapsing and international banks being routed, it's better to keep our oil underground,'' Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya's National Oil Corp., said in a telephone interview from Tripoli. He declined to say by how much OPEC should lower production.

Gasoline May Fall Below $3 a Gallon on Slowing Demand, Economy

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. gasoline pump prices may fall below $3 a gallon for the first time in almost a year because of declining crude oil costs and collapsing demand.

Retail prices may fall as low as $2.70 a gallon by the end of November from about $3.50 a gallon on average nationwide now, said Dominick Chirichella, a senior partner at the Energy Management Institute in New York, a consulting company. U.S. gasoline demand is the lowest since September 2005, and the number of miles driven by Americans this year may fall for the first time since 1980, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Energy Department warns of higher heating costs

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Although global oil prices have plummeted, the cost of heating your home this winter will be a lot more expensive, especially for households that depend on fuel oil, the Energy Department predicted Tuesday.

Beijing hikes prices for gas, diesel oil

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- Beijingers are paying more for gas and diesel oil Tuesday.

As of midnight, prices were up eight percent.

Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform issued a release about the price hikes late Monday. It said, benchmark prices for gasoline and diesel oil would be hiked 200 yuan and 290 yuan per ton, respectively.

Tropical Storm Marco prompts evacuation

Petroleos Mexicanos, the third-largest supplier of crude to the U.S., closed six wells in the Gulf of Mexico and removed 33 workers from offshore platforms.

Output from the producer's Lankahuasa platform was shut at 3 p.m. yesterday, Mexico City-based Pemex, as the company is known, said in a statement on its Web site. The El Raudal natural-gas processing center was also shut, according to the statement.

Gazprom Expects OPEC to Stop `Substantial' Drop in Oil Price

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom, Russia's largest energy company, expects OPEC members to prevent a further ``substantial'' drop in the oil price after it tumbled almost 40 percent since a July high, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Alexander Medvedev said.

``The oil price can't drop down substantially, at least through the policies of OPEC countries,'' Medvedev said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Moscow today. ``We do hope the measures taken both in Europe and the U.S. will not allow the economy to freeze.''

Russia Stocks Gain on Bank Funding Pledge, Paring Record Slump

(Bloomberg) -- Russian stocks rose, paring a record decline yesterday, after President Dmitry Medvedev called on the government to lend 950 billion rubles ($36 billion) to the country's banks to ease credit markets.

OAO Sberbank and VTB Group, Russia's biggest banks, led the advance. OAO Rosneft, Russia's biggest oil producer, pared yesterday's 24 percent decline after crude rose in New York.

Nigerian conflict a warning for Big Oil in Iraq

BAGHDAD - Recurrent violence in oil-rich parts of Nigeria may provide a sobering lesson for oil companies hoping to work in Iraq — a place that is much more dangerous despite the fact that attacks are at their lowest level in more than four years.

Representatives of 35 international oil companies will meet with Iraqi government officials in London on Monday to discuss the bidding process for eight enormous oil and gas fields. If the contracts are approved, they could lead to the biggest foreign stake in Iraq since the industry was nationalized more than 30 years ago.

About 4,000 miles from Baghdad, oil companies are doing damage control in Nigeria — arguably the most dangerous place in the world where firms like Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Exxon Mobil Corp. currently operate.

Three years of attacks in the country's Niger Delta have cut oil production from 2.5 million barrels per day to around 1.5 million — demoting Nigeria to Africa's second largest oil producer behind Angola.

The violence in Nigeria pales next to Iraq, even now.

Nigeria attacks starting to affect energy investment

Militant attacks on oil companies in Nigeria's Niger Delta are scaring off investors and pushing up costs, according to Tunde Afolabi, chief executive officer of Lagos-based Amni International Petroleum Development Co.

"There has been noticeable capital flight" from the region, Afolabi told the Africa Independents Forum in Cape Town today. "The return on investment in the Niger Delta is lower than elsewhere. Attacks by militants have become part of our production plans."

Qatar Is Cutting Oil Supplies to Return to Quota

(Bloomberg) -- Qatar is reducing oil production to return to its official target in line with a decision made by OPEC last month, the country's Oil Minister said today.

``We are cutting to restrict ourselves to the official quota, as we agreed in the OPEC meeting,'' Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah told Bloomberg by phone today from Doha. ``It is small amounts.''

Don’t worry about oil

Don’t worry about oil. With oil and gas prices at all time highs, that seems a strange thing to say. Yet, we really shouldn’t worry. Solutions are available and well under way.

Around 1880, visionaries in Paris painted a bleak picture of the future. If our city continues to grow at this rate, they argued, carriages couldn’t ride our avenues anymore in the near future. They will be stuck in mounts of horseshit. The respected elders of their times didn’t see that the solution to the problem was already coming. Henry Ford was about to introduce the automobile to the world.

Today’s media are full of contemporaries of these Parisian visionaries. We read about peak oil and about the disasters waiting to happen when the last drop of fuel hits the pump. Even the nuclear industry sees an opportunity for a come back for unneccesarily dangerous power plants.

BP's BTC Crude Oil Pipeline Will Export 18 Cargoes in November

(Bloomberg) -- Shipments of Azeri crude via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline will total 12.34 million barrels in November, 47 percent of the volume pumped before a spate of disruptions starting in August.

China top refiners to raise Oct runs after repairs

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's top refineries will likely raise crude throughput in October by more than 3 percent from last month as Lanzhou, the largest oil plant in western China, revs up operations after a delayed maintenance.

Twelve major plants that account for more than a third of China's capacity, most of them on the eastern and southern seaboards, plan to process 2.52 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude this month, up from 2.44 million bpd in September, a Reuters poll showed.

The rate is about 89.4 percent of China's total refining capacity.

Norway sees oil/gas output rising 3.8 pct in 2009

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's total oil and gas output will grow by 3.8 percent next year from 2008 and rise further by 2012 as more production of natural gas offsets less oil, the government said on Tuesday.

Oil production, including natural gas liquids, was seen at 139 million cubic metres of oil equivalent -- or at about 2.4 million barrels per day -- next year, against 140 million cubic metres seen this year, according to the 2009 draft budget.

Norway to spend more oil wealth

Oil-rich Norway is set to spend more of its vast petroleum wealth in next year's national budget to help offset an economic slowdown expected on the heels of a four-year boom, the finance minister announced Tuesday.

Norway, a country of 4.7 million people, is a major exporter of oil and natural gas, giving the government surplus revenue each year that are invested in the Government Pension Fund - Global. The surplus for next year is projected to be 358 billion kroner ($57.7 billion), based on 500 kroner ($80) per barrel oil.

Norway earmarks $309 mln for carbon storage in '09

OSLO (Reuters) - Oil-rich Norway will spend 1.9 billion crowns ($308.7 million) on carbon capture and storage (CCS) next year as it seeks to develop technology expected to play a leading role in combating climate change.

Sharing rides makes sense in rural areas

Tony McQuail can feel the winds of change blowing.

He tests them with his thumb whenever he gets a chance.

The NDP candidate in Huron-Bruce has achieved a bit of local renown for hitch-hiking to various campaign stops. It's all part of his efforts to reduce his impact on the environment.

"As somebody who wanted to try and run a low-carbon campaign, the idea of test-driving a rural ride-share concept during the election campaign had a lot of appeal to me," the Lucknow- area farmer said in an interview.

India hopes to attract over $4bln in green energy

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India is hoping to attract investments of more than $4 billion in renewable energy over the next 5-7 years, as it prepares to unveil a new biofuels policy within a month, renewable energy minister Vilas Muttemwar said.

Domestic and foreign companies such as India's Tata group and Reliance Industries as well as state-run utilities are among hundreds of companies vying for a stake in India's emerging green energy sector.

Another 150 companies are also keen to set up biofuel processing plants, Muttemwar told Reuters in an interview.

States ranked on energy efficiency

WASHINGTON - An advocacy group ranks California, Connecticut and Oregon at the top of a list of states improving energy efficiency to respond to high prices, energy security and global warming.

Energy Star Doesn't Mean Your Fridge Is Green

Consumer and environmental groups say it's often too easy for companies to win the right to display the star. According to descriptions from the Department of Energy (DOE), which manages the Energy Star appliance program, the coveted logo should ideally appear on dishwashers, refrigerators, and other appliances that score in the top 25% for energy efficiency in their categories. But in 2007 some 60% of all dishwasher models on the market qualified, the DOE says. The year before, 92% of them hit the mark. "If the DOE gives Energy Star to everyone, eventually it's worthless," says David B. Goldstein, a director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Deadlines set for designating polar bear habitat

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The federal government will designate "critical habitat" for polar bears off Alaska's coast, a decision that could add restrictions to future offshore petroleum exploration or drilling.

Of course Merrill Lynch is assuming that there will not be any real oil price increase. So when they say $150 the actual figure will be over $300 in the not-so-long run.

It's totally weird that many economists don't grasp the concept of the laws of supply and demand... especially when it comes to gasoline.

Ignorant -

I am ignorant as to whether any economist has actually put forth a classical Econ 101 type of of supply/demand curve for gasoline that even halfway reflects reality and even halfway has any predictive power.

Or is it more the case that both the supply curve and the demand curve are constantly being changed by a whole host of influences that are probably not even fully known much less quantifiable? And in the real world, does supply and demand for gasoline ever really come into equiibrium or is the very notion of 'equilibrium' just a convenient construct, say like a 'point mass' or 'ideal gas'?

As you may have guessed by now, I am not an economist, so maybe these questions are off base, but I get this nagging feeling that many of our basic economic assumptions are due for a major overhaul.

Try this one for openers:


Search the site for "energy."

If that's too technical try CARPE DIEM:


puhkawn -

Thanks for providing me with those two links.

Unfortunately, as best I can tell neither in any way addresses my question re supply/demand curves for gasoline that I posed above.

So, what is your take on it?

See my comment about a melange gumbo.

My seat of the pants guess is that the near term is still down in gasoline prices. The Gulf coast is coming back on line, the economy is weakening, the dollar is strengthening, go figure, and the perception is for lower prices. Supply is increasing and demand still seems to be going down plus a stronger dollar equals cheaper gas at the pump is my guess. Remember this comes from the seat of my pants.

The price just balances actual supply and actual demand - if you know what they will be at every price you can predict the price of the balance point. Clearly an impossible task as the pundits prove every hour of every day! Don't waste your time, life is too short.

All you can say is if the price is falling relative to income there is potentially adequate extra supply (albeit maybe at a higher price) peak oil is a nonsense and we are all saved, and if the price is rising and becoming less affordable, supply is inadequate to meet current growth aspirations.

Actually, since people the whole world over have aspirations for economic growth and Governments are desperate to make it happen, but oil supply is basically flat, expect the price of oil to rise as a proportion of income.

Whether you think your income/wealth will fall in real terms (deflation) or the prices will rise (inflation) I leave up to your seat of pants to guess - but at the moment for most people (although they don't yet fully realise it) deflation has, by far, the upper hand. You only feel the full effect of inflation or deflation when you buy or sell something!

In an era of deflation your accumulated wealth declines, in an era of inflation your real income declines - so in the long run you probably lose out either way unless you have some kind of hedging strategy.

Call me curious. Just where do "many" economists miss grasping the concept of the laws of supply and demand? Do you mean they have a poor record of predictions or exactly what? Please be specific.

Real economists don't appear to concern themselves with trifles such as "gasoline."

They appear to study the supply and demand of wigets, as those entities are more mathematically tractable.

Pure BS, you obviously don't read many many blogs by economists.

Here is a short list of some of the more better known ones:


Good luck on finding a widget...

It didn't take me long to find widgets-- from the econbrowser

To get this point across, suppose you want to compute the real value of imported widgets. You have data for W, the quantity of imported widgets and P, the price of widgets. The price index of widgets is P or some constant p times P. If you compute the real value of imported widgets in 2000$ with “a deflator specific to” widgets, you get W*P/(p*P)*(p P2000) =W*P2000 where P2000 is the price of widgets in the year 2000. What does that series look like? It looks exactly like W multiplied by a constant, which tells you nothing about the real value of imported widgets. You should instead deflate with the CPI for all items.

You're right, I don't spend much time on econ sites -- mainly because I never thought they had much to do with the "real" world. Thanks for the URL's -- I hope to be proven wrong (that economists don't really care) and hope they will be marching in the streets and assailing the Treasury.

I hope to see an "Economists for Social Responsibilty" or Union of Concerned Economists spring up.


The article (as written) seems to say that the inflationary effect will be the primary driver on the price of oil (or else why even bring it up?).

My response:

1) A lot of money "evaporated" with these bad investments. (defacto) Money supply may - for all practical purposes - be driven down... along with inflationary pressures.

2) Lower prices may in themselves be enough to increase demand (and price). That may have more of an affect on price than inflation might.

3) Most oil is sold through futures commodities. That, it seems, has a substantial impact of oil prices. Probably more affect than inflation.

This article doesn't say much to me. It's about the same as if I said, "three people will die of cancer today, while two will perish from a malfunction of a heart muscle" without providing any more details. Statistically a pretty safe prediction.

I'll buy that. I didn't particularly find the article very useful either.(Past experience, however, says I am wrong more than I am right in commodity markets.) Things are very volatile at the moment and I find my crystal ball is very very cloudy. It is not to hard to figure out the major factors at the moment. The declining US economy, strengthening dollar, the EU melt down, OPEC making noise about cutbacks, possible Eastern economies decline, and so far the continuing decline in demand for petroleum in the US and elsewhere. In Cajun French when you throw all that in the gumbo pot it is called a melange. Just what this melange is going to taste like God only knows.

Good point dissident. He doesn't talk about about supply issues, only decreased demand in a inflationary monetary system.

So I think you're "$300" figure will be more accurate and I bet you're also going to be found to be correct in your prediction of "in the not-so-long run."

Money supply goes up, that's inflationary... add declining material and energy availability indefinately = hyperinflation.

I'm sure they are also recommending privately to short oil. I've seen enough stock/commodity recommendations by "expert analysts" to yawn at their predictions. They usually aren't any smarter than the rest of us.

You would think with the credit crisis and plunge in commodity prices there would be a drop off in energy production followed by a short-term spike in prices but then again most oil projects are proposed thinking that the price of oil is well below what it is now. However, I bet natural gas prices will be extremely volatile which is good for renewable and nuclear energy.

I doubt oil would get near $300 unless there was some sort of escalated conflict (which is very possible).

I think the current oil price is driven mostly by hysteria about a recession and the expectation of falling demand. If the summer price was overvalued the current price is undervalued. My impression is that oil consumption around the world is not too discretionary. As you note the recession will hit oil production not just demand, specifically all of the expensive projects to extract oil under difficult conditions which is increasingly becoming the norm. Most analysis I see in the media assumes supply is not an issue. In the near term this will appear to be the case as the poorest sections of the third world our outbid for the few millions of barrels per day they consume. In the not-so-long term this slack will disappear as there is little evidence of transition to an alternative energy economy.

A Brief History of Personal Rapid Transit in Minnesota

In theory, PRT is supposed to combine the advantages of the private automobile with the efficiency of fixed guideway transit. After thirty years and hundreds of millions of dollars spent on PRT research, there are no true PRT systems in operation anywhere in the world, although there have been many failed attempts. In more recent years, PRT has served another purpose as a stalking horse to stop funding for conventional transit.

PRT has served another purpose as a stalking horse to stop funding for conventional transit.

This is the source of my animus towards gadgetbahn in general and jPods in particular.

Anti-transit forces often use the tactic of "don't vote for proven/old technology, we have this better solution here" (which NEVER gets built).


Hey Alan, train question for you.

What kind of power and energy does a train require for off-mainline runs (spurs and sidings and so forth)?

I've been reading up on flow batteries (vanadium redux or zinc bromine) which are touted for buffering sporadic energy sources (like wind and solar), and I figure the same characteristics of relatively high power and scalable storage would make sense for semi-electrified rail as well. You could use the batteries to increase efficiency as a hybrid for hills and starting/stopping, charge it from the electric rail when traveling nominally, and run off stored energy when operating on non-electrified sidings and spurs.

A big tank of electrolyte would seem to be easily tolerated in a train.

Lead-acid battery locos are used on industrial spurs and in mines (some with "hot swap" batteries).

However, they are relatively rare.

I observe what is done on the 100,000+ km of electrified rail in operation around the world (North America and Antarctic excepted) and follow that instead of trying to hypothesize new solutions.

	     Route km Electrified % Electrified
Switzerland 	3,284 	 3,057 	93%
Japan 	       12,668 	 8,939 	71%
Sweden         11,797 	 7,440 	63%
Italy 	       16,146 	10,030 	62%
Germany        40,710 	16,202 	40%
France         34,837 	12,611 	36%
Russia         88,716 	38,600 	43%
Ukraine        22,631 	 8,348 	37%
U.K. 	       16,938 	 4,911 	29%
Portugal 	3,068 	 2,132 	69%
South Africa   20,319 	 8,976 	44%
India 	       63,140 	16,986 	27%
China 	       61,539 	16,000 	26%
From Azeri Railways 			
Azerbaijan 	2,125 	1,278 	60%

from Appendix 3

Best Hopes for Proven Solutions,


Just out of curiosity, what are the numbers for the US electrical rail fractions? In scanning your paper the closest I came was "almost no". I assume that means a few percent at most?

Electrified railroads in the USA

Northeast Corridor (Amtrak) DC to Boston 457 miles
Philadelphia to Harrisburg (Amtrak 104 miles)
A mine to coal power plant in the West.


Some of the regional commuter railroads are at least partially electrified as well. NJTransit comes to mind - I saw a blurb about them buying more electric locomotives. There may be more...

The Metro-North commuter train that runs along the bank of the Hudson River is part-diesel, part electric. They have special trains that can make the switchover when required.

Every once in awhile there's some kind of emergency, and they have to put people on a train that can't handle the switchover. If that happens, they stop somewhere along the way, and everyone has to get off one train and onto another.

There are a number of commuter rail lines that are electrified, some of which run some freight. However, I (perhaps wrongly) classify commuter rail, subways, light rail and streetcars seperately from railroads as Urban Rail.

And almost all light rail lines are electrified.

The LIRR is more than half electrified (perhaps 400 miles ?), SEPTA, Chicago commuter rail, CalTrain soon, MetroNorth, plus Subways, etc.

Enough to get to 1%.


It would be funny if we had to get the Chinese to build us some new railroads. I guess we will have to treat them with a lot more respect this time since they will be the bosses and we will be swinging the sledgehammers.

That is funny.

I was just thinking about whether the next reversal would work idiomatically, when the Chinese managers had to tell the US labor-force to 'Get the lead out..' ?


You would probably be interested in the "Green Goat" locamotives from RailPower. Kind of a "Prius" for the railway crowd.

Railpower Technologies Corp. and its wholly owned US subsidiary, Railpower Hybrid Technologies Corp., are engaged in the development, construction, marketing and sales of specialized energy technology systems for transportation and power generation.

When compared to conventional locomotives or cranes, our technologies allow our customers to substantially reduce operating costs, and at the same time significantly reduce harmful emissions...
Our technology transforms aging switchers with their 50 plus year chassis lives, into modern multi-gensets or hybrids, delivering 20-60% cuts in diesel fuel use and greenhouse gases emissions and 80-90% reductions in smog-precursor oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulates. As an added bonus, the Railpower locomotives are exceptionally quiet, and offer a very high adhesion factor.


I will probably get ripped apart for this statement: but my gut reaction to PRT is that it is just a plain dumb idea! I've not analysed any for/againt arguments etc, or even energy use /cost to buid etc.....It just seems like an overly complex solution to getting from A to B! Sort of like the overly smart kids overly complicated solution to a simple problem!(not to make light of the problems of getting from A t oB!)


If one wants personal rapid transit - electrify a bike.

:-) Haven't forgotten!

I like the new plug in scooter we've got in the UK - I am seriously considering getting one.


The only problem is my commute is only 6 miles and takes me 25Mins on my bicycle.

Hey that's neat and at only £1000, the government could have bought one for everyone in the UK for less than the cost of nationalising Northern Rock!

At a running cost of about 1/4 pence per mile not bad at all.

Sorry about this rant. In regard to bicycles and scooters rarely do they ever keep you dry in a heavy rain or warm on very cold and icy winter days. And while great in the flatlands they aren't so great for anything hillier than flatland. In short neither bikes nor scooters, both of which I dearly love, will ever be adopted in mass in most of America. They can indeed help, but they won't be adopted in large scale as in Haarlem, Munich or Bruges. Bicycles and scooters seem to be big city fare and agreeable mostly to the young. Outside the cities cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles rule the road.

I spent two weeks in northern central Italy. Rarely did I see a scooter or bicycle outside of a major city there either. While in Milan one fellow asked me why trains were not used more in America. "Is it because America is so vast?" Yes, I replied. America is too vast and trains don't go everywhere cars, buses and planes already go.

I'll be very happy to be proven wrong. But realistically speaking bicycles, scooters and train travel probably won't be adopted in mass in American any time soon. At least not in the way they are in use in Europe today. That's sad. I wish it were going to be different.

Considering scooter sales are out-pacing new car sales in some places, I'd say you're probably wrong. Electric scooters, electric assist bicycles, and pedal bikes are selling like hotcakes as many people finally understand they can be used for most short trips and in conjunction with mass transit. They can still have a car (or car share) when they need it, they just don't need it every single time they leave the house.

There are no silver bullets...

I bought an electric assist folding bike imported by ETON. Great engineering and construction. I had hoped the electric assist would be useful keeping up with local traffic and to keep from tiring. Unfortunetly I did get tired because you are hauling around 30+ lbs of motor and battery. One problem - no customer support. The nearest parts house is in Tawian. Also, if you don't keep the batteries charged up they go bad.

Trains used to go everywhere - to just about every little town on the map. In fact, that's why most of them were on a map (if not because of the train tracks, then it was because of a river or other body of water). Now of course, we've spent 50 years building towns and non-towns all along roads.

I can only imagine if we had spent the money for the Oil Wars to run electric light rail and to convert major suburban areas into more self contained villages. Wonder why the big money didn't want to do that?

I wonder how much it would cost to build covered bike paths to all the suburbs.

Covered bike paths aren't the answer, just wear waterproof/warm clothes.

An electric bike is better than a bike, which is better than walking, which are the only alternatives if you don't have oil or draught animals - there are no adequate liquid fuel alternatives and not enough cheap materials to make the large batteries that replacing the current huge numbers of ICE cars requires.

Don't forget, most of the world's population lives with minimal oil use already - in the end we will have to learn to live like them.

An electric bike is better than a bike, which is better than walking, which are the only alternatives if you don't have oil or draught animals - there are no adequate liquid fuel alternatives and not enough cheap materials to make the large batteries that replacing the current huge numbers of ICE cars requires.

Hi xeroid,
I don't think that bikes and EV bikes are the only alternative - variations on the golf cart will do just fine, if you don't expect the performance of an ICE car or it's range.
The same consideration applies to materials for batteries - without looking at the more advanced types lead acid married with ultracapacitors is a cheap solution giving enough performance for this sort of solution:
They are talking in relation to hybrid vehicles here, but for a low-range, lightweight golf-cart type vehicle they would work just fine, and are nowhere near as costly as lithium and have excellent lifetimes when the ultracapacitor limits deep discharge.

Even better would be Firefly batteries married to capacitors:
This uses less lead than traditional lead-acid batteries.

So material resources should not limit the provision of modest, weather proof short-distance mobility.

An electric bike is better than a bike, which is better than walking, which are the only alternatives if you don't have oil or draught animals - there are no adequate liquid fuel alternatives and not enough cheap materials to make the large batteries that replacing the current huge numbers of ICE cars requires.

I don't fully agree with this. There is a spectrum of electric vehicles which could be used. On the lowest end are electric assist bicycles. Then we run up through electric scooters, tiny highly efficient minicars, such as the aptera, and smart car. Finally full sized electrics, or plug in hybrids. Obviously the cost increases greatly as you ascend the scale the cost increases very strongly. Those later items may not be affordable to the vast majority of commuters -at least for several years. That doesn't mean they won't be useful components. Given the spectrum of available solutions, and the spectrum of needs, it makes sense for indivduals to select the alternative that best matches their needs and budget.

Bicycling in the rain or in cold weather is not a big problem once you get used to it.

Rain hat, rain cape, scarf, mittens, etc. will help. Trying to go "green" I got a huge straw hat (I was thinking about those people in the Hiroshige prints during the Edo period who wore straw rain capes since nylon was not yet invented) but I haven't yet worn it yet in the rain, kind of afraid to be "the first on the block to look like someone from Edo period"

I have gotten to the point where I kind of like bicycling in the rain.

And I kind of feel sorry for the people in the cars that pass by---no exposure no awareness.

I'm one of those odd people who actually likes walking on the beach during a rain storm...

There seem to be quite a few of these little vehicles showing up near my home.

LiL Electric

Can't be that useful as they are trying to get rid of it (for sale sign on the back).

Not really, just like any young couple who has outgrown the two seater model, they're trading up to the family sized version ;-) Actually I've seen those around as well. They also come in heavy duty pickup utility for the working handy man. Then again based on your criteria of a for sale sign being a sign of uslessness, I just thought I'd mention that there seem to be a lot more SUVs with such signs on them, at least where I live.

This is a GEM. IMHO, the Model T of EVs. Owned by Chrysler.


We have a couple in my neighborhood.


Bicycling in the rain or in cold weather is not a big problem once you get used to it.

While I wholeheartedly agree with that, the reality is that too many people will let the perception of hardship stop them from even considering the bicycle as a solution. That is why solutions for the many sissies are also needed. Just as in the case of the different capacities of electric vehicle, some peoples temperments will be better served by an all-weather solution. The rest of us, will happily use the lowercost lower tech, and higher performance conventional bicycle.

Hi pi

re: cycling in rain.

What do you do about your brakes getting wet?

(I need them a lot around here.)

I don't notice any difference between wet and dry brakes.

The brake lines maybe get rusty faster (one was replaced, my Miyata is now 10 years old but in very good shape).

My bicycle has a belt, not a chain. It is light, I think aluminum frame. I bought it for 50,000 yen and that was around $500. But I've ridden thousands of kilometers on the thing. Nothing except the brake line and tires have ever needed replacement. I've saved tons of money not having a car! (Thank YOU, Japanese infrastructure!!)

I have another bicycle which is heavier and with a child seat for when I must bike the 4 year old around. Luckily he is almost ready to ride his own bicycle around! In rain, BTW, he uses an umbrella, by the way and a rain coat. My kids are totally used to the rain since we've never had a car, they've grown up without it and don't think about it. Walk, bike, train, bus everywhere. We enjoy the sights, the smells (except car exhaust!), the sounds on the bikes!!

They cost about twice as much as standard rims, but ceramic rims show little difference in braking, wet of dry -or worse of all covered with a thin layer of ice (= absolutely no braking).

My 250cc honda rebel takes hills just fine, infact it handles them better then some cars.
As for rain and cold. they make rain suits that are good quality and you can either dress in layers or buy those heated suits for cold.

Inflationary U.S. bailout may boost oil: Merrill

"Near term, the oil price could drop due to the negative effects on the global economy of the ongoing credit contraction,"

As long as the money supply grows, we have inflation. The symptoms of deflation show up temporarily during liquidity crises, causing the "whiplash" volatility.

But as long as the government buys the junk and increases the money supply we are on the road to hyperinflation.

Speaking of buying junk...CNN breaking news banner:

U.S. stock futures surge - signaling a strong open for Wall Street - after Fed announces plan to buy up short-term corporate debt.

And here's the gory details:

Fed mulls corporate lending bailout

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government is weighing a bold plan to buy massive amounts of unsecured short-term debts in a dramatic effort to break through a credit clog that is imperiling the economy.

Unreal. They follow the script so well.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan is still being put together. The market for this crucial financing, which relies on investors rather than banks, has virtually dried up.

So the markets are surging on what is still an anonymous rumour (as of now).

Edit: confirmed now


The Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday announced the creation of the Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF), a facility that will complement the Federal Reserve's existing credit facilities to help provide liquidity to term funding markets. The CPFF will provide a liquidity backstop to U.S. issuers of commercial paper through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that will purchase three-month unsecured and asset-backed commercial paper directly from eligible issuers. The Federal Reserve will provide financing to the SPV under the CPFF and will be secured by all of the assets of the SPV and, in the case of commercial paper that is not asset-backed commercial paper, by the retention of up-front fees paid by the issuers or by other forms of security acceptable to the Federal Reserve in consultation with market participants. The Treasury believes this facility is necessary to prevent substantial disruptions to the financial markets and the economy and will make a special deposit at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in support of this facility.

,So the markets are surging on what is still an anonymous rumour....

And then the markets will tank on rumors that it won't happen, thereby proving the need for it to happen or else we'll have to impose martial law.

Unsecured corporate debt. Why not? Ultimately, this is proving the illegitimacy of the State - one of a good series of posts at global guerrillas.

cfm in Gray, ME

Unsecured corporate debt. Why not?

The obvious next step is start purchasing unsecured personal debt - just wait a few more weeks for the announcement.

Time to buy a very large wheelbarrow to transport all your *money* :(

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.

-- Albert Einstein

Denninger is even more unhappy.

I repeat: It is time for Congress to lock up the children in their playpen and allow the adults to have a discussion with them regarding solutions to the economic problems we face.

If CONgress fails to do so, you will see The DOW at 5,000 and the S&P 500 at 500 within the next 12-24 months.


This morning Bernanke's Fed "decided" to essentially enter the realm of unsecured lending through the creation of a "SPV" (a "SIV", or as I and others have called it, a "SIeVe") that will buy 3-month commercial paper.

While they claim that these borrowings are "secured", the fact remains that in essence they are not, protests to the contrary notwithstanding.

Goldbugs say that in a depression the DOW and gold will meet values. 3000 to 5000 is reasonable in that instance, I'd say.

Doesn't this all depend on how they select what to loan against? SOMEBODY loaned against all of this not long ago, and surely most of this commercial paper is lower risk than all the crap the financial companies have derived. It'll take losses in the luxury aspects of the economy, but might actually help keep the "working" part of the economy working for awhile.

Don't Worry Be Happy ...
at least have a good laugh.

The meltdown of the commercial paper market was the doomsday scenario the administration used to ram the TARP through a frightened Congress. Now it turns out the TARP wasn't going to prevent that, and the govt stepping in to buy paper would. But we still wound up with Paulson as the economic dictator of the US.

Color me surprised that the government would use untrue scare stories to get the TARP passed.

Edit: Don't get me wrong: this sucks too. Just like a drunk on the morning after a long binge, the Fed keeps trying "hair of the dog that bit you" recipes to fix this mess: treating credit woes with more credit, solving an SPV problem by creating a giant SPV, just to name two.

And unsurprisingly, this whole plan is to be run by a "former Goldman Sachs executive"

The Treasury Department on Monday named a former Goldman Sachs executive to oversee spending for the $700 billion financial rescue plan.

The administration announced it had tapped Neel Kashkari, 35 -- an assistant Treasury secretary for international affairs -- to head the Treasury's new Office of Financial Stability on an interim basis.

How does one get into a position like that at age 35? Alexander and Napoleon and Ghengis Khan did that, and more -- but they weren't part of a giant corporation.

Is the GAO going to be watching this? Purely for historical purposes, of course.

Just about everyone is the Executive Branch of US government formerly worked somewhere. That's not an argument in and of itself. Do you have reason to believe Neel is unqualified for the task he has been assigned? Certainly his bio, and the role he had as GS is consistent with this type of roll.

Perhaps he is a doof, but that's just an opinion.

Well I might suggest there are people out there more qualified.

"Prior to joining the Treasury Department, Mr. Kashkari was a Vice President at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in San Francisco, where he led Goldman's IT Security Investment Banking practice, advising public and private companies on mergers and acquisitions and financial transactions. Prior to his career in finance, Mr. Kashkari was a R&D Principal Investigator at TRW in Redondo Beach, California where he developed technology for NASA space science missions such as the James Webb Space Telescope."


Let's say he got out of grad school at the age of 24, so he has 11 years work experience, at least part of which appears to have nothing to do with finance/economics/government. What makes him so qualified?

It matters because Cheney, as defense secretary, proposed privatizing all military services, then became chairman of the only company that could fulfill that mission, then became vice president and created the war that would require the military to take over and run a big oil producer.

Now you've got Goldman and Morgan alumni presiding over what seems to be a state conspiracy to take over most of the finance industry and hand it to Goldman and Morgan.

It's time we stop giving them the benefit of a doubt. Whoops, it's past time, the government and business have fully merged.

He and Paulson were both from Goldman Sachs!
IMO they are helping each other achieve more benefits for their friends in the banks.
This is not a benefit for the American people in general.....
It is time to make it clear that investment banks were a mistake and were not properly regulated and audited. It is like Enron all over again! Corruption to the MAX...
Now they are not robbing us, they are taking all of our money legally with the blessing of Congress and the President!

...Treasury's new Office of Financial Stability

Gotta love that name.

These guys are going to destroy the currency and they call it the "Office of Financial Stability".


And when we really hit the downside post-peak oil, may we expect to see an "Office of Petroleum Stability" - otherwise known as OOPS?

Here is their org chart:

WTF - Washington Task Force
OMG - Office of Money Giveaways
UFB - Undersecretary for Financial Bailouts
OAFS - Office of Appearance of Financial Stability
OOPS - Office of Petroleum Security


Dear calgary,

Now that I've had a real laugh, I can go eat dinner. Thanks.

Goldman Sach's seems to have its minions everywhere these days.

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada, praised the US bailout package but warned of possible collateral damage.


For the record, Mr. Carney, before being appointed bank governor, was a golden boy for Goldman Sachs for thirteen years.

And who says 13 is a bad luck number?

Apparently they are creating a Special Purpose Vehicle - presumably it doesn't run on gasoline but possibly it's one of these new fangled compressed hot-air vehicles. Anyway seems to have been worth 150 points on the Dow Futures so far.

Bloomberg anchor just commented: "Seems like we're creating more of the things that got us into this mess to get out of it."

Well that 150 point boost in the Dow lasted for 1/2 hour or so. Dow down 30 now. Seems there is now a rumour of a FED emergency rate cut today if the slide resumes.

I predicted a rate cut to some friends yesterday after the Fed announced they would be paying 1.25% interest on money banks have on account in the Reserve.

The US was aghast a few years ago when Japan's interbank rate went to 0%. For the Fed to lower the rate to 0% would look really bad. The Fed's solution is to obfuscate the rate by paying interest on Fed deposits, and then lowering the rate just a little. If the bank can borrow at 2%, and then deposit worthless paper at book and get 1.25% interest on the worthless paper in exchange for real funds at 2%, what is the real Fed rate? Looks like a money laundering operation with a fee of .75% to me. Now, cut the Fed rate to 1.25% Voila! Money laundering for free! Wash that bad debt away!

Can I use the tarp to cover the vehicle when it rains?

From the FED:

The Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday announced the creation of the Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF), a facility that will complement the Federal Reserve's existing credit facilities to help provide liquidity to term funding markets. The CPFF will provide a liquidity backstop to U.S. issuers of commercial paper through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that will purchase three-month unsecured and asset-backed commercial paper directly from eligible issuers.


In recent weeks, one of the signs of the credit crunch has been that companies with good balance sheets have been unable to roll over short-term corporate debt. (Short term meaning "days to a few months")

This has happened even with non-financial companies whose balance sheets (unlike banks) are quite accessible. i.e. The odds of them failing in the next little while are very low. Yet they can't raise short term cash. The "just trust us, we're OK" factor is much lower than it is with banks.

So, the FED now directly lends to industrial corporations.

Those of you who believe that we will experience a Great Depression-style deflation may want to let that sink in. The helicopters are flying and I agree with Merill that this is bullish for oil.

After seeing Australia cut its lending rates and the Fed start business paper lending, I wonder if today is the day we shift from deflation to inflation. I figure the day will come, but I was expecting house prices to come in line with incomes before deflation was over.

Maybe we'll have some of both? Decreasing values of hard assets coupled with increasing cost of commodities?

For the last couple of years we've had falling house prices and rising commodities.

But "deflation" refers to the general price level as measured by the CPI. It's very damaging because it sends false signals to businesses and producers.

i.e. A business sees the price of what it sells fall while unit sales remain the same. Therefore it cuts back on production and lays people off. Logical move.....except that if the price of almost everything is falling (as happens during deflations), it's the wrong move. Though profits might be falling in dollar terms, their buying power might be rising.

In addition, during a deflation debts, mortgages etc automatically increase in size (when adjusted for deflation) since they must be paid back in the future with dollars that are worth more.

Very roughly, if the CPI falls 10%, the size of the principle of your existing mortgage increases by %10. (%11 to be more precise)

In the Great Depression, the CPI fell by 30% over 2-3 years. That means that an outstanding debt increased by 50%. Ouch!

A good example was the US farmbelt in the deflation of the late 19th century. The prices farmers were getting for their produce was falling while the money they borrowed was rising in value. This produced the populist reaction led by William Jennings Bryon.

Why doesn't the FED just nationalize all commercial banks? It looks it's taking over all their responsibilities.

As for the helicopters... If the FED starts printing money it will become visible very soon (by another commodities bubble?). We will have a run on the dollar and the depression they are trying to avoid will happen regardless through hyperinflation. With the added cost of losing the status of the dollar as a reserve currency. I am not saying this scenario won't happen, but I see them trying to do everything possible not to reach to that point.

The bizarre thing is that all this can be done today without printing any more money... seriously.

All we need now is a "Consolidated Refinancing Adjustment Program", or CRAP, and a "Financial Adjustment Network", or FAN. The government can create trillions of dollars out of thin air so that it can buy worthless pieces of paper, which it can turn around and sell at a loss. In this manner will the CRAP hit the FAN.

The taxpayer has the privelege of buying garbage for 100 dollars and selling said garbage for 10 dollars. The kicker is the taxpayer has to pay exorbitant fees to GS et al for this privelege. As far as I know, there is going to be zero transparency-the public will not know what was bought from who at what price and who was it subsequently sold to at what price. Let's hope GS doesn't get so cocky they start selling it to the same guy (at a 90% discount) they bought it from last month.

I thought it is the "Sovereign Hedging and Investment Trust" merging with the "Financial Adjustment Network" under governments' supervision. But I guess the outcome is the same :)

Loans to banks only creates paper wealth where loans to a manufacturer would result in creation of real wealth. If the bankers are too afraid to make the loans then the FED should in order to fulfill its duty to keep unemployment from going higher. Part of the credit problems are the result of people losing their jobs and then losing their homes. We need more people who can actually afford to buy those foreclosed homes so the losses the taxpayers must absorb is kept as low as possible. Lower unemployment means there are more taxpayers to share the burden.

Where do you draw the line between hyperinflation and just plain old inflation? Are these the only types of inflation? What about super inflation or intermediate inflation? I suggest we use the number of zeros in the inflation rate as the dividing lines. 1% to 10% is regular, 10% to 100% intermediate, 100% to 1000% super, and any above 1000% hyper. All rates are year over year in order to compensate for seasonal variations in various parts of the economy.

Milton Friedman, if memory serves, has said that double digit inflation per month is hyperinflation.

For what it's worth wikipedia says:

Formal definitions vary from a cumulative inflation rate over three years approaching 100% to "inflation exceeding 50% a month."


Pretty hard to care what Milton Friedman said after reading The Shock Doctrine.

I don't know what to make of things. I understand my co-workers being worried about their 401K plans, and I feel for them, but... I hear all this far out stuff from other people about like "there will be martial law soon..." (like where are we going to get the troops?.. a domestic "surge?").

I could keep going, but to save space I will only say that this (?economy?)has really got people unglued.

People need to chill out. Maybe a national week-long holiday? Close the markets and let things cool off for a while.

Well, just in case the holiday runs a little long, why don't we all just "run" down to the bank and pull out our savings, like I said, "just in case".

(like where are we going to get the troops?.. a domestic "surge?").

Well, since you mention it...

America in Crisis: Are we preparing for martial law?

For the second time since Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, an active Army unit --1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division -- has been set up to quell civil unrest and do crowd control within our borders. And this time it's a permanent mission.

The last time I checked, the use of the military in domestic activities was prohibited by law, with the exception of the National Guard units under the authority of the states.

So what's going on? A recent report in The Army Times -- “Army Unit to Deploy in October for Domestic Operations” discussed a new military unit that is now stationed in the United States of America.

They deny it, though:

NorthCom Denies Troops To Be Used For Crowd Control

Following the alarming admission that active duty U.S. Army would be on call to deal with “civil unrest” inside the United States from October 1st, the US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) has publicly denied that troops will engage in law enforcement duties, but concedes that forces will be armed with both non-lethal and lethal weapons as well as having access to tanks.

IMO a shutdown of the banking and credit system would be the only possible way to generate enough civil unrest in the USA to require tanks as a control weapon.

I don't see it. A brigade is (what?) about 10,000 individuals strong (?including support personnel?). That's about 200 per state. And then there are the logistics nightmares of moving a unit that size.

...And then I hear this stuff about the "Haliburton detention camps." Hearing something like that definitely stirs up the curiosity. As far as I've been able to find out is that "those" were built as a response to the Kosovo refugee situation when some military bases had to quickly (and clumsly) set up "tent cities" to house displaced civilians. Instead of going through that (fiasco) again someone decided to build these camps (or camp kits, depending who says it) "in case" we had another such police action that required the movement/resettlement of refugees.

I think that Matt Simmons' warning about the severe effects of possible gasoline shortages is something more serious and has more of a potential of happening.

I think that Matt Simmons' warning about the severe effects of possible gasoline shortages is something more serious and has more of a potential of happening.

I might have agreed a month ago, but after the recent gasoline supply disruptions - especially in the Atlanta area - I'm not inclined to agree. There were no riots that I know of. It barely even made a blip on the national news.

I think we should be careful to not underestimate the apathy of the average citizen of the USA.

If the shortage were national and not regional I think it could have gotten out of hand, and fast.

As it was, folks in one of the areas hardest hit by shortages happily found their way to football games and other totally discretionary activities that required a lot of gas. And not just a few people, tens of thousands.

They knew it was temporary, and it was. If it's everywhere, and it's not gonna end, I'm sure we the people will have a different attitude.

I still think people are coming unglued lately.

The US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) has publicly denied that troops will engage in law enforcement duties.

That is probably correct, they will be engaged in enforcement and protection outside the law - unlawful duties if you will. Isn't that what they do already? The military is not a law enforcement body, but a blunt instrument of coercion.

cfm in Gray, ME

A standing army is unconstitutional. Stand up!

I’m thinking of changing my daughters name to Naomi;

Naomi Wolf – MUST SEE - Interview - Naomi Wolf - Give Me Liberty


Naomi Klein – ALSO MUST SEE - Naomi Klein: Wall St. Crisis Should Be for Neoliberalism What Fall of Berlin Wall Was for Communism


Nomi Prins – Author JACKED: How "Conservatives" are Picking your Pocket (whether you voted for them or not) and Other People's Money: The Corporate Mugging of America

This sort of action should be illegal. However, language to make it legal was snuck into a defense authorization bill. When it was stripped out, Bush apparently refused to sign. Wonder how this will all end up....


On September 30, 2006, the Congress modified the Insurrection Act as part of the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill. Section 1076 of the new law changes Sec. 333 of the "Insurrection Act," and widens the President's ability to deploy troops within the United States to enforce the laws. Under this act, the President may also deploy troops as a police force during a natural disaster, epidemic, serious public health emergency, terrorist attack, or other condition, when the President determines that the authorities of the state are incapable of maintaining public order. The bill also modified Sec. 334 of the Insurrection Act, giving the President authority to order the dispersal of either insurgents or "those obstructing the enforcement of the laws." The new law changed the name of the chapter from "Insurrection" to "Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order."

The 2008 Defense Authorization Bill, H.R. 1585, repeals the changes made in the 2007 bill, [3] but was pocket vetoed by President George W. Bush. [4] A new bill, H.R. 4986, has been passed which also repeals the changes made in the 2007 bill. [5]

"the elaborate risk default swap markets are utterly fake, totally false and worth $0, not $600+ trillion."-Elaine Supkis

everything has been monetized. Up to and including everey last
human out to forever. $1000 trillion worth.

Now the music has stopped and everyone has to show everything they have.

Unless the US starts adding zeros to Ben Franklin's note, a beer is
about to cost a nickel. A real nickel.

where the troops will come from:

"Vogler and Shores were discussing an exercise code-named Vibrant Response, that took place September 8-19 at Fort Stewart in Georgia. Three brigades form the core of NORTHCOM's Consequence Management Response Force: the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Army Division; the 1st Medical Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas, and the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. All three units participated in Vibrant Response.

As researcher and analyst Michel Chossudovsky comments:

The BCT is an army combat unit designed to confront an enemy within a war theater.

With US forces overstretched in Iraq, why would the Pentagon decide to undertake this redeployment within the USA, barely one month before the presidential elections?

The new mission of the 1st Brigade on US soil is to participate in "defense" efforts as well as provide "support to civilian authorities".

What is significant in this redeployment of a US infantry unit is the presumption that North America could, in the case of a national emergency, constitute a "war theater" thereby justifying the deployment of combat units.

The new skills to be imparted consist in training 1st BCT in repressing civil unrest, a task normally assumed by civilian law enforcement.

What we are dealing with is a militarization of civilian police activities in derogation of the Posse Comitatus Act. ("Pre-election Militarization of the North American Homeland. US Combat Troops in Iraq repatriated to 'help with civil unrest'," Global Research, September 26, 2008)

One scenario envisaged by Chossudovsky is that "civil unrest resulting from from the financial meltdown is a distinct possibility, given the broad impacts of financial collapse on lifelong savings, pension funds, homeownership, etc."


Four years ago, my assumption was that Cheney had okayed 9/11 and the War on the grounds that thanks to his alliance with the Christian Right via Bush, he couldn't lose:

a. the War works, we control world oil and force the world to subsidize our non-negotiable way of life.

b. the War fails, chaos engulfs America, and Cheney turns to the Christian Right to build a volunteer militia to crush resistance in most areas, while the Christian-infiltrated Air Force is brought home to deal with defiant cities.

However, to me the test for that would be the willingness of said Christians to enlist in the Army to fight in Iraq. They did not do so in nearly the kinds of numbers that convince me that they have any real guts for street fighting. Once I saw that Cheney could not depend on a fascist legion in a crisis, I figured he'd have to be sneakier.

I must admit, though, that it didn't occur to me that he would instead switch from creating a dictatorship of the Pentagon and Homeland Security to a dictatorship of the Federal Reserve and Treasury. No militia needed, just complacent rapture-waiters.

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero

What we have in the current Federal Government, is Treason, plain and simple. The Troops have been brought in to protect the White House and Congress, when the people begin to march on Washington. Which we will do, soon.

At our church, Nader quoted Cicero last night, too.

"Liberty is participation in Power."

(In q&a, I was able to ask him to apply that idea to energy, but didn't set it up in a way that got much meat in the answer. Just encouragement..)

I think we are headed for a permanent holiday, Green Day style.

A Nightmare for Sales of Dream Cars

Robert Bassam, used-car magnate, isn't driving his $415,000 Lamborghini these days, or his Porsche, and he has even warehoused his usual get-around-town car, a BMW 750. Instead, he's puttering along in a four-cylinder Hyundai Accent hatchback. It's more politically correct, he says. And economically correct: He doesn't feel like riding in luxury when the economy is tanking.

The air is actually rather crisp and sparkling, but in his showroom, and in dealerships across the nation, the mood is gloomy and getting gloomier. The figures for U.S. auto sales in September were stomach-churning. Bassam, a former pizza deliveryman who built Easterns Automotive Group into a regional powerhouse, has been forced to mark his 20th anniversary in the business by closing two of his 16 branches and laying off 60 employees.

The used-car lot that they talk about in this story is walking distance from home. Kind of an eyesore, really. Loaded up with big SUVs. The lot itself is an eyesore, of course. It is really just there temporarily - there is a Metro station that is scheduled to be built right by their front door, and the thinking is that this will be prime real estate - not something to be wasted on a used car lot.

I think when people are losing their jobs, retirement, etc, that driving in a Lamborghini likely invites hostilities from other drivers. Imagine the guy driving a clunker with the chance to cut off the guy in the Lamborghini... I can certainly imagine it, and I've certainly seen it, as the drivers of the pretty cars inevitably yield to the drivers of the ugly cars... As I've said before and again, "Ugly Car Wins"

I think my 1982 M-B 240D is pretty, but no one cuts me off :-)

Best Hopes for Steel Bumpers,


Thrift stores: We're seeing more middle-class shoppers

Thrift stores are booming. The only problem is donations are shrinking.

The surge in thrift store sales has its downside, though. The Salvation Army reports a dangerous decline in donations. Just as consumers are now more likely to buy secondhand goods, they are also less likely to get rid of their used clothing or furniture.

"We rely heavily on consumer culture," said spokeswoman Melissa Temme. "People are finding that the couch can last a little longer. The suit, while it may not be perfect for this year's fashion, is fine."

... "At some point it's going to come to a head," Temme said. "If donations continue to stay down, we're going to lack items to sell."

As a result, The Salvation Army is rolling out a national ad campaign in January -- the first in its 128-year history in this country.

Mortgage meltdown to hit credit card users

People are having their credit limits cut for strange reasons like where they shop.

The scary thing is this graph:

People are living off their credit cards, now that the refinancing ATM has shut down.

I just had a creditor inform me that they were canceling my credit card account due to lack of activity, which was discovered during a "periodic review". I've had the card several years and haven't placed a charge against it for three or four years, keeping it around as a reserve. Their review periods seem strangely lengthy.

In other words: "Periodic review, my a$$."

It will be interesting to see if the curve flattens or continues up. Eventually the credit card companies must lower lending limits and negotiate rates to prevent write-offs. Their goal should be to let you get to the point you can just barely make the payment plus late fees on average, and cut you off there.

But I think they've overshot, and will have to swallow write-offs wholesale.

That's what they used to do, but that is no longer a good business model. Not least because Congress is cracking down.

Now they are lowering your limit as you pay it off, chasing the balance down.

CNN is reporting that consumer borrowing in August fell for the first time since January 1998.

I did my part. I'm debt free (except for a mortgage) for the first time since about 1998 too.

That won't help the "real" economy though.

I think the elephant in the room will turn out to be T-bills. We can all watch oversize mortgages collapse, and consumer and even business debt collapse, and toast marshmallows on the embers of over-leveraged traders of derivatives, but the real question is who will pat the T-bills if the "real" economy turn out to be only 30% of what we thought it was?

While we're defaulting on debt, that would seem to be pretty bit risk.

My view of debt is perhaps a little different. We're only borrowing from our future if we actually pay back more than we borrow. If you look at it as an agreement to redistribute tangible wealth later in return for a smaller redistribution now, it looks like a sucker deal for the guys who expect to get theirs later.

Wasn't there a link a few days ago here to the video of the "clean out crews" in the Inland Empire in CA that were responsible for clearing out foreclosed homes and getting them in a "ready to sell" state? Mostly resulted in trucks of stuff going to the dump because everything had to go right then.

If donations to Salvation Army are dropping, they should get in contact with the guy that ran the clean out business and follow him around with their trucks. Perhaps this was tried - I seem to remember him saying that was attempted, but the trucks never showed up on time.

The EIA has posted its Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook this morning. Their estimates for Non-OPEC all liquids production has dropped considerably. In the Short Term Energy Outlook for January of this year they said 2007 Non-OPEC liquids production was 49.35 mb/d and predicted that 2008 liquids production would be 50.21 mb/d. Now 2007 production has been revised downward to 48.98 mb/d and 2008 production is expected to be 48.78 mb/d. That is a downward revision of 1.43 million barrels a day from their estimates posted in January of this year.

I have stated in several earlier posts that Non-OPEC, this year, will come off the current five year plateau that it has been on. It will be obvious when the final 2008 data has come in that the plateau has ended and Non-OPEC production is headed downward.

Oh, one more point. They are now predicting that Non-OPEC liquids production will be 49.51 mb/d in 2009. That is a revision from the 51.76 mb/d they were predicting for 2009 this past January. That is a lowering of expectations by 2.25 million barrels a day. But not to worry, even this estimate of 49.51 mb/d is still way too high. 2009 production will be even less than the new downward revision of 2008 production. However the production put offline by the hurricanes will make it pretty close.

Ron Patterson

Looking at table 3a of the STEO the maximum supply appears to be just under 87 mbd. It was 87 mbd in July but the North Sea production was very high that month and it appears to be an anomoly. August and September supply are at 85.5 and 84.7 respectively. August was low due to the issues in Georgia and September was low due to hurricane season. In addition Saudi dropped supply slightly in August and by .3 mbd in September.

Consumption has settled in the range of 85.5 to 86 mbd, both lower than the approx. 87 mbd consumption in January and February of this year. US consumption is between 1.5 and 2.0 mbd lower than the start of the year.

When production is free of disruptions it appears that OPEC are correct, there is plenty of crude available and inventories did build in May, June and July. However inventories dropped in August and September due to supply disruptions.

Some of the supply disruptions in the GOM and the former soviet union continue into October which should put supply around 86 mbd putting the supply and consumption in balance.

A lot of the recent drop in crude prices is due to demand destruction, particularly in the US. Traders appear to be focused on future demand as their rationale for price drops. But there are two questions in my mind:

1. The demand destruction we saw in the US peaked with $4 gas. With prices now dropping below $3 how much of that deamnd destruction will reverse?

2. If the global economy does slow how much will it slow demand growth? The supply/demand balance appears to be about zero in September after a couple of months of excess supply. Will the slowing economy be enough to offset growth in China, the Middle East and other third world countries?

Finally when will the production problems in the GOM, Ajerbaijan and Nigeria impact prices?

I think the decrease in prices was more of a factor of the destruction of available investment money than physical demand destruction...just my opinion.

Given that the US is not swimming in oil and gasoline at these new low prices I concur.

This is the critical post on the subject IMHO


Regarding "Don't Worry About Oil" from: Ode Magazine: Online Community for Intelligent Optimists.

The point of the article is that technology rapidly changes the world. Plus, Silicon Valley investors are doubling down on green energy companies. They built the internet and it was good -- they'll build a new energy infrastructure. Bad people are pushing peak oil and using that to push dangerous nuclear power.

Maybe I'm one of those silly Parisians of 1880, apparently too pessimistic to simply believe that some magic will arise to solve everything. Thinking of transportation, aside from electricity and its battery problems, hydrogen and the energy loss in its generation, biofuels and modern farming's reliance on NG based fertilizer, what am I missing?

What is the cure to all our ills? I'm holding out for portable fusion modules about the size and weight of a case of beer: plug your house into your car!!

I hear somebody's working on a compact, lightweight vehicle with two wheels and pedals.

Bicycles with pedals were invented in Paris in 1866.

The horse drawn trams of Paris were electrified in the 1880s and early 1890s (dramatic reduction in horse manure in the streets).


The case of beer WAS the great invention.

There is a much cruder solution but I haven't seen the data to prove that it's efficient enough. It's a sonic heat pump, which has a wide end and a narrow end. A heat source (wood, solar) in the middle is used to generate shock waves, which widen out and cool at the wide end, and squeeze in and heat up at the narrow end. Eventually you get an oven at one end and a refrigerator at the other. You could even put a subwoofer in there, run it in reverse and obtain electricity. Lots of subwoofers will become available once the stupid cars they were installed in get scrapped.

It's not Mr. Fusion, but at least we could build one out of available junk.

You could even put a subwoofer in there, run it in reverse and obtain electricity.

The amount of power from a sub-woofer isn't worth it.

There a sonic stirling engines made by NASA. For Space.

The majority of power from heat comes via gas expansion. The other way is a thermoelectric cell. Almost all the fans ontop of stoves that use heat are thermoelectric.

There is a sort of heat engine, called thermoacoustic. The only moving part is sound waves. I think they are actually used for compressing natural gas. IIRC efficiency is only around 15% (a bit higher than thermoelectric), but nothing close to a good stirling engine.

I'm wondering if the center of finance might be leaving New York and moving to San Jose. In spite of the dotcom bubble Silicon Valley did create a large amount of real wealth in the form of computer hardware and many other digital devices. They are the ones with real wealth to invest and the innovative culture we need for 21st century prosperity. New York still has its head stuck in a 19th century butt.

From the New York Times:

Iceland Seeks Emergency Loan From Russia

Iceland said Tuesday that it was seeking a $5.4 billion emergency loan from Russia, pegged its currency to an index and took control of one of its largest banks as the North Atlantic island struggled to keep its economy afloat.

Their currency continues it's death spiral. Here it is against the Euro:

[Almost cut in half]

300,000 UK customers of Iceland's Icesave web-based bank have found their accounts inaccesible today after its failure.

Icesave savers warned on accounts

Customers of the Icesave internet bank have been warned they will probably have to claim compensation for money held in their savings accounts.

The authorities in the UK are preparing for the bank's parent in Iceland, Landsbanki, to be declared insolvent.

The Icelandic government took control of the country's second-biggest bank on Tuesday to keep it afloat.

Icesave is not currently allowing customers to take money out of their accounts or to put in deposits.

Iceland is the poster child for the disconnect between the real economies of nations and the financial world.

As goes Iceland goes the world.

Iceland is the poster child for the disconnect between the real economies of nations and the financial world.

As goes Iceland goes the world.

Hm -- not sure. There was an article in the German FT today in which the Iceland prez Grimsson was quoted as saying, Iceland had 'endless clean energy from geothermal and volcanos' and enough fish in the waters around it - so there wasn't really a problem. He was described as a quite relaxed guy.

On the other hand they have (had) three banks, each with a quite aggressive expansion policy as it seems, and only 300,000 inhabitants. In Germany if we had one bank for every 100,000 citizens there would be a total of 800 different banks ..

The point is the disconnect between the real economic capability of Iceland and its banking system.

This has nothing to do with the intrinsic strength or weakness of the actual economy itself.

It will be some time before the total amount of currency and its valuation is inline with Icelands actual economic needs. Same of course for the US dollar.

Remember back in the good olde days when currencies where primarily used as a medium of exchange for goods and services.

We have to destroy trillion of dollars in debt before even get close to the amount of money needed for the "real" economy. M1 and M2 are a good example of how little real money the economy needs vs the amount of debt thats been created.

The point is the disconnect between the real economic capability of Iceland and its banking system.

Agree with you, but don't you think that the diverge of both is pretty extreme in this particular case?

We have to destroy trillion of dollars in debt before even get close to the amount of money needed for the "real" economy.

Sounds like all those financial products have piled up massive amounts of money without visibly causing inflation. I read some banker being quoted as 'all those products were designed that way, in order to confuse. The intention was that nobody should be in the know.'

The point is the disconnect between the real economic capability of Iceland and its banking system.

The question I have is what effect this will have on the real economy, and government of Iceland. Before the crisis, they didn't have a deficit. But, if they have to make good -or partially good on the mostly foreign deposits, it could be a pretty crushing burden. Do any Icelanders have an educated guess as to what is going to happen.

War buffs might recall that the first stage of America's Lend-Lease program to Britain was that we took control of Britain's naval base in Iceland so we could fight Nazi submarines.

We've still got the base. I wonder if Putin has any interest in Lend-Lease?

we took control of Britain's naval base in Iceland

Britain never had a naval base in Iceland

The US conducted a unilateral occupation of Iceland

Simply not true. The USA, with the general support of the Icelandic people, replaced the British occupation force and made security guarantees.


Funny you should mention that...

Money Goes Geopolitical: Iceland Seeking Rescue From Russia

But what price will the Russians demand for their bailout? A highly-placed source in Reykjavik tells Coffee House that Iceland might look kindly on requests from Russia's military to use America's former military base in Iceland. America closed its Naval Air Station at Keflavik Airport two years ago, handing back the Nato facility to the Icelandic government.

I have found an article discussing the energy cost of converting existing cars to plug-in hybrid power, which links to a quantitative estimate.


The main conclusion was that it would take 8600 miles of driving to reach break-in on the cost of a conversion versus 20,000 to 40,000 for manufacturing various sizes of PHEV to replace and crush a conventional car.

I'm sure many objections can be raised to the methodology. My main problem with conversions right now is the lousy choice of suitable cars here in the US.

I've got the equation at home for the amount of energy needed to move a car given certain variables, and I just don't see the point in converting any car that weighs more than 2000 lbs. However, we haven't had any lighter cars since the Festiva and Metro disappeared, and they can't pass the current crash tests. A friend of mine got pretty badly beaten up in a Festiva crash a few years back, including her face.

Now the new Ford Fiesta is supposed to weigh 2200 lbs, which is close enough, and will have to pass the crash test. So at least we've got a decent starting point.

(Even if we have lighter cars, fooling around with the equation indicates to me that the only place where we might make any big improvements in performance is by reduction of the car's width, which means an all-new car. By using staggered seating I came up with a car with about 10 feet of frontal area, which is half that of a normal small car. It makes a big difference for highway range.)

Super, have a look at the Japanese Kei cars.


Unfortunately, you still can't get them in the U.S. The Nissan Figaro is really popular in Vancouver, and the small trucks are being used by trades people.

Nope, they can't pass US crash tests. They can be operated on private property. If they were converted to electric they could be licensed as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, but it's expensive for a car that is limited to 25 mph.

If we had a London-style restricted zone in, say, Manhattan, and we upped the speed limit to 35 mph, we could create a pretty good market right away.

My Dad had two of those kei-cars when he lived in Japan. The first was the very first Mazda car type ever sold, and the second was a 1969 Honda N360, its first front-driver and thus the ancestor of most current Japanese cars.

The street speed limit in New Orleans is 25 mph, and 35 mph on streets with neutral grounds (medians to y'all). Some GEMs in use here.


I take it then that both motorcycles and bicycles pass the crash tests with flying colors?
The Saftey Freaks are a bunch of morons!

Safety is a luxury that will not be affordable in the future. Everything needs to be re-prioritized. Things like eating and staying warm and dry will move up, at the expense of other things that suddenly won't seem so important. Of course, should you get hurt....

It doesn't have to be safety that suffers overall.
Almost no-one ides from being hit at 20 miles an hour, and if the chance was taken to lower speed limits in residential areas, plus a lot of the SUV's and monster vehicles are priced off the road by rising petrol prices and unemployment, then overall deaths and injuries might decrease.
I'm very keen on electric scooters personally, as my health is not good, but for many using push-bikes will improve their cardio-vascular performance so greatly that overall their mortality rates might improve.

Motorcycles and bikes DO pass crash tests with flying colors. The colors depend on what the rider is wearing at the time.

I've used an inverse line of reasoning when people argue that helmets should be mandatory for motorcycle riders. Many thousands more closed head injuries occur each year in automobiles than motorcycles. If we were really interested in reducing the gross incidence of head injuries, we would require auto occupants to wear helmets, wouldn't we?

I live in a US state (Colorado) that allows you to build and operate a homemade vehicle with virtually no safety equipment beyond lights and some kind of seatbelt. I think we will start to see a resurgence of kit cars like we saw in the 70's and 80's when there were dozens based on the VW Beetle. Of course, there doesn't really seem to be a suitable donor car anymore, so maybe what we need is someone to come up with an Open Source type frame design that people can add onto. Adopting the homebuilt aircraft business model for liability might help. There are dozens of homebuilt manufacturers.

Online bank customers create damaging 'silent runs'

The ease with which technology allows customers to move their money around by internet or phone has introduced a new financial phenomenon – the "silent run" on a bank.

Within hours, telephone and internet banking customers can remove huge amounts of money from a bank rumoured to be in trouble, without telltale queues, or any other outward sign of the flood of cash.

Beats standing in a long line outside the actual building, don't you think?

[edited and added]

I wonder if there is a virtual Jimmy Stewart out there popping up when people make withdrawls saying "Ya...ya..ya can't just take all yar money out...why it's money tied up in Jimmy's farm...and Harry's drug store...and Goerge's hedge fund..)

Does anyone know of any online pitchfork revolution sites?

Silent Runs?

GOOD! That's less money that the FDIC has to cover.

Not really. It's the opposite. People are pulling out money that's over the FDIC limit. By doing so, they drive the bank over the brink, forcing the FDIC to take it over and cover all the deposits that are under the limit.

Hence the new, higher limit. It's supposed to help prevent that kind of run on the bank.

I have a problem. 14 days ago I advised Lloyds TSB to transfer a notable sum of money to ING in Brussels. The transfer has been approved. But the money is still not on ING's bank account. What is going wrong?

Well they've TOLD you that the financial pipes are "clogged"! Just like the intertubes.

Nothing is wrong, they just didn't take your advice :-)

What is going wrong?

Bank liquidity and probably bank solvency.

In my recent experience it is not linked to any particular bank.

It is very easy to put money into banks but very difficult to get it out as cash or transfer it to another bank.

If a bank fails you will be given a cheque that you can pay into another bank, not cash.

If banks (who make a living form lending money) don't want to lend money to each other you should beware, why should you lend your money to a bank at the moment?

I mentioned a few days ago that our mortgage company (which happens to be in bankruptcy) is calling virtually non-stop demanding that we set up a tax impound account, despite the fact that we are current with all our payments on all fronts, have called the county to confirm there is nothing wrong and have repeatedly told them that we decline their "request" to give them additional money before it is due. Apparently CountryWide comingled its various accounts and I have no doubt that will occur should we agree forward them more money.

I think companies are getting desperate to increase and retain the cash they have on hand.

Do not sit back and wait this out; roll up your sleeves and keep that money moving to its proper destination. No one will take better care of your money than you.

Is this why Nuclear power is sooo good?

The UK has 10 operating nuclear power stations, each has two reactors. When they are working they supply a fifth of the power that keeps the lights on.

But two of the ten power stations have been out of action because of corrosion in their reactors. Another two have had one of their reactors closed down for months. And yet another two are having to run both their reactors at less than three-quarters of their normal power for safety reasons.


The UK reactors we have are fairly old now so it's not surprising really. Us brits are a fairly cafeful lot and i'm sure in some choice other countries they wouldn't be shut down! I'm hoping that EDF can do the business with our new gen reactors we are getting.

I'm really holding out for nuclear as I think it is our last hope.


edit: I was looking for the news link about EDF and our new reactors and instead found this: LOL!


I'm in favour of expanding nuclear so that it progressively over the years provides a greater proportion of the UK's energy needs, but this is why I don't support an immediate huge-scale building program. I don't think immediately building, say, forty reactors all with identical design flaws is at all sensible, rather than observing the failures of the earlier models in designing later ones. (It also worries me that some of the most vocal general internet proponents of nuclear are software developers. I work with computer programs myself, and the level of reliability that is economically optimal -- and hence used -- for computer programs is far, far too low for nuclear power stations: there's no analogue of restoring from backup tapes for a nuclear power station.) I also really need to see if the calculations of fuel availability, using modern estimates, are as long term stable as many claim.

It's my usual refrain: it would be genuinely great if nuclear solves things for us, but it has to actually work in practice and not just make for great punditry.

"but it has to actually work in practice and not just make for great punditry."

So tell me the reactors in the UK,France, Germany and Japan have they been "actually working in practice.?" I wonder what that reactor was doing in Calder Hall for about the last 50 years? Seems there is one near Munich that is due to be phased out in the near future that has been online for about 50 years also. Just how much "practice" do you need?

Coal-fired generators work too. But the practice was having to find out the ecological consequences of having thousands of them working around the clock in every major city. Same for millions of gasoline-powered cars. In the case of nuclear, waste storage will be a matter of thousands of years of practice.

So when your car is 50 years old it should have enough miles (experience) driving that it won't ever break down. The U.S. nuclear fleet is the gold standard of any type of electric production. That is why more are going to be built. If a utility CEO sits down and gives you the real deal he or she will say, "We need base load power, and not only is coal getting expensive but the government is going to tax it so I am buying nuclear."

What makes nuclear economical is the fact that engineers figured out how to get the capacity factor in the mid-90s. Even the nuclear plants that went way over budget have been enormously profitable. (except TMI)

Take a look at the improvement in capacity factors.


The U.S. nuclear fleet is the gold standard of any type of electric production.

Actually hydroelectric (including pumped storage is). The perfect power source from a grid POV (just not enough hydro).

Nuclear is problematic from a grid POV, VERY large requirements for spinning reserve, large units that cannot be run at partial load, sudden outages when needed most (New Orleans after Gustav was an electrical island. We had to take Grand Gulf 3 nuke off line because of the instability of the grid).

Nuclear has a place, and should be expanded, but gold standard it is not.

New nukes (except maybe Farley 2) are not 90% capacity factor when new. It takes a dozen years or so to reach that level of reliability for almost all. And 91.8% capacity factor is *NOT* mid-90s as claimed.

Many nukes have been money pits. Zimmer, Whoops 1-5, Watts Bar, and on and on. Zimmer did as much as TMI to kill nukes.

The nukes building industry committed hari kari and killed the US nuke industry itself. Screw-up after screw-up, cost over runs, multi-year delays, Browns Ferry 1 fire, Zimmer, TVA nukes, and more.

The most way to prevent a repeat is an orderly nuke build-out. Say 6 or 7 new nukes in the next decade, rebuild experience and suppliers.

You overstate the case for nukes.


Ok mid 90s and 91.8 is a little bit different. you got me

I don't think hydro puts enough energy in the grid to be a gold standard. Plus I don't think the Southeast US utilities would share your opinion about hydro right now either. Water is going to be a scarce commodity not too far from now around the world.

Second, large nuclear units can run at partial load, but its not cost effective so why would you want to? As far as the grid is concerned, I think nuclear plants have pluses and minuses.

Third, I meant the operating plants were the gold standard, but I bet that TVA and others wish they had bit the bullet and finished the nuclear plants that got canceled. I'd also argue that the plants that had huge cost overruns are turning nice profits right now, especially the ones operating in unregulated markets.

I share your opinion that an orderly nuke build is going to happen but probably double your 6-7 by 2018-2020. I don't understand why someone would think that its possible to build a huge number of nuclear plants right now. We don't need too much more power as things are now depending on where you live. I was simply responding to the silly notion that because 50 year old power plants are breaking down in the UK, that nuclear power is a poor choice.

Hydro is about 7% of US electricity and imported Canadian hydro another 1% (we could get another 2% or so from them; Manitoba has 5 GW of projects they are actively selling, Wisconsin bought 900 MW. Quebec, BC, Newfoundland also have projects).

Pumped storage can see MASSIVE expansion. Raccoon Mountain is the GOLD STANDARD of TVA power plants. 1.6 GW on demand, in seconds. Great reactive power, a source and not a sink of spinning reserve (do you understand the implications of spinning reserve, one of nuke's biggest flaws ?)

TVA and Alabama Power are the two biggest hydro producers and they are quite happy with it. Only in Georgia is drought an issue ATM.

The French tried to to daily cycling (NOT load following, nukes are not nearly nimble enough for that !) and, I understand, failed miserably.

TVA canceled about one dozen nukes (and stopped repairs of fire damaged Browns Ferry 1) and did nothing for over a dozen years. Then they repaired BF 1, then finished Watts Bar 1, and are now finishing Watts Bar 2. The snail like pace (20 years to repair BF 1 !) suggest that they saw nukes as a marginal investment.

The Dept. of Energy says that we can build a maximum of 8 new nukes in a decade. I add a little Murphy and come up with 6 to 7.

Best Hopes for Some new nukes,


More electric cars charging at night would take care of some of that excess power.

San Luis reservoir in my backyard 2M acre feet of pumped in pumped out water for San Jauquin valley. The nuke could fill it during the night.

I still prefer solar. Put the peaker power on top of the peak usage. I love my system. 16097 kw and counting. Plus my off grid system that doesn't have a meter. This laptop, the router, and the rest of my office run on the solar charged batteries 24x7 now.

It just takes a commitment. Unfortunately, the fact that Sales Tax is charged just goes to show what the government commitment really is.

Here's to watching movies during a blackout.

Given that I've seen the millennium bridge in London that was initially essentially unsuable:


the one that all the hot-shot engineers excited;u proclaimed was "due to completely unknown and unexpected new effects" until it was pointed out that this effect was well known to army engineers building pontoon bridges, I'm dubious about not committing any big design errors in any kind of ultra fast ramp up. I wouldn't even be surprised if they ended up re-inventing design flaws that were previously identified.

Unless they're going to build a reactor with the exact same design as Calder Hall (which I gather was actually for weapon enrichment) or the one in Munich, we're into territory where engineers are designing new stuff where they will do some cool new stuff, some of which will be wrong. I'm sure we can deal with two or three rectors with design faults -- even if it involves radiation leaks -- and improve the designs over a roll-out as the design gets shaken out. What worries me is having to deal with fifty reactors in the UK built at the same time with the same faulty design.

I'm for building nuclear reactors, but I want them built by people with the mindset of "I have to find what I did that's going to go wrong before it goes wrong" rather than "this is all trivial, well-known stuff".

The last four reactors completed in France were N4s. Despite being an evolutionary design, there were common design flaws that brought all 4 down for months.


Yep. A series build of nuclear power is not a perfect solution.
The fact is, that in spite of it;s imperfections France now has a working energy system likely to keep it's citizen's warm and it's industry powered up - and that with some of the lowest CO2 emissions in Europe.
The UK is unlikely to be able to do either.

Regardless of the contribution other resources may make at the edges, in present day technology we have two choices we can actually build, nuclear or conventional coal.
The supplies the Government has been counting on in natural gas are as unlikely to materialise as the oil it reckons we will have out to

I'm al in favour of more conservation, insulation, on-shore wind, the Severn barrage and whatever else, but none of that has more than a marginal effect on our overwhelming need to build more power stations as quickly as it can be done.
So coal, or nuclear?

You forgot the third option.. adjust 'Overwhelming Need'.

Oh, I guess that's been taken off the table.

I don't know what bit of my advocacy of conservation and insulation which I clearly advocated above does not indicate an attempt to adjust to mitigate 'overwhelming need'.
You still need to generate power somehow.
Including an estimate for the use of gas for heating you might be talking of around 130 GW or so of power need, not including transport.
So fiddle around with the figures to allow for conservation as much as you want, there is still the need for a massive build.
Unless by adjustment you mean a few million dying?

Wind can provide a large and quick supplement, whilst nuke is anything but quick.

Override NIMBY's and put in mainly on-shore wind (with a bit of off-shore) at the following rate (nameplate)

2010 - 2 GW
2011 - 5 GW
2012 - 10 GW (with 2 GW of pumped storage and increased grid)
2013 - 16 GW (with an extra 1 GW of pumped Storage)

This would stretch natural gas supplies significantly.


Those numbers don't relate any way that I am aware of to the actual land available for on-shore wind in the UK, this isn't the plains of the US, with vast area of land with good wind resources, and presumably anyway do not take account of load factors, so you are actually talking about 30% or so of the figures you have quoted.
Where in the world did you get those figures from? They are far above any projection by bodies such as the BWEA as far as I know, and you always refer to the impossibility of building more nuclear plants than the number the DOE has suggested would be possible in America in the next decade, so presumably you always want to work from authoritatively sourced estimates.
So what are your sources?

In any case, none of this changes in any way the basic equation - I am quite happy to build as much on-shore wind as possible, but even the very high estimate you are suggesting would still mean that you were only getting around 5GW of actual average hourly output from this, when 30GW are due to be retired by around 2015, so you are still down to a choice of whether you prefer coal or nuclear power.
I don't delude myself that either will be able to substantially fill the gap in time, as the plan is to rely on gas we won't have, but building wind in no way alters the need to get on and build nuclear plants as rapidly as possible, unless you particularly fancy loads of CO2 from coal and that sources' other pollutants.

You are surely not trying to suggest that on-shore wind is an alternative to having to face up to the need for nuclear power?
It can help, but it won't solve the problem.

There is likely to be zero new British nukes before 2013 (and quite good to have one new UK nuke by 2013).

So, for the years leading to the first new nuke on-line, and a half dozen to a dozen years after that, it is wind or coal.

The UK has the resource (although it will spoil the views), largely on-shore but some off-shore (One proposal has 18 GW of UK on-shore wind).


Concentrate of on-shore first, then shift to off-shore, until enough nukes are built (2020+ ?)


There is likely to be zero new British nukes before 2013 (and quite good to have one new UK nuke by 2013).

So, for the years leading to the first new nuke on-line, and a half dozen to a dozen years after that, it is wind or coal.

The UK has the resource (although it will spoil the views), largely on-shore but some off-shore (One proposal has 18 GW of UK on-shore wind).


Concentrate of on-shore first, then shift to off-shore, until enough nukes are built (2020+ ?)

Another source has The onshore technical wind resource for the EU-15 has been conservatively estimated at 554 terawatt-hours (TWh),


Elsewhere the UK is said to have the wind resource of the EU-15.

Elsewhere, the UK is estimated to have half of the EU wind potential.

My basic point is that wind, especially on-shore wind, can definitely extend the natural gas supplies more than nuclear can, because it can come on-line sooner than either coal or nuke.

Longer term, both wind and nuke need pumped storage. Wind follows, very roughly, UK demand (higher in winter & daytime) while nuke is constant (other than scheduled maintenance) and demand is not.

By 2025 a nuke only (+ existing hydro) UK grid is NOT viable, but a nuke + wind + hydro/pumped storage + some exports & imports is quite viable.

The high % French nuke only works because of their ability to import & export (plus 10% hydro). The UK simply cannot duplicate the French effort (where is your Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands ?, you have only Ireland & France nearby).

On-Shore Irish wind could be traded with the UK grid (nuke + wind + pumped storage) and joint long term planning may be in order.

Best Hopes for Keeping the Lights on,


Hi Alan,
As I said , I have nothing against an on-shore build to whatever degree is practical, but again it is continually necessary to remind ourselves that even using the Sinden reports' 18GW installed that means a real output on average of only around 6GW - about 1/5th of the projected decline in generating capacity by 2015.
Getting hold of the nacelles will also not be easy.
So it will help to one degree or another but not solve the problem.

Your comments about difficulties interconnecting the UK grid would apply with even more force to a system utilising a high degree of wind power - the only reason Denmark manages it's high wind input is due to access to the continental grid, and especially Scandinavian hydro-power.
In fact the UK can also tap into the continental grid via Belgium as well as France, and hence Holland and Germany indirectly.
Capacity will remain limited for the forseeable future though.

It seems to me that you are too dismissive of the possibility of running nuclear for other than base load. Because it is not done currently in a situation which has utilised cheap fossil fuels does not mean is is impossible where fossil fuels are either unavailable or expensive, and new designs such as PBR reactors are better suited for load following.

In any case there are a lot of opportunities for load-smoothing, at least in France.
They would appear to have both the technology and the finance for a rapid roll-out of EV cars, unlike in the US where I can't see it happening.
Differential charging for electricity to encourage night-time top-ups is proven to work:

So the limits your refer to in the proportion of power which can be generated by nuclear means really refer to a particular point in time, with cheap fossil fuels and little incentive to carry out the fairly straightforward alterations by the time it is needed, in the 2020 time-frame.

You are quite correct that nuclear can't come on line until about 2017, with substantial new capacity in 2020 and beyond.
Whatever may be the case in the US, access to French technology and personnel mean that a first tranche of 4 double 1.6GW reactors should be perfectly feasible, which would give around 10GW of power at a conservative 80% utilisation factor to allow for teething troubles.
Although I would emphasise again that like you I am in favour of a wind build, the difference is that the 18GW of onshore wind, effective 6GW, would be about tops for the technology, with just about all the suitable places with turbines on them. The 10GW effective from nuclear could continue to expand, perhaps to the same number of reactors as France, around 60. This would effectively provide all the power the UK needs, as things like air-source heat pumps and better insulation should greatly reduce consumption.

Although I have been happy to discuss this at a purely technical level, so as to show the inadequacy of renewables to do more than contribute, not solve, Britain's energy problems, it should also be noted that for a variety of reasons a build on this scale for wind just is not going to happen.

The geography of the British Isles mean that the vast majority of it's wind resources are in Northern Ireland and Scotland, not in England and Wales where the vast majority of the people live.

In the case of Northern Ireland, just to increase the proportion of wind power for that province to a very high level would mean building new connections to the mainland.

In the case of Scotland it appears inevitable that in the 2010 election, the Scottish National Party will win handsomely.
Whether independence is actually declared or not, a great deal of de-facto independence will ensue.
This would mean that there would be no constituency at all for building transmission lines across the beauty of the Highlands for the benefit of 'yon Southrons', and the SNP has already declared that they would attach a high priority to seeking to interconnect to the Scandanavian grid and using hydropower there to compensate for the fluctuation in supply resulting from a high dependence on renewables.
Disregarding that, in the event of a cold snap in winter there is no way the Scots would ship power south to England in the very energy constrained world we face, so for the vast majority in these isles an increased wind build save for the limited numbers which could effectively be built in England with it's lower wind speeds would contribute nothing at all to supply when it was really needed.

I have lumped Wales together with England for the purposes of these comments, as AFAIK the grid there is so heavily integrated into the English grid that it could not be isolated from the grid there in times of shortage.
If this assumption is incorrect, which it may well be, then the situation in England is even worse, as Wales could then follow Scotland's path.

It seems then, in view of the disintegration of the UK, that it would be a waste of taxpayers money to invest in wind other than in England and Wales, as when it is needed it will not flow south from Scotland.

My response was mainly aimed at your conclusion, in which you came down again to only the two heavy hitters. The whole point of the Peak Oil issue and of this site, from my perspective, is the growing realization that we are about to all be confronting a massive reduction in available energy. Maybe England, and not Hawaii will be the Canary. I hope not, but I don't take credit or blame for it, either.

It will take, if anything lots and lots of BB's, not Superpowers and WonderFuels.. and we probably will have to discover how to knock off not 25%, but more like 95% of our current energy usage. It's not a matter of whether this is 'Acceptable' to us or not.. it's now simply a matter of momentum.

Desperate lunges towards Nuclear and Coal will surely bring out the very worst in both of those sources, while I've also indicated that I simply don't trust that Nuclear will be sustainable or dependable in a post-peak environment anyway, since it depends on an energy-rich environment to supply its highly particular needs at numerous levels in order to function safely or at all. As the emergency grows, I have no doubt that there will be Reactors sprouting up in England and the US, and they'll probably be built on a FastTrack.. good luck with it. I'll be working towards any other solutions I can consider, and I don't accept that this is an implicit acquiescence towards Coal power. We need other answers than those two..

Bob Fiske

Nuclear, is -or could be sustainable if we used a prpoer fuel cycle. But that requires, either expensive reprocessing, or Thorium, and in either case, new designs. The problem here is time, we need these new complete fuel cycle reactors, but we don't have the time it would take to develop them.

Bob and Alan, sorry if I sounded dismissive of using other power sources, I don't really think I am in substantial disagreement with either of you, as I am all in favour of using just about anything else as well as nuclear which can be built reasonably economically - Alan's figures AFAIK for wind are pretty optimistic, as there are major supply hitches with nacelles, but anyway, build it as fast as we reasonably can.

The real reason that I am hammering home the choice between the two sources of coal and nuclear is that many falsely think that we can somehow just run things on renewables in the UK and not have to confront the nuclear decision.
Now I don't think that either of you imagine that, but looking at the magnitude of power needs in our little, not-sunny island, this choice is not realistic, so it seems to me imperative to confront people with the fact that unless they fancy dirty coal, then either we have a mass die-off or go nuclear.
No objection from me to conservation and using any renewables which are available at reasonable price, but the fundamental issue should not be obscured.
BTW, Alan, this is written somewhat in haste, so apologies for the generic reply, and also for not yet examining the sources you quote, but I will catch you guys later, and w8ill certainly study the references you have given.

You are beating the drum just for nukes (and always add the caveat of "cost effective renewables").

The truth is that if is quite likely that the TSHTF for UK electricity before the FIRST new UK nuke is commercial, and will certainly hit the fan before enough new nukes are built (2025 ?).

On-shore wind can be built faster than other source (except conservation), slightly faster than new natural gas plants.

German wind turbine installations (19 GW nameplate I think) are about to slow dramatically. The UK can pick up the slack, plus production from new factories.

The cost of NO electricity is quite high (as is no natural gas), high enough to make off-shore wind look almost free. And that is what the UK is facing. The UK may complete one, or even two new nukes before facing that issue. So build those nukes, but that is simply NOT enough, soon enough.

Send me an eMail (in my profile) and I will send you some UK wind analysis pdfs.

Best Hopes for keeping the lights on,


Alan, the reason I beat the drum, as you say, is that some falsely think that renewables offer a way of not needing nuclear build.
I know that you do not think that, so to a large degree we are talking past each other with no substantial disagreement.

The reason I do not emphasise my support for renewables more is because the desirability of that option is in no way controversial, and neither is the need for conservation.
In this latter respect perhaps I can point you to my web-site, where I set out many of the possible measures, not because you are unaware of them, but to show that I fully take into account the need for other contributions:

Please note that the criticisms there about wind power refer specifically to off-shore wind, not the far cheaper on-shore wind, and since I wrote that blog I have looked at the Sinden report, which in addition indicates that the wind resource follows peak use in the UK very closely so increasing it's attractions.
It is also likely that materials cost will drop from recessions, so improving wind's economics.
It has also become apparent that the energy gap will be so great that solar thermal panels should be installed as fast as possible, although they are not very effective when most needed.

Please see my other post in this thread regarding the geopolitical constraints on wind in the UK - basically the Scots won't let the rest of the UK have the power when it is needed.

You are quite right about the time-lines involved, and I wish that wind was able to make a greater contribution than seems likely to England and Wales's power needs, so we are not in disagreement on it's desirability, just on it's likelihood.

Unfortunately, you are also quite correct in your time-line to be able to power the country substantially from nuclear power, so I would expect two results, severe and economically crippling shortages, and a build of coal, of the old-fashioned, dirty sort, although the time-lines for that aren't hugely better than for nuclear and it would lock in CO2 emissions for around 60 years.
Here is my desperation plan to stay warm:

All this is specific to the UK - in the US wind power is going to have a huge part to play, and I would also expect solar PV to be competitive for peak load in many areas. Geothermal is also shamefully underutilised.
Financing any of this won't be easy though, but for wind power at least easier than for nuclear power with it's long lead times.Unless you send us Texas though, we just don't have equivalent relatively cheap resources in the UK!
The Severn barrage is probably about the best bet, but constructing that will take a fair time.
Adding that to the on-shore wind potential of the UK would give you a total renewable output of around 10-11GW, which is helpful but not decisive in a total energy requirement of over 100GW, even allowing for conservation.
Hence my emphasis on pulling the debate here back to focussing on the necessity for a nuclear build.

There is no way in God's earth that 40 reactors could be built in the immediate future anyway.
The most that could be ordered as a first tranche would be around 4-10.

I don't know what you imagine the energy alternatives are for Britain, but out of a total of around 75GW about 30GW will be scrapped by 2015.
Most of the household heating is done by natural gas, which is getting progressively more expensive and may mot be available in the quantities required.

In reality there are two choices for the bulk of the electricity provision for the UK, coal - the old fashioned sort, not some mythical clean coal which no-one presently knows how to do, apart from it's huge costs, and nuclear.
We will be lucky if we can get the supplies lined up for a relatively modest build in any case, as demand for nuclear worldwide is going through the roof.

To put the blah about renewables in context, the most ambitious proposals for the main source, wind, envisages 33GW installed, actual average output around 10GW per hour by 2020 - a fraction of what is needed.
That is before considering the huge cost, certainly on current figures over twice that of a nuclear build, as most of it would have to be off-shore.
It also fails to take into account that even the British Wind Energy Association considers this level of build to be out of the question - to install the thousands of off-shore wind turbines needed, there is currently one vessel available.

The new designs are in fact progressions of current designs, which have dozens built and hundreds of years of operating experience.
France carried out it's build over some 17 years from a standard design, and actually we could order Westinghouse reactors as well as the French Areva, although we have run our nuclear industry down so far that we really need the French expertise to get something going, at least for the first few years.

Everyone seems to imagine that we have infinite time available to fool around.
In reality shortages may bite this winter, and will continue to worsen to a truly disastrous state of affairs by 2015 at latest, with numerous deaths and industry being ruined.
Check out the link Leanan gave above - we are likely to loose much of our industry anyway by the time the first stations come on line:

We seem to have lots of fussy shoppers around, picking amongst imaginary options, when we are entering into a period of utter dearth, when getting something built is about the only way of staying warm and solvent - or at least, getting back to that, as all the messing around means that we are going to go through ruinous times which will kill many of the vulnerable.

On shore wind turbines could be installed quickly and economically. If the UK NIMBYs were not in control.


Where? In enough quantity to supply other than a small contribution to power, that is.

All the on-shore wind we have so far built generates less power than just one nuclear or coal plant on average per hour.
We have 60 million people on one small island, with most of the heavily populated parts not being very windy.

The cost of wind on shore is non-trivial, too, although far less than off-shore, which also suffers from unknown maintenance costs and longevity.

The will be substantial bills to provide the needed connections to the remote areas most of the wind is in:

On shore wind is a contribution, not an answer, as are schemes for the Severn barrage etc.
The bulk of needs has to come from nuclear or coal.

About 12 years ago, we had a choice:

Think about the strategic resource of electricity, or, throw a party.

We threw a party.

We got a Dome, A fairground wheel, a half billion £ toon cooncil office in Edinburgh

We also got about 600 000 psuedo-employees on the government payroll vote.

Can't have it both ways I am afraid. It doesnt work like that.

So now we have neither the time or the money to repair this crime against the British population.

Nuclear power works.

(If you have a government that has the balls for it and ignores the calls of the green cabal).

But it is too late now.

Nuclear power works if it is financially underwritten by government. Which it should have been, as in France which still has central planning. Instead we have a deregulated, just in time electricity generation system with no spare capacity, and power cuts looming within a few years, if not this winter.

I wish it were just in time!
Unfortunately, in the UK we got our acronyms confused, and instead of a JIT system have installed a SOL system!

Tapping out a message on the internet in the UK, I feel rather like a character in the book 'On the Beach'.

Roger Cohen mentions the Kipling poem "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" today in his column. It is a good column, and also worth reading the poem in it's entirety. This is a prescient view of what's happened to our current market and culture. Too bad Kipling isn't here to advise:

The Poem:


The column:


PS, if you haven't read his poem "The Last of the Light Brigade" I highly recommend it.

"The Young British Soldier" isn't bad either. Too many armies have met with misfortune in Afghanistan.

Apparantly Obama has not read Kipling either. " ... send more troops to Afghanistan." The Brits knew more about it over a hundred years ago than Obama will ever know.

"When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier ~of~ the Queen!"

So did Xerxes and Alexander the Great and others.

Halagu Khan didn't seem to have to much trouble with civic unrest in Afghanistan, but he did have a rather forceful way with demonstrators.
I am sure that Haliburton has taken notes on his forthright methods for application in Iraq, Afghanistan and the US alike.

My hunch is that most western troops will be home soon. Very soon.

Pakistan is bankrupt. Nobody has a spare $100b to bail them out. Pakistan is the supply route into Afghanistan.

All the Taliban has to do is wait for the retreat of the Grand Armée.

Hmmmm ... Pakistan is majority Sunni Muslim, urgently needs oil and money but has food and nuclear weapons that could protect oil fields and people with money from attackers.

Now, which desert Sunni Muslim state nearby Pakistan with oil and money, no food and a million Pakistani 'guest' workers could use some mutual protection from infidels?


Hmmmm... xeroid you may be on to something.

With much of the world distracted with finance and the crumbling US - European economies I would not be surprised to see pieces on the international chess board starting to move... and, in directions to turn around a losing game - by lining up for a check mate.

For example, what exactly is Syria up to these days?

You mean Russian navy doing joint exercises with the Venezuelan navy was not a chess move?

Pakistan does NOT have food. They have widespread and growing malnutrition. They have a population of 165million and exploding. They can no longer afford to import enough nitrogen based fertilizer. They are toast.

Dylan was prescient too. Of course that's easy when history repeats itself due to ignorance.

LOS ANGELES — The only hints of trouble in the big beige house on Como Lane were the newspapers in the driveway and the lack of any activity behind the front door.

But when police summoned by worried friends of the residents got inside Monday, they found a horror — six members of a family fatally shot in a murder-suicide committed by an unemployed man in financial crisis.

The body of 45-year-old Karthik Rajaram, a gun clutched in one hand, was found by officers who followed a trail of carnage through the home in a gated community in the Porter Ranch area of the San Fernando Valley.

Apparently he worked at a financial firm until recently, and decided it would be more honorable to kill his whole family instead of just himself. The ghost of Darwin nods appreciatively.

IF you like Kipling, they are all here:


Saw this on CNBC linked from Yahoo Finance. Do you think if fund managers can get misty-eyed with earnest hope the market will recover?

There was some feeling that Monday's steep drop could be followed by an aggressive rebound, all happening while credit spreads were tightening. That provided some optimism.

"I want to feel better and importantly I want it to last so that it's not just a one-day event. It's still too early to say the feeling-better mode is going to continue for a long time," said Pimco co-CEO Mohamed El-Erian. "We need to see more on the policy side and on the technical side."

Among the moves bond giant Pimco is backing are a further cut in interest rates by the Federal Reserve as well as some type of action from central banks around the world.

"I think you're going to see a significant global move," El-Erian said. "Whether it's coordinated or correlated doesn't really matter as long as it is simultaneous across many jurisdictions.

Applications are now available for rebates for solar installations in Nevada: http://www.nevadapower.com/renewablesenvironment/renewablegenerations/ap...

The deadline for applications is tomorrow, Wednesday, October 8.

The easiest way to handle an application is to contact an approved electrical contractor and ask them to submit the application for you. I'm using Bombard Electric; talk to Deidre: http://www.bombardelectric.com/html/bombardSolar/html/systems.html

Deidre can do the application for you in about 10 minutes if you can fax her a copy of your electric bill (she will need both p. 1 and 2, with the historical usage chart).

The 5 Kilowatt system Bombard will be installing for me costs roughly $46,000. After the rebate and tax credits, the cost will be roughly $24,000.

Nevada law provides that you cannot be hit with an increase in your property tax assessment as a result of installing solar.

Thank you for raising this point. The recession is PERMANENT as long as we are relying on fossil fuel, because as soon as we go into recovery, oil prices will spike.

This is yet another blow to alternate fuels, because we are likely to limp along with high but bearable energy prices until we really are out of gas and not just suffering from some political glitch.

Waiting until oil prices double again will mean that it is simply too late, and at that point we will be sliding into chaos.

Odd solar cells I've not seen before.

These smack of evacuated glass tubes for heating.

Now, could one use an low melting point fluid to transfer away the heat and drive something else?

(Like say a stirling or put in a heat pump to heat water for a boiling process)

And the odd comment here:

drilling trucks sell between $50-100 thousand. Leases are much less. There are open source alternatives that can cost MUCH less in the works.

Ok - anyone see these open source rigs?

That's an interesting article to read, I just saw it myself. Here's the salient point:

Instead of using wafers of material, a la computer chips or traditional solar PV, thin-film solar cells use tiny amounts of material deposited in ultra thin layers along the surface of glass or metal. In Solyndra's case, vice president of business development Kelly Truman said that their process uses just a bit more than a micron of copper indium gallium diselenide, or CIGS. Using less of the expensive photovoltaic material drives the cost of their production down.

The new high efficiency cells also have thin films, I don't know much of the details but you have to wonder if there's a local efficiency/cost maximum somewhere here. Also, I wonder about the useful operating lifetime of these. Will the source materials get more expensive with widespread use? I'm sure the materials can be recycled though after use at a fraction of the cost.

Anyhow, it'll be interesting to watch what happens with these companies.

Reminds me... On the radio this weekend they mentioned the "I-jet" solar cell. Manufactured using a laser-jet process. Cheaper to manufacture and you don't need the sterile laboratory conditions. Discovered by a researcher in Australia who was just fooling around in the lab.

Solyndra, the company that makes these did a big press release today, which is probably the reason for the story. I did a Google search and most of the hits were the result of the press release. Their web site offers little technical information, other than to note that their conversion efficiency is not so great.

Their system appears interesting, but I see no mention of the effects of hail on the glass tubes. Also, I wonder about their mounting without attachments, which they claim to be immune to wind load problems up to speeds of 208km/h (130mph). The actual wind may not be nice and steady, but turbulent, especially with storms, which produce eddies. The aerodynamic drag on a tube is rather large when placed in a stand alone arrangement. I would think the first time one of these systems is exposed to a mid-western violent thunderstorm event, there would be quite a bit of broken glass to sweep up.

E. Swanson

The figures I saw were 11% eficiency. This is thin film CIGS, apparently deposited directly into the tubes. The geometry is one inch think cyllinders, with a 1 inch gap in between. They boost the amount of light intercepted by first painting the underlying surface white. They claim (and it makes sense), that the decrease of output with low sun angles is lower than normal flat plat designs. They also claimed installation costs would be much lower than normal flat-plates ofr flat roofs. No claim about manufacturing cost was made. They claim initial manufacturing capacity of over 100MW per year, and a second plant of over 400MW planned. That is a pretty aggressive rampup.

I remember being really excited about Spheral solar several years back. They had a cheap product, with about the same efficiency. But the field lifetime was only about 3years, which basically means it is dead in the water. At least in California, the hail threat is very low. I would want to risk trying these babies in the Rockeis, of western great plains however.


Drilling even shallow geothermal wells is not for novices. Folks can be trained but it OTJ experience that counts. Seen many a finger/hand/life lost to inexperience. Old saying in the oil patch: steel is cheap and easy to slap together...experienced hands (workers) are not.

But shallow geothermals can have a big impact on small commercial businesses. Individual homes is a lot trickier.

Seen many a finger/hand/life lost to inexperience.

Anytime you have power tools that is a risk.

(Waves about hand that was cut by table saw)

The EIA is out with the September edition of The International Petroleum Monthly. There have been revisions all the way back to January 2005. I haven't had time to digest the data yet but July 2008 is a new record for C+C. This was no surprise as the IEA had July all liquids up over 800 kb/d but has August liquids down by over one million barrels per day.

Anyway June production has been revised downward by 113 kb/d to 74,259 kb/d. All other months back to January 2005 have been revised downward also. But July production C+C is a new record 75,099 kb/d. The revisions back to 2005 were for Equatorial Guinea and there were several revisions this year for "Other", the category that lumps all the smaller producers into one.

Big gainers were, in thousands of barrels per day:

Saudi      +250
Norway     +300
Iran       +101
Canada     +238
Azerbaijan +53

Big losers were:
China      -76
Kazakhstan -116
Mexico     -57
U.K.       -61

Note: Norway had a lot of maintenance downtime in June, and has quite a bit more in August. The big jump in July was largely a lot of wells just coming back on line after maintenance. September should show a return to normal for them.

Ron Patterson

Obama Hatred On Display Again At Palin Rally, Supporter Screams "Treason!"

In the latest instance of inflammatory outbursts at McCain-Palin rallies, a crowd member screamed "treason!" during an event on Tuesday after Sarah Palin accused Barack Obama of criticizing U.S. troops. "[Obama] said, too, that our troops in Afghanistan are 'air raiding villages and killing civilians,'" Palin said, mischaracterizing a 2007 remark by Obama. "I hope Americans know that is not what our brave men and women in uniform are doing in Afghanistan. The U.S. military is fighting terrorism and protecting us and protecting our freedom."

Shortly afterward, a male member of the crowd in Jacksonville, Florida, yelled "treason!" loudly enough to be picked up by television microphones. . .

At a McCain rally on Monday, television stations caught audio of a crowd member calling Obama a "terrorist," while Dana Milbank reported that one Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, 'Sit down, boy.'" Also on Monday, at a Palin rally, one member of the audience yelled, "Kill him!"

sniff...sniff...do you smell that? Smells like desperation!! Palin is even willing to go on SNL to try to drum up something.

The real desperation is expecting the outcome of the election to mean anything.

On the whole I would sooner have someone who appears to be basically sane in the White House.

Anyone who sings 'Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran', apart from having somewhat reduced his country's diplomatic options, is a better candidate for a straightjacket than a President.

The rest of the world has been watching the election is a state of shock, that the US is considering this figure from 'Dr Strangelove'.

As they say, nowhere but the USA!

and ... McCain sounds like an average professional liar, nothing more. Somehow I find him more scary than GWB. (Chill)

I have yet not heard one single oral-sentence from that fellow resonating with me .... and probably that wont happen either... . cuz there's only 4 weeks left. I'm not holding my breath

That's an odd sentiment, since Cheney and others in the administration have probably actually committed treason against the U.S. government in the case of exposing an under-cover CIA officer (Valerie Plame). But don't bother about me, there I go again "looking backwards". (Nevermind that the policies that Palin espouses are essentially the same as Bush's.)

The NYT is reporting that some people feel similarly in Nebraska though:

“Obama is the anti-Christ,” said Jessie Puglisi, 22, whose husband is an airman. “I don’t really agree with any of his policies. My husband feels the same way. He won’t even buy a magazine if Obama’s face is on it. We hang out with a lot of military people, and they all feel the same way.”

I suppose the good news is that the second coming is then near. Unless of course they got their interpretations of the bible wrong and the second coming already happened and we didn't notice it, or are missing it currently. That would explain a lot about the last decade or so!

The Republican Party is devolving into a bunch of racists, religious freaks and white collar criminals. God help us with their next nominee for the presidency. Perhaps they will try to resurrect Jefferson Davis to run their party.

Jefferson Davis was the only American President in the 1800s to have a Jew in his cabinet, Judah Benjamin of New Orleans (Attorney General, Secretary of War and State).

While in prison, the Pope sent Jefferson Davis a crown of thorns woven with his own hands.

Upon Jefferson Davis' release from prison, one of his former slaves offered to lend him several thousand dollars.

Quite frankly, the Republicans are doing far worse than old Jeff Davis.


I suppose the good news is that the second coming is then near.

May be Jesus is really black and has as his middle name, Hussein.

I know back home if you get the old farts fired up they're as likely as not to cuss with "Geesis H. Christ!"

hahahahhah.....That was hilarious Zodak. Ive got Earl Grey tea coming out my nose..and its hot!

Well we finally know what the "H" stands for! :)

The Secret Service is investigating the "Kill Him" shout out. McCain & Palin must be very proud.

Dow closes down 500 points.
S&P 500 down 60, closes below 1000
NASDAQ down 108

and getting back to Oil...oil up almost 2$

DOW on 09 Oct 2007: 14,165
DOW on 07 Oct 2008: 9,447

Loss of 4,717 points, or 33%, in about a year.

The DOW peak occurred during the first month that had average WTI spot prices above $80 (EIA: Sep 2007 = $79.91, Oct 2007 = $85.80). Since Oct 2007, monthly average prices have been higher than $90. And the DOW's been hemorrhaging, in steps, but with a significant downward trend. Since correlation does not necessarily imply causation, take from this whatever you choose.



DOW on 09 Oct 2007: 14,165
DOW on 07 Oct 2008: 9,447

Loss of 4,717 points, or 33%, in about a year.

Remember we're still two days away from the anniversary on the 9th.

The DOW has been sliding about 5% per day since Monday.

Loss of 33% in about a year, you say.

Hold on. Potentially 50% if there's another big dip tomorrow and the day after.

- best,


Re: Iran Fighters Force US Plane Down

I have only one question: Was it a CIA opium smuggling flight? lol

WSJ: Non-OPEC 2009 oil production growth expected to reach 760,000 barrels a day. (Oct. 7, 2008)


OPEC might see some politically imposed production declines. If they manage to keep prices high enough they will accelerate deep sea, EOR polymer flood, CO2 miscible flood, tight sands, and heavy oil production projects.

Another airline files for bankruptcy protection:


Sun Country files for bankruptcy

By LIZ FEDOR, Star Tribune

Last update: October 6, 2008 - 10:46 PM

Sun Country Airlines, battling to survive a cash squeeze, filed for bankruptcy protection Monday in a move that separated itself from its majority stockholder, Tom Petters, whose other businesses have been taken over by a court appointee as part of a massive fraud case.

"We're not in bankruptcy because of our business model being broken," Stan Gadek, Sun Country's CEO, said in an interview. "We are in bankruptcy because of the recent events at Petters Group Worldwide."

Gadek had been counting on an operating loan from Petters, who owns all the voting shares of Sun Country, to help the low-fare carrier pay its bills during the months of October and November, traditionally light flying months.

Just got to thinking, they filed bankruptcy over the weekend in Federal Court to keep from being put into receivership on Monday? I didn't know that Federal Courts work on the weekends?

Alas, poor Opus...

Berkeley Breathed is putting his penguin on ice. The 51-year-old cartoonist said he will pull the plug on his comic-strip career and “Opus” after Nov. 2.

In an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times, the 51-year-old Breathed wrote, “30 years of cartooning to end. I’m destroying the village to save it. Opus would inevitably become a ranting mouthpiece in the coming wicked days, and I respect the other parts of him too much to see that happen. The Michael Moore part of me would kill the part of him that was important to his fans.”

It does seem like some people sense that what we're heading into is not BAU.

In a sign that the End Times are truly upon us, CNN is reporting that the credit crunch may cause many retailers to have mostly empty shelves this holiday season.

I told my kids if they were REALLY good this year, Santa would make sure the heat stays on.

Wish us luck...

It's okay. Nobody will have money to buy anything, anyway.

Here in Bristol we have just opened a new £500 million shopping centre, with 25 cafes and countless luxury goods and fashion stores - with not a single supermarket or anything catering for other than discretionary spending.

Can't fault our timing, can you?
I give it until after Xmas until many of them fold and become cheapo everything is £1 shops.

That must have been done to make the city "vibrant", I am sure. I'm visiting Singapore after about 15 months and the amount of construction on high end properties and malls that is going on is scary. It looks like one big Keynesian dream!


I think the Heathrow airport expansion was the best...

My advice is if anyone wants anything special for Xmas, they need to go buy it quickly. There will be a fine line between waiting for the discounts and having it be available.

Of course, if you can't get credit to buy it anyway, then what does it matter.

I was thinking of buying the kids a bank or two each, with maybe an airline as a stocking-filler.

Check your mail- you may already own a few!

Just vouchers. If I buy Iceland I get the Baltic Republics thrown in free.

Ooooh - if you get all three you'll make more.

Suze Orman was CNN just now, saying "Don't buy anything for Christmas."

Wolf Blitzer: "What? What? But that's going to make the recession worse!"

Get a load of this guy...he was a guest on a rock radio station I listen to today:

The Church of Stop Shopping:


He's been on FSTV (Free speech TV) for years. Also LINK TV...he's really good at conveying the point of insane commercialism...to bad no one sees him because the MSM censors it.

(Suze Orman was CNN just now, saying "Don't buy anything for Christmas.")

(Wolf Blitzer: "What? What? But that's going to make the recession worse!")

Thats really odd, considering neither celebrates Christmass, more likely Hanukkah. Dreidels arent really expensive, China makes em for mere pennies.

I think children should be given Xmas gifts of seeds, bags of NPK, garden tools, wheelbarrows, and bicycles:




The future belongs to the young: always has, always will.

Damn right. List for 7 and 4 year olds completed. Thank you.


I used to think, "What if they had Christmas and nobody bought anything?".

Looks like we may find out what that's like as the result of this year's financial meltdown.

E. Swanson

Didn't Whoville break out into song when the Grinch stole Christmas?

And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches plus two.

Something tells me "happily ever after" will not be ending this time.

Meanwhile you have a Canadian prime minister who is campaigning to "stay the course" on the economic front.

Where have I heard that line before??


Stephen Harper violated his own election law in order to run for another mandate before the storm hit. The Conservatives are still expected to win but are falling in the polls (from a high of 41% a couple of weeks ago to 31% ) and now are decidedly in parliamentary minority territory.

The Conservatives were counting on the economy remaining afloat since the perceived wisdom was that this was not suppose to be happening now -- boom/bust was somehow to be tied to the US election cycle.

Surprise! Mr. Harper you've just won the booby prize.

Ontario's manufacturing sector is a mess. The Toronto Stock Exchange is plunging. The one bright hope, the oil patch, is nervously watching commodity prices tank.

A week is a long time in politics. Anything can happen between now and the fourteenth.

As Ilargi so aptly describes in his Automatic Earth post today:

A crucial part of the "fall-out of the downfall" looks set to be a plummeting commodities market. The consequences could be grave, in the short and medium term. We are already seeing Brazil and Russia being hit pretty badly, and next on the list might well be Canada. It has elections next week, and there is no telling where Canadian economy will stand by then.

Naked emperors with closets full of skeletons. Perhaps an idea for a Halloween costume. Then again, there's a fair chance that in three weeks the world will be such a scary place that you don't even need a costume.

I want to contribute some (quite possibly) useful tips to the TOD community. As many have probably guessed by now, I'am sorta a shady character, in so much as,I make Gypsies look like sendentary people. All kidding aside, did you realise many hotels offer free continental breakfasts? Holiday Inn express is one of many. They don't know who stayed the nite, people come and go and no one checks for a room key.
Free wireless internet is available from the parking lot too! Dipsy dumpsters (usually big green garbage containers) on wheels can be made into huge outdoor funaces, towing one a few miles on a rope or chain wouldnt be hard (Be sure to check for occupants) before rolling away with one. (you thought I was going for lunch, after breakfast, didnt you?)Nope!
Hospitals are great for lunch, theres food carts in the hallways and snacks are literally everywhere. Conference centers are great dinner venues, grab a sticky name tag and be creative....Elmer...Biff.. Correen... Celest...make up any name that exudes friendliness and nonconfrontational....mumble alot when approached or asked anything (See Sarah Palin) Many auto dealers are offering to loan a car for upwards of a week, to see if you like it. Its their gas initially and their insurance...feign intrest long enough or express "Its between this one and another maker" and wait till they offer, don't seem to anxious! I will offer several real life and usefull tips on a regular basis...(The bagels at Holiday Inn Express are the best...They only have free USA-Today papers though)

Reminds me of the guy who used to write the Infiltration site. Wear a suit and have a bluetooth headset in your ear and you can pretty much go anywhere.

My favorite is to show up with slippers and a bathrobe.

Grab an old coffee cup or a plate,

and head for the hot tub.

Ben Stein has a list of 12 ways to destroy America-funny but accurate http://finance.yahoo.com/expert/article/yourlife/112984

The ... great .. out ... sourcer ... left ... a ... most ... import .. ant .. one ... from ... his ... list: Talk ... slow ... and ... dry ... as if lack of emotions proves you're smart.

Ben Stien: He had all the answers on why "recession" is good for America before he had answers on why we're swimming inside a pickle jar. A comic indeed.

The latest estimate for "managing" the 700 billion dollar slush fund is up to 7 billion a year of taxpayers money, paid to the same grifters that are getting the bulk of the 700 billion. Wow http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-pinkerton/iwall-street-journali-con_...

Leanan; Iam watching the debates at this moment and can't see how you couldnt support Obama over McSame.
Obama is actually making all of the arguments on energy that TOD people make.

IE;"America has 3% of the worlds oil reserves and uses
25% so we can't drill our way out."

"Wind, solar, tidal, nuclear, all are needed"

Leanan, Iam suspecting that you advised Obama recently on his answers to energy questions...and either your a great teacher or he's a fast study!

Question: "Will the economy get worse before it gets better?" Obama answer: "No."


Better answers on energy tho-- wants Americans to conserve.

I want to see more of Michelle Obama, America's potential First lady Hottie.


"Wind, solar, tidal, nuclear, all are needed"

Leanan, Iam suspecting that you advised Obama recently on his answers to energy questions...and either your a great teacher or he's a fast study!

That's McCain's answer, isn't it? "All of the above"?

In any case, it's not mine.

Personal assessment of tonight's performances.

Tom Brokaw seemed to lose control over the gab flab of both Obama and McCain.

I found the debate painful to watch... both candidates gave answers that they could have gave months ago... and that would have been approved by their spin doctors.

America is sleepwalking and stumbling over a precipice. Neither man wants to wake up the poor soul.

Obama lectured. I felt like throwing up every time McCain said "my friend." Irritating.

It's BAU when it comes to US politics. Too bad and so sad.

Did you expect more? Leanan and others have said that the outcome of this election doesn't really matter. Maybe the television polls will show that more people watched this debate than watched the Troy State-Western Florida college football game, and maybe not. Will it make a difference? Our economy will get worse before it gets better, though neither candidate would answer that question directly. Politicians.

Cramer and Suze have nice hairdoos. Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain look elegant and First Lady-like. I have a job to do tomorrow at 8am. Millions of other Americans too. What did we gain tonight?

Good luck people.

Even if you believe this election is important...the debates really aren't. They've become less Lincoln-Douglas than American Idol. Nobody cares about eloquence, logic, or philosophy. It's all who looked at his watch, was his tie too distracting, who sighed, was his voice too shrill, did he sweat too much, etc. They might as well let Simon, Paula, and Randy judge them.

Until we could get a real debate -with the moderator from hell, who would blurt out "Answer the friggen question". And when appropriate hit a different colored light and a loud horn to signal:

(a) Say something logical, what you say doesn't follow.

(b) Your explaination is counter to these known facts,...

(c) That is an outright lie.

Can you imagine either campaign agreeing to these groundrules!


As it turns out...the debate is but a footnote in this morning's news. The top story is the continued global financial crisis. Like sheep that roost in trees, the world markets plummeted again last night. It's looking even worse today than yesterday.

CNN this morning asked the question I've been waiting for them to ask: Does this mean the bailout was a failure? Answer: "Yes, because it wasn't well-targeted."

There's also more and more talk about another Great Depression, and more talk about whether maybe pulling your money out isn't a good idea after all. Except there's no place to put it.

CNBC reported last night that some European stores are refusing to accept UK-based credit cards.

U.K. government to partially nationalize banks

LONDON - The British government said Wednesday it would partly nationalize major banks, with taxpayers taking a share stake in a bid to shore up a financial sector that many investors feared could not survive the global turmoil without government help.

Half a percent emergency rate cut.

They think inflation is less of a worry, because of falling energy and commodity prices.

America is sleepwalking and stumbling over a precipice. Neither man wants to wake up the poor soul.

They both know optimism sells, and pessimism is the kiss of death. Obama did make some statements about shared sacrifices (i.e. I think he knows, things will be getting worse, and wants to begin preparing for that possibility, but doesn't dare say so directly). Until we get an audience of actual adults, don't expect either political campaign to be the bearer of bad news. They know that messengers who deliver it are frequently executed on the spot.

Why is it that people presume to know what their candidates are thinking, and the opposition candidate is thinking, but the presumptions differ significantly in tone?

Only voting records matter.

I didn't keep count, but energy really seems to be on Obama's mind. It came up in answer after answer. Is he perhaps lurking here?

He also went to the subject of energy a few weeks back at the Saddleback forum:

WARREN: OK. I’ve got 30 seconds. What would you tell the American public if you knew there wouldn’t be any repercussions?

[ laughter ]

OBAMA: Well, you know what I would tell them? Is that solving big problems, like for example, energy, is not going to be easy and everybody is going to have to get involved. And we are going to have to all think about how are we using energy more efficiently and there’s going to be a price to pay in transitioning to a more energy- efficient economy and dealing with issues like climate change. And if we pretend like everything is free, and there’s no sacrifice involved, then we are betraying the tradition of America.

I think about my grandparents’ generation, coming out of a depression, fighting World War II, you know, they’ve confronted some challenges we can’t even imagine. If they were willing to make sacrifices on our behalf, we should be able to make some sacrifices on behalf of the next generation.

Maybe he's channeling that scene in Apollo 13 where the engineer pointed out (paraphrasing) "It's all about power..."

Seriously, we're not going to drill our way out of this recession, it's all about renewables. (And trains. Trains everywhere.)

I didn't keep count, but energy really seems to be on Obama's mind. It came up in answer after answer. Is he perhaps lurking here?

No, I think he's reading the polls that say the high cost of energy is the number concern of voters. And knows that economic issues like that are traditionally a Democratic strength and a GOP weakness.

This is classic-"not going to be easy"-well they could have started by specifying that the Wall Street picnic would have to be matched dollar for dollar with immediate spending on nuclear, rail, wind and solar. All of a sudden there is no money for any of these, and any money allocated will be a pittance in comparison to what the connected get, and it will take FOREVER. It is my understanding that the cheque for the King was far more money than the USA government has ever allocated in entirety for the above oil depletion mitigation strategies. It took them, what, nine days?

"All of the above"? That's McCain's answer, isn't it?

It was Obama's answer before McCain's co-opted it to be his answer.

McCain is like that dumb kid in school who is at least smart enough to sit behind the smart kid (Obama) and copy all his answers.

McCain was for "Drill Baby Drill".
Obama was for wind, solar and other options that will get us off of "foreign oil".
Suddenly McCain was for answer D, all of the above.

McCain was for "the fundamentals are strong".
Obama was for "change".
Suddenly McCain was the guy with the stolen "change" jangling in his maverick's pants.

When is McCain going to be "maverick" enough to vote against himself?
He says he always votes against his party, doesn't he?

Well this is the time that America needs McCopy Cat McCain to live up to his "maverick" credentials and do as Tom Cruise would do (the original Top Gun and "maverick") by helping us to help ourselves, by voting for Obama (you know, the "that one" who didn't graduate 5th from the bottom in his class).


p.s. NY Times has a story on the "real" McMavericks

It was Obama's answer before McCain's co-opted it to be his answer.

No, it wasn't.

McCain's answer was always "all of the above."

Obama was against offshore drilling, and not sure about nukes, until the "Drill, baby, drill" thing started making inroads. (Drilling was always only part of McCain's plan. It just happened to be the part the chattering classes latched onto.)

Definitely, McCain swiped "change" from Obama. But Obama was forced to accept offshore drilling by McCain.

In short...they're both copycats. And they wouldn't be the nominees if they weren't. Mr. Change and Mr. Maverick are really both Mr. More of the Same.

Yes-"all of the above" yet when both guys were shilling for Paulson "all of the above" had no importance at all. It would have been the easiest thing imaginable to add 100 billion to the Wall Street payout of 700 billion, and allocate this specifically to nuclear, rail, wind and solar. It probably would have helped sell the scam to the public anyway-my point is when the connected need money, the money is there in economy busting amounts almost immediately, and all talk of "all of the above" is just blah blah blah. IMHO neither guy is actually interested in working for the USA, but I still prefer Obama.

I honestly don't have any preference. I can see advantages and disadvantages to both. Obama strikes me as another Jimmy Carter. McCain perhaps another Richard Nixon.

JHK may be trying to push the GOP as "the party that wrecked America," but I strongly suspect that whoever is sitting in the Oval Office the next four years is the one who will get the blame from the vast majority of Americans.

And the future is so unpredictable. I can't help feeling that there's a wicked curveball ahead, that will upend all our expectations about our new president, whoever he is.

McCain was trying to address a question about what he would do right away to deal with energy, and his response was build nuclear plants. I am deeply skeptical that anyone, much less an elder senator who lacks a majority in congress, is going to get even ONE nuclear plant built within four years. I am especially skeptical of any nuclear power plant built in a hurry. I am personally fine with a plant that is built at a studious pace with necessary precautions, and I would prefer that such a plant be built with private financing.

OTOH, I wish that Obama had taken the chance to look at the town hall audience and note that while none of those people, and only a fraction of the home audience, can personally participate in making a nuclear plant the future, they can all do something to start reducing dependency on fossil fuels. They begin by having an energy audit conducted of their home (or learning how to do one themselves) and then insulating. A large portion of American homes are favorable for some form of solar energy project. Government can and should help the millions of homeowners who want to do better.

Most people cannot afford home improvements now, any more than the government can afford to build McCain's nuclear power plants.

A third of Americans don't even own their own homes and cannot make improvements. Often, these are the poorest, who need the increased energy efficiency the most.

Tax credits really only help those who are fairly wealthy.

I'd like to see a government program to make homes more energy-efficient, rather than what we have (programs to pay for heating oil, etc.). But any new spending is going to be a tough sell now, especially after that idiotic bailout.

I know they are saying that about the tough sell, but I don't buy it for one second. Obama is smooth enough to sell that in two seconds but IMO he has no intention to even try. Go on the tube-say to the public-We have spent 700 billion of your dollars fixing Wall Street's screwups-we can definitely spend that much money on the needs of the nation, not just the needs of the connected. Robert Rubin is pulling this puppet's strings, so that speech is about as likely as Ron Paul winning this election.

Two approaches for renters

Require certain energy upgrades before apartments/rental properties can be sold (or bond to do so put up by buyer). Tax credits will make this easier to accept, but not required.

Note: Rental property around corner just put in tankless gas hot water heaters and added attic insulation.

And renters can do some things. Gaskets behind switches and outlets (cheap AND effective), low flow shower heads are two items.


Most renters don't pay for their own water, and many don't pay for heat, either.

Well, they do...as part of their rent. But there's often little incentive to conserve, when they are not paying directly. The landlord has no way of knowing which tenants are using little, and which are wasting a lot, so he can't reward good behavior, either.

McCain's answer was always [for] "all of the above."

That's strange ... some say McCain has always voted against renewable energy

See also here

Updated charts for the recent EIA IPM and STEO releases



Crude and Condensate to 2012 - click to enlarge

The world crude/condensate plateau remains unchanged.

Crude and Condensate to 2100 - click to enlarge

Price is expected to remain volatile over the next ten months, before resuming its long term uptrend in late 2009.

Supply, Demand and Price to 2012 - click to enlarge

Seas turn to acid as they soak up CO2

i'm sooo amazed nobody talked about this article. imho, this should have a drumbeat for itself, because this is the news that really matter to humans as a species. gasoline and economics matter only locally, but this is far more important. this is the real house of cards, one degree warmer water or slight change in ph, will remove the first link from the food chain, and it's all downhill from there

but i guess we're so used to destroying the environment and considering it's somewhere far away and not important it doesn't really matter. when we'll start noticing the seas are dead, it will be too late and we'll be too hungry to allow them to recover

Then we'll be dead too, our purpose over, we expended the huge sum of energy available in the earth's core (some of it, anyway) then we were dismissed. Not particularly thorough at our entropic task, but were we ever fast!

But this scares me a lot, I agree.