DrumBeat: October 20, 2008

The Folly Of A Depression Thesis

We have several things working against us this time around, and few things working for us, compared to the 1930s. Here's a short list:

● In the 1930s we were resource-independent. Today we are near-absolutely dependent on foreign oil. We import about 2/3rds of our consumption, and while Canada's supply is probably assured irrespective of our economic condition, the same is not true for the net creditors to the United States, particularly Arab nations. They both can and might cut us off, and so may Venezuela.

● In the 1930s we had debt owned by foreigners, but nothing like today. Today we require about $2 billion in foreign capital per day to remain solvent as a nation at the government level. This has been almost-entirely financed through the purchase of cheap foreign goods from China and oil from the Middle East. If either of those sources of foreign capital flows are disrupted, things get very bad very fast. There is no reason to believe that either of these blocks of nations will continue to provide this funding as our consumption of their goods decreases and thus their need to recycle dollars disappears.

● In the 1930s we had heavy industry out the wazoo in America. Today we have very little. Yes, we produce more now here than ever before - but as a proportion of what we consume, it is at all-time lows. What this means for us is that as those trade imbalances disappear prices are going to go up as the "recycling" trade goes away and production is forcibly repatriated here to the United States. (The alternative, a refusal to repatriate that production, is far worse, as that will result in a currency dislocation that will produce the same sort of price increases but no wage improvement for Americans. Down that road lies really serious trouble for us.)

● On the good side, we have technology we didn't have then. This means we may be able to find efficiencies that were the stuff of fancy 50 or 100 years ago. The counter-balance to this is that the really big efficiency gains are likely behind us, having been gained in the 80s, 90s and the first part of the 00s.

Price Fixing Anniversary

All of these moves are symptoms of peak oil although most would not believe a temporary excess in production is a peak oil problem. Most peak oil theorists believe in an extended plateau where production and demand are nearly equal. As demand briefly exceeds production prices rise sharply. As prices rise demand declines sharply as we have seen over the last few months. Production suddenly exceeds supply again and prices drop sharply in response. The fall in prices, like we have seen over the last month brings back cheap gasoline, now under $3 per gallon, and consumption returns to normal growth patterns. The pattern then repeats over and over with overall demand eventually exceeding production on a permanent basis. This could take numerous cycles before the eventual permanent decline.

Russia to tap "rainy-day" fund if oil prices tank

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday that Russia was well prepared to ride out the financial crisis that has caused turmoil in its stock markets, but may dip into a "rainy-day" fund to offset falling oil prices.

"We will not allow (the crisis) to catch us off guard," he told a meeting of foreign investors and government officials. "We have taken into account potential threats when building our financial and economic policies."

Sorry, Chicken Little

It may feel as if the sky is falling, but things aren't as bad as they seem. Our saviors: cheap oil, strong exports and inventory rebuilding.

Ecuador and Petrobras reach deal

Ecuador will receive an average of 60% of oil production for Block 18, operated by Brazilian giant Petrobras, up from the current 51%, Mining and Oil Minister Derlis Palacios said.

Geothermal Energy Improves U.S. Oil Recovery

Ormat Technologies, Inc. announces the successful co-production of geothermal power at a producing oil well. This project marks the first of its kind by providing onsite fuel free power that will increase the productivity and possibly extend the longevity of existing U.S. oil fields.

How firing Starbucks saved this biz

"I had two employees who did nothing but write reports for Starbucks," he recalls. "Starbucks was opening ten stores a year in each of its regions, so we had five trucks on the road going in different directions. The cost of fuel, employee benefits, insurance, and workers' comp made the whole thing completely unprofitable."

That year Christy decided to cut the cord. He delivered his last pastry to Starbucks in October 2005. The account generated 48% of Incredible Foods' annual revenues, but Christy believed that he could run a stronger company without Starbucks. So he shrank the staff from 13 to six, eliminated one of his two offices, and focused his marketing attention on local customers who closed deals with a handshake, generally without resorting to squadrons of lawyers and accountants.

Legal Scramble over Egg Prices: A class action against 13 major egg producers contends that a supply-restriction scheme triggered a nearly 50% price jump in the past two years

The average retail price of a dozen eggs, which had been stable for the better part of a decade, soared to $2.20 per dozen in March, after climbing from $1.63 in 2007 and $1.30 in 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Egg producers blame the increase on surging feed and fuel costs, although prices have retreated 15% since March, to $1.85 per dozen. The restaurant lawsuit filed three weeks ago in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia is one of six separate suits facing the egg industry. Some name a handful of companies while others, like the T.K. Ribbing's restaurant suit, target 16 major producers and interest groups. The suits generally allege similar schemes to raise prices, but the detailed Ribbing suit delves deepest and covers the broadest part of the industry.

Goldman Says OPEC Output Cut May Fail to Halt Oil Price Decline

(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said ``initial'' production cuts by OPEC, supplier of 40 percent of the world's oil, may fail to halt a slide in prices that have fallen 50 percent from a record in July.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which meets Oct. 24 in Vienna, is facing the weakest growth in demand since 1993 just as new fields come on line from Angola to the Gulf of Mexico. Members may cut daily output by as much as 2 million barrels, President Chakib Khelil said yesterday.

``Historically the first cut that OPEC made in a recessionary environment has not supported the oil price, and only subsequent cuts'' did, Goldman's London-based analysts, Michele Della Vigna, Henry Morris, Hugh Selby-Smith and Henry Tarr, said in a report dated Oct. 17.

OPEC In Panic Mode

LONDON - With oil at $70.00 per barrel, the time for dithering is clearly over: The Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries is holding an emergency meeting this week to try and stop crude's dizzying descent. Though crude prices perked up on Monday, in anticipation of a cut in the millions of barrels, it may take more than a cut to get commitment and unity from OPEC's members in the current environment.

"It depends on how they share the cut," said Simon Wardell, an analyst with Global Insight. "If the Saudis are prepared to take the brunt of it, you can be certain that most of it will go." As the cartel's prime producer, Saudi Arabia is seen as the member with the most clout and capacity where quotas are concerned; but it may not want to shoulder the full weight of a cut at this point, with oil slipping and sliding as the world economy slows down.

Petrobras Unlikely to Meet Year-End Oil Output Goal, Itau Says

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's state-controlled oil company, faces an ``almost impossible'' task in meeting its year-end oil production goal, analysts at Banco Itau Holding Financeira SA said.

The company's record oil output of 1.89 million barrels a day in September was below expectations, analysts Paula Kovarsky and Diego Mendes said in an e-mailed report to investors.

Copper thefts leave youth sports scrambling for field time, answers

TUCKER, Georgia (CNN) -- Last Thursday around dusk, Granite Park soccer field in suburban Atlanta was more crowded than usual.

Makeshift goals had been erected to accommodate five extra teams from the Tucker Youth Soccer Association. On the sidelines, groups of giggly kids waited their turns on the field while soccer moms and dads mined the crowded green space in search of a place to park their lawn chairs.

The atypical arrangement was caused by thieves who had ripped out copper wiring from light poles at nearby Henderson Park field, causing about $6,000 in damage, displacing teams that practiced under the lights and making the TYSA players the latest victims of a nationwide epidemic.

Plug-in Mini Cooper ready to charge

Starting next year drivers in the Los Angeles and New York areas will be able to lease a fleet of 500 all-electric Coopers from BMW's Mini division.

The Mini E, as it's called, will be able to travel 150 miles on a single charge with a top speed of 95 miles per hour.

The Depression: A Long-Term View

In the past, once a depression wreaked its havoc, the world-economy picked up again, on the basis of innovations that could be quasi-monopolized for a while. So, when people say that the stock market will rise again, this is what they are thinking will happen, this time as in the past, after all the damage has been done to the world's populations. And maybe it will, in a few years or so.

There is however something new that may interfere with this nice cyclical pattern that has sustained the capitalist system for some 500 years. The structural trends may interfere with the cyclical patterns. The basic structural features of capitalism as a world-system operate by certain rules that can be drawn on a chart as a moving upward equilibrium. The problem, as with all structural equilibria of all systems, is that over time the curves tend to move far from equilibrium and it becomes impossible to bring them back to equilibrium.

What has made the system move so far from equilibrium? In very brief, it is because over 500 years the three basic costs of capitalist production - personnel, inputs, and taxation - have steadily risen as a percentage of possible sales price, such that today they make it impossible to obtain the large profits from quasi-monopolized production that have always been the basis of significant capital accumulation. It is not because capitalism is failing at what it does best. It is precisely because it has been doing it so well that it has finally undermined the basis of future accumulation.

As Mexico Oil Reform Accelerates, Firms Wait for Fine Print

Mexico's energy reform just got a shot in the arm. The financial crisis and tanking oil prices puts a premium on private capital to help shore up the struggling industry, dampening a nationalist backlash.

But oil firms are unsure if the reform, which was watered down earlier this year following heavy attacks from left-wing politicians, will offer enough to deploy capital south of the U.S. border.

Mexico Congress Rejects Calderon's Plan to Privatize Refineries

(Bloomberg) -- Mexican legislators rejected President Felipe Calderon's proposal to allow private companies to refine oil for state-controlled Petroleos Mexicanos, a blow to his plan to boost investment in energy.

Members of the Senate's energy committee agreed to block Calderon's plan after a meeting yesterday, opposition lawmakers Graco Ramirez and Francisco Labastida told reporters in Mexico City. Instead, the committee will draft a bill with no changes to refining, Labastida, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, said.

Alberta diesel shortage leads to spike in fuel theft

The diesel fuel shortage is having a domino effect in Alberta — construction projects are in jeopardy, retailers are rationing fuel and diesel theft is spiking.

Theft has become such a problem, according to David Strauss with Roy Larson Construction in Grande Prairie, that his company no longer fuels up trucks or machinery unless they're going to be used immediately.

"We've lost over $20,000 worth of fuel," Strauss said "We've got no choice. We have to fuel up in the mornings 'cause any machine parked out there is just a sitting duck for these guys. If they're rigged up properly, in five minutes they can have 450 litres sucked out of a tank. That's over $500 worth of fuel."

Strauss said he has also moved the company's large diesel storage tank into the middle of the property and has hired staff to guard the fuel around the clock.

North Carolina: Commissioners take a look at gas issue, vote to buy diesel tank

The McDowell County Commissioners agreed to install a diesel storage tank that hopefully could save the county some money on fuel costs. It would also make sure the fuel is available in case of another nationwide shortage.

Zimbabwe: Copper conductors theft major challenge for ZESA

ABOUT 80 percent of the power outages experienced in the Matabeleland region are a result of theft of copper conductors, a senior Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority official has said.

Pakistan: Power cuts cutting deep into daily life

ISLAMABAD: Unannounced load shedding is adding to miseries of the residents, already struggling hard to cope with high inflation, and worsening law and order situation in the capital.

“Life has become very tough. High commodity prices, deteriorating law and order situation, and now long spells of unannounced load shedding have robbed us of peace of mind,” Wajahat Mehmood, a resident of F-10, told Daily Times.

Environment will wither whoever win US election

Eager anticipation of the next American president offering a dramatically different policy on climate change is being tempered by the chill winds of the financial crisis.

Barack Obama or John McCain will inherit a blighted economy, a ballooning deficit set to reach $1 trillion and a political landscape in upheaval from the market turmoil of recent weeks.

Environmental groups are already bracing themselves for delays or disappointment on action to tackle global warming which, they say, will inevitably be seen as having an impact on American jobs.

W. Australia Proposes Cross-Country Gas Pipeline to Cut Carbon

(Bloomberg) -- Building a pipeline across Australia would help increase use within the country of locally produced natural gas and help reduce carbon emissions harmful to the environment, said Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett.

Such a line would take gas from fields off the northwest coast to Moomba in central Australia, from where it would be distributed to users in the more-populous southeastern states, Barnett said today in Perth. Such a move would be ``easier'' than introducing a carbon tax, or trading system, and may be more effective to reduce emissions blamed for global warming, he said.

Julian Darley - Reading The Runes: Spotting Trouble With Money And Energy Before It Bites You

Keeping track of the falling energy profit or surplus of each source is nearly impossible, and the other great unknown is what is a reasonable minimum energy surplus required by humanity to keep us in something like civilization. One metric that we can expect to see rising again as energy profit diminishes is the number and percentage of people growing their own food, either because they want to or because they have to.

Completely Unplugged, Fully Green

SIMON WOODS, who is 6, would like to play on a baseball team. His mother, Sharon Astyk, is sympathetic, but is also heavily committed to shrinking her family’s carbon footprint. “We haven’t been able to find a league that doesn’t involve a long drive,” she said. “I say that it isn’t good for the planet, so we play catch in the yard.”

That is one way that Ms. Astyk, a mother of four, expresses her concern for the environment. She has unplugged the family refrigerator, using it as an icebox during warmer months by putting in frozen jugs of water as the coolant (in colder weather, she stores milk and butter outdoors). Her farmhouse in Knox, N.Y., has a homemade composting toilet and gets its heat from a wood stove; the average indoor winter temperature is 52 degrees.

5 Pieces of Advice for the New Paupers


Above all, you need to have a dry, warm place to sleep. We had only an unheated boat, and that was not enough. We woke up to the thump of sea ice banging against the hull and realized that the old world was still very much in session. When we finally fled to stay with family, we stayed in our blankets up against their gas fireplace for weeks. You won't even want food much after a while. You'll want heat itself, not the chemical middleman. You are going to realize that cold is the most frightening thing in the world. In older English dialects, "to starve" meant "to freeze." You will see why.


Got one? Maybe you should sell it. Cars drain the last dollars out of you. And there's something worse: Cops can smell desperation, and they hate the poor. I didn't hate cops as much before, except drug cops, but God, I hate them now. The real purpose of cops is to keep poor people off the roads. That's their only real goal. On my way to an interview for a job that could have gotten us out of the gutter, a cop stopped me because my insurance was two weeks overdue -- for the simple reason that we didn't have money to pay it. She gave me a $600 ticket for that, plus $120 for not having an updated address on my driver's license. Then she called for a tow truck and told me, "So, a lesson learned here today!" as I watched my car get towed away and trudged off with our terrified dog down a typical Western suburban road: four lanes of fast traffic with no sidewalks. Are you poor? The cops are your enemy now. Accept it. The car is how they'll try to get you. Sell it if you can -- which is to say, if there's any decent public transportation -- hah! -- where you live.

Schlumberger chief: Gas set to overtake coal

Natural gas is set to overtake coal as the world’s “dominant” fuel in the next few years, driven by rising demand for cleaner-burning fuel, an executive from the world’s largest oilfield services provider said.

The wide geographic distribution of reserves and the volumes available, in particular non-conventional types of the fuel such as shale gas and coal-bed methane, means gas is likely to displace coal as the most commonly used fuel, Satish Pai, vice president for worldwide operations at Schlumberger Ltd., said today at a conference in Perth.

Falling gas prices bring relief in financial crisis

DES MOINES — Barbara Warner is one of many people here and across the USA relieved about plummeting gas prices.

For months, the mother of three fretted as gas prices climbed. She traveled less from her home in Martensdale, Iowa. She canceled routine doctor's appointments for her children. And she blamed the government, she said, for failing to intervene.

"It's been hard," Warner said as she filled her Chevy Venture last week in West Des Moines. "I miss the days when gas was 98 cents."

Five great green TED talks

I like to think of author James Howard Kunstler as the anti-Steffen: Whenever I find myself getting a little too sanguine about how the latest eco-gizmo just might save our collective hide, I tune in Kunstler’s grim vision of a post-peak-oil apocalypse. Both writers, however, tend to emphasize the value of walkable, mixed-use communities.

This Is Not Bill Clinton's Financial Crisis

But the worst indictment that could be made against the Bush Administration is that eight years have been squandered with no effort made to address our dependence on oil. The financial and economic implosion started when oil reached $140 a barrel. We finally got a small taste of what life would be like if gas were $5 or $10 a gallon. Suddenly the allure of the suburbs and those gas-guzzling SUVs evaporated. Let's hope declining gas prices will not lull us back into sleepwalking around our dangerous oil addiction. We have no contingency plans should oil supplies be disrupted—naturally, or by governments or terrorists. That's a scenario to make this financial meltdown look like a cakewalk, because we import 70% of the oil.

Petrobras: Dead In The Water

Brazil's oil giant Petrobras (PBR) on Friday postponed the disclosure of its new business plan so that it could evaluate the impact of the global financial crisis.

The global credit crunch has smashed the deepwater building program at Petrobras. Whether it can pay for current orders is questionable. The Brazilian state investment council voted to shore up PBR in the short term. That suggests Petrobras has cash flow problems now -- without the presalt development cost expected to total $500 billion over the next decade.

We noted previously that Petrobras was borrowing to pay dividends, but the precipitous drop in oil price hit its business plan hard. Suddenly, a $20 billion bond issue is impossible.

An OPEC output cut may hurt global recovery - IEA

PARIS (Reuters) - A cut in OPEC oil output, suggested by some in the group ahead of its Friday meeting, may hurt global economic recovery, the International Energy Agency's head said on Monday.

"The IEA is concerned (an OPEC cut) might have a negative impact on the global economic recovery," IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka told a news conference.

He said a global economic slowdown would be prolonged if crude prices jumped higher as a result of an OPEC cutback.

Gas Prices Sink Across Chicago Area

Oil prices late last week were down $75 -- or 51 percent -- since catapulting to a record high of $147.27 on July 11. Some theorists argued that the cause was "peak oil," the point after which the worldwide supply for oil cannot keep up demand, and forecast that oil prices would continue going up for years until transportation was rendered unaffordable.

But now, experts say gas prices likely will fall further, and figure to hit $2.50 to $2.60 a gallon if oil goes down to $50 a barrel as some analysts suspect it will.

...While motorists welcome the decline in prices, they are wary given the huge fluctuations over the past couple of years, said Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist at San Francisco's Golden Gate University who has studied how high oil prices have affected Americans' buying behavior.

"People have learned that they can't trust gas prices to stay low," she said.

A report from the front lines on 'peak oil'

Serious questions about our energy future have taken a lead role lately, capturing the spotlight in economic and political debates. How do we separate hype from reality?

Is Australia still asleep at the wheel?

While the Federal Government has started the process of preparing the Australian economy for a carbon constrained economy, Australian politicians still seem asleep to the need to prepare Australia for a future peak oil scenario. The current financial crisis, while serious, has the potential to further distract from this vital preparation.

Easy credit has been a way of avoiding rather than facing up to the impact of stagnating oil supply and rising oil prices. It would be a serious mistake to see the current decline in oil prices as a sign the problems of oil supply have been fixed. They haven't.

GM-Chrysler push for quick deal

DETROIT — Negotiators hope to finalize a merger agreement between General Motors and Chrysler before the presidential election and are lobbying for government financial assistance to help clinch the deal, says a source who has been briefed on the talks.

They are pointing to the impact on the U.S. economy if either company were to fail, compared with the viability of a merged colossus that would control 36% of the U.S. auto market. Those are the chief selling points in asking for government help, says the source, who did not want to be identified because talks are not public.

Clean coal technology 'not progressing'

NOT enough progress is being made towards developing "clean coal" technology, the International Energy Agency has warned.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) - burying the pollution from coal-fired power stations underground - is held to be central to the future of Australia's massive coal industry.

But the IEA says the world is moving too slowly towards CCS.

Not enough is being spent, the costs have risen too quickly, and the public does not like CCS, the IEA found.

Eco-friendly schools offer students fresh lessons

GERMANTOWN, Md. — On the outside, Great Seneca Creek Elementary School looks much like any other. But inside, it is unmistakably green.

This was the first public school in Maryland to receive certification as "eco-friendly" — a concept catching on in schools around the nation. Eco-friendly schools offer ways to save energy, improve air quality and educate students about the environment.

China to launch nationwide survey of energy conservation measures

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China's government is to conduct a nationwide survey of efforts by local governments to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The government has set a target of reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent and major pollutant emissions by 10 percent from the 2005 levels by 2010, in a bid to protect environment and insure a sustainable development.

"However, the country still faces great difficulties in fulfilling the commitment, and the situation remains arduous," said National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) deputy director Xie Zhenhua on Monday.

Rules relaxed for 'food stamp' eligibility

As the economy weakens, states and the federal government are trying to help more people qualify for food stamps.

Since Oct. 1, new federal rules make it easier for households with income from combat pay, retirement accounts or education savings to be eligible. The rules are part of the 2008 Farm Bill, which changed the name of the food stamp program to SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

"This is a nutrition program, not a welfare program," says Jean Daniel, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), noting that half the 29 million Americans who receive aid are children. SNAP serves one of every five of the nation's kids, who are also eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

ANALYSIS - Asia oil brokers brace for crisis-induced shakeup

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asia's oil broking industry is on the brink of its biggest shake-up in a decade as a plunge in trading volumes forces many to scramble for new markets, rethink alliances or consider shutting up shop.

...The worst financial crisis in 80 years nearly froze credit markets for much of the past month, making it difficult to finance both derivatives and physical oil trade.

More important, the collapse of Lehman Brothers and rattled confidence in Wall Street giants like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs forced many companies to pull back from any form of trading at all, preferring to wait until calm returns to tumultuous markets before venturing out again.

OTC trading activity has halved or more in the past three months, according to a straw poll of brokers, all of whom declined to be identified because the data is confidential.

Visible trading, or deals that take place in the half-hour window used to set benchmark prices, of OTC fuel oil and middle distillates derivatives fell by 44 percent in September against a year ago, energy pricing agency Platts said.

'The best thing to do now is to square off all positions, sit around and ride out the storm,' said a trader, who has not been in the market for the past three weeks.

$3 a gallon gas gets lost in crush of bad news

Gut-wrenching declines in the stock market, a financial panic that some have compared to the Great Depression and the realization that the U.S. may be headed to its worst recession in over a generation have trumped what should otherwise be good news: The return of $3-a-gallon gas.

Better yet, with 401(k) statements arriving in the mail and families worried about keeping their homes, has anyone even noticed?

As oil prices fall, push for alternatives may ease

Just four months ago, a conference here on electric cars drew four times as many people as expected. District fire marshals ordered some of the crowd to leave, and the atmosphere was more like that of a rock concert than an energy conference. A brief film depicted an electric car owner driving off with a beautiful woman to the strains of "The Power of Love" while her original companion struggles to pay for gasoline. The audience cheered.

One discordant note in the series of enthusiastic speeches came from Bill Reinert, one of the Toyota Prius designers. He cautioned that designing and ramping up production of a new car takes five years.

"If oil goes down to $60 or $70 a barrel and gasoline gets back to $2.50 a gallon, and that very possibly could happen," he said, "will that demand stay the same or will we shift back up?"

Was 'Peak Oil' a Multi-Billion Dollar Hoax?

Crude oil prices started their astonishing price rise in January of 2007 right on cue for a normal seasonal rise into the summer. By August, prices were accelerating and continued higher going into the end of 2007. The usual seasonal year-end decline was hardly noticeable.

As 2008 began, crude prices seemed to be a one-direction trade as prices accelerated even faster. Something unusual was taking place in this market. OPEC and the Saudis claimed there was plenty of supply on the market but prices were being bid up regardless. Many analysts revived earlier predictions about peak oil and the impending decline in production as the justification for higher prices in anticipation of supply shortages in the future. Then in the middle of the summer the selling began. Was peak oil just a multi-billion dollar hoax?

US, Russia, NATO and the Future of Afghanistan: Taliban Resurgence and the Geopolitics of Oil

At a time when the fabulous Kashagan oil fields in Kazakhstan are expected to come on stream in 2013, when Washington hopes to reverse the tide of Russia-Turkmenistan energy cooperation, when volatility in the southern Caucasus impedes the advancement of new trans-Caspian pipelines, then, Afghanistan bounces back as the most realistic and viable evacuation route for Caspian energy bypassing Russia and Iran - provided the ground situation could be stabilized and security provided which investors and oil companies would find reassuring.

Nigeria: Government Opts for Massive Importation of Fuel

With the imminent zero production of petroleum products in the country following the state of all the refineries, the Federal Government has decided to embark on massive importation of fuel to prevent scarcity and queues at the filling stations.

Stakeholders in the downstream sector of oil industry had expressed fears that the inactive state of the four refineries, following pipeline breaks and epileptic power supply, could pave the way for severe scarcity of products.

LA public transit faces dilemma due to AIG demise

LOS ANGELES — Two public transportation agencies in Southern California are facing a financial dilemma and possible service cuts after a major lender fell victim to the nationwide economic crisis.

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency officials said their deal to lease trains and buses from investors is in jeopardy because American International Group Inc. - which loaned the agency $1 billion to finance the transactions - recently ran short of cash and nearly collapsed.

Eni Plans to Build Floating LNG Plant in Indonesia

(Bloomberg) -- Eni SpA, Italy's biggest energy company, may build a floating liquefied natural gas plant in Indonesia, the Southeast Asian nation's Energy Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said.

Eni plans to develop the Bukat area bordering Malaysia to supply the LNG plant, Purnomo told reporters without giving details of costs or financing. It has ``big'' oil and gas reserves, he said.

Holiday travelers see fewer flights

Airlines will offer almost 3,000 fewer domestic flights a day during the Thanksgiving season, promising fewer choices, fuller planes and higher fares for millions of Americans.

Compared with last Thanksgiving season, there will be 11% fewer flights — 2.6 million fewer seats — on non-stop domestic routes from Nov. 20, the Thursday before Thanksgiving, through Nov. 30, the Sunday afterward.

Taiwan's bicycle makers riding high on global crisis

TAIPEI (AFP) – For the past six months Wayne Hsu has been cycling 45 minutes to his office every day, which he says gets him off to an energetic start and, more importantly, slashes his monthly petrol bill.

Hsu, an airline sales representative in Taiwan's northern Taoyuan county, is among a growing number of people here opting for bikes over cars amid rising inflation and a slowing economy.

Exelon offers to buy NRG for 6.2 billion dollars

WASHINGTON, (AFP) – US energy company Exelon has offered to buy its competitor, NRG Energy, for 6.2 billion dollars in a deal which would create a national energy giant worth about 60 billion dollars.

Francophonie to cut CO2 emissions in half by 2050

QUEBEC CITY (AFP) – Seventy French-speaking nations and regional governments pledged to help cut global greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050, at the close of the 12th Francophonie summit on Sunday.

The group reaffirmed its backing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

Climate change is 'faster and more extreme' than feared

Climate change is happening much faster than the world's best scientists predicted and will wreak havoc unless action is taken on a global scale, a new report warns.

From the "Peak Oil a Hoax?" Article linked uptop:

Abdallah S. Jum’ah, Saudi Aramco’s president and CEO:

. . . . As a result I do not believe the world has to worry about ‘peak oil’ for a very long time.

Regarding Saudi Arabia, it is a near certainty that their cumulative net exports from 2006 to 2009, inclusive, will be more than a billion barrels less than what they would have (net) exported if they had just maintained their 2005 net export rate of 9.1 mbpd.

It's helpful to put oil prices in some longer term perspective. From 1999 through 2007, WTI oil prices increased at +16.5%/year, which at this rate would have resulted in an average price of $85 in 2008. Through October, the average annual price will be well over $100 of course.

We are obviously seeing some demand destruction, especially in the US, and it doesn't look like we will be resuming the 6% per month rate of increase any time soon. But I do think we need to keep prices in perspective.

News Bulletin:

CNBC just reported that CERA is predicting an oil prices of $78 for 2009 (I believe for the Fourth Quarter), versus $85 for the Fourth Quarter of 2008. So, we at least have some reliable price guidance now, although I'm not sure that the CERA Indicator is as accurate as the Yergin Indicator. In any case, based on past history, it would appear that the target price for late 2009 is around $156.

There's plenty of temporary demand destruction taking place as the de-leveraging continues. Some of this demand destruction will enforced by lenders cutting back on the loans it will make, e.g. car loans. While this is taking place then pretty much everything will be hit as money becomes more scarce and expensive. Whether this demand destruction continues will be determined by the economy, if people think the oil price will generally continue to increase they will work from this basis. Unfortunately at the moment few politicians are telling this message to the people, while there are plenty of people saying PO is a hoax, wells are being capped by big oil, plenty in ANWR...

We have seen some bank failouts but IMHO this has not addressed the underlying problems but merely prolonged or postponed the outcome:-(

Merritt Pkwy.(from Westchester co. NY to near Hartford) appeared to be right back to traffic levels of a few years ago . Recently traffic levels had been down significantly and it was very smooth sailing up toward NH, even on Friday evenings. Friday it was very heavy and there were backups in all the old spots and this on what I would consider a "tweener" weekend. Had not seen this in over a year. We bought gas in MT. Holyoke in MA for 2.69 (2.65 on way back) but I think it was 3.39 on the Merrit itself. Apparenetly $3 is the new $1.49:)


Minor clarification. I developed the "Yergin Indicator" based on Yergin's November, 2004 prediction in Forbes that oil prices would be back down to $38 by late 2005, as rising oil production forced prices down (where he was described as dismissing concerns about oil supplies with a "shrug."). Of course, basically flat crude production and two years of declining net oil exports forced prices up.

In any case, the Yergin Indicator suggests that oil prices will trade at least twice his predicted index price within one to two years of his prediction. So presumably the CERA/Yergin Indicator suggests that oil prices should be at or above $156 some time between late 2009 and late 2010.

Here is an excerpt of my June, 2007 post on TOD:


CNBC just quoted Daniel Yergin as saying that, without the "fear premium," oil prices next year should be down to $60.

Most of you probably recall Daniel Yergin's previous predictions for lower oil prices. Based on prior experience, once Yergin issues a prediction for lower prices, one should expect oil prices to be 100% or more higher than his predicted price, within one to two years of his prediction--think $120 or more within one to two years.

http://teslaverde.blogspot.com/ I have found that there are a lot of uninformed people in this country- especially people in my age bracket. It is hard to get to people my age with all of the distractions we have. I've attempted to make a funny yet informative website that people 18-30 could relate to, who have no previous knowledge of energy. Please pass the URL on to people who you think may learn something... http://teslaverde.blogspot.com/

This will be largely 101 information for your typical oil drum reader (and a bit crass to your older more sophistacted reader)- but if you have a child, grandchild, niece or nephew in the 18-30 bracket you've had a hard time conveying information to- It may help them. I've had a bit of success so far with people I know!

It's amazing -one short oil price peak and retrenchmant and suddenly 'Peak Oil' is a multi-billion hoax...!

We need to apply something akin to a moving average to the Oil Supply with a duration measured in hundreds of days if not many years. The current financial crisis on the other hand has a much shorter period as you can literally 'throw money at the problem' as we have seen.

It's unlikely that demand will be killed off that much by the current downturn but the abrupt curtailing of capital investment in oil and the killing off of alternatives is going to make PO even worse when it does arrive.


usually, people *need* to be assured that everything is going to be just fine. they are pro-actively seeking news like this one, looking for a "reason" to satisfy that need.

preparing for peak oil means also preparing your mind and morale, and what better way is there than having to accept cutting back? people will learn the true value of staying-home entertainment and non-brandware clothes.

there will be less money to be spent, but it will be spent wiser. the world has seen the easy credit era, and the money was spent on suv-s and plasma tv sets. time for a change

Staged OPEC oil cut, starting with 1Mbpd?

'In view of the oil market's existing conditions, there is a possibility for holding other emergency meetings with shorter intervals to study the oil market situation and arrive at decisions,' he said.

If demand has dropped 2Mbpd as Iran suggests then it looks like they are going to try to hold prices at a cusp level. With the dramatic sensitivity of the markets to the balance that's going to be an interesting trick. Active price control from OPEC on a week by week basis?

Why not just set an agreed price and have done with it?

A few years back this is almost exactly what they did.

In 2002-2003 the OPEC target price band was $22-28 per barrel.
In 2004 the target price band shifted upwards to $30-35 per barrel.

The markets, however, got well ahead of them, and in either 2005 or 2006 - I can't remember which year - Chavez asserted that a $50 price level would be acceptable, presumably there were few dissents on this from his fellow OPEC members.

The markets, however, were still well ahead of them. I suspect that we'll see a re-assertion of an OPEC target price in the $60-80 per barrel range - until the market gets ahead of them again.

FWIW, I suspect that most oil producers don't work on a week-to-week basis - they look at their average prices over much longer term periods - ie look at the 6-month or 12-month averages.

The point I was getting at was that recent times have shown the sensitivity of the price<>supply-demand balance. The stepped reduction in supply seems likely an attempt to allow OPEC to balance suppy and demand at a price they will accept, 'feeling' there way towards a price point with each stepped cut.

The idea of more regular meetings also talks to trying to gain a finer scale control over price. As we near the peak, and with the economic turmoil, that is a difficult balance to achieve - requiring near total dynamic control.

The alternative is to do away with the market as such. If OPEC sets a price for all its oil (say $100) and won't sell for more or less then both sides have a degree of certainty and the supply side only becomes important when demand exceeds supply. At that point they implement a step in price, create some demand destruction and continue.

At one step there are no real speculators or market left, except on the non-OPEC side of the supply (which is declining and therefore pumping flat out). From where we are that is probably a more controllable model than the spot price market we have had during times when potential supply was far beyond demand.

Political Murder in Russia


Worth remembering when considering the strategies of the #1 or #2 oil producer and #2 oil exporter.

I suspect that recent reductions in Azeri oil exports of 52% have more to do with Russian influence than natural gas leaks, for example.


I can't find a reference/source for these stories that have any numbers; I wonder if anyone has heard any of the following:

1) The Sun hasn't had any notcable sunspots for over 200 days.

2) The Sun's measured light levels have dimmed.

3) The Sun's heliosphere has shrunk by 25% over the last ten years.

I'm wondering if these stories are true, or whether it's anti-global warming disinformation?

Items 1 and 3 can be found at wattsupwiththat.com and are largely accurate. Item 2 I have not heard.

What impact these observations have on weather/climate is a matter of vigorous analysis and debate.

1) The Sun hasn't had any notcable sunspots for over 200 days.

We are at an extended minimum in the solar cycle, but sunspots continue to exist despite sporadic reports from unreliable sources.

Here is a reliable source

And another

Is this bullshit coming from Watts?
I hate his anti-intellectual crap.

1) http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/30sep_blankyear.htm

2) I think I remember seeing figures of few 1/10ths of a % but can't find a link.

3) http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2008/oct/HQ_M08-207_IBEX_science_telecon...



I don't think any of these DISPROVE AGW but at the same time I don't think they are anti-AGW propoganda either.

Poeple need to lighten up a bit. It's just good old fashioned observational science. You have to remember its the (sometimes dubious)interprutations of these observations that cause all the brouhaha, not the observations themselves!


1) http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/30sep_blankyear.htm

Ah. 200 days this year. Not "200 consecutive days."
My misunderstanding / assumption.

The Heliosphere : (note: I do not recall this item stating anything from a warming / cooling POV.)


Does CO2 account for all warming? - or does the PDO take responsibility for natural variability?


As for Sunspot activity, my understanding is that during low activity periods, the magnetic field reduces, enabling cosmic rays to increase and thereby increasing cloud cover and increasing Albedo.
Since getting into this in greater detail than I ever wanted to over the last few months I have gone from giving AGW the benefit of the doubt to seriously doubting the claim that global warming aka climate change is entirely man – made and caused by CO2.

IMHO: CO2 is a relatively minor factor compared with a myriad of other much larger possibilities: Solar Cycles, PDO, Orbit etc , etc.

But the next few years of warming / cooling will decide this debate one way or another.

Now, perhaps we can get back to the panic du jour of the extermination of money and money products and the immediate threat to civilisation as we know it....:-/

Kevlar armour primed and ready....you are about to get bu!£$"#ked by CCPO! :o)

Nice. Hit the nail on the head, my friend.

Oh give him back his points, he meant "Hit your head on the nail, my friend".

I would do part of that -2 point deed but I never did like that name 'mh497' reminds me tooo much of Reginald or Fauntleroy or even Nathanial, oog slay me or give me herpes first!

Your link to Spencer's site sparked my attention. Spencer has repeatedly shown that he is not really interested in science, IMHO. He and John Christy have touted their MSU satellite analysis for more than 16 years, while they continued to ignore the complaints of other researchers. They were finally forced to admit that their work was flawed, even so, there remain issues which they have not faced. I performed an analysis which pointed to one problem area, which I reported in a GRL paper in 2003 (doi:10.1029/2003GL017938) but which S & C have since ignored. When I gave Dr. Spencer a copy of my just published paper, he threw it on the floor. Literally...

Looking quickly at your link to Spencer's latest, I notice a bit of a problem. As you have mentioned, there are suggestions that variations in solar magnetic field influences cloud cover, an effect which would likely be pronounced during this year's minimum in the sunspot cycle. Spencer (Figure 3) attempts to show that there is a strong correlation between the PDO and cloud cover. But, in so doing, he ignores any possibility of a link between cloud cover and the sun's magnetic flux. In sum, I think that Spencer (and the rest of the denialist camp) can't have it both ways. If the solar variation is having an impact on cloud cover, then the PDO/cloud cover correlation is more likely to be an effect, not a cause. Finally, focusing on the PDO ignores the well known impact of the THC, which is known to vary over short time scales. One paper I saw suggested that variations in the THC to be highly correlated with short time climate variations. Remember, both are variations in the ocean part of the climate system. Which is the reas source of the variation, the PDO or the THC in the North Atlantic?

Furthermore, your comment mentions orbital influences on climate. Those impacts have been studied in great detail and orbital changes are very slow compared with climate changes on century time scales. Orbital changes would not be likely to have any effect over the next century.

Of course, you fail to mention the exceptional changes in the sea-ice cycle, which has just finished hitting another remarkable minimum in extent. One should be aware that most of the AOCGCMs do not project the rapid loss of sea-ice which we have seen the past few years. Does Spencer claim that the PDO is the cause of this major change in climate? Hardly, in fact he claims that there is a "recovery in Arctic sea-ice underway", a claim which ignores the fact that last summer's sea-ice melt from maximum to minimum was larger that the 2007 melt, as the maximum extent at the beginning of the freeze season in March 2008 was larger than that of March 2007. Does Spencer think all scientists are blind to this obvious fact?

Remember, Roy Spencer is a Young Earth Fundamentalist and John Christy was a Baptist preacher/missionary...

E. Swanson

From what I've seen all we can say for sure, learning from the past, is that the Earth's climate will change substantially at some stage and when it does not all of humankind will be able to cope adequately. There's nothing new, it has always been so.

Our climate isn't stable or predictable in the long term and your particular climate may get warmer or cooler.

When one looks at the paleoclimate data, it's quite clear that the Earth is in an Ice Age which began some 3.3 million years ago. For the past 10,000 year (mol) period of the Holocene, there's been an Interglacial period in which things were warm. Part of the discussions of Climate Change involve the basic question of when this warm period will end with the Earth entering another protracted period of widespread glacial conditions.

It would be tempting to think that Global Warming would offset any such switch into another glacial period, but there's no way to guarantee that. Snow accumulation can result from two different processes, either cooler summers which result in less melt or warmer winters, which might produce more snow. Once a continuous snow cover survives summer, then the glaciers could once again begin to advance, since there is a strong positive feedback due to the difference in albedo between snow and land. There's even the possibility that warmer conditions are a necessary precondition for beginning the buildup of snow and ice which become the low elevation glaciers as once covered a large portion of Canada and the northern U.S. The Eemian appears to have been warmer than the present period interglacial. A generally warmer Earth might slip into an Ice Age if there were a large volcanic eruption at high latitude, which would cool the higher latitudes and reduce the usual summer snow melt.

The conceptual problem is that high latitudes in the NH are still very cold during the Winter months. As a result, there's little way for moisture to be transported from lower latitudes to the Arctic, since the air is simply too cold to hold much water. Also, when there is sea-ice covering the Arctic Ocean, relatively little water can evaporate from that source, again limiting the source of moisture to form snow over the land. However, a warmer Arctic with less sea-ice could easily become a source of major quantities of atmospheric moisture and if the THC slackens, the weather around the North Atlantic could be expected to cool, as appears to have happened during the Younger Dryas period.

The models which have been used to project the impacts of Greenhouse Gas buildup have not reproduced the rate of decline in sea-ice which has been found over the past decade or so. I think it is unreasonable to ignore the possibility that AGW might actually result in an Ice Age, especially as the models have suggested that AGW will produce a reduction or shutdown in the THC.

Do you really think Western civilization could survive under Ice Age conditions..?

E. Swanson

"Snow accumulation can result from two different processes, either cooler summers which result in less melt or warmer winters, which might produce more snow."

There's also the relative length of winter vs summer to consider. Everything else being equal, a longer winter/shorter summer increases snow accumulation, and the opposite reduces accumulation. Glaciers form on land, and in the current configuration a lot of land mass is in the northern hemisphere. This is one crucial reason why the orbital variations have an impact on glaciation; by changing the length as well as warmth of northern hemisphere summers.

With the northern glaciers rapidly melting, I find it very unlikely that trend will reverse such that winter snowfall exceeds melting. When we have year-on-year increases in northern glaciers, then I think we can consider the possibility of a new glacial period.

If Hansen is correct, CO2 levels are headed to a pre-Ice Age level, which could preclude glaciation for a few million years. If true, that would be remarkable. Few species have the dubious honor of causing such global changes.

"Do you really think Western civilization could survive under Ice Age conditions..?"

A fascinating question, I think we have to survive the sauna first, before we face the cold plunge. :)

It's a question that Brian Aldiss considers in the Helliconia trilogy. When faced with a centuries long dark age, how could you preserve civilisation and the knowledge acquired for the benefit of people many generations in the future?

I have gone from giving AGW the benefit of the doubt to seriously doubting the claim that global warming aka climate change is entirely man – made and caused by CO2.

Why should anyone listen to you when you don't even understand the problem and/or misrepresent it? Given I have clarified this here in the past, what are we to think about your intentions? You well know there is no claim by anyone of any repute whatsoever that climate change is entirely man-made.

Why keep repeating a lie?

IMHO: CO2 is a relatively minor factor compared with a myriad of other much larger possibilities: Solar Cycles, PDO, Orbit etc , etc.

Been over this, too. Why repeat the B.S.? All the things you mention have AN effect. None of them are THE primary mover of current trends of the last 150 years.

You claim, if I recall, that CO2 can't be important because it is only 4/10 of a percent of atmospheric gases. But you fail to either understand or acknowledge simple facts: 1. 99% of the atmosphere isn't relevant in terms changes in GHG effects over the last 150 years. 2. Of the 1% that does have an effect, 40% is CO2. THAT is the reason for CO2's importance.

You've been made aware of this before and choose to pretend you have not. Why?

An analogy: Let's say you have an air conditioner to keep a room cool. You also have curtains drawn. Your thermostat reads 75 degrees. The temp is stable. You open the curtains.

What happens?

But the next few years of warming / cooling will decide this debate one way or another.

Actually, they may not. If the La Nina/El Nino oscillation has the effect ONE study recently suggested, it could mask warming for a decade. (Not prevent it, mask it.)

Now, perhaps we can get back to the panic du jour of the extermination of money and money products and the immediate threat to civilisation as we know it....:-/

You'd better pray to whatever gods or entity you pray to/look to for solace that your pandering to Big Oil's con game doesn't allow nothing to be done to stop climate warming. We could be 7 degrees C warmer within two years, according to ice core data.

Assuming economic collapse is the only near-term threat to the fantasy world you inhabit is a fool's errand.

BTW, Spencer's work has had holes punched in it at every turn. He's still using data sets known to be crap. And, he's been bought and paid for in the past. Get better sources if you want to be taken seriously. Or did you not notice all his references are his own work and/or that of other denialists? Were he a legitimate researcher on this topic he wouldn't need to pull data solely from denialist sources.


Naah, I am not gonna get into this again CCPO.

The next few years will tell. Only a few short years. Lets say 5.

We will come back and visit this in 5 years time. Assuming we are not all out on the street and can access the net on computers. Or not manning barricades.

If temps increase during the next 5 years, in step with CO2 . I will eat my deniers hat. (not pleasant - it is made of tinfoil :-))

If they flatten or cool and yet CO2 continues to increase, I will invite you to eat your hat.

Can't say fairer than that eh?


For all out there who responded to my question regarding Diesel in Washing Machines.


Who da thunk it?

I get to live! -ok as a slave, but I get to live!

Back when the AGW deniers were insisting the warming was caused by the sun, I remember reading that there has been a weak downward trend in solar luminosity over maybe the past 10 years (sorry, I don't have a link for the numbers). In typical denialist fashion, they are now arguing the other side of the same point -- OMG! We're entering an ice age!

To answer your questions, and some others brought up by others below:
1. The sun hasn't had any noticeable sunspots for over 200 days.
The sun has been blank for over 200 days so far this year. This is more than average for the last couple solar cycle minimums, but is well below the sunspot-free days of cycle minimums earlier in the century.

2. The sun's measured light levels have dimmed.
This is also true, but by a very small (though still measurable amount). The figure is in the range of .1%, and is connected to how active the sunspot cycle is. You might think that runs counter to reason - the sun has a higher output when it's covered with lots of dark area - but the rest of the sun's surface is more active, and it outweighs the decreased radiance of the areas covered by spots.
As an aside, it looks like we're starting to see new sunspots from the next solar cycle, so we've probably bottomed out on the total irradiance. The suns output should be on an uptrend over the next few years.

3. The sun's heliosphere has shrunk by 25% over the last 10 years.
I have not directly heard this figure, but it wouldn't surprise me. I've heard that the solar wind has slowed down somewhat. As to the relevance, there are some theories that smaller heliosphere = more cosmic rays = more clouds = higher albedo = lower temperature. I'm a little light on details here, but there's disagreement on 1. is there an observable trend in cosmic rays since the 50's? 2. Will cosmic rays act to seed clouds in the upper atmosphere (cooling?) or lower atmosphere (warming)?
My personal take on this is that a direct cause and effect linkage needs to be demonstrated. The current state of the data on the subject doesn't rule out other confounding factors like increased jet travel and so forth.

As to the attribution between solar influences on climate vs human influences, I've seen a few papers that look at trends in solar output combined with anthropogenic influences (dust, greenhouse gases, etc), and it looks to be in the range of 10-25% solar, the balance being human-caused.

For more discussions, check out www.realclimate.org - the authors present current news about climate research.

Another request for verification of a possible rumor... I have no idea as to credibility.... Someone I know insists that banks now have a new policy not to resell foreclosed homes for less than the "market value."

Sounds stupid to me, but the way this guy got fired-up I'm wondering if there's any (or even some) truth to this (?)rumor(?).

The banks are not a cartel. That is there is no "one policy for all banks", other than federal or state regulations of course. So what you heard can be nothing but a silly rumor.

That being said, the rumor is really silly. Banks would normally sell a foreclosed home for what the market would bear. So any price they could get for the home would really be the "market value".

"...no "one policy for all banks", other than federal or state regulations of course..." what you might expect to see is that following the failouts (using public money) politicians interfere with the functioning of the banks to promote action that is seen to benefit the voting people, e.g. foreclosure as a last resort, govt to buy housing, housebuilders... Remember there is almost no limit to the ideas a politician can dream up to be seen as helping.

Naturally these actions can have unintended consequences, such as more people not paying their loans.

In the USA the shares purchased are non-voting. What politician wants to meddle in the internal affairs of banks at the moment? Then they'd get the blame when it went wrong.

I really don't think you'll see politicians meddling the the banks internals, the same as you don't see the banks editing the campaign advertisements. The interface between big business and Pollies is pretty well defined, and they are tightly coupled, but don't meddle as deeply as you suggest.

I have heard that some banks are holding some foreclosed property off the market for fear that a flood of foreclosed inventory would drive down prices. Mish or someone looked at this about a month ago, and the foreclosure vs. inventory numbers seemed to suggest that there were some "missing" houses.

This is only really a viable strategy if foreclosure sales are higher than new foreclosures. It costs money to keep a foreclosed house (upkeep plus taxes). If the banks' inventories of foreclosed properties are growing, at some point they'll have to dump them.

In any case, maybe that's the germ of truth behind the rumor.

I have witnessed this first-hand. The house on 10 acres that neighbors my land had the tenants kicked out over a year ago due to non-payment, yet the house is not on the market. I keep pestering my real estate agent about it so that I can buy it as soon as it is on the market (I don't want neighbors, I want to tear the house down,) but she keeps saying it's not available. The thing about it is, the house becomes more delapidated as time passes, all of the windows open, people camping out in the house, etc.

I also speculate that they likely have other properties that are more likely to sell that they are spending their resources on instead.

"....she keeps saying it's not available..."

it may not be available for listing with a re agent. that shoulnt keep you from finding out who owns it and contacting them.

Forget the real estate agent!
Your county seat will have offices that can tell you who owns the property and if there is a morgage on it and who the morgage holder is.
Contact the morgage holder/property owner directly and make a deal.
Forget the real estate agent!

A bank owns it at the moment. Supposedly it is going to go up for auction, but it hasn't yet. I have to get financing pre-approved before I can purchase it, and that will likely involve a 30% down payment, so I am saving up for that as well.

I have seen a house in this condition for 3 years now. The asking price has actually gone UP 20% since I first called on it.

Why would a bank sit on zero income, simply to hold the value on their balance sheet? Is there an invisible wave of bad mortgages still sitting in limbo rather than being auctioned and written-off?

I would say that each individual mortgage company/bank will sell or not depending on its own financial situation combined with its view of the current market. It may be that troubled banks "look" better keeping forclosed properties on their balance sheet, rather than incurring a greater loss by selling now. As many have noted, the housing market and thus the banks won't recover until a lower and middle clas "bailout" bill is passed that puts income gained from jobs into the household sector of the economic cycle. That's why Bernanke is now floating that very idea--an idea that should have come first.

Drop the price of any property low enough, and it should sell, right?

I don't see why we should expect the banks to automatically take a bigger loss by selling foreclosed properties when the market is so depressed.

Maybe they are just overwhelmed (too many properties at once) and they can't get them listed?

A home near us is frequently empty (for months, sometimes years) because the landlord (not a bank) wants $1,300 rent a month for a three bedroom home. That's more than the going rate in our area, by a bit, but he seems to be in no hurry to fill the vacancy. If I ever see him, I'll ask him the logic behind leaving it empty.

Charging high rent helps ensure that you don't have renters who will trash the place. Higher $$ sometimes equals better people. (Not always, though.) A renter can cause massive amounts of damage in a very short period of time.

that has not been my experience. charging a competetive rate allows the landlord to be more selective. i have a neighbor, lets call him gerry ,because that is his name, is a high rent landlord and all he gets is low rent people.

I don't think ANY funding/stimulus bailout CAN work for housing. There needs to be an incentive to wash out the underwater loans and let values drop.

Bankruptcy should punish the imprudent (buyers and lenders alike) to the advantage of the prudent (who can pay in cash or get low-rate loans).

The current bailout and most under discussion do the opposite, helping (rewarding) the imprudent that the cost of the masses.

Having banks sit on empty property that they can't afford to sell is more like the Japanese gridlock. It helps nobody. Coming up with a way to help out current owners, assist stable new buyers, and help mortgage holders handle underwater debt would all make more sense, I think. I'm a quick-pain advocate, but the PTB seem to favor long slow pain followed by death-by-a-thousand-cuts.

Doesn't the bank keep the property on its books at full mortgage value until it's sold? If you're solvent only on paper, it matters not if you're slowly bleeding out, because that's better than marking these properties to market and declaring bankruptcy the next day.

Exactly. When last contacted, the bank wanted a value that was well over 4x the TRUE value of the home, as that was the value they had on the books for it. I suspect it won't be until they get bought out by a large bank that wants to liquidate properties will it probably be sold for it's true value.

AFAICT, Holding the book value on the sheet allows you to borrow against net assets. Converting a half-million house to 300k cash reduces net assets, and lenders can and will ask the owner to immediately repay part of the overall loan, since there's no longer the collateral on the balance sheet to back it.

These are the sorts of reasons why the financial crisis is kind of like everyone treading water for a bit to see if they can come up with a clever way to tie it all up and reinforce it for a few more years.

If someone big cracks and sells, or goes bust and isn't rescued, all sorts of assets hit the market and this may encourage others to sell also, leading to another big crash.

It's not over yet, IMHO.

Ignorant -- I suppose it depends on how you define "market value". From my perspective, if a bank sells a home for the highest offer it gets then that price IS the market value. I did just see a news story this morning where a mort. company agreed to let the home owner sell for $60,000 less than the mortgage and not require the home owner to pay the differential. A little different story then yours but I think emphasizes that there isn't one policy all banks/mort companies follow.

NOT enough progress is being made towards developing "clean coal" technology, the International Energy Agency has warned.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) - burying the pollution from coal-fired power stations underground - is held to be central to the future of Australia's massive coal industry.

In the computer industry, we call things like "clean coal" technology vaporware. Vaporware is a product that is promised repeatedly, but will never make gold master, or in other words, never be released to the public. Vaporware projects include programs that promise to compress data to 1% of it's original size, even if the data is encrypted. Anyone with half a wit knows that such a thing is impossible or impractical, yet politicians or CEOs will eat up the ideas.

Some vaporware projects like hydrogen fuel cell vehicles might reach production profitability, however they alway seem to be "10 years away" or "20 years away" as in the case of cold fusion.

For me, it just seems silly to dig up a carbon rich fuel such as coal to burn it, capture the carbon, then put it back into the ground where it might erupt in the future. To know what kind of effect that can have on nearby living things, check out:

It seems much simpler to simply use carbon-neutral renewable energy sources instead of trying to figure out how to sequester the carbon.

Maybe, they really mean less dirty (cleaner) coal, i.e. burning the coal at a higher efficiency with the option to add on CCS should it become feasible? Remember the first rule of self-promotion is not to undersell yourself. Weren't cigarettes once promoted as healthy?

While we are promised CCS in the future, we continue to burn coal at a rate that will only exacerbate global warming. The purpose of CCS is to have us ignore that reality and count on the utilities to magically make the problem of CO2 emissions go away. Perhaps, some time in the distant future, they will be able to come up with a cost effective technology that works and is not dangerous. In the mean time, they continue to spew at a rate that will radically alter the planet's temperature. Enabling them, like both presidential candidates do, just creates a dangerous complacency.

We should proceed full steam ahead with renewable and low/no carbon sources while placing a moratorium and planned cutback of carbon spewing sources. If, in the mean time, the coal/utility industry can come up with a way of minimizing their carbon emissions, fine.

If the candidates want to support clean coal technology, fine, but in the same sentence they need to say that they also favor placing a moratorium on expanding new coal use. They also need to, in the same paragraph, tell us how we get off coal. The operating assumption should be that CCS will never happen or, if it will happen, will be too late, as by that time we will be well past the tipping point.

things like "clean coal"

There are a multitude of reasons completely outside of technical viability for why politicians repeat oxymoronic phrases like "clean coal", "energy independence" and so on.

1) Firstly, CC is an alliterative phrase. It repeats the C and L sounds. Our primitive reptile brain cores take pride in spotting simple repeating patterns. CC is what I like to refer to as Cranial Candy. The alliterative phrase bribes the primitive brain parts into accepting the offered candy without question. Politicians and mass media love to lob the literative sounds at us: Pain at the Pump, Gas Guzzler, Green Clean renewable energies, ah to be reborn again in a clean pastoral pasture.

2) Secondly, CC allows the politicians to wash their hands of the dirt part of coal. How can your mind contemplate the dirty aspects of coal while at the same having labeled it as "clean"? Try repeating this phrase in your mind: Filthy Fossils and then think of how clean the black lung death coal can be.

3) Finally of course, politicians are appealing to the pockets of the job starved masses in the coal producing states.

Revamped lead-acid battery could slash cost of hybrids (May be behind a paywall for some)

Story regarding the integration of an ultracapacitor within a lead-acid battery to give comparable performance to NiMH for much lower cost (they claim around 1/3 - 1/4 of NiMH cost or 1/6 Li-Ion cost). Essentially makes lead acid battery better able to withstand high charging currents such as those resulting from regenerative braking in hybrids and EVs.


Heck, we could just go back to mass-producing iron-nickel batteries for those benefits. Right now you can only get them imported from China by a small company at about 40 cents a watt-hour, which is no better than NiMH. They are extremely durable, though.

For vehicle batteries and such, NiMH, hyper-caps, and what have you will continue to follow the path of portable electronics, driven by the necessary demands for high power volume and power mass density. These markets have evolved rapidly in recent years.

A more ignored market is the UPS bulk storage market, which more akin to the emerging need for solar and wind storage. While weight and volume are still concerns, cost is much more critical, yet innovation has been slow. I am hopeful that vanadium flow batteries may eventually mature to serve these niches cost effectively.

Iron nickel batteries could probably be improved as well, but I'm not sure of the cycle life, and I think they have some electrolyte maintenance needs.

I am hopeful that vanadium flDoes ow batteries may eventually mature to serve these niches cost effectively.

Does anyone know of any attempts at farming Ascidians for Vanadium extraction?


I haven't read that particular article, but the issue was discussed several times on the now defunct thefraserdomain blog. The problem with lead-acid is two-fold, storage density (KWHr per kilogram or liter) isn't as high as either NiMH or Lithium ion, and the lifetime of the batteries. Two methods have been proposed to solve the lifetime issue, the one here is to use an ultracapacitor to buffer the high current transients, the other method is some sort of nanostructured foamlike electrode. Either method is supposed to solve the lifetime issue, i.e. increasing the lifetime of the battery by several times. Neither solves the density issue, advanced lead acid batteries will still be bulky, but inexpensive batteries. I suspect Lithium ion will become the technology of choice for the premium market, and some sort of lead acid technology may be used for the common folk, who are more price sensitive than performance sensitive.

You're right about the density issues, another application mentioned which is more promising is as power buffering for wind farms (on the order of half an hour supply is mentioned in the article). Probably a less sexy but more realistic and useful application as cost is much more importent than size and weight in this case.

The global credit crunch has smashed the deepwater building program at Petrobras. Whether it can pay for current orders is questionable. The Brazilian state investment council voted to shore up PBR in the short term. That suggests Petrobras has cash flow problems now -- without the presalt development cost expected to total $500 billion over the next decade.

This is excellent news! The less development of expensive-to-produce oil the better! We cannot avoid decline with these marginal sources but if we develop them then we set a very high floor to the price of oil during our transition off of oil. It is much better to start reducing consumption now and only rely on cleap-to-produce oil for our transition off of oil as a fuel. http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2008/06/oil-is-too-expensive.html


I think it is more of a manifestation of the credit crunch in general and how long-return, big ticket items will struggle to get off the drawing board without access to credit.

The impact on the oil industry will be felt in 2009, but also the impact will be felt on any potential life-savers. This would include large wind farms, carbon capture pilot projects, nuclear new-builds, light railways, etc.


The news on Petrobras is all the more interesting when you consider an unconfirmed report I saw a month or two ago. I didn't save the link and there weren’t any details or sources identified. But it mentioned a low level US diplomat opening a discussion with someone in the Bz gov't regarding the possibility of the US gov’t assisting Bz in financing the Deep Water fields development. Even though the report might be completely bogus it did offer hope that someone in DC was thinking ahead. The following is all hypothetical on my part but this is how the Chinese have been cutting deals around the world for the last 10 years: in return for help funding the project the US gov't would earn, in addition to whatever the loan yields, the "right of first refusal" on any produced oil sold into the global market. ROFR's have been common in the oil patch for decades. Usually it's between two companies involved in developing a joint venture. For the last 10 years Chinese has been doing similar contractual agreements. The goal is obvious: at some point there will be less oil then there are buyers even when those buyers have the money to purchase oil. Then the economic survival game will hinge as much on access to oil as to its price.

Of course, given the recent gov’t throwing money at our economic meltdown you have to wonder if we have an extra $50 – 100 billion lying around we can loan Bz.


The Right of Refusal Clause...

If the price is low, discontinue. If the price is right, pump.

It seems to me, and I may be wrong, but China appears to be 'making relationships' in the long term to access what she will need. Oil of course is vital, but the same philosophy will apply to metals and minerals required by such a manufacturing state. And that means Africa.

But then the Chinese take the longer term view.

When a Senior Chinese Communist Party Member was asked by a French Diplomat what he thought of the French Revolution, his reply was:

'It is too early to tell'...

But we will see. I think China is more fragile than some might think. This bust in Western (formerly) Industrial States is not at the right time for China since she is dependant upon the West absorbing the goods that China produces. If China slows down then of course commodity prices will fall.

But we in the west will probably miss-read it. Here in the UK we are already trumpeting the fall in oil and prices at the pump.

Personally, after the last month, I dont think anybody is an expert in the future anymore. Except maybe Peakists in the longer term....


You're quit right about China "making relationships". Actually a lot more than relationships. They are actually establishing sovereign ownership of oil reserves around the world. Venezuela, Angola, the various “stans”. Not only does this secure access but any attempt to impede such access would be considered an act of war. Given my own expectation of increased military response to PO this is a wise move.

It is good news... IF it finds it's way onto the pages of the WSJ and NYT.

Otherwise, the public will not realize the predicament $70 oil creates.

Chris -- I get the impression you think the future price Petrobras will receive for its Deep Water oil will be related to the development cost. That won't be true. Whenever they bring on one of their new fields the oil will be sold into the global market at whatever the market will bear at that time. If oil is up above their price expectations they'll make a nice profit. If oil is selling for much less then their expectations then they'll loose money. Such is life in the oil patch. Price forecasting is one of the greatest risk in such mega and long term projects.

During my 33 years in the business I've seen many operators sell their production for less then it cost to develop. This was especially true in the mid 80's when oil went to $10/bbl. You might think most operators would reduce their production rates and wait for better prices. But I've seldom seen that happen. Most companies live or die based upon cash flow. Even though they may be recovering less money then they put into the project most are forced to produce just to stay in business.

The Petrobras article was great for me. I seem to be surrounded by a bunch of gung-ho Repubs. I sent that article to each of them so they would know where to find the offshore equipment to do all of that drilling. I would hope that we could all circulate the article in that same fashion.

Rockman - As a small oil producer, I have seen many times that other producers will put off little problems until the price goes down. They don't have to do so much when the price is up, but when it drops, Mama still wants that new Whatever (car, washer, refrig, etc.) so they have to get back to work. Stop by the local supply store if you are not offshore, and you will find it a lot busier at times like these.

Personally, I think that if the Petrobras story got a lot of wide distribution, the cornucopians might just react with slightly higher oil prices. This is hard for me to wish for, though, since both Joe Sixpack and Joe the Plumber/Not will be hit really hard. So will the less fortunate, probably in the dark because they cannot afford the internet we so cherish. Doomers seem to forget, in all of their glee how many good people will be hurt as all of this unwinds. (Not that either of those Joe's is that good of a person, but they might be as well.)

I know what you mean Woody. My clent is in the Deep Water both in the GOM and offshore Bz. It won't hurt their feelings if Petrobras starts releasing rigs and puts some downward pressure on day rates. But as you say, it cuts both ways. Hands get laid off and those new rig build contracts get cancelled. I've tried to explain before (as I did above) how inaccurate price forecasting is one of the oil patch's biggest enemies. And that cut's both ways too: cut back your drilling budget this year expecting $50 oil and then oil hit $150 in 18 months. So you ramp up drilling and it slams back down in the next cycle. Small operators like yourself can adjust quickly. Just put off that new pickup for another year. (just a little tease). Not so easy for a company with 3000 employees

Doomers seem to forget, in all of their glee how many good people will be hurt as all of this unwinds.

I, a doomer, dance with glee, naked, bathed in 10-40, at the thought of my ten month-old son living through a depression or outright collapse.

WTH is wrong with you?

The next person to repeat this disgusting misrepresentation should be banned for a week.

You are exactly correct ccpo, it is really stupid for the cornucopians to think we get any joy in trying to warn people of the coming collapse. It just tears my heart out when I think of the predicament my grandchildren will be in in twenty years or so.

But I disagree with you on banning people for one week for accusing us of finding joy in the coming "hell on earth" we are looking at, they should be horsewhipped.

Ron Patterson

No offense intended. Each of the two of you appear to me to be realistic in your approaches. I think it is quite possible that any recession COULD delay the worst implications of PO, but if we go into a depression, it will accelerate PO. I also think I am realistic. I am just saying that those who seem to be cheering for the end of oil (look upthread for the target of my comment) have a sadly misplaced sense of values.

A year and a half ago, I heard Dr. David Karoly speak on the impact of CC and the near-term inevitability of it. Karoly was one of the principal authors of the then-just released IPCC report. One barrage of his comments was so overwhelming that I went to another conference a week later to hear it again. His comments on the next 40-50 years of CC being virtually locked in due to the insidious and long lasting effects of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases absolutely shocked me. I have stepped down my recollection of those effects to 35 years, since nobody would change if they knew how imminent our demise is. Further, Karoly was quite specific that feedbacks, not being something which could be modeled, were not included in what the IPCC report considered. Since we are now seemingly seeing feedbacks in the form of Artic methane releases, the impacts are most likely locked in with us seeing the acceleration of CC far worse than what the IPCC report detailled. Certainly, I am not a cornucopian. I would just like to see the human race have a fighting chance at survival, my grandkids included.

A lot here have children.

Some here have children of military age in a world that is rapidly spinning out of control.

And doomers frequently exhibit glee in the impending fall of man.

More is the pity.

When the marginal barrel has a steep price curve as today I think you are correct. But the situation we are putting ourselves in is that the whole industry will need $60/barrel or higher to produce at a profit. So, it won't be just one or two companies that took too much of a risk but the whole industry. At that point, supply will be cutrailed to attempt to put the price back up or government bailouts will be sought or that sort of thing. That is where you get a floor price. When it is some operators running at a loss it is one thing. When all are running at a loss the economic forces have a different behavior as we are seeing now in banking.

But, this news is a little different since it is the banking industry that is affecting the development of expensive-to-produce oil. But, the result is even better. It means that the oil won't be developed in the first place I hope.


Some here have talked about transforming a shipping container into housing but if this keeps up one might just pick up the whole SHIP on the cheap;

" Global storm hits China's sea-commerce"


"The drop-off in international trade and future outlook has helped to drive down shares in China Cosco Holdings, the world's top transporter of resources, almost 90% in the past 12 months, dropping faster than even the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, itself down 66% this year."

Silly video infuriates Internet

What's so infuriating? That the kids who did the silly video are filthy rich.

“These kids are the beneficiaries of trickle-down economics,” he or she (who isn’t me) said. “Their parents are rich so they’re rich.”

He or she then added that this story does have a bright side. “The economy is going to catch up with them, too.”


I'm not so sure about the economy catching up with all of them anyway. In my 30+ years banging around the oil patch I've rubbed elbows with some of those super rich types. Sometimes as just a spectator...sometimes as a driver, bartender or hunting guide. And I've seen every character type from mean and greedy to pleasent and generous. Just as I've seen with folks far from the wealthy end of the food chain. And some of the nastiest won't be hurt much by the downturn. They cheated their way to the top and know how to cheat to stay up there.

I eventually found the only way to deal with the worst is to just ignore them. The sytem won't change and inequites will always exist. Best to just not let them occupy your thoughts and do for others whatever you can.

You should watch the following music video


It is a much better (the house in your video is totaly empty and had no Garden! aka poor shack) German "filthy"rich noble youngster video illustrating the standard day in Munichs top spots it was even discussed in the mainstream media in Germany for a few days and many were infuriated because they felt humiliated by these rich noblemen (actually some are). Even if you don't understand the text you get the idea, it is hilarious the best thing I have ever seen and heard, truth of life as it is for some and self-irony at it's best if you want some text tell me the min:sec.

As I did some "research" here are two more for your entertainment only, the last is as good as the German one although dealing with a slightly different angle..

Cartoon-enabled doomerism, courtesy of Ruben Bolling -

"EAT THE POOR. Price - 25 bullets per poor person"

Boy, is that ever funny. Ha.

The new Pemex Monthly Petroleum Statistics is out. Mexico C+C production declined 37,000 barrels per day last month and All Liquids declined 42,000 bp/d. Exports declined 356,000 barrels per day from August and 619,000 barrels per day from September of 2007. However Mexico did have some shut in exports due to bad weather and other problems.

Ron Patterson

Methinks, the first step toward collapse is deflation, followed by growing prices of necessities, in order of their need.
Oil is a probable first to go back up in price, closely followed by food.
What follows is misery, hunger and death for billions of people.
We ran into the wall, straight through it, and are now, like Wile-e-coyote, contemplating the abyss beneath our feet.
An economy requiring interest is an economy based on growth. Debtors cannot continue to create growth.
Given the finite nature of the earth, growth cannot be forever.
You can pull on the elastic, but at a certain point it 'll have to break or snap back.
I hope it will snap back, because I'm quite convinced a slow release is out of the question by now.
I wish you all good luck and something to help you sleep.

The plug-in Mini Cooper (linked up top) looks interesting, too bad about the $900 / month lease.

The car's brake pedal is directly coupled to the accelerator pedal. As soon as the driver releases the accelerator, the electric motor immediately reverses and begins acting as a generator. This slows the car, like downshifting in a gas-powered car, while recapturing the car's momentum as energy for the batteries.

So, it'll be how many more years before Chevy has their Volt? You can have one of these by January (if they pick you for the lease program).

The momentum capture on release of the gas accelerator pedal is similar to the way the Prius works. Coasting is achieved not by releasing the pedal, but by feathering it just enough to keep the engine off. All electric driving (in the US models) can be achieved under 42 mph for some distance in this way depending on road conditions. On one of the roads near my house this is a challenge due to the numerous pothole patches which make finessing the acceleration pedal rough. The shortest length/time route is not necessarily the most fuel efficient.

BTW, if you are a Prius owner it is time to consider winterizing the front air grills by placing pipe insulation in them to block the cold air. Search priuschat.com for details.

From today's Dear Abby:

Doctored gasoline gives theft victim measure of satisfaction

DEAR ABBY: A few weeks ago, I returned home after mowing the lawn at my mother's place and parked my truck behind my house. I left the lawnmower and a 5-gallon can of gas in the bed of my truck and went into the house for a drink of water. When I returned, the gas can was missing.

I bought another can, filled it with gas and added 2 pounds of sugar. Again, I parked my truck in the same spot with the gas can visible. An hour later, it too had disappeared.

A short while later, I noticed a neighbor's son and his friends pushing his car up the street. They said they had "engine problems." My wife thinks what I did was wrong and that I should offer to pay for this lad's engine repairs. What do you think? -- "A-GASSED" IN ILLINOIS

DEAR "A-GASSED": I disagree with your wife. What if the boys had another kind of engine problem and this was just a coincidence? I'm sure whoever stole your gas got an expensive lesson. Let's hope it also saved them from a life of crime.

Diesel works well too. Just fill a gas can with pure diesel. At the end of the day if it's not stolen, you don't have 5 gallons of unusable gasoline, but 5 gallons of usable diesel. (To give as a gift to your friend who has a diesel powered machine/vehicle.)

The upshot is, expect possible retaliation if the theif suspects you sabotoged the fuel. Absolutely no sympathy for the theives from me, but just be careful. :)

I have used lease condensate in gas cans to confound these types of jerks. The stuff is high octane, but their engines will either end up with some clogged injectors or will not shut off since the stuff will cause a carburated engine to diesel. It is some really high powered stuff. I wouldn't put it in my engine however. It is notorious for holding water. Either way, it scares the crap out of the sorry thief, but ruins nothing.

Recent true stories from an oil company help desk.

Woman fills gas powered car with diesel and then tries to sue oil company for engine repairs (don't ask me how she managed to do this).

Her explanation:

"I was in a hurry and there was a lineup at the gas pumps. Since nobody was using the diesel pump, I filled my car over there".

Station attendant phones in after hitting the emergency stop button for a fueling point.

Two guys in a pickup had filled their truck and then proceeded to wash the back end of the vehicle with gasoline straight from the hose.

"We always do it this way at home".

Woman drives into carwash.

Carwash doesn't start immediately.

Woman opens door and gets out of car (which is inside the carwash).

Carwash starts.

Woman wants to sue company for damage to her clothes and inside of car.

Are human beings smarter than yeast?

How did she manage to get diesel into her car? They make the nozzles different so the diesel ones don't fit in normal cars. (I confess - I know this because I've accidentally pulled up a diesel pump on on occasion.)

She didn't because it's an urban legend.

I managed to put diesel into my petrol engined car in the U.K.

My father filled up his petrol engined car with diesel here in Germany.

Maybe it's just in the U.S. that this is not possible.

In 1974, catalytic converters were added to cars. These cars required unleaded fuel, so new small diameter pump nozzles were added to unleaded gas pumps and small diameter restrictions added to the new car gas tanks.

Only unleaded gas nozzles could fit into the new cars gas tanks, preventing their catalytic converters from being poisoned by leaded gasoline (still sold with large nozzles). Diesel was also sold with large nozzles (super large nozzles for heavy truck only pumps).

The diesel/gasoline block-out was an unintended consequence.

Best Hopes,


As I said, maybe this is only an American thing, because in the U.K and Germany there is nothing stopping you putting diesel in a car that takes gasoline.

The thing is neither myself or my father even thought about trying to sue the oil company for our own stupidity. That is definitely an American thing.

A friend of mine had to get his car repaired as his girlfriend filled his car with diesel. The nozzel did not fit into the car, so she held the nozzle up against it.... True story from two people I know... Clogged fuel injectors and fuel filter.

Not an urban legend.

I talked to the guy who took the call.

It is recorded in the company database.

Funny, I thought it was usually the guys who got into trouble for sticking their nozzles into inappropriate places......

Apologies if this is a duplicate, I couldn't find it:

Southern California Home Sales Rise 65%

A total of 20,497 new and existing houses and condominiums sold last month in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties. The rise from a year earlier was the biggest in MDA DataQuick's records, which go back to 1988, and September's sales count was the highest since December 2006, the San Diego-based company said today in a statement.

Half due to foreclosure. Quite an accomplishment, I must say.

At the very end of the story:

Those sales came ``before the financial meltdown of the last few weeks,'' he said. ``It was a strong month, period, right before we had some of the worst news on the economy and financial markets since the Great Depression.''

The "strong month" because prices were down 37% or so.

Another Sign That the End Times Are Near:

Jerry Jones (Cowboys) is on CNBC congratulating himself and George Steinbrenner (Yankees) for each spending more than a billion dollars of public/private money on new stadiums. Apparently, the Cowboys & Yankees are hooking up on some kind of joint marketing deal.

Of course, these days a billion dollars in chump change. Perhaps they should have lobbied for the first trillion dollar stadium.

BTW, Arlington, Texas--location of the Cowboys Shrine to Excess Discretionary Spending--voted down a proposal for a mass transit system. Jones reportedly financially supported the vote no campaign, because he wanted the sales tax revenue reserved for his new stadium. So, Arlington is the largest city in the US without a mass transit system. The lack of a mass transit system has become a drag on economic development efforts, but they will have a really nice stadium.

As Economy Weakens, Sports Feel a Chill

"We're not just competing for people's entertainment dollars anymore," said Brett Yormark, chief executive of the National Basketball Association's New Jersey Nets. "We're going up against milk and orange juice."

Sports also paying a price amid struggling economy

The anger of "real sports fans" was building before the economy turned sour, says Brian Blight, a Detroit Lions fan from Peoria, Ill. He says that for fans increasingly weary of rising ticket prices, $7 beers and $20 parking fees, the downturn has a silver lining.

"Sports has it coming," Blight says. "It's just been greed, greed, greed."

That's why I cheer everytime the Dallas Cowboy's get beat. Arrogance and money will do you in everytime. John

I went to school with Jerry Jones son Stephen he was a year ahead of me. He was our quarterback good one too.

Jerry was pretty cool back then if he is really a jerk now it came later in life.

He is a football fanatic so his perceptions are pretty warped about anything to do with football. Not sure thats being a jerk or just passionate single mindedness.

As long as you did not talk about football with him he was ok :)

You can read some about hime here.


Not exactly defending him but I did know him personally and I don't agree with what people are saying he was a very nice guy.

Are you calling the "Toy Train", in Houston, mass transit?

Dallas, Houston and L.A. are all toast in the years to come. When I lived in Houston, I used to live in a subdivision that was exactly 40 miles north of town, and I wasn't alone.

Probably neither here nor there, but as a former resident of Arlington, we've resisted any mass transit ideas for many, many years, long before Jones even purchased the Cowboys (which was what, 20 years ago? Time flies like a banana)

Folks in the metroplex luv their cars, to a fault :)

oil well geothermal
The article suggests that the site in Wyoming may be able to produce around 250 kw of thermal or electrical output using a kind of reverse refrigerator. Let's wait and see if the water cools quickly as time progresses. The water use appears to be one-pass so that it not pumped back down again. Therefore this is not the geothermal breakthrough that green utopians have bet the house on. The output must be long term and the water must be recycled.

outback gas pipeline
The idea of a gas pipeline traversing Australia from west to east was floated way back in about 1974. Note the new State Premier in Western Australia got elected among other reasons because his predecessor banned uranium mining and brought coal fired power stations out of retirement after a gas pipeline rupture. However the new bloke has odd ideas like digging a 3700km long water canal.

I think the long pipeline idea may have merit as sailing LNG boats around the coastline is inefficient. However coal seam gas discoveries may make Australia's east coast more self sufficient. The carbon cap has to be in place to force gas to displace coal, not because of a gentleman's agreement. They will get some carbon revenue back as a subsidy.

We need some way of not squandering natural gas on baseload electrical generation. Maybe we could use geothermal, or not.

All geothermal life is here:


(I wish I had the internet when I was a kid)

"We need some way of not squandering natural gas on baseload electrical generation"

Because NG has low capital costs and high operating costs renewable energy, will always displace NG because it has very low operating costs and high capital costs, but can rapidly respond to demand changes. Coal fired electricity on the other hand does not complement renewable energy because it is best operated at maximum capacity, even when demand is low.

I have to disagree with the statement that the big efficiency gains are behind us.

Battle for young minds:
Some say corporate entities are winning them over with science misinformation here

It appears Spain is moving from a "growth" economy to a "steady-state" economy:

Spain Tries to Buy Out Immigrants


"Politicians respond to public-opinion polls," says Federico Winer, a journalist who writes on immigration issues for Tribuna Latina, an online newspaper directed at Spain's Latin-American community. "And what the polls are telling them is that people are saying 'Basta. It's time to close the door.' "

Fuel Oil Contract Signers Regretful As Prices Fall

The Rev. John L. Burton wasn't going to rely on divine intervention to keep his small church in Windham Center warm this winter.

Doing his best to protect St. Paul's Episcopal Church from skyrocketing heating oil prices, he signed a contract in late summer with a local dealer to buy fuel oil at $4.67 a gallon for the coming heating season.

By doing so, the congregation of 60 families committed to paying $5,000 more than last winter to heat its 175-year-old stone church. But with heating oil prices threatening to reach $5 a gallon by winter, Burton hoped to put a cap on spending.

Weeks later, the market price for crude oil began to drop, and so did the cost of heating fuel — down to $3.27 a gallon in Connecticut last week. That's $1.49 less than this year's high of $4.76 a gallon.

A good lesson in why, even when you think you know the reasons behind events, you are still foolhardy to guess at outcomes. I avoided this unlucky bet by being lazy.

I also got scared into a contract in mid summer, but luckily it is just a cap, so I pay close to the going price up to but not more that $4.99.

Hopefully Puppet A will win the election instead of Puppet B-

The Obama campaign has reportedly received $10 million from Wall Street contributors, whereas, the McCain campaign has taken in $7 million. Does this explain why no one in Congress from either party is demanding that Glass Steagall be restored, or that all derivatives contracts be put under government regulation, or that all financial institutions (that pose a danger to the overall system) maintain a capital cushion of 12 per cent? Has the big money which flows into the political system made it impossible for congress to do the work of the people?

Very impressive analysis by Karl Denninger today (it deserves a thread dedicated to it on TOD)-I have seen the declining return of GDP gain on debt gain before but he clearly follows it to its logical and imminent conclusion-Doomerville http://market-ticker.denninger.net/

Could you (and everyone else who links to a blog) link directly to the article you are talking about, rather than to the blog's front page?

The current top story at Market Ticker doesn't appear to be the one you are talking about.

It is at the bottom of the page linked.

I think what Leanan is trying to communicate to you is that content at a blog's home page changes almost every day. While "change" might be good in politics, it's not good for making citations. You should strive to use peramlinks like this one that will continue to point to your intended target even tomorrow and the next day, etc.

Hello TODers,

Wheat, Fertilizer, Ammonia and Land Realities Threaten Global Food Supply

..Skyrocketing ammonia prices and limited moisture are driving lands out of annual wheat production and into a biennial rotation of fallow and wheat production.

This sounds like something only an agronomist could love, but the reality of the matter is that lives are on the line eighteen months from now based on the decisions farmers are making today.

..Instead of 14% protein acreage, farmers will see crops with protein closer to the 8% range. Instead of the seventy bushels per acre achieved with full fertilization, farmer will see yields sliding off towards the twenty five bushels per acre unfertilized wheat yielded.

..Bryan Lutter of Nebraska based Producer's Hybrids puts it bluntly: "Farmers can't afford a thousand dollars a ton, so they've cut back on ammonia. Wheat protein percentages will drop from 14% to 8%. People are going to starve.”

Looking at global wheat statistics reveals that the troubles have already begun. Wheat production per capita has been in excess of two hundred pounds for the last thirty years, this even as our global population doubled and “end of season” stocks had stabilized around seventy pounds per capita. Three years ago the “end of season” stock level plunged to around forty pounds per capita...
Recall that Borlaug stated: Without I-NPK, it's Over.

I sure hope we can ramp O-NPK quickly.

..Farmers are currently being asked to make commitments for their 2009 fertilizer needs and to pay a substantial portion of that commitment, sometimes 100 percent up front. The credit function of these transactions is being shifted from the fertilizer producers and retail dealers to the farmers. The net result is that it increases the farmer's cost.
Just more evidence of the credit crisis hitting farmers. IMO, it would be fascinating to know just how much money is now tied up in farmers having to prepay for all their inputs far ahead of ultimate use. Here's another supportive weblink :

An agricultural economist is among several in the industry who say the decline in grain and oilseed commodity prices is linked to the U.S. financial crisis.

..What will happen with fertilizer prices is a big question on this farmer’s mind: “We (growers) certainly hope that it goes down but right now there’s no indication that it would.”
IMO, if OPEC [maybe Russia too?] is effective in curtailing FF supply: I would expect I-NPK prices to follow rising crude and fuel prices.

BEIJING (XFN-ASIA) - China will raise the minimum purchase price for wheat by up to 15.3 pct in 2009 in order to increase grain output and rural incomes, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said.

..From the beginning of 2009, China will further increase subsidies for farmers buying production machinery, seeds and other materials, it said.

The NDRC noted that it will increase fertilizer reserves in the low season, and the measures are expected to help ensure supply and maintain stable market prices.

In addition, the central government will sharply increase investment in agriculture, and accelerate building of related infrastructure.
It would be fascinating to know the strategic goals and details of this move by China. I wonder if they will be ramping in their rural areas with lots of the electrified RR ideas of Alan Drake, plus my ideas of 'Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK', lots more wheelbarrows, and multi-purpose SpiderWebRiding Networks for O-NPK recycling.

I would love to read a TOD keypost from the members of ASPO-CHINA. They might have been much more Peak Outreach successful than any other ASPO orgs in reaching the govt. top-levels.

Are we seeing the beginning of a truly historic postPeak paradigm shift in China? I certainly hope so-- they understand that food surpluses are the KEY to allow job specialization. I sure hope the US can someday soon realize the same thing:

Liebig, Marx, and the depletion of soil fertility: relevance for today's agriculture - German chemist Justus von Liebig; Karl Marx
Recall my favorite photo of the tens of thousands of Chinese with wheelbarrows, then consider the strategic implications.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

"Farmers can't afford a thousand dollars a ton, so they've cut back on ammonia. Wheat protein percentages will drop from 14% to 8%. People are going to starve.”

No worries. They'll just add melanine


To: Gail the Actuary [in Atlanta?], Bart @ EnergyBulletin, Airdale, or some other TODer in the Charleston, S.C. area.

I would be grateful if someone, as a media-rep for TOD, went to this Conf. below, then reported back to us other TODers.

The Fertilizer Institute releases 2009 Fertilizer Outlook and Technology Conference Program

..Members of the media receive complimentary registration to the conference.

The conference opens with a look at emerging trends in the world of agribusiness including the conference keynote address on “What’s Driving Food Prices?” provided by Dr. Phillip Abbott of Purdue University; an overview of new seed technologies provided by Dean Oestreich, president of Pioneer Hi-Bred International; and a look at the fertilizer industry from Wall Street, provided by David Silver of JP Morgan. The second day’s general session features the agriculture outlook provided by Rich Pottorff of Doane Advisory Services; a nitrogen outlook provided by Doug Stone of Terra Industries; a sulphur outlook provided by Barry Clarke of Pentasul; the phosphate outlook delivered by Andy Jung of CRU International; and the potash fertilizer outlook provided by Jeff Holzman of PotashCorp.
IMO, I would expect quite a large and deeply concerned number of attendees at this conference.

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