DrumBeat: November 18, 2008

Credit crisis dims the lights for power industry

GREAT FALLS, Montana: As workers scramble to build an $800 million coal-fired power plant on a patch of farmland here, a crisis that began on faraway Wall Street threatens to stretch America's power supplies to the brink — driving up prices and laying the stage for future shortages.

The power industry is under extraordinary financial pressure just five years after North America suffered its worst blackout ever, when rolling outages turned out the lights on 50 million people. Even before the extent of the global credit crisis was fully known, the nation's largest power providers warned of even bigger blackouts to come with the power grid under ever growing strain.

Alternative energy bulls face bear market

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) - While some hail the election of President Barack Obama as a boon for alternative energy down the road, the renewable sector remains stalled compared to the flurry of deal making earlier this year.

Although legislators in Washington are laying out an ambitious energy agenda for the coming year, the credit crises and cheap gasoline have dealt a double-blow to the prospects for biofuel, solar and wind energy champions.

General hints China's navy may add carrier

BEIJING: A high-ranking Chinese military official has hinted that China's fast-growing navy is seeking to acquire an aircraft carrier, a move that would surely stoke tensions with the United States military and its allies in Asia.

Missing Radioactivity In Ice Cores Bodes Ill For Part Of Asia

COLUMBUS, Ohio – When Ohio State glaciologists failed to find the expected radioactive signals in the latest core they drilled from a Himalayan ice field, they knew it meant trouble for their research.

But those missing markers of radiation, remnants from atomic bomb tests a half-century ago, foretell much greater threat to the half-billion or more people living downstream of that vast mountain range.

It may mean that future water supplies could fall far short of what’s needed to keep that population alive.

Bark beetles kill millions of acres of trees in the American West

Foresters say the historic outbreak has several causes. Because fires have been suppressed for so long, all forests are roughly the same age, and the trees are big enough to be susceptible to beetles. A decade of drought has weakened the trees. And hard winters have softened, which allows the beetles to flourish and expand their range.

Hoping to keep their forests from completely dying, to earn money by selling dead and infected trees and to mitigate fire risks, landowners are scrambling to cut the pines. If enough are cut — up to 75 percent — it might leave some behind that, with less competition for water, can survive. Still, for many landowners, cutting most of the forest where they have they built their homes is painful. "I've literally had people in my office crying," said Gary Ellingson, a forestry consultant for Northwest Management.

As children starve, world struggles for solution

(CNN) -- Some mothers choose what their children will eat. Others choose which children will eat and which will die.

... Raj Patel, author of "Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System," says the right to food should be seen as a human right. But, he says, powerful corporate food distributors control too much of the world's food supply to ensure a robust global food supply.

Patel says "2008 was a record year in terms of harvest. There's more food per person in 2008 than there's ever been in history. The problem is not food, but how we distribute it."

Other causes for the rise in global hunger have been documented. They include:

• Surging oil costs have made it more expensive to harvest, fertilize, store and deliver food.

• The rise in droughts and hurricanes worldwide has wiped out crops and made farming more difficult.

• The world is running out of the raw materials -- water, oil, good farmland -- needed to keep the food system intact.

Report urges fuel revolution

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The International Energy Agency has called for a global energy revolution to ensure future supplies and to stem the rise of greenhouse gas emissions.

In its annual report -- 2008 World Energy Outlook (WEO) -- published last week, the agency describes the world's energy system as being "at a crossroads" and calls for traditional supply and consumption methods to be overhauled.

OPEC to seek non-members' help to shape market-Iran

TEHRAN (Reuters) - OPEC will discuss talks with non-member oil producers on cooperating to manage the oil market when the exporter group meets in Cairo this month, IRNA news agency quoted Iran's oil minister as saying on Tuesday.

Chevron declares Nigeria oil exports force majeure

ABUJA (Reuters) - U.S. oil major Chevron declared on Tuesday a force majeure on its Escravos crude oil exports in Nigeria, through the end of the year, due to a pipeline breach last week, a company spokesman said.

Obama vows to engage world on climate change

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – US president-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday vowed he would "engage vigorously" in global climate change talks and that denial was no longer an acceptable response to global warming.

Obama said in a surprise video message to a summit of US state governors on climate change here that he would show new leadership on the issue as soon as he takes office in January.

Qatar oil min sees tough 2009 for oil market-agency

DUBAI (Reuters) - Next year will be a tough one for the oil market as the global economic slowdown eats into demand, Qatar's state news agency QNA quoted the country's oil minister as saying.

U.S. crude CLc1 has fallen over $90 from its July peak over $147 a barrel as the world's big oil consumers burn less fuel due to slowing economic activity. "I expect 2009 to be a difficult year. All the indicators affirm a large decline in demand during the last quarter of the current year and the first quarter of 2009," QNA quoted Oil Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah as saying late on Monday.

Top oil exporters' ship plans unchanged after hijack

DUBAI (Reuters) - Three of the Middle East's top oil exporting nations, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait, have no immediate plans to alter their crude oil shipping operations despite an increased threat from pirates off East Africa.

Somali pirates over the weekend hijacked a Saudi supertanker with a cargo of two million barrels of oil and the U.S. navy said on Tuesday it was now anchored off Somalia.

Danish oil ship briefly seized off Nigeria

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- A Danish shipping group says one of its vessels has been released after being hijacked for nearly 30 hours in Nigeria's southern oil region.

Petrobras' Oil Production Grows 8.3% in October

Petrobras' average oil production in Brazil reached the mark of 1,872,970 barrels in October, an 8.3% increase over a year ago. The natural gas production, also in the domestic fields, topped-out at 53.711 million cubic meters/day, 26% more than the 42.589 million cubic meters produced in October 2007.

Real Price of Gas Approaches a Historic Record-Low

Feeling nostalgic for the days of 17 cent gas in 1931, 20 cent gas during WWI, the gas below 30 cents during the first half of the 1950s, or the $1.40 gas of the early 1980s? If so, you'd be suffering from "money illusion," the tendency to confuse nominal and real (inflation-adjusted) prices. Gas is cheaper today in real dollars than any of those past prices.

Petrovietnam, Iraq in Talks to Revive Oil Deal

State-run Vietnamese oil company Petrovietnam is holding talks with the Iraqi Oil Ministry to revive a contract it signed with Iraq during former president Saddam Hussein's rule, a source close to the negotiations said Monday.

Petrovietnam originally signed a $300-million deal with Iraq in March 2002, to develop the Amara oil field in southern Iraq, with an estimated prewar capacity of 80,000 barrels a day.

BP Solar to Shut Sydney Production Plant to Cut Costs

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Europe's second-biggest oil company, said it will close its solar power equipment manufacturing plant in Sydney at the end of March to focus operations on lower-cost locations.

Jordan: Fuel shortage persists

AMMAN - The fuel crisis continued unabated in most major cities on Monday for the second day, with long queues of vehicles at gas stations waiting to refill their empty tanks while traffic police were still handling the resulting traffic jams.

Meanwhile, gas station owners said the problem might persist till the weekend, noting that their daily sales of oil derivatives doubled during the past two days, blaming the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company (JPRC) for failing to meet their demands in due time.

Zimbabwe: Experts Declare Farming Season A 'disaster'

FOOD shortages are set to worsen next year as most farmers will fail to plant this season due to a critical shortage of farming inputs attributed to poor planning by the government.

Agriculture experts warned that even if Zimbabwe receives normal rainfall this season another poor harvest cannot be avoided because of the acute shortage of seed, fertiliser and diesel for tillage as well as continued farm disruptions.

Afghanistan Seeks Electricity, Fuel

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai paid a visit to Iran's Embassy in Kabul, requesting the Islamic Republic to help his country by supplying electricity.

He also sought Iran's assistance in supplying the fuel required by Kabul power plants, Fars News Agency wrote.

How Ford Lost Focus

For a decade, Bill Ford Jr. talked up fuel economy while his company peddled gas-guzzling SUVs and monster trucks. Is it too late for the automaker to shift gears to alternative fuels?

Philippines: Lack of low-cost tickets to Middle East decried

FILIPINOS PLANNING to work in the Middle East are suffering from a shortage of low-cost plane tickets, the only type of airfare that Middle Eastern employers are willing to provide potential workers.

But Philippine Airlines (PAL) said local carriers could not compete with Middle Eastern carriers, which offer lower fares since they have access to cheaper fuel.

Big Oil: We told you so - With prices sharply lower from the summer's highs, Big Oil's decision to hold off on new production now seems rather wise.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- It would be tempting to say they told us so.

Back when oil prices were going nowhere but up, public officials, consumer rights groups and newspaper editorials chastised the major oil companies for not investing enough in new production. Big Oil, they argued, was simply lavishing shareholders with massive stock buybacks and dividends at the expense of the motoring public.

T. Boone Pickens: Our energy future

Three critical issues face the Obama administration in 2009: first, the collapsing U.S. economy; second, our national security; and, finally, our escalating and costly dependence on foreign oil.

Addressing our perilous dependence on foreign oil is a sure way to solve the economic and security threats. We cannot be complacent and buy into the notion that collapsing oil and gasoline prices have solved the problem. They have added to it. Though prices have dropped, we continue to import nearly 70 percent of the oil we use. The longer we fail to develop a national will and a national energy plan, the worse our national economic and security threats will become.

Wholesale prices plunge

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Wholesale prices fell more than expected in October as energy costs continued to decline, government figures showed Tuesday.

FACTBOX - Financial crisis hits global energy investment

Reuters) - The growing financial crisis and plunging energy prices have forced companies to scale back spending and delay projects, with expensive ventures in the Canadian oil sands hardest hit.

Below is a list of energy projects that have been delayed or scaled back in recent months, as well as other related news.

Oil and gas to offer new investment opportunities

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in regional energy companies is still limited but further opportunities could emerge with potential future oil and gas listings and changes to capital market legislation, says a Morgan Stanley report released yesterday.

The study, called "Middle East: Short Gas, Long Demand – A New Role for IOCs", says the extent and range of exposure to oil and gas in the region is set to increase.

American, United Struggle to Sell Idle Jets as Used-Plane Market Crumbles

(Bloomberg) -- American Airlines, United Airlines and Continental Airlines Inc., stung by fuel costs and a drop in traffic, face a new challenge: what to do with planes valued at $2 billion now idled or set to be grounded through 2009.

With virtually no U.S. buyers for the 276 mostly older, less-efficient jets, the carriers are shopping the aircraft in emerging markets such as Russia while prices tumble and frozen debt markets damp sales, analysts and marketers say.

Western Australia Premier Ends Ban on Uranium Mining

(Bloomberg) -- Western Australia, the state with as much as 10 percent of the world's known uranium reserves, ended a six-year ban mining the radioactive metal after a new government was elected.

A Southward Thrust for China’s Energy Diplomacy in the South China Sea

China and Vietnam have outlined new steps to resolve their long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea in an effort to avert further conflict and put their relations on a steadier footing for the future. Although both countries are ruled by Communist parties and share extensive land and sea borders, they have had a tense relationship. But they now face political challenges at home as their export-oriented economies and investment slow under the impact of global financial turmoil and deepening recession. They have evidently decided to give primacy to strengthening bilateral party, trade and investment ties to offset the wider economic downturn.

Saudi Says Terrorists May Target Water Resources

JEDDAH - Prince Khaled Bin Sultan, assistant minister of defence and aviation for military affairs, has urged Arab countries to take precautions against possible terror attacks on water resources.

"Get Coal Out of the System"

To reduce greenhouse-gas emissions enough to avert the worst effects of climate change, "we have to get coal out of the system." That succinct bottom line was delivered yesterday by Henry Jacoby, professor of management at MIT's Sloan School and codirector of MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, in a keynote talk at a conference in Washington, DC. Jacoby didn't mean that coal can't be used--just that its carbon-dioxide emissions will need to be removed and disposed of by underground burial. The good news, he said, is that although the scale of the enterprise would be massive, there is no apparent technology obstacle: "We can solve the technology. We can solve the storage." But the roadblocks ahead are monstrous: uncertainty over whether the Obama administration and Congress will institute a carbon cap-and-trade policy, unclear economics of installing CO2 capture and storage technologies, and widespread public ignorance.

Up in Smoke: Europe's $14 Billion Clean-Coal Venture Fails to Win Backers

(Bloomberg) -- A European proposal to spend 11 billion euros ($14 billion) testing how to pump greenhouse gases underground is itself getting buried.

The plan to subsidize 12 pilot plants that capture and store carbon dioxide blamed for global warming won initial approval by a European Parliament committee on Oct. 7. Germany, Spain, Poland and at least three more countries have since decided to oppose the project, officials said in interviews. Chris Davies of the U.K., who sponsored the proposal in parliament, said it needs to be changed to win a final vote that's not yet scheduled.

Peak-a-boo, I don't see you?

The WSJ blog reprints an incredibly dumb "You can't handle the truth!" memo from uber-peaker Robert Hirsch.

Yes, the author of the seminal 2005 study [PDF] funded by the Bush Energy Department on "Peaking of World Oil Production" has written a memo "To The Peak Oil Community," recommending that group "minimize its effort to awaken the world to the near-term dangers of world oil supply."

Russian oil firms may cut output if unprofitable

TARKO SALE, Russia (Reuters) - The world is heading toward a sharp deficit of oil production capacity and Russian companies could cut output and exports should they become unprofitable, Russia's energy minister said on Tuesday.

"Oil companies should decide themselves. If it's unprofitable, then they could decide to lower production," Sergei Shamtko told reporters in the northern Yamal-Nenets autonomous region when asked if Russia could join OPEC's oil output cuts.

Shmatko, speaking to journalists on a trip to a West Siberian oil town to open a gas processing plant, also said he believed the price of oil should be higher than $60 a barrel to suit both consumers and producers.

"Almost all OPEC members... probably with the exception of Saudi Arabia, are seriously unhappy about the current oil price levels... The situation today is that many countries are on the brink of production profitability," he added.

Crude Oil Falls to 22-Month Low in New York on Demand Concerns

(Bloomberg) -- Oil slid to the lowest in almost 22 months before a report forecast to show that U.S. crude inventories increased for an eighth week as a recession erodes demand worldwide.

UK: Inflation slides to 4.5 percent in October

LONDON (AFP) – Annual inflation fell more sharply than expected to 4.5 percent in October from a 16-year high point of 5.2 percent in September as oil prices weakened, official data showed on Tuesday.

Economists said that the drop in inflation was likely to herald a period of deflation -- a protracted general fall in prices.

‘Rules of the road’ set for oil shale drilling

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration gave energy companies steep discounts in the royalties they will be required to pay as it established the groundwork Monday for commercial oil shale development on federal land.

Interior Department officials said the 5 percent royalty rate during the first five years of production was needed to spur drilling while still giving taxpayers a fair return. But that rate is much lower than the 12.5 percent to 18.8 percent the government collects from companies harvesting conventional oil and gas on public lands.

Russia, China to resume $25 billion loan talks

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia will resume talks with China within days to secure $25 billion in loans for cash-strapped energy companies in exchange for long-term crude oil deliveries, a news agency reported Tuesday.

Talks on the loan had reportedly broken down last week after disagreements over interest rates and state guarantees.

Iran ready for gas venture with Russia, Qatar

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran is ready to set up a joint firm with Russia and Qatar but has no plans to export Iranian gas to Qatari plants so that it could be turned into liquefied natural gas (LNG), IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday.

Gazprom adjusts downwards gas export forecast for 2008

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Gazprom has revised its 2008 gas export forecast to 161 billion cu m from over 163 billion cu m, Alexander Medvedev, deputy chairman of the company's management committee, said on Tuesday.

Owner of Saudi tanker working for crew's release

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Owners of a Saudi oil supertanker hijacked by Somali pirates grappled with how to respond Tuesday, as navies patrolling the region said they would not intervene to stop or free the captured vessel.

With few other options, shipowners in past piracy cases have ended up paying ransoms for their ships, cargos and crew.

Hijacked Supertanker Nears Somalia

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia — A hijacked Saudi-owned supertanker carrying more than $100 million worth of crude oil is approaching Somali waters where it is expected to anchor so that negotiations can begin on the release of the vessel and its 25 crew, United States Navy officials said Tuesday.

Dubai Vulnerable to Lower Oil Prices, Citigroup Says

(Bloomberg) -- Dubai, the second largest of the seven sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates, is the most vulnerable place in the Gulf to lower oil prices as real estate prices and debt refinancing pose ``real risks,'' Citigroup Inc. said.

Conservation should be a priority despite cheaper gas prices

Ridership on Asheville buses climbed dramatically in September when the gas shortage peaked and the good news is that it appears to be holding.

The system provided almost 7,300 rides on Sept. 24. That's the highest ridership in recent memory, including during a fare free period in the second half of 2006.

The gas lines are gone – at least for the moment – and the price of gas is hovering just over $2, less than half the record average of $4.31 in mid-September. But bus ridership has remained high even though it usually drops when the weather gets colder and people don't want to wait in the cold.

Nissan Plans to Start Selling Electric Cars in China by 2012

(Bloomberg) -- Nissan Motor Co., Japan's third- largest automaker, intends to begin offering electric cars in China by 2012 as the country seeks to boost sales of fuel- efficient vehicles to cut pollution and oil usage.

``The government is interested in our plan because the environmental issues are becoming a critical issue in China,'' Yasuaki Hashimoto, president of Nissan Motor (China) Ltd., told reporters at the Guangzhou auto show today. ``China is one of the most important markets for electric cars.''

Nuclear plant problems push British Energy into the red

British Energy, the nuclear power company being taken over by French energy group EDF, has reported a second quarter loss of £39m after loss of output at two of its plants. It made a second quarter profit of £64m in the same quarter last year.

North Dakota OKs spraying oil wastewater on roads

BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota's health department will allow salty oil field wastewater to be sprayed on roads as a deicer or for dust control even though oil companies and environmental groups have questioned the practice.

The Health Department said Monday that its studies found the briny water left from oil production was no more toxic than commercial road salt when applied to state highways.

Brazil says ethanol production won't harm Amazon

SAO PAULO, Brazil – Expansion of vast sugarcane plantations across Brazil to meet growing worldwide demand for ethanol won't harm the Amazon, a top Brazilian official said Monday.

Speaking at the start of a five-day international conference on biofuels, presidential chief of staff Dilma Rousseff said Brazil will soon unveil an agricultural zoning plan to specify where crops across Latin America's largest nation can be grown for fuel and food.

Experts warn of severe water shortages by 2080

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Half the world's population could face a shortage of clean water by 2080 because of climate change, experts warned Tuesday.

Wong Poh Poh, a professor at the National University of Singapore, told a regional conference that global warming was disrupting water flow patterns and increasing the severity of floods, droughts and storms — all of which reduce the availability of drinking water.

Water vapor confirmed as major player in climate change

Water vapor is known to be Earth's most abundant greenhouse gas, but the extent of its contribution to global warming has been debated. Using recent NASA satellite data, researchers have estimated more precisely than ever the heat-trapping effect of water in the air, validating the role of the gas as a critical component of climate change.

Andrew Dessler and colleagues from Texas A&M University in College Station confirmed that the heat-amplifying effect of water vapor is potent enough to double the climate warming caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

memo to the ap:
re:oil shale/shale oil

mind your syntax(in a mathmatical sense)

i'm beginning to wonder if the ap is a handmaiden of rush limbaugh.

"enough oil to replace imports for 100 yrs"

ELWOOD --I saw that same tag on a report that the feds will drop the oil shale royality to 5%. At least they're heading the right direction : as soon as the feds guarentee a nice rate of return on the OS's we'll finally see some movement towards that 100 year supply.

Most likely the Feds will guarantee a rate of return on the illusion of oil shale production. Like everything else in our "free market" economy, the bottom line has turned out to be getting the Feds to give you money.

Yah, I agree. I don't think producing that oil shale is going to turn out to be a very good idea: There are two ways to produce oil from oil shale that I know of. The first is to surface mine it where on average you get about 1-30 gallons of oil per ton of waste rock. They do get as high as 100 gallons per ton of waste rock though.

To put that in perspective, to get a ton of pig iron you need 1.6 tons of banded iron formation iron ore. Just do the math there, you're getting 1-100 gallons of oil out for just about the same amount of waste rock as you get for half a ton of raw iron. On the other side of the metal spectrum is gold where you have one ounce of gold refined for every 30 tons of waste rock. Because of this, the price of gold is 735$ per ounce right now. I have no idea what the price of oil will be at one gallon oil per ton of waste rock, but it'll be too high to burn, that's for sure. Also, once mined, that gold is very profitably recycled, try recycling that oil.

The other way to mine oil shale is in situ retorting, but for that you need steam, which means you need water. For the Green River shale (which is the oil shale), the only source of water in the area that I know of is the Green River which flows into the Colorado. The Colorado's water is all spoken for already, by the time it gets to Mexico it's not even flowing any more. Anyone who wants to produce oil shale using Green River water will have to fight off LA, Las Vegas and just about every other municipality and residential area between Wyoming and California that uses that water. I don't know, maybe there's some salty groundwater they could use that would avoid this.

From the article:

Monday's announcement sets parameters such as the royalty rate and lease sizes, but it will be up to the incoming Obama administration to decide whether to proceed with leasing. Officials on Monday said commercial leasing was five to 10 years away.

But I can't guess what Obama will do until he picks his energy secretary.

How much oil does it take just to move a ton of rock around?

Seems like there is a third option -- dig a giant hole, put a thermonuclear device in and blow it up. The resulting heat and pressure should make oil out of the shale, which in due course could be pumped up out of the hole. I suppose we might have to wait a while for the radiation to go down, though.

I'm looking for investors....

that idea is not as far fetched as you might imagine, the us doe, your tax $'s at work, attempted such a stunt in western colorado. an attempt to fracture the rock with a "small" blast to stimulate gas production. and they were succesful in fracturing the rock but as you have guessed, the produced gas was radioactive.


Now there's a justification for CO2 sequestration if I ever saw one.

This doesn't even take into account the EROEI problems that come into play... We're definitely scraping the bottom of the barrel, both figuratively and literally, if we are pinning our hopes on oil shale.

Source1 definitely says theres over 10 gallons/ton in the green river formation which means it'd be at least 7x the oil return you decided to stick with for your entire comment, which is still 1/4 of the average you claimed.

All I'm saying is even when your facts are right, perpetuating a dogma by using extremes is a terrible thing to do. I don't know about everyone else, but I'm tired of getting my facts with a side of doom (or cornucopian bs).

1: http://fossil.energy.gov/programs/reserves/publications/Pubs-NPR/40010-3...

On page 185 of the third edition of Resources of the Earth by James R. Craig et al., they quote the Green River shale as giving no more than "1 to 15 gallons of oil per metric tons... hence, their extraction for oil is not feasible for the foreseeable future."

Additionally, you misrepresented the intent of my comment. Here, I'll quote it for you again since you seem to have missed it:

The first is to surface mine it where on average you get about 1-30 gallons of oil per ton of waste rock. They do get as high as 100 gallons per ton of waste rock though.

I have no idea what the price of oil will be at one gallon oil per ton of waste rock, but it'll be too high to burn, that's for sure.

What I said was that 1 gallon per ton is too low "for sure". I'm not entirely certain about the higher values, so I didn't say anything, which you incorrectly assumed I did. According to the above reference, even 15 gallons per ton waste rock is too low.

Finally, I have serious doubts about the objectivity of your reference -- it's an oil and gas trade magazine. I'm not entirely sure it's wrong, that's why in my comment I said, "I don't think producing that oil shale is going to turn out to be a very good idea" instead of "I know that producing oil shale isn't going to turn out to be a very good idea."

First and formost, I apologize for being rude. Once you read so much doomer crud you start to see it in everything. I was annoyed with the repeated one barrell reference, and unjustly rebutted your opinion.

If we spend our time and energy on getting fuel from shale, we will not need to worry about any 100 year supply.

We will not be around to enjoy any supply of fuel, let alone fuel from shale.

Investment of money, time, and energy is as self-destructive as it gets.

Not only is the AP a handmaiden, she is also the sister of Rueters and first cousins with Pravda and Tass.

The family reunions are always a festive affair, all the girls chatter and remind me of a flock of pigeons, all their heads cocked towards each other and clucking and cooing in unison. The notes and messages they bring are attached to either the left or right leg, yet they all flew from the same homing roost to arrive at the same destination.

Note too self; Are pigeons rats with wings? Does pigeon become a gourmet "squab" when served with a fine wine on a plate with fine silverware?

Pigeons rats squirrels canada geese racoons and ring bill gulls may become a temporary luxury until Homo sapiens locustriae is finished with its surge of hunger ..

Family reunion? Sounds more like a bordello on a Friday night. The girls are all waitin' for Pimp Daddy Rupert to arrive.

"Almost all OPEC members... probably with the exception of Saudi Arabia, are seriously unhappy about the current oil price levels

Yet the Saudis are just about the only ones that matter. It's unlikely that Iran will be cutting substantially when every lost petrodollar puts them at risk.

This might end up being an interesting solution to the problem of the Iranian extremist government. A much smaller pertodollar income and a reduced GDP, coupled with an explosive growth in population will make for a very tough situation for the ruling elite. We may just see the 1979 revolution happen all over again.

But they survived a greatly reduced income when the price collapsed in 1986 - even though they were stuck in a horrible war launched by US-encouraged Saddam Hussein. Extremist governments thrive on defensive wars.

And thrive on offensive wars, such as the one against Iraq..


This is a measure of food insecurity in 2007 - suggesting that even before the economic crisis was official, and before the worst of the rise in food prices, people were struggling. Even more importantly, the number of children in the US who were not merely food insecure, but went hungry regularly doubled in a 1 year period from 2006-2007.

Meanwhile, demand is way, way up at all the safety net programs: http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,705263961,00.html

With state unemployment funds in New York, California and Ohio already nearly dry, that means we're in for a bad, bad season. It will be particularly awful in January, when the next wave of retailers closes, and when charities are no longer flush with holiday donations, but facing the long dry period before spring.

This is getting ugly already folks, and these are early days.


I saw a news clip on CNN a few days ago about a flaw in a state's baby drop off law (unwanted infants can be dropped off at places like fire stations without consequences). Through an oversight, the law said that any child under the age of 18 could be dropped off, so parents were dropping off adolescents and teenagers at fire stations and walking away. Apparently the legislature is working on an emergency measure to amend the law to specify a three day outer limit on the age of the infants that can be dropped off.

That is Nebraska, and it wasn't an oversight. Legislators didn't want an age limit (and are still arguing about it).

The abandoned kids have been left by people from all over the country. Most of the children have mental health issues that their parents could not handle, though in one case, a recently widowed man left his entire brood.

Finances weren't really the issue in any of the cases so far.

Most of the time, though, the older kids just get left off at the jail. After a while, they graduate to prison. No age limit there.

Hard times = orphans. Nothing new, sadly. Hopefully we can manage to do quite a bit better for these kids than in times past.

LOL ..

I dropped myself off at the firestation, but they
sent me home instead .....

Triff ..

Micro and macro concerns in this area - individuals here are under stress due to economy, but globally I think something nasty is brewing due to decreased fertilization. I'm finding articles from all over about fertilizer being too high, farmers scrambling for credit, and acres going idle. Less protein everywhere we turn, if it's truly systemic, means less humans not so long after ... and it isn't a pretty climbdown procedure.

I live in Seven Hills Ohio, I have seen personally how bad its gotten in such a short period of time. The crime rate in my area is among the lowest anywhere in the USA. My home was nearly a crime statistic just this past Sunday evening. A young man tried to break and enter while my wife and I were home. I startled the man and his driver fled, he couldnt get his lies out fast enough when asked "What are you doing trying to enter my home"? He stuttered and responded "I must have the wrong house" I asked "Who's house did you think it was"? again he stuttered and finally offered the name "Georges house"
When I told him "No Georges live around here" He made up a different name. He began to reach inside his clothing and I suspected he was about to pull a weapon. I moved closer in order to remove it from him if he did, he then ran and the police response (60 seconds) werent enough to find and capture him.

The food pantries shelfs are bare, the AID societies are flat broke, several downtown bridges are closed, "for sale" "for rent" "for lease" signs are everywhere. Lines for "HEAP" a home energy heating program, are having lines of hundreds of families and most are turned away.

Ive heard professional people who still have jobs in healthcare make comments such as "I can't afford a new coat or winter clothes". Job fairs here are filled with people in suits and carrying brief cases who would take a menial job (if one were available).

Store, retail, service industry, business closings are happening so fast, you couldnt report or keep up with them.

The looks on peoples faces I have only seen from battle weary troops, thousand yard stares and furrowed brows.

It's nice to hear of Seven Hills. We lived there from 1939 until 1952. My dad was the Vol. Fire Chief for several years and my mom taught first grade at John Muir School and was, eventually, the principal at Seven Hills School (plus a few others in Parma). IIRC there were about 400 people in 1939 and less than 1,000 in 1952 - quite a change huh!

We still had a neighbor who had draft horses and we got to play around his barn - but had to watch out for the boogy man that lived in the hay loft. I had a trap line for muskrats in a creek nearby. We had a skinny-dipping hole a mile or so north of where I trapped. We also "mined" iron pyrites along the creek. There was a pond up the road where we fished and ice skated. And, speaking of the road, our neighbor with the horses graded it each summer - the village didn't have road equipment.

In those days, it would have been a great place for survival; a close knit community, lots of open land and old orchards.

I have good memories of that time.


Mortgaging the future in desperate times

Despite big penalties, many are cashing in or borrowing against retirement

The thing is...I can't help thinking that they did the right thing, at least the ones who cashed out before the market crashed.

That's exactly what I did 1.5 years ago. I cashed out my entire 401k, took the penalty hit, but I still came out ahead. Especially considering I used the money to pay off debt.

I'm still waiting for Obama to pay off my dept, that way I can use my 401k to buy a shiny new SUV!

EDIT: It's a joke.

Change We Can Believe In.

I retired early at 61 from the University of New Hampshire, sold our house in Manchester, NH as the market was collapsing and lost some money there, moved to a tropical sustainable place in Mexico and bought 12 acres of land with $200,000 of the money from my 403B (UNH's retirement plan), which is like a 401k, then a few months ago I transferred much of the rest ($150,000 to Mexico) as I didn't trust the U.S. govt from stopping such withdrawals. I have lost about 20% of that as the Mexican peso is collapsing :( ---- but overall :)

I seriously doubt that any place in Mexico is going to be "sustainable" in a few years, especially for a newly transplanted Gringo with a lot of money.

I'm inclined to agree. Awhile back, someone who had studied Central and South America and lived there many years suggested Costa Rica as a peak oil hideaway. She said Mexico's political system was likely to make it unpleasant for foreigners there if things get bad.

Though I wonder if being a foreigner anywhere is a good idea if TSHTF.

My aunt moved to Costa Rica 2 years ago.

But if you've already bought land in southern Mexico, I recommend that you make friends with the local peasant movements. They know the government won't do anything for them; the Zapatistas started from the premise that collapse was coming. Teachers and farmers are already organizing. Anything you can do to provide schoolbooks or farm implements might earn you protection, without provoking the local right-wing death squads.

Mexico's political system is heavily connected and friendly to the U.S. and it's people. Every government leader and affluent Mexican has gringo friends and often relatives. Most Americans who live in Mexico are not like most Americans in their political and social attitudes.

When transportation ends, there is no government. What is important is neighbors and community and being on the side of the local police who have the automatic weapons. Very few Mexicans own weapons, and all of us will have some. It is good to work with a community that is well-armed and organized and connected to the local power structure and police. The brother of our architect was recently mayor, the guy who put our road in was tourism director, and so it goes. We employ the local people and treat them well, better than many Mexican elites do.

From my perspective, being a foreigner is not so important.

Until recently, I taught both Mexican and Central American politics at the University of NH. Costa Rica suffers from El Nino droughts, and outside of the cities it's like the wild west, like many places in Mexico and Central America, but not here.

Where I am there are no droughts; it rains 2 meters a year, every year, but mostly in the late afternoon and often at night. In the rainy season I say nearly everyday "look, another inch in the rain gauge...must have rain last night and I didn't even know it." Most mornings are clear and you can see snow capped Mt. Orizaba clearly.

"Though I wonder if being a foreigner anywhere is a good idea if TSHTF."

Oh I don't know, I'm sure the Queen will do just fine.

For much of my adult life I've been traveling, living here, studying, and teaching about Mexico, Mexico City and global urban politics. In this town, people don't care where you are from or your language or religion etc. The foreigners and Mexicans are living and working together on community and security.

The images that foreigners have of Mexico are the exact opposite of reality here, where anyone can walk the streets at anytime of the night. There are a lot of Mexicans here who have a lot more money and property than some of us gringos.

Where I live, my neighbor from Arkansas says he never locks his door and does not know what his key looks like. He has a wife and 2 year old daughter. But insecurity/crime/kidnappings etc. will come everywhere in the world as unemployment grows, so we are working on neighborhood security. We are getting ready.

And these stories are so skewed to scare people into not taking this step. "Not only are there penalties, but you've lost out on all gains you could have made!!" Huh??

That assumption could only hold true if you are sure that gains are to be made over the long haul - who can really be sure? - and that you are just going to waste the money you take out on some crappy consumption. It could be totally worth it to pay off some abusive 13% student loan debt or to buy gold or another ex-USA currency or something.

I think you could write a story showing plenty of circumstances where it makes sense to do it - but they would never want to publicize this. Don't forget that usually a portion of that money was essentially contributed "free" by the employer, so if some of the total is lost to penalty and taxes, it is not as drastic as they make it sound. Plenty of people just desperately want OUT of the system, since the corruption of it all grows more obvious each day. Or at least they want the control to do with it as they see fit, not just choose between 6 or 8 equally doomed mutual funds.


One thing that really bothers me is this thing where people are asked to donate food bought retail to food banks. This has to be about the least cost-effective way possible to stock those food banks. Were the same money donated instead of spent on retail purchases, the food banks could use the money to buy wholesale, getting a lot more foodstuffs for the same money. If we could modify our laws a bit to allow the foodbanks to buy bulk and repackage it themselves for distribution, then even bigger economies could be realized. Maybe some food banks are doing this, yet I'm always seeing appeals for people to donate cans and boxes of food.

The large grocery store-no name warehouse type-in the county seat puts together bags of groceries at wholesale, staples it, and sets them in conspicuous places in the store. You buy the bag and set it in the distribution bin in the exit. Don't know if the idea's unique, or cost effective vs cash wholesale, but it spurs donations.

That's a good point, WNC, and also, wasted food - for example, the tons of apples that are still on the trees here in Boulder, with snow and frost just around the corner. We are not well organized to remedy food insecurity, and Sharon (in one of her blog entries at www.sharonastyk.com) noted just how much went wasted in the Great Depression while people starved.

But more to the point, changing food laws and increasing the efficiency of food banks would mean admitting the problem, having an official position on it (how inevitable is it in a rich, civilized country, that people should go without food, homes, jobs, needed medical care...etc...), agreeing to keep it going in a sense. Denial (coupled with small acts of guilt appeasement) is easier.

Sharon, thanks for the links. I would not harp on the 10.9 vs. 11.1 statistic, as the USDA website calls it "essentially unchanged". The other statistic about how many more children have had to face hunger for a period last year is more convincing (report from link on Sharon's blog is at http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5id4KWOWTZM1jNeUnkkaejQ...).

We had a couple of apple gleaning days recently. Something like 50-60 bushels each day from a single orchard. All to food pantries. All got used. It doesn't take a lot to organize. Someone with a truck. Lots of boxes. A couple of PSAs on KGNU and email to all the master gardener types.

Curious about this. Were these tree or "windfall"? 50-60 bu/day suggest windfall. Any problems with local health board, also, any storage and rotting issues with the older, commercial bypass fruit. Was demand/distribution so great they are immediately distributed? Seems alot of apples to distribute, but maybe it just is the scale of the problem/population density there.

In my experience, Public Health Departments would happily see people starve than to allow the consumption of food which fails to meet their standards. Likewise, people should freeze to death under overpasses rather than be allowed to occupy sub-standard housing.

Our local Regional Health Department made an almost successful attempt to regulate food brought to private potluck events. Indeed, if you advertise the event in the local alternative newspaper they will require all food to be produced in inspected kitchens and served according to their temperature and handling regulations.

They also attempted to eliminate on farm "farm stand" sales of unprocessed farm produce. The good they do with low-cost immunizations and restaurant inspections is offset by their "imperial" overreach in my opinion.

Hopefully the rapid diminution of county revenue will cause them to suffer enough cutbacks and layoffs to rein in their bullying, but I doubt it.

The supermarkets in the UK used to distribute food to the soup kitchens and so on.
Unfortunately, they became paranoid after in an unrelated incident a tramp picked up a can out of a dump, ate it although it was out of date, and sued when he said he became ill!.

Now they add colouring to all out of date food before dumping it.
I don't know if that costs them less than being sued occasionally by a man who knows an ambulance-chaser, but if they get hassle about it TPTB just cut out the gift.

The EU now has withdrawn most of its' directives about misshappen vegetables, so being able to sell them instead of use them for animal food may reduce some prices by as much as 40% apparently.

Tree. Not even a big orchard. It was just past the u-pick season. U-pick customers don't do a very good job, esp with the late ripening fruits. Some went that day in pickup truck to food bank in portland and the rest the next morning to the big state food bank. I don't know what they did with them, but they wanted the second batch the next week. I'm thinking a lot of apple sauce. Or maybe there's a cool spot where they're keeping them.

Thing is, apple gleaning is not a lot of work.

cfm in Gray, ME

The food bank system in Grand Rapids had developed a relationship with food wholesalers where they could have "scratch and dent" items for only the cost of shipping. They used the argument you mentioned that something like 10 times as much food would go to the needy per dollar spent. There was a program where people could donate money whenever they went through a supermarket checkout. The cashier had a card with a bar code on it which would be scanned and added to your grocery bill. I liked the system and made donations that way several times a month.

Who says that foodbanks can't buy wholesale? My wife is on the board of a local foodbank, and they most definitely buy some stuff wholesale. They also take donations (for example supermarkets sometimes donate stuff) as well.

This isn't to say things are peachy - they have tons more people they are trying to feed than they were a couple of years ago...

So even before the new recession, welfare reform had failed in its most basic moral dimension; to keep children from being rendered incapable of competing for future jobs by malnutrition.

Either they join gangs or the Christian Right scoops them up for Jesus Camp militarization. Or some level of government has the guts to seize unused houses and land and put the kids to work growing their own food. Who will tell Americans that things are already this bad?

Will PO and the economic crisis it heralds, also impede those individuals (TOD admins) from having any impact on the pending catastrophe ?

Could the systemic collapse cause pandemic cronic and acute societal convulsions ?

When the monetary system collapses and fiat money is worthless, does the term "throwing good money after bad" become oxymoronic or just bad syntax?

Iam trying to use levity and even realise myself, Iam failing and sounding desperate. Gallows humor only is effective, when your not the one on the gallows.

Things do seem to accelerating downward, but then that's what many of us here have been mentally (and some physically) preparing for: hard times.

Is it just me, or have the news headlines of the last few months been the sort of thing that was predicted on TOD 18+ months ago, but laughed off by the less doomerish of readers? When I think back to my first readings of PO about 3 or 4 years ago, things seem to have moved very quickly since...

Plunge Protection Team believers, tooth fairy believers and other conspiracy theory nitwits, please watch this CNBC video. Art Cashen debunks this myth that has been around since the 87 crash.

Arthur Cashin, UBS Financial Services director of floor operations

That's a lot of crap, conspiracy crap, black helicopter crap, the tooth fairy all over again, They really have to strain to keep the theory going.

Cashen's rant on PPT believers begins 1:24 into the video. (Is there a conspiracy theory about a black helicopter? I have never heard that one.)

Ron Patterson

It probably doesn't much matter whether there is or is not a PPT. It wouldn't work if there were one.

But either way, a lot of public wealth will be thrown at a few private criminals.

It works really well but not the way Ron thinks it is imagined to-CNBC today totalled the recent fleecing of the USA taxpayer at 4.2 trillion-I wonder if 4.2 trillion would have helped out the USA economy if it hadn't been given to a relatively small number of pockets on Wall Street? You would almost think that a mini building and employment boom would have resulted-oh well, like Ron says, your betters are always looking out for what is best for you (they have no needs of their own).

Brian, I have stated, on this list before, that the bailout was, in part, an effort to stop the slide in the stock market. That was obvious. There was nothing secret about it. It was not a conspiracy. Yes, the drop in the market has cost US taxpayers, mostly stockholders, a lot of money. There is really no way to measure the amount of capital lost but only 700 billion has come directly from the US treasury. More may come later but we can talk about that when it happens. (Actually only about 350 billion has been spent so far. The rest will be left to the discrimination of the Obama administration.)

I understand that conspiracy theorists will try to weave the bailout plan into some kind of massive conspiracy involving hundreds of co-conspirators. After all that is what they do. Care must be taken by the conspirators on January 20th however. There will be a firing and re-hiring of all co-conspirators at the top. Word could leak at this changing of the guard. ;-)

Ron Patterson

Yes, and the Fed doesn't want to discuss what garbage it has paid good money for just because they like privacy http://www.cnbc.com/id/27719011

Be fair, Brian, the Fed does not discuss what it has taken as security because it has no idea.
There is no way in the world that they could ramp up purchases as they have done and have any idea at all of what they have accepted, much of it being complex financial instruments.
The only thing which is guaranteed is that it is worth a small fraction of what they paid, perhaps 2% or so.

This is a gigantic sum of money sucked right out of the productive part of the USA economy, permanently. The host animal does not have an unlimited amount of blood to give IMO, contrary to MSM pronouncements.

Try $4.28 trillion and counting


All of which the US tax payer is on the hook for unless the Banksters pay it all back when the economy starts to soar again,LOL.

But don't worry about it Dar as you will be dead by then right so have another drink.

P.S. you are correct it is not a conspiracy, it is being done out in the open and OBAMA is bringing in all the same folks who created this mess so no change.

Wow! 4.28 Trillion dollars of Capital Losses to be declared on future form 1040 Federal and State Income Tax returns!

Where is our Government getting all the money to back up their Congressional initiatives?

What puzzles me even more is why we have a strong dollar.

We are trading everything we have of any value for numbers in a computer database. Geez.

I need a sanity check. Now.

About the us$:
There's a video of an interview of Jim Rogers, on the Financial Times website:


He says that the current strength of the us$ is solely based on technical issues, such as funds covering their positions or selling foreign assets as they're in need of cash. So the us$ should fall again in a few weeks/month, as the US debt and money printing by the Fed will eventually make the us$ worth less.

He's also bullish on energy and Asia, in the long term, and thinks that President Obama will make things worse (he's a Ron Paul fan).

"Conspiracy" is a loaded word. There is no conspiracy. Just a lot of people breathing together. After a while, it sort of generates its own rhythm.

Ron, your attitude to conspiracy differs markedly from that of Adam Smith, who remarked that two or more people in a common line of business rarely meet together without conspiring against the public interest.
Such things are also rather built into the nature of society, as people do not become powerful by being isolated, but rather by forming networks, which do each other favours, with often no overt agreement.
In it's classic form, it was in the English 'Gentleman's Club', where you took care never to offend, and to 'play the game' until in due course without particularly showing any great talent for anything you became Chairman of the Board here and there, with a few remunerative Directorships thrown in and a seat in the House of Lords.

The whole incestuous bunch in Congress, the Senate and at the top level in companies and Banks is interconnected with a vast network of 'interest' as it was known in Walpole's Britain, and the Governing class looks after itself.

This is normal, but at times such as in Walpole's Britain and in the US and UK today the whole edifice becomes so rotten that the house itself is brought down.

Dear God, how many times must I repeat my position before people stop accusing me of believing in NO conspiracies. My position is exactly like that of Adam Smith! There are, every day, thousands of conspiracies going on all the time. In every city or town competitors conspire against each other to get the people's business. They often involve ad agencies who guard their secrets closely. They usually involve from two to a dozen people, sometimes a few more. In times of war, they may involve many more, with the threat of death if exposed. There are no GIANT conspiracies! There are no conspiracies that require hundreds of co-conspirators. There are no giant government conspiracies that that last over several administrations. (For obvious reasons.)

And the so-called Jewish conspiracy if the most stupid of all giant conspiracy theories.

I generally agree with you, but I would make one modification to what you said -- there are no giant conspiracies that remain secret. Frex, I believe the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a giant conspiracy. As expected, the co-conspirators couldn't keep the conspiracy a secret. It's just that few people seem to care if we were led into war in Iraq on false pretenses.

Naw, I disagree. The President, on Iraq, got some really bad intelligence claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. He also got some really good intelligence telling him that Iraq did not have the ability to create weapons of mass destruction and likely had none. Bush simply believed the intelligence that which he wished to believe. That is the way most people behave, including presidents. Well, presidents that are not too smart anyway.

I haven't seen W. yet but I hear it explains it all very well, paints Bush as a buffoon rather than a conspiring genus. I would agree with that.

Ron Patterson

Whether or not it was buffoonery, he and many others are responsible for war crimes. The bush crime family has played the "aww shucks" card to the hilt, but it does not change the underlying crimes and atrocies they perpetrated. And if Obama doesn't immediately reverse torture, and pull back from the illegal wars, he is just as guilty. Word from inside the Obama camp is he isn't going to do squat about the official US policy of torture - so much for "change." Obama seems by his appointments and intimations so far to be "imperial lite" - same old imperialism, but with a new shiny multicultural ambassador! Sure, he's gonna throw some scraps, but if he continues with the criminal CEO welfare project, motto : "CEOs and bankers must not be allowed to lose their yachts - in fact they can buy new ones with their holiday bonuses! That'll stimulate the economy!" Only massive social movement can push amerika in the right direction, but the truth is power corrupts, and all large nations are fragile things when Energy Descent comes a knockin.'

Don't worry-the purchasers of 94% of USA bonds might decide to take the car keys away from the drunk teenager http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/JK19Dh01.html

W should have been tried for war crimes right along Saddam.

One could only hope that he and his co-sponsors of torture could receive the same punishment via the due process of law. Of course, due process of law has been thrown out the window, ala Gitmo.

So when Cheney was caught with maps of Iraqi oil fields in his secretive "Energy Task Force" meetings back in 2000 had nothing to do with wanting to go there. I suppose that is why he went to the supreme court to withhold as much information as he could.


Most of the activities of the Energy Task Force had not been disclosed to the public, even though Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests (since 19 April 2001) have sought to gain access to its materials. The organisations Judicial Watch and Sierra Club launched a law suit (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia: Judicial Watch Inc. v. Department of Energy, et al., Civil Action No. 01-0981) under the FOIA to gain access to the task force's materials. After several years of legal wrangling, in May, 2005 an appeals court permitted the Energy Task Force's records to remain secret.[4][5]

Don't forget. Dick Cheney in 1999.

For the world as a whole, oil companies are expected to keep finding and developing enough oil to offset our seventy one million plus barrel a day of oil depletion, but also to meet new demand. By some estimates there will be an average of two per cent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead along with conservatively a three per cent natural decline in production from existing reserves. That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day.


Then there is that tin foil nut Colin Campbell,

The poor countries will bear most of the burden [of high oil prices]. But the United States will be in serious difficulties. There is, I fear, a strong danger of some ill-considered military intervention to try to secure oil.
-- Colin Campbell, petrogeologist, Association for the Study of Peak Oil, December 2000

The really bad intelligence was manufactured by the American Enterprise Institute and pro-war organizations it created in the 1990s under the initiative of Dick Cheney and the neocons. They created Iraqi exile groups that proved to have no knowledge (or interest) about actually running Iraq after we won. Those groups swore that Saddam was a threat, and were vouched for by defense community people like Cheney, thus gaining membership in the club of "experts". Bush already wanted a war, but to get an elected legislature to want a war too, it was necessary for Cheney to spend years producing lies. That was why they had to punish Joseph Wilson for exposing one of their many evidence-forging operations.

If manufacturing lies to justify war, then getting into government to launch the war, is not a conspiracy, what is? Well, according to Nuremberg it's a war crime in any case.

Hate to break it to you but "W." is a product created in Hollywood, like "Three's Company" or "Desperate Housewives", whose sole purpose is to make a profit for its investors. Careful where you look for such things to be 'explained'.

Ron, apologies that I missed your previous clarification between small and large conspiracies.
However, it appears to rely upon a specialist interpretation of what constitutes a conspiracy, emphasising it's organisational and secret aspects.
However, many of the most damaging instances appear to be due to the co-incidence of interest between many smaller groups.
Examples might include the South Sea bubble, where there were countless conspiracies of groups seeking to profit from false prospectuses, all tending to bilk the public thorough the same set of illegitimate assumptions.

In the same way, did estate agents (realtors?) recently 'Conspire' to convince the public that property could only rise in value?
There was certainly few meetings of all the estate agents to arrive at a common position.
There was though, a co-incidence of interest which made close coordination unnecessary, as was the overt working out of a 'scheme' with the banks which also profited by false valuations and lax credit checks.

The real damage is done by these much looser groupings of common interest and assumption, rather than a conspiracy proper.

At any given time though these shared assumptions and outlooks can bubble over into a conspiracy proper, as appears to be the case with some of the manoeuvrings of Cheney to arrange and profit by war with Iraq.

For this reason I do not attach much hope to Obama's economic policy.
His advisory group is comprised of precisely the same people who created the mess, and, for instance, it takes a very unusual banker to move against the interests of the top bankers - apart form inter-necine feuds of course, which may explain the demise of Lehman bros.

The critical point is that a group or groups move against the general welfare to serve sectarian or class interest.
The co-ordination can be close or loose, but the effect is the same, and in fact is usually more deadly when it involves some fairly disparate groups.

"Care must be taken by the conspirators on January 20th however. There will be a firing and re-hiring of all co-conspirators at the top. Word could leak at this changing of the guard. ;-)"

As Pete Townsend once said "meet the new boss, same as the old boss". There is no changing of the guard on Jan. 20, only a changing of the actors on the stage. (Same directors in back).

That amounts to $14,000 per person in the U.S. Assuming a population of 300 million.... Absolutely staggering and treasonous.

If there is a PPT, it should be fired. In essence, the Treasury Department has tried to be a PPT but, thus far, has failed miserably. They have failed so utterly, that they are going to hand over $350 billion to the Obama administration. It seems like they should give up trying to prop up a totally dysfunctional financial/economic system. One of these days it will dawn on America that it might actually have to start producing something besides housing and financial instruments.

To be fair to Hank Paulson we cannot conclude that he has failed without knowing what his plans or goals are-what he has succeeded superbly at is getting rich and powerful and helping his tribe stay rich and powerful.

How are you going to find out those plans and goals? They are secret. And no court of law can peek into the machinery. Don't blame Hank -- he just asked for what he wanted, and Congress gave it to him. (You never get what you don't ask for!)

We have ways to make a person talk, here in the good ole US of A. Just ask Mr.Treason, GW Bush. Water Boards are the new thing for Christmas this year.

George "W" Bush... What was the "W" supposed to stand for? War? Waterboarding? Weapons of Mass Destruction?

See, I beleive in the campfire rule- campers, you know this one: You leave a place better condition than when you entered it. Bush, on the other hand, saw the campfire and used it to burn down the whole damned forest... And I feel bad for Obama, because this is what he has to work with.

I have never been so excited buying stocks as I am today. I see the most amazing bargains that if the end of the world does not come will be most lucrative. Most are in the energy( MLPs, energy services and solar) and fertilizer areas. It was just 3 months ago that everyone was predicting that the USD will go the route of the zimbabwe dollar. Now the deflationists are on top with 1 USD will buy the province of alberta theories. If it was not for peak oil I would be buying a whole lot of companies even outside the energy space.

I agree-Obama shouldn't push for a 3 trillion deficit, 33 trillion for 2009 would be more fun-the USA dollar has a supernatural strength that is impervious to anything in the universe-the USA should just start printing like crazy and buy up the entire planet.

the USA should just start printing like crazy and buy cover up the entire planet.

Oh man, Ron. That line is 'Darwinian Red Meat' for sure!

Usually, you post good, detailed links with real content to back up your claims. This one said 'crap' twice to undergird an opinionated hypothesis.

I guess everyone needs their rants.. and This was mine.


( I could give a flying monkey's weenie about PPT's or the color of Uncle Ben's Chopper.. I just hate to see a reasonable man lower his standards..)

Ehhh... I just listed a link and quoted a few lines from that link... that is all! Cashen was the one who used the word "crap". Do you really think Art Cashen and I were lowering our standards by calling an unproven conspiracy theory that has been around for 21 years, over three presidential administrations, crap?

Methinks Jokuhl, that you are just pissed because the theory has now been debunked by one of the wisest floor traders in America and on national television at that.

No. I'm not pissed about PPT theory. It's not one of my particular passions.

I'm just fascinated and maybe a bit perplexed to see a generally reasonable and cooly analytical poster get into such a predictable tizzy in fighting off this 'Conspiracy' thing. OVER and OVER. Sure, there are many 'C-Theories' that are just wacky.. but you seem to go to an odd extreme and insist that it debunks them all. (Or all the big ones.??)

I think that his calling it 'Crap' does little to convey his reasoning, and that your choice of posting that quote reveals the level of argument you are most interested in having.

Crap is kind of a funny 'Curse word', but like most swears only starts adding a bit of desperation into an argument .. The word that really got me upset is 'Methinks', which I find to be pretentious.

The word that really got me upset is 'Methinks', which I find to be pretentious.

It is and Old English word that I really love. I try to use it at least once every fortnight or so. ;-)

Methinks it's like a weasel.
- Hamlet by Shakespeare

Fair enough, thou Hannibal! (Henry V?) I only mentioned it because I know that my own word choices come across as haughty and pretentious too.

Would that bickering about conspiracy theories was our worst problem.

Sorry for badgering, Ron. I'll try to contain my minor irritations. Your place in the TOD .. emm 'Conspiracy'(?) is secure and undisputed.

Bob .. What a piece of work is a Weasel..

Who needs a conspiracy when you have a perpetual Ponzi scheme?

Why would dar try to defend this stuff?


The problem however with relying on the view of Art Cashin to determine the validity of the PPT's existence is that you are asking a CNBC employee about the credibility of Wall Street as an institution. CNBC is a total captive of Wall Street. It could no more bite the h that feeds it than it could climb to the moon on a rope of s. While CNBC employees are willing to expose specific people corporations for illegalities they simply cannot speak ill of Wall Street itself as an institution; it is psychologically impossible for them to do so. When asking Cashin about the PPT you are asking him if the business he revels in every day is being manipulated. In other words you are asking him if what he does for his living is really on the up up. Cashin is an insightful engaging analyst of the NYSE. He's smart as a whip. I'm sure he's scrupulously ht. But he's also human humans are just not able to OBJECTIVELY comment on the fact that their life's work might not be exactly kosher.


After a lengthy quote Cashin in his weekly letter of April 4 2003 Mauldin then launches into his opinion that the market is far too big to manipulate that the amounts of money required would be too huge the losses incurred too staggering. The size of the trading community "is in multiple hundreds of billions" says Mauldin. "It would require the willingness to lose billions of dollars every time you took the plunge." [emphasis added]


But is this true? Let's examine these assumptions see if they have merit. Let's see if indeed the market is too huge to manipulate if it would actually require massive losses. Former Federal Reserve governor Robert Heller had the following to say about the size of the market in an article he wrote for the Wall Street Journal on October 27 1989 -- an article that shockingly advocates direct intervention by the Fed into the market to buy S&P futures:


Observe that this figure of $7-$10 billion is for the combined trading of all the markets it is for 1989. Thus we need to chop it some to arrive at figures for just the Dow then we need to exp it some to get today's figures. So let's assume the Dow's daily trading would have been approximately $5 billion in 1989 that it has grown to around $15 billion today. This is hardly "hundreds of billions" as Mauldin claims. On the contrary it is a very manageable sum as former Fed governor Heller maintained.


So there you have it -- the stock market is quite manageable the Fed has been urged by one of its own to take on the job. This certainly refutes Mauldin's claim tht the PPT cannot exist because the sums of money involved are simply too huge. But what about Mauldin's claim that the PPT would be required to lose billions of dollars? Any merit there? Listen to what financial reporter Rick Ackerman wrote on the issue in October of 2001:

TPTB are getting jittery.
I posted to this thread on 'Seeking Alpha':

Which is saying that it is everyone else acting up, so the US must keep up it's guard - ie continue to bankrupt itself with military expenditure.

I replied to the effect that the US spent more than everyone else combined, and that it's adoption of first strike doctrines meant that it effectively had had many 'days which will live forever in infamy', as it reserves the right to strike without a declaration of war whenever it feels it's vital interests are threatened - precisely what the Japanese felt prior to Pearl Harbour, as the oil embargo certainly threatened it's vital interests.
Apparently a combination of Zionists and neo-cons were unworried that military expenditure would bankrupt the US - with friends like that, who needs enemies?
However, it seems unlikely that the rest of the world will continue to sustain the US empire.

The post was pulled and my membership revoked within minutes!
Now, the fascinating thing is, who was upset? Was it military contractors, Zionists, neo-cons or perhaps some 'my country right or wrong dudes?'

Perhaps they come from New Hampshire - 'Live free or die!'

The speed of the response is indicative that the forces in power will allow no dissent that they can suppress.
I find both Seeking Alpha and Ockham Research to be fairly sinister.

My guess is that your use of the word "zionist" was the problem. It's often used as a codeword by those anti-Semitic views, and tends to make Americans very uncomfortable.

I take your point. The main thing that I have against Zionists though is that they will end up killing countless Jewish people, as well as, of course, Palestinians.

It is rather as though 'fascist' were treated as synonymous with 'German'.

In any case, such censorious behaviour is likely to give food to those who see everything as a Jewish plot.
Presumably this is part of the whole neo-con agenda, to so confound the causes of oil-militarism, fundamentalist Christianity and Zionism that any dislike of any of these positions is de-legitimised.

On reading their article it would seem more appropriate to view their writings as racist, since it is all those pesky foreigners such as the Russians, Chinese etc who are to be feared, whilst the US (and the UK, in a grovelling support role) innocently pursue justice and peace.

In view of the lack of discrimination in their own position, it is hardly surprising that they fail to discriminate between a critique of a political position and a race.

My guess is that they are just as worried about undermining support for military hardware sales as any racial issues - Haliburton has a long arm.

Doubtless I am on various watch lists.

My guess is that they are just as worried about undermining support for military hardware sales as any racial issues - Haliburton has a long arm.

My guess is that you are overreacting. Leanan is right, the word "Zionist" smacks of racism and racism is tolerated only on racist list. They don't wish to get tarred with that baby.

Doubtless I am on various watch lists.

Now you are getting paranoid.

Zionism certainly smacks of racism, as the movements' discrimination against Palestinians proves.

You don't think that Governments have watch lists?

Have a look at some of the data released under the UK Freedom of Information Act.

You don't think that Governments have watch lists?

Yes. The question becomes how (un)important one is to be on any given list.

the word "Zionist" smacks of racism

Yes. And to debate the 'meaning' is to argue about the number of angels who can dance on a well-head. DaveMart - best leave the topic be as you won't get converts. Not to mention trying to discuss international geo-politics to effect change on an energy forum....not alot of point. If you feel you must - drop breadcrumbs and let the curious go look on their own.

Doubtless I am on various watch lists.
Now you are getting paranoid.

You have no idea what this gent does in his spare time to be on any given watch list Darwinian. DaveMart could very well be on MANY lists.

Why, here in the US of A you are 'listworthy'
# Those who "Make Numerous references to US Constitution"
# Those who "Request authority for stop" (This one I don't grok)
# Those who are "defenders of the US Constitution"
# Those who have "Marxist philosophy"
# Those who support "Animals Rights"
# and don't forget "Lone Individuals"
# or why not the doomsday 'cult' status for TOD posting?

Guys who set fire to SUV's at dealerships are terrorists

and on and on. The more interesting issue would be how effective the lists are given 1 million + are on the 'watch list' (So out of the posters here on TOD - why can't DaveMart be the 1 in 300 no-fly-list person)
http://www.aclu.org/privacy/spying/watchlistcounter.html or
FBI finds most terrorism threat reports baseless

DaveMart may be a harmless little furball (or not - with his nuke power support I suspect he glows in the dark and is dangerous - but I don't know) - but that would not preclude him from being on some list of 'suspected evil-doo-ers' out there.

the word Zionist is also the name of a particular sub group of those who believe in the jewish faith. they are very similar to the extreme part of the evangelical movement and this subgroup is unforcently in control of isrial.

SeekingAlpha is a financial site that's been more open than most to peak oil. And they allowed a comment critical of militarism to stay. The fact that your membership was revoked (not just your comment deleted) suggests that the problem was that they think you're a racist nutter.

That's weird. I thought the authors were militaristic nutters, and racist to boot.
Can't trust those darn foreign jonnies!

Don't take it personal. I'm just telling you that that's how it is in the US. Admins at mainstream sites will usually lower the boom fairly quickly if you start posting about zionists controlling the US and that sort of thing.

I certainly do not take it personally in respect to your comments, as I have the very highest respect for your impartiality and ability to differentiate between critiques of political movements and racist comments.

However, as regarding what might be US site policy, it seems to be an irony lost on many that 'lowering the boom' quickly on comments which might support ideas of 'Zionists controlling the US', by that very act would tend to confirm the thesis that it seeks to refute.

Just how much influence represents effective control?

Incidentally, I would not personally consider that the Zionists control the US. They are however certainly massively influential, together with their neo-con and military allies, the history of the last 8 years shows that clearly, and the presence of Emanuel as the first appointment perhaps serves to indicate that the influence of the state of Israel is substantial in the new Democrat administration.

Dave, you are in a hole, stop digging.

thanks for your opinion on the matter. However, I intend to continue to criticise political movements which appear to me to be based on injustice, and neither will the efforts of some to de-legitimise criticism deflect me.

I guess if Israel was worried about US citizens being concerned with the amount of influence they have over US foreign policy and wanted to deflect attention away from their influence over the US they would be happy if there were a lot of blatantly racist conspiracies and maybe even start some themselves. Then when ever the word zionism is referred to people automatically shut off and think racist nut job. It's kind of like that bizarre meme that you don't ever talk about motives of political powers only competence. Once motives are mentioned people automatically shut off and turn irrational and call you irrational. It's very interesting.

Then do it on your own blog, please. I don't want to get into the zionist conspiracy thing here.

I certainly do not intend to refer to any such agenda, as I have already stated that I am not a believer in Zionist conspiracy theories.
The subject of undue influence, which is rather different, also seems relatively unlikely to occur here as posts to the effect that the present preponderance of the US military in an unadulterated good which should be happily paid for even at the cost of bankruptcy is not one that attracts much support here.

I don't think there is anything inherently racist about the term zionist. It seems to be a real movement, not some sort of conspiracy.


Indeed. It is a political movement and it is hardly the fault of present commentators if in many quarters it has become a term of opprobrium.

The term 'Conservative' is not held in high esteem by many in the UK, but I do not object to others referring to me as such.

My original comment in any case gave no undue weight to the Zionist element, referring equally to the neo-cons and militarists, although of course the sub-sets are not mutually exclusive.

Don't you know you cannot say anything negative about certain religions? It's in the Jewish book of fairy tales, err, I mean "the bible" haha. Religions are ALL part of the problem. Just for being a religion, they are all equally complicit in the retardation of human intellectual and ethical progress. But the fact that members of a certain religion support amoral retribution en masse shows their corruption in spades. Israel invaded palestine many many years ago, but it didn't count because they are special. IMO, any jewish person who supports zionism is a majorly talented master of cognitive dissonance.

The persistence of religion over the past several thousand years and its place in such a high percentage of the world's population must mean it has an evolutionary advantage over atheism.

Um, by that reasoning the persistence of wearing necklaces and its place in such a high percentage of the world's population must mean it has an evolutionary advantage over not wearing necklaces. I don't think I believe that; apart from anything else, very few men will notice whether a woman is wearing a necklace, but that indifference doesn't stop women wanting necklaces for many non-evolutionary reasons.

There might be an evolutionary advantage to religious belief, or it might just be one of those things some humans do and some humans don't. It's not as if there's been huge evolutionary pressure on human beings for the past ten thousand years; I can buy things like geographic selection of genes for food storage in areas prone to famine, sickle cell in the african regions, etc, but I have difficulties seeing that there's going to be a strong pressure on the basis of having religious belief. I can imagine there might have been long term evolutionary pressure for a developmental cognitive framework that happens to has features that can be used for religious belief, but more than that I'm unconvinced.

Of course there is an evolutionary advantage to religion - they breed more. And they can justify their right to do so, to themselves.

If atheists don't breed at the same rate as the religious then eventually they would die out. One study I read about showed that simply being the member of a faith group cut the probability of dying in the next year in half. In one way atheism in holding a belief in common about the absence of divinity is itself a faith group. But can two atheists agree on any other philosophical concept?

The danger is in conflating religious identity, national identity, and a legally-based political state, committing acts that are proscribed for one type of institution by hiding in the robes of the other institution.

But this conflation is one of the most potent political tricks. Everybody does it if they can. I just don't want it done by foreigners with weapons that my tax dollars paid for.

Not only the bible, but other "official" stories cannot be altered either.

"I don't want to get into the zionist conspiracy thing here."

funny then why from the content of his post, you pulled that exact phrase out and highlighted it as the cause of his problem with Seeking Alpha? To me, you're the one who opened the 'zionist' can of worms so to speak.

If it had been someone else, I'd probably have just deleted the post and avoided the can of worms, so to speak. But he's not American, and didn't see the subtext that an American would see. I felt it would be helpful to explain it. Also, since the financial crisis started, the "world is controlled by Jewish bankers" types have come out of the woodwork. I want to make it clear that kind of thing is not welcome here. There's plenty of other sites where it is welcome.

Actually, I found your post helpful, as I had no idea which of the various points I mentioned would have led to such rapid action - my initial thought was that it was challenging the military complex.
In any event I find each of the groups mentioned distasteful, and if you have indeed identified the cause of this reaction correctly it is borderline racist, as many people such as Palestinians presumably would also be repressed from expressing any dislike of what is after all an admittedly racist and sectarian movement.

I thought what Dave claimed to have posted to Seeking Alpha, to be quite reasonable, kinda what any deeply thinking moral observser would conclude. I probably would have left off the Zionist part, but that is because us mericans have had to live with political correctness for long enough to (usually) avoid the trigger words. I think it is possible that you were banned, because you made too much sense. Perhaps they only want to allow the incoherent opposition a voice. That is a good strategy for painting all opposition as nutcakes.

I too, assume that I have probably made a few lists of undesirables. Although in the US at least I think those lists are probably not widely circulated, probably living in someone's "only in case of civil disorder" database.

Quick personal story about "lists". I was an SDS organizer, got arrested in Chicago in 68, and so it goes. My "jacket" is quite large. Ran a "safe" house for a couple of years.

30 something years down the line, nephew is a rising star with a defense contractor. Really, really, bright kid. So he gets to work one morning not long ago to find his boss waiting for him and a bit frantic. Seems two gentlemen from some unidentified gov agency have asked to speak with him. He goes into the conference room and the very first question was "How often do you see your Uncle Don?"

He went out to lunch and called me from a payphone, and said Holy shit Uncle Don!

Those "lists" have a long life, Chuckle

Don in Maine

What is disturbing is that this sort of censorship seems to be an attempt to destroy even the language of dissent.
How should I refer to the group which I oppose?
Should I call it 'The Jews?'
That would be inaccurate, as it would include many for whom I have the greatest respect, and with whose views I would concur.
Should I call it 'The Israelis?'
Again, this includes many who are fundamentally opposed to the Zionist agenda.

I am aware of no other phrase which conveys the group which believes in the God-given right off Jewish people to the land of Palestine and which wishes to form a state defined by religion and race there save their own term - Zionist.

Banning this word has twin effects, it takes away the ability to question this movement, and it also seeks to implicate all Jews in the Zionist agenda, by the confounding of race and Zionism.

Historically, this has been very effective, as many Jews know to their cost, as they are likely to get the blame collectively for the actions of a sub-group.
I doubt at the moment that most Palestinians, save perhaps those who have had personal experience of better treatment by individual Jewish people, would discriminate very closely between the Zionists and the Jews.

This enables the promotion of a completely outrageous racial and sectarian agenda under the cover that critiques are racialist!
It also ensures that when the bitter harvest is reaped, and it will be, very many entirely innocent people will suffer, along with the guilty.

In defense of DaveMart: Is it really too much to ask for people to draw a basic distinction between "anti-Zionism" and "anti-Semitism"? The fact is that in the current climate of debate the two are conflated, and much of this is due to the deliberate efforts of supporters of Israel to this end. The obvious rhetorical benefit of encouraging this conflation is that critics of Israel (i.e.: "anti-Zionists") are automatically labelled and vilified as "anti-Semitists," when there is often not the least bit of truth to the charge.

One ought - on ANY website - at least be permitted to draw this distinction without being accused of anti-semitism on that account. The mere fact that this seems not to be possible is both unjust and inhibitive of honest discussion.

I think until the anti-zionists come up with a better idea to keep Jewish people alive, it will always be seen that way.

There are at least 2 people who understand and appreciate your comment.

Well, I know Jews who describe themselves as anti-zionists...zionism is a political movement espousing the migration and maintenance of a Jewish homeland, while Judaism is a religion...the two should not necessarily be conflated.

I have nothing against Jews...in fact, as an atheist, I like the Jews best because they don't proselytize.

Well, the king of Saudi Arabia warned Roosevelt in 1944 that if the people of Germany committed a crime against Jews, the people of Germany should have their land taken, not the people of Palestine.

Guess it's a little late for that plan now. How about Manhattan instead? It'll counterbalance Utah.

Is it really too much to ask for people to draw a basic distinction between "anti-Zionism" and "anti-Semitism"?

Would this be where a Semite is

of eastern Mediterranean origin.


Of, relating to, or constituting a subgroup of the Afro-Asiatic language.

(opposing people from a location)

and the other is about opposing the

Movement founded by the Viennese Jewish journalist Theodor Herzl

I personally know a fella that used to work for David Duke.

You sound a lot like him. This fella is rather intelligent and would be ok except he can't stop with the Jewish nonsense. He has no proof. He just is paranoid about it and beats it to death. Mention Einstein and he almost froths at the mouth.


Two small points:

1. Einstein was not a zionist

2. Most zionists are christians (the fundamentalist type who are waiting on the end days)

Regarding the anti-religious commentary above, may I recommend "I Don't Believe in Atheists" by Chris Hedges.

As a hint of what to expect, Hedges does not believe in the anthropomorphic god of popular lore, you know the one atheists so love to demonize. He does not believe in man-gods come to save us and all the rest of that simplistic tripe. He does destroy the contentions and arguments, if that is what they can be called, of Dawkins, Hitchens and other atheists with depth and subtlety beyond their ken.

And as I have occasionally done in the past, may I also recommend "The Pagan Christ: recovering the lost light" by Tom Harpur.

Dave, as Dmitry Orlov said regarding political collapse; "Yet another thing to watch for is foreign incursions into domestic politics".

Tick the box. Another marker in place.

Thanks for the insight.
I tracked down some of Orlov's writings on the stages of collapse:

I found it interesting that the Presidential candidates effectively had to swear an oath of allegiance to pass a committee - to a foreign power, Israel.

The fact that your membership was revoked (not just your comment deleted) suggests that the problem was that they think you're a racist nutter.

... or that Dave might actually have read Mearsheimer and Walt?

I think you are allowed to use the word if you are Jewish-I have heard Chomsky use it many times, and I seem to remember both Naomi Klein and Naomi Wolf using the term.

What word would a non-jewish Old White Guy be allowed to use to describe neo-cons from Israel?? "Zionist" is really so 19th Century and it just waves red flags.

It's not the race that's troublesome. It's the politics and the economics. And religion is irrelevant. A lot of Orthodox Jews seem to be opposed to much of what is going on.

"What word would a non-jewish Old White Guy be allowed to use to describe neo-cons from Israel??"


Leanan -

I strongly suspect that if instead of making comments about 'zionists neocons' Dave Mart had made comments about 'rag-head terrorists', it would probably not have been pulled. I seriously doubt that an offended sense of decorum had anything to do with it. I hope you realize the selective censorships goes on all the time, in ways both overt and subtle.

Let's face it, people in a position to censor other people's comments will often do just that if they feel sufficiently opposed to or threatened by a particular comment. Also coming into play is the natural impulse of preventing whom you perceive to be the 'enemy' from getting his/her message out.

PS: I invite you to pull this comment just to prove my point :-)

I strongly suspect that if instead of making comments about 'zionists neocons' Dave Mart had made comments about 'rag-head terrorists', it would probably not have been pulled.

Why don't you test that? Go over there and post a comment like that, and see if it's pulled.

Leanen, you got in there first -- I was about to make the same point.

Let's call it the Z-word.

Interesting, I don't think the word has such negative connotations in the UK. Many Zionists are "fundamentalist Christians" in any case.

Here's a mainstream, most definitely not conspiracy, site on Christian Zionism.



Christian Zionism may be defined either broadly or narrowly. Broadly speaking, it designates any Christian support for the national revival movement of the Jewish people realized through the establishment of the modern State of Israel (historically known as Zionism). More narrowly defined, Christian Zionism is an ideology grounded in beliefs which consider the State of Israel to be divinely ordained and scripturally determined with a central role in ushering in the end of history, where unconverted Jews and unbelievers (including Christians who are considered to be of questionable status) are judged by God’s wrath. It is the narrower form that causes immediate concern.


There are a number of reasons why this narrow ideological form of Christian Zionism raises concerns for the member communions of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Among these are the following:

• It is a movement with negative consequences for Middle East peace

Perhaps their name should be changed to SeekingDefenseFunds. We really need to start spending money on something other than Defense as we are spending way more on defense than is actually necessary to protect the country.

As the fed and treasury have amply illustrated, money is meaningless.

5 trillion given to banking & finance over the last couple months, given to people who for the most part are not in need and in fact could retire today and never want.

Tax dollars, public funds going to private companies to continue pay outs of salaries, dividends, bonuses, compensation to people who already make up the top levels of wealth in the country.

Yet channeling public funds to social services is verboten.

Money is meaningless but it’s the only way we can imagine to decide who lives and who dies.

We are a pitiful excuse for humanity.

Makes me wish I believed in God so I could ask him/her to Damn America. Though maybe that’s what is already happening.

Souper... there's hope.

In 2004 a despairing Tom Frank wrote:

The trick never ages, the illusion never wears off. Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive de-industrailization. Vote to screw those politically correct college professors; receive, electricity deregulation. Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meatpacking. Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization efforts...

from...."What's the Matter with Kansas"

None of that sh*t worked this fall... People saw where their country went and voted NO!!!

You've forgotten the one where people flood their representatives with protestations against the bail out.
That delayed it by nearly a week.

Both Democrat and Republicans are so vested in the system and so deeply implicated by the time that they reach positions of power that they are part of the problem, not the solution.

Look at Joe, 'credit card' Biden - yeah, he is really going to get tough on bankers!

No, didn't forget. Wrote both of my senators and my congresswoman.

Thing is... our economy is on life support today. Paulsen, Bernanke and the K-street influencers can do nothing to alter what's coming.

I sent letters, but maybe the congress critters should have received tar and feathers.

I stopped by my congressman's office and let my thoughts be known in person. Made no difference of course -- I don't have the requisite bank account to make my opinions all that valuable.

I called twice and wrote emails. My congressman was in a tight race and he voted against it and won the election. Didn't stop the bailout though.

You've forgotten the one where people flood their representatives with protestations against the bail out.
That delayed it by nearly a week.

That in it's self proves the united states is a friendly fascist state.

Sure, but are they ready to accept radical economic experiments after they've been taught their whole lives that Paradise existed before Franklin Roosevelt ruined everything?

This is where it gets complicated...

I don't think folks understand how radical we're going to have to be. We're going to have to turn the corner on market fundamentalism. Reject infinite growth. Reject the invisible hand.

If the auto industry fails, I think we'll have the catalyst.

Krugman's latest book "Conscience of a Liberal" has a very good review of what FDR did. Why it worked. How it was engineered.

Re the Boone Pickens plan. I'm not really enamored of the natural gas part but he has a valid point in the short term. It does give security to the vital services of the country in a crisis. I'm not quite as sure that I could find a way to convert a Cummins to NG without starting over being a better bet. I'm also suspecting that the output would be similar to the old non turbo motors that used to grind down to nothing at the sight of a rise. T Boone needs to build a demonstrator conversion unit to make his point.

If I were going to go to a personal wind power system I'd like to calculate what sort of gravity storage possibilities exist. I mean using the excess production to haul a counterweight up a hole and letting it unwind during calm periods. Having winched ski lift counterweights up I get the meaning of foot pounds. A fifty thousand pound block of concrete in a twenty foot hole is a million foot pounds/time. Now that would be an FDR make work project in the flyover zone and we could make the shovels right here in America as we still do make [some] shovels.

Gravity has wonderful storage efficiencies in and out with only very slight frictional losses in the winch. Americans who own four bys can grasp the technology almost immediately. A grid could shunt the excess to counterweights in calm areas. Level of 'charge' is easily visible or audible by dropping a stone down and counting.

Gentlemen, start your generators.

I had a thought that the NG conversion could be popularized by running NG cars at NASCAR - and then came the thought of hitting the wall at 170 with a tank of NG in the back at 2500 psi. The idea sort of bombed at this point. Boone is proposing that every commercial carrier become a hazardous one. Diesel has the advantage of being perhaps the least explosive of the potential fuels. How safe can NG be designed to be?

During the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the local transit authority (MARTA) bought a fleet of CNG powered diesel buses as a demonstration to cut air pollution. I think they are still operating those buses. There might be a problem converting older diesel vehicles to CNG, especially finding the place for the tank(s). The volume required to store the CNG is larger than that for a diesel running distillate. The buses used tanks mounted on the roof.

There's been quite a research effort on CNG powered diesel. The NREL has made considerable effort for more than 10 years. Here's a link (PDF warning). and there are lots more to be found using Google.

E. Swanson

Here is a good link to Cummins Nat Gas Engines tech. They are on the market today. Have been since I did a little training there in the 70's. PDF warning on the file
http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/proceedings/07/clean-cities/pdfs/Bi... John Deere's too ..googlin'

There is a difference between dedicated nat gas and dual-fuel diesels which meter additional nat gas (up to 80% under load) and use the diesel as a 'pilot' fuel and exclusively for idling. That's a cheaper conversion uses the standard engine setup whereas the dedicated ones are spark ignited run at lower compression and use basic lower end and then different components from the piston up ward.

Here's a FAQ link to Westprt/Cummins Germany no PDF
IIRC initial cost is $30k and up higher per new truck.

Thanks for the input and links. I'm actually a fan of propane having run a propane powered skilift. The engines last a long time, storage is relatively low pressure,and they run much cleaner than gasoline, although I must admit the recent fuel injection engines are close, albeit with a lot more complication. My main worry is the safely aspect; a city bus is not in the same danger as a semi at 60 mph. With Diesel you sometimes get a running start on a growing fire. Energy storage in general seems to be a big hurdle as we move to intermittent sources.

Thanks for the reply.
Possible that Pickens is thinking about some fleets running on various NG as energy security just because of the intermittent problem. I'm not that familliar with the infrastructure but I do know in some areas pipelines and terminals for NG are fairly local and might offer backup to outages of other 'refined' products inputs in a disruption.

Man, it just seems a lot easier, and cheaper (to me) to slowly ramp up the biodiesel.

Petrosaurus -

There is a tendency to lose sight of the fact that a little bit of chemical energy goes a long way and, conversely, that stored mechanical energy doesn't go very far in terms of usable energy storage.

To illustrate this point, I will use your example of a 50,000-lb weight dropping a distance of 20 ft and thus providing 1 million ft-lbs of energy.

Well, a kilowatt-hour of energy is equivalent to 2.65 million ft-lbs. Thus, this huge weight will only provide 0.38 KWHs of energy, or less than the amount required to keep four 100-watt bulbs lit for one hour. Not too impressive when you look at it that way, is it? (This is one reason why we don't have wind-up cars.)

Mechanical energy IS used for large-scale energy storage in the form of pumped storage systems for electrical utilities. During off-hours water is pumped up to a reservoir at a higher elevation and then, as needed, allowed to flow back downhill through water turbines that run generators. Even relatively small pumped storage systems require reservoirs the size of lakes and often a drop of well over 100 feet. Such systems are generally used only where the natural topography already provides at least a partial high-elevation lake.

Thanks joule. That was the conversion I was looking for. Makes one realize how much energy we are squandering when you put it into mechanical terms. Even more so when you put it in muscle energy terms. I just remember jacking up counterweights hour over hour. We take our magic fossil energy powers so much for granted. That said, a typical car battery stores about .75 kwh which is pretty amazing, but my concrete block has a half life of far longer than I or my progeny will live and has a certain stone age charm. I'm still not convinced that a fully charged car battery could raise a 50,000 lb block twenty feet in actual practice. On cold days it barely starts my car.
I just did my daily 200 lb payload up a 2200 ft mountain [me and my bicycle] and that works out to 440,000 ft lbs on nothing more than a salami sandwich and a bowl of cereal. I'm still not losing weight so I must not have that conversion fully worked out either. Sure is fun coming down though.

Petrosaurus -

I think I know where you're coming from.

The best example that comes to mind regarding the huge disparity in scale between chemical and mechanical stored energy is a magazine ad from those now mythical 1950s. It appeared in either Look or Life, and was put out by one of the big American oil companies (I forgot which one).

Well anyway, as best I can recall the ad showed a huge ocean liner on dry land being lifted in some way, and next to it was a tiny dot and an enlarged balloon showing what was in that tiny dot. It was a single gallon can of gasoline. The whole point of the ad, in a sort of Ripley's Believe it or Not fashion, was that the energy contained in this one gallon of OUR gasoline (as opposed to Brand-X's gasoline I suppose) was sufficient to lift this huge ocean liner one foot off the ground.

I checked it out, and if you ignore energy losses, etc., yes, it is theoretically true that the energy content of a single gallon of gasoline is sufficient to lift an ocean liner weighing something like 45,000 tons one foot off the ground.

Very counter-intuitive, yet true, and a perfect example of the 'leverage' stored chemical energy has over stored mechanical energy. However, should we be unfortunate enough to find ourselves in a Mad Max sort of world, then any means of energy storage, no matter how crude or inefficient, will be worth something in terms of making life a bit less brutish.


You may find this link useful...

Energy and Cost Required to Lift or Pressurize Water

re: North Dakota OKs spraying oil wastewater on roads
How high can the EROEI of corn ethanol rise if we can substitute the stover for salt on the healthy winter roads here in the Midwest?

Last night, in a "premiere" Chicago W.Suburb we had a town hall 2-5 yr."vision" meeting. After a climate change shoutout and LEED builder spoke I chimed in on the need for a civic sustainability committment (installing/buying wind/solar %) and hoped an energy agenda might advance. The next resident asked why they can't get free garbage pickup any longer, and the evening thereafter quickly resembled Hubbert's curve.

Yesterday's thread about "who's lost their job?" got me thinking it'd be nice to do a "state of your state" or general report on your local economy as I assume most areas have experienced dramatic change in the last few months. I like many here, fear that we're maybe at that "OH Sh!t" moment like after Wiley Coyote runs off a cliff and looks down...even though things haven't changed for him yet, he now realizes they're about to in a hurry.

Anyways, I'll give my report from a part of the US always thought to be "immune" from recessions: Aspen, CO and the Roaring Fork Valley.

Things aren't looking so good here. A year and a half ago, anyone, and I mean anyone could show up here and get 5 job offers before lunch. Real estate had risen steadily for about twenty years and shot straight up the past 5. Construction and real estate had become the leading industries in the valley (more than skiing, hospitality, retail, etc). Though, tourism numbers were still breaking records each of the past few years.

Common wisdom was that the rest of the country would experience a slowdown, but we'd hardly notice it as all our visitor are ultra-rich (median home price over $5mil, anything under $1mil downvalley was a bargain). Huge projects and rustic McMansions were going up wherever they could.

Being a long time TOD reader and former realtor, I saw the energy/credit crisis collision from a mile away. As Snowmass Village was undergoing a complete multi-year transformation, with units pre-selling as soon as they could list them, I was warning people involved with the project and the town that if they were lucky, they'd get halfway done before the project ran out of money and became a permanent eyesore to a once charming town. "You're crazy" and "OK chicken little" are the types of responses I'd get (much like many of you).

Fast forward to the present- of course the project has stopped. Projects big and small have stopped. The giant Whole Foods that was supposed to anchor a new suburb has stopped, as have the townhomes across the street. Realtors are scrambling because sales have dropped off a cliff. A year and a half ago, the real estate transaction section was at least two full pages long, now it's about 1/8 of one page. If it weren't for a russian oligarch making a couple giant purchases, the numbers here would be abysmal. Stories abound from workers at construction sites showing up to work and have the GC tell the whole crew they have 1/2 an hour to gather all their stuff and never come back. Foreigners (the latino ones) are heading back to their homelands because they can't find enough work.

Usually, every ski season they bring a bunch of southern hemisphere kids on holiday to work on the slopes. Due to a restriction in the visa program, the resorts have had to hire much more domestically. So we've got kids from around the country driving up this week for their $11/hr jobs (wait till they find out $11=$5 here). Those are pretty much the only new jobs around. Hotels, retail, construction and tourism companies are laying people off and drastically cutting budgets.

Downvalley where I live, retail stores are closing down all over. Many still have their signs up, so it doesn't look so bad until you look in the windows and realize the place is empty. The effect seems to be building and even I thought it wouldn't happen this quick in a place where there was never enough retail sqft just a year ago.

The hard working locals have it the worst. The "lucky" ones that were able to buy real estate 5-20 years ago have been using their equity to leverage like crazy and pick up any properties they could. It was like a second or third job for them, except in many cases it paid better than their real jobs. Now though, many are scrambling with properties not selling and a shortage of renters. Most are in way over their heads. Even the local rich are freaking out because they too were highly leveraged in real estate, business ventures and stocks which are all tanking and they realize they weren't as rich as they thought they were.

Everyone here is holding their breath and wishing for snowfalls as good or better than last year. If that happens, we may just survive another year. If it's like any of the previous several years, this place'll be a ghost town by spring.

That's the report from up here. What's the situation in your neck of the woods?

Right across Independence Pass from you in Lake County. Not good here either, especially with the Freeport McMoran news regarding the Climax mine:

Mine shuttered again near Leadville

Three weeks ago, Ken Olsen stood in the cheering crowd as a truck made its way through Leadville, pulling a 50-ton mill used to crush molybdenum ore at the Climax mine.

A high school band played, officials spoke and the town celebrated the prospect of the mine reopening after lying dormant at 11,300 feet for two decades - in lockstep with the price of molybdenum.

"The long term looks good for (molybdenum)," David Thornton, president of Climax molybdenum, was quoted in the local newspaper, referring to the metal used to strengthen steel.

That statement was short-lived.

On Monday, Leadville learned that the $500 million construction project at the Climax mine, 13 miles northeast, is being suspended - delaying its reopening indefinitely and dealing a blow to Colorado's $3 billion mining industry. Climax was expected to employ 350 miners once it was operating.

Other major employers here are construction and service industry in adjacent counties (Summit, Eagle, etc), and tourism related to the ski industry. Ouch.

Western NC reporting in:

Foreclosure activity here is nothing remotely like what they are seeing in CA/NV/AZ/FL/MI/OH, but the number of houses with "For Sale" signs in front has been creeping up; most remain unsold. We have a high percentage of retirees here with 100% equity, which helps put a floor under the housing market. The big question is how long people from the larger cities owning 2nd homes around here are going to be able to hold on; I haven't seen much evidence of people trying to unload these yet, but we'll see. The builders and developers have been the ones really hurting as new homebuilding shuts down; we're starting to see builders and developers go out of business now, I expect to see a lot more fold up this winter. There is a lot of anti-development, anti-growth sentiment that has finally gotten itself organized and won several key local races a couple of weeks ago, so that plus the economy might just about spell the end of rapid, sprawling mountainside development.

Tourism held up pretty well through the summer, but it really fell off this fall. The gas shortages in September really hurt, and the number of people who came to see autumn folliage in October/early November was really down. All of the local retailers and craftspeople are really hurting now - I expect we'll see a lot of empty storefronts this winter. It has been over a year since I last went to the mall in Asheville, and I rarely shop at any of the big box stores except for Home Depot and Lowes, so I'm not able to gauge very well as to how they are doing; I can't imagine that they are doing any better here than elsewhere around the country, so I expect to hear of a lot of store closings amongst these as well. As for Home Depot & Lowes, they seemed to be holding up pretty well; if there were fewer people doing expensive home improvement projects, they have been offset with more people getting stuff for DIY repair and maintenance projects.

The local Ford/Chevy dealer in my town went belly up earlier in the year due to the combination of a stupid gambling habit + sales downturn, and now sits empty. I do not expect a car dealer to ever operate at that site again, so that is now history. All the car dealers in Asheville are overloaded with inventory, I expect that some of them won't survive much longer either. The motor scooter and bicycle dealers are doing quite well, though - I am seeing more of both on the streets. Except for the Toyota Prius, I am not seeing all that many obvious new cars on the road, and especially not all that many high-end luxury cars. Most locals can't afford them, those that could afford them have maybe traded them in on something less obviously affluent, and the tourists that still have them haven't been traveling so much lately.

There is still talk about spending massive amounts of money on a huge re-engineering of I40/26/240 in Asheville. I wish that they would just scrap that and use the money to bring passenger rail back instead; it is a huge waste of money. We are going to be in a world of hurt if passenger rail isn't brought back within the next few years. The Norfolk & Southern seems to be doing a booming freight business, they seem to be running more frequent and longer trains than in the past, but that is just an impression and not backed with any hard data.

Healthcare is the other really big pillar supporting the local economy, and so far seems to be doing OK. Lots of older folks around here, all on Medicare, most also on Medigap supplementals, and most with various health problems needing attention, all provide a stable support for the health care providers. So far we haven't been flooded with huge numbers of uninsured indigents straining the system, but that could change.

The local farmers markets have been booming, and more local growers have been coming into production, thanks in large part to the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. Our local beekeepers club has grown to 400 members, the largest in NC and one of the largest in the country. The local salvage/discount food markets are all doing a booming business as well. Even though I do the grocery shopping, I don't yet have a very good handle as to how typical household food buying/eating patterns may be changing. I saw a few more people put in gardens last summer. Probably more will put in gardens this next year, although since most yards have lots of shade trees in them this will be a problem.

I'm seeing lots more people heating by wood this winter, at least in part. Lots of big woodpiles around - more so than in past years. I've seen no evidence yet of people putting in solar or wind, but some people are doing some insulation or weatherizing projects. Quite a few people did put in rain barrels during this summer's drought, I suspect we'll see more of those put in next spring.

I saw a recent TV interview with Tiger Woods and the The Cliffs (near Asheville) developer discussing Tiger's new course design. The developer seemed to be in denial that prices were being lowered for his homes (at least publicly). I imagine that project may struggle.

I hate to wish bad things on other people. . . but I am sorta hoping that maybe that travesty just won't even get built after all.

Damn. I was hoping to drop my new, 'real' job for ski patrol next year... Maybe by then rent will be low enough to survive on the $11($5)/hour jobs. If they're still around

That actually isn't the worst idea. Ski patrollers get paid a little more (training & certs required) and the resorts have to employ a certain amount no matter the visitors.
It would be a good thing to do if:
-you have no car
-you have no debt
-you have no stuff
-you have no spouse
-you have no pets

If you fit that criteria, you can live in employee housing and make enough to cover bills. Best of all, when you're out with your friends on a bluebird powder day and you take a break in the woods and your legs are burning and you are truly in the moment as you tune in to the deafening silence of the snow and the rays of sun splashing through the aspens and hop back up to charge down yet another untracked tree run...you really truly could give a rat's a$$ about all the rest of this stuff. That is worth its weight in gold.

Things seem to be holding up here in central Vermont better than most places. Friends of ours just closed their retail store and are declaring backruptcy, and another store just announced they are closing at the end of the year. But most retailers, restaurants and businesses are still open. All of my immediate neighbors are still employed. The hardware store across from my store is still building a large addition.

I'm expecting a huge influx of suburbanites from Boston and NYC at some point. Many with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Crime rates will skyrocket at that point (still relatively safe right now).

The Twin Cities have their problems, but they are average compared to the rest of the country. North Minneapolis has very large neighborhoods that are 50-50 occupied/foreclosed. Community efforts to minimize violence and crime have been active since mid-summer. Our major car dealerships are experiencing a lot of trouble, with Denny Hecker's auto empire near filing for bankruptcy (his advertisement dollars fund a lot of local news, TV and newspaper). We also had the Petters Group fiasco, which tarnished many influential people's reputations and scared those who weren't tarnished. The wealthier areas, specifically Wayzata, home of Cargill Inc., are very aware of the crisis due to the fall of Petters and the foreclosures spotted throughout the McMansion neighborhoods.

The Delta-NWA merger is also causing some upheaval. Northwest had all sorts of tax benefits for being located here. As far as I can tell, Delta is maneuvering to keep these benefits without keeping the jobs a headquarters provides.

My take on the Twin Cities:

It appears mostly BAU. There are some closed stores, but there was an hour-and-a-half wait at the Cheesecake Factory this weekend (not my idea). Traffic is still about the same. I went to the mall a couple of weeks ago, and it was pretty empty, but it's hard to tell from one datapoint. The parking lot at the movie theatre was completely full.

The big event will be to see what happens to the Mall of America during the Christmas season. That will be make or break. The MOA gets a lot of it's business from out of town and international visitors (apparently the Japanese love to fly over here to see it), and I could see that stopping real quick, which could reverberate through the local economy. We did have a one-time boost from the RNC convention this summer.

Overall, I keep having the feeling that this is the calm before the storm here in MN.

I would have to agree - calm before the storm. My wife went to JoAnns and Kohls this past weekend. Both were mad busy. She said she walked in and saw the line at the cutting table and decided not to get fabric. Then she turned and saw the checkout lines were 20+ deep and just decided to leave.

I live on the west side of the Twin Cities. There are a lot of foreclosed houses around - mostly new developments. You can really see the difference from subdivision to subdivision in my area. Ones that were developed '96 to 2000 are still OK. They are closer to town, the residents have been there a while. In my neighborhood the developer was picky about what builder he let in, and somewhat to a degree the buyers. It has held up pretty good. Developments built between 2000 and 2004 were filled with 0 down buyers looking to flip. They now have issues with foreclosers, empty houses, trashed houses. Any development started after 2005 is mostly empty, unsold houses. But the same developers are trying to anex more land into the city for more houses.

A couple of years ago the NatGas service was interupted to the town. They had to shut off the main supply into town, go to everybody's house and turn off service, then start to turn things back on, making another trip to every house and make sure pilots were re-lit. Hundreds of CenterPoint trucks in town. Lots of workers. It took about 3-4 days before everybody was back on. All because of a couple minute loss of supply.

As far as business. I was laid off in April - and now I think it was a blessing. I landed a job in the Ag industry (something I was looking for for a long time) and I think it will be pretty stable. I know people at Cargill and Mosaic and even though they have taken beatings on commodity prices they feel pretty positive moving forward. Medtronic and other medical suppliers in town are still doing OK. Health Care is booming and UHG seems to be surviving. On the down side, Target and Best Buy are both looking lower, along with the NWA/Delta fallout.

I know of more and more people that have been laid off. My immediate family (other than me) have all been spared so far, but neighbors and members of my parish have been hit. I was prepared to be laid off, but most of the ones that I know have no idea it is coming, and have no savings for the short turn.

Most of the people that know me think I am a whack job for my PO, environment and finacial views, but after the past 12 months most have started think differently. Some realize that things are different now. They might not know just what, but something isn't right.

Most of the people that know me think I am a whack job for my PO, environment and finacial views, but after the past 12 months most have started think differently. Some realize that things are different now. They might not know just what, but something isn't right.

I don't know, I am still finding that a lot of people don't get it. Still most think that the financial thing will turn around in a few months. The PO thing I get no traction on - "they'll figure something out, we got all that technology" is what I usually hear.

That's what makes me the most nervous about this area. It seems that nobody sees that anything is seriously wrong. Maybe it's just part of the "Minnesota Nice" thing, people are cheery on the outside, but not internally. I haven't quite figured that out yet, as I'm from the East Coast, where we say what's on our minds.

It isn't everybody - a great number still just don't get it, and I think more than anything, don't want to get it.

People that are closer to me and I have had discussions over the past years with, they are people that kinda get it, and want to learn. They are not brain washed by the main stream media. Now when I talk with them they seem more eager to understand, more open to posibilities. Some of them think things will get really bad, and maybe for a long time, but that it will get better. I don't try to take that away from them. I don't think things will get any better. I think we are on a continuous downward trend. Sometimes faster, sometimes flat, sometimes up a little - but overall we will be sliding down hill.

Today I talked to a friend of mine who lives in upstate NY. She's in a panic. She works for the state of NY, and they're having major budget problems. There are rumors going around that state workers will have their pay cut, or be furloughed, and/or that the recent contract they signed will be revoked. (I'm not sure it's even possible to do that, but people are apparently talking about it.) She makes a good salary as a state engineer, but doesn't have any savings. (I think she spends all her money fixing up her old house.) She told me she's canceling her cable, phone, and Internet service this month. She has her cell for phone calls, and she'll go to the library if she needs to get online.

IMO they will probably threaten to cut workers if they can't get the contract revoked-if your employer doesn't have the money he can't pay you what was promised. NY doesn't have a printing press for these purposes.

Sorry to learn about the plight of your friend. Just another example of the old saying "It's a recession when your neighbor is out of work, when you lose your job it's a depression". As people have tended to drift apart in modern cities, one may not feel one's neighbor's painful situation until it's their turn to face an employment "change", often with a reduction in income. I hope she isn't caught in western NY, in the snow belts where there was upwards of 2 feet delivered the past couple of days. We had only 2 inches or so and that wasn't fun, with temperatures below 20F. If this is a harbinger of this Winter's weather, it's going to be a serious mess, especially as heating fuels may be hard to find.

Of course, to be cynical, being a woman, she could move in with her boy friend (if she has one). Men don't have that option (usually). We all know the old saying "Two people can live as cheaply as one", etc. Hands up for volunteers!

E. Swanson

She hasn't lost her job, and is in little danger of doing so. What she's worried about is a pay cut. (Last time the state of NY was in trouble, they cut everyone's pay 10% for ten weeks, or something like that. Everyone except the legislative branch, of course.)

She doesn't have a boyfriend, but if she did, it's more likely he'd have to move in with her than vice-versa.

Checking in from Prairie Village, Kansas. Prairie Village is an older close-in suburb of Kansas City. In our immediate area there is not much sign of real estate distress because the community is well maintained and walkable. I am seeing more people walking who do not have dogs attached and more bicyclists who are riding ordinary and not racing bicycles.

Many large companies in KC are shedding lots of employees. Circuit City announced closing of all of its area stores even before it filed bankruptcy and will not open the store that was to anchor a new shoppping center in a neighboring suburb. (Created by using eminent domain). Building on the suburburan fringe seems to be grinding to a halt. We also seem to having more than the usual number of restaurants and stores closing.

I am an estate planning and probate lawyer and I and my colleagues have even seen a few estates where homes could not be sold or estates weren't even opened because the heirs did not see a way to sell for enough money to be worthwhile. This is different because generally speaking in the past older folks had homes largely paid off. Fewer people are coming in for wills. I'm thinking about brushing up on my bankruptcy law.

I personally know several people who are out of work for a long while with not many prospects.

Starbucks is still busy and the same people come in but some are ordering cheaper drinks.

So far I am the only one in my neighborhood who has dug up the backyard to put in a garden but we have a thriving, though small, "Food Not Lawns" group in the greater KC area.

Reporting from Boulder, CO. The housing market has softened somewhat, something no one was willing to admit would happen, just about a month ago. Lots of construction around town is related to XCel Energy's Smartgrid. XCel, however, also pulled back on its solar energy rebate after the $700 billion bailout, leaving local solar installers with serious concerns.

I spoke with the ski store clerk today. He says sales of ski passes seem to be holding up, but fewer people seem to be renting skis/boots/poles for the season. Those who do seem to be renting for their kids (instead of buying? I don't know).

A local fabric store owner looked grim when I asked about business.

At school, speaking with other parents, I hear about folks moving in with friends after foreclosures. I also hear about people holding off on buying a larger home. One about-to-be-divorced mom put it off after her husband decided to join the military, thus providing the family with an income, and health insurance. She is thinking about doing a cash-out refinance - but I think she is just not paying attention to the news...

Lots of new cars around town, maybe 1/3 SUVs to 2/3 Toyota Prius.

Construction is definitely down, and I hear about house painters and remodeling companies having a hard time finding work.

One friend's wealthy clients appear untouched. They pay full fee for his services and he is not hearing any concerns on their part at this time. Another friend working at NCAR says Peak Oil is nothing to worry about, technology will step in to save us. He is invested in Brazilian oil. Yet another friend, an attorney, says these are the most exciting times, when we are seeing the transformation of mankind into a bright future of clean energy. He does report that he recently had to settle a case after the bank cut his line of credit, interfering with his ability to take the case to court...

The farmer's market had a whopping increase in sales this year (I think it was 30%, after going up 15% last year). Local food is quite popular, but pricey. Lots of new farms are getting organic certification, and construction on the local mega-Whole Foods continues apace.

Interesting times, certainly.

I'll give you a national and local perspective. I live near San Francisco. The Bay Area seems fine. Definitely we are in a downturn, retail is hurting, home prices are down, there is more demand at the soup kitchens and shelters. However, it is nowhere near a crisis yet.

I do a lot work all over the country supporting industrial instrumentation. It seems that companies that are not directly related to retail are still doing OK. We are all holding our collective breath waiting for a collapse in orders, but it hasn't happened yet. Companies are still investing in new equipment at about the same rate as last year. There are all sorts of new start ups and there is a lot of university research on new materials, new technologies, especially nanomaterials.

We're all worried about PO but I think this is currently financial crisis, not an energy crisis. The current recession cut oil demand which caused prices to drop. No one is suffering now because they can't get fuel or because fuel is too expensive. They are suffering because the mountain of debt seems to be collapsing which has caused credit to dry up. This is not my field but I think it is a liquidity crisis more than anything else.

Recently I read (maybe here?) an interesting tidbit comparing this to the dot-com collapse. The dot-com collapse didn't cause as much wide spread trouble because it was the collapse of a lot of paper wealth held by fairly well off people. The real estate loan boondoggle is affecting banks and banks make loans which is why this crisis is so much more serious.

There is another wave of mortgages due to see their rates readjusted in 2010. Hopefully we'll deal with that before it hits.

The [San Francisco] Bay Area seems fine ... it is nowhere near a crisis yet.


Perhaps you exist in a universe parallel to the one where my "Bay Area" exists? I'm hearing from CEO's to expect announcements for big layoffs real soon (just in time for Christmas).

Need we make a list of Bay Area companies that have already announced?

Examples: Sun, NUMMI, Reporter's personal story

Here in San Antonio, things are slowly coming apart, but not many people notice yet. We never had a housing bubble, but there was a huge amount of new construction (residential and commercial) that is still unwinding. My guess is that projects that were funded and in the pipeline are still getting completed, but where the residents/tenants of these developments are going to come from is anybody's guess. Our Toyota Tundra plant closed down for a couple of months, but now is back, at least a few days a week. Traffic on the roads still seems busy, and toll road construction is still contemplated (although vigorously opposed by many...). I think the national picture of lost jobs and foreclosures will gradually start trickling in here, but as in most things, we are somewhat behind most states. Our city derives a lot of revenue from tourism, so a rosy longterm outlook is unrealistic, as travel should start declining rapidly. The state and local reliance on sales and property taxes is also problematic. The local psychology is one of determined denial of anything that threatens business as usual...quite disturbing.

It looks like the Rake's progress will be brought to a juddering halt:
Japan economists call for 'Obama bonds'

TOKYO - Japanese economists, increasingly concerned that the United States might seek to pay its enormous and growing debt obligations in a weakened US dollar, are looking to the possibility of US Treasuries being issued in yen.


The article also mentions that China is likely to buy less bonds as it finances it's anti-recessionary package.

Altogether this should mean that the unmentioned sub-plot, to inflate debts away and keep nominal asset values up, will screech to a halt, and that huge Government cut backs must surely be inevitable.
A plunging dollar, which the article also mentions, will also mean that the debt burden will hit people with full, staggering force.
The depression should be profound and long-lasting, and deflationary, not inflationary - just as Ilargi and Stoneleigh have argued.

Can anyone see any other reading of this?

Describe the details of an inflationary depression (which you don't think will happen) so we will know when it occurs.

I'm just a novice about these things, but I assume that we would be talking about hyperinflation, a la the Weimar Republic, or Zimbabwe.

Since the US bond holders won't put up with this, money can't be printed and so debts can't be deflated away.

The problem with that analysis is that there isn't enough real wealth in the USA to pay the debt owed. You could slash social spending dramatically and it wouldn't right the ship. The US bond holders are in the position of any creditor of a bankrupt entity-partial payment (in real dollars) is their best case scenario. The only way they get partial payment is through dramatic devaluation of the currency-the alternative (deflationary depression thesis) is no payment at all-default on the USA debt. The insurance against default on US bonds is rising rather quickly so this is obviously a possibility-but not a preferred solution for US bond holders.

I suppose the scenario I had in mind is that no-one really gets on top of things, or properly assesses risk.
So you end up with bonds denominated in foreign currency to keep the ship afloat.
This means that the dollar can't be allowed to just sink, so interest rates have to rise.
This means that the cost of debt rises, and bankruptcies spread, in a domino situation.
As more and more people are thrown out of work, house prices sink still further, destroying what collateral remains.
The US then defaults, or it's creditors come to an agreement as the IMF has for Third World countries, where in exchange for some cash for imports a savage deflation is instituted, perhaps with inflation in the internal currency, the dollar, but with debts denominated in other currencies.

What ever happens, you should be able to get a look ahead, as the UK will probably be ahead of you over the cliff.
It can't be far off the point where the currency here collapses, and import costs soar.

Even Stoneleigh has suggested that the US will eventually end up in a hyperinflationary environment--when foreign creditors largely stop buying US government debt. At the rate that things are going, this could happen sooner rather than later (next year?).

When foreign creditors stop buying US debt, presumably the Fed will monetize the debt.

You are absolutely right in your last sentence: The Fed will have no choice but to monetize the debt when there is no one else who will lend to the U.S. Treasury. The Fed is the lender of last resort, and I see no plausible scenario for less borrowing by the Treasury. Thus inflation (not necessarily hyperinflation) is a question of "When?" not a question of "If."

2008 U.S. deficit about 1 trillion dollars.
2009 U.S. deficit about 2 trillion dollars.
2010 U.S. deficit above 2 trillion dollars if the recession worsens.

At what point exactly will the Fed begin monetizing the debt? I think they are doing so on a small scale now in various disguised ways. The only way we can continue with deficits of $2 trillion and above is with open monetization; there will be no fig leaves.

Hi Don.

At what point exactly will the Fed begin monetizing the debt? I think they are doing so on a small scale now in various disguised ways.

What does this actually mean? I assumed that taking more and more securities from banks in exchange for cash was already monetising the debt, it is just that the banks refusal to lend it on stopped it in it's tracks.

Mind you, what in practise trying to unwind derivatives means puts my head in a spin - but it seems I have the authorities for company there.

It's not just in the US. The British government wants to do a New Deal as well. Trouble is the finances were in a mess even before the recession and bailouts. Selling gilts(bonds) isn't going to easy, specially as everybody else has the same idea. The only people with any spare money are the Chinese and the oil producers, who hold a lot of Western government paper already and may be dubious about buying any more. Either interest rates to savers will have to rise or the debt will be monetarized. If the monetarise it long term interest rates will go through the roof. It's going to be bumpy ride. Keynes eat your heart out.

If foreign buyers decide not to buy Treasuries, I think this would show up as an increase in interest rates for those securities. As it is, a large fraction of Treasuries are said to be purchased with Social Security contributions, which for the moment exceed the outlays, AIUI. The American public has just about stopped saving, one reason being the fact that interest rates paid by banks on savings accounts is so low. One account I have yields only 0.28%, which is rather strange, given that the banks are said to be scrambling for funds. As the stock market is not returning much in appreciation, I think we will see more folks with money to invest turning to Treasuries as time goes on. It would be difficult for the manufacturers, as our economy is so heavily based on the consumers, but increased purchases by Americans might be preferred over a collapse of the currency from a debit default.

Don Sailorman mentioned several times, the inflation protected securities would appear to be very attractive if interest rates were somewhat higher, especially when faced with the prospect of several years of negative GDP. Just my 2 cents...

E. Swanson

The American public has just about stopped saving, one reason being the fact that interest rates paid by banks on savings accounts is so low.

Really? I'd heard the opposite: that Americans are starting to save again.

IMO, interest doesn't enter into it. If you're afraid you'll lose your job or have your salary or hours cut, you save even if the interest earned is zero.

I think TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities) are a good investment now, and they certainly have been a good investment over the past five to ten years. To see just how good they have been, it helps to take different time periods (for example, different five year periods) and see how TIPS have fared against, for example, the Standard and Poors 500 stock index.

Stocks will obviously do poorly if there is deflation (as might happen). What is less obvious is that stocks will do poorly if inflation rates rise, as they did during the years from 1972 through 1982. During inflation, nominal interest rates rise, and this rise in nominal interest rates kills the stock market.

I expect the consequences of peak oil to make stocks an even worse investment than they have been during recent years. Declining real GDP will keep stocks down indefinitely, with the exception of some in the energy industry.

While no one has claimed yet that the fed is conducting outright monetization of Treasuries, there are many who are now writing that the FED has now moved to Quantitative Easing. The effect is somewhat the same, as the implication is that the FED is stopped sterilizing 100% of its lending operations.

See the articles collected here:

In particular:

Quantitative easing has begun: John Kemp
-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own -- By John Kemp LONDON (Reuters) - Quietly, without fanfare, the Federal Reserve has turned on the printing presses. The central bank is flooding the market with enough excess...

My view is that the expanding supply of Treasuries will be the lever, to spark reflation. They have tried everything else but none will quite give the signal that repeated failed auctions will give, to the broader markets. Nota bene that the dollar fell, the stock market rose, gold rose, and in particular gold equities rose last Thursday when the 30 yr bond auction went poorly. I figure this will start happening more often before any currency crisis or raging bond crisis unfolds. The point of course is that when this starts to happen, it sends a signal to the gargantuan amount of capital that's herded into cash and in particular Treasuries that these vehicles also have risk. The point of all reflations is to drive capital out of safety assets, and back into goods, or perhaps dividend paying stocks, etc. We shall see.


In my opinion, "quantitative easing" is just a euphemism for "monetiztion of the debt." If there is a difference, what is it? If the effects of quantitative easing are the same as the effects of debt monetization, why not just call a spade a spade?

A blog post by an oil patch guy:

Notes from Schlumberger CEO
A Note from Andrew Gould: How Will a Weakening Economy Impact Schlumberger?
November 13, 2008

Following the events of the past month, demand for oil has weakened in the U.S and there is speculation that demand will decrease in other parts of the world as the global economy slows. I know that many of you have the same question: What will be the impact of these developments on Schlumberger?Before I try to answer this question, let me say that earlier this year we conducted an exercise to update our corporate strategy. In doing so, we examined various scenarios in relation to supply and demand based on a weaker or stronger economy. It soon became clear that, regardless of the level of demand growth, there will almost certainly be insufficient oil supply even if demand drops sharply. Therefore the long-term future is very bright for Schlumberger.

So the CEO of Schlumberger says that no matter what happens in the future there will "almost certainly be insufficient oil supply". That's pretty sensational isn't it? How come I can't find this news reported anywhere else?

Also just noticed the head of GM say in testimony to the Senate Banking Committee that GM believes the current fall in oil prices will be short-lived.

The CEO's of the car companies also think that the crash in car sales will be sort lived - they are counting on it!
Good luck to them on that one.

Hey Nate

Check out this Radiolab podcast
It covers alot of stuff you talk about and might make a nice reference for you

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for the great link. WTSHTF: I wonder if Paulson has the cojones to imitate Financier Haym Salomon (ca. 1740 - 1785) who died penniless and risked his life for the paradigm shift of the American Revolution?

A Sept. 13th, 2006 posting of mine
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Well that was cheery. Not! Seems the writer is arguing for higher taxes?!

Ironically, Americans are starting to behave in a more financially responsible manner, much to the consternation of the economic gurus.

Our economy has been built on a house of cards of ever-increasing debt and consumption.

Genuine prosperity is based on savings, sound investment, and production.

The government did the stimulus package, and what did people do, they saved or paid off debt with most of the proceeds.

Much to the consternation of the financial gurus, who think that "economic recovery" means perpetuating our pyramid-scheme economy by whatever means they can come up with.

This gives me a slight bit of optimism on the economy. Despite the government's efforts to exhort Americans to dig our economy into an ever deeper hole, many people are now balking.

Will their be pain? Yes, excruciating pain. Nothing like being the last guy on a pyramid scheme that finds that he paid into the scheme only to find that he can't line up 10 new participants so that he can get his money back plus profits.

I would say- better we pull the plug on the pyramid scheme now than later.

However, it has probably gone as far as a pyramid scheme can go under any circumstances.

In other words, we are headed for economic catastrophe.

Hello TODers,

Since the global economy is being flushed down the drain, this link seems appropriate:

AS the world celebrates World Toilet Day today, sanitation experts have called for the end of the flushing dunny to save water and provide fertilizer for crops.

Speaking at the recent World Toilet Summit in Macau, World Toilet Organisation founder Jack Sims said the concept of the flushing toilet was unsustainable.

"This 'flush and forget' attitude creates a new problem which we have to revisit," he said.

New toilet tax proposed

There have already been calls by Australian experts to reduce the amount of water wasted through toilet flushing with a proposed new toilet tax...
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

"Limits to Growth" Overshoot Scenarios Reflected by Reality

Prediction of economic collapse from the Club of Rome's 30 year old Limits to Growth book 'coming true'.

From Walter Derzko over at EnergyResources:

New Scientist reports that the Australians have done a real-world analysis of a controversial predictions made 30 years ago in the Club of Rome's book Limits to Growth and concludes that economic growth cannot be sustained and we are on track for serious economic collapse this century.

Graham Turner at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia has compared the book's predictions with data from the intervening years. Changes in industrial production, resource depletion, population growth, food production, and pollution are all in line with the book's predictions of collapse in the 21st century, he found.

Top judge: US and UK acted as 'vigilantes' in Iraq invasion
He comes down hard on both, but finds more that is disreputable in the US administration:

After referring to mistreatment of Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib, Bingham added: "Particularly disturbing to proponents of the rule of law is the cynical lack of concern for international legality among some top officials in the Bush administration."


What Bush does not pardon, will be swept under the carpet by Obama, in the interests of 'bipartisanship'.

I do hope the criminals in the administration who declared that waterboarding is not torture are questioned about their actions under the same conditions - after all, how could they object, since it is not torture, and so would not violate their human rights?

Hello TODers,

Could sour crude eventually be just as valuable, or perhaps even more expensive than sweet crude because sour crude and sour natgas contain much more sulfur than the sweet stuff?

Consider my sulfur posting at the bottom of yesterday's Drumbeat:


Recall from my earlier USGS weblink that most sulfur mining is now shutdown because this is a much more energy intensive supply chain flowrate method than extracting 'recovered sulfur' from FFs.

I have no idea when the Hubbert Downslope reaches the point where the FF flowrate has sufficiently decreased such that recovered sulfur inventories will be severely depleted. But when this happens: it will obviously tightly constrain sulfur for I-NPK production and industrial usage. Thus, we might see the pricing spread vastly narrow between sweet & sour if the need for sulfur vastly accelerates as global population increases daily.

My feeble two cents-->feel free to elaborate further or refute as I don't have access to the very expensive proprietary market forecasts.

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

Interesting idea. It might change the economics of ores of copper, lead and zinc which are typically sulphides. The sulphur is removed by 'roasting' then converted to sulphuric acid which we need to 'solubilise' phosphates. Even though Asian demand for these metals is waning folks everywhere have still gotta eat. There are deep connections between seemingly unrelated activities. We're just starting to find this out.


I doubt it sulfur is not rare volcanic and other actions results in very pure deposits.

In many uses it could be recycled and its big use sulfuric acid for a myriad of industrial
process will decline as the economy declines.


Right now, the majority of elemental sulfur is obtained industrially as a byproduct of oil refining. Hydrodesulfurization extracts the sulfur from "sour" fuel by reaction with hydrogen.

Mitt Romney has a go at the automakers in The New York Times....

Let Detroit Go Bankrupt

IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

It absolutely boggles the [rational] mind at how many inconsistent ideologies are mouthed by the Captains of Capitalism:

1. Get government out of the way so that the invisible hand can weave its invisible magic and bring prosperity to us all (rich and poor) through trickle and fickle freakonomics and the power of the private sector.

2. "I believe the federal government should invest substantially more in basic research — on new energy sources, fuel-economy technology, materials science and the like — that will ultimately benefit the automotive industry, along with many others. I believe Washington should ..." (Romney)

3. Companies must consolidate in order to benefit from "economies of scale" and so they can compete on the international stage.

4. Consolidated companies are too big to fail.

5. "The American auto industry is vital to our national interest as an employer and as a hub for manufacturing. ... The federal government should provide guarantees ..." (Romney)

6. Let it fail, it deserves what's it's got coming to it.

... and on and on

The spin and win zone is where winners hang out.
Only losers are stupid enough to tell inconvenient truths.

Hello TODers,

Of course, we TODers have discussed this topic much before, but it seems to becoming real now:

Hard hit by budget cuts, the California State University system is planning to cut its enrollment by 10,000 students for the 2009-10 academic year, unless state lawmakers provide more money.

“We can’t continue to admit more and more students without receiving adequate funding,” Chancellor Charles B. Reed said Monday.

It would be the first time in its history that the university system turned away students who met admissions standards, and the announcement was greeted with disappointment and anger.
How long before those possessing white collar diplomas are competing with the poorest for the jobs like gleaning the fields or cleaning the sewage systems of dead newborns [as has occurred in Zimbabwe]?