DrumBeat: November 20, 2008

Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World

"Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World" is the fourth unclassified report prepared by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) in recent years that takes a long-term view of the future. It offers a fresh look at how key global trends might develop over the next 15 years to influence world events. Our report is not meant to be an exercise in prediction or crystal ball-gazing. Mindful that there are many possible "futures," we offer a range of possibilities and potential discontinuities, as a way of opening our minds to developments we might otherwise miss.

Some of our preliminary assessments are highlighted below:

The whole international system — as constructed following WWII — will be revolutionized. Not only will new players — Brazil, Russia, India and China— have a seat at the international high table, they will bring new stakes and rules of the game.

The unprecedented transfer of wealth roughly from West to East now under way will continue for the foreseeable future.

Unprecedented economic growth, coupled with 1.5 billion more people, will put pressure on resources — particularly energy, food, and water — raising the specter of scarcities emerging as demand outstrips supply.

The potential for conflict will increase owing partly to political turbulence in parts of the greater Middle East.

The year 2025: Oil, dollar out; Russia, Islam in

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Global warming could help Russia's economy, an Eastern or Central European country could be overrun by organized crime and the U.S. dollar could further decline in importance during the next two decades, says a new report from U.S. intelligence analysts with predictions for the world in 2025.

Oil sinks below $50

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices continued to plunge Thursday, dropping below $50 a barrel as growing concern about the economy pointed to weak demand for energy. The price marked the lowest level in three-and-a-half years.

On the final day of trading for the December contract, U.S. crude futures fell $4 to settle at $49.62 a barrel, the lowest settle price since May 23, 2005, according to CME Group, which operates the New York Mercantile Exchange.

OPEC grapples with production cuts, credibility

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- When OPEC announced late last month it was cutting crude oil output by 1.5 million barrels per day, the market barely hiccuped.

Oil prices continued their fall amid global recessionary fears that have hit even oil-rich Gulf Arab nations, dropping far below the $80 or $100 per barrel that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' members are hoping for. On Thursday, crude sank below $50 a barrel to levels last seen in early 2005.

If the cartel's earlier complaints about low prices elicited few tears in much of the world, the latest drop is even less likely to merit a sniffle.

These are, in short, trying times for OPEC.

Dems delay auto bailout vote, seek plan from Big 3

WASHINGTON – Democratic leaders in Congress sidetracked legislation to bail out the auto industry Thursday and demanded the Big Three develop a plan assuring the money would make them economically viable. "Until they show us the plan, we cannot show them the money," Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a hastily called news conference in the Capitol.

Brazil's once booming ethanol sector hits brakes

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Brazil's biofuel industry just months ago was being flooded with billions in new investments for vast new sugarcane plantations and gleaming distilleries that churn out the cheapest ethanol on earth.

But the global financial crisis has put the brakes on that boom, drying up foreign investment and domestic credit, stalling new projects and prompting cash-strapped ethanol producers to indefinitely postpone expansions.

Angola says to launch sovereign wealth fund

LUANDA (Reuters) - Angola is preparing to launch a sovereign wealth fund to invest the oil-rich nation's wealth abroad and protect it from the global financial crisis, according to a presidential statement issued on Thursday.

"The aim of the fund is to maximize the nation's financial reserves and to use these reserves in areas that are seen as strategic to development," the statement said.

Royal Dutch Shell can't drill oil well off Alaska, court rules

Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's largest oil company, can't drill the deepest offshore Alaskan well after a federal appeals court said the government's approval of the plan violated environmental laws.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco today threw out the Interior Department's approval, saying the agency hadn't taken a "hard look" at how Shell's drilling would affect endangered bowhead whales and native Alaskans' activities. The ruling affirms a court order that blocked drilling last year.

Russia close to economic collapse as oil price falls, experts predict

Russia is now lurching towards a major economic crisis, experts predicted today, following news that the price of oil had slumped to under $50 a barrel.

The collapse in the value of oil was likely to have several catastrophic consequences for Russia including a possible devaluation of the rouble and a severe drop in living standards next year, they warned.

Iran feeling the pain of plunging oil prices

Iran is the second largest oil producer among Opec members and already feeling the pain of declining prices more severely than any other oil-producing country in the Middle East.

Iran's "rainy day" oil stabilization fund, used to receive windfall profits to be used when revenues decline, is reportedly badly depleted as a result of economic mismanagement by the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Gulf states prepare to weather economic storm after drop in oil prices

Saudi Arabia, the world's leading oil producer and exporter, is expected to cut back on both current spending and adjust ambitious long-term development plans in the light of the slump in prices.

But cautious fiscal policies will place the kingdom in a relatively strong position, with the current budget based on a price of around $45-50 a barrel. Expansion next year will require around $55-62.

The worry must be that in a country with no elections, parliament, political parties - or taxes - the combination of slowing development projects and a widening gap between a fabulously wealthy elite and ordinary people struggling to make ends meet could be destabilising.

Manifa, other projects on track-Halliburton execs

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Halliburton Co's national oil company clients, including Saudi Arabia's Aramco and Brazil's Petrobras, have so far not changed their 2009 spending plans with the oilfield services firm, company executives said.

In April, Halliburton said it had been awarded a three-year contract to help develop Saudi Aramco's massive $9 billion Manifa offshore project. The field is expected to have a peak capacity of 900,000 thousand barrels of oil per day, with first production targeted for 2012.

But a swoon in crude oil and natural gas prices has sparked talk that the project will be delayed or even canceled, a notion that Halliburton dispelled.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Edging Towards Reality

Last week the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris released their annual report on the state of the world's energy resources -- World Energy Review 2008.

As the world's energy situation becomes more and more confused, with prices gyrating wildly, and with more voices warning of unprecedented problems just ahead, this 569-page report stands as the most authoritative description of what will happen to the world's energy supply. The energy policies of the 28 countries that are members of the IEA in theory hinge on the report's findings - and that is where the trouble comes in.

Chavez poised to make deep cuts in Venezuela as petro-dollars dry up

Hugo Chavez has reduced Venezuela's support to foreign allies and is poised to make deeper cuts at home and abroad as plunging oil revenues hit his self-styled socialist revolution.

The government has warned of austerity measures after years of breakneck spending on social programmes, nationalisations, arms and diplomacy, an exhilarating splurge when there seemed no end to petro-dollars.

South America's energy giant relies on oil for half of its exports and 95% of government revenue, leaving Chavez's ideological and political ambitions vulnerable to a crunch.

Cheap gas may halt growth in transit ridership

"People do change their habits fairly quickly based on gas prices. People tend to be reluctant to switch to transit until the price gets very high, but once they switch to transit, whether they switch back when the (gas) price goes down depends on the quality of transit they had."

Gas price for Ukraine could rise to over $400 in 2009 - Gazprom

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - The price of the natural gas Gazprom sells to Ukraine could rise to over $400 per 1,000 cubic meters as of the start of next year, the head of the Russian energy giant said on Thursday.

"If we switch to free market relations in the sphere of gas supplies, the price for Ukraine could be more than $400 as of January 1, 2009," Alexei Miller told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Longtime head of U.S. House energy panel is ousted

WASHINGTON: Representative Henry Waxman of California ousted Representative John Dingell of Michigan from his post as chairman of the influential Committee on Energy and Commerce on Thursday, giving President-elect Barack Obama an advantage in his plans to promote efforts to combat global warming.

Latin American politicians push governments to slash CO2 emissions

Politicians from across Latin America and the Caribbean will gather in Mexico City on Friday to put pressure on their countries' leaders to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

John Michael Greer: Premature triumphalism

To judge by recent history, we are no better at guessing the future than the philosophes were. We do know a few things about the most likely future ahead of us. We have good reason to think that the decades to come will bring sharp decreases in the energy per capita available to people in the industrial world, and in all the products and services provided by energy – which, in an industrial economy, means every product and service there is. We have good reason to think that the current human population is more than the world can support once fossil fuels run short. We have some reason to think – at least this is the point of view that makes sense to me – that these processes will bring the decline and fall of industrial civilization, along a trajectory like those of other civilizations that outran their resource bases. How these broad patterns will work out in the microhistory of a town or a region, though, is anyone’s guess, and history seems to take an impish delight in frustrating our expectations.

Planning for the future becomes especially risky when, rather than starting from present realities and trying to figure out what can be done, it starts from a vision of a desirable future and tries to figure out how to get there. The gap between the futures we imagine and the realities that replace them, after all, tends to be embarrassingly vast. Many of my readers may recall, as I do, what the year 2000 was supposed to be like, according to accounts in the 1960s: manned bases on the Moon, undersea cities dotting the continental shelf, fusion plants turning out limitless cheap power, geodesic domes everywhere, and commuters traveling by helicopter instead of by car. One forward-thinking builder in Seattle during those years topped his new parking garage with a helipad and control tower in hopes of getting a jump on the competition. As far as I know, no helicopter ever landed there, and the garage with its forlorn tower was torn down to make room for condos a few years ago. How many of today’s plans will face the same sort of disappointment? I doubt the number will be small.

Double blow for Syria's energy security

The decline in crude prices has taken oil-producing nations by surprise, but few will be hurt as much as Syria, which is grappling with rapidly falling supply. The double blow has huge implications for the economy.

"Energy is a problem," says Nabil Sukkar, an economist who heads the Syrian Consulting Bureau. "Our energy-generating capacity is below demand and our oil reserves are falling, while our gas reserves have not been developed rapidly enough." Dwindling Syrian resources are often cited by analysts as one of the main reasons the country needs to end its international isolation, a process that has now started with improved ties with Europe. David Miliband, UK foreign secretary, was in Damascus this week in the latest sign of a thaw in ties between the west and Syria.

While fighting off pressure from the US and other western states over alleged interference in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, Syria has struggled for economic survival.

Saudi Arabia refuses to rule out freeing supertanker by force

The Okaz newspaper said, citing a source in the Saudi border guard service, that the option of force could not be ruled out "in the future." The source also said that Saudi authorities were also studying ways of providing security for oil tankers and other cargo ships.

Russia Gazprom cuts 2008 gas output forecast- Ifax

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom has cut its gas production forecast for this year by at least 14 percent to 552-553 billion cubic metres, Interfax agency quoted a Gazprom official as saying on Thursday.

South Korea: 'Union Trouble' Deepens Refineries' Blues

The year has been anything but smooth for the country's oil refineries, who, after scrambling to cope with the dramatic fluctuation in oil prices for months, are now bracing for possible industrial action over failed wage deals.

Unionized workers at S-Oil, the country's third-largest refinery, declared a breakdown in their contract negotiations with management and filed for arbitration to the National Labor Relations Commission Wednesday.

OPEC may cut output further in Cairo-Libya

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC may decide to reduce supply further at its meeting in Cairo next week if it finds members have implemented a previous decision to lower output, Libya's top oil official said on Thursday.

The comments follow remarks from other OPEC members including Kuwait, Iran and Venezuela raising the possibility of a further cut in supply to prop up oil prices that hit the lowest since January 2007 on Thursday.

Climate change taxes create 'fuel-poverty' in UK

President-elect Barack Obama wants to phase out coal-based electricity generation, switch to renewable energy and follow Europe's lead on climate change. That could prove difficult.

Moore: Automakers never listened to workers, consumers

Well, what really went wrong is that General Motors has had this philosophy from the beginning that what's good for General Motors is good for the country. So, their attitude was we'll build it and you buy it. We'll tell you what to buy. You just buy it.

Eventually, the consumer got smart and said, 'You know what, I'd like a car that gets a little better gas mileage. I'd like a car that's safer on the road,' so they started to buy other cars. General Motors still wouldn't change. They still kept building the wrong cars, and more and more people stopped buying them.

U.S. intel office adds warming to warnings: Report looking out to 2030 cites danger of water, food shortages

A U.S. intelligence report coming out Thursday — and likely to grab President-elect Barack Obama's attention — is adding a new variable to the "traditional" mix of factors expected to destabilize the world into the near future.

Issued by the National Intelligence Council, the "Global Trends 2025" report includes warnings tied to climate change, the man behind the report said this week and in recent speeches.

The overall theme of the report is that the United States will have less influence across the globe at a time of growing climate, water and energy stresses, Thomas Fingar, chairman of the NIC and deputy director of national intelligence, indicated in recent weeks.

Oil falls below $53 on fears of deep recession

Oil prices fell below $53 to almost a two-year low Thursday as investors, worried by plummeting stock markets, priced in lower crude demand as the global economic downturn shapes up to be the worst in decades.

Light, sweet crude for December delivery was down $1.23 to $52.39 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday in Europe. The contract fell 77 cents Wednesday to settle at $53.62, the lowest since January 2007.

Oil could fall to $40/bbl in 2009: Deutsche Bank

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices could fall to as low as $40 a barrel next year as more efficient refining capacity comes online and production costs for some regions fall, Deutsche Bank said in a Wednesday research note.

"The most underappreciated issue is the combination of poor demand with major new refining capacity additions and the extent to which that will undermine light sweet crude prices," the bank said in the note outlining the downside risk to its 2009 oil forecast.

Palin, Alaska grapple with lower crude prices

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – Falling oil prices will take a bite out of Alaska's state budget and put a damper on oil-field investment, Gov. Sarah Palin told a conference of major North Slope oil operators on Wednesday.

Palin, the Republican party's vice-presidential nominee for the recent U.S. presidential election, said the days of oil-revenue budget surpluses are over.

"It's a wakeup call. We preached, when oil was at $140, that we had to prepare for the day when prices would drop," Palin told reporters. "We realized it today."

Frontline considering avoiding Suez due piracy

LONDON (Reuters) - Norway's Frontline, one of the world's biggest oil tanker owners, is "definitely considering" instructing its fleet to avoid the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal because of piracy, its acting chief executive officer said on Thursday.

China mulls tax options to reform oil pricing

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese policy makers may decide to increase a refined oil consumption tax rather than impose a new fuel tax, as some market participants are expecting, official sources familiar with the issue told Reuters on Thursday.

The consumption tax, currently levied on seven refined oil products rather than just the retail staples of gasoline and diesel, is paid by refiners and importers, who pass the cost on to their customers.

Nigeria army repels gunmen at Escravos oil terminal

LAGOS (Reuters) - The Nigerian military repelled an attack by gunmen in speedboats on Thursday close to the Escravos crude oil export terminal, a major facility in the Niger Delta operated by U.S. energy giant Chevron.

"They came in about 10 speedboats. The attack has been repelled," Brigadier General Wuyep Rimtip, a commander of the joint military taskforce in the western Niger Delta, told Reuters, adding two of the attackers' boats had been sunk.

Koch, Shell book supertankers for oil storage

DUBAI — U.S. oil trader Koch and Royal Dutch Shell have booked supertankers to store millions of barrels of crude, prompted by falling demand.

...Sliding demand and poor refinery profit margins have left sellers facing the choice of offering deep discounts to move barrels or risk paying for storage to sell later.

“All this oil has to go somewhere, especially if the refiners aren't running at capacity,” a Singapore-based crude oil trader said.

Statoil mulls closing Asia oil product trade arm - source

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Statoil Asia Pacific, trading arm of Norway's StatoilHydro ASA, is considering closing its oil products trading division, industry sources said on Thursday, as trading activity slows amid the global financial crisis.

Russia wants Ukraine to repay $2.4 bln gas debt

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has ordered gas export monopoly Gazprom to ask Ukraine to pay back its gas debt to Russia, which Gazprom estimates at $2.4 billion, local agencies reported on Thursday.

"We need to fully clarify ourselves with Ukraine's debt and recover it on a good-will or compulsory basis. Because it is stated in the current legislation and within the frames of our bilateral relationships," Interfax quoted Medvedev as saying to Gazprom's chief executive Alexei Miller at a meeting in the Kremlin.

Norway oil fund says it's on prowl for stocks

OSLO — Norway's $300-billion (U.S.) sovereign wealth fund will remain a big buyer of equities after raising its holdings to 1.25 per cent of European stocks and about half that proportion in markets elsewhere, its chief said.

Commonly known as “the oil fund”, the Government Pension Fund – Global invests Norway's oil and gas wealth in foreign stocks and bonds for when the “black gold” runs out. It held 0.77 per cent of Europe's stocks at the end of 2007.

Automakers can't afford to develop hybrids

LOS ANGELES — The arrival of more fuel-efficient cars and trucks promising cleaner air and more energy independence is being set back as automakers worldwide scramble to hoard cash in an industry meltdown.

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Japan's Nissan Motor and France's Renault, on Wednesday warned that automakers "can't find the financing" for aggressive development of so-called green cars.

A sea of unwanted auto imports

LONG BEACH, California: Gleaming new Mercedes cars roll one by one out of a huge container ship here and onto a pier. Ordinarily the cars would be loaded on trucks within hours, destined for dealerships around the United States. But these are not ordinary times.

For now, the port itself is the destination. Unwelcome by dealers and buyers, thousands of cars worth tens of millions of dollars are being warehoused on increasingly crowded port property.

..."This is one way to look at the economy," Art Wong, a spokesman for the port, said of the cars. "And it scares you to death."

Greenwash: BP and the myth of a world 'Beyond Petroleum'

BP is keen to play up its investment in alternative energy with images of wind turbines and plants. But no amount of clever advertising can hide the fact that its billions of pounds of profit and investment is still all about fossil fuels.

Vietnam begins operating new oil field

HANOI, VIETNAM (AP) - Vietnam has opened a new oil field that will boost national crude oil output by 21 percent by the end of this year, officials said.

Peak Everything: Waking Up To The Century Of Declines

Everything in 20th century America pointed toward progress, growth, goods and services. Each generation enjoyed bigger houses, more cars and higher standards of living. Parents assured their kids, “You’re gonna’ have a better life than we did.” The human race raised its eyes to the moon, and amazingly, walked on it!

Up until 1975, Americans assumed everything and anything--possible!

However, in the 21st century, as the adage laments, “Everything that goes up, must come down.”

We're All Farmers Now

Here is some disturbing news. According to Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, next year is tipped to be "peak oil" year. This means that from 2009, fossil fuel extraction will start tailing off globally – most rapidly in western Europe. Pessimists say the situation will be acute by 2020.

It takes 10 calories of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of food in Western culture. "Anyone can see that this is not sustainable," says Holden, who predicts that the big issue for coming years will be "food security".

Use flower power to save Europe's bees: EU lawmaker

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - Honey bees, whose numbers are falling, must be given flowery "recovery zones" in Europe's farmlands to aid their survival, a leading EU lawmaker said Wednesday.

Bees pollinate numerous crops and scientists have expressed alarm over their mysterious and rapid decline. Experts have warned that a drop in the bee population could harm agriculture.

Australia: Lower speed limit to tackle obesity crisis, say experts

SPEED limits in suburban streets should be slashed to 30km/h to encourage pedestrians and cyclists and tackle the obesity epidemic, experts say.

Griffith University transport planning researcher Matthew Burke said cutting speeds from 50km/h on local streets would not only reduce road trauma, it would also curb obesity rates by encouraging more people to walk and cycle.

Australia: Street design rethink to cope with changing population

AS southeast Queensland grapples with unprecedented population growth, one engineer is redesigning our streets to change the way we get around.

It may change how vibrant suburbs are and whether our streets are safe for kids to play in. Ultimately it will affect whether you can buy the type of house that suits you.

Transition Towns - special feature

GREEN thinking people across Taunton, Wellington and West Somerset are getting together to tackle major environmental issues at a local level through the Transition Towns initiative.

The scheme has been has been adopted across the area to make the community more aware of major environmental issues including peak oil and climate change.

Google CEO Schmidt lays out U.S. energy ideas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States should use part of any future economic stimulus package to connect wind turbines and solar energy to the nation's electricity grid, said Google Inc Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, an advisor to President-elect Barack Obama.

Crown Estate plans tidal power future in Scotland

The Crown Estate has invited proposals from developers to install the UK's first commercial marine power sites in the area around Pentland Firth in north Scotland.

This first round of development is intended to generate 700MW of clean electricity from wave and tidal sources by 2020.

Concerns emerge about environmental effects of wave-energy technology

Tapping the power of waves and tidal currents to generate electricity is promoted as one of many promising alternatives to the fossil fuels that contribute to global warming.

But no one knows exactly how the technologies will behave in the water, whether animals will get hurt, or if costs will pencil out. The permitting process is expensive and cumbersome, and no set method exists for getting projects up and running.

Wal-Mart in wind energy deal with Duke Energy

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Thursday that it had entered into a partnership with Duke Energy to have wind power supply up to 15 percent of its energy load for roughly 360 of its stores and facilities in Texas.

U.S. company auctions 300,000 U.N. carbon credits

NEW YORK, Nov 20 (Reuters) - U.S.-based online exchange World Energy Solutions Inc said on Thursday it has completed an auction for carbon credits that can be used for compliance under the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

Arctic to offers new energy

BRUSSELS - THE Arctic offers new energy and fishing resources as a result of global warming and new technology, the European Union said on Thursday.

Melting ice also presented new navigation possibilities such as a short route to the Pacific Ocean, the EU executive said.

Politicians persuaded to save Canada boreal forest

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Politicians actually listened when experts told them to protect Canada's boreal forest, a potent weapon against global warming, and the plan for this vast green area could work on some of the world's other vital places, scientists told Reuters.

Canada wants North America cap-and-trade system

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Conservative government, shifting positions in the wake of Barack Obama's election as U.S. president, said on Wednesday that it would work to develop a North America-wide cap-and-trade system to limit emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Conservatives, who walked away from the Kyoto protocol on climate change after taking power in 2006, have until now focused on cutting the intensity of emissions rather than imposing outright curbs.

Governors pledge to fight global warming together

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, his counterparts in 12 states and regional leaders from four other countries signed a declaration Wednesday pledging to work together to combat global warming, a move Schwarzenegger said will help push heads of state to curb their nations' greenhouse gas emissions.

Colombian VP says cocaine destroying rain forests

Colombia's vice president said Tuesday that Britain's middle classes, who recycle and haul shopping home in reusable cloth bags, should realize that they are destroying the rain forests by taking cocaine.

"These people, who have good jobs and drive a hybrid car or cycle to work because they care about the environment, may go to party and do some lines of coke and they are thinking it is no problem," Francisco Santos told The Associated Press Tuesday. "They are absolutely unaware of the ecological impact of their drug taking and we want to change that."

Climate change momentum fading: Asia-Pacific survey

LIMA (AFP) – Climate change is fading as a priority in the Pacific Rim as the gloomy state of the global economy takes precedence, a survey of opinion leaders showed Wednesday.

The private Pacific Economic Cooperation Council released an annual survey of leaders in government, business and media ahead of a summit in Peru of 21 Asia-Pacific nations, which account for more than half the global economy.

A suggestion for a new oil price poll


The above link shows the monthly average WTI spot crude oil price. You can also select daily, weekly or annual.

I suggest a new oil price poll: Will the price of oil in 2008 average at or above $100 or below $100?

If my math is correct, if spot prices average $50 for November and December, the average annual spot price for 2008 would be exactly $100, versus $72 for 2007.

My take on oil prices was, and is, that we are looking at a long term series of doublings, as importers bid against each other for declining net oil exports, but since I have no way of quantifying prices, I don’t know what the time periods will be between the doublings.

I also said that prices in the second half of 2008 would obviously be a horserace between declining demand and long term decline in net oil exports. It’s pretty clear that the decline in demand is currently outpacing the long term decline in net oil exports, but we shall see what happens next year, and in subsequent years.

What is your reasoning behind the idea of doublings, as opposed to, say, a long-term linear trend?

Of course, any long term exponential rate of increase results in a series of doublings, i.e., Rule of 72, but my characterization was colored by the recent price history, when we went from $63 in June, 2007 to $125 in June, 2008. In any case, I characterized it this way: $25, $50, $100, $200, $400 . . . with the question being the time periods between the doublings.

Having experienced several price declines, I also knew that prices declines are are not only likely, they are basically a virtual certainty. However, I think that the net export model is going to drive prices higher long term.

I'm just glad that we are still in the same house that we had at $20 oil and that I am still in the same office that I had at $20 oil.

I get that the decrease in demand has influenced the decrease in oil prices. What I don't get is that the decrease in demand is nothing compared to the percentage decrease in oil prices. The way things are going, I would not bet that oil prices are going to stay above or at $50 for the rest of the year.

Nobody ever said demand/price curves had to be linear.

Thinking of this as an accordian effect. The oil price signal just a few months ago was telling producers to bring every drop they could to market. So there was a long train of oil supply rushing to the scene with a bunch of inertia.

The meltdown has in these few short months taken trillions of dollars out of the investment market. At the same time demand has fallen off. The combination of falling demand and the evaporation of the hedge fund capital has caused a new lower price signal to be sent to the producers but the train of imports from the previous signal has not stopped 'stacking up' similar to those fleets of cars and trucks clogging up ports around the world.

Meanwhile no new 'demand' (with the possible exception of Japan imports) signal is forthcomming and therefore the price continues to fall in light of supplies building. It will take some new demand signal like ,heating oil or increased driving due to lower price, to get the train moving again, or simply time as the realization sets in that current consumption is still plenty strong enough to do in ELM.

Either that or some heretofore unknown clarity on the supply outlook. I echo all those who maintain that the current low oil price is doing untold harm. An energy tax designed to smooth out volitility and reward alternatives is in order. To the contributors here at TOD many thanks for keeping us focused as to the realistic supply outlook, the need for preparation, and the other countless issues of the day.

What I don't get is that the decrease in demand is nothing compared to the percentage decrease in oil prices.

The increase in oil prices bore little/no resemblance to the increase in demand when things were inflating... why should you expect the downside to be much different?

If I'm not misunderstanding this (and maybe I am, I'm not claiming to be a major economics expert) it's good evidence of the very severe inelasticity of the demand / supply relationship.

Small excess of demand over supply = disproportionate price hike
Small excess of supply over demand = disproportionate price drop

I see it as an illustration of the extreme dependence of the modern economy on oil.

The foreseeable future looks like this to me: every time the economy starts expanding "healthily", that only lasts until the demand for oil exceeds the supply for a while, and energy prices then proceed to skyrocket, inducing another recession.

We will lurch from crisis to crisis, with the inexorable shrinkage of supply over the long term, meaning booms getting shorter and weaker, with recessions getting longer and deeper.

I wish I didn't think this, but I do. :[

Regards Chris

Monthly average for 2008 $109.64
If oil was for free for rest of the year (including november) the monthly average would be about $91

Original link again http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/rwtcA.htm

Price is falling but still going up.

It feels confusing, is the price going up or down?

In the Oil Patch, the monthly and annual price data are what matter. It's very much analogous to your income. Do you pay attention to what you earn on a daily basis, or a monthly and annual basis?

Of course, if one is an oil trader, daily price swings are very important.

In any event, as noted above, it's pretty clear that the actual, and to some extent perceived, decline in demand is currently outpacing the long term decline in net oil exports, probably aggravated by forced selling of oil positions. I expect this situation to change, probably as soon as next year, but time will tell.

Re: U.S. intel office adds warming to warnings

This report will be interesting. I wonder whether they use the information from the U.S. CCSP series of reports to reach conclusions or whether they actually go to the literature. I think the CCSP process was intended to delay any consideration of the problem of Climate Change by downplaying the possible problems.

I contributed to two of these reports thru the public comment process and most of my complaints were ignored. Not that my comments were 100% correct, being a non-professional in the field. I think my comments may have induced the writers to include an important graph which showed how poorly the computer models have followed the loss of Arctic sea-ice, which to me is an indication that most of the models understate the impacts of climate change on the Arctic. Time will tell, but these delays will surely make any problems worse.

E. Swanson

Goldman backtracks:

Closing our oil trading recommendations
Although we have emphasized in the past few weeks that continued weak oil demand exacerbated by constrained credit conditions will contribute to soften near-term fundamentals keeping WTI prices, timespreads and gasoline cracks under pressure, we have left our oil trading recommendations open, expecting that high volatility would provide a better exit point to our trades. The volatility in the past few weeks has mostly been to the downside and the pressure on the oil complex has increased. In the near term, we do not expect significant upside potential and as a consequence we are closing all of our oil trading recommendations.

The oil futures game beyond commercial hedging is now officially coming to a close. How does this affect price movements, if any, remains to be seen.

Still, it is an end to a short era of sorts.

Guess they found more volatile instruments to play with.

Don't worry they'll be back...

So if you remove speculators from the market and stick to actual buyers buying actual oil for actual use and actual sellers selling actual oil for actual use... what some might call "fundamentals"... oil prices go back to what they were when the PO naysayers said that fundamentals didn't support current prices (and go back rapidly)?


Note that this doesn't appear to be speculators artificially pushing prices down... just ceasing to prop them up.

A lot of the price fluctuations are psychological, or psycho-illogical, if you will. Producers are hedging out of perceived fear, and consumers are holding off for a "signal" that the worm has turned. Just as producers quit hedging on the way up, while large consumers, such as airlines, were frantically trying to lock in a perceived "low" price, producers, e.g., Mexico hedging out to dec 2009, large producers are now trying to lock in a perceived "high" price. The correct perception will be determined by time.

If I were a large user, having a little knowledge of PO and market psych., I would be buying right now. The huge move with Mexico / Pemex hedging 15 months or so out at $70 while production is still looking to be constrained and depletion, ELM and new investment deferrals are all extant make me think that the price will quickly turn. For how long is the question. Growth and recession cycles (and I apologize to the many well educated economists who will surely correct me about these being cycles) may become shorter until we have that next great depression, if we do not have it right now. If we are now in the early stages of a depression, oil will deplete ever faster, and prices will still rebound for the reasons cited.

Come on you guys!

Some of you guys make me sick. You seam to only be interested if the world (or more interestingly for you, the U.S.) is paying the ultimate high price for gas and changing their ways as a result. Don't you think the current economic sh** we are in is bad enough? Why does the oil price have to go up in an exponential curve all the way till the world blows up? I thought the point of discussing things here was to help each other prepare for things the best we can. If the gas price is softer for a year or so, doesn't that help some of us with our preparations? The ELM will still give you your ultimate bust that you seam to be lusting for. Sorry, just a bit tired.

Well, literally for years now I have been pushing my ELP recommendations, ad nauseam. In any case, as you implied I think that the ultimate (energy constrained) bust is still ahead of us.

Eastex - I don't see how this helps anyone prepare.

All are either in or going into full on survival mode, or else they are in ZOMBIE mode.

The "bust" is now but I for one am finding it harder than ever to explain whats happening to people who ask. It's all just too much.

I have been talking about the FED for years so now people are coming up to me and saying "yes now I see it, we should do away with the fed then we can get back to BAU" and I say yes but there is way more to it than that now...

and when people talk about what they think we should do as if it's just an economic problem and I gently bring up the fact that all of the resource constraints are still there...

In the mean time people are flocking into my shop more than ever. Mostly for soup but increasingly to listen in and/or talk about what is happening.

Hey, good luck all!

When oil was North of $140, it was clearly anathema for any politician to suggest that perhaps carbon, gas and/or oil taxes were in order to address issues like peak oil, global warming, or dependence upon foreign regimes who might not necessarily operate in our interests. Keeping demand lower while staunching the drain of dollars overseas seems like a prudent policy, peak oil or not. This oil price decrease in equivalent to a massive tax decrease, much more significant than Obama advocated as a way to ease the pain at the pump. The rationale for the decrease in taxes is gone since what is really needed is direct stimulus through government investment.

While oil and gas are low is the time to bring up the subject of a long term tax to discourage consumption and encourage alternatives. Thus far, I don't hear a peep from the politicians. There will always be an excuse for failure to take action that will make the future more successful.

I am not interested in having the world blow up but I am interested in seeing prudent policies going forward that help us prepare for the next round of shortages and price increases.

IMO the current situation is very instructive. We are definitely post peak oil and the the decline of the price of crude almost guarantees it.

Apparently the collapse of the economy is so fast that it out paces the decline in oil production at least for now. While many doomers have forecast the economic collapse, few thought that the price of oil would decline even faster as oil production fell.

It turns out that the post peak collapse may be more interesting than some of the more simple scenarios suggested. The economic decline evidently can be more severe that than the decline in oil flow. Since prices are set at the margin in a free market, the result is declining oil production, declining prices and a declining economy which enables the whole thing as less oil is demanded.

Who would have thunk it?

While oil and gas are low is the time to bring up the subject of a long term tax to discourage consumption and encourage alternatives. Thus far, I don't hear a peep from the politicians.

That's because it isn't just "while oil and gas are low".... it would have to be while they are low and while people could afford the increase.

Obviously the tax/fee/whatever would have to be significant enough to curtail demand and encourage conservation. That's essentially a tax increase on the people who can least afford to pay it right as the economy is tanking. You will find few politicians willing to listen to that scenario.

Where can I read more on the following scenario:

Imagine that falling EROEI becomes a wedge between the price the exporters need for oil and the price that importers are capable of paying. Importers in a recession are paying "too much" for oil, but the exporters are still receiving "too little" to make it worth their while.

It sounds to me (and I am saying this out of ignorance) that your source should be to Google economics.

I have wondered the same thing but common sense says that the price and availability will move, depending on need, and the availability of an alternate energy source. E.g. as oil went up. more of the undeveloped world became defoliated.

Also, if the EROEI ratio falls below some value (posts on TOD say 2:1) the given energy is practically useless.


Scenario 1 we either change our buying/selling dynamic and/or go to another source

Scenario 2, absent another source, we die.

For more, Google receding horizons, diminishing returns and thermodynamics.

Math can be a real bitch.



From today's BBC.com:

Yemen 'faces crisis as oil ends'

Yemen faces economic and political turmoil as its oil resources run out, with security implications for the whole region, a report says...

Since Malcolm has brought up the potentially devastating loss of oil revenue by Yemen I’d like to carry that thought on for a moment but in a context much closer to home. Just last night I saw a rather violent video of a clash between teachers and police in southern Mexico. It occurred a couple of years ago I believe. The battle erupted over pay cuts for the teachers. What started as a public protest quickly evolved into buses/buildings being burned and tear gas being deployed. Fortunately no gun fire but it did seem to come close to that level.

Most here are aware of the sudden decline of Cantrell Field and the fact that at least 40% of Mexico’s budget is generated by oil exports. Though an oil exporter, lack of refinery expansion has also left them a fuel importer which is also paid for with export revenue. Watching the video I had to imagine the expansion of violence, both extent and level, if the teachers were not just protesting a pay cut but were reacting to 40% of them being left unemployed. And if they were joined by 40% of all municipal workers, 40% of all union members, 40% of all police, 40% of all the military, etc. Of course, the government would maintain critical services as best as possible but that would result in deeper cuts in other sectors. Also consider the government’s subsidy of a mainstay of the people’s diet -- tortillas.

Some here have offered the vision of a future “Mad Max” world thrown into utter chaos. I’ve generally found such unrealistic fantasies amusing. But watching that video last night made me wonder if we’ll perhaps see a similar scenario developing in Mexico in the not to distant future. The US will be impacted directly by the loss of sweet crude for the Gulf coast refineries. We are already struggling with the influx of Mexican citizens trying to escape the poverty of their home land. But what can we expect from an already desperate people when their domestic circumstances change from deplorable to potentially lethal. Oddly enough I find myself thinking we have as much better reasons to invade Mexico as we did Iraq: bring true democracy and a decent life to its citizens as well as providing opportunity for the development of the hydrocarbon resources close to our country.

Just some early morning ramblings.

Jeff Vail did a post on Mexico that discussed a range of possible outcomes, especially as their oil export revenue declines.


BTW, I suspect that 2008 is a transitional year for Mexico, between what I call Phase One and Phase Two net export declines. In Phase One, the cash flow from export sales increases even as export volumes fall, because of rising oil prices (which we will see annually in 2008; 2009 may be a different matter). In Phase Two declines, rising oil prices (assuming they are rising) can't offset the decline in export volumes.

Thanks for the link WT

Here is an interesting chart that Jeff Vail did that shows the actual Cantarell production, plus the worst case and best case scenarios:

Anyone have an accurate number for current production? It would be an interesting exercise to update this graph. Edit: it looks like Cantarell was at around 930,000 bpd in the September/October time frame.

BTW, I have long characterized the key difference between Saudi Aramco and Pemex as follows: The latter is willing to admit that its largest oil field is watering out, while the former is not willing to admit that its largest oil field (North Ghawar) is watering out. As I have previously noted, Peter Wells, who made a presentation at ASPO-USA using IHS data, opined that North Ghawar would be effectively watered out within two years. I have also long characterized the (North) Ghawar and Cantarell declines as "Two warning beacons heralding the onset of Peak Oil."

FYI, my estimate for the 2008 net export decline rate for Mexico is in the vicinity of -30%/year.

Edit: it looks like Cantarell was at around 930,000 bpd in the September/October time frame.

I also read that Carlos Morales (their production chielf) expects 700k bpd by the end of next year (as of a week or so ago).

Using 930,000 and eyeballing the chart, it would appear that Cantarell's decline rate has been about -32%/year from 9/06 to 9/08 (the average annual decline rate would be lower). In any case, this decline rate would put them at about 680,000 bpd in 9/09. The problem is that I think that the production decline rate has been accelerating of late.

And what's the internal consumption rate doing? In other words, when will Mexico go from being a net exporter to a net importer at this rate? (I know, tough questions, but I figured this is up your alley.)

I've been putting them in the vicinity of zero net oil exports in the 2010 to 2012 time frame, which is what I believe that a former Pemex executive is also saying. I estimate that their net exports this year will be at about 1.0 mbpd versus 1.4 mbpd last year.

I've been putting them in the vicinity of zero net oil exports in the 2010 to 2012 time frame

This means that about 10% of the oil imported to America will wipe off the table in about 3 years.

Bob Ebersole commented in that article that a lot of Mexico hasn't been wildcatted, which makes you wonder if they'll pull a rabbit out of a hat at some point.

Any chance that Cantarell's decline will ease up soon, too?

A lot things are possible, but I think that the bulk of Mexico's potential giant size fields are located in very deep water, where they are not currently able to drill.

In regard to Cantarell, they have a rapidly thinning oil column, between a gas cap and a water leg. If anything, the production decline rate is probably accelerating.

After they slip below one mbpd in net exports, I doubt that Mexico will ever again be a major net oil exporter (one mbpd plus).

"In regard to Cantarell, they have a rapidly thinning oil column, between a gas cap and a water leg."

I wish I was a cartoonist, but I can visualize the cartoon, over time, with Cantarell shrinking in the middle, a cap on top and one leg holding it up. Anyone care to draw this image, from Cantarell inception to the current date?

BTW, I am aware of the terminology, just never associated them before.

Hi Westexas,

Thanks for your analysis on Mexico's oil production, this is very useful for my giving talks on Peak Oil here in Mexico.

The Mexican economy is now in crisis and soon tens of millions of people will be unemployed.

Mexican domestic oil consumption will soon plummet, as oil is primarily used in auto/truck transportation and also in the construction industry.

This means that much oil will be freed up for exportation. So, the time frame for export reduction will be extended somewhat.

"Oil and Gas Journal" reports recently that PEMEX claims that it can restore production back to more than 3 million barrels per day.


What do you think about this?

Cliff Wirth

Here's an article from 2007 about another type of 'gasoline' we're exporting to Mexico; spreading the flames as it were. My hunch is that arms trafficking to Mexico has only increased since the article was published.

Anecdote: my brother's friend spent a week in Acapulco this fall and personally witnessed two shootings right out in public spaces. And this after having spent most of the time in the confines of the hotel/resort.

Rockman, you write:

I find myself thinking we have as much better reasons to invade Mexico as we did Iraq: bring true democracy and a decent life to its citizens as well as providing opportunity for the development of the hydrocarbon resources close to our country.

Bringing a 'decent life' to the citizens of a country whose population's doubling time is 29 years is going to be tall order.

Nothing is So Powerful As an Exponential Whose Time Has Come:

Mexico, with a population of 84 million and a doubling time of 29 years, will, if it keeps that up, grow to 168 million in 29 years and to 672 million within the lifetime of a child born today.

[source: The Donella Meadows Archive:


These are noble sentiments. However, I am unaware of any successful creation of "true democracy" at the point of American rifles. Well maybe Haiti or the Philippines?

Also, "helping" our "little brown brother" curb his fecundity will not occur in the setting of "just say no" to sex.

I try to never underestimate our unawareness but I find your comments at times rather tedious as the U.S. is always the stupid bad guy.
I think you could count Germany and Japan as true successful democracies that have arisen at the point of American rifles. You could probably easily add Italy and several eastern european countries. Both Haiti and the Phillipines had an extensive carosel of European baggage long before the U.S. got involved. As Haiti remains the most ecologically devastated geology in the world I hold little hope for them. Hate to write them off but short of drastic population control and emigration to other countries they are the poster child for non stop misery.
I agree stay the heck out of Mexico. Build the wall and defend it at all costs but don't intervene in their politics. I remain quite fearful of the evolving dynamics in Mexico hope for the best prepare for the worst.

Last chance! See Ole May-hee-ko before it's burned to the ground!
We're headed for a cruise to the so-called Mexican Riviera soon, sort of as a last-gasp salute to BAU. What the heck - the photos will be priceless in a couple decades. But my gut feeling is like I'm a rich gringo visiting Cuba in 1958. What a show - what a ride.

Please don't deride me too much for my overconsuming ways - it's been a long time since our last vacation, and my footprint is otherwise small. ;-)

So American occupation works in countries that are or have been relatively rich capitalist states, and fails badly in countries that are relatively poor - as Iraq became after years of US sanctions.

Does that has anything to do with the fact that in all its conflicts in the last century, the US has almost always chosen the richer, pro-capitalist faction, with the very sole exception of the Clinton era? That is also the faction we interact with during occupation, but in the Philippines and Vietnam and Latin America, the business elites were truly the enemy of their masses, while in Germany and Japan the business elite, fascist though it was, viewed itself as on the same side as the masses. Iraq had no real business elite, and the US flailed around blindly and viciously.

The poor are the enemy of America's corporate class. That gets reflected in our treatment of occupied peoples.

Huh? I don't think you are relating to reality here! If you think Germany and Japan were anything except devastated after WW2 you are deluding yourself. Neither country had been inculcated with democratic institutions or pleasant capitalistic experiences they had facist command economies. What are you talking about we chose Germany and Japan? They were are freaking enemies...we didn't choose them we ended up with them. Iraq the jury is still out on that situation.
Why are the poor the enemy of the corporate class? Where do you dream up this constant daily victimization dogma? Corporations want everyone to consume their products, I'm sure they wish the poor could consume more. Enemies? that's a stretch for me I've never heard that in any discussions with those evil corporate types. Cargill just built a huge new office/warehouse for the Food Bank here in Wichita. Their employees are a critical part of the volunteer staffing they donate lots of food, money and other resources. Why would they do this for a bunch of their enemies. Virtually every farmer, and small business person is a or in a corporation. Are they all undermining their enemies the poor too? Dear man yes the world isn't perfectly good or evil but all this paranoia is misplaced.

Ask Prescott Bush about German Industry in the 30s and 40s.. there were a lot of deals running before and through WWII. We were all already Industrialized Cousins and all were geared up for Corporate Imperialism.

Haiti didn't follow the corporate plan, and their soil and people have picked up the bill.

Both Germany and Japan were highly educated populations with long experience with parliamentary government. Both countries decided that they feared the US less than the commies. It took 30+ years to 'democratize' South Korea and 60 years to do it in the Phillipines.

Well, while the exporting of arms to the country might accomplish the same task, possibly we should export birth control and education to them instead. As has been discussed here on TOD before, education and women's rights are among the most effective methods of reducing the birth rate in a country.

One useful way to look at population growth is the Population Pyramid. Here is Mexico's.

Countries with high birthrates tend to have a large fraction of their people with young ages. Mexico is one such nation. this implies that future population growth will continue to be strong, as most of the population is still within the child bearing age range. That translates into the relatively short time for the next doubling, other things being equal. Of course, as the population increases and the natural limits are approached, not to mention the economic limits, the growth rate will slow.

Here's a comment from Wikipedia about Mexico's demographics:

The population's annual growth rate has been reduced from a 3.5% peak, in 1965 to 0.99% in 2005. While Mexico is now transitioning to the third phase of demographic transition, close to 50% of the population in 2005 was 25 and younger. Fertility rates have also decreased from 5.7 children per woman in 1976 to 2.2 in 2006.

Nature always wins in the end...

E. Swanson

Yes, and that "population pyramid" will spread sideways as a real phenomenon -- not just a statistical abstraction. The European-derived population of the USA is either declining or growing very slowly, leading to an "inverted pyramid" with all the old people on top. Just right for the Mexican pyramid to slide in underneath.

I'm not too worried -- my own personal experience with Mexicans is that they laugh a lot, love a lot, they adore their children, and they generally have a good time. And their food isn't bad, either.

I can't say the same for my Scottish ancestors.

Hmmm...under severe resource constraints isn't a declining population OK? Once we get small enough, birth rates can pick back up, say in 2100.

I say build the fence. I don't think I'd trust MS-13 to take care of me in my old age.

It isn't how small, but how old and decrepit. If we end up a country covered in retirement homes and hospitals, we won't have the productivity to survive. And we know the patients will all be old and white, and the nurses and orderlies and janitors will be young and non-white, and all the stored wealth of the former will fall into the hands of the facility owners and insurance companies (overseas?) with a trickle going to the employees. This does not look like a stable social order to me, but a reactor for resentment and rebellion.

Wiping up after wrinklies may be an unpopular job now, but it has ultimate job security and will become more desirable in the greatest depression.

Be nice to your kids - in 50 years they'll be choosing your brand of toilet paper.

If toilet paper is still made 50 years from now... (And if not, it'll be their choice of what available materials to use, either bark or leaves or old newspaper...)

I assume the worst part is the food ;-)

Haggis is said to be tasty. I prefer tamales.

Invade? Read up on the SPPA-you don't need to invade Mexico-just give it time.

A US invasion of Mexico would quickly unite the well-armed, battle-hardened narcotraficantes and federales against the invaders. Any cursory reading of history shows the home-court advantages of guerillas on their own native land against invaders and occupiers. As usual, a US invasion of Mexico would result in rapid military victory, followed by years of bloody resistance/reprisals/etc., followed by eventual withdrawal of the invading force, followed by terrorist-style revenge attacks in the invader's home territory...

Here's hoping the lessons of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan,... don't get forgotten too quickly.

Hey, we'd just get more of Mexico just like we did 150 years ago.

Here was the end result of the last invasion:

The most important consequence of the war for the United States was the Mexican Cession, in which the Mexican territories of Alta California and Santa Fé de Nuevo México were ceded to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In Mexico, the enormous loss of territory following the war encouraged its government to enact policies to colonize its remaining northern territories as a hedge against further losses. In addition the Rio Grande became the boundary between Texas and Mexico, and Mexico never again claimed ownership of Texas.

Translation: We got California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Utah, and bits of other states as well.

And, imagine for a moment if Texas was under the thumb of Pemex. Different world, eh?

Texas had already fought and won its own war against Mexico well before the US-Mexican war.

Yes, but there were those in Texas who wanted to settle the matter for good.

1835 -- Santa Anna, President of Mexico, proclaims a unified constitution for all Mexican territories, including Texas. North American settlers in Texas announce that they intend to secede from Mexico rather than give up their "right" to slavery, which Mexico had abolished.

1836 -- The Battle of the Alamo. President Santa Anna leads a siege on the Alamo, in an attempt to defend his idea of a unitary state. Mexican soldiers overwhelm the fort, but the Texans' heroic defense of the Alamo inspires North American settlers to secede.

1836 -- Texans declare independence from Mexico and adopt a constitution that formally legalizes slavery in Texas.


Interesting that the heroic battle of the Alamo was fought to preserve slavery in Texas.

What did you expect?

Supposedly those teachers striking teachers have been doing an anual strike for the last 25 years. It usually lasted a week, and resulted in a very minor raise. The situation got out of hand when the state govenor deployed riot police on the teachers as they were camping out in the newly renovated central plaza. It wasn't his first abuse of power.

The teachers (and other locals) escalated the protests and demanded that the govenor should be removed from power. The whole thing snowballed and ended up with something close to urban warfare. It only calmed down when the federal government sent in back-up.

If you tour around the region you don´t see much signs of oil money. I don't know for sure, but the only $$ from Cantarell that the local population sees might be spent propping up the local elite.
Perhaps they spent some money on a few cosmetic upgrades in the center of the city to lure in tourists. But the region, especially in rurla areas is poor. A lot of people from the Oaxaca region have to migrate looking for jobs.

A few months ago another Mexican group decided that economic sabotage would be an effective way of getting attention. They blew up some natural gas lines supplying an industrial area and managed to wreak enough havoc that the national assembly offered to negotiate. (I don´t know how that worked out in the end, but there´s lots of poor mexicans, lots of unprotected miles of gas pipes, and not so many security forces.)

I remember reading somewhere that some people in Mexico beleive that there could be a revolution in 2010 or 2012, partially based on the pre-colombian belief that things happen on a cyclical basis. (The war of independance started in 1810, the revolution started in 1910....)

If Mexico doesn't rein in on some of its inequalities and abuses, the marginalized parts of the population might continue and or increase their agitation. If the elected and coroprate elites squabble over diminishing oil profits and don't pay attention to the general population, Mexico could possibly unravel into a situation like Nigeria or whatnot.

It is looking like the Red Sea/Horn of Africa region is in the process of being shut down to shipping for all practical purposes. It is rapidly becoming a "no go" zone for tankers and ships of all types. I can't imagine insurance continuing to be written for anyone planning to sail anywhere close to that area.

Now consider what happens if the same thing occurs in the South China Sea (where there is also some piracy going on).

I haven't seen that much discussion here about the vulnerability of shipping - and especially oil tankers - to these types of disruptions. Perhaps it is time we directed our attention to this?

Maybe some sovereign nations can make extra money by hiring out military craft to escort convoys of commercial craft. It blows my mind that it is common for these merchant craft to be unarmed, but it's due to insurance reasons, of course.

Gun control at work. :)

The Indian navy sank a pirate ship yesterday. Today, the Russians are sending ships. There's talk of NATO boots on the ground to eradicate the pirates' bases.

They're asking the Saudis for $25 million to ransom their tanker. With that kind of money involved, there will be a crackdown.

Got a little too greedy. What happened to that Russian arms ship from last month?

Nothing yet. Like the Aramco tanker, it's being held for ransom near a pirate base.

My, how times change (or not)!

From Wikipedia:

In 1786, Thomas Jefferson, then the ambassador to France, and John Adams, then the ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the ambassador to Britain from Tripoli. The Americans asked Adja why his government was hostile to American ships, even though there had been no provocation. The ambassador's response was reported to the Continental Congress:

It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy's ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once. [14]

Surprisingly, the US used to pay very significant tributes to pirates, until we built a Navy.

No, things don't change much. Why would they. People haven't changed in at least 30,000 -- more like 100,000 years. Technology changes, but it doesn't promote evolution, in fact, it seems to be resulting in people who are less fit and less adaptable than ever!

Also, there is a sort of cost-benefit that has to be worked out. If it is cheaper to pay the pirates than to build a Navy, that is the most logical thing to do. In a strange reversal, it would seem that our own Defense industry has become the pirate-- $trillions unaccounted for by the Pentagon. Perhaps that calculus is changing again?

Mercenary, pirate, I'm getting fuzzy on the distinction.

Mercenary, pirate, lobbyist, banker. I'm getting fuzzy on the distinction.


The flip side of the pirate industry.

"Somalia's increasingly brazen pirates are building sprawling stone houses, cruising in luxury cars, marrying beautiful women _ even hiring caterers to prepare Western-style food for their hostages.

And in an impoverished country where every public institution has crumbled, they have become heroes in the steamy coastal dens they operate from because they are the only real business in town."


Apologies if posted already

all the result of the united states going in and taking out the government because we think we have the right to say and do such things.

I still wonder why the shippers don't hire a few Blackwater types to ride aong. How hard can it be to fire at pirate speedboats? At $1000/day per guard, times 10 guards, times 10 days at sea, that's $100,000 - a bargain! (Compare with shipping rates - well, what they used to be some months ago.)

Shipping through the Red Sea is very important to Israel, but I've never heard of an Israeli ship hijacked. Perhaps they've added security personnel, like they do for their airlines?

The shippers have hired mercs but they are armed only with nonlethal sonic weapons, and they charge $30K for each three person team.

A crackdown may happen but this will only result in the pirates torching some ships. It isn't in the financial interests of the shippers for the navies of the world to crack down on the pirates. Paying some ransom to pirates is just a cost of doing business. Much less expensive than losing ships.

Much less expensive than losing ships.

Ahem. Not to mention having 2 million barrels of crude spill into the Indian Ocean.

Perhaps its because the Mossad would come to their nice stone houses and beautiful women and fancy cars and kill them all. That puts a bit of a damper on the business.

Yemen faces economic and political turmoil as its oil resources run out, with security implications for the whole region, a report says...

Let's just send in the Navy and see how that turns out.

Do you really think light boats will successfully attack a patrol boat on defensive footing? Or do you just not like the Navy?

Nah, it's just a bad idea for us to be there. Bad things happen, and I have never EVER discounted the creativity of the enemy of the U.S. to kill, maim, or injure U.S. soldiers or destroy U.S. property.

There just MUST be a very good reason to be there, that's all.

But, I'm OK with the Navy...

Guerrilla warfare on the open seas? It will be interesting to see if the Navy has any better success than the Army on land.

If the pirates are only after money, they won't risk much. If their greed is converted into religious conviction, Lord help us.

Did you read the article linked by Dissident upthread? These are essentially fishermen from a broken country "exploiting available resources." Before the escalation of piracy they apparently were chasing foreign fishermen poaching in their territory and accidentally discovered how easy (and more profitable) it was to simply capture and ransom the poachers. It became a growth industry.

If you believe the article, now there's 10 captured boats, one with with 33 old soviet tanks bound for Sudan in the hold, a Kenyan intermediary and a whole bunch of hostages sitting there in Somalia with lots of international Naval warships hanging around...wild story out of Tom Clancy novel. Somali Standoff.

I'm not too worried about these pirates becoming Bin Ladin copycats. They're just main street Joe-the-Pirate types. Somalia is right out of World Made By Hand only worse. They probably eat the Mullahs if they get to mouthy.

It would be easy for the pirates to lay mines, or even remote-control mines, and ransom safe passage. The mineclearing operation would be expensive and vulnerable. Mines are a weapon the US Navy wishes would just disappear.

Sorry US Navy, maybe you should get in touch with the 'higher ups' about our country's obstinate mine policy. They aren't going to disappear when the US won't even ratify the global land mine treaty. Maybe because we and our friends make and sell a lot of mines?

The global Mine Ban Treaty has saved lives and livelihoods, increased assistance to victims, destroyed millions of anti-personnel landmines, created an international norm against the use of anti-personnel landmines and served as a model for those attempting to regulate other conventional weapons. The treaty now has over 150 members, yet the United States is not one of them. Experts say that current U.S. policy is actually moving the United States further from the circle of countries that have committed to ban these indiscriminate weapons.

Oil could fall to $40/bbl in 2009: Deutsche Bank

The bank said the new refining capacity additions will use 20 percent less crude to make gasoline and distillate than older capacity, cutting the need for crude and pressuring prices.

Does anybody know what they are talking about?

From what I have read here on TOD, I was under the impression that, as the crude mix moves more from sweet-light to sour-heavy, the yields of gasoline and distillates decreased.

Any insights?

I think if they have right kind of equipment (cokers?), they can change the yields. Get more gasoline and less asphalt, say. Some of the articles about the asphalt shortage blamed more heavy crude being turned into gasoline.

That's correct, cokers and hydrotreaters can make more gasoline from those heavy, sour crudes. So if these refineries are designed that way, it can take some pressure off of the light, sweet - which is in limited supply relative to the heavy sour stuff. That could put some downward pressure on prices. But all the while, the light, sweet oil continues to deplete. So I think any relief will be fleeting.

One thing that (short-term) doomers on TOD and elsewhere seem to lose sight of is the time scale of the decline in oil. Many that are selling the "collapse of society" scenarios make it sound like it could happen tomorrow.

We are talking about a resource that took more than 100 years to get to where it is now. Even if ELM makes oil almost completely unavailable in 30 years (not likely) it's still not going to cause our society to collapse in a few months or years.

Same with the price of oil. There is no way the volatility we saw this year was directly related to supply problems. Triggered by worries about supply, yes. But then it got into a runaway speculative bubble. The oil was still flowing at (almost?) the same rate as before, and demand ended up being the one that hit the brick wall.

So back to your point... yes, oil will increasingly be sour-heavy, but not at a rate that will make a difference from one month to the next. In other words, it won't be a fundamental cause of the volatility or of prices going back up, in the immediate future.

I'm much more convinced by the long descent scenario. We are seeing it play out in front of us. As the economy suffers, demand pulls back, lowering the price of oil. This allows the economy to semi-recover in a few years, while also discouraging investment in alternatives, which pushes prices back up until we hit the (now slightly lower) limits again.

I don't see a sudden collapse. Instead we'll probably a spreading malaise that affects the poorest countries first, while gradually lowering our standard of living over decades. Where it eventually leads, I don't have a clue, but I have a feeling we will somehow adapt, even with a lower "standard of living" as defined in purely economic terms.

There's also a lot more at play than just oil. The credit bubble was a problem in and of itself, aside from the price of oil, which may have only helped it to pop a few years earlier than it otherwise would have. As I see it, the popping of the credit bubble has a lot more likelihood of causing a sudden and noticeable collapse in the complexity and prosperity of our society.

Problem is, as conservative Paul Volcker warned a couple of years ago, "America can no longer make a living off the savings of the world's poor."

America is the engine for the capitalist world economy, even China. If the poor simply starve, and the less poor are simply broke, all the bubbles collapse. We just have to find out how much of our system rests on the bubbles. Several bad years were enough to bring Hitler and Tojo to power, and get great-power wars going. At that point there could be many short roads to collapse.

Scientastic, I agree with your assessment as far as it goes. But if I'm stuck out in the desert, how much loss of my 80% water content do I need to be concerned about? By the time my body is down to 70% water, I'm DEAD.

The 1973 embargo cut off a few percent of the world's supply, at a time when there was plenty of slop in the energy system waiting to be wrung out through efficiency improvements. Forget the initial shock value, the gas lines and other eye-grabbing effects - that few percent reduction in global supply triggered a years-long recession.

This time we're in far worse shape: more people, less reserves of food and water, and no way to borrow our way out of trouble. There is no "out" any more in any case, since the only possible outcome is a continuing decline in oil production.

The bottleneck faced by global civilization will not come at 40, 50, or 60% decline. I'd guess that by the time we're 10% down from the 2005 conventional peak at 85MMbpd, large-scale resource wars will become inevitable.

Just my SWAG. It's easier to project outcomes based on global energy production than by guessing dates.

One thing that (short-term) doomers on TOD and elsewhere seem to lose sight of is the time scale of the decline in oil. Many that are selling the "collapse of society" scenarios make it sound like it could happen tomorrow.

One thing that the long-term doomers on TOD and elsewhere seem to lose sight of is the speed at which the financial system can collapse. Many that are selling the "gradual decline of society" scenarios make it sound like the collapse of trillions of dollars of debt can't happen overnight when in fact it's been recently shown to be more than possible.

Actually, my mental model is more of a stairway. Right now we are on the way down to the next step. We'll probably level off for a little while, then it will be another trip farther down. Repeat this over and over until we reach a level which is sustainable on a long-term basis. Smooth lines, either steep or gentle, just don't ring true in my mind.

Posted this a month ago...

I get this vision of a slinky going down a stairs... Each step being a new temporary equilibrium, until that equilibrium breaks and we get to a new step...


I like your vision :-))

I realize many people believe in a stair step/catabolic collapse. I not only think is is naive but also dangerous from a survival perspective. Now, I have zero proof of my beliefs but I think the reaction of the financial markets supports my position.

First of all, I'd do a search for Charlottes Web by Infomagic. It's a Y2K series that I believe will typify how this unfolds...basically cascading cross defaults even when the probability in each area is comparatively low.

Second, it is dangerous because I believe that people will come to believe that they can wait to take action (whatever that action may be) based upon a reading of the tealeaves of the "staircase." In other words, few people want to make changes unless they absolutely have to. However, in this instance delay will/may be deadly.

Why will it be deadly? The first reason is being psychologically unprepared. Most people are going to sit there scratching some place and not do a darn thing. Second, many actions will be precluded because the material things necessary won't be available. Third, time will be of the essence. People don't suddenly become food producers over night to name one example. Fourth, they will not have the skill-sets necessary for even rudimentary survival.

The list goes on and on.

My caution to those who think they can call the time for action is that history has shown few pull it off whether it is Jews leaving Germany or moving out to escape the hurricane.


The more I think about this analogy, the better it seems. I have spent time in fascination watching a slinky, particularly down stairs.

It is at once continuous and discontinuous as it moves from a metastable state to a dynamic state. Parts of it are kinetic while most of it is static. It is never truly stable and it is all connected.

I like it a lot.

Thank you,


With slump in world shipping, Greece has a lot to lose

Global shipping is facing its worst crisis in decades. In just a few months, dry-cargo rates have fallen by more than 90 percent as a five-year boom has turned to bust. For Greece, which owns a fifth of the world's fleet, that spells trouble.

"Panic is one word to describe what is going on," Polemis said as he sat beneath an oil painting of one of his family's first vessels, bought about 200 years ago. "People are selling some ships in a panic mode Some companies will go bust."

More bad Greek shipping news here:

ANYONE who takes a ferry from Piraeus will likely navigate between a growing number of ships lying idle off Piraeus, "in the roads". This is a scene being repeated around the globe, from Mumbai, in India, to Shanghai, in China.

Slow-steaming, idle ships and vessel layups are the classic hallmarks of a struggling market. Examples of all three are apparent as shipping's latest slump begins to bite.


Well, oil has traded below $50 - irrefutable proof that Lindsay Williams is right. No more TOD for me, I will rely exclusively on Alex Jones for the real truth from now on ;)

It took him about 9 minutes before he said what he had to say... and then he got interrupted :)

Peak oil is'nt about the price of crude. I doubt that we will see production top 85 million again. We can now turn everything over to the law of thermal dynamics and the capitalist growth curve.

Any one heard or read about David Blume and his alcohol claims? Of course he's selling something but who isn't these days.

Alcohol Can Be A Gas

edit - don't know why the link didn't post. I thought I followed the formatting rules. Oh well. www.alcoholcanbeagas.com

Fixed it for you.

The link didn't post because your HTML was truly awful. Wrong spelling, missing spaces, missing quotation mark. Just one of those would be enough to nuke your link. Computer languages are very unforgiving. If you use Firefox, give BBCodeXtra a try.

Thanks Leanan. BTW, I followed the example from the More information about formatting options... the one that uses The Oil Drum as an example and there were no incorrect spellings, missing spaces or quotation marks. Truly. I'm using IE.

Also, when I try to post the comment after previewing it, nothing happens and I have to start over. This has happened the last few times I've posted.

BTW, I followed the example from the More information about formatting options... the one that uses The Oil Drum as an example and there were no incorrect spellings, missing spaces or quotation marks.

Really? This is what I found in "more about formatting":

<a href="http://www.theoildrum.com">The Oil Drum</a>

What you had, when I looked at your post, was something like this:

<aref="http://www.theoildrum.com>The Oil Drum</a>

Using aref instead of href, the missing space after the a, and the missing quotation mark at the end of the URL are what killed the link.

Also, when I try to post the comment after previewing it, nothing happens and I have to start over.

That is unfortunately a known bug. SuperG is working on it.

me too


California Rep. Henry A. Waxman on Thursday officially dethroned longtime Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell:


Thank you Oil Drum!

When you guys downrated the heck out of me for saying that oil was headed for $50 a barrel, I asked for a good reason why oil would not fall below $50. (Given the economic storm we've been witnessing for the past year.) When no one could give me a reasonable answer, I knew it was time to buy DTO. It's up 270% in 2 months.

If vehicle miles traveled, shipping rates, and layoffs are leading indicators, it would seem that the future is dark indeed. Happy holidays.

Congrats! Now do you think we are at the bottom or have more room to fall?

Check out this page


if you want to know what I think of the current economic situation. I think we're headed to DOW 1600. But when asked if I would buy DTO now? I dont think I would. We are currently in the process of testing the 2002 lows in the stock markets, so this will be a time of flux. It is a trader's market right now. You're liable to pull your hair out watching your position at this level.

Big Three auto CEOs flew private jets to ask for taxpayer money

"There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they're going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses," Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, told the chief executive officers of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.

"It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious."

He added, "couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you do get it."

No, Representative Ackerman, these guys don't get. They haven't for about 20 years. That's why they're begging you for money.

I agree that they just - don't - get - it.
I witness massively obese projects headed by companies such as Accenture, to handle IT projects that are all outsourced to EDS and IBM. When these companies all come together in a room, they're all pointing fingers at each other, refusing to accept any responsibility. In my experience, in-house IT staff accomplishes projects with a much leaner budget on a more prompt timeline with higher quality end results.

This is a building where the paper towels are among the nicest I've seen, everyone prints out 12 page power points for weekly meetings where the contents of only 1-2 pages change from last week, when they simply can un-dock their laptops and look at the PPT file on the screen, all exterior walls are single-pane glass where the cold flows off of them in waves during the winter, private cars, jets, and elevator shafts for the executives, and the largest contingent of dead wood middle management I've seen in any corporate environment.

I have never encountered a corporation as unweildy and bloated as GM. Of course, a month from now, I won't have to any longer, as my employment comes to an end.

There is evidence everywhere that America has a monarchy and a nobility, at least in their own minds. Now is when we find out if it has the writ of law.

We found that out on Oct. 3.

Private elevator shafts? Is that a technology for management by isolation?

Just in time for the holidays:

Oh the fiscal outlook is frightful
But the jet is so delightful
And since we've no gains to show
Let us Snow! Let us Snow! Let us Snow!

It doesn't show signs of stopping
To our errs we're never copping
The future we could not know
Let us Snow! Let us Snow! Let us Snow!

We will never, ever be contrite
We don't like the thought of reform
The critics can go fly a kite
And the public can weather the storm

Our business is quickly dying
But through fear, for cash we're vying
Yet the obvious has to show
Let It go! Let it go! Let It go!

Bipartisan group agrees to revive auto bailout

WASHINGTON - Aides to a bipartisan group of auto-state senators said Thursday they have reached a compromise to speed emergency loans to Detroit’s Big Three car makers.

they have reached a compromise to speed emergency loans to Detroit’s Big Three car makers.

They will fly the loans to Detroit by jet.

Good job, Congress. Not to worry... The boys from Detroit will be back, I guarantee it.

How about a $50K bailout. Enough to buy a Dodge Caliber, Ford Focus, and Chevy Aveo for those guys to drive back to Detroit in.

Buy them each a Pruis. I think it'd get the point across.

3 airports opening new runways amid economic woes

... They say that's well worth the more than $450 million spent on the runway at Chicago's O'Hare International; the approximately $350 million spent at Dulles International, just outside of Washington, D.C.; and the more than $1 billion for Seattle-Tacoma International.

"This is absolutely critical, absolutely necessary, absolutely money well spent," said Rosemarie Andolino, who leads the ongoing $15 billion expansion of O'Hare, a vital global hub inaugurating its first new runway in nearly 40 years — even as several of O'Hare's major airlines buck the push to complete expansion.


Despite current downturns — data show domestic flights fell 6 percent in August — air travel is still expected to rise from the approximately 700 million air travelers in 2007 to more than 1 billion annually during the next decade.


O'Hare delays won't be dramatically reduced until completion of the airport's entire multibillion-dollar expansion, which envisions another new runway and terminal by 2014.

But O'Hare hasn't secured funding for that second phase and six of the airport's carriers — long reluctant to financially commit — have told city and federal officials the ambitious expansion should be curbed in light of economic woes.


A written response from the city to the FAA claimed the airlines let short-term financial concerns overshadow long-term gains.

Retirement dreams give way to despair, anger

For many, feelings of hopelessness, despair, anger and shame have darkened what until very recently they'd banked on being a new beginning.

“It's a real sense of shock,” says Phyllis Moen, a University of Minnesota sociologist who studies adjustment to retirement. “Here they thought they were in control, and they created a life that works — and suddenly, they’ve lost control. I think what's happening is a real upending of expectations of the 50s, 60s and 70s — of what life’s going to be for this group of people.”

This article is a very good illustration of something I have been saying to people for some time: It's better to be emotionally prepared for the trauma of Peak Oil ahead of time at the expense of the pain of learning about it beforehand, than to be emotionally unprepared for the trauma for the sake of maintaining the false bliss of delusion until the trauma hits.


I think the biggest asset in this is mental flexiblity. I had a high-consumptive retirement fantasy as well (and have been saving for it), living in a golf-cart community in NC, playing golf a few times a week, early bird dinners at the steakhouse, cruises and airplane travel. So, maybe instead I'll be milking goats and shovelling pig sh*t, on my hands and knees pulling weeds. It can be hard to let go of fantasies when reality hits, but that's part of life. I'm nowhere near retirement age anyway, so I will probably have to change this again several times. I could also drop dead of a heart attack before I get the chance to retire. You just never know.

So, maybe instead I'll be milking goats and shovelling pig sh*t, on my hands and knees pulling weeds.

Hmmm, that sounds like a pretty good life too me. And I'm being perfectly serious. Ok, I'm not sure I'd be into the pig stuff, but the overall idea sounds good - like maybe we should have been doing this all along?

I agree totally that the milking goats, weeding etc is preferable to the golf course condo life. I can't imagine anything worse than steak dinners, golf, hobnobbing with lots of plump people eating unhealthy food and doing unhealthy things (golf courses use masses of poisons to kill weeds and pests). Steak is also not very good for you!

As someone born in the 80s, let me assure you that both myself, and many of my friends have all felt for the past 5 years or so that we will not see a dime of the 'retirement entitlement' our parents grew up with (social security etc). I've often mused that many other people my age suspect as much, which explains why our generation is the 'instant gratification' generation: if we don't get what we want now, we never will.

The lure of "instant gratification" is by no means limited to your generation. Credit cards have seen to that, as many of us know to our sorrow.

I was born in the 50's, and I don't expect to see much in the way of social security. And I've been paying into it for a long long time. But I'll be happy and surprised if I get enough out of it to pay my property taxes, utilities, and food bills. Believe me, I have no grand notions of elegant retirement living and travel and such.

Oh well.

Boomers as the largest voting block ever will insist that Congress find some way to pay them the benefits they have been promised. To do this we will need to go back to the tax rates (adjusted for inflation) we had as children. The rich would have to pay their fair share again which is why they have been propagating the meme that Social Security won't be there when we would retire. This false meme has been going around for at least 35 years.

The rich won't have enough to go around. In the early days there were few recipients and many payers. With the boomer wave it will be many recipients and few payers. The notion of social security "savings" was flawed by the outset and that money has been spent. Pay as you go can't work at the promised levels, yet you can't rebuild an unfunded plan instantly and time is short. Social security recipients won't get what they expect any more than UAW workers or the rest of us.

Anybody who is relying on social security as a key part of their retiremeent is foolish, IMHO.

agree there. but your 401k won't be much help, either. Better hope you have healthy kids and pray for filial piety.

Must be a series they are doing, as this tells the same story as yesterday's piece.

It is infuriating to play by the rules and lose. The ones that skidded past-retired 10-15 years ago with defined benefit plan, SS, etc, I wonder if they are feeling a little guilt, that their ease is really an anomaly, a twist of fate.

And as more and more private plans evaporate, I suspect increasing animosity to those on government plans-state, military and other federal plans. The old fallback, post WW11 thru the sixties, was that public pay was poor, but secure with "earned" retirement from years of underpay. That "underpaid" attribute has been a misnomer for decades, public pay and bennies have been very high in comparison to private work. Teachers used to work for room, board and a small stipend, now they command some of the best pay packages in a community.

Yes, it's a series. The fourth article.

And as more and more private plans evaporate, I suspect increasing animosity to those on government plans-state, military and other federal plans.

Yeah, I agree. Taxpayers who are losing their retirements and health care won't be too sympathetic to their local bureaucrats.

That "underpaid" attribute has been a misnomer for decades, public pay and bennies have been very high in comparison to private work.

I don't think that's true. Maybe for teachers (but it's not like there are a lot of alternatives for them). But doctors, engineers, scientists, lawyers...they could all make more money in the private sector. A lot more. And in many cases, those who stayed in public service paid for their own pensions, with weekly deductions from their paychecks. Only to have the government "borrow" it.

They are definitely underpaid compared to the hundreds of thousands of welfare babies employed by the USA financial sector-just today an analyst projected they "need" at least another 1.2 trillion from the taxpayer.

The majority of government workers-the clerks, aides, cleaners, techs, whatever their title, have had not only security, but a much better public than private pay. And judging from the comments of the engineers on this board, it seems they often deal with layoffs, downsizing, defined term contracts, etc, so that I wonder who makes more in a lifetime of work. I would agree with some of the other professional positions, a doc in specialty private practice is liable to become become rich compared to one in the military or public health service. But then again, many opt for it because the position itself isn't nearly so taxing-in both ways.

I think that's generally the deal when people opt for public service. Security and benefits, but less pay. The friend I mentioned the other day works for the government because she got tired of repeated layoffs at various defense contractors. She took a pay cut and knew her new job track would have limited room for advancement, but accepted it because of the job security.

I know another woman who had a job she loved, working as a lawyer for a small county no one ever heard of. She's an ardent environmentalist, and her job involved suing large corporations who were polluting public land. It was her dream job. Except the pay. She had a ton of student loans (as lawyers generally do - there are very few scholarships for law school). So eventually she had to quit and go to work in the private sector. Where she easily found a job that paid three times as much, but wasn't nearly as much fun.

Leana posted :

"Yeah, I agree. Taxpayers who are losing their retirements and health care won't be too sympathetic to their local bureaucrats."

Ok.so we just went thru the election process. There was plenty to be angry about. The bailout of the financial jerks had already happened and prior to that the 'public' raised massive hell and told their reps

"not no but HELL no"...what did it accomplish then?
It accomplished ZERO.Zip. Nada.

And so did they listen to their constituents? No. They did not and now we see them getting ready to do the same for the automakers.

The absolute truth we can take away from this is that:

They are totally out of control. They do not care what the populace wants or says. They only seem to listen to special interests , meaning LOBBYISTS.

This is not a nation of democracy. What it is I have no clue but it is not representative government.

When are the sheeple ever ever ever going to get enough of being treated like they are meaningless slugs? When? When is when never going to happen.

Its all a spiral trip around the urinal and into the sewer for us.
They politicians and their suckups are in control. They will not let go either. The election proved that nothing changes. Well color changed. But so far is still BAU. I am speaking primarily of Congress anyway.

I despise what the politicos have done to this country. I called three of my representatives prior to the bailout. Their staff gave me short shrift. They didn't even ask me my name. They could care less.

Get it people...er I mean sheeple?


I have to take issue with one comment here - when you say;

They only seem to listen to special interests , meaning LOBBYISTS.

you are misguided. The lobbyists, like most of the elected officials themselves, are part of the technocratic class that serves the interests of the "real" special interest - the ownership class / wealthy.

As for when the "sheeple" (i hate that term) will finally stand up - go and listen once again to the track entitled "Sheep" on Pink Floyd's Animals.

The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
He makes me down to lie
Through pastures green he leadeth me the silent waters by.
With bright knives he releaseth my soul.
He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places.
He converteth me to lamb cutlets,
For lo, he hath great power, and great hunger.
When cometh the day we lowly ones,
Through quiet reflection, and great dedication
Master the art of karate,
Lo, we shall rise up,
And then well make the buggers eyes water. -Sheep, Pink Floyd

Bleating and babbling I fell on his neck with a scream.
Wave upon wave of demented avengers
March cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream.

Have you heard the news?
The dogs are dead!
You better stay home
And do as you're told.
Get out of the road if you want to grow old. -Sheep, Pink Floyd

For the sheep, any real uprising is unwanted. It is only the dream of uprising that is important.

I actually prefer 'Pigs on the Wing (Part Two)' from the 'Animals' album right about now, with all the stuff on Wall Street...

You know that I care what happens to you,
And I know that you care for me too.
So I don't feel alone,
Or the weight of the stone,
Now that I've found somewhere safe
To bury my bone.
And any fool knows a dog needs a home,
A shelter from pigs on the wing. (Pigs on the Wing (Part Two), Pink Floyd)

I believe the term you're looking for is "corpratocracy".


How can you say such things?

We have, as Will Rogers noted, "the best Congress that money can buy," and we don't have corruption here in the USA -- because we legalized it :).

It is infuriating to play by the rules and lose.

You cannot win if you play by the house rules on the house table.

See next week's episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle in

"Never give a sucker an even break"

"What do you do when you're branded
and you know you're a cow."

The rules are rigged. Except for pondscum at the very top, you lose.

The government, economic and supporting legal systems are no longer legitimate. They will not and can not meet the needs of the people. They are illegitimate because they are based on "liberalism"; liberalism in turn is itself fundamentally based on economic growth to finesse concerns over distribution and scale. The whole premise of liberalism - Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America" - is over. For the moment, what we see amounts to little more than an organized crime syndicate. Presumably there will be some sort of restructuring maybe along the lines of Bishop Barkley, variations on fascist popularism, and communitarianism/congregationalism. Just guessing.

cfm in Gray, ME

Teachers used to work for room, board and a small stipend, now they command some of the best pay packages in a community.

ROTFL! Divide their pay packages by the number of hours worked and tell me they "command" the best pay in the community. Oh please............[Disclaimer: not a teacher but related to one.]


Pay no attention to what the Bankers and Lawyers are driving.. we should all try to live the Horatio Alger dream that the Teachers have come to define!

There's more to the country than professions.

They command some of the best pay packages in the community.

For an established secondary teacher, the position is replete with teacher aides, student help, sick leave, excellent medical, dental, life, disability insurance. The better ones will arrive 30 to 60 minutes before school, have 2 free periods, rarely stay till 4 or 5. They have afternoon or weekend coaching work, but this is paid in addition to salary. Many give multiple choice or computer graded exams, knocking down home time. Compare it a job in the lumber yard, at the supermarket, or at the mill.

I admire and respect teachers. My eldest son passed up a chance for med school to teach. And not groomed, suburban whiz kids. Middle school math and science in a depressed community. He hopes to make a difference. But he makes much more than the parents. His pay is earned, but so many make less, and I would bet this holds throughout the majority of the public schools.

Compared to other degreed positions they do less than equal, but with perks. You can't really compare a teacher salary to non-degreed work.

I know what you're driving at, but I don't see it that way. The world is awash in degreed people, searching for a better job than waitress or sales clerk. Funny, but locally one of the plum jobs for college grads, county extension agent, may be axed. County can't/doesn't want to come with the 14K copay on the position.

And within a community of people, their compensation is well above the norm, considering the number of folks at or around minimum wage. Looking back, their respect within the community has always been high, but pay low. Now the pay is right up there.

I don't think you can generalize. The pay and the working conditions are different, sometimes in one school district to the next (depending on whether the school system is state, county, or district-based).

My mom teaches fourth grade, and she works a full day, then comes home and is often up grading papers until 11 pm. She has no free periods. She and her coworkers often have bladder infections, because they don't get enough bathroom breaks. Yes, she gets summers off, but she's often taking work-related classes then.

Is it better than a job at the supermarket? Sure. But becoming a teacher requires five years of college in Hawaii (or did when she started her career - not sure if that's still true). Someone with five years of college generally commands a better salary than a supermarket cashier, whether they work for the government or not.

OK, so let's assume that the idea of "retirement" as we've known it is history. Most of us are going to have to keep working in some capacity for as long as we possibly can to bring in at least some income.

Let's also assume, though, that many of us are not going to be able to continue working at the same job indefinitely. Aging takes it toll, or employers might go out of business, or they downsize (getting rid of the older employees first). As the article acknowledges, it is really hard for someone at or nearing traditional retirement age to find work. There just are not that many employers out there willing to hire older workers.

What this suggests to me is that most of us had better start planning for some sort of self-employment once the existing job finally goes. If employers are not interested in hiring us old folks, then we will need to become self-employed.

Some criteria:

-It had better be doing something on the "non-discretionary side of the economy", per WT's ELP plan. No point on planning a small business selling frou-frou that nobody can afford to buy anymore.

-It had better be something that does not require a huge up-front investment. Lots of small businesses fail; if yours does, you won't have time to make it up by trying something else. This is not the scenario where a big gamble is prudent.

-It had better be something that does not require a lot of motorized travel (we all know why)

-I has to be something that an older person with all their increasing frailties and health problems can keep up as long as possible.

- Ideally, it should also be something with a lot of flexibility, so it can be scaled back from full time to part time as one gets older.

- Lastly, but not leastly, it needs to actually be worth doing. One needs to actually be able to earn a decent amount of money per hour, or it is not worth the trouble.

Given the above, I would be very interested to hear some of ideas all of you might have regarding possible retirement-age ventures you are considering.

Basically I agree, we are all in a kind of survival mode. My business turnover dropped about 60%. But on the investment side I made quite good bets. I have been shorting the stock markets for the last 8 months with Put options and have made real good money. We are in a deflation world with the DOW heading towards 3000. So, doing real business is going to be ugly, but shorting the stock market further brings some sunshine in the whole mess.

Where I worked for 30 years and retired from told us this:

Yes you don't get the larger salaries like those who do this job in other companies BUT you get far far better benefits and those need to go in your equation as to the company you work for.

We offer a very good pension and excellent medical and many many other benefits.


Well they did that for some time then reneged. But that is why I worked there. What we worked for is now a pittance and the medical is a laugh. It can now easily consume the whole retirement amount. For some they have to even send in more money. Something that was promised to those who made that company what it was.

Businesses suck today. It all started back in the early 90s'.
Then HR came on the scene so mgmt wouldn't have to dirty their paws dealing with telling the employees they won't get what was promised.

It was lies and more lies and all lies. Prior to that time I worked hard and loved my work. I loved my job. They can the screwing..but I had left just before the 'perp walks' had gone into full swing.



My father was a high school dropout.

I have two college degrees.

My father currently makes twice as much as I do because he's been with a small company since I was born. It's a manufacturer of military and civilian heavy duty trucks. Their stock has cratered in the last year... going from $50/share to less than $5. I expect the company to be out of business and my father to be unemployed in the next 18 months. Heaven forbid that day for him... he will take a massive pay cut and is still over a decade away from retirement.

And, due to the nature of things to come, even with my education, I will never hope to make as much as my father did.

The young people of today (which I kind of still consider myself) are jaded and rightfully so... All of the bullshit promises made to us as kids are proving to be lies and propaganda. The American dream of the next generation doing better than the last is truly broken if even half of what's said here at TOD is true.

I consider myself one of the young people of today (27) and you are correct, all the bullshit promises made to us as kids are a bunch of lies and propoganda. But the next generation doing 'better than the last' is a truly subjective question. If one interprets that as having more material possessions, technology, mobility- then you are correct, our generation will not be better of than the last.
But I for one never enjoyed watching all our farmfields being bulldozed over to make way for more soulless subdvisions and I didn't like watching people go to the mall on their day off from work because they have no idea what else to do with themselves other than watch television. And I don't like being part of the rat race and having meaningless conversations about celebrity gossip. Could you imagine if BAU continued how much worse all of these things would get? Just look at the trends over the last decade.
I am obviously concerned about the uncertainty of the future, but I'm excited at the same time. At least trends are beginning to change. My generation is actually beginning to discuss real things and real problems and real solutions. Maybe when the lies have become apparent to us all we can begin to live meaningful lives once again. That's my hope anyways.

Frankly, when I was 27, in the early 70s, I thought we were at the dawn of a new age, aquarius and all that. I felt like we were at last getting it that GNP is not gross national happiness, that things would change and we would be entering a steady state society. How wrong I was. In your case, there may be no choice.

At least trends are beginning to change. My generation is actually beginning to discuss real things and real problems and real solutions.

Do you think you are the first generation who thot that change was in the air? Do you think there was no optimism or confidence in the 1960s? There are way more people today, inexpensive fossil fuels are being rapidly depleted, environmental conditions are more dire, propaganda dissemination is more sophisticated... than they were when I was your age. The intentional & unintentional dumbing down of the people has only accelerated over the decades. Your generation will be no more successful in dealing with problems of truly global proportions than mine was. You'd better forget about "begin(ning) to lead meaningful lives once again" and focus on securing the means for survival.

You'd better forget about "begin(ning) to lead meaningful lives once again" and focus on securing the means for survival.

You are of course correct, but I think that mere survival in developed world isn't THAT endangerened. Third world is doomed though. I am happy not to be there.

As we now notice ongoing in severely stressed areas of the world: the young will have to make sure many older people die if the young wish to survive. The future belongs to the young, always has,always will.

"Your generation will be no more successful in dealing with problems of truly global proportions than mine was. You'd better forget about "begin(ning) to lead meaningful lives once again" and focus on securing the means for survival."

Dang! Words to live by.

And another thing, cascadia .. forget the power of positive thinking.. it just doesn't work, and it never will.

..or instead, check out YES magazine. http://www.yesmagazine.org/ Great new issue showed up in the mail today. Not everybody thinks we all failed and all gave up. (pss.. the Hippies were right!)


"Sometimes just surviving is a noble fight.." Billy Joel, Angry Young Man

Yes the hippies had it right. Back to the land movements and green.

They knew all of what we now talk about way back then.

Just read some old Mother Earth News magazines. One will be amazed that this has finally come full circle. They were absolutely right.

Something happened though. They got beat down. Their ideas of community and peace. Flower children. Communes. It all went bad somehow.

I know. Drugs. But some drugs just freed the mind.

I think TPTB stomped it to death. A few vestiges remain I believe.

I think some of the dreams stayed alive in a few people. I remember it all very well but I was a bit older and not an exact fit in that time frame. I was born earlier than them. I loved the music though and the freedom. I lived both in Venice,Ca and in Woodstock, NY. during those times.

I still love folk music. I still own 3 Volkswagens.

Maybe some of those old dead dusty dreams will once more become valid.
The time is surely coming when we realize that our present culture is a deathtrap.


"Something happened though. They got beat down." Yup got a scar over my right eye from a billy club. A quarter of an inch lower and I would have lost the eye. We actually did take to the streets. Don't see much of that now. All well and good, but I did learn got to take care of my own ass first. Nobody else will, you can not help others if you are the first one in line waiting for someone to help you.

Airdale, there is something to be said for trying and failing, at least you tried. Maybe it's the vision thing. Chuckle. Don't regret any of my choices, and sitting pretty nicely now. Throw a log on the fire, pour myself a jim beam, and sit back and watch as the turd slowly circles down. Grin.

Don in Maine

Great question, WNC, and reasonable criteria. But it's a little harder to answer than to ask. If it's going to be worth doing, it had better pay commensurate with the risks. But if it's something that any oldster can manage without much investment, then you'll be undercut by anybody who's a little bit more desperate than you. Economists say that "significant barriers to entry" must be present for any kind of guild of workers to remain intact.
So -
If you bought up a couple neighbors' foreclosed places for little more than back taxes, you could offer room and board for healthy (mentally) young men, maybe vets, who can hoe the back yard during the day and guard the front at night. If Argentina is any example, there will be big demand for private security. If you're not holding onto the handle end, you'll end up staring down the sharp end.

Growing pot and distilling booze will require some sort of agreement with the local constabulary, but you get the idea. They call it a "poor man's vacation," and the demand will only increase as times get tougher. Maybe combine the chemical diversions with a gambling operation, exploiting the last embers of the dying get-rich-quick dream to liberate the stoned drunks from their few remaining pennies. Then again, there is that pesky moral factor whenever the word "exploit" pops up.

There will be places that have what you want and need what you have, so long-distance networking will only become more valuable as it becomes more difficult. Being able to capitalize a single shipment of whatever to wherever could be immensely profitable - avocados from Oxnard to Seattle - wheat from Spokane to Portland - even fresh water to San Diego! This works well if you already have a security system in place which could be sent on short missions without risking the homestead. But it's best suited for sporadic payouts, not steady income - I wonder if steady income is in anybody's future?

Staying diversified and capitalized is critical, so you don't get caught in a short squeeze or distressed sale. Once you dip below the surface, you'll have nothing to offer that millions of other younger, hungrier souls wouldn't gladly offer for less.

Good point about the capital investment = barrier to entry. The thing is, if a lot of your potential competitors are people who have nothing, then even a small capital investment will give you quite an edge. Thus rather than thinking in terms of a start-up investment in the range of tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, I am thinking that something in the range of a few hundred up to a few thousand dollars should be something that most older folks can swing, if they have managed to save much at all. Yet even that might be a very high barrier for younger people barely living hand to mouth.

This also suggests that even if the time isn't ripe yet to launch your venture (too busy with your present job, for example), it still would be a very good idea to go ahead and acquire the equipment and skills you are going to need later. Those might be difficult to get at any price by the time you need them, and might very well be worth a lot more than mere money by then. This gets us back to my premise about it being prudent to develop and start working on an action plan now, rather than waiting until the boom has been lowered.

A financier with a million vapor dollars will be in hard shape, compared to the young, strapped person who invested his time and a little bit of cash into learning field dentistry, for example.

I have two close friends, one a masotherapist and one a midwife, who are getting frantic because they don't have hoardes of cash. I tell them both that they're in better shape than I am, because they have essential, irreplaceable skills and experience which can't be taken away from them.

If I had to name one truly critical skill to get us through the next few decades, it would probably be midwifery.

I think you're falling at the first hurdle WNC by framing the ELP plan as "self-employed". This puts your thinking squarely inside the current paradigm which is failing terminally. Being self-employed is a legal construct that keeps you fully integrated into the system. Try "working for yourself" instead, literally, and not for a failing system.

"One needs to actually be able to earn a decent amount of money per hour, or it is not worth the trouble."

Again, planning to put oneself in a position of total dependence on a failing system seems like a really bad idea. Why put a one way bet on BAU continuing as normal?

The first thing to do is get a roof over your head, food on the table and heat the home, all without dependence on the system. Once secure then look to using any surplus time/labour/capital to acquire any further requirements (produce, services or money). Which obviously requires a truly radical change in lifestyle and thinking.

I pretty much agree, perhaps I should have made that clearer up front. You are right, one needs to have a "household economy" set up so that one can provide as much of one's own needs and be as minimally dependent upon the outside economy as possible. However, I am assuming that for most of us, we are still going to find it necessary to obtain some goods or services from others, and one is going to have to be able to offer some type of good or service to others either to barter or to earn whatever is the medium of exchange in order to buy what one needs. It is this part of it that I was referring to.

Yes, I totally agree. Producing goods and services that others are willing to pay or barter for is essential. And can only be achieved on a local basis, otherwise it's back to dependence on the failing System again.

I don't think the P in ELP can be planned. Its probably a case of having to actually be part of a local economy first, before a productive niche can be found. The local economy will essentially dictate what it needs and each local economy's needs will vary.

Myself, I'm getting involved in primary food production, but also see the need to add value so as to enhance the ability to trade locally. For example producing cheese from ones own milk, rather than trying to trade the raw commodity. Also, I feel it is necessary to produce something needed by oneself as well as by others and not to over-produce for the sake of trade alone (which I believe leads to unsustainable practices).

WNC Observer

In the pursuit of self sufficiency, leaving the smallest possible energy foot print, and most importantly being independent and free to come and go, I have experimented with a number of small enterprises. I have become a Blacksmith of sorts. There is a real niche in rural America for the Blacksmith and there are many opportunities for barter. In addition, I've got a bunch of chickens that produce 18 eggs a day or so. I don't like eggs that much, and I don't want to be bothered with selling them for $2.75 per dozen, so I give them away. Folks feel guilty taking them for free and so I get pies, fresh baked bread, canned preserves, and cooked meals in exchange. I'm a bachelor and so all of these trades are very appreciated. I've got a few Nubian goats, and, again, barter and trades for cheese and milk works well. I used to raise and train horses and mules, but, there is no longer a market for either and I'm getting to old to be riding broncs. At least that's what my daughters tell me.

I attended a Navajo Rug sale last weekend. The rugs were beautiful. The rugs require many hours of work to complete, usually 400 plus hours for a 30'x36 inch rug. They go for $400 - $500 each and so the old Navajo women who make them are "bringing home" about $1 per hour for their labor. What else are they going to do with their time? They like making rugs.

I just came in from tilling my garden before putting all to bed for the winter time. My garden has become a community enterprise. All who wish to participate are welcome. My apprentices are typically professionals who have retired, bought a little place out here in the weeds, and now want to learn how to do something. Folks who grew up here already know how and have their own gardens. We had a lot of fun this past fall putting up vegetables for the winter time. We've got some wicked Crab Apple Brandy cooking for Christmas.

Best from the Fremont

Sounds like a good approach. I tend to give my eggs away too, although I intend to start selling them next year once I increase production. I give away quite a bit of veg also.

It's a good way to make friends, gain trust and kick start the process of local trade. I imagine that psychologically it also brings peoples minds back to sourcing things locally, rather than believing everything must come from a supermarket.

www.anvilfire.com is a good website for wannbe blacksmiths.

Make a tomahawk out of a railroad spike. How to judge an anvil...etc.

Magichammer.freeserver.com as well.

I am glad to see some new folks interested in blacksmithing. I hope to start making my own charcoal this coming year. Far far less impurities in your forgings.

Pine makes the cleanest and best charcoal.

I just picked up a very nice Peter Wright at 105 hundredweight. (117lbs)
My buddy just got an Armitage in excellent shape.

I am slowly replacing my blacksmithing equipment that I lost in the divorce proceedings. Today I just drove my old auctioned off IH 140 home. Brought it back for a third of what it auctioned off for.



Thank you for the link. I checked it out and will explore when I have some time. I am a "Blacksmith of sorts"; I build spurs and bits for cowboys. Nothing fancy, just good, solid, old fashioned (after Crockett, McChesney, Kelly) spurs and bits. I sell everything I make. I don't take custom orders because I don't like putting brands, or initials on my stuff. I make a pair of spurs and someone comes along and buys them. This past spring at roundup I was with a bunch of fellers and everyone of them was wearing a pair of my spurs. So, I've found a niche. There aren't very many spur makers in the US of A. But, then, there aren't very many who need spurs either. So, quite a limited market, but there seems to be room for my stuff.

I've said in prior posts that I've put together a regular Blacksmith's Shop complete with a good forge, an anvil (found it in Wisconsin), hammers, tongs, and an old spring vise. I'm just starting on real Blacksmithing and have much to learn. Last weekend I attended a Cowboy Gathering up north and was fortunate to catch a fine demonstration of the Blacksmith's skills by an accomplished Blacksmith. There's nothing quite like hot iron, and the ring of the anvil and hammer. Best from the Fremont

There are several wrought iron makers in New Orleans (and surrounding areas) that use old blacksmith skills, mainly for larger scale projects.


Maybe small scale farming like chickens or rabbits or pigeons would be OK if there is a little land.

If the person is handy with tools, then building things locally on a small scale. I am right now thinking of building a small cold frame for veggies, but I am not skilled with tools! If only there were people around who were, rather than the expensive professional carpenters who will charge an arm and a leg.

Why worry about earning MONEY??? Money will not be where it's at...probably You are better off worrying about trading what you can produce for something you need. Of if it's food you're growing then you can eat it.

Buy straight pieces of wood, and use screw blocks to fasten them together. Don't forget to use galvanised screws as it will be for outside use.
Use glue or screws to attach perspex.
Design around your skill set, formally, on paper, and to scale.
Or here is one plan:

There is no such thing as can't!

Bicycle repair? As long as the parts last anyway.

I think that might be too easy. Most people can pick up the basics of bike repair pretty quickly.

A friend of mine makes extra money by selling bikes on Craigslist. She gets the broken bikes for free or very cheap on Craigslist, fixes them up, and sells them for a profit.

She wanted to travel, and decided to go to Bulgaria for as long as her money lasted. She asked some Bulgarians whether she should bring her bike repair tools, thinking she could earn some money there that way. They basically laughed and said everyone repairs their own bikes. The idea of paying someone else to do it was bizarre to them.

Nymex Crude Oil closed below $50 a barrel today. The December contract, which expired today, closed at $49.62, down $4.00 on the day. The new near term contract, January, closed down $4.68 at $49.42.

The January contract was the only one trading below the expiring near term contract. The rest of the market is in contango with the December 2015 contract closing at $83.70, down $1.73 on the day.

CNN Breaking News: Dow drops 400 points to fall below 7,600 for first time since March 2003. More soon.

More soon.

Please don't.


FWIW, their breaking news banner now reads Another dramatic stock selloff: S&P closes at 11-1/2-year low, down 6.6%; Dow sinks 430 points and Nasdaq tumbles 5%.

Late Breaking News Bulletin: Barack Obama Demands a Recount*

*Tom Brokaw's joke

And some of my coworkers were laughing at me when I moved my 401k entirely out of equities at Dow 9000!

"Don't you know it always comes back up" they said.
"you got to be in for the long haul" they argued.

Screw the long haul and what you've already lost (actually merely didn't realize), do you think from here the markets going down or up? I asked.

"Oh well, it can't really go any lower, can it?" they replied.

I may have to change my mind about being a 7000 buyer

I still contribute to my 401K. Why? Company matching. For every dollar I put in, the company puts in a dollar (up to 3% of my salary). This actually means I still make money as long as the market is worth more than half as much as when I first invested (because I've already doubled my money on day one when I first contributed).

However... We've already seen the Dow lose almost half it's value. Maybe I'll stop contributing to the 401K after the open enrollment period next month and invest that money in things like firewood and home improvements to make my house more energy efficient.

My company matches me 2:1 so I put 6% they put 12% - it's free money as even if I cash out then the penalty is way less than the bonus. These kind of schemes should be the last of your discretionary stuff to go.
I've been in cash since 2006.

Well, at least we know that the price of oil and the Dow can't keep falling at $4 per barrel per day and at 400 points per day for more than 12 days and 19 days respectively.

In any case, as noted up the thread, it remains to be seen whether we will see an annual decline in oil prices in 2009, since we will not see one in 2008. If the involuntary net export decline really kicks in, augmented by voluntary net export cutbacks, it's entirely possible the average annual oil price in 2009 may be higher than 2008, unless of course most of us are living in cardboard boxes next year. . .

Paulson calls it the crisis of the century...but warns against too much regulation.

The "once or twice" in a century crisis. Same the half dozen "once in 100 and 500 year" floods we've been having in the Midwest over the past 15 years.

Now I feel much better. Only 12 days until free oil.

Shoot, and at this rate, they'll GIVE you $50 for every barrel of oil by the end of the year...

England, Germany, Italy, and much of the EU are in a recession.


Spain has recorded one quarter of negative growth but is expected to declare a recession with the next quarterly report, it is being reprimanded by the EU for exceeding deficit spending limits.

France showed slight growth in the third quarter, but is expected to show negative growth in the current fourth quarter.

Japan is going deeper into recession.

China, Brazil, India, Russia, Australia, and Saudi Arabia are not reporting recessions.

In May George Soros predicted the worse recession of a lifetime; he was referring mainly to Britain where the housing prices had greatly exceeded people's ability to afford housing. Warren Buffet wavered between recession worse than one could imagine to not quite so bad recession (he took some measures to protect himself from the recession). If people would have known the meaning of the word coming recession they may have cashed out their stocks last year. Many of us had not known what those words of warning were describing.

The recession is linked to diverting too much investment into housing facilities that cannot be exported nor are they likely to increase one's productivity. It is linked to widespread mortgage debt defaults and credit swap defaults. This has interrupted business and personal finance lending activities. Tighter borrowing standard requiring better assessments and more collateral for loans might eventually strengthen the economy. Loose credit is risky business and is not prudent for the lender who needs to be repaid what was lent out. Most lenders may afford to give a small percentage to people who can not pay back, they dare not risk giving all to those who are likely to default after speculative bubbles burst.

Are we so addicted to the growth meme that we can't say economic contraction instead of the absurdity of negative growth?


I discover that I have been a TOD member for 3 weeks, 3 days. I was not really peak oil aware before this date.

This being close to thanksgiving I wanted to give thanks to TOD for the big Energy education. And probably a whole lot more!

So what is my opinion on the current situation. Do we all get to be pundits. Of course! Hard to summarize. I can bullet point it maybe:

- I believe 2030 date is peak. Based on my feeling that this is most agreed upon date, 2030, by the experts. It will be a long undulating (hopefully not like todays market) tail spin to forced rationing of resources from 2030 on. The title for the book " The Long Emergency" is its best feature as it describes this period.
- Consider this, "So what if we were running out of air?". What would you think about that? That would be like getting emphyzema collectively, And regardless any price. It is one of the few things free today. What would we do? I think we would become much more effecient on its use. This doesn't seem to be happening with oil. That is the biggest mistake being made today. Back to cheap oil.
- I believe the forecast that we see the econonmy recover mid year 2009. But, I still can't believe what has happened today and yesterday!
- Let's get on with Obama world.

Other than that I am getting ready to hold on to my pants!

"2030 is peak"?????????????????? Are you serious?
How much do you think oil production is going up by 2030 (in barrels per day)?
How will we make up for falling production of 6% per year? Where is the new oil coming from?
Since the US is a major importer, our imports will drop to zero long before 2030.

- I believe 2030 date is peak. Based on my feeling that this is most agreed upon date, 2030, by the experts.

Peak_a_boo, glad you have so much faith in the experts. Here is what the world's greatest experts wrote four years ago.

Mexican crude oil production is projected to peak at 4.2 mb/d around 2010, and then to remain almost flat during the 2010s. It is then projected to decline sharply, to 2.8 mb/d in 2030. IEA World Energy Outlook 2004

Mexico, total liquids, peaked in 2004 at 3.825 mb/d, the very year of that report. Last month their all liquids production was 3.080 mb/d. That is 1.12 mb/d less than the IEA's expected plateau in 2010. It should easily reach 2.8 mb/d in 2010 instead of 2030. That would mean their predictions are only 20 years off. And if you read the report, they were just as far off for most other nations as well. So much for the experts.

We are currently on the peak plateau and I expect us to come off it next year but on the downside. 2005 to 2008 will be the peak with max production probably 2008.

Ron Patterson

For some reason, in my reading (and I am TOD member 31 weeks not 3 as I stated), I keep getting back to this 2030 number. Perhaps we will be able to string things out to there. The other date I was landing on was 2013. Right now I am leaning more towards 2030. And it is all a gut thing from what I have learned so far. The thing we haven't seen or felt yet...is a sharp global production decline. Once I feel one of those for the first time..I will believe we are peek.

I could go into the whole net export story for the umpteenth time, causing widespread nausea and thoughts of suicide among long time readers, but I don't have the time or strength--suffice to say that our middle case shows that the combined net oil exports from Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and the UAE will be approaching zero in the circa 2031 time frame.

Oh I am well aware of your and Khebab's net oil export story. And I believe it. But, I am not sure the timing. I know you may be.

What is throwing me off today is the demand destruction factor. Can we keep this up and how much of an effect this could potentially make on supply.

Hi Peak,

re: "Can we keep this up and how much of an effect this could potentially make on supply."

Actually, this is an interesting question.

Is volatility sustainable? (So to speak.:))

And if so, for how long (relative "sustainability," I guess we could say.)

Are there limits on volatility of price - or on bouts of "demand destruction" ( as you put it) - and is it meaningful to talk about the situation in this way?

This is like having the preacher tire of the alter call. I don't know if holding your tongue is bad, but it's certainly unexpected.

"Russia is close to economic collapse." Awe.............
A devaluation of the ruble! What a pity.
Putin's new empire is falling apart. Too bad..........
Iran is suffering too.
I am beginning the think that TPTB are lowering the price of oil just for that purpose.

From the link:

The collapse in the value of oil was likely to have several catastrophic consequences for Russia including a possible devaluation of the rouble and a severe drop in living standards next year, they warned.

Russia is just the first domino likely to fall. All other nations will follow in short order. The world will suffer a severe drop in the living standards starting next year and lasting until....

TPTB, whoever you think they are, have no control over the price of oil.

Re: Greer, I'm reading the Long Descent and finding it hard to put it down - think it deserves a review as much as anything else covered here. Never got on board with the Utopia vs. Armageddon options so many peddle, and glad to see someone expound on this more.

Of course I'm only 50 pages in, maybe the rest will suck out loud. Already finding him a bit suspiciously firm on insisting the downside of the curve will match the first, and take an equally long time to cover. Oil production involves fabrication of a lot of very specialized equipment, will it always be available? This includes what it takes to maintain a humble stripper well, as much as it does to access UDW projects. What do you do when your polished rod snaps? Need a new reduction gear or a belt for your nodding donkey's motor?

I believe Nate is planning to write a review of The Long Descent.

Greer is probably my favorite peak oil writer. Though I think he goes overboard with the religious narrative thing.

Yeah, I think Greer gets it better than just about anybody out there. I like that he does some meta-cognition (i.e. he thinks about thinking) and puts a lot of emphasis on how the ways we think color how we interpret these things. He's also a very good writer.

His book is really good, and I would say it's required reading. Still, I leave a comment every week at his blog telling him why he's wrong. Sometimes I think he picks his historical examples a little too carefully.

I like his writings a lot. Seems like a very bright man and communicates his ideas very well. The neo-druid thing I find really weird (as the only contemporary records of druid practices come from Greek and Roman writers [often working from secondary sources themselves, and hardly a sympathetic audience to "barbarian" religious practices]), it amazes me that a very bright man like Greer can believe in a religion that is at this point a largely made-up fantasy of the 19th and 20th centuries Romantic movement, but there are all sorts of bright people who believe things I regard as crazy. I feel like the original big religions modern society has are already odd and nonsensical, let alone more modern made-up religions like neo-druids, wiccan or scientology (no comparison between these 3 btw, other than they are modern created religions).

That said, I eagerly read Greer's writings and enjoy his thoughts on where we are headed.

If you look into it a bit, you will find that Greer has a very honest and open view as to what his Druidism really means. Surely no illusions as to some unbroken "tradition" with pre-Roman Druids, or anything like that, nor any illusions as to the "authenticity" of fantasy Druidism of the 19th and 20th centuries. He is indeed a very bright man.

I actually figured it had to be something like that with Greer - glad to hear it though. There is so much reading I am always doing about things that interest me ("The Red Queen" at the moment) that I never spent any efforts to read and really understand Greer's beliefs in Druidism. I have a friend who is a "witch" (practices wicca), and I can't even talk to her about the modern origins of her "religion" for fear of insulting her.

I think he sees religion as a tool to guide the collapse.

If you read his book and other writings, he thinks part of our problem is our existing religions. That our belief in either continuing progress or sudden collapse has its origins in religion.

He sees an environmentally-based religion as a way to counter that - to supply a "narrative" better suited to the future he thinks we will be facing.

Last winter, he posted a "future history" fiction series, which details the catabolic collapse he is expecting. Eventually, people come to see burning coal as an affront to god (the Earth).

Interesting story line Leanan. Perhaps as the world (at least China anyway) becomes more dependent upon coal for energy as oil/NG deplete, it can be cast as the anti-Christ. Perhaps a lead character would be the "666 Coal Company".

And I still perform my own Druid ceremony in the fall during hunting season: shooting clumps of mistletoe out of a tree to take home for holiday decorations. Thus there seems to be a lot of semi-Druids down here in Texas.

I hope he eventually publishes that as a novel (I assume he will). I usually hate future fiction, but his was really good.

Not enough credit is being given to the high gas prices this past year and it's serious damage on our economy and society. That one factor alone has caused serious stress in both individuals and businesses. A record number of homes and jobs have been lost as a direct result. And, while we are doing the happy dance around the lower prices at the pumps OPEC is announcing cuts to manipulate the prices upward again. We must get on with becoming energy independent.We can't take another year like this past. There is a wonderful new book out about the energy crisis and what it would take for America to become energy independent. It covers every aspect of oil, what it's uses are besides gasoline, our reserves, our depletion of it. Every type of alternative energy is covered and it's potential to replace oil. He even has proposed legislative agenda's that would be necessary to implement these changes along with time frames. This book is profoundly informative and our country needs to become more informed and move forward with becoming energy independent. Green technology would not only provide clean cheap energy it would create millions of badly needed new jobs. The Book is called The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence NOW. Our politicians all need to read this book. www.themanhattanprojectof2009.com