DrumBeat: December 6, 2008

‘Aramco will cut costs, not delay projects’

KUALA LUMPUR: Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant will be looking to cut costs rather than delay or abandon oil projects amid the fall in global oil prices, a senior company executive has said.

“Construction is one area where we can reduce costs – steel prices are down 60%, for example,” Abdulla A Al-Naim, vice president for Petroleum Engineering and Development at Saudi Arabian Oil Co, told Dow Jones Newswires.

Kuwait''s income projected to fall as result of record drop of oil prices

KUWAIT (KUNA) -- Kuwait's oil returns are forecast to drop to KD 19.9 billion if the prices of the crude remain at the level of USD 40 per barrel, Al-Shal consultancy said in a report released on Saturday.

Total income will also fall to KD 20.9 billion, with a possible surplus of KD two billion.

The crisis and opportunity of peak oil and peak coal - Interview of Richard Heinberg by Dr. Helen Caldicott

In this engrossing discussion with Dr. Helen Caldicott, Richard Heinberg explains the situation of Peak Oil, and reminds us just how reliant our society is on the finite resources of oil, coal and gas. We are reaching a state where the depletion of these fossil fuels will force us to undergo a major transition to low-energy and re-localized societies with food grown and products made close to home. Heinberg describes how transportation will need to change - currently oil is responsible for 95% of transportation technologies in the United States.

Peak oil still relevant? More than ever.

Before the Thanksgiving holiday we got an email from William M., a reader of our newsletter, asking, "Why if oil supply is decreasing and demand is increasing is the price collapsing? What is happening? Is Peak Oil therefore a myth?"

Iran OPEC Gov: Inadequate Invest In Oil Will Bring Supply Bottleneck-Report

TEHRAN -(Dow Jones)- Iran's governor to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said Saturday that a decline in investments in oil production will lead to tightened oil supplies and a crude oil price rise in the future, the semi-official Isna news agency reports Saturday.

"Inadequate investment in the (oil) production sector will be a factor in an oil price jump in the future," Mohammad Ali Khatibi said, according to Isna.

Industry says investment will continue in Gulf drilling, despite declining fuel prices

Money will likely continue to flow into drilling the deepest regions of the Gulf of Mexico, even as the energy industry cuts costs to deal with a global economic downturn, according to analysts who spoke Friday at an energy economics forum in downtown New Orleans.

The deepwater of the Gulf, which refers to areas more than 1,000 feet under water, is thought to hold some of the largest reserves of untapped fuel in the world. Some estimates indicate that there are still 40 billion barrels of oil left to be found in the Gulf, more than enough to feed the United States for five years. But companies are having to travel farther offshore to tap those resources, which require more time and expensive technology to produce than fuel unearthed from shallower waters.

Peru’s Surging Natural Gas Business

Peru's phenomenal economic growth in recent years has boosted the country's prominence in Latin America. It has also caused more than a few headaches for government planners, as energy demand has expanded faster than expected. Inadequate transmission and natural gas pipeline capacity has further exacerbated the problem, putting Peru under threat of power outages and forcing generators to increase imports of high-cost diesel.

If the government is to be believed, the problem will be short lived, as projects are underway to increase generation and transmission capacity and expand natural gas pipelines. But the current energy crisis will have long-lasting consequences, as it has forced the country to rethink how best to take advantage of its newfound natural gas wealth. It's becoming increasingly clear that Peru will not expand its natural gas export program beyond the one liquefied natural gas project that is on track to start operations in about a year.

The U.K.’s Gas and Power Worries

The United Kingdom, like many other regions, has seen its energy prices rise dramatically over the past few years. And along with that have come increasing worries about the security of its energy flows, with some forecasters even predicting power shortages this winter. This article reviews the situation’s underlying causes, with suggestions for improvement.

Zimbabwe: Bicycles, new attitudes critical in fuel crisis

For instance you are driving to work and the last drop of fuel, in your tank is sucked up, the vehicle shudders and the engine stalls, you curse the inanimate creature and the inevitable lack of response makes you fume all the more, futile your plaintive eyes unable to elicit help from other motorists. You lock the car and hitch a lift to work to be greeted by the boss with a grunt and telltale furrows on his face in which is encoded a message over manhours lost.

Then you stretch your lunch hour scouring the city for fuel and sneak back to work via the route leading to the toilet. Then you stealthily, your heart throbbing, productivity virtually on its knees, probably abscond early via the way to the toilet, to take care of your car in case, if left at night, some thieves come by.

Rail efficiencies

I am troubled by the various claims I've seen over the years regarding energy consumption and CO2 emissions per passenger-mile for trains/streetcars versus automobiles versus airplanes. Environmental organizations and sustainability advocates routinely assert that energy consumption for passenger rail is much "greener" than driving or flying. But Tables 2.13 and 2.14 in the Department of Energy's Transportation Energy Data Book #27 indicate that existing Amtrak intercity passenger rail is only 25% more efficient than the fleet average for cars; furthermore, Amtrak is only 18% more efficient than air travel!

Energy Goals a Moving Target for States

In hopes of slowing global warming and creating “green jobs,” Congress and the incoming administration may soon impose a mandate that the nation get 10 or 15 percent of its electricity from renewable sources within a few years.

Yet the experience of states that have adopted similar goals suggests that passing that requirement could be a lot easier than achieving it. The record so far is decidedly mixed: some states appear to be on track to meet energy targets, but others have fallen behind on the aggressive goals they set several years ago.

AP Interview: OPEC head predicts output cuts

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Oil markets should brace for a surprise decision on output cuts when OPEC meets Dec. 17, the cartel's president said Saturday, suggesting that reductions could be deeper than expected.

"A consensus has formed for a significant reduction of production levels" by the 14-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC President Chakib Khelil told The Associated Press.

The OPEC head would not discuss how deep the output cut would be, but said it could be "severe," and noted that some analysts are predicting cuts of as much as 2 million barrels per day.

An output decision that startles markets would help bolster plunging oil rates, Khelil said.

"The best way is to surprise them," he said. "I hope it (the decision) will,"

Drastic Oil Price Fall May Push Big Oil To Pare Spending

HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- Rapidly falling oil prices are prompting large oil companies to review 2009 capital programs, shifting analysts' expectations of companies' future spending.

...Some analysts suspect that companies need extra time to trim their capital budgets, a move that could translate into a slowdown of investment in both current and new oil capacity. This could potentially further restrain global oil supply and halt or at least slow the slide in prices, though the effect often happens with a lag.

Cheap U.S. fuel oil prompts switching from natgas

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A collapse in U.S. East Coast residual fuel oil prices over the last month has made it the fuel of choice for many utilities and industrial firms seeking to avoid relatively expensive natural gas.

U.S. winter chill to bolster heating fuel demand

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Winter is shaping up to be the coldest in years for much of the United States, spelling potentially robust demand for heating oil and natural gas.

The outlook could put a floor under crude oil prices, which have dropped more than $100 since July due to an economic crisis that has slashed consumption of transportation fuels like gasoline and jet fuel.

If the Oil Runs Out...: Will mankind find a solution before it is too late?

Just over a century ago, man eagerly grabbed hold of this tasty treat. Since then, he has built his entire global economic foundation upon oil. It is the lifeblood of modern civilization, with more than 80 million barrels consumed worldwide every day. It is cheap, easy to acquire, addictive, and allows many of life’s conveniences to exist. Without it, life for many of the earth’s over six-and-a-half billion inhabitants would be radically different. Day in, day out, human beings are dependent upon it more than any other resource—and yet most rarely think about it.

But, like the case of the monkey and the coconut, there is a catch. Man may soon find himself with a rapidly dwindling supply of oil—and eventually none at all. Will he choose to keep his fist clenched around the black liquid until it is too late—and bring about catastrophic upheaval? Or will he overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and let go—thus avoiding disaster?

Oil Prices Have World's Meanies Over a Barrel

Go ahead, celebrate. Let the SUV warm up in the driveway extra long tomorrow.

And rejoice over the potentially catastrophic economic misfortune being delivered to the doorsteps of some really nasty regimes around the world.

Future-Proof Design

A perfect storm of change is gathering on the horizon. Climate destabilization, peak oil, population growth, and the acceleration of consumption in the developing world point to dramatic increases in energy, food, and materials costs. As population and demand for resources grow, key life-support resources like productive soil, fresh water, and fisheries continue to decline. How will libraries help their communities and campuses cope with looming global challenges that may require dramatic shifts in the way we live? How will library operating budgets accommodate future dramatic increases in utility costs and meet local financial challenges? How can you “future-proof” your library?

UK Industry on Peak Oil: Virgin, Yahoo and Others Raise the Alarm

While some in the business world have recognised and spoken out about the threat of peak oil – from Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer’s prediction that energy depletion could hit us in 7 years, through to oil banker Matt Simmon’s warning that the energy crisis could dwarf the financial crunch soon - in general the silence from corporations on this issue has been deafening. This is a particularly puzzling state of affairs when you consider how dependent our entire economy is on cheap oil. But there are signs that things are changing – a report, which Matt posted about last week, from the newly formed UK-based Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security, has now been launched at the London Stock Exchange. The video above shows the kind of heavy hitters involved in this initiative - including Richard Branson of Virgin - as they aim to raise awareness of the threat, and what can be done to counter it.

Betting against the crowd can be profitable, but it's no picnic

A year ago, some Malthusian brokerage reports stated that food has become the new oil weapon, because of its coming scarcity. Farm exchange-traded funds proliferated. Today, all are down and food inventories are piling up.

In the same spirit, the Club of Rome warned in the 1970s that resources are limited and so we must allocate them via central planning, socialist-style. A Stanford professor made a famous bet that resource prices would be lower 10 years thence, because initially rising prices would increase supplies. He won the bet.

Last year, oil was supposedly running out. Three-hundred-buck oil was bruited about, and a guy called Matt Simmons (spiritual son to Malthus and the Club of Rome) made a career of it. Today, oil is one-third its peak price; there's so much of it you can't get storage; and OPEC members bicker over who will cut production first.

Tories pledge protection for embattled oil sands

OTTAWA - The Harper government pledged to protect the oil sands sector from economic uncertainty as it challenged opposition parties yesterday to explain how their proposed coalition would regulate pollution from the western Canadian industry.

BP budgets more than a billion in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — BP is budgeting $1.2 billion in capital expenditures for Alaska in 2009, a 33 percent increase from current year spending, according to the outgoing president of the local subsidiary.

But the company also expects a 10 percent drop in drilling at Prudhoe Bay next year.

Kuwait may scrap new refinery project

Kuwait may scrap a project to build the country's fourth refinery with a capacity of 615,000 barrels per day, which has faced opposition in parliament, it was reported.

UN defends carbon-trading scheme from US criticism

The GAO found that the cap-and-trade scheme sucessfuly created a working carbon market, “but its effects on emissions, the European economy, and technology investment are less certain.” The report noted that the use of carbon offsets can “undermine the system’s integrity” because there is no way to ensure that the projects invested in would not have been built anyway, or that they will last long enough to reduce the amount of emissions that they are expected to reduce. Carbon offsets, the report concluded “involve fundamental tradeoffs and may not be a reliable long-term approach to climate change mitigation.”

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said that, while the program can certainly be improved, the fundamentals of the system were sound. Mr. de Boer, who is attending the UN climate summit in Poznań, Poland,

Yes you can change the climate, Mr Obama

YOU have promised to help Americans suffering from the financial crisis, to tackle global warming and to bring about genuine change. Well, there is a way to achieve all these goals.

Global Climate and Global Power

Something I didn’t get to go into, but is on my mind these days, is the possible political shake-up coming in part from how we respond to climate disruption. 2030 is a good target point for this issue, since I’m fairly confident that by then we’ll have seen some significant changes in how we govern the planet.

This scenario most likely to make this apparent is one in which we embark upon a set of geoengineering-based responses to the climate problem (not as the sole solution, but as a disaster-avoidance measure), probably starting in the early-mid 2010s. These would likely be various forms of thermal management, such as stratospheric sulfate injections or high-altitude seawater sprays, but might also include some form of carbon capture via ocean fertilization, or even something not yet fully described*. Mid-2010s strikes me as a probable starting period, mostly out of a combination of desperation and compromise; geo advocates might see it as already too late, while geo opponents would likely want to have more time to study models.

Save Our Slopes, say top skiers in climate change SOS

POZNAN, Poland (AFP) – Some of the world's top skiers and snowboarders Friday urged governments locked in UN climate talks to curb greenhouse gas emissions, saying that global warming was threatening their sport.

Climate change is old news: Scientists predicted global warming more than a century ago

Irish scientist John Tyndall first speculated that human-induced global warming might be possible back in 1861 and Nobel Prize-winning chemist Svante Arrhennius had confirmed climate change (with laborious pencil and paper calculations rather than the shortcut of computers) by the end of the 19th century. And a little magazine called Scientific American published an article on the phenomenon back in 1959 that holds up today.

Even back then, the rudimentary outlines of the much-maligned "hockey stick" were visible, showing human-induced warming temperatures over time, despite the fact that U.S. geochemist Charles Keeling had only begun his annual measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere in Hawaii a year earlier. And the outcome was clear: average global temperatures would rise much the way that a closed car heats up in the sun.

Hello TODer's. A question for the board, having just browsed Dmitry Orlov's site, would it be better to live in a developing country or in a developed country when preparing for peak oil? As I gather from this http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2008/11/poverty-asset-assets-burden.html guest post. Living in a developing country might make it easier for the transition to occur. AS the local population has low expectations and low standards of living.

Chris writes of a paradox: lack of assets may be the greatest asset of all. I don't believe that this is a paradox: the higher you climb, the harder you fall. A place that is used to an artificially high standard of living inevitably develops artificially high standards. These standards cannot be undone overnight, as soon as the standard of living collapses, delaying commonsense adaptations until it is too late. Prosperous places have expensive infrastructure, and, once it can no longer be maintained, it becomes much worse than no infrastructure at all. Lastly, poverty takes practice, and a sudden lapse into poverty is far more traumatic than the habit of a stable but constrained existence.

The author carries on with his experience with developed countries

Very few people in these countries under the age of about 80 remember anything about what it means to have to survive somehow in the environment, from that environment. Look to the evidence online; how many sites are telling people to stock up on guns and ammo or to stockpile massive amounts of food? The guns will attract violence, the ammo will make those using it targets for those who have less ammo; the food will perish, attract rodents and thieves. In comparison, how many are teaching how to build suburban gardens, recycle small power and methane generators, and other practical adaptations?

He speaks of the Phillipines (which could really substitute for many developing countries and large segments of rural India and China IMO

The Philippines, like a number of other countries, is living in a paradox of different proportions. Outside of the biggest cities here, food is growing everywhere, in the villages themselves, as well as the agricultural lands around them. Most people here can tell you how to grow a list of useful plants and to raise chickens.
They are also very much used to sharing. There is virtually no government safety net here. To become eligible for social welfare payments, one must have held the same job for ten years; this almost never happens. Yet even in the moderate-sized cities, nobody starves. Interdependence is local and regional rather than national and international. Of course, there is a degree of modernization contributing to the welfare of people. Some people work in the cities or overseas and send money home to support the extended family. But even without this money life would go on.

So the question for TODer's as this is not readily assessed in peak oil literature, what are the effects likely to be on third world countries where the vast majority of the world population lives and are they better off for the coming dark future?

Perhaps you should ask, how long until we become a third world country?

I wrote this last night.

Sabbath eve, December 5, 2008

The first real killing freeze will arrive tonight; we’ve had frosts but this is the real deal. All warm season plants that have not succumbed to the cold, will tonight. For those of you that live further north, you’d consider this a minor event. It’d suggest cold is cold.

I have to watch for compaction colic in weather like this. Horses sometimes don’t drink enough water with the first cold spell—lack of moisture and a belly full of dry hay stops them up. Colic kills horses.

On the way home from Belmont I saw a panhandler walking down the road with a backpack and a plastic five gallon bucket in hand. I wonder where he’s spending this night? How will he stay warm? Peraps I should ask, Will he stay warm?

The newspaper told me we graduated from extreme drought to exceptional drought; the drought map shows a red hole right in the middle of my state. Of course, I didn’t need the newspaper to tell me that.

Pastures are parched. I sold (and loaded) almost 500 bales of hay today at a dollar per bale less than the same hay sold for picked up out of the field earlier this year.

Why sell at that price?

With the drought there’s a shortage of hay. But there’s an overriding shortage of money that seems the more powerful force at the moment. Or perhaps it’s a shortage of confidence that has people hoarding money. Either way, price something too high, it will sit unsold.

Calves that brought $1.40 a pound six months ago now fetch 80 cents a pound. If not, then less. This Wednesday a full-sized horse sold for $50 through the sale ring. A burro sold for $3. The coggins test required to legally sell a horse or burro costs $35. Then there’s the sales commission…

The corn I didn’t want to sell for $5.70 a bushel (thinking the price too cheap) is now valued at $3.09; oil an abysmal $40 a barrel. I don’t know about anyone else—what I do know is that I cannot produce these products at these prices.

I am told the US spent less on Christmas gifts than any time in the last 35 years. That, without adjusting for inflation.

ABC’s Charlie Gibson said over 500,000 people officially lost their job last month on the evening news.

Of one thing I am sure. The real number is higher.

Tim Ervin, a horse trainer I know came by to pick up a check. He says Retama Park, the race track in San Antonio is a graveyard. A gallop hand he knows only got 9 rides for the week. Normally he’d gallop nine or more horses in a single day. Nine rides times $10/ride. The man earned $90. He is employed.

Trainers have horses that need to be galloped, but the horses’ owners have stopped paying their bills. Luxury items are the first to fail in a market like this.

The trainers are employed. They may not be getting paid but they are employed.

The stock market gained over two hundred points.

Nice to see our goddamned government cared enough to bail out Wall Street.

People ask, “What will happen?”

Well, I never would have guessed that oil would sell this cheap again, that grain would be this cheap. I am learning the law of supply and demand does not function in this economic climate. So I am not the one to ask.

But if you require an answer, here’s the best I can come up with:

Expect the unexpected.

These are strange and I fear, terrible times.

I would like to reply to this but there is so much angst in the posters comments that I am hesitant.

I mostly speak on TOD of the hinterlands and what I see here in Ag.

In 2007 hay was unfindable and almost unbuyable. The prices were astronomical. A large round bale could be sold for over $100 in Florida and some here took bales to Florida to sell but we ran out here. We ran out real real bad. I used to bale and sell a lot of hay but gave it up as a losing proposition back in the 80's. I even gave away a 24 acre field last year that produced 60 round bales. Gave it away to get it cut but if I had kept it? I wouldn't have owed a single penny to anyone after selling it. I was out of my mind to give it away as I found out when the real crisis hit. Due to the spring of 2007 and the winter preceeding it when all the wheat was lost,the same events shattered the hay crops.

So it goes. Right now all bets are off. I am expecting something unplanned for 2009 and maybe worse.

"Times are strange"? Indeed they are becoming stranger as unexpected events twist thru the time continuum and wreck havoc in unplanned ways.

Some observations: No birds. They appear to all be pretty much gone.
No geese sighted and by now I would have seen many v wings flying overhead. Not a single honk have I heard so far and last year it was bad but not this bad. I live right close to a flyaway. A very big one.

No ducks to speak of. Woods ducks used to overfly my ponds and raise young there. No more wood ducks do I see. Zippo. Nada.

I think someone is surely realizing something is very wrong! But no. Its not getting much play. Just like the honey bees.

We are right now utterly destroying this planet. Way way beyond tipping points. We have no one really to fight this madness.

I once expected our countries youth to mount up in protest and assemble. They won't. They weren't raised in such a manner as to go that route.

We are alone. All of us old codgers. Those who protested in the 60s?
They won't be doing anything for their time has come around and now gone. They can just dream of how it once was.

Todays yuppies and genXers are going to do nothing. They were raised to let other people take care of their wants and needs. They kissed mgmt ass for far too long to view it otherwise. They believe in the mighty gummint.

So be it. Ka has spoken(whatever that is). We have no sinews left in us. It would likely do no good anyway. The tragedy has gone on too long. Too deep it has ran and far too wide.

Who can bring back wildfowl or honey bees or the big grandfather oak trees or the wild nut trees or even stop the relentless cutting and destruction? No one.

Ag is busy stripping out the land. The runup in grain prices brought this on. The dollar seems to be all that anyone cares about.

Airdale-who hears in the background the haunting strains of 'Waltzing Maltilda'....and wonders...

Thanks Airdale -

I appreciate your posts. (I almost said "I love to read them..." but to love to hear that which you observe would be perverse.) There's been some discussion of hunting in the last week. I believe, based on my experiences and knowledge, that folks are completely deluded if they think ANY edible North American creature could last more than 1 season if even a fraction of our current population decided it was time to hunt and gather.

One thing humans do well is to hunt. Our state of overshoot would be abundantly clear in about 2 days if even a fraction of the population made an effort. This goes for any resource - deer to mushrooms, ducks to trout. We could drive any species to extinction in 2 or 3 years. Fantasies about living off game are just that, utter fantasies.

Fried Green Tomatoes ... it'll be like that.

Funny thing is- lots and lots of deer running around here, everybody has killed one with a car, usually to tune of big bucks for repair ( groan!), and yet people who bitch about too many deer DON'T hunt them!

Right at the moment I have three split carcasses hanging in my coldcave, awaiting my work, and a lot more of my wife's work, to put them into nice little bags for the year's meat.

I tell people we eat no meat but deer and chickens. They shudder in disgust, as if I have confessed to cannibalism-- Jeez. I am sure that in need they would eat deer, or for that matter, rats -or students, but not now, still high on petroleum, they scorn anything but fat sizzling beafsteak.

So, I agree with Orlov- the higher we are flying now, the harder we hit the rocks when we run out of juice. So, for goddssake, people, let's get down to a lower altitude fast, please.

But then I keep coming back to that old bad, bad thought lying back there in my reptile brain- maybe people aren't worth saving anyhow.

My lifestyle doesn't include hunting ATM, but I have in the past and probably will in the future.

Some of my community college classmates and instructor were discussing the different taste of deer. I've always had corn fed deer (Nebraska).

One said his brother had cooked up some deer from, I think, Colorado. The deer's staples were scrub brush and what not. His brother thought the meat was great but classmate strongly disagreed - but didn't have the heart to say anything derogatory about the meat to his brother.

Hi wimbi,

re: "eating deer and chickens"

Something I've wondered about...

The agricultural system is supported by a cadre of soil scientists and other specialists who can advise farmers on both organic and commercial farming.

When it comes to hunting and fishing, (and poultry-raising) there's a similar issue, in the sense of the health of wildlife populations - that they need to be monitored, and also, someone(s) have to understand how to do this.

This is a quote from an undated article on the problem of information.

“While humans have places such as the National Center for Infectious Diseases and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, biologists aren't as fortunate. Organizations such as The American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians, the National Wildlife Health Center and Wildlife Diseases Association exist to help monitor wildlife diseases. But the weak link in the chain is getting reliable, consistent, quality data to these organizations.”


And here are some links on the subject, more generally.


So, the question then becomes: How does "peak oil" and the economic consequences of same affect our ability to feed ourselves, eg., specifically, in this case, how do we maintain our ability to apply the benefits of science to our food supply?

I pause in my little chore of cutting up the meat to note that I am a descendent of a very long line of deer eaters, all of whom lived long enough to get to me. In other words, everything is risky, for sure, and maybe I won't make it past my next chomp on a haunch.

My wife worries a lot more about this sort of stuff so I will somewhat reluctantly pass your good links (we thank you for your kind attention) on to her to worry about, hoping she will not shut down our present cosy relation with those deer out there staring soulfully in the window at their passed-on siblings.

The risk I worry about is getting nailed by the toyota piloted by that boozer at the end of the road.

I wonder about crawfish and nutria. In part because of their habitat(s) and limited human access to some of them.


This is a pretty good read in line with the current "mood".

"Food Is Different"
by Jim Goodman


"The book is dedicated to Lee Kyung Hae, the Korean farmer who took his life in protest against the World Trade Organization on Sept. 16, 2003, at the WTO protest march in Cancun, Mexico."

"Most farmers I know, myself included, have a strong attachment to our farms, the land, our heritage, but it is a life-or-death attachment for very few of us. These peasant farmers are different; they will die for what they believe."

"How could we have let our world slip so far? Why must people die for their right to feed themselves? At what point did the profits of multinational corporations become more important than the lives of farmers? We must get agriculture out of the WTO."

At what point did the profits of multinational corporations become more important than the lives of farmers?

More important than the lives of everyone who isn't part of the rentier class.

If you think about it, we've not only been mining out the last of the oil, ores, and top soil, but even the health of our people. We feed them an all-corn-all-the-time diet, raised with Frankenchemicals on nutritionally depleted soils, and then suck the people who eat this crap into the for-profit health industry (Big Pharma) for the rest of their lives. (Chris Rock: The money isn't in the cure. It's in the come-back.) The people are malnourished and obese, and to deal with their symptoms we sell them drugs that destroy their livers. Then we sell them drugs to handle the symptoms of their destroyed livers.

All so the rentier class can get a cut of everything we do.

The other day x put up a comment in which he said that the key to dealing with peak oil was increasing utility--what that basically means is we need to get the rentier class off the backs of the people, and put the resources in the hands of the many, where they can do the most good. That's what westexas's ELP prescription actually comes down to as well. If we actually did that, I think peak oil could actually improve the quality of life of most people.

Of course, so far we're doing exactly the opposite--at the moment, the government is throwing everything we've got left at the rentier class.

what that basically means is we need to get the rentier class off the backs of the people

Yeah. Eat the rich...or compost them if you are on a low-fat diet.

Thanks Airdale. I don't think I could stand to live with ya, but always enjoy reading your posts :-)

I'm glad you are still with us, for now.

Appreciate your comments Airdale.

To follow on the thread of There are No Birds

I'm writing from the heart of the tallgrass prairie-- the duck factory of North America. Geographcially at the confluence of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.

There was no migration this year. No geese. No duck. No egrets. No pelicans. No cormorants. In other years the sky and wetlands are full of waterfowl. I've called around to my Ducks Unlimited neighbors and talked with hunters. There are no migrating waterfowl this fall.

Local thought is that the migration has moved further north. That could make sense with the warming climate-- but this is the pothole prairie. The shallow lakes region where these animals feed enroute. That landscape doesn't extend much further north.

So Airdale- not sure where you are located. But the same observation holds here on the prairie.

I believe Airdale hails from W. Kentucky.

Hi all,

Now this is just one observation, but here in Vancouver, BC, I overlook an urban park with lots of open grassy fields where the kids play baseball and soccer. Three bird species are in strong supply at this park: geese, gulls and crows. Just yesterday evening, as the cool blue light of dusk began to fade I took a walk around the park, and watched the geese take off, group up in their classic V-formations and head south, probably to the wetlands around Richmond. Recently, I took my daughter to visit a pumpkin patch, and we saw a healthy population of ducks in a local pond. Also, bald eagles continue to occupy the forested areas around the University of British Columbia, with a host of other species.

I enjoy the antics of the three bird species that dominate the park--especially the crows as they are always getting into everything, with a focus on the garbage cans. Occasionally, we are treated to some other bird species, more often than not chickadees, and one time recently a woodpecker. From the urban "frontier" on the Pacific coast, the limited selection of birds that I see appear to be doing fine. At least for now.

Maybe some migration routes are indeed shifting in your area...



Now that you mention it, it's unsettling. Haven't seen or heard the Snow or Canadian geese this fall. This is the time. I hope it's just late. Been warm, relatively snowless.

Checking, Waterfowler says the mallards should have started moving last week with the cold, they don't show much goose movement. Still in Canada.


"Haven't seen or heard the Snow or Canadian geese this fall."

I've been schooled not to call them Canadian as the do not hold passports.

Canada geese.

Nit pik out

GenX believe in the government? Riiiight.

Seriously. Anyone my age thinks government is pretty much completely useless. Lying weasels employing lazy bums.

Even the stuff government does relatively well (roads, sewers, policing) doesn't get much credit.

We've never seen an honest politician (although, reading from any time period from ancient Greece to Twain, neither has anyone else). We've never seen a government program do what it was supposed to, end when it was supposed to, or be much of anything other than a way to steal our money.

We, mostly, aren't yet sick or feeble enough to care about the social safety net. We don't remember a time when it didn't exist. We know that the "homeless" are still collecting welfare checks, even if they choose to drink or inject it rather than use it to eat.

Rely on the government? Hardly. Cluelessly dependent on it? Perhaps.

I had a short piece in yesterday's DB on falling land and commodity prices.

As of last spring, the sale barn won't accept horses without a deposit. They are tired of feeding abandoned horses that no one can sell at any price. Between new regulations and closure of an older rendering plant, it is impossible to get rid of them even for a slaughter market.

Feeder calves are lucky to get .80/lb, maybe 250-300 for nice ones. Sheep/lamb $15-20/head in lots, for the fortunate ones. We really don't have a large enough market to test for sheep, they all must be be shipped on to larger sale rings. But try raising at 15/head. I have yet to see anything for a pasture lease. Those cows ate expensive grass all summer, now can't finance it. Welcome to farming.

There's nowhere else in this DB that this fits into, but it has to do with gold being in backwardation, and that being a very, very bad economic omen.

But I don't understand this stuff worth a darn. Anyone can put this in everyday English? If prices go up and down, doesn't a commodity HAVE to go through backwardation regularly? Help a guy out: why is this such a bad thing?


...the gold basis is a pristine, incorruptible measure of trust, or the lack of it in case it turns negative, in paper money. Of course, it is too early to say whether gold has gone to permanent backwardation, or whether the condition will rectify itself (it probably will). Be that as it may, it does not matter. The fact that it has happened is the coup de grâce for the regime of irredeemable currency. It will bleed to death, maybe rather slowly, even if no other hits, blows, or shocks are dealt to the system. Very few people realize what is going on and, of course, official sources and the news media won't be helpful to them to explain the significance of all this. I am trying to be helpful to the discriminating reader.

Gold going to permanent backwardation means that gold is no longer for sale at any price, whether it is quoted in dollars, yens, euros, or Swiss francs. The situation is exactly the same as it has been for years: gold is not for sale at any price quoted in Zimbabwe currency, however high the quote is. To put it differently, all offers to sell gold are being withdrawn, whether it concerns newly mined gold, scrap gold, bullion gold or coined gold. I dubbed this event that has cast its long shadow forward for many a year, the last contango in Washington -- contango being the name for the condition opposite to backwardation (namely, that of a positive basis), and Washington being the city where the Paper-mill of the Potomac, the Federal Reserve Board, is located. This is a tongue-in-cheek way of saying that the jig in Washington is up. The music has stopped on the players of 'musical chairs'. Those who have no gold in hand are out of luck. They won't get it now through the regular channels. If they want it, they will have to go to the black market.

Even tho I don't get it, this is one of those articles that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up... tell me why.


According to this Minyanville article, http://www.minyanville.com/articles/index.php?a=20126

Typically gold will only go into backwardation when either there is fear of a currency collapse and/or doubt as to whether counter parties will be able to produce gold as promised

There's plenty of fear of a global financial collapse and there's definitely not enough physical gold to meet actual demand if it arose of the need to produce the physical real stuff for the paper type on the futures market. Plus with all the central bank inflation (which may or may not work depending on which country you are in) Gold could easily spike big time.

Another way to look at it is speculators are being paid a huge premium to go long. Which means commercial traders--those who buy gold to make jewelry or whatever gold is actually used for, apart from its use by goldbugs as a store of value--don't expect to need much in the near future for commercial purposes.

It's probably both. Nobody expects to sell any jewelry after the holidays, and lots of people expect to see a major devaluation of currencies.

It means there is a "price" for gold and there is a real price, and the two have begun to diverge over the last six months or so. There's an ETF based on the "price" of gold, and it is manipulated through fancy financial engineering which I cannot begin to understand. Since no actual metal (or very little) was harmed in the making of the ETF it has only slightly more relation to reality than the price of AIG stock.

OTOH you can call up a broker, visit a coin dealer, or shop around on ebay. What you may find is that the real price hasn't declined nearly as much as the "price". Also, it means that people who have it are simply keeping it and not selling at the current "price". A broker whose web page I visit has no platinum, no palladium, and only intermittent supplies of silver and gold since last summer. You must expect to wait several weeks for delivery and pay a premium over spot price.

But that's just due to a shortage of small coins and the like. If you can take delivery of a greater amount of gold, you can easily get the lower price.

Agreed there is a general reluctance to trade small silver and gold for paper now on a retail basis at the spot. Big lag time on supply of small coins. To me this means individuals are looking for something 'liquid' with which to trade in case of a currency collapse. Locking in a 'strong' paper dollar at today's rates is getting real crowded. Contrast this situation with the other retail spaces in your neighborhood.

Seeing more stuff like this Trading a mint MGA for silver or gold Survival food for silver too.

Why would people having difficulty making mortgage payments go out and buy gold? They cannot pay their mortages in krugerands. As the price of gold went higher all sorts of gold mines opened, even as far away as China. When you buy gold you are paying for large scale mining operations. Huge trucks and shovels, heap leaching pads, gold refining, some middlemen, a whole bunch of employees and hangers on. When the bills come due you need money in the bank instead of paying to open another gold mine. In effect you have to hold currency in cash to pay the bills or borrow when lending standards are tighter, then you have to try to find money to buy gold to make the price go up, at the same time the mines dump cheap gold on the market. Then as backwardation progresses people see the price of gold is going down or as you say "backward" and they start to dump more on the market. Eventually the panic to buy the heavy yellow metal disappears and people panic to sell it. People standing in unemployment lines may need to sell their gold to some gold dealer. Gold was also the target of burglars. Many people did not expect the theif would come and then had great sorrow they were not better prepared.

This is an article written by a gold bug, and therefore is fatally flawed. Just look at the quote: "the gold basis is a pristine, incorruptible ..." There is no such thing. Gold is less useful than wheat (eatable) or crude oil (useful energy): you cannot eat gold, it has no energy content and the industrial uses are limited (more limited that e.g. platinum). Gold has fluctuated enormously in the past (previous peak of the 70s/80s bubble was over $800, then down to $250 in about 20 years, up to $1,000 in a few years and now down to 750.

In the current crisis, cash is king. If you believe in a total collapse, you need land and guns though. Move on to the survivalist sites in that case....

I think the author is referring to the fact that the price of coins is higher than it usually is over the spot price. Much more gold is traded on the paper futures market than is physically moved and delivered. The spot price is determined by these paper trades and as asset classes have been sold to rebuild balance sheets and cover debt the spot price has fallen.
It is true that the physical price of gold bullion coins currently carries a higher premium over spot than it historically has. Many believe this is because the supply of actual coins is less than the demand for them. It is easy to buy a paper contract for gold futures but some believe getting delivery of the underlying asset would be difficult because the different commodity markets do not have enough supply to make delivery if those that held the paper did not roll them over or take cash for their futures contract.

Living off of boiled acorn flour, boiled pokeweed salad, wild onions, and cattail roots is a collapse in the economy. Living off of guns is worse.

You want to be with members of your own tribe when the tribulations start. Moving to a developing country would be a huge mistake.

Hello SolarDude, I am actually from a developing country - Kenya. Though currently I reside in Australia, I am thinking of moving back home.

I think a lot of people will end up going home when push comes to shove. As Mike Ruppert did. He tried Oregon, and Venezuela, and in the end, went back to probably one of the least sustainable places on earth: Los Angeles. But it was home.

Still...Kenya? How is it there these days? I haven't heard much about it, after the riots. Was the press coverage accurage, or were they making it sound worse than it really was?

Well the press coverage was quite accurate but some of it was over the top. Large parts of the country were largely unaffected. It was really a tribal based conflict rather IMO. Even within the capital city there were some hard hit areas especially the slum areas but the middle class/ upper class areas were effectively in a bubble. There were shortages of food, milk etc but not too bad.

When living in a developing country, it's full of paradoxes. We are quite used to power outages, water shortages etc but you'd be hard pressed to find a home in the middle/ upper class without maids and servants - it's just a fact of life. Within 20 minutes of each other you can find grand and luxurious shopping malls and what I believe is Africa's biggest slum - Kibera, with more than a million people. Unemployment in Kenya varies widely given which statistic you take, from 12% to 40%. So we have been in depression since forever? Half the population lives on less than a dollar a day, but life still goes on. The country functions. There are lots of problems related with poverty, including a high crime rate but people are used to the hardship of life there IMO. So the fall could be less of a blow (I could be spectacularly wrong as well, just next door we have Somalia, Sudan with the Darfur genocide and Rwanda, remember the 1994 Genocide?)

Kenya uses about 68,000 barrels of oil per day and has a population of 37 million people, mostly rural. Our largest city has a popn. of 4 million. The thing is that I have close family in the UK, the US and Canada so I could possibly move there. I could stay in Australia if I wanted too but the job market appears bleak for recent graduates and I really wonder whether Developed countries can take the blow, especially with their super high expectations and way of life. Lots to think about. I'm just trying to figure out my place in life and how to best prepare for a future which by reckoning is going to be fundamentally different.

Hi VK,

I'm just trying to figure out my place in life and how to best prepare for a future which by reckoning is going to be fundamentally different.

What most people forget is that our very short and paradoxical petroleum based civilization is what is different. We (or what remains) will be returning to normal.

Find your tribe.

Hi Sterling, thats true. It is easy to forget. I guess having been brought up in an oil based world I tend to forget that these past 200 years have been outliers, a result of extreme fortune in the short run and terrible misfortune in the long.

The question really is how can one adapt to a life post peak and which country is most suitable? Peak oil preparations are normally for people in developed countries and while some issues make sense for developing countries, most do not. The vast majority of Kenyans already live in rural areas and many grow their own food. The big thing than is clean water and healthcare but somehow we have been going without these in large parts of the country forever and ever and life seems to go on, don't ask me how? It just does! Though obviously it is a big issue in the cities.

Even I can't imagine the life of the average Kenyan to be honest, i've had a pretty solid middle class upbringing with some perks and a few downsides too. Hopefully ASPO South Africa can address this issue on lack of literature for developing countries. On a global scale I can see rural china and India quite possibly coping with peak oil but the urban areas will be severely affected I suspect. As international trade and finance dries up, as the fractional reserve system goes bust, as lack of oil for manufacturing hits factories, as the call centers die down, people in these sectors will be greatly affected. While for the poor peasant farmer life could possibly be the same or even better?

A local friend of mine promotes small scale, self-sufficient mini-farming and lives here in Willits. He doesn't get a lot of traction locally, but when he travels to the "developing world" lots of people show up and listen and take training courses and set up local libraries and educational institutes, etc. He has had a lot of following in Kenya (among many other places).

So, he likes these places because he doesn't have to convince anyone that life is going to be hard, fossil fuels and the money system will be rare or unreliable...there's no great preamble to go through. They just want to be better at harnessing water, soil and sunlight to eat better.

Willits CA? Thought I saw this jumping off Post Carbon Inst:

and: http://transitioncalifornia.ning.com/

Probably true. Kenya might be a lot safer. Us spoiled westerners will probably have the most difficult time adapting to even the smallest changes. Last summer Pew Research showed a dramatic drop in those opposed to drilling in ANWR as gas prices rose higher. Precursor to "drill baby drill."


And we hadn't even suffered any real hardship.

Thanks, interesting info.

And yes, I do think the high expectations people have in the US will be a problem, particularly for the middle class/upper middle class. Even people who sense that something's seriously wrong are doing things like taking on massive student loans to major in things like philosophy or French literature. And then making it worse by taking our more loans for a PhD or law degree while they "wait for the job market to turn around."

Still...the fall might be quite slow. There will be a lot more bailouts coming, between the economic situation and the Democrats taking the reins of power. Expectations could be ratcheted down slowly enough that it's not too much of a shock. Probably will be, because it's in our politicians' interests not to upset people too much.

Hi Leanan, since you've lived in different parts of the world you probbaly know what life is like there. For those TODer's interested.

These two two worlds in any developing country, the reality that a few experience, maybe 20% of the population or less. Could such massive inequality be what the future holds? And the locations in the images are about 20 mins away from each other.(Yes there is massive inequality in developed countries, but it pales in comparison to what the rest of the world may consider unequal)

A collection of Images that you don't really see in the MSM
Additional Image of lifestyle shopping

The other is Africa's largest slum and the massive poverty, which is probably seen a lot on the MSM.

Overlooking slums

Kibera Slum

Could such massive inequality be what the future holds?

My guess is yes. That was my prediction four years ago, and I haven't seen much to change my mind.

I could foresee a future where the wealthy live in walled enclaves with their solar, wind turbines, etc., and the poor live in slums outside the walls. I think the middle class will disappear...and the vast majority of us will be moving down, not up.

But remember, the big movement to the slums came from peasants being forced off their land by low crop prices due to industrial agriculture.

Once oil gets more scarce, or money becomes worthless, peasant farmers become valuable again. Small organic landholders are more efficient food growers on a per-acre basis anyway.

I see a future that looks like Cuba. I'm going to Cuba early next year, by the way.

I think we are in overshoot, if we're planning to go back to subsistence farming. Also, the best farmland is now in the hands of agribusiness, and I don't see them giving it up.

My guess is if we go back being peasant farmers, the peasants won't own the land. They'll be working for large corporations as indentured servants, or on government farms in some kind of "workfare" program.

I don't think Cuba is a reasonable model for us. Cuba is the size of Pennsylvania, and about as densely populated. They're tropical, with a year-round growing season. And they're still dependent on imports for staples like rice and beans.

Another danger in the subsistence farming model of the future is that it's likely to reverse the progress we've made on population control. It all comes down to population. If we don't fix that problem, nothing else we do will matter.

I think there's abundant evidence we are in overshoot, period. While there may be examples of near-sustainability in the Amish or in Cuba, there's always the caveat: "Well they are importing X". When the US, Russia, Brazil, and China no longer have the means or inclination to export X, there will be shortages.

"It all comes down to population. If we don't fix that problem, nothing else we do will matter." Truer words were never written. Though it's more than 200 years old, this concept needs to be reiterated to the max.

I've read this before, and as someone who has lived both in developed and developing countries, including the Philippines...I don't buy it.

I think many of these countries are in massive overshoot, and this will become more and more evident. Millions may starve in Africa next year; aid organizations are begging for aid, but the countries that usually step up are busy trying to prop up their banks and such. High fuel and fertilizer prices were a problem all over the world...but it was Bangladesh where farmers rioted, not the US or Canada. There were food riots in Africa, not in North America.

Thats true, maybe a case of competitive exclusion? I remember totoneila said that Africa uses 1/6th of the fertilizer per hectare that America/ Europe use.

So those with the financial clout will muscle out the countries with lower incomes for those resources. But eventually as the peak oil situation worsens and the financial crisis gets deeper is that the rich will out compete the middle and lower classes in the US and Canada for resources.

Also I wonder if the peak oil meme were to truly spread, it would bring about collapse much faster? As countries with the oil, fertilizer, coal etc would begin to hoard their resources for themselves and friendly neighbours. As with the peak oil message, net energy exporting countries would than realize that the money they are getting is actually worthless. It would only serve to accelerate the ELM model. I think thats why even though the IEA, EIA may get the message on peak oil, they really don't want it to spread?? Just a thought.

And thats the basis for resource wars, countries desperate for resources struggling to get them from resource rich countries.


Thanks for your insight into low-energy living in Kenya.

Dividing the population of 37 million by the 68,000 barrels per day oil consumption gives 544 persons per barrel. That's about a teacup per person per day.

Someone might like to do the same calculation for their own country, an exercise which will really bring some perspective to the extent of how western countries differ from developing nations.

Will developing nations will be better prepared to survive any energy crisis? Of course there will be food shortages and disruptions caused to agriculture, but I think that the people naturally have more self reliance than westerners who have had a relatively comfortable last 50 years - fuelled by petroleum.

However, it must not be forgotten that Zimbabwe probably represents the rate at which a country can go to ruins. Interviewed for the BBC last night, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that "Zimbabwe has gone from being the bread basket of Africa... (long pause for thought) to becoming a basket-case".

Another interviewee, from neighbouring Botswana, suggested that Mugabe and his mob government, could be routed out, possibly within 2 weeks, by denying him, his army and his police force any road fuel. After some consideration, I realised that it was probably only access to fossil fuel, that was keeping his regime in their elevated position above the rest of the population. The effects of a petroleum siege are likely to be quicker than starvation.


Well, I live in Brazil, I would suggest its one of the best places to be once PO hits, but I am biased...

In many developing countries the share of people in the cities is already very large, and the skills to live off the land may go fairly quickly, still a lot more people would be somewhat comfortable around farms - I sincerely doubt, though, that farm communities or small farmers in developing countries know much about "methane generators and other practical applications". This does give room for hope in the sense that technology, even concepts taken relatively for granted can still make a huge difference if put together with the field knowledge of the rural population in many countries, there is a LOT of room to improve things, including food productivity, with education and relatively simple techniques.

(On a side note, the other day I saw on a TV program a guy who had developed a way to create solar water heaters from used milk/juice cartons and PET soda bottles, since in Brazil some 7% of electricity consumed is for heating water in electric showers - and an even bigger part of it constitutes goes into the peak demand loads, as Brazilians shower after coming back from work, or before going to work - the possibilities for saving are expressive...this is the kind of common sense applications that can have a big difference, here is a link with a video:
(in Portuguese, but the diagrams are self explanatory...in the end you see a solar heater installed on top of an army barracks, 1800 bottles for a company of 50 soldiers!)

Besides this lower expectations and ability to "make do" with less while still feeling satisfied, what many developing countries have going for them (even more affluent ones like mine) is less of a propensity for waste and frivolous buying. This is another reason for hope, most of the hard core survivalist types I read from on TOD and other sites sometimes seem to forget that industrial societies have a LOT of "fat to burn" before receding back to the dark Ages, way before we are back to the Quest for fire, we will have abandoned most of the crap that people buy on late night shows in favor or more common sense consumption. Including a pet peeve of mine: "the apple corer". Apologies if I've offended someone but "what are people thinking!!??", its called a knife, and it takes 3 moves to core an apple...or just use your teeth to eat around the core! just to think on the amount of energy used on the steal blades that have one single, meaningless use drives me nuts.

Brazil is a country with nearly 200 million people and of a size larger than the continental US, still, according to a Brazilian magazine- this sounds a little overblown to me, but it is a pretty reputable magazine, so I'll take at face value - American consumption of electricity JUST TO RUN AIR CONDITIONING is superior to the total Brazilian electricity consumption. This lower electricity consumption allows Brasil to have a share of renewable on its electricity mix approaching 80% (45% on total primary energy use, thanks to ethanol, and hydro).

Finally there is a pretty reasonable perspective to keep us out of the caves after PO if we learn to use more efficiently available resources while giving people in developing countries a fair chance to prosper...in Brazil we use something like 2% of available agricultural land (this excludes the whole of the Amazon ecosystem) to produce enough ethanol to run half the cars in the country (ethanol consumption topped gasoline in October). It is not a small car market, Brazil is the 10th largest consumer of energy in the world, and this year more than 3 million cars were sold (almost all of them flex fuel), and seating here I can see just from my window that there are a lot of savings that can be done even here, with MUCH better public transportation (mostly diesel buses here, it could be more based on subway systems, and light trains, for instance), better use of water, etc.

I am not sure if this would be applicable to every developing country, but probably in more countries than people think. And I really believe that the whole oil for food debate does not really apply so much to impoverished countries in tropical areas of Africa and Latin America or so strongly in developing countries in general – high density population Asian countries might be a different matter.

In Brazil, some improvements and technological adaptations to specific conditions of tropical countries (some of the most successful ones actually REDUCE the use of fuel in agriculture like the no-till method (check no-till at the World Bank site.) have enabled great leaps in productivity: between 2000 and 2008 grain production increased from 83 million Tons to 140 million tons, chicken, pork and beef have increased by 50%, fruit production also increased significantly, Brazil uses today 62 million hectares for agriculture, and 220 million for extensive cattle raising. With more intensive cattle production (or reduction on beef production) there would be a lot of room to increase production (without touching any more of the Amazon – whose economic/developmental/environmental challenge may be grounds for another post).

Thanks for your input onedip. Brazil seems like a really great place :-), alternative energy, copacabana beach and football (soccer).

One question in my mind though is, that 81%+ of Brazil's population live in cities. So once peak oil really hits hard, a lot of people are going to be unemployed as Brazil's biggest trade partners are Japan, China, USA and Germany I believe. So while people generally have low expectations in most parts of the country, we might see a lot of chaos throughout South America, Asia, Africa etc as the big question of massive unemployment hangs over countries and governments like a guillotine. Once the US, European, Asian economies enter terminal decline and the paradigm on no growth, what I fear most is the instability and rise in crime it may cause.

Even in Kenya, while most may not even notice peak oil and can shift to lower standards of living, a significant part of the population will be affected, accompanied by a rise in crime.

There are a lot of variables and a lot of interactions and predicting the future is really complicated. I reckon that there are going to be hard adjustments made in every country. The degree of adjustment is what will count. Some will be less scathed than others, but all will possibly face instability, unemployment, significant falls in living standards and life expectancy.

I totally agree, no one will come unscathed from PO, rather, all will take a serious bruising ( to put it mildly), while I just tried to convey with my post is that there is still a lot of room for improvement to both rich countries excessive consumerism and waste, and poor countries lack of education and technology for production, etc. Maybe, PO will be a chance for the two separate worlds we live in meet each other "half way".

I also agree with you that one of the main ways all countries will be affected by PO (other than the obvious shortage of energy) will be through commercial contagion, but here too, there might be some room for improvement. One huge (some say the largest) handicap for better and more advanced production in poor countries are the very large subsidies rich nations give to their farmers (to the tune of 1 billion a day).

Well PO will probably raise prices so as to make subsidies unnecessary (as well as seriously constrain governments for cash), so maybe there will be some extra room for improvement there.

Finally, Brazils biggest trade on the aggregate is really with its neighbors, but a lot of commodities go to Asia and Europe (the US is a better market for Brazilian industrial goods). But the country is self sufficient on energy, has a more or less well balanced industrial park with and a huge surplus of food and raw materials (maybe even oil now..if it can be extracted from the presalt). It would have a decent shot at staying solvent and more or less self-sustained until we as a race figure a better way forward...or so I hope.
I also agree with most here, during a crisis, no matter what crisis, there is no place like home.

I lived in the Philippines for over 7 years in the periods of 1982-1987, 1993 and 2000. In that time the population went from 30 million to 80 and now 90 million people. The people seemed happier in the Marcos years, perhaps because there were more resources per person. Then came internet and cell phones and communication of economic disparities. In the large cities, theft became extremely common.

Whereas in the 80s, tuna weighed average 8 pounds, now they weigh 1 pound and look like bait. The have gill netted, trapped, poisoned and dynamited their waters to death. There are no birds anywhere, having been trapped and eaten.

I have a friend who has bought land in central Mindoro and has a lady there to manage his lands. Other expats have joined him and they have a large chunk of perfect farmland under cultivation. Good food , no medical. Another friend in central Mindanoa city of Cagayan de Oro has a lovely estate above the city with adequate food grown and fair medical. Another friend has a walled compound near Manila with no crops but great medical. They all have Philippina "marriages' and families and are hedging their bets while being able to move back to Oz, US, etc. I have sailed everywhere in the Phil. and can only conclude they are massively overpopulated with every eco niche filled to bursting. All infrastructure is failing and the next pandemic will cause chaos. This is a fifth world country. The people are lovely until angered. And anger is building.

If you want a fifth world country, better to pick one with a smaller population or maybe a fourth world country.

IIRC definitions of 'worlds'

First world - N. Amer, Europe, Japan, OZ, NZ
Second world - Soviet Union and Satellite countries
Third world - Those countries capable of becoming first world. IE Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Brazil,
Fourth world- Countries with the possibility of rising to an adequate standard of living, so so infrastructure, but not the basket case of the fifth world. IE Argentina S Africa, Malaysia, India
Fifth World - Basket cases that are never going to dig themselves out of their problems. IE The Phil, Most of Africa,Indonesia. One step away from anarchy.

Best idea, stick to where you have a circle of friends who know how to handle themselves.

Dave on Meander.

I teach a course with students from all over Asia. Many Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotians, Myanmar, also people from the former Soviet Union (Uzbekistan, etc.) My students tell me that their countries generally all have 60-70% of their population in farming. Many farmers use all kinds of horses and cattle in their work. Many families have only one car or often no cars. Lots of countries have most people living in villages, where commerce means the market square, where people often walk to trade their wares. When I explain to them about how I grew up in a suburb of NYC, with two cars and food coming from miles away in trucks, they are amazed. They don't have suburbs, generally.

I have no doubt that long after many Americans have experienced the most abject poverty and starvation, people in the countries where my students come from will still be buying and selling useful things they make and grow, just as they have for centuries. The majority of people in the world have been practicing ELP all along! I'm not saying peak oil won't touch them, but since they don't use that much to begin with, it's not much of a stretch. Orlov is thus correct.

I noticed that in the NYT today there's an article about how wealthy parents in the USA are trying to send their children off to college in Scotland and other foreign countries. Of course, cheaper tuition plays a part, but I think there is also a desire to get the kids somewhere else, where life has more chance to flourish without high energy inputs. These parents are rich and smart, they can read the situation very well, even if they don't articulate it on TOD or even know about TOD.

Years ago, on my honeymoon, I had a revelation in Kyoto. My new husband took me to one of the most famous temples, it's called Kiyomizu. I took one look as we started to ascend on foot the winding road leading up the hill and I saw no huge parking lot (actually no parking lot at all) (I was expecting--you may laugh-- something like the parking lot at Disneyworld in Orlando). "If this temple is so famous how come there's NO PARKING LOT???" I wanted to ask but before I could form the question the answer hit me with the force of a bullet train: these people had been doing everything without cars for millenia. From then on, I "got it" and when I moved here I was anxious to do without a car (it's been very easy for us and since my husband hates cars (he hates driving) I never need to worry that he'll buy one on the sly!) I make constant notes when I visit a new town in Japan about how much a car is needed, how much food is local, etc. Even before I found TOD I've been focusing on these things because it's been my life.

As for the idea that one is going to go home when things get tough, I would argue that it's a generalization that is probably just as untrue as it is true. For one thing, where is "home" for a married couple with families in two countries and extended family in five countries? And after 13 years in a new country, just where is home? And even if I were to go "home" actually my parents have moved to a new location (as Americans often do) which is not in any way my home at all, even if it is in America. And furthermore, as things really change in America, as people become producers like so many of my students' compatriots are, then it will not be like the home I left even if the location is somewhat in proximity.

My advice is to find a country which you like, even if it is America (which is after all very big and even though it(s so dependent on oil now it won't be after a while). And then call it home. Make it home. Voila it is home. Your home. Because you like it and you want to stay. And after a while you won't have a choice anyway because your mobility will be reduced, as will the numbers of cars and planes that made it possible. But that's OK because you are home.

Make it home. Voila it is home. Your home. Because you like it and you want to stay.> Or as Gary Snyder (an American, possibly better appreciated in Japan than in California) said: "Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there."

I'm in total agreement with the views you have quoted. I've made this point before on TOD, but there's no harm in making it again. Unless you've actually lived in it or traveled through it (as I have) it is hard for anybody from the "first" world to understand what real poverty is. People who have nothing except the land they live on, a garden, some chickens, maybe goats, and if you're super-wealthy, a few cows/bulls. Peak oil will pass these people by practically unnoticed. There will be no medicines coming from the outside, life expectancy will drop a little, but otherwise, life will go on.

Those of us who have enough free time and access to post messages on TOD live in a world made possible by our energy supplies. Peak oil/energy naturally freaks (some of) us out because it really does spell a change in the way we live. Some respond by stockpiling guns and food. All power to them. Hopefully they will quickly eliminate themselves from the gene pool through gunfights and starvation. I know what is potentially coming, so I'm not too worried about peak oil and preparations I make are centered around primary skills such as growing stuff, preserving/pickling, and making stuff (e.g., carpentry).

What you haven't mentioned is climate change. If/when this change really kicks in, the people who live in the third world are really screwed. A prolonged drought comes and crops fail. Mass starvation and displacement will follow. There will be no food aid from the first world to save the day. Frankly it will be a holocaust on a scale never witnessed. That is what I don't look forward to. I just hope I'll be dead before then. I honestly don't think we'll experience significant effects of climate change for another century or so. But as I've mentioned before, predicting deadlines in a complex dynamical system is an exercise in futility. Things may turn bad in 40 years, it make take 200 years.

Presuming you are an American, keep in mind that a angry mob might not understand or take any note of the difference between a good American, a bad American, or a former American.

Why? Is there an angry mob in my vicinity which I should be on the lookout for?

Actually I was not born in the US but I was raised there by foreign born parents. Now we are all Americans, but it's so nebulous anyway. I really think many people all over the world look past citizenship. At least a lot of people I know do.

No angry mobs at the moment, but there may be in the future.

I don't think citizenship will be the big issue, but "fitting in" in general may be. When times get tough, people become less generous. Race, religion, country of origin, political affiliation, class...who knows which fault lines will be the ones people glom onto.

Kunstler gets a lot of abuse for his dislike of southern culture, but from his standpoint, he's probably correct. He would not fit in in Georgia or Alabama, while he does fit in in upstate New York. For some people, it would be the opposite.

He said he's from Kenya.

Obama Pledges Massive Public Works Program

Mr. Obama and his team are working with Congressional leaders to fashion a spending package that could invest hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy. A big part of that would be infrastructure projects such as building or repairing roads, bridges, schools, sewer systems and other public utilities. Democrats hope the new Congress that takes office in early January could pass such a measure in time for Mr. Obama to sign almost instantly after taking office Jan. 20.


Just what the country needs, more mis- investment in roads, suburbia and sprawl. This and cheap gasoline are the worst possible incentives and the worst possible time.

Getting through to these people is impossible, however, as they all live in a bubble.

As I read this, for no good reason, bam the quote "the meek shall inherit the earth" from the more formal "But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace".

I then envisioned the many all applauding the announcement of ill-advised projects like this up until the end while those - the few and perhaps the meek in this context - that have prepared (ELPed), stand in the background shaking their heads in puzzlement.

I DO NOT mean meek in it's general today negative connotation.


Meek \Meek\, Meeken \Meek"en\ (-'n), v. t.
     To make meek; to nurture in gentleness and humility. [Obs.]
     [1913 Webster]

Meek: those who run under the refrigerator when the lights are turned on.

Not impossible, just highly improbable. There is no easy route to getting through to someone because the idea is attempting to breach a given way of thinking and a given way of life on only one avenue.

To "get through" to someone, multiple similar ideas and approaches must be attempted coming from different directions.

For instance, when I happened across Matt Savinar's site a few years ago, I wasn't convinced just by the argument of the dangers and risks regarding peak oil. I researched, I looked for complementary and competing information along multiple avenues and evaluated it.

That kind of process takes time, and it takes effort which takes energy and resources. The "getting it" doesn't happen instantaneously, though at the moment the light bulb comes on it appears to happen that way. We tend to forget all the time, energy, and resources we spent building the light bulb.

We remember flicking the switch, and when we try to flick someone else's switch, we forget that they don't yet have a light bulb.

Or, to use the bubble analogy, not all tools (arguments, benefits, consequences) are equally effective at popping a bubble (at changing sets of attitudes and behaviors).

The story below:


"On infrastructure, he said his investment would be the largest since the creation of the federal interstate highway system in the 1950s. To the states that will be the conduits for the funding, he had a simple message: “use it or lose it.” "

Seems the lifestyle may be nonnegotiable, or maybe he is earmarking repair rather than new construction.

Anyone with expanded sources?

I heard this morning (BBC World Service, I think) that the stimulus will include funds for retrofitting buildings, starting with public buildings, for greater energy efficiency.

In theory this will produce jobs performing the retrofits and result in lower energy consumption. Buildings represent a huge chunk of energy use in the US. Seems very smart to me.

This is the place where peak everything meets the economic crisis. They have got to prioritize any project related to energy conservation. Unfortunately because of crisis management time constraints brought on by the ferocity of the collapse little sensibly targeted response can happen. All the while the amount needed and the financing availiability move further. So many on this board warned of this ad nauseam.

Today the paltry 'greencar' retooling funds targeted for the automotive industry are being backpedaled
into bankruptcy avoidance.

Welcome ,Mr. Obama, to the land of receeding horizons.

Green is so yesterday before we got cheap gas again and an economic crisis. Feckless, hopeless, America.

Yeah but I went to their site too. It seems they'll try. That $4 $5 diesel did get our attention a bit. Too bad so much wealth illusion will be thrown at BAU. Still they have to keep folks busy.

I've noticed that every news source cites different infrastructure projects to come--some say roads and bridges, others mention primarily alternative enery and the Internet.

I've also noticed that, if you actually listen to the speeches, you'll find that Obama mentions alternative energy and energy efficiency in almost every speech. It's clearly firmly in his mind and plans.

I agree that some infrastructure investments would be wiser than others, and that the spending plans are unlikely to get it 100% right. We'll be lucky if the government gets it 50% right. But any spending that gets money into the hands of regular people will increase utility (and peak oil adaptability) more than shoveling money into banks. So, I'm a supporter of the infrastructure spending bills.

Obama has community organizing (house parties, small business group meetings, and the like) going on all over the country. He is clearly trying to build new structures that get government out of the hands of lobbyists and increase the input of regular citizens. You all should go to change.gov and get involved and get your voices heard.

I have had fairly high hopes for Obama based on his statements which appeared to make it clear he understands peak oil, oil dependence, and the urgent need to address global warming. While parts of this stimulus plan will entail more efficient buildings and alternative energy, the obviously horrible idea is building more roads. Building more roads will just cancel out the good that is done with the alt energy and conservation projects. Change we can believe in requires an appreciation for one's actions on the future. This plan to build roads makes me think that political, short term expediency will rule the day as usual. I hope I am wrong.

In any event, we should all go to change.gov and make our displeasure known.

He may care about energy, but practically speaking, it won't matter if he doesn't fix the economy.

Roads and bridges are the classic way to "prime the pump" during a recession. Projects like that provide jobs to everyone from government workers to engineers to construction firms to quarries to the newsstands and delis that sell to the laborers.

Alternative energy doesn't have such a track record for providing jobs. And some economists are warning Obama that green tech simply can't provide the jobs we need.

I was talking to a friend of mine who is an engineer in Tampa. She works for a large engineering firm, and people are being fired left and right. Except in her division. Her division designs roads and bridges for the city of Tampa, and they are extremely busy, and expect to be hiring. They are anticipating a huge wave of funding from the Obama bailout.

On the bright side, they're building sidewalks along with the roads.

Perhaps in Tampa, but I can't get it out of my mind that this new bailout is not sidewalk oriented. As I quoted above, the line "Use it or lose it" to "the states that will be the conduits for funding" suggest funneling, shoveling money at states.

And with cheap gas and horrendous traffic congestion, where will it go? More hiway lanes, redesigned curves, widening of existing roads/lanes to facilitate increased traffic flow. The public lost any thought of peak oil around $3/gal gas, with prices far below 2, you're whistling Dixie singing peak.

And that's the public side, the entrenched interests and lobbyists will demand their direction.

Alternative energy doesn't have such a track record for providing jobs. And some economists are warning Obama that green tech simply can't provide the jobs we need.

I think alt energy isn't the most efficient way to stimulate. Energy efficiency, upgrades, and simply doing the simple things that have been neglected, like adding insulation, changing lightbulbs, painting roofs white in hot climates will save more energy for dollar of stimulus, than alt energy, or roads. And one should be able to get it going pretty quickly. I did hear something about helping poor residents improve their energy efficiency, which is a good way to spend stimulkus dollars -as any decrease in their energy bills, just adds to their ability to spend on actual goods and services. I think there is also a huge amount of low hanging fruit in small and medium sixed businesses. And any savings on energy bills, could go towards payroll. But, I haven't heard any talk whatsoever about this.

Given, limited resources, and time, we gotta go after the lowest hanging fruit first. A dollar spent helping residents or businesses avoid wasting enery will go further than a dollar susidizing residential PV, and personal hybrid cars. But IMO, this stuff simply isn't sexy enough to happen unless a lot of us bombard change.gov with requests for it.

Moe_Gamble sez:

I've also noticed that, if you actually listen to the (Obama) speeches, you'll find that Obama mentions alternative energy and energy efficiency in almost every speech. It's clearly firmly in his mind and plans.

Obama talks and he talks some more, and he talks even more on top of that. However, he's been in government, in positions of power and influence for over a decade and what has he done? Nothing. The ongoing credit fiasco has been unwinding since 2005; even 'George the Electrician' was able to recognize it ... what did Obama say or do about it? Nothing.

Now that he is become president, what does he do? He hires a bunch of Clinton retreads to place along side the all- important Bush retreads!

Bernanke and Gates are number one and number two; Robert Mueller (FBI) and Michael Hayden (CIA) will all keep their jobs. Henry Paulson's approach - bailing out the financil industry - will be Obama's approach. This is change you can count on.

Guantanamo may or may not be closed, I wouldn't bet on it. Obama won't give up any perogative that Bush had use of and he will want a place to stash enemies. Look for a terrorist attack when pressure mounts to close the place.

Ditto, torture. If it feels good, do it ...

Leanan sez:

Roads and bridges are the classic way to "prime the pump" during a recession. Projects like that provide jobs to everyone from government workers to engineers to construction firms to quarries to the newsstands and delis that sell to the laborers.

Alternative energy doesn't have such a track record for providing jobs. And some economists are warning Obama that green tech simply can't provide the jobs we need.

I was talking to a friend of mine who is an engineer in Tampa. She works for a large engineering firm, and people are being fired left and right. Except in her division. Her division designs roads and bridges for the city of Tampa, and they are extremely busy, and expect to be hiring. They are anticipating a huge wave of funding from the Obama bailout.

Most states and municipalities have a long list of improvements and expansions many of which date back to the 1070's. Almost all are road expansions. In Northern Virginia, billions are being spent to expand freeway lanes and revamp intersections. Funding for transit is a small fraction of spending. The transit agency is starved for funds to replace equipment and perform deferred maintainance. Controvercial projects such as Maryland's Intercounty Connector will receive funding; which would support more sprawl if the credit system could forward the funds.

As for priming anything; consider the credit pool as a lake filled with wealth. The economy is a giant pump that has sucked out all the wealth and turned it into gasses that are floating around in the atmosphere. The government schemes to add some more debt to the now empty hole in the ground; how long will it take for the pump to get rid of the pittance the government will add? How will tht pittance replace the wealth accumulated by decades of savings and prior good investment? After that credit is sucked out into oblivion, what next? This isn't directed toward Leanan, who knows the score. It's directed toward the meatheads in Washington, DC, who obviously never go outside or can use a calculator or who lack common sense!

As for any stimulus affecting employment; the US doesn't send thousands to work on jobs anymore. A big project might employ 200 men with big machines for a couple of years. The money is skimmed by the prime contractors who pay off lobbyists and 'inside men' who facilitate the awarding of the ocntracts. Usually, the prime contractors are simply names on a sign with the actual work being done by sub- and sub- sub- contractors, hiring undocumented immigrants to do the actual work, paying a bit more than minimum wage. I've seen it with my own eyes in various places in the country and it is how things work.

Business as usual.

your dislike of obama is noted. but shouldnt you give him a chance, he's not even out of the gate yet.

and bernanke, has his term expired ? you see, the american public is stuck with all the unexpired terms of all the appointees from forever. the supreme court for example, and with any luck a sane president will be in office for long enough to pack the court with other sane people.

The real question with "roads and bridges", is it long delayed repairs, or is it more lanes of roadway? I don't think we can complain about the former, but the later seems like a big waste. I tried to stress to them in the couple of messages I sent to change.gov, that the money to be spent in any Keynesian stimulus is finite, and the efficiency with which it meets our medium, and longterm needs should be paramount. I hope that message is getting through.

Ripping out lanes along with the repairs. These "assets" are really liabilities, because of the long term maintenance. Or maybe keep the width and turn one lane into a bike lane. My guess is there are engineering issues and that having the whole roadbed on similar undersurface is good idea.

That will be a fun one. I'm going to bring it to Augusta to testify at Transportation Committee. :-)

cfm in Gray, ME

I'm by no means an oil trader but isn't this announceent by the Obama administration the perfect "buy" signal?? Lots of oil will be needed for all the bulldozers! If what Japan went through post-bubble (lots of highways to nowhere) is any indication, then Americans are in for a noisy time of it!

On the other hand, investing in a hopeless cause (i.e oil-based economy) can also be seen as that old definition of insanity: doing the same thing with the expectation of a different result.

For your posting pleasure: Text Formating Toolbar :: Firefox Add-ons

Works with Firefox versions 1.5 – 3.0. At the push of a button on a toolbar add boldness or underscore or italics,

put something in a blockquote,

and most anything else - can handle custom codes as well. Some of the built-in coding (for strikethrough, for instance) isn't suited to TOD, but if you're keen on having them it'd be a snap to customize. The image code works fine, too:

As does the linkmaker.


Hello TODers,

Just to show how bad we may want 'ribcage' narrow-gauge networks in the postPeak future, it always helps to look at the past before oil was plentiful:

The History of Chicago's Freight Tunnels

This website tells the story about a 60-mile, two-foot gauge electric railroad that operated 149 locomotives and over 3000 freight cars in small tunnels forty feet below the streets of downtown Chicago.

Construction on Chicago's unique freight tunnel network began in 1899 in the basement of a tavern in the heart of the Loop near LaSalle and Madison Streets. Workers dug a small access tunnel from the basement down to the center of the intersection forty feet below grade. There, they continued to carve tunnels by hand out of the blue clay under nearly every street in downtown Chicago...
Lots of photos and maps-->the streets were so crowded they had no choice....Chicago also had a huge standard-gauge RR network at this time for their 'spine & limbs'.

Also, check out this pretty narrow-gauge track and its minimal impact on the environment, then compare to asphalt at $100,000 per mile [please click on photos to enlarge]:

Once we got comfortable with the feeling, we were able to take the bike to just about maximum speed, between 20 and 25 miles per hour!
IMO, this sure beats walking with firewood balanced on your head Zim-style.

The Argyle & Eastern RR, where two workers have laid 4,000 feet of track:


I bet just the careful dis-assembly of stuctural steel in the Sears Tower alone can provide 1,000 miles of postPeak minitrain track. I sure hope the TOD engineers are giving my speculation serious consideration.

Optimal Overshoot Decline & Peak Outreach is nothing more than striving to have the minimial #'s of mothers cry over the minimal #'s of their babies dying...

Again, Harry Chapin's 'Remember when the music...
Was the best of what we dreamed of for our children's time":

Capturing the Morning Light ... 4:07
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Far out: Official page for the Meadows & Lake Kathleen Railroad. Hosted at "members.peak.org," hmmm. Check out them photos, Bob.

Some government flunky wanted to shut them down due to lack of permits. I'm tempted to use a favorite pejorative term from the TV show Deadwood here...luckily it seems they've been granted a stay for the time being.

Also have a look-see at the Antique Powerland site. Another venture into archaic power courtesy of the Willamette Valley.

Friend of mine in Eugene is also into model railroads, I think the toy train (ridable) size below Grand Scale - live steam? Wouldn't doubt he knows the Meadows & Lake Kathleen folks. Heh, HO size doomer landscapes: Model Railroad Slums.

Those were some really beautiful pictures. Best hopes for a rail revival!

Hello The Dude,

Thxs so very much for the link to that stunningly beautiful narrow-gauge railroad [I looked at every photo in every link :)]: I been searching for such photos to show what is possible with minitrains and SpiderWebRiding: notice that the 'human scale' is so touchy-feely that he had lots of volunteers all cooperating to make their dreams come true. This is what JHK talks about: we badly need a sense of what is design possible vs the mind-numbing piss-poor design of my Asphaltistan, directed by golf-fanatic, real estate developers w/ toxic trophy wives, who probably also owned car dealerships. :(

Much of Phx and its outlying ass-teroid belts were built after the first energy crunch: the money we spent foolishly on golf courses, car dealerships, carwashes, freeways, and tanning salons could have easily built a narrow-gauge ribcage and standard-gauge RR & TOD limb and spine for the entire area so that my Asphalt Wonderland could have been entirely car-free.

Now that would have transformed Phx into a true tourist attraction as people could walk, bicycle, Spiderweb pedal or taken a minitrain virtually everywhere after they got off the standard gauge RR & TOD. We will sure be sorry when we have to manually pickaxe asphalt and sledgehammer reinforced concrete, then wheelbarrow it far away postPeak. Thxs again.

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

Ah, Bob, do a Google search for Meadows and Lake Kathleen Railroad
, you'll find plenty more galleries, some of which focus on a load of smiling happy passengers:

From Meadows and Lake Kathleen , August 10, 2008 | Tim's Trains.

Man, they're really out in the boonies. Those Nov snowstorm pics are brutal looking. There's a sustainable commune of some sort 'round Alpha, another townlet north of Deadwood: Alpha Farm, Deadwood.

You're really on to something with this rail idea, IMO. Perhaps you should contact some of these live steam and Grand scale aficionados with your notions. Some of 'em might be quite keen on the idea of being asked to create some energy independence with their hobby.

IMO, the key is getting the BIG3 to want to build Alan's standard-gauge ideas and narrow-gauge; to leapfrog to the next paradigm. Recall my earlier post [rant?] where the CEOs cutoff their pinkys to prove how bad they want to change direction.

My guess is that the Big3 die as Toyota is probably already working on transplanting the guts of a Prius into a minitrain. Instead of moving just four people on rubber tires on asphalt, they are moving 'full steam ahead' for a Prius-miniloco to pull over a hundred people or a human-scaled container freight train.

Remember, a car has 4 tires + 1 spare, maybe these five tires will make 100 bicycles tires, but if we are all bicycling postPeak--these won't last long. Now consider the 5 steel rims converted to SpiderWeb wheels. Perhaps 2 or 3 sets for 2 or 3 Spiderbikes? These wheels will probably last a lifetime if the bearing races are well-maintained.

I now forget which link it was but one of these railfans was using track built back in 1910! A Spiderbike wouldn't even come close to the weight [and wear & tear] of a mini-loco. My feeble two cents.

I don't know about you, but I do like the end to end commuting of the car. Trains/buses do not offer that.

The Ruf design would get you rail-esque efficiency and the end to end commute. But IMNSHO, the only way Ruf will happen is if the rail+conductor part can happen due to a cheap room temp superconductor.

the end to end commuting of the car. Trains/buses do not offer that.

It depends on how the city you live in is organized.

Given that driving and parking will usually put you several hundred feet from the entrance of the desired destination, and single floor construction typically requires more walking than multi-story once in that door, I question if many of my trips are not as direct as driving.

4 blocks to the "new" City Hall from the streetcar stop is further away than many other trips.


Another one bites the dust:

Georgia bank shuttered by regulators

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- State regulators in Georgia closed First Georgia Community Bank on Friday, marking the 23rd bank failure of the year.

Behind a paywall at MEED:

Regional gas shortage triggers switch to coal

Ras al-Khaimah Investment Authority to request proposals for first coal-fired power plant next year.

Ras al-Khaimah is in the UAE.

The natural gas situation is also contributing to the rapid increase in liquids consumption in Saudi Arabia, +5.1%/year over the past 10 years, +7.2%/year over the past two years:


On the topic of "What would Obama Do?"

He's talked about renewable energy and he's talked about solar, specifically. What form will his help for solar take?

The Federal tax credit is going UP to 30% of total cost Jan. 1st. This was in one of the early bail-out bills a couple months ago, in case you missed it. So what more will he do? I have not seen more specific discussion - has anyone out there? The California Solar Initiative cash rebate just dropped from $1.90/watt to $1.55/watt this week, adding a thousand or two to the price of a typical residential solar project - although the larger tax credit (prev. capped at a max of $2000) knocks 5 to 10 thousand MORE off the net cost.

Flat-out cash rebate would be the best - the cost pales compared to bailing out a bank. Tax credits require income - not a sure thing going forward at the moment. Some sort of enhanced net-metering (forcing utilities to pay a good price for home electricity production) would be good, as would streamlining the permitting/rebate/credit process (perhaps unrealistic...).

I'm biased towards solar, but what form might help for other renewable energy sources take?

I agree. What good are tax credits when everyone's broke? And why always tilt these programs toward upper-income people?

A change in the energy position in the Obama Administration?
Think again: Chevron in the White House

The difference is Jones isn't in charge of energy policy or bailout proposals. Another difference is that Obama is deliberately building ways for citizens to have their voices heard. It is so easy to become part of policy-making with Obama. You can start by signing up to go to a house party at change.gov. From there, people will hook you up with the groups that can best use your expertise.

I work with Peace and Justice groups, so I'm quite familiar with the process.
We will see if any horizontal, from the bottom up policy making takes place.
Coming from over 40 years of activism, I would not hold my breath.
This is becoming more of a existential exercise.

deliberately building ways for citizens to have their voices heard

Yeah, heard and then dismissed - if not dissed. I'm plenty familiar with the tactic.

There is a place for an inside track - the track dominated by the clinton retreads - but I can't imagine where that place might be. How do you spell oxymoron? Clean Coal, Sustainable Growth, change.gov

  1. isolate the radicals
  2. cultivate the "idealists" and "educate" them into becoming realists
  3. coopt the realists into agreeing with industry

change.gov is faux access, organized from the top. It's PR. Nothing more, except perhaps another layer of indirection.


cfm in Gray, ME

I really hope you are wrong. But I can't get the dismal feeling out of my gut that the internet is the mother of all indirection. I used to think TV was bad -- but the auto-eroticism and group groping of the various blogs is astounding.

But, of course I keep on trying -- you have to start somewhere. Pitifully weak as it seems, I read the blogs, and I stand on the street corner and protest. And that seems to be more than 99.9% of most Americans do.

Don't underestimate the group grope on the blogs, NeverLNG. There is a consensus building, awareness, and all sorts of shared learning. I have no idea how to quantify these sort of things, but just here at TOD the mindshift over the past year has been astonishing. I remember bringing up in one of the early API blogger calls what I considered a far_out_in_left_field question - the impact of the impending credit crunch on energy production. No one on the call - self included - had a clue what I was asking. Now on TOD it's pretty well understood that the 2008 credit crunch has locked in Peak Oil. We see all sorts of projects shutting down. At the time I think I used the CA tarzan production as an example - how would that be impacted?

The understanding of limits here on TOD has advanced a lot in the past year too. A global margin call on planetary resources. When I used that at a recent talk, I credited TOD and TAE for the phrase; it wasn't mine.

And then there is the biology and sociology.

It's a pretty good group grope.

That being noted, what is the group grope consensus on Obama's health care initiative - digitizing the medical records. Oooops. ;^>

cfm in Gray, ME

deliberately building ways for citizens to have their voices heard

The following is my personal opinion only, as I have the same cheapseats view of the incoming Obama administration as the rest of you. But here is my two cents worth on the purposes of change.gov. I think my two cents are worth something because as far as I have seen Obama's thinking process is similar to mine (although he is vastly more successful), and this is the strategic direction I would choose for the outreach program. The purposes of change.gov:

Harness the patriotism of especially the younger Americans, and those intellectuals who feel they have something to offer. This has several components. One is to make a substantial number of people highly motivated to advance programmatic goals. A second purpose, is to allow a few good ideas to percolate up the chain of command. A third purpose could be to identify potential future leaders, i.e. to be able to draw on a talent pool much larger than the traditional political professionals who have dominated our government in the past.

This is part PR, and partly an attempt to obtain a wider pool of opinion/expertise from which to select ideas, programs, and candidates for the administrations programs. Even if that wasn't the original purpose, the logic of such an approach is compelling enough, that Obama would follow it.

I think the difference between Obama, and traditional politicians, is that he genuinely wants to do good, and is willing to consider how he should act in order to do the most good. And he is very smart, and very deliberate in his actions. The next few years could be pretty exciting.

*clap* *clap*

Now it is possible that some really good ideas will bubble up through the filters to the top. Being able to gather a whole lot of ideas means that at least a FEW of 'em are gonna be great - but the filtering will most likely kill 'em.

Mauldin a bit of a used car saleman most of the time has a good report out today. Whats important is he is discussing velocity of money. He is completely full of it that the Fed has not done significant monetization but like I said he is a fairly slimy used car sales type. Sorry but he is bad about twisting facts to sell his drivel.

In any case look beyond that and read his fairly clear explanation of the velocity of money and assume that he is completely wrong about monetization the Fed has been monetizing like mad.

The Velocity Factor - John Mauldin's Weekly E-Letter

All of these charts are readily available from other sources and his analysis is a joke but.

Whats important is that our current recession is being driven by the slowing velocity of money. As you can see the Fed can and will print what ever is required to offset debt deflation it may take time to actually cause inflation in the Austrian monetary sense which is what John Mauldin is describe i.e a increase in money supply.

But the reason that it will do no good is that the real problem is velocity the Fed is powerless to prevent the velocity of money from declining. And as you see it was way over the historical norm. A contraction of the world economy by 50% is not impossible.

Now how does this effect the price of oil ?

Well the Fed can and will print which means the money supply is growing while the velocity of money will continue to decline.

This means that the money can only go into speculative investment preferably liquid ones. All the people getting the money have plenty of illiquid assets from the last bubble in real estate. This money will not reinflate the housing bubble just like the money injected after the .com crash did not go into high-tech. This bubble of cash cannot make it into the real economy because the transaction rate is slowing its locked into the world of high finance.

Eventually it will start sloshing around once the bond market collapses right now its pouring into bonds. And it will literally slosh around ending up in commodites, the stock market etc. Any liquid trading environment. It will be highly disruptive to our normal economy with a lot of the cash movements based on markets completely disconnected from fundamentals. Where is the leverage coming from to pull this off ?

Well the Fed will overtime accept more and more illiquid assets from a broader range of entities. Eventually the war on hedge funds will end as the Fed recognizes they have no choice but to buy the failed assets held by hedge funds to get another bubble going. The funds will have a field day they can sell any bad bet to the fed in exchange for cash and lever up again.

Expect this to happen very very soon maybe a matter of weeks or at best months. Companies will get into the game with the Fed buying a wide range of commercial paper.

I think this will really start once the hedge funds except some slap on the wrist oversight then its off to the races.

Credit will remain unavailable to the average American and any assets that require long term debt will continue to decline. The stock market will be highly volatile with any company that can create good news having its stock zoom and others shorted into oblivion and their assets sold at fire sale prices.

Overall the world of high finance will be on a buying spree but only for highly distressed assets at pennies on the dollar. The will destroy countless companies in the process unloading any failed bet onto the Fed.

Only after this mess plays out will the real Depression begin.

One last thing.

It takes almost the same amount of oil to go to a pizza parlor and sell 50 pizzas as it does 10.

Given that I'm asserting that the current conditions are primarly from a slowing velocity of money coupled
with the loss of long term debt we can expect that gasoline usage will only drop marginally vs a large drop
in the economy as velocity slows. Energy usage declines slowly as the velocity of money slows.

Thus expectations of continued declines in energy usage are probably unfounded. Eventually other factors
come into play but we are not at that point. And if peak oil is real by the time contraction takes place
that drops energy usage happens it will be done in and expensive environment. However thats for the future not now.

I agree with this post too.

memmel -

I hadn't though of it that way, but it seems to make perfect sense to me.

If gross energy consumption shrinks by a certain amount, but if totally economic output shrinks by an even greater amount, then, all other things being equal, it would follow that the overall energy efficiency in terms of economic output per unit of energy input would worsen accordingly.

Of course, when you get down to basics, these economic ratios are really nothing more than abstractions. There's real economic output, and there's real energy input, but the so-called efficiency is merely the result of dividing one number by the other. It in itself does not exist.

By way of a crude (and admittedly imperfect) mechanical analogy, the torque of a rotating shaft is quite real and can be readily measured, and the rotational speed of that shaft is also quite real and can be readily measured. However, the power produced by that shaft is not a real physical entity, but rather an abstract concept arrived at by taking the product of the torque and the speed of the shaft. As such, one cannot measure horsepower directly, just as one cannot directly measure economic energy efficiency.

This may seem like a pedantic and trivial point, but I think we, especially financial types, tend to lose sight of these sort of distinctions and view such things as 'The Market' (such as in 'The Market reacted unfavorably upon news of ....') as a real physical sentient entity rather than what it really is .... a convenient name for a collection of largely unrelated and chaotic transactions having no central purpose or intelligence.

Exactly think of the rotational speed as the velocity of money. Cornucopians use the change in velocity to illustrate how peak oil is not a factor. But the shear mass of the shaft is real oil usage the change in velocity is a small component. Better to think of a massive flywheel thats the "real" economy.

On top of this we play games with the velocity to create wealth. When it reaches the breaking point a bubble popes.

The real change however is small the price of rice is down almost 50% but yet we eat more rice now then we did a month ago because population increases. Price decreases for intrinsic needs in the face of increasing population are so transient they cannot even be caputured using any sort of meta analiysis. The current collapse of oil prices is this sort of phenomena historians will incorrectly miss it. completely. Say its a six month crash from 140 to 30 probably a lot less. They will say before the crash price became erratic before the obvious situation unfolded. If we are lucky we will get one sentence in future textbooks.

This is and example of a snapshot in time.

We are going to be buried by the volcano or get one sentence. But what really happened is the velocity of the economy has slowed if we are really short on resources this is it this is the end. If not then I will shortly buy a home with a very minimal down payment since the overreaction of the monetary front will lead to massive inflation.

Right now I plan to pay cash when cash is king. I believe we this slowing is not just the velocity of money slowing down but a bad bearing on a monstrous shaft.

I'm seeing decline in petroleum use here in the frigid north above the 45th parallel.

We installed a high effiency wood boiler in our backyard. We burn only standing dead wood and are saving 2,000 gallons of propane per year. Two of our neighbors have installed the same and similar. In town (11 miles away, pop. 400), there are more wood stove pipes up than ever.

Now since we are in the heart of the tallgrass prairie- wood could become an issue. But when this area was homesteaded, it was required to plant 10 acres of trees on every 80, 160 acre homestead. So we have lots of mature, standing dead wood to clean up. But there are no people on those parcels-- the people have long since left. Being that this is the tallgrass prairie, losing the trees is an ecological benefit as it protects the native critters from the predatory hawks and eagles.

In town (11 miles away, pop. 400), there are more wood stove pipes up than ever.

Population of the world



You my friend are not even worth of measurement.

Not only are your efforts irrelevant they are not worth even counting.

Seriously though plenty of enclaves will form and from you description your region is a good enclave.
But although I recognize the formation of enclaves they don't help "us".


Of course your monks better have a computer.


I was responding to the statement that there was no more elasticity in our fuel use. I am seeing elasticity on a very small, perhap unmeasurable, scale.

In the medieval writing example you gave, I suspect that those monks were such a small population of the world at the time that they were not even worth measurement. And yet... there sure are a lot of Christians today.

My point is that there may be a few places that have the lights on and keep their people warm after all collapses. Perhaps they will be over run. Perhaps they will be conquered. But maybe they will spread out their influence in concentric circles that provide some practical hope.

I agree that our enclave is good and probably even safe because it is not worthy of measurment. Not even worthy of notice. That may be our ace in the hole. We are isolated, aged population (one of the oldest in the nation), poor. This month the food shelf is launching a project to plant fruit trees in the yards of every elementary school child. We are talking about forming butchering coop because we can't access federal or state inspected meat facilities. We are stanchly Democratic Farmer Labor and according to Nate Hagens' slides we are soundly in the heart of the nation's highest Social Capital region.

And not worthy of measurement. *Note* There's a small town grocery store for sale in our community- $40,000. Located in the above described area, located within feet of a E-W rail line that runs along the 45th parallel.

Right I don't mean it in a bad way more and agnostic way if you will. Its the conclusion I've come to that enclaves will form at some technical level and that these barring war will remain bastions of civilization for some time.

Nothing wrong with them in fact if I was to propose a future policy I'd suggest that aggressive policies be undertaken to form enclaves of the highest technical level possible. For example I'd suggest a region adopt a closed loop PV solution. I'd assume it would be based on wind/hydro thence solar but a PV plant capable of building all its parts internally and capable of replicating itself. Complete vertical integration. I'd like to see similar solutions for all our microelectronics.

Same for electric motors etc a big move to very localized vertically integrated solutions. The same sort of solution need to extend out into medicine if we faced economic collapse the ability to manufacture most of our current medicines will be lost.

All of this is not worth of measure if you will and does nothing to help most of the people currently alive today but it will help in the long run. At some point your region will be worth of measure and probably not because of the work done to form and enclave but because the baseline your measuring against i.e 6 billion people has dropped dramatically. In a world of a few billion people living in abject poverty a few thousand living decent lives are important and worthy of measure.

I agree with most of your post, Memmel.

But do you think big creditors like China have been sufficiently scared to keep them quiet as we blow the next bubble?

And what do you think Bernanke and pals will do once oil starts going over $100 again? At what price will they panic and crash the economy again?

Obama recently said something about cancelling the windfall profits tax on oil companies because the price was now below $80. I agree with cancelling the proposed windfall profits tax, but it makes me nervous that he mentioned a specific acceptable price.

It's occurred to me that the way they might work this is set a specific maximum price, and keep ratcheting the economy down every time we hit it. I think that would be the worst plan possible in terms of increasing utility and efficiency, but it may be the only plan politically possible.

If we see a doomer scenario come true, it will be because of the politics of our reaction to peak oil, not peak oil itself.

I don't think there is anything people can do about the situation.
First almost all of the effiency gains that supposedly happened are a myth.
All that has happened is the increased velocity of money made more transactions happen per unit of fuel.
This is obviosly not real gains but driven by inflation.
Sorry more later on iPhone.

Finally back.

The point is the efficency gains are in general false they are a result of increasing the velocity of money.

A simple example Mrs. McMansion drives the SUV to the Mall and buys 1000 dollars of crap.
As the economy tanks Mrs. McMansion drives to the mall and buys 50 dollars worth of crap.

The powers that be go crazy but oil usage does not change. I.e it goes flat. If they try to increase
the velocity of money the nominal oil usage associated with building 1000 dollars worth of crap goes higher
however it gets better.

Most of the increase in the actual velocity was actually and increase in nominal payments per transaction
not a total increase in transactions. Mrs. McMansion bought Gucci instead of Wall Mart. The situation is far
more dire its Mercedes vs Chevy. The actual energy difference is infinitesimal.

No way they can bring this back so it does not matter what they do. If they make infrastructure investments
these will increase the baseline energy usage i.e China building roads and businesses. Even if we invest
heavily in alternative energy the build up is energy intensive.

The point is political maneuvering cannot deal with such basic economics they are irrelevant.

Moe a much better blogger Mish is begining ot clue in to what I've been saying for sometime the TSHTF peak oil crises has yet to arrive.


Let's look at this from a practical standpoint. What's more important, home prices dropping $50,000 to $250,000 in value over the course of a few years or the price of gasoline going from $2.00 a gallon to $4.00 a gallon over the course of those same few years?

So you see right now we are losing massive velocity in the housing transactions but oil demand has barely budged.
We can loss over 200k on the average home price before the price of gasoline is important.

As yes I realize that a 200k loss puts a lot of suburban home values distinctly negative but thats my point.
When the long term debt support goes collapses real housing price go negative.

People that worry about saving suburbia during peak oil don't have a fucking clue.


i agree re oil. i watched bernanke's testimony while oil was going up & u could see the angst on his face re it 's rising. this was when he was cutting rates & other early maneuvers. their plan requires the lower prices even to [in their minds] have a chance to work, otherwise they get inflation on 2 fronts, money supply & energy costs.

Its obvious as Obama's plan becomes clearer that the focus will be on BAU. The lions share of the money seems to be devoted to road construction.

Its fairly obvious that Mr Obama does not look at asphalt prices or consider whats going to happen to steel and concrete costs when China and the US embark on massive infrastructure campaigns at the same time.

They are just changing the end use for all the commodities that where going into houses and commercial construction into roads and bridges. I'm sure the longer term concept is if they do a massive road upgrade program that it will eventually spur further growth.

Whats really funny is this is simply a national version of a plan thats been developed in California. Right now in California the road infrastructure is carrying four times as much traffic as it was designed for. A massive 1950's area
expansion campaign would result dropping this back to design levels i.e 1950ish traffic densities. This will cut travel times into the exurbs back to meaningful level at 80-90 miles and hour and make exurbs attractive. It probably will also result in new city centers building up in the suburban regions allowing exurb traffic shorter commute times to the new city centers.

This grand vision is entirely dependent on cheap oil.

My opinion is it will die a painful death the moment we try to implement it. As massive cost overruns from spiraling oil and other infrastructure materials turn these projects into black holes.

However being cynical I suspect they know that these projects are doomed and don't care that the blow up since all they are for is injecting money into the economy. However the oil industry will be forced to compete with these programs for resources.

Perfect storm a brewing.

UN defends carbon-trading scheme from US criticism

Strangely enough the US EPA's NOx and SOx auctions seem to be better run than cap-and-trade schemes elsewhere. Let's hope Obama's CO2 plan isn't weakened by unverifiable offsets and compensation which are essentially bailouts planned in advance.

It also shows the importance of issues like Peak Coal as per the recent Rembrandt article because early depletion may save us where politicians are incapable. Of course a few people might also freeze to death. The new reality also seems to be that governments have to start on greenshifting before electricity bills go up; example before the household electricity bill goes up $100 due to carbon charges the new solar water heater must save $100. Otherwise meaningful carbon schemes will never get off the ground and we will just drift into energy poverty and a more unstable climate.

There has been a lot of chatter recently about The Baltic Dry Index and how its drop may be a harbinger of empty store shelves. I got to thinking about how the rising dollar might have a significant effect on this index. Remember the j curve effect and how it resulted in counter-intuitive increases in imports as the dollar dropped relative to other currencies?

Now we have the dollar rising sharply, possibly creating an 'inverse' j curve effect in which importers hold back on orders and let warehouse stocks draw down because they anticipate that tomorrow's price for foreign goods will be cheaper than today's.

Assuming the BDI is a global index, the dollar rise would, of course, only affect imports for the US, but this still represents a huge portion of global trade and it might be that the sharp change from falling dollar to rising dollar is having a significant impact on imports in the short run.

Thoughts anyone?

As with housing shipping has already entered a huge glut. The time lag between need and when new tonnage actually hits the market is large. Plus bulk items like coke and iron ore are wacked when shipping hits the rocks. ( pun intended )

The point is that shipping and housing where in a monster bubble your seeing this bubble pop. In fact house construction and the Baltic index are perfectly matched.

What does it mean ? The economy is no longer growing and you built to many ships.
What does it mean to energy ?

Well if you have to many ships now and prices are falling your completely fscked if prices rise.
As with housing the bottom for shipping is zero.

Denninger thinks the government won't be able to spend its way out of this recession because they're broke, and our Chinese overlords are getting fed up.

Treasury bill yields near zero on jobs plunge

(Reuters) - An unraveling U.S. job market renewed a scramble for cash that dragged Treasury bill yields near zero on Friday and will likely tighten bank lending further.

A flailing economy and the global credit crunch have become mutually reinforcing. News that more than half a million jobs were lost last month, the worst performance since the energy crisis of the 1970s, sent investors piling into very short-term Treasury bills.

Gotta give this guy credit for creativity:

Wearing 'almost homeless' sign, ex-executive seeks work

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Paul Nawrocki says he's beyond the point where he cares about humiliation.

That's why he weekly takes a 90-minute train ride to New York, where he walks the streets wearing a sandwich board that advertises his plight: The former toy-industry executive needs a job.

You'd think a guy with 36 years experience in his tax bracket could have retired instead, but I guess with high incomes, come high expenses.

I read an article in the NYT I thought was interesting albeit depressing/discouraging, but I thought I'd post a link since it included a name familiar to TOD'ers midway into the article. (I hope it hasn't already been posted here somewhere, Leanan)

Thieves Winning Online War, Maybe in Your PC

Take a look at another NYT article today ---the one about the increasing numbers of uninsured Americans as jobs are cut. One factory in Ohio named Archway made cookies but no longer. All silent. It was owned by a private equity firm in Greenwhich CT and I guess things got bad and they took all their money out and fired everybody. Hundreds out of work. No cookies for Americans (empty shelves on the way??)

One former employee induced labor early so she could get get the baby born before her health insurance expired (but she was charged $17,000 anyway). This really sounds like hell on earth to me. Babies born premature don't do well later. And why is it so expensive to have a baby there? Here it's $3000 in a hospital, all covered by national health insurance. And less of course if you want to do it at home with a midwife.

And Greenwhich CT---those rich idiots refusing to pay for this poor woman's baby!! This is the kind of thing that just makes me want to scream.

Ye gods. Does it really cost $17,000 to have a baby?

That is what the article said---this woman in Ohio had to pay 17K. But maybe her baby was born a bit early (induced labor) and that made the whole thing more difficult.

Actually most babies can be born without any medical intervention at all. No drugs no treatment of any kind. Simple and cheap. Epidurals are not given here (in Japan).

My sister in Maryland had to pay $13,000 when her baby was born (almost 10 years ago). Perfectly routine birth. It seems really unbelievable to me because as I said here it's much less. But there are no drugs and no private rooms here. Here you stay in the hospital for five days or one week (if it's the first baby). But there is a trend here to non-hospital births without a doctor, just a midwife.

She had a C section.

And it is at least $2,000 to have a kid.
(An ex-tenant of mine owed the state $25,000+ for the 5 kids he'd sired over the years. Spent his time working cash jobs for little to no $ just to avoid paying back the state)

Pay for childbirth? 17K seems alot, but look at what women in Paraguay are doing for housing-being nailed to crosses, then transported through the streets as a protest.

"Social Action head Pablino Caceres said the funds will be made available, but the agency will control them."


Dang - Archway cookies gone? I always got a pack of Archway oatmeal when I went back to the midwest.

Got gold?

Ever see Klien's movie The Take?
Tis is something out ofArgentina

Sorry about the sloppy formatting!

I wonder if this is a sign of things to come:

Angry laid-off workers occupy factory in Chicago

Workers who got three days' notice their factory was shutting its doors have occupied the building and say they won't go home without assurances they'll get severance and vacation pay they say they are owed.


During the peaceful takeover, workers have been shoveling snow and cleaning the building, Fried said. "We're doing something we haven't since the 1930s, so we're trying to make it work," Fried said.

Protest organizers said the company can't pay employees because its creditor, Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, won't let them. ... Bank of America received $25 billion from the government's financial bailout package.

Outside the plant, protesters wore stickers and carried signs that said, "You got bailed out, we got sold out."

Vail resorts is laying off 50 people and will stop matching 401(k) contributions. Should cessation of 401k matches become a trend, that's gotta mean bad news for the stock markets. Plus, once matching is gone, a lot of folks will stop their own 401k contributions in favor of having that money more immediately available in cash savings.

from CR

Of course, the workers don't get COBRA - assuming they could pay for it somehow - because the company is self-insured (HT to TAE) and cancelling all the health care plans.

I suspect the health care system is about to crash. Businesses and munis at all levels are not going to be able to keep it going. My guess is the directors must be in about the same level of panic the boards at Universities and schools are. But yeah! President-Elect Barack Obama (PEBO) is going to modernize health care with digital record keeping to save a couple of billion dollars.

Paulsen and his banker buddies got there first. Too bad.

cfm in Gray, ME

If you are right, maybe a good effect of this will be that doctors will soon grudgingly start plying their trade for drastically lower fees. Better low fees than no fees, after all (and by low I simply mean reasonable).

the company i work for is canceling it's actual health care(hra) by 2010, and encouraging them to either go into the hsa(you have to put money in to see any benefit before reaching the out of pocket maximum which is around 3k or more) or a system designed to discourage use by only giving you $2000 to pay for 80% of the bills you get and once that's out you have to pay 100% for the next 2k.

Peter Schiff's radio show12-03-08, part 5 of 7, on oil prices:

I think this big drop in the price of oil is ultimately going to help sow the seeds for a much bigger oil rise in the future. I think oil's going to go a lot higher now because of this decline than what would've happened had it never fallen. And I the reason for that is, you know when you get this precipitous decline... in a short period of time, tha scares hte hell out of the exploration industy; that scares the hell out of alternative energy. That keeps capital scared. So, you know what's gonna happen when oil prices get back above $100/b, which might happen as soon as next year? People are gonna be afraid. People are gonna say, you know what? I'm not gonna commit new capital to this oil industry. I'm not gonna commit capital to alternative energy 'cause, you you know what? The minute I do the price is gonna collapse right back down again.

His analysis appears to be dead on and echos what most people her at TOD seem to think. But he doesn't get PO at all. This is a part of what he says about OPEC, which I think historically was true, but no longer is:

I think OPEC is just lovin' it. Because what... OPEC wants is for people to not believe in higher oil prices, 'cause they don't want the additional capital being committed to exploration... they don't want the world gearing up for alternative energy.

And he thinks prices go even higher next time they make a big move up:

I think what's gonna happen is now oil prices are going to have to go even higher and stay there for even longer before people have the courage to commit capital to solving that problem.

Again, dead on. I wonder how bullish he'd be if he understood PO?

He also says farmland and farming are good investments. Expects land prices to rise and for food to be in high demand.

It's along show, broken into 7 parts, not all all that useful because it's specific responses to investors, but there's other good stuff. Bullish on gold, of course.


Again, dead on. I wonder how bullish he'd be if he understood PO?

Or else he does get PO, but is too cagey to let on about it. When a case for something I think it is important to argue for is supported by two thesis, one of which is uncontroversial, and the other of which is controverisal, I sometimes choose to argue from the noncontroversial line of thinking. If I had included the controversial arguments, I risk being dismissed by those that I most wish to convert. Perhaps Peter is using the same approach.

I'm not a technical analyst, but here is an attempt at using historical oil prices only, on a logarithmic scale, to forecast short term oil prices. No fundamental analysis is used.

Many of the previous oil price lows have occurred around December. Most notable was the low of about $10 in December 1998. The most recent low was in January 2007.

I'm guessing that there could be an oil price low this month. The dashed black line indicates that oil price might reach $150 by December 2009, if the historical price trend is used as a guide.

click to enlarge

The low is 30 this month the high by Dec 2009 is 200.
Breaks slightly outside your bounds on both sides.

The high could be reached much earlier IMHO.

The critical issue from the markets perspective is if oil is going to 200 does it matter if it starts from
30 or 50 ? I'd argue that the actual value of the low is irrelevant.

Now it may blow my fundamental forecast by a few weeks or a month but hey fundamentals are not good with time.
So what.

I'm in the market and using my own work the earliest I get hit is a bet on oil at 90 by Dec 09.

I don't say much about it but I should if you want to trade fundamentals and 1-2 years to your trades and then your in the sweet spot. If your trading short term once your technical confirm a move then you can make sure bets.

Considering I'm now claiming 30->200 in a matter of weeks or months at most you can readily enter the game short term well after oil left 30 and make money.

Jump in at say 65 and hold for a year or take your profits if oil is going to 200 you cannot lose.

The point is if I'm right on both the max and min your in the money without trying to find a bottom or predict a top.

The Saudis have priced themselves out of the mkt for Jan del to Asia.They do this when they want their customers to buy elsewhere.They can then say the demand is not there, and a cut is needed!I expect a cut of more than 2mm bl/da from OPEC at the Dec 17 meeting.

Low may be in.Shorts start covering Sun night?