DrumBeat: December 17, 2008

Chrysler shuts down all production

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Chrysler LLC announced late Wednesday that it is stopping all vehicle production in the United States for at least a month.

All 30 of the carmaker's plants will close after the last shift on Friday, and employees will not be asked to return to work before Jan. 19.

Chrysler blamed the "continued lack of consumer credit for the American car buyer" for the slow-down in sales that forced the move.

Plentiful Coal, Not Peak Oil, Is Greatest Global Warming Threat

Even if oil production is nearing its peak in the next few years, there's more than enough coal that could be made into liquid fuel to make up the difference – but doing so would lead to a climate change disaster, according to scientists.

World Coal Reserves Could Be a Fraction of Previous Estimates

SAN FRANCISCO, California — A new calculation of the world's coal reserves is much lower than previous estimates. If validated, the new info could have a massive impact on the fate of the planet's climate.

U.S. expects big drop in oil imports

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Despite the recent rout in oil prices, the government expects crude to shoot back up over the long term. That is expected to result in a drastic drop in oil imports and a greater use of renewable energy.

Oil imports - which currently make up 60% of all the oil consumed in the U.S. - should drop to about 40%, the Energy Information Administration said in its long-term energy outlook on Tuesday.

The drop will largely be the result of higher oil prices encouraging conservation and an expanded use of home-grown biofuels.

Crude Oil Falls Below $40 on OPEC Skepticism, U.S. Supply Gain

(Bloomberg) -- Oil fell below $40 a barrel for the first time in more than four years as OPEC failed to convince traders that the glut in crude will diminish and the U.S. government said supplies climbed for the 11th time in 12 weeks.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed that the group’s 11 members with quotas will trim current production by 2.46 million barrels a day to 24.845 million barrels a day, OPEC president Chakib Khelil said in Oran, Algeria. OPEC has held four meetings in as many months.

“It’s less than meets the eye,” said Lawrence Eagles, global head of commodities research at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. “This may stem the bloating in stocks but isn’t enough to get rid of the surplus.”

Crude oil for January delivery declined $3.45, or 7.9 percent, to $40.15 a barrel at the 2:30 p.m. close of floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures touched $39.88, the lowest since July 2004. Prices have tumbled 73 percent from a record $147.27 on July 11.

White House calls OPEC action "short sighted"

WASHINGTON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - The White House on Wednesday called OPEC's decision to cut production "short sighted" and said the oil cartel has an obligation to keep the market well supplied.

"It's not clear that OPEC's actions will be effective given the shift in global demand and the ability of OPEC members to meet the cartel's targets," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.

"Regardless, OPEC has an obligation to keep the market well supplied and to consider the health of the global economy, so efforts to limit the benefits of lower energy prices are short sighted," he said.

ExxonMobil receives new LNG tankers

ExxonMobil has received delivery of two of a new breed of massive liquefied natural gas tanker this month, which will ship gas from projects in Qatar to importing markets around the globe.

The Mozah and Umm Slal tankers, owned by Qatar Gas Transport, are expected to carry up to 80% more LNG than today's average tanker and require around 40% less energy per unit of cargo than conventional carriers, ExxonMobil said in a statement.

GM delays Volt engine factory

DETROIT - General Motors Corp., which is trying to conserve cash while it awaits a government bailout, has put the brakes on construction of a factory that will make engines for two of its most important new products.

The cash-strapped automaker has delayed big-ticket purchases such as buying structural steel to build the factory in Flint, Mich., about 50 miles northwest of Detroit. The plant will make 1.4-liter four-cylinder engines for the Chevrolet Cruze small car and to extend the range of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric car.

Spokeswoman Sharon Basel said Volt and Cruze development will continue as scheduled and the company still plans to bring them to showrooms in 2010. The construction delay, she said, may be temporary until the company figures out its cash situation.

Small car safety improves

In the latest round of Insurance Institute crash tests, none of the small cars they tested earned top marks, but some still did well.

OPEC's Mountain to Climb

Some bulls still regard the oil futures market, showing sharply higher forward prices, as a stairway to heaven.

To OPEC, though, which slashed its output quota by 2.2 million barrels per day Wednesday, it's a mountain to climb. The forward curve for Nymex crude prices currently slopes upward -- known as a "contango" -- and is extraordinarily steep. At $52.50 per barrel, the May 2009 contract commands more than a $9 premium to the "front month" or January contract. That spread has widened by over $5 in the past month. Further out, futures rise above $70 from late 2012.

OPEC's Statement on Oil Cut

The following is the text of the communiqué on Wednesday's meeting of OPEC published on the organization's Web site

Brazil Panel Proposing State Co for Subsalt Oil Reserves

The Brazilian government panel discussing possible changes to the country's oil laws will propose creation of a new state company or agency to control promising subsalt reserves, according to a Tuesday news report.

The newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo reported that the government panel has decided the safest course of action amid the current global financial crisis is to keep direct control of the subsalt oil reserves in government hands.

Venezuela May Have to Cut Spending After Oil Decline

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela, the biggest oil exporter in the Americas, may have to cut government spending next year after oil prices plunged more than 70 percent since July, Finance Minister Ali Rodriguez said.

Venezuela’s 2009 budget is based on a forecast that the country’s oil exports will average $60 a barrel next year. Venezuela is “strongly in-line” with Saudi Arabia’s view that $75 a barrel is an “adequate price,” Rodriguez told reporters today during a summit in Brazil.

“If you have a drop in income, you have to cut,” he said. “We don’t yet know how much. We’re evaluating different scenarios with different oil prices and levels of production and export.”

Canada heavy oil firms try to weather price storm

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Producing heavy oil in Canada, much of which comes from the big oil sands deposits of northern Alberta, is a tough business and it's getting tougher.

The tar-like crude trades at a discount to lighter varieties. That wasn't a problem in July, when benchmark oil prices climbed above $147 a barrel, but after prices slid by more than $100 a barrel in the months that followed, some heavy oil producers are beginning to feel squeezed.

Economy Forces Some Oil Cos to Cut Buybacks

Cash-rich oil companies are not going to save the holidays for disheartened investors as the economic crisis forces Big Oil to cut back on share-buyback programs.

Major oil companies made investors happy in recent years by steering billions they garnered from high oil and natural gas prices to share repurchases. When oil prices soared, companies had money to invest in these programs, and increase dividends, boost their spending in capital projects and even make some acquisitions.

But as the financial crisis worsens and oil prices fall - hovering at about $44 Tuesday or more than $100 below its all-time high in July - major oil companies now have to be cautious and prioritize spending.

The Crisis: An Opportunity to Save the Planet

If I were to redo my 2006 report today, I would be even more alarmist, since we've observed an acceleration and an aggravation of the consequences of warming in the interim. That said, these two crises, economic and planetary, have one thing in common: they're the consequence of a system that does not evaluate the risks that its operation generates, that does not take into account the fact that it may end up destroying more than the immediate profit it procures and that, finally, underestimates actors' interdependence.

Reality Report: Talking with Richard Heinberg about the Green New Deal

The global crises of 2008 all relate to growth in debt, pollution and consumption reaching their limits, but will the incoming Obama administration recognize the new reality? This show discusses "Energy Realism and the Green New Deal" with Richard Heinberg of The Post Carbon Institute. Hear what message Post Carbon Institute is presenting to the incoming U.S. President.

OPEC agrees to a major cut in production

The OPEC cartel agreed on Wednesday to cut production by 2.2 million barrels a day, the group's largest ever cut, in an attempt to put a floor on oil prices.

After riding a wave of rising oil prices for nearly a decade, the world's top exporters are struggling amid a weakening global economy, a dizzying slump in oil consumption and a sharp downfall in prices.

It is the third time producers reduce their output in as many month. Since September, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have pledged cuts totaling 4.2 million barrels a day, or nearly 12 percent of their capacity, a record in such a short time.

2009 to witness global agri-commodity shortage

LONDON: Despite stronger production and falling prices for many food staples in the second half of 2008, the risk of food supply shortages remains acute in world markets. These supply shortage risks stem from reduced producer incentives – and ability - to boost food production.

Reduced access to trade credit, rising costs, bio-fuel competition, and infrastructure shortages are among key factors that continue to weigh on trend growth in world agriculture supply. Inventory levels are also low relative to their long run averages, highlighting the underlying tightness in food markets at present.

Tightening and more expensive credit is limiting the ability of producers to borrow to finance seasonal inputs – notably seed and fertilizer. The costs of these inputs has increased dramatically over the past few years, with the USDA estimating that US total inflation-adjusted farm costs have increased 28.5% since 2002 (a 52% increase in nominal terms).

Mideast to cut jet fuel exports by 11 pct in 2009

DUBAI/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Middle East refiners will cut jet fuel exports by 11 percent in 2009 as surging domestic demand mops up supplies even as the global downturn bites, analysts and traders said. Just when European and North American airlines are struggling with falling passenger travel and cargo demand, the Middle East aviation sector is pressing ahead with fleet and airport expansion plans being funded by the region's bulging oil revenues.

Saudi Arabia: Gas stations up petrol and diesel prices by 30 percent

MADINA – Several fuel stations across the Kingdom have unilaterally increased the price of petrol and diesel under the pretext of an increase in transportation costs.

An informed source said the earlier decision for the reduction of diesel prices by 32 percent and petrol by 30 percent has not been implemented in all the regions of the Kingdom.

The source stressed that the branches of the Ministry of Commerce are well aware of the overcharging by gas stations but turn a blind eye to the violation of the price code.

Global energy investment hit by financial crisis

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

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

Mexico seeks bids for wells

Drilling - Mexico's State oil company Pemex said Tuesday it will seek bids from drilling contractors for 500 new development wells in the chicontepec area, which Pemex is banking on to replacing dwindling output from other fields.

The vast chicontepec area in Eastern Mexico is thought to contain billions of barrels of oil, but recovering crude from the area is difficult due to challenging geology.

UK: Are we powerless to avoid blackouts as 'energy crunch' looms this winter?

History, like fashion, comes in cycles and for a while now Britain seems to have seen a return to all that was bad about the 1970s.

Unemployment has begun to creep upwards, struggling businesses are considering three- or four-day weeks, the national debt is mounting and any light at the end of the tunnel may have just been snuffed out by predictions of power cuts.

Lights out? Colorado faces energy crisis by 2025

STERLING — The state of Colorado is approaching a deficit that is not directly tied to money. The deficit is electrical energy.

In a Colorado Energy Forum held Monday night at the Ramada Inn, industry officials and state legislators discussed what needs to be done to keep up with energy needs in the coming years. At issue is how to move electricity produced in the northeast corner of Colorado to areas it is needed, and how to do it efficiently.

Declining oil prices threaten Iraqi stability

Plummeting oil prices may force Iraq's government to slow ambitious reconstruction plans, and the country could face a budget shortfall by next summer, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

"We're in a situation where Iraq is … potentially going to be in a deficit mode next year," said Paul Brinkley, who leads Pentagon efforts to aid Iraq's economy.

The trend worries U.S. officials who say a strong economy is needed to lock in the security gains made over the past year. "The long-term stability of the country heavily depends on a vibrant economy," Brinkley said.

Nigeria: Country to Supply 25 Percent of U.S. Oil By 2015

Nigeria's crude oil export to the United States will leap to 25 per cent by 2015. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, made the revelation while delivering a speech at the Southern Center for International Studies, Atlanta, Georgia, entitled "Old Ties in New Times: Nigeria and the next USA Administration."

The estimate is a progression from the current 15 per cent Nigeria exports to the country and may be an indication of US government's shift from Middle East oil to African sources.

Connacher cuts oil sands output as prices slide

CALGARY (Reuters) - Connacher Oil and Gas Ltd said on Monday it will cut bitumen production at its Alberta oil sands project as prices sink below costs, the first Canadian producer to take such action in the wake of falling oil prices.

Connacher said it will restrict output from its Great Divide project to 5,000 barrels a day for an undetermined period, down from recent rates of about 9,000 barrels a day.

U.S. gasoline demand drops despite lower prices

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Retail gasoline demand in the world's largest consuming nation fell 2.5 percent in the week ended December 12 even as prices at the pumps dropped more than a dime, according to a MasterCard SpendingPulse report released Tuesday.

Gasoline demand averaged 9.098 million barrels per day during the week, down 2.5 percent from the previous week and down 5.4 percent from the same week a year ago, according to the weekly report.

The decline in consumption came even as pump prices fell 11 cents to average $1.67 a gallon, according to the report.

Oil prices ready to recover after $100 fall

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil's collapse by more than $100 a barrel has made July's all-time high above $147 seem a distant memory but many analysts now expect a rebound and say crude's bear market may prove to have been exceptionally brief.

Oil prices could already have hit rock-bottom for 2008 when they touched lows near $40 a barrel this month, and are poised to climb despite the dire outlook for the global economy.

Declining energy prices extend to electricity

After years of steep increases, costs to build power plants and transmission lines have started to fall, promising to temper electricity rate increases for consumers, according to a report out Wednesday.

The development is notable because the nation is poised to build the biggest wave of plants in a generation to meet rising electricity demand, and capital costs make up 50% of utility rates, says Larry Makovich, a managing director of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. CERA conducted the study.

Gas exporting nations to meet in Russia

MOSCOW (AP) -- Leading gas exporters are set to gather in the Russian capital next week, officials said Wednesday, as the diverse group of nations seeks to strengthen cooperation.

The loose grouping of gas producers, known as the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, will meet in Moscow on Dec. 23 to sign a new charter to formalize the organization, officials at the Russian Energy Ministry said.

Sifting through wreckage of '08

The underlying demand/ supply picture for oil was thwarted by the actions of pension funds, hedge funds and traders and by the desire by some governments like Venezuela, Iran and Russia, along with leading investment banks, to perpetuate the peak-oil price theory. As global demand contracts, the true demand/supply picture is being unearthed.

OPEC may consider Russia's membership at meeting

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) could consider Russia's membership to the cartel at a meeting on Wednesday where production cuts are expected to be announced amid falling oil prices.

Russia wishes to have permanent observer status in OPEC

ORAN, Algeria (Itar-Tass) -- Russia wishes to have the status of a permanent observer in OPEC, Deputy Prime Minster Igor Sechin said at the organization’s meeting on Wednesday.

Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan May Reduce Oil Supply

(Bloomberg) -- Russia and the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan may cut oil supply next year to bolster their economies as a global recession reduces demand for crude.

Russia may slash exports by 320,000 barrels a day if oil stays at current prices, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin told reporters in Oran, Algeria, today, where OPEC is holding a meeting. Kazakhstan may also pump less crude, Sechin said. Azerbaijan is willing to cut as much as 300,000 barrels a day, Oil Minister Natig Aliyev said.

Chavez sees fair oil price at $70 to $90

COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said on Wednesday a "fair" price of a barrel of oil would be between $70 and $90 per barrel, as OPEC ministers met to slash global oil supply.

"We think it should stabilize at $70, $80, $90. That would be fair," Chavez told Reuters on the sidelines of a summit of Latin American and Caribbean leaders near Brazil's northeastern city of Salvador.

Auto suppliers fear White House bailout ignores them

As the Bush administration prepares to throw a life ring to Detroit automakers, industry parts suppliers fear they will be left to drown.

"We have suppliers in the very same shape as General Motors (GM) and Chrysler," warns Neil De Koker, president of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association. "They don't have access to capital."

BA cuts fuel surcharge on tickets as oil prices slide

LONDON (AFP) – British Airways said on Wednesday it was cutting fuel surcharges on long-haul plane tickets by as much as a third because of tumbling oil prices which slash the cost of jet fuel.

"British Airways will drop its fuel surcharge by as much as a third on longhaul services from Thursday, December 18," the arline said in a brief statement.

Abandoned horses are on the rise

Horse abandonment is on the rise across the USA, livestock and agricultural officials say. As the economy worsens and the cost of feeding and caring for horses rises, more people are abandoning their animals into the wild, where many starve and die.

No national numbers are available, but there are "definitely thousands of them out there," said Dave Duquette, an Oregon horse trainer and president of the United Horsemen's Front.

"Folks have to decide whether to feed the kids or feed the horses," said Dr. Kerry Rood, a veterinarian at Utah State University.

Switching To Green-Collar Jobs

A growing number of midlife career-changers like Horowitz are trading in their nine-to-fives for jobs more in line with their convictions and concerns for Mother Earth. So-called "green-collar jobs" are on the rise -- the current tally of 8.5 million U.S. jobs in renewable-energy and energy-efficiency industries could grow to as many as 40 million by 2030, according to a November report commissioned by the American Solar Energy Society.

And the burgeoning industry is claiming scores of experienced workers who can put to use the skills they've acquired in more established fields such as construction, finance, and marketing. In some cases, the high demand for green career-changers translates into a larger paycheck. But more often, the satisfaction of making a positive difference in the world is enough of a boost.

Change, but at what price?

After 2008 started with panic over food prices, the world seemed to be waking up to global warming. But then the recession hit.

The New Era of Ecological Civilization

The problems we face today are the effects of a failed paradigm. It is a system of thinking that has resulted from our increasingly objective view of nature; we enjoy its aesthetic beauty in photographs, study its characteristics under a microscope and conquer it with the latest technological innovations. As I paddled down the South Kawishiwi River, it became clear to me that many of us have lost the ability to understand the connection we have with nature. Humans have evolved as an integrated part of this ecological system, and our failure to admit this could ultimately determine the fate of life on this pale blue dot. Only after we are able to understand this will we be able to propose policies that truly are "a gesture of responsibility and an acknowledgment of an essential condition of ethical action," as Elizabeth Kolbert put it in a commentary for The New Yorker.

'World is Flat' author calls for radical climate action from Obama

"Our next president is going to be called on to be more radical -- I am talking crazy, wild-hair, paint-on-your-face, ring-in-your-nose radical -- in what he does, than any president since FDR," he said, referring to Franklin D Roosevelt, US president during the 1930s depression and the Second World War.

"The real question I have is... will he have the courage of our crisis? I think our crisis is so deep that only truly radical behaviour will be required to get us out of it."

Cooperation helped Louisville clean up air

LOUISVILLE — For years, Louisville has been known for fast horses, fine bourbon, a love of college basketball — and lousy air.

People who lived near a complex of chemical plants, called Rubbertown, put up with odors, burning eyes and fears that their every breath might contribute to asthma, cancer or other illnesses.

But that began to change about a decade ago, after a minister from the predominantly African-American neighborhoods around Rubbertown organized protests, demanding aggressive government action to clean up the toxic air and reduce the chemical emissions from factories.

Cosmic Rays Do Not Explain Global Warming

ScienceDaily — A new study supports earlier findings by stating that changes in cosmic rays most likely do not contribute to climate change. It is sometimes claimed that changes in radiation from space, so-called galactic cosmic rays, can be one of the causes of global warming. A new study, investigating the effect of cosmic rays on clouds, concludes that the likelihood of this is very small.

Humans started causing global warming 5,000 years ago, UW study says

Global warming didn't start with the industrial revolution, but began 5,000 to 8,000 years ago with large-scale agriculture in Asia and extensive deforestation in Europe, according to new research by University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists.

Using powerful supercomputers and advanced climate models, the researchers concluded that methane and carbon dioxide - the building blocks of global warming - began rising with the introduction of rice cultivation and large-scale tree removal.

Arctic ice volume lowest ever as globe warms: U.N.

GENEVA (Reuters) - Ice volume around the Arctic region hit the lowest level ever recorded this year as climate extremes brought death and devastation to many parts of the world, the U.N. weather agency WMO said on Tuesday.

...A report presented by Jarraud at a news conference showed Arctic ice cover dropping to its second lowest extent during this year's melt season since satellite measuring began in 1979.

However, the Geneva-based agency said, "because ice was thinner in 2008, overall ice volume was less than in any other year." It added: "The season strongly reinforced the 30-year downward trend in the extent of Arctic Sea ice."

The new GEAB (LEAP/Europe2020) bulletin is now available in English at:


Here's how it starts:

LEAP/E2020 anticipates than the unfolding global systemic crisis will experience in March 2009 a new tipping point of similar magnitude to the September 2008 one. According to our team, at that period of the year, the general public will become aware of three major destabilizing processes at work in the global economy, i.e.:

• the length of the crisis
• the explosion of unemployment worldwide
• the risk of sudden collapse of all capital-based pension systems

Well worth a read, these people have got things right before.

we anticipate that the minimum duration of the decanting phase of the crisis is 3 years (1). It shall be finished neither in spring 2009, nor in summer 2009, nor at the beginning of 2010. It is only towards the end of 2010 that the situation will start stabilizing again and improving a little in some regions of the world, i.e. Asia and the Eurozone, as well as in countries producing energy, mineral and food commodities (2). Elsewhere, it will continue; in particular in the US and UK, and in all the countries depending on their economy, were the duration could approximate a decade. In fact these countries should not expect any real return to growth before 2018.

Well, at least they're expecting a return to growth. I'm not so sure myself.

My guess is that their return to growth circa 2018 for the USA uses EIA forecasts (assuming they feel oil supply is important)-if they were using WT's forecasts they probably wouldn't be forecasting a return to growth for the USA at all.

Per WT's perspective. The US is Apollo 13. Add 1 Cryo-stir. No more outside resupply. Better start looking around the spaceship for the scrap bits to keep the lifesupport going. The energy supply is finite and the battery balancing act begins.

Edit; unfortunately most still want the 'mission' to continue

You are correct Brian it's not a 'bottoming process' it's a ledge on the way down.

And this story on Bloomberg about credit markets still frozen.

Between all this and today's Denninger, I feel like withdrawing all my money, including deferred comp and IRA, and burying it in the backyard.

Be sure you have had plenty of caffiene and are ready for a very sobering discussion from Denninger today. The more I read from him and others along the same wavelength I believe we are really in for some very interesting times. Hand tool and garden accessories should be at the top of many people's Christmas list this year. John

OK that's it for me. I've gathered my nuts, so to speak.
My money is in cash spread out in euros, dollars and pounds. My mortgage is paid off, my house insulated and sporting the most efficient boiler system etc. I have generator, 1000l fuel capacity and solid fuel backup and LED standby lighting. I have 120mpg scooter and electric bike. I have a big garden with great soil ( had NPK /pH checked when we landscaped ).
Since the £/Yen plummeted I bought forward buying new plasma and audiophile AV system, 2000 CDs, 400 DVDs and 3000+ books.
F*ck all this. If economy really goes tits up then I'm settling in for a while. I'll spend my time leccy pedalling between friends or reading improving books when the wife's in and watching bluray 7.1 TrueHD porn when she's not.
They'll cut industry before home power then personal cars will go ... I figure we'll be down to basic food and power in the worst case. If it goes further than that I'm off to the States with plutocrat Uncle Stan from Long Island :)

I seriously doubt people will withdrawn their money even if returns are negative. What are they going to do with it? The risk of having large amounts stuffed in your mattress of buried in the back yard is as great as having it in an account losing money every month IMO.

Besides if inflation is factored in, people have been losing principle for years and years. This is why the savings rate is so low in the U.S.. I just bought a new Ford Ranger instead of letting my savings sit in a CD at 2-3%. At least I can get some use, tax advantages and a little fun out of it. I did not need the truck as I have two others.

The inflation figures just put out by the government are pure garbage. After substitution, hedonic and other seat of the pants adjustments, I have no faith in them at all.

Just this week my Medicare supplemental premium rose again. And Social Security notified me and all the other beneficiaries that they will be deducting a larger Medicare deduction from checks. So the increase that was given is partially taken back, even as small as it was.

Being a farmer, next year's seed input costs which I paid last month to get the discount rose from about $28 a unit for soybean seed to about $37 per unit. Corn seed rose from $112 per unit to $124 per unit. The drop in gasoline prices, while significant, does not out weigh these increases.

For those not willing to let money sit in accounts that lose money, taking it out and spending is the best thing to do. Of course this is exactly what the powers that be want. They will get their way, savers be damned.

Losing money every month isn't really what I'm worried about.

I'm worried that they'll all go Madoff/Enron. The money will simply vanish - overnight. And not being a billionaire, nobody's going to bail me out.

As Denninger points out, Madoff continued for ten years, despite multiple warnings (in writing to regulators) and widespread suspicion. How do you know your broker, your bank, your retirement plan, is not a Madoff?

That is why firms that sell physical gold and silver are having record years. OTOH maybe we are just being cynical-maybe Obama will usher in a new era of hope and prosperity.

"maybe Obama will usher in a new era of hope and prosperity"


No thanks, I think I'll stick with cynical

Time Magazine = USA Today = National Enquirer = 60 Minutes = entertainment only.

Bernard Madoff is the "person" of The Year, 2008, hands down.

He is the Poster Boy for our economy, and maybe our entire political system.

I vote for Henry Paulson and his look a like Kashkari. (Me and mini-me)

He got second. Seriously.

LOL. He did indeed!

Sarkozy was one of the runners up as well, probably for marrying Carla Bruni :-)

They got Palin as well! Brilliant. Drill, Baby Drill!

is that pronounced "Cash Carry"?

And why is Goldman Sachs giving bonuses for its employees, based on the bailout money Paulson and Cash carry delivered? Which you and I are paying for. excuse me while I go puke my guts up.


Give me the freakin money, i'll stimulate the economy. GEEZ!! It's 5 O:clock somewhere, bottoms up. Cheers.....

leanan said: "How do you know your broker, your bank, your retirement plan, is not a Madoff?"

I would add;

How do you know your broker, your bank, your retirement plan, YOUR COUNTRY is not a Madoff?

The screwed up thing is that if somebody is accused of stealing a $20,000 car he gets arrested and goes in the tank. If somebody is accused of stealing the equivalent of 250,000 cars he gets to walk around, albeit with a bracelet.
something is not right here....

And this is something new? Unfortunately, it has almost always been thus. Forget the fairy tales they told you in school, this is how the world really works. And yes, it does suck.

They say if you owe the bank $1000 dollars and can't pay, you have a problem. If you owe the bank $50,000,000,000 and can't pay, the Bank has a problem...

better to take the depreciation at once as you drive off the lot than slow bleeding inflation ?

The Medicare insurance cost did NOT go up this year. All Medicare recipients received a 5.8% benefit increase starting in January. Your Medicare could go down if - (1) you signed up for the Part D drug benefit and that went up, or (2) your 2007 income tax return showed enough income that you are now being charged a higher rate based upon a recent law change - e.g., couples with adjusted gross incomes in excess of $170,000 per year pay more on a sliding scale up to a Medicare monthly premium maximum of $308.30 per month compared to the $96.40 for those with incomes below $170,000.

Sounds like a good idea to me. Maybe you could invest in brandy for barter purposes.

You still HAVE money in IRA's and 401Ks? With your long-term prognosis of the economy I figured you'd be more in cash.

Gold is up nicely. A balance between cash and gold seems to be holding value pretty well overall. I can't argue against spending extra cash for durable "personal" commodities like guns and tools though.

I haven't put any new money in for awhile, but I had a lot already invested. I've been saving for retirement since my teens, and save a lot more than the average American. I have been seriously considering taking the penalty and pulling it all out, but haven't actually done it yet. Partly out of laziness, partly out of uncertainty. Maybe we will get the inflationary version of the apocalypse (though that's looking less and less likely).

I keep contributing to my 401k because of company match. I put a dollar in, they put a dollar in and viola! I've already doubled my money. The stock market would have to drop in half in order for it to be viable to *not* contribute to my 401k. In fact, I'm still better contributing, doubling my money, and then withdrawing it immediately (even accounting for penalties).

I don't get a company match. All I get is the tax break. And not even that for the Roth IRA.

Many companies are eliminating 401(k) matches, because of the bad economy. If your company does that, will you still contribute?

Nope. The stock market will be a fools game until inflation hits (and beleive me, it will hit- TPTB will choose inflation over depression, and I have no doubt about the continued helicopter drops, even if it means ruining the dollar in the long term). And even then, the stock market won't keep up with inflation.

I have NO doubt that TPTB will choose inflation over deflation.

I just don't think it will work.

Bernanke is dropping bundles of dollars as we speak. It hasn't resulted in inflation yet because we still have a way to go with deleveraging. Once that's done, the value of the dollar will drop like a rock.

Credit crunch? What credit crunch?

As I said yesterday: In 2008, there was just ONE stock market, which soared darmatically, the one of Zimbabwe. Hyperinflation has also its advantages.

"And not even that for the Roth IRA."

you will get that on the tax free profits after age 59 1/2. that kind of tax break could break ya.

Only if there are any profits.

On Roth IRA.....Only if there are any profits.

You still get a break, you can't use the loss to decrease your taxable income! But, that should simplify your math at least.

This could put you on the post-peak most eligible list.

I have two single sons...good with shovels...don't want kids.


Not really. It's more than a little annoying. I should have blown on all my money on clothes, gadgets, a fancy car, a McMansion, cruises and vacations, etc., like my friends. I have a feeling we're all going to end up in the same boat in the end. :-P

Actually if you'd just shifted your 401Ks to the cash fund, maybe cashed some out with the tax hits, and then moved from cash to gold as things worsen you'd have been really well off in a few more years, I think. I'm not a big fan of TIPS as I don't trust the Feds to provide any warning before rules change, but certainly people are doing OK with those now too.

It almost feels like this financial storm is designed to shake value out of everything, and your only hope is to be nimble in maintaining employment and moving your assets. Nothing is safe all the way through.

Still, a frugal mindset is a valuable asset in and of itself.

Silver...hard, hold in your hand, bury in the ground...Silver.

Only way to go.

Nah, I say the Totoneila route... Fertilizer.

Hello Geckolizard,

Speaking of I-NPK and my speculative 'Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK'-->China appears to be taking the lead while Bernanke & Paulson haven't a clue:

MARKET RESCUE: Yunnan Builds Metal and Fertilizer Reserves

The scheme announced last week aimed to help local companies that faced difficulties in selling their products to put them aside as reserves. The scheme plan to store up to one million tons of non-ferrous metal and 500,000 tons of fertilizer.

The reserves would be financed by bank loans secured by companies using their products as mortgage, thus allowing the cash strapped companies to gain access to liquidlity. Meanwhile the provincial government would subsidize the loan interest and storage cost.
If the credit crisis continues until nothing is moving: those locally stocked tons of fertilizer will provide much food security for this area in China. Recall from my earlier weblink that Uralkali has shut in 50% of their production. As long time readers of my posting already know: We are evolved to sit in the dark, but we can't do starvation. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

Very nice. Thanks.

I'm not a big fan of precious metals. Worth having some, sure. But I don't trust them to hold their value if things get really bad.

Like they say...in a Depression, there is no safe haven.

I am partial to Copper alloy and lead myself. Full metal Jacket, Hollow point boat tail, 7.62 mm about 168 grain. That, a descent set of re-loading equipment, some casings, primer and powder. But then again, maybe a balanced portfolio... Copper, lead, silver, gold, Single Malt Scotch, Salt, fertilizer and about 40 acres in the middle of nowhere may be the best plan...

Can you put your 401K into cash, or something equivalent to cash? That strikes me as less drastic than having to pay the IRS penalty.

The problem with pensions is the rate of return required - this forces you to invest in something, stocks, shares, property, gold etc.

Unfortunately pension savings are special in that the pensioner requires a certain income each month.

Say the pensioner requires to convert some shares (or gold!) to $1000 each month then there must be a counterparty willing and able to buy $1000 of shares each month.

If the workers only want to buy $50 worth then the pensioner is stuffed, $50 is all he can extract no matter how many shares he has.

Think demographics/babyboomers and companies no longer contributing to pensions/benefits as they did in the past!

Yesterday's DB link to the Fortune magazine interviews was helpful. Given the uniformly bearish assessments by experienced people, and summing up from recent discussions on TOD, it seems that moving toward tax exempt bonds and TIPS (treasury inflation-protected securities) now, through 2009/early 2010, is a good way to go. Anyone think this is *not* a good idea?

Reread Denninger. The treasury market is the last bubble.

I like it when Denninger makes a joke like this:

"If Bernanke won't cut this crap out Congress needs to do so, and do it now. "

Congress needs to step in ??? As if we should expect lucid, intelligent, decisive action from that Political Pigsty?

How about Congress votes to disband the Union, right after the Bush-Paulson-Greenspan-Bernanke trials and subsequent public hangings.

The joke is that politicians make political decisions, sometimes in the guise of an economic one. It seems foolish to me to look to government for economic help.

You might invest in infrastructure.

To be all Technocopian and stuff, a PV panel array with a 12-year payback (varies depending on your local elec rates) is giving you an 8.3% ROI annually.

As I've also noted before that we pay some $400/kwh for AA batteries, there are surely ways to sell power at much more lucrative rates, if you want to get creative.. and can find a conciliatory or desperate market. I'd say it would generally be in portable power applications. (?) In my business, video production, I've been setting up a system to rent solar charging packages to remote field productions, to keep their cameras, laptops, walkies, screwguns and sunguns running.

We'll see if there are any takers.. might only take a few jobs to pay for the hardware, which should be good for years and years.


One additional thing people might consider if they have a whole life policy, is to withdraw the accumulated dividends. I did this some time ago on the basis that the were totally vulnerable if the company went under. It wasn't big bucks by many standards but they were important money to me.


Hi Leanan a word of caution, one of my friends friends, a group of 3 of them had kept 100,000+ in their homes, they were International students and apparently very worried about their money being kept in Australian banks.

Well turns out their house was robbed, three people came with a gun, a knife and a baseball bat I believe and took all the money and quite a few other things.

The criminals are everywhere, in the banks and out on the streets it seems :-(

Banks have safe deposit boxes. Even if the bank fails, what is in the box is yours.

The Gold Confiscation Of April 5, 1933
From: President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt
To: The United States Congress
Dated: 5 April, 1933
Presidential Executive Order 6102
Forbidding the Hoarding of Gold Coin, Gold Bullion and Gold Certificates By virtue of the authority vested in me by Section 5(b) of the Act of October 6, 1917, as amended by Section 2 of the Act of March 9, 1933, entitled

An Act to provide relief in the existing national emergency in banking, and for other purposes~',

in which amendatory Act Congress declared that a serious emergency exists,

I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do declare that said national emergency still continues to exist and pursuant to said section to do hereby prohibit the hoarding gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates within the continental United States by individuals, partnerships, associations and corporations and hereby prescribe the following regulations for carrying out the purposes of the order:

Section 1. For the purpose of this regulation, the term 'hoarding" means the withdrawal and withholding of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates from the recognized and customary channels of trade. The term "person" means any individual, partnership, association or corporation.

Section 2. All persons are hereby required to deliver on or before May 1, 1933, to a Federal Reserve bank or a branch or agency thereof or to any member bank of the Federal Reserve System all gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates now owned by them or coming into their ownership on or before April 28, 1933, except the following:

(a) Such amount of gold as may be required for legitimate and customary use in industry, profession or art within a reasonable time, including gold prior to refining and stocks of gold in reasonable amounts for the usual trade requirements of owners mining and refining such gold.

(b) Gold coin and gold certificates in an amount not exceeding in the aggregate $100.00 belonging to any one person; and gold coins having recognized special value to collectors of rare and unusual coins.

(c) Gold coin and bullion earmarked or held in trust for a recognized foreign government or foreign central bank or the Bank for International Settlements.

(d) Gold coin and bullion licensed for the other proper transactions (not involving hoarding) including gold coin and gold bullion imported for the re-export or held pending action on applications for export license.

Section 3. Until otherwise ordered any person becoming the owner of any gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates after April 28, 1933, shall within three days after receipt thereof, deliver the same in the manner prescribed in Section 2; unless such gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates are held for any of the purposes specified in paragraphs (a),(b) or (c) of Section 2; or unless such gold coin, gold bullion is held for purposes specified in paragraph (d) of Section 2 and the person holding it is, with respect to such gold coin or bullion, a licensee or applicant for license pending action thereon.

Section 4. Upon receipt of gold coin, gold bullion, or gold certificates delivered to it in accordance with Section 2 or 3, the Federal reserve bank or member bank will pay thereof an equivalent amount of any other form of coin or currency coined or issued under the laws of the Unites States.

Section 5. Member banks shall deliver alt gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates owned or received by them (other than as exempted under the provisions of Section 2) to the Federal reserve banks of there respective districts and receive credit or payment thereof.

Section 6. The Secretary of the Treasury, out of the sum made available to the President by Section 501 of the Act of March 9, 1933, will in all proper cases pay the reasonable costs of transportation of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates delivered to a member bank or Federal reserve bank in accordance with Sections 2, 3, or 5 hereof, including the cost of insurance, protection, and such other incidental costs as may be necessary, upon production of satisfactory evidence of such costs. Voucher forms for this purpose may be procured from Federal reserve banks.

Section 7. In cases where the delivery of gold coin, gold bullion, or gold certificates by the owners thereof within the time set forth above will involve extraordinary hardship or difficulty, the Secretary of the Treasury may, in his discretion, extend the time within which such delivery must be made. Applications for such extensions must be made in writing under oath; addressed to the Secretary of the Treasury and filed with a Federal reserve bank. Each applications must state the date to which the extension is desired, the amount and location of the gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates in respect of which such application is made and the facts showing extension to be necessary to avoid extraordinary hardship or difficulty.

Section 8. The Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized and empowered to issue such further regulations as he may deem necessary to carry the purposes of this order and to issue licenses there under, through such officers or agencies as he may designate, including licenses permitting the Federal reserve banks and member banks of the Federal Reserve System, in return for an equivalent amount of other coin, currency or credit, to deliver, earmark or hold in trust gold coin or bullion to or for persons showing the need for same for any of the purposes specified in paragraphs (a), (c), and (d) of Section 2 of these regulations.

Section 9. Whoever willfully violates any provision of this Executive Order or these regulation or of any rule, regulation or license issued there under may be fined not more than $10,000, or,if a natural person may be imprisoned for not more than ten years or both; and any officer, director, or agent of any corporation who knowingly participates in any such violation may be punished by a like fine, imprisonment, or both.

This order and these regulations may be modified or revoked at any time.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
President of the United States of America
April 5, 1933

Some economists argue that this was actually "helicopter money" - an attempt to throw money from helicopters, a la Bernanke. Since the government actually paid more than the going rate for the gold it confiscated.

But yes, safety deposit boxes aren't particularly safe from the government.

Dennniger is still plugging the idea that the rise in oil price was because of speculation. That because it was no longer profitable to invest in CDOs and RMBS, all that money went into commodities like oil, which explained the rise to $150 a barrel.

As far as I understand, the only ways to increase the market price of oil is by increase of physical oil demanded, decrease of physical oil supplied, or via mass delusion or mania.

So, here's what I've said before about money.

It's important to remember that money is a tool, and the tool has been strained so much that it's starting to break. Money is not like air, water, or food. It was invented by humans, and like all human tools it occasionally needs to be replaced.

In the interim, also remember that the tool of money was invented as an abstract hold of value of the things or services you actually need or want. It represents the real estate, the implements, the food, the training for your skills, other peoples' services, the fuel, the finished products that you need or want. Money is just another tool to get you those things.

There is a scene from the 1953 classic, War of the Worlds, near the end of the movie where people are all trying to get on trucks to get out of the cities. One panicked businessman pleads, "I'll give you $1,000 to let me get on!" And the reply is, "Money isn't worth anything anymore!" The businessman gets clocked in the jaw and is left behind.

What should you put your money into? Things and services of real-world value:
* community infrastructure
* food staples, seeds, and land
* skills training and tools
* supplies
* perhaps something to trade (anything from alcohol to entheogens to cigarettes to precious metals)
* something you will enjoy

In other words, put your money into where you were going to eventually put your money anyway. Use the tool before the tool breaks.

Yergin did have something to valuable to add, I think, about the run-up in prices.

In his June 25, 2008 testimony, he runs through some basic numbers. From the BP "US Energy In Context" (p. B-45) (emphasis added):

He [Yergin] noted that the global economy exhibited 5 percent growth per year over the past five years, which he termed the best economic performance in a generation. In the five years between 1998 and 2002, world oil demand grew at an average annual rate of 1.1 percent (an absolute growth of 4.2 million barrels per day), whereas in the five years between 2003 and 2007, world oil demand grew at 2.1 percent (a total absolute growth of 8.2 million barrels per day). But there were difficulties in increasing supply to keep up with this increase in global demand. Reasons Yergin cited for a slow supply response included limitations around the world on access to areas for development, uncertainty about investment, fiscal, and regulatory regimes, and a worldwide shortage of “people, equipment, skills, and commodities.”

Of course he doesn't mention the possibility that the decline rate is adding headwind, too.

BTW, in your list you forgot books. My list of essential books is below, and I'm open to suggestions:

An old saying around our way, If you want to make money there are only three areas to invest in - food, death and sex and not necessarily in that order.
This was recently highlighted to me when an elderly friend died - her fairly basic funeral cost A$9000.

Food, death, and sex. I think they're great money makers not because they're integral parts of our existence, but also because there are so many misunderstandings and misconceptions about them.

This makes it easy to take advantage of people's needs in dealing with them.

Because men and women aren't on the same page when it comes to sex, they don't understand where each other is coming from, there are hookers and Johns. Because people don't understand the importance of the quality of the food they eat, there are Monsanto, ADM, and Cargill. Because people don't understand how to deal with another's passing, they think nothing of spending many thousands of dollars for a funeral and burial.

IMO the public doesn't understand the mathematical difference between a TRILLION and a BILLION. If the public understood that approx 600 times the proposed auto bailout has already been thrown away (with little discussion) they would be outraged.

I had to stop at the hardware store today. The guys there said that - based on their conversations with regular customers - they don't expect any changes in levels of activity "for a few years."

Of course, I'm sure that they were only expressing subjective expectations.

I saw this headline on France 24 on PBS this morning while getting ready. It sounds like a pretty big newstory, but there was no mention of it on CNBC. Managed to find the story on yahoo: China says lending to US will not go on forever http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081217/bs_afp/financeeconomychinausbonds

I guess that "the best and the brightest" over at the Fed somehow forgot that lowering interest rates to zero doesn't tend to make debt instruments very attractive to buyers.

TPTB have been spending like a drunken sailor, but the drunken sailor is about to discover that the Made-in-China ATM machine has just ate his debit card. The spending spree is just about over - welcome to hangover time.

hmm, seems war it is then , to get us out of this financial chrisis

WWIII here we come !


We have been waiting for that project of yours, what is the status? World-dominating, self-aware supercomputers are never around when you really need them..............

The OPEC December report is now out. Here's a couple of key supply charts.

There's a lot of info on projected future demand in the global recession included in the report. Haven't had a chance to read much of it yet.

Here's an interesting GDP/oil supply chart

And here's the latest forecast for "demand for OPEC crude"

"The demand for OPEC crude in 2008 is expected to average 31.6 mb/d, a decline of 0.7 mb/d from the
previous year. In 2009, the demand for OPEC crude is expected to average 30.2 mb/d, a drop of 1.4 mb/d from the current year."

Re: Cosmic Rays Do Not Explain Global Warming

Looks to be another nail in that favorite denialist theory that cosmic rays are the cause of recent warming. It's getting harder and harder for those denialist to claim that natural influences are the cause. As the old saying goes, "Science Marches On"...

E. Swanson

Darn. I thought it was cow farts this whole time...

Wrong. It is in fact sunspots!!


I know of no data which supports that claim. Have you any?

E. Swanson

Short term no such link had yet proven to exist. But long term examples do exist like the Maunder Minimum co-inciding (cause effect?)with the litte ice age. I not sure if this is well researched/accepted and or peer reviewd; i've just read occasionally about the claimed link.


There's good reason to think that the cooler conditions of the Little Ice Age were related to the lack of sunspots during the Maunder Minimum (1645-1715). The Dalton Minimum may also have contributed to cooler conditions. However, a lack of sunspots over multiple cycles has not been seen over the past 150 years or so, thus it's difficult to connect sunspots with the warming found in the data over the past 100 years. Looking at the latest information from the paper by Eichler, et. al, one notes that there is almost no correlation reported between their glacier core temperature proxy and recent sunspots. In fact, they conclude that:

Our results are in agreement with studies based on NH temperature reconstructions [Scafetta et al., 2007] revealing that only up to approximately 50% of the observed global warming in the last 100 years can be explained by the Sun. [doi:10.1029/2008GL035930 in print]

E. Swanson

only up to approximately 50% of the observed global warming in the last 100 years can be explained by the Sun

Thats interesting; and a fair bit more than Gavin & et al over at real climate would accept.


As you point out, there was some discussion about the paper by Scafetta and West (2007) a year ago on RealClimate. I haven't read thru all the comments, so others with more interest can go directly there and study the discussion for themselves.

As for the results of Eichler, et. al, I think there are possible problems with their analysis as well. If I was getting paid to work on it, I would go thru their data a bit differently, as I have done with the work of others. But, I have much more fun reading and commenting on TOD, especially as my main interest over the years has been energy, not climate...

E. Swanson

I know of no data which supports that claim. Have you any?

From what I've seen there is a global temperature versus sunspot number effect. IIRC , global temps are about .1C warmer at solar maximum, than at solar minimum. Of course the difference in solar activity between solar max/min, is greater than any observed long term change from cycle to cycle, i.e. SS are not causing climate change, but they do have a detectable modulation effect.

What about the Coca-Cola theory? All that CO2 from those bubbles have to go somewhere...

It can't be the uncontrolled chemistry experiment that we are performing on our atmosphere !

Or could it be ?


Best Hopes for Seeing the Obvious,


If production of oil plateaus and declines it will be interesting to see if that graph tapers off or whether it continues upwards due to increased coal usage.


whether it continues upwards due to increased coal usage.

What else will we use to power our battery powered cars?

What else will we use to power our 'Internets' and McDonalds and Wal-Marts and Air Conditioning (which is perverse, since the power generated for A/C ultimately causes the earth to warm up, requiring more A/C)?

And what else will power Al Gore's house?

We'll need and use coal until something else is cheaper or coal runs out. It's the first rule of capitalism: Use the lowest cost input (whether it be labor or energy). Our only hope is if someone can harness a resource at a lower cost than coal, whether it be wind, solar, ocean current, or even nuclear.

If these HVDC projects are a hint, I'd say China's putting a lot of eggs in the hydroelectric basket. This is infrastructure.


Look at pg 2 here (small pdf) ==> http://www.ece.uidaho.edu/hvdcfacts/Projects/HVDCProjectsListingDec2006.pdf

Looks to be another nail in that favorite denialist theory that cosmic rays are the cause of recent warming. It's getting harder and harder for those denialist to claim that natural influences are the cause. As the old saying goes, "Science Marches On"...

Oh, but the denialists are totally immune to nails (or data, or reasoning). They just keep cycling between their favorite few psuedoalternatives.

Oh, but the denialists are totally immune to nails (or data, or reasoning). They just keep cycling between their favorite few psuedoalternatives.

It's very difficult to get a person to understand something when their livilihood demands that they not understand it.


It's very difficult to get a person to understand something when their livilihood demands that they not understand it.

Most often it is. "It's impossible to get someone to understand something when his ideological worldview depnds upon its falsification." Only a small subset of these guys are being paid for their obfuscation.

Tom Vilsack named Sec of Ag.
Six Reasons This is Not a Good Choice

(He was not on the 'sustainable' list):

The Sustainable Choice for the Next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture http://www.fooddemocracynow.org/

1. Gus Schumacher, Former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Former Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture.
2. Chuck Hassebrook, Executive Director, Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, NE.
3. Sarah Vogel, former two-term Commissioner of Agriculture for the State of North Dakota, attorney, Bismarck, ND.
4. Fred Kirschenmann, organic farmer, Distinguished Fellow, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Ames, IA and President, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Pocantico Hills, NY.
5. Mark Ritchie, current Minnesota Secretary of State, former policy analyst in Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture under Governor Rudy Perpich, co-founder of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
6. Neil Hamilton, attorney, Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and Professor of Law and Director, Agricultural Law Center, Drake University, Des Moines, IA.

Well so much for ag...so much for nature.

At least he could have floated a trial ballon before casting it in concrete! And I thought this guy had it all figured out. Apparently rookieism does not result it making better decisions or treading lightly where you don't understand where the minefields are.
But...oh..hey..he is from Illinois. No wonder. Land of big coal. Land of big corn,land of ADM..etc. Land of ............bad traffic and forgotten Southern Illinois. If Chicago/Cook Cty was not there none of this would be happening.

Get ready to kiss the land goodbye.



Camelot II this is not going to be.

Following an ag forum I found that Iowans are not happy with this.

Most other farmers agree that it is not a good choice at all.

I just read Pollan's Letter to the Chief Farmer...it is very much to the issues and absolutely correct in content. It was written I think back in Oct so he was not speaking to the current choice. I think now that he is in shock and awe.


Just thought I'd toss in a list of Pollan's suggestions ..



* Retool Farm Bill to reward farmers growing diverse crops and maintaining soil healthy with the use of green manures and cover crops year-round
* Reconnect animals and crop production
* Metropolitan composting of food waste farmers_market1
* Perennialize grain crops (as Wes Jackson and The Land Institute have been promoting for the past several decades)
* Ban routine use of antibiotics in animal production operations
* Encourage greater numbers of people to pursue agriculture
* Require developers to provide “food-impact statements”
* Rebuild the infrastructure of the regional food economy by decentralizing food production and processing
* Provide grants for creation of four season farmers’ markets
* Rebuild local food distribution and transportation services
* Create local zoning, regulations, and policies that make sense for small growers within “Agriculture Enterprise Zones”
* Local-Meats Inspection Corps to inspect meat processing
* Fleet of local Meat Slaughtering
* Establish a Strategic Grain Reserve
* Regionalize Federal Food Procurement
* Redefine Food for Tax Policy and Food Stamps
* Setup Electronic Benefit Transfer Card readers at Farmers’ Markets such that people with Food Stamps can use their cards
* Increase the WIC program that gives women with children vouchers for food purchases at farmers’ markets
* Federal programs for elderly food assistance should purchase CSA memberships for program participants from local farms
* Make importance of growing and eating healthful food part of primary education curriculum
* The F.D.A. should mandate that a fossil fuel calorie count goes onto every food label
* A second barcode on label of food should allow consumers access to history of how food was produced with pictures and descriptions of processes and locations where food was grown, processed etc.
* Grow a victory garden on the White House lawn to support local food banks and let the president and his family pull some weeds
* Support hunting as a local foods initiative

.. and an Interview with Obama during the campaign where he responded to Pollan's letter

Barack Obama, to Joe Klein

I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael Pollen about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it's creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they're contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs. That's just one sector of the economy. You think about the same thing is true on transportation. The same thing is true on how we construct our buildings. The same is true across the board.
For us to say we are just going to completely revamp how we use energy in a way that deals with climate change, deals with national security and drives our economy, that's going to be my number one priority when I get into office, assuming, obviously, that we have done enough to just stabilize the immediate economic situation.

and so Obama then renegs on the ag promise....he likely knows that we know that all stmts up to election are just hot air....staffers must write this trash and he just nods his h...ead...and goes for more takeout bbq

Corn Growers laud his choice, but what about the ethanol industry?

"Vilsack will have to make an early decision on the ethanol industry’s request for billions in federal aid. Already the recipient of untold millions in government aid and protected by a mile high tariff on imported Brazilian ethanol, the industry has seen its balloon popped by the rapidly descending economic guillotine. Construction of proposed new plants has been shelved and many of the major players are looking at chapter 11. VeraSun Energy has already headed down that long, dirt road.

Will Vilsack press for continued government aid for this emerging industry? Probably not. He was co-chairman of a task force on climate change for the Council on Foreign Relations, which recommended a free market approach to biofuels. The group suggested phasing out subsidies and reducing tariffs on imports like Brazilian ethanol. Then there’s that problem of multi-billion dollar government bailouts of several other industries. The fed’s purse already has too many other hands grabbing for cash.

Tom Buis, president of the National Farmers Union, praised the selection of Vilsack for his backing of alternative energy to help revitalize rural America. Take out the winter wheat and ‘plant’ a wind farm, anyone?

Bottom Line: Two good choices with Ag industry backgrounds who should look out for the welfare of American agriculture. They both have twenty-first century mindsets, though, so don’t expect them to protect twentieth century interests."


I'm hoping that in the same way it took Nixon to make the opening with China (US), it takes an insider to make the case to these industrial/agricultural sectors.

Tom Vilsack, the Governor from Monsanto.

What did you shocked and awed expect? What did Barry raise, $700 million? From the coin jars of average Americans? I don't think so. This is the most bought-out, over-subscribed President to date. One dollar, one vote.

Follow the money.

Paul in Nevada

I think I have figured out where all the money has gone;

"A Giant Breach in Earth's Magnetic Field"


This may reek havoc with credit card mag strips;-)

No - it's just the effects of a space ship with a heavy-duty warp drive arriving.

Maybe it's the Cosmic Bank Manager, come to sort things out. Funny, I don't recall seeing him in Star Trek...


My theory is that humans are just bioremediation agents planted on this planet by aliens to bring the heavier, concentrated metals to the surface (which are toxic to the aliens). The "precious metals" construct is planted in our society to give us goals and get us moving on them. Once we have collected them and put them in a small number of locations, a massive magnetic ship can by and suck all the metals off Earth. Once the planet's subsurface is relatively clean, the aliens move in. A sample of humans are gathered and sent to the next nearly-hospitable planet to start over. So, sure, buy gold and silver if you think that'll help.

"In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move..." - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

"[...] we'll be saying a big hello to all intelligent life forms everywhere ... and to everyone else out there, the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys." - Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy

Remember that the enormous cost of the Restaurant at the End of the Universe was paid for by compound interest. All you had to do was invest one penny in your own time, and over the millions of years this all added up to pay the stupendous cost for your meal at the Restaurant.

Alas I don't think it works if there's deflation....


Alas I don't think it works if there's deflation....

Sure it does. And it has to.

Banks don't pay rates beyond the actual inflation rate. So a penny now may have increased in numeric value - but not value.

The depression of value while keeping a numeric value is what could make the HHGttG:RatEotU idea work.

The top story at CNN:

The dead mall problem

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- As the recession leaves more retail casualties in its wake, rising store bankruptcies and mall closures could have devastating economic consequences.

...Both Birnbrey and Susan Wachter, professor with University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Real Estate Department, warn the social and economic impact of empty stores can be devastating.

"One of the biggest consequences [of store and mall closings] is the loss of a sense of community," Birnbrey said. "I am a big believer that malls are an essential part of Americana. A mall is a place where people gather and socialize."

"I am a big believer that malls are an essential part of Americana. A mall is a place where people gather and socialize."

NO, this person doesn't even know what they are talking about.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a festival in my small town and all the shops were open late. EVERYONE in town was there and had a good time, visiting and renewing old acquaintances. The shops saw lots of traffic, too. THIS is an authentic and essential part of Americana, THIS is where people really gather and really socialize.

I will not shed a tear for the demise of any mall, anywhere.

Yep, I can just see it now with the folken at WalMart getting it on!!!

And at Sam's? Gotta be exciting.

I assume that you are speaking, WNC , of something ancient like a 'Town Square'? A dead concept to 'community planners'.


I do get your point WNC. I prefer small town socials myself. But what you described is essentially a mall without air conditioning. Except your open air mall isn't available every weekend. I hit a mall maybe once or twice a year out of neccessity. But it is a social center for much of suburbia. Church would have to be the second option for many.

I think church only counts as a social center in the south. Maybe the midwest, too.

I've had friends who moved from the south to the northeast, and they always joined a church as soon as possible, because that's how you meet people in Kentucky or Georgia or Texas. Even if they were pagans or atheists, they joined a church.

While the locals all thought they were crazy, because only religious nutters go to church regularly in the northeast. You don't meet normal people by going to church.

Which the southern transplants quickly realized. They usually don't go to church for very long.

So where do the coasterly sort go to meet people? IME, either the office, or online. It may be unprofessional to date a coworker, but these days, if you don't date a coworker, you probably won't date at all.

I think this makes the job losses even worse, because for a lot of people, the office is their entire social life.

"because only religious nutters go to church regularly in the northeast"

Sorry, Leanan. I'll leave you to your own counsel on what constitutes a Nutter, but I know people from Quakers, Congregationalists, Reform Jews and UU's (Moderate Liberal) through Greek Orthodox and Baptist at the more devoted end who build their strongest social bonds and activities through their churches, and branch out into the rest of their communities from such anchor points. Maine through NY..

Bean Suppers in countless tiny towns, up through social-action, dating and interfaith alliances from Portland, Keene, Boston, Manhattan.

'Re-Ligio' means to link back.. not necessarily to try to prove fantasies as scientific fact, which is sadly the squeaky wheel of the Age of Reason's more insecure sects.

Even if they were pagans or atheists, they joined a church.

Being an atheist there is no way I could join a church just to meet people - especially in the area I live in South Central Illinois. I could not stand in church, even in a Catholic church which was the sect of Christianity I was raised, muttering and listening to words which I know are complete and utter nonsense. I also would not want to get too close to people who were very religious, they are no my type and it would only be a matter of time before I slipped and the truth of my beliefs would be discovered. I’ve had a hard enough time at working for a local employer without blurting out something that would be embarrassing - hint, don’t criticize NASCAR; this is one of the many reasons I‘m going to commute back to my job in Chicago. The best policy for an outsider moving to small town America is to slowly get to know the locals during secular functions and business dealings. Keep it at arms length and be friendly. Better to be seen as aloof than to be branded an infidel through careless socializing. And remember, everything you say crosses the county within minutes and is know by everyone.

To counter both Leanan and Bruce, I'm an atheist in the northeast who joined a church to meet people. Admittedly, it is a UU church where there are many open atheists. We can celebrate life together based on the core UU principles which don't reference God.

UU principles:

* The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
* Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
* Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
* A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
* The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
* The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
* Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Now if I can just get them off of their addiction to MSM and to accept peak energy, population overshoot, climate disruption and the grand larceny of the economy then we'd be all set. There are some folks I can talk to, at least, even if they don't completely buy it.

UU churches vary in exactly how much God comes into play, but I'd suggest checking it out if one is close by.

I first heard of Peak Oil from someone I know from my UU church.

"...the tolling of the iron bells
brings the faithful to their knees
to hear the softly spoken magic spells."

Pink Floyd

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

"My point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally." John D. Crossan, "Who is Jesus?"

Leanan, not everybody north of dixie goes to church in order to talk in tongues. There are churches where it is possible to hear and reflect on the types of ideas contained in the following books, among others:

"Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion", Stuart Kauffman, 2008

"I Don't Believe in Atheists", Chris Hedges, 2008
"The Pagan Christ", Tom Harpur, 2004

Leanan, not everybody north of dixie goes to church in order to talk in tongues.

I know that. Most people in this area are Catholic, actually.

But they don't go to church every week (except for a few little old ladies). They go on Easter and Christmas. (Even Jews go to midnight mass sometimes on Christmas.)

Even if it means they could save thousands of dollars in tuition for their kids' private school, they can't bring themselves to go to church every week.

Everyone in "Dixie" doesn't got to church because they want to speak in tongues. This may sound like satirical irony for TOD but most of the "tongue talkers" are a fringe group wherever you go.

I think the point of the discussion is that religion often obfuscates and limits the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. It isn't a given however as demonstrated in posts upthread.

While the locals all thought they were crazy, because only religious nutters go to church regularly in the northeast. You don't meet normal people by going to church.

We have an inverse case in my family, my red haired lily white sister-in-law moved from North Dakota to Georgia. She could not identify with any of the white churches, and is now a choir member in an African American church!

I cannot agree with much of this.

Firstly you don't go as a newcomer to a small town/community and expect to be accepted...like they try to do in mega-churches. They will shake your hand ,true but still you are an unknown and won't likely ever be really accepted.I speak of local churches with up to about 100 to 200 on the rolls. The bigger the church the lest contact with the reality of true local homegrown religion in churches.

There are other flavors of course but I have been moving around a lot in the past. Always joined a church. Was somewhat accepted but just on the surface. You almost have to have kinfolk there to make it. A past that people know.

"Oh I knew your grandfather.....etc.etc."

So its really hard to gauge it. In fact damned hard. And IMO thats the way it should be.

They will leave you alone if you don't cause a fuss. This is fine. But they will NEVER accept you on your terms.

The church I went to as a tadpole is the same one. or one just down the road. You got kinfolk buried in their cemetery? Your one of them.

Best to 'go home again' as the author says you can't but I say You Can. For I did it. And I would live no where else at this time in my life. Its where I will die and where I will be buried. At the foot of my GGGrandfather and his son..my GGrandfather.

I can run all over these hills and hollers and hardly ever meet someone I don't know unless its an outsider.

One of my neighbors is a deacon. He is regarded as a man of outstanding caliber. And he is. He owns thousands of acres and yet dresses worse than most. His house is always open. If your in the hospital he comes to visit you. He will always be my friend for thats how friends do out here.

You can't judging us when you don't live amonst us. What "everybody else" says is just from someone on the outside looking in.

When TSHTF its is going to be valuable to be an accepted member of a small community if you live there. In fact your very life may well depend on it.

Not saying you gotta be a church goer either. I am saying you gotta be a known entity and have some values that can be depended on.

I think most folks from the city won't be there. We get a lot here. THey go to our church a few times and when someone it not lauding them all the time they get miffed and go away.

Airdale-just telling it as I see it...my ancestors settled this ground here and so no one gets to tell me I am an outsider even though I was gone many many years. Besides some of my kin are in local politics and that is all about nepotism,good, bad or ugly..its how it goes.

You can't judging us when you don't live amonst us. What "everybody else" says is just from someone on the outside looking in.

Sometimes it takes an outsider to really see what is going on, as Tocqueville did in writing “Democracy in America”.

Smetimes Bruce I think that the attitudes and lifestyles are just too different. Study yes. Judge no. Did Tocqueville get it right then?

Folks down here do change but its far far different in many cases, especially in some areas. Like how we govern,etc.

Of course the new farming scenario is taking many hostages. Some farmers are just business men and as bad as their city cousins.

Yet I think that someone from say Chicago just might look briefly and get the wrong ideas. Its whats underneath that is harder to decipher.

I found this out when I moved to N.Carolina. I could not really make friends with the natives there.Even if I chewed some tobacco with them. They just moved away from Raleigh..out into the outback.

Today in Raleigh I found no good BBQ or seafood. It had moved with them. Had to go miles and miles away from Raleigh. So someone who moved to Raleigh now might have a far different viewpoint. Its really almost like New York there IMO.

I left it last winter after spending 2 months with my wife and son. IT was too far changed for me.

The real outback southerner is hard for many to catch up to. Same as here in the flyover of W. Ky.

I now can't even stand to go to St. Louis or Nashville or any other city. Too much out of the water for this fish.

Airdale--of course YMMV appreciably

Of course the new farming scenario is taking many hostages. Some farmers are just business men and as bad as their city cousins.

And from what I’ve seen working at the elevator (I went back to my old job, no more elevator work for me!) not very good farmers either - very inconsistent grain. It’s a shame hearing the stories by farmers of the farms in my county going from raising animals and crops and having pasture to strict row cropping because of economic pressures from large producers. The knowledge is still there so a return this lifestyle is still possible. There are some innovative farms nearby that I plan to visit nest year.

I'm not talking about small towns, or a SHTF scenario. I'm talking about a BAU scenario, perhaps in a small city like Lexington, KY or Hartford, CT. Your company transfers you there, you don't know anyone, and you just want to meet people - to date, to go to the mall with, etc.

In a SHTF scenario, I agree with you. That is one reason I don't recommend moving to a small community in the boondocks. My experience with such communities is that it's very hard to "break in," even for those who are demographically very similar and are socially skilled. If your grandparents weren't born there, it's too late. You'll never be fully accepted.

If your grandparents weren't born there, it's too late. You'll never be fully accepted.

I believe this is also a reason why many of these communities are in decline - the failure to accept new blood. This is especially true in light of the "brain drain" that occurs in most rural communities. Child goes away to college, and never comes back. Too many of the people in my county are either very old or the ones not qualified to get a higher education (I'm being kind here). Very sad.

Well so happens I worked in Lexington,Ky back in the 80s.

However I decided to buy a farm(horse) in a further out county where I could live like I was used to. And I got along with the folks somewhat because I was a Kentuckian,but still the difference was apparent.

To live in Lexington? Nope. It was way too big city.

Yes it is hard to breakin and maybe you will never be accepted but if you don't start now you may be way too late when the SHTF for sure.

So for those who are sick of city life or suburbs? Now is the time when prices are reasonable.

Otherwise whether we agree or not. Its up to each one to figger it out and do what they think best.


I think community is the most important thing of all. Far more important than water, soil, gold, or solar panels. Mike Ruppert ended up returning to Los Angeles, because it was home, and I think it's the right thing to do. If you really think the crap is going to hit the fan, the last place you want to be is somewhere where you don't fit in.

Me, I have family in the city, in the suburbs, and in farm country. I figure if push comes to shove, they'll take me in. Will I be able to get there? Maybe not. But I think the chances are better than of my setting up a homestead in an area where I don't know anyone, don't have any roots, and don't fit in socially or culturally.

So why don't you move to one of those places now?

If your grandparents weren't born there, it's too late. You'll never be fully accepted.

I disagree. You are accepted when you do things that reflect the community's values.

Years ago, I moved to a very small community in Virginia. My neighbors practiced vegetable gardening. They were very serious about it. I started a garden too. Learned by watching, asking questions and following advice. Helped my neighbors with the heavy lifting chores... like moving compost around and so on.

Once when I returned unexpectedly from work, I found a small tour group in my garden. One of my neighbors was showing the rest how the teacher was coming along.

Point being... they cared. They enjoyed my gardening progress as much as I did.

airdale: This all rings true for most of rural America. There are some places, though (such as where I live in WNC) that have seen a large influx of retirees, health care professionals to serve the retirees, etc. At least where I live, this has been going on for a century or more, it is nothing new. Here, the population is a little more mixed and not so totally dominated by deep-rooted families. There are some tensions under the surface between the "mountain folk" and newcomers, to be sure. I'm sure there are some mountain folk that would prefer that the outlanders all go away, just as I am sure that there are some uppity Yankees and Floridians that would prefer that the mountain folk retreat back into their hollers, shut up, and stay out of sight. Nevertheless, most of us get along well enough, and are all comfortable enough to call this place "home".

Perhaps the place where you most see the difference between the two populations is at church. Someone has called Sunday morning the most segregated time of the week in America, and that doesn't just apply to race relations. I have found that, in general, you will find some churches consisting almost entirely of mountain folk with deep roots here, and some other churches consisting almost entirely of people who have relocated here from elsewhere (or maybe their parents, or rarely their grandparents, did - in these churches you hardly ever see anyone that goes back more than three generations here). It is pretty rare to find a church where the membership is a mix of both populations - I can't actually think of one, but there are alot of churches around and there might be one I don't know about. The point is, though, that around here you pretty much CAN find a place where birds of the same feather as yours are flocking together. That is not so likely in many other parts of rural America, like yours.

An open air mall?

Nope. Most mall shops are owned by people far far away. Maybe even mostly foreign. In fact I saw once that this was the case in many malls. All out of town folks.

In the town community of smalltown Merkuh...most all the owners are residents. They can hear what you say. They know you. They live amongst you. They might even buy locally made products.

So the differene is enormous. Take just for instance the farmers market juse west of Asheville. Its an amazing place. I talk for hours to the people who bring their products into the mall. Sourwood honey for instance. Try to find that in a shopping mall.

You need to get out into what we refer to as the Real Murkah..out chere in small town , flyover, rural outback, rednecky maybe ,,,but its real and not quite been paved over as yet. Hard to find sometimes but something to actually cherish , ,,,as it might soon disappear...only to reappear as we circle the drain ...yes it has to disappear for its all facade and high prices and IMO a waste of income and time. I hardly buy there anymore. So I am forced to use the internet but even thats becoming more rare.

I go to farm stores if I must. They know me. They take my check and don't ask for id. They trust their customers.

Airdale-the way it is..the way it belongs to be

We have a festival (or two or three) EVERY weekend in New Orleans. Plus a market of some sort.

We are short of malls (Riverwalk is on the site of the 1984 World's Fair and serves that function sort of; 90% tourist traffic there, the mall ambiance makes them comfortable, like McDonald's on the edge of the French Quarter. Spectacular views of the river that most malls do not have).

I run into people I know all the time, walking the streets, shopping, eating out, at festivals, etc.

Best Hopes for Community,


I get visions of Kunstler doing a happy dance in private...

That economy is now in its death throes. The "normality" it represents to so many Americans is gone and can't be brought back, no matter how wistfully we watch it recede. Even so, it was obviously not good for the country. The terrain of North America has been left scarred by unlovable objects and baleful futureless vistas that, from now on, will shed whatever pecuniary value they once had. It represents the physical counterpart to the financial mess that has been left to the young generations to clean up -- and the job will take a very long time. (From Change You Won't Believe, JHK, Dec 15, 2008)

My suggestion? Use the abandoned malls as indoor flea and farmers markets. Instead of selling wares from halfway across the globe, how about wares from down the block? Oh, and they might make good homeless shelters if things start to get really bad...

We need a mall to define our sense of community? What kind of kool-aid are these folks drinking? And all along I thought it was Walmart that defined our sense of community! Oh well, back to ordering seeds for sping. John

Or maybe go to a local co-op and buy what is left of last year's seed (that's what I did last week).

Who knows what will be available by spring.

What if the last few months Paulson has been pulling a Madoff with the economy?

I have no confidence in BAU Obama-rama. I mean, it's nice to have a black president and all, but the fact that he doesn't have a deaf-mute, albino latino midget on his team is a bit of a let down for me.

I have no confidence in BAU

(almost) Every poster on TOD is with you on that.


If he's BAU then he's more of 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss' I'd like to believe in change, but if was REALLY an agent for change, would he have been allowed to get the position?

but if was REALLY an agent for change, would he have been allowed to get the position?

Nuff said.

a community that gets it's identity from a mall is, imo, a dysfunctional community.

a friend is looking at acquiring a forclosed mcmansion, which we looked at over the weekend, and what i saw was an expansive energy sink, not much else. i did manage to salvage a 3spd bicycle from the dumpster in the d/w. the regional bicycle path is within a block (used mostly for recreation).

OPEC cuts by 4.2 mbpd based on September output just flashed up on Bloomberg. No further details yet.

Edit: Live OPEC news conference at http://www.opec.org/home/Multimedia/liveStreaming.aspx

29.045 mbpd down 4.2 mbpd to new production target of 24.845 was just stated in the press conference.

Wow! Oil prices shot up briefly, but fell back down. Inventory build today. Never thought i would hear 'Opec cuts 4.2 million barrels'...

Because they are basing it on September figures it looks like this is about a 3 mbpd cut based on November production and maybe a 2.5 mbpd (guestimate) based on December production. It's also nearly 5 mbpd below the (reported) all time peak OPEC month of July 2008.

OPEC president just said "we have surprised you - this is more than you expected". Officially this is a 2.2 mbd cut over and above previous announced cuts.

200m bl surprise.Yawn!

and crude oil is down about 8 % at the close.

and imo, this is exactly the mechanism by which prices will overshoot again when they start back up. it seems like nearly everyone is placing thier bets based on demand. does anyone really know ? the market has a theory that $40 matches supply with demand. but if real demand is much greater than this reduced supply, say next year, prices should rebound and rebound quickly.

and every month ghawar gets about 150 million barrels closer to the edge.

Correction 29.445 down to 25.245

All OPEC countries to cut production by approximately 1/7th

The world seems to be gyrating around some fair extremes on all the major indices that control the modern economy.

It seems like the system has entered an unstable mode. our poking at it with massive interest rate cuts, drops in oil output and various other tools could have some interesting effects far from the intended purpose!

It's as I mentioned before similar to Pilot Induced Oscillation.


Oil price is still falling after OPEC announced cuts.

This is interesting.

I was expecting the markets had discounted about 2Mbpd worth of cuts, but cuts were 10% more and price is still falling.

I wonder what OPEC will do next?

Announce a 4Mbpd cut?

Cease exports for a month?

They are in dire straits if they can't get the oil price to stabilize at above $60.

At the same time, buyers and watchers know that at current price levels everybody wants to sell as many barrels as possible, to minimize the downfall in revenue - IF the price doesn't inch higher.

So, do the OPEC cuts actually work in practice?

Will OPEC implode in 2009/2010?

Sorry, if this has been covered already. I've been away from TOD.

Perhaps I view it too simply Sam. But as I see it the "annoucement" of cuts may effect future trading. But it doesn't affect what oil will sell for in future months. OTOH, if they do make those cuts and potential buyers are turned away because that month's allotment is gone, then we'll see the true effect. But not until buyers are faced with that reality.

To use an example of this effect remember that on the "run-up" in oil prices OPEC were promising production increases and new projects to increase capacity - and those statements didnt affect front month contracts either.

I dont think people really care much about what OPEC says anymore. The market watchers and analysts ought to be looking at Tanker traffic, inventory levels, demand numbers etc...

The bigger story of the day was the surprise increase in inventory from the EIA/DOE. Significant cuts from OPEC were already priced in, but further weakening of demand probably wasnt.

Jet fuel consumption down 12.5% compared to the same 4 week period one year ago. Ouch. Corporations (like the one I work for) have eliminated all travel plans for anyone outside the executive office all the way through Q1 of next year (its safe to assume that will extend beyond that). So Ironically even when oil was $140/bbl companies were still jetting people like me - lowly engineers - all over the world on "business" - without a second thought. But now they dig their heels in. Glad im not employed by an airline.

This highlights the difference between "cheap" oil and "affordable" oil. Apparently oil was more affordable in early 2008 at over $100/bbl than it is now at under $50. Thats the extent of the cash shortage.

Actually jet fuel demand being down 12.5% is an improvement as it has been running down by around 17-18%. Overall the complex's inventory actually went down from 1,719.7(000)barrels to 1,717! But you have to look a little further into the report to tell
The Feds have also announced they will be start adding to the SPR in January as they have not yet replaced the fall hurricane releases. You would think they would be stuffing it full at these prices!

Interesting commments from GATA today

Comex concentration hints that shorts are all government now
Submitted by cpowell on Wed, 2008-12-17 00:17. Section: Daily Dispatches
7:14p ET Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:

Fear of deflation lately has been convulsing world markets, causing liquidation of most assets into dollar cash and government bonds. Unchecked, that sort of thing must lead to the cessation of all industrial and agricultural production, and everybody freezes and starves.

Having triggered the deflationary collapse by stomping on the commodity markets a little too hard a few months ago, central banks now have desperately reversed their policies and are striving to revive prices by devaluing their currencies and inflating debt away with the "helicopter money" Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke long had promised to unleash.

Central banks have used gold in currency devaluation to avert deflation before, and the growing concentration -- near monopolization -- of the commercial short positions in gold and silver on the New York Commodities Exchange may be a clue that such a scheme is under way again. This growing concentration hints that the gold carry trade is over and that the gold and silver short positions are now almost completely in the hands of the U.S. government through its agent, JPMorganChase, and that the cost of the gold price manipulation -- what appears to be a controlled retreat with gold -- now can be borne entirely by the government with some of the magic money being contrived into existence.

The higher the gold price goes, the less real metal the government will have to produce on the Comex and the more the gold side of the reflationary policy can be sustained with magic money -- and, perhaps, the more suspicions of market manipulation will subside. But not, of course, with any help from GATA.

But as I see it the "annoucement" of cuts may effect future trading. But it doesn't affect what oil will sell for in future months.

And, if OPEC announces cuts that it isn't able to enforce, then the credibility of future announcements is seriously undermined. I think OPEC learned this lesson the hard way.

Utilities Suggest Huge Electric Vehicle Orders

The idea being considered would involve joining together to put in a substantial order to put weight behind development of Plug In Hybrids (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs). The idea is that large fleet orders would provide the certain market car makers need to make the initial move away from fossil fueled vehicles. With their buying power (they could order 50,000 electric vehicles for their fleets) utilities could provide a solid beginning to switching Detroit to entirely new vehicle markets.

Well, I hate to say it, but PHEVs are dead for several years, maybe even 15 years. It is remarkable that in the brief window of high oil prices (2004-2008), several major auto manufacturers were able to radically improve PHEV designs, and nearly bring them to market. In just two to three years, about a half-dozen automakers will have PHEVs available to regular car buyers.
Except nobody will want them. Gasoline will be at $1 in the US. Maybe Europe will be a market, as they tax gasoline (as we should).
The global economy is contracting. Anybody looking at port traffic in Los Angeles-Long Beach? Down, down, down. Freight car loadings? Down, down, down. Vehicle miles? Auto sales? Steel production in China?
Who will buy a PHEV when oil trades at $10 a barrel?
OPEC cuts 2 mbd, Mexico craps out, Venezuela craps out, and oil just goes down, down, down, down, down.
I see 8 mbd excess supply in 2009. A tsunami of oil, a flood of oil, an ocean of oil.
You notice how the Saudis are supremely uninterested in what happened to their tanker?

"You notice how the Saudis are supremely uninterested in what happened to their tanker?"

you can't be serious.

During Obama's recent speech on Energy he mentioned "growing new crops" (I'm assuming for biofuels). Someone recently mentioned that - based on the energy study he did for the Bush Admistration - Steven Chu is very pro-GMO usage... which in itself isn't bad....

Does anyone here know what Steven Chu's stand is on GMO safety testing? Especially now that studies suggest that lab animals raised on GM foods "seem" to have (?)developmental(?) and reproductive issues?

There's a lot of great gallows humour here, a lot of iconoclastic energy and vim, which reminds me of why I love Americans. Christ, what a people! Brave, tough and welded to freedom. It's just shame about the arseholes they've allowed themselves to be rule by.

I've been working on some new slogans for the mob, which hopefully will soon be gathering, gathering and getting angry, determined and vengeful, marching towards Versailles with their torches and pitchforks. "The Solution's in the Revolution" and "It's 1789 - It's about that Time!"

Democracy. Greece. Athens. Perhaps the first time in history ordinary people pushed their way to the front and demanded that they too be taken seriously. Even though only about 17% of the inhabitants of Athens actually had the right to vote, still I suppose it was better than nothing, it was progress. Then democracy vanishes for two thousand years.

But the Greeks are at it again taking to the streets to overthrow a corrupt system, a facsimile of democracy, not the real thing at all, similar to the United States. A perversion of democracy, rule by an "elite" minority, for an elite, at the expense of the majority. This travesty can simply not go on any longer. Athens today, Los Angeles tomorrow!

Perhaps the first time in history ordinary people pushed their way to the front and demanded that they too be taken seriously.

If the way 'ordinary people' in Greece demand that they be 'taken seriously' largely consists in burning and looting downtown Athens, then the Greeks are truly done for.

If Greek history is any guide, 'taking to the streets to overthrow a corrupt system' normally results in the replacement of one currupt system by ... another corrupt system.

Carolus Obscurus -

All revolutions are extremely destructive and messy. However, I think that it more likely that Americans will be 'done for' if we don't start growing some cojones and start asserting ourselves like the Greeks.

At least the Greeks are not deluding themselves that the problem can be solved by 'working within the system'. We all know how effective that has been in the US.

As with any revolutionary movement, there is no guarantee that things won't be worse when it's all over, but that was just as true in 1776 as it is now.

Once the unemployed, the dispossessed, the desperate, and the truly pissed reach a certain critical mass in the US, then things could start spinning out of control quite rapidly. Maybe all those detention centers built by KBR are being dusted off awaiting new guests even as we speak.


I don't know about this. Are all revolutions extremely destructive and messy? I'd agree that when the people are forced into open revolt, and the forces of the state attack them, they usually don't have much of a choice when faced with violent opression, and they normally answer in kind. You get a violent revolution, which can turn into a civil war very easily, and the destrution and mess you mentioned comes to the fore in spades.

But whilst I was deliberately employing colourful and exaggerated language, I'm not actually an advocate of violent revolution aimed at destroying the state. The cost would be absolutely horrendous in a highly developed and complex society. I'd prefer something more peaceful, less destructive, less messy and far less violent, if at all possible. Like a general strike of some kind, which in modern industrial state can bring the state to a standstill within days without the need to storm the Bastille so to speak.

I suppose the various "revolutions" in Eastern Europe over the last twenty years are examples, where Communist, totalitarian, tyrany, was, in most cases, overthrown without colossal loss of life or enormous destruction. I think this is a preferable solution, massed people power taking to the streets and forcing through regime change, and rapid and comprehensive social and political rerforms. But this was only possible because the Russians didn't send in the tanks and gave up their European empire "voluntarily."

I wonder though, is this kind of mass movement possible in a country like the United States? Will the American ruling class, so rich, so powerful and so brutal, simply give up and hang their heads in shame at the tremendous mess they've made of the US economy, having led the country towards the brink of total disaster, and just slink off into the dumpster of history, without a fight? Somehow, I have my doubts.

You appear to think that replacing the ruling class will solve the problem. But people are people, and our ruling class is not any more tainted with original sin than the rest of us. Beheading and replacing them will solve nothing.

writerman -

True, revolutions don't have to be bloody, but they probably are more often than they are not. And, of course, not all revolutions are alike.

I think what might be in store for the US should the entire economic system collapse would be more along the lines of unorganized social unrest and insurrection rather than a full-blown organized armed revolution. What would probably muddy the waters even further is the very likely possibility that such initiatives would immediately be painted as 'terrorism' by the government and dealt with accordingly with martial law and brutal police-state measures. And don't rule out the possibility of a nice little war to distract people from the domestic chaos.

Such a situation would likely have no distinct beginning or end, but would continue to fester and ebb and flow for years. Typical Third World stuff - a government in a perpetual state of trying to stamp out one opposition group or another and a populace oscillating between rage and fear.

When things finally more or less stabilize, I think that life in the US for the average person is going to resemble that in Eastern European countries during the Cold War era ...... drab, bleak, and hopeless.


I suppose I should underline that I was in fact referring, in the bit you quoted, to the birth of democracy in ancient Athens, over two thousand years ago, was it really that unclear, surely not?

I'm not sure exactly what part or period of Greek history you mean when you say that overthrowing a corrupt system resulted in the creation of another corrupt system. As you apparently have a lot of knowledge about Greek history, perhaps you could enlighten me and be slightly more specific?

Please explain the gallows humor you refer to.


Are you serious? Isn't this a rhetorical question? Or do you really not appriciate or recognise the kind of humour present in a number of the posts on this thread? Wouldn't it be somewhat tedious and unfair of me to point out the humour you don't apparently seem to get? Perhaps humour, gallows or not, is in the eye of the beholder? Remember, so would say that ignorance is no excuse, though I think this is a little harsh.

Steven Chu's stand is on GMO safety testing?

Bout the same as Monsanto's I bet. Go ahead - post 'negative' in public forums about GMOs or Monsanto and you'll attract some pro-posters who'll stick around for the thread and then go away.

But bio-engineer and safety? I look at the work of Dr. Elaine Ingham and Klebsiella planticola.

Speaking of "pro-posters" I can't belive what some of those "floggers" make for a misleading post. How does one apply for that position?

I read that thing on Dr. Elaine Ingham and Klebsiella planticola and I must say THAT IS SCARY!!!!!

As well you should find the claims 'scary'. I'm sure other incidents have happened that are equally as scary. But this one is 'closed' and no one can claim that the people who claim X causes Y have bad testing, wrong data, et la as happens with the discussion over GM potatoes, BT GMed items et la.

What is more scary is using satellites to follow farmers during planting season to see if they are using their own grainbin seeds to plant with.

This is not just nonsense. And BTW John Deere has a lot of GPS satellite activity in order to sell its 'precision ag' implements so its not out of the question that other sats are used to verify what farmers are doing and taking them to court.

Soy beans can be sown. Wheat somewhat. Corn can't be unless it openpollen.

And I wish to make the point that unless you have walked thru todays corn fields and noticed the characteristics and then walked thru your own open pollen corn you will no know the difference.

All the bio-engineering then becomes very obvious. Its mind boggling to see RoundUp Ready corn..I mean there isn't one spring of grass(johnson grass even) in these rows. They are totally clean.

This fussing with nature is scary in the extreme. Talking to a seed saleman as I do quite often is just as frightening. They simply live on a different planet than most of us do. I gave one a preview of The Crash Course on the shop computer while is was idling around for the owner. He almost refused to look at it. In fact he decided to not wait after all.

These guys frighten me.

I had hoped that things like GPS guided planters and combines was a good thing. It wasn't. They are just used as vehicle for what comes after. The reality of technology in ag is not the reality I thought it would be. Now they are burning all the fence rows. Pushing enormous amounts of trees into burn piles.

I go there to get some of my firewood before they burn it. You would thing they would let others come and salvage firewood but they like to keep it quiet I think. Besides the legal issues.

Open pollen heirloom corn. Grows very high. Two or three ears per stalk. Lots thicker stalks. Stands up to wind and rain better. No seed costs. Produces a far bigger ear. Far bigger kernels. I think puts more OM(Organic Matter) back into the soil. Tastes far far better as well.

Some say that there is a difference between food corn and feed corn. I say there is no difference except that some , very few, plant white corn and thats mostly used for some types of foodstuffs. Like meal..however in the south most folks prefer old yellow corn to the white. I prefer both myself so I raise both in open pollen. Frying fish and fries with yellow meal is far tastier than white. Grits in white is my preference yet in NC they prefer yellow...for I got both there for a stone mill and they sassed me when I wanted white grits.

Airdale-but I would caution anyone against eating GMO or highly hybrid
corn from farmers field..heck they won't eat it themselves.


What is more scary is using satellites to follow farmers during planting season to see if they are using their own grainbin seeds to plant with.

This is not just nonsense. And BTW John Deere has a lot of GPS satellite activity in order to sell its 'precision ag' implements so its not out of the question that other sats are used to verify what farmers are doing and taking them to court.

Soy beans can be sown. Wheat somewhat. Corn can't be unless it openpollen.

And I wish to make the point that unless you have walked thru todays corn fields and noticed the characteristics and then walked thru your own open pollen corn you will not know the difference.

All the bio-engineering then becomes very obvious. Its mind boggling to see RoundUp Ready corn..I mean there isn't one spring of grass(johnson grass even) in these rows. They are totally clean.

This fussing with nature is scary in the extreme. Talking to a seed saleman as I do quite often is just as frightening. They simply live on a different planet than most of us do. I gave one a preview of The Crash Course on the shop computer while is was idling around for the owner. He almost refused to look at it. In fact he decided to not wait after all.

These guys frighten me.

I had hoped that things like GPS guided planters and combines was a good thing. It wasn't. They are just used as vehicle for what comes after. The reality of technology in ag is not the reality I thought it would be. Now they are burning all the fence rows. Pushing enormous amounts of trees into burn piles.

I go there to get some of my firewood before they burn it. You would thing they would let others come and salvage firewood but they like to keep it quiet I think. Besides the legal issues.

Open pollen heirloom corn. Grows very high. Two or three ears per stalk. Lots thicker stalks. Stands up to wind and rain better. No seed costs. Produces a far bigger ear. Far bigger kernels. I think puts more OM(Organic Matter) back into the soil. Tastes far far better as well.

Some say that there is a difference between food corn and feed corn. I say there is no difference except that some , very few, plant white corn and thats mostly used for some types of foodstuffs. Like meal..however in the south most folks prefer old yellow corn to the white. I prefer both myself so I raise both in open pollen. Frying fish and fries with yellow meal is far tastier than white. Grits in white is my preference yet in NC they prefer yellow...for I got both there for a stone mill and they sassed me when I wanted white grits.

Airdale-but I would caution anyone against eating GMO or highly hybrid
corn from farmers field..heck they won't eat it themselves.


What I find scary is that 21% of all Iowa farmland is owned by non-Iowans, an all time high. Absentee owners are like slum lords, they don't care what happens to the property as long as they get their rent. Absentee owners don't care how much pollution they pass on to the neighborhood since they rarely interact with the locals. This year's renter has no interest in the quality of the land he passes on to next year's renter. Long term viability is sacrificed in the interest of short term profit.

He's going to take unemployed GM crash test dummies from Detroit and stuff them with GM corn.


Someone recently mentioned that - based on the energy study he did for the Bush Admistration - Steven Chu is very pro-GMO usage... which in itself isn't bad....

What???? That's like saying that the Final Solution wasn't in itself bad. GMO is really really bad. How on earth did you get the idea it wasn't?

Why is GMO bad ? I see no factual grounds for that claim.


We do need to increase bio-diversity to replace some of the species we have driven to extinction. Some genetic engineering; a gene from wheat, another from salmon, two from e coli, ...

Why is GMO bad ? I see no factual grounds for that claim.

So my post about GM in this drumbeat:

1) Is not factual
2) Is not bad
3) You are blind

Which is it?

The Soviet GM of the smallpox virus to create a virus immune to current vaccination was clearly evil.

IMO, the GM of the American Chestnut (Castania Dentata) to insert blight resistance from the wheat genome is clearly good. Reintroduction of the American Chestnut would significantly raise the base carrying capacity for both humans and wildlife in the eastern USA.

"Golden Rice", nutrient enriched GM rice, is also a good thing.

I do think than Dr. Ingham vastly overstated her case and the risk, if any.

Like most technology, neither clearly good or evil, but how we use it.

Best Hopes,


The biggest reason GMO is bad is the same reason we are so fixated by it--time.

We want our new species yesterday, nature provides it in eons. And the safeguards and complexity it needs to function harmoniously. Believing our wisdom can shortchange the process is hubris.

nature provides it in eons.

With 100% observation and knowledge I would not doubt that nature produced some rather lethal effects.

What we see now is not the result of these effects.

Chlorophyll is an obvious example. Free oxygen changed the entire world, and was highly poisonous to most existing life forms.

I do think than Dr. Ingham vastly overstated her case and the risk, if any.

That's fine. You also think that saving New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco should be done at the expense of tax payers of everywhere else.

But for the REST of the readers:


This bacterium was engineered to produce alcohol from plant debris, so alcohol could be produced after raking up grass straw residues instead of burning fields. This organism would have been released to the real world by placing the residue left at the bottom of the fermentation container following grass straw alcohol production on fields as fertilizer. With a single release, we know that bacteria can spread over large distances, probably world-wide.

These bacteria would therefore get into the root systems of all terrestrial plants and begin to produce alcohol. The engineered bacterium produces far beyond the required amount of alcohol per gram soil than required to kill any terrestrial plant. This would result in the death of all terrestrial plants, because the parent bacterium has been found in the root systems of all plants where anyone has looked for its presence. This could have been the single most devastating impact on human beings since we would likely have lost corn, wheat, barley, vegetable crops, trees, bushes, etc, conceivably all terrestrial plants.

Perhaps you are impressed with this line of rebuttal:

However, we have been unable to find any evidence that Dr Ingham has submitted her assertions about threats to terrestrial plant life to scientific publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

I note how the rebuttal does not note that after Dr. Ingham released her work the company that did the GMO shut the program down and destroyed the GMO. So I guess you can't be PROVEN right or wrong by running the open air rest. Odds are that is for the best.

And under appeals to authority:

Geneticist David Suzuki understands that what took place was truly ominous. "The genetically engineered
Klebsiella," he says, "could have ended all plant life on this continent. The implications of this single case are
nothing short of terrifying."

http://web.mst.edu/~microbio/BIO221_2004/K_planticola.htm references the Union of Concerned Scientists on this matter.

There are a number of reasons why GMO is "bad".

- transfer of genes from crops to wild relatives (i.e., superweeds!) In any case, resistant weeds are already showing up, so you have to use more herbicide. Hint: Monsanto makes GMO seeds and herbicides.
- killing of beneficial insects by built-in insecticides, and, of course, the development of resistant insects.
- contamination of neighboring fields by pollen from GMO crops, resulting in lawsuits (it has happened).
- "terminator technology" - plants won't make fertile seeds
- farmers can't save seed and replant under terms of the "license", so the GMO crops being useful to third world farmers is absurd.
-etc., etc.

While I don't pretend to know what complex benefits or long-term detriments some of the genetic substitutions will have on the ecosystems these crops are inserted into, one regular feature of GM crops is, IMO, bad from a 'food security' and a social deconstruction point of view; the monopolising of a species or variety.

From 'Omnivore's Dilemma'

'The free corn sex I've described allowed people to do virtually anything they wanted with the genetics of corn except own them- a big problem for a would-be capitalist plant. If I crossed two corn plants to create a variety with an especially desirable trait, I could sell you my special seeds, but only once, since the corn you grew from my special seeds would produce lots more special seeds, for free and forever, putting me out of business in short order. It's difficult to control the means of production when the product you're selling can reproduce itself endlessly.

M. Pollan

Of course, this trick is one of hybridization, not actual Gene modification, but it leads directly to the sole-ownership of plant-types, putting nature at the whim of company agendas.. with the subsequent GM varieties, farmers are threatened with legal proceedings if their fields have any of these various 'owned' and detectable varieties growing there unlicensed..


Were it not for the fact that there are corporations like Monsanto behind this, and that they are doing it in a particularly nasty monopolistic way, I think that you would find more people being more open minded to your line of argument.

I agree.


There is plenty of "bad" in any Monsanto-style corn from a genetic perspective, due to a very narrow gene pool, but I'm not convinced that GMO is "bad" inherently. Certainly genes will leak out into weeds and other crops, but surely that happens already. Certainly humans have genetically managed crops and animals for thousands of years, too -- whether you do it in 20 generations of careful breeding or 1 generation of direct modification is there a "real" difference?

As with many technologies, it's easy to argue pros and cons in a time of plenty. As times get harder I think everything will get tried, and if it works, it'll get used widely even if there are serious downside or long-term effects. Nuclear, genetically modified crops, dirty coal, terraforming via mines - it'll all happen eventually. Just my cynicism acting up, maybe......

I'm not convinced that GMO is "bad" inherently.

Modifying genes happens all the time. Cancer is a result of such modification most humans know about.

The modifications natural processes have made that got the biosphere today got 'field trialed'. Todays GMOs do not have the long field trials.

Plenty of questions have been raised over the effects of BT insertion, on the GMO potatoes, and even over the alcohol producing GMOed soil dwelling bacteria. The answers provided by Dr. Ingram was enough to have the GMOed bacteria destroyed by its makers.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending December 12, 2008

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged nearly 14.6 million barrels per day during the week ending December 12, down 415 thousand barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 84.1 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production rose last week, averaging about 9.2 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 4.6 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged nearly 9.7 million barrels per day last week, down 286 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 10.0 million barrels per day, 98 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 802 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 175 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased 0.5 million barrels from the previous week. At 321.3 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.3 million barrels last week, and are near the lower boundary of the average range. Both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 2.9 million barrels, and are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased last week by 2.3 million barrels and are in the lower half of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 2.7 million barrels last week and are in the upper half of average range for this time of year.

And here's what they were expecting:

The Energy Department will likely report a 900,000 barrel drop in crude oil reserves on Wednesday for the week ended Dec. 12, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

...Platts also expects gasoline stockpiles to rise by 1.5 million barrels, distillate stocks to slip by 1.8 million barrels and refineries to decrease capacity by 0.4 percent to 87 percent.

With the huge slowdown in the USA economy, the fact that oil imports are up slightly YOY is pretty remarkable IMO.

Inv at Cushing up 4.7 at 27.5.Something odd.

Maybe some hefty del for expiring(this Fri) Jan contract?

Something odd like the spread between January and February? You know, the one that's up from about 7% to 11.5%...

I've got to wonder... are there still people sitting on empty storage? Are they waiting for even bigger spreads?

Interesting tug of war between this report and OPEC announcing a somewhat larger-than-expected 2.2 million bpd cut.

The question is will the markets believe OPEC can actually do it?

These numbers will lead to more supply distruction. Matt Simmons last week said "We have a week or two before we've shot ourselves in the kneecap."

As of 3.15 eastern, the market appear to be saying "we don't believe you".

Price Elasticity of Demand ?
4 week avg and YTD

Finished Motor Gasoline         8,992    9,238    -2.7% -3.3%
Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel          1,402    1,601    -12.4%   -6.8%
Distillate Fuel Oil             3,935    4,121     -4.5%   -6.0%
Residual Fuel Oil                 684      728     -6.0%  -17.5%
Propane/Propylene               1,338    1,346     -0.6%   -5.3%
Other Oils                      3,256    3,575     -8.9%  -10.6%

Total Products Supplied        19,607   20,607    -4.9% -6.0%


It looks like we're still importing a significant amount of gasoline. How are we able to do that given the low prices here?

Also, our gasoline inventories still seem a bit low. It will be interesting to see what happens if we enter next spring with low inventories.

Gasoline inventories are low in absolute terms (around the bottom end of the "normal" range really.

But the amount of gasoline we use per day has gone down significantly... so the number of days of supply represented by those inventories is comparatively high.

Running thru the data, it doesn't look like there is much change in the number of days supply in storage since last year. Of course, the crude in storage becomes product after refining, so there's about 45 days of consumption in storage as both crude and products.

Petroleum Stocks                                                     
 (Million Barrels)       12/12/08  12/12/07  
Crude Oil (Excluding SPR)   321.3     294.8  
Total Motor Gasoline        204.0     209.5  
Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel       37.9      39.9  
Distillate Fuel Oil (7)     133.5     134.5  
Residual Fuel Oil            35.9      39.0  
Propane/Propylene            58.8      57.0  
Unfinished Oils              85.8      86.5  
Other Oils (10)             138.0     123.9  

Total Stocks (Excl SPR)   1,015.2     985.1  
Supply                                        Storage as #days
Crude Oil Input to Refin   14,734    15,171       21.8   19.4
Finished Motor Gasoline     8,992     9,238       22.7   22.6 <--
Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel      1,402     1,601       27.0   24.5
Distillate Fuel Oil         3,935     4,121       33.9   32.6
Residual Fuel Oil             684       728       52.5   53.8
Propane/Propylene           1,338     1,346       44.0   42.3
Other Oils (8)              3,256     3,575       69.0   58.9

E. Swanson

We were discussing days of gasoline supply in storage.

A very interesting paper on the IMF;
jewishfarmer - you might be interested in this one.
(pdf warning)



And some interesting comments by the author;

Sanjay Reddy: "US Can No Longer Fund the Empire"



China has officially broken ground on six domestically engineered CPR-1000 pressurized water reactors, generating around 1080 MWe each. The total investment in Yangjiang's six reactors is to be 69.5 billion reminbi ($10.1 billion), giving a construction cost of 10,700 reminbi per MWe ($1565 per MWe), according to Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Bureau. About half the bare reactor plant costs of the USA or Europe.

China is also breaking ground on their first first integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant (cleaner burning than regular pulverized coal and potentially carbon neutral.)

Underpinning China's potential leadership in carbon-neutral coal power is broad expertise with gasification. By 2010, China will have installed 29 gasification projects since 2004, compared with zero in the United States, according to the Gasification Technologies Council, a trade group based in Arlington, VA

Steel prices from the London metals exchange. Lower steel costs help lower all energy plant construction costs.

The Energy and transportation technology that I think looks very promising is here.

If there was a DARPA of energy for the USA, and Obama looks like he will be spreading stimulus money into the energy sector as well.
- I would spend a few billion on some promising nuclear fusion options
IEC (Bussard) Fusion (WB-7 results reviewed but not released, Positive verdict)

Tri-Alpha Energy (Colliding Beam Fusion, funded for $40+ million)

General Fusion (steam punk target approach, VC funded)

Dense Plasma Focus (focus fusion by lawrenceville plasma fusion, recent $620K funding for two years of validation of concept experiments to produce net energy)

Maybe the LANL LIFE- laser fusion-fission hybrid. Various fusion/fission hybrids can be used if the fusion approach gets close but does not quite make it by itself. Enables deep 99%+ actinide burn fission.

A few billion should go to deep burn/factory mass produced fission:
Other deep burn fission (which needs to have factory mass produced reactors - not status quo)
Liquid flouride Thorium reactors
Integral Breeder reactors

Here is an examination of seriously scaling factory mass produced deep burn nuclear power

Deeper than current burn and factory mass production projects
China High Temperature reactors (2009 break ground, pilot reactor is
walk away meltdown proof, can go from 80-200 gwd/ton burn, will be
factory mass produced)
Hyperion Power Generation Uranium Hydride factory mass produced
reactors (VC funded)
Very High Temperature reactor (could be 65% burn)

Economics of annular fuel uprate, for rapidly boosting existing power generation

I like algae, microbial, seaweed, jatropha, waste (coskata) and other non-food crop versions.

Cars and trucks

Robotic cars and trucks should be the ultimate path. Enable safe
drafting on roadways.
Better diesel engines - ecomotors
In wheel electric engines - (Michelin and others)
Make cars and trucks lighter with better materials - possibly safe
inflatable electric cars using airbag like material

Need to have sub-$3000 electric cars. Tata nano of electric cars.
Avoid the wait to get rid of your current gas car, by making a
convenient and cheap electric car for commuting. Then you can drive
the SUV on an occasional pleasure trip but use the electric for
commuting and 80% of driving.

Thermoelectrics and other waste heat recovery tech

Superconductors for better industrial generators

For wind -I like the kitegen type systems. Less material and access
higher and stronger winds

Plus evolutionary improvements with whale bump blades and better
engines and superconducting components

a lot of wind needs more grid build out- but we need to spend the
trillions to upgrade anyhow
For solar - I like concentrated solar like Coolearth mylar balloons,
MIT windows, Sunrgi.

Reducing CO2 from major processes like cement and steel. Previously
mentioned Calera process. There are others

As noted, the engineer-trained China leadership actually has a industrial-energy plan. China will be building hundreds of nuclear reactors and IGCC coal facilities (sure thing cleaner energy to bridge from current power to the age of abundant energy from fusion or a lot of deep burn fission and more wind, solar, biofuels, hydro) and they are still building a lot of hydro. The hydro is also deepening rivers for large barge traffic. China is building more rail and wind farms and biofuel.

Two points. (1) I don't believe there is any understanding of the importance of seaweed or the impact of "harvesting" it. (2) We can't expect the invisible hand of the market to evaluate and invest in these options in our current and future environment. It has to be done by government action followed by later privatization of the successful technologies. I'm sure we are all horrified at the prospect of politicians making these decisions. We desperately need some consensus on setting up an independent on-going vigorous open investigation of the facts by teams of engineers to advise on these decisions about which technologies to pursue. Think TOD + serious funding + powers of investigation and cross examination. I think I've now said this too often, so I'll stop, but if anyone else agrees please don't be quiet about it.

Seaweed is already grown and harvested. This was in the links that I provided.

In March, 2007, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, the Mitsubishi Research Institute, and several companies announced a project to develop bioethanol from seaweed. The plan is to cultivate Sargasso seaweed in an area covering 3,860 square miles in the Sea of Japan. This will be harvested and dissolved into ethanol aboard ships, which will carry the biofuel to a tanker. The process is expected to yield 5 billion gallons of bioethanol in 3-5 years. [equal to about 326,000 barrels of oil per day or one percent of OPEC oil production]

The Japanese seaweed fuel project would put Japan in the range of Brazils biofuel output levels. Brazil and the United States are the current world leaders in biofuel production (Brazil uses sugarcane and the US mostly uses corn and soybeans) The USA and Brazil produce about 70% of the worlds biofuel.

Currently about eight million or so tonnes of seaweed are produced each year, with a market of nearly $6 billion, primarily China, Japan and Korea. The seaweed is grown for food.

Indonesia harvested 1,079,850 tons of seaweed in 2006 but is expected to reach 1.9 million tons in 2009. In September, South Korea's government signed a deal to lease 25,000 hectares (61,750 acres or about 90 square miles) of Indonesian coastal waters to grow seaweed for bioethanol fuel.

Italy is looking at seaweed biofuel.

Almost all of the technology items on the list have some investment, backing and effort for development. More resources should be deployed by the US and others to accelerate development and deployment.

Everything going forward simultaneously. It is an issue of where to put added effort for maximum effect.

I have already investigated and surveyed. Let me know what question you have on status, costs, scaling, timeframes based on current efforts and specific alternatives.

Related to the main drumbeat:

market unimpressed with Opec cut announcement and think oil is heading to $30/barrel

Realistically you should move your timeline by a decade or two, for economical and political reasons.

We are still to experience the total magnitude of the collapse of the unbrindled capitalism disaster which has been upon us the last several decades. Only after that we will be able to return (or reinvent) the type of mixed economy (command and market) which is the only environment your plans would be able to go through. China is already featuring something like this, but in the medium term it will be dragged down by the collapsing global economy. It is entirely possible that those nuke plans will sit idle for years, because half of China's factories will be closed, because the unemployed and impoverished people around the world don't make good customers.

The financial crisis is likely to accelerate these plans as the plans get rolled into government economic stimulus. China's initial $600 billion stimulus is accelerating planned infrastructure build. Obama is looking at infrastructure build as a means of stimulus.

China may have to build the energy and infrastructure and stimulate their own people to stop saving so much and buying more. China will need power whether it is nuclear power or coal. China cannot allow a large percentage of factories to idle because that would mean hundreds of million of Chinese unemployed. The Chinese leaders fear that hundreds of million of Chinese unemployed runs the risk of revolution where the Chinese leaders end up hanged/shot.

So run through the trillions in reserves and if needed run trillions in domestic debt (ie run up the national credit card.) Join the US in printing up money (China planning to increase money supply 17% in 2009) OR allow factories to be closed and people to get unemployed and pissed off so that they rise up and kill you like their ancestors did in previous revolutions.

China is also breaking ground on their first first integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant (cleaner burning than regular pulverized coal and potentially carbon neutral.)

I think "potentially carbon neutral" somewhat overstates the promise. IGCC stack gas is mainly CO2, so it doesn't require expensive chemical concentration, but in theory can be compressed to liquid then pipelined to underground disposal. I think the overall efficiency is also greater than the more common pulverized coal plants. Even with carbon capture and storage, I d wouldn't expect 100% capture efficiency. But nevertheless this is an impressive development. In the US planned IGCC keeps getting delayed because of projected price overruns. It looks like the moniker "can do nation" will soon be claimed by China.

Denninger was quoted saying that the panic of 1873 is a more worthy comparison of what's going on today than in the 1930's. Some have even called it the Real Great Depression.


The Panic of 1873 (near the onset of the Gilded Age) was called "the real Great Depression" by some. It began eight years after war ended and started a six-year depression until 1879. It was triggered by the Vienna Stock Exchange crash in May (the so-called Grunderkrach or "founders' crash"), then spread to America in the fall.

The key event was the failure of Jay Cooke and Company, the nation's preeminent investment bank, the principal backer of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and holder of most government wartime loans. It triggered a series of events that followed.

The New York Stock Exchange closed for 10 days. Credit dried up. Banks demanded payment of their loans. Investors rushed to sell stocks. Foreclosures increased, many banks failed and most major railroads. Factories then closed, unemployment soared, and many reasons were cited as the cause - post-war frenetic growth, unregulated speculative abuse, and the extreme overbuilding of the railroads causing panic and depression.

Another factor was also involved. Like today's Wall Street banks, the railroads crafted complex financial instruments promising a fixed return. Few investors understood them or that in case of default they'd get nothing. Initially the bonds sold well, but fell after 1871 when investors doubted their value. As prices weakened, railroads assumed short-term bank loans to keep expanding. When rates skyrocketed in 1873, they were in trouble, and when Jay Cooke (in September) defaulted on his debt the stock market crashed. Hundreds of banks failed, the panic continued for five years and even longer in Europe.

What harmed the public, banks, and railroads created opportunity for well capitalized industrialists like Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Cyrus McCormick. It let them buy assets at fire-sale prices, began the so-called Gilded Age, and triggered the onset of powerful business concentration.

Small factories and businesses were out of luck. Many shut down. Tens of thousands of workers lost jobs. Unemployment in New York alone reached 25%. Workers demonstrated in Boston, New York, Chicago and elsewhere demanding work, and some of the most violent strikes in American history followed. One was a nationwide railroad action in 1877 in which mobs destroyed hubs in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Cumberland, MD. Times were even harder in Central and Eastern Europe and lasted longer.

Well atleast they had Ghawar and Canterell as energy sources to look forward too :-)

Here's too frugal times ahead.

Denninger is good, but I think, he doesn't know the system very well.
From todays Market Ticker: "The Fed is not an independent, private entity"...


So, he is 50% right.

Recall the old story of the boy who cried wolf? I think at times it was written for Denninger. I used to skip over to his site last fall, several times he was calling for the utter collapse of the country in mere hours. Was he laughing behind his keyboard, why should we believe him now?

He's a sensationalist, not much different in that regard than some of the TV stock pickers.

Yes but I will take him anyday over the fool Cramer. That guy makes me want to discard my TV...oh wait I did that years ago. Well just seeing his face on the internet makes something come up the wrong way of my esophagus. The absolute worse of the worse. Even blowdried,bimbos,perched on the edge of their seats with that ohhh so sincere look in their eyes to tell us what is essentially bullshit.

Who primes these neanderthal types anyway? Does every advertisement have to have all those 'happy shiny' faces beaming at us?

I prefer the looks of those images like on the TAE website. Reality.

We are not happy! The nation is crashing to its knees? People should be pissed and their countenances should show it.Well hard times may change all that but I would bet that as the last tv images fade to black forever that someone is still putting on makeup and lying with this happy shiny face looking out at us telling us it isn't so.

Its a frigging circus.


IMO what Denninger meant by that comment was that the Fed has the power to destroy the currency-you have to look at his entire statement in context.


You are wrong, for he was not saying the Fed is not private and independent on paper, but that it's a fiction.


With strikes, China's middle class vents anger

From the far western industrial county of Yongdeng to the southern resort city of Sanya and the commercial center of Guangzhou, members of China's upwardly mobile working class — taxi drivers, teachers, factory workers and even auxiliary police officers — have mounted protests since the Chongqing strike, refusing to work until their demands were met.

China's government has long feared the rise of labor movements, banning unauthorized unions and arresting those who speak out for workers' rights. The strikes, driven in part by China's economic downturn, have caught officials off guard.

One wonders how they're going to be able to carry on with all their nuclear power plant projects, alternative energy boom etc when the country is headed for such turmoil. China's stability relies on growth, No growth = no stability.

Also, there's a real demography crisis, there's a lack of women in china and the population is aging rapidly. All this can only lead to either rabid nationalism or internal conflict.

The third option is always that the economy rights itself in a few months and we get a few more years of growth before decline and depletion set in and we're left with choosing nationalism and external conflict or internal conflict.

China's stability relies on growth, No growth = no stability.

They seem to have a kinda defacto deal between the people and the party. The party delivers rapid economic growth, and the people ignore all the other distasteful things about the party.

With a workforce raised in marxist ideology they are surprised when the workers protest? The business environment could get very ugly very fast in China. Investments by outsiders are subject to the whims of an unelected central elite who have never had a consistent commitment to the rule of law.

Back in 1990, the Government seized the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada for the owner's tax evasion (he skipped and when to South America a very rich man) and, as required by law, the feds tried to run it. This is not just any whore house, it is the most famous whore house in the world. They failed, and it closed.

Now we are trusting the economy of our country and our banking system to the
same nit-wits who couldn't make money running a whore house, selling whiskey and lots of slot machines in Nevada.

Is there something I missed here.


It just shows how incompetent Papa Bush' appointees were. Like son, like father. There have been other businesses seized by the feds from drug pushers and were managed quite well by bureaucrats until sold to private interests.

Madoff put under house arrest. Interesting...
A normal man, having destructed over 50 Billions, should be arrested. But no, Madoff is still in his 30 Mio. apartment in N.Y.
Why is he not arrested like Bernie Ebbers for example? Because he belongs to the family! Yes, I had never believed, that the US is that corrupt. But it is, like Dennninger says.

Maybe euro. But OTOH, he's 70+ yo and supposedly cooperating. Given it would be many years before he goes to trial (unless there is some bargain cut) there's a good chance he won't live long enough to be convicted. And if convicted there's the appeal process which probably means he won't live long enough to see the inside of a cell. Unless his blood line has a history of living well past 80 yo there's really not much for him to worry about when it comes to prison. OTOH, his ego might induce him put up a strong defense just to air his justification for his "mistakes".

Remember no matter how obvious his guilt might be he can't be punished until the courts find him guilty. Thus I doubt the thought of seeing the inside of a jail cell ever crosses his mind.

Time may have come to revist history. French Revolution.

Off with his head and stick it on a pike. Give a few in washington the message.....

May come sooner than most think.

I think most here would agree with me that the French Revolution went too far. We don't need violence, be-headings and ultimately another Napoleon.

What we need is a reversal of the insane never ending Reagan type tax cuts for the wealthy that, over time, redistribute wealth from the bottom to the top. Including Social Security tax, the lower incomes pay a greater percentage than the higher incomes. After the social security tax is collected it goes to the general fund and is spent just like any other tax revenue.

Add in that higher incomes have a lot of income from capital gains which are taxed at a low rate and the effect over time is perverse. The result is the increased concentration of income and wealth at the top with wage income being relatively stagnant for years and years adjusted for inflation.

Those at the top who accumulate so much wealth become careless because they have so much. In the Madoff case it appears that millions and even billions of dollars were invested based on word of mouth. I think it is because it is a lot of work to be careful with large sums of money, so those who have it take short cuts to save time and effort.

It would be better to redistribute some of the income and wealth with a little more socialism (not too much) and higher taxes at the top. The redistributed wealth would go to those at the lower incomes who have the time and motivation to be more careful and prudent spending/investing it.

The obvious carelessness and cluelessness of those now flipping billions and even trillions of dollars around is obscene. We can not have a well functioning economy with such a top heavy distribution. It will collapse as in the former Soviet Union or in 1929 IMO.

I had never believed, that the US is that corrupt.

All one has to do is look at the court cases and Congressional investigations over the years to find plenty of corruption.

Open Records allow the citizens to police others the case Busy Bodies, Nosy Nellie et la VS Getta O. Lawn.

http://techdirt.com/articles/20081210/0114213067.shtml used to work. The links here:
and discuss

Election officials in a small county in California discovered by chance last week that the tabulation software they used to tally votes in this year's general election dropped 197 paper ballots from the totals at one precinct. The system's audit log also appears to have deleted any sign that the ballots had ever been recorded.

That's about like punishing a misbehaving boy by sending him to his room - a room equipped with a phone, digital TV, DVD player & upteen bilion DVDs, computer, Wii, stereo with umpteen billion CDs, etc., etc., etc.

"Go to your room, now!"
"Oh, OK!!"

After retirement and farming done for the season I would usually take house calls to fix folks computers around the county. Virii were killing them and mostly I had to just clean them up.

I also advised them at the time to NOT put a PC in the teenagers rooms but instead to keep them where the screen and what they were doing was visible to the rest of the family. Like in the den,etc.

Mostly they didn't take the advise but told me"hey he's a computer genius and does his school work there" ..well the truth is that this was not the case. Some were so loaded that all they would show on startup was the ugliest most hardcore porn imaginable.

So after my brother in law had a stroke and we went down to visit they told us proudly how my nephew was such a good kid and making top scores at high school. I suggested that he might be 'downloading naked women pictures'...sorta joking...they were aghast that I would even think it...so later I ambled up to his room and he said" Hey unc you wanta see some naked women pictures?"....

Later he finished high school and they were fronting his college expenses. He flunked out right off and went to work at a car wash place. Turns out he was just about illerate except for online computer twitch games. His brain was now wired so different that he could'nt make it with the girls, he couldn't get back in serious collegiate work..in fact he really didn't care at all.

So downside..I used to go to my BIL's basement where he himself spent most time dragging up very hard core porn and laughing about it.

Of course my nephew saw this. Of course he mimiced it. Both are retards and his wife once told us proudly that she prefers a vibratory device.

So I guess I was wrong. Seems everyone there is quite happy. I wrote them off as perhaps normal Murkhans and normal teenagers.

Still I advise against this. Makes no difference so I don't take house calls anymore.

Moral: There is none. None that I can figger out anyway. But my BIL doesn't do the brag bit anymore..well not since I saw him about 12 years ago. My nephew? Still washing cars and playing twitch games I hear.

Airdale-I don't mind a nice pinup model. After vising a nude beach in Calif..I found that I enjoyed checking out the bikini clad starlets versus the others ...Fort Zuma for those who have been there.

PS. No offense intended but I advise against youngster cruising the web unattended. Besides I got tired of seeing it. I prefer it when romance and dancing were the pastimes. Not to mention the DriveIn theatres. Thats where the real learning took place..IMmosthumbleO.

With the dollar weakness, oil is down to $27 in euros!...which is about where oil was trading in euros about the same time back in late 1999.

This is an amazing decline.

This combination has to have OPEC in a panic. Part of the reason they pulled the trigger on the big 4.2 mbpd headline number? Maybe we don't wait too long to see if supply destruction can outrun the meltdown.

It's only the WTI contract for January that's anywhere as low. Often times, it's a convenient proxy but it's out of whack now.
January Brent has expired and the current contract is now worth over 31 euros.

I was going to wait until the New Campfire sitelet was reading before making some posts on it but wanted to do this while in was in my short term memory cache.

Back many years ago I built a house down in the start of the Ozark Uplift. About 3 large valleys into the uplift from St. Louis.

On this minifarm I had a choice on the type of septic system and was convinced that a new style was a good choice sense you usually ran into bedrock if you dug very deep. In fact my neighbor later had to blast a septic tank hole but the problem was with the field..and the perc factor.

So the choice was a air driven aerobic,anaberic septic tank which required no field. The output just flushed out right on the ground and no problem if you had the acreage for it and it went only on your land.

The saleman would even volunteer to catch and drink a glass of water from the outflow pipe. It ran off a timer which controlled the motor that injected air into one of the chambers. The resulting output was indeed clear water but I didn't care to taste. It ran out and soon settled into the ground. Down below on the creek bottom was my garden and I oft thought to pipe it down there for the plants to get moisture. Never did that but now looking at the Compost Tea makers I realize that this was exactly the same. Perfect microbes and all the flora/fauna needed.

Right now I wish I had one on my present location. I would certainly not have to try to use humanure and urine since that would all be nicely taken care of by the tank.

Besides they may have gone out of business. The motor was not that big to draw much current and ran only intermittently.

Nice idea Bob Shaw if your reading this. How to utilize waste for replacing nutrients in the soil of one's garden. It was also the perfect answer for my son't house in Raleigh,NC since all the neighborhood had septic systems and private wells. But he has since moved on...oh well.


I have one of those systems on my land, made by Norweco (http://www.septictankalternative.com/wst_page2.html). They do require some maintenance, such as cleaning the outflow filter. The aerator motor also has tendency to wear out or get corroded. Still, a good system.


The time is perfect to keep the pressure on and set the goal of breaking OPEC's monopoly again, just as it was broken in the 1980's.

Now first, let me say that this is nothing personal. I think that OPEC has done a good job in managing the world oil supply and pricing structure and has been sincere in their efforts to retain price and supply stability. They failed on the price side however, because there are still too many factors they simply do not have control over.

The OPEC attempt at monopoly always falls on it's face because (a) there are still too many other suppliers (b) they cannot control economic growth (or lack thereof) in the consuming nations (c) despite what some may believe there are alternatives (compressed natural gas, propane, and even biofuels [biofuels may be a loser in the long haul, but they devour topsoil, water and natural gas more slowly than they cause impact on world oil prices](d)the prospect of conservation and alternative energy technology always hovers out there to keep OPEC cautious and most of all (e)OPEC simply cannot control the worldwide legions of speculators, price gamers, con men, investment scammers and rumor promotors that are working day and night to try to whip up hysteria (it does not matter in which direction, they make money on the "the price is going through the roof!" hysteria as well as "go short, it's collapsing!"...the goal for them being as much instability and volatility as can be created. The hysteria is profitable for them, because they help to create it. Sure there are some hedge funds, investment firms and banks that lose their shirt (or more correctly, their customers shirt) but they are the middlemen, who are on news shows hawking the story they are given to sell, they actually know nothing about energy).

Let me also stress that the desire to break the control of OPEC should not be seen as anti Arab. If anything we should have the greatest respect for Arab accomplishment throughout history, and recognize them as industrious people, shwed traders (they have been for centuries), great business people and excellent long term planners. Much of the energy consuming nations problems come from underestimating the abilities and cleverness of our Arab trading partners and business rivals (and it is the nature of competitive free nations that they are ALWAYS rivals to some extent, the goal is to keep it a humane rivalry that in the end will benefit all parties)

My reason for wanting to break the power of OPEC is simle: I hate monopolies.

So here's the plan:

First, go green. Even if you think it's bunk, talk carbon reduction. Sell the need to reduce oil consumption on the basis of carbon reduction. Push climate change. Talk about the environmental catastrophe of sea rise, droughts, floods, hurricanes. You may not know for sure it's completely true, but hey, what can we know for sure? The goal is to reduce oil consumption. That goal will benefit humanity in the long haul, and push forward the change that must occur anyway. We always knew the oil age could not and should not last forever. Even knowing this, peak oil per se is a hard sell to most of the public and the political class, but environmentalism has the moral high ground. If OPEC or the Saudi's complain they and their product (oil) is being persecuted, we can take the high ground and say look, we are just trying to protect the earth and save the environment, that's all, how can you not support that?

Second, push conservation as a moral virtue. We know that the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan cannot, repeat CANNOT change the outcome of peak oil or climate change through conservation. We use barely over 10% of the production of oil in the world in the U.S. for gasoline to propel our vehicles. In other words, even if we parked every single car in the U.S., stopped them from moving for good, every car and SUV, big or small, high horsepower or frugal 3 cylinder, it would still only have an effect at the margins. And remember that Japan and Europe already are much more efficient in oil use per person than we are, so the effect they can have is even smaller.

BUT, we can have an effect on markets, and by making conservation the "hip" thing to do, we set an aesthetic for the developing countries where the real growth in consumption is occuring. Even if the super rich continue to drive exotic sports cars and luxury sport utes, we play to the "reverse snob appeal" that the Volkswagen Beetle played to in the 1950's and 1960's.

Next, diversify. Get more CNG cars and propane cars on the road NOW, because that is known technology, and keep working the electric car and plug hybrid car into the mix to put the electric power grid to work. The goal here is not to "replace" gasoline cars in the next couple of years. That would be impossible, and even if peak happened yesterday, we are not "running out" of oil for the foreseeable future. The goal is to get the technology on the road, where it can be improved, and to get some of the infrastructure up and going. This will hold the club over the oil producers head. Remember, we want this transition to be humane for everyone including our trading rivals in the Arab world. We need for them to start laying plans to diversify away from an oil only economy, but do it in steps so that it does not disrupt their economies to the point of catastrophe.

Natural gas and propane are bridge fuels. We should NOT allow people to believe they are the fuels of the future. Natural gas in the long haul is simply too valuable for that, and that is why we should keep up the push on home energy conservation, distributed power generation, methane recapture (sell it on green again) solar and wind projects along the lines of T. Boone Pickens plan. The goal is to free natural gas by reducing unneeded waste, and hold coal consumption down.

Folks will say, yeah right, none of this will work if the prices of oil, gas and coal drop or even stay where they are now, but remember, we are selling it on the GREEN agenda. Use green and national balance of trade as the driving issues, the core motivators. If someone mentions "peak", sure, point out that it is a danger, but whatever you do, WHATEVER YOU DO, do NOT set dates, times and price projections. The CAUSE has been discredited enough already. And what is THE CAUSE?

The cause, the holy grail, the central objective is the same one it was before anyone started using the buzz word "peak": To transition
away from a fossil fuel only driven modern economy to the one we have known for decades had to happen even before "peak" was even heard of. The goal is a planned move to a modern, diversified energy system that relies on renewable energy, real advanced technology (has it bothered anyone that despite all we claim to know, our whole economy is still driven by the same technology the caveman discovered of burning stuff?)and to make this transition away from fossil fuel as humane as possible for everyone, both supplier and consumer, and to do this with the least possible damage to the planet possible.

Of course what I just said has an agenda as you may have noticed. It does NOT include as a goal the stopping of modern technology. It does not include the use of our attempt to reduce fossil fuel consumption as a way of attacking market economies or democratic and inclusive government. It does view the attempt to reduce fossil fuel consumption as a method to be used to do away with the progess in gender and racial equality we have made over the last century, nor does it include as a goal the depopulation of the Earth. If those are your goals, fine, but peddle those tired old chestnuts somewhere other than to those who are concerned with the reduction of worldwide fossil fuel use.

Will travel still be possible? Yep. Will people still enjoy entertainment, the arts, and culture? Yep. Will people even use fuel for entertainment, such as boating, or even auto racing? Yep. (We race dogs and horses, and guess what? That consumes energy too, from the construction of the tracks to the feeding and transporting of the animals...If you don't believe, just look at the size and weight of a horse transporter and it's tow truck. Racing a small bore sportscar would probably consume less). Will there still be a need for medical care, education and decent modern (really modern this time) housing? Yep.

Can we achieve the goals of huge reduction in fossil fuel consumption over time and still achieve these other goals? Well, that depends: To assume we cannot is simply to call the human race stupid. Some enjoy slandering the human race. I do not. But can we KNOW that in the deepest existential sense that we are not just too stupid to be able to do this, plain and simple? Nope. We and our offspring will just have to find that out, one way or the other, as time goes by.