DrumBeat: December 29, 2008

Gazprom, Once Mighty, Is Reeling

MOSCOW — A year ago, Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly, aspired to be the largest corporation in the world. Buoyed by high oil prices and political backing from the Kremlin, it had already achieved third place judging by market capitalization, behind Exxon Mobil and General Electric.

Today, Gazprom is deep in debt and negotiating a government bailout. Its market cap, the total value of all the company’s shares, has fallen 76 percent since the beginning of the year. Instead of becoming the world’s largest company, it has tumbled to 35th place. And while bailouts are increasingly common, none of Gazprom’s big private sector competitors in the West is looking for one.

That Russia’s largest state-run energy company needs a bailout so soon after oil hit record highs last summer is a telling postscript to a turbulent period. Once the emblem of the pride and the menace of a resurgent Russia, Gazprom has become a symbol of this oil state’s rapid economic decline.

Oil palm fruits left to rot in Indonesia as prices fall

PETALING JAYA: Low crude palm oil (CPO) prices and poor transportation have led to fresh fruit bunches (FFB) being left to rot in Indonesia and the situation has been a near miss for Malaysia.

The 10 Biggest Cleantech Victories of 2008

Last week we brought you the 10 Biggest Cleantech Disappointments of 2008 — such as electric car maker Tesla hitting a wall, and T. Boone Pickens putting his massive wind power project on ice. But nascent industry also saw a lot of significant milestones in 2008. Here are some of the green highlights.

Ecuador to decide on OPEC meet after supply cuts

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador will monitor oil markets after OPEC makes effective its January output cuts to decide whether to back a cartel emergency meeting to stabilize oil prices dragged down by excessive supply, Oil Minister Derlis Palacios said on Monday.

Venezuela: The Cost of the World’s Cheapest Gasoline

CARACAS (IPS) - The world’s most inexpensive gasoline is sold in Venezuela, through a longstanding subsidy programme that benefits car owners while depriving the oil industry of a large source of funds for reinvesting.

Lessons from the Oil Market

Looking ahead (full disclosure: I don’t have a crystal ball) it seems likely that the severe downturn in the global economy will depress demand for oil for quite some time. On the supply side, I distrust all the talk about “peak oil.” Predictions that the world is running out of oil have a long history. They have all been spectacularly wrong, because they don’t understand markets. I could write a whole article on the rosy prospects for future increases in the supply of oil, but suffice it to say here that continually improving technology, plus the removal of political barriers against developing known reserves, combined with the fact that much of the planet has yet to be explored for oil, and you have reasons for optimism.

Oil Futures Market: Unwinding the Bubble

Almost every day since July, I have been reading (correction, scrolling through and mostly ignoring) articles declaring an oil price bottom and setting "natural" price targets for oil. In August, those targets were in range between $150 and $200 (last one by Goldman Sachs, I still want to know if their traders listened to their analysts and if so, how much money they lost in result). Currently, the range moved to something like $80 to $100. What a bunch of crap! And I completely refuse to discuss bunk "Peak Oil" theory here.

EPA: Rivers high in arsenic, heavy metals after sludge spill

KINGSTON, Tennessee (CNN) -- The Environmental Protection Agency has found high levels of arsenic and heavy metals in two rivers in central Tennessee that are near the site of a spill that unleashed more than a billion gallons of coal waste.

The upside of downward mobility

"Look," said the President, walking across the stage with a microphone in hand, "here's what no one wants to tell you. Structural changes in our economy, and new competition from countries like China and India, mean that we're in a different world now. That pattern we once took for granted, in which our incomes basically kept rising across the board, turns out to be something we can't sustain. Many of you are earning less than your parents did, and the truth is, many of your children will earn less than you do."

The President paused, watching as the words sank in. "I don't think denial helps any of us. I know it won't help us come together to do the things we need to do as a nation to thrive even amid these new realities."

Don't worry, you didn't miss the news; the scene above has not happened yet. Few politicians would say those things even if they believed them to be true, because it would challenge a notion at the heart of the American dream: the idea that the kids will earn more than we do. This idea has been at the core of American experience for so long that it seems to us the natural order of things, a brand of progress to which we're practically entitled. Political leaders plainly believe we cherish this prospect, because it is central to how they talk about our lives. It's as if relinquishing the certitude that the kids will earn more than we do would be to give up something essential in the American spirit.

The problem, as new research shows, is that we have to face a new reality. As many as 100 million Americans now live in families that are earning less in real terms than their parents did at the same age.

Slowdown risk to Saudi growth

For the past few years, much of the talk coming out of Saudi Arabia has been about opportunity – a chance to use the oil boom to develop the economy and go some way to heading off pressing social and economic pressures that have been building up in the kingdom.

During the late 1980s and 1990s, the economy stagnated while the population ballooned. By the turn of the century, unemployment had reached double digits and, with some 60 per cent of the 17m national population estimated to be under 25, the need to expand the private sector and create jobs was deemed vital to the nation’s stability and its future prosperity.

The oil boom and the massive accumulation of petrodollars provided a chance to tackle those issues and rehabilitate decaying infrastructure. But just as the process is beginning to inch forward, the Arab world’s largest economy faces a slowdown and is grappling with the prospect of a dramatic fall in revenue following the collapse in oil prices and reductions in crude output.

Venezuela 2008 Economic Growth Likely Slowed to 4.9%

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s economy probably grew 4.9 percent in 2008, the slowest pace in five years, as crude oil prices collapsed and investment shrunk, the central bank said today in its year-end report on the economy.

Central bankers expect the price of oil, which accounted for 93 percent of exports this year, to remain volatile in the “short term,” causing investment to fall in the petroleum sector and forcing the government to dip into its savings to finance spending, the bank said today an e-mailed statement.

Russia, Ukraine Scramble for Gas Deal as Cutoff Looms

(Bloomberg) -- Russia and Ukraine failed today to reach an agreement on gas debts, leaving two days to avoid a cutoff that threatens to disrupt fuel supplies to Europe and cause a fresh Russian rift with the West.

Gazprom tries to stop gas row turning into conflict with west

Gazprom will launch a charm offensive in London tomorrow in a desperate attempt to avoid the latest confrontation with Ukraine over gas supplies turning into a wider commercial and political row with the west.

Russia's pipeline politics with Ukraine and the West

Ukraine and Russia are at odds again over the price of natural gas and how it is delivered. This latest dispute underlines the need for President-elect Barack Obama to eliminate avoidable causes of friction in the West's relationship with Russia.

Ruble Falls to Record Low Versus Euro as Russia Weakens Defense

(Bloomberg) -- The ruble fell to a record low against the euro as Russia devalued the currency for the 12th time in seven weeks after the government forecast its first budget deficit in a decade.

Peering into oil's crystal ball

Saudi Arabia, the most influential member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is looking for an oil price of $75 a barrel. It's not likely to reach that goal in 2009.

A year ago, oil was around $100. Some prognosticators expected the price to rise a lot, and some looked for a sharp fall. Both were right. The price per barrel first shot up to $147 and then fell back vertiginously to $40. It's enough to make anyone give up the prediction game.

Kunstler: Forecast for 2009

There are two realities "out there" now competing for verification among those who think about national affairs and make things happen. The dominant one (let's call it the Status Quo) is that our problems of finance and economy will self-correct and allow the project of a "consumer" economy to resume in "growth" mode. This view includes the idea that technology will rescue us from our fossil fuel predicament -- through "innovation," through the discovery of new techno rescue remedy fuels, and via "drill, baby, drill" policy. This view assumes an orderly transition through the current "rough patch" into a vibrant re-energized era of "green" Happy Motoring and resumed Blue Light Special shopping.

The minority reality (let's call it The Long Emergency) says that it is necessary to make radically new arrangements for daily life and rather soon. It says that a campaign to sustain the unsustainable will amount to a tragic squandering of our dwindling resources. It says that the "consumer" era of economics is over, that suburbia will lose its value, that the automobile will be a diminishing presence in daily life, that the major systems we've come to rely on will founder, and that the transition between where we are now and where we are going is apt to be tumultuous.

Global Oil-Price Roller Coaster Challenges Obama and the World

The global financial crisis has caused a massive slide in energy prices, down to $40-$50 a barrel of NYMEX light sweet crude from the July 2008 highs of $147. While oil prices, along with other commodities, are expected to continue their fall in the short term, over the medium to long term, economic recovery is likely to generate growth in demand, and oil prices are expected to recover as energy markets tighten.

Moreover, lower oil prices are likely to impede the massive investment needed to meet rising demand by 2030, delay introduction of energy-saving technologies, and make alternative fuels less competitive. The tight credit environment will also make it more difficult for energy firms to obtain the necessary funding for financing the capital-intensive growth in produc­tion capacity, especially necessary for expensive and difficult offshore production, exploration and develop­ment, and heavy oil, oil sands, or oil shale production.

German Gas Providers to Maintain Supplies Amid Ukraine Dispute

(Bloomberg) -- Natural-gas suppliers in Germany, Europe’s biggest energy market, expect to maintain deliveries of the heating fuel even as stockpiles fall to a seven-month low and Russia threatens to halt shipments to Ukraine.

Nigeria arrests suspected militant commander

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria: Nigeria's military says it has arrested a suspected member of a militant group in connection with attacks on oil facilities in the troubled Niger Delta.

Offshore drill ban floated

AUGUSTA, Maine — Drilling for oil or natural gas off the coast of Maine would be banned under legislation being proposed by Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, a bill sure to generate controversy.

“I am convinced that the coast of Maine is too precious to let drilling happen off that coast,” he said in an interview, “and I am convinced if we don’t have a ban in place, somebody will drill.”

Bogus money goes mainstream

Counterfeiting arrests in the USA jumped 28% this year over 2007 — the highest number since 2004, according to the Secret Service, a division of the Homeland Security Department that safeguards the nation's currency. Counterfeiters passed $64.4 million in fake cash into the economy, a 5% increase over 2007 and also a five-year high, says Special Agent Darrin Blackford, spokesman for the agency.

"It's not just the criminal element, but we're also seeing more students that maybe use a counterfeit $20 bill to buy pizza or someone trying to do it to purchase gas to get to work," says Brian Marr, Secret Service special agent in charge of the Little Rock field office. Marr says reports of fake bills spiked this year when gas prices hit record highs.

Environmental headlines: Is the world falling apart?

The environment was top of mind for much of this year, with mostly gloom and doom science stories about everything from shrinking ice at the poles, to the ever-expanding hole in the ozone layer making headlines around the world and causing us to wonder whether our world is falling apart.

Why Crude Oil Will Present Investors with a Golden Opportunity in 2009

Back in 1988, for instance, Saudi Arabia raised its proven-reserve figure from 170 billion barrels to about 260 billion barrels. That figure has remained more or less constant since then, despite the fact that billions of barrels of oil have been pumped out of the ground.

"Saudi Arabia has announced for 20 years in a row that they have 260 billion barrels of oil in reserve," Rogers told Money Morning during an exclusive interview in Singapore recently. "It’s astonishing. The figure never goes up and it never goes down. They have produced dozens of millions – billions – of dollars of oil in that period of time.

“Every oil country in the world has declining reserves except Saudi Arabia,” Rogers said. “And I know that every oil company has declining reserves. So unless somebody discovers a lot of oil very quickly in very accessible areas, the surprise is going to be how high the price stays, and how high it goes.”

Simmons thinks oil prices could hit $300 a barrel – and could possibly even surge as high as $500 a barrel – during the next several years.

Oil jumps above $40 on Gaza conflict

VIENNA, Austria – Tensions generated by a widening conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants sent crude prices up sharply to above $40 a barrel Monday, with gasoline and heating oil also making sizable gains.

Prices also were supported by indications that key OPEC members were acting on commitments to cut back production, in line with a decision earlier this month to take a daily 2.2 million barrels off the market.

Light, sweet crude for February delivery rose $2.56 to $40.27 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday in Europe.

Oil said to back near $100 by 2010-2015

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Oil prices may rebound to around $100 per barrel between 2010 and 2015, International Energy Agency Chief Economist Fatih Birol predicted on Monday.

Birol told an energy conference that he saw downward pressure on oil prices in 2009 but said he expected prices to move up again in 2010 with a recovery in the world economy.

Oil is on track for a nearly 60 percent loss this year, the biggest annual fall since futures began trading 25 years ago.

China to Increase Oil, Gas Imports on Lower Prices

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world's second-biggest energy consumer, will take advantage of lower prices to boost imports of oil and natural gas as reserves are being built, the head of the National Energy Administration said.

Companies will be encouraged to utilize their spare oil- storage capacity while state and commercial reserves of other ``strategic resources'' will be set up, Zhang Guobao, also the vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, wrote in an article in the official People's Daily today.

Myanmar signs gas deal with SKorea, India, China: state media

YANGON (AFP) – Military-run Myanmar has signed a deal with South Korean and Indian companies to pipe natural gas from the energy-rich nation's offshore fields to China, state media reported Monday.

The Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise inked the deal last Wednesday with South Korean companies Daewoo and Korea Gas Corporation and Indian energy firms ONGC Videsh and GAIL to supply gas to the China National United Oil Corporation.

Tumult in the life of a Calgary oil trader

CALGARY - There were days this year when Rob Gigiel felt as if he were watching a space shuttle blow up in slow motion. There were days this year when Mr. Gigiel felt as if he'd won the Stanley Cup.

But the day a barrel of oil hit US$100 - now that was a day to remember.

Russia continues gradual devaluations as econ slows

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia allowed the ninth mini-devaluation of the rouble this month on Monday, bringing the currency's losses to more than 18 percent since August as the oil-funded economy faces growing risks of recession.

Russia's central bank began a gradual depreciation of the rouble a month and a half ago due to downward pressure on the currency from slumping oil prices, a worsening economy and investors' flight from emerging markets.

Kuwaiti Partner: Dow Deal Still in Effect

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Rohm & Haas Co. said its proposed acquisition is still in effect even though the Kuwaiti government has canceled a $17.4 billion joint venture with U.S. petrochemical company Dow Chemical Co.

On Sunday the Kuwait government said the joint venture, known as K-Dow Petrochemicals, was "very risky" due to the global financial crisis and low oil prices. The move came just days before the joint venture's Jan. 1, 2009 startup date.

Saudi Aramco, Total award first contract for Jubail

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Aramco's and French oil major Total awarded a construction contract for its $12 billion joint-venture refining and petrochemical facility in Saudi Arabia, the companies said on Monday.

The contract, which is required to support the construction phase of the complex at Jubail, is an indication of the companies commitment to push through the project.

Ukraine must pay a fair price

No country can be expected to continue supplying gas to a customer which refuses to meet its bill.

Ukrainian speaker in favor of gas consortium with Russia

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - The speaker of Ukraine's parliament said on Monday that he was in favor of reviving a proposal to establish a gas consortium between Russia and Ukraine.

"The idea has been discussed, all the basic documentation has been signed. We should examine this very seriously and gain a mutual advantage. The idea is good, and it needs to be brought back," Volodymyr Lytvyn told Ekho Moskvy radio.

Gazprom sees record 10% reserves boost

The hydrocarbon reserves of Russia's Gazprom rose by a record 10% this year after the government granted it 10 major gas deposits and its oil arm boosted oil reserves, according to reports.

Vedomosti business daily quoted two unnamed Gazprom officials as saying Gazprom and its subsidiaries increased reserves by 4.7 billion barrels (601 tonnes) of fuel equivalent in 2008.

Russia's initial investment in Bolivian gas fields to hit $4 mln

MEXICO CITY (RIA Novosti) - Immediate investment by Russian companies in the exploration of new gas fields in Bolivia could reach $4 million, Mexican media reported, referring to Bolivian Energy Minister Saul Avalos.

According to Avalos, geological prospecting will begin as soon as January.

Lower gas prices helping Ohio police departments

WILLOUGHBY (AP) - Police chiefs said they're relieved gas prices have fallen so much in recent months, especially after record high prices strained department budgets over the summer.

But with 2008 gas prices ranging from $4 a gallon to the current $1.60 a gallon, some northeast Ohio officials are wondering how much to set aside in 2009 to keep patrol cars on the road.

Green building stalls amid falling home prices

PHOENIX - Homebuilders slapped on solar panels and added other eco-friendly enhancements as energy prices soared earlier this year, hoping greener homes would lure reluctant buyers.

But since July, the cost of oil has plunged from $147 a barrel to about $36, while home prices continued to fall. Together, these headwinds have stalled low-energy housing developments around the country, including projects by Meritage Homes and Shea Homes.

Demand grows for U.S.-style suburbs overseas

A growing number of architects and urban planners are finding work overseas as the domestic real estate slump persists. An emerging affluent class abroad is drawn to suburbs with U.S. names that mimic the American ideal — down to the master bathroom and tree-lined sidewalk.

Brazil unveils plan to expand ethanol sales in Asian market

Brazil’s giant oil and gas corporation Petrobras has plans to open next year its first service stations in Japan to promote the distribution of ethanol, of which Brazil is the world’s second leading producer, according to a report from O Estado de Sao Paulo. Petrobras already operates an oil refinery in Japan.

Japan would be the first step in a long term plan to conquer the Asian ethanol market. Brazil currently exports 380 million litres of ethanol (made out of sugar cane), but the target is to reach 12 billion litres in a decade.

Biodegradable plastic made from plants, not oil, is emerging

Here is one word about an up-and-coming innovation in plastics: cornfields.

Bioplastics — most of which are now made from corn — are poised to grab a bigger share of the plastics market as concerns about the environment and U.S. dependence on foreign oil promote alternatives to products made from petrochemicals.

Canada's vast oil cache hides dirty environmental secret

FT. MCMURRAY, Canada - From here in the far north of Canada through a web of transcontinental pipelines down to a network of refineries ringing the Chicago area, a new supply of precious oil has begun flowing into the gas tanks of more Americans, tapped from a source so vast it could one day furnish close to half of U.S. oil needs for 50 years or more.

This Canadian oil is stable and reliable. It promises to substantially reduce America's future dependence on volatile Middle Eastern sources of oil. And much of it is profitable to produce even with oil prices hovering around $50 per barrel, which explains why some of the world's largest oil conglomerates have invested tens of billions of dollars here despite wild short-term swings in international oil prices.

But what few American consumers know as they routinely fill up their tanks is that this new petroleum bonanza, drawn from dense, tarry deposits known as oil sands, ranks as what environmentalists call the dirtiest oil on the planet. Extracting it causes widespread ecological damage - and could accelerate global warming.

Million dollar question: how to get oil from shale

Opinions differ about what role oil will play in the energy future of the United States and what role oil shale should have. Should oil shale be developed and, if so, when and how? Many geologists, engineers, physicists, chemists and others have been studying oil shale and its potential for years and have established some basic facts.

Re-igniting the global warming debate: Here's what will make headlines in 2009

3- Talk of peak oil goes mainstream.

Earlier this month Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency, told British journalist George Monbiot that conventional oil production will plateau – that is, peak – in 2020 and that it's "not good news from a global oil-supply point of view." It was an unprecedented statement coming from a conservative organization that has traditionally sugar coated the long-term oil outlook.

It seems odd, when you consider that members of the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries are making unprecedented curtailments of supply.

But that's a reaction to a short-term fall in demand. More dangerous is that unconventional oil projects that represent future supply, such as those in the oil sands, have been put on hold because of tight credit markets and low oil prices. When demand picks back up, and it will happen fast, supply just won't be able to keep up. Given this scenario, expect more talk of "peak oil" next year, and not just from fringe groups shouting from the sidelines.

Humans, Oceans Shaped North American Climate Over Past 50 Years, NOAA Report Says

While a general trend toward warmer ocean conditions is expected with increasing greenhouse gases, regional differences in sea surface temperature trends can be either natural or human-caused, according to Dole.

The assessment found that an increase in greenhouse gases is likely responsible for more than half of the average continental warming of 1.6° Fahrenheit observed during the past 50 years. Greenhouse gases, emitted by fossil fuel burning and natural sources, trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere and warm the surface.

Energy secretary Ed Milliband says 2009 is crunch year for climate change

Energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband said 2008 was an historic year for confronting the twin challenges of developing a low-carbon economy and combating climate change, thanks to the agreement on European energy and emission targets, the passing of the world-first Climate Change Act, and strong growth in the UK renewable industry.

But he said 2009 will be crucial when it comes to meaningful action on climate change.

Natural Disasters Cause Higher Losses in 2008, Munich Re Says

(Bloomberg) -- Losses from natural catastrophes rose to the third-highest level on record as climate change fueled cyclones and hurricanes and China was hit by the Sichuan earthquake, according to a report from Munich Re.

Worldwide insured losses related to natural catastrophes increased about 50 percent to an estimated $45 billion last year compared with 2007, the world’s biggest reinsurer said in an e- mailed statement today. Overall losses more than doubled to about $200 billion, the Munich-based company said.

This is just anecdotal, but I submit for consideration:

As this is the season where farmers get together at coffee shops, farmers markets, and farm equipment conventions to discuss things, I've overheard what seems to be a trend in terms of potential change of business: It seems that farmers who have 20-200 acres that they now use to grow corn, tomatoes, and other things for large industrial food processors are now talking of other things. Some say - that with operating cost constantly going upward - that maybe the better way to go is to reduce planted acreage and devote more effort to between 1 acre (no tractor) to 5-20 acres (with tractor) to certified organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

If it goes that way, we may see higher prices for canned soup as well as cattle feed.

Of course, there is also the problem of access to credit. The debt explosion, followed by the debt implosion, is the gift that keeps on giving. The surprising thing to me is the extent of the collateral damage to the food & energy producers. Kurt Cobb had a great article that showed an inverted pyramid, with the rest of the economy dependent on the food & energy producers.

In any case, one implication--as people like Jim Kunstler have long predicted--is that there will be a lot more people working in agriculture.

Here is the key graph from Kurt’s article:


Here is the article:


Wow. Climate change will cause 2.5% economic decline, but only 1% of the economy is agriculture. And finance / manufacturing / retail will not be affected by climate change, but agriculture will.

In other words, the economy will be sort-of OK, but we'll all starve.

Is it time for me to start that sheep farm in Maine? (currently living in Texas)

This article adds fuel to my contention that ACC needs to be dealt with on an equal basis with the economy and PO.

Is it time for me to start that sheep farm in Maine? (currently living in Texas)

You're a couple of years late by my count. Me, too.


I'm looking for "interns". I'm thinking to park an old school bus out behind the barn. You get room and board in it and promise to keep digging until you die.

Crop diversification - good.
Reduce FF inputs and agri-pollution- good.
Switch from Industrial fertilizers and pesticides to organic methods - good.
Reduce soil depletion - good.
Sell locally - good.
Improved nutrition - good.
Folks canning their own soups at home - good.
Reducing carbon footprint - good.

Tensions generated by a widening conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants sent crude prices up sharply to above $40 a barrel Monday, with gasoline and heating oil also making sizable gains.

I wonder how much Iran is behind this.

Well... obviously Iran backs Hamas. What I'm really wondering is whether Iran intentionally sparked a conflict to boost oil prices with conflict where claims of OPEC production cuts had failed. They need prices to rise and can't afford to cut production much.

Iran is definitely in the "danger zone," regarding net oil exports, with 2007 consumption equal to about 43% of production. High consumption levels, relative to production, are associated with fast net export decline rates, e.g., Indonesia, the UK and Mexico. (Iran's net export decline rate in 2007 was -8%/year, relative to 2005, EIA.)

Our middle case is that through 2008 Iran has already (net) exported about 22% of their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports.

I really don't see where you gain anything by such analysis, because your assumptions determine 100% of your output. Variation between later-observed data doesn't cause you to adjust your assumptions, it causes you to think that the future is actually worse than before. I'm not sure what the point is.

As for Iran... any discussion of net exports in this environment can't assume that Iran's own economy will continue to increase their consumption (thus accelerating export declines).

What do we gain from your analysis? Any oil projection can't assume the current low prices will persist indefinitely. As prices rise, so will exporter (relative) affluence and internal consumption. It'll be a cyclical thing, of course, as economies shift and crumble, wars take their toll, etc.

So far, WT's modeling seems to be more accurate than any official projections, and his "assumptions" are simply refined views of production data driving all models. Your statement seems meaningless -- how can you have ANY projections without assumptions? A best-estimate based on stated assumptions has lots of value, even if we all know the situation is too complex to predict with accuracy.

I suspect that the primary problem that most Cornucopian types have with our assumptions is our key premise that a finite world has finite fossil fuel resources. The finite world model tends to be a difficult point to sell since most people's operating premise is that we can have an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base.

I suspect that the primary problem that most Cornucopian types have with our assumptions is our key premise that a finite world has finite fossil fuel resources

Not in the way you think, no. I have no problem assuming that it's a finite world with finite resources. The problem is that you seem to think that tells you anything.

If the global supply of recoverable crude is a thousand times as large as you think it is (and I'm not saying that it is), then the supply is still "finite". Saying that something is "finite" tells you exactly nothing about when production of that resource will peak.

The finite world model

There is no such animal.

most people's operating premise is that we can have an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base

Repeating a strawman argument doesn't give it any additional substance. It just makes your own position seem less defensible.

You are just being argumentative. You know the ELM isn't based solely on URR. Your point is ridiculous. To illustrate, if the resource is finite, you know or can guesstimate extraction/use rates even somewhat accurately (didn't Hubbert state that increasing URR by 50% - or was it 25%? - only changes peak by 5 years?), then you can definitely make a model.

Who peed in your Wheaties?


Well heck... if all we have to do is beg the question... I guess we can prove anything.

I have no problem with the theory of ELM, it's really rather straightforward... it's the application that gets me.

To illustrate, if the resource is finite, you know or can guesstimate extraction/use rates even somewhat accurately

Except of course, you can't.

Here... I'll invent an imaginary oil field below your home. It's big... but I won't tell you HOW big. All you know is that it's "finite".

Now... give me your "guesstimates". :)

I should have written "...finite, but can be roughly estimated..."

But you know this. It is an essential part of what is discussed here.

And you keep speaking as if WT is making hard and fast predictions rather than setting up scenarios that change as the inputs change... as with any model.

Pee in your Wheaties, I said, and still say.


I should have written "...finite, but can be roughly estimated..."

Which assumes that you can do that. How close is "roughly"?

"Essentially all that can be found has been found" and "essentially all that will be recoverable (economically) in the future can be economically recovered now" (and the like) are also assumptions

And you keep speaking as if WT is making hard and fast predictions rather than setting up scenarios that change as the inputs change... as with any model

I'm sure I've missed a high percentage of his posts... but that fits what I've read, yes. When one nation (Mexico?) exported above his estimates for the last two years, instead of changing his assumptions he said that they had drained 75-80% (just going from memory here) of what was left to export. The clear implication was that the assumed net export value was unchanged, so the future decline would be even more pronounced.

Positive-Phototaxis has to go beyond rhetorical flourishes and propose a quantitative argument at least as well thought out as the ELM.

Actually his arguments are interesting in the sense of why they are wrong.

I'm fairly confident at least in my work on trying to understand complex systems for which we have incomplete or worse incorrect data that the time evolution is one of the hardest aspects of the system to estimate. Its the variable that has the most error.

The reason is I feel intrinsic in complex systems themselves they can change dramatically to alter the time outline.

However just because time is difficult to determine does not result in the outcome proposed by Positive_Phototaxis that these
countries will continue to export oil in large quantities. In fact its obvious he does not understand either the problem with timing nor the intrinsic nature of complex systems.

Whats funny is there actually exists a example of country thats to some sense operating counter to export land and that Nigeria.
By any reasonable estimate if they cared to support their local population in a decent lifestyle then Nigerian exports would be
falling rapidly given the population. Instead they are relatively high and the population for the most part is mired in deep poverty.
However the result is extensive guerrilla warfare with exports regularly interrupted and collapse effectively always probable.

So and excellent counter point to ELM exists and it shows that anti-ELM policies are not that successful of course given the current political strife in Nigeria one would assume that when Nigerian production begins to obviously decay that the probability of all out war completely interrupting production is high. In fact I'd not be surprised in the least to see total Nigerian exports actually result in the same outcome as the ELM which is a little more then 50% or so of overall production. Its a fairly safe assumption that Nigeria will export very little of its last 25% of reserves and exports will probably fall dramatically in the second 50% either because of collapse or because of a takeover by groups that actually support the local population.

We will see but this is this sort of conjecture you get from complex systems and the greater ELM model using this approach says that in general no country exports much more then 50% of its natural resources that can be used internally.

Indeed although WT does not mention it the US itself went through ELM ceasing oil exports back in the 1950's or 1960's I don't have the exact date. This 50% concept is quite general and broad obviously countries like Kuwait with large resources and a small population or Norway are exceptions but in general if you look I think you will find that internalization of resource usage is very common when it becomes clear the production is in decline regardless of the post peak production policies. It will be interesting to watch Nigeria and even Norway over the next several years to see if the broader ELM concept is as intrinsic as I suspect.

If Positive-Phototaxis had something more then rhetoric to support his claims then he would have been able to at least expand the concept of ELM and maybe potentially show that other viable non ELM outcomes are possible. My opinion is the broader concept of ELM which is really simply a variant of resource nationalism at its largest scale indicate that exports become increasingly problematic as its clear that a particular resource is in decline.

Whats even more interesting if you really think about it the silver bullet or technology will save us group is really a sort of anti-ELM concept. But because they are really just suggestions of alternative evolution models vs ELM then they need to develop their thesis from ELM itself instead of embracing the range of outcomes and debating the probability or requirements to not fall into the two general result either steady resource nationalism or abrupt post peak changes needs a lot of work.

Instead in general from what I've seen most people who reject the problems we face simply take the tactic that timing problems or the natural ability of complex systems to evolve in surprising ways as sufficient to reject the basic model. In my opinion A does not equal B. Fairly small short term timeshifts or reversals are to be expected simply because the system is complex obvious and real changes that indicate the system is evolving on a different path however seem in my opinion to require readily measurable and obvious trends supporting alternative outcomes.

This alone is what makes anti-ELM arguments difficult to accept one would expect that to counter ELM would require some fairly strong trends to become established to overcome the ELM effect in almost all cases either the Silver Bullet argument or the economic one require decades of work to put into place. Thus the real failure is not even in the arguments it seems to lie in the fact that these arguments require a dramatic long term trend reversal over a short period of time and worse in general they need to happen without causing instability. Both the transition of a exporting country to one that limits or reduces internal consumption and the other alternative that alternative energy sources replace net exports without serious economic hardship are difficult to execute over a short time period without side-effects overwhelming the attempt to change the trend.

On the other hand model like peak oil and ELM have relentless and simple models supporting their outcomes and the end result is very robust against short term timing changes in fact reversals lasting years or even decades and a variety of economic models seem unable to stop the the system from following the models.

And finally at the end of the day humans face a massive population collapse in the near future maybe we will find a silver bullet and delay it for a few decades or even a few centuries all this will do is increase the amount of destruction we will do to our planet before we almost certainly see a massive collapse. We as a species need to change and limit ourselves and live within the constrains of our ecosystem and most of all begin the long task of humanely reducing both our population and per-capita ecological footprint.
We still in my opinion have both a chance and a choice to avert what looks like certain doom simply be fundamentally changing the way we live. Real answers show how we solve these problems. WT ELP simply by virtue of the design ensure that local populations become constrained eventually resulting in a constrained world population I've not seen a single proposal from what I call the cornucopian's that actually addresses our real underlying population problem thus not only do they generally dismiss the resource constrain models they repeatedly fail to address the core population issue. Show me how a PV panel or electric car solves the world population problem and I'll take a second look. While ELM and peak oil itself are actually underpinned by the real population growth problem they are secondary results of and ever growing population.

a positively uplifting post from an apparent doomer like you, memmel.

"As prices rise, so will exporter (relative) affluence and internal consumption."

Not if:

A) The producer's economy relies heavily on export profits and

B) Production is in decline.

In that case you should expect the exporters economy (and thus internal demand) to decline rapidly.

your statement seems meaningless -- how can you have ANY projections without assumptions?

Without some assumptions, sure. But when the entire fabric is assumptions? If you take an assumed production decline rate and add on an assumed internal consumption growth rate, you obviously get a curve. The area under this curve gives you a total amount of crude left to be exported in the future. That's fine as far as it goes (which isn't far) as long as you say that the conclusion is little more than an assumption itself. Where things then go even farther afield is when you now take this area under the curve as fact which informs your next set of assumptions. If, for instance, a nation's exports over the first two years dramatically excede expectations, the model doesn't accept that the earlier assumptions were likely wrong, it goes on to say "they've now exported 75% of their remaining net exports" and therefore the future decline will be even more extreme.

Another way to look at is that wt's assumptions are just the parameters of one scenario.

Personally, although I'm keenly interested in his scenario, I recognize that there are other possible scenarios.

Why don't you create another scenario and put forward your predictions? Then we'll compare and perhaps both models will be refined by the discussion that follows.

The point is, in the real world it's the 'net-exports' that take the full post peak decline, there is no shortage of domestic oil until the exports go to zero - there are already many examples of this behavior, such as the UK (or Indonesia for an OPEC country).

In the case of a country like the UK with ~50% exports the time from peak-exports to no-exports was around six years!

Iran has a similar export and decline profile to the historical UK!

In the case of a country like the UK with ~50% exports the time from peak-exports to no-exports was around six years!

AND in about Year 7 they become a Net Importer. Then you have more of an increased demand on the continuously decreasing pool of available exported oil. So they not only stop contributing to oil available for countries dependent on imports, the now start competing with those countries for what is left. My analysis indicates that this is not a good situation.

there is no shortage of domestic oil until the exports go to zero

Not in a nation where the bulk of GDP comes from oil exports. Iran's government is 80%+ paid for by exports and their overall economy is heavily government-dependent. Cut exports by 50% and even if prices weren't this low, their internal demand would collapse, taking them off of any curve that relied on internal demand growth.

Comparing Iran to the UK is just silly. Their economies are in no way similar. The US ceased net exports decades ago, but oil was an input to the economy... not the essence of it.

Also, IIRC, the UK doesn't fit ELM anyway. Their internal demand didn't really change. Their export declines (and now import growth) fairly closely matched their production declines. Norway is similar.

The nation's that fit it best are the ones that subsidize internal oil prices and have other substantial economic engines. Iran's departure from ELM will likely be on both counts. They won't be able to afford to subsidize internal demand without external sales... AND those exports are the bulk of their economy.

Their internal demand didn't really change

Correct ... domestic demand does not need to fall away, but it doesn't matter if it does, it's still the exports that take the hit first - the oil under their lands is their's not somebody elses.

Two things to bear in mind:

1. The marginal cost of production from an already producing well is very low, just the lifting costs + overheads (even in Iran) so domestic fuel is very cheap to produce even if there is a large decline rate.

2. The marginal cost of production from new wells is relatively high, so this is the bit that will fail if (as looks likely) the Iranian Government doesn't have enough income to invest in an adequate number of new wells. The lack of adequate investment in new wells is what causes peak oil supply and declining net exports if the wells are in an exporting country.

"The US ceased net exports decades ago, but oil was an input to the economy... not the essence of it."

Since the decline of net exports in the US we have grown the economy a bunch. Think S and L, Enron, dotcom, subprime, tech, retail, investment banking, the big three, 17 trillion dollars in debt and Bernie

Real growth loves an energy surplus, we can be innovative around it for awhile but basically it's not nice to fool mother nature

Also, IIRC, the UK doesn't fit ELM anyway. Their internal demand didn't really change. Their export declines (and now import growth) fairly closely matched their production declines. Norway is similar.

The crux of the ELM argument is that production declines in exporting countries tend to result in long term accelerating net export decline rates. Once an exporting country peaks, the resulting net export decline rate is a function of consumption as a percentage of production at final peak, the rate of change in consumption and the rate of change in production.

Export Land falls between the UK and Indonesia in terms of rate of change in both consumption and production, but all three were consuming about half of production at final peaks. And the graph of the post-peak year over year changes in net exports is quite similar for all three:


Perhaps you could show us some examples of post-peak exporting countries that contradict the examples I have shown?

Perhaps you could show us some examples of post-peak exporting countries that contradict the examples I have shown?

If you can expand the definition to include the examples, what's the point? I'd say that the UK and Norway are excelent examples but now you're including them despite no internal demand growth. The rest is simply playing games with math. A 10,000 bpd decline is tiny, but you can make it look massive if you say it's a 50% decline from the former 20kbpd export rate. It adds nothing new to the discussion.

I always find it interesting when people accuse me of misusing a simple little mathematical model that I developed and named. As I have noted several times, a zero rate of increase in consumption in Export Land only postpones the point at which they hit zero net oil exports from 9 years to 14 years. And in our paper on the top five net oil exporters, we used the UK as an example, even before we showed the ELM.

In any case, consider the zero rate of increase in consumption scenario for Export Land, i.e., consumption = 50% of production at final peak, production decline rate of -5%/year, no increase in consumption. The initial net export decline rate would be -10.5%/year for year one. The net export decline rate for year 13 would be -80%/year. In both cases, the production decline rate was -5%/year. This is the point that I have been trying to make. Production declines in exporting countries magnify the net export decline rate and generally result in a long term accelerating net export decline rate.

In regard to my question, I take it that the answer is no?


I'm not accusing you of "misusing" it... I'm saying that if you stretch it that far there's nothing left to call a "model". What could possibly be left to debate? ANY nation fits the "model" because all it says is that a decline in production means a decline in exports. Then you can magically cause it to appear more severere by taking a set numerical decline and measuring it against the subset (exports) and voila! you get a larger percentage.

What I don't get is how this is supposed to be news?

Your statement was "High consumption levels, relative to production, are associated with fast net export decline rates, e.g., Indonesia, the UK and Mexico." which pretty clearly ties internal demand to the model. In reality (in the UK anyhow) there was no change in internal demand (worth debating). The percentage of production taken up by internal demande just changes the size of the denominator, it doesn't add anything to the analysis. If the UK consumed 80% of their own production at peak, then any decline would be measured against a far smaller export fraction and would appear (artificially) larger. If they consumed only 30% of production at peak then the decline would be divided by a larger figure and the impact of the same production decline would appear smaller.

The point is that that's just playing games with the numbers, it doesn't impact reality in the slightest.

In regard to my question, I take it that the answer is no?

I thought I made it pretty clear? You've gotten to the point of non-falsifiability. I can't think of even a hypothetical that wouldn't fit in that case.

I can't think of even a hypothetical that wouldn't fit in that case.

Then, what are we arguing about? My original point, way up the thread, was that Iran is a prime candidate for a fast net export decline rate because its consumption, at 43% of production in 2007, is high--just like Indonesia, the UK, Export Land and Mexico.

Then, what are we arguing about? My original point, way up the thread, was that Iran is a prime candidate for a fast net export decline rate because its consumption, at 43% of production in 2007, is high--just like Indonesia, the UK, Export Land and Mexico.

Lol... you've moved from taking a model that fits almost any forseable situation to drawing a conclusion on what will happen in a specific situation. ANY nation that EVER sees a production decline is a "candidate for a fast net export decline" by that standard. That's the difference between a "model" and what we're debating.

A model should tell you something new. Right now it's just a way of saying "exports are always the difference between production and internal consumption. As production falls, the annual percentage decline in exports will of course be larger than the overall production decline." You didn't need a model to tell you that.

Then you take it farther and say "here's the assumed rate of production decline and the assumed rate of internal demand growth... that gives us an estimate of how much crude they have left to export" and go farther to say "they have now exported 80% of what I estimated they would have left... so they'll be done even faster".

You didn't need a model to tell you that.

Nothing is truly needed. The better question is what is missing that if added to the conversation would help people understand what's going on? Jeffrey's model is doing exactly that. And having a name for it is very handy in discussions because a common vocabulary makes conversation more efficient and effective.

In contrast, my understanding of the last CERA report from others (I do not have a copy) is that it contains nothing about net exports. Nor are net exports a common conversation anywhere I go. People are still trying to get their head around the possibility that oil production is going to decline.

From that perspective, I think Jeffrey is moving the conversation forward, while all it seems to me that you are doing is throwing up obstacles that are only marginally adding to the conversation, at best.

The problem that Positive-Phototaxis is having is that he doesn't understand the cleverness of the ELM when you consider the lack of good data. It does quite a bit with inferring trends. WT understands the zero-sum aspects, but you have to work with data that you have. Oil companies are not universally laying it down on our doorstep.

I really developed the ELM to help me understand net export dynamics. I was literally stunned when I did the math and realized how dramatic post-peak export declines could be.

The next step was to compare the ELM to real world case histories. I thought that the UK and Indonesia were perfect. Like Export Land, they were consuming about half of production at final peak, and Export Land's production decline rate was more than Indonesia, but less than the UK. Export Land's rate of increase in consumption was more than the UK, but less than Indonesia. Also, the UK was a high per capita income country, with energy consumption taxes, while Indonesia was a low per capita income country, with energy subsidies. The post-peak year over year net export percentage decline curves were very similar:


My next missive is going to be on post-2005 cumualtive net exports. The cumulative numbers are even scarier than the production numbers, and it highlights the difference between the depletion rate and decline rate. As you know, depletion marches on, regardless of whether the production rate is increasing or decreasing.

For example, I put the final production peak for Indonesia in 1996. In 1998, when they showed a year over year increase in net exports, they exported 22% of their post-1996 cumulative net exports. One fifth gone, in one year--when they showed an increase in net oil exports.

"Comparing Iran to the UK is just silly"

Aha, and comparing the UK to Indonesia ist just not so "silly"?

You seem to be quite well in the art of philosophize... But here we are talking about OIL.


Aha, and comparing the UK to Indonesia ist just not so "silly"?

Sure it is... which is why I didn't do that.

But here we are talking about OIL.

And since OIL is relatively similar around the world, all the nations that produce or consumer it do so in the same fashion?


I can see that you don't agree with WT, but besides saying that WT's model has faults, what is your point? I say this in all curiousity. The only negative thing I can say about the ELM model is that it is very generalized and isn't too specific. You seem to assume that it has some more detail to it than I can see in it.

I can see that you don't agree with WT, but besides saying that WT's model has faults, what is your point?

What possible other point is needed? "I disagree and here's why" seems like a very valuable conversation to have when debating "where do we go from here?"

You don't agree? Then why post? ;-)

PP...you need to listen more and talk less. 20 posts in a 100 comment thread is too much.


You see, P_P is a troll, interested only in attacking other people's ideas and whipping up arguments. There is a well known way of handling trolls. It's very effective, though sometimes a bit difficult in the application, I know...

Ignore them.

If I didn't know any better....and the writing styles are similar....I'd think P_P is our old friend Hrothgar.

:-) You know, you may have a point! But in any case, you gave me a good laugh!

More likely that Iran is using Hamas to distract Israel and reduce the near-term chance of an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Oil isn't going to jump much because of Palestinian-Israeli in-fighting.

"More likely that Iran is using Hamas to distract Israel and reduce the near-term chance of an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities."

I wouldn't think so in this environment. A number of analysts have said that lower oil prices have done more to stunt Iran's nuclear ambitions than years of so-called "diplomacy" have accomplished.

Iran's nuclear program was funded with large surpluses from oil exports. Now that money is needed elsewhere.

IOW... Israel was far more likely to attack at $150/bbl than it is today.

If anything, the conflict makes an attack on Iran more likely.

Hamas and Israel. At least as far as US is concerned, most of us are woefully uninformed. Some better links here. Down the road, if legitimacy does start to evaporate, we'll all be happy to have and support our own local versions of Hamas.

"Hamas and Israel. At least as far as US is concerned..."

I think there is a "use by" date on all those munitions we sold/gave to Israel.

And this gentleman is a good example of how uninformed people are.

Hamas just introduced crucifixion as punishment for an array of offenses in Gaza.
They are part of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, in other words, nothing but murderous thugs, and we'd have to be pretty damned desperate to be happy to have our own.

According to the last CIA security assessment, there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program, and there hasn't been one since 2003. Looks like they may be telling the truth and simply doing civilian nuclear for power generation purposes.

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/03/world/middleeast/03cnd-iran.html
  • I wonder how much Iran is behind this.

    Iran mainly backs Hezbollah, who shares the Shia religion. Shia Islam feels strongly oppressed (by fellow muslims), and in general supports groups they feel are fighting oppression. This includes Hamas as well, even though Hamas is of the rival Sunni sect. I doubt they have much to do with the timing of the conflict, although the new round of violence might deflect attention from the economic crisis at home.

    It sounds a lot like the timing has to do with influencing local elections. Hamas would like to radicalize the west bank prior to upcoming elections. Israel's Kadima party, wants to show its militant side before the upcoming elections. And, yes even in Iran, elections are only a few months away, and nastiness between Israel/Hamas helps the fundamantalists.

    Some economic news...

    Japan insurers seek merger

    SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- Crumbling home and auto sales pushed three Japanese insurers into merger talks and Koreans plan to cut spending on children's education, signs the global economic slump is reshaping business and lifestyles around the world.

    Like many states, Ohio reaches for a lifeline

    “We’re not crying wolf. This is real,” Strickland said in an interview in his statehouse office, pointing to charts that project the most serious erosion of state income in 40 years and a two-year budget deficit of $7.3bn. Revenue shortfalls in the upcoming two-year budget could amount to about 25 percent of the state’s discretionary spending.

    U.S. states consider selling off roads, parks

    Like families pawning the silver to get through a tight spot, states such as Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois are thinking of selling or leasing toll roads, parks, lotteries and other assets to raise desperately needed cash.

    US retailers say economy pushes rise in shoplifting

    Retailers have blamed the global financial crisis for a litany of ills over the past year: slumping sales, mass layoffs and bankruptcy filings. Now, they are looking to the economy to explain recent spikes in shoplifting from their stores.

    Irish law prohibits aggressive begging

    Last month, the government announced a crackdown on hostile panhandlers, introducing the first new laws against begging since the Potato Famine in the 1840s. A conviction could lead to as much as a month in jail or a 700 euro fine, about $976, according to a Justice Ministry statement, which said the final language of the measure will be published soon.

    Bad debt triggers hospital closings around U.S.

    Like many U.S. hospitals, Shands is being squeezed by tight credit, higher borrowing costs, investment losses and a jump in patients — many recently unemployed or otherwise underinsured — not paying their bills.

    All that has begun to trigger more hospital closings — from impoverished Newark, N.J., to wealthy Beverly Hills, Calif. — as well as layoffs, other cost-cutting and scrapping or delaying building projects.

    Maybe we should have laws against aggressive begging in Washington. Aimed at everyone lining up to try and get a hold of the bailout cash.

    A couple of months in jail for "aggressive begging" could get you through a cold winter. Wife and kids might be SOL, however.

    The story about hospital closings strikes close to home. Of the two closest to me, one is considering laying off 10% of it's workforce while the other may go up for sale.

    Considering that healthcare is an important basic societal function, would anybody have any ideas as to how best to address this from a grass-roots level... as in writing suggestions to law-makers?

    For instance, if society no longer has the money, can some non-monetary/barter system come into place/play to keep emergency services functioning? As a last resort, should government take ownership of non-elective services?

    I've thought about this a lot, and I don't see any easy answers. This is one reason why I think people will move towards the cities rather than try to homestead in the country.

    People want health care. And not just penicillin and vaccines, but high-tech care. When you're young and healthy, you might think, "Just take me out back and shoot me if I get seriously ill." But IME, when people really do get sick, they want treatment. The kind of treatment you often can't get in rural areas. As the distribution system shrinks, people are going to follow it.

    I think we may be headed toward universal health care of a sort. Even conservatives are starting to realize our current system isn't working. With Obama in the White House and a Democratic congress, we may get some kind of national health care plan. How long we will be able to fund it is another story.

    FWIW...the NY Times points to Bush's clinics as one thing he did right.

    In a related note:

    Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption

    It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of TheNew England Journal of Medicine.

    One result of the pervasive bias is that physicians learn to practice a very drug-intensive style of medicine. Even when changes in lifestyle would be more effective, doctors and their patients often believe that for every ailment and discontent there is a drug. Physicians are also led to believe that the newest, most expensive brand-name drugs are superior to older drugs or generics, even though there is seldom any evidence to that effect because sponsors do not usually compare their drugs with older drugs at equivalent doses. In addition, physicians, swayed by prestigious medical school faculty, learn to prescribe drugs for off-label uses without good evidence of effectiveness.

    FWIW, I too have come to the conclusion that some minimal level of universal care is going to be implemented.

    Marcia Angell published The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It in 2004. It was deliberately "privished" by its publisher (poor quality production, no publicity, etc.) and it made absolutely no mark on public thought. Dr. Angell was fired from her executive editor position on the NEJM because she got crosswise with the Massachusetts Medical Society, which was (and may still be) pretty much in bed with BigPharma. The recent publication of an article in NEJM "proving" that people with normal cholesterol levels should be taking Crestor speaks volumes about where the NEJM has gone in the last 4-5 years. I won't read it -- can't believe anything they say. Or rather, can't tell what part of what they publish is simply drug company hype. The Lancet is the only halfway honest general medical journal left-- and there are beginning to be some doubts there.

    Leanan-- "high tech" is not what saves people, or constitutes good medicine. I'm sure you know that. Not every old person wants to live next door to Mass General. We would have a much better medical system at 1/3 the cost if we could have less (but more appropriately used) tech, no shareholders, and 1/10th of the administrators.

    "Leanan-- "high tech" is not what saves people, or constitutes good medicine. I'm sure you know that. Not every old person wants to live next door to Mass General. We would have a much better medical system at 1/3 the cost if we could have less (but more appropriately used) tech, no shareholders, and 1/10th of the administrators."

    I'll have to remember that I don't save people the next time I'm called to an emergency room to evacuate a subdural or treat a broken neck.

    I think what she is trying to say is that we could achieve most (if not essentially all) of the current health care situation with vacinations, prenatal care, antibiotics, basic emergency services and water and sewage treatment.

    The rest of the health care system is designed to eat money and extend the end of life briefly.

    As far as your specialty, I am sure it makes a difference to the individual, but how much does it cost, and what is the overall benefit to society?

    Yeah, I wonder why we use ventilators, ECMO, MRIs etc. to save our NICU babies...

    I think that is the crux of the issue: why exactly do we do this? I think you probably meant to statement to show how mean and not thought through the statement was to which you were responding, but I really think this question, honestly asked, is important.

    What kind of monster wouldn't want to keep babies alive? What kind of monster wouldn't want to do surgery to give someone a few more years? If a few days/weeks in ICU would turn things around what kind of monster would deny this to people? Who would possibly deny needed medication to manage chronic illness?

    Only a real monster - correct?

    But there are too many of us alive now. We, as a species have destroyed or damaged a significant amount of our world. There are too many of us, not only in Bangladesh, but right here in North America. The hard questions have to be asked here too - have we damaged our part of the planet? Well...yes we have - we have polluted rivers, overused aquifers, depleted soils and poor air quality. There are too many of us.

    As Dr Albert Bartlett has stated (he's on U-Tube discussing population growth and energy) the things which decrease population are generally things which are viewed as bad - war, disease, death, starvation. Need I point out that they are all mean things? Yet, as Dr Bartlett also pointed out - at some point the population will be reduced - even if the "only" proof is the mathematics of a finite world.

    So here we sit on the knife-edge, looking at our future. The future from where I sit doesn't look very good.

    And, sadly, a lot of the decisions which led up to this future were decisions made out of a sense of hope and a desire for betterment.(for humanity, or maybe for our own circle)

    I would never want to be the one who decides who can receive what is left of the health care available. In some countries it is decided based upon ability to pay. In other countries resources are so limited that first come first serve applies. It is hard to believe that financial well-being is an appropriate determinant for who is helped. I guess though, that if entire societies can accept this as a means to triage care, then when the decisions are made under severe population/resource/energy constraints - other triage methods will arise and also be acceptable.

    The saddest part - for me - is the fact that instead of looking at the earth as an interlinked system, we see our own small "tribe" as the pinnacle of creation. We can have 10 kids if we can support them and educate them and pay for their needs. Hmm... This desire to have and look after our own has really placed us in a lot of hot water. And yet, it's hard to see anything wrong with having children if you love them and can care for them. And can pay for others to look after them when they are ill....

    Many of the questions regarding discontinuation of care are now ethical quandries which arise because of the awesome powers of medical science to prolong the continuation of the physical body. As resources become limited or unavailable, the framework for these questions will change. The triage for care will become more brutal. It may be that what is now known as disaster triage will become the norm and the question will be: If the patient will recover wholly given x input for y time then go - otherwise palliate.

    Looking at that situation from our current one I get a severe case of the willies. And the response to the statements above might be that eventually we may live in a situation where we are all monsters because we can't provide or because we may have to make decisions which move healthcare dollars toward public health and away from tertiary care. ie more handwashing, nutrition, vaccination, exercise, and sanitation and fewer ventilators, dialysis machines ORs.

    The other question I think might be really important is to ask how societies and people within them stayed healthy given the lack of medical care. How did people go on when their neonates died, when dad had a heart attack and died, brother crashed his car(cart?) and died, you cut yourself and got an infection and died or 25% of your town got the flu and died? We might have to relearn this.



    I linked to a story a long time ago about an Amazon tribe, I think it was, that lived sustainably within their habitat. They were able to do this because they had strict rules on sex, used (natural) birth control, practiced infanticide and elder(?)cide, etc.

    Many cultures, so far as I know, used to practice at least infanticide with malformed babies.


    As for me, one son and (hopefully) no more. If I can do it, the rest of you can!



    We have a website, Health after Oil, http://healthafteroil.wordpress.com/, that addresses these topics, provides a sounding board and information on upcoming conferences on health an peak oil.

    Thank you danb- I have been pointing out your site to many healthcare pros as possible.

    My Mother, a nurse practicioner, finally gets it, (why this might be important) thanks to you and you site.


    Add to this the massive amount of big pharma advertising one sees everywhere, and it starts to become clear why health care is so expensive in the US.

    One change I expect to see implemented over the next four years: If you are on Medicare or any other sort of health insurance program, then if a generic drug is available, that is what will be covered. If you want the latest and greatest "Patent Medicine" (funny how that old lable, with all its original connotation, is coming back around), you can buy it out of your own pocket. Many plans now cover these at a higher "tier", but that will go by the wayside, and you'll be on the hook for the full cost.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see advertising for prescription meds banned as well, like it used to be.

    Sounds like buying my own copy of "Where there is no Doctor" has just moved up to the top of my priority list. . .

    I bought a laser printer (HP Color Laserjet 4550n) off Craig's List for $75 a few years back and have printed out numerous books (including WTIND) and papers since then.

    Like Leanan, I've given a fair amount of thought to this. And while I don't see a "single payer" insurance or other versions of state run health care as the long term solution, I'd be willing to entertain plans for such as an interim plan.

    My view is that our health care system is so broken that our best bet is to completely dismantle it a start from scratch. A planned crash would be best, but it is more likely that we will get an unplanned one (gee, that looks like a familiar argument).

    And when I say "start from scratch" I really mean it. I mean starting from the very foundations of our health care system, the underpinnings of our understanding of "medicine." In short, we must stop viewing the role of the health care provider as the treatment of illness (or more recently as the promotion of "wellness"). Health care should not be about illness. Nor should it be about our physical health in isolation of the rest of our lives.

    Only by working on the whole person, physical, psychological, economic, spiritual, emotional, etc., can we get to a healthy being. Too much of our current social organization is arrayed against our complete well-being. And our medical systems are among the worst. They are organized on and industrial model and are based on the same sort of materialist philosophy that has hollowed out our spiritual lives.

    But, then, I suppose is the sort of argument you'd expect from a shaman.

    Medicine for profit.

    But, then, I suppose is the sort of argument you'd expect from a shaman.

    That's the kind of comment I'd like to expect from myself. I'm not a shaman. I'm a recovering MBA. :-)


    I once read that a large percentage of Prozac use is due to people feeling no connection to a genuine community. A large part of clinical depression is a sense of powerlessness over the course of one's life. Powerlessness over one's working life is a very common part of this. Too often I have been told that it is not my job to think. My job was simply to do what I was told even if I thought what I was told to do was harmful to the company's interests. Now we have the growing uncertainty of not even having a job in the near future. On top of that is the lack of political influence at even the local level. Even our churches are overly concerned with preserving the hierarchy rather than ministering to the people. Charitable organizations emphasize the guidelines and rules over service to the needy.

    Unfortunately health care is about treating illness since unlike what some new age folks believe most illness is not preventable. Eventually everyone will fall ill and die. What those treatments should be as a person ages is debatable. Should we aggressively treat cancer in elderly persons or just give them pain relief and counsel them to accept death? Should infants with serious birth defects receive extremely expensive care when children with easily treated illnesses are denied care because of inability to pay? What about psychiatric care? We have a system where the biggest provider of psychiatric care in Chicago is the Cook County Jail. Where does the most insanity reside, in the people who commit crimes to get medication they need or the politicians who deny the law abiding care in the interest of low taxes for the filthy rich?

    Should we aggressively treat cancer in elderly persons or just give them pain relief and counsel them to accept death?

    What if "we" poisoned them in the first place?

    cfm channelling Rachel Carson in Gray, ME

    ...and here's a doozie from Bloomberg that will have ripple effects well into 2010:

    Holiday Sales Drop to Force Bankruptcies, Closings

    U.S. retailers face a wave of store closings, bankruptcies and takeovers starting next month as holiday sales are shaping up to be the worst in 40 years.

    Retailers will close 12,000 stores in 2009, according to Howard Davidowitz, chairman of retail consulting and investment- banking firm Davidowitz & Associates Inc. in New York. AnnTaylor Stores Corp., Talbots Inc. and Sears Holdings Corp. are among chains shuttering underperforming locations.

    More than a dozen retailers, including Circuit City Stores Inc., Linens ‘n Things Inc., Sharper Image Corp. and Steve & Barry’s LLC, have sought bankruptcy protection this year as the credit squeeze and recession drained sales. Investors will start seeing a wide variety of chains seeking bankruptcy protection in February when they file financial reports, said Burt Flickinger.

    “You’ll see department stores, specialty stores, discount stores, grocery stores, drugstores, major chains either multi- regionally or nationally go out,” Flickinger, managing director of Strategic Resource Group, a retail-industry consulting firm in New York, said today in a Bloomberg Radio interview. “There are a number that are real causes for concern.”

    It may turn out in hindsight that all the bailouts we saw in the last two quarters of 2008 were efforts to try to stimulate and save the economy through the holiday season. Now that it is apparent that even those gargantuan efforts did little to help, the downward momentum is going to start picking up more steam again. Hang on tight and don't become complacent in 2009. The economy has been artificially maintained in a holding pattern for the last month or so. I feel that reality will soon make a comeback.

    We thought the same thing last year. Not that I think the economy's in good shape; far from it. But it seems to be a slow-motion crash. As ericy said...you could probably keep up via a quarterly newsletter.

    No rational person would have expected the type, magnitude, and looseness of the bailout money, though. Paulson and crew have certainly done the unexpected, if blatantly self-serving.

    I think that everybody, from Paulson on down (and in various other nations as well) is scrambling to shore up their local situations while knowing that what they do may well make the global situation worse. Massive gov't spending seems to be doing it from the top-down, while newly-found thrift is doing it from the bottom-up.

    The game will be up, though, when bonds no longer sell. Still seems like we have at least another month.....maybe another year? Each additional month seems to make the inevitable fall worse, but my personal situation a little better.

    No rational person would have expected the type, magnitude, and looseness of the bailout money, though.

    I guess I'm irrational, then. I fully expected it. And I expect plenty more where that came from.

    Well, you do have a unique perspective, which adds a lot of value to this site.

    I am not surprised, really, at the magnitude, but the looseness and type does. I fully expected more "pandering to the masses" like the first few billion, not trillions to the privileged few. This year has been an eye-opener to me, in terms of how little our gov't actually fears the people.

    You're not the only one. IMO most expected ill advised attempts to right the ship-what has been done so far isn't even directed toward helping the overall economy. I know people don't want to hear it, but every move Obama has made so far would have been highly criticized if George Bush had done the identical thing-maybe he is just off to a bad start, but it doesn't look very good so far IMO.

    'poof' gone

    "Barack Obama yesterday appeared to line up behind the Bush administration in support of Israel's attack on Gaza."


    One thing keeps going through my mind;

    "It's like shooting fish in a barrel"

    "It's like shooting fish in a barrel". Yep,but the silly fish keep shooting rockets and mortars out of the barrel.Motive? You tell me.

    Try stop feeding the fish.

    Cut off health services.

    Cut off all travel.

    Cut off payments and remunerations.

    cut off any chance of dignity and see if those fish still just swim round and round the barrel.

    of corse the are only fish so don't put too much thought into this. You can always just flush.

    In the last 5 years the world has given the Gazans several thousand dollars per capita.

    That money could have gone towards making Gaza a prosperous place. But Hamas and Fatah both had other priorities. The Gazans are not lacking for food, nor for electricity. No other group in the world has the UN committed to feeding them from now to eternity.

    As to dignity, one of the things teh BBC won't tell you is that most of the rockets they sent into the town of Sderot are sent at 7:55 in the morning to maximize the chance of getting kids who are walking to school. People who behave like that cannot complain of being denied the dignity they have no interest in holding anyway.

    My dad, 10th Mountain Division ski troops, taught me "ALWAYS ROOT FOR THE UNDERDOG". It sucks, Gandhi might tell the gazans to march into the sea or to crawl under the blades of the Israeli-made-in-USA-bulldozers. [Would that work after several tens of thousands smushed?] I'd like to offer them the choice of marching into the sea OR bigger rockets. It only seems fair. We didn't give that choice to the Republicans in Spain, either.

    This is the future (and the past and the present).

    That's a pretty stupid adage.

    FBI versus KKK: the KKK is the underdog.

    Any gangsta can score a crate of AK-47s and start a "liberation front." And in fact, many do. Running a nation state requires a higher grade of human.

    Except some of these fish can shoot back (or shoot first), to some degree. I look at the pictures of the Gaza cities, which must have hundreds of thousands of 'refugees', and I wonder where all the people came from. There were nowhere near than many original Palestinians displaced, IIRC. If people will reproduce at high exponential rates in a refugee city without much water, food, or work, and with a neighbor who wishes they'd quietly evaporate, how can we hope that ANY group ANYWHERE will do better during the great decline?

    Makes one wonder if Gaza will be the first to quickly recycle their dead for potassium [K] and phosphorus [P] to make even more explosives? Is there a even higher Islamic Heaven for a suicide bomber who subsequently explodes twice? Sorry, I am not familiar with the Koran.

    The possibility of this recycling would help explain why Israel tightly restricts Palestinian imports of sulphuric acid to reduce any possible bone processing [see earlier weblink posting on this Israeli restriction by me].

    Those who are surprised have not recognized the true nature of the shift that has occurred since the coup of 2000. Power has been consolidated over the entire political apparatus, as well as the media, to the point that there is no longer any need to pretend. it's all right out there, because, well, you can't do anything about it.

    It is now possible to just give away trillions in taxpayer money to the wealthy banking elite with no oversight at all - members of the government can be shown on television proposing such things with perfectly straight faces. No one laughs, no one yells, no one bats an eye.

    Sure, they maintain the theater - members of Congress push hard to get the bill through with no limitations, and 2 weeks later they grandstand about how the bill is being misused. But nothing comes of it, because of course it is just an act. Probably because so many accept this nonsense, it doesn't really matter if a powerless few see what is really happening.

    Obama is the perfect decoy, beholden to all of the same interests. There is not a shred of evidence that he will be different in substance, and much evidence to the contrary.

    I cannot understand why it is so surprising to people. They're telling us what they're going to do, and they're doing it - not much attempt to hide it. It must just be disbelief that prevents people from seeing what they do not wish to see.

    Obama is the perfect decoy

    "Puppet" is the word that comes to my mind. Like the current Puppet-in-Chief, those who control him are masterful enough so that he (and the Sheeple) won't even realize that he is actually a puppet.

    "We have no choice, Mr. President. Option A is our only option. Terrible things will happen if we even consider anything else."

    "OK, I'm "The Decider", Option A it will be!"

    (BTW, the White House has been occupied by a series of puppets for several decades now, so I am not suggesting that either the present or next President are anything different than what has been the norm.)

    Clearly it's been going on for a very long time, but 2000/2001 was the coming out party, the play for total control. And it worked - well enough anyway.

    I think Pareto said that democracy is an illusion. Governments are controlled by the elites, who get the most benefits. That is just the way it is. But as the oil energy system changes the current elites are in a dance to keep their status. Pareto also said elites circulate----they are always being challenged by people in the lower strata who eventually replace them.

    "The illusion of freedom [in America ] will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater."

    ~Frank Zappa

    I'm not so sure that "puppet" is the right metaphor. It's not that our presidents have been mindless dolls manipulated from above. It is that they are all a part of that class/mind set that controls (perhaps directs is better) the economic system.

    We have no choice other than Option A because to admit to another choice would be to admit that there are other ways to run our society.

    And it is not because these people are disingenuous, they believe what they are saying.

    And it is not because these people are disingenuous, they believe what they are saying.

    I think that this is more on point. I tend to discount conspiracies, except for the conspiracy of mindset/denial.

    In order to succeed in politics, one must have a need for power/acceptance/popularity and of course, to get re-elected. Anything else is failure, which is why every leader is fixated on their "legacy".

    As a result "fixes" must be politically palatable and squeezed into less than four years, (maybe eight).

    Any action which is beneficial, but painful in the short term i.e. letting GM go, results in a "Not on my watch" mentality to preserve a potential legacy. Enter helicopter Ben.

    Obama might be able to frame his term(s) as the man filling the sandbags in an emergency, doing what is necessary while letting things unwind, as they must.

    Considering other forces in TPTB, I doubt that he can pull it off.

    Whether he really sees the writing on the wall is another question entirely.

    I also have long concluded this grandstanding was disingenuous. So much for 'asking tough questions' - then doing nothing about the obfuscatory answers.

    Thanks for saying it out loud, Twilight.

    You're going to have to define slow motion for me! I'm more pessimistic than you short-term, and we're about where I expected. Except for underestimating demand destruction and the low price of oil, that is. $100 oil would be making things even worse than they are.


    I think next year at this time, we may be doing exactly what we are doing now. Speculating about whether the government was just trying to prop up retail sales until after the holidays, and whether TSHTF in the new year.

    What will be a bit different in 2009 is the overt popping of the commercial real estate bubble. Up until this point, the public has perceived only the residential real estate pop.

    There will be less store and product choices for people in 2009 and they may have to travel a bit further to reach them.

    If we're going to start prognosticating for 2009 - I'd like to add in a mention of the likely failure of local polities. Most likely it will be smaller municipalities and single function "authorities," but I fully expect this to begin to impact the public sector.

    We may be doing that in ten years, but at very different levels, I'd expect. But I doubt it. Here's the thing, there's nothing outside the US to attenuate what is happening save one thing out of Japan: Debt forgiveness. If everyone just decided to wipe the slates clean, that would be a game changer. Beyond that? A tech breakthrough that doesn't just rearrange who has the cheese, maybe. Both are remote chances in the short term, I expect.

    What we can expect is a huge number of business bankruptcies.
    And more unemployed people.
    Going into foreclosure.
    We can expect supply chains to get wacky due to bankruptcies.
    Thus, shortages of this, that and the other.
    Leading to reaction/overreaction by the masses.
    Especially those already getting desperate.

    A big crunch in credit cards.
    Helping lead to many more foreclosures due to inflexibility in finances/job losses, as the shift has already moved in that direction.
    So, a greater strain on public assistance and public services.
    So, more inflationary pressure building under the deflationary pressure of de-leveraging.

    In the short term, lots of re-fi's.
    That then become recourse loans.
    Which lead to financial devastation a year or three down the road for those who get into a financial squeeze and have their creditors coming after them because of the home default.
    All on top of the new rounds of foreclosures from ARMs, etc.

    And all this lead by commercial real estate crash this coming spring.

    And round and round we go.

    By this time next year there should be real tears in the fabric of the nation and the international community. Undeniable tears. Tears that lead to serious, "Ooooh, @#$@. Me and mine are in serious jeopardy..." and that at all but the highest income levels.

    Hate to sound conspiracy theorist, but there's a reason there are US soldiers now tasked to US duties... Posse Comitatus can go straight to hell... (<--- Wow! Check out THAT! Note the URL... We are SO screwed.)

    The big caveat here is energy. If demand destruction stays well ahead of net decline, the unraveling will be slower.

    But never lose sight of what Chaos Theory teaches us: Expect the unexpected, cause it's coming, and you know it's coming, but it will still likely kick you straight in the teeth.

    Bifurcations are a b!+(#.



    Pretty much as I see it, with a few extra points.

    Consumer spending accounts for around 60+% of the US economy, largely supported by credit.
    The majority of consumer spending is discretionary. This allow a large reduction in spending without rioting in the streets, (at least in the first wave).

    The dismal holiday sales do not reflect the true situation because the consumer delusion still exists in many minds and people are still running on autopilot. (I shake my head when I see SUV/Truck sales on an uptick.) Further, credit card adjustments are not yet implemented.

    There is a credit factor on the retail supply side that I don't see mentioned much:

    It's easy to understand higher end retail stores faltering because their existence requires high margins (>100%) but lower margin discount stores have gotten into the credit business themselves, with branded credit cards e.g. Home Depot. In many cases the revenue from credit services exceeds revenue from sales.

    I have no proof, but I suspect third tier computer stores, furniture chains and others are simply using the product as a vehicle for their credit operations.

    My point is, a rapid contraction in credit obviously affects sales directly, but also reduces interest revenue which has become an intrinsic part of the business model, making discount stores as, if not more, vulnerable.

    The downward spiral has quite a few revs left to go IMO

    Like a 300,000 ton bulk carrier running at speed, the economy has a lot of momentum.
    When a collision is detected and an emergency stop applied, at first there is no discernible reduction in speed.

    Slowly though the speed drops away, we avoid the collision by turning or stopping...............or we hit and sink.

    I think we'll probably hit.
    It's too much for me to hope for to avoid the collision by diversion. If we stop, the power needed to get going again may not be enough or available at all.

    So right now we see the ship slowing very slowly but........... it will stop all of a sudden when it hits. Then it's a question of "woman and children first" or "every man for himself".
    Now another drink please.

    Maybe there won't be a crash. Instead, the ship will just gradually slow, until it stops dead. We'd be every bit as screwed, but there won't be a dramatic crash that we can point to and say, "There. That's when it happened."

    When the bond market crashes, when the dollar becomes more valuable as toilet paper, when natural gas falls off a cliff. All these things will trigger a crash. All will most certainly happen within the next ten years.

    But by all means, pray away.

    "But by all means, pray away".
    Matt, I don't think Leanan is the praying type, she knows we are screwed and opines that it will be a slow screw as opposed to a violent rape.

    When it all boils down we only have opinions regarding our economic future, generally most opinions have at least some merit.

    Like a boxer praying before his bout........it only helps if you can fight.

    I'm an atheist. Atheists don't pray, not even in foxholes. ;-)

    And even if I were religious, I would not pray for a slow crash vs. a fast one. I think a slow crash would be in many ways worse. At least if there were a fast crash, we'd have to admit something was wrong and do something about it.

    I'm an atheist. Atheists don't pray, not even in foxholes. ;-)

    Yes!! To thine own self be true.

    Leanan et al:

    I agree a fast crash is preferable in many ways but denial, hubris and politics will ensure that that doesn't happen.

    I saw a post today (sorry, can't find it) that ramping up the auto bailout is in progress. Disappointing, but not unexpected.

    Option 1: Obama doesn't get it.
    Option 2: Obama gets it, but understands politics better.

    I'm still hoping for door # 2. Alas, there is no Door #3

    I agree a fast crash is preferable in many ways but denial, hubris and politics will ensure that that doesn't happen.

    That's my view as well. We're going to do everything possible to keep BAU going as long as possible.

    I think the Great Depression is the best model for what's going on now. And it dragged on ten years, and ended in a world war. I'm expecting something similar this time. Only without the post-war boom.

    "everyone has to believe in something. i believe I'll have another a beer."

    Beer for conversation, rum for solace, gin for dejection. They don't call it a "poor man's holiday" for nothing.

    a hit of acid used to be called a $5 vacation.

    I think a slow crash would be in many ways worse.

    Your suffering (and mine) will likely be more immediate in a fast crash. And barring certain kinds of suicide, there will be extreme pain.

    In the slow crash scenario, on the other hand, you could probably eek by for at least a couple decades. It wouldn't be easy. But it would be doable. Despite what we say, or how we rationalize, I believe that almost everyone is subconsciously hoping for a slow crash. The exceptions being people who are depressed, and those over 75 years of age with no children.

    That makes about as much sense as those who argue that Doomers are just secular Rapturists, eager for the end of the world so they don't have to go to work tomorrow.

    Doom is exciting. They don't call it "doomer porn" for nothing. Let's hope we don't become the dog that caught the car.

    Can we start a watch list? Or is that going to cause TOD legal problems?

    Without naming names, I will just mention some categories that I think are especially vulnerable:

    Jewelry stores, especially big chains that tend to have their stores in malls. Too much of a discretionary, luxury item. The very rich have more specialized jewelers to cater to their tastes. There is not going to be enough wedding and engagement ring business to sustain those that cater to the mass market.

    Mid-level department/variety stores (I'll mention Goody's as an example, since they are already in bankruptcy and trying to get out). These tend to not be able to compete against Wal Mart based on price, yet don't tend to have the quality merchandise to attract upscale customers that still have money; thus I don't see who their customers would be.

    "Gift" shops. Most of them sell utterly useless, totally discretionary and totally dispensible knick-knacks. Useful stuff that people actually need is going to be the trend in gifting, and these stores don't sell that.

    Furniture stores. Most people can make do with what they have got. There will be plenty of used stuff available as people have to move from foreclosed homes into smaller quarters. One survivor might be unpainted furniture stores - there will be an upsurge in DIY as a budget-stretching measure, and finishing your own furniture is a relatively easy DIY project.

    Luggage stores. Who can afford to travel these days? Again, people can make do with what they have got, and there will be lots of used stuff available as people try to liquidate possessions and raise money.

    Large Chain (Mall "Anchor") Department Stores. Some may survive, but some won't. They all occupy too-expensive properties, and are all just too full of expensive merchandise, and there will be just too few customers with money, to continue to support all of these. The typical mall tends to have two of these large department stores, and the typical mall will probably see at least one of them close down and go away.

    Automobile dealerships. This one should be obvious. I don't see how they can all survive through another year. Some will, but quite a few won't. Even more bleak will be the outlook for RV dealers, boat dealers, and dealers for various playthings like ATVs, Ski-Doos, etc.

    Not an exhaustive list, just a few that immediately come to mind.

    A lot of the travel business, like cruises, Caribbean resorts, and so forth might also be on the list. When my wife was much younger she worked wholesaling T-shirts up and down the Mid-Atlantic to those shops along the boardwalk. She was saying that during an economic downturn that business would actually improve - mainly because people would forego the trip to Florida and instead take a local trip of some sort. When I was a kid, our family vacations mainly involved camping in State Parks, which of course was fairly inexpensive once you had all of the gear.

    Another business I expect to struggle in the years to come is anything related to high dollar professional sports. The costs have just gotten far too high, and the ticket prices have gotten out of control. Advertising dollars are down as well. The tricky part is that there are a lot of multi-year contracts in place and getting out of them could be expensive, but many of the high-dollar free agents with attitude problems may find themselves out of work. I am not only talking about the salaries paid to the athletes - a sport like professional golf has been highly dependent upon banks and insurance companies to sponsor the events. And NASCAR is dependent upon the auto manufacturers (and for that matter, they rely upon the fans to load up into RVs and drive hundreds of miles to the venues). Some sports are more vulnerable than others, I guess - I suspect that people may still want to watch at home on TV as it is an escape from their daily troubles.

    Being a sports fan, I've been watching how high fuel prices and the economic crisis has affected pro sports.

    The tricky part is that there are a lot of multi-year contracts in place and getting out of them could be expensive, but many of the high-dollar free agents with attitude problems may find themselves out of work.

    Manny Ramirez may be Exhibit A. He's good, but he's got an attitude problem, and nobody wants to give him the big long-term deal he wants. And if he doesn't get what he thinks he deserves, nobody trusts him to show up and play.

    NASCAR is already hurting, due to lack of sponsorships.

    The Yankees and the Cowboys ended up teaming up to do some kind of funding for themselves, because they couldn't get a credit line from a bank. The Cowboys are now selling pieces of the old stadium to raise money for the new one. Everything from the injury cart to the locker room toilets are for sale.

    The Yankees are still spending money like water, but their new stadium may not be the cash cow they are counting on. Wall Street fell off a cliff in September, and may not be willing to shell out for corporate luxury boxes. Especially with the Mets, Jets, and Giants also building new stadiums with lots of new luxury boxes.

    I suspect that people may still want to watch at home on TV as it is an escape from their daily troubles.

    Maybe. But there was that article a few weeks ago, about how previously "recession proof" things like booze, cigarettes, entertainment, and gambling are not looking recession proof this time. It said cable TV was one of the first things people cut. If TV revenue starts to drop, that's what's really going to hurt pro sports.

    I cancelled TV feeds into our house over a year ago. I'm actually so much happier without the BS Mainstream Media force feeding all the propaganda into my house. Not to mention that I'm so much more sane for not having advertisements barraging me for well over 30% of the time that I'm watching.

    Advertisements are structured to instill discontent with your particular status quo. It's this discontent that fuels the perceived need to buy more stuff. Without advertisements constantly pummelling me, I'm much more content.

    There was a huge withdrawal period though. In the first two month without it, I wasn't sure I'd make it through. Now I know that I will never allow MSM television into my house again.

    This is not to say that I don't appreciate some of the shows or content on TV. To satisfy this, we've got netflix. We're just a year behind the masses in our TV veiwing. Our favorite shows are on whenever we're ready and there's no ads.

    So what made me type out this response is that I find not having TV much more effective at escaping from my daily trouble than by having TV. (After the initial withdrawal period...)


    Being a sports fan, I've been watching how high fuel prices and the economic crisis has affected pro sports.

    Absent globalization, sports might get a lot better. The local club teams will become more important. There will still be the Michael Jordans, but maybe not locally. It will open up breathing space as the "winner take all" economy loses its grip.

    cfm, thinking about opening a mini cider brewery in Gray, ME

    Yes, I agree. I think there will always be sports. And honestly, I'm as happy watching the local minor league team as I am watching the millionaires on TV.

    I think it applies to other kinds of entertainment, too. Art, music, writing, theater. Less "winner take all" would probably be a good thing.

    Yes, NASCAR is hurting badly, but there is more to it than meets the eye. The other day a reporter was standing in the NASCAR museum doing a story about how the pull out of major sponsers means that perhaps one half of all NASCAR teams will fold.

    Now here's the irony: He was standing in a museum full of racing cars from the 1950's and '60's, and not one of them had a sponser sticker or paint scheme on it!

    That's right folks, the sport grew from a southern redneck hobby into the huge national sport it is without outside sponsership!

    So how did they do it? Well, it was unheard of in the old days for a race car driver or owner to fly around the country in his own airplane, and the number of permanent paid staff was probably less than a 20% the size it is today. As the money poured in, the owners and drivers of stock cars began to see themselves as "superstars" and started spending accordingly (why not? It was the sponsers money...)

    I am not picking on NASCAR. The same thing happened in every branch of motorsports. All run without sponsers until the late 1960's early 1970's. Drag racing was originally designed as a way to keep young guys from racing on the street and killing people, there was no sponsership.

    Motorsport will survive, and may even return to it's roots as an inventive and creative sport and not a high speed billboard showing biz...and a lot of motorsports fans see that as possibly a good thing.


    Two of your hyperlinks are swapped.

    interesting article on our debtor status w/ our'overlords' . i haven't had time parse it out fully but was some new ideas , or ways of putting them for me.


    'There is a game of ‘chicken’ developing here: both China and Japan hold more than $1.5 trillion in US paper and whoever drops it off the cliff first, will beat the one who hesitates. So both are whispering or suggesting this should be done but not doing it. Will they do it? I would think so! This will probably happen after Saudi Arabia falls to revolutionaries.

    This possibility is extremely high, not low. It is the focal point of all of bin Laden’s works and dreams. And it will happen if oil drops below $30 a barrel. This will bring the money machine of Saudi Arabia to a screeching halt. For Saudi Arabia holds around $1 trillion in US paper in public and another $2 trillions in private deals of various sorts. This is why the US government has been frantically bailing out Saudi machines like Citigroup, for example. As well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. '

    Yeah, suddenly the music stops playing from the music chairs.

    Nice cartoon illustrating the article as well.

    so the goal of china is to become the 'banking/financial services' capital of the world; no more new york/london & these recent banking tests are to increase confidence [that we lost/squandered].

    hmmmmm. US $; a bit troublesome for that; but they have alot of 'em.

    if them & japan ever got together.... bad history there i remember some say; though same article says us & china neck & neck as japan's customer/consumer.

    Bank failure in Russia revives fears of financial turmoil and domestic unrest

    MOSCOW: Roman Malinovsky had been salting away his salary at his local bank to pay for graduate school in Germany. Yelena Samoilova, a supervisor at a publishing house, was saving at the same branch to buy a Ford Focus. Olga Sudakova, who was a little embarrassed to be living with her parents at age 33, had almost enough money in her account there for a down payment on an apartment.

    They were part of the new middle class in Moscow, confident that with the Russian economic revival and with the government's guarantees, they could rely on the banking system, no matter what its troubled history suggested.

    But when they went to the small bank on Kalanchyovskaya Street to retrieve their money over the past two months, they got a shock that made them question whether life here had truly changed.

    Formerly soaring global trade suddenly comes to a halt

    The unstoppable force has stopped.

    With economies in the United States, Europe and Japan slowing simultaneously, the World Bank says that global trade will shrink next year by more than 2%. That will mark the first time in more than a quarter century that the seemingly inexorable tide of globalization will be in retreat.

    Like many states, Ohio reaches for a lifeline

    “We’re not crying wolf. This is real,” Strickland said in an interview in his statehouse office, pointing to charts that project the most serious erosion of state income in 40 years and a two-year budget deficit of $7.3bn. Revenue shortfalls in the upcoming two-year budget could amount to about 25 percent of the state’s discretionary spending.

    Hey Leanan, I'm not getting the article on ohio when I click on the link you gave. It's pointing here: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601072&sid=aHcppsOQsHcQ&refer=e...


    I'm trying to restrain myself since there are other things to do besides type.

    This is simply too interesting:

    Martin Hutchinson @ Prudent Bear

    Conventional Bernankeist wisdom is that only deflation is a threat now, that rapid increases in the money supply are needed to combat a decline in money’s velocity and that those increases can be withdrawn quickly when inflation looks like turning up.

    One look at the statistics will tell you that’s nonsense. The broad money supply, for which the St Louis Fed’s MZM series (which takes into account currency, checking, savings and money market accounts but not certificates of deposit) is the best available proxy, has risen at an annual rate of 16.6% in the last two months or 10.1% in the last year; removing that amount of money quickly is clearly likely to be difficult. More startling still, however, is the behavior of narrow money in the form of the monetary base, which had been increasing at 3-to-4% per annum in the period to September, but has gone completely haywire since then, increasing at an annual rate of 990.9% in the three months to December. No, that’s not a typo, in those three months the monetary base has been increasing at almost 1,000% per annum. Over the last year, its average rate of increase is 86% per annum, but that reflects nine months of gentle increase followed by explosion.


    Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

    Holiday Sales Drop to Force Bankruptcies, Closings

    Discounts of 70 percent or more by Macy’s, AnnTaylor Stores Inc. and other retailers failed to prevent a spending drop of as much as 4 percent during the final two months of the year, according to data from SpendingPulse. Retailers’ pricing models are being challenged by consumers, according to Richard Hastings, consumer strategist at Global Hunter Securities LLC of Newport Beach, California.

    “The whole pricing system is becoming an old-fashioned bazaar,” Hastings said today in a telephone interview. “They’re going into the stores and they’re looking at the stuff and they’re saying ‘You know what? I know that that price is way too high,’ and they have figured out that the signage doesn’t mean that much.”


    This is the operation of deflation, taking place in plain sight. Ironically, the Bloomberg article winds up with the usual 'The Sun will shine, tomorrow, tomorrow ...' of increased sales and presumably less bankruptcies.

    What is clear from this is that the liquifying of the financial gears at the head of the finance robot/machine is not getting anywhere toward the ass - and into the pockets of wage earners. In the battle between consumers hunting for bargains and central bankers, the bargain hunters always win. A Pyrrhic victory, indeed.

    At the same time, as in a gold system, the currency is being hoarded; inflation is concealed. Banks borrow from the various Fed liquidity programs or gain currency from TARP @ near zero interest cost and deposit same with the Fed for a modest return @ no risk. This is the mechanism of money supply increase. If the Fed were to stop paying interest on reserves, some funds would flow outward into businesses (theoretically, that is) but these could not make good use of the funds as (a) there are few investments with any return and (b) the rise in goods prices would be rejected by the bargain hunters. There would be more bankruptcies which in turn drives the wheel of deflation. The bankrupt shedding workers who cannot earn and who cannot support yet other businesses who follow into bankruptcy themselves.

    The critical perception is that there are very few good investments. In truth, there haven't been very many in over the past twenty- five years in general, but the sense that value in investment has either been a chimera or a fraud is spreading rapidly - and ineradicably - throughout the marketplace.

    It is hard to tell whether sometime in the future the concealed inflation might emerge on a sudden, or by what mechanism. It would appear that the amount of increase in the money supply is either of little relevance to the current deflationary situation or is amplifying it. I suspect the increase is amplifying. My uncertainty lies in that I cannot quantify how much deflating force presses upon the perception of value - of credit and what it would be invested in. I suspect the deflationary force is large, if only because the investments suggested in the media are not investments at all, but are aggregated liabilities that have little or no return ... that is, small or no value.

    It all comes back to yield. We have a yield- free economy and soon enough an economy- free country

    Million dollar question: how to get oil from shale

    Obviously far larger than a simple "million" dollar question, but unfortunately there isn't anything new in the article.

    Has there been any recent discussion around the topic that adds anything new? I'm particularly interested in Raytheon's potential approach. I'd also like to see the Canadians switch to something similar rather than great gashes in the landscape.

    The thing I find fascinating about all of this is how this is such a slow-moving crisis that you could go away for a few months or a year, and when you come back find that little has changed. Yes, we might have some more data here and there. We can't rule out a technological breakthrough, of course, but there is unlikely to be anything huge, and you could probably publish a small quarterly newsletter with all of the relevant items of interest..

    We can't rule out a technological breakthrough, of course, but there is unlikely to be anything huge

    That's a bet that would have bankrupted you at almost any time in history. I wouldn't presume to make it now.

    I wouldn't presume to make it now.

    You wouldn't, but I would. And I encourage others to, as well.

    Can you think of any time in history where that bet would have paid off?

    Yeah, Yucatan, Mexico about the year 900 among other civilizations that collapsed. When you speak of history of course, I’m sure you’re talking about modern history, where humans have proved their incapacity to fail in the short time span of a few hundred years of technological advancement. Yup, the last couple of hundred years trumps it all. No possibility of failure to come up with a technological solution with a track record of a couple of hundred years. Nope. I’d suggest looking up the definition of hubris.

    Yeah, Yucatan, Mexico about the year 900 among other civilizations that collapsed.

    I'm not sure what parallel you're trying to draw. The Mayans failed because of energy needs and technology that failed to keep up?

    Were you under the impression that I was saying technology always solves every problem? If one nation defeats another and takes their land... is it a disproof?

    Can you think of any time in history where that bet would have paid off?

    No, thanks.

    We've gotten far enough in the conversation that I now know it's not an effective use of my time to discuss this with you. My colleagues and I have asked Jeffrey to speak at our conference with other notables like Hirsch and others. Nothing you've written has made me think this was a bad choice. If anything, it has made it clear to me that what he is saying is truly needed because even people who one might expect would see the value of it, don't right now.

    is the last article that mentioned the Raytheon process:

    Raytheon has developed a technique that uses radiofrequency energy to extract the oil. Oil producers would lower radio antennas into a well and then heat the shale with radio waves, reducing the oil’s viscosity enough to pump it to the surface. According to John Cogliandro, Raytheon senior principal engineer, the technique consumes the equivalent of one barrel of oil for every six produced.

    Thanks. I think that's one of the most recent on my reading list as well. I'd love to see a 6:1 ratio actually happen (they estimate more like 10-15:1 for the oil sands in Canada), but it's pie in the sky at this point.

    Have you read the Argonne Water Impact study (pdf) This is the issue which will determine whether anything substantial comes out of the Piceance, I believe.

    Dude, we are discussing the Raytheon Rf technology, which from my understanding does not require any signifigant water resources.


    I was retorting oil out of shales in the lab 20 years ago. Nothing new there. Obviously they need to move onto a field scale pilot project to prove its effectiveness and thus its economic viability. You've probably read about Shell Oil's efforts to isolate the reactive area from the surrounding bedrock. I think the last Shell press release said they wouldn't have the pilot project running full bore until 2010 or 11. Ratheon might have a more efficient energy source but the still have to thermally isolate the process as I understand it. Bottom line IMO is there really isn't anything to evaluate until large scale pilot projects are complete. My WAG for that is at least 4 or 5 years. Maybe a good bit longer if oil prices stay low for an extended period.

    Ratheon might have a more efficient energy source but the still have to thermally isolate the process as I understand it.

    It doesn't appear so:


    The method is more economical and environmentally responsible than older oil shale extraction techniques as it uses far less power, does not severely disrupt the landscape or leave behind residue that can enter groundwater supplies.

    E-T Energy did a field test in the oilsands during 2007 using similar technology.

    E-T Energy Test Facility

    at the bottom of the comment window is "preview" and "save"
    what happened to "post"

    They changed the wording. We are post-Post.

    Re: Peering into oil's crystal ball

    So we will not see $75 oil in 2009. Bold claim based on nothing. The current price pattern has occurred before in late 2006. Call it a new year price lull. I remember many articles at that time going on about how oil was going to go even lower in 2007.

    "The current price pattern has occurred before in late 2006."

    Hard to claim that unless any decline is the same "pattern". The 2006 decline was only about 1/3rd from the high and that only returned prices to the year-ago level. The current cycle began almost twice as high and has fallen much farther to levels 4-5 years old even ignoring inflation.

    The "pattern" that most closely matches the current is from the early 80s.

    are you claiming that the current "cycle" began at the now infamous july $147 peak ?

    an analysis of the nearly 7 yr trend that began about '02 shows that prices were below the trend by about 28% at 1-07, returned to normal about 11-07 and climbed to the peak in july '07 (43% above)and now at 60% below. a sine wave with increasing frequency and amplitude.

    Since JHK did his 2009 predictions article today, are we going to do a separate predictions keypost, or should we all post away here, or what?

    Gail was very prescient last year. I hope she does another one

    I doubt I will be able to match last year's record, but I will try to look at it again. This is a link to my 2008 forecast, for anyone who didn't see it.

    As if Things Weren't Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S.

    MOSCOW -- For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument -- that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. -- very seriously. Now he's found an eager audience: Russian state media.

    ..."There's a 55-45% chance right now that disintegration will occur," he says. "One could rejoice in that process," he adds, poker-faced. "But if we're talking reasonably, it's not the best scenario -- for Russia." Though Russia would become more powerful on the global stage, he says, its economy would suffer because it currently depends heavily on the dollar and on trade with the U.S.

    Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces -- with Alaska reverting to Russian control.

    In particular:

    California will form the nucleus of what he calls "The Californian Republic," and will be part of China or under Chinese influence. Texas will be the heart of "The Texas Republic," a cluster of states that will go to Mexico or fall under Mexican influence. Washington, D.C., and New York will be part of an "Atlantic America" that may join the European Union. Canada will grab a group of Northern states Prof. Panarin calls "The Central North American Republic." Hawaii, he suggests, will be a protectorate of Japan or China, and Alaska will be subsumed into Russia.

    the U.S. will break into six pieces -- with Alaska reverting to Russian control

    DANG!! Sarah Palin was really on to something there!


    "I jus looky aoutta ma winder, ans I seez Rusky's"

    Sarah Palin was right on top with that Foreign Policy of hers.

    Who Knew?

    Power Down.

    Sounds rather appealing to me. It is becoming more and more evident, to me at least, that the interests of various parts of the U.S. are in conflict to the point that dissolution of the U.S. would be constructive.

    Dissolution would end the insane quest for empire. It would end the notion that every flare up in the world must be a threat that the U.S. must respond to. It would let oil rich areas like states around Texas have complete say over their own resources. It would force the South which has long sucked resources from the North for military bases and military contractors to pay for it with their own resources. They could then launch wars for oil security with fellow red states to their hearts content.

    It would let the Midwest convert to ethanol without the nay saying of those who would rather give their money to foreigners for oil imports. Perhaps the Midwest could then join up with oil rich Provinces of Canada like Alberta trading food for oil. Midwest thinking is closer to Canadian thinking than Southern, Texas or even California ideas IMO.

    California and the West Coast which is psychologically closer to Asia than the Midwest could join with Japan in a kind of High Tech Federation. They already buy more cars from Japan than from the Midwest located Big 2.8.

    Perhaps states near the Mexican border could again become part of Mexico thereby ending the problem of illegal immigration. Many of these states already have a large Hispanic population that would feel right at home.

    And New England and other Atlantic states could join the European Union and import heating oil and gasoline without the inconvenience of blending in ethanol and use a stronger currency to pay for it all. Perhaps the European community could shower the new member with special benefits as it often does.

    The more I thing about it, the better it sounds. As for the Constitution, or what what's left of it after Bush II, I doubt many care anymore.

    Georgia, Alabama, MS will not become part of Mexico, as this man from Russia suggests.
    There are too many white, anglo saxons, who would fight it.
    The former states of the CSA could form a new country though.
    And by the way, the South does not suck up resources from the North.
    The North created the federal debt that we are all paying for now.
    The North uses up food from the South.

    I don't think he's suggesting that.

    Here is another article:

    The U.S. will fracture into six parts: the Pacific coast; the South; Texas; the Atlantic coast, central states and the northern states.

    He seems to be expecting the southeast to be its own part. I'm guessing the other states that might go with Texas are southwestern states, where there's already a large and long-established Hispanic population.

    I think it will eventually fracture into areas determined by various watershed boundaries. I have discussed this before in prior postings.

    Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.

    The former states of the CSA could form a new country though.

    You will please leave NC out of your Neo-Dixie, thank you! We were dragged, kicking and screaming against our will, into it last time around* - and ended up doing more bleeding per capita than any other CSA state. No thanks! Do as you please, but leave us out of it. I don't see being dictated to by Jackson or Montgomery or Atlanta being much of an improvement over being dictated to by Washington, anyway.

    * NC was the last state to seceed, and did so only because it was in an impossible position, being totally surrounded by CSA territory and being called on by Lincoln to raise troops for the Union cause.

    Oklahoma and Arkansas won't go with Mexico either. OK is trying to boot illegals out already, and is blocking the NA union corridor work too.

    The map in the WSJ showed the Southeast going with Texas. *NOT*

    Well, you can't come with us. Bug off. We have water and collard greens suck, anyway. :-) Get your own country. And if those Texans bother you, then we'll help.

    Will it be like that?

    "Perhaps states near the Mexican border could again become part of Mexico thereby ending the problem of illegal immigration. Many of these states already have a large Hispanic population that would feel right at home."

    Seems unlikely. Mexico is more likely to dissolve as a nation before the US does.

    Ilargi comments on this today

    A Russian professor forecasts the end of the US in its present shape by 2010. Interesting to read, but I would bet that there are many forces inside the country who have long prepared to prevent that end from materializing. And that's why I don’t see it happening. I do see a lot of mayhem and trouble up ahead, though. You can't run a country that has lost so much of its wealth, be it real or imaginary, on the same footing and according to the same ideas and legal principles as before all those riches vanished. It'll be either dissolve or clamp down. I’ll put my money, for now, on the latter, and a hard one at that.

    Before moving on to his theme for the day - Contractionary Funk
    Debt Rattle, December 29 2008: Contractionary Funk

    Which gets me back to today's theme music. Even poorer people are way more likely to buy if the economy goes up than when it does a Contractionary Funk. Many people tell me that a significant part of what's happening in the markets is due to a self-induced low down among people, like all would be much less bad if only we would all stop taking about the bad stuff.

    My view is 180 degrees different. I think the danger lies in our propensity for deceit, which has made us believe -note the faith-based part- that we are much richer than we are in reality. The difference between the two approaches lies in our ability, Wile E-esque, to pull on the breaks before the abyss looms. You're more likely to come to a timely full stop if you know the landscape is about to disappear.. We have talked ourselves up a quadrillion times more than we are talking ourselves down. It’s what we do best, that and beating each other’s brains in.

    Hello TODers,

    Fertilizer prices creating anxiety

    ..Those higher fertilizer prices have led to new projects for increasing nitrogen production. Countries that have relatively cheap supplies of natural gas are building new nitrogen-producing facilities, enough to increase the world supply from the current 105 million to 110 million metric tons to 125 million metric tons over the next 10 years.

    Those places with relatively cheap natural gas include countries such as Iran, Oman, Egypt and Russia. China has plans to use its coal gasification process to boost its production of ammonia fertilizer by 3.14 million metric tons and urea by 3.7 million metric tons.
    Something to strategically ponder is if Russia goes ahead and consolidates its I-NPK supply chain to be under total state control [see prior weblink posted a few days ago]. Throttling I-NPK, recovered sulfur, and natgas exports in combo with Russia's lomming ELM for crude & natgas could help minimize the rouble's current devaluation trend.

    IMO, this would be the easiest way to force the Ukraine to fully pay their way past due natgas bill. Imagine Putin telling the Ukraine, which is a large agro-area, that if they want access to Russian I-NPK next spring that they had better cough up the cash this winter.

    All you need to produce cheap N-fertilizers is cheap gas, which is used in N-production of anhydrous ammonia, ammonium nitrate, and urea, and the Ukrainian N-producers are now at a decided cost disadvantage compared to Russian N-producers. Till 2004 Ukrainian plants paid almost the same price for Russian gas as Russian producers – around 35-55 USD for 1,000 cubic meters, which is extremely cheap. In 2004 Russia unilaterally terminated contract on gas supply with Ukraine and raised the gas prices 2-3 times. This dramatically increased the urea production costs and consequently the end product price.

    Thus IMO, the Ukraine would be far better off to sit in the dark this winter to raise the cash to pay the Russian natgas bill so that they can get Russian I-NPK next spring.

    The same strategy could also be employed against the US as we are increasingly reliant upon Russian & Ukrainian N-product exports as seen in the latest from the USGS [PDF Warning]:

    Import Sources (2003-06): Trinidad and Tobago, 55%; Canada, 16%; Russia, 12%; Ukraine, 9%; and other, 8%.
    I would imagine the latest data would show that Russia has increased in direct porportion to Ukrainian decrease due to the above mentioned natgas pricing disparity. It must be increasingly difficult for the Ukraine to build USD currency reserves to facilitate international trading.

    Does anyone have any data on how quickly Trinidad's natgas and N-production could potentially decline? Imagine what could happen to American agriculture if some govt or terrorist group severely disabled Trinidad's natgas and N-production. Our national security would be at immediate risk because we don't have any 'Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK' to draw upon in event of a severe and prolonged N-shortage. I hope Nate Hagens brings this topic up when he is interviewed by Jason Bradford in the next few minutes. We will see..

    As usual: Have you hugged your bag of NPK today? A profound change in the bags of I-NPK postPeak supplied may make hugging a fresh O-NPK bag of composted manure a better choice. When the dollar goes to crap--the smell of postPeak money will be manures of all kinds...

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

    latest update I could find on Russian I-NPK:

    Government Considering Fertilizer Holding--29 December 2008

    The government is mulling the creation of a state-run holding from several fertilizer producers, sources told Interfax on Friday, indicating that the Kremlin could be moving into another key sector.

    Industry and government sources told the news agency that the government might merge potash makers Uralkali and Silvinit and phosphate mineral apatite producer Apatit.

    "The idea under consideration is to buy controlling stakes [in three companies], merge them and appoint government officials," a government source was quoted as saying.
    IMO, it would be fascinating to get comments on this Russian news from Canpotex and the Phosphate Group. I also wonder if Obama and the USDA are concerned from a national security viewpoint: if so, then SCT's ammonia infrastructure ideas may be in for a substantial funding boost.

    600,000 jobs could go in 2009

    In the UK that is.

    Hello TODers,

    Most of us are familiar with the old photo from Weimar Germany where inflation was so bad that it cheaper to burn Deutschemarks than buy firewood. Yikes!

    I wonder if anyone in Zimbabwe, where rampant inflation is also terrible, has considered using their worthless currency as toilet paper first, then using this 'enriched' currency feedstock for a worm farm. From this link:

    1 pound of 100% worm castings for $4.45
    2,000 lbs/ton X $4.45/pound = $8,900/ton! Thus is the method in which Zimbabwe currency could be turned into a valuable export product. Of course, it wouldn't be much fun if you were mugged & beaten, then robbed by thugs while head-balancing a 25 lb [$111.25] bucket of worm castings.

    As a further thought: The US Treasury must shred lots of worn out currency and/or counterfeit currency; probably several million pounds a year. A win-win situation probably exists for a worm entrepreneur to contract with the Treasury for these shredded notes to make into worm castings. Even the old tale of straw being profitably spun into gold would not compare to the postPeak profits of turning shredded greenbacks into worm castings. Somebody needs to git 'er done!

    I wonder if anyone in Zimbabwe, where rampant inflation is also terrible, has considered using their worthless currency as toilet paper first, then using this 'enriched' currency feedstock for a worm farm.

    Ask and ye shall receive -- but only halfway...

    The problem, as new research shows, is that we have to face a new reality. As many as 100 million Americans now live in families that are earning less in real terms than their parents did at the same age.

    1) "as many as 100 million" means that ~70% live in familes that are earning more. I doubt anyone ever assumed that every child would do better than his parents.

    2) I wonder how much of the game is caught up in "in real terms". Is it earnings per capita or per household? Is it pre-tax or post tax?


    Most people are not involved in illegal Ponzi schemes, but we do keep our money in accounts that are tallied on computer screens rather than in stacks of coins or paper bills. How do we know that when we demand our money from our bank or broker that the funds will be there? The fact that banks are subject to “runs” (recall Northern Rock, Indymac and Washington Mutual) suggests that all may not be as it seems on our online screens. Banks themselves are involved in a sort of Ponzi scheme, one that has been perpetuated for hundreds of years. What distinguishes the legal scheme known as “fractional reserve” lending from the illegal schemes of Bernie Madoff and his ilk is that the bankers’ scheme is protected by government charter and backstopped with government funds. At last count, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury had committed $8.5 trillion to bailing out the banks from their follies.1 By comparison, M2, the largest measure of the money supply now reported by the Federal Reserve, was just under $8 trillion in December 2008.2 The sheer size of the bailout efforts indicates that the banking scheme has reached its mathematical limits and needs to be superseded by something more sustainable.

    Hello ToucanSanctuary,

    Thxs for this info. Recall that the very first banks stored grain, and no amount of Ponzi interest or loans would magically and instantly increase the bushels stored inside the grain-vaults. Any bushels borrowed mostly had to go to feeding the farmers who were growing more bushels for later replenishment, and all hoped the weather cooperated. Bankers were 'real asset' oriented back then.

    Now that we understand the 20+:1 ERoEI crop-possible from I-NPK: do real asset loans from my speculative 'Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK' start to make sense as the I-NPK 'principal and interest' paid back can later be leveraged again?

    This seems like a viable postPeak real asset banking plan to me, especially when the ERoEI in FFs become less than the agro-ERoEI; example: 3-5 gals of gasoline energy embedded in a bag of high potency, high NPK ratio DAP will be more valued than 5 gallons of gasoline burned in an SUVs gasoline tank. YMMV.

    You're Welcome, Totoneila. Ellen Brown is very easy to understand and I'm glad she's out there rining the alarm bells for financial/banking change.

    Thxs for this info. Recall that the very first banks stored grain, and no amount of Ponzi interest or loans would magically and instantly increase the bushels stored inside the grain-vaults. Any bushels borrowed mostly had to go to feeding the farmers who were growing more bushels for later replenishment, and all hoped the weather cooperated. Bankers were 'real asset' oriented back then.

    This system more closely reflected the reality of the natural systems we live in. In fact, your receipts for grain that you deposited in the store actually depreciated over time to reflect the losses from mice, spoilage, etc. One of the main departures of our present monetary system is that money comes into existence and the only thing backing that money is a promise to pay. The creators of the money/debt have the implicit assumption that the future will be larger than the present. This is akin to saying that the weather will always be more conducive to crop growth year after year and thus we'll always have more and more grain. Under the grain storeage monetary system you mention, the money (receipts) are only generated when grain (a real substance) has been delivered. There's always a real asset backing the money. Furthermore, the real asset that back the money is a renewable resource. Sure there are limits to how much grain you can grow....This leads me to your question:

    Now that we understand the 20+:1 ERoEI crop-possible from I-NPK: do real asset loans from my speculative 'Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK' start to make sense as the I-NPK 'principal and interest' paid back can later be leveraged again?

    Please correct me if I'm reading your question wrong. What I see you asking is, "Is it a reasonable business practice to recognize the inherent energy value in Industrial NPK fertilizer and use this product as the real asset backing the currency?"

    My answer is that I don't see this as a viable business model for future banking because I-NPK is not a reneweable resource in the same sense that grain is. Sure you can use I-NPK to increase grain outputs, but the total supply of I-NPK available to the world has hard limits based on fossil fuel depletions. Once we start seeing significant declines in FF's, you'll see significant declines in the money that you can print under this system. Furthermore, asking your debtor's to return the I-NPK with interest is only going to make that problem worse.

    I certainly like your thinking on going back to a money supply that is backed by real assets, but I think we need to have a system that also inherently recognizes the finite world that we live in as well.


    This is totally OT, but does anyone here have a listing of peaker gas plants for the United States? I'd like coordinates but I'd take addresses if that is all that is available.

    The EIA has tables of the sort that you are looking for. Look at the tables listed near the bottom of this link.

    If you're registered with change.gov, or are willing to be, there's a question currently in the lead in the Energy and Environment category that could use support to be sure it stays on top and will be asked and answered...

    "Will transit and intercity rail projects be a major component of the infrastructure stimulus package, rather than focusing on highway projects?"


    Your destiny: You WILL be poorer...who says and why should I believe them?

    It is with a smile and tongue in my cheek that I read the CNN article linked in the top spot on today's Drumbeat, "The Upside Of Downward Mobility"

    CCPO and I finished up yesterdays Drumbeat posting today with a spirited exchange regarding the "cause" of our current economic debacle. And though we disagreed on several points, it was an interesting discussion and gave me the opportunity to begin something of a "campaign" that is of great importance to me.

    My point in our discussion was relatively simple, although in my wordy way I may have made it more obscure than it is. I will have to take that chance again:

    There are a small cadre of inside financial persons and firms who have benefited on a scale that is almost unimaginable by the latest "crisis". These peope essentially used the media to persuade the American people that what happened to their money was the result of such things "a changing world", new economic methods, scarce resources, etc. The media, in some cases willingly but in many cases unwittingly have acted as the mouthpiece for these people and assisted them in spreading fear, panic, and the "deterministic" idea that the American people must accept being made poorer and poorer.

    Indeed we will have to for awhile at least thanks to their actions, but not for the reasons given by the lackeys of the small elite financial circle (of which I count Hank Paulson as a great example) but because purely and simply the American people have been robbed out of years of investment and the earnings on said investment.

    My point was this: This so called crisis (which has now been made into a real crisis no doubt) was created by the actions of a few and not by any "macro economic" situation. What we have seen is the actions of a small band of thieves, nothing more, nothing less. This has been a "whipped up" media fueled crisis from the start. There was no real "housing crisis" until the media created one. There were areas that had been overpriced in the price run up, but even now the houses are selling for far more than they would have sold for only four or five years ago, and often by huge margins.

    The hysteria generated has given the government almost a blank check to take over any industry it chooses to, and given the banks an excuse to lock down access to capital, which is now creating a real crisis. It has destroyed confidence in the markets and wiped out a huge chunk of money that was honestly and diligently invested by the largest investing class in history, the first generation that actually planned for retirement in the majority of individual cases. The greatest nest egg in world history has essentially been looted by crying "wolf" when none was present.

    The CNN article is just one more example of how the American people are being persuaded that THEY WILL BE POORER, and by jingo if your too stupid to accept that fact, we will see to it that you will be!

    CNN along with CNBC, Forbes, Business Week, Fortune, Barrons, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Economist, and many more are a disgrace and are as much a party to this theft as the thieves themselves. Out in the real world they would be indicted for "aiding and abetting" a criminal act.

    It is my hope that TOD does not become a party to this type of hysteria mongering. Sadly, TOD did join in and helped propagandize commodity prices to insanely stupid levels (oil in particular) while giving very little in the way of warning concerning the possibility of oil prices collapsing hard and fast and destroying invested money.
    However, it must be said that TOD has always taken that view so it is dismissed coming from TOD as their expected position to take, no matter what the evidence shows. This somewhat protects TOD from culpability. The rest of the business press puts up a pretext of acting on behalf of the investing public.

    My point in my discussion on yesterdays Drumbeat was simple: It is very possible that the American people will be made much, much poorer because they have lost the ability to be outraged by theft and shameful conduct. We are becoming the American "Eloi" (if you are not familiar with the reference see

    Meek and self blaming, we accept the theft of our nation with nary a peep of protest. When alternatives are proposed that may move us into the future they are dismissed out of hand as undoable or too much trouble or too expensive. When we are told our children will be poor we accept it without question. When nations with willpower do the things that we refuse to even attempt, we curse them for a few days, and then forget. We are becoming fit only as food for the Morlocks of the world.

    We have found a way to blunt the impact of peak oil: We will have given away our freedom, dignity and prosperity before peak oil can take them from us. By the time peak oil occurs we will have nothing to lose anyway having become a slave population to the small group of insider thieves who use the lack of will of the people and the incompetence of most financial brokers and money and fund managers as a way to use them as a conduit of money from the many to the few.

    Let us be very clear: Those who are guilty of this theft and the incompetent collaborators who acted on their behalf are guilty of the largest theft imaginable, and could even be charged (in a world of real justice and by a people capable of real outrage) with treason. They have damaged our nation far more than the terrorists on 9-11 could have ever hoped to.

    The institutions who educated this combination of theives and incompetents are equally at fault. If you are contributing money to Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton or any of the other "respected" colleges you should DEMAND that they completely reform their business and financial schools and junk the current curriculum and retire or fire the current crop of business and financial professors. They are a disgrace to our nation, pure and simple.

    If you advertise in any of the major business magazines, STOP until they have proven they are willing and able to report honestly. Suspend your purchases and subscriptions to them until they explain how they intend to reform their publications and then follow through on what they promise.

    If you can join a credit union, move all the money you can afford to there, and out of the for profit banks, especially out of the big national banks. As soon as possible pay off all credit cards and cut off the money supply to the banks who have behaved so shamefully in their treatment of the American people.

    Just as importantly, spread the word:

    Ask your friends some questions:

    "Why didn't the business press report what was happening when it was happening instead of spreading bad news only AFTER the elite had time to get out?"

    "What were these bank executives taught in their business college education?"

    "Where were the PHD and Nobel prize winning professors of Harvard and Yale as the schools endowment was poured into these scams? Were they not aware? On what do they base their credentials to advise anyone?"

    "What are your children being taught under the guise of "financial education?" "Are they being taught how to protect themselves, or simply how to be good victims for the financial community?"

    "What should your mutual fund manager be earning? Why? If he or she was advising you when this "crisis" unfolded, why didn't he/she know anything? Why are you paying the mutual fund company to destroy your wealth? What protection do they provide that makes them better than picking your stock on your own or investing in penny stocks?"

    "What are the economics and investing books sold as giving you valuable information worth? What about the economics and investing textbooks at your child's school and college? Should we not assume they have been worthless and refuse to buy anymore of them unless major reform is made?"

    We have heard the constant howl that young people are not "financially literate", that they need financial "education". Is there any reason to believe that the current "teachers" of finance and investing are in any way qualified to teach them. Where would the curriculum come from...Merril Lynch perhaps, or Citicorp?

    If we do not at least attempt to defend ourselves this time, we can be certain that the theft of the American peoples wealth will come with greater regularity and will only stop when we are simply bled to death.

    And remember, IT IS THE AMERICAN PEOPLE'S WEALTH! The CNN story speaks of it as some kind of belief that we should have more. Those who saved their money SHOULD HAVE MORE! Those who invested carefully and diligently should have more! Those who sacrificed year after year should have more! The CNN story that is now trying to claim that the investing public and the working public do not deserve what they worked for is a disgrace, but these type of "journalists" have come to accept that they can slander the American people with no fear of them fighting back. They assume (and they have been right so far) that we are gutless and will not protest garbage they spread. It is the American people who built the roads, the airports, the trains and planes. And if we bought the items from abroad we cannot go and tell the workers of the nation we purchased them from they do not "deserve" the money and try to steal it back! We can only treat the American people in such a fashion!

    We can discuss peak oil and global warming, but right now, there is a threat much greater than either of those. We must regain our own dignity and we must speak up against the language and rhetoric that is being used by the elite financial community NOW. We must speak up against determistic defeatism that is brainwashing our children into believing that their destiny is to be serfs and slaves, and that this is what they deserve, and nothing more.

    And make no mistake: The hucksters in the financial community will use "peak oil" or "resource depletion" or "global warming" or "sustainabilty issues" or any other trick they can to persuade you, you friends, you family and most importantly you children that they will be poorer, should be poorer and they are into "denial" (the great slur of our age) if they will not accept it willingly.

    That is not to say that any and all of the above are not real and serious threats, but those who would misuse them to their own ends are the greater immediate threat. Let me explain why: They have already looted more than enough money to fund any viable alternative energy plan we could have implemented. If we allow this to continue, the money to afford any transition away from fossil fuel will constantly be stolen before it can be used to help us.

    Oh, let me ask you another question, just a very simple basic one: If all of those "financial types" and energy investment bankers who told us that oil would certainly go to $200 or $300 dollars per barrel and SOON had actually invested their own money that way, wouldn't they have been wiped out when it dropped to $38 per barrel?
    Think about it. I have personal friends who believed them and invested accordingly and lost almost all they invested.

    I only ask that people think for themselves. THINK about the rubbish that is being spread. I don't know why, but I like you guys :-)...so to paraphrase a Trekkie line "Think long and prosper". :-) (and tell your friends and kids to do likewise...


    We've got a humanity hubris three-stormer: financial , climate, and resource depletion.
    It's not either or, it's all of them.
    Read The Shock Doctrine to learn about the theives' actual roles.
    But don't blame the messengers who warned of very real depletion problems.
    How'd you like it if some commenator next year pointed to your diatribe as the 'cause' of our 2009-10 economic woes?


    I NEVER have claimed that resource depletion is not a very real threat. I NEVER have claimed that peak oil is not a very real issue and that we should do anything other than confront it by reducing oil consumption. And I have NEVER assumed or charged that the editors of TOD has acted in any other than absolute sincerity.

    I DO feel that the financial community (and I know, not all of them, but I do not have the time to name each firm or known swine individually) has used resource depletion as an attempt to cover their tracks, and will use TOD as a tool to convey their deception if they think it will pay to do so. I am NOT asking TOD to be anything other than what it is. I am asking that we consider exactly how we phrase things and and be cautious in making unprovable conjectures involving predictions and dates. If we make unprovable assumptions all we have to do is be honest and tell people that is what they are.

    "How'd you like it if some commenator next year pointed to your diatribe as the 'cause' of our 2009-10 economic woes?"

    If it helps the nation in the longer term to throw off the tyranny of the financial "lords of the universe" class that has led us to the edge of destruction, I could live with that.


    Hey thatsitimout - You are loosing it. Totally. Enough with the "I haven't died yet so that PROVES that I never will" Bull $hit. OK?

    You have got some good things to say but then you $hit on it with your BS.


    If what I wrote came across as ""I haven't died yet so that PROVES that I never will" Bull $hit. OK?", then I owe you an apology for not having been clearer in my writing and better conveying what I meant.

    But do (just for fun) consider the questions I recommended asking.
    And whatever you do, have a great New Year (hey, your right, we still have life left in us for now so we can keep up the quest to find out what the hell is really going on! :-)


    If you really want people to read your comments, try harder for brevity. Seriously. On the Internets, especially in the comments section of a blog, nothing is a bigger turnoff than a huge block o' text. A lot of people simply won't bother reading it.

    Thanks. Sometimes it seems like posters on this site are getting paid by the word.

    "A lot of people simply won't bother reading it."

    And that's o.k.

    A college professor once told me "If your goal is brevity, read bumper stickers."


    I agree. I doubt your college professor would post a dissertation on a bumper sticker and expect people to read it.

    Yowsa, Roger! Terrific outside-the-box thinking. I have to digest your missive, and while it may be off base, it's a welcome sign of TOD's strength that we can think critically about the categories in which we think. Very much in the spirit of (and I highly recommend)
    "Rethinking the State: Genesis and Structure of the Bureaucratic Field" Pierre Bourdieu, Loic J. D. Wacquant and Samar Farage
    Sociological Theory, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Mar., 1994), pp. 1-18.

    Hey Man,

    I can hear your frustration with our current system and I agree that the taxpayers are the victims of the largest crime in history, which happens to be still in progress.

    The problem is that those that got fleeced have very little power and those that have power benefited from the fleecing and have little motivation to stop/prevent it.

    Our whole economic system is structured to continually funnel money/power from the masses to the few elites at the top of the pyramid. The only way it falls apart is if a critical mass of us average citizens refuse to engage in any of their economic framework. That would mean self imposed austerity for their families, perhaps not even being able to meet their basic survival needs. The only way to hurt them is to hurt ourselves.

    Short of a full out revolt where the masses take to the streets with pitchforks, rifles, and 2x4's, I don't see any other way to unlock their stranglehold. Even if we had a full out revolt, who would even know where/whom to target with aggression. Taking down our government won't help because our government is just a Dog and Pony show. They are the puppets and the puppeteers are cloaked in anonymity.

    It's not even a matter of being able to drop out of society, get a piece of land and provide for yourself. The "priviledge" of owning land comes with many strings attached, including forced payments of money on a subscription basis under the guise of "property taxes." That's a minimum, and only if you were wealthy enough to buy the land without a mortgage. If you've got a mortgage, forget it, you're trapped in that economic system.

    The only way we'll see any meaningful change is if the US endures a complete collapse. I "voted for change" like many of you here, but I'm not holding my breath to see it happen. No politician comes to power without having sold his soul. I'd love to see some meaningful change. I'd love to see some logical thoughts and actions coming from our governmetal leaders. I fear, though, that the only way TBTB will lose their power is if it's forecfully taken away from them. That's not a pretty image to hold in one's head. I suppose it's even uglier when you can either grab your ankles and take it ad infinitum, or join whatever movement will fight TPTB. Choose your poison well....Bottoms up.


    I don't mean to be rude but--what planet are you from? Here on earth the way modern societies function is mostly--or even totally-- self-interested, dysfunctional, nonsensical, absurd, at cross-purposes, stupid, foolish, wasteful. I have learned to not to expect too much different.

    Hey 3.14,

    I don't mean to be rude but

    I won't take you as being rude, but only because you told me that you didn't mean it.

    what planet are you from?

    Last I checked I was on Earth, but things are changing pretty quick where I am and I'm not always sure. But seriously, what specifically did I write that makes you question if I've got a problem with my reality circuits. I'm genuinely interested.

    Here on earth the way modern societies function is mostly--or even totally-- self-interested, dysfunctional, nonsensical, absurd, at cross-purposes, stupid, foolish, wasteful.

    I agree, for the most part, but I think everything you mentioned after self interested is just a symtpom of maximizing self interests at the cost of the majority.

    I have learned to not to expect too much different.

    I don't have very much faith that things will change either. I was only pointing out that our best opportunity for change would be with a complete collapse and rebuild from a quasi-blank slate.

    But seriously, Pi, I've reread my post and I'm a bit puzzled as to why you took exception with. Please let me know. I'm genuinely interested.


    "What are your children being taught under the guise of "financial education?" "Are they being taught how to protect themselves, or simply how to be good victims for the financial community?"


    You make it sound almost like there is some vast conspiracy.

    Personally, I don't think a bunch of really smart (and wicked) men gathered into a smoke filled room and plotted out the financial destruction of America.

    I don't think they plotted out the corruption of the American education system.

    It was just something that happened due to a bunch of unintended feedback systems inherent in the way our government and culture were set up.

    (Left click on image to the right to read about societal forcing functions.)

    One of the unintended consequences of publicly funded education is that educators would be beholden to the corporate state and thus encouraged (if they want to survive & keep their jobs) to do what they think are the biddings of the corporate state.

    One of those biddings is to teach to us and our children, the religion of Adam_Smithian Economics as if it were a "science" with mathematical support and all other trappings of an apparent science.

    A large number of readers here at TOD have figured out for themselves that there are no such things as The Invisible Hand or Santa Claus.

    A few TOders still cling to the religion of economics and the intelligently designed market. They cling to it because after that, there is no solid ground to escape to.

    Financial educators similarly have nowhere to escape to. They've picked their story and they are going to stick to it no matter how insane it sounds in hindsight.

    GMAC Receives $5B in Bailout Funds

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government says it will provide $5 billion to the GMAC Financial Services, the funding arm of General Motors Corp., from the $700 billion bank rescue program.

    The Treasury Department also says it will lend up to $1 billion to General Motors so that it can participate in a debt for equity swap with GMAC, which is seeking to raise additional capital. The loan is in addition to the financial assistance the government announced Dec. 19 for GM and Chrysler LLC.

    Last week, the Federal Reserve approved GMAC's application to become a bank-holding company, which enabled it to receive money from the financial rescue fund.

    Not stated in the article, but nonetheless significant, is that GMAC is now eligible to borrow money from the Federal Reserve's discount window. Said loans are now being made at 0% interest.

    The way I see it, we've got a bankrupt company that drove itself into the ground with a horrible business plan and refused to make the appropriate changes to remain a viable country. They applied for a bailout and were denied but told to come back in a few weeks. When they returned, they were approved by the House but the Senate denies them.

    So then the biggest criminal in History, Hank Paulson, through the Bush Administration, give GM some money. Then GM says, "Hey! You know that GMAC part of GM that we created just so that we could sell more cars because we couldn't sell them any other way??!!!....It's really a bank holding company and the Federal Reserve should accept our application to call it such." Rubber stamped approval on that and now there's an open floodgate for money to flow into GM. Guess What! It's our money. Taxpayer money! In the past 6 months, we've been systematically fleeced by the powers that be. It's one thing to be robbed, but another to be robbed while being told it's for our own good.


    Keep in mind that ditech.com is part of GMAC.


    A telling part of this story (from the above link)

    The Treasury Department's investment in the company does not mean it is ''passing judgment'' on whether GMAC has met the Fed's requirements to raise additional capital, the official said.

    Either it did or it effing didn't.

    When I had a mortgage, the bank never said, "That's ok, you got close, you can stay in your house"

    Scotty to Kirk:

    "She's breakin' up Cap'n, I dinna know how long I can hold her"


    Watch out there, your sarting to sound outraged...and that is the unforgivable sin...we are supposed to not notice or not care!

    So what to do, what to do...as much as I hate to have to say it, there is one thing we can do: Don't buy their product. I drive a 1992 model car I bought used and it's one of the newer ones I have ever owned. It does everything I need to do.

    The same is true of the banks: Get the credit cards payed off and cut them out of the interest stream. If you are qualified, join a credit union and get a debit card from them. If you deal with banks, hunt down small local ones (I now have 3 total accounts, two are with local banks and one with a credit union)

    As ToucanSanctuary says above, we cannot in most cases move to a shack in the hills, and I ABSOLUTELY am NOT interested in nor endorsing any type of rebellion (first, my first love is and will always be The United States, and secondly for anyone who did attempt such a thing it would be suicide)

    What we can do is attempt to cut them out of money. Think of the early 1970's (find a copy of "Small Is Beautiful" if you have forgotten, and yes, I am endorsing a type of "relocalization" although I have in prior times had my doubts about that concept as I understood it. I can change my mind.)

    Most of what we need to do will be good for us anyway: Insulate the house, look into passive and active solar if you can afford it. Open your own business (your job is always used as blackmail against you), and attempt to get set up where you cannot be "single sourced". If you have money invested make sure it is well diversified and again, look for small local firms to invest in (my local public stock issuing bank has done much better than the big national banks throughout this crisis and most local banks have only been hurt because of actions by the Treasury and by the bigger national banks)
    If you need a broker, go to a local brokerage firm if one is available. If not, look for one of the discount firms that have to this point played the game relatively straight (Charles Schwab is pretty good example) For mutual funds, look at some with a history of straight and honest dealing:




    Buy from local stores or independent online stores, not the chains whenever you can afford it. Eat at locally owned restuarants (I got a burger today, one of the first I have had in monthes at a family owned restuarant, and it was better than McDonalds and only cost about 60 cents more! I drove past a McDonald's to get it, very intentional...I felt good about myself as well as the food.)

    Home gardening: Do it IF you can do it efficiently. Do not run out and buy a new roto tiller and pickup truck to haul it! Look on the web for heirloom seeds and interesting varieties and help keep diversity alive.

    The goal as you can see is to support smaller independent businesses with a record of honest dealing and social responsibility and to reduce consumption at the same time.

    I am asking, doesn't this sound like the correct and not only correct but also the safe and beneficial path for the customer as well as the country?

    I want feedback! There are thousands of straight and honest American firms of small and medium size and honorable history who need your suppport!

    Take care of the GUTS of America! Deprive the bandits of the loot they hope to gain from their shameful behavior. Thank you.


    I repeat: do not use debit cards if you can avoid it. They don't have the fraud protection that credit cards offer.

    Use credit cards, but don't run a balance. Half of Americans do this. You can, too.

    do not use debit cards if you can avoid it. They don't have the fraud protection that credit cards offer.
    Use credit cards, but don't run a balance. Half of Americans do this. You can, too.

    As long as were on the subject of rewarding local businesses with our purchases, I should mention that using credit cards takes money out of their registers because they pay 2-3% of each transaction that is made with a credit card.


    There are fees for debit cards, too, though they are generally lower.

    If the point is to support local businesses, pay cash.

    Report: Military may have to quell domestic violence from economic collapse

    12/29/2008 @ 3:39 pm

    Filed by Nick Juliano

    Deepening economic strife in the US could lead to civil unrest and violence that would require military intervention, warns a new report from the US Army War College.

    "Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security," writes Nathan Freier, a 20-year Army veteran and visiting professor at the college.

    Well, it's about damn time......

    Power Down.

    On December 16th the price of bitumen was reported under $20 a barrel. Economics might idle some Athabasca tar field operations. The tar is not free. There were taxes, royalties, lease rent, and fixed + operating costs associated with the recovery of the viscous oil. No such thing as a free ride.

    Is Alan's transit oriented development mindset beginning to gain mindshare in Japan?

    Auto sales plunge in Japan as young adults no longer dream of their own wheels

    TOKYO (AP) -- To get around the city, Yutaka Makino hops on his skateboard or rides commuter trains. Does he dream of the day when he has his own car? Not a chance.

    Like many Japanese of his generation, the 28-year-old musician and part-time maintenance worker says owning a car is more trouble than it's worth, especially in a congested city where monthly parking runs as much as 30,000 yen ($330), and gas costs $3.50 a gallon (about 100 yen a liter).

    That kind of thinking -- which automakers here have dubbed "kuruma banare," or "demotorization" -- is a U-turn from earlier generations of Japanese who viewed car ownership as a status symbol. The trend is worrying Japan's auto executives, who fear the nation's love affair with the auto may be coming to an end.

    Can't find the source of the quote, but I ran across the following:

    "The American love affair with the car is a lot like Stockholm Syndrome."


    Or as the Aggie (graduate of Texas A&M) said as he held the gun to his head: "Don't move or I'll shoot." Or as I've heard more then one fellow Texan proclaim: "The hell with the price of gas. I'm gonna finally get that big V-8 I've always wanted now that truck prices have fallen."