DrumBeat: February 14, 2009

Government must help oil industry ... or lose $1,000,000,000,000 in tax

THE LEADING light of Scotland's oil and gas sector has issued his strongest warning yet that government intervention is needed to protect the long-term potential of the industry in the face of the worldwide recession.

Sir Ian Wood, chairman of Wood Group, also predicted that failure to act now could undermine the UK economy's overall recovery when the upturn comes, and could cost the Treasury around $1 trillion (£700 billion) in lost tax revenue.

Ecuador to freeze assets over Repsol, Perenco debts

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said on Saturday his government will freeze some assets of Spanish oil company Repsol (REP.MC: Quote, Profile, Research) and France's Perenco to seek payment of pending debts.

Correa said Repsol and Perenco owe the country hundreds of millions of dollars over a controversial windfall tax.

Gaddafi urges Libyans to back his income oil plan

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Saturday called on Libyans to endorse his proposal to dismantle the government and give the oil wealth directly to the country's 5 million people.

His plan to hand oil revenues directly to Libyans had run up against opposition from senior officials, who stand to lose their jobs in a government purge Gaddafi wants to rid the state of what he says is entrenched and widespread corruption.

Big oil must start work fast in Iraq or lose deals

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - International oil companies will lose contracts at Iraq's biggest producing oilfields if they fail to start operating in the country within six months of deals taking effect, an Iraqi oil official said on Saturday.

Iraq will brook no delays on deals to boost oil output by 1.5 million barrels per day despite oil company concerns on security, said Abdul Mahdy al-Ameedi, deputy director general at Iraq's petroleum contracts and licensing directorate.

Saudi king reshuffles cabinet

RIYADH (Xinhua) -- Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz reshuffled his cabinet and named a new central bank governor, a new head of the religious police and chosen the first-ever female deputy minister in the oil-rich kingdom, local Al-Arabiya website reported Saturday.

US petroleum dependency factor of history

When the Drake Oil Well in Titusville, Pennsylvania began seeping crude oil 150 years ago, humanity allowed itself to become engulfed in the ecology of oil, according to a Penn State environmental historian. Now in the midst of an energy transition, the U.S. and the world need to keep moving forward toward alternative methods of power generation.

"American consumers must take stock and understand our dependency on oil in the context of how we got to this point," said Brian Black, associate professor of history and environmental studies, Penn State Altoona. "Just as a certain path of consumption led us to petroleum dependence, a path will lead us out of it. These paths, of course, are composed by the choices made by the American consumer."

More struggle to pay energy costs

As the recession deepens, more Virginia utility subscribers are falling behind in paying their winter heating bills, and more are having their electric and gas service disconnected, officials said.

“There’s an uptick in the number of customers who are having difficulty paying their electrical bills,“ Dominion Virginia Power spokesman David Botkins said.

Early indications hint at smaller 2009 cereal crop

Rome - Early indications point to a reduction in global cereal output in 2009 from the 2008 record, according to FAO's latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation report. Smaller plantings and adverse weather look likely to bring grain production down in most of the world's major producers.

While conditions are generally favourable for winter wheat throughout Europe and the United States, planted area in these countries has declined, reflecting the prospect of sharply reduced returns compared to last year, combined with persisting high input costs, the report said.

Climate change likely to be more devastating than experts predicted, warns top IPCC scientist

Without decisive action, global warming in the 21st century is likely to accelerate at a much faster pace and cause more environmental damage than predicted, according to a leading member of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

IPCC scientist Chris Field of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science points to recent studies showing that, in a business-as-usual world, higher temperatures could ignite tropical forests and melt the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gas that could raise global temperatures even more—a vicious cycle that could spiral out of control by the end of the century.

Green agenda of Canada, U.S. out of sync

OTTAWA -- As Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama prepare to discuss energy and climate change at their meeting next week, each man has a villain to deal with: 'dirty oil' from Alberta's tarsands and 'dirty coal' in the United States.

Those major sources of energy are also huge sources of greenhouse gas emissions - carbon and other pollution caused by burning fossil fuels - that both governments have pledged to reduce in the international fight against climate change.

Great Lakes not enough to quench water shortage: Report

Even the Great Lakes aren't great enough to sustain North Americans' reckless water use in the event of a continentwide water shortage, according to a new report.

The report — titled Sentinels of Change and set for release in Friday's edition of Science — suggests the Great Lakes' scant renewal rates would not provide enough water to get through a full-blown crisis.

"I think we have to stop considering the Great Lakes as the thing that's going to irrigate the Red River Valley and supply water to the dry American southwest," said University of Alberta biologist David Schindler. He co-authored the paper — a review of recent research into water resources across North America — with two biologists from the U.S.

Mass media often failing in its coverage of global warming, says climate researcher

"Science is not politics. You can't just get two opposing viewpoints and think you've done due diligence. You've got to cover the multiple views and the relative credibility of each view," said Schneider, a senior fellow at Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment. "But that is not usually the problem of the well-trained reporters, who understand what is credible.

"The problem is CNN just fired their science team. Why didn't they fire their economics team or their sports team?" "Why don't they send their general assignment reporters out to cover the Superbowl?" Schneider said.

World oil production potential weakening: Total

LONDON (Reuters) - The oil price collapse has weakened the industry's capacity to increase output and future production may top out at a lower level than earlier expected, the chief executive of major oil company Total said.

Christophe de Margerie said that world oil output may hit a plateau below 90 million barrels per day in the years ahead, less than earlier envisaged.

"The capacity that the oil industry has to go to 93-95 million barrels per day is already over," the CEO of the French oil major told reporters on Friday at a briefing in London.

It's too late for Planet Earth, says James Lovelock

You may feel, as job losses soar and parts of the world descend into turmoil, that you're apocalypsed-out for February. If so, you may not immediately leap at James Lovelock's forthcoming book, The Vanishing Face of Gaia. His warning that climate change is spinning us into a hot world, where billions will starve and whole ecosystems will collapse, is a horror few want to contemplate, leavened only by the faint consolation that those of us lucky enough to live in the British Isles, Siberia, Chile, Canada or New Zealand may survive. But his prophecies are plausible and they will also make you think, which are two good reasons to grit your teeth and read him.

WTI, Brent, Dubai as Oil Price Benchmarks: Caveat Emptor

In media discussions of the oil market, there is a tendency to conflate WTI prices with the world price of oil. There are more than 130 varieties of crude oil and WTI (West Texas Intermediate) is not even the benchmark used to price most of the crude traded in the world. That distinction belongs to Brent, a UK blend of oils from the North Sea. Brent is used for pricing 2/3 of the world’s traded oil. WTI is mostly used for pricing oil consumed in the U.S. What makes these two crudes so special and, in the media’s eye, WTI even more so?

Moscow's New Energy Policy Worries Central Asian Nations

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (ENS) - Central Asian leaders gathered for a summit of former Soviet states last week amid signs that Russia was beginning to show a more active interest in their region's water and energy disputes. However, regional analysts were divided over whether Moscow's engagement would help bring the different states closer together, or deepen the existing divisions between them.

Indonesia sees container volumes down 20-30 pct in '09

"Based on container flow for January-February, exports volume this year may decline by between 20 to 30 percent. Non-oil and gas exports are expected to fall," Pangestu said.

She added that exports of automotive products and electronics would be worst hit.

Car exports through the Jakarta International Container Terminal, the country's largest shipping terminal, fell to 9,391 units in January, from 13,000 units in December 2008, Pangestu said, representing a decline of about 27 percent.

Massive desert solar 'colonies' hope to solve energy crisis

Imagine large-scale solar-power plants being built across the Sonoran Desert, along with power lines up to 300 feet high, to export the sun's power to the rest of the West.

That's the ambition of an idea the Western Governors Association and the federal government are studying -- to make Arizona a solar-energy "colony" for 11 other states, two Canadian provinces and Baja California.

Fire Strikes Kuwait Petroleum Refinery in Rotterdam

(Bloomberg) -- Kuwait Petroleum Corp., the state- owned oil and refining company, said a fire occurred in a desulfurization unit at its Europoort refinery in Rotterdam.

Parts of the refinery were shut because of the blaze, Ian McConnell, the plant’s manager, said in a telephone interview.

...The fire occurred in a gasoil desulfurization unit, which Kuwait Petroleum said it planned to shut down for normal maintenance. “It could be that something went wrong in that process,” Spaninxs said. “The part of the plant that is affected will burn down completely.”

Oil breaks out of weeklong price slide

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Oil broke out of a weeklong slump Friday, soaring 10 percent, as traders prepared for a long Presidents Day weekend.

Light, sweet crude for March delivery rose $3.53 to settle at $37.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices rose as high as $38.25 in afternoon trading.

"It's very simply profit-taking going into a three-day holiday," said Phil Flynn at Alaron Trading Corp.

OPEC states uncertain about output cut policy

LONDON: Uncertainty about how far world fuel demand and oil prices will fall has made it harder than ever for OPEC members to agree on how to balance group output policy against the divergent needs of their individual budgets.

Oil’s collapse from almost $150 a barrel last July cut OPEC earnings by $356 billion in six months and they could drop by a further 50 percent this year, the group’s Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri said.

Exxon Mobil looks to Canada for heavy-duty project

As harsh oil outposts go, Canada would not appear to rank high on the list.

After all, energy companies battle rebels in the swampy thickets of Nigeria and Ecuador and spar with governments in capitals from Caracas to Moscow. But off the east coast of Newfoundland, the companies wage war with the elements in their ongoing effort to extract oil.

And that’s where a Houston-based unit of Exxon Mobil Corp. is working to develop an oil field thought to contain up to 700 million barrels of crude.

Petrobras discovers evidence of oil off Iran's coast

RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Brazil's state-owned oil and gas company Petrobras has discovered evidence of hydrocarbons in ultra-deep water in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Iran, company officials said Friday.

Jorge Zelada, Petrobras' international area director, said the next step will not be determined until the company finishes its analysis of the evidence, which will take two to three months.

China signs $90 mln Senegal deals, buys peanut oil

DAKAR (Reuters) - Visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao's delegation has signed loan and aid deals worth $90 million with Senegal, state media in the West African country reported on Saturday.

Hu is in Senegal on the second leg of a four-nation African tour seen as an effort to reassure Africa that Beijing will not ease up on aid and investment during hard economic times and that its interests on the continent extend beyond oil and mining.

Some surprises among the top-searched autos of 2008

Surprisingly, the Ford Mustang was No. 4 on the list of most-searched vehicles. And the fuel-hungry Chevrolet Tahoe large sport utility was No. 6, and the Ford F-150 pickup No. 7.

Another pickup made the list, the midsize Toyota Tacoma at No. 9.

The fact that three of the top vehicles on potential buyers' lists were models not known for having good fuel economy shows that perhaps even at $4 a gallon, Americans weren't ready to give up all of their favorite rides.

Raymond J. Learsy: The "Nightmare Scenario". Thank you Saudi Arabia For Looking After Our Future

Saudi Arabia has such concern and respect for The United States and the perceptiveness of its citizenry that they feel compelled to ply us with instruction and advice. The very same nation that through its loquacious Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi regaled us back in December that it was Saudi Arabia's "Noble Cause" to see to it that the price of oil be clawed back to at least $75 a barrel as soon as possible (please see OPEC's Noble Cause" 12.17.08) . You see, anything less will discourage investment in new production according to our friend in Riyadh, not to speak of curtailing the purchase of yachts, palatial residencies and Ferraris, and billions upon billions to Wahhabi schools, madrassas, mosques, social centers and charitable organizations throughout the world, teaching civility and good citizenship.

Thousands rally to support Chavez bid to end term limits

CARACAS (AFP) Thousands of Venezuelans gathered in central Caracas to support President Hugo Chavez’s bid to end term limits for elected officials, which would allow him to seek re-election in 2012. “My heart tells me that you won’t let me down on Sunday 15,” Chavez said to his cheering, red-clad crowd of supporters, referring to the date of the referendum on changing the constitution.

Four Freedoms, Four Changes

Militarism, racism, empire, peak oil, climate catastrophe and authoritarian responses to the crises of our time will kill us. Dead. We can either fight back, following the light from the past, when people fought other destructive forces and injustices for a future worth living in, or we can wish to go back to “normal,” roll over and give it up to corporate rule. Because we’ve gotten used to not thinking or seeing, and comfortable doing things the same way things have been done to get us into this fix.

Burn coal and save the environment?

Old King Coal has had - and continues to have - a very bad press (and a very bad press has he!). However, in a provocative lecture at the University of Leicester, Professor Paul L Younger of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne will argue that a new approach to coal exploitation probably represents the world's last and best chance of bridging the gulf to a genuinely low carbon future.

Professor tries to set the record straight on global warming

Conservatives, the kind who believe a chilly morning is proof that global warming is a hoax, seized on Doran's piece as the best evidence yet that climate change is nothing more than liberal fear mongering. Overnight, he became their hero, a really smart guy who supported their thesis.

The morning after Doran's article ran, Rush Limbaugh had a field day with it on his radio show. Ann Coulter, the 55-pound conservative heavyweight, referenced the study on her Web site. Another global-warming debunker, Michael Crichton, erroneously cited Doran in his book "State of Fear."

Doran, a mild-mannered native of Canada, was mortified.

That Antarctica actually was getting hotter over a time period longer than the one researched by Doran, or the little fact that he happened to believe in global warming, didn't matter.

Reducing Carbon Dioxide Through Technology And Smart Growth

ScienceDaily — A Georgia Tech City and Regional Planning study on climate change, published February 10 by Environmental Science and Technology, shows that “smart growth” combined with the use of hybrid vehicle technology could reduce cities’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – the principal driver of global warming – significantly by 2050.

VIRGINIA: Transportation plan trimmed to tune of $2 billion

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Commonwealth Transportation Board cut $2 billion from Virginia's six-year transportation plan, acting during a rare midyear meeting Friday to ensure the list of ready projects will qualify under the federal stimulus package.

More than 800 highway projects statewide will feel the pinch of the cut, which left the highway project portion of the plan at $6 billion. Public transportation and rail funding remained unchanged at $2.9 billion.

Center for Biological Diversity Declares Legal War on Global Warming

SAN FRANCISCO, California (ENS) - To fight climate change, the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity Thursday opened a new law institute in San Francisco and announced the dedication of an initial $17 million to the project.

The Climate Law Institute will use existing laws and work to establish new state and federal laws that will eliminate energy generation by the burning of fossil fuels - particularly coal and oil shale.

Warming up to the idea of no fridge

Beth Barnes wanted to reduce her carbon footprint and make a difference in this ecologically fragile world.

But first she had to ask herself: Can I give up frozen pizza?

The answer, as it turned out, was yes. And forgoing instant cheesy goodness wasn't the hardest part about giving up her refrigerator. That one gesture, she said, changed the way she thinks about food and shopping.

Level of climate change 'without precedent' - Gore

Former US vice president Al Gore exhorted scientists to "get involved" in warning the public about the dangers posed by climate change. "This is a task for all of us. This is no time to sit back, this is a historic struggle," he told an audience in Chicago.

Europe to leave collapsing carbon prices to market

The European Commission will not intervene to support the market for European carbon emissions where futures prices have nosedived along with the economic downturn, the EC's chief climate change negotiator said yesterday.

Algae growth in ocean fertilizing test surprises scientists

Bremerhaven, Germany - Scientists testing an idea to beat global warming have met with an unexpected result as the experiment proceeds in polar waters, a German science official said Saturday. One type of algae, haptophytes, reproduced rapidly in the ocean after a nutrient-rich eddy of water, 1,530 kilometres north-east of the island of South Georgia, was fertilized with iron by Indian and German scientists.

Ulrich Bathmann, head of bioscience at the Alfred Wegener polar and oceanography institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven, Germany, said the growth had been different from previous, smaller-scale experiments.

He told Deutsche-Presse Agentur dpa, "This would be an argument against large-scale commercial iron fertilization, since the effects are not calculable in advance."

Pure ethical gold

Want to please your green warrior girlfriend on Valentine's Day? There may be an answer: responsibly sourced gold.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Good Morning Leanan:

I hope your trip went well. IMHO Gail did an admirable job considering the straight up learning curve.

SOS here. The inverter and the solar panels arrived this week for the golf cart.

Happy Valentines Day to all the Drummers.

Mish: If you cannot find a Koala to hug this Valentine's day, please give a hug to someone you love

It's Valentine's Day. Please try and forget about the stock market, jobs, home prices, and any other bad news that is on your mind. Instead, please consider how a Koala love story wins hearts after deadly Aussie fires.

The video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35FT5DymIHU

Saw that. Excellent.

Animals with feelings. We are not alone.

As well, it is the dawning of the age of Aquarius this morning:

The Age of Aquarius - The song "Aquarius" begins ...

"When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars"

A happy Valentines to all.

Being an Aquarian, this is important!


The song is neat too.


last time i checked the age of Aquarius will start roughly about 2100~2150ce, since the age of Pisces started around 0ce due to the precession of the equinoxes. That is that the constellation that the sun rises in on the easter equinox changes every 2100-2150 years.

Wiki said there were several opinions of the Age of Aquarius. I like this one here and now because a really serious Black Swan may mess up one so far in the future.


Now is as good a time as any. Besides, I like it because it coincides with my birthday (2 days ago on Darwin Day), naturally I am an Aquarius, I'm involved in electricity, and I grew up listening to Hair.

So I guess I am a child of the Age...

I thought that the sun's movement thru the
"equatorial axis" of the galaxy, changed the age from Pisces
(the end) to Aquarius, the beginning of the next super cycle,

which the Mayans documented.

The same astrology using two different views that

Interesting article re USA guv debt-the scary thing is that the other shoe has yet to drop-the current inexplicable (safe haven?) strength of the dollar has made all these numbers temporarily irrelevant, just like grocery clerks didn't need big wages to make huge yearly gains on home equity and spend big dollars on consumption-when the other shoe drops, watch out http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=88851

... the current inexplicable (safe haven?) strength of the dollar ...

I suggest you read The Automatic Earth. I find it more explicable now.

After listening to the "goldbugs" for 3.5 years and TAE for 1 year, I note that the goldbugs spend more time explaining past failures (and predicting imminent Zimbabwe-style inflation) than making useful near to medium term predictions.

Who cares whether or not "goldbugs" are screwy with their "medium to near term predictions". The fact remains that today gold is back up to $940 oz., while oil wallows down around $40, the US stock indexes are down 40% from their all time highs last year and looking to lose more ground, and most every other asset class is beat down too.

Imagine that. In the early inning throes of a debt deflation rivaling the Great Depression gold is holding its own, even in face of the recently rallied US$. This gold strength flies in the face of most "near to medium term predictions" of the hard core deflationistas. Go figure.

Maybe, just maybe, gold's ongoing strength is signaling that governments will do what they always have when faced with such a predicament as this one: pour vast amounts of money they don't really have into this black hole of debt until they figure out how to stop the bloodletting. (AFAIC we are a ways away from our govt recognizing what they are doing isn't working and figuring out how to do something more effective -- the political pain isn't high enough yet.) By the time it does, the resulting price inflationary regurgitation (and/or dollar devaluation) will be quite spectacular. Just because it hasn't occurred yet, doesn't mean it won't some where down the line, and possibly unannounced to those reading economic bloggers with their own narrow axes to grind.

Frankly, listening to what anyone says these daze to explain why they are right or wrong proves nothing about what's next. We are in uncharted waters as far as this mess and the future goes. Still, simply watching the price of gold in these times tells a tale worth heeding in its own right.

As I mentioned before, I don't know anyone tossing their krugerrands in the dumpster (though Leanan pointed out that almost all of us have discarded gold with such things as dead consumer electronics).

The goldbugs are like a broken clock: they are right every once in a while, and the rest of the time they are wrong. It's only, I dunno, maybe 10:45 on the goldbug clock. Eventually it'll chime 12. Probably. Maybe.

Then again, you could get into food preservation and stock up on toilet paper. They could be useful trade items as well.

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE needs to see the Russia Today interview with Gerald Celente I posted today here:

A wet daydream

The man is saying what Stoneleigh and I have been propagating for years now. It's just that people listen to him before they listen to us. The Roubinis of the world get fêted in Davos, no matter how much they're off. What else is new?

Celente predicts tax revolts, and another revolution in the US. Try to prove him wrong. Sometimes I think I must be hallucinating, there's hardly anyone who listens all the way through the tale. But the world's no.1 forecaster says exactly what I've said all along. So, no, I'm not alone. Thing is, it's not that hard to predict all this, that's just a line from politicians, journalists and economists, the "nobody could have foreseen this" schtick. The causes and effects were laid down, and predicted by yours truly and others, long ago. It's time to look for shelter.

I just added another Celente interview in the same spot.

Who is Gerald Celente? Wikipedia:
"After years in politics and lobbying, Gerald Celente founded The Trends Research Institute (initially called the Socio-Economic Research Institute of America) in 1980 in Rhinebeck, New York. According to several media sources published after the events, its successful predictions include Black Monday, the fall of the Soviet Union, the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the quarter of the dot.com bubble burst, the subprime mortgage crisis, and the financial Panic of 2008 including the statement that "corporate giants would tumble to their death."

His stuff's been all over YouTube for quite a while, for anyone who wants to see some more from Celente.


And who do we get to blame for that?
and their failed ideology that you can dramatically increase spending, without ever raising taxes.

Infact, they insist that we need to spend trillions on unnecessary wars, and tax cuts (that nearly all go toward the already wealthy).
All paid for directly by debt.

Meanwhile they moan and complain about middle class wages, when wages indexed for inflation have actually stayed flat for the last 8 years.

And they call every investment in the future productivity of this country, pork.
Education, Health, Infrastructure? Things that actually get a return on investment?
No, They'd rather waste it all on military contractors.
With the supposed argument that they are keeping us "safe".

Loved the Doonesbury! :)

Things that actually get a return on investment?
No, They'd rather waste it all on military contractors.

Ohh, But those are investments with an expected return. Investments in future political contributions. Investments in future contributions to right wind propaganda mill think tanks.

yes, boener is just pi$$ed off because his ox, golden goose and gravey train are getting gored.

What was not stressed in the Buffet video was the effect over time of the rich having a tax rate of about one half the lower income group.

Since compound interest is a powerful economic force, over time those who are allowed to keep a greater share of income from taxation can compound from a larger base.

Those who pay a higher tax rate, mostly working people, are forever trapped in that role since accumulation of wealth is restrained by the tax code which favors the wealthy.

Warren Buffet is right, but the problem is even worse than he thinks.
If this is allowed to continue, the USA is headed for ever higher concentrations of wealth at the top. Eventually it will become like a third world country if it is not already.

Generally what happens next is instability as the economy fails to fulfill basic needs for most of the people. Then comes violence and revolution.

The other possible alternative is the confiscation of wealth at the top by the excesses of the system. This may be happening now. But government action is propping up the wealth at the top in a desperate effort to maintain it. All the while the more heavily taxed at the bottom receive little aid and the newly unemployed lose what little income they were allowed to keep.

It is the tax code combined with the outflows from the economy to pay for perpetual foreign wars, imported oil, interest on the national debt and huge trade deficits that has finally caught up with us.

Also keep in mind, you're quoting Jerome Corsi.
You might as well be quoting Rush Limbaugh.

>b>Shale Gas

In the first part of 2008 the United States natural gas production increased at its fastest pace since 1959. According to one study the U.S. may have 3P natural gas reserves of over 2,200 trillion cubic feet, about 100 years of supply based on current consumption rates. This estimate does not conform to SEC rules and is theoretical, not proven by drill bit and decades long data sets, most estimates of known reserves have been lower.


The Alaska-Canada-U.S. international natural gas pipeline system is scheduled to be completed in 2018 with 4 BCF/day flow from Alaskan north slope natural gas reserves.

Shale gas exploration has discovered shale gas in 40% of the states and quickly spread to Canada where shale gas has been discovered in the Horn River and Utica Shale formations.

natural gas production was on a longer term increase from about 3-06 until 7'08. in that time period, the number of ng drilling rigs increased from about 1300 to over 1600. currently, the number of rigs drilling ng wells has dropped to 1054.

claiming that the '08 increase is the greatest since '59 is a stretch of the imagination, imo.

jan '08 dry gas production: 55 bcfd
july '08 : 57 bcfd
oct '08 : 55 bcfd

Gee, what could possibly go wrong there?

RE: Raymond J. Learsy commentary posted above:

Less funding of madrasas might be a good thing.

Pakistan May Need to Confront Patterns of Abuse at Madrasas (2005)

Friday night bank failures:

Closures in Nebraska, Florida, Illinois and Oregon bring the number of bank failures to 13 this year as the financial crisis continues to roll

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Four banks folded Friday, bringing the total number of banks to fail this year to 13.

There have been seven bank closures in the first two weeks of February. There were six closures during four weeks in January.

It sounds dramatic if you count bank closures, but Pinnacle hardly even counts. Its lone peckerwood office was just down the road from me here, which had been predicted to fail for months now. Losses could go as high as $3 million! Imagine that - three millionths of a trillion - Vikram Pandit probably spent that much on pool toys last year.

Looks like it's bad news on the corporate earnings front.

For the past four quarters, earnings on the S&P estimated to average $28.75.

While for Q4-2008 it looks like they've fallen into negative territory.

...nearly 400 of the S&P's 500 companies have weighed in and reported a collective loss...


P/E of 15 x $28.75 = 431

That's a far sight above the 827 mark the S&P closed at yesterday.

During times of duress, P/E ratios have been known to fall to around 7.

Does anyone but me wonder why the stock market is so high?

Near the bottoms and tops P/E's are meaningless to a lot of stocks. Look at Mosiac ..6 months back analysts expectations were for $17.00 a share EPS in 2009, yet it traded as low as $22.00 a share 3 months back ...only now we know it will probably made less than $6 a share.
Price to Sales are a better indicator .

Near the bottoms and tops P/E's are meaningless to a lot of stocks.

Exactly! It is also meaningless to the market as a whole in a severe recession. In a recession many companies in the S&P 500 are losing money. Then their loss must be subtracted from the total profit of those making money. That will often drop the profit per share of the index to next to nothing. That in turns leads to an extremely high P/E ratio.

And if the recession is bad enough, perhaps a depression, there could even be more losses than profits. That would make the P/E ratio impossible to calculate. The P/E ratio for companies losing money is listed as N/A, not applicable. If the recession/depression gets bad enough that could be the case for the entire index.

What is often forgotten is that P/E is the price to earnings ratio. If the earnings are only a penny per share then the P/E would be 100 for a one dollar stock. And if they start losing money....N/A.


P/E is very helpful in a bull market. In a market like this (I think this is a Bear, with crocodiles for hands, who shoot scorpions out of their mouths), if you want to look at stocks at all, I might look at the price/book ratio. That at least shows if there is any liquidation value to the stock. Of course, this wouldn't work for financials as the "book" part of the ratio is completely made up.

P/E ratios may rise as earnings fall. Sirius is expected to file for bankruptcy. Up to a thousand banks might be closed if not bailed out. Foreign cars are piling up at Long Beach and Baltimore. Baltimore had to buy more acreage to store foreign autos and farm equipment reaching the docks without buyers. Some dealers who ordered inventory are out of business. The number of people on unemployment has been making new highs. Some have already used up their unemployment eligibility. GM asked the UAW to accept the same wages other U.S. autoworkers of foreign owned companies get. In Japan unions worked to try to keep the companies in business instead of until their wages were so high the companies were forced out of business. U.S. executive compensation was much higher than in foreign nations, yet corporate board of directors were intimidated by management time and time again.

Too bad we are nowhere near the bottom!

After not too long, stock prices will head downhill too, if earnings are negative quarter after quarter, and many file for bankruptcy.

Net present value of future earnings--what is it now that the economy is sliding downhill? With deflation, the results are terrible. Perhaps if a little hyperinflation is added, the stream will look OK.

Speaking of shale gas resources .....

The Haynesville Shale may eventually become the world's largest producing
gas field, Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy and a pioneer of the
play in east Texas and northwest Louisiana, said Wednesday.


The Marcellus and Fayettville shales seem to be good also. The Fayettville for its shallowness. The Marcellus for its high pressure and some spectacular flow rates.

The United States is uniquelly endowed with the world's largest coal deposits and some of the shales were also rich in carbon. It is like 1849 all over again.

Well, there are a few differences between now and 1849, things like total energy consumption. In any case, in the 10 year period from 1996 to 2006, US net coal exports fell at about -20%/year, and we are very close to becoming a net coal importer. Net US coal exports (EIA):

Regarding unconventional natural gas (UNG), it is one of the very few bright spots in the energy picture, but the fact remains that you are hanging your hopes on wells which are largely depleted in two to three years, perhaps a little more for some reservoirs. It will be interesting to see what happens to total US natural gas production as drilling declines.

In any case, precisely what is your point? That we can have an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite resource base?

Although Michael Lynch and Peter Huber seem to have a different opinion, I expect that we are going to have problems showing an infinite rate of increase in unconventional natural gas production, which is the sum of the output of discrete wells which are largely depleted in a just a few years. I suppose that if we had an infinite number of rigs, manned by an infinite number of people, exploiting infinite resources, we could do it. But that is of course the magical land of fairies and unicorns that Peter Huber lives in.

Even if we employ all the available drilling rigs (currently not hapenning due to short term price decline), the production rate from UNG won't get too much higher than current levels. And conventional NG is depleting. So it looks like we may have a flow rate problem. Better we learn how to live with limited (but not crashing toward zero) NG supplies.

A super well in the Barnett produced about 9 mmcf per day.


Petrohawk has some Haynesville wells producing over 20 mmcf per day using 12 stage fracs. Before this they were finding wells with 15 mmcf/day in the Haynesville trend.

There is land open in all directions, very little infill drilling has been done.

This past year the LNG imports decreased 50%. How did you get that result? Production of natural gas for 1H 2008 was not the same as for 2H 2008. There are many stranded gas wells that have not been connected to major pipelines. They are drilled and ready to go. New pipeline construction starts were rapid as natural gas bounced above $10/mmcf. Some of the shale gas is dry and does not require in-line gas-liquids separators.

The bunch who went with Matt Simmons theory that we were falling over a natural gas cliff have seen Nymex natural gas prices free fall from $13 to close to $4.50. It is not the end of civilzation as we know it to be getting energy this cheap. It is not like we need dozens more LNG ports. One may not need tp switch to bicycle driven generator back ups, or buy properties in the hills with root cellars and shelving for mason jar storage of wild rasberries and blackberries, or search for stands of wild poke weed for boiled salad greens.

Knowledge is power (unknown Greek philospher)

Knowledge is power (unknown Greek philospher)

Francis Bacon actually. Circa 1597.

No Greek, and certainly no philosopher of repute, would confess their ignorance by making such a foolish statement. Britain is renowned for its cooking, and its actions to end colonialism, not for its contributions to philosophy.

And the average Barnett Shale well is 80% depleted at the end of two years.

And again:

In any case, precisely what is your point? That we can have an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite resource base?

Did U.S. natural gas reserves grow 50% in a year? SWN had a 48% annual oil & gas production growth mainly from the Fayetteville shale. A UNG well may continue to produce for thirty years and you try to sell my some bull about them lasting two years and will require being stopped up with cement after the third? Will any good thing last forever? Trying to scare people into selling their wells after two-three years?

There are coal mines closer to the coast in Australia, S. America, Africa, Indonesia, etc. that are being utilized for exports as they require fewer rail miles to port. The railroads are more expensive than dry cargo ships per mile. Your carbon dioxide taxes do not seem to be lessening the interest in building new coal power plants around the world, there must be some loophole in the system or India and China are taking advantage of their carbon dioxide tax free haven laws.

In any case, precisely what is your point? That we can have an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite resource base?


You both have valid views of the system that don't completely disagree with each other. I've tried to model the decline rate of existing UNG wells and their time lines as well as future completion rates but just can't find the details on the existing wells. But in general, I’m pretty confidant that much of the very rapid increasing US NG rate was due to the greatly INCREASING rig rate. Had the rig rate level become static (one new well drilled/complete every 6 months) we still would have had an increasing trend if the new wells had averaged the same as the most recent older wells. In other words, two 2008 wells would have declined around 50% but the two 2009 wells would come on at full rate. Those would decline 50% in 2010 but there would be two new 2011 wells coming on at full rate. Thus a constant rig rate would still lead to an increasing NG rate. But then we’re back to the old demand/supply relationship. If supply surpasses demand then prices drop and depletion would gain until demand exceeds supply. I will offer a very simple model since I cannot do otherwise: one new well must be completed every three years to make up for MOST of the decline of a previous new well. This obviously wouldn’t yield a smooth curve when applied to a handful of wells but when applied to many hundreds of wells drilled at various times over the course of a year it should be a nice even line (sorta). We drilled an average (using this model’s metric) of 36 (18 rigs) wells in 2008. In 2009 we’ll drill 6 wells (3 rigs). To keep production flat (as an average over 6+ years) going forward we would need to drill at 12 new wells in the next 3 years but we’ll drill 18. But to replace the first 12 months of decline (50%) of those 36 wells we need to drill 9 wells in 2009 and not the 6 projected. If my client’s actions are similar to those of the other UNG players then we might expect a small cliff in the next 12 months followed by a rate declining to a level that still might be a little higher then what it was when the UNG started to blossom. In viewing this model I don’t think the UNG drilling boom could have gone on much longer. The effort would have eventually put so much NG into the system that prices would have collapsed even if the economy hadn’t tanked.

Are we completely confused yet? I’m still a little uncertain myself but it’s my model so I’ll fake confidence for the time being. I had originally thought we would see a big cliff in the next 18 months or so given a big drop in drilling activity. Now I’m not that sure. A drop, of course, but not so drastic perhaps.

But to take this crude model and predict future prices one must apply that wonderful ability to predict economic recover and at least the end of demand destruction. Even with a valid rig rate/production decline model the forward model would rest on demand. Thus two different (but both realistic) assumptions regarding economic recovery could lead to opposite expectations. And please don’t ask about the potential of massive amounts of imported LNG coming to the market in the next 18 months or so.


Orlando Utilities Commission could soon commit to one of the most pivotal and potentially risky deals in the 86-year history of the city-owned electric provider.

If it happens, OUC's general manager will plunk down as much as $3.7million as a deposit toward inking a deal this spring to buy up to $800 million worth of a proposed nuclear plant in Levy County. Such a sum would amount to taking on nearly $4,000 in debt for each OUC customer .....

At least this should be bullish for solar. OUC already pays over ($0.015/kwh?)their normal rate for 'green' power generated by customers.

Earlier this week, WT had a DB post referencing Atlas Shrugged. In some respects AS is somewhat prescient as to how things might play out.

On that note, consider that one of the main themes in the book is the impact of Directive 289. This directive forbade employers from firing employees (they needed a job after all) and also forbade employees from quiting. With that in mind, I am going to propose the Stability in Employment Act of 2009. Today's workers need to keep their jobs more than a bunch of fictional people in a novel.

It is the same as Directive 289 under a different guise. The rationale for this Act is that people who lose their jobs get government money (unemployment) anyway so why not simply guarantee their current jobs? Here's how it will work: A company that wants to reduce the number of employees has to go to the Board of Employment to get permission. However, since the Board will never grant such permission, the employer knows they will get a financial bonus by keeping the employee. To wit, the employer will get a stipend equal to the amount the employee would have received on unemployment.

It is argued that it is cheaper to keep the person on their job than seeing them dumped. The employer is happy since all they have to do is claim they were going to fire the employee. The employee is happy since they get to keep their job(even if there isn't much work to do). AND, the government argues that they are actually saving money as well as helping the economy. Ta! Da!


Haven't you heard of payroll taxes (implemented and designed to penalize private sector employment)? Your fearless leader, so concerned about unemployment, won't even consider a cut in payroll taxes, which every person looking at this situation agrees (including pretty well all economists) would be the most immediate and useful boost to employment prospects for the economy.

Cutting payroll taxes means defunding Social Security and Unemployment Insurance. The GOP is still fighting battles it lost in the 1930s.

Your fearless leader, so concerned about unemployment, won't even consider a cut in payroll taxes, which every person looking at this situation agrees (including pretty well all economists) would be the most immediate and useful boost to employment prospects for the economy.

The above statement is incorrect in so many ways, that most people probably just ignored it (maybe I should too). But..

Payroll tax cuts are a major component of the stimulus package (from the Wall Street Journal "About a third of the package is devoted to tax cuts for business and individuals, including a $400 payroll-tax holiday for workers").
And certainly "every person looking at this situation agrees" is flat-out ridiculous, leaving alone the "pretty well all economists" part. If tax cuts are so magic, then how did 8 years of Republican tax cuts result in the current crisis?

From Paul Krugman
"You see, this isn’t a brainstorming session — it’s a collision of fundamentally incompatible world views. If one thing is clear from the stimulus debate, it’s that the two parties have utterly different economic doctrines. Democrats believe in something more or less like standard textbook macroeconomics; Republicans believe in a doctrine under which tax cuts are the universal elixir, and government spending is almost always bad"
More from Krugman
"How much do tax cuts and spending raise GDP? The widely cited estimates of Mark Zandi of Economy.com indicate a multiplier of around 1.5 for spending, with widely varying estimates for tax cuts. Payroll tax cuts, which make up about half the Obama proposal, are pretty good, with a multiplier of 1.29; business tax cuts, which make up the rest, are much less effective.
In particular, letting businesses get refunds on past taxes based on current losses, which is reportedly a key feature of the plan, looks an awful lot like a lump-sum transfer with no incentive effects.
Let’s be generous and assume that the overall multiplier on tax cuts is 1. Then the per-year effect of the plan on GDP is 150 x 1 + 240 x 1.5 = $510 billion. Since it takes $300 billion to reduce the unemployment rate by 1 percentage point, this is shaving 1.7 points off what unemployment would otherwise have been."

So no, EVERY PERSON DOES NOT AGREE that tax cuts are the most imediate and useful boost to employment prospects. The textbook Keynesian macro-economic response to recession/depression is government spending ("pump-priming"), focused on projects that will have lasting infrastructure value (The New Deal built dams, roads, etc.) and on relief to those unfortunate people who need it the most (unemployment insurance, health care, in the New Deal it was the WPA, the CCC, and various forms of relief). Tax cuts mean nothing to those who have no income and pay no taxes.

Your ignorance is fascinating. Tax cuts are not magic, and cutting taxes while increasing spending leads to a long term mess (as you appear to have noticed). The current mess is not going to be fixed structurally through all this nonsense-the majority of this goofy plan is pure pork-a lot of it will have zero effect in 2009. Immediate payroll tax cuts do not fix the mess, but they are immediate and they directly counter unemployment. I am surprised you could mention a gigantic $400 benefit without sarcasm.


You have to include Universal Health Care (UHC) with your SIEA 2009. Also, you can't hire new people to print more money which means that all you have to change the numbers in the corners of the bills. $1 -> $10, $100 -> $1000, etc.

My battery has an inverter attached which can run a charger to charge the battery. Same same deal. :-)


Oh come on Lyn, my plan will save the world...well, at least the US where our way of life is nonnegotiable. No problemo on health care. Look at all the MDs who have time to post on TOD. They are obviously using their time inefficiently so I'll pass a new law, The Physician Efficiency Act of 2009. It'll work like this: Seeing patients physically is a waste of productive time. Therefore, all health care will be done via the Internet; diagnosis, the sending of prescription medications, etc.* And, further, each family will be provided with their own MRI, CAT scan and PET scan units. This will not only save the physician's time but also increase employment in the medical equipment industry!!

Sounds good to me.


*Even operations will be done via the Internet using robotics. But, rather than wasting the physician's time, Microsoft will develop a series of AI programs that can be run on the people's PCs to run the machines at home. Who needs people when you have Microsoft?

Congress passed the stimulus package, including, among other things, $30 billion for highway construction. Meanwhile, there's more layoffs in the oil patch.

I have to admit...I didn't expect that building highways would be a better bet than working in the oil industry.

Hello Leanan,

Just goes to show that we humans have not made any progress: the Easter Islanders thought using the last trees to help roll their decorative stoneheads was a better bet than using these trees to build canoes to get the hell off the island.

"The flesh of your mother sticks to my teeth."

You're a ray of sunshine in a gloomy, overcast world.


The oilfield layoffs do not just come from big companies. Recently one of the largest strictly local (NE Oklahoma) operators, with about 110 employees, laid off 40, and another shut down a project which was too expensive to keep going and 30 lost their jobs. Those losing their jobs ranged from roustabouts to drilling rig floor hands to pumpers to mechanics. I have used a couple part time to get caught up - and my 6 guys do not have to worry about running out of work even at that. It was good to have the insight I have gained from TOD over the last few years and conserved cash as a result. I am looking to expand now that prices are down, and think that the risk has at least been reduced to about 40/125 of what it was (the oil price in the field never did get to $147).

A must watch interview by Bill Moyers.
Simon Johnson really lays it out how the financial leaders are in his words "playing us for chumps".


I watched part of it yesterday-both guys appear to feel rather betrayed by Obama.

More MSM right out of THE ONION-these companies have been destroyed by these grifters/incompetents and the wailing remains: unless we give them the world (paid for by the taxpayer) they will leave us http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/14/congress-sets-new-limits_n_1669...

One minor positive is that it appears that some Dem politicians are starting to realize that their fearless leader is torn between doing his job and feathering his own future.

We've got a real fight on our hands if we intend to break the power of the big banks.

Elections don't seem to be working.

Obama is either a total moron, or he's bought and paid for.

..or he was handed the wheel of a sinking ship, which he took.. but now has to, like most politicians throughout history, make various deals with the devil to try to get through the gauntlet.

The man who becomes prince through the help of the nobles will find it more difficult to remain in power than the man who becomes prince through the help of the people, for the former will be surrounded by men who will presume to be his equals. As a consequence, he will not be able to command them or control them as he would like.

But the prince who comes to power through the support of the people will stand alone, and there will be few or none at all near him who will not be disposed to obey him. Besides, it is impossible to satisfy the nobles fairly without injuring others, whereas it is indeed possible to do so with respect to the people, for their wishes have more right, since they seek to avoid oppression while the nobles seek to oppress. It should also be noted that a prince can never be secure against a hostile populace because it is numerous, whereas he can be secure against the nobles because they are few...

Thus one who becomes prince with the help of the people will have to preserve their good will... But one who becomes prince with the help of the nobles against the will of the people must above all else seek to win the good will of the people...

I will conclude by saying only that the good will of the people is vital to a prince; otherwise he will be helpless in times of adversity... Now, let no one refute me with that trite proverb: "He who builds on the people builds on mud"... [W]hen the prince who trusts in them is a man of courage who is able to command, who is undismayed by adversity, who has not neglected his other defenses and can keep up the morals of his subjects by his orders and by his example, then such a man will never be deceived by them, and he will conclude that he has built his foundations well.

--Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Obama is choosing the nobles over the people. Given the salience of the economic issue, that is political suicide. Why would he do that?

Could it be that he was brought to power by "the help of the nobles"? Maybe so, but if he thinks he can screw the people over, that's not very bright, nor is it very Machiavellian.

Gerald Celente is a tad controversial. WRT to Obama's picks he has some interesting comments among others.

Link courtesy of TAE: Worst economic collapse ever


Obama is choosing the nobles over the people. Given the salience of the economic issue, that is political suicide. Why would he do that?

He is choosing the advice of elite experts who have spent decades studying such issues, over the advice of Joe Sixpack. How tainted those experts may be by their associations with the rich and powrful remains to be seen. I think they have all been given clear instructions that their jobs are to perform for the good of the country, not the narrow class interests of the financial industry. That does not mean that years of working with finance types might not have corrupted their thinking processes. Give the team a chance to show if seeking the advice of the most qualified over the most vocal works.

There was a rather heated pro-orthodox-economics vs. anti-orthodox-economics debate that took place at a recent conference on the Enlightenment. The conference was a gathering of scientists and scholars who came together to explore how best to defend science, which has come under intense fire in our post-modern era, not only by religious fundamentalists, but by many others as well. Economics is on the front line of this conflict because, along with evolution, it garners immense criticism. Defense of evolution was universal, but not so for modern-day economics.

David Sloan Wilson was perhaps the most strident in his criticism of modern-day economics, arguing that it is "bad science" and "bad scholarship"; a "religion that denies it's a religion". He frames the debate not so much as religion vs. science (orthodox economics), but good science vs. bad science (orthodox economics):

The kind of individualism that dominated economics for decades has been profoundly misleading however scientific in appearance.

Concepts such as the invisible hand which assume that somehow selfish agents miraculously self-organize into adaptive societies turns out to have as much basis in fact as the Garden of Eden.


Most outspoken in defending modern-day economics was Daniel Dennet. He frames the debate as economics vs. religion, as this thought experiment he proposed illustrates:

Imagine a war between the Gold army and the Silver army.

Both are well equipped and well trained.

Which army do you want to be on your side?

The Gold soldiers believe that God is on their side, that God will answer their prayers, that if they die they will go to heaven and rewarded by God.

The Silver soldiers are well-informed and highly trained economists.


He goes on to make the case that he would prefer to have the Silver army on his side.

I personally wouldn't want either the Silver army or the Gold army on my side, that is if the Silver army were composed of neoclassical economists like Timothy Geithner or Larry Summers.

If it were composed of economists like Nouriel Roubini and Paul Vokler, that might be OK.

But I'd really rather have a mixed army, economists like Roubini and Volker together with some experienced, no-nonsense business people.

If it were composed of economists like Nouriel Roubini and Paul Vokler, that might be OK.

But I'd really rather have a mixed army, economists like Roubini and Volker together with some experienced, no-nonsense business people.

I certainly agree that intellectual diversity would be a good thing, especially with such an inexact science as economics. I don't think businessmen would be much help, they deal with how to operate and optimize a single small niche within the economic system. What we need to be able to do is fix the entire system as a whole. Understanding things at the systems level, and understanding business are different, if related skills. An analogy would a forest ecologist, versus a biologist who is the world expert on a particuluar species of tree. I'd choose the ecologist to advise me on managing the forest, even though the biologists expertise is far deeper.

Clearly economics has a long way to go. It is inherently a systems science. And the dynamics of that system are profounded effected by human psychology, itself a very uncertain field. Also, because the system is large, and human welfare is affected, no large scale controlled experiments can be performed. Extracting truth from historical data is fraught with difficulties, as a host of different factors are varying at the same time. It is also possible that overall systems dynamics could undergo a phase change, as some gradually changing factor (such a technology, or resource depletion) crosses some poorly understood threshold.

But where I think we are at politically today, is economics by experts (of some school, or collection of schools), versus economics via simple gut feeling, -or worse economics by ideology. We've just suffered through eight years of the later.

I would argue that Geithner and Summers are the poster boys for "economics by ideology." This is opposed to "economics by science."

Then you can layer on top of that the fact that they are both morally challenged. Of course that is part and parcel of their ideology.

I would argue that Geithner and Summers are the poster boys for "economics by ideology."

I am not all that familar with either, or an expert in economics. I know that the transition team made a big deal that it expected sucessful applicants to be nonideological and to consider all reasonable points of view. There are ideological schools out there, such as the Austrians, which are not respected by most of the profession. It is possible that rejection of certain ideas has led rightwing groups to paint such people as ideologues. On the right half of the US political spectrum blind acceptance of supply sided economics, and tax cuts are the cure for everything are required beliefs.

I am not all that familar with either, or an expert in economics. I know that the transition team made a big deal that it expected sucessful applicants to be nonideological and to consider all reasonable points of view.

What people say and what they do are often quite different, no? There is little evidence that they have done what they said. Show me one high level Obama appointee who was not involved in not only drinking, but mixing up the KoolAid. Do you see one single appointee who was involved in trying to STOP the KoolAid party? Just one?

Rhetorical question, obviously.


Interesting propostion. Like you I'd rather seee a mix (Gold mud Marines and Silver generals) but in the end I would have to bet on the Gold Army: many might fight to save the $ but it's tough to beat someone willing to sacrifice themselves (or anyone else for that matters)for their god. Who would you want in the bunker next to you: a stimulating conversationalist or a guy who would throw himself on that grenade and buy his way into heaven?

Bernie Madoff was an elite expert that spent decades studying such issues, and if his scam hadn't ended, he could possibly have been your fearless leader's Treasury Secretary-his credentials were as impressive as any of these "experts" you worship. Robert Rubin is a very smart man, knows more about the markets than anybody-his expertise didn`t help shareholders or employees of ENRON-it hasn`t helped shareholders of CITI either. Of course, like you say, these guys would cheat the shareholders and investors but they would never cheat the all important public.

I would argure that Madoff's claimed expertise was fund management and stock picking. That is a far cry fron demonstrating expertise in diagnosing and quiding the economic system as a whole. I don't see how he would have made in onto a team of economics (as opposed to fund manager) experts.

It is up to the manager of the enterprise (in this case Obama), to screen the applicants for integrity, and to oversee it to insure that high standards are met. I would think the Obama/Biden team would be a lot tougher to fool then the teams we have become used to.

you can help break the power of the big banks by closing your accounts.

Obama is either a total moron, or he's bought and paid for.

No. He is a man who places his trust in experts. In this case economic and financial experts. You may not like what is happening, but it is done in the spirit of taking the best advice (from those with the fattest resumes). We are in unchartered economic territory, so whether the prevailing economic theories work remains to be seen. But, it is presumptuous to assume, that doing something different from what the theories suggest would improve our odds.

For this is a general rule that never fails: a prince who is not wise himself cannot be wisely counseled... An unwise prince, having to consider the advice of several counselors, would never receive concordant opinions, and he would not be able to reconcile them on his own. His counselors would pursue their own interests and he would know neither how to rule them nor how to understand them... Therefore I conclude that good advice, no matter where it comes from, ultimately derives from the prudence of the prince, and the prudence of the prince does not derive from good advice.

--Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

[In the most popular form of our Messianic dream] we do not think of ourselves as the potential masters, but as tutors of mankind in its pilgrimage to perfection...

In the liberal versions of the dream of managing history, the problem of power is never fully elaborated. Beginning with the physiocrats one version of the dream assumes that history would flow inevitably to the goal of an ideal humanity, if only the irrelevancies of political power were removed. But another version of the dream assumes some kind of elite. Beginning with Comte modern social scientists and geneticists frequently hint vaguely at the necessity of Platonic philosopher-kings, transmuted, of course, into scientist-kings. The least that seems required is that the men of power should have social and psychological scientists at their elbows to prevent "irrational prejudices" from entering into their calculations and to persuade them not "to have their ears to the ground."

--Reinhold Neibuhr, The Irony of American History

To the Enlightenment thinkers of the Old World, the enemy was entrenched inherited privilege embodied in the church and in most branches of European royalty in collusion with each other. To oppose these sources of superstition, ignorance, and arrogance, the eighteenth-century philosophes developed the doctrine of popular sovereignty. The ultimate authority was seen to reside in the people...

--Daniel Yankelovich, Coming to Public Judgment: Making Democracy Work in a Complex World

I guess being the chief defendant in a huge federal lawsuit fattens up your resume some http://www.nypost.com/seven/12042008/business/ponzi_scheme_at_citi_14251...

CDO's written by Citi execs may have stripped out some of the cash from loan originations and passed on excessive risk obscured by the complex nature of the instruments that were disguised as solid performing loans. I suppose Citi may have rebundled its own assets to try to inflate their supposed book value. Smoke and mirrors, fine print, probable inflated bond credit ratings, the whole gamut of tricks.

One writer stated the Obama stimulus bank bailout plans have not been formally described. Some of the language may be vague. Some of us do not know what is going to happen as a result of this bill. There are bad loans with U.S. homes as collateral all across the world. Not all the toxic loans are in U.S. banks. There were also bad loans written for properties in other nations in places like Iceland, Ireland, England, Spain, Dubai, probably other places as well.

Even the IMF, and the IMF is a gang of thieves themselves, opposes this bailout bullcrap. How does the IMF not represent current theories? How do the writings of Roubini, Celente, Denninger, Taleb, Mandelbrot, Paul, etc., not reflect current economic theory?

He is a man who places his trust in experts. In this case economic and financial experts. You may not like what is happening, but it is done in the spirit of taking the best advice (from those with the fattest resumes).

BTW, how is the above not exceedingly presumptuous?

I agree, a must view.

GM considering Chapter 11 filing, new company: report


CHICAGO (Reuters) – General Motors Corp, nearing a Tuesday deadline to present a viability plan to the U.S. government, is considering as one option a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that would create a new company, the Wall Street Journal said in its Saturday edition.

"One plan includes a Chapter 11 filing that would assemble all of GM's viable assets, including some U.S. brands and international operations, into a new company," the newspaper said. "The undesirable assets would be liquidated or sold under protection of a bankruptcy court. Contracts with bondholders, unions, dealers and suppliers would also be reworked."

Uh, boy. Will they let it fail, or is this another bailout in the making?

Well the unions don't appear to be budging:


For the first time, I think bankruptcy is very likely.

They are already bankrupt. Just not filled out the paperwork. Do not forget Crissis LLC is in worse shape just less information available as it is a private company.

Happy VD,

To all you couples who are loving parents able to provide for your two or fewer children, thanks for understanding simple math and having the compassion and intelligence to make your appropriate contribution to humanity's future.

During VD let's celebrate our love for our significant other...woman-man, man-woman, man-man, woman-woman, whatever floats your boat. Also celebrate your love for your species and the planet by spreading the good news of logical family planning: Pick from the following: Have zero, one, or two children per your abilities and desires. And/or adopt as many as you can care for and provide love and proper attention.

All the fine ideas about how to restructure fractional banking, mortgages, organic farming, moving in from the exurbs and suburbs to re-urbanize, renewable energy, and so forth will not have the desired effect of shaping a sustainable human society on this planet until the fundamental truth of population control and family planning are universally known, accepted, and implemented.

What not to do (just a bare scratching of the surface):






I am going to enjoy my wife's company and that of our two rapidly-turning-adult children today, and put the specter of 9+ Billion people on Earth by ~2048 out of my mind for a while.

Don't know when people started using that abbreviation, but IMO it is not appropriate.

They've been using it since dinosaurs roamed the earth. It's an old joke. Too old and oft-used to be offensive, IMO.

Besides, it's "STD" now, not "VD."

Add to the list of what NOT to do:


(I really love the comments...too bad it takes 14 children with 8 of the 14 coming at one time for people to get pissed about breeders)

My gay friends have real issues with "breeders," and now the proletariat is coming to despise this suicidal behavior also.

Could someone help me understand....

Yesterday I heard that the Government was discussing a moratorium on foreclosures.

If such action were taken, then Asset owners would be unable to reclaim their assets and sell them for whatever they could get. A major part of the current crisis as I understand it is that bankers had exaggerated the values on mortgage backed securities and that defaults were exposing that the assets were overpriced, resulting in a dramatic drop in the bank capitalization.

If the government were to place a 6 to 12 month moratorium on foreclosures, while that would assist home owners wouldn't that really destroy what little value is left in these troubled assets? Seems that this would only work if the government were to intervene, purchase all of the bad assets at grossly inflated prices, then nationalize the holding so delinquent mortgage holders could stay in "public" housing, the bankers get to cover their losses, and the tax payers end up getting stiffed for the tab.

Could someone point out the error in my logic, or are we clearly on our way to a socialist/fascist state?


"and the tax payers end up getting stiffed for the tab."

That's the only thing I am sure of.

What about all the seniors that got into the Reverse Mortgage Scam so well advertised? Do they get their mortages paid off too? Obviously they will need money too. Just print enough money to pay off everything including credit cards. No bank or corporation or individual has any debt. Gaia will handle it.

Rather than allow yourself to get all in twist about a trivial play on English (VD as abbreviation for Valentine's Day), save your ire for something worth getting upset about:


I read a different article in the print version of Defense News yesterday at work, and there is much more: We are giving our new best buddies in the Iraq over 8000 Hummers, 140 M-1 tanks, an undetermined number of MRAPS (Mine-Resistant Armored Personnel Systems), several boatloads of M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), and so much more! Iraq is also using our money to but a bunch of refurbished Russian T-72 tanks and lots of other goodies that have Zero to do with improving the welfare of their people.

So, the stuff that we built at our own hideous expense , and then up-armored and modified in the field at huge expense, is given to our new so-called democracy of the Middle East...to do what with, exactly?

How long until this war equipment is used to slaughter the Kurdish people after we leave? Or re-fight another war with Iran? Or to re-invade Kuwait or go for the gold with KSA?

President Obama should have the U.S. sign on as a member of the World Court. Then, since our politicians don't have the cahones to try Bush, Cheney, Rummy, et al, for their war crimes against humanity, the World Court could institute such proceedings, even if in absentia.

Here's another small task to take your mind off your umbrage from my little attempt at humor with the 'VD' abbreviation in connection with my plea about sane family planning:


Write a message to the President at the White House web site, and write your Congress people as well, and tell them that the time has come to work towards a World free of weapons of mass destruction. Tell them, that in former President Ronald Reagan's words, these weapons are 'impotent and obsolete.' Yes, I realize that he said this in reference to his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI, aka 'Star Wars')making such weapons obsolete, but the reality is that even in the absence of a credible missile defense (which is never going to happen anyway), these weapons deter no one, buy us zero security, and in fact destabilize the World by encouraging proliferation...in addition to costing the World's WMD powers exorbitant amounts of resources that could be better used in other ways, such as developing renewable energy.

So, the stuff that we built at our own hideous expense , and then up-armored and modified in the field at huge expense, is given to our new so-called democracy of the Middle East...to do what with, exactly?

We were the dunderheads who invaded and messed up their country. Apparently with imperialist commercial motives at the top of the list of reasons. So giving them some stuff as a going away present isn't such an injustice. And we are giving them heavily used (abused) equipment, which probably isn't worth the cost of transport and refurbishing. So we will make the military and the contractors happy, by ordering brand new shiny stuff for our military, rather than trying to make do with worn out stuff.

Plus, we avoid the cost of transporting it home.

Plus we create customer lock in for current spare parts purchases and for future replacement units. This also becomes a means for control of a client state. If the client state attempts to forge an independent policy then their access to needed spares, or to improved systems technologies, is impaired. Once you embed a technology within a social structure it can be extremely difficult to change as the switching costs are extremely high. This lock in is a sophisticated variation of "I drink your milkshake."

Rampant use of H1-B visas to replace U.S. workers with foreign workers is being countered by Federal authorities leading investigations and issuing indictments.

Visa Fraud Sparks Arrests Nationwide

Of course, Even if we perfected unlimited clean/renewable energy, we would still be at terminal risk from overpopulation.


Find and read the short non-fiction article 'Fecundity Unlimited' by Isaac Asimov, first published in 'Venture Science Fiction' in January 1958. I'll cut to the bottom line of his calculations: Even if every last Carbon molecule in the known universe could be converted to human beings, humanity would achieve this state (using all the Universe's resources) at about the year 11,000 CE, given a population doubling time of 80 years. Know that Asimov acknowledged in his article, 1n 1958, that the actual limiting element for human production is Phosphorus. He also waived any practical concerns about energy production, pollution, food production, space travel, etc. to make his thought experiment case. So...the real limit to human population increase is practically tomorrow, geologically speaking. The ONLY answer is a zero-increase population schema...we are do pig-headed to implement this.

Revkin links to a WIRED article written by Bill Joy back in April 2000. I found it a good read, given my experiences with computers and technology. I wonder what Joy thinks of things after Shrub and 9/11 and WMD's in Iraq.

Here's a fresh comment from Joy.

E. Swanson

Nexen predicts new tar sands technology may provide profitable oil extraction at prices under $40/barrel.


From the article you link

Nexen reported a loss of $181-million, or 35¢ a share, in the fourth quarter, compared with a profit of $194-million, or 37¢, in the same period last year. The results include a non-cash impairment charge of about $317-million tied to writedowns, Nexen said.

Further, the company’s marketing division bruised the company for the third straight quarter, posting a cash flow loss of $140-million.

Nexen’s 2009 capital spending budget rings in at $2.6-billion, and is self-funding with oil at US$60 per barrel.

"As the world stands today, it is unlikely we will carry out our whole 2009 capital program," Marvin Romanow, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement.

You clip out the part where they expect positive cash flow from increased production at Long Lake.

If you subtract the non-cash impairment charge from the loss you get a positive. The non-cash impairment must be some accounting description.


I suspect the source of that charge down was the same as for my client that posted a $9 billion yearly "loss": it reflects the change in oil/NG year end prices used to value in-ground reserves. The client actually had it's most profitable year on record.

The bewildered herd is starting to wake up:

Q: What do you call a group out on a evening of hanging bankers?

A: Merrily Lynching!

From CR

I have noticed a stirring of real resentment for the first time among the proletariat and the formerly well off.

Climate warming gases rising faster than expected

"The largest factor in this increase is the widespread adoption of coal as an energy source, Field said, "and without aggressive attention societies will continue to focus on the energy sources that are cheapest, and that means coal."


I live in the deep interior of a third world country, and I do so on less cash per month (and I have a car!) than the monthly condo community fee back in midtown in 1994. I grow most of my own food, watch the young have many babies and not go hungry, sit around with the locals and chat about Paco's new sulky and that nice mare he traded for, go over to anyone's house for some grilled meat from a cow slaughtered right here, veggies from my organic hobby farm, nobody whining about how humans are a cancer on "Gaia," a place no one here ever heard of: we LIVE on and from the earth rather than polemicize about overpopulation. You don't like crowds? Leave the cities. All the would-be Mister and Mizz Naturals (reference R. Crumb, 1969) out there seem committed to unnatural behaviors and "scientific" solutions rather than getting on with the simple business of living. I don't rhapsodize from Manhattan about the supposed plight of so many third world "Joe Six-Packs;" I've become one, and it beats the bejeezus out of sipping overpriced lattes and listening to people who actually believe in Obama as anything more than just another tool, albeit a slicker one than his predecessor. Presumptuous white intellectuals idealize thirld world peasants, looking down only on white working folk. I remember well when such people went to Nicaragua to aid the "revolution" there, and I remember equally well how the peasantry referred to those idealistic saviors of humanity: "pitufos," which even members of the Council on Foregin Relations or their less-than-nomenklatura admirers may remember as the Smurfs.

As I fold my new tinfoil hat into shape (I favor the Pogo as Commodore Perry model, myself), I can't help but ponder what a certfiably intelligent Fed higher-up I've known all my life said to me with respect to Geithner: "He's always the smartest guy in the room." None of the "experts" whose routines Obama emcees are stupid, nor are they gormless. They are carrying out the plan exactly as it's been scripted. The gormless are the starry-eyed idealists who will become extinct just as they wish the rest of the human race to become, only sooner, once the authoritarianism really takes hold.

I'm no genius, but I've been fortunate to have been able to dedicate a disproportionate amount of time to study and analysis, and believe that when I see "Mene, Tekel, Peres" on the wall, I can manage to read it. I saw it eleven years ago, cashed out and here I am, far from the madding crowd. I see the handwriting on the wall once more, only this time it's in neon, bright red, and it looks like it's some sort of alert that has nothing to do with "furn tuh-wrists," anthrax attacks or suchlike.

Don't forget Pogo in his hat: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Those who govern us, that is. They, and more importantly, those who govern them. But they are inside the gates. Your gates. And they are just like those of you who feel so superior to the Joe and Joanna Six-Packs of the northern hemisphere, save that they view you as Joe and Joanna Middling-Chardonnay, a tad less unwashed, but go-to-the-service-entrance material all the same.

To quote one of my all-time favorite fictional characters, Mother Abagail of Stephen King's The Stand, "You come see me sometime."

It's time to take your stand.

I have believed all along the bigger you are, the harder you fall. While many see second and third world citizens as most at risk, I see the opposite: Advanced nations are most at risk. Just wtf are they going to survive on? Of course, I have the advantage of having lived for at least some time in Costa Rica and Thailand.

The caveat is that those third and second worlders that have been done over by the IMF, etc., will be totally screwed because they have been divorced, not necessarily of their own volition, from their natural/traditional lives and depend directly on gov't to survive.