DrumBeat: March 9, 2009

Oil Industry Strives to Limit Its Layoffs

As oil companies cut costs amid slumping energy prices, they are determined not to repeat the mistakes of the 1980s oil bust, when mass layoffs left the industry ill-prepared for the eventual rebound.

The lack of a clear consensus on how long the slump will last has presented the industry with a difficult choice. Companies can lay off workers and risk being understaffed if prices recover quickly, or bear the cost of employing more workers than needed during what could be a prolonged period of slow activity and lower revenues. A few of the largest oil companies, such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., have large cash reserves after years of high oil prices, but most smaller companies spent heavily during the boom years and are now scrambling to cut back.

Will OPEC Production Cut Come?

Exactly why oil traders are so beholden to these updates from El-Badri and his underlings is a mystery. The group is notoriously inconsistent, and is infamous for its internal infighting. History suggests that there are many better sources for information about OPEC than the OPEC members themselves.

"If there is any consistency at all in OPEC's forecasts, it is a lack of consistency," said James Williams, energy analyst at WTRG Economics in London, Arkansas.

Fertiliser firms cry foul over RIL gas contract

NEW DELHI: Weeks before India's biggest gas field is to go on stream off the Andhra coast, the government finds itself in a spot as fertiliser companies are refusing to ink deals with Reliance Industries Ltd -- the operator -- saying the draft of the agreement is heavily loaded in favour of Mukesh Ambani-controlled company and puts conditions that do not suit Indian entities.

Capitalism’s crisis and our response - part 1

The approach of peak oil — or, to be more precise, the beginning of the end of oil reserves which are easy to extract — is another major development and alters the basic arithmetic for oil-based economies. It was the major factor behind the invasion of Iraq, of course, and is the reason US bases are likely to remain after ‘withdraw’.

Whilst the crisis has brought the price of oil and gas down the upward pressure exerted by peak oil will remain long term. The conditions of the 1990s where the price of oil fluctuated between $10 and $20 a barrel will not return. The policy of OPEC is to cut production in order to push the price back to around $70 a barrel even during the crisis. Peak oil, therefore, represents a sea change in energy costs for the future.

Peak oil - Energy opportunities amid crisis

Speakers at MIT's fourth annual student-led Energy Conference on Saturday emphasized the historic opportunity now open to proponents of clean energy: a global economic crisis that can be directly addressed by sweeping changes to the way we produce and use energy. And research universities, they said, could play a major role in helping to bring about such a transformation.

Government could speed grid projects at no cost

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Instead of laying out billions to upgrade the nation's power grid, the U.S. government could stimulate investment without spending a dime by streamlining the process for getting infrastructure projects started, the chief financial officer of Sempra Energy said on Monday.

...A shortage of power lines is widely considered to be the major challenge to expanding development of "green" power sources such as wind farms and solar plants, which need to be built in deserts and on plains far from population centers.

The major obstacle, however, Snell said, is the "not-in-my-backyard" mentality of residents who don't want unsightly power lines put up in their communities.

"For all of the talk about environmental impacts and all of it, it's all about aesthetics," Snell said. "People just don't want to look at it."

Stimulus may get small wind turbines spinning

(CNN) -- The gale force of President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus package could breathe new life into an emerging industry: small wind turbines.

The bill provides a 30 percent investment tax credit to consumers who buy these turbines, which are typically used to help power homes or small businesses.

Even amid a recession, this tax credit "is going to blow the top off the market," said Ron Stimmel, a "small-wind" advocate with the American Wind Energy Association.

Companies rethink coal plants

WASHINGTON — Even as demand for electricity rises, energy companies are delaying or scrapping plans for new coal-burning power plants because of the prospect of restrictions imposed by federal global warming legislation.

Power use in the USA could grow 22% during the next 20 years, according to the Energy Department. To help keep the nation's laptops and TVs humming, dozens of new plants that burn coal — by far the nation's largest source of electricity — were in the works.

President Obama and many members of Congress vow to cut U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the major "greenhouse gas" warming the Earth. Coal-burning power plants are the USA's single largest source of carbon dioxide.

NYMEX-Crude ends up on naval incident;eyes on OPEC

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures ended higher for the second session in a row on Monday, amid jitters following a Chinese-U.S. naval incident, supportive technicals and expectations OPEC may lower output targets again.

"Crude prices are up, I think, in a knee-jerk reaction to the news of Chinese vessels harassing a U.S. Navy ship in the South China Sea," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Alaron Trading in Chicago. "Also, people are rolling over positions due to the narrowing contango."

Gains were pared after a Saudi-owned newspaper reported that Saudi Arabia wants OPEC to discuss stricter compliance with existing supply curbs. The paper also cited sources as saying OPEC should not discuss another cut.

Shell Suspends Export Obligations for Nigeria’s Forcados Crude

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, suspended export obligations for Nigeria’s Forcados crude after a pipeline was sabotaged last week.

Shell’s Nigerian unit declared a so-called force majeure on exports in the remainder of March and April effective from March 7, company spokesman Rainer Winzenried said in a telephone interview today. Force majeure is a legal clause that allows producers to miss contracted deliveries because of circumstances beyond their control.

Kuwait: Oil above $50 if OPEC cuts 1mn bpd

KUWAIT CITY - A senior Kuwaiti oil official says an OPEC production cut of a million barrels a day would raise prices over $50 a barrel by the third quarter of 2009.

Worst Mexican Peso to Tumble 17% as Deficits Grow, Says Ramirez

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s peso, the worst performer among the world’s most-traded currencies in the past six months, will weaken another 17 percent by year-end as the nation’s twin deficits swell, said Rogelio Ramirez de la O, the economist who predicted the 1994 devaluation.

Exxon Says Qatargas Train 4 to Ship LNG Within Days

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson said the fourth train at the Qatargas project will ship its first liquefied natural gas within days.

Qatargas’s fifth train, as LNG production units are known, will start later this year, Tillerson said today in an interview in Doha, Qatar.

Sasol, Petronas Studying Fuels Plant in Uzbekistan

(Bloomberg) -- Sasol Ltd. and Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. are studying a possible gas-to-fuels plant in Uzbekistan that could be bigger than Sasol’s Qatar facility, the largest such plant in the world.

Federal court vacates Alaska drilling decision

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A federal appeals court has vacated an opinion issued last year that halted Shell Oil Co. drilling plans for the Beaufort Sea off Alaska's northern coast, leaving both sides in the case wondering what the action means.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday gave no indication whether a change in the Nov. 20 ruling would mean exploration drilling will be allowed, or whether the ruling by a smaller panel of the court's judges will be replaced with a similar decision.

Cheap summer airfare to Europe, Australia plentiful, but costs to carriers may be heavy

"This is unprecedented," said Jean Covelli, president of The Travel Team Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Buffalo-based conglomerate Rich Products Corp.

"I think we might be seeing a forever-changed industry when we come out on the other side of this in terms of mergers, consolidation, frequencies and the routing of flights, with perhaps a number of cities being cut out of air service."

US carbon emissions by state

As President Obama plans new measures to allow US states to crack down on carbon emissions, it's worth looking at the big polluters in the US. The figures are from the US Energy Information Administration, which keeps the world's best data on global carbon emissions too. We've also broken out figures for emissions from cars, too.

Kurt Cobb: Complications

Some advocates for a sustainable future claim that the fulfillment of their vision will result in a simpler, healthier, happier existence when compared to our current consumption- and status-oriented unsustainable present. They may very well be right about healthier and happier. But will that sustainable future seem simpler to the individual?

The bright green high-tech globalized future imagined by some may result in lives that will seem no simpler than what we currently experience (that is, assuming we could achieve such as future). But a future characterized by a reversal of globalization and a return to more regional and local economic activity, or relocalization as it is often called, may actually make life suddenly much more complicated than we are used to. Let me explain.

Oil Tanker Strikes Submerged Ensco Jackup

Ensco International Incorporated has been informed by the U.S. Coast Guard that an oil tanker, the SKS Satilla, apparently struck a submerged object which the U.S. Coast Guard has identified as the sunken hull of the ENSCO 74. The ENSCO 74, a jackup rig, was lost during Hurricane Ike last September. The U.S. Coast Guard has advised Ensco that the oil tanker reportedly suffered damage to its ballast tanks and was listing slightly, but its cargo tanks were not ruptured. ENSCO 74 reportedly is submerged in 115' of water approximately 65 miles south of Galveston.

Ali Naimi: Achieving Energy Stability In Uncertain Times

Oil market stability has long been a central pillar of Saudi Arabia’s own oil policy. By maintaining spare production capacity and investing for the long-term, we believe our policies have made a positive contribution toward stable markets. But we also recognize that market dynamics are rapidly changing and that there are new challenges that must be confronted if our efforts to achieve stable energy markets are to be successful.

I believe oil market stability is enhanced when the following four conditions exist. First, oil prices should be low enough to facilitate economic growth, particularly in low income developing countries. Second, they should be high enough to provide sufficient return to producers that ensures adequate and timely investment. Third, prices should also be at a level high enough to provide an incentive for consumers to use oil efficiently. And finally, prices must be sufficient to encourage production from marginal fields, non-conventional sources and renewables.

ExxonMobil eyes starring role in Iraq

ExxonMobil is in talks with Baghdad to create the investment climate that would allow it to become a significant player in Iraq's energy sector, the US supermajor's chief executive Rex Tillerson said today.

Iraq, which sits on the world's third-largest oil reserves, needs billions of dollars of foreign investment to overhaul its oil sector and boost output after years of sanctions and war.

Petrobras Voting Shares Cut to ‘Neutral’ at JPMorgan

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA’s voting shares were lowered at JPMorgan Chase & Co., which cited the Brazilian state-controlled energy producer’s 15 percent rally since the start of the year and a lack of “positive catalysts.”

The rise of the Islamic world?

According to the most recent tally by Oil and Gas Journal, Iran houses the second-largest pool of unexploited petroleum in the world, an estimated 125.8 billion barrels. Only Saudi Arabia, with an estimated 260 billion barrels, possesses more; Iraq, the third in line, has an estimated 115 billion barrels. With this much oil -- about one-tenth of the world’s estimated total supply -- Iran is certain to play a key role in the global energy equation, no matter what else occurs. It is not, however, just sheer quantity that matters in Iran’s case, no less important is its future productive capacity.

Iran, on the other hand, has considerable growth potential: it is now producing about 4 million barrels per day, but is thought to be capable of boosting its output by another 3 million barrels or so. Few, if any, other countries possess this potential, so Iran’s importance as a producer, already significant, is bound to grow exponentially in the years ahead.

Kosovo Serb protesters clash with police, leaving over 20 injured

BELGRADE (Xinhua) -- Kosovo Serb protesters clashed on Sunday with the local police, leaving more than 20 people injured, local media reported.

At least 14 Serbs and five police officers were injured in the eastern Kosovo village of Silovo where police tried to stop several hundred Serb protesters from blocking a main road, the official Serbian news agency Tanjug reported.

...Tanjug reported that the Silovo villagers have not had electricity for seven days due to a malfunction in the electric power grid, which is why they have decided to hold protests to demand that the Kosovo Electric Power Corporation repair the grid.

However, other reports indicated that Kosovo's power company cut off electricity in Silovo because of unpaid bills that date back to 1999.

Opponents eye options in wind farm fight

CONCORD – Opponents of a proposed wind park in Coos County are looking at their federal options to halt the massive project, even as a state hearing begins today on licensing.

Boat made of plastic bottles to make ocean voyage

SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- Imagine collecting thousands of empty plastic bottles, lashing them together to make a boat and sailing the thing from California to Australia, a journey of 11,000 miles through treacherous seas.

You'd have to be crazy, or trying to make a point. David de Rothschild is trying to make a point.

De Rothschild hopes his one-of-a-kind vessel, now being built on a San Francisco pier, will boost recycling of plastic bottles, which he says are a symbol of global waste. Except for the masts, which are metal, everything on the 60-foot catamaran is made from recycled plastic.

World Bank offers dire forecast for world economy

WASHINGTON: In a bleaker assessment than those of most private forecasters, the World Bank predicted Sunday that the global economy would shrink in 2009 for the first time since World War II.

...Lower commodity prices have caused great problems in many African and Latin American countries. The steep slide in oil prices - 69 percent between July and December of 2008 - has spurred growth in poorer oil-importing countries but has caused immense difficulty in poorer oil-exporting countries.

Brazil, an exporter of oil as well as many other commodities and manufactured goods, reported its first trade deficit in eight years as exports dropped 28 percent in 2008.

Oil rises to near $46 as investors eye OPEC cuts

Oil prices rose to near $46 a barrel Monday as investors anticipated another OPEC production cut will shrink global supplies. Gains were kept in check by the strengthening dollar, which drew investors away from commodities.

Oil at $50 Looms as OPEC Plans Cut, Keeps to Quota

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC’s record production cuts are draining the glut in world oil markets, leading traders to bet that $50 crude is two months away.

Ever since oil began its 69 percent plunge from a record $147.27 a barrel in July, traders have been looking for a bottom. Now that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reduced supplies 13 percent since September, inventories are falling 1.4 million barrels a day, according to PVM Oil Associates Ltd., the world’s biggest broker of energy trades between banks. OPEC will limit exports again when the group meets March 15, according to a survey by Bloomberg News.

OPEC Needs to Cut Oil Output 800,000 for Compliance

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC needs to cut oil output by an additional 800,000 barrels a day to comply with existing quota reductions, the group’s secretary-general said.

The group will lower its 2009 demand forecast to a drop of 1 million barrels a day this year, compared with 600,000 barrels a day it predicted in its February report, Abdalla el-Badri said. OPEC’s March report will be published later this week.

India Rejects Goldman Sachs Criticism on ONGC Subsidy

(Bloomberg) -- The Indian government rejected criticism by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts that it failed to consult minority shareholders on $20 billion of subsidies for refiners taken from Oil & Natural Gas Corp.

“The government is the majority shareholder in ONGC and in every company, the majority shareholder decides,” R.S. Pandey, the senior-most bureaucrat in the nation’s Oil Ministry, said by telephone from New Delhi today. “It is not illegal.”

Price of gasoline continues to edge upward

CAMARILLO, Calif. - The average price of gasoline continues to creep upward and is about 1.8 cents a gallon higher now than it was two weeks ago, according to the national Lundberg Survey of fuel prices.

Gas drilling feeling the economic pinch

PICEANCE BASIN, Colorado — A good deal of work has disappeared with 40 to 60 percent fewer natural gas drilling rigs working in the Piceance Basin this year compared to last.

Rigs working in the Piceance Basin dropped from a high of 102 in the third quarter of 2008 down to about 38 in February, which has led to a “sharp decline” in oilfield services, according to a presentation last month by Carter Mathies of Arista Midstream Services. He expects the count to fall further.

Louisiana energy industry is fighting back against new taxes proposed by Obama

The state's oil and gas industry has launched a crusade against President Barack Obama's proposed 2010 budget, which critics say will increase the tax burden on fossil-fuel producers to the tune of $30 billion.

Total confirms Nigeria Akpo oilfield startup

ABUJA (Reuters) - French oil major Total's Akpo deep offshore oilfield in Nigeria has started operations with production expected to reach 175,000 barrels per day this summer, the company said on Monday.

An official with Nigeria's state-run oil firm NNPC told Reuters on Thursday the oilfield, located 200 kilometres off the coast of the restive Niger Delta, had pumped first oil earlier in the week.

Years of distrust hurt chances of Nigeria oil reforms

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's parliament is considering legislation that will drastically transform Africa's largest oil and gas sector, but years of political distrust and corruption are likely to delay passage for months if not longer.

Build resource reserves

In early February, I predicted that a global inflationary trend would come on the heels of the subprime crisis, and suggested that investors put their money into natural resources. China's decision-makers seemed to have done just that with a national plan to stock up on national reserves of oil, coal products, and other important minerals such as copper, chrome, manganese and tungsten. The plan (2008-15) was promulgated on Jan 7.

Without the participation of the private sector, the government will only achieve limited success in this effort. Private investment and reserves are an important part of the country's overall resources.

If the Chinese government or a Stated-owned enterprise were to purchase resources in a foreign country right now, it may cause alarm and disrupt the deal. If private businesses were involved, the process would be much smoother.

How per barrel cost of oil becomes price per gallon

While most of us don't pay attention to the fluctuating price of commodities, almost all of us know the daily price for a barrel of oil.

It's curious since the cost of wheat determines the price of bread and the cost of pork bellies affects the price of bacon, but we're more concerned about those 42 gallons of sweet light crude.

And while we all know the closing price for a barrel of oil, most don't understand how and when that will translate into price changes at the pump.

Medvedev: Russia will move forward despite crisis

Medvedev says the crisis in the Russian economy, which has been devastated by plunging prices for oil, has forced him to defer his goal of turning Moscow into an international financial center.

But he says Russia is continuing with other ambitious tasks, including efforts to boost childbirth rates and reduce the population's death rate. Russia's population has declined every year since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Coalition deaths from IED attacks soar in Afghanistan

Insurgents, who in the past have fled to havens in neighboring Pakistan in the winter, now appear to have stocks of explosives and other supplies in Afghanistan and have stayed to fight, McMinn said.

IEDs are the top killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Since the war began, 589 U.S. servicemembers have been killed there, 434 of them in combat. More than 2,700 have been wounded in action, according to the Pentagon.

New study: Most of Syria viable oil reserve already produced

According to SANA, Arbash clarified that the geological reserve of oil in Syria certainly amounts 24.3 billion barrels and the vast majority of them IS located in the north-eastern Syria. The viable production oil reserve is estimated at 6.9 billion barrels, 4.5 billion barrel of them were already produced.

Ethiopia - Ministry warns oil operators after fuel shortage hits major towns

The Ministry of Trade and Industry of Ethiopia on Friday warned oil companies operating in the country after a week-long fuel shortage took hold in major towns including Dessie and Bahir Dar. In a letter he wrote on Wednesday, stae minister Ahmed Tusa indicated that over eight major towns are for a week now suffering from shortage of fuels, particularly gas oil, benzene and kerosene, and ordered the oil companies to urgently address the problem.

Economic challenges on conference's agenda

This year’s conference will also include a strong international flavour with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) confirmed as guest nation for 2009. Representatives from the UAE will share their insights into the developments and innovations taking place in their region, with David Harris, Director, Logistics Sector, Department of Economic Development (DED), UAE, to outline the potential for Dubai as a global logistics hub. Other renowned overseas presenters include Kjell Aleklet, Professor of Physics at Uppsala University, Sweden and President of ASPO, The Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas, and Richard Wilding, Professor of Supply Chain Risk Management, Cranfield School of Management, United Kingdom.

Professor Aleklett is set to explore the problems confronting global transport as oil production reaches its peak, while Professor Wilding will discuss how companies can gain competitive advantage through innovation and collaboration in the supply chain process.

Can you survive economic crisis? - Booming preparedness industry says Americans are stockpiling

To some, the term "survivalist" conjures images of camouflage-clad men stockpiling freeze-dried food in a mountain cabin, but in the current economic crisis, the people quietly preparing to survive catastrophe may just be your next-door neighbors.

In his column in last month's Financial Times, business and technology expert Ade McCormack writes, "The world is in crisis and with it the world of business. Many of us have two plans. Plan A involves President Barack Obama performing some economic magic. Plan B involves a revolver, a vegetable patch and a subscription to Survivalist Monthly."

Auto parts supplier looks beyond industry for survival

BURTON, Mich. — In 2001, Laurie Schmald Moncrieff gave her 35 workers some homework.

Moncrieff, a third-generation family owner of auto supplier Schmald Tool & Die near Flint, Mich., asked her workers to read Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, a self-help book that deals with big life changes.

Moncrieff worried her employees were too accustomed to making car parts to quickly adjust to changes she saw coming.

"They looked at me as if I was nuts," she says. "But I have been saying that change is coming. It felt like I was there on a track watching the train coming, and no one was listening to me."

GFEI outlines 50 per cent improvement by 2050

GFEI expects technologies to arrive that will improve the efficiency of cars by 30 per cent by 2020 and 50 per cent by 2030. The efficiency of the global car fleet will improve by 50 per cent by 2050 mainly due to incremental change to conventional internal combustion engines and drive systems as well as better aerodynamics and weight reduction.

Transit outlook grimmer after record '08

The number of people riding buses and trains hit a 52-year high in 2008 as skyrocketing gas prices and a faltering economy pushed riders toward less expensive travel.

Public transit ridership last year increased 4% to 10.7 billion rides, according to a report released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association.

The outlook is gloomy, though. Ridership growth in the fourth quarter slowed as more commuters lost their jobs and budget shortfalls pushed transit systems to reduce service or raise fares.

Nuclear power industry sees opening for revival

With the Obama administration staking the nation's energy future on clean sources, the U.S. nuclear power industry aims to make a comeback by building dozens of new reactors that supply plentiful, carbon-free electricity.

Ghana: Biofuels do far more harm than good

A number of foreign businesses have been storming Ghana in their quest to invest in the cultivation of sugarcane and jatropha for the production of biofuels for export. While this looks good for a country that is in need of foreign exchange, the country’s history of managing environmental challenges of development is not encouraging.

Ethanol producers look to rebound from bankruptcy

As ethanol producers battle compressed operating margins and volatile commodity markets, some have been forced to file for bankruptcy. According to data compiled by EPM, four ethanol plants representing approximately 443 MMgy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January.

Ethanol: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, the Beautiful

The Good: The 9 billion gallons of ethanol that Americans used last year helped drive down oil prices. For those of us who fuel our vehicles with gasoline, as much as 10 percent of that gasoline is ethanol. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires that more biofuel be used every year until we reach 36 billion gallons by 2022.

Siemens wins major renewable energy order

BERLIN (AFP) – German engineering giant Siemens said Friday it has won one of its biggest ever renewable energy contracts, worth more than two billion euros (2.5 billion dollars) for wind turbines.

"The agreement with Dong Energy (of Denmark) is one of the biggest orders in the history of Siemens," a statement quoted the head of Siemens' renewable energy division Rene Umlauft as saying.

Drought, recession scorch Texas cattle ranchers

PANDORA, Texas (Reuters) - Frates Seeligson recalls when his ranch last saw rain: September of last year.

That was around the time he took on an extra 200 cows to help a farmer whose fields were ravaged by Hurricane Ike.

Talk about a perfect storm. The worst drought on record in this parched part of south-central Texas means his withered land can hardly support his own dwindling herds.

Meanwhile, the worsening recession means that low-priced hamburger meat is replacing high-priced steak on American shopping lists, driving down beef prices.

Bulgarian air most polluted in Europe: ministry

SOFIA (AFP) – The air in Bulgaria is the most polluted in the whole of the European Union, the ministry of environment and water found in a new report published Friday.

...It blamed the high level of pollution on the large number of old vehicles in Bulgaria without catalytic converters and the lack of restrictions imposed on second-hand cars imported from western Europe.

In addition, central heating and gas heating is used primarily in big cities, while smaller towns and villages still rely on coal-fired heating.

Nigeria: potential gas hotspot, on frontline for climate change

LAGOS (AFP) – Nigeria, tipped to be the world's next natural gas powerhouse, is on the frontline for climate change as it is ranked Africa's largest producer of greenhouse gases.

Experts meeting in the country last week said the west African powerhouse, which has the seventh largest proven natural gas reserves in the world at 187 trillion cubic feet, could become a key player in the international gas market.

But the gas is mainly found in the Niger Delta -- an oil-producing area of swamps and creeks the size of Scotland -- that occupies an unenviable position of being Africa's largest gas flarer and one of the continent's lowest-lying areas.

DR Congo signals reversal of forest reforms: NGOs

KINSHASA (AFP) – Democratic Republic of Congo authorities have signaled their intention to reverse forest reforms and expand industrial logging, a statement from major environmental groups said Friday.

"Congolese government authorities are ... signalling their intent to backtrack on decisions and expand industrial logging activities in the DRC," a statement from Global Witness, Greenpeace and Rainforest Foundation said.

Jeremy Clarkson and Michael O'Leary won't listen to green cliches and complaints about polar bears

Dr Myanna Lahsen, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Colorado, has specialised in understanding how professional scientists, some of them with highly respected careers, turn climate sceptic. She found the largest common factor was a shared sense that they had personally lost prestige and authority as the result of campaigns by liberals and environmentalists. She concluded that their engagement in climate issues "can be understood in part as a struggle to preserve their particular culturally charged understanding of environmental reality."

We Are Breeding Ourselves to Extinction

All measures to thwart the degradation and destruction of our ecosystem will be useless if we do not cut population growth. By 2050, if we continue to reproduce at the current rate, the planet will have between 8 billion and 10 billion people, according to a recent U.N. forecast. This is a 50 percent increase. And yet government-commissioned reviews, such as the Stern report in Britain, do not mention the word population. Books and documentaries that deal with the climate crisis, including Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” fail to discuss the danger of population growth. This omission is odd, given that a doubling in population, even if we cut back on the use of fossil fuels, shut down all our coal-burning power plants and build seas of wind turbines, will plunge us into an age of extinction and desolation unseen since the end of the Mesozoic era, 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs disappeared.

Could climate prove a change too far for Obama?

PARIS (AFP) — European enthusiasm for President Barack Obama's ambitious programme of US renewal does not hide deep uncertainty over the likelihood of his delivering on measures to combat climate change.

Nine months from UN talks in Denmark, where world leaders will try to wrap up agreement on a new global climate change treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2012, there are real fears that events may conspire against Obama.

The depth of the disaster that has befallen the US economy in particular -- witness Friday's announcement of over 650,000 jobs lost in February alone -- and the difficulties Obama has faced getting Congress to greenlight his rescue plans underscore significant obstacles ahead.

Hopes of climate change accord 'are sinking'

Two leading climate scientists have broken ranks with their peers to declare that hopes of getting a meaningful deal on halting global warming this year are already lost.

Professor Kevin Anderson, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, and Professor Trevor Davies, one of the centre's founders, told The Times that it was time to start looking for alternatives to an international deal.

Climate change: Acid oceans transform marine life, says study

PARIS (AFP) – Ocean acidification driven by climate change is stripping away the protective shell of tiny yet vital organisms that absorb huge amounts of carbon pollution from the atmosphere, a new study has revealed.

Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the calcium carapace of microscopic animals called foraminifera living in the Southern Ocean have fallen in weight by a third, the study found.

Climate scientists warn that world is heading for war of the resources

There is a 50-50 chance of temperature rises reaching dangerous levels over the next century, climate scientists have warned.

Even with heavy cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of 3 per cent a year from 2015, the chance of preventing the temperature rise from exceeding 2C by 2050 is no more than half. And every decade's delay in reducing emissions will cause temperatures to go up by half a degree.

...Scientists fear that temperature rises above 2C would lead to wars over key resources, including water supplies, falls in crop yields in southern Europe and the spread of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Almost a third of animal and plant species could become extinct. Warm-water corals are among the species most at risk; animals that will struggle to survive include polar bears and emperor penguins.

Warming skeptics face shrinking support

NEW YORK (UPI) -- Climate change skeptics meeting at an annual conference in New York Monday are showing signs of internal disputes and weakening support, observers say.

Scientists to issue stark warning over dramatic new sea level figures

Scientists will warn this week that rising sea levels, triggered by global warming, pose a far greater danger to the planet than previously estimated. There is now a major risk that many coastal areas around the world will be inundated by the end of the century because Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are melting faster than previously estimated.

Low-lying areas including Bangladesh, Florida, the Maldives and the Netherlands face catastrophic flooding, while, in Britain, large areas of the Norfolk Broads and the Thames estuary are likely to disappear by 2100. In addition, cities including London, Hull and Portsmouth will need new flood defences.

I don't know if this has been posted. It's a long, but very good Vanity Fair article by Michael Lewis about Iceland. Interesting discussion of gender differences regarding investing.

Wall Street on the Tundra
By Michael Lewis

Iceland’s de facto bankruptcy—its currency (the krona) is kaput, its debt is 850 percent of G.D.P., its people are hoarding food and cash and blowing up their new Range Rovers for the insurance—resulted from a stunning collective madness. What led a tiny fishing nation, population 300,000, to decide, around 2003, to re-invent itself as a global financial power? In Reykjavík, where men are men, and the women seem to have completely given up on them, the author follows the peculiarly Icelandic logic behind the meltdown. . .

When you borrow a lot of money to create a false prosperity, you import the future into the present. It isn’t the actual future so much as some grotesque silicon version of it. Leverage buys you a glimpse of a prosperity you haven’t really earned. The striking thing about the future the Icelandic male briefly imported was how much it resembled the past that he celebrates. I’m betting now they’ve seen their false future, the Icelandic female will have a great deal more to say about the actual one.

“Iceland is no longer a country. It is a hedge fund.”

“I’m so fed up with this whole system,” he said. “I just want some women to take care of my money.” 8D

“The clients were only interested in ‘hedging’ if it meant making money,” he says.

Friday, November 21, 2008
Study shows upwards of 80% of hedge fund employees never actually knew what the word “hedge” meant

Chicago, IL—A recent study conducted by the Gallop Group showed that of 5,000 hedge fund employees surveyed during 2006-2007, 83% of respondents were unable to correctly define the word “hedge.”

“It’s just like, you know, part of the title” said one trader confidently. “Another way of saying ‘badass’ fund or ‘rockstar’ fund.” “My Range Rover is hedge,” he insisted, as if to corroborate. Other responses were equally absurd, ranging from “a Greek word” to “some Jewish dude’s last name.”

When told that hedging involved systematically eliminating risk, most subjects just stared ahead blankly. Others checked the time. Several respondents were able to eventually grasp the concept, but they found it quite novel. “Ohhh…you mean that…” said the portfolio manager of a $500M fund, as if a light bulb had gone off inside his head. He then added: “Yeah, we didn’t do that shit at all.”

From LeveragedSellOut

We've bottomed when this industry no longer exists.

Interesting excerpt:

One of the hidden causes of the current global financial crisis is that the people who saw it coming had more to gain from it by taking short positions than they did by trying to publicize the problem. Plus, most of the people who could credibly charge Iceland—or, for that matter, Lehman Brothers—with financial crimes could be dismissed as crass profiteers, talking their own book. Back in April 2006, however, an emeritus professor of economics at the University of Chicago named Bob Aliber took an interest in Iceland. Aliber found himself at the London Business School, listening to a talk on Iceland, about which he knew nothing. He recognized instantly the signs. . .

Word spread in Icelandic economic circles that this distinguished professor at Chicago had taken a special interest in Iceland. In May 2008, Aliber was invited by the University of Iceland’s economics department to give a speech. To an audience of students, bankers, and journalists, he explained that Iceland, far from having an innate talent for high finance, had all the markings of a giant bubble, but he spoke the technical language of academic economists. (“Monetary Turbulence and the Icelandic Economy,” he called his speech.) In the following Q&A session someone asked him to predict the future, and he lapsed into plain English. As an audience member recalls, Aliber said, “I give you nine months. Your banks are dead. Your bankers are either stupid or greedy. And I’ll bet they are on planes trying to sell their assets right now.”

The Icelandic bankers in the audience sought to prevent newspapers from reporting the speech. Several academics suggested that Aliber deliver his alarming analysis to Iceland’s Central Bank. Somehow that never happened.

A modern variation on the truism "A fool and his money are soon parted".

These days, it is a fool and your money.

Jesus, I saved that exact snippet to paste.

"The Icelandic bankers in the audience sought to prevent newspapers from reporting the speech."

Sub any of the G 20 Nations for "Icelandic".

Note not one word on the 2 source leak (WSJ/Fortune)
on the 25 banks counterparty to AIG.

The "innate talent" tale the Icelanders told themselves is particularly instructive - apparently Americans' abilities at self-delusion and exceptionalism aren't unique.

The article was indeed long, but screamingly funny, and definitely worth the read.

Argentina is a less amusing story, but this series of videos looks like a roadmap for where the US is headed (posted on Youtube, but gathered here) -


in Matt Simmons pitch to the Australians at Texas CoC, he had two slides 16 and 17, from what he called "highly regarded confidential supply model"

they have numbers which are below both EIA and IEA for global production

could these be CERA numbers???

I seriously doubt that it's CERA.

Internal CIA/NSA source? MI-6, or Russian KGB? IMO, it would only make sense for someone to funnel 'special' info to Matt to help spread the word to the general public at a measured pace.

Here are the two slides you refer to. It seems Simmons is claiming that 2008 production C+C was 2mb/d below 2005 and "All Liquids" was 1mb/d below 2005.

These tables are helpful reminders that the good ol' US of A produces a lot of oil. More than Canada and Mexico combined. Sad that we waste so much of it. Oh well, time for me to go out and drive up and down the street to show off my new $500 muffler and $1500 rims. Recession? What recession? Hell, I might even decide to get out on my hood and dance on my driver-less truck so my buddies can post the video on youtube. Just need to watch out for telephone poles (or, not):

Interesting. Any guesses as to which "highly regarded" model he's using?

May not be much of a model at all. It just might be that Matt gets a snippet of info earlier than most, every now and then, from a source or changing sources that pop up periodically. Recall the earlier Heinberg disclosure. Targeted leaks can be a very powerful, but very subtle tool.

If EIA & IEA politicized/compromised as evidenced by their data revision history: big incentive for someone somewhere to periodically jerk their chain to induce them to do a better job.

Interesting. Any guesses as to which "highly regarded" model he's using?

Aces or Khebabs?

Hello Nate,

Think Deep Throat & Foundation. Perhaps another version of Colin's earlier visitor from US Naval Intelligence and/or Nemesis has popped up again? Maybe Putin discreetly leveraging ahead? IMO, strategically better than blunt tactical Polonium. My feeble two cents.

Do they show 2005 as the peak for both C+C and all liquids?


I've been watching for a Peak Oil Update for months. The last POU was in October of 2008. Since then, OPEC has cut 4 million barrels a day (or something like that) and the bottom has fallen out of demand. If ever there was a time to know what's happening on the supply side, surely that time is now.

So why no PO Update since October? Are we not supposed to know?

Coincidentally... this weekend I was listening to a businessman (who had traveled to Iceland) on this same issue and he basically said that it's not as simple as that (that is, viewing it in an American societal context).

I was told that women pretty much make up 1/2 the workforce (and in some occupations (traditionallly considered male in US culture) exceed the male population). His opinion was that the Icelanders (both male and female) think that this economic mess was created by a few either greedy or short-sighted indivduals (who will be remembered for it). He didn't think there was - as there might be in the US - that much of gender-based cultural approach to things; said that in Iceland there are two types: people who think... and stupid people.

So what's causing the difference in perception between the article and what I heard? I don't know.

Maybe you should ask a businesswoman instead. ;-)

After reading this article, something occurred to me. Are there any female Darwin Award winners? If there are any, what is the approximate percentage?

Yes there are but the percentage is small.

Wendy Northcutt writes a series of books (I have 4 of them) filled with Darwin awards. She also has a website. Interesting how its a Woman that moderates and writes about the stupidity of (mostly) males.

Yes there are but the percentage is small.

That actually makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. High risk behavior which carries a small chance of allowing the male to create massive numbers of offspring is rewarded genetically. Some of this risky behavior fits the bill, 99% chance of being killed, 1% chance of becoming the warlord, with hundreds of concubines.

But a lot of the risky behavior in the Darwin awards is not done with a reward in mind, it's just bone headed. Searching for gas leaks with a lighted match, things like that.

Now that you ask WT....I can't think the last time I saw a women even as honorable mention. Actually I don't ever remember seeing a woman of any of the lists but that probably just my poor memory...maybe.

Long ago, the women convinced the men that they were too weak to go out and defend themselves - they'll just cower in the cave with the baby, while the big, strong fellas with the pointy sticks go out there into the darkness toward the sound of the lions.

Men are by and large expendable, after all - you only need one cock in the henhouse.

Epinephrine and testosterone - quite the combination - no longer so advantageous to the modern man negotiating contracts or commuting in traffic.

What about that unemployed woman with 14 kids --- here's your card. ;-)

How you can sell the fraudulent actions of a literal handful of people as the responsibility of 50% of the population is inexplicable. The vast majority of armed bank robberies are committed by male humans-maybe that justifies the internment camps for this 50% of the population that always wrecks everything-nothing good has every come from this crowd.

These are after all Viking people, Women do jobs just like men do and are just as tough as the men.

Culturally I never saw this happening to them. But someone got to them and sold them a bill of goods backed by seaweed. When I read about it last year I knew they would be able to weather the storm. After all they have lived there for over 1,000 years and they have been in worse fixes than this one.

I wonder how they are doing on being OIL free in the coming decades, they were working on that as well. They might not have money, but they did not have money a few centuries ago either and they turned out fine.

Women do not take the name of their husbands. Males and females take the name of their fathers and add "son" or "dottir" as a last name.

I have always wanted to go live there as a crash site if I had to bug out of the USA, but it is harder and harder to get into their country as a transplant.

If anyone can weather the storm of the Hedge fund mess, they can.


Iceland had a female leader long time ago. Women have just as much a role in the nation as men do even though a Man might have started the whole hedge fund business. The newest Government will be lead by a female.

Iceland has a long history of living in difficult times, 1,000 years as a country, the oldest democracy in the world.

Men and women get last names after their fathers with "son" and "dottir" tacted on to tell the genders apart. Some first names can be male or female.

If any country can weather this storm it is Iceland, they have had worse times in their past. I have always wanted to go live there if the USA became a rotten place to live.


Sorry about the double post, but when I sent one of these the Drupal sign showed up saying the site was down. I just thought the stuff I wrote was lost in the ether.


Hello Charles,

As long as nobody has added a comment to your double post: you can just go back into 'edit mode' to remove the second text. It is the polite thing to do--no need to apologize.

As an Icelander I´m ashamed when I read this article.

I must though say that there are some exaggerations and inaccuracy in the article.

Our debt was in fact about 850% of GDP but not anymore. The banks are bankrupt but the Icelandic government will not pay the debt of private banks. The foreign lenders of the banks will write off a great deal of the debt. I say thank god. Iceland is not bankrupt, at least not yet. It would be ridiculous to make the Icelandic people pay the dept of crazy bankers and private banks. The right desicion was made to let them become bankrupt. The Icelandic government took over only part of the old banks to maintain some banking operations in the country.

Our debt will rightly be about 70-100% of GDP (that is a lot by the way).

The situation is bad and the unemployment rate is now about 10%. But life is still going on as normal for the most part. People are not hoarding food in large quantities and our currency "the Krona" has gained some strenght in the last few weeks.

And some good has come to Iceland due to the crisis. Politicians are afraid of the people now and some changes are being made at the moment. The constitution will be probably be changed in the next feew weeks so people can vote directly on many issues instead of the parliament. People want to make changes to make society better (less greed etc).

What is sad, is that Iceland was very rich and prosperous before the banking madness (2002-2008) due to massive resources per capita (fish and energy). But the greed of a small part of the nation made this mess. But I´m confident we will make it, mainly due to those resources.

Hello Muninn,

Thxs for the update. Your Quote: "It would be ridiculous to make the Icelandic people pay the dept of crazy bankers and private banks."

Unfortunately, that is not happening here in the US. The Bezzle continues. :(

Iceland paid off their national debt 3 or 4 years ago, which is a help now (no old national debt, and a good credit history).

Much of the article is wrong (FAR more than 9 male names in Iceland, Arni, Guðmunder, Halldór, Bragi, Egil, Þröstur, Þor, Ingimundur, Hlöðvers, Gylfi, Jon, Páll and dozens more.

Over 90% of Icelanders use their father's first name as their last name, but some family names do exist.

And I never had a problem with Icelanders bumping into me. The idea that Icelandic man & women are "more different" than elsewhere seems to me to be a writer's fantasy.

The Vanity Fair article is a bad joke, designed to entertain rather than inform.

Iceland has had three volcanic explosions that killed much of the population (perhaps half, think atomic war, with fluorine poisoning the land), they live in a VERY tough environment (even 101 Reykjavik is between +10 C & -10 C 90% of the time).

They are extremely honest and have LONG democratic traditions.

It would be nice if deCode# was doing better, but Iceland also makes the best artificial legs and arms as well as fish, aluminum & ferro-silicon.

And Iceland also exports bananas :-)


Best Hopes for Iceland,



Hello Muninn.

Where in Iceland do you live? I used to live in 1975-1977 at the Naval Air Base in Keflavik. It was where Icelandair was based out of. But I have only read an odd news article here and there over the last decade or so, not really keeping tract of things there abouts.

Glad you are here at TOD.

Do you still produce Aluminum? There was a plant and docks on the main highway from Keflavik to the Capital.


I live in Reykjavik, the capital.

I´m glad to read TOD. I have learned a lot doing so.

Yes we produce more Aluminium than ever. In my opinion too much (too many of our eggs in one basket). There are now 3 big smelters. Two of them near the capital and the other one is in the east.

I have worked with Landsvirkjun on Karahnjukar and I am the only non-Icelandic member of your tree growing club. I have helped introduce for trial a couple of new tree species.

Contact me if you like (my eMail is linked to my name).

Best Hopes for Iceland,


Hi Alan.

So you worked on Karahnjúkar (the biggest hydropower project in Iceland). I came there in 2006 to look at it. I have also flown over the the dam in a small plane.

Much appreciated that you are a member of our tree growing club. I try to set out trees every year. We have too few of them on this island.


Iceland is in the interesting position of creating a new ecosystem.

Increased CO2 will, from experiments, cause problems for your birch, almost the only tree native to Iceland (rowan and some others have very small niches). Since Settlement, almost all of the forests were destroyed. So a new ecosystem is being developed, using species from around the world.

Forestry in a Treeless Land by Þröstur Eysteinsson

pdf warning

Best Hopes for New Icelandic industry, forestry :-)


Forest Gardens do the same. Perhaps they should look at that in case they end up isolated out there by future events.

Man/Woman can't live on fish alone!


A fascinating article was published last fall, just prior to meltdown, on democracy, the presidency and political power in Iceland.


From my US perspective, it reads Icelanders as quite timid politically, often rendering democracy ineffectual.

I'd love to hear your slant on the author, if you agree with his critique of the presidency and the people. Is he viewing Iceland through environmentally-colored glasses? Or is he correct.

The President of Iceland occupies the same position as the Queen of Denmark. Head of State, mostly a figurehead, only power used in advocating for basic changes (plant more trees) and when Althingi is at an impasse.

The Prime Minister and other Ministers have 99% of the political power.

The linked article requires a subscription.


I thought it was free. Rats.

From article:

"Many Icelanders have been troubled by the decision to sell off the landscape. The signature such debate took place over the Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Proj ect, which involved building several dams along two major glacial rivers, a series of deep tunnels to carry water to hydropower stations, and a new electrical infrastructure to connect those stations to a coastal smelter. The measure became increasingly unpopular as Icelanders got to know something about the massive amount of remote wilderness that would be—and now has been—drowned; about the reindeer that calved there and the pinkfooted geese that nested there; about the serious pollution the hydropowered smelters would emit, even if the electricity itself was emissions-free; and about the scandalous economics of the deal, whereby the citizens would pay billions for the infrastructure and the U.S.-based aluminum manufacturer Alcoa, which would most benefit from Iceland’s increased smelting capacity, would provide only a few hundred jobs to locals in return. In a country the size of Iceland, a few hundred jobs outside the capital count, and there has been a ripple effect on the declining eastern economy and population—but at a cost many think is too high."

Later in article, speaking with Svanur Kristjánsson, a political science professor at the University of Iceland.

"I asked him what had happened. “You can run into your prime minister at the store,” he said. “You know the minister, the president—you can make an appointment with the president.” But at the same time, there is “an incredible lack of civic courage” within the governing class, “a lack of people standing up and telling the truth,” and this vacuum was quickly filled by action from others—from aluminum companies, from international investors, from Iceland’s new class of the super-rich. Which is to say that representative democracy fails wherever its citizens let it fail, even on a charming island with a thousand-year democratic tradition."

Article provides a history of Iceland and its democracy, including an account of blowing up the dam of the Laxa River 25 years ago, whose participants were glorified. "Only sixty-five were convicted and fined, and the Supreme Court ultimately overturned even the fine itself."

But it is the present description of Icelanders provided by Iceland's best selling author, Andri Snær Magnason, I find fascinating. It was stated after a recent pro enviroment concert with Iceland's star performer, Sigur Rós.

"I ran into Magnason, who had helped organize the event, the next morning and asked him why at a concert for the environment no one had said anything about the environment, or politics, or democracy, or dams, or actions people could take to make a difference. “They didn’t want to preach,” he said firmly, as though it were the most reasonable thing in the world."

A biased piece.

the scandalous economics of the deal

Landsvirkjun builds the power infrastructure (just slightly less than US$ 1 billion) and has a long term sales agreement with Alcoa (price reflects price of aluminum).

Alcoa spends a little over $1 billion for the smelter.

The powerplant is expected to last 400 years. At high aluminum prices it would have paid off in a dozen or so years (basically all but two other dams are now paid for).

the massive amount of remote wilderness that would be—and now has been—drowned; about the reindeer that calved there and the pinkfooted geese that nested there; about the serious pollution the hydropowered smelters would emit,

The area is in the reservoir is a small % of the wilderness area, the design was reconfigured to save the goose nesting area, reindeer are a feral introduced species and will be little affected and it misses a major point.

Nature is NOT static in Iceland. I clearly saw where an old glacial reservoir was from the remnants of the silt deposits up & down the valley. Almost exactly where the new silt deposits will be in 400 years. An ice dam was once where the new dam will be.

Best Hopes,


Buffett: The economy has ‘fallen off a cliff’
Investor tells CNBC economic turmoil has followed his worst-case scenario
“Not only has the economy slowed down a lot, but people have really changed their habits like I haven’t seen.” An "Economic Pearl Harbor".

Fear and confusion has been driving much of consumer and investor behavior in recent months, Buffett said. The nation’s leaders need to clear up the confusion about the economy before anyone will become more confident, he said.

The nations leaders also need to clear up the confusion about oil too.
But, since the economy will not improve for 3 more years, oil production levels will not be a factor until then.

Look Out in 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Election year, oil crunch, ?????

I saw Buffett on CNBC this morning. He said that the reason America became great was not its abundant natural resources, but our capitalist system. He said it seizes up sometimes, but that it's only temporary. He promised that our children will do better than we did, and our grandchildren better still.

I wonder if he really believes that.

I wonder too. And I also wonder whether he really believed what he was saying last fall with his well-known "Buy American equities; I am" mantra. The level of deceit and fraud that exists among the world business elite as a very general matter (see e.g. Denninger's description of the "Bezzle") makes it very difficult for me to believe in Buffett's sincerity.

Welcome to the club-I am not sure if you are aware of the history of his buddy Bill Gates and the Microsoft Ponzi scheme based on wages (expensed for tax purposes) conveniently not expensed for "market accounting" purposes. Pleasant reading.

I've pulled completely out of equities. When even companies like GE are being run mainly for the purpose of maintaining a cash flow to their CEO and not to their investors, and this on top of "the bezzle" and everything else, then it is clearly time to just get out. I just don't see any reasonable prospect of reward to equity investors - unless you are a day trader and are in it solely for the short term speculation. I hear that horses can be a pretty good bet, too - plus, they make for a lot more enjoyable afternoon.

I wonder if he really believes that.

Yes, apparently a lot of people are wondering the same thing. Buffett is no dummy when it comes to fossil fuels. Warren Buffett: Peak Oil Apostle?

So land can get more productive. But oil is finite. There's actually some school that says it isn't, but I think it's pretty finite. And, you know, we have 500,000 producing oil wells in the United States. The average production is 11 barrels a day. Five hundred thousand times we've actually hit. But if you look at our production vs. 30 years ago, it's way down. And most, you know, most fields are depleting at a pretty good rate. And with demand--if demand grows a million or a million and a half barrels a day from year to year and the present fields deplete and we don't find the elephants in the future...

However we must remember that when Buffett speaks, people listen. Buffett knows that very well. A disparaging word from him could send the market plunging a thousand points. Buffett knows that in order to keep his portfolio up he must paint a rosy picture of the future. But like you, I doubt that he seriously believes what he says about the future of the economy.


What strikes me odd about our willingness to listen to Buffet and others like him (and this serves for our adulation of the modern corporate CEO, as well) is this;

if we were to list the values / mores of these people and then ask the question, would you want your daughter/son to marry someone with that value set, nearly all of us would say "no."

why not, it may just be that he and his ilk will be the ones living pretty well while the rest of us scrounge through the remains. Smart people don't become dumb just because the things the rewarded their smartness change. They use their intelligence to adapt and become head of the new dynamic. While some people kick pebbles complaining about capitalism, in a resource rich world, it worked pretty damn well and these people took advantage of that fact. Maybe capitalism will fail in a new zero sum world, but who's to say that our new kings won't be the same people as our old kings.

You have made the quintessential American error - equating economic success and power with intelligence.

And when you say "...capitalism, in a resource rich world, it worked pretty damn well..." I think, perhaps, you should take the blinders off. If you accept the values and goals of capitalism you MIGHT be correct. Though I think there is some question. However, if you begin to question those values and goals....

Shawman, the Forrest Gump story is a myth. Such things never happen in real life. There is no way you can start from scratch and gain great wealth and power without being really smart. Of course sometimes really dumb people inherit wealth. But these people are never captains of insustry. They either lose their fortune or put it in a trust and let smarter people handle it. Intelligence is required to gain wealth and power.


Or shrewdness, at least. There are plenty of superintelligent people waiting tables and driving taxi cabs.

Case in point my brother and his wife both put themselves through college driving pizza around town.

Just because you happen to be shoveling out the barn does not mean you are the dumb one.

Just because you have the spectre in you hand does not mean you are the smart one.


Where do I post the picture of GWB?

Maybe didn't quite count as a Captain of Industry, just the Leader of the Free World. But his gains were made the old fashioned way, despite his heroic efforts to reverse them..

Our system assures that only the Best & the Brightest rise to the top while the cowardly and feeble minded fall to the bottom.

Mission Accomplished.

I wasn't thinking about Forrest Gump - I was thinking about my real life experience with people who have had success in this economic system, including people who run companies. While I would not call any of them dumb, few would be what I would consider really "bright."

The one characteristic that all of these people I've met would share would be "self-centered." But even that, like a modicum of intelligence, would likely be prerequisite, not a determinant.

But to Greg's original supposition that the same people would be kings in either world - their are plenty of intelligent people, what makes one rise to the "top" in a particular social setting and not another? Intelligence alone is not a sufficient measure. If it were the one determinant, wouldn't the brightest be the most successful? Clearly there is no such correlation.

Shawman, and the others who point out that there are a lot of really smart people waiting tables or such. That is not the point. Of course a lot of smart people live lives of abject poverty. The point is intelligence is an absolute requirement for getting to the top. A lot of other characteristics may be necessary also, like determinism and single mindedness. But if they have all those other qualities but are still dumb, they will not make it.

High intelligence is not the only quality needed to make it to the tops of power and/or high finance. But it is definitely one of the absolute requirements.


But even that, like a modicum of intelligence, would likely be prerequisite, not a determinant.

I know quoting myself is bad form. But in this case you must have missed it the first time through.

High intelligence? I think you'll have a hard time demonstrating that one.


'But it is definitely one of the absolute requirements.'

Dang, Ron. You're on one of your rolls again today.

Perhaps it depends on what you mean by either 'Intelligence', or 'Top'

Now is it time for pix of James Inhofe, OJ Simpson, or Dan Quayle?

Maybe all I'm saying is that a supposedly intelligent person can also be a very unintelligent person.. or just that 'Intelligence' is a very tricky quality to rate a whole person with.. and the reason this quibble is even worth writing about is that we've all gotten to see just how dangerous the stupidity of a powerful and otherwise-somehow-intelligent person can be.

An exceptionally bright and talented economist (take your pick) or chemist (Franz Haber?) can have blind spots and shortcomings that very thoroughly justify Shaman's comments on being careful about adulating the Intelligence (as some overall quality) of these people. In aggregate, the dumb side HAS to be debited from the smart, or we will continue to celebrate these Mighty ChinaShop Bulls, and never charge them for the damages.

RR had a point, yesterday, Ron. Watch out for those Absolutes, eh?


Okay, when I said a lot of dumb people inherit money, I should have included professional athletics in that group. You don't need a lot of brains to carry a football. O.J.Simpson is a perfect example of how a really dumb person can lose every penny he has because he has not enough sense to keep it.

Dan Quail, I don't think, is all that dumb. Nevertheless he did not have enough sense to not really screw up when he was given a job that was way over his head. The same would be the case for a CEO. I think AIG is a good example of that. Hank Greenberg was a really smart person. The dumbass that replaced him is another example of really screwing up when you are given a position way over your head.

James Inhofe is another story. If you tell the people exactly what they want to hear, they will probably vote for you. At least he had that much sense.

And Shaman, I am very skeptical of your "top ten" list. I doubt that one CEO in a thousand ever took an IQ test. Therefore the list is just an "estimation" of IQs. I have seen them before. Anyone can estimate a person's IQ and get it off by two standard deviations easily. And those who talk a lot about EQ are usually full of it. Emotional Quotient was a phrase dreamed up by a psychologist, and he used it to sell a lot of books.


What about Dubya?..

Still, I'm glad the main point was well taken. I eagerly await the next battery of imperiously pedantic and didactic statements..

Always, Never, Absolutely, Irrevocably, Indubitably !!!

Darwinian - I at least had a reference - where's yours?

Oh yeah, not only are they smarter but they are of higher moral fiber generally. Poor people are stupid and evil (Randy Newman had it wrong).

Intelligence alone is not a sufficient measure. If it were the one determinant, wouldn't the brightest be the most successful? Clearly there is no such correlation.

I agree. It only takes mediocre intelligence plus understanding of the system and willingness to do what it takes to be successful in that system.


It's likely that a certain minimum high intelligence is required, but not too much either. Why would a truly intelligent mind find simply accumulating ever larger mounds of cash or an ever larger empire interesting and entertaining? It's been done a thousand times before -- to what end?

I spent about 11 years working in the headquarters of a very large oil company. Almost all of the professionals were smart and competent. But there were no geniuses -- they would have been fired. I got to see a little bit of some of those that made it to the top.

What is required is utter ruthlessness, the ability carry out actions based on cold calculation without any sentimentality, with any regard for what ordinary people would regard as morality, although being aware of appearances when that's necessary. One has to be completely content and completely obsessed with that, the pursuit of increasing a single all-important number. No mind that is alive to the totality of existence and life can be satisfied with that.

I don't deny that geniuses of various kinds have accumulated fortunes as a byproduct of exercising their talents. But I doubt that accounts for a large percentage of the cases.

Most insightful, Dave.

The rest of you ... read and precis Thorstein Veblen's "Theory of the Leisure Class". That'll give you a useful set of concepts for this discussion.

/lecture mode off. ;-)

Intelligence might be a necessary condition, but it certainly isn't sufficient.
Necessary conditions include capital, connections and luck.
Examples of misfired careers abound, in any domain. Mozart may be a genius, but he died penniless. As did Tesla. Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone, transformed woodwinds, was admired by composers and society, but he had to fight lack of funds and plagiarism for all his long and productive life. Died penniless.
Looking at the brilliant failures, the ones we remember because we still use their stuff, is edifying. There are hundreds. And we never hear about the thousands and millions of smart people who at best earn an honest living.
For every Slash or The Edge, there are millions of kids working their guitars, and a lot of them are quite good at it, but only very few get to make a living playing their guitars, and of those few, only a handful become rich, even though they may not be the best guitarists around.

The idea, that anyone can 'get there' by smarts and hard work is untrue: most smart and hard-working people just get by, and by now, it should be clear to see how easy it is for incompetent greedy idiots to float to the top.

Hard work and intelligence will get you somewhere, but without luck you'll never get very far.

Denninger and Kunstler are remarkedly on the same page this morning: forcing the CDS casino onto an exchange, transparency and prosecuting fraud.

Providing a central clearing house so that the CDS holdings can be traded and closed out makes tremendous good sense. It should have been done six months ago. Every day they delay getting this set up just makes things that much worse.

This isn't the silver bullet that will make everything OK, but it will be helpful.

Cramer calling out Buffett on that. Buffett said we'll be okay. Cramer says, "No, we're not."

Buffett: The economy has ‘fallen off a cliff’

That's the wrong metaphor. The top heavy tower of the economy rolled onto undulating energy plateau, (i.e. a flat spot). It fell face down because it was structured for a permanent, accelerating, uphill climb.

It scares me that the all the talking heads on CNBC want to build it back just the way it was, and there is no cable network talking about re-engineering it for the down slope to the crossover to renewable energy.

I can see the animation now. Good Thing™ those CEOs had parachutes.

Buffett: The economy has ‘driven over & off a cliff’

You mean the Invisible Hand had his Eye closed?

Driving with Eye Wide Shut?

The Hand needs to hand back its driving license and go directly to jail!

Depression Dynamic Takes Hold as Markets, Banks Revisit 1930s

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. economy’s vital signs may not confirm a diagnosis of depression. The symptoms increasingly point to one.

As in the Great Depression, world trade is collapsing, wealth is evaporating and the banking system is broken. Deflation is a growing threat as companies slash production, pay and prices. And leaders worldwide are having difficulty making headway in halting the self-perpetuating decline.

“We are tracking 1929-1930,” says Barry Eichengreen, a professor of economics and political science at the University of California, Berkeley.

The result: This contraction may leave a lasting imprint on the economy and society, just as the Depression did. In the wake of the devastation of the 1930s, Americans swore off stocks, husbanded their own resources and looked to the government for help. Now, another generation might draw some of the same lessons from the deepest economic collapse of their lifetime.

On the plus side, music and literature could see a renaissance, as strife and struggle feed the muse.

I see a bright future for cobblers and shoemakers. Without jobs, it doesn't really matter how much oil there is in the world -- people won't be able to afford cars, and they will be walking.

Last year I was hoping to spend more with my cobbler than on fuel for my car. Ended up with about $60 more for my car.

Cobbler $199
Diesel $259

I'm casting about for some sort of a trade right now, and cobbling may be a good one. Unfortunately right now, I can't make shoes and make a profit when even I myself am wearing some excellent work boots I got for $5 at the Salvation Army.

But once those ships stop coming from China ..... better be stocked up on leather and waxed linen thread!

It might be too late to bother with distinctions, but in case not, I think this nails the nature of the economic problems we face for historical comparison. No prognostication from the writer, just comparison. Still, knowing where to start is always a good thing.

The Real Great Depression

The depression of 1929 is the wrong model for the current economic crisis

As a historian who works on the 19th century, I have been reading my newspaper with a considerable sense of dread. While many commentators... have drawn parallels to the Great Depression of 1929, that comparison is not particularly apt. Two years ago, I began research on the Panic of 1873...

...1929... that depression had more to do with overlarge factory inventories, a stock-market crash, and Germany's inability to pay back war debts, which then led to continuing strain on British gold reserves. None of those factors is really an issue now...

In fact, the current economic woes look a lot like what my 96-year-old grandmother still calls "the real Great Depression."... That crash came in 1873 and lasted more than four years.

around 1870, starting in Europe... a flowering of new lending institutions that issued mortgages for municipal and residential construction... Mortgages were easier to obtain than before, and a building boom commenced. Land values seemed to climb and climb; borrowers ravenously assumed more and more credit, using unbuilt or half-built houses as collateral...

But the economic fundamentals were shaky. Wheat exporters from Russia and Central Europe faced a new international competitor... produce from farmers in the American Midwest. They used grain elevators, conveyer belts, and massive steam ships to export trainloads of wheat to abroad. Britain, the biggest importer of wheat, shifted to the cheap stuff quite suddenly around 1871. By 1872 kerosene and manufactured food were rocketing out of America's heartland, undermining rapeseed, flour, and beef prices. The crash came in Central Europe in May 1873, as it became clear that the region's assumptions about continual economic growth were too optimistic. Europeans faced what they came to call the American Commercial Invasion. A new industrial superpower had arrived, one whose low costs threatened European trade and a European way of life.

As continental banks tumbled, British banks held back their capital, unsure of which institutions were most involved in the mortgage crisis. The cost to borrow money from another bank — the interbank lending rate — reached impossibly high rates. This banking crisis hit the United States in the fall of 1873. Railroad companies tumbled first. They had crafted complex financial instruments that promised a fixed return, though few understood the underlying object that was guaranteed to investors in case of default. (Answer: nothing). The bonds had sold well at first, but they had tumbled after 1871 as investors began to doubt their value, prices weakened, and many railroads took on short-term bank loans to continue laying track. Then, as short-term lending rates skyrocketed across the Atlantic in 1873, the railroads were in trouble. When the railroad financier Jay Cooke proved unable to pay off his debts, the stock market crashed in September, closing hundreds of banks over the next three years. The panic continued for more than four years in the United States and for nearly six years in Europe.

The long-term effects of the Panic of 1873 were perverse. For the largest manufacturing companies in the United States ...the Panic years were golden. Andrew Carnegie, Cyrus McCormick, and John D. Rockefeller ...bought out their competitors at fire-sale prices. The Gilded Age in the United States, as far as industrial concentration was concerned, had begun.

As the panic deepened, ordinary Americans suffered terribly...

...In the end, the Panic of 1873 demonstrated that the center of gravity for the world's credit had shifted west — from Central Europe toward the United States. The current panic suggests a further shift — from the United States to China and India. Beyond that I would not hazard a guess. I still have microfilm to read.


While some of the parallels are certainly interesting. The attempt to connect China/India to the "invasion of American commercialism" is to fundamentally misunderstand the shape of contemporary global capitalism. While the panic of 1873 may have indeed designated a shift of power from one set of capitalists to another (though I'm not completely convinced since the center of the financial world at that time was London, not Vienna), no such shift is occurring at present. Indeed, the global character of modern finance precludes such a shift.

The mistake is really quite easy to depict - while American goods flooded into Europe from the "heartland" (think rise of Chicago), the money that controlled these goods was making New York City into a international financial giant. Today, the goods (in part) are flowing out of coastal China, but the money is still centered in NYC and Tokyo.

Oh, and that homey touch about his grandmother... His 97 year old grandmother was born 30 plus years after the panic of 1873 ended. So, I'm pretty certain her first hand memories of it are...nonexistent.

It's not clear from the excerpt, but the grandmother is relating HER grandparents' memories. There's no claim that they're firsthand.

Another major reason we don't hear more about the depression of the 1870s is that it caused less societal upheaval. The world was a lot more agrarian then. People hunkered down on farms until the monetary economy came back. A similar depression today would be much more serious.

It's also further distant in the past and there is no one alive that recalls it. But, perhaps the biggest reason that we don't hear more about it is that it didn't impact the social story of who we are as Americans in the way the great depression did. Some of that is, as you say, it impacted fewer people. Some of it, I suspect, is just in the telling of the story - the heroism of wwII is just all that much greater when counter posed against the great depression.

And I didn't mean to denigrate the grandparents, I meant only to point out the schmaltz factor.

The mistake almost every economist, financial "expert", and other commentators are making is in attempting to map present events and trends to past events and trends. They assume that history is going to repeat itself - something that history never does.

What is it prominently displayed near the front of EVERY prospectus?

"Past performance is not a guarantee of future results."

They should all know better.

The reality is that this time, it really IS different. What we are going through right now is a genuine, epochal paradigm shift. Things are changing in profound, far-reaching ways. The world and economy in which we are going to be living in the future is going to be very different in many significant ways from what we were used to in the past.

This is why thinking is fatally flawed that this is a temporary "recession", that eventual "recovery" is inevitable, and that government can do things that might have worked in the past to spur on such "recovery" this time around. What we are actually facing instead is the start of a long-term secular economic decline that will go on for the better part of this century. The things that the FedGov is doing to promote "recovery" are not going to achieve their intended results, they are only going to make things worse.

Forget trying to find a past precedent to map to - that precedent doesn't exist. One is better off just staying alert and well informed, rejecting all conventional wisdom and received opinion, and being imaginative and thinking out of the box. Think in terms of a range of possible scenarios, including some that are far worse than what anyone in the mainstream media or in government or in corporate executive suites dare allow themselves to think out loud. Most of all, assume that the future WILL be different than how things were even just a year ago, in many ways, including some that we can't even guess - and not necessarilly for the better, either.

"What we are actually facing instead is the start of a long-term secular economic decline that will go on for the better part of this century."

You see, you are doing the same thing but with a longer horizon, i.e. "the better part of this century." There is no known future. There is only a patially known past mutually agreed upon but probably lies, a partially known 'now' but the further away from youself the less it is known, but no known future so why do people talk about it. Humanity may be off to the gorge or to the stars ... right now to me the gorge looks more likely but I am probably wrong.

Hello Ccpo,

An obvious oversight in your weblinked text was the author's failure to include/discuss the Great Epizootic:

The outbreak of equine influenza in 1872 had a pervasive effect on the economy. Called the "Great Epizoötic", it had an effect on every aspect of American transportation. The whole street railway industry ground to a halt. Locomotives came to a halt as coal or wood could not be delivered to power them. Even the United States Army Cavalry was reduced to fighting the Western tribes on foot; their adversaries likewise found their mounts too sick to do battle. The outbreak forced men to pull wagons by hand, while trains and ships full of cargo sat unloaded, tram cars stood idle and deliveries of basic community essentials were no longer being made. [2]
Since he is a Prof. of History, I find that a shocking oversight.

IMO, I think it offers a good example of what we can expect postPeak when fuel shortages become rampant. My pondering on this earlier is what led to much of my thinking on strategic reserves of bicycles, wheelbarrows, I-NPK, and SpiderWebRiding in an effort to move society towards some minimal, non-FF-powered, emergency network.

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

During that equine flu outbreak, workers at the streetcar companies (four from memory) got permission to pull the streetcars (then horse/mule drawn) and keep the fares for themselves, as a way of eeking out a living.

Reportedly quite the lark (a few stops at local bars for a "refreshments" were reported, passengers coming along and helping pay as a bonus).

This makes the St. Charles Streetcar Line not only the oldest, but the one with the most different forms of motive power. Steam, horse & mule, ammonia, humans and electricity.

Best Hopes for NOT reverting back to human power,


LOL! Will beer be the postPeak fuel of our transportation future? If that's the case: SpiderWebRiding on 4 wheels on fixed track is much better than a bunch of drunks failing at wobbling around on two wheels. No delicate egg will ever make it to market!

Wow... lots of replies.

To all: Most took this in directions the article didn't, so those critiques are a bit misplaced. I would point out the professor indicated he was still doing research. I suspect this is the first in a series of possible op/eds. Patience, my babies.

To Bob: See the above, and: The horse thingy, was it happening in Europe, too?

To all: I'm not defending the op/ed. I read it, but did not analyze it per se. The basic parallels seem legit, and more germane than the 1930's, but I'd have to look at it more deeply.

I actually agree with whomever it was above who said, essentially, this ain't your dad's, your grandpappy's nor your great-grandpappy's depression. BUT, if you are wont to draw parallels with history, picking the right ones might help. The analyses comparing this with the 1930's have not resonated with me. This article did. For what it's worth.


This wiki seems to indicate that it was mostly confined to North America. My guess is that any infected horses died on the ocean ships, then were discarded overboard before the disease could spread elsewhere.

As we begin to live in "interesting times", I would like to say that many things we Americans take for granted, will soon shake peoples confidence in "the system". My wife is from eastern Europe, where things have not always been stable to say the least. When she came here, she learned to appreciate some simple things that exist in a first world America.

1. A mail system that works. (the post man doesn't open interesting mail looking for valuables)
2. Your police officer isn't looking to negotiate the price to let you go on your way.(A.K.A. a tip)
3. Your work pays you on time, per your agreed salary. (even directly zapping it into your checking account, for convenience)
4. You can return purchases to the store when they don't work as promised. (all you need is a receipt in most cases)

The list goes on, but you get the idea. My wife doesn't take these things for granted, and I am trying to learn from her. I wonder how the typical American born will deal with these types of things dropping by the way side.(Can I add FDIC to this list of nice while it lasted items?)

eastex -

You wife's experience of living in eastern Europe is probably a pretty good predictor of what things will be like in the US sooner rather than later.

When things really start falling apart here, I think the most likely outcome will not be a wild Mad Max scenario, but rather something resembling the grey, grim and depressing day-to-day life in the USSR and eastern Europe during the worst years of the cold war.

Some things we can probably look forward to (in no particular order):

- Chronic massive borderline poverty among the formerly middle class.

- Gas rationing.

- Chronic shortages of almost everything and long lines at poorly stocked stores.

- A robust black market.

- Increased crime.

- General malaise and increased substance abuse.

- A quasi police state in which more crimes are committed by the police than the criminals.

- Total employee apathy ('They pretend to pay us, so we pretend to work.')

- Totally unreliable public services.

- Crumbling infrastructure that worsens by the year.

- A media heavily controlled by the State and increasingly mindless entertainment.

- Sham elections that no one pays attention to.

- Manufactured foreign crises to divert attention from how bad things are domestically.

Come to think of it, we're arguably already there on some of the above and not too far away for some of the others.

Kevin Phillips in Wealth and Democracy does a good job of documenting how the United States has suffered through these bouts of immorality in the past, most notably during the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties.

In the past, the U.S. has always been able to bounce back with a rejuvination of morality.

Can it do so again? Or was 1985-2007 the final hurrah?

Phillips offers no guidance. However, it seems we face some especially challenging circumstances this go-round:

1) Resource depletion, including oil and gas

2) The size of the debt bubble this time dwarfs the size of the debt bubble of the 1920s. If we use GDP as a measure, it is something like twice as large as it was coming out of the 20s.

Some things we can probably look forward to (in no particular order):

- Chronic massive borderline poverty among the formerly middle class. (ALREADY HAPPENING)

- Gas rationing. (NEXT YEAR)

- Chronic shortages of almost everything and long lines at poorly stocked stores. (NEXT YEAR)

- A robust black market. (ALREADY HAPPENING)

- Increased crime.(ALREADY HAPPENING)

- General malaise and increased substance abuse. (ALREADY HAPPENING)

- A quasi police state in which more crimes are committed by the police than the criminals. (ALREADY HAPPENING)

- Total employee apathy ('They pretend to pay us, so we pretend to work.')(ALREADY HAPPENING)

- Totally unreliable public services. (ALREADY HAPPENING)

- Crumbling infrastructure that worsens by the year.(ALREADY HAPPENING)

- A media heavily controlled by the State and increasingly mindless entertainment. (ALREADY HAPPENING)

- Sham elections that no one pays attention to. (ALREADY HAPPENING)

- Manufactured foreign crises to divert attention from how bad things are domestically.(ALREADY HAPPENING)

And to add a few more:

- Breakup of the Country

- Mass Chaos

- Non-functional Health Care System

- Large Protests in Cities

- Currency devaluation

Nowhere _

Yeah, now that I look at it again I think I was giving the system too much benefit of the doubt.

I agree with your additions, with the possible exception of 'breakup of the country'. I think it will hang together is one half-assed form or another, at least for the foreseeable future. But who knows.

I might add some others while we're at it:

- Massive blatant corruption at all levels of government that the bureaucrats and politicians don't even feel any need to conceal.

- The formation of local vigilante and/or militia groups to provide neighborhood or regional protection that the official law enforcement establishment is either unwilling or incapable of providing.

- Political assassinations.

- The establishment of a US gulag system.

Doesn't look pretty, does it?

"- A quasi police state in which more crimes are committed by the police than the criminals."
Nowhere, this is BS - you'd know it if the US was like Argentina.

The cops here are to an overwhelming extent motivated by a sense of heroism - not of profiteering. When dirty cops are found, they're put away, eventually - sometimes decades later.

Contrast this with India or Mexico, where you're paid in priviledge, not in cash. Your badge is your ticket to extract baksheesh - tips - from any and all you run into.

A friend of mine related a recent trip to his home in Mumbai, where he got pulled over for being a guy in a suit in a rental car. After some negotiation, he paid the cop two rupee - about five cents - and went on his way.

Tell me, how debased would law enforcement have to become before you could bribe a cop a nickel? It didn't happen in the thirties, amd it won't happen this time either.

We may have inherited a lot of bad ideas from England but we've inherited a lot of good things too. We're just not the same culture as India or Bulgaria.

Here and in England the cops are generally the good guys, and have been for a long time.

We stand in line. The English are described - by themselves - as having a national occupation of "queing" or standing in line, we are also very good about this - it seems normal to us but it's an oddity in a "shove in there first" world.

We have this thing about "fairness". Christian or not, we have all largely internalized the parable of the Good Samaritan, and we've all done it. I have, and so have you.

And so on. We may find ourselves in the miserable world of Orwell's Wigan Pier, or Jack London's People Of The Abyss, but we won't be paying off cops much if at all, and we won't be crippling our children to make them better beggars. We may just sit down and die from despair, some of us, but if there's an accepted place to go do this, chances are our last act will be to wait politely in line to do so.

A friend of mine related a recent trip to his home in Mumbai, where he got pulled over for being a guy in a suit in a rental car. After some negotiation, he paid the cop two rupee - about five cents - and went on his way.

I find this impossible to believe. Rs. 2 is too little. Nobody in India would accept a Rs. 2 bribe. They would be offended if you offered them so little money.
Either your friend offered a lot more (maybe Rs. 100 which is equivalent to $2) or he is making it up.

I've been saying that the 21st century will be one long exercise in giving up things. A lot of that will involve giving up on aspects of society that formerly worked and could be relied upon, but no longer.

Just "in your face" blatant stock manipulation this AM.

And they don't care if you see it or not.

Mac, there is a lot of volatility in the market today. The Dow has been both below and above yesterday's close. Right now it is about 40 points higher but by the time I post this it could have moved 50 points in either direction. Why in God's name do you think this is "blatant stock manipulation"? Enough such claims by people on this list would put us in the "wingnut" camp by most readers.

So if you think the market is being manipulated it would behoove you to tell us how and why this is being done. Especially How! Else give it a rest. Take it to Alasbabylon.





It went straight up at the open. After futures for All
three market off 100, 25 points, and 12 respectively for
DJIA, Nasdaq, S&P.

Nasdaq always opens (since it's electronic) at the futures #.
Except this AM it opened in positive territory.

"So if you think the market is being manipulated it would behoove you to tell us how and why this is being done. Especially How! Else give it a rest. Take it to Alasbabylon."

Because the bankers in charge (and yes, with AIG the Bad Bank
and the FDIC to cover [heard about the $500 Billion loan
last week?])

want it up. If the S&P is at 1000 (pick a #, whatever, then
the economy is fine. If Unemployment's less than 9% the economy's fine. See MSM's like Brian Williams looking
for that Good News that he apologizes to his viewers for not having.

And thanx for the AlasBabylon reference.

I see nothing today that shows we're addressing any problem
except for how to keep the Wealth Disparity as great as possible.

The tolling of the Gion temple bells
Echoes the impermanence
of all things.
The brilliant colored flowers
of its double-trunked tree
Reveal the truth that
to flourish is to fall.
Like a passing dream
on a springtime evening,
The strong are finally destroyed,
To end as dust
before the wind.

-- Opening of the Heike Monogatari (13th century)

Yes, an old story.

What goes up, comes down. What is down will be buried in sand:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

But all this focus on decline and death is unhelpful. Those of us who are privileged to have small grandchildren can sense the power of optimism. And yes, I suppose they are contributing to the overpopulation that threatens to wreck our planet -- but they don't think of themselves that way, and many people have found happiness in re-arranging life on a smaller, slower scale (E.F. Schumacher, etc.)

Nasdaq always opens (since it's electronic) at the futures #.

No it does not! The futures number is a guess at where the market will open. A guess by the futures traders. In a volatile market, because of skittish traders, anything is likely to happen at the open.

Because the bankers in charge (and yes, with AIG the Bad Bank and the FDIC to cover [heard about the $500 Billion loan last week?])

Only the buying and selling of stock can cause the market to go up or down. AIG and other recipients of the loan cannot use it to buy stock! There are no buybacks by these companies. Did you not know that Mac? And the news is the news, it makes people buy and sell. That is not manipulation, that is just reporting the news.

Who Mac, is buying and selling stock to manipulate the market? Crying "market manipulation" is just childish.


"The futures number is a guess". Yeah, just like the value
of the fraudulent "outofthemoney" horse race ticket" assets the 25 Counterparties
to AIG hold."

So Nasdaq decided the 1.5% down guess at 5 min
before the open was completely wrong.

OK. But I can tell you that the Depression 2 comes harder.faster because TPTB are manipulating everything to hold the "Money as Debt"
Zombie up as long as possible.

Basically, the gloves are off and the banking establishment - the for-profit cartel of private bankers that is the Federal Reserve - refuses the most basic explanations of where our, and the next several generations' retirements, are going.

Just won't talk. Nope. Shhhhh. It's a secret.

So AIG sells insurance for which it has no collateral, thinly disguising it as credit default swaps, to those with no financial interest in the things being insured (which is illegal if insurance), and you and I get to pay those who bought the swaps and are now collecting big on the destruction of the market and the American way of life. Not a mention of simply making swaps illegal and calling them what they are - illegal insurance, which should be null and void. Nope. Instead, we get to pay out hundreds of billions, to Goldman and the Saudis and whomever else is fortunate enough to be a counterparty - but we can't know to whom the billions are being paid. Again. That's a secret.

I was thinking about how casual the disregard for the rule of law has become on Wall Street, and how confident the money trust is in our apathy and our absence of the will or the means to interfere with their schemes. And well they should be. As nothing has, and likely nothing will."


Until Some spark turns the guards from keeping Madoff inside
to keeping him from the howling mob.

A Chinese intelligence ship and four others surrounded the USNS Impeccable, an unarmed vessel with a civilian merchant marine crew, as the craft conducted ocean surveys in international waters in the South China Sea, the Defense Department said in a statement.

The Impeccable sprayed one ship with water from fire hoses to force it away. Despite the force of the water, Chinese crew members stripped to their underwear and continued closing within 25 feet, the Defense department said.

Mac, all this ranting about Madoff, ships and banking cartels has no relevance to the question I asked. It is nothing more than a dance in order to avoid the question. Who is buying or selling stock in order to manipulate the market? And how do they unload these equities without it having the exact opposite effect as it had when they bought them? Put up or shut up.

Edit: The market is down now. Seems those market manipulators are having problems. Or perhaps they had to sell the equities or futures they bought this morning because the SEC was onto them, driving the market back down... ;-)

This is just stupid Mac. Let's give it a rest and stop posting stupid market manipulation conspiracy theories.

"Let's give it a rest and stop posting stupid market manipulation conspiracy theories."

Let's not and have you tell me how a corporation is
not a CT.


And it's just an accident that History's greatest Wealth Disparity
is now.

Who decided to ratify the 16th amendment, D?

WWI could not have been fought w/o it a year later.


The amazing rebound in Barclays at 9:10 AM Eastern

Lloyds rises from the dead at 9:30 E


Miracle or CT, you make the call.

About the USNS and those two ships that are to close to China. "To close" by that I mean within 1,000 miles. The Chinese did something like this back when Bush first became Prez, they downed a Plane and held the crew hostage (okay okay hostage is such a negative term...).

China is just strutting its power and telling us to back off and be good little kids and go play in the pond somewhere else.

What does it take a ship sinking to get under the skin of another nation?

Bully of the South China Sea, rah rah rah, sinkem sinkem sinkem,,,,Gooooo China.


mcgowanmc -

"The Impeccable sprayed one ship with water from fire hoses to force it away. Despite the force of the water, Chinese crew members stripped to their underwear and continued closing within 25 feet, the Defense department said."

Gee, let's hope the Chinese don't escalate the conflict by tossing cream pies at the American ship ...... that might trigger WWW III.

Ron, I have no views either way in the arguement over direct market manipulation; but I must haul you up on your statement "the news is the news". That is wrong big time. The news is what MSM TBTB show the public. Positive spin, burying stories, reinterpreting the truth and outright lies pass for news and this can influence the market indirectly. I have yet to see the "news" tell the truth about the recovery later this year/into 2010 with the reporters parrotting the official line of recovery and not the real news of badder times ahead. I know too many people who are being suckered into the buy for the recovery official spin because they follow the false news.

Probably just a lot of large investors rotating out profits, with a bunch of short covering? Quick spikes tend to shake loose tight program sells that reinforces the move, creating volatility without much substance....or so I hear.

If the real tone is negative, it'll shift direction within a couple of hours of trading. Not much major news is expected for a few days, but skittish investors abound. Anything could happen on a day to day basis, but I don't think we're ready for a big rally yet. Banks are still cutting dividends and the Big 3 have yet to be resolved.

Since this is a DrumBeat heavily laden with climate change articles, I thought I'd direct attention to a very well done CBC radio documentary series broadcast this January, and which I only discovered this week:

Gwynne Dyer - Climate Wars CBC radio documentary (January, 2009)

At its heart its an audio version of millitary affairs journalist Gwynne Dyer's 2007 book of the same title. It differs from other popular presentations of climate change in its focus on futurist scenario planning by Western militaries. For them, the critical global warming threat in their planning horizon is drought in our breadbaskets & food shortfalls. There's greater discussion than usual of varied mechanisms of runaway greenhouse, as well as of the somewhat taboo subject of geoengineering responses.

If, while listening to this, you'd like a visualization of predicted shifts in precipitation, this NOAA/GFDL gallery is the best I've found (not buried in some research paper).

Listened to that series by Dyer, and am highly critical of it. My take is that both the overall approach and some of the particular interviews are way to biased (and not specifically on the science of climate change, but in the beliefs of geopolitics and social systems.)

I was familiar with his War TV documentary from the 80s, so went in expecting something pretty opinionated, and unapologetic about having a bias. Part of it seems to be channelling his military and political interviewees. There's a 2007 lecture in which he talks about becoming interested in the climate change story after a conversation with (then UK Secretary for Defence) Des Brown, who after being hounded about some major shipbuilding programs for the mid-21st Century royal Navy, finally mentioned the phrase "Lifeboat Britain".

The not-so hidden subtext was that hungry refugees from the South would be thronging at the Southern borders and shores of Northern Europe and the United States. And the situation would largely be every nation for himself.

From my independent followup, I think Dyer's right about drought events and food scarcity being the most immediate impacts as the century heats. It also pretty seems likely to me that global emissions probably won't in fact be cut by 80% by mid century (though its really all down to coal reserves). Where he's a little left field are some of the fictional scenarios that he draws from the think-tank documents. Sure they're alarmist, and they're not a little tainted with what could be interpreted as racism. But on the other hand, he's selling an interesting story. Even ignoring the disaster scenarios like subcontinent nuclear war over the Indus tributaries, there's enough to be alarmed by that's attested to elsewhere.

By 2050 the world will have a whole lot less coal, Oil and likely a whole lot less wood for making carbon emissions. So given that we might also have a whole lot less than 7 billion people I could see us at 80% of our current emissions in 41 years.

It is doomer to talk that way, but I think it most likely that something will give in our current running for the cliff, sooner or later we are going to nose dive off the edge, I don't see that edge to far away right now.


The link up top: Can you survive economic crisis s very good, especially that line about "A revolver, a vegetable patch and a subscription to Survivalist Monthly" The point is, the collapse industry, if you can call it that, is gaining converts by the thousands daily. And the reason is obvious:

Simon Beer, who operates a survivalist website in Australia, told the newspaper he has seen a surge in interest lately.

"Climate change, peak oil, the economic situation," Beer told the Herald, "people are seeing we're headed for catastrophic changes."

The vast majority still believe that this economic crisis will end with another burst of prosperity in a couple of years but climate change and peak oil are planting seeds of doubt in more and more people every day. We doomers are no longer regarded as the weird nutcases we once were. ...Well, at least not by quite as many people.


What just happened with WTI prices? The graph on the right sidebar shows it spiking to $48 +, but I don't see anything in the news yet.

The graph on the side shows NYMEX. No answer to your question though.


I don't see anything in the news yet.

Watch CNBC! They have have had several reports from the NYMEX this morning. But a move of up $2.64, where it is as I write this, is nothing unusual. However it is based on the news that OPEC will cut another one million barrels per day when they meet this month.


There have been a couple of news items on MarketWatch which claim the spike is due to traders' concerns about the up coming OPEC meeting starting on 15 March. There has been speculation that OPEC might cut production another notch...

E. Swanson

Interesting that gasoline prices are back up to early 2005 levels, and rising:


And I don't think that we have seen any drops in food prices at the retail level.

I suspect that we will continue to see deflationary trends in the auto, housing & finance sectors (and the overall discretionary side of the economy), with long term inflationary trends in food & energy prices, especially for oil and refined products after 2009.

My guess is that OPEC will cut another 1 million to "keep up with falling demand" and that will not affect the prices in the short term but of course will see us around the 70 dollar mark before summer.

As for the article that states that one reason for OPEC not cutting production is that they've found a price floor, the article is rubbish. OPEC hasn't found any price floor they're willing to live with yet.

What has happened? Spring has sprung.

Well, I still think we have some time before they start raiding 401k's, but the Florida state legislature is looking at 'borrowing' money from the 'pre-paid college fund'.


TALLAHASSEE — They are desperate for money. Hurting for ideas.

And it has come to this: What about the money the Florida Prepaid College Board is sitting on?


We talked about the possibility if there was such money there, perhaps we could borrow that," said Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, chair of the Senate higher education appropriations committee. "We're looking at everything. We're really hurting and we need new sources of income."

There is some fiscal responsibility for you. Can't raise the tax on tobacco, but we can borrow it from those saving for college. Pay it right back. Promise. Second tuesday of next week.

Yeah right, borrow it and call it a "new source of income" .

I'm curious, you're in Western/Northern Europe, yes? Do countries there have something similar to this? Is higher education subsidized more?

Here in the US college is rapidly becoming out of reach for middle class students without major loans and/or scholarships. This was supposed to be the way around it for those parents who thought ahead.

I just talked to a girl that got laid off a few months ago...she's going back to school to get her MBA (She currently has a degree in civil engineering). I tried not to wince when I heard that...

Yes I'm in The Netherlands. It's been 14 years since I left college and my kids are 6 and 3 only so I'm not certain the exact ways education is financed. In my time the financing was pretty good; didn't have to borrow any. But I know this has been hollowed out pretty bad in the mean time. I believe lending for higher education is common now, if your parents can't afford to pay for you partly. It is still heavily subsidized, just not as much as it used to be. Institutions get much of their funding directly from the government and tuition fees are additional. Now the tuition fees have at least doubled or maybe even trippled in these 14 years.

At least our educational system breeds people like Rembrandt (though his PO work I suspect is his own interest)

I went to university in Britain where I grew up.
this was early 1990s. It is slowly changing BUT

At that time and before it, college tuition was paid for by your local education board - so you go to college for "free". The government also handed out "grants" for college students to pay for necessities - these were based on your parents income - assuming your parents were still claiming you as dependants.

In addition you could get in on the government student loans system which offerd loans pegged at the CPI (essentially interest free).

Since then the major changes that have occured are that parents (or the student) are required to pay the first thousand pounds or so of the tuitition - assuming they make more money than the threshold. Things may have gotten worse - its been a while since I have been there.

You can imagine that even in that situation university education is an absolute BARGAIN in Britain, for british students.

Foreign students studying in Britain are typically required to pay full price. There are international scholarships of course.

I graduated with my Mechanical Engineering degree from Brunel University, with a grand total of about $3000 dollars in debt. I didnt work a second job while I studied, and most of my debt was due to an addiction to expensive mountain bike parts and consumer electronics. Some beer was also consumed in the process.

In short if you were smart enough to meet the entrance requirements - and smart enough to stick at it while your peers tried to distract you with uncomplicated sex, drugs and alcohol - then you could get a degree. Money typically wasnt an issue.

in the US, the difference is striking.

In Spain, all first year students at State Universities get a grant, money actually put in the bank for them. University is free, but the student has to pass the examinations. So if the student is bright, and actually studies, he can finish the degree even with some money in the bank. If he/she doesn't actually study (that is, most of them! they are very lazy) next year they lose the grant and have to pay for the courses. And if again they lose they are thrown out of the University. There's a severe entrance requirement and they can't always study what they'd like, according to a complex system of points earned during Secondary School and entry examinations, so for example Medicine and some types of Engineering need a lot of points, studying of History is open to all ...
There are some grants to help students who need to move from other towns.
There are private Universities in Spain, but most are run by the Opus Dei or the Jesuits. Yes, Opus Dei is a reality not an invention of Dan Brown.

In Uruguay (a poor country in South America, 3.5 million people, Socialist, they export meat, wheat, etc) all Education is free, from school to University. That is, for citizens and residents, foreigners are charged a small fee. There are also at least three private Universities: Jesuit, Jewish, Opus Dei. The State U. teaches everything, Medicine, Law, Engineering, Journalism, Science, whatever. The private Universities teach easy subjects that do not require heavy investments, like Business, IT. They do not teach Medicine for example. Uruguayan Jesuits teach Engineering, and it is easier or at least faster to get a degree in Engineering from them that at the State U.
Unfortunately in both countries, public or private, all teaching is in Spanish, so it would not be suitable for everyone.
It is much the same in Argentina, free for citizens and residents and their children, some fees for foreign students, sometimes. Used to be the same thing in Brazil, at least in most states there.

More interesting to you and your children: In Holland and Germany some universities offer post graduate studies and in English, too. Some are totally free!! At least free for EU students, and as such postgrads are not free in the UK, many clever British go to Holland and get a PhD for free.

The way it's done here sucks becuase like everything else including health care, it's done for PROFIT.

So, they try to stuff everyone into the colleges they can, and get 'em signed up for big loans. Grants and loans are parceled out according to some reallly bizarre criteria, like race. A smart white kid can pay through the nose for the same education a dullish black kid will get for free. Vo-Tech programs are almost nonexistant in the US, for instance, in England John Lennon went through the system, and was able to find his way: He was smart but not 4-year college material, he was put through a quite decent vocational program in art. He'd have been a commercial artist, working for a newspaper or magazine and doing cartoons on the side no doubt. In the US the few Vo-Tech programs are private and run for profit also, and a degree from one of them can cost you more than a degree from a regular college! They try to stuff in all the students they can, regardless of whether there's really room in the economy for a flood of HVAC techs or electronics techs.

If the US ran its system like a first-world nation, there'd be "free" education for those who are college material, those who are not would get filtered into Vo-Tech programs according to their interests and talents and the needs of the economy. No one would go into debt for decades to get an education or training. It would be race-blind and class-blind. Historic and still-existing disadvantages endured by certain races in the US would be remedied by educational outreach programs for the children of those in poverty, and public schools would be equally funded, so you'd not have well-funded schools in rich areas and poorly funded schools in poor areas. Racial inequalities in education in the US would be tackled as the social class inequality problem it is, hopefully wiping out detectable differences in a generation.

It'd be a hell of a lot happier society.

fleam: You don't seem to be very familiar with the community college system here in the US. Very inexpensive, good vocational training opportunities, very flexible scheduling. These are the one genuine education success story we've got.

In the USA, spend 3 years in the military and get $70,000 for college education (vocational also, I believe). Money can go for books, tuition, room & board, etc. But, I doubt that anyone on this site would ever consider such a stupid idea.

Or do it the way around. Get a military scholarship, or attend a military academy, and serve after you've graduated. That is the way a lot of financially challenged people got their college degrees.

Don't think that in the Spanish speaking countries it is all wonderful in the academic field. In comparison with "Europe" the limitations are great. In Spain it is practically impossible to study and work part time, and grants are few.
A success story (I suppose it is similar to your Vocational Colleges) is FP, Professional Formation. Unfortunately people look down on FP, socially, although they give degrees in Industrial Engineering, who are different from University engineers -they even have a different 'Union', and some jobs demand one or the other title. In Atomic Plants, harbours, dams their jobs are carefully regulated by law. There's a possible academic path from FP to a University degree in a similar subject: to Economics, Architecture, Engineering.

In Uruguay it is called University of Work (UTU), and they teach every imaginable subject including arts and crafts to IT. It is also free, and there may be some (barely adequate) grants for students not from Montevideo, the capital. Military studies are also free, also the Merchant Navy School, although there are quotas. I know of some students who got to be Officers of the Merchant navy while working as military sailors.
[If I write comparing both countries is because I was born in Spain, but studied and taught in Uruguay, both at University http://www.rau.edu.uy/universidad/ and UTU http://www.utu.edu.uy/ ] Other links ORT http://www.ort.edu.uy/index.php?cookie_setted=true
U. Católica http://www.ucu.edu.uy/

Uruguayan engineers can get a job immediately in ANCAP, the National Administration of Fuels, Alcohol and Portland (the country doesn't have ANY oil or gas); in UTE-ANTEL (state monopoly of Electricity, and telephones), the only one gas company and any number of State or Local Administrations. Salaries are low but it is the State, not very demanding. An advantage of a Socialist system, the disadvantages...

What happens, most Latinoamerican Architects, Dentists, Engineers, Medical Doctors etc try to go to work in Spain or the USA: more money. Don't think that in Spain we welcome with open arms and smiles our Spanish American brothers! For example Latinoamerican dentists are FORBIDDEN to work in Spain, in spite of a desperate lack of dentists, and the rotten state of our teeth, but the union forbids the competition of these "undesirables" who would bring down prices, what?. And the word of the local Dentist College is law. Same thing in Engineering, Medicine, etc.
There are workarounds. Slow, of course. No one is in a hurry in Spain.

Evelyn needs to re-read the Republican/'conservative' manifesto:
Article 1. When additional revenue is needed, lower taxes for high income earners and lessen the burden on accumulated wealth.

It's proven! Really. Just ask anyone of a thousand 'think' tanks.

Next thing you know, the FedGov will be doing this with the Social Security fund.

Oh, wait. . . I guess they already ARE doing this.

Must be some type of law: Every substantial pool of money held in trust by a government for the benefit of the people that contributed that money will eventually be "borrowed" by that government for other purposes.

The main purpose over the last 18 months (to the tune of approx 10 trillion dollars) has been to transfer taxpayer funds to connected financial interests. No oversight, no discussion, no public input, nada, zip. Must be the magic of Capitalism Buffett is crowing about.

Brain, the only thing special about the last eighteen months is how blatant the money grab has become - as if there's no need for pretense any more.

Interesting missive by JHK today-he repeats the call by Denninger and others for a regulated CDS market before any more damage can be done. Naturally, the fearless leader is allowed to skate on this one by a compliant MSM while Rome burns.

Only our MSM is giving him passes. The Brits don't seem to be as pleased with his statesmanship. I especially liked this exchange of gifts when Brown visited:

But they concede that the mood music of the event was at times strained. Mr Brown handed over carefully selected gifts, including a pen holder made from the wood of a warship that helped stamp out the slave trade - a sister ship of the vessel from which timbers were taken to build Mr Obama's Oval Office desk. Mr Obama's gift in return, a collection of Hollywood film DVDs that could have been bought from any high street store, looked like the kind of thing the White House might hand out to the visiting head of a minor African state.

His pictures last week make him about 15 years older than last May. I'd say he is struggling to keep all the plates spinning, and even some of the financial ones he's focused upon are crashing to the ground, and almost all the rest.

Not that any other player would have had it easy in this economy, but trying to please everybody he "owes" is likely to be Obama's ruin.

  • http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/4...
  • Am I assume that Obama gave Gordy region 1 DVDs - to play in his region 2 DVD player?


    Hey it could have been worse, Obama could have given him a signed copy of the newest printing of a 20 dollar bill.

    My dad said "Obama will fall flat on his butt, because he has to many whiz-kids in his adminstration, people with no common sense."


    Gordon Brown is nearly blind in any case. I doubt he could watch any DVD at all.


    I can not believe that Obama does not know this since it has been so widely published. Obama's gifts may be a power play to show who is boss or insults to get at the UK government for supporting Bush in Iraq.

    Brown is in trouble at home politically. Obama doesn't want to tie himself to the mast of a sinking ship.

    The Kurt Cobb piece is almost nonsensical. He appears to argue that life in a localized future won't be simpler because we'll have to do everything that is now done on a centralized basis will have to be done locally. Okay, all here who thought that relocalization meant maintaining all that is the global economy, only decentralized, raise your hands.

    I have to agree with the article. I dont think that relocalization is an illusion that we will never quite harness. Social evolution will not regress because on the whim of sustainability issues sadly enough. We will be able to meet our energy needs but it will be a concerted global effort, and localization does not fit into the international paradigm.

    A better energy plan

    Cobb is arguing that relocalization will not equal simplification of life. You're saying relocalization won't happen. How is that agreeing with the article? I'm not sure I see the connection.

    Hardly anyone I know has any idea what the word "relocalization" means. And what's more, they don't care.

    But they certainly don't think it means a "decentralized global economy". No, they just don't think.

    True. But I wasn't asking about "anyone," I was asking about people who read and comment on the Oil Drum where the idea is fairly common place.

    But, I'm getting the sense that maybe Cobb's notion of a smaller, but the same, economy might not be as beyond expectations as I had originally thought.

    I didn't raise my hand, but since nooone saw that, my ballot was probably tossed out as a 'Non-Vote'

    I argued a bit with PaulS two days ago about the idea that diversifying into a better balance of LOCAL as well as having TRADED and BROADBASED necessities (in that case regarding the Grid and Local renewables).. and any mention of adding the 'Small stuff' to the mix seemed to evoke a 'You just hate BIG stuff' response.

    As with having real savings, the idea of being self-sufficient (even moderately) seems tainted with the crime of being disloyal to our Global and Multinational alliegances.

    I don't see how the Kurt Cobb piece is completely off base. If you're talking about solar units (whether PV or thermal), gardens...pretty much any thing you take charge of is going to increase your personal complexity. There are people that don't even cook - they don't go to grocery stores (much) - just go out to eat all of the time. To them, they simply do their work and make money, then directly purchase everything they need. They only need to know their specific niche work. Don't have to know how to cook, how to maintain plumbing, fix their car, the HVAC is only a small box on the wall they set to the temp they want. When you take charge of growing food, have a solar system, have an unusual car...you start having to know how all of these things work, and they may require daily attention to keep them from going ballistic. So a lot of things that have been farmed out may have to be pulled back in and re-learned, and may require a lot more attention than buy-and-forget or letting someone else figure it out. Obviously there are things that simply cannot be decentralized, but those that can would take extra effort and certain appear to increase complexity on the users side of things.

    You're saying the same thing - in a decentralized or localized world people will attempt to maintain all the same systems that are currently maintained by the global corporate infrastructure. Do you really believe that will be the case? (I'm being sincere in asking).

    It seems to me that, for example, solar PV just isn't going to happen on a local basis. I've seen some pretty impressive plans for thermal that involve only scrap materials.

    As for gardens, unless you're thinking of industrial based gardens, do not increase personal complexity. Infact, a garden is pretty straight forward.

    Anyway, that's me.

    "In fact, a garden is pretty straight forward."

    As an engineer, learning to garden has been a challenge. I have been trying to optimize the garden to a degree that would make my math prof proud. Did you know that carrots require more N and less P and K and other veggies? Thus 16-5-5 is better for carrots than 16-16-16 … On and on. Anyway I will grog organic gardening in a couple years and then “Watch Out”. :-)

    Get ye to the organic side. :-)

    Seriously, learn to compost and forget trying to figure out the NPK thing. The best thing to do is to learn what works in your area, in your garden.

    Stumbled across this on YouTube. The assertion is that new sweeping farm legislation will essentially make illegal organic farming and/or leave even home gardeners open to federal regulation if their food is sold to others.

    I read the bill and, sure enough, it defines farm very broadly and uses "any" to include every food producing facility, a.k.a. farms.


    Here's the house bill:

    H.R. 875 Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009

    And the Senate bill:

    S. 425: Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act

    Either of these would provide a stranglehold on food production for Monsanto and their ilk, imo.

    If either passes, I won't be returning to the U.S., most likely.

    Check them out and see what you think.


    There's some discussion at Reddit.

    And here's a commentary I forgot to post before.


    The Govtrack sites are down. My understanding of those bills were only those farms with animals, meaning 'gardens' would not be affected. And talking to friends (who are concerned about these bills), they say no way does USDA have horses to enforce such a bill. Still...

    Horror dreams say that we are headed towards a day when one or more states will want to get out of this union of ours for one reason or another and a bit more of the civil unrest of the 1860's will be happening soon.

    I wouldn't sell for money anything. I would trade for services or for other items food from my FARM. Why get money when it is about worthless, when you can barter or trade for just about everything.

    Just one more stupid law passed by those that I did not vote for, and want replaced by some common folk.


    Down in the full text posted on the HR 875 site above it specifically includes produce which clearly means vegetables in context. Some lawyer may twist it differently but that is what it says to me.

    The language I read would require some twisting to outlawing "Organic" farming but it looks as if I could do it if I wanted to. If I could do it so could someone else.

    More Inspectors will be needed, there are far to many places that handle food and far to few people to look at them all. It was recently spoke of in an OP-ED piece in our local paper when the Peanut recall happened.

    They mentioned 2,000 inspectors for the whole nation, that does not even count what we get from overseas. Just 40 hours per week or something like 4,160,000 man hours to deal with all those food producers or handling companies.

    If they go down to the farm level in this we will need a WHOLE lot more people trained and hired. Hey this is it, increase government jobs and we could get ourselves out of the unemployment blues.

    YAY Congress, make more bills, hire more inspectors, I need a rug inspector, and a roofing inspector, and someone to check my bathroom floor tiles too.....any one of these things could cause me harm, and I'll need my hand held while I cross the street too.


    Very interesting and very scary legislation in the works. It seems as if TPTB understand about peak oil and are doing a kind of check mate move here to stop people from trying the "doomstead" option (produce things themselves). They want to keep the elites wealthy and powerful so you're not going to be allowed to buy food locally. If there is no other kind of food available then tough, die, too bad.

    That is how the health care system works there too basically. Got money? Rich? Fine, here's your medical care. Otherwise, die. Too bad. Or transportation. Got money? Good. Buy a nice safe car. Otherwise die on your bicycle in the traffic or try to use your tiny cheap econobox and hope you don't have a crash. Got money? Try a nice gated community! Otherwise, just go and brave the gunfire in the cities and die. (I lived on South Side of Chicago for 7 years, by the way much prefered it to NY suburbs even though we heard guns in Chicago).

    Why would you have been thinking about moving back to the USA anyway? Going back would never cross my mind. I don't even wanna visit!

    It seems as if TPTB understand about peak oil and are doing a kind of check mate move here to stop people from trying the "doomstead" option (produce things themselves).

    Unfortunately, it very much has that feel. I've got to get a letter of to my congresscriminals.



    Is another one for the record books. Though the last comment on the Plastiki article has someone saying going 11,000 miles is dangerous. As if we should not go. If it were dangerous and we did not do things because they were, then most of what we have today would not be.

    The link I posted is to the Mars Ocean Odyssey trip, he has 313 more days at sea as of this posting. I have been following him ever since launch day and the trip has been rather good so far. Even though they hit another ship early on, and around day 658 they capsized, so far they seem to be doing okay.

    On the Plastiki I do wonder about the Dry-Ice he is using. We take all the Plastic bottles in the world and fill them full of Dry-Ice powder and seal them back up, then just bury them, Wonder if that would be able to get rid of the CO2 we need to get rid of?? Idle thoughts.


    On the transit issues facing us...

    Here in California, our state government just eliminated state subsidies for local transit. The amount is different of course for the different counties as the subsidies were very unevenly distributed. And, the spike in project funding expected due to the national "stimulus" package will not make up the difference as those funds are very targeted to capital projects in a few areas.

    Now, I've been one to hope for a long time that local transit systems work towards self-sufficiency and not rely on subsidies, as that is truly required for a long term sustainable system. My own experience in Japan proved to me that private rail is superior to the government charity projects we call "transit" here in the US.

    Yet the state subsidies that were eliminated were explicitly, by the people of California through the State ballot initiative system as well as through laws passed by the California assembly, intended for transit. That did not stop the subsidies from being eliminated in the recent compromise agreed to by our Governor.

    The impact here in Southern California of the loss of state subsidies is not small. What is planned is significant reduction in bus and train schedules and in many cases complete elimination of routes. Many riders will be affected. Even in these times of economic retraction the local transit authorities are claiming their costs are increasing.... and thus the loss of the state subsidies have even greater effect.

    So we come to a time when more people than ever will not be able to afford cars, and especially not afford the operating costs once gasoline rises again (as everyone expects due to oil depletion), and the State of California chooses to diminish the role of the sole alternative.

    There is something so mind-numbing about the near-sighted-ness of all of this that I find it difficult to know where to begin in my criticism. Yes, the state must live within its budget. Yet, there are state funds still going to many over-privileged projects. For example, the UC system has for a very long time provided way too much to its educators and administrators wrt retirement contributions, and that could be said for the Cal State system too. Higher education costs have to be constrained more... and even more importantly, understood in light of what our society really needs. The irony is that fewer and fewer students will be able to afford to drive to their schools... and there will be fewer buses and trains to take them there!

    So my hopes are not great that the State of California can make wise decisions on priorities to find our way through the 21st century (and don't even get me started on the choice to prioritize watering lawns in Bel Air over keeping the farmers in the central valley in business....)

    Legalize jitneys!

    If you want to "Legalize jitneys" maybe you should spend some time in cities with de-regulated jitneys like Lima, Peru and much of Africa. Pedestrian death rates are huge as the combis race for passengers, weaving from stop to stop, plus overall traffic congestion and pollution increase as they chaotic competition between a profusion of small vehicles taking up more road space than buses but carrying less passengers.
    Last time I was in Lima they were planning to return to privately operated but publicly regulated bus systems because the "privatized" transportation system was such a disaster. Africa is worse.

    From Comebackalive.com "The most dangerous form of travel in the world is the fabled minibus. These Third World creations are small Japanese-made transports with a drivetrain that was originally designed to haul a family of four, but ingenuity and greed prevails, and some will pack up to 16 passengers in one minibus.

    The minibuses are used primarily for rush hour transportation of poor people to work. Unlike the large, regulated buses, minibuses are run by entrepreneurs who make their money by carrying as many people, as many times as they can. For example, in South Africa 60,000 accidents involving minibuses kill more than 900 people every year. In Peru, where they are called "killer combis," the death toll also includes nonpassengers trying to get out of the way of the weaving, speeding vans. The deadly driving style is a result of drivers who must make their money within the two hours of rush hour in order to make a profit on their rental owner's charge. Last year, 375 pedestrians were killed by the 30,000 or so minivans in Lima, Peru. The numbers are not available for most Third World countries. A rough estimate puts the chances of a fatality in a minibus, matatu or combi at about 30 times the normal U.S. accident rate. So the next time you plunk down between a quarter to fifty cents for one of these rides, consider how much you just sold your life for."

    As usual, the market is not "always right" and intelligent government intervention can make markets work better.

    Was Peak Natural Gas in 2008?

    The late Dr Samsam Bakhtiari expected Peak Gas to occur around 2008/2009 (far earlier than most predicted) mainly due to the decline of Russian giant fields.

    With Russian Gas production for 2009 down by maybe 50bcm (1.7 trillion cubic feet) before you even add in announcements such as the 240 mcf/day (7mcm/day) cut by Chesapeake, the likely decline in US production as rigs are dropped and general demand destruction curtailing production, it seems highly unlikely that 2009 production worldwide will exceed 2008 production.

    So have we seen the final peak in gas as well as oil?

    Some writings from Bakhtiari


    (March 2006)

    Secondly, a focus on energy behemoth Russia.
    On New Year day, Russia's Gazprom fired a bombshell by cutting gas exports to Ukraine . This was not a one-off shot, but rather the first of an inevitable series of 'export corrections' (the second one was Georgia ).
    Put in a nutshell, Gazprom's present predicament is untenable. With a dwindling production based on declining major gas fields (and no fresh giant field on tap), the Russian gas monopolist will inevitably have to curtail its exports as it cannot (or rather dares not) cut domestic supplies


    (October 2006)

    However, there is little doubt that the field will have to be developed. The world cannot do without these immense reserves of natural gas --- especially as 'Peak Gas' is knocking at the door.
    But the task at hand looks awesome, if not daunting.

    And for those who don't know who he was and why he might know a thing or two about Natural Gas, here he is in "The End of Suburbia".

    I'm surprised there was no discussion in yesterday's Drumbeat on the Thomas Friedman op-ed in the NYT. I never expected to see a mainstream commentator like that expound on the limits to "growth":

    Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”

    We have created a system for growth that depended on our building more and more stores to sell more and more stuff made in more and more factories in China, powered by more and more coal that would cause more and more climate change but earn China more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills so America would have more and more money to build more and more stores and sell more and more stuff that would employ more and more Chinese ...

    We can’t do this anymore.

    Most of the folks I read on here may have very differing opinions, but I do think that all recognize that what Friedman posits is correct. We are looking at a new paradigm, and if not now, soon. The fine points of how we deal with this, and when, seem to get the most discussion. The recession (or worse) we are now in gives us all reason to pause and reflect, but I fear that soon all of our reflection will turn to work coping with the horrible end game of our excesses, hoping that it will not impact our progeny's progeny which we have already come to know.

    I have yet to see a post so reckless as to suggest that we buy more cheap crap for the sake of the economy. Instead, I see, on TOD at least, a continuous flow of suggestions on how to make things last. Friedman's target audience was those "other people." Kids who are just now in the prime of their youth don't know how difficult their lives will become and are still buying new sunglasses as soon as the fad hits the street, but will realize the seriousness of their choices.

    It very hard to take "Little Tommy" seriously, and I very rarely read anything he writes, as he seems to always play in the shallow end of the pool.
    He is right on this one.

    Well, you know what they say; "Even a blind squirrel finds a stopped watch twice a day".

    Great Disruption, not great depression. Everyone knows something is up, everyone knows something is going on, everyone knows we are seeing everything we thought we knew about change. But where does that leave us?

    Half of everyone hopes to get back to the status quo though, back to building, back to buying, back to where we were in 2007 or early 2008.

    The MSM and the pundits on the OP-ED pages will tell us what to do, HONEST...

    My parents and aunts and uncles are all over 73, sooner or later they won't be here anymore to worry about the world and all its problems. I don't have kids to tell this all to, and not very many people locally want to hear doom or gloom and if I can't buy them a beer I might as well not show up over there.

    It is good to see the OP-ED pages reflecting the real world a bit more though.


    Sometimes I can't decide if Friedman is a gadfly of the popular culture/media i.e the World is Flat, or just about 3-10 years behind the average TOD reader. I watched a Charlie Rose with him on about a year ago where he seemed to be on the verge of figuring the immensity of energy problems out. He however still thought we were just on the verge of a magnificient techie solution. Now the Limits article shows a little more thought progression. Given the size of his readership maybe he will have a significant impact on popular thought and behavior. I guess we can only hope

    Transit Troubles: Pipelines as a Source of Conflict

    This report addresses three questions:
    - Why will oil and gas transit pipelines become more
    important to global energy markets in the future?
    - Why has the history of such pipelines been littered
    with conflict between the various parties?
    - What might be done to improve this record in the
    future and make transit pipelines less troublesome?

    This Chatham House report is not behind a pay-wall.

    Most religious groups in USA have lost ground, survey finds

    The percentage of people who call themselves in some way Christian has dropped more than 11% in a generation. The faithful have scattered out of their traditional bases: The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic. And everywhere, more people are exploring spiritual frontiers — or falling off the faith map completely.

    ...So many Americans claim no religion at all (15%, up from 8% in 1990), that this category now outranks every other major U.S. religious group except Catholics and Baptists. In a nation that has long been mostly Christian, "the challenge to Christianity … does not come from other religions but from a rejection of all forms of organized religion," the report concludes.

    I wonder if the economic crisis will change this.

    I wonder if the economic crisis will change this.

    Historically, collapsing Empires and hard times have produced superstition (religion) and conspiracy theories (everywhere in this culture). Just look at Rome, Russia post revolution, the British Empire.
    The bewildered herd tries to make some sense, through story and myth, of their confusing and freighting conditions.

    I'm looking at your three examples and wondering what you see that I'm missing.

    Rome - It was the empire itself that institutionalized and codified Christianity. Of course, there is always the question of when the "collapse" began. Or whether there really was a "collapse" at all.

    Russia post revolution - are you referring to Marxism as the religion? In which case, since that was the point of the revolution, I'm not sure where you are going. And certainly, it would be hard to see the period following the end of the red and white war as "collapse."

    British Empire - Are we talking post Versailles? or Potsdam? And I'm not aware of any emerging religion coming from Britain in the last few centuries.

    So, what am I missing?

    Rome-Christianity, and other mystic religions.

    Russia-The ruling elite, and the Romanovs embraced mysticism (Rasputin helped to discredit the tsarist government, leading to the fall of the Romanov dynasty)

    Britain- the theosophist, seances, etc as Britain lost control of its empire.

    "I wonder if the economic crisis will change this."

    Let's pray it doesn't.

    Actually, after reading about the excommunication of the mother of the 9 year old Brazilean, raped and impregnated by her 23 year step-father, and of the doctors who conducted an abortion in order to protect her health, I'm praying morning, noon and night that the Catholic Church, my former church, is consumed in hellfire.

    Predictably, the Church did not excommunicate the rapist, pointing out that while he had committed a 'heinous' act, he hadn't actually murdered anyone.


    "If the religious mythos did not exist in a culture, it would be quickly invented, and in fact it has been everywhere, thousands of times through history. Such inevitability is the mark of instinctual behaviour in any species. That is, even when learned, it is guided toward certain states by emotion-driven rules of mental development. To call religion instinctive is not to suppose any particular part of its mythos is untrue, only that its sources run deeper than ordinary habit and are in fact hereditary, urged into birth through biases in mental development encoded in the genes." E.O. Wilson, Consilience: the unity of knowledge, 1998. p.257


    So a realistic agenda for dealing with the various horsepersons of the apocalypse now bearing down on the blue planet will have to accomodate the religious impulse.

    As before, may I recommend some books for those who intend to fight, or are fighting, the good fight:

    Consilience, as above; The Pagan Christ, Tom Harpur, 2004; I Don't Believe in Atheists, Chris Hedges, 2008.

    TODers interested in doing a homestay in an Indian village can look at the NYT "Villagers in India Open Their Homes". There is a nice slideshow also.

    Isn't it interesting how the culture (in this case the NYT) is starting to take a look at life in villages....with almost a kind of wistful "if only things could be like that here" feeling.....as headlines about more huge bailouts and economic woes dominate the major economies. People are searching for a new direction perhaps towards something fruitful and productive, or at least one hopes that they are!

    The article (perhaps the author did this unconsciously) emphasizes jobs in the village: blacksmith, farmer and talks about the hand sickle. Maybe this author is secretly conducting post-peak preparations and getting the NYT to pay expenses!

    It seams, to me, that people have gotten quite used to the DOW dropping about 100 points a day. That puts us at zero by memorial day!

    An investment manager I know said, "Down one percent a day is the new flat."

    well said ... and scary
    What is the halving time? 70 days?

    Saudi ExportLand news. A contract announcement story, but there was an interesting tidbit on distillate flows at the end.

    Falling gas supply amid growing power demand in the kingdom has seen the world's top oil exporter lock in long term purchase contracts for utility fuel totalling around 10 million barrels so far.

    Aramco has even reversed fuel oil exports and started imports months before the summer to meet rising domestic demand for power.

    Edited to add a link and remove excessive quoting.

    Please don't quote entire stories. Post the link, and a short excerpt.

    Especially when the story is older, and has likely been posted before (as this one has been).

    I'm pretty sure that's number 4 or even number 6 fuel oil, not number 2 distillate aka 'heating oil' or diesel.

    Revenge of Gaia

    Cat 4 cyclone Hamish shuts down large coal loading port.

    March solar prices at new record lows in Europe after falling 1.5%. US prices fall toward the '03/'04 trough.

    See details at:


    Do you think we'll see grid parity in a majority of markets by 2012?


    Hello Leanan,

    Thxs for the toplink: "Government could speed grid projects at no cost"

    IMO, if people could be convinced to move towards Alan Drake's RR & TOD ideas: much of this NIMBYism against powerlines would diminish as Alan says the RR Right of Way [ROW] could accomodate most of these power networks. Hope people come to their senses soon.

    The 5 Stages of Grief, Investing Edition

    Swiss-born psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' five stages of grief are a core component of modern psychoanalysis and are used to help people deal with tragedies. But do they apply to investors?

    Very much so, according to Diane Garnick, investment strategist at Invesco, which has over $400 billion in assets under management. In the accompanying video, Garnick and I discuss the five stages as they apply to investors, some of whom might be saying (or thinking) the following:
    Interesting comments in this link,too.

    I love how the tagline is always "Joe or June Blow, who has 400 trillion dollars under management-the implication is they must be great at making money for investors, which is why they have 400 trillion dollars under management. The reality is so different as to almost be the opposite of this rule. I can't remember how much Lehman or Bear Sterns had under management (or AIG etc. etc.)

    Roubini: US Recession Could Last Up to 36 Months

    his solutions: fix the housing market by breaking "every mortgage contract."

    He also said that "most of the U.S. financial institutions are entirely insolvent."

    As for the claim that the Treasury Department can't legally take over the banks, Roubini said that most of the banks are already owned by the government and that the government could "put them in receivership" if it had to


    Somewhat related...
    Central States Mortgage suspends operations

    The mortgage banker has been involved in numerous controversial dealings and recently filed a racketeering suit against Richard Jungen, its founder and former CEO. The suit against Jungen and other former executives charges they defrauded the company out of at least $15 million. In addition, the Journal Sentinel reported last month that the FBI is investigating the relationship between Central States Mortgage, the credit unions that own it and Interim Funding - a firm started by Jungen and other ex-employees. Interim made bridge loans to borrowers that were later passed on to the mortgage banker.

    Might have been posted-Jim Rogers talking water shortages (among other things) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ea1vGpeNQfo&feature=related

    Just a quick update with regards to the work at our church and parish hall.... Today, our electricians were retrofitting the fluorescent valances. A total of fifty-six 2-lamp F34T12 fixtures were converted to 28-watt T8s driven by ISL (0.77 BF) electronic ballasts. This load has been cut in half (from 4,480-watts to 2,352-watts) and yet light levels are 20 to 25 per cent higher. As an added bonus, there's no annoying flicker (particularly noticeable upon start-up, especially when the church is cold), no irritating ballast hum and the quality of light is vastly superior -- the old cool white lamps have a CRI of 62, whereas these new 5,000K T8s have a CRI of 86.

    With respect to the two BUNN coffee makers, one will remain unplugged until needed (i.e., Sunday morning) and the other will be controlled by a timer that will turn on the unit at 08h00 and back off at 16h00. This will allow staff and volunteers to make coffee during the day, but eliminate the standby losses that would normally occur during the evening and overnight hours. Altogether, this should shave some 1,100 kWh/year from their electricity usage.

    Refrigeration is the next order of business. There are two commercial refrigerators and two large and quite old deep freezers that are used by the food bank. Based on the limited data I've collected thus far, it appears these four appliances collectively consume between 4,000 and 4,500 kWh a year. If we can replace these appliances with Energy Star models, we could very easily cut this load by half (and then some). I'm told the church has already committed funds for this purpose, so there's a good chance one or more of these guzzlers will be shown the door in the next month or so.


    Just thinking about you.. (re: a relight in our bathroom) I have CFL's in there, but the space and lighting needs would easily accommodate short (12") fluorescents.. do these have a similar efficiency advantage over CFLs as the larger t-8's do, or rather, are there some highly efficient ones I can seek out? I suspect the main advantage is not having the ballast packed into a tiny-hot bucket butting up against the hot tubes, or?

    Bob Fiske

    Hi Bob,

    T8s (or a T4s or T5s) are generally better choices due to greater lamp efficacy (up to 100 lumens per watt), an expanded range of colour temperatures (from 2,700K to 6,500K and higher), higher CRIs (as high as 98) and longer lamp life (upwards of 46,000 hours). However, the small physical size requirements do tip things towards CFLs.

    I really like GE's 2D lamps which are relatively compact; the 55-watt version generates 4,000 lumens, or about the same amount of light as a 200-watt incandescent. 2D lamps are available in various wattages and can be used in either hard wired fixtures (hard to find) or with their own, reusable electronic ballast.

    Perhaps the fixture shown at the top of page 5 (http://www.westcoastlighting.com/pdf/energystar.pdf) might work.

    The 2D lamp shown on the left is a 39-watt 3-way or tri-light version I bought almost fifteen years ago (still works great!).

    The other option is a PL type lamp, such as what you see to the immediate left of the ruler. There are, for example, "drum" style fixtures approximately 12 inches in diameter that take up to three 13-watt PL lamps. A 13-watt PL is about 8 inches in length, whereas the PLs to the right of the ruler are 36-watts and approximately 18 inches.


    I worked to save energy in our church over the last six years. It looks like you are off to a great start. Be sure to have programable thermostats with covers. We keep the sancuary at 52 degrees when not in use. Our overall energy savings is close to 40% from what we were (using), paying 6 years ago. I have done most of the things you are doing and it really makes a difference. Keep us informed on savings realized in the future. All public buildings need to go through this routine.
    If there is a vending maching for soft drinks, be sure to put that on a timer too.


    I insisted that the soft drink vendors remove the fluorescent lights behind the front sign. There was no competition, and people could easily see that the machine sold Coke products without the extra energy use.

    We paid 100% of the utility bill for xx% of the proceeds.

    Best Hopes for Small Reductions in Waste,


    Congratulations, JNK, and thanks for the tips; much appreciated. The church and parish hall are heated with oil and neither structure is particularly well insulated; insulation was recently added to the attic (consequently, snow no longer vaporizes the instant it touches the roof) but someone told them the walls should not be insulated because it could result in structural damage (I can't see how and I've suggested they obtain a second opinion, but I need more time to build my case). There are programmable thermostats, so we at least have that. No vending machines, but a timer would be a great idea if they were, in fact, present.

    It's sometimes hard not to think of all the energy that has been needlessly squandered over the years (the church was built in 1817 and the parish hall in 1909). Why did we have to wait so long?


    Elizabeth Warren on NPR's Fresh Air program, discussing among other things, monitoring of the use of bailout funds.

    From her tone of helpless rage it seems that the chairwoman of a Congressional Oversight Panel has absolutely no clout whatsoever.
    What purpose does such a panel serve then?

    From her tone of helpless rage it seems that the chairwoman of a Congressional Oversight Panel has absolutely no clout whatsoever.
    What purpose does such a panel serve then?

    Window dressing?

    I have long expected this would be her purpose. She's gained a lot of popularity with her deeply flawed "Two-income trap" analysis, but IMO is no great intellect.


    You gotta hand it to them-the latest is that the 5 largest USA banks have INCREASED THEIR NET LOSS DERIVATIVES EXPOSURE BY 49% IN THE LAST 90 DAYS. The current estimate is 587 BILLION. Like 2nd graders giving the finger to the impotent public school principal.

    Well, Oz is not Europe, and I may be out of date with the details, but we used to have free uni, now we have HECS fees, discount for paying up front, or govt loan for full amt, but repayment not required until one hits a particular (and reasonably generous) income level. So if you are delivering pizza with a degree in x, you dont pay for it, but if you get a well paid job, repayments are deducted from your wage along with your tax. Always seemed fair to me.

    Well I suppose it had to happen but Denninger and Ilargi seem to have fallen for the old divide and conquer trick as they turn their fire on each other in their latest blogs...

    See http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/2009/03/march-10-2009-dinosaurs-si... (Also read the thread comment by "genesis" (Karl)

    and now http://market-ticker.denninger.net/archives/862-Madoff,-Mark-To-Market-a...


    Ilargi: Karl Denninger, who's spent months clamoring for fair value and mark-to-market, today does a 180 and argues for a suspension of the all-too-rational principle. Thinking of a career in politics? Any idea of the damage a suspension would do? I think you do, Karl.

    Denninger: My call for a temporary suspension of mark-to-market set off a shizstorm of controversy, characterized by this sort of idiot savant comment over at The Automatic Earth:

    Oh dear.

    Deleted - wrong thread