DrumBeat: May 18, 2009

Uncertainty Clouds Outlook for Oil Sector

NEW YORK — As its most prosperous decade screeches to a halt, the oil industry is confronting a far tougher and more hazardous future. The huge profits of the past years have mostly vanished, leaving companies to confront a difficult readjustment to a world of lower prices and uncertain demand.

Between 1998 and 2008, oil prices swung from lows of $10 a barrel to highs reaching nearly $150. But as the global recession last year pushed down oil consumption for the first time in 25 years, prices collapsed. Since the beginning of the year, oil futures have traded in a range around $50 a barrel.

As a result of the market’s slide in the second half of 2008, many small and midsize producers — though not the giants like Exxon, Total or Shell — have posted big losses, oil exporting nations are suffering crippling revenue declines, and even the major oil companies are seeing substantially lower profits this year. In response, many companies are sharply curtailing investments, reducing costs and firing workers in a frantic bid to drive down expenses.

The Race to Harness Hydrates

PERUGIA, ITALY — Hydrates have long been a costly and dangerous nuisance to the natural gas and oil industries, crystals with an irritating tendency to build up in pipelines deep under the sea or in very cold regions, completely blocking any flow.

But lately they have started to be seen in a fresh light, as a new frontier in energy exploitation. Estimates of global natural gas hydrate reservoirs remain vague, but the U.S. Department of Energy says on its Web site that the amount of energy held in methane hydrate form is “immense, possibly exceeding the entire combined energy content of all other known fossil fuels.”

Report Weighs Fallout of Canada’s Oil Sands

Canada has the second-largest petroleum deposits after Saudi Arabia and the biggest in the Western hemisphere. Its oil sands produce 1.3 million barrels of oil a day, up from 600,000 a day in 2000. As a result, Canada has become the biggest foreign oil supplier to the United States, accounting for 19 percent of imports in 2008.

But the development of these sands in the Alberta region has also been sharply criticized by ecological groups, local communities and even Catholic bishops, for their impact on the environment, and their intensive use of both water and natural gas.

In Ecuador, Resentment of an Oil Company Oozes

SHUSHUFINDI, Ecuador — Mention to Anita Ruíz the name of the giant oil company Chevron, and she trembles with rage. At her wooden hut here in the Amazon forest, where oil-project flares illuminate the night sky, she points to a portrait of her youngest son, who died seven years ago of leukemia at age 16.

“We believe the American oilmen created the pollution that killed my son,” said Ms. Ruíz, 58, who lives in a clearing where Texaco, the American oil company that Chevron acquired in 2001, once poured oil waste into pits used decades ago for drilling wells.

China's oil processing capacity to increase by 18% by 2011

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China plans to raise its annual crude oil processing capacity to 405 million tonnes by 2011, the State Council, or the Cabinet, said on Monday in its restructuring and stimulus plans for the petrochemical industry.

That would represent an increase of about 18.4 percent over its processing volume last year, which topped 342.1 million tonnes, according to the January figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Shell to face shareholder anger at annual meeting as Co-op criticises pay policies

Shareholders in Royal Dutch Shell have increased the pressure on the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas group to reconsider its pay policy as a second institutional investor promised to vote against the directors' remuneration report at tomorrow's annual meeting.

Peru dispatches army to quell indigenous protests

LIMA (AFP) — Peru authorized the armed forces Saturday to back up police to quell indigenous groups' protests over Amazon land, oil and mineral rights, after protestors declared an insurgency against the government.

The Ministry of Defense in a decree said it "authorizes for 30 days the intervention of the armed forces to ensure the continued functioning of essential services in select districts" of five provinces in Peru's Amazon rainforest region.

Fire at US oil refinery contained; no injuries

CLAYMONT, Del. - Firefighters contained a blaze early Monday caused by an explosion overnight at an oil refinery in the U.S. state of Delaware. The blast rattled nearby homes but caused no injuries.

A fireball at Sunoco Inc.'s Marcus Hook facility lit up the sky Sunday night at the complex, which straddles the border between Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Saudi holds over supply of gas in ships off Jeddah

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, is holding up to 1.5 million barrels of gasoline on ships just off the Red Sea Coast port of Jeddah, industry sources said on Monday.

The ships have been waiting to discharge for more than two days but, because of brimming inventories on land, they have not been able to proceed, shipping sources said.

Brazil Turns to China to Help Finance Oil Projects

SÃO PAULO -- Brazil's oil industry is turning to China for cash in the latest sign of how Beijing's clout is growing amid the global economic downturn.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was set to arrive in Beijing Monday to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is expected to unleash billions of dollars of credit to help Brazil exploit its massive oil reserves. Brazil will return the favor by guaranteeing oil shipments to Chinese companies.

Russian firm seen as hostile bidder for Nabucco

A Russian oil and gas company considered close to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has won participation in Hungary's MOL petrochemical group, with the aim of taking over this key member of the Nabucco gas pipeline consortium, experts told EurActiv.

Nigerian militants threaten to blockade oil tankers

Lagos (Platts)- Nigeria's main militant group threatened Monday to blockade key access channels for fuel tankers as tension in the oil-rich Niger Delta continued to escalate.

"We have ordered the blockade of key waterway channels to oil industry vessels, both for export of crude oil and gas and importation of refined petroleum products," the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said in an e-mailed statement.

Norway's ruling parties delay oil sands vote

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's centre-left government effectively delayed a parliamentary vote on Monday on whether majority state-owned oil and gas producer StatoilHydro (STL.OL) should withdraw from a $2 billion Canadian oil sands venture.

The oil sands issue has put the government in a bind four months before a general election, with political opponents saying state support for the oil sands project was hypocritical given the cabinet's self-professed environmental ambitions.

A new way to get inside scoop on oil

Big Oil is thinking small — really, really small — in its quest to squeeze more oil and gas from the ground.

A consortium of companies is funding research at Rice University, the University of Texas and other schools around the country to develop tiny devices 70,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair to gather information about oil and gas reservoirs deep underground.

UAE firms to send Iraq gas to Europe

Dubai: Sharjah-based upstream energy explorers Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum, and European energy exploration giants OMV and MOL have signed a partnership to invest up to $8 billion (Dh29.36 billion) in Iraq's energy-rich Kurdistan region that will help surplus gas to be pumped to Europe through the trans-continental Nabucco project.

Brain power can meet the energy crisis

Back in the 1970s, North Sea oil was seen as the saviour of the British ­economy. The money would be spent modernising industry so that it could play in the big league with the ­Germans, the Japanese and the ­Americans. Instead, we spent the money on ­unemployment benefit and tax cuts. The industrial ­renaissance never happened.

By the time the oil started to run out, financial services were the next big thing. The City would be Britain's unique selling point, we would pay our way in the world through banking, insurance, arranging bids and deals and by being better speculators than our rivals. With the banks bust and the financial sector in a state of petrification, we are now going to find out what life is like without artificial stimulants.

Kurt Cobb: The freedom lobby

Again, the concern is with so-called economic freedom, primarily to grab whatever wealth one is able to grab. This is an appealing doctrine to those who have the skills and social position to do just that. And, there is an important second component to this freedom, property rights. Property rights become very important if you already have a lot of property (wealth) or the prospect of gaining a lot of property. So, it is again no surprise that the financial press--The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Post among them--see climate change as a canard to gyp them and their readers out of their rights to use their property--primarily property that emits a lot of greenhouse gas--as they see fit.

What these defenders of freedom don't tell us is what they are willing to do to defend the property rights of the inhabitants of coastal cities and countless seaside villages should their communities be swamped by rising sea level--one of the most widely expected effects of global warming. Nor do they tell us what they might be willing to do to protect the water supplies of billions dependent on Asian mountain rivers as the glacial meltwater that feeds them disappears. How might they answer the farmers whose formerly fertile fields become drought-stricken deserts as climate change proceeds? Who do all these people see about the violation of their property rights?

The next big thing in wind: Slow wind, huge turbines

With politicians pushing adoption of renewable energy in the United States and Europe, the last few years have seen a surge in plans for wind farms--both on land and sea. But wind power isn't viable everywhere--and prime coastal spots are often already developed.

So some wind-turbine makers are shifting their focus toward building bigger wind turbines that can harvest the lower-speed winds that are more readily available. This next generation of wind turbines is no small matter: their rotors have a diameter the size of a football field.

Farmers consider wood-based ethanol after corn hopes stall

Orangeburg County Clemson Extension Agent Lewis Beckham said in the future, grain-based ethanol solutions such as corn will "be very limited in its value as an alternative fuel."

"The net energy gained in converting corn to ethanol is energy inefficient," Beckham said. "The net energy gained in that process is not as much as we need for it to be a genuine problem-solver. It takes nitrogen and nitrogen takes a lot of energy to produce. It is real expensive.

"If you can't make it on paper, you can't make it in the field."

Orangeburg County Clemson Extension Agent Beth Richardson said while the county has enough trees to support wood-based ethanol production, she says it won't be a cure-all either.

Which ministry is least green? The one that runs climate change

One in three government buildings has the lowest possible rating for energy efficiency, according to official figures seen by the Observer, which show the Department for Energy and Climate Change is one of the worst offenders.

Japan Needs ‘Ambitious’ Carbon Target, Hedegaard Says

(Bloomberg) -- Danish Climate Minister Connie Hedegaard will urge Japan to set an “ambitious” target for cutting greenhouse gases by 2020 to lead the way for developed nations negotiating a climate treaty this year.

“If Japan comes up with an ambitious target, Japan will then have a significant role in paving the way for a new emissions deal,” she said in an interview today.

Climate impact of aviation greater than IPCC report

A group of experts reporting to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has increased dramatically the figure it believes aviation contributes to climate change.

In a report published last month, the eight international scientists put aviation's total contribution ('radiative forcing') in 2005 at 4.9%.

This is well over the 3% these same authors came up with two years ago in the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report on the state of global warming.

Report: Shipping would profit from 20 per cent emission reduction

The global shipping sector could slash its greenhouse gas emissions by at least a fifth at no net cost to the industry, according to a new report from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

As Alaska Glaciers Melt, It’s Land That’s Rising

JUNEAU, Alaska — Global warming conjures images of rising seas that threaten coastal areas. But in Juneau, as almost nowhere else in the world, climate change is having the opposite effect: As the glaciers here melt, the land is rising, causing the sea to retreat.

Morgan DeBoer, a property owner, opened a nine-hole golf course at the mouth of Glacier Bay in 1998, on land that was underwater when his family first settled here 50 years ago.

Krugman: Empire of Carbon

TAIPEI, Taiwan - I have seen the future, and it won’t work.

These should be hopeful times for environmentalists. Junk science no longer rules in Washington. President Obama has spoken forcefully about the need to take action on climate change; the people I talk to are increasingly optimistic that Congress will soon establish a cap-and-trade system that limits emissions of greenhouse gases, with the limits growing steadily tighter over time. And once America acts, we can expect much of the world to follow our lead.

But that still leaves the problem of China, where I have been for most of the last week.

Krugman continues the same mantra repeatedly-Wall Street will protect us from ourselves-the problem is one of the most popular Presidents ever is successfully selling the same garbage.

Today’s chart illustrates that 12-month, as-reported S&P 500 earnings have declined over 90% over the past 20 months (with over 90% of S&P 500 companies having reported for Q1 2009), making this by far the largest decline on record (the data goes back to 1936).

that makes the P/E Ratio based on the close Friday = 122.45



"Today reminds me of the briefly sunny period in 1930-1 when most economists and public officials agreed that the Depression was already over and the economy was back on track. President Hoover dismissed a delegation of businessmen who came to Washington with ideas on stabilizing the economy with "Too late gentlemen, the slump is over."

There are few things from my childhood that I remember more vividly than grandmother's comments regarding this false recovery. "If we knew what was coming, we would have killed ourselves." This from as strong a person as I have ever encountered, with a faith that would break rocks. The Great Depression left an indelible mark, or more accurately scar, on her entire family, and my father's as well.

And I never heard the name "Franklin Roosevelt" from her lips without it being preceded by "God bless" followed by "he saved my family." Not all of her children unfortunately. She said she cried so much and so often that she was never able to cry again. And she did not, even at the end."


That is a scary wild P/E.


This (using market wide P/E ratios) is the same thing as saying the average depth of the stream is 4 feet, and you drown because it is 20 feet deep in parts. Or, you could say, that the average depth of all water that you see in nature, anywhere on earth, is 1,000 feet (oceans averaged in) - so do not dare cross. Well, when you take $250 billion of losses from the banks and the auto companies, and they wipe out all the other companies profits, you get a high market P/E. But, there are hundreds of individual stocks trading at P/E's below 10, that have not had losses, and are not projected to have losses, and in fact are projected to have rising earnings.

The S&P should be at 450 and dropping.

$12.8 Trillion was ALL borrowed. And it only paid the interest.

For one year. Sep/Oct's gonna need $!2.8 Trillion more.

How much did this cost?

GE's insolvent. Name your famously undervalued 5 best

W/o the US Gov't pumping this market, it's 50% lower.

This market is being competely jammed upwards.

And you're willfully blind not to see it.

Posted by Tyler Durden at 5:30 PM
Yet another low volume, TurboTICK upside day. Nothing to see here, except for some unprecedented odd behavior... Actually for something more to see here, check out Sentiment Trader's thoughts. And a question for readers: did anyone trade today or was it mostly RIEF trading with Medallion?


"If there was anybody who should have avoided the mortgage catastrophe, it was I. As an economics reporter for The New York Times, I have been the paper’s chief eyes and ears on the Federal Reserve for the past six years. ...

Something important to note at the end of the article: the guy hasn't paid his mortgage (from Chase) in over eight months and he's still waiting for them to call to "drop the axe" as he says. Many people in the economic doom-o-sphere have suspected that there are huge swaths of the population that, like the author of the Times piece, are essentially living "rent free" at this point. The banks, naturally, don't want to admit this for two reasons: first, it could spook their investors. Second, if people got word that at least a few of their neighbors are living in their homes 6, 9, or even 12 months without paying, they would probably just say "f--k it" and stop paying as well. It will be interesting to track the aggregate reaction to this part of the article as it's what you might call a "highly actionable" piece of financial intel.

If you want to read or discuss this further, the full NY Times article can be accessed here while our discussion at the LATOC Forum can be accessed here."


Author Charlie Stross has had occasion to travel on the US Amtrak rail service, comparing it with US, Japanese and European equivalents. He concludes with:

...I find it really strange that in this day and age, a critical chunk of the USA's infrastructure barely rises to the level of third world quality.

Perhaps 3rd world quality garyp but not 3rd world costs. I read a GAO report a couple of years ago. It would have been cheaper for Amtrak to have purchased a 1st class airplane ticket for each passenger it carried from Florida to California then it cost them to carry those folks by rail. I'm sure there are some poor assumtions in that analysis but I suspect the point is still valid to some degree.

Amtrak has high costs because it has been mismanaged, starved for investment, and basically given the political equivalent of waterboarding for many decades.
The solution to this problem is manage it properly and invest for the best functional and financial returns. Despite all the problems in the US, I cannot believe that we cannot build a national railway system as good as Bulgaria. Rising to the level of France or even India may be too much to expect in the short term. The complaints about Amtrak strike me as the usual Republican game, mismanage and underfund a government service, and then use the resulting debacle to argue about how bad government is, Katrina-style.
Comparisons to the cost of a first-class airline ticket won't matter much when the airlines have all gone bankrupt and ceased service to many airports (currently in process).
Riding France's TGV gives a real-world proof of how good a job governments can do with delivering rail services, with proper financial and logistical support. Spain is adding even more miles of high-speed rail than France, with great success.

Comparisons to the cost of a first-class airline ticket won't matter much when the airlines have all gone bankrupt and ceased service to many airports (currently in process).

Fewer flying this summer - but expect full planes
Airline travel will decline by 7% - or 14 million passengers - this summer, industry trade organization says.

The skies will be considerably less crowded this summer, with the Air Transport Association projecting a 7% decline in air travel compared to last year.

The industry group, which represents U.S.-based airlines, said on Friday that there will be 14 million fewer airline passengers traveling over the summer.

But, reading on in the article, I found this little nugget...

In spite of the declining fares, Derchin said the airline industry is expected to generate a $1 billion profit this year, largely because of capacity cuts, the decline in fuel prices, and additional fees for checking bags and other services that once came free.

"If they didn't have those ancillary fees, they wouldn't have made money this year," he said.

They might just give away tickets someday, but charge you a fuel surcharge, gate useage fee and cargo bay rental (for your luggage) to make up the difference...

Well Tommyvee you have made your points well but you overlook the obvious in one respect. I personally am not going to push mass transit because it will do me no good at all except possibly reduce overall oil consumption and pollution, thereby maybe being the tool that removes the straw that breaks the camels back and saving us all.Intellectually I understand this very well,but my cynical old gut is telling me that all those trains will be running in places I never go and that the chance of a line running anywhere near my home is essentially zilch times zilch again that it would take me anyplace I want to go.

If I could get on a fast train in say Richmond and commute to Washington DC and get off and get right on a bus that would drop me at the door of whichever federal office ,that would be fine.But when I lived in Richmond,it was easier and cheaper overall to drive,given driving to the station,paying for parking or getting some one to drop me off,taking a cab every where for even one day,etc.The public understands this situation very well, and that imo is why trains are not likely to become very common here until such time as the average citizen does not own a car.Nearly every small business owner dependent on car traffic that I have spoken to sees trains as a threat to his survival-unless he happens by luck to be right on a proposed lineof course.

As a practical matter I believe we should push as hard as possible for really economical cars,preferably electrically driven,simply because the driving public will not buy into the idea of mass transit for the next few years at least-and the driving public is a very large voting block.

I don't want to reward failing instutitions. Enough bailouts already.

I don't want to reward failing instutitions. Enough bailouts already.

This is a weirdly punitive attitude to take towards basic societal functions like transportation infrastructure.
If a bridge falls down, will you not "reward" the failing highway infrastructure by fixing it?
If the sewage system in your town stops working, will you fix it, or will you avoid "rewarding a failing institution" and live with the stink and disease risk of backed up sewage?

The only people that will be punished if the US fails to fix its' broken passenger rail infrastructure are US citizens. Meanwhile the rest of the world, without bizarre and self-defeating anti-government ideologies will invest in functional transportation systems, moving people cleanly and cheaply. Investing in durable public infrastructure is nothing like a "bailout" for a speculator.

I agree with the comment below that private ownership of rail systems is a major reason for the failure of passenger rail in the US. Imagine if the interstates were privately owned and passenger cars had to pull over to let freight trucks pass by. No country in the world runs highways this way, and almost no other country runs railroads like the US.

Imagine if the interstates were privately owned...

I'd love to see the experiment tried! You could sell it to the Republican party as a budget balancer - selling the interstates, that is.

Here's hoping for a level playing field for passenger rail ;-)

Actually, converting our freeways into toll roads could do a *LOT* of good, and help pay off some of the recent national debt.

Best Hopes for simple good ideas :-)


PS: How about selling the Chinese our interstate system in exchange for the US Treasuries and mortgages that they own ? They can then toll it as they see fit.

If the airlines all had to pay the freight airlines large fees to use the freight air carriers monopoly air space like AmTrak has to pay the freight railroads to use the freight railroads tracks (payed for in good part by the US taxpayers!), then the cost of the air fares would be just plane astronomical! And AmTrak (or any other private passenger service) can not be expected to maintain anything close to accurate time schedules when they are at the mercy of the private monopoly freight railroad traffic control systems that give preference to the freight trains over passenger trains.
All the talk of the superior passenger rail service in other countries does not take into account the fact that the rail track systems and rail traffic control in most of those countries are state owned. Which is also why in those other countries they can manage to run both freight and passenger services on the same rails - efficiently!
We will never have effective passenger rail service in the USA until the federal government nationalizes the trackage and the traffic control system like it does on the road systems and air travel systems. Then you will see large numbers of private local, regional and national passenger rail services blossom throughout the USA, just as you see large numbers of private passenger and freight air services on public airways with public traffic control and large numbers of private passenger and freight services on public roadways with public traffic control.

Here is an article from Slate describing how passenger train trip times have lengthened significantly over the years.


Gas prices are up 25 cents nationwide..

Gas jumps 25 cents in three weeks
Nationwide survey of gas stations finds price of regular unleaded spiked as driving season approaches, but says trend is unlikely to continue.

Gas prices jumped nearly a quarter in the past three weeks, but the trend is unlikely to continue, according to a survey published on Sunday.

The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular is $2.30, according to the May 15 Lundberg Survey of some 5,000 gas stations around the country. The 25-cent hike is the largest increase in gas prices on a weekly basis since a year ago, but "that's where the similarity ends," according to survey publisher Trilby Lundberg.

"It isn't very unusual for a price hike of this magnitude this time of year," she said. But, she added, "The prices cannot catch up with last year" when gas prices were averaging $3.80.

...which is interesting because we are in the worse recession in 50 years...

US in worst recession for 50 years
The US economy slowed by an annualised rate of 6.1pc in the first quarter, confirming the current downturn is the worst American recession in 50 years.

...The data came ahead of yesterday's meeting of the Federal Reserve's Open Markets Committee (FOMC) which was expected to maintain its base interest rate at a range of 0pc-0.25pc.

The world's largest economy has now shrunk by 3.3pc since its peak last year, making this the worst recession since the 1957-58 slump, when GDP fell by 3.8pc. In addition, it is the first time since the 1974-75 downturn that America has recorded third consecutive quarters of negative growth...

My guess is that we have established an absolute floor for petroleum and petroleum derived products, in light of the shape of the world economy. If the world recovers, demand increases and prices go up, choking off the economy again. If we don't recover, well... That is bad in itself too.

There's no market for diesel. It's either get a Good Price for the gasoline, or shut down the refinery.

Diesel in our area (Bay Area, CA) has gone up 5 cents, while gas has gone up 25 - 30 cents. Diesel is now the cheapest fuel on the price signs - about 20 cents lower than regular gas. I hope it continues in this pattern, as I drive a diesel powered pickup for my daily commute.

Pray For Rain: Dealer Offers Cars For Free

A car dealer in Greeley is trying to boost business with a promotion it hopes will help beat the recession. It's a sales gimmick that has buyers keeping a close eye on the weather.

At Weld County Garage in Greeley, customers are looking forward to Memorial Day weekend -- and they're hoping for "perfect" weather.

"I hope it does rain … a lot," auto customer Michael Newby said.

"If it rains an inch, that vehicle is free," Steven Boldry with Weld County Garage said.

..."We can't control what's happening with GM and some of the companies out there that everybody knows about," Boldry said. "All we can control is what we can do."

I personally think GM would do better having a promotion for half off vehicles purchased on a day ending in a 'y', or better yet paying for gas for the life of your vehicle.

Pray for rain.

Calgary-area Chrysler dealers have been giving away a free new sedan with the purchase of a new SUV or pickup (fully loaded, of course). Two for the price of one, in other words. And they're clearing their lots. Peak Oil? What Peak Oil?

I've been meaning to mention it for some time, but the following filler item in the upper right corner of the Oil Drum home page needs correction:

"“My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet-plane. His son will ride a camel.”
—Saudi saying"

The correct attribution should be:

""My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel."
- Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum

Reference is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rashid_bin_Saeed_Al_Maktoum

Hello TODers,

67% of mortgage holders in Vegas are now underwater [scroll down inside the link to see other cities]:

House-Price Drops Leave More Underwater

The downturn in home prices has left about 20% of U.S. homeowners owing more on a mortgage than their homes are worth, according to one new study, signaling additional challenges to the Obama administration's efforts to stabilize the housing market.

I've seen those number before Toto but I'm not sure it's all bad news. Sure, if one is forced to move for whatever reason then selling at a loss hurts a good bit. But if you're not selling then you're still living in the home you bought for whatever your reasons and still have the same morgtage you chose in the first place. You've lost equity but if you're not a seller so what? The slightly tarnished silver lining is that that homeowner isn't able to borrow against that disdappeared equity and thus can't dig themselve deeper into debt. Even in booming Houston my home lost a little value. But since it's the home I plan to die in that doesn't bother much at all.

Sometimes you just have to dig really hard for that silver lining.

The problem in Las Vegas is the 'ol positive feedback loop. Many of the underwater mortgages are on the backs of speculators who bought investment homes and others with less incentive to keep paying. Thus, more of them default, and the glut expands while the prices contract -- making more underwater. There are also those who need to re-finance their variables, and this is a problem when underwater.

It's hard to see any reason for improvement soon, if ever.

[scroll down inside the link to see other cities]

Storm on the Sun Belt

Well, Bob, isn't it nice to know almost half your neighbors are underwater?

Hello Geckolizard,

I expected this from my reading of Dieoff.org back in 2003, and I told everyone I knew in '05-'06 to sell while they still could to make an easy real estate profit [then rent], but they all thought I was nuts. :(

This crumbling of the Southwestern US was entirely predicted by Jay Hanson, JHKunstler, and others, many years ago. Barring some miracle tech-cure [seems unlikely], we are just starting starting the process of mostly abandoning this area like the ancient Native Americans did so long ago. Is Cascadia and other areas with more water and topsoil getting ready for the migrational influx? I have been asking this question for a some time now here on TOD.

Well, the nicer neighborhoods in Albuquerque have not experienced anything near the declines posted for other parts of the SW. I wonder why this city is a bastion holding out against great housing price declines and how long we will buck the trend.

Last year New Orleans was up 4% and the suburbs down -2% to -5%. More weakness today but certainly not a major drop (yet).

Ramifications of post-K, economy that appears to be stable, appear to be holding up prices so far.


When we say a home in New Orleans is "under water", we mean something very different :-)


Well, here in Florida that could go either way, or both actually :-)

Here in Reno the 48.5% is translating into thousands of forclosures. Now over 5000 homes in forclosure and going up, no new construction, construction people left (to where I do not know), unemployment over 11.8% but most of the stores and malls are still open.

I do not know about the other places, but I have family in Central Florida, and I remember that in Orlando folks were buying houses and then taking equity out in order to buy cars, trucks et cet. Money was every where but it was not actually being created by wages in the job market based on the minimum wage service industry. It was based on housing Debt.

Based on theme parks and lots of chain restaurants, the large part of the economy is centered on tourism, now the tourists are mostly gone and the home equity loans are no more, it reminds me of that famous Floridian Tom Petty's son "free falling" for that's what Orlando's Zombie economy is doing.

Well, God Bless Timothy Geithner... He's saving the CEO's.

Geithner's gift to Wall Street
As the first TALF-backed deals for Ford, Honda and Harley's debt hit the market, professional investors see an opportunity to make a killing.

Imagine if you were not really in the market for a house but the government came along and said that it would finance 94% of a home's purchase price with a mortgage rate of less than 3%. Still not interested? Wait, Uncle Sam has some additional sweeteners: if you do the deal and buy the house for only 6% down, you also get the equivalent of rental income every month to the tune of at least an annualized yield of 10% of the purchase price.

But wait there's still more: if, say, after two years, you decide you don't want the house any longer, you can just walk away from it. No need to pay the balance of the mortgage (it won't affect your credit rating), and you can keep the rental income received to date.

That's essentially the deal that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has offered qualified professional investors who participate in the so-called TALF (Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility). Two months into the program as the first TALF- backed deals hit the market, you can see why the likes of hedge fund Fortress Investment Group are drooling over it. "I'm a big believer in the impact that TALF can and should have," Fortress CEO Wes Edens said on a May 6 investor call, adding that he expects that Fortress will be "a big participant" in the TALF program "three to six months from now."...

"I've had accounts that dropped everything they were doing to take a look at this TALF financing," one Wall Street trader explained. "It was like nothing they had ever seen. It beats any financing that the private sector could ever come up with. I almost want to say it is irresponsible."

Yes, Timmy, please transfer risk from the corporate sector to the taxpayer. As fast as you can. Please. We haven't done it enough yet.

IMO this is very relevant to the possible ability of the USA to mitigate against oil depletion-the level of blatant corruption is increasing steadily without opposition in any way. The entire economy is taking on an Enronesque appearance with government officials in the role of Lay or Fastow.

The best comparison is going to Las Vegas with a rich uncle. The agreement you have with him is as follows: you can use (mostly) his money and make any bet you want anyplace you like. If it's a winner's bet, you keep the money; however, if it loses, your uncle is out the money. (Great for you, not so hot for your Uncle- but this was idea, anyway.)

Bringing this analogy back to reality: the folks making the bets are 'qualified professional investors', and the uncle is Uncle Sam.

And the taxpayer ultimately is footing Uncle Sam's bill.

This is just out and out, gross fleecing of the taxpayer.

TALF= Taxpayers Again Ludicrously F**ked

This is how the oil depletion mitigation scenario will play out in the USA-there isn't any "we" in a 3rd world country, just the ins and the outs (the vast majority)-in the same way the cap and trade scam is sold as helping climate change, the gov controlled by the connected will use oil depletion to gouge the life out of the country IMO.

TALF= Those Assets Lost Forever

I am staring at this headline dumbstruck - until further notice
Farmers consider wood-based ethanol after corn hopes stall

Is the logic something like : since corn did't work, then wood must work , else ...?

EDIT : qoute from the text -

"The net energy gained in converting corn to ethanol is energy inefficient," Beckham said. "The net energy gained in that process is not as much as we need for it to be a genuine problem-solver. It takes nitrogen and nitrogen takes a lot of energy to produce. It is real expensive.
"If you can't make it on paper, you can't make it in the field."

Can they make it on paper for wood ? and furthermore, can they get hold of enough volume ?

Hello TODers,

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today? Or would you prefer to hug something special down at your local sewage plant?

The sewage plant carries the sweet smell of valuable phosphorus

..What brought the 200 delegates to Vancouver was a looming global shortage of phosphorus and a groundbreaking nutrient recovery system developed at UBC.

..The United States, historically the world's biggest producer, is expected to exhaust its reserves in 25 years.

.."If we don't do something we are looking at mass starvation."

..There are alternatives to oil. But phosphate can't be manufactured, so once the natural supply is gone, food production will plummet.

..In a recent paper, Dana Cordell, a PhD student at Linköping University in Sweden, calculated the world's human population excretes about three million tonnes of phosphorus in urine and feces every year.
I hope you will take the time to read the entire link [not just my teaser segments].

I saw a piece on composting toilets on Planet Green recently and I immediately thought, "this will be mandated/incentivized at some point in the near future". At 4K, the toilets were less expensive then conventional toilets, but I believe they must have accounted for the cost of the plumbing infrastructure/sewage needed for conventional. The product from the toilet was odor free and appeared to have the consistency of guano. The composting toilet also minimizes water usage.

Just a pssing observation: the big energy companies seem 100% preoccupied with extracting as much hydocarbon from the ground as possible and NOBODY is lobbying them for them to leave it in the ground. They are only listening to one group: the shareholders.

In view of government initiatives to 'go green' I would have thought the number one priority would be to put a halt on all further hydocarbon exploration until carbon sequestration is fully implemented?

It seems governments are being two-faced about the whole C02 issue.


Of course they are listening only to the shareholders, since the latter are the ones they are accountable to.

"In view of government initiatives to 'go green' I would have thought the number one priority would be to put a halt on all further hydocarbon exploration until carbon sequestration is fully implemented?"

There is in fact an effective halt on most hydrocarbon exploration (not all, granted) but due to the price of oil.

Re: The next big thing in wind: Slow wind, huge turbines. Up top.

There are now seventeen 2.5 megawatt Clipper wind turbines running all in a row about 3 miles long just south of the home place. After months of fixing the blade problems, FPL's 80 Clipper turbines are up and running along with their 100 GE 2.0 megawatts.

However, we noticed something the other day when all of them that we can see (and we can see a lot them because of their size) were running. A rather sudden increase in wind came up from the south. All of sudden the Clipper turbines all shut down whilst the smaller GE turbines in the distance continued to turn.

The wind was strong but not unusually strong for North Iowa. I went to the local weather station web site and checked out the wind speed at the time they shut down. It was in the area of 20-25 miles per hour.

While these large turbines may be able to catch low speed wind, they are evidently programed to also shut down quicker at higher wind speeds. It seems to me that in areas such as mine that often have high wind speeds, this lost of output in high wind should be deducted from the efficiency of large turbines.

Now that all the turbines are running the farm is no longer the quiet place it was before. The constant noise is not unbearable and we will probably get use to it. It is like the constant city traffic noise when I lived in Minneapolis. Hopefully after awhile we won't even think about it.

While these large turbines may be able to catch low speed wind, they are evidently programed to also shut down quicker at higher wind speeds.

Yes, part of the trade off for wind.

Now that all the turbines are running the farm is no longer the quiet place it was before.

Measure the dB level. Then on a similar windy day go into a forest and compare the dB of wind/tree interactions.

If the land you are on was trees and cleared - is the "natural" noise level the human farm or the forest?

That is a very good point, and one that people likely often forget about. My wind turbine makes about as much noise as there would be if the area was wooded, but admittedly it IS a different sound than wind rustling through leaves. On the other hand, I ENJOY the sound of the wind turbine, as I know it means my batteries are being charged back up. (My solar panels on the other hand are quiet at all times.)

~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com)

I wonder if they mix the sizes on purpose to maintain power output over a wide range of wind conditions.

I listened to a speaker who talked about storms moving through wind fields shutting down some turbines. He was explaining that while the storm does take some turbines off line, it tends to push up the wind speed for nearby turbines, thus canceling itself out. But turbines need a fairly large spacing to take advantage.

This idea, small and large turbines mixed together, might work well without the larger spacing. Kind of like having multiple gears on your car.

This idea, small and large turbines mixed together, might work well without the larger spacing. Kind of like having multiple gears on your car

Most modern turbines have technology to change the pitch of the blades, doesn't this produce quite a large range of wind speed they can operate in. I suspect that modifications to increase the usable range of speed for the individual turbines should ultimately be more efficient than mixing sizes.

Harvesting the wind from "high & low" makes sense only is space is at a premium for a prime location (say a mountain pass).

The wind shadow effect would reduce each individual WT, but the total generated would go up.

Best Hopes for more wind power,


I can't recall if the CBC's The Fifth Estate item entitled The Gospel of Green has been previously mentioned here, but for those who may have missed it, you can watch it at:



Since any ethanol burned does not count towards the mileage standards, and the EPA is looking at increasing (on paper at least) the dilution of gasoline by ethanol from 10% to 15%, this makes the #s less impressive.

Car X gets 30 mpg on a 90:10 mix of gasoline and ethanol. It gets, per CAFE, 33 mpg on gasoline (the 6.25% of total energy from ethanol is not counted PER MY UNDERSTANDING#).

Increase ethanol to 15% by volume (9.57% by energy) and that extra 3.52% is not counted.

# This is based on an old memory of how the Big 3 gamed CAFE.

Ethanol has about 60% of the energy/gallon of gasoline (varies slightly from winter to summer gas, etc.) For E10, .06/(.9 +.06) = 6.25% For E15 .09/(.85 + .09) = 9.57%


From Juneau's glaciers melting and land rising we get......
more golf courses?

Morgan DeBoer, a property owner, opened a nine-hole golf course at the mouth of Glacier Bay in 1998, on land that was underwater when his family first settled here 50 years ago.

“The highest tides of the year would come into what is now my driving range area,” Mr. DeBoer said.

Now, with the high-tide line receding even farther, he is contemplating adding another nine holes.

“It just keeps rising,” he said.

Gotta take advantage of that next huge wave of tourists!!

Think again my friends here ... times must be good and getting better:

DJIA up $235.44

15 million summer home for Rattner as car czar while thousands of car dealers close. This is Mayor Bloomberg's hedge fund manager @ 100 million per year.


Then we are truly in a depression. The greatest Dow % increases prior to 2008 almost all happened during the last depression....

Good times were just around the corner then, too.

You cast a wide net, sometimes too wide. The NYT article on Juneau should be removed as irrelevant.
The tone of the article is completely off-based. In essence, the author took a few facts and spun them to make a story where none existed. The changes have been ongoing for hundreds of years. Move along folks.

Cold Camel

If you don't like my article selection, feel free not to read them. Heck, I don't expect anyone to read them all.

Can't figure out what your problem here is, CC. Here the article says changes have been happening for 200 years. Well, yup. In fact, a recent study indicates that we started affecting climate as soon as we started agriculture, and that was around 10k years ago or so. How is not relevant?

10 feet is a huge change. Another yard this century? That's huge!! The world is generally very, very concerned about a 3 ft. rise in sea level because it will affect coasts significantly all over the planet. Why is a 3 ft. drop any less important? While seemingly counter-intuitive, the losses are no less important. Salmon habitat? Salmon return to where they were born. If home is gone, then what? Wetlands habitat? Vital to ecosystems. And these changes are changing human beings' lives also, in less than a generation very big changes are happening.

And all of this directly due to ACC.

Saying this article is irrelevant is bizarre. (<-- Non-pejorative. Really, it's bizarre.)


I advocate EcoNuremberg. <-- New sig. Can I keep it, Leanan?


Leanan, ccpo's response is an example of why the article was inappropriate. You're awesome, I'm just providing local intel.

ccpo, if you were flying in an airplane that just lost a wing, how significant is that dark mole on your arm? Particularly if the airplane is a medivac due to your severe heart attack?

Southeast Alaska is stable. We have steep terrain. Over the past 10K years we've seen 300' of change, what difference does 10' make? Salmon find and lose streams regularly, no big deal up here. Loss of one wetland is irrelevant, new ones form simultaneously. The water is clean. The forests are intact. The rate of change is a yawn... here.

False arguments supporting a conclusion weaken the position. Stick to facts and significant issues. This article is fear-mongering. Those who don't know, might worry. Don't worry, the salmon and migrating birds in S.E. Alaska are fine. Other issues, untouched by this article are significant here, but that's another story. That's why I said, "Move along folks." Nuff said.

Cold Camel

There's readers and contributers here from low-lying Gulf-coast states for whom one foot of sea-level rise is hardly an academic consideration.

Unless you are willing to take all of them into your nearly pristine wilderness, you might think about getting up a bit of give-a-rip.

I don't know what give-a-rip means, but 1/2 an inch of sea-level drop a year in S.E. Alaska is a non-event. 1/2 an inch of sea-level rise a year is enormously significant in Bangladesh. So why are we wasting our time discussing Alaska while Bangladesh floods?

Feel free to haul our excess dirt to the gulf, as long as you pay in advance. This is a joke, but the way.

And no refugees please. As I've said before, the Alaska Highway will be clogged both ways.

I guess I should have kept my trap shut.

Cold Camel

I was trying to avoid being crude when I really wanted to be. Give a rip is between "bother to care" and "give a f***" where I was brought up.

My point, now that I've got a bit more emotional distance, is that global warming and sea level rise is everybody's problem, even (or especially) those who live in areas that are currently undeveloped for various reasons.

Looking at various sea-level rise maps, I'm struck that the SeaTac area is going to have a bunch of displaced people, especially off the islands. Fortunately for Alaskans you should have a bit more in common with any refugees that decide to head that far north than you would with a random assortment of Atlantic and Gulf coast residents.

I understand that you won't have much in the way of direct effects if there is serious sea level rise along the part of the coast you describe, but everything is connected. People who aren't so geographically blessed will be looking for somewhere "safe".

I am in full agreement. Worldwide sea level rise will be an extremely large problem, even to those of us blessed with geographic advantages. Believe me, Alaskans are sensitive to the subject. We need our food barges. For the same reason Canadians shouldn't favor warmer climates.

It's like we are in a lifeboat, and one end is sinking while the other rises. Just because I am in the dry end doesn't mean I'm happy about it.

Cold Camel

Ilargi at TAE is on a roll today-that article from Niall Ferguson is beyond absurd-time to put that NT Times in the trash with the rest of the junk mail http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/

God is on the side of those with the might to take the oil...

Read all eleven slides...allegedly samples of cover sheets provided by the Pentagon for President Bush's pre-Iraq invasion intelligence.

Res ipsa loquitur...



Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war...