DrumBeat: June 8, 2006

Now for some wise words from the readers of The Oil Drum...
From Supply Chain Digest:

Is Saudi Arabia Running Out of Oil?

Latest comments from oil minister on declining production lead "peak oil" theorists to say "I told you so!"

The News: Experts continue to debate whether there are signs Saudi Arabian oil output has peaked.

The Impact: If true, another sign that global oil output has or soon will peak, while demand grows, meaning much higher prices in the near future and dramatic supply chain impacts.

The Story: Pundits of every stripe have been heavily debating in the past few months whether there are signs that oil output from Saudi Arabia, the world's largest producer, has slowed and may indicate it has reached peak output level that can only decline from here.

As we've discussed a few times in Supply Chain Digest, "peak oil" theorists predict even greater rises in fuel costs than we seen in the last 12 months are inevitable, which would dramatically change the way we need to think about our supply chains.

It´s interesting how the article is titled "Is SA running out of oil?", as if peaking was somehow similar to totally running out...

IMHO SA has most likely peaked, although there is a slight chance something else could explain why they´re not producing as much now as they were 6 months ago. Earlier there was some discussion about how fungible oil really is, and I´m pretty sure we will find out fairly soon whether oil is becoming more of a strategic asset and less of a fungible commodity.

What I found interesting is that this seems to be a pretty mainstream, industry-oriented newsletter.  Yet they accept peak oil.

Reading their other peak oil stories, I get the feeling that Matthew Simmons and Richard Rainwater have convinced a lot of people who would brush off Kunstler and Heinberg as leftwing nuts and who wouldn't understand a word Deffeyes was saying.  Corporate America respects people who make money. For that reason, Simmons and Rainwater have cred with them.

I totally agree, I myself have managed to convince some people that PO is not so far away in the future by referring to Simmons and other business-minded people. OTOH, I would hardly go so far as to describe Kunstler as a leftist; he generally seems to support American wars in the Middle East. While he does say the war against Iraq might not have been necessary if it weren´t for the American addiction to oil (which even GW acknowledges), recently he appeared to have bought into the pro-war propaganda according to which Iran must be attacked lest it destroy Israel and, possibly, many other countries with its imaginary nuclear weapons...
There is no left in this country, just different shades of red.  
Yep...shades of liberalism of the oldy modly classical sort.  No real labor or socialist political power at all in USA.  

There are a number true blue lefties out there among the higher-ed set, some fringe journalists (e.g., Andrew Cockburn)...but I wouldn't say they have much political power.  Certainly no real lefties that I know of in the USA PO community.  Would be happy to be proven wrong though....

Though, there are plenty of autocrats, plutocrats, oligarchs of various stripes IMO.

There's no Proud Working Class in the US, no mass of people who are proud of being able to turn a wrench or sweat a pipe - everyone wants to be middle class. This is freakishly strange but the Repubs have stepped into the breach and are seen by the rank and file as the working man's party much more than the Dems are - perhaps it's some harkening back to to Lincoln splitting logs or something.

Kerry and that wife-thing tossing ears of corn, fearfully, at the prole horde and retreating to one of their manses doesn't help the image - Gore's an elitist too but the Dems could have won with him. Heck I may have even voted for him, and my help or not, it would have been a landslide. Now in 08 the Dems are going to run Hitlery, and lose spectacularly. I keep it no secret that I'm a registered Repub but it's still no fun to step into a boxing ring with some milquetoast who's stuffed on finger sandwiches and three sheets to the wind on moet et chandon. There's no fight. It's no victory when the other side is so lame.

We'll never have a 1930s style working-man's Dem party again, but if we did, I'd switch in a second. These types of people's leftism, or leftish populism, are probably why European countries are better for the average Joe to live in.


Do you know Godwin's Law?

You may want to have a look.

That Party wasn't Left, they were Right, very Right. That's how they got the support of the big industrialists etc - they were the counter to the radical USSR types that were running around in the 1930s.

Obviously if I say I'd seriously consider voting for Gore I'm not talking about advocating the kind of left party that puts on brown shirts and marches in the streets. I like the kind that's about Joe Lunch Pail getting a job, not a dagger and some shiny boots.


Actually, I was referring to this piece of your post

Now in 08 the Dems are going to run Hitlery, and lose spectacularly.
Oh, that - that's a lot of people's pet name for Hillary. Heck they were telling a joke making fun of W and Mrs Bush and it had Hillary in it, and even they said Hitlery I'd swear.
(Joke was on Air America Radio, ostensibly Left)

Do you think it is ok to compare people to Nazi's? Even if it is just for fun?

I called the Blackwater security in New Orleans "Little Nazis" and I think it is an acceptable and accurate use of the term.
If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and acts like a duck.....
"It's no victory when the other side is so lame."

It's no victory when both sides are so lame.

'Supply Chain Digest' core readership is heavily supply-side oriented (JIT, sourcing, distribution, etc), hence they view the world correctly as it actually is, i.e. resource-finite, rather than as others even within the same building (i.e. sales) would see it, i.e. all things possible, under the right economic conditions.
Thanks for the info.  I hadn't thought of it that way.  
The CEO of Rowan Companies (big offshore drilling contractor) was on CNBC yesterday.  He said that they are being offered four year contracts in the Middle East.  Basically, the only question he is asking is "how soon do you want the rig there?"

He said that by the end of this year the number of jack-up rigs in the GOM will be down by 50% from recent highs (all moved to the Middle East).

Holy crap!  o_O
Well, given a choice, I'd rather use up their oil first.
Good point.  I hear that debated about ANWR and get a kick out of it.  Many people think we should wait until the end to use it, while we use up everyone elses.  I think it may happen by circumstances rather than choice.
No hurricanes in the Persian Gulf. Saudi will pay top dollar on long charters. Shallow water - good for older jack-ups.

Makes sense, so long as they can protect them from threats.
But there is plenty of Navy knocking around in the Persian Gulf.

Rowan seems to be a great company. Their equipment is clean and in excellent repair, their employees are happy. And, the western Gulf is pretty well drilled up at shallow and medium water depths,and a lot of their older rigs can go over there.
Older: not as in 'old and knackered', but as in older (earlier)generation. As opposed to deep water semis, drillships etc..

I spent 3 years on the Charlie Rowan in the 80's.

Halcyon days...

I really should learn how to link to pictures.

Alt fuel humor

Doomer humor

Invisible hand humor

Great humor! Thanks!
Klaatu says, "Go Ahead and Nikto."

Who are the ants and who is the grasshopper?

Wow that comic is great! I read them all.

Have you ever seen "Get Your War On" ?


Hosted at My New Fighting Technique Is Unstoppable

This guy has been running these for years now. I'm pretty sure  you are one of the few that can handle this level of humor - so please, don't anybody else look.

No, but it reminds me of this one, reusing the same panels over and over:


but we're getting way OT ...

Good stuff. It's an old thread, can't we do anything we want now? There's some new threads I'd love to comment on, except I have nothing to say, and apparently nobody else does either. So they just sit there wasting space and time. Nobody says anything...Nobody says anything at all...Then somebody posts something Off-Topic. Then everybody flips out(and has something to say). I always get a kick out of that.

Thanks man, you are one of the few that I have always felt shared my sense of humor while half the world was trying to convince me I didn't have one. You have no idea how important that is. Thanks, again.


Go here for an explanation on how to link to images.

Thanks, I'll try some catblogging:

And now it is time to teach you about the size limiting options that can be used within the < img > command.

Try inserting height="100" before the greater than sign (>)



Don't you guys say voila any more? Has it gone the same way as freedom fries?

My thoughts exactly...goes right along with "could care less" when they mean "couldn't care less."
I et my viola.
French ain't my fort, aye?

Tiny gas-sipping Smart cars may come to the U.S.

The loss-making city car from Mercedes-Benz may finally be headed to America.

NEW YORK (FORTUNE) - You can see tiny Smart cars, those egg-shaped two-seaters, doubled up in parking spaces or sitting on city sidewalks all over Europe, where they have been sold since 1998. But Smart has never come to the United States. The Mercedes-Benz unit has struggled to make money from the day it was conceived, and writeoffs to date run to the billions of dollars. With losses so steep, plans to sell the car here have been repeatedly delayed as Mercedes has struggled to find a profit-making formula.

Now, DaimlerChrysler chairman Dieter Zetsche is dropping hints that Smart will make its way to the United States. Speaking to reporters in Portland, Oregon last week at an event marking the 25th anniversary of Daimler's acquisition of Freightliner trucks, Zetsche said a final decision on Smart for the U.S. would be made this month, once a verdict was reached on how to distribute it.

He added in his German-tinged English, "The tendency is positive in this regard." Translation: Consider it all but done.

And in other car news...

Toyota's hybrid Prius sales top 500,000 worldwide

CHICAGO (AFP) - Toyota Motor Co.'s energy-saving hybrid Prius car has surpassed the half-million mark in worldwide sales, the Japanese automaker's US subsidiary said.

More than half the sales of the world's first mass-produced gas-electric hybrid vehicle -- 266,212 -- have been in the massive US market.

The Prius was launched in Japan in late 1997 and entered the US market in July 2000 as a niche market vehicle popular with environmentalists and Hollywood stars.

Sales picked up in the fall of 2003 with a second-generation model and grew to more than 107,000 units in 2005.

"But Smart has never come to the United States."
Ah, that just tickles my funny bone!  I have to agree, lol.
They are available in Canada and selling well. A friend of mine has one and runs it mostly on his own biodiesel.

My family is too large for that sort of thing, but we did decide we could all squeeze into a Yaris in the interests of fuel economy. It'll be replacing a ten year old van, so our fuel requirements should fall substantially. The prospect of children at very close quarters (read packed in like sardines) squabbling on long journeys should curb any desire we may have had to increase our mileage as a result of having a more efficient car :)

If you go on a long journey, like a holiday, easiest is to borrow the car of your neighbor and let him use yours.

You give him 100$ extra for a week, you be surprised how many people would welcome that.

I wonder how insurance companies would react to car-sharing?
Isn't the SMART car already available from ZAP cars?
Zap has re-tuned the gasoline model to meet US regs.  I assume there were some saftey changes as well.  Unfortunately the Zap model does not hit the European diesel mpg.  It might have trouble in a shoot-out with a Toyota Yaris or Honda Fit, actually.

The Smart Car, a version of the DaimlerChrysler smart car modified to meet US emissions requirements, is the most fuel-efficient all-gasoline turbo in the US market with an EPA rating of 40 mpg. (Earlier post.) The Smart Car received the regulatory approval through its registered importers to allow for distribution in the USA by ZAP.


The advantange of a redesign by Smart for the US market would hopefully be mpg's closer to European levels.

Yeah, my CRX gets that kind of fuel mileage and would run circles around that... not to mention having more space.  "try again"
The Smart has been a huge failure in Europe... except in Barcelona (don't ask me why, narrow streets? perhaps). You see many many Smart cars here as company cars, complete with company advertising, etc.

Perhaps the Smart was just a little early...

People who buy a small car expect it to be cheap. These aren't in the UK. Smart also make a stylish looking sports car, but it isn't really a racer, so no lager lout wants one. Plus they made a glass roof model with quality issues [many failed quickly] and then got shitty with customers about replacement. If people want small economy there are loads of cheaper 'Yaris sized' models in the UK - taking the niche left by the 'real' mini.
Love it.  First time I've heard the term "lager lout".  I'm sure we've got plent of those over here as well.
I got both of my Smarts for just under £6900. This makes it nearly the cheapest car on the UK market. The Mini is horribly cramped because it squeezes four seats in the small space.
The Smart has, by European small car standards, lots of space for its two passengers.

I find them fun to drive marvelous for parking. By careful driving I get more than the stated 66 miles/UK gallon. There have been very few roof failures, urban myths to the contrary.

Daimler Chrysler expect to make a profit from them in 2007

What?  I saw them all over Paris when I was there in January.
Has anybody ever been to Mykonos? They have trash-trucks this size. The street-width is obviously the issue in this case.
"The Smart has been a huge failure in Europe..."

That depends on how you define failure. There are plenty of Smarts on the road in Germany. But apparently Daimler-Chrysler loses money making them.

Really? These cars aren't driving around on the roads in the States? I see them all the time here in Toronto. I always wave and give a thumbs up to the driver as I see them go down the road.
I can remeber 5 years ago, when my friend from Phoenix, Az visited me here in Germany. When she saw my brother's smart car, she was asking wetheter it is a joke or really a car. Nobody would buy such a vehicle in Phoenix.

The smart is a rolling shopping bag. Nothing more. Mercedes always had problems with it. There is now a version with 4 seats in it. IMHO this vehicle actually does not safe too much gasoline. It uses quite a lot for its size.

matthias, berlin

"IMHO this vehicle actually does not safe too much gasoline. It uses quite a lot for its size."

I haven't looked into the specs of this car, but my guess is that the lighter weight will bring the "city" mileage closer to the "highway" mileage and that's about it.  If you look at a side image of it, the thing's a brick.  I mean, they've done what they can, but they don't have the space to manipulate the air like they should.  If you look at the side image and then imagine slicing the car in half...pulling it apart by a couple of feet, filling that gap with more car..what you'd get is a regular sized car with a slight increase in weight (bringing the "city" mileage down a little) and no appreciable decrease in highway mileage.

The basic two seat Smart as sold in Europe gets 56m/US gallon for the gasoline version and 75m/US gallon for the diesel version in mixed urban/motorway driving. Having driven one for two years and my wife the other for 18 months I can verify that these figures are realistic. By careful driving we exceed them.

They have a top speed of 85mph (governored) and 0 to 60mph acceleration of 15 seconds. The gasoline version emits 181g of CO2/m and the diesel 144g/m. To the amazement of most people that have only seen them from the outside they are very roomy for the two passengers. Almost all the car is passenger space. There is luggage room for 2 medium suitcases on end and little else.

I find them fun to drive and it is easy to think you are in a much bigger car until you look around and realise the car ends a foot behind your head and a foot in front of your feet.

It is worth it for the schadenfreude of being able to nip in and park in the tiny spaces that are always available in cities (end on to the curb if need be) and watch larger cars drive around endlessly searching for somewhere.

The Iron Triangle continues to roll on.....


The Federal Reserve reported Wednesday that consumer borrowing rose at an annual rate of 5.9% in April, a significant increase from a 0.8% gain in March.

The increase in dollar terms was $10.6 billion, which pushed total consumer credit to a record $2.17 trillion.

Consumer borrowing for auto loans and other types of nonrevolving credit rose at a rate of 6.7% in April after having fallen 2.6% in March.

I first I thought duh, people are charging all their gas or increased costs.  But this is non revoloving loans, term loans!

Later today the FED is suppose to release the Flow of Fund Report.  I would bet that the D/E ratio sets a new record!  

So now people are taking out home equity loans to pay off their credit card bills. . .
I was thiking the same thing, but I can't seem to find any hard data.  Anyone know where to look for total home equity extraction for the month of apr 06?  I think some data may be in the Flow of funds report today.  I know a lot of home data is there.  They haven't released the new info yet.  I did find somewhere that we are running about 600B a year in home equity extraction.  

I thought it was bad, but after reading this it looks even worse.

Given these statistics, it should be no surprise that the affordability index for the first time buyer is at a 20-year low, or that the University of Michigan's Home Buying Index is approaching an all-time low. In the housing crash of 1991, that index low was set once the housing price crash was well underway and more than a year old!

  • Speculative buyers have stopped buying and many potential buyers are canceling orders and leaving deposits on the table.

  • In many states, property insurance is up 25 to 30 percent, right up there with soaring heating and air-conditioning costs.

  • The record rise in home prices has helped balance state budgets, but at the expense of property owners who are not capped on their real estate taxes. The Alternative Minimum Tax is also emptying homeowner's checking accounts!

  • $2 trillion of ARMs were written in 2004 and '05 and are scheduled to reset in 2006 and '07 to much higher market interest rates, making them much less affordable.


Fed's Kohn says recent inflation data "troubling"

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal Reserve Board Governor Donald Kohn said on Thursday that rising prices had raised an inflation "warning flag" that demanded attention, in the latest hawkish remarks from central bank policymakers."

"Kohn said inflation expectations might have been influenced by soaring energy prices, which had also hit growth."

http://today.reuters.com/News/newsArticle.aspx?type=businessNews&storyID=2006-06-08T153106Z_01_W BT005513_RTRUKOC_0_US-ECONOMY-FED-KOHN-INFLAITON.xml&WTmodLoc=NewsArt-L3-Business+NewsNews-3

I reread the post concerning the "Slow Squeeze" scenario posted back in December 05.  On the face of it that scenario does sound comforting.  A slow decline rate helps soften the blow to economies.  But I do see some troubling news for the U.S.  We are a highly leveraged country, both at the government and household level.  As most know, our economic system is predicated on continual growth.  Under the current paradigm economic growth needs growth in energy, cheap energy at that.

When the realization sets in that energy will be neither cheap nor plentiful our economic system will suffer more - compared to other 1st world, less leveraged economies.  We have a huge amount of perceived wealth in this country in the form of home equity, stock and bond portfolios and derivatives.  Heck, I still don't understand derivatives but I believe it is based on portfolios of perceived and or anticipated wealth - again predicated on the notion that we can keep growing the economy at 3 to 5% rates year on year.

The slow squeeze on American households has already begun.  Credit card usage is ticking up in a dramatic way, household debt levels are rising very fast as well.  Why do we use credit cards?  I use them when I want to conserve my cold hard cash because I feel I can't comfortably afford the purchase using cash.  I am probably not typical, as I don't use credit cards for convenience, I have a debit card for that.  I only use credit when I feel I am stretching my finances to purchase something.

Any other thoughts on the impact to he U.S. economic system compared to say Ireland, U.K. France etc?  I think they will weather the coming change better than we Americans.

I think, broadly, that the averages look bad:  Average personal debt.  Average gasoline expense.  Average car loan period.  Etc., Etc.

The thing that is impossible to tell from those averages though is how many sub-groups are responding and repositioning themselves "rationally" in response to high energy prices.

We do know that small-car sales are up, SUV sales are down ... but even if good stuff is happening, we won't see it show up in the averages for a very long time.

For what it's worth, "Bike Europe" believes:

More Americans Biking to Work

Derivates can be highly complex, but here's a simple explanation.  Derivates "derive" their value by something underlying it(i.e. a security).  The simplest is a credit default swap (CDS) or a repurchase agreement (repo).  In a CDS, it's like insurance.  If you've got money loaned out and you are nervous that they might default, you enter into a CDS.  You pay a spread(yearly) and in the event that the loan defaults, you get paid and the other party is left holding the bag.

The problem is that the derivative market is considered OTC(over the counter).  There isn't a standarized electronic exchange to just trade these.  There are standards within the derivatives market, but the transparency isn't there.  This market is highly unregulated.  There are a few companies that control the majority.  There aren't even hard and fast accounting rules to accurately track derivative positions.  Many times these transactions are "off the books."  

As you can see when a few companies handle most of the business, it only takes one large default and this house of cards tumbles.  It happen to Long Term Capital Mangement and it will happen again.

I think the US is by far in the worst position.  We will suffer the most, by I think it will be short term.  I'm an optimist and I believe that we can use less power ane get out of the cars.  I would love to ride an urban rail and read the paper before I got to work.  All I do now is listen to SAME boring music everyday.

Derivitives can be highly complex. They can also be fairly simple and very common. I believe that the vast majority, by value or volume, are exchange traded - not OTC. Not only are there standardized exchanges that trade them, but they may be the largest exchange market in the world.

A forward contract on currency or on oil is a derivative. The contract derives its price from the underlying asset - currency or commodity. This mechanism is far simpler than a swap, which I find can get very tricky. An option is also a derivative and many options are also exchange traded.

Judging by discussion here, it seems that commenters on this site are active participants in these derivatives markets.

Actually, I don't disagree with you basic point, that much of the risk allocation underlying the modern financial system is non-transparent and unregulated. I also agree that this could be hugely damaging to companies and countries in the event that the underlying asset values shift.

However, derivatives more broadly are an effective, common and transparent device that allows a wide range of individuals, companies and investors to manage risk from currencies, commodities and many other factors. It also allows speculation as hedge funds and TOD commenters seem to enjoy doing.

No, the great majority either way are OTC, not exchange traded. Check the surveys on the Bank of International Settlements website.
Do you have a link for the survey? You may well be right, I said I believe since I was not able to find it the first time.  

I did find this report that shows that OTC derivatives are indeed a huge market and provides an interesting overview.


This Wikipedia article indicates that OTC and exchange markets are similar in size, with exchange slightly larger. It is also a good overview of derivatives.

According to Wiki, the combined market size (notional) is 629 trillion dollars. As I noted above, one of the largest and most liquid set of assets traded in the world.

You want the quarterly reviews (a new one will be out on Monday, link will be on home page).
A forward contract on currency or on oil is a derivative. The contract derives its price from the underlying asset - currency or commodity. This mechanism is far simpler than a swap, which I find can get very tricky. An option is also a derivative and many options are also exchange traded.

You're absolutely right.  I always forget about those because most people understand a future and options contract.  Futures are highly regulated and so are options.  The exchange based derivates could be defined as boring due to the regulated nature.  

The interesting and potentially catastrophic problems lie with the OTC market so I guess that's why I harp about it more than an exchange.  After reading several books from the Oracle of Omaha, even he said after buying his reinsurance company (fill in the name), he started diving into their derivative contracts and the financial complexity of many contracts amazed him.  He immediatly saw the bigger picture and decided to get out of the market.  

I believe he said he will still be liable for many contracts for another decade or so and he can't get out.  He has used derivates as hedges though, but again that would probably be on an exchange market b/c he has made a KILLING shorting the dollar for half a decade.

I personally believe that due to the United State's debt position, deflation in assets can not occur and will not be allowed to occur.  It would devastate the corporate and personal balance sheets.

Where the people who believe that all US markets will collapse through a deep deflation are wrong is that they under estimate the ability of the Fed to prop asset prices up through numerous intervention techniques and monetary inflation.

Give a politician a choice between painful benefit cuts and increases in tax, or debasement of the US dollar, they will always choose to wreck the currency.  

When the downside of the peak hits and demands economic contraction, I believe that the Fed will pump so much money into the economy to prop up asset prices that we will ultimately see hyper-inflation.  

It will be a strange world of contradictions.  The Dow will reach record levels on a sea of liquidity.  So much cash will be available that loan will be easy to get.  But you are going to have loss of real wage and job growth.  Asset prices will rise: houses, commodities, stocks, land, etc.  However, daily expenses will also be rising at breakneck speeds: food, utilities, services such as haircuts, etc.  Under the pain people are experiencing, politicians will probably put in place price controls, which will only cause shortages.  Capital controls will become common, so that US Dollars can not be cashed in and flee the country.

The structure of the economy requires constant inflation to keep it going.  Currently, $4 of debt are required to get $1 of GDP growth.  As the interest on the debt gets exponential in growth, more and more dollars will be printed to keep the whole thing going.

Where the people who believe that all US markets will collapse through a deep deflation are wrong is that they under estimate the ability of the Fed to prop asset prices up through numerous intervention techniques and monetary inflation.

I would say that's the essential difference between those who believe we're headed for deflation hell, and those who believe we're headed for hyperinflation.

I am leaning toward the former myself, at least in the middle term.  I agree the Fed will choose inflation over deflation, but I don't think they have the power to deal with the forces that will be arrayed against them.

Can you elaborate HOW you think deflation will happen?  I only ask because prior to even this millenium, we haven't been a "world economy."  However even laymen are starting to understand that other countries have something to do with what goes on here.

With M3 last at nearly 8% and real inflation near 8-10%.  The FED doesn't have the power?  They have been granted the power to print money, what more power do you need?  They are buying T-Bills through the Carribean using "unconventional means" that Bernanke talked about.  Banks are the center of the economic universe.

However even laymen are starting to understand that other countries have something to do with what goes on here.


We can print money like crazy, and probably will.  But if we continue down that path, no one will accept it.  Including OPEC, and the governments that hold our bonds and have allowed us to keep living in the manner to which we are accustomed.  

But if we continue down that path, no one will accept it.  Including OPEC, and the governments that hold our bonds and have allowed us to keep living in the manner to which we are accustomed.

All these people are being told their is little inflation.  I would bet, most believe it, or at minimum want to believe it so we can count them too.  I'm still missing what ACTIONS will be taken BY WHO.  Are you saying that there will be a coordinated massive sell off of our bonds?  As long as the FED prints money, more so than last year we will be forced to live with inflation.  It's the bane of a fiat money supply.

Even if there were massive sell offs of the bonds that would mean even more liquidity.  Think about it because those dollars have to be exchanged into another currency.  Once it comes back here in combination with inflation already, it would compound the inflation problem.  Not to mention all that money cashed out has to go somewhere.  When it ends up in a US bank, it gets fractionally loaned back out. So even if 500B came back, the banks would find ways to loan out up to ten times the same amount.

Am I missing something?

Are you saying that there will be a coordinated massive sell off of our bonds?

Yes.  Or no.  There doesn't need to be a selloff to hurt us.  If they simply stop buying our bonds, we'll be up Spit Creek without a paddle.  You reach a point where you just can't keep throwing good money after bad.

And I do think a selloff is possible.  As soon as someone starts running for the door, they all will.  They'll all lose their shirts, too, but that won't stop them.  

I think there's already a lot of nervousness about our level of debt.  Hence China's talking about buying euros, oil reserves, and gold instead of dollars, and Russia wanting their own oil bourse that trades in rubles.

I don't have a lot of faith in the banking system.  I think it will fail, just as it did during the Great Depression.

If there was a sell off of our bonds, the Fed would step in to be the buyer of last resort and essentially monetize our own debt with our own debt (US dollars are debt instruments).

If this is not inflationary, what is?

As someone else is pointing out, there already is some circumstantial evidence that the Fed is coordinating purchases of our own debt using our own debt through third party intermediaries in offshore locations when not enough bidders show up at our T-Bill auctions.

There are also additional ways to inject money into the system.  There could be a government buy out of all pension programs (e.g. GM).  If the housing sector gets into to much trouble, there could be government purchases of poor performing loans.  There could be gasoline rebate checks (already proposed).  The possibilities of monetary infusion into the economy are endless.

Yes, I'm sure they will try all that.  It may even work for awhile.  But not forever.  You can only go so long paying your credit card bills with other credit cards.  
What we have come to is a collapse of the system.  I agree that their is going to be a morning when we all wake up and the news is going catastrophic, but this is still not deflation, but still inflation and lots of it.  I'm just trying to point out that inflation is far more likely than deflation.
I agree that their is going to be a morning when we all wake up and the news is going catastrophic, but this is still not deflation, but still inflation and lots of it.

Not necessarily.  I don't know for sure what awaits us.  I am preparing, as much as possible, for both inflation and deflation.  But I think it will be deflation that gets us in the end.  

In bad times, people won't be buying, borrowing, or lending.  They'll be sitting on their money...if they have any, which they may not.  There's only so much government programs can do to offset this. Especially if there's no fuel for Helicopter Ben's helicopters.  ;-)

In bad times people need products no matter what.  I've got to live and I have to spend money to do so.  There is no way around that.  We have experienced deflation and inflation.  I think most would agree that inflation is potentially worse in the long term, while deflation hurts most short term.

The government will not allow a great depression to drag on like it did before.  Well at least IMHO, I believe they would institute massive government programs to put people to work and get money into the economy.

I think we are coming to a better explantion...stagflation.

In bad times people need products no matter what.  I've got to live and I have to spend money to do so.

Not if you have no money to spend, and no one will lend you any.

The government will not allow a great depression to drag on like it did before.  Well at least IMHO, I believe they would institute massive government programs to put people to work and get money into the economy.

I think they'll try.  I don't think they'll succeed.  

A lot people think the Great Depression couldn't happen again, because "we know better."  I'm not sure we do.  Experts still disagree over the cause and solutions.  And we've never really had a chance to test it.

"Not if you have no money to spend, and no one will lend you any."

You beat around the bush a little bit, but the root to that argument is that "in bad times" people don't have jobs to make money to buy things.  That also leads to more people out of work because they depended on that income...domino, domino, deflation.  I imagine a disturbance large enough to put a significant amount of people out of work would cascade down through all of the "mutual back scratching" jobs, and then onto all of the jobs depending on that income to the point that a very significant number of people are jobless.  I can't see how that could be anything but deflationary.

Yes, exactly.  Two-thirds of our economy is consumer spending.  Even if Helicopter Ben breaks out the helicopters, it won't be enough.  Maybe everyone will be on welfare and social security, and we'll be able to buy bread and toilet paper.  But that won't keep us all employed.  We need to be buying Nintendos, designer clothes, Tickle-Me Elmos, digital cameras, Ford Explorers, summer homes in the Hamptons, etc.
Not if you have no money to spend, and no one will lend you any.

Exactly. In all this discussion, nobody has mentioned the likelihood than in a severe economic crisis/collapse there will be extremely high unemployment. If there are no jobs, no wages, unless Mr. Bernanke actually puts the helicopter option into effect, people will not have the dough. Prices on some things will drop out the floor. I expect real-estate to get cheap. Labor will be less than dirt cheap. Energy will remain relatively expensive. $1.50/gal gasoline will look very expensive to someone with a disposable income of zilch.

All the Fed's schemes to inflate the money supply won't do squat to put dollars in Joe or Jane Schmo's pockets, they will simply enrich the already bloatedly rich.

Enriching the already bloatedly rich seems to be the planned agenda:

"Wake Up, The American Dream Is Over"

"Estate Tax Pyramid Scheme"
(by Robert B. Reich, former Secretary of Labor)

My comments regarding the estate tax:
In ancient times, funeral rights for lords and chieftains involved large amounts of sacrifices to the gods. Rulers were buried with vast amounts of their wealth.

These traditions may have been imposed by religious edict but they served a real purpose, which was to prevent the accumulation off too much wealth into any one single family, an event which tends to destabilize any society and lead to eventual revolution.

This economic safety valve is no longer religiously ordained, but is imposed via the estate tax, which strips excess wealth from the recently dead and diverts it back to the society as a whole. again, the purpose is the same, to prevent the accumulation off too much wealth into a single family and the attendant social imbalance.

Sadly, under fascism, which is where big money and big government work together against the common people, such checks and balances are quickly removed, which condemns such a fascist nation to eventual ruin.

In bad times people need products no matter what.  I've got to live and I have to spend money to do so.
Not if you have no money to spend, and no one will lend you any.

Ah, what you are missing is the coming economic "Transition".

Bernanke says economy entering transition
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Monday the U.S. economy was starting to shift to a slower pace of economic growth but the Fed needed to be vigilant to make sure inflation stays under control.

"It is reasonably clear that the U.S. economy is entering a period of transition," Bernanke said in remarks prepared for a group of bankers. "The anticipated moderation of economic growth seems now to be under way."

http://today.reuters.com/news/newsarticle.aspx?type=businessNews&storyid=2006-06-05T183341Z_01_W AT005725_RTRUKOC_0_US-ECONOMY-CENTRALBANKS-BERNANKE.xml&src=rss&rpc=23

Yeah, if the Fed governors would just shut up, maybe the stock market could recover.
Case in point -- No one is buying the Zimbabwe dollar.
And the Zimbabwe stock market is booming! Until today, anyway:-)
The $100,000 note that won't buy a loaf of bread in Zimbabwe
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 07/06/2006)

The 100,000 Zimbabwean dollar note, which went into circulation this week was officially worth just over 50p. Yesterday on Zimbabwe's burgeoning black markets it was valued at about 16p.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=TSYJ3XKBNXSFNQFIQMFCFFWAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/200 6/06/07/wzim07.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/06/07/ixnews.html

(fallout's note: This is now the largest bill in circulation in Zimbabwe, where President Mugabe finally caved in on earlier promises not to print them, as such a move would be considered 'inflationary')

Thanks for this article...I appreciate the frequent references to this country on TOD.  Don't believe it's a "preview" of coming attractions, as some say, but it's certainly interesting to watch a country collapse due to poor management.
As the Fed continues to raise rates and energy prices remain high, it will tank the economy. (That's why the stock market has recently been falling. It is forecasting a slower economy.) The end result will be a recession which is deflationary. Faced with the choice, the Fed would rather have a recession than inflation because they believe a recession will just be temporary and allows excesses to be wrung from the economy. Inflation, on the other hand, can get away from them. This happened in the 70s and it required Fed chairman Volker to raise rates to 15% and crush the economy before they could get control of it. The problem is that this time the U.S. economy is not as strong as in the 70s, and debt levels are much higher. There is no guarantee that the recession won't turn into a depression. Furthermore, it probably won't be as effective as in the past at bringing down commodity prices, especially energy, due to the tremendous demand from Asia, and reduced production capacity (peak oil, copper, etc.) The Fed will probably reverse course at some point and try to revive the economy with lower rates and money printing that could lead to hyper-inflation, especially if foreign central banks stop buying, and even sell, U.S. treasuries.
The US is a ponzi scheme. There were several major changes to the US Govt in the 1800's and a few recent developments that have all contributed to our demise.

In the 1800's corporations were given the status of "persons" by a corporate republican attorney turned president named Abraham Lincoln. The founding fathers had no intentions of allowing large corporations. It turns out that the purposes of the population and corporations are in diametrical opposition.

The steam engine and rail were born. Slave ownership by private companies was abolished. Now instead of possessing black slaves business were expected to use a ready made supply of poor and give them low wages. This way the poor could get food and shelter on there own and the slave master didn't need to house, feed or maintain the slaves. Here all you need to be a slave is poor.

WW1 was never about The Arch Duke Ferdinand it was about Iraq. WW2 was not about the Japanese or Germans it was about resources. So when we get to the Clinton era we see that he and Gore wanted to be a full partner with the UN and move to a UNNWO with currencies that make sense for a globe. Hence one idea was the Euro.

Greenspan was confident that the US was trillions of $$$ in the green and then came the end of the last decent 8 years we had. The Republicans went through a lot of trouble in WW 1 & 2 to create or remold the mid-east. Clinton went against that and got spanked. So for that matter did the Democratic Party.

Bush assumes the exec office and then all hell breaks loose. It appears that the US does not want to loose dominance and rather then buying Euros when they had a lower value than US dollars using the Clinton surplus Bush sent us all checks.

If the government went along with the Euro buy-up then with many trillions of Euros the US would be competitive today. In fact the more cash we print the lower the value. Now the Euro beats the US dollar and the margin is growing. By printing more we make a larger gap.

The US imports over 60% of its oil. At any point before we reached 49% imports of oil and competed with the Euro by buying them $70.00 oil would not have the same impact. So today we enter a war economy and face more opposition then even Hitler did.

The forces of China based on a population of BILLIONS are staggering. Iran's army is larger then the US army. The Russians could bring there forces up to Cold War levels at any point. Pakistan has a large army and so does India. Never forget that Europe has large forces. Most importantly don't forget that since the end of the cold war there is no longer the control over using nukes by mutual destruction.

Look how far we moved from mutual destruction when Bush decided bring the nuclear option to the table regarding the Axis of Evil. If US military is cut then spending to Boeing, Grumman, Etc. is over. So our leaders decided that we must spank anyone we can and start to starve the world as we starve for energy and work.

Please tell me how all of this gets back on focus? How can we honestly move into the future with the same ponzi scheme? How can we claim energy rights when at the same time large segments of the US are in poverty or about to become impoverished?

A civilization is only as prized as its ability to set a minimal living standard for its people. A great civilization is only as great as its ability to rehabilitate its prisoners and for the quality of life of those in its prisons. Countries that have fair medical care have a higher tax liability but the general population values its health collectively.

A nation that has no interest in limiting AIDS spread by promoting the condom along with abstinence risks its entire population by promoting religious ideals over morality.

The US has ceased to be a civilization since it has muted out the majority to ensure the survival of the ruling class. For the moment Iran is OK but give that a few weeks and we will see. China and the rest will not like the US sitting on Iranian oil nor most other nations.

By the way one day soon China will (with all the money we owe them) have a new fluffy pet called the US. I don't know what they will do with us but that is the price paid for talking the talk but not walking the walk.

The world domination game sucks when you squandered your resources!

The world domination game sucks when you squandered your resources!

Nothing sucks more then losing by being stupid.

I do not agree that USA is uncivilized even if you fail some theoretica goodness tests. You produce large ammounts of intresting culture in music, software and so on, you have an impressing ability to integrate immigrants and you have complex and valuble things to trade including being masters at trading.

Your military involvment in Jugoslavia and Afghanistan were great. The invasion if Iraq seems to be a disaster but at least you still used some of the right moral arguments. You have done some realy grand and inspiring things in mid 1900 history and that must linger in manny ways even if you have some corruption.

I also get the impression that manny of the people concidered as poor in the US are not especially poor according to our scales. The scales partly seem to follow different directions but my lack of travel hinders my ability to value my hunch.

I kind of get the impression that USA had manny good things, have a lot of good things but kind of need to reinvent itself. But I might be projecting(?) what I think about my own home country.

"The invasion if Iraq seems to be a disaster but at least you still used some of the right moral arguments."
You didn't really believe any of those lies, did you?  We were trying to "spread democracy" right?  Forget the fact that we have been regular democracy-busters in past, I guess.  Wait, I forgot -  we invaded Iraq to increase our foothold in that area since it is undoubtedly a stupendous source of strategic power... oops
I believed in them after your successfull effort of breaking up the Warsaw pact, your efforts in Jugoslavia after the EU failure and the invasion of Afghanistan. I thought you were back in the WW2 and 50:s style of invading and rebuilding Japan and Germany and defending South Korea after some decades of disgustingly immoral cold war via proxy.

I am still not sure about how much were lies and how much were incompetence. You seem to have been carried away by your firepower and forgotten to bring enough people power to control the situation and make it into something that works regardless if the aim were to democratize, produce oil or even create a massive military outpost. But it is extremely  hard to judge what happens from the small ammount of news I get and I only use my "left hand" thinking about it since it realy isent especially important for my life. Exept that it would be highly destabilizing and tragic if USA turned sour and stopped trying to be a nice and constructive democracy that protects other democracies and world trade. It would for instance probably lead to a number of nuclear arms races.

"Exept that it would be highly destabilizing and tragic if USA turned sour and stopped trying to be a nice and constructive democracy that protects other democracies and world trade."

Very good insight in both of your posts. I especially like the line above. The world is extrememely complex and very few countries, organizations or people are pure good or pure bad.

My view is that anyone that think the US is completely perfect or completely bad starts with this opinion and then forms their arguments.

This is tthe source of our support in Asia.  We are seen as the balance to both China & Japan, both of which are feared.  We are not seen as so aggressive and much more benign in our ambitions (we want to get richer and we do this by making others rich in our own pursuit of more wealth).




Thanks for a look in the mirror.
I greatly appreciate your posts, Magnus, but in praising the invasions of Yugoslavia and Afghanistan I think you are being untrue to your fact-based self.
The aggression against Yugoslavia was a gross violation of international norms. Based on fraudulent and absurd accusations of genocide the territorial integrity of a sovereign state was violated by powerful countries in alliance with the same "terrorists" they now claim to be fighting. As a result the Serbian minority was "ethnically cleansed" from the province of Kosovo.
The attack on Afghanistan changed that country's form of government against the will of a majority of its people, with numerous war crimes committed against the Afghans abd none ever punished. No-one benefited except a thin upper class in the capital, wholly dependent on foreign support and grown rich from the heroin trade. The so-called Afghan government has no authority or legitimacy over the great majority of the country's territory.
The agression against a falling apart Yugoslavia were definately a gross violation of international norms, the problem with that is that the norm were not violated earlier.

A countries right to violate its own citizens and have civil war is not as important as individuals right to live.

Civil war and ethnical clensing with atrocities such as the massacre in Srebrenitsa are not morally acceptable. The late reaction made the USA and international action unfair putting the spotlight on large Serbian atrocities while forgetting other atrocities but that were much better then no reaction.

I seems to be extremely hard to stop hatered strong enough for ethnical clensing. What has been done in forcing people to move has at least been done with much less bloodshed after parts of the international community took some control of the situation. Far from ok but better then mass murder.

I regard it as proven that the Taliban government in Afghanistan were closely allied with Al Queida and that the september 11 attack thus were an attack done by the Afghanistan government.

To invade and destroy that government were a correct response and one that makes the world safer since it means that people who run large terror attacs get beaten into pulp. I do not care if the Afghanistan Taliban government were loved by a majority of their people, you simply do not do such a thing and get away with it. That USA and other countries then tries to improve the situation in Afghanistan is proof that they do not hate the people but the old government that attacked them. And I guess it has to do with the moral principle that you have responsibility for ill effects of what you do even if it were justified. Compare this with helping a former convict to get an job after a long prison term so that he gets a working life, does something productive and is less likely to do new crimes.

If I compare this with Iraq hindsight indicates that there were no connection with Al Queida and no weapons of mass destruction left in their armouries. USA seems to have punished the wrong state but at least it were a violent dictatorship, unfortunately one set of deadly violence were more or less replaced by other constellations of deadly violence. I do not know for sure if it has gotten better or worse in some kind of overall way, I think the situation is better now. One of the worst damages from my point of view is that the this has hurt US credibility and "moral capital" and you lost the september 11 momentum with rooting up realy bad people.

How to avoid making an even bigger mess out of Iraq is a very hard question.

According to any international law worth the name, Kosovo was (and still is!) an integral part of Yugoslavia. What happened in a civil war in Bosnia in 1995 cannot possibly justify aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999.
I don't see any evidence whatsoever that would hold up in court indicating that the Taliban had anything to do with the events of September 11, 2001.
Since the US government has taught us that torture is the way to find out the truth, let's rather waterboard Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, inflicting pain up to (but not exceeding!) that associated with major organ failure, and learn what they had to do with the events of that day. No point bothering with Bush, no-one would have thought it worth telling him anyway.
From over here in Sweden where I live my fairly sheltered life former Yugoslavia looked like a continuos mess where about the same kind of mistakes and atrocities were repeated untill USA entered the conflict.

But this is only my half decade old impressions from media and a very limited number of refugees. I can hardly prove or disprove anything with evidence that would hold up in a court.  

I regard it as proven that the Taliban government in Afghanistan were closely allied with Al Queida and that the september 11 attack thus were an attack done by the Afghanistan government.
The son of Osama bin Laden married the daughter of the leader and Head of State for the Taliban, a traditional way to seal alliances. The refusal to accept a link between al Queda and the Taliban is a refusal to accept political reality and discredits any pretense of fair minded, objective analysis. One political candidate once called people of that mindset the "Blame America First" group.
We need a name for the people who refuse to acknowledge the removal of the Taliban (real sticks-in-the-mud when it comes to drugs) and the subsequent flourishing of Afghanistan's heroin trade.How about "living in a fantasy world where money and geopolitics have nothing to do with each other".
"living in a fantasy world where money and geopolitics have nothing to do with each other".

Sounds totally spot on!

Based on fraudulent and absurd accusations of genocide the territorial integrity of a sovereign state was violated by powerful countries in alliance with the same "terrorists" they now claim to be fighting. As a result the Serbian minority was "ethnically cleansed" from the province of Kosovo.

Yeah right. Serbs didn't commit organized genocide against the Muslims. Sanctioned by Milosevic in Sarajevo, carried out by Karadzic and Mladic. The world just imagined that. Fraudulent and absurd. Hah! The US debated for years whether to intervene  to stop - to stop what? According to you, nothing. All just an illusion. Not once, but twice. I suppose there is a huge, secret oil-field under Macedonia. Perhaps you'd care to enlighten us on what Hitler was really about.

International norms? Which were those, the ones that existed before the United States and its allies decided to stand up to crimes against humanity?

There isn't really any evil in the world. It's all just a Western conspiracy. I get it now. Thanks for filling us in.

What is most disturbing is your portrayal of all Muslims as terrorists, except(conveniently for your agrument) those in Afghanistan.

Meant to say Belgrade, not Sarejevo, lest you accuse me of not being "fact-based."
You obviously have only the haziest of ideas about what the word "genocide" means.
I put the word "terrorist" in scare quotes myself, to point out that if Osama, or Zarqawi, etc., are terrorists, then so were the KLA.
Wrong again.

Zarqawi used tactics to create a maximum of terror.  There is a qualitative difference between a bullet "execution style" and sawing off someone's head on camera and them publsihing teh results.  The later is clearly aimed to produce the absolute maximum of terror.

Likewise using aircraft filled with innocent passengers as weapons of surprise attack was aimed to produce the maximum of terror.

Actually, I'm a student of genocide. Whether it is Armenia, Germany, Cambodia, Bosnia, or Kosovo. My understanding of Kosovo is that Milosevic tried to do what he what he was prevented from completing in Bosnia. The KLA(Kosovan Liberation Army) were trying to prevent that.

You have flipped that on its head and claimed that the KLA (and by association the Bosnian Muslims in Sarajevo) are terrorists trying to wipe out the Serbs in Kosovo. I don't see any credible evidence to support this. I never have. This issue has been discussed here before. Don Sailorman was the best at articulating the point.

I think that your association with Russia colors your outlook somewhat. Perhaps your intake of media-feed at the time led you to believe certain things.

We can either separate the events of 1991-1993-1995 and 1999 or we can take them as one long experience with Milosevic. I will play it it either way.

Remember how the Russians were completely unhelpful in reigning in their Slavic/Orthodox allies for the entire period and then cynically rushing in an (airborne?)unit at the last second to beat the American advance. Trying to recapture the glory days of May 1945?

So, technically, if you want to talk about an invasion of Kosovo being wrong and in violation of "international norms" - you should probably start with your host country's contribution.

"It would for instance probably lead to a number of nuclear arms races."

That's true, at this point no one is trying to get nuclear weapons, and no one has done so in the past 50 years :/ .

A great deal of the US citizenry does not and can not see the poor. Take a drive into Newark or Trenton, NJ and look at the faces of poverty. Look at the video of those decimated by the floods in Louisiana as they try to walk across a bridge to hope only to be turned back by law men with guns. Look at who picks the crops and listen as they tel you, "Americans will not do those jobs!" Then realize that those that do the employing want Mexicans that work for less then minimum wage.

Try to understand that families are living under bridges, in lots, cardboard boxes. I had a homeless man in a carpentry class I instructed. The police move large numbers of homeless around to add to the illusion that we take care of our own.

A society that denies a basic standard of living to it poor is in a constant state of denial and will self destruct. When people step over the impoverished and disenfranchised to carry on with business as usual many have this thought in their minds, "Better him then me!"

If no center is found that can be the basic living standard then those that are poor can not participate in the country. A homeless man can not get a job for many reasons. He smells, eats poorly, has no transportation, and lacks the most important thing of all to locate a job; He lacks an address to fill out a job application. He can not get a bank account since he has no address or even proper identification.

When the government presents statistics to the population theae are fictional works. Those with no health insurance are considered "self-pay" and hospitals are only allowed to treat emergencies and then release. Those that are mentally ill are in worse shape. There situation is depressing and compounds the challenges they face. Minor problems go untreated and later manifest as larger problems.

Often the homeless wind up in jails for infractions like stealing food or clothes. Now they can add a criminal record to their nightmares. This would compound there problems of finding employment. If they did find a minimum wage position that would not be enough to get this person off of the street. Rents in the north east US are extremely high. Single bedroom apartments are in the $1000.00 per month range. Most landlords require a background check to obtain a rental.

As inflation comes into view those above the poverty line are next to be added to the ranks of the poor. Rents will rise along with everything else. Wages will fall or end through layoffs and discharge. Ultimately employment depends on cheap energy.

I said before that corporate interests differ from human interests. Families are suffering from an erosion in the US since both parents are bread winners. Many work two or more jobs each. This adds to a growing stress to children who require love and attention for proper development.

Even when we had a land of plenty there still existed no basic acceptable living standard. So my point is that the US has no accurate census or accurate unemployment figures. If you had a job and then entered the system if that job was lost you would be removed from the system when your benefits run out. By the government you are added back to the list of employed workers even though you may have no job.

There is a great deal more I could bring up. If you ask a wealthy person about poverty they will tell you that poverty happens in the US but it isn't all that bad or progressive. They will not mention all of the homeless that used to live in front of the US Capital. They since have been relocated to allow for missile launchers. I have no idea where they were put.

I think it's hard for those who haven't lived here in the US to appreciate the large numbers of "normal" homeless. Single-Room Occupancy hotels have just about been outlawed, the kind of state mental facilities a lot of the more obvious homeless could use the help of have been dismantled, and and there are basically no cheap rooms or living facilities for the very poor. The housing stock in the US, like our educational system and our transportation system, has been set up for the middle class and if you've not lifted yourself up by your bootstraps and all that shit and become middle class, well then tough.

I live in a fairly decent area, I think it consistantly makes the list of the safest cities in the US, and hmm, let's see, it's about 10:30 at night, if any of you were with me we could take the "night time homeless tour" and find tons of them, in the park and downtown, down by the Armory and perhaps 100 yards from my keyboard here, behind the market or sleeping in the bushes. Thare are peoplw who live in their cars too. Most of the homeless don't look so, you have to look for them - their miserable life is a lot easier if they don't "look" homeless. So, you have to look closely and ask yourself why some fairly decent looking people seem to have so much in a backpack they're walking along with, or seem to lope along in such sensible shoes (a big part of being homeless is always being on the move).

I used to talk quite a lot on the net with a guy out in eastern europe, he can't work, yet he had a place to live, some food, the basic necessities. I told him he'd likely die if he were in the US, and he said he knows.

I got mixed information about the situation and it is tainted by both "left" and "right" propaganda and counter claims. I am quite sure that there are manny good things in USA and that there are problems but I can not untangle how large and wide spread different problems are.
I think you should come and visit us here...would be an eye-opener in many ways.  Yes, many "good things"(unimaginable wealth--my sense is that the upper classes here have a higher standard of living than in Europe), but also grinding poverty, a vast divide between rich/poor, lack of basic social services and getting worse, dissolving safety net, no coherent energy policy beyond endless destructive growth. Horrendously large numbers of people incarcerated in brutal prisons.  A population hypnotized by celebrity and triviality, when they're not trying to hang on by their fingernails.
I will visit USA, when I have earned more money. I absolutely must get one of my business ideas to work or do something that proves that I have a usefull skillset since I do not realy fit in the CV stream. I will not go into debt to travel.
It's pretty clear-cut. The USA is one of the richest countries on the planet, with an income and wealth disparity commonly seen in third world countries. Just stating this fact is enough to make many people angry -just stating this fact labels one as "Anti-American","left-Wing" or negative on the USA in general, when this might not be the case. Of the major economies, it is probably the best one to live in if you are quite wealthy.
I think the US has overshot sustainable population levels. To a lesser degree than Africa, perhaps, but to a greater degree than old Europe.

The "left" and "right" have different explanations for this phenomenon, and there are conflicting opinions as to whether the money supply should be adjusted, whether attempts should be made to house the homeless, etc.

As we slide down the backside of PO, I expect the current middle class to become poor and the currently poor and homeless to become even more destitute.

I agree.  And I think the cause is immigration.  Immigrants not only add to the population, they add to the population growth rates for several generations after arriving, because they tend to have larger families until they fully assimilate.  Immigration is a good thing for the economy.  New workers, new consumers, more expansion.  This is the reason our economy has grown more strongly than "old Europe's."  

Whether it's sustainable is a whole 'nother story, of course.  I fear the current brouhaha over immigration is only the beginning.

Before we get much farther down the downslope, I think the "left" and "right" will agree that the US cannot continue to absorb the planet's excess numbers. 150 years ago, it could, but not now.

And "New workers, new consumers, more expansion" only works as long as energy is cheap enough to supply them all with fossil fuel based food, transportation, air conditioning, etc.

which reminds me... About a year ago, I visited somewhere outside the US for the first time in my life ... Oaxaca. I could bore you with pictures, having put my camera contents online, but will forego that, um, honor for now. But I did notice a few things -- for one, mechanical air conditioning is rare there. It has a tropical climate and gets hot during the day (about the same altitude as Denver), but almost every building is stone or concrete with walls a meter or so thick. They were quite comfortable. OTOH, my McHouse in the Austin McBurbs becomes uncomfortable within a half hour if the AC goes out.

Before we get much farther down the downslope, I think the "left" and "right" will agree that the US cannot continue to absorb the planet's excess numbers. 150 years ago, it could, but not now.

I wonder.  The right has a big chunk of big business Republicans, who want the cheap labor and economic growth immigration brings.  And immigrants have always been a core constituency for the left.  

A lot of mainstream America want to close the borders, though.  

I think that election this week in California was a sign of things to come.  The Republican won...but only after he starting running on an anti-immigration platform, publically disagreeing with President Bush.  If a third party arises, it will be on this issue.    

I am not attempting to convert you. I am a US citizen and for the moment not homeless. In the US the standard of living is falling. Roads are in disrepair, pollution is rampant, homelessness is on the way up, utilities are being shut off and transportation is a mess.

All things considered if you were to do everything correctly in the US (job, investments, etc) you would sooner or later face divorce. The average US divorce rate is over 50% though in states like mine we see higher rates around 62%.

This shows a failure in law, policy and pair bonding that all reflects the Ponzi scheme. Marriage is often not for love but for sex and convenience. Tax incentives, public relations, insurance and dependency should never be reasons for getting hitched. Relationships often become empty since the priority is to make money rather than make a whole family.

Earning potential of industrial times has morphed the social view of what a good provider is. The hunter gatherer has moved to the business savvy entrepreneur state of being. For some this is unnatural since people are not businesses. Those that have good financial abilities may be just as unsuited to subsistence living conditions.

The one positive thing about being homeless is that should the US financial system crash those that are currently disenfranchised will have survival skills to deal with a low to no energy anarchist hell storm since they have in effect lost it all already.

The government wants its citizens to be rats on a wheel. Essentially from an Orwellian point of view the homeless or poor are stigmatized and represent Goldstein like non group members. In another post of mine I wrote a story about what would happen if a member decided to cease participation and switch to subsistence living. He would be killed or jailed.

There are numerous examples of individuals and families that have attempted to flee the system in the US who in the end all failed. If a few succeeded in removing themselves from the game then members would ultimately see the truth that they are living in what amounts to a slave system. The trust would be broken from the government's perspective and is never tolerated.

Individuality amounts to choosing between various shades of a color. Should the member choose another color he would be considered a madman or insane and thusly eliminated. Consider events like Waco Texas and the propaganda used to justify how those children were burned alive. I'm not a commune person by the way, I hate when children are destroyed by a system with ZERO tolerance to individuality.

You will also note that even though children were burned to death by the government that the national response was one of acceptance based on the claims of the government. The government cited Branch Davidians as dangerous occultists who in the end got their children killed since they failed to comply with the system. Children are not able to participate in government only in family so they remained with their parents as is to be expected. In this example I'm not supporting the Branch Davidians instead I'm showing that children are for lack of a better word victimized by all sides in this hypocrisy.

By mentioning this one could suggest that the government had them surrounded and the siege lines were drawn. Eventually those inside would come out since their structure all be it large was not a castle or fortress in the standard sense. With no utilities and depleting food supplies their cause would ultimately end. Here we see the government making an example of these people to definitely state to the population that individuality or alternate group-think systems will not be tolerated.

Iraq seems to be another example of the same thought process. The idea that democracy is created at gun point is so insane but the average person at least publicly buys into it. There is always crisis followed by fear followed by solution. The population gets impacted by the event then they learn to fear related events then are lead into solution through action to remove the fear. This can be repeated over and over again.

The impact and ramifications to a society and an entire civilization of group-think is typically to the demise of that grouping. With group-think the probability of doing something Gandhi-esqe or for the betterment of the entire group is offset by the Seven Deadly Sins. Case in point, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely!"

To accept that those who for whatever reason are disenfranchised in any society are stupid, criminals, vagrants, foolish, depraved, outsiders, lecherous, unacceptable, dirty, unworthy, indifferent, lazy, moronic, etc. brands them with a label. Those that suggest that all 'they' need to do is get a job fail to state how 'they' might accomplish this feat. They fail to see the reality that at any moment they can also descend into the abyss of poverty.

Those that pity the poor do so out of guilt and fear more then from the Seven Cardinal Virtues. Failure to establish a basic standard of living for all citizens no matter what the situation makes all other problems faced by the same civilization unsolvable. We can not solve energy problems since the poorest are not represented nor lifted. The wealthy are understandably reluctant to lower their standard of living so that the weakest members of the society can be elevated.

Most of the time when you hear about charity, donations and the like to be dispersed to the poor most of these funds hijacked or fairly distributed. Eventually many lower middle class citizens will be facing issues that resemble the poorest. During the whole process the wealthy will be reluctant to issue any sweeping social change.

When I use words like sharing, fair play, barter, community, socialization, etc; some have suggested that these words represent Socialism or Marxism. I submit that they represent true Democracy. When I take the Star-Trek standpoint that, "The needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few." Most forget that the second part says, "The needs of the majority are only met when the operative society accepts that each of us is important and those allowed to suffer are symptomatic of a failed society." I'm sure Kirk said it differently implying that to him Spock was his friend and was one of the few that would be willing to die so that the rest could live so the needs of the few who suffer are far greater then the needs of the many!

People treat each other like shit every day. Governments treat people like shit every day. Businesses treat people like shit every day. Criminals treat people like shit every day. Criminals are treated like shit every day. Your energy use has nothing to do with your morality. Morality transcends all situations. If a crisis is faced by immoral acts it becomes necessary to fabricate excuses to justify the event.

To summarize I will suggest that if approx. 350 million people can not get their shit together regarding the basic needs of the approx. 350 million and continue to live in that denial there is little hope and they will go down in ruin.

Consider events like Waco Texas and the propaganda used to justify how those children were burned alive. I'm not a commune person by the way, I hate when children are destroyed by a system with ZERO tolerance to individuality.

I'm no expert, but I thought I remember a lot of info on gas being poured throughout the compound by the Davidians prior to the teargas pumped in.  There was also audio tapes from an informat who worked with the Davidians and they were all talking about needing more gas.  The gov't messed up yeah, but I didn't think they SET the fire.


The blaze broke out during as agents moved into the compound to end the 51-day siege.

Speculation that the FBI may have triggered the blaze accidentally intensified, after the agency finally admitted last year it had fired potentially incendiary devices into the compound.

Videotape of the events also appeared to show unexplained flashes.

But Senator Danford, who was appointed by Attorney-General Janet Reno, said on Friday he was certain government agents had not started the fire, nor opened fire on the Davidians.

He also said the government had not improperly used the military.

So the FBI started the assault at 6AM and the resulting fire was accidental. They shot the rounds in by accident or on purpose, how can both be true. Again I have little regard for Branch Davidians. To me if the siege needed to go on for another 50 days then so be it, as long as the common goal was the survival of the children. If the concept was to prevent a mass suicide that had not happened yet the attack supplied the equivalent result.

I only brought this up as an example of what happens during conflicts with the government. Typically the government shoots you and you die. The moral is that you have to play their game no matter what you believe. I suppose that the Davidian example is far more complex than the typical 'man decides he wants out of the prevailing society' conflict gone bad.

The results show that the government will make an example of a dissenter to teach the rest that dissent is not tolerated not ever. Those that are evicted with no real place to go will find no compassion in the law. There are homeless shelters yet most are dangerous and over crowded.

When inflation drives citizens into the red evections will increase and then so will foreclosures. Those people will know what loss is and most of them are playing the game as instructed. The last time this happened in the US energy reserves were in the green and growing yet the economy tanked. The New Deal offered a way out yet these people were suffering. What New Deal can we possibly get if the economy tanks again with declining energy.

New Deal relied on public works and lots of construction. How can we build our way out with diminishing resources? The Mexicans are here so have no fear as they can pick the food so that the wealthy will not starve. All the rest will own no land and will be considered vagrants and trespassers 24/7. What deal will you offer them should that fate occur? If nothing can be done except playing "Hide the Poor" today then what happens tomorrow if those numbers should grow?

We deal with most serious problems with a pill of denial and a glass of there is nothing I can do about it. PO is the same in many ways since most concluded that oil would run out much, much later and then here we are with the gauge going down, down, down.

How can we build our way out with diminishing resources?

It is possible to build quite a lot in for instance the USA with a fraction of todays resources.

The hard problem is to figure out some market mechnism for creating those jobs and post peak oil construction since market driven development usually is efficient, works with your current economical system and avoids a lot of the risks with central planning.

According to this forum Americans work and commute like manic beavers, there is a potential to get a lot of things done if they locally figure out what to do.

No government super intelligence will decend from the sky and solve the problem. But government do anyway need to try, try being efficient on what it can do reasonable well. The bulk of the work can not be done by government.

It is possible to build quite a lot in for instance the USA with a fraction of todays resources.

I'm not sure what you do for work but I am sure that it is not construction. The housing bubble here is over by the way. Lets look at the flaw in your statement.

Resources come from mines, trees, etc.

One of the primary construction materials is concrete. Concrete starts out as Portland cement, sand, stone and water. There is not one light thing in that list. The equipment used to make and move concrete is all made of steel for the most part. The guy on the end floating concrete requires energy too. He must eat, drink and survive. He must also be able to get to work. The largest input for concrete is oil.

Lets talk about steel. Iron is mined and is combined with other materials to make steel. The amount of energy used to make steel and the resulting pollution has eliminated the US Steel manufacturing abilities. The largest input for steel is oil.

Sheet rock has trippled in price as of late. It is made of gypsum and paper. Gypsum is mined while paper comes from trees. Sheet rock is extremely heavy. The biggest input for sheetrock is oil.

Insulation is made of fiberglass and has tripled in price. It requires vast amounts of heat energy to make and is required for home and building R value. The largest input for fiberglass is oil.

Copper is used for water supplies, wire and some flashings. It is mined and has quadrupled in cost. The biggest input for copper is oil/NG.

Should I really go one here? Most of the materials have tripled in price and I left out wood for framing, doors, and windows. I didn't even touch on siding materials. What about roofs? In the US we have shingles made of fiber and oil based materials and moved by heavy rail and truck.

How to pave roads with less energy? How to build offices for what business?

How could we build Hoover Dam again today? Back when that was built concrete was cheap since the energy to move it was nearly free. A few years ago in the US condos were considered the "new affordable housing" condos today in my area with 2 bedrooms are selling for over $210,000.00

Your statement disregards the laws of diminishing return. If we were to construct solar panels for the masses they would become more expensive over time as the costs for the raw goods and the inputs rise. The reason things were cheap for a while was that energy was cheap. The US has no manufacturing base and is a service economy.

I know about where a lot of materials come from but you got the industry for making and handling all those materials. If you only have energy to power half of it it is still an immense construction capability. And you could fly and drive a lot less freeing up money/resources.

I do not get why for instance the Chinese can build infrastructure but USA should be unable to do so.

Have you realy no manufacturing base? The statement seems unreasonable for a modern 300 million people country.

Lets check the CIA world factbook

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1%
industry: 20.7%
services: 78.3% (2005 est.)
GDP per capita $41800 * 0.207 =
$8652 of industry GDP per capita.

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 14.4%
industry: 53.1%
services: 32.5%
GDP per capita $6800 * 0.531 =
$3610 of industry per capita

USA has a service dominated economy and China an industry dominated economy but USA do not seem to be withouth industry and the ability to manufacture stuff.

The resources needed to build a 3,500 sq ft (350 sq m) McMansion in the exurbs can also build several 600 sq ft (60 sq m) to 950 sq ft (95 sq m) apartments or condos in a medium rise next to an Urban Rail stop PLUS the Urban rail to get there. Centrally developed housing lowers job-site transportation requirements. Reduced area housing (slightly below the norm before WW II) takes far less to build that the sprawling McMansions that are so much of today's landscape. Services (water, electricity, sewage, drainage, police, fire, postal, delivery) are much more efficient to build and operate with higher densities.
I also get the impression that manny of the people concidered as poor in the US are not especially poor according to our scales. The scales partly seem to follow different directions but my lack of travel hinders my ability to value my hunch.

I got blasted a while back trying to ask for a clear definition of what we should call poverty.  I used to work with poor people.  I mean those who are on welfare, medicaid, & food stamps.  Yet these same people would wholy admit to me that they are gaming the system and would ask if they could rent to own a big screen tv.  Hold on, our poor have running water, indoor plumbing, electricity, a phone, A CELL PHONE, & a big screen tv.  Now they dont live in the best areas and I agree that it doesn't look all that great, but sitting inside their rent assisted housing they are living alright by many, many "poor" standards.

In much of Africa a cell phone has become a necessity of life, land lines are unavailable and useless, millions have cells who are living on less than a dollar a day.
Generalizations like these are not the norm nore do they solve anything. Generalizations like, "There is plenty of oil!" or "We will never run out of oil." or "In Canada no matter where you stick a drill bit oil comes up." derailed the train. Your generalization switches the attention from the problem to the abusers of the solution that has not brought us closer to social harmony. You are attempting to derail the train.

Are situation is dire when we choose to revert to denial. Those that live from paycheck to paycheck like me make choices every day. We have mouths to feed and mounting bills to pay. I am not asking you for help but if I should fail to pay my rent my landlord will evict me and replace me in no time. If I should get sick or injured I have no safety net. This does not make me wealthy or even middle class so what does that leave?

My GF became ill and had to have surgery. She returned to work and her first pay check was all deductions from the insurance payments she missed while being out of work. We almost missed the rent twice. It's the start of the summer and my work typically takes off in the spring in construction. Several customers have asked me to accept payments from them as it appears that they are almost as strapped as I am.

I would love to see X Men 3 but can not justify even a movie. Last year I worked for a contractor and he laid me off on December 31st. We keep in touch and he has been living off his retirement savings. So in my life I have gone from rags to riches a few times but here at this time I am not seeing any real solutions. I am educated and was for a while a teacher. At one time I worked for Habitat for Humanity now I find myself longing for humanity.

I'm not a criminal or an evil twisted person. Yet I see the writing on the wall. In my experience when times get tough, I have accepted that good orderly direction will provide me with at least the means to survive. Things have been spinning lower and lower since 9-11 and I'm back to rags. Imagine a man who can build a house not even owning one. I am humbled by the experience though that will not help my family.

I worked in a youth detention center in Newark NJ for several years. Imagine this if you will. Several youths were released. While in the parking lot the smashed the administrators windshield and stood there. Back in they came. There life in jail was better then going back on the street. I'm sure that there was no "Big Screen" in there homes in the former murder capital of the US. By the way this was years ago before PO was in the scope and gas was cheap.

I agree the Fed will choose inflation over deflation, but I don't think they have the power to deal with the forces that will be arrayed against them.

I agree with this position, especially since the problem of financial imbalance (and speculation run amok) is global. I do think we will eventually see hyperinflation in the US and a destruction of the dollar, but after a deflationary credit implosion rather than before. If I had to provide a timeline I would suggest markets bottoming in the first half of the next decade, depression (a lagging indicator)continuing for the rest of that decade at least and inflation picking up significantly some time after 2020. My WAG would be that hyperinflation is probably 20 or more years in the future. I see it happening as a result of money-printing by a US government by then cut off from international credit.

In recent years there has been a wave of liquidity injected into the global economy in order to fight off deflation, but deflationary forces have kept it from igniting an upward spiral of wages and consumer prices. Current deflationary forces would include, for instance, wage and price competition from low cost producers overseas and the ability for internet commerce to eliminate the need for middle-men.

Instead of igniting inflation, that liquidity has been expressed as a series of leveraged asset bubbles (serial momentum-chasing speculation at a global level). The liquidation of the bad debt associated with the unwinding of this process should decrease the money supply (deflation) as asset prices fall. Both creditors and debtors should be unwilling (or unable) to engage in lending and borrowing under those circumstances no matter what the Fed does with short term rates (long term rates are another story - I think they will rise as international creditors demand an increased risk premium).

The Fed increases the money supply by encouraging lending and borrowing through setting short term rates, but even rates set at zero may not be enough to encourage the unwilling to lend/borrow (especially as nominal short term rates set at zero would still represent a relatively high real rate of interest under conditions of negative inflation). The process has been refered to as 'pushing on a piece of string'.

Creditors are unlikely to lend to any but the most secure borrowers under conditions of severe financial instability, and even then at an increasing risk premium. Potential borrowers, if they are able to borrow at all, may chose not to do so if they are afraid they will not be able to repay their loans. Bear markets breed pessimism and caution (at least initially - later they breed fear, irrationality, anger, xenophobia, political upheaval and war in roughly that order if they persist for a sufficiently prolonged period).

I don't think the Fed has the slightest chance of being able to control what is facing them, although they probably think they can and will certainly try.

In recent years there has been a wave of liquidity injected into the global economy in order to fight off deflation, but deflationary forces have kept it from igniting an upward spiral of wages and consumer prices. Current deflationary forces would include, for instance, wage and price competition from low cost producers overseas and the ability for internet commerce to eliminate the need for middle-men.

Are you defining deflation according to Keynesian or Austrian terminology?  I ask because Austrian school of thought is simply less money is deflation, while the rest of your argument is from a Keynesian POV.

I view deflation as a decline in the money supply relative to available goods and servies. As the money supply falls (ie debts are repaid or liquidated involuntarily, perhaps banks or leveraged hedge funds fail), the value of the remaining money increases. Demand for cash in order to pay down debt, and perhaps in order to meet basic living expenses, should also increase its value relative to the wide array of assets that I would expect to see offered for sale (at firesale prices).

Personally, I can imagine a scenario whereby money existing only electronically 'evaporates' (ie a systemic banking collapse), leaving only cash on hand, which could then be worth a great deal (ie a liquidity crunch). Cash on hand could be very difficult to hang on to under such circumstances though, as piles of uncommitted choices are naturally ephemeral. I prefer to engineer my lifestyle in advance so as to minimize future requirements for both cash and fossil fuels (following Westexas' ELP formula).

I view deflation as a decline in the money supply relative to available goods and servies.

'Servies' should, of course, read 'services'.

Well said, Stoneleigh. While I do not personally share the same opinions regarding timing (I personally believe hyperinflation will come sooner, 10 vs. 20 years), you have done an excellent job here regarding covering the basics and doing your research.

For those interested, you may also wish to review the posts here. "Inflation/Deflation"

The main reason is simply that the current system could not survive a period of deflation. It's a giant Ponzi Scheme, which means that the supply of money MUST continue to expand or the system will collapse. Second, inflation doesn't make anything better. It can create the illusion of prosperity for a while, but the misdirection of investment that it causes always leads to slower real growth (which, ironically, provides the excuse for the central bank to facilitate more inflation).

Hold on the reason we won't have deflation is because the system would collapse?  That's the reasoning?  That's no different than saying we won't lose in Iraq because it would be bad.  Deflation and inflation are both bad.  Just for different people and different circumstances.  I will say after reading some more information I don't agree that we will be subjected to deflation, but the arguments for it are strong.

Could you short stock in the 20's?  I don't know, but keep in mind even as say stocks tank, plenty of hedge funds would reap billions on the short position.  Money might evaporate from many, but the net loss may not be as large as one thinks.  I also keep going back to the dollar depreciating (fx market) by definition is inflation.  If you scare the hell out of the world and they dump the dollar as the reserve currency, what's stopping rampant inflation in the face of asset bubbles being popped?  I'm curious what the numbers would be for outside reserves held worldwide compared to the housing debt.  Keep in mind underlying all of this is PO.  So we're still faced with a supply issue while demand would be determined by how bad the economic disaster is.

I it's 2:04 CST and OIL is back up to $70.  MSM was heralding the slide below $70 after the death of Zarqawi.

"but the net loss may not be as large as one thinks."

how could there be any net loss?  since all stock/bond (almost any economic) transanctions have two sides, it's a zero-sum game.  wealth is neither created or destroyed in market booms/busts, it is merely transferred.  by wealth i don't mean money (which can be created/destoyed easily) but the energetic and productive results of real workers.  in the great Depression, many people lost their modest wealth and the ruling oligarchy gained an equivalent enormous amount.  you just had to be on the right side of the aisle at the right time.  

I think Sweden will do fairly ok. We have an economy that exports a lot of iron ore, high quality steel, wehicles, paper and pulp and misc industrial products with a fairly high technology level. The rest of the world post peak will need iron and steel, biomass in paper och fuel, fuel efficient wehicles and industrial products from windmill parts to small fighter jets.

Our trade ballance is a lot like Chinas wich means that a lot of things can grind to a halt if customers stop buying for a while. But we export raw materials or high tech and little plastic crap wich means that people will need to trade with us if they are to invest themselves out of peak oil problems. But I am doubtfull about pulp and paper for newspapers and office use, the paperless office is a 20 year old joke but people can now live withouth paper if they realy run out of money.

Roughly half of or electricity production is nuclear and half is hydro and we got enough hydro for a late 50:s fully industrialized economy. We will probably become electricity exporters.

Becomming self sufficient in wehicle fuels would take 20-30 years of investments in biofuel plants, more efficient wehicles and rail transportation but should be doable. It is of course the wrong goal, the right one is to be more efficient then other oil buyers wich as a side effect probably will make us partly self sufficient.

We do overall have well insulated houses, lots of district heating and almost booming district cooling. Temperature extremes in winter is no major problem and any problems can be eased by a few years investments in the current systems. But we need enough rainfall for hydropower, food and biomass growing. We should be ok being east of the Atlantic but you never know for sure.

We have a fairly strong urbanization to larger towns and clusters with good public transportation and it is a common ambition to have parallell road, rail and bicycle/walkway networks. Natural limits on road building and granite easy to build tunnels in have made our capital Stockholm very public transportation intensive and it acts as a model for the rest of our country. Rail investments are well on their way due to environmental and commuting efficiency reasons.

Our democracy has a strong tradition for municipiality democracy and a not so good one the national level where our socialists take the power for granted and has corrupted the bureaucracy by appointing party members in posts that should not be party dependant. The community building tradition were more active in earlier generations but it is strong, mostly in sports but there are volontary societies with internal democracy for almost anything.

One of the strongest male role models is still the engineer and home builder. It is extremely popular to have a summer cottage and not maintaining your house is nearly as shamefull as beating your pets, its more or less taken as a sign of mental illness. If something needs renovating within 20 years after building it was a low quality mistake that should not be repeated.

Our socialists were fairly benign untill about 35 years ago when we had a 30% total taxation and we now have a bloted unefficient state with about 50% total taxation and a lot of money circulating via taxes and different benefit systems making the state economy very sensitive to unemployment and hindering entreprenuership.

We do not have any problems with sueing but the general planning processes were revised with input from the greens due to our socialists being dependant on them to keep power wich introduced too many appeal levels and a too drawn out process wich as its usual maximum can delay any large rail or industry investment for about 7 years. Fixes are being suggested but implementation depends on a change of government. If everything goes smoothly you can build anything in about a year but one complaint and it can size up.

There is a big government analysis being done about a total reorganization of the regional government levels wich has a wide political support. This might shave of something like 10% of or government bueraucracy in a few years, I do not realy understand why our socialists support this analysis.

We have different groups and think tanks suggesting other optimizations to lessen the ammount of needless government work. They use to sugest that about 30-40% of the business administration time and ammount of rules could be removed withouth any ill effects. And we could like Denmark rationalize our government offices. This would free a few thousand people for the productive job market and is thus depending on getting a right wing government with parties where more of the members are idealists and not state employees.

Finland seems to be better managed, we have probably a lot to learn there. Our neighbours are probably one of our strenghts.

The peak oil point is that I think our government could become lean and efficent and our business climate a lot better in a few years prompted by a right wing parliament or a crisis such as peak oil or a combination. I think our government tradition can handle to trim the fat if we have a real crisis where we absolutely must become more efficient and direct tax money to infrastructure, emergency aid to poor citizens and to get new businesses running. (The right wing way is to be out of their way, the socialist way is to portion out government money in a byzantine system that keeps friends employed. )

I would actually quite enjoy such a "war on our own stupidity".

The optimal encouragement would be if our peak oil aware but socialistic prime minister who can not start the trimming process would be replaced by a right wing government while the crisis becomes obviuous to everybody. Followed by some large country setting a realy bad example on how not to react and what infrastructure you should not have to make it extremely obvious that this realy is a major crisis.

I guess I have to hope for some bad oil news and some bad socialist party mistakes during the nearest months since we soon will have an election. It is quite hard to get the opinion rolling in the right direction since our socialists have trimmed our systems to give them funds that at the latest election were 6 times the per capita Bush reelection budget and this time they seem to have mobilized more. They are now ruthless enough to cheat people and municipialities by arranging charity lotteries where they hide that most of the raised money goes to their election campaign. The latest election we had our first known instance of election fraud, socilist party members helping demented elderly people vote while only giving them their own ballot. I realy hate it when you no longer can be naive and trusting, we need to retire manny old leaders.

And the point is that the result of a major problem such as peak oil probably depends a lot on your business climate and  on how your government work. We have to fix things in Sweden to handle major problems in a better way and it seems from TOD and some other sources that you have to do likewise in USA. But some parts are probably better in USA, I am very impressed by your ability to start new businesses.

  It's discouraging to hear about the corrupting effect of power on your socialist party.  I hope your conservatives will be more thrifty than ours have been, however.

  I skimmed your post, as I'm pinched for time, but how much do Swedes look at the division of Left/Right being a bit of a distraction in seeing where the economic decisions are not working?  Is there a feeling that corporate power needs to be addressed, and kept from swaying political decisions without an effective check on its power?

 A poster yesterday reminded us how prescient Tolkien was with the Ring of Power.. I was sitting in the Tramway Diner on East 60th Street, reading an article in Wired Magazine about the upcoming movies and Tolkein's 'Ring' metaphor for Technology Adored, Abused and Run Wild- when one of the waiters said there was some kind of accident or fire down at the World Trade Center.. a plane had run into it, but I looked out the window, and the skies were so clear..

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for the Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness find them,
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

I dont see much grass root criticism of corporation influence with exeption for electricity prices. But criticising big corportaions is part of the left propaganda. Our socialist use to say that hospitals and all kind of education and care need to be run by government or else big corporations will earn money on peoples suffering and so on.

We have in real life had some parts change to private entrepreneurs and it has overall been successfull, especially if we have real competition.

Or socialist party is in practice fairly centric in the local scale and has in economical matters accepted most what the internation competition and examples force them to do. The socialism that is left is the belief in big organizations and the goodnes of politizised decisionmaking, they call that having more democracy and maintaining a compared to the former east block unaggresive nomenklatura but that kind of mold is growing.

The opposition coalition is also very centric proposing small tax cuts and having a renewal of the statemanship and support of working on a job instead of living on government benefits as the main issues. We have essentialy the same basic values as our early liberals and young socialist party a few generations agou but the solution is to move things to the right instead of to the left.

On the left we have green party with some good ideas and a lot of crazy ideas and a communist party that have bizare ideas and a leader that realy would enjoy unlimited power. On the right there is nothing untill you get enough to the right to get around to the brown left with a handfull of nazis and people disliking immigrants who either are very young or blame the slow dissolvment of our socialistic system on the immigrants.

I think our coalition need at least 2 x 4 years for good effect and we need some change after about 4 x 4 years, power needs to change around to keep a democracy healthy.

Sharp Reduction in Russian Oil Exports over the next three years

Gov't Sets Economic Targets for 2007-2009

Posted By Newsroom On 8th June 2006 @ 08:23 In Home, Economy | Comments Disabled

MOSCOW - The Russian government has approved in principle the main parameters of the forecast for Russia's socio-economic development in 2007-2009. Under the "moderately optimistic" scenario, which was taken as the basis, the GDP will grow by between 5.6 and 5.7 percent in 2008-2009. This scenario is based on the improved competitiveness of Russian business and structural changes as a result of measures envisaged in the government's medium-term program and the system of national projects for 2006-2007.

Oil production is projected to be 495 million tons in 2007, up 2.7 percent on the year, and it is expected to increase by at least 1 percent a year in 2008 and 2009. Tax reforms in the oil sector, rising investment in oil production, increased exploration drilling and development of new oil provinces will bring Russia's oil output to 507 million tons by 2009.

The forecast for oil exports in 2006 was reduced by 4 million tons to 259 million tons in connection with smaller exports by rail and increased oil processing by Russian refineries. The forecast for the export of petroleum products was raised from 89 million tons to 99 million tons. Oil refinery is projected to be 214 million tons in 2007, 215 million tons in 2008 and 218 million tons in 2009.

The ruble's real appreciation is set to be 5 percent in 2007 and 1-2 percent in 2008-2009. In nominal terms, the ruble could weaken by 1 percent a year to the currencies of Russia's trade partners.

The gold and foreign currency reserves are projected to increase by between $85 billion and $90 billion in 2006. Lower supply of foreign currency will lead to smaller increases in future, at about $15 billion to $20 billion in 2009.

Monetization of the economy will rise from 28 percent of the GDP in 2005 to between 38 and 39 percent in 2009, due to rising personal savings and corporate financial resources.

Profits of Russian companies are projected to be RUR 6.235 trillion in 2007, an increase of 11.7 percent, and RUR 7.43 trillion by 2009.

Economy Minister German Gref said economic development factors would change significantly in 2007-2009. "The economy is in a state of transition, when the former sources of growth are exhausted and economic growth hinges on how effectively new sources, such as business liberalization and economic freedom, are used," he stressed. Among problems the Russian economy will face over the next three years, Gref named a sharp reduction in petroleum exports, tougher infrastructure restrictions, lower workforce supply, a new structure of the balance of payments and exhausted reserves of competitive production.

The Economy Minister sees the 2006 inflation target of 9 percent as quite realistic. He said the government was controlling key factors affecting inflation, including tariffs for services provided by natural monopolies.

He also said Russia's GDP would rise for the first time above the level of 1991 in 2006. According to the Economy Ministry's forecast, the GDP will grow 6.1 percent this year, 5.7 percent in 2007, 5.6 percent in 2008 and 5.7 percent in 2009.

Source: RBC.

Interesting.   When the Saudis and Russians  themselves are admitting to current (Saudi) and future (Russian) export declines, it makes one wonder how bad the actual numbers will be.  Based on the HL method, it will be very bad.
If Russian oil production increases by 2.7% in 2007, will this be enough to balance likely SA declines ?

Of course, Moscow taxi drivers and not US Escalade drivers will be burning the increased Russian production.  But it could, possibly delay Peak Oil.

1% Russian increases in 2008 & 2009 will not balance SA declines.

There was an article in the NYT today about the booming consumer market in Venezuela.
Hmm, oil export forecast reduced by 4 million tons while refined petroleum products export forecast raised by 10 million tons.  Doesn't that mean that Russia is exporting more 'oil,' but after refining?

The forecast for oil exports in 2006 was reduced by 4 million tons to 259 million tons in connection with smaller exports by rail and increased oil processing by Russian refineries. The forecast for the export of petroleum products was raised from 89 million tons to 99 million tons. Oil refinery is projected to be 214 million tons in 2007, 215 million tons in 2008 and 218 million tons in 2009.

What is the track record of Russia forecasts?  
Don't want to double post, but check this out.  Consumer spending accounts for 2/3 of our economic activity.  The above post says we are still spending!  The business community is awash in cash. I mean American companies are sitting on a wad of cash.  Now check out this articel from CFO.com.  

CFO's are scared.

Inflation and wages are also worrisome. U.S. companies expect to increase their prices by 3.1 percent over the next 12 months. This would put the U.S. economy dangerously close to 3.5 percent inflation, the level at which a majority of CFOs say their bottom lines would begin to suffer. Trouble may arrive even sooner as a result of oil prices; finance chiefs say prices above $75 per barrel will harm profits.

They have similar concerns about the federal funds rate. "CFOs don't want any more Fed hikes," said Campbell Harvey, founding director of the survey and a finance professor at Duke. "The CFOs have drawn a line in the sand. Rates above 5.5 percent will be damaging, and rates above 6 percent would cause substantial damage to their bottom lines. The Fed does not have much wiggle room left."

I'm on record saying their will be a rate hike by the end of month at the next FOMC meeting.  Companies will be feeling this more and more but I think the chips start falling in the 1st Quarter next year.

For a moment, suppose that the Fed (US Government) actually believes that PO is not only real, but either imminent or has occurred. Would it not be prudent to continue to raise interest rates in order to cause global economic slowdown/recession. It would, while painful, be a way to preserve the relative difference in the American lifestyle/prosperity versus that of developing countries. If Americans use 30 something barrels of oil per capita per year and China uses less than 2, and if world oil production has or is about to peak, we cannot allow China, etc to grow at our expense. Preservation of the staus quo would be important PPO.
This gets today's prize for the most distasteful and thoughtless post. Why the hell should the relative difference in lifestyle / prosperity be maintained?  Anyone with any generosity of spirit would wish to see that gap reduced.  Even from a purely selfish viewpoint, the less the difference in relative prosperity, the fewer tensions between peoples.
Why maintain the relative inequality between different peoples? I will quote the poet William Blake from his "Songs of Experience", written about 1790,"Human pity would be no more if we could not make somebody poor" Cogitate on that, you conservatives! There is more truth in poetry than in a whole book full of graphs!
More than a few American dollars have been and are being invested in China. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the US government to protect me from China.
Please do not assume that my post is indicative of my personal desire. I am just thinking that if as our Vice President has suggested the American way of life is nonnegotiable, our Governemnt may take action to preserve the existing inequality, especially in a peak oil situation. Slowing/stopping global economic growth would be one way to accomplish this.
Not likely to happen. IMO, when Dick Cheney talks about the "American way of life" he is talking about an economic system that makes it likely that wealthy persons can make more money. By Dick's definition, 2006 China exemplifies this way of life even more than 2006 USA (which is why it has been built up with American money for the last 20 years). He isn't talking about helping Joe Schmuck pay the rent in Cleveland (IMO).  
This is a video from a Spanish company, Acciona, they build motorways, very big infrastructures, and now, through acquisition, they are also a big renewable energy player.

The video is a 2 minute commercial, where there is no sight of the Acciona brand, just a URL for a website: www.sostenibilidad.com.

As the commercial is in Spanish, I'll try to narrate what is going on:

In the commercial you see two young males.

YM One is playing a videogame, you just see them, presumably in front of a TV set.

YM Two: It is very hot here, why don't we put the air conditioning on?

YM One: Ok, that is, let's destroy the planet!

YM Two: Ok, don't put the AC on, let's follow your theories, let's switch off everything unnecessary, let's save energy, is it that, ok? Let's switch off everything that is not essential (images of lights, fridges, street lights, all going off). But, what is essential? the fridge? According to you, it is not. To make the fridge run we need electricity, and to fill it up, we need transport, so more global warming, contamination, so let's forget about living like we are living today... Imaging how that world would be... Schools would have to close, everything would lose its meaning. We will abandon our jobs, they would be useless, people would abandon cities, what would we do there? We would have to abandon everything, saying goodbye to all the progress achieved through history, and we would be living like our ancestors... Is this the future you want?

YM One: ok, let's do what you say, let's switch on the AC, ok? Ahead with progress, let's continue squeezing the natural resources irresponsibly... and you know what is going to happen? We will run out of them, and when this will happen, we will ask ourselves "what are going to do without energy, without transports, without clean water, without nothing, because when this day arrives, nothing will work and there won't be a comeback... (then he starts with the same words of his mate, "We will abandon our jobs, they would be useless, people would abandon cities, what would we do there?" etc, etc)

Commercial ends with the words "What will we do?" and the URL www.sostenibilidad.com

Wow.  Heavy stuff.

Gracias for the translation.

so this very large company is saying that we are screwed either way! In that case, I choose the last option, use as much as we can, it will run out eventually.
One of the full page advertisements featured in the campaign:

(left plate says "Energy demand continues to grow", right plate "energy reserves are depleting")

Scary movie. Does it work, scaring people?
Fear is a powerful motivator, one of the most powerful, in fact. Something TPTB have known (and exploited) since ancient times.
It absof*ckinglutely works.  Look at all of the predator in the neighborhood spots on the local news.  The attention it gets has been translated into MASSIVE social action on an everyday social level.  People take an extremely rare event (stranger abduction of children) and work tirelessly to pass any number of laws in an attempt to protect them.  Parents NEVER leave their children unattended unless the are within 50-100 yards of the house (Parents religiously check on their children and some pull out a lawn chair and sit and watch them all day).  Parents regularly talk about potential predators in their families with other parents in the neighborhood (particularly our wives).  Many other behaviors are associated with this sort of fear mongering.

The catch is...almost no one goes on CNBC to counteract the fear mongering.  Everyone accepts the risk as one great threat to our children's well-being (corn syrup is MUCH worse, empirically speaking).  

Next hyper fear mongering -- bird flu, is already working wonders!

If the same public education and information efforts were given to the INEVITABILITY of the upcoming oil transition (and the challenge it presents to our lifestyle), you bet your ass that people would pay attention PRONTO!

But, with the Yergin clones running around telling everyone to go back to sleep, nothing but sex-crazed predators and sick birds to worry about, no end to our energy consuming lifestyles in sight...keep spending, keep consuming....

Producing bio-ethanol from agricultural waste a step closer
Research conducted by Delft University of Technology has brought the efficient production of the environmentally-friendly fuel bio-ethanol a great deal closer to fruition. The work of Delft researcher Marko Kuyper was an important factor in this. His research in recent years has greatly improved the conversion of certain sugars from agricultural waste to ethanol. On Tuesday 6 June, Kuyper received his PhD degree for his research into the subject.
The search for alternatives to the current, oil-based, fuels is the focus of great interest around the world. One of the most attractive alternatives is bio-ethanol - alcohol produced from agricultural crops. At present, bio-ethanol is only made from sugars derived from corncobs, sugar beets, grain and sugarcane, with the help of baker's yeast. A great number of by-products result from the cultivation of these crops, such as straw and corn husks. It would be a major step forward if this leftover material, which also largely consists of sugar, could be used for the production of bio-ethanol. This would allow agricultural land to be used more efficiently and at the same time prevent competition with food supplies.

Until recently, the problem was that the complex mixture of sugars that makes up these leftover materials could not be efficiently converted into ethanol by the baker's yeast. Delft University of Technology, however, has recently devised a solution for this, which is achieved by genetically modifying the baker's yeast. The Delft researchers have inserted a gene (derived from a fungus that is found in elephant faeces) into baker's yeast, allowing it to convert an important sugar type, xylose, into ethanol, thereby making the production of bio-ethanol from supplies of leftover materials possible.

During his recent PhD research, Marko Kuyper greatly improved this method: people can now start using agricultural waste products that contain sugar to produce bio-ethanol on an industrial scale. Delft University of Technology and the Kluyver Centre for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation are working together on this project with Royal Nedalco and BIRD Engineering. These parties expect to achieve large-scale industrial implementation within 5 years.


Since the distinction between agricultural waste and products is only semantic, I wonder what is going to happen when this yeast is going to convert xylose into ethanol on the fields, when it escapes?
The same thing that happens when plants are exposed to alcohol or vinagar.  

Lottsa plants die.  

Later, lots of humans die.

It'll be a regualar Bacchanalia!

eric blair -

Actually, ethanol and acetic acid (vinegar) are highly biodegradable in the natural environment.

While  you might kill a plant if you dowse it with a large quantity of concentrated ethanol or acetic acid, once either gets dispersed in the soil environment, it will be very rapidly degraded by soil microorganisms.

They eat the stuff like candy. If you were to pour a bottle of 100 proof vodka onto a compost pile, you could sample it after a few days and probably not find more than a trace of ethanol left. (I personally am able to biodegrade large quantities of ethanol all on my own quite effectively. I find inegar is a lot harder, though.)

While  you might kill a plant if you dowse it with a large quantity of concentrated ethanol or acetic acid, once either gets dispersed in the soil environment, it will be very rapidly degraded by soil microorganisms.

If you place 'uncomposted' organic matter on the field and it goes anerobic, such a yeat would be breaking down sugars/xylose , making alcohol.   (And face it...much of land maagement doesn't actually compost anything....)

Because the anerobic elements would be making alcohols over time you could end up with this possible endpoint.


slx -

Not to worry.

The biochemical process by which yeast converts sugars to ethanol is anaerobic, i.e., takes place in the absence of air. This is why wine, beer, and the mash from which spirits are distilled are all fermented in closed vessels that allow the byproduct CO2 to escape but prevent air from entering.

When crop wastes naturally decompose in an aerobic envirnoment, many byproduct organic compounds are produced, but ethanol isn't one of them (at least not in any siginificant concentration). Furthermore, if this yeast is a specialized strain, it probably would not
survive for long in the highly competitve natural environment. This one of the reasons why fermentation vessels are usually sterilized before a batch is run - to preserve the purity of the selected

Could some one please explain why stock build, Per EIA, for gas inventories is only 5.2 M brl's over the past 4 weeks, when it seems it should be 38 M brl's?
Daily production averaged 9.2 M brl's, imports averaged 1.5 M brl's, and demand averaged 9.33 M brl's.
(9.2 + 1.5) - 9.33 = 1.37   1.37 * 28 = 38.4
Yesterday's close June ethanol $3.70 Gal Chicago board of trade
 Gas $90 / brl     Ethanol gas energy equivalent  $235 brl
There is a "Workshop on the economic impact of rising oil prices" in the European Parliament on 28/06/2006. This is part of a draft of the programme:

10.45 - 11.00 Coffee break

Consequences of rising oil prices for financial stability

·    Is there speculation going on in the financial markets in a noticable volume? Are new instruments being created to speculate on oil price changes? Can speculation or the use of speculative instruments seriously endanger financial stability?
·    How can the lack of transparency be tackled (Joint Oil Data Initiative)?
·    Recycling of petrodollars
·    Peak oil discussion

I know we try not to get too political here, but I have to ask - Zarqawi being killed, mere hours after the latest meme/public distraction of a ban on gay marriage went down in flames?

Coincidence? Or just very handy timing?


Personally, I think Zarqawi and Osama have been dead and on ice for awhile now...just waiting for the right time to die publically.
Dear, oh dear, how depressing to see such cynical thoughts expressed about our Dear Leaders. In proclaiming satisfaction at the umpteenth killing or capture of Zarqawi, Rummy proclaimed him responsible for the death of more Iraqi civilians than any one else. Jeez, you'd think he'd want to hang on to that  statistic of war success for himself, having striven so hard to earn it. Oh, well.
And, such ingratitude, from another dissatisfied customer:

Bush's televised gloating over Zarqawi backfires
No sooner did boy blunder invoke the memory of victims allegedly beheaded by Zarqawi than WaPo quoted Michael Berg, the father of one of the victims as saying that he felt no sense of relief at the killing of Zarqawi and that only "the end of the war and getting rid of George Bush" would give him satisfaction.

The Dow is down 150 points on this wonderful news! Why do investors hate America?
They must want us to fail. How unpatriotic of the lot of them.
Investors love America. And they always have.
Any bets on when Osama's body will materialize?  I'll put my money on the early October.
Nothing these guys do on a coordinated basis is coincidence.  They don't waste these opportunities.  However, the Iraqi politicos also have agendas of their own and the timing of this particular announcement may not have some exactly when the Bushies would have preferred.  

In fact, I think it may be a problem for them.  Zarqawi gave them a face of Al Qaeda in Iraq and was a convenient boogeyman for all the problems of occupation there.  With him out of the picture...it will be harder to sell the ongoing violence as anything more than our failure....Something BCR does NOT want to have going in to the November elections...

I am assuming of course that Zarqawi was not in fact the brilliant matermind behind the insurgency and that he was one of many bit players in the area...

Los Angeles' urban gardeners struggling

The property was owned by developer Ralph Horowitz when the city seized it through eminent domain in the 1980s with plans to build a trash-to-energy incinerator. That project was eventually abandoned amid objections from what was then a poor, largely black residential community.

The city handed control of the property over to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which allowed people to set up small garden plots to aid residents who complained that food was scarce, particularly after grocery stores were burned and looted in the riots.

Horowitz eventually sued the city to get the property back. The city settled in 2003 by selling it to him for $5 million, a little more than the $4.8 million it paid when it took it away.

In the meantime, newly arrived Hispanic residents began farming the land, planting indigenous crops like lettuce, tomatoes, beans, squash and strawberries along with more exotic varieties of corn, cactus and a plant called papalaoquelite.

The developer has sued and gotten the property back.  He wants to raze the gardens and build a warehouse.

That's called "Progress" and "The American Way."  Long may it wave.
The Russian Oil Bourse is open for business:

"From now on, the price of Russian oil will not be determined only in New York"

It's a subscription site, but DantesPeak liberated the article.  (I think he's a journalist of some sort, or works in the field.)

6/8/06 Fed. News Serv. 09:15:00
Federal News Service (Russia)
Copyright 2006 Federal News Service, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

June 8, 2006


Anchor: From now on, the price of Russian oil will not be determined only in New York. Trading in Russian "black gold" begins at the RTS in Moscow on Thursday, and what is, oil will be traded on rubles. The idea was first aired in the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly. The aim is to strengthen the authority of the Russian ruble and raise the price of Russian oil to the level of foreign oil. How feasible is this task? With me in the studio is President of the Russian Trading System Oleg Safonov.

Thanks for the heads up, Leanan.
Looks like I was right and Jack gets to eat crow on this one.

On a related note....
Russian foreign exchange reserves are building up very fast, with an offical estimate made Tuesday that they will grow $5 to $6 billion (US) per month.

But they don't plan on keeping all those dollars:
"Russia shift fx reserves from dollar
By Steve Johnson
Published: June 8 2006 17:28

Russia became the latest country to shift a chunk of its central bank reserves out of the dollar, further eroding the standing of the greenback as the world's de facto reserve currency.

Sergei Ignatyev, chairman of the central bank, said 50 per cent of its forex reserves were now held in dollars, with 40 per cent in euros and the remainder in sterling. Previously it was believed that just 25-30 per cent of the reserves were in euros, with virtually all the remainder in dollars."

And here's the kicker with the Russian oil bourse:

  1. Russian oil production is about 9.2 mb/d, of which about 5.4 mb/d is exported (appologies - numbers may be off slightly, +/-15%).

  2. The projected drop in demand for dollars/petrodollars at today's $70 per barrel would be approx:
5.4 mb/d X $70 per barrel = $378 million per day.

3) Assuming approx. 250 trading days per year = $94.5 billion USD per year in Russian petrodollar sales.

So, we can deduct that ultimately (when Russia's oil is traded via this new exchange - assuming roubles are the unit of account and transaction currency) that customer's of Russia's oil exports (i.e. principally the EU) will not need those $94 billion petrodollars per year which they are currently using for those transactions, and will not be "buying".

That's got to hurt. Far more so than any Iranian oil bourse ever could.

No crow for me yet. I do want to keep a close watch on this and if it is successful, which I still highly doubt, I will gladly admit that I was wrong.

I expect the converse as well. If no money is traded in a month or so, it is a sham - right?

So far, this is just an announcement - like the earlier announcements. I have never claimed that announcing a bourse was hard.

Pick a date - any date - and let's meet back here and see how much money and oil move through this exchange. It's still 100% smoke and mirrors as far as I can tell.

Ha-ha. I love it. The horses are on the track. I'll take Jack 10-1. Or is that 1-10? Who knows. I'll take Jack.
Fair enough. You have a deal.

However, like any upstart business I would give it a year to see if it is a failure or a success, and then pull the plug (or not). Annual report time.
Nine in ten new (US) businesses fail within the first two years, so we should be able to see the writing on the wall in half that time.

Here's the link to Russian Trading System (RTS):


The first price on contract on Urals oil - 65,2 USD dollars for barrel


RTS started trading in contracts for gold


It's not doing so hot at this point in time:


Russian stocks were also among the worst performers. The dollar-denominated Russian Trading System Index dropped 4.9 percent, its third straight loss. OAO Gazprom, the world's largest natural-gas exporter, tumbled 7.6 percent.

For Gazprom, a company which when last I checked was in the gas business, to be trading at 50 times trailing earnings, as it was less than two months ago, was never remotely sane.
Even its current price is too high.
And in any event, the measure of the success of the Roubles bourse is not the share performance of Gazprom.

Let's wait a few days and see the volumes of oil & gold traded.

Yep, traded volume will speak much more loudly than Gazprom share performance.
On that note, I see that today the volume of futures contracts on oil and gold traded today is over $100 million USD.
Not bad for a third party bourse that opened just yesterday.
Oh don't get me wrong...if we are to let the markets decide how our future will be run, then the more choices to buy commodities in different currencies the better.  Right, Oil CEO?  Let the global marketplace decide the winners and losers.  
You might be confusing me with someone else. Maybe not. I think the markets are better than communism, but I also think markets need to have some healthy regulation. I'm thinking of how else to respond, but I'm not sure what exactly you are getting at. Or are we talking about a bourse? This is an old thread, I don't know how I caught it. You probably won't see this response. So, whatever. I'm sure it will come up again.

If this is about the futures-trading market for an airstrike on Iran, those prices are way down. The contract for June is almost worthless, but I won't rub it in about how wrong you knuckleheads have been about Iran(so far):)

More "peak everything"?

Solar-Panel Makers' Expansion Thwarted By Silicon Shortage

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- It seems as if now would be the time to shine for solar panel makers, but a lack of a key raw material will cloud the picture for many over the next couple of years.

With concerns about high fossil fuel prices and greenhouse emissions driving demand for renewable, cleaner energy sources, solar stocks have been, well, hot. But while solar companies are sold out of current capacity, efforts to try to expand to meet rising demand are being thwarted by a shortage of silicon.

"The polysilicon supply to solar (photovoltaic) manufacturers has been tight for the better part of two years and is anticipated to be a growing issue as the PV industry pushes forward on its aggressive expansion plans," Merriman Curhan Ford & Co. analyst Brion Tanous said. Supply constraints have limited production by some manufacturers, and high prices are hurting profit margins.

Solar manufacturers must compete with computer-chip companies for highly pure silicon, which sells for $42 to $60 per kilogram via long-term contracts and which a tight supply has driven up to more than $150 per kg on short-term contracts.

My 'solar guy on contract' told me the same thing a couple of months ago, when I tried to lock in a committment to put a PV system in my home. He was booked solid until next year, reported PV panel prices were rising and in very high demand (shortages).
PhotoVoltaic mfg has been growing at upwards of 30% a year, the last few years, and this caught the Polysilicon suppliers under-developed.  The article suggests that PV mfgr's are having to compete with chipmakers, though the relationship seems to be the other way around, as growing PV companies started buying vastly increased amounts of PolySi.

I don't think this is peak Silicon, but there are more rarified compounds/minerals in Solar that might become more serious long-term bottlenecks..  Wiki says that Silicon is actually the most abundant material in the earth's crust. (Look up Gallium Arsenide, a more effective, but rarer Solar Cell Material)  

"Gallium metal availability, although not as
much a concern, also deserves consideration.
Worldwide shortages of gallium have been projected
since the late 1990's during periods of high growth rates
of the GaAs opto-electronics and IC industries, which
consume 95% of gallium produced [5,6]."  

http://www.ece.gatech.edu/research/UCEP/papers/31ieee/PRODUCTION%20VIABILITY%20OF%20GALLIUM%20DOPED% 20MONO-CRYSTALLINE%20SOLAR%20CELLS.pdf

(Referring to the use of Gallium within Silicon Panels, though this would have a greater effect in Purely Gallium Panels)

From my view, the theory of "peak everything" isn't really that we're running out of everything.  It's that cheap energy is what's let us procure raw materials so readily.  And that as petroleum gets scarcer and more expensive, so will all the raw materials we mine and refine with it.  This means it will be difficult to switch to alternatives (solar, wind, nuclear, whatever) because they require infrastructure that must be built with those raw materials.
I don't know oil wells.  I was wondering if anyone has ever been put into an oil well and brought back out?  I mean has anyone every been harnessed and decended into an oil well?  I would be curious to know it's composition and how we squeeze the last oil out with a 99% water cut.
i'm sort of new to most oil and natural gas wells, but the largest most holes are in diameter is a mere 13 3/8".  i dunno about you, but my feet would barely fit through there, much less my waist.  They generally slim down to between 4.5-7" when you get down to the production lines.  In OK, where i am, thats at least a mile and a half to 3 miles below the surface.
AFAIK most reservoirs consist out of porous rock, not hollow spaces you could insert people or cameras or other equipment into - except by drilling.
try this:


Or just type: HOW TO DRILL AN OIL WELL into Google.

As for going down an oilwell: A driller once threatened to throw me down one along with 'my goddamed squirrely computer' and then drill and circulate me out, but I dont think he really meant it.

A team of Credit Suisse analysts wrote a piece for Barron's Online (Investors' Soapbox), "Don't Second-Guess Gas Production". If you have a subscription, it's here -- but if you don't have a subscription, here it is:

THE SECULAR DECLINE in U.S. gas production in recent years from conventional sources has been well documented. Core regions like the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) shelf and onshore Louisiana have been declining for some time due to smaller target sizes, rising decline rates and reduced capital investment (particularly by the majors) along with the related decline in the conventional rig count (for example, the GOM rig count has fallen from 176 in 2001 to just 96 today).

Likewise, the disinvestment trend for conventional sources has made it tough to grow base U.S. supply over the past decade. Meanwhile, the multiyear shift toward higher-cost onshore, unconventional gas reservoirs recently (particularly since 2001) amid better gas prices and a soaring onshore rig count is now causing overall gas production to finally start to show visible and sustainable growth, in our opinion.

We believe that U.S. gas production finally showed stabilization in second-quarter 2005 and has shown underlying growth for the past three quarters (adjusted for storm effects). On a year-over-year basis, gas production appears to be up at least 2%. Currently, about 1,555 rigs are running onshore in the U.S. and our reinvestment analysis shows that significant growth is achievable. Specifically, we see potential for 2% growth in 2006 and 2007 with onshore (up 3%) offsetting offshore declines.

Our analysis of historical production data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows unconventional gas production rose 3.4% in 2005, following a 1.2% increase in 2004 (after adding back storm losses). For this study, we looked at production by various regions from the EIA, segmenting the data into two groups: shorter-life conventional production areas (GOM, south Texas, Louisiana and other states); and onshore longer-life (which we see as a good proxy for unconventional gas).

Conceptually, we are thinking about unconventional gas as coal bed methane, tight gas sands and shales, which represents the bulk of all new drilling activity. Conventional production is clearly starting to show softer year-over-year declines, while unconventional gas supply has recently been posting pretty solid growth. We think unconventional gas supply is set to grow another 3% plus in 2006, given onshore rig counts are at a record high nearly midway through the year, while producer culture remains focused on "gas resource" development.

Our bottom-up analysis of U.S. gas supply shows that under a $7.00 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) gas price and $2.50 per Mcfe [thousand feet of natural-gas equivalent] finding and development (F&D) costs, U.S. gas supply can grow 2% per annum. Under the $7 price scenario, we show that a $4.15 per Mcfe cash margin applied against $2.50 F&D results in 166% reserve replacement (assuming 100% reinvestment). This implies 2% growth given our estimate that 132% reserve replacement is needed to keep production flat (due to the industry's lengthening reserve life). When shifting to $6.00 per MMBtu (and adjusting costs accordingly), we estimate gas production would roughly stay flat. We would note that ultimately the price of gas will likely rest upon how much demand is needed in the system.

The ability to receive liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the U.S. continues to expand (now well over three billion cubic feet per day [Bcf/d]) while Atlantic Basin liquefaction capacity has risen some two Bcf/d from a year ago. Recent deliveries have seen improvement to above two Bcf/d (versus an average of 1.7 Bcf/d last summer).

We expect LNG to enhance U.S. supply by at least one Bcf/d per annum over the next five years (which is the equivalent supply yield of adding 200 rigs per year onshore).

A few comments:

  1. Unconventional gas represents the bulk of all new drilling. Hmmm...
  2. The ability to receive LNG appears to be expanding faster than the ability (or willingness) of LNG suppliers to supply LNG. Hmmm...

Another data point in a series. 'Nuff said.

Gas Prices Taking a Toll on Spending

MasterCard Advisors' "Spending Pulse" report for national retail sales shows four months of slowing spending.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - A new report tracking national retail sales in May indicates that this year's run-up in gas prices has started to eat into an already slowing rate of consumer spending.

According to the latest report from MasterCard Advisors, the consulting arm of Mastercard International (Research), total retail sales last month excluding auto purchases rose 0.2 percent from the prior month.

Excluding both auto and retail gasoline purchases, sales dipped 0.1 percent since April.

"A lot of people have been concerned about what lies underneath the covers when you factor out gas. So far people had only been talking about consumer spending slowing down but it had not materialized in the numbers," said McNamara, vice president of research and analysis with MasterCard Advisors. "The data now shows that the sustained increase in gas prices is showing an erosion in consumer spending."

For those of you who didn't get an opportunity to see the premier of the movie OilCrash! at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin or the festival in Toronto, you really missed something.  The name of the film has been updated to, A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash and there will be an additional four screenings coming up as follows:

At the The Newport International Film Festival
Friday, June 09, 2006 8:30 PM Newport Art Museum  
Saturday, June 10, 2006 1:30 PM Opera House 1
Tickets are available on the festival website.

also being screened in...
New York:
Wednesday, June 14th
Tribeca Film Center
375 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013

Los Angeles:
Wednesday, June 14th
MGM Screening Room
10250 Constellation Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Seating at these two screenings is limited. If you would like to attend either of these screenings please RSVP to office@cineticmedia.com.

This is an astounding film with extensive interviews with Matt Simmons, David Goodstein, Matt Savinar, Colin Campbell, Roscoe Bartlett, Fadhil Chalabi, and other international oil experts.  There are reviews at Salon.com and Turner Classic movies and eFilmCritic.com.  A trailer is available at youTube.

The film is seeking a distribution agreement in the USA and turnout at these screenings will likely have an effect on the results of such an agreement.

I saw this film at the SXSW fetival in Austin.  It's just what's needed.  Bring all of your doubting friends and family.

Hello TODers,

REUTERS is proclaiming "Energy tension to dominate G8 meeting in Russia" this week ahead of July Summit.


MOSCOW, June 7 (Reuters) - Heated debate about the security of the world's energy supplies will dominate the agenda when G8 finance ministers meet this week to prepare the ground for the group's annual summit next month.

A source at one European G8 country said Russia wanted to issue two communiques on Saturday, one on the world economy and another on energy. The second had met opposition from the United States, France, Italy and Germany, the source added.

President Vladimir Putin put energy security at the top of his G8 agenda, hoping to leverage Russia's role as the world's No.2 oil exporter and supplier of a quarter of Europe's gas into greater international influence.

But energy quickly turned into a political boomerang when Russian gas monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM: Quote, Profile, Research) turned down the taps in a New Year pricing row with Ukraine which disrupted exports to Europe for the first time in four decades.

Europe has scrambled to seek alternative supplies, while U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney accused Russia of using energy as a tool of "intimidation and blackmail" against its neighbours.

Tempers have cooled of late, and the debate has moved towards finding ways to implement the International Energy Charter, a document signed but not yet ratified by Russia which calls for open access to energy resources and pipelines.

Putin, at a Russia-EU summit last month, said he was ready to discuss implementing the charter but said he would only consider breaking Russia's gas export monopoly if Gazprom gains access to distribution and marketing assets in Europe.

He [Kudrin] also played down the chances that foreign companies might gain access to Gazprom's export pipelines soon, adding that the energy charter needed a lot more work done on it.

From my brief scan of the IEC's latest newsletter: it looks like mostly carefully contrived political yadda, yadda, yadda versus hardcore plans to deal with Peakoil and downslope depletion rates like ASPO's Energy Depletion Protocols.  In short, it seems like the world will have less 'energy security' going forward, rather than more.

Here is the pdf link to the latest newsletter:


Here is the link to the IEC homepage:


Note that the US is not a full charter member of the IEC, but an 'Observer Nation'.  Does this give Putin-Bush energy discussions any legal framework for change, or will Putin ignore Bush?

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

Very odd  reason that I need this information;  But what are the daily rates and purchase price of a semi-submersible rig 100m x 100m x 13 m draft ?

What is the market today for this type rig ?


If this is a 5th generation rig then rates are at least $240K per day.    And as a good TOD poster I got this info at http://www.petroleumnews.com/pntruncate/208995102.shtml.
For a good oversight of the rig market tryRigzone

I guess it depends on the "very odd reason", but from the draft you give - 13m, are you sure you want a semi ?  Most semis have an operational draft in the region of 21m, and require min. 50m water depth to drill in.  Perhaps a drilling barge would be a better option?  Much cheaper too - average given as $39250 / day.

This article in the New Yorker claims that tight ownership in the oil refining sector is the reason for constrained development of new refining - which I think is right.


Superb article. Wish it was longer. Surowiecki has long been one of my favorite financial writers.
Good find, Jack. Thanks!