"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

More on "Peak Oil"

OK, so how long will oil last?

Saudi Arabia Says Peak Demand for Oil Is an ‘Alarm’ (Update2) - BusinessWeek:

"Oil demand in some developed industrialized nations is contracting, partly as a result of the economic slowdown. Those concerns are different from “peak oil” theorists who say oil production has already reached maximum levels and will inevitably decline."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Endless Oil !?!?!

But but but ... we're suppose to be running out

Endless Oil - BusinessWeek

"Many analysts and industry executives have little doubt that there's plenty of oil in the ground. "Only about 32% of the oil [in reserves] is produced," says Val Brock, Shell's head of business development for enhanced oil recovery. Shell estimates 300 billion barrels and maybe more might be squeezed out of existing fields, much of it once thought beyond retrieval. Peter Jackson, IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates' London-based senior director for oil industry activity, has reviewed data from the world's biggest fields. His conclusion: 60% of their reserves remain available."

Banking Should be BORING

Books: John Cassidy's How Markets Fail - BusinessWeek:

"Cassidy agrees with free-market advocates that the market performs wonders, but he believes its reach is limited. In that spirit, he favors greater government regulation of the financial-services industry. Although he doesn't dwell much on practical ideas for reform, he argues that it's necessary to tame Wall Streetplus or minus now that financiers have learned they can privatize profits during good times and socialize losses in bad. He admires the changes that came out of the Great Depression, such as the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated banking from investment banking. Even if current legislators aren't willing to go that far, banks must be required to keep more capital on hand and be given limits on how much debt they can accumulate, he says. He considers the proposed Financial Product Safety Commission a sensible idea. 'The proper role of the financial sector is to support innovation and enterprise elsewhere in the economy,' he writes. 'But during the past 20 years or so, it has grown into Frankenstein's monster, lumbering around and causing chaos.'"

What's VAT - likely new taxes

I expect that this will be coming ... maybe alternative to "income taxes"
And with pending demographic changes, it might work.

Economic View - What’s Sustainable About Obama’s Budget? - NYTimes.com:

"...unless the president revises his spending plans substantially, he will have no choice but to find some major source of government revenue. Ms. Pelosi’s suggestion of a VAT may be the best of a bunch of bad alternatives. Unfortunately, in this new era of responsibility, the president is not ready to face up to the long-term fiscal challenge."

On excessive reliance on debt

This spot on
And now we are paying the price
Not that a bit of leverage is all bad, but too much distorts the economy.

Executive Summary - BusinessWeek: Nov 30

"The U.S. tax code allows individuals to claim deductions on mortgage interest, up to $1 million, while corporations can write off all the interest on their debt. As a result, the economy suffers from what dismal scientists call a 'debt bias.' The tax break encourages homebuyers to make smaller downpayments and take out bigger mortgages. It also inflates housing prices, studies have shown. Similarly, the break makes it up to 42% cheaper for companies to take out debt than to issue equity, estimates the National Economic Council. While the tax system alone can't be blamed for the current slump, a recent IMF study found that tax distortions likely led American households and companies to take on much more debt than they would have otherwise."

and more here :

How the tax code encourages debt : The New Yorker:

"If it’s frustrating that the government is footing the bill to clean up the mess, it’s even worse that the government helped pay for the debt binge that created the mess in the first place, thanks to a tax system that actually subsidizes borrowing. Debt didn’t get dangerously out of scale because the system was broken. It got out of scale, in part, because the system worked."

The Year that really changed things

Not 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down ...
Was the Russian Empire a phantom ?

The Year the World Really Changed

Forget the fall of the iron curtain: the events of '79 matter more.

It may seem perverse to question the historical significance of the collapse of the Soviet empire in Mitteleuropa, and then the collapse of the Soviet Union itself. I suspect most Americans today share the Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis's view that 1989 saw the triumphant end of the Cold War, a victory achieved above all by President Ronald Reagan, though nobly assisted by Margaret Thatcher—despite her deep reservations about the unintended consequences of German reunification—and the Polish Pope John Paul II.

Yet for Princeton revisionist -Stephen Kotkin, the real story of 1989 is that of a cynical pseudo-revolution from above. Only high oil prices had kept the bankrupt Soviet empire alive during the 1970s, Kotkin argued in his 2001 book,
Armageddon Averted. Now, in his iconoclastic follow-up, Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment, Kotkin dismisses the role of Eastern European dissidents, much less Western leaders, in the Soviet collapse. No, Mikhail Gorbachev and other communist reformers wrecked their own system, partly out of naiveté, partly out of a cynical desire to grab the system's few valuable assets in what became the scam of the century: the privatization of the Russian energy industry. For the wilier members of the nomenklatura, the road from KGB apparatchiki to Gazprom biznesmen was a remarkably short, though crooked one.

Because it's there

Moves like this keep pushing "Peak Oil" further and further out

Why Oil Majors Are Coming Back to Iraq - BusinessWeek: "Global oil companies are finding it harder to resist the huge volume of crude in Iraq, but their change of heart could increase tensions in OPEC"


Although I suppose it's no more boneheaded than many Pentagon Programs - this stuff still ticks me off.

A Long Bet on Electric Cars - BusinessWeek:
"Not every government investment is a sure bet. The question is how much risk taxpayers should shoulder. The feds have put $465 million into Tesla, but it has raised only $300 million and change in private capital. And the U.S. has invested five times as much in Fisker as private investors. Rogers says Fisker must raise more money to tap the credit line, but debt will still account for 70% of the company's funding. So the risk, and burden if these companies fail, will mostly rest with U.S. taxpayers."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More Toyota stuff

While I suspect that the company indeed has some problems, likely on the systems/software side, the press has a history of sensationalizing supposed defects... at least back to the Audi 5000 "unintended acceleration" BS

The Real Scandal Behind the Toyota Recall - BusinessWeek

But the press is not responsible, all they need to do is sell ads/ad time.

Note that once upon a time, I watched 60 Min on CBS, until they ran the Audi story - and it was such obvious BS.

Try this experiment - best to do it in a dry parking lot, with no other cars around - in case you screw up.
Stand on the break pedal with your left foot, and try to accelerate with your right - bet you don't launch like a bat out of hell ... this was the situation that Audi was accused of.
Simple answer - drivers were confused as to what pedal they were pressing.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Toyota - it's not really our fault

It's the floor mats, it's the American sub-contractor's pedal.
Well, maybe not.
Maybe it's faulty software - and THAT indeed is a problem.

"The sticky accelerator is definitely a distraction and may not be the whole story," said Rebecca Lindland, an automotive analyst at IHS Global Insight. Toyota is "addressing some of the problem. I do think that the industry in general is questioning whether they are addressing all of the problems and the right problems."

Pedal Maker Says It's Not to Blame - WSJ.com: "Government regulators now believe that more than a third of the vehicles involved in two massive recalls at Toyota Motor Corp. have no apparent connection to uncontrolled acceleration linked to hundreds of reports of serious crashes and more than a dozen fatal accidents.

The gas pedals in question get stuck only at low speeds close to idle, according to CTS Corp., the Indiana-based maker of the pedals. A federal official who was briefed on the matter confirmed the problem occurs when vehicles are moving at low speeds and isn't believed to make cars accelerate out of control."