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Northfield's dedication to Minnesota GreenStep program will give city 'return ... - Southernminn.com

Transition Towns in the media - 27 March 2015 - 10:26am

Northfield's dedication to Minnesota GreenStep program will give city 'return ...
Southernminn.com
Other notable achievements Northfield has been recognized for, according to the GreenSteps website, include having a First Transition Town effort in Minnesota, involving alumni of the Blandin Community Leadership Program; having priority growth areas ...

Categories: TT news

“Imported Oil is Not Your Enemy. It Is Your Friend”

The Daily Reckoning - 27 March 2015 - 9:24am

This post “Imported Oil is Not Your Enemy. It Is Your Friend” appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

I’m sick of it, and I want it to go away.

What I’m referring to is the constant guessing that I have to do as an energy investor about how political dickering is going to impact the industry.

First, we had the offshore drilling moratorium that kept many companies in limbo for the better part of a year – that’s Act I.

Then we had bans on fracking in various places — Act II.

Third, is the endless deferral on the Keystone XL Pipeline, which still has not been resolved.

And now, Act IV, we have the issue of needing politicians to repeal an outdated ban on exporting oil from the United States.

On Monday, Byron touched on how allowing exports of oil could actually lower the price of gasoline for consumers.  It is a weird situation that the country finds itself in. Still very dependent on imports of foreign oil (7 million barrels per day) but having more production of a specific type of oil (light oil) than the American refinery complex can process.

To allow exports of oil or to not allow exports of oil? That has become a very important question.

I think it is a question with a no-brainer answer, but someone much smarter than I might disagree. Since I’m well aware of the dangers of confirmation bias, I thought I’d share that differing opinion.

According to Warren Buffett’s partner Charlie Munger, the correct answer to the question of exporting oil is likely a resounding no. I think Munger would say this because of what he believes would be in the best long-term interests of the United States.

That isn’t an answer that investors who own North American oil producers (like me) are interested in hearing. These companies are receiving a discounted price for the oil that they produce because we can’t export, and it is costing them billions of dollars.

But here is the deal. Munger is one of the most rational people on the face of the Earth. He is also one of the smartest.

I find one particular opinion of his very interesting.

In 2013, Munger appeared at a roundtable discussion on U.S.-China relations. Watch the video below:

The subject of American energy independence came up. In classically blunt Munger style, he said that striving for American energy independence is a “dumb idea.”

Why would Charlie say this? Surely, relying on regions of the world that do not like America can’t be good for energy security.

Munger’s opinion is based on the fact that he believes (and I’ll use his words directly) “that oil and gas are absolutely certain to become incredibly short in supply and very high-priced.”

Munger wants America to save its oil for the future, when obtaining a supply will be even more challenging.

He believes that the best thing America could do now is produce as little of its own reserves as possible and import everything it can. He believes this would be in the best long-term interests of the country and put it in a better position down the road when oil and gas become scarce.

According to Munger, every barrel of oil that is imported saves a precious barrel of American resources that could be used later. I believe that would be a case of short-term pain for long-term gain.

Although I haven’t heard him say it, I think it would be safe to say that Charlie would argue against exporting America’s oil. However, I also suspect he would give a big thumbs-up to approving the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would bring massive amounts of Canadian crude to Houston refiners and export terminals.

Munger’s view on what to do with American oil is that of a man who is a billionaire and never had any trouble generating wealth for his family. He was genetically gifted to create wealth. I find his opinion on where the price of oil is headed noteworthy, but the reality is that economics will dictate how fast America’s oil is produced.

Personally, I think saying yes to allowing exports of oil from the United States is a no-brainer decision. Of course, I thought the same thing about the Keystone XL, but that is a discussion that a Canadian like me should perhaps not be entering.

Even if oil exports are allowed, it seems quite likely that the politicians will take their sweet time in getting it approved. Until they do that, there is a really good chance that American oil prices are going to sell at a discount to global prices.

There is no group of companies that benefit more from that than the refiners. These companies have input costs based on low American oil prices and sell refined products based on high global prices.

Back in February, I suggested taking a look at the refiners that have the most exposure to these widening differentials (WTI/Brent and LLS/Brent).  For anyone who thinks that political thumb sucking will slow down the repeal of the oil export ban, I think you’re on the right track.

I’d recommend first taking a look at Marathon Petroleum (MPC), Phillips 66 (PSX) and Valero Energy (VLO). These companies have the most exposure to Gulf Coast and Cushing input pricing.

Owning these refiners could also act as a nice hedge for a portfolio of North American oil producers, which are likely to trade inversely to the refinery sector.

Regards,

Jody Chudley
for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. Be sure to sign up for our FREE email edition of The Daily Reckoning. What you find here on the site is only a fraction of the wealth of information you could be receiving. Sign up today to see what you’ve been missing.

The post “Imported Oil is Not Your Enemy. It Is Your Friend” appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Categories: Economics

Why don't #gas prices fall as much as oil prices – #peakoil - North Denver News

Peak Oil - Google - 27 March 2015 - 8:01am

North Denver News

Why don't #gas prices fall as much as oil prices – #peakoil
North Denver News
Crude oil prices have dropped dramatically since last summer. Strangely, over the same time period, gasoline prices have fallen much less. If a barrel of oil today costs less than half what it did last summer, why hasn't the price people pay at the ...
Sorry, but there was never an oil storage crisisBusiness Insider
Oil futures off the highs as dollar fights back, Yemen in focusInvesting.com
Oil up 3 percent on weak dollar, speculative buying, YemenReuters UK

all 524 news articles »

How to Make Money from Stupid Cat Videos

The Daily Reckoning - 27 March 2015 - 1:59am

This post How to Make Money from Stupid Cat Videos appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Sick of those stupid cat videos your wife’s always looking at?

Wanna deck your idiot coworker because he’s always whipping out his smartphone to show you videos of his ugly grandkid you can’t stand?

Get used to it buddy. Everything’s going video these days. And you have two options…

You can ignore it. Or you can take advantage of this unstoppable trend by potentially making a boatload of cash from it…

Listen, 78% of all internet traffic is video as of this year. Yeah, that’s right – 78%…

And video’s set to dominate mobile platforms too. Your new phone lets you do a lot more than check email next time you skip work to play golf.

As the business publication Quartz reports, “Cisco projects video to represent 71% of all mobile data traffic by 2019, up from about 55% last year, and representing the bulk of mobile traffic growth.”

That’s crazy growth. And guess who’s leading the way? Social media. There’s a hot new app called Meerkat that allows users to instantly stream live video to their Twitter followers. It’s wild. And it’s igniting a race between the bigger names in the social media business to capture market share.

Look at Twitter. It just bought a startup called Periscope that also allows users to stream live video to all of their friends instantaneously.

“Given Twitter’s ability to complement breaking news events like the Ferguson, Mo., protests, you could envision a situation in which live streaming video alongside other breaking news tweets might be helpful,” tech news site Re/code explains.

And the charts are already tipping off savvy traders that something big is brewing. Social media stocks as a group are stomping the averages so far this year…

The Global X Social Media Index Fund has sprinted more than 8% higher since Jan. 1. The S&P 500 rose just 1.6%. And then there’s our old pal Twitter. Twitter (NASDAQ:TWTR) has been an open trade for PRO readers since Feb. 12. And it hasn’t let us down. After Tuesday’s stunning performance TWTR is up more than 43% year-to-date.

This stock will probably need to take a break at some point after such a spectacular run. We’ll keep an eye on it. But I think social media names still have all kinds of room to run. And with the mobile video story just starting to heat up, I expect fantastic runs in these stocks heading into the second quarter and beyond.

Regards,

Greg Guenthner
for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. Social media stocks as a group are stomping the averages so far this year. If you want to cash in on the biggest profits this market has to offer, sign up for my Rude Awakening e-letter, for FREE, right here. Stop missing out. Click here now to sign up for FREE.

The post How to Make Money from Stupid Cat Videos appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - The Israel Problem For America

The Market Ticker - 27 March 2015 - 1:07am

If you've been reading me for a while you know that you can count the number of times I've agreed with anything Obama has said or done on the fingers of one hand.

However, the latest Israel kerfluffle is one of those times.

Bibi has, for years, lied on the international stage about his "commitment" to an actual two-state solution with the Palestinians.  He never meant it, however, and in the closing days of his re-election campaign he said what he really meant and thought: Never, so long as I'm in charge.

Ok, fine and well enough.  Israel is an independent nation and is free to make a such a declaration and decision.

However, we and other nations are free to condition our political support for Israel in the international arena on their willingness to formally withdraw from and recognize the.......

(Click link to read more)

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - And So It Begins..... (Germanwings)

The Market Ticker - 27 March 2015 - 12:39am

A French prosecutor has apparently made the statement that the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane that crashed a few days ago had the descent initiated as a voluntary act and apparently locked the pilot out of the cockpit.

The cockpit voice recorder appears to have documented the event with enough clarity for that conclusion to be reached.

The motive for this act is still unclear; the prosecutor is not characterizing this as terrorism, but that statement seems to be more than a bit at odds with the statement that the co-pilot intentionally and manually initiated the descent (Click link to read more)

Categories: Economics

NERT-ing Out with the New England Resilience & Transition Network

Energy Bulletin - 27 March 2015 - 12:22am

On Saturday, March 21, fifty organizers and activists from all six New England states (plus one intrepid Californian) gathered in Keene NH to discuss resilience, Transition, and the future we want to create.

Categories: Peak oil news

2014 biggest year ever for solar, but oil price threat looms

Energy Bulletin - 27 March 2015 - 12:11am

Will only time tell whether it will be enough to keep solar panels cheap when crude oil no longer is?

Categories: Peak oil news

The Market Ticker - Oh Darn, You're A Public Company?

The Market Ticker - 27 March 2015 - 12:08am

This is rather amusing, really.

A U.S. appeals court showdown looms next month for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in a case with potentially broad impact on how much influence investors can have over their companies.

The dispute concerns Wal-Mart’s sales of assault rifles with high-capacity magazines. New York’s Trinity Wall Street church wants shareholders to vote on a resolution calling on Wal-Mart’s board to review management decisions to sell the weapons, as well as other products that could harm the company’s reputation.

You're not an "investor" when you buy stock in a public company.  You're an owner.

That's what holding stock is.  You're buying an ownership.......

(Click link to read more)

Categories: Economics

How a credit union is increasing access to affordable, responsible financial services

Energy Bulletin - 26 March 2015 - 11:50pm

Founded in 1980, Self-Help works to create and protect ownership and economic opportunity for all, especially minority, women-headed, rural and low-wealth families and communities.

Categories: Peak oil news

Deep Concerns as Climate Impacts on Gulf Stream Flow

Energy Bulletin - 26 March 2015 - 11:26pm

Climate scientists have once again confirmed an alarming slowdown in the circulation of the Atlantic Ocean − the process that drives the current that warms Europe, and powers the planetary climate.

Categories: Peak oil news

A Day in the Life of America’s Most Walkable Suburb

Energy Bulletin - 26 March 2015 - 11:23pm

Suburban life has always been synonymous with long hours in the car-- going to work, school, the grocery store, the mall, soccer practice and friends’ homes. Some people even drive to take a walk.

Categories: Peak oil news

Home Growing Produces Ten Times the Food of Arable Farms

Energy Bulletin - 26 March 2015 - 11:18pm

So, how is it possible that low-tech vegetable plots out perform modern mechanised farms?

Categories: Peak oil news

Planet of the Space Bats

Energy Bulletin - 26 March 2015 - 10:08pm

As my regular readers know, I’ve been talking for quite a while now here about the speculative bubble that’s built up around the fracking phenomenon, and the catastrophic bust that’s guaranteed to follow so vast and delusional a boom.

Categories: Peak oil news

Eagle Ford Traffic Deaths Increase 13% - How many of the traffic victims can be related to the extraction of shale oil?

ASPO International - 26 March 2015 - 6:53pm


During the period November 2014 to March 2015 I visited several of the 26 counties that cover Eagle Ford. Due to the heavy traffic made up of thousands of large trucks I was especially careful when driving around to study fracking. It is frightening to read that 272 people died in traffic accidents in the Eagle Ford area during 2014. 42% of all the traffic accidents in Texas occurred in Eagle Ford. Note that the area is not densely populated, and that all large cities are located outside of the Eagle Ford.

read more

Categories: Peak oil news

Planet of the Space Bats

The Archdruid Report - 26 March 2015 - 12:16pm
As my regular readers know, I’ve been talking for quite a while now here about the speculative bubble that’s built up around the fracking phenomenon, and the catastrophic bust that’s guaranteed to follow so vast and delusional a boom. Over the six months or so, I’ve noted the arrival of one warning sign after another of the impending crash. As the saying has it, though, it’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings, so I’ve been listening for the first notes of the metaphorical aria that, in the best Wagnerian style, will rise above the orchestral score as the fracking industry’s surrogate Valhalla finally bursts into flames and goes crashing down into the Rhine.
 
I think I just heard those first high notes, though, in an improbable place: the email inbox of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), the Druid order I head.
I have no idea how many of my readers know the first thing about my unpaid day job as chief executive—the official title is Grand Archdruid—of one of the two dozen or so Druid orders in the western world. Most of what goes into that job, and the admittedly eccentric minority religious tradition behind it, has no relevance to the present subject. Still, I think most people know that Druids revere the natural world, and take ecology seriously even when that requires scrapping some of the absurd extravagances that pass for a normal lifestyle these days. Thus a Druid order is arguably the last place that would come to mind if you wanted to sell stock in a fracking company.
Nonetheless, that’s what happened. The bemused AODA office staff the other day fielded a solicitation from a stock firm trying to get Druids to invest their assets in the fracking industry.
Does that sound like a desperation move to you, dear reader? It certainly does to me—and there’s good reason to think that it probably sounds that way to the people who are trying to sell shares in fracking firms to one final round of clueless chumps, too. A recent piece in the Wall Street Journal (available outside the paywall here) noted that American banks have suddenly found themselves stuck with tens of millions of dollars’ worth of loans to fracking firms which they hoped to package up and sell to investors—but suddenly nobody’s buying. Bankruptcies and mass layoffs are becoming an everyday occurrence in the fracking industry, and the price of oil continues to lurch down as producers maximize production for the sake of immediate cash flow.
Why, though, isn’t the drop in the price of oil being met by an upsurge in consumption that drives the price back up, as the accepted rules of economics would predict? That’s the cream of the jest. Here in America, and to a lesser extent elsewhere in the industrial world, four decades of enthusiastically bipartisan policies that benefited the rich at everyone else’s expense managed to prove Henry Ford’s famous argument: if you don’t pay your own employees enough that they can afford to buy your products, sooner or later, you’re going to go broke.
By driving down wages and forcing an ever larger fraction of the US population into permanent unemployment and poverty, the movers and shakers of America’s political class have managed to trigger a classic crisis of overproduction, in which goods go begging for buyers because too few people can afford to buy them at any price that will pay for their production. It’s not just oil that’s affected, either: scores of other commodities are plunging in price as the global economy tips over into depression. There’s a specter haunting the industrial world; it’s the ghost of Karl Marx, laughing with mordant glee as the soi-disant masters of the universe, having crushed his misbegotten Soviet stepchildren, go all out to make his prophecy of capitalism’s self-immolation look remarkably prescient.
The soaring price of crude oil in the wake of the 2005 global peak of conventional oil production should have served notice to the industrial world that, to adapt the title of Richard Heinberg’s excellent 2003 summary of the situation, the party was over:  the long era in which energy supplies had increased year over year was giving way to an unwelcome new reality in which decreasing energy supplies and increasing environmental blowback were the defining themes. As my readers doubtless noticed, though, the only people who willing to grasp that were out here on the fringes where archdruids lurk. Closer to the mainstream of our collective thinking, most people scrunched shut their eyes, plugged their ears with their fingers, and shouted “La, la, la, I can’t hear you” at the top of their lungs, in a desperate attempt to keep reality from getting a word in edgewise.
For the last five years or so, any attempt to talk about the impending twilight of the age of oil thus ran headfirst into a flurry of pro-fracking propaganda. Fatuous twaddle about America’s inevitable future as the world’s new energy superpower took the place of serious discussions of the predicament into which we’ve backed ourselves—and not for the first time, either. That’s what makes the attempt to get Druids to invest their life savings in fracking so funny, in a bleak sort of way: it’s an attempt to do for the fracking boom what the fracking boom attempted to do for industrial civilization as a whole—to pretend, in the teeth of the facts, that the unsustainable can be sustained for just a little while longer.
A few months back, I decided to celebrate this sort of thinking by way of the grand old Druid custom of satire. The Great Squirrel Case Challenge of 2015 solicited mock proposals for solving the world’s energy problems that were even nuttier than the ones in the mainstream media. That was no small challenge—a detail some of my readers pointed up by forwarding any number of clueless stories from the mainstream media loudly praising energy boondoggles of one kind or another.
I’m delighted to say, though, that the response was even better than I’d hoped for.  The contest fielded more than thirty entries, ranging from the merely very good to the sidesplittingly funny. There were two winners, one chosen by the members of the Green Wizardsforum, one chosen by me; in both cases, it was no easy choice, and if I had enough author’s copies of my new book After Progress, I’d probably just up and given prizes to all the entries, they were that good. Still, it’s my honor to announce the winners:
My choice for best squirrel case—drumroll, please—goes to Steve Morgan, for his fine gosh-wow sales prospectus for, ahem, Shares of Hydrocarbons Imported from Titan. The Green Wizards forum choice—drumroll again—goes to Jason Heppenstall for his hilarious parody of a sycophantic media story, King Solomon’s Miners. Please join me in congratulating them. (Steve and Jason, drop me a comment with your mailing addresses, marked not for posting, and I’ll get your prizes on the way.)
Their hard-won triumph probably won’t last long. In the months and years ahead, I expect to see claims even more ludicrous being taken oh-so-seriously by the mainstream media, because the alternative is to face up to just how badly we’ve bungled the opportunities of the last four decades or so and just how rough a road we have ahead of us as a result. What gave the fracking bubble whatever plausibility it ever had, after all, was the way it fed on one of the faith-based credos at the heart of contemporary popular culture: the insistence, as pervasive as it is irrational, that the universe is somehow obligated to hand us abundant new energy sources to replace the ones we’ve already used so profligately. Lacking that blind faith, it would have been obvious to everyone—as it was to those of us in the peak oil community—that the fracking industry was scraping the bottom of the barrel and pretending that this proved the barrel was full.
Read the morning news with eyes freed from the deathgrip of the conventional wisdom and it’s brutally obvious that that’s what happened, and that the decline and fall of our civilization is well under way. Here in the US, a quarter of the country is in the fourth year of record drought, with snowpack on California’s Sierra Nevada mountains about 9% of normal; the Gulf Stream is slowing to a crawl due to the rapid melting of the Greenland ice sheets; permanent joblessness and grinding poverty have become pervasive in this country; the national infrastructure is coming apart after decades of malign neglect—well, I could go on; if you want to know what life is like in a falling civilization, go look out the window.
In the mainstream media, on the occasions when such things are mentioned at all, they’re treated as disconnected factoids irrelevant to the big picture. Most people haven’t yet grasped that these things arethe big picture—that while we’re daydreaming about an assortment of shiny futures that look more or less like the present with more toys, climate change, resource depletion, collapsing infrastructure, economic contraction, and the implosion of political and cultural institutions are creating the future we’re going to inhabit. Too many of us suffer from a weird inability to imagine a future that isn’t simply a continuation of the present, even when such a future stands knocking at our own front doors.
So vast a failure of imagination can’t be overcome by the simple expedient of pointing out the ways that it’s already failed to explain the world in which we live. That said, there are other ways to break the grip of the conventional wisdom, and I’m pleased to say that one of those other ways seems to be making modest but definite headway just now.
Longtime readers here will remember that in 2011, this blog launched a contest for short stories about the kind of future we can actually expect—a future in which no deus ex machina saves industrial civilization from the exhaustion of its resource base, the deterioration of the natural systems that support it, and the normal process of decline and fall. That contest resulted in an anthology, After Oil: SF Stories of a Post-Petroleum Future, which found a surprisingly large audience. On the strength of its success, I ran a second contest in 2014, which resulted in two more volumes—After Oil 2: The Years of Crisis, which is now available, and After Oil 3: The Years of Rebirth, which is in preparation. Demand for the original volume has remained steady, and the second is selling well; after a conversation with the publisher, I’m pleased to announce that we’re going to do it again, with a slight twist.
The basic rules are mostly the same as before:
Stories should be between 2500 and 7500 words in length; They should be entirely the work of their author or authors, and should not borrow characters or setting from someone else’s work;They should be in English, with correct spelling, grammar and punctuation; They should be stories—narratives with a plot and characters—and not simply a guided tour of some corner of the future as the author imagines it; They should be set in our future, not in an alternate history or on some other planet;They should be works of realistic fiction or science fiction, not magical or supernatural fantasy—that is, the setting and story should follow the laws of nature as those are presently understood;They should take place in settings subject to thermodynamic, ecological, and economic limits to growth; and as before,They must not rely on “alien space bats”—that is, dei ex machina inserted to allow humanity to dodge the consequences of the limits to growth. (Aspiring authors might want to read the whole “Alien Space Bats” post for a more detailed explanation of what I mean here; reading the stories from one or both of the published After Oil volumes might also be a good plan.)
This time, though, I’m adding an additional rule:
Stories submitted for this contest must be set at least one thousand years in the future—that is, after March 25, 3015 in our calendar.
That’s partly a reflection of a common pattern in entries for the two previous contests, and partly something deeper. The common pattern? A great many authors submitted stories that were set during or immediately after the collapse of industrial civilization; there’s certainly room for those, enough so that the entire second volume is basically devoted to them, but tales of surviving decline and fall are only a small fraction of the galaxy of potential stories that would fit within the rules listed above.  I’d like to encourage entrants to consider telling something different, at least this time.
The deeper dimension? That’s a reflection of the blindness of the imagination discussed earlier in this post, the inability of so many people to think of a future that isn’t simply a prolongation of the present. Stories set in the immediate aftermath of our civilization don’t necessarily challenge that, and I think it’s high time to start talking about futures that are genuinely other—neither utopia nor oblivion, but different, radically different, from the linear extrapolations from the present that fill so many people’s imaginations these days, and have an embarrassingly large role even in science fiction.
You have to read SF from more than a few decades back to grasp just how tight the grip of a single linear vision of the future has become on what used to be a much more freewheeling literature of ideas. In book after book, and even more in film after film, technologies that are obviously derived from ours, ideologies that are indistinguishable from ours, political and economic arrangements that could pass for ours, and attitudes and ideas that belong to this or that side of today’s cultural struggles get projected onto the future as though they’re the only imaginable options. This takes place even when there’s very good reason to think that the linear continuation of current trends isn’t an option at all—for example, the endlessly regurgitated, done-to-death trope of interstellar travel.
Let us please be real:  we aren’t going to the stars—not in our lifetimes, not in the lifetime of industrial civilization, not in the lifetime of our species. There are equally  good thermodynamic and economic reasons to believe that many of the other standard tropes of contemporary science fiction are just as unreachable—that, for example, limitless energy from gimmicks of the dilithium-crystal variety, artificial intelligences capable of human or superhuman thought, and the like belong to fantasy, not to the kind of science fiction that has any likelihood of becoming science fact. Any of my readers who want to insist that human beings can create anything they can imagine, by the way, are welcome to claim that, just as soon as they provide me with a working perpetual motion machine.
It’s surprisingly common to see people insist that the absence of the particular set of doodads common to today’s science fiction would condemn our descendants to a future of endless boredom. This attitude shows a bizarre stunting of the imagination—not least because stories about interstellar travel normally end up landing the protagonists in a world closely modeled on some past or present corner of the Earth. If our genus lasts as long as the average genus of vertebrate megafauna, we’ve got maybe ten million years ahead of us, or roughly two thousand times as long as all of recorded human history to date: more than enough time for human beings to come up with a dazzling assortment of creative, unexpected, radically differentsocieties, technologies, and ways of facing the universe and themselves.
That’s what I’d like to see in submissions to this year’s Space Bats challenge—yes, it’ll be an annual thing from here on out, as long as the market for such stories remains lively. A thousand years from now, industrial civilization will be as far in the past as the Roman Empire was at the time of the Renaissance, and new human societies will have arisen to pass their own judgment on the relics of our age. Ten thousand years from now, or ten million? Those are also options. Fling yourself into the far future, far enough that today’s crises are matters for the history books, or tales out of ancient myth, or forgotten as completely as the crises and achievements of the Neanderthal people are today, and tell a story about human beings (or, potentially, post-human beings) confronting the challenges of their own time in their own way. Do it with verve and a good readable style, and your story may be be one of the ones chosen to appear in the pages of After Oil 4:  The Future’s Distant Shores.
The mechanics are pretty much the same as before. Write your story and post it to the internet—if you don’t have a blog, you can get one for free from Blogspot or Wordpress. Post a link to it in the comments to The Archdruid Report. You can write more than one story, but please let me know which one you want entered in the competition—there will be only one entry accepted per author this time. Stories must be written and posted online, and a link posted to this blog, by August 30, 2015 to be eligible for inclusion in the anthology.
Categories: Peak oil news

Oil-sector investment in Canada may never again hit 2014 peak, report says - The Globe and Mail

Peak Oil - Google - 26 March 2015 - 10:40am

The Globe and Mail

Oil-sector investment in Canada may never again hit 2014 peak, report says
The Globe and Mail
In a grim report on the state of the oil industry, the Conference Board of Canada forecast that capital spending will decline by 20 per cent this year and may never recover to the high-water mark of $56-billion hit last year. The industry can expect ...
Investment by Canadian oil firms may never again hit 2014 peak, report saysbnn.ca
Canada able to weather 'oil-price storm'Saskatoon StarPhoenix
CANADA FX DEBT-C$ flat as oil holds steady, but weakness eyedReuters
Toronto Star -Calgary Herald
all 146 news articles »

Platitudes, Hypocrisies and “Pimpocracy”

The Daily Reckoning - 26 March 2015 - 8:16am

This post Platitudes, Hypocrisies and “Pimpocracy” appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Let’s take a look at how the US economy, money and government have changed since President Nixon ended the gold-backed monetary system in 1971.

It is not pretty.

We already know about the money. Since 1971, it’s been a credit-based, not a gold-based, system.

The pre-1971 economy had three key characteristics:

  1. It was healthy — Industry made things and sold them at a profit.
  2. It was fair — Financial progress was fairly evenly distributed.
  3. It was solvent — The US was a creditor, not a debtor, nation.

Americans still say they believe in free markets, democracy and financial rectitude. But only as platitudes and hypocrisies.

America’s industries have largely been shipped over to China and other lower-cost producers in the emerging world.

That didn’t “just happen.” The Fed’s EZ money financed it. American consumers borrowed to spend more than they could afford. Walmart met their desires (if not their needs) with “Everyday Low Prices,” courtesy of low-paid Chinese workers.

This sent US dollars to China. The Chinese used the profits to build even more, and better, factories. Pity the American businessman who tried to compete. He was overwhelmed.

He had to pay wages 10 times higher than the Chinese. He also had to bow to regulations — tax, environment, labor, diverse bullying — that left him hobbled and fettered.

There’s not much left of America’s industrial economy. Seventy percent of the US economy is made up of consumer spending. Manufacturing has fallen to just 12% of the economy… down from 24% in 1971. And it’s now the main source of wealth in only seven states.

The deindustrialization of the US is blamed for the slipping wages of low- and middle-class Americans. So is immigration. And robots.

“It’s not unfair,” say the people who caused it. “It’s just the free market.”

But the free market was one of the first casualties of the post-1971 fiat money period.

In a free market, people earn money by working (income) or by saving and investing it (capital growth).

But credit-based money needed neither work nor saving; you just had to know the right people. Private banks, aided and abetted by the Federal Reserve, could create as much credit money as they pleased and feed it to their cronies on Wall Street.

The new money was then transformed as miraculously as water into wine.

For the privileged insiders it was almost free; the Fed made sure of that. But for consumers, it became a heavy burden of debt.

And for the economy, it became an inflation mechanism for financial bubbles.

The most recent blew when the banking and mortgage industries (part owned by the feds by way of Fannie and Freddie) lent trillions of dollars to homebuyers, who ended up with debt they couldn’t afford for houses they didn’t need.

In 1995, the subprime loan market was about $65 billion. By 2007, it had ballooned to $1.3 trillion — a 1,900% increase.

When the house of cards collapsed in 2008, the feds moved fast. Not to help the homeowners, but to bail out Wall Street — the most reckless risk-takers in subprime debt — and the most incompetent of the big automakers, too.

Wages rise as workers become more productive. Increases in productivity require capital investment (in training, new technology, new materials, etc.). This makes new savings possible. These new savings become the source of new capital investment.

But in the 1980s and 1990s, the US savings rate fell.

Why bother to save when you can get phony money from the Fed-controlled banks?

Besides, the Fed made sure interest rates stayed ultra-low. This made credit more attractive, as the cost of carrying debt fell. It also made saving money less attractive, as interest rates on savings also fell.

Fewer savings led to less investment in the factories, warehouses, new companies and new technologies that produce real “breadwinner” jobs.

Why bother taking the risk growing your business into new markets when you can just borrow from the Fed and buy your own shares?

Why bother to start a new small business at all, when all the credit goes to big, entrenched ones?

For most working-class Americans, real earnings peaked in the mid-1970s. Since then, it has been downhill. The rich get richer. The poor and middle classes go further into debt to try to keep up.

Since the credit crisis of 2008, nearly 100% of the asset price gains went to the top 10% of the population. This was no accident. The Fed put its credit machine to work for the rich — heating up asset prices, but leaving the rest of the economy cold.

Now the US is the world’s biggest debtor. Not relative to GDP. That title goes to Japan. But it is still a distinction worth noting: The US went from the world’s biggest credit to its biggest debt in little more than a single generation.

What to make of it? The natural process of history? A fluke?

We don’t think so. It is the result of public policy decisions made by the hacks, hangers-on and has-beens who gain the most from them.

There were no popular debates. There were no votes. Small but powerful elites created the fiat dollar, the TARP, ZIRP and QE. They were also responsible for Washington’s spending, regulation and tax decisions. That these creations favored the same elites was more than a coincidence.

Our old friend Jim Davidson calls it a “pimpocracy.” At least streetwalkers give value for money, he says. The pimps don’t. They take advantage of the prostitutes… and the johns too.

Today, we simply note that cheap money has done what it always does: undermine the economy and the society that hosts it.

It can even happen when you have a gold-backed monetary system.

The Roman Empire was an early victim. When it made a conquest, the easy money — the captured booty and slave labor — came back to Rome and raised prices. Slave labor reduced wages for free workers. And the stolen property competed with locally made goods. This weakened Rome’s domestic economy.

Spain repeated the trick in the 16th century. Gold came back from the New World in such quantities that Spaniards found they could live off the easy money.

They found a mountain of silver at Potosí in Bolivia and put slaves to work, night and day, mining it. Prices rose sharply throughout Europe. And when the easy money came to an end, the Spanish economy collapsed.

It didn’t recover until Spain joined the European Union in 1986.

Regards,

Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. I originally posted this essay, right here.

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The post Platitudes, Hypocrisies and “Pimpocracy” appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - Bowe Bergdahl Charged With Desertion

The Market Ticker - 26 March 2015 - 6:35am

Good:

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier who was recovered in Afghanistan last spring after five years in captivity, faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, according to his lawyer.

I didn't buy the story that he was "captured" from the start, given that it appears he mailed various items he would need if remaining on duty home just before being "captured."  That, for me, was the smoking gun.

The news conference should be interesting.

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - Recovery: Not Durable

The Market Ticker - 26 March 2015 - 6:31am

Oh my....

New orders for manufactured durable goods in February decreased $3.2 billion or 1.4 percent to $231.3 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This decrease, down three of the last four months, followed a 2.0 percent January increase. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.4 percent. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 1.0 percent.

Transportation equipment, also down three of the last four months, led the decrease, $2.5 billion or 3.5 percent to $69.5 billion.

Shipments of manufactured durable goods in February, down four of the last five months, decreased $0.5 billion or 0.2 percent to $244.0 billion. This followed a 1.4 percent January decrease.

There's nothing.......

(Click link to read more)

Categories: Economics
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