Wednesday, February 20, 2008

SAR #8052

Access to energy is a prerequisite to human development.
Fatih Birol

Yogi Berra Memorial Prize! Headline: Forget about crude going to $100 a barrel. "Despite oil's record high last week, forget about crude going to $100 a barrel. Prices have already dropped about 7 percent since last week, and are likely to fall even more in the coming years. That's the consensus of analysts, who say rising production, the advent of biofuels, and conservation measures will likely lead to oil prices in the $20 to $60 range by 2015." CNN, August 7, 2007.

Pull the Other One: George "Supreme Court" Bush, on Castro's retirement, urged Cuba to let citizens chose the future, "and I mean free and fair, not those staged elections the Castro brothers try to foist off on the people." Then he offered to lend them Ohio's voting machines.

Pawn Shop: Citibank is selling off its assets. Their office building in Japan went for $450 million. If you'd like to bid on their Brazilian credit card business, make an offer in the $600 million range. Maybe less, these people really need to raise some cash. Maybe a pawn shop across the street from 399 Park Ave...

How High Is Up? The IPCC thinks it is "very unlikely" that the Gulf Stream (North Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation) will collapse during this century. They also didn't think Greenland was melting as fast as it is, nor that the Arctic would soon be ice free either. Would you get on a plane if there was "only" a 10% chance it would crash? And what about soon after 2100? Are we like the person who has just jumped off a cliff, taking comfort that the next few seconds are going to be pain free and not worried about the long term outlook?

Double Reverse: The US, Bush says, is not planning to build new military bases in Africa and played down the risk of rivalry with China for influence on the continent. Naming rights for the base will go to the reader first correctly identifying the country where these bases will be built, ours and theirs.

Staking a Claim : Industry expert (i.e. banker) Michael Lynch of Strategic Energy and Economic Research says that the price of gasoline will not be affected by crude oil's rapid climb to $100 a barrel. "It's a psychological thing," he said, "like finding a bat and getting scared and then you realize, it's just a mouse with wings." So's a vampire.

Call Him Smokey: Credit problems continue to spread, not just through other ranks of mortgages, but also commercial real estate, muni bonds, and credit derivatives. is sweeping through the banking/investment business very quickly and more securities are going under. Treasury Secretary Paulson called the sub-prime defaults "a spark in a dry forest." That makes him and Bernanke smoke-jumpers.

Next Stop, Brooklyn: In Western Bohemia, between December 5th and January 11th, someone stole a 4 ton iron railway bridge. Bet they wondered why the train was so late.

Ugly Betty: China is building a coal-to-liquid plant in Inner Mongolia, with many more to come. The ultimate insult to the environment, right on time and right where it was expected. US Coal companies are just waiting for the phone to ring and get invited to the dance. I told you we weren't going to do anything about global warming except make it worse.

Future Shock: V___ , a medium sized city, will be broke by June. The usual suspects:City salaries are too high and pension plans, especially for the police and fire departments, are too generous.. The tax base (property values) is falling and the citizens are unwilling to be taxed at higher rates. The city needs capital improvements but is unable to afford new bonds. Payments on old bonds are coming due with no money to pay them. Just put in the name of a different city each week and speed read.

Trivia: The 8 warmest years on record all occurred in the last decade. For 7 of the last 8 years, the world has consumed more grain than it produced. Grain stocks are now at a historic low. Twenty percent of the US grain harvest is now being turned into fuel ethanol.

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