Saturday, February 23, 2008

SAR #8055

Those who think military spending will decrease
after Iraq have not been paying attention.

Hush Money: Bank of America secretly has asked Congress for a bailout for troubled banks reaching far beyond the $200 billion the S&Ls owners got from Reagan, perhaps as much as $739 billion. But, they are quick to point out, "We believe that any intervention by the federal government will be acceptable only if it is not perceived as a bailout of the bond market." They also said they would manage this project for only a few hundred million a year.

Our Daily Bread: Flour costs posted in an Ottawa bakery: August 2007 - $23.92 February 2008 - $60.48 for 40 kilo. For the math challenged, that's about a 250% increase.

Falling Demand: Markets are ruled, we are told, by supply and demand. Indonesia has decided to cut its demand for crude oil by 1.5 million barrels a day because "crude oil is so expensive." This is called "demand destruction."

Fire and Ice, Revised: Which will get us first, global warming or peak oil? I'm inclined to think that we will burn up the fossil fuel as fast as possible (see yesterday's Coal-to-Liquid rant), crash our economy, then face the decades of disaster without the economic strength to do anything. Which form of suicide do you favor?

Petro the Great: Russia, the worlds 1st or 2nd oil producer (they alternate with the Saudis), is concerned about the decline in its oil production. Their 9% GDP growth rate gobbles up oil quickly. Less production, more consumption, much less for export.

Closed Circle: Our dependence on biological production is absolute. World cereal production per person peaked in the 1980s, and has since slowly decreased. There are two limiting factors. One is phosphate: it is not clear where future reserves might lie. But the more immediate problem is water. Water scarcity, already acute in many regions, will get worse.

Civilization: We live in a world where almost ten million children under five years old die every year from preventable causes. Five million people were killed in the Congo over the last decade; no one in the developed world noticed. People all over the planet are suffering, and no one is coming to their aid. It's an uncaring world, and the sun will come up tomorrow.

Head On: Sub-prime losses cost the bankers $160 billion. "Prime" mortgages defaults will top $320 billion, plus another $300 billion in "Alt-A" and "Interest-Only" defaults. Now 'securitized' credit card debt looks iffy and the car repo business is picking up. Take two aspirin and call your broker in the morning.

Just Say No: Can we stabilize climate in the future? Halfway measures won’t do. To stabilize our planet’s climate, we need to kick the carbon habit altogether. No more coal fired power plants, no more natural gas warmed homes, no more gasoline powered cars, trucks, tractors, planes. If we did that today, the temperature will still be elevated in 2500. Why bother?

Proportion: A $1.2 billion B-2 Stealth bomber crashed in Guam. Thankfully the crew safely ejected. Earlier the Administration canceled the Carbon Capture and Sequestration project (which might just save our economy and slow global warming) in order to save $250 million.

Success, Sort of: Last year, with little more than a "there, that's done" attitude, the Chinese destroyed a satellite in space. With great fanfare, we managed the feat this year. Did anyone note in the flag waving when we, with great fanfare, did it last week, that the worlds only superpower was following in China's footprints?

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