Friday, August 28, 2009

SAR #9240

Reality makes things difficult.

Bare Bottoms: In many locations, house prices seem to have bottomed, along with permits, starts, and sales. But the $8,000 gift is still having an effect and mortgage rates are still very low, so walk softly. with the forecast rise in foreclosures in mid to upper priced houses, the increasing delinquency rates and the falling 'cure' rates, expect it to be a bumpy bottom. Try to hold your breath until Christmas. Christmas 2010 or 2011.

Danger, Will Robinson: Next year the IRS may limit 401k contributions to $16,000 – just about half of an average worker's income.

If, Then... If, as seems apparent, Madoff “paid people to look the other way”, wouldn't at least some of them be in positions of authority? Can you spell 'co-conspirators'?

Ripple: Unemployment insurance claims decreased a little less than 2% last week, but let's hold off on the celebration – 570,000 new claims is still 570,000 former breadwinners.

Biggest Bubble: Government debt. Like those securities based on sub-prime mortgages for chipboard hourse, the Treasury is rushing to issue bonds that, like the houses, may soon be underwater.

Coda: Over the last 150 years, a small portion of humanity has managed to squander half a billion yeas of stored sunlight. This gave us – the tiny minority - a hundred years of abundance, while robbing everyone else of any chance that they would now, or ever, enjoy that same comfort and abundance.

Trifecta: Yemen is running out of oil, running out of water, and over-run with Shite militants, al Qaeda terrorists and discontented citizens. Think of it as a preview.

I'm With Him: “Our view is that the recession is not over, and that the Fed and Treasury have merely papered over the substantial problems that remain, while alleviating the short term credit crunch issues with absolutely massive injections of liquidity directly into the banks.”

Clunk: Early signs suggest that overall car sales are falling dramatically now that the bribery has ended.

Mite-y Powerful: The collapse of honey bee colonies is now being traced to the variola mite which carries a picorna-like virus which in turn damages bee's RNA to the point that it cannot produce the proteins the bee needs to survive.

Between the Lines: Today China uses 8 mbd of oil, about 10% of the world's supply. The US uses some 20 mbd, about 25% of the supply. China has 4 times as many people as the US. If China grows to use half as much oil per person as the US does, it will need 50% of today's output. For the usual prize, explain how this is going to be resolved peacefully.

Old Fashioned: While the big investment banks got in trouble through derivatives and off-book vehicles, most of those that show up in the Friday Failure list got there the old fashioned way – they made a lot of very bad loans. A lot of these questionable loans were in commercial real estate – and they are just starting to domino.

Journal : Sometimes it's good to be reminded of calm and reason. And sometimes there's desert.


K Ackermann said...

China went right to heart of the issue when they knocked out a couple of their own satellites with a plain old kinetic weapon. With minimal cost and drama, they gave notice that any theatre warfare against them in the future will be done without the use of satellites.

Ironically, duking it out over oil would probably consume what was left to fight for.

I try to stay a realist, but the science buff in me still dreams sometimes...


Nature has built an automaton that can negotiate 3-D space at incredible speeds and g-forces for its size. It can land on ceilings, fight in midair, avoid moving objects, and self replicate in massive numbers. Its offspring are little maggots. It can do all this on a few specks of sugar or poop, or whatever it is that flies eat.

Its efficiency must be off the charts compared to anything we can manufacture.

I occasionally ride my Tennessee Walker to the store if I just need a pack of smokes of a pop. Buddy's getting old, and the 3 mile walk (round trip) does him good.

The last time I took him, I was thinking about the fact that I was in pretty good shape if the supply of oil was cut off tomorrow.

I figured I would build a buggy for my horses. It wouldn't be just any ol' buggy. It would be covered, have WiFi, a nice stereo, and maybe even a racing stripe down the side.

I would use my buggy to pick up local produce and other goods to deliver to the market where I purchase fuel cells, solar panels, copper tubing for heat pumps, and whatnot.

On my commute time, I would work on the design of a standard rechargeable power pack to drive unconventional machines, such as tillers, using electricity.

When I really start thinking about it, the opertunities are so plentiful, that a part of me wouldn't mind at all.

I could market my buggies to teenagers as the perfect date vehicle. Plenty of time for necking on the ride, and if it gets even more heavy, you can always blame it on the horse when you get her home late.

Bill said...

Coda: Anyone can play Monday morning quarterback, but you and Greer don't even do that; you both piss and moan about how much we have squandered, but offer no thoughts regarding what should have been done.

I'm seriously curious as to your thoughts on the path that should have been taken.

Better yet, rather than looking backward for scapegoats, we need to look forward for answers. I wish I were smart enough to know what to do.

All that I can offer is that, unless Thomas Gold is proven correct, it's going to be a very difficult transition from our current economy to one that doesn't rely on oil. The sooner the children inside the Beltway stop playing silly political games solely to distract the public, and start focusing on our energy strategy, the better.

K Ackermann said...

What would be the value of the following if we already had it in place. Let's just pretend it exists for a moment:

An elevated platform snakes its way along the eastern seaboard. On the top side of this platform are north/south commuter rail lines, possibly maglev, certainly electric.

The first unique feature of this train is that from any passenger's perspective, once they have boarded the train, it will run high speed, non-stop to their destination, no matter where on the line it is. It's non stop for everyone on the train, even though they all have different stops. It sounds crazy, but it's really quite simple, and I'll get back to it in a minute.

The next thing about this system is that hanging below the platform are 2 additional north south "tracks". This system is strictly for cargo, and consists of autonomous carriers that can hold a standard container. A truck pulls into a designated loading bay which would be a siding off the main platform. They would then summon a carrier that is either already waiting, or the closest empty one is dispatched. The container would automatically get lifted up and secured to the carrier. The destination would be accepted, and the carrier would negotiate its way onto the main line. All carriers on the main line travel at a constant speed, so arrival times are predictable to the millisecond. Nothing stops on the main line. Everything exits to a siding.

Now, the entire system is powered by a couple of nuclear reactors, and the excess electricity is given away freely to companies that locate near, or even on the system. Sidings could run right through factories.
Another incentive to locate would be the availability of special hazardous/toxic waste containers and carriers, and a reprocessing plant for the most common types of industrial sump.

Back to the commuter train... passengers get on a car that is idle at a station (which is also a siding off the main line). When a high-speed train is some distance from the station, the car will leave the siding and accelerate onto the main line. It will keep accelerating until it's speed is just barely slower than the train running up behind it, and they meet when their speeds are matched.
In the meantime, as that car was leaving the siding and entering the main line, the last car on the train decoupled, and began a slow deceleration where it will replace the car that just left the station, and disembark the passengers that wanted to get off at that stop.

So the requirement would be that once a car was coupled to a train, you would have to walk back to the right car that would be the last one for your stop. Signs and announcements could advise.

People would also get the benefit of millisecond timing once on the main line.

The system would essentially be a river that flowed in both directions at once - and real fast at that. It would be nothing to work 200 miles away from where you lived if the train went 300mph.

It would play host to a super efficient supply chain, where industries could local serially, processing raw materials, and onto finish products ending at a sea terminal.

The costs of dealing with pollution would be aggregated.
If a system like that were in place today, we would rock.

Oh, it's also expandable to rest of the country.

Anonymous said...

the china-america-oil-maths is wrong.

Anonymous said...

or not.

Jim said...

all these ideas are too high tech, with the inevitible consequence of extending our population overshoot. The only real solutions are low tech, using fewer resources and more labor....

fajensen said...

China is slowly easing out of the USD circus:

IMO - The Chinese are restricting exports of what I would call "feeder materials" that are essential in making almost everything that the world has come to depend on because they want to keep the value inside China instead of paper guaranteed by specious promises made by US government officials.

Coke and Phosphorous is used in the manufacture of metals from ore and - interestingly perhaps - also in the manufacture of high explosives from fossil fuels. The rare earths are basically the pixie dust that makes all modern technology possible: Magnets, Ferrite, LED's, superconductors, solar panels ... everything!

The USD will become the New Ruble:

Valid tender amongst "friends and allies" - which are happy to take it in fair trade at gunpoint - the rest of the world, which see it as a joke and the general population who trade amongst themselves in foreign currency (or spirits/tobacco) yet pay their tax in New Ruble.

Happened to the Romans too b.t.w. Even before they had economists to advice on how to best screw the economy up they could do it!

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