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Sanctions and Sanity: Be Careful What You Wish For: The US is trying to stop Iran from selling oil on the world market. Iran exports about 2 mbd of the approximately 40 mbd that are available for export/purchase. If the available oil drops 5%, past experience suggests that the price of petroleum will increase ten times that – to $150 a barrel. A $1 increase in the price of petroleum leads to a 2.5 cent increase in the cost of a gallon of gasoline in the US. So the US government is, in effect, trying to harm Iran by driving the price of gasoline up $1.25 a gallon for the US customer. How long will petroleum stay above $145 a barrel before the US surrenders?
Plan B: The plan to save Europe is simple: Austerity. And if that doesn't work, more austerity. And when that doesn't work, yet more austerity (and maybe some jackboots). The only thing likely to end the reign of terror will be blood in the streets.
Motives: Canada, the nation that has missed meeting its promised reduction in carbon emissions by the widest margin, has decided to save $6.7 billion and just stop trying. Canada is not going to sign a new carbon emission limiting agreement unless the Big Three emitters (China, India and the US) do – which ain't gonna happen. The US, meanwhile, disingenuously complains that some developing nations don't see why they have to suffer for the sins of the US.
MF Portugal: Following down the path blazed by MF Global in being unable to tell 'mine' from 'yours', Portugal has stolen €5.6bn from pension funds in order to meet its deficit-level promises. Soon the Portuguese will have nothing left to lose. Soon none of us will. What then?
South of the Border: Turns out that all those illegal immigrants from Mexico took Texas' drought home with them. Beans, corn and oats are withering in the field and 1.5 million cattle have died as Northern Mexico bakes under the worst drought in 70 years.
Everything: When those who spy on the daily activities of all of us say they gather and correlate and store everything, we think of emails and cellphones and the internet. We don't think of systems that take pictures of license plates and cross reference them to DMV records and the GPS track your cellphone transmits. We certainly don't realize that our water bills are cross checked with visitor logs at museums and filed along with what we bought at the supermarket a week ago. But we should.
Place Your Bets: Goldman Sachs thinks Brent crude will go for $130 a barrel in 2013, and WTI will climb to $126, even in a low-growth environment.
Stick To Your Own Kind: The Israeli government is telling its expatriates not to marry those clueless American Jews or to raise their children in the United States if they expect to be welcomed back to the homeland. Racial purity, that's the goal – learned it from their former masters.
Discuss: Global oil production's difficulty keeping up with demand will only grow worse. The US, which imports about 60% of its oil, sends about a billion dollars a day out of the country to buy oil - the largest component of its trade deficit. The US now produces about 6 mbd and its chances of producing any significant additional amount are slim. The obvious solution would be to move the economy - especially transportation - away from petroleum and - think global warming - away from fossil fuels.
Diagnosis: The whole world has too much debt. There is no known cure. The only question is who will take most of the losses, and the answer is “the usual suspects.” Go down the hall and look in the mirror and you'll see one of 'em.
Blue Danube: Drought in the Danube river drainage has so lowered the river – one of the busiest freightways in eastern Europe – that dozens of cargo ships are stuck on sandbanks. Hydroelectric power supplies are low in Serbia, crops are stunted in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, and drinking water is becoming scarce. This is the driest this part of the world has been since record keeping began in 1775.
Porn O'Graph: Mean, very mean & long lasting.