Tuesday, April 15, 2008

SAR #8107

The real causes of global warming are waste and greed.
Wendell Barry

Peeking At Peak : Russian oil production has peaked and output fell 1% during the last quarter while prices and internal consumption rose quickly. The world’s biggest oil producers cannot keep up with demand. Russian production will follow the North Sea and Cantarell pattern of dramatic production decline. This does not bode well for our oil-based civilization. Go to The Oil Drum and educate yourself on Peak Oil and the Export Land Model.

Mountain Climbing: Scientists have succeed in using lasers to trigger lighting in passing thunder storms; apparently just to see if they could.

Quick Counts: Retailers closing stores: Foot Locker, Zales, Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Wilsons Leather,Pacific Sunwear. Seeking bankruptcy: Levitz, Shaper Image, Linens 'n Things, Wickes, Fortunoff, Harvey Electrnics, Lillian Vernon, Bombay, Domain. Curtailing expansion: JC Penny, Lowe's, Office Depot.

Good News/Bad News: The good news is that retail sales were up last month. The bad news is the increased sales were all at the gas pump - we're paying more and buying less. But it's not inflation; gasoline doesn't count!

Curves Ahead: Food shortages and steep price increases pose a greater threat to economic and political stability than the current credit problems. The food crisis poses questions about the survivability of political regimes and the concept of democratic government. People are starving, more will starve. This problem is not going to go away. We drive, they starve.

Swarming: Oregon's Hatfield Marine Science Center recorded more than 600 earthquakes in the last 10 days. The series of earthquakes does not fit the usual pattern of a big shock and a declining series of smaller ones. Something is certainly thrashing around down there.

More Joy: Moody's reports that credit card charge-offs and delinquency rates continue to rise. Can't pay the mortgage, can't pay the Visa bill, can't hardly wait for my $600 check to make all this go away.

Words are Words: Wachovia CEO Ken Thompson, "What we are seeing is that when equity in the home approaches zero, behavior changes." VP Don Truslow adds: "When a borrower crosses the 100% loan to value, their propensity to just default and stop paying their mortgage rises dramatically and I mean really accelerates." Forgot to mention mailing in the keys, Don.

For The Birds: In less than 25 years eastern Australia's shorebird population has dropped by 75%. New Zealand's resident shorebird population has suffered the same massive collapse. Both due to destruction of wetlands by the usual suspects.

Am-bush-ed: With the rise in retail bankruptcies, someone should tell the kids at the checkout that come the day they are third in line to be paid. Uncle Sam is always first and thanks to the Republican 2005 improvement in the bankruptcy law, suppliers come second. If there's anything left after a year or two of bankruptcy proceedings, the employees get paid. And Uncle Sam gets his cut of that, too.

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