Thursday, December 15, 2011

SAR #11347

Food shortages are self-correcting.

The Plot Thus Far: Washington needs to pass & sign a $1 trillion funding bill to keep the government operating beyond this weekend. The GOP-majority House wants to pas the bill. The White House doesn't like their version. The Democrats are afraid that if they pass the bill, the GOP will go home for Christmas without doing anything about the expiring payroll tax cut for 160 million working Americans and the expiring extended employment benefits for a few million unemployed Americans. To make the Democrats think twice about extending the tax cut and the unemployment benefits, the Republicans have larded that bill with a provision to shorten the “extended” extension of benefits, plus significant curbs on EPA authority, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, increases in how much loot Doctor-owned hospitals can steal from Medicare, an increase in Medicare premiums on the well-off, and permission for the states to require drug tests of all unemployment benefit applicants – most of which the Democrats will choke on. So, let's see who crumbles first.

Protesting Too Much? Bernanke is 'very concerned' about Europe, but seems to have gone out of his way to make it perfectly clear that the Fed cannot and will not provide bailout funds to European banks, claiming it has neither the money nor the authority to do so. It is also not going to sneak money to European banks under the table as it has before via the IMF. Which is just as well because the Republicans are going to try to geld the IMF.

Stand on a Chair: The latest ECB plan for putting off doing anything useful calls for all of the EU countries to export their way to prosperity. To whom all this exporting will be directed was unclear.

Best Friends Forever: Iran says that the Saudis have promised not to ramp up their production to make up any shortage in the market caused by an international embargo on Iranian oil. In that Iran and Saudi Arabia are pretty much the Hatfields and the McCoys, perhaps this is another way of saying Saudi Arabia cannot meaningfully increase its current production for any sustained period.

Silence: Gold dropped like a lead weight today, probably due to panicked liquidation in anticipation of pending margin calls as Europe swirls around the drain. While nobody can predict the future, Citi predicts gold will reach $3400 "in the next two years" and maybe go as high as $6,000. Especially if you buy your gold through them.

Due Diligence: The nuclear lobby says that "nuclear power remains an indispensable part of the US energy mix" and there should be no over-reaction to the Japanese experience. No, no, we should wait for our own disaster before deciding how safe nukes are.

Emperor/Clothes: Set aside all the ballyhoo about shale gas and salvation and check out the books. Is there any fracking operation that is producing gas profitably? Is there any light on the horizon to suggest that they will produce natural gas profitably next year? In ten years? Ever? how expensive does natural gas have to be before an actual real-world profit shows up and can pay off the costs, including financing?

Squaring the Circle: OPEC has increased its production ceiling to 30mbd, the first increase in three years. This simply acknowledges what has been a fact for some time, as the OPEC nations routinely ignore their quotas. On the other hand, 30mbd seems to be all they can produce anyway. Even when Libya's production dropped off the market, OPEC kept producing about 30mbd, which suggests that that's all folks.

Do As I Say... Doctors don’t die like the rest of us. They seek far less “end of life” treatment than most Americans. But then, they know what medicine can and cannot do and accept that a good death is better than dying in pain amid heroic but doomed measures.

1 comment:

kwark said...

RE "Due Diligence": The nuclear "industry" in this country has enjoyed 60+ years of corporate welfare and a cozy relationship with regulators. Given that the same is true of the nuclear industry in Japan, I'd say that it is entirely reasonable to conclude that the systemic problems revealed by the disaster in Fukushima describe an industry here and abroad that is so corrupt and sociopathic that it would be best to eliminate it altogether.