$50 Oil Doesn’t Work

$50 per barrel oil is clearly less impossible to live with than $30 per barrel oil, because most businesses cannot make a profit with $30 per barrel oil. But is $50 per barrel oil helpful?

I would argue that it really is not.

When oil was over $100 per barrel, human beings in many countries were getting the benefit of most of that high oil price:

  • Some of the $100 per barrel goes as wages to the employees of the oil company who extracted the oil.
  • Often, the oil company contracts with another company to do part of the oil extraction. Part of the $100 per barrel is paid as wages to employees of the subcontracting companies.
  • An oil company buys many goods, such as steel pipe, which are made by others. Part of the $100 per barrel goes to employees of the companies making the goods that the oil company buys.
  • An oil company pays taxes. These taxes are used to fund many programs, including new roads, schools, and transfer payments to the elderly and unemployed. Again, these funds go to actual people, as wages, or as transfer payments to people who cannot work.
  • An oil company pays dividends to stockholders. Some of the stockholders are individuals; others are pension funds, insurance companies, and other companies. Pension funds use the dividends to make pension payments to individuals. Insurance companies use the dividends to make insurance premiums affordable. One way or another, these dividends act to create benefits for individuals.
  • Interest payments on debt go to bondholders or to the bank making the loan. Pension plans and insurance companies often own the bonds. These interest payments go to pay pension payments of individuals or to help make insurance premiums more affordable.
  • A company may have accumulated profits that are not paid out in dividends and taxes. Typically, they are reinvested in the company, allowing more people to have jobs. In some cases, the value of the stock may rise as well.

When the price falls from $100 per barrel to $50 per barrel, the incomes of many people are adversely affected. This is a huge negative with respect to world economic growth.

If the price of oil drops from $100 per barrel to $50 per barrel, this change adversely affects the income of a large share of people who formerly benefited from the high price. Thus, the drop in oil prices affects the incomes of many of the people listed in the previous section.

Furthermore, this drop in income tends to radiate outward to the rest of the economy because each worker who is laid off is forced to purchase fewer discretionary items. These workers are also less able to take on new debt, such as to buy a new car or house. In some cases, they may even default on existing debt.

A drop in oil prices from $100+ per barrel to $50 per barrel leads to job layoffs by oil companies and their subcontractors. Oil companies and their subcontractors may even reduce dividends to shareholders.

While oil prices have recently been as low as $30 per barrel, the subsequent rise in prices to $50 per barrel is not enough to start adding new production. Prices are still far too low to encourage new development.

In 2016, other commodities besides oil have a problem with price below the cost of production.

Many commodities, including coal and natural gas, are currently affected by low prices. So are many kinds of metals, and some kinds of food commodities. Thus, there is pressure in a wide range of industries to lay off workers. There are many parts of the world now feeling recessionary forces.

As prices fall, the pressure is for high-cost producers to drop out. As this happens, the world’s ability to make goods and services falls. The size of the world economy tends to shrink. This shrinkage is clearly not good for a world economy that needs to grow in order for investors to earn a profit, and in order for debtors to repay debt with interest.

Growing demand comes from a combination of increasing wages and increasing debt.

The recent drop in oil prices from the $100+ level seems to come from inadequate demand for oil. This is equivalent to saying that oil at such a high price has not been affordable for a significant share of buyers. We can understand what might have gone wrong, by thinking about how demand for oil might be increased.

Clearly, one way of increasing demand is through increased productivity of workers. If this increased productivity allows wages to rise, this increased productivity can cycle back through the economy as increased demand for goods and services. We can think of the process as an “economic growth pump” that allows continued economic growth.

Generally, increased productivity of workers reflects the use of more capital goods, such as machines, vehicles, and buildings. These capital goods are made using energy products, and operate using energy products. Thus, energy consumption is an important part of the economic growth pump. These capital goods are frequently financed using debt, so debt is another important part of the economic growth pump.

Even apart from the debt necessary for financing capital goods, another way of increasing demand is by adding more debt. If a company adds more debt, it can often hire more workers and can add to its holdings of property. These also help raise the output of the company. As long as the output that is added is sufficiently productive that it can repay the added debt with interest, adding more debt tends to enhance the workings of the economic growth pump.

The way governments have attempted to encourage the use of increased debt in recent years is by decreasing interest rates. The reason this approach is used is because with a lower interest rate, a broader range of investments can seem to be profitable, after repaying debt with interest. Even very “iffy” investments, such as extraction of tight oil from the Bakken, can appear to be profitable.

The extent of the decrease in interest rates since 1981 has been amazingly large.

Figure 1. Ten year treasury interest rates, based on St. Louis Fed data.

Figure 1. Ten year treasury interest rates, based on St. Louis Fed data.

Since 2008, additional steps have been taken to decrease interest rates even further. One of these is the use of Quantitative Easing. Another is the recent use of negative interest rates in Europe and Japan.

Falling demand would seem to suggest that the world’s economic growth pump is no longer working properly. This is happening, even with all of the post-1981 manipulations of interest rates to reduce the cost of borrowed capital, and thus reduce the required threshold for profitability of new investments.

What could cause the economic growth pump to stop working?

One possibility is that accumulated debt reaches too high a level, based on historical parameters. This seems to be happening now in many parts of the world.

Another thing that could go wrong is that the price of oil rises so high that capital goods based on oil are no longer cost effective for leveraging human labor. If this happens, manufacturing is likely to move to countries that use a cheaper mix of fuels, typically including more coal. The shift of manufacturing to China seems to reflect such a change.

A third thing that could go wrong is that pollution becomes too great a problem, forcing a country to slow down economic growth. This seems to be at least part of China’s current problem.

If oil prices drop from $100 to $50 per barrel, this has an adverse impact on debt levels.

With lower oil prices, workers are laid off, both from oil companies and from companies that provide goods and services to oil companies. These workers, in turn, are less able to take on new debt. In some cases, they may also default on their debt.

Oil companies with reduced cash flow are also less able to repay their debt. In some cases, companies may file for bankruptcy. The result is generally that existing debt is “written down.” Even if an oil company does not file for bankruptcy, it is likely to have difficulty adding new debt. The trend in the amount of debt outstanding is likely to change from increasing to decreasing.

As the amount of debt shifts from increasing to decreasing, the economy tends to shift from increasing to shrinking. Instead of adding more employees, companies tend to reduce the number of employees. If many commodities are affected, the impact can be very large.

We need oil prices to rise to $120 per barrel or more.

The current price of $50 per barrel is still way too low. A post I published in February 2014 was called Beginning of the End? Oil Companies Cut Back on Spending. In it, I talked about an analysis by Steve Kopits of Douglas-Westwood. In this analysis, Kopits points out that even at that time–which was before oil prices began dropping in mid-2014–major oil companies were beginning to cut back on spending for new production. Their cost of production was at that time typically at least $120 or $130 per barrel, if prices were to be high enough so that companies could fund new development without adding huge amounts of new debt. Oil prices could perhaps be lower if oil companies could fund their operations using large increases in debt. Company management recognized that such a funding approach would not be prudent–it could lead to unmanageable debt levels.

Today’s cost of oil production is likely to be even higher than it was when Kopits’ analysis was performed in early 2014. If we expect oil production to continue to rise, we probably need oil prices in the $120 to $150 per barrel range for several years. Prices at such a level are likely to be way too high for consumers, because wages do not rise at the same time as oil prices. Consumers find that they need to cut back on discretionary expenditures. These spending cutbacks tend to lead to recession and falling oil prices.

We can think of our economy as being like a big ball, which can be pumped up to greater and greater size with either rising productivity or rising debt.

This process can continue to work, only as long as the debt added is sufficiently productive that it is possible to repay the debt with interest. We seem to be reaching the end of the line on this process. Returns keep falling lower and lower, necessitating ever-lower interest rates.

To some extent, the pumping up of oil prices that occurs in this process represents a lie, because the energy content of a barrel of oil remains unchanged, regardless of price. In fact, the energy of coal and of natural gas per unit of production remains unchanged as well. The value of energy products to society is determined by their physical ability to leverage human labor–for example, how far diesel oil can move a truck. This ability is unchanged, regardless of how expensive that oil is to produce. This is why, at some point, we find that high-priced energy products simply don’t work in the economy. If we spend the huge amount of resources required for the production of energy products, we don’t have enough resources left over for the rest of the economy to grow.

Low oil prices, plus low commodity prices of other kinds, seem to indicate that we are reaching the end of the line in the “pump up the economy with debt” approach. We have been using this approach since 1981. At this point, we have no idea what economy growth would look like, without the stimulus of falling interest rates.

The drop in oil prices and other commodity prices since mid-2014 seems to represent a “shrinking back” of our ability to use debt to raise prices to a level sufficient to cover the cost of extraction, plus associated overhead costs, including taxes. This drop in prices should be an alarm bell that something is seriously wrong. Without continuously rising prices, to keep up with ever-rising extraction costs, fossil fuel production will at some point come to a halt. Renewables will not work well either, because prices will not be high enough for them to be competitive.

Of course, once the economy stops growing, the huge amount of debt we have amassed becomes un-payable. The whole system we have built will begin to look more and more like a Ponzi Scheme.

We are blind to the possibility that oil prices of $50 per barrel may indicate that we are reaching “the end of the line.”

The popular belief is that everything will work out fine. Oil prices will rise a bit, and somehow the economy will get along with less fossil fuel. Somehow, we will make it through this bottleneck.

If we would study history, we would discover that there have been many situations of overshoot and collapse. In fact, those situations tend to look quite a bit like the situation we are seeing today:

  • Falling resources per capita, because of rising population or exhaustion of resources
  • Falling wages of non-elite workers; greater wage disparity
  • Governments finding it increasingly difficult to fund needed programs

There is a popular belief that oil prices will rise, if there is a shortage of energy products. In prior collapses, it is not at all clear that prices have risen. We know that when ancient Babylon collapsed, demand for all products, even slaves, fell. If we are reaching collapse now, we should not be surprised if the prices of commodities, including oil, stay low. Alternatively, they might spike, but only briefly—not enough to really fix our current situation.

Too many wrong theories

Part of our problem is too much confidence that the “magic hand” of supply and demand will fix the economy. We don’t really understand how demand is tied into affordability, and how affordability is tied into wages and debt. We don’t realize that the view that oil prices can rise endlessly is more or less equivalent to the view that economic growth can continue indefinitely in a finite world.

Another part of our problem is failure to understand how the economic pump that keeps the economy operating works. Once debt rises too high, or the cost of energy extraction rises too high, we can no longer keep the system going. Price tends to fall below the cost of energy extraction. The quantity of energy products consumed cannot rise fast enough to keep the economic growth pump operating.

Clearly neoclassical economics doesn’t properly model how the economy really works. But the Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI) theory of Biophysical Economics does not model the current situation well, either. EROEI theory is generally focused on the ratio of Energy Returned by some alternative energy device to Fossil Fuel Energy Used by the same alternative energy device. This focus misses several important points:

  1. The quantity of energy consumed by the economy needs to keep rising, if human productivity is to keep growing, and thus allow the economy to avoid collapsing. EROEI calculations normally have little to say about the quantity of energy products.
  2. The quantity of debt required to produce a given amount of energy by an alternative energy device is very important. The more debt that is added, the worse the alternative energy device is for the economy.
  3. In order for the economic growth pump to keep working, the return on human labor needs to keep rising. This is equivalent to a need for the wages of non-elite workers to keep rising. This is a requirement relating to a different kind of EROEI—energy return on human labor, leveraged with various types of supplemental energy. Today’s EROEI theorists tend to overlook this type of EROEI.

EROEI theory is a simplification that misses several important parts of the story. While a high fossil fuel EROEI is necessary for an alternative to substitute for fossil fuels, it is not sufficient. Thus, EROEI analysis tends to produce “false favorable” results.

Lining up resources in order by their EROEIs seems to be a useful exercise, but, in fact, the cut-off likely needs to be higher than most have supposed, in order to keep total costs low enough so that the economy can really afford a given energy source. In addition, resources that add heavily to debt requirements are probably unhelpful, regardless of their calculated EROEIs.


We are certainly at a worrying point in history. Our networked economy is more complex than most researchers have considered possible. We seem to be headed for collapse because of low prices, rather than high. The base scenario of the 1972 book “The Limits to Growth,” by Donella Meadows and others, seems to indicate that the world will likely reach limits about the current decade.

The modeling done in 1972 laid out the basic situation, but could not be expected to explain precisely how collapse would occur. Now that we are reaching the expected timeframe, we can see more clearly what seems to be happening. We need to be examining what is really happening, rather than tying ourselves to outdated ideas of how the economic system works, and thus, what symptoms we should expect as we approach limits. It may be that $50 per barrel oil is one of the signs that collapse is not far away.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
This entry was posted in Financial Implications and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1,650 Responses to $50 Oil Doesn’t Work

  1. jderst 3406 says:

    The Future?


    On Tue, May 31, 2016 at 11:09 AM, Our Finite World wrote:

    > Gail Tverberg posted: “$50 per barrel oil is clearly less impossible to > live with than $30 per barrel oil, because most businesses cannot make a > profit with $30 per barrel oil. But is $50 per barrel oil helpful? I would > argue that it really is not. When oil was over $100 ” >

    • Thanks! Unfortunately, oil exporters who were deeply in debt are the ones hurt the worst by low oil prices. Their hydroelectric output has been lagging for years, not helping the problem.

  2. GGWP says:

    Let’s rub some more salt it into the wounds of the stressed out, TPS reporting, generic and faceless corporate drone. Yes, you had it coming.

    Below is The Rolling Stone on the ongoing artificial intelligence revolution and societal disruption.


    • Tim Groves says:

      They shouldn’t be so smug down at Rolling Stone. There are already music composer AIs that emulate the work of anyone from Bach to Bowie to Beyonce. Music critic AIs that ridicule the accomplishments of Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift can’t be far behind.

  3. Tim Groves says:

    I’ve just seen an article from Nigeria quoting from a WSJ survey on oil production costs that bears directly on the subject of Gail’s Post.

    “Nigeria is now the third most expensive country to produce oil in the world with a production cost per barrel of crude oil put at $28.99.

    According to a Wall Street Journal’s (WJS) survey of 12 notable oil producers, Nigeria stands behind the United Kingdom (UK) and Brazil in the production cost analysis. Both countries produce a barrel of oil at $44.33 and $34.99 respectively.”

    I have no idea how accurate these figures are or what factors they are leaving out. Also, they quote Saudi Arabia as still being able to pump the black gold very cheaply — just $8.98 a barrel. Sound’s like a Walmart bargain to me.

    “According to the survey, with $3.50 in capital spending, $3 in production cost, and $2.49 in administration and transportation, producing a barrel of crude in Saudi Arabia costs just $8.98.

    The figures however indicate that for every barrel of crude pumped by Nigeria, she nets about $20 profit since oil prices bounced back to levels above $48 or above. Saudi Arabia on the other hand could make as much as $40 or more at the same price level.”


  4. The Goat says:

    Who else here reads The Trumpet?
    Good article here which shows how China buy up big and don’t care how much they pay while stock piling, which prompts companies to take on huge debt to expand in order to feed China’s demand, then they pull out which leads to financial stress and the fire sale of business in order to avoid bankruptcy, which chinese companies then move in like vultures and buy on the cheap!.https://m.thetrumpet.com/articles/13766,2

    • Fast Eddy says:

      “Dairy farmers across Europe are struggling with a collapse in prices after a global oversupply of milk was compounded by slowing demand in China and Russia’s ban on EU dairy in retaliation for sanctions”


      Commodity prices are collapsing as well … I am not aware of out of the ordinary Chinese acquisition activity in mining and other commodity areas.

      I don’t think the Chinese are purposely doing this — if there were then countries would step in to block acquisitions… I can imagine here in NZ there would be an enormous backlash against China if it were determined they were maliciously trying to bankrupt our farmers.

      And in any event — what does China care if the price of land sold cheaply — they pumped out of USD1 trillion dollars in stimulus in Q1 — they could buy the entire land mass of NZ with that sort of money 🙂

      I think the Chinese are playing along with the rest of the world in trying to keep the hamster running… they are building ghost towns, running up debt, buying commodities — all as part of an orchestrated effort to fend off the collapse of the world.

    • GGWP says:

      Yeah, and those farms end up as a nice little business for friends and family.

      The debt ends up sunk somewhere in the sprawling financial quagmire of China never to be seen again.

      Makes sense. Chinese Corruption 101.

  5. Yoshua says:

    Putin Said to Weigh $11 Billion Rosneft Sale to China and India


    The Russian crown jewel is now for sale.
    Putin – We need the money.

  6. GGWP says:

    Let us experience how to make a slice of toast without cheap energy:

  7. Yoshua says:

    Exploring Al-Qa’ida’s Russian Connection


    “There are two histories: The official history, mendacious, which is given to us; and the secret history, where you find the real causes of events, a shameful history.”

    – Honoré de Balzac

    That Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s right-hand man and the leader of the global jihad movement since bin Laden’s death in May 2011, spent almost a half-year in the mid-1990s in the custody of Russian intelligence is admitted by both sides and is a matter of public record.[3] Just as significant, Zawahiri’s Russian sojourn occurred at a pivotal point in the development of al-Qa’ida; the shift in strategy, resulting in attacks on the “far enemy” (i.e. the United States), the road leading to 9/11, occurred after Zawahiri’s imprisonment by the Russians.

  8. Fast Eddy says:

    Let’s check out how to make the world a better place … MJ goes shopping!


    Meanwhile — let’s see what our military is up to as they protect our ‘way of life’


    There’s a place in your heart
    And I know that it is love
    And this place could be much
    Brighter than tomorrow
    And if you really try
    You’ll find there’s no need to cry
    In this place you’ll feel
    There’s no hurt or sorrow

    There are ways to get there
    If you care enough for the living
    Make a little space
    Make a better place

    Heal the world
    Make it a better place
    For you and for me
    And the entire human race
    There are people dying
    If you care enough for the living
    Make it a better place
    For you and for me

    I suppose he had one thing right:

    There are people dying
    If you care enough for the living
    Make it a better place
    For you and for me

    DIE MOFS! DIE! So that we get it all — so we get more — more teevees – more Facebook — more Dancing with Stars — more 241 pizza — more NFL triple headers — more cheap petrol — more Walmarts — more Paris Hilton — more Hollywood blockbusters…

    We want MORE MORE MORE!!! F&%k you world — gimme gimme gimme… more more more — gimme gimme gimme….

    But I digress — it is has been suggested I focus on making the world a better place…

    I will quote from the unknown author:

    “If humans found satisfaction, they wouldn’t last long in the competitive arena of survival of the fittest” http://megacancer.com/

    It would be great folly … to do anything with Jackson’s words … other than hum along….and be feelin groovy….

    Shall we raise a glass to the coming extinction of the freak show? The monster that terrorizes the planet — shall soon meet our demise.

  9. Fast Eddy says:

    That is a wonderful diatribe… although I haven’t the slightest clue what you are trying to say…

    That said — I must admit … those final words to bring a tear to my eye…. reminds me of this touching song by the late great Michael Jackson — a man(?) who lived very very large as part of a society that is build upon making the world a living hell for billions….

    Now where is that pesky butler with my goddam silk hanky … I am about to hit play:


    I understand that Sarah Palin — the Queen of DelusiSTAN – is considering replacing the current national anthem — Koombaya – with Heal the World….

    There will be a referendum on this in the near future.

  10. dolph911 says:

    The human being doesn’t need work or calories forever. The human being just needs work or calories until he or she dies!

    That’s why you people are getting the collapse story wrong. Your minds aren’t adjusting to decline, so you imagine a rapidly growing system, filled with people and energy and materials production, hitting up against a particular supply constraint or another, and the result is chaos.

    The reason why this doesn’t happen is that the system as a whole adjusts downwards. Doesn’t necessarily happen the same everywhere, but it does happen. The result is the following:
    1) old people begun to realize their time is up, and in any event the healthcare system can no longer keep them going
    2) middle aged people realize this is as good as it’s going to get, so they adjust to downward pressure on their wages, and begun to consume less
    3) the young don’t know any better, so they never really have to adjust until the “oh crap, I have to get a job to feed these creatures I have produced by having fun with that boy or girl” moment sometime in their 20s or 30s.
    4) empires fall apart, sometimes by lashing out, but fall apart nevertheless as is happening to the current empire, the United States
    5) everybody and every institution turns to denial, which doesn’t stop the decline but does make it manageable through propaganda… It’s morning in America! etc. etc. and you have to really keep up the appearances through the manipulation of language, of images, to make people believe their jobs are important, and that they are heroic; witness, for example, the television commercials, which always show the same thing…smiling, happy, multiracial people cooperating and working hard and prospering. Doesn’t matter if the reality is exactly opposite.

    That’s the trick. To make images, and fantasy, dictate the narrative, and to crowd out reality. The United States is very good at this, with Hollywood and television. All the mechanisms are in place…just keep people’s minds fixated on the screens, and they will happily absorb any BS as being the truth. Never let them on to the truth, not even for a second. Now apply this to the entirety of the world and now the collapse dynamics become clearer.

    If I have to define collapse, I would say it is “reality being replaced by fantasy”.

    • Yoshua says:

      Venezuela, Syria, Yemen and Libya would do just fine with a better P.R department ?

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I think that our Sensai of this site has explained in great detail about 4356,987,894.987 times that the ‘world cannot not adjust downward’

      Providing a great deal of analysis explaining why…

      I like to condense it into ‘grow or die’

      But hey — if you insist the global economy can shrink then all good…

      But observe carefully what happens when global GDP goes negative and we head for the rocks — and the central banks are unable to change the ship’s course…

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      “The reason why this doesn’t happen is that the system as a whole adjusts downwards.”

      Here in the US that is true and I’ve put out that narrative as well, but Y makes a point with certain countries that have faltered and no amount of cajoling by propaganda will right their ship. Right now in the US I think things are doing just that – declining along with declining net energy by shifting the added financial burden on to the broad populace. Some property owner in Illinois just recently received a 26% increase to his property taxes without any justification or explanation, so he paid the first installment with a big stack of 1 dollar bills. A fun way to protest but it won’t change the dynamic of govt. shifting expenses they can no longer pay with the regular money they received on to their constituents. So what is going to happen is that more and more people will fall out of the system, i.e. they will reduce their living circumstances until they are able to avoid property taxes or homeowner dues or some other rising metric. Maybe they have to live with relatives or in their car. During the depression huge extended families all piled into the same house. That’s happening today with people living with their parents. But as people ‘fall out’ the money being received by govt’s is declining and at some point shifting higher fees on to those remaining will no longer work. We will end up with a society of dirt poor people just barely surviving with many committing suicide and at the top will be multi-billionaires. I suppose the billionaires will never have had their egos buffed up as much as when they see all the people in ragged clothing standing in soup lines.

      How it all ends up is difficult to say, but I do agree it just keeps declining and adjusting as it declines. Even in the countries Y mentioned life still goes on. It’s not like turning off a light switch. The idea collapse comes FAST, all hell breaks loose and all are dead except the amount of people the earth can easily support without a modern civilized infrastructure is then back to normal is too clean and easy. It just shifts to a lower level and it’s not going to happen FAST – it’s going to be painfully SLOW. People will get pushed right to the edge of what they can endure. I’ve got a friend I did a lot of projects with who in recent years had a retail business, but him & his wife couldn’t make a living with it competing with Amazon Prime so they had to fold up and start over. He’s been struggling for several years and every time I talk to him that’s all he can talk about. But where’s the relief? There isn’t any because the screws are incessantly being tightened incrementally. Just when someone in his position thinks things are livable, some bill rises above the affordability line and the trouble starts all over again trying to meet those obligations. My wife and I met a family in Michigan on one of our installations and they talked about the suffering they had endured trying to pay for bills that exceeded their income. It’s happening all over the US. But like you say the news and Hollywood paint a very cheery picture. Unemployment is 4.5% GDP is 2.5% the stock market is still very high, aren’t kids wonderful – don’t you just love them – have some more, start a business. Take out more loans – be positive is the propaganda fed to people to get them to commit to things that will break them in the future unless they make more and more money.

  11. Yoshua says:

    The past year was marked by a number of events which proved to be meaningful achievements for the Company. No doubt, the 2014’s most significant – one could say historic – landmark was the discovery of a large oil and gas province in the Kara Sea with discovered resources comparable to the reserves of the whole of Saudi Arabia. It increases Russia’s mineral resource potential many times over and places it among the top oil and gas producers for many years ahead. That is why the new field was given a symbolic name – «Pobeda» (Victory in Russian).

    • CatchaTigerBytheToe says:

      Nice and shallow but climate will take its toll even on the the Russians. Frozen 9 months a year. Of couse if they are pumping at prudhoe who knows. Now you can argue that climate change will warm it up but we are all toast cheap oil or not if that happens. This might warm it up too.
      “The catalogue of waste dumped in the Kara sea by the Soviets, according to documents seen by Bellona, includes some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radioactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel.”

      • Yoshua says:

        Sounds like Russia. 🙂

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        Guess the ruskies are using Kara sea to cool nuclear waste. I wonder how much warming of the ice and methane releases that will cause.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      And it was later renamed:

      слишком дорого (too expensive)

    • Resources and “getting it out cheaply enough and soon enough” are too different things. Also remember that prices are too low, not too high. Adding more oil doesn’t fix the problem.

      • Yoshua says:

        I believe that Russia is counting on the arctic region even for their future gas production.

        “As for oil and gas reserves, the Artic is the new Western Siberia. According to geologists, the reserves have 100 billion tons of fuel – oil and gas. But the proportion of oil and gas is a point for discussion,” he said.

        Kontorovich added that currently the reserves are believed to 80 percent gas.

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      “This discovery made possible to confirm extension of the largest West Siberian petroleum province offshore in the Kara Sea, whose resource potential can be compared with the resource base of Saudi Arabia,” Sechin said.

      That’s a whopper of a claim after many other parts of the Arctic have not indicated big oil deposits, but mostly gas. The Saudi’s have been pumping 10 mbd for decades, and recently the Russians have also produced 10 mbd. So if this news is accurate then the Russians could conceivably increase production to 20 mbd? Sounds dubious. But also it’s like Gail points out, it’s the cost of production vs. oil price that is important. If price is too low the financial gain of producing that oil will not be there.

      • Tim Groves says:

        There is a lot of hype, a lot of stealth, and more than anything a lot of disinformation in the oil game. While they play poker with each other, the people in charge will run rings around an honest outside observer every time.

        • GGWP says:

          Indeed, it is a game and the player factions have a deep, dark back channel for information. We are just witnessing the swirls on the surface as the big fish makes their moves.

  12. Vince the Prince says:

    Since oil is not a necessity to maintain life…food calories are….currently we use fossil fuels in a process to procure food. However, one aspect escapes the modern human…the amount and quality or more precise form of caloric intact.
    Unfortunately, post BAU will poise as a. metabolism shock to the average BAU person.
    We will experience both a drop in the number of calories, as well as, type our system has been conditioned to operate our bodily functions.
    Remember reading the German prisoners that were captured at the defeat of Stalingrad had such a shock. Surprisingly, the fit, strong athletic individuals were the first to perish the harsh new conditions, while those that were diminutive, and reguired less food intact were the survivors.
    Something that will be a black swan in our new reality. One more aspect add to the pile of doom.

  13. Yoshua says:

    The Russian Bear says:

    Russia has mobilized 2,8 million men, all reserves, men up to 50 years old, tactical nukes, everything, under radio silence. This is the biggest military exercise in history at the borders of Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Finland.

    • Yoshua says:

      Who in his right mind would want to invade Europe ?

    • Christian says:


      • The Russian Bear says:

        A Swedish blog. Use google translate.


        • Yoshua says:

          The collapse of Soviet Union seems to have been caused by the collapse of the oil production in Russia.


          The oil industry in Russia was in a really bad condition after the collapse. The transfer of western technology gave the oil industry in Russia new life. If Russia today is facing a similar event with a collapse in oil production in a few years due to depletion and sanctions, then a mobilization of the military could perhaps be more seen as a try to maintain stability within the Russian Federation.

          Without oil to maintain control the Russian territory, there could be another contraction of the Russian Empire.

          • I agree that the collapse of the Soviet Union was caused by a collapse of oil production in Russia. And the reason why Russia’s oil production crashed was because prices were too low. Oil production didn’t crash immediately–it took a few years. The problem was lack of new investment, primarily. Once oil prices went back up, they were able to increase production again.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Actually that is not the whole story…. low oil prices are what caused he production drop…

            As outlined in the following article and many others — attempts to modernize their industry were smashed by low oil prices — oil revenues were the primary hard currency earner so when prices dropped the USSR was in effect insolvent…

            After record-breaking prices in the early 1980s, oil prices plummeted in the second half of the decade. Oil was the main export and source of hard currency for the U.S.S.R. Had oil prices increased, like they have during the Putin administration this decade, or had German banks financed Gorbachev’s perestroika like Japan financed Reagan’s deficits, the U.S.S.R. and communism would not have collapsed in 1991 at all.


            In any event — there was never a dearth of energy in the USSR — I do not see any evidence that this resulted in the country importing energy …. the people in the gulags most definitely were not there for their slave labour output.

            Interesting Scott Nearing was a communist… he admired Russia at one point in his life…

            Quite the flip flopper old Scotty — I guess the appeal of that system was lost when he started to fit into the capitalist pig system having found a nice gig with his ‘The Good Life – How to Live Large pretending to live a sustainable life style’ series of books.

  14. MG says:

    Slavery is a temporary way out of energy poverty.

    The history of slavery gives us lessons about which regions of the world experienced energy deficiencies:

    The communist regimes under Soviet Union was nothing else, but the way out of energy deficits of Russia.
    USA and its export of energy intensive jobs into countries with low wages and import of highly qualified workforce for creating low energy service economy is the same story.

    Nowadays, with the rising cost of the energy, we need more and more machines and technology to keep the world population from collapsing.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      “energy deficits of Russia” I don’t recall an energy deficit in soviet Russia…

      • MG says:

        The Gulags of Russia were just slave camps. The political prisoners were just disguised slaves.

        And German concentration camps were the places where they found out that the energy deficits of Europe were unsurmountable…

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I was asking about supporting documentation for the assertion that Russia had an energy deficit

          My understanding is that the Russians had (and have) massive energy resources — they used them to hold together a substantial empire for decades — they supplied many of the nations under their empire with oil and gas

          Do you have other information?

          Oh and btw the gulags were not established as slave camps… they were political … have a read of the Gulag Archipelago — the author goes into tremendous detail about what went on in those carnal houses.

          If anything it is a fascinating look at what the human beast is capable of … why the human beast needs to be exterminated

          • MG says:

            The political, religious prisoners are always disguised slaves.

            Russia ramped up its energy production and consimption only after WWII, as the rest of the world.

          • I was under the impression that the gulags were slave labour camps, established in order to open up the vast mineral wealth of the Siberian territories.

            No right minded individual would go there voluntarily, so Stalin simply filled them with quotas drawn from all over Russia, politics had little to do with it on an individual basis—people just vanished and became an energy resource.

            obviously there were political prisoners/camps in tsarist times—but nothing on the scale of the 20th c version

            The German camps employed slave labour too—only they used people of other subject nations, not Germans usually

            But we mustn’t gloss over the fact that for 200 years or so, slave labour camps were a big part of the US economy, as they were throughout Europe until the introduction of the labour laws in the mid 19th c..

            Post collapse, this will inevitably re emerge.
            Those who control energy resources/power will be able to command the labour of those who do not.

            • Tim Groves says:

              But we mustn’t gloss over the fact that for 200 years or so, slave labour camps were a big part of the US economy, as they were throughout Europe until the introduction of the labour laws in the mid 19th c..

              Not to mention fossil fuels. Without the use of coal and then oil to run machines and generate stable supplies of electricity, slave labor would have been that much harder to outlaw. It would have been deemed essential to maintain supplies of cheap agricultural products. Of course, Slavery in one form or another has never completely disappeared, even in the Land of the Free and not even under full-throttle BAU. There is a spectrum of coercion and exploitation in the workplace, and those at the low end have to work under appalling conditions.

            • I agree that fossil fuels were important in getting rid of slavery.

            • interesting coincidence maybe—that the first viable oilwell in the usa was sunk in the same decade that slavery ended

            • Fast Eddy says:

              My understanding is that these were prisons — where anyone who expressed a whiff of dissent was shipped off to — along with criminals…

              Hard labour was indeed dished out … but I do not believe that was intended as a productive enterprise — nor was it to deal with a dearth of energy resources — rather it was a form of extreme punishment …

              Gulag camps existed throughout the Soviet Union, but the largest camps lay in the most extreme geographical and climatic regions of the country from the Arctic north to the Siberian east and the Central Asian south. Prisoners were engaged in a variety of economic activities, but their work was typically unskilled, manual, and economically inefficient. The combination of endemic violence, extreme climate, hard labor, meager food rations and unsanitary conditions led to extremely high death rates in the camps.


          • el mar says:

            ok, we are working on it!

            el mar

          • common phenomenon says:

            Fast Eddy wrote:

            “Oh and btw the gulags were not established as slave camps… they were political
            I was under the impression that the gulags were slave labour camps, established in order to open up the vast mineral wealth of the Siberian territories.”

            Norman Pagett wrote:

            “No right minded individual would go there voluntarily, so Stalin simply filled them with quotas drawn from all over Russia”

            You are both right. The best source to read is Robert Conquest. He goes into great and plausible detail about Stalin’s motives, in his books on “The Great Terror”. In the early to mid 1930s, Stalin was alarmed by the increasing popularity of Sergei Kirov, who was peddling a softer line in Leningrad. After Kirov was assassinated in 1934, Stalin used this as an excuse to increase his repression. The duplicitous Stalin even hypocritically named the Kirov ballet in honour of his deceased potential rival. Also in 1934, Stalin had privately expressed admiration for Hitler’s “Night of the Long Knives”, in which Hitler purged his party enemies (mainly Storm Troopers). Stalin’s main cronies had thought it would weaken Hitler. Stalin cheerfully disagreed, saying that Hitler had greatly strengthened his position. Some think this influenced Stalin’s decision to launch the Great Terror.

            Quotas were made for arrests during the Great Terror. In 1936 Khrushchev sent a memo to Stalin, asking for permission to increase his quota for Leningrad from 25,000 to 30,000. Stalin wrote “Granted” and signed it off. All sorts of stupid and false accusations were made against the arrested, who were beaten and tortured until they confessed. The public learnt not to dare criticise Stalin, and he also used the opportunity to get rid of his real enemies, of course. There was definitely a large dose of paranoia in Stalin’s actions. Such a harsh ruler was bound to have made many enemies, and he knew it, hence his behaving like a Mafia boss.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Of course nobody went voluntarily … they usually came for you in the night… most were also tortured…

        • MG says:

          I would say that the Germans found out that due to the 200 years of cummulation of mutations in the population caused by the improved healthcare, survival rate etc., the physical quality of the population deteriorated. (The Jews were no muscle men for hard physical work.)

          Part of the problem why we need more and more robots is also the deteriorating physical fitness of the population vis-a-vis rising energy costs, i.e. I agree with Gail, that the return on human labor is the key, not EROI.

          • doomphd says:

            The nazis in germany had a hard time keeping those interred in prison camps healthy enough to generate a work force. Himmler was reported to have been shocked at the loss of life from chronic cholera outbreaks. Most of those sickly people photographed upon rescue were suffering from diseases, not necessarly from starvation. Starved people have bloated adominal areas–see photos of sub-saharian africans. There’s a fundamental problem maintaining population health within confined areas, especially if stressed.

        • MG says:

          I would say that creating slavery with rising healthcare costs is impossible. It would be not enough just the feed the slaves. (Not to mention the terribly high prices of the food that are not subsidized by cheap oil and other cheap energy.)

          • at the risk of ultimate crudeness—slavecamps don’t employ healthcare other than that needed to ensure work output
            fit slaves survive—weak sickly ones do not

    • Interesting observations!

  15. Fast Eddy says:

    The greatest fireworks show in history (although the bombing of Iraq was pretty darn impressive as well):


    For some reason when I watch this …. I have a real hearty belly laugh when the explosion happens….

    The announcer is so matter of fact — then kabloom — and silence for some seconds…

    Then the punchline ‘obviously a major malfunction’

    I can imagine a similar situation the news rooms of the world when BAU starts to explode.

    • OP says:

      Yeah, it is a bit.. vulgar.. enjoying watching advanced technology blown to smithereens.
      And the competent personnel perishing in the process.


      • Fast Eddy says:

        Oh come now — everyone has gotta die somehow.

        I killed some rats in a trap over the weekend — they were probably competent rats — do you mourn them? I bet their families mourn them — I bet they had young baby rats waiting for them to bring home the cheese. Those poor baby rats.. momma and poppa are dead. What will happen to them

        Did you know there are more humans than rats on the planet. I read that there are only 5 billion rats. I wonder if they have a saying about breeding like humans. I wonder if rabbits have a similar saying — I suspect there are more humans than rabbits too

        How many competent personal did we kill in Iraq? Vietnam? Syria? Libya? Grenada? etc etc etc

        Do they matter? Or do the astronauts matter more? What about the rats? Why?

        Trotting out Camus — how quaint – considering your incoherent commentary on the incredible fireworks display….

        Did you read the rebuttal to The Stranger? It is quit brilliant – it makes Camus look rather vulgar — funny how that can happen when the other side of the story is told – when someone is willing to look at things differently


        I do so like the metaphor of that space shuttle fireworks display…. too bad about the astronauts I guess… too bad about that antelope I saw devoured by the jackals when I was in Kenya… real pity…. and those two rats — I actually had to pull them from the trap and chuck them into the bush…. heart-wrenching….

        • Yoshua says:

          We humans are vulgar. That’s who we are.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Let’s turn to the great Walter E Kurtz for a quote:

            We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won’t allow them to write “fuck” on their airplanes because it’s obscene!

            Of course we drop fire on people so that we can live large … so that we can steal the world’s resources…

            Allowing us to sit smugly behind our computers accusing others of vulgarity because they have posted an ‘obscene’ visual with a comment about fireworks …. completely ignorant of the fact that our prosperity comes out of the barrel of a gun ….

            Oh the poor billions who are forced to suffer and die so we can have 4 teevees and AC in every room — and to think — they never even get a chance to ride in a space shuttle.


        • OP says:

          Spaceflight is a dangerous enterprise, sometimes stuff go wrong, with dire consequences. Everybody know this. Thus, I don’t pity them, nor do I gloat.

          As for the rest of your ramblings. The sheer amount of fallacies you are able to churn out. Mind-boggling. Just admit it; you are a tasteless and vulgar person that enjoys gloating at disasters. Though, I’m cool with that, as long as you admit it. Though it taints the rest of what you write.

          • cmon now—we all slow down to look at traffic accidents—while thinking we’re too smart to get into such as mess

            • doomphd says:

              My list of modern-day public displays of technology shock and awe:

              4) Bombing of Bagdad, Iraq
              3) Space shuttle Challenger fail on launch
              2) Space shuttle Columbia fail on re-entry (that ended the shuttle program)
              1) 9-11 (dwarfs all others at any scale)*

              * also so controversial that serious discussion of it is generally ban-ned.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              9-11 (dwarfs all others at any scale)*

              I forgot about that ….

            • GGWP says:

              How can a list be complete without nukes?
              It is the epitome, the crème de la crème of immense destructive power and spectacle.
              The beauty of a nuclear blast mushroom cloud. The immensity. The power.
              Gotta love it.

              As Robert Oppenheimer stated:
              “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”

              The Japs got to feel the kraken unleashed – twice.
              The might of the US technomilitary complex.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              This is like one of those Top Ten Letterman lists….

          • A Real Black Person says:

            You must not be “normal” then. Most “normal” people love to see be told narratives about the mishaps and failures of other people–as long as that person is not someone they care deeply and respect.

            • xabier says:

              Jared Diamond tells how a great deal of time is spent by tribal hunters in discussing accidents and deaths on hunting and foraging trips, so as ascertain the likely reason for the calamity, and avoid repetition if possible.

              They were always cautioning him with: ‘Be careful, that’s risky’ or ‘Don’t do that, it’s not wise.’

            • Rodster says:

              I must not be normal then because I don’t take glee or laugh at someone elses misfortune.

            • Stefeun says:

              I have no problem if the “victim(s)” previously accepted the risk.
              I’ve much harder time with innocents, such as children and animals.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I have a fairly hard time looking at photos of children who have been burned and maimed and killed….

              So that people can have a fourth tee vee and cheap gas…

              But on the other hand — I understand why it has to happen.

              It also leads me to the conclusion that the solution is extinction.

              I doubt a song about saving the world by extincting ourselves would get much airplay…. it could be something Metallica might run with though…

            • Fast Eddy says:

              When you heard of Jamie Dimon’s dalliance with cancer awhile back… did you need feel a moment of schadenfreude?

              What about when it was announced that Lloyd B of Goldman Sachs had to sign up for a taste of chemo…. did you not a fleeting thought race across your synapses suggesting the irony of a guy who is ‘doing god’s work’ being struck down with cancer?

              When a car slams into the wall at the Indy 500 — I don’t think anyone feels glee — I think they feel shock and awe…. very different from glee…. of course nobody applauds when that happens….

              I think most people feel this… otherwise I’d not get stuck in a 30 minute traffic jam caused by rubberneckers.

            • Rodster says:

              I’m a huge racing fan and I love it when there are no safety cars, no wrecks and definitely no one is hurt or injured. The Formula 1 race which took place today in Baku, Azerbaijan was entertaining without any crashes or incidents.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              You don’t find it boring … watching cars go round and round and round….

              I suppose F1 is like a lot of things — it was at one point hugely entertaining because the threat of death was in the air — and it is still living off the vapours of the good old days… even though it is completely sanitized. It feeds off myth.

              I can’t imagine a more pointless way to spend an afternoon. Round and round and round we go….

            • GGWP says:

              Car racing is like reading FE’s posting, the same cackle – over and over and over again.

              Hey Gail, isn’t it about time to tone down the FE output few decibels? The SNR ratio of the posts kind of drops below being intelligible.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              GGWP – if it is banality you want then please do lobby and/or bribe the sensei to dial down the crescendo of my one man symphony orchestra….

              The hordes of DelusiSTAN will rush through the gate left ajar by the traitor and RealitySTAN will be overrun….


            • GGWP says:

              You forgot tasteless.
              Otherwise I’m happy.


            • Rodster says:

              I watch Formula 1 for the complexity of the sport. I love how the teams are given a formula of rules and have to build their cars within a short period of time. The new turbo era has been fascinating with all the electronics built in.

            • GGWP says:

              And doping is irrelevant.
              F1 got Kimi too, that helps.. 😉

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Don’t you hate when you are flying down the highway … Air Supply’s Greatest Hits is pumping out of the sound system … and you are feelin groovy…..

            Then suddenly wam bam son of a bitch the traffic slows to a crawl…. 10 minutes… 20 minutes… 30 minutes….

            You are wondering what the hell has caused this …

            Then finally there it is — a car went off the road and the traffic has slowed not because the car is blocking the road — but because of blood lust…. people are rubbernecking hoping to catch a glimpse of suffering … of death…

            Anyway that has absolutely nothing to do with why I posed the fireworks display …. although it definitely is quite impressive …

            Let’s compare:

            1. Here is us killing thousands of people over a lie:


            2. Here is the space shuttle blowing up:


            Tough call.. both every impressive…. the main difference of course is that one group of people volunteered… the others well…. they had no say in the matter….

            I posted that as a metaphor for the end of BAU — everything is just moving along as expected… the masses are not aware that a gasket is about to malfunction … then WHAM KABOOM —- just like the shuttle the global economy will blow to pieces…

            And like the presenters covering that explosion … the presenters covering this one will be similarly ashen faced —- shocked — speechless..

            But the world will not go on (sans a few astronauts) … the world will end … they will go off the air…. and they will starve and such in radiation … along with everyone else.

            The space shuttle is the modern day Icarus:


            • OP says:

              FE, it does not mean that YOU have to take glee in it. Don’t you have other more interesting and important ideas to ponder about?

              A traffic jam caused by some nobody and his vehicle smashed to pieces… People are indeed mindless dullards. Even you agree to that, I guess?

              As for watching the space shuttle blow itself up, well that’s at least spectacular. I can agree to that. But to enjoy it and watch it several times, even posting it, come on man, don’t you have better comments to write and respond to at OFW? 😉

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The people inside the space shuttle are irrelevant (except of course to their families) … as I have said there are two take-aways:

              – the wow factor of the explosion

              – the comic element of the ‘chosen species’ reaching for the heavens in his space machine exploding into a billion fragments (I again find myself suppressing laughter when I write this) — and the stunned announcer staring in total silence – in disbelief…

              We are humans – we can do anything — we are the kings of technology — we can fly to the stars — the ka-facking-boom!!! And our hubris gets us Humpty Dumptied.

              It’s a metaphor for civilization — for BAU — for all that we have become…. we believe in our omnipotence

              And when our civilization is brought crashing down 7.3 billion people are going to be like the announcer — sitting in the rubble in utter disbelief…

              Seriously — I could watch that clip over and over and over and the joke would never get old.

            • GGWP says:

              “It’s a metaphor for civilization — for BAU — for all that we have become…. we believe in our omnipotence ”

              What a load of mind-boggling semi-intellectual blather. Instead of spewing more meta-nonsense, just admit that you are tasteless, banal and vulgar.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Alright – then I am banal and vulgar.

              Feel better?

              Wanna watch it again?

            • OP says:

              Kind of cute too. ^^
              Here FE, this one’s for you:

            • Tim Groves says:

              The space shuttle is the modern day Icarus

              Had either Joseph Campbell or Susan Sontag said that, as well they might have, they would have received pats on the back and kudos from all and sundry as two of the most influential and provocative thinkers of the 20th century.

              In short, it’s a gem of an observation.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I suffer less from my wounds thanks to your kind words…


            • Fast Eddy says:

              A rather strange name for a space project… I wonder if they considered calling it Interstellar Crash and Burn…. then settled for Icarus….

              Or perhaps they were not aware of what happened to Icarus….

            • GGWP says:

              Susan Sontag:
              “The white race is the cancer of human history; it is the white race and it alone”

              Mm, yeah, that’s about enough of ludicrous in one sentence any sensible person need right there.

              But hey – pseudo-intellectual comedy like that surely sells books. Enough of them so that she and that other fella could go on live BAU Large as the small hypocrites they were while they still helped out kicking the bucket down the road.

            • GGWP says:

              Come on FE, join their cute little icarus kickstarter project and let it rip until their 3M hopium™ hot-glued wings melt off.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I need to conserve capital for the Sun Pipe Project.

            • GGWP says:

              Make it into a kickstarter project.
              Just for the Lulz.

  16. Tim Groves says:

    We are certainly at a worrying point in history. Our networked economy is more complex than most researchers have considered possible. We seem to be headed for collapse because of low prices, rather than high. The base scenario of the 1972 book “The Limits to Growth,” by Donella Meadows and others, seems to indicate that the world will likely reach limits about the current decade.

    The modeling done in 1972 laid out the basic situation, but could not be expected to explain precisely how collapse would occur. Now that we are reaching the expected timeframe, we can see more clearly what seems to be happening. We need to be examining what is really happening, rather than tying ourselves to outdated ideas of how the economic system works, and thus, what symptoms we should expect as we approach limits. It may be that $50 per barrel oil is one of the signs that collapse is not far away.

    Gail’s Conclusion above is both stark and succinct. I can’t see anything to disagree with in there, and frankly I am concerned that as we hit limits, the global economic system will fail catastrophically. In thirty years of associating with doomers, some of whom were constantly naming collapse dates five or ten years ahead, I have always stressed that collapse would come but that it would be progressive and leisurely, leaving us all plenty of time to adjust.

    As it happens, I’ve witnessed successive booms and recessions spaced an average of seven years apart throughout my working life, first in the UK and then in Japan. Being self-employed, my income has always varied in keeping with the state of the surrounding economy, so I’ve been well aware of an economic cycle at work, which meant I’ve never really worried that we wouldn’t pull out of this one like we pulled out of all the others.

    This time, however, I am far less sanguine. Apparently we only overcame the 2008 crash thanks to helicopter money and a doubling of US government debt under the Obama administration, and now we are in the midst of what could be an even bigger crash. I think it quite probable that the world economy won’t be able to recover from this one.

    What symptoms should we expect as we approach limits? Certainly more of what we are seeing in places like Detroit and Caracas at the moment, and more migration and attempts at migration especially by young people trapped in deteriorating social and economic situations. But at the same time, we should expect to see greater efforts by the relatively better off to insulate themselves from the relatively worse off and a general hardening of hearts against outsiders. More walls are on the cards as we attempt to isolate ourselves from the economic gangrene.

    Many people in much of the Third World have enjoyed few of the conveniences of modern progress, so they may not do too badly in the post-BAU era. It must be easier for a hunter-gatherer or a subsistence farmer to remain as they are than for a stockbroker or a factory worker to learn how to “Live the Good Life”. In the First World, we still have a long way to fall once the factories stop producing and the ships, planes and trucks filled with freight become rare sights. In a progressive deflationary collapse, as demand falls due to empty wallets and low budgets, prices of many goods may not go up very much, but instead these goods will disappear from the stores because the companies making them can no longer afford to remain in business. As the economic tide goes out, more and more people are left stranded high and dry like fish stranded on the beach. This process can only go so far before it overwhelms whole nations and governments. So before it happens, some form of martial law is likely to be imposed and many of us are likely to find ourselves living under a permanent state of emergency. Forgive me, I am simply ruminating out loud here.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      “This time, however, I am far less sanguine”

      The fact that the central banks are doing everything possible to try to fend off the next down cycle confirms to me that they know that when the inevitable recession arrives — that it is the end game.

      They have thrown everything at this – trillions of dollars, ZIRP, NIRP, debt …. they are in the process of tearing out the kitchen sink and preparing to throw it — and the wrench — at this problem…

      There will not be a tool left in the tool kit when this hits… not a bullet left in the fort….

      I say this with 99.9999% conviction — we are in final business cycle of civilization (that said – I do hold some physical gold just in case…)

    • A Real Black Person (This time, however, I am far less sanguine) says:

      “What symptoms should we expect as we approach limits? Certainly more of what we are seeing in places like Detroit and Caracas at the moment, and more migration and attempts at migration especially by young people trapped in deteriorating social and economic situations. But at the same time, we should expect to see greater efforts by the relatively better off to insulate themselves from the relatively worse off and a general hardening of hearts against outsiders”

      The deterioration of social conditions in South America , in recent years, has been under-reported. The media has briefly mentioned a wave of migrants from South America fleeing for their lives but there’s been a lack of interest as to why it’s happening. The wave of migrants has reportedly gone down, according to statistics but I’m not sure if that means social conditions are improving in South America or we have successfully discouraged them from attempting to reach the border.

      A lack of interest can be seen, currently, with the crises in Venezuela and Brazil. The 2016 Summer Olympics are being held in Brazil and this is hardly making headlines. In the meantime, there is plenty of coverage on identity politics issues–something the insulated upper class liberals seem to be obsessed with. Mass media, you have to admit, is a master of distraction. I’m not a conspiracy theorist at all, but it’s hard not to look at the lack of media coverage of America’s neighbors and not wonder if it’s not intentional.

      Donald Trump is probably the only person who is approximately discussing the surge under-reported illegal migration of people from South America, although mistakenly assumes that they are all from Mexico and his solution is to build a wall to keep them out.

      As I have said before, it’s hard to tell how bad things are because no one wants to be seen as a “Negative Nancy”.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        We might consider a modern day Marie Antoinette option — rather than cake — we use all the excess shipping capacity to ship Twinkies to these people…

        The good thing about Twinkies is that they have a shelf life of 20 years… so a month in a shipping container will not damage them…

        If we maintain a steady stream of these delicious treats to the downtrodden of the world they will not only not raise their pitchforks against us — they will thank us (each packet of delicious cake will carry a Made in America logo of course)

        Mmmm…. what’s not to like!


    • xabier says:

      I might be mistaken, but isn’t France still under the state of emergency – or whatever the exact formula is – declared after the killings in Paris? The future is here, is it not?

    • Ed says:

      bloody or bloodthirsty.

      noun: sanguine

      a blood-red color.

      Good word for the future.

    • A Real Black Person says:

      Why are some of my posts being blocked?

      • I think I have unblocked them. Not sure why–didn’t look to see what might have been the cause.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Take it as a badge of honour…. I think about 1/4 of mine are blocked…. I think Gail blocks the best posts because they will become material for her upcoming book:

        The Best and Most Insightful Posts (that never appeared on FW)

      • common phenomenon says:

        You included the word “co-n–sp-ir-a-c-y”. It’s on the ban*ned list – especially if it appears in conjunction with the word “the*ory”. You can see how to get round this. 😉

  17. Stefeun says:

    Read it all !


    Blog by James (used to comment here, there can’t be several ones like him) about “Exploring the Pathology of Industrial Civilization”.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      So many tasty hunks of wisdom in that piece make it difficult to select one…. but select I shall…..

      “If humans found satisfaction, they wouldn’t last long in the competitive arena of survival of the fittest”

      “enough’ = exctinction

    • Ert says:

      Thanks for the link – wonderfully essays!

  18. The Russian Bear says:

    Largest Russian military exercise right now ongoing since WW2.

    (Use google translate)

  19. Yoshua says:

    The Kremlin’s Hidden Cyber Hand


    The Islamic State’s hacking army doesn’t actually work for ISIS. The Cyber Caliphate is a Russian intelligence operation.

    French intelligence examined the group closely after the TV5Monde attack and concluded that the hackers involved actually had nothing to do with the Islamic State. Rather, they were affiliates of a hacking collective known to be affiliated with the Kremlin, in particular APT 28, a notorious group that’s a secret arm of Moscow, according to Western security experts.

  20. Yoshua says:

    A crisis is brewing that will tear the global system apart


    I recently spoke at the Mauldin Economics Strategic Investment Conference about how the world is going to hell. I’m an investment community outsider. And I was struck that almost every investor and economist that spoke at the event was singing the same apocalyptic tune. George Friedman

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I think that most in the finance community understand that a massive crackup is imminent … what most do not understand is the cause … also they do not understand that this will result in the end of civilization

      Many people that I know in this community see this as an opportunity — they see ‘The Big Short’ all over again ….

      They are hoping they will be the ones featured next time around.

      They live in DelusiSTAN just like the Koombaya Stinky Hippies — it’s just another province in that country.

      • Tim Groves says:

        In 2004, a friend gave me a tiny bottle containing live yoghurt that originated from Azerbaijan. For the past 12 years, I have been playing God with that yoghurt. It grows in containers filled with milk. Add a little yoghurt to a container of milk, and in 3 or 4 days, you have a container of yoghurt. Every 3 or 4 days, I scrape off the top layer and throw it down the sink. Then I take 3 teaspoonfuls of yoghurt and put it in another fresh container of milk. The remaining mature yoghurt then goes in the fridge.

        It works like a charm every time. But what am I going to do once the milk is no longer delivered and the electricity is no longer working. I will become another God that failed.

        Incidentally, I’ve given samples of this yoghurt to half a dozen friends over the years. Every one of them managed to kill off the yoghurt in their care within a month. These are not the sort of people I would want at my back come SHTF.

        • but can you put collar on your pet yogurt, and take it for a walk in the park—and then then get fined if you don’t clean up any mess it makes

        • Ed says:

          yogurt existed long before refrigerators. The point of foods that are the outcome of rotting an input stock is that they last they are already rotted.

          • Cheese is similar, of course.

            • Isitmyimaginationorisitwarminhere says:

              I was on a public bus in India once that had a cheese vendor on it. Her patrons obviously knew she was on the bus. Cheese is sort of a semi solid in India. As the bus came to a halt a flurry of squabbling exchange of rupayay for cheese all while the crone slapped the “cheese” into the containers (clay)provided by her customers as she dangled out the window. The smell of the godawful stuff filled the bus. There was no waiting all transactions had to be done in thirty seconds or so. Im sure the driver got some pitiful cut. Actually a very efficient way to distribute dairy products. Much better than burning a million BTUs to take the lexus to the minimart. I will never forget the intensity and efficiency of the exchange.

              Another time I was on a train and a boy of six or seven showed up selling chopped onion and peanuts in leaf cones. I was curious – where did he come from? The train was moving and there was no access in between the cars. I watched him. He climbed out the bathroom window at the end of the car(which dumped right on the tracks) hooked a leg onto the bars of the window on the next car and managed to navigate to the next car with his product slung across his chest- all at 60 kph or so. All for a penny or two. So it goes in the third world.

          • yogurt existed long before refrigerators. The point of foods that are the outcome of rotting an input stock is that they last they are already rotted.

            This is true, although yogurt is alive in the sense that it is a sea of bacteria swimming in rotted milk, and not necessarily “rotten” in the sense of being inedible. Given the right conditions, the “rotting” will continue to the point where what you have is no longer edible and no longer worthy of the name “yoghurt”. Keeping it cool slows that process down.

            Actually, there is a cave on the hillside just behind the house that can be used in the style of a root cellar to keep things fresh through the winter and cool in summer. The maximum temperature is less than 20 degrees C, even when it’s 35 outside. I expect the yogurt would do quite well there. My bigger problem after SHTF would be obtaining milk. The modern dairy cow is a little on the large size for the needs of one family. Perhaps it’s time to start keeping goats.

    • I have an article about China almost finished–hopefully go up tomorrow. My view add to the one expressed in the article.

  21. Duncan Idaho says:

    Daily CO2

    June 17, 2016: 406.68 ppm

    June 17, 2015: 401.63 ppm

    • bandits101 says:

      It is now exponential. It will be 450 way, way before even the doomiest predictions, probably before 2025. Methane is erupting, the major carbon sink the ocean is reaching saturation.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          When I look at this I smile — it smells like victory — I love the smell of victory — it means that BAU is ongoing — I love BAU… I want more BAU – eternal BAU…

          We need more coal fired plants — BAU is a voracious consumer of coal…

          You can feed him uranium… you can feed him solar … you can feed him wind… he will tolerate those in his diet but given the choice he’d chow down on filthy black stinky CHEAP coal at every meal – breakfast lunch and dinner…

          Try feeding the Beat too much of those other things exclusively …. and he will die….

          The Beast is coal-fired …. now and forever….

          Burn baby burn!!!


          • Tim Groves says:

            Very nice observation.

            Coal oil and gas are the staples in his diet.
            All the rest are snack foods and merely leave him hungry for more.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Some people worship the sun…… some worship a man in the sky… some worship a god who promises them multiple virgins…

              I am unique — I worship the carbon god (aka the Beast). Whenever I pass a coal power plant I stop for a moment and bow my head … when I see a bus struggling up a steep hill belching black smoke — I stand in awe.

              You know how in places like Thailand people keep a shrine in their homes and make offerings?

              I do that too — my shrine looks like this


              I put offerings of wood into it and burn them and spew carbon into the air… wonderful plumes of billowing carbon!

              My dogs from Bali don’t like the cold so they can usually be found sitting or lying in front of my shrine worshiping it as well… we share a common god….

              As a family we regularly pray to the Beast:

              Oh great carbon god long shall yee belch the black substance — the life giving substance — long shall yee cloak the earth in a cloud of warmth giving smog …. we bow down to thee and honour thee — we pray to thee that all the fools — who yearn for your death without realizing that this would visit upon them only famine and pestilence — are crushed and destroyed under your powerful fist and burned in a furnace…. hail carbon god full of soot hallowed be thy name… may you reign over your kingdom forever and forever… ahhhhhh—- men.

              The best thing about the carbon god — he doesn’t ask for money — he prefers that you use your money to buy more stuff — because buying more stuff means more carbon gets burned…

              And here I am on the internet – which is one of the biggest divisions of the carbon god — doing my part like a good believer — typing away – uploading content — making sure those data centres glow thanks to coal-fired electricity….

      • common phenomenon says:

        What do you think of Malcolm Light’s proposed techno-fix? Apparently all we have to do is station a few ships in the Arctic and fire laser beams at the methane to neutralise it.



        Scroll down to “Malcolm Light comments”:

        “Mother Earth has been able to hold its atmospheric temperature within certain limits and maintain an ocean for more than 3 billion years because each time there was a build up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which produced a global fever, Mother Earth it eliminated the living creatures with a massive Arctic methane firestorm that fried them alive. This giant Arctic methane firestorm is a natural antibiotic the Earth uses to rid itself of those creatures that have overproduced carbon dioxide and caused a global fever.

        Essentially mankind has again caused a massive build up of fossil fuel carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and Mother Earth has already started to respond with the predicted massive Arctic methane blow out (since 2010) which will lead to an Earth engulfing firestorm in 5 to 8 years.

        The giant fires in the Fort McMurray region are a result of atmospheric methane induced heating of the Arctic and 93.5% global warming of the oceans that has generated a massive El Nino event this year. Hot winds moving away from these high pressure areas have generated high temperatures and massive fires in Alberta which is a giant fever spot on Earth where mankind has produced the maximum amount of dirty fossil fuel extraction and pollution in Canada.

        Mother Earth will continue to respond more vigorously with her Arctic methane antibiotic to eliminate the humans from her system as we represent nothing more to her than a larger version of an influenza virus which has seriously retarded her oceanic and atmospheric temperature range functioning systems.

        If we do not immediately stop fossil fuel extraction worldwide and control the Arctic methane emission sites we will all be stardust before a decade is past.”

        • Fast Eddy says:

          ‘Apparently all we have to do is station a few ships in the Arctic and fire laser beams at the methane to neutralise it’

          Can you put me in touch with the people who are funding this — I am looking for an angel investor to drop $100 billion into my start-up The Sun Pipe.

          I am looking for extremely wealthy – extremely gullible investors.

          • common phenomenon says:

            Mind you, considering the money the military-industrial complex spends on weapons… They’d be disappointed just to be killing methane rather than brown people, I suppose. I read that the crop circles in England, supposedly created by a] ETs or b] practical jokers were actually done by the military, testing their secret laser weapons. They were happy to get people arguing the toss between the a] and b] options, so their involvement went unsuspected.

        • Tim Groves says:

          “Mother Earth will continue to respond more vigorously with her Arctic methane antibiotic to eliminate the humans from her system as we represent nothing more to her than a larger version of an influenza virus which has seriously retarded her oceanic and atmospheric temperature range functioning systems.

          If we do not immediately stop fossil fuel extraction worldwide and control the Arctic methane emission sites we will all be stardust before a decade is past.”

          Sounds like Gaia theory on steroids.

          I think this whole line of reasoning is 100% bovine excrement, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume it is possible or even probable that Mother Earth will fry the biosphere if we don’t immediately stop using fossil fuels. In that case, I’m all for being fried alive. As the alternative is total economic collapse followed by starvation, disease and encounters with characters resembling the nasties from Mad Max 1, 2 and eventually 3, if you live that long, I think that as long as its quick, being fried alive might be a mercy.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            ++++ …. +++++ …. ++++++ (I’ve invented a new version of Morse code — that burst = excellent post)

  22. Few days ago we discussed along side that non Opec oil production global share graph, that they have in this falling trend perhaps only around ~3yrs before hitting major psychological threshold..

    Now this is in, apparent panic in the North Sea area:

    “Call for urgent changes in UK oil and gas industry
    Senior figures in offshore oil and gas have called for more radical and urgent changes to avoid rapid decline. They say there are only two years in which to secure the industry’s future” .. You know something’s really badly wrong with North Sea oil and gas, when the people who control it are calling for their own overthrow.”

    Meanwhile, call option for $110 are back vogue, and the Junckers/Sarkozys of the world are personally pleading in front of Putin in Moscow to unilaterally stop the anti sanctions, did not work, lolz..

  23. Fast Eddy says:


    Keep in mind these are cops that are getting paid —- they supposedly have commanders and rules …

    Now imagine what they will be capable of when they are not paid — they are hungry – their children are hungry — there are no checks and balances — no rules…

    Was someone suggesting getting friendly with former military men in the neighbourhood – cops included?

    Ha ha ha – that would be like walking to Wall St and trying to make friends with Jamie Dimon — post BAU the military men and cops will be the new Jamie Dimon’s … only far worse – not only won’t they won’t be your friend (and protect you) … they will yoke you and rape your daughter

    Boy oh boy are some of you people in for a HUGE surprise —- especially those who think human nature will change for the better…

    It’s gonna be like 7.3 billion dogs in a big ol cage — and just a few hundred bones….

    You think dogs are vicious…

    Come now — we are the top predator — we are the greatest killing machine to ever walk the earth — we are capable of things other animals cannot even imagine — we are cruel beyond believe — we will burn a child’s eyes out — we will invent the most painful tortures … we will do commit the most heinous sex acts on our victims…

    We will do whatever it takes — to get more — particularly when there is not enough

    This is not the way it is going to be

    • Again, we are not at the end of the road yet, wake me up, when at least comparable advanced decaying realities ala “Children of Men” are here, that’s conservatively estimating not before ~2025-2040, and then afterwards it perhaps could bifurcate into your instadoom subscenario.. Plus, there are various (low probability) scenarios for advanced delays aka unforseen technofix can kicking it till later part of the century or way longer. Simply, we don’t know the future, we speculate and gamble on probabilities in the end..

      • Fast Eddy says:

        What you do not seem to understand is that the picture I am painting has nothing to do with running out of oil …

        It is one of financial collapse — one of continuing declines in industrial production — falling profits — layoffs — defaults — deflation … bankruptcies — culminating in a Lehman moment— on steroids….

        And just like the run up to 2008 everything was wonderful and then one day — people like you were tearing their hair out — panicking — looking for scapegoats — and when the central banks saved the day — you began to holler ‘idiots – corrupt pricks – how dare you’

        Needless to say — I have very little time for the likes of you.

        So you might want to print this reply out and frame it.

        Would you like to me to sign it?

      • A Real Black Person says:

        “Simply, we don’t know the future”
        We know enough to know that there won’t be a happy ending for most of the human race.

        “a unforseen technofix ”
        The Best and Brightest amongst us were trained in technical fields at selective and highly-ranked higher educational institutions and work for firms with high prestige.
        What they are working on is widely, with the rare exception of the U.S. Department of Defense, well-documented.
        They have not solved any pressing problem in decades.

        The stuff they are excited about is not viable at this time.
        They are excited about Elon Musk’s ideas which aren’t really solutions to any problem.
        They are hoping the market economy , not science and engineering, will let us transition to a Green Economy because they believe market economy ideas, such as economies of scale,scaling will work, just like it did with fossil fuels, to make renewable energy viable.

        Some of them have been leaving STEM fields for Wall Street because the pay is better.

        I’m curious as to why you think so when the Best and Brightest are have a techno-fix up their sleeve that may actually solve a problem. What they have been really good is making money in recent years, but they’re running out of paying customers.

        • Fast Eddy says:


          Can someone name a technology fix that is imminently (or ever) going to replace oil.

          Let’s fact it – the oil age is a blip in the history of the world — there was nothing like it before — and there will be nothing like it after.

          Think of it this way — a young man is walking down the street — he finds a 10kg sack of heroin — he has one hell of a party increasing his dosage until at the very end he just fires what remains of the sack into his last remaining decent vein — reaches for the heavens…

          Then he dies.

          Lock the 1000 smartest scientists in a room with nothing but tables and chairs. Ask them to make a baloney sandwich.

          • Tim Groves says:

            The technology that’s going to replace oil has already been invented and doubtless Elon Musk and Bill Gates are working to perfect it right now. The prototype looks something like this.


          • doomphd says:

            Two words: nuclear fusion.
            Three words: aneutronic nuclear fusion, aka “Mr. Fusion” in the film “Back to the Future”.

            There are designs and plans to test both types. Many if not most researchers in this filed are stuck on what is called “The Lawson Criterion”, which states that temperatures and pressures like those found inside stars like the Sun are necessary to promote and maintain the velocities necessary to impact and fuse atoms. This line of thinking is incorrect, and velocity impact fusion was proven by Farnsworth back in the 1950s. The trick is to sustain these reactions and obtain a net energy gain. So-called “Farnsworth Fusers” are net energy losers. They are the ones the wiz kids use to show on TV how smart they are at a tender age (under adult supervision). Neutrons are produced, which need shielding.

            Aneutronic nuclear fusion is the real goal, as those reactions produce no neutron and little other radiation. With some minor shielding, those could directly power vehicles, like trucks and buses, cars, ships, plus airplanes (flying cars) and personed space vehicles. Something akin to warp drive is also possible, allowing the human virus to spread beyond this solar system to infect the rest of the galaxy and beyond. Progress.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Aneutronic nuclear fusion is the real goal, as those reactions produce no neutron and little other radiation. With some minor shielding, those could directly power vehicles, like trucks and buses, cars, ships, plus airplanes (flying cars) and personed space vehicles. Something akin to warp drive is also possible, allowing the human virus to spread beyond this solar system to infect the rest of the galaxy and beyond. Progress.

              Personally, I’m waiting for the Vulcans to land and teach us how to harness the power of dilithium crystals.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Two words: Sun Pipe

              Harpoon the sun with a pipe — suck the heat back to earth — unlimited electricity

            • our current excess of consumption must be seen as an exploding supernova in the million years of our existence—when it’s over, we sink back into the darkness of primitive living

        • obnoxious says:

          “The Best and Brightest amongst us were trained in technical fields at selective and highly-ranked higher educational institutions and work for firms with high prestige.”

          And, there it is, right there. The core of the problem.

          “They have not solved any pressing problem in decades.”

          The work on contemporary academic doctrine, their careers, prestige, pet projects, not on any radically new ideas or technology.

          If they truly were, they would sacrifice their academic and corporate creed. Perhaps ending up alone in a hotel room at an old age, with the entire world lit up and powered using the electromagnetic technologies he created.

          So do us all a favor and ditch that boring schtick.


          The age of the Machine oh, finally, keep it coming.
          I’m so relentlessly bored by the semi-intellectuals.

      • obnoxious says:


    • tagio says:

      Here you go FE, just post this everytime you want to tell us how it’s going to be, and you can save a lot of typing time. End of Season 6, Walking Dead. Rick and his people who are living in an eco villagge with walls to keep the zombies out are finally corraled by arch-villain gang leader Negan. AMC’s got your story line covered for you.

  24. Neil Howe of the 4th turning fame,
    and latest data: fertility down (lations have no kids), mortality up (health care sucks + drugs)
    =deflation contribution; also 75% of millennials stand up for the system, lolz

    So, they obviously don’t and won’t own the system for a few more decades, but are going to staff some of the levers soonish, inferring as the crash is postponed, the longer is the pendulum swing towards next era of quasi egalitarian system arrangement delayed..

    Evaluate and prepare accordingly.

    • A Real Black Person (who let him in, anway)? says:

      You sensationalized a rather tame presentation of population data. The data presented is nothing new. The topics that have come up for discussion , with the exception of baby boomers having the majority of disposable income, come up regularly when people chit chat. It’s easier to discuss why Johnny hasn’t settled down into a high paying job with a wife and 2.5 kids because it lends itself into all kinds of finger-wagging and moralizing that most people love to engage in then it is to talk about the entitlements of people who are about to enter retirement age.

      I didn’t listen to the whole report/discussion. It presents nothing that I would call news so I stopped listening halfway through. It does what MSM does and that is it reports observations and makes uninformed guesses as to why certain things are occurring.

      John B. Calhoun’s experiment with crowding rat offers a better explanation for decreasing birth rates and less consumption by those who should be having children.

      • DJ says:

        Never heard of dude before. Much interesting.

        “Among the aberrations in behavior were the following: expulsion of young before weaning was complete, wounding of young, increase in homosexual behavior, inability of dominant males to maintain the defense of their territory and females, aggressive behavior of females, passivity of non-dominant males”

        Better than Reindeer Island.

        • obnoxious says:

          “Better than Reindeer Island.”

          Different “experimental” conditions.
          They can not directly be compared.

          But it is indeed an interesting experiment with an unexpected outcome. The outcome of reindeer island was fairly predictable.

        • Ed says:

          DJ, wow seems like a one to one match with current human behavior.

  25. Ed says:

    Venezuela should offer its oil for sale on the following terms.

    1) you pay the government $30 per barrel
    2) you pay the government 10% on the money above $70 per barrel
    3) that rises to 50% over $140 per barrel
    4) you obey the environmental laws and the labor laws

  26. Aristotle says:

    I’m not sure about Gail’s oil analysis. ! Oil is dirt cheap right now because there is too much of it!
    The original theory that oil is “fossil fuel” was never based on anything
    concrete. However it suits the corporations to spin the “Peak Oil” fear
    that we will run out – which was supposed to actually happen in the 1980s
    !!! The reality is that oil is probably “abiotic” – or mineral origin and
    available all over the place. The Russians realised this a long time ago
    and changed their exploration methods accordingly and only last month had
    their highest oil production levels for 30 years.

    • Ed says:

      Show me a graph of know reserves versus year. Show me a graph of capex versus year. If reserves are going up and capex is going down then I will believe you.

    • I’m just going off to the bottom of my garden—to shoot at some food

      If I hum the Beverly Hillbillies theme tune loud enough—-bubblin crude is bound to come up sooner or later

    • I think you are right, as linked just few hours ago, clearly the Norwegian and Russian habit of drilling for that stuff in -60C arctic environment has been just revealed as a mere past time activity of those northerly crazies..

      • obnoxious says:

        As a “northernern” myself I can tell that being outdoors at -40C is pretty intense. But -60C, man that is in another ballpark. How do they get any machinery to work at all in such conditions, mindboggling. Just avoiding the occasional injury from accidentally touching cold surfaces.

        But to tell the truth. I’m a little curious at experiencing the whole operation including the cold, the vodka, the swearing and the technology.

        I’m proposing an experiment: “How much vodka is required so it reaches the ground liquid”. I’ll report back here with images and figures of freeze height vs vodka ingestion. Now can someone please fund my serious research?

    • Tim Groves says:

      Exclamation mark alert! If you’re going to use three of ’em in a row merely for emphasis, what are you going to to when you need to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater or “Mind that bus!”?

      Alexander Cockburn used to subscribe to the abiotic oil theory and referred to it several times in his columns in The Nation, but I think he did so merely to upset those of his comrades on the left who were the doomers of their generation. I don’t think he really cared one way or the other whether it was valid. He knew there would be enough oil for him to drive his jeep to the end of his days. That knowledge was a luxury we can’t afford to embrace in 2016.

      Whether there is abiotic oil and regardless of how much of it there is in the lower lithosphere, the fact remains that if it isn’t cheap to extract, it won’t save BAU. Around the world, the dominos are already beginning to topple. Only super-cheap-to-extract oil brought to market at prices low enough to please consumers at a profit margin high enough to please producers can save the day.

    • This is the reply I sent you by email to a similar e-mailed comment:

      I keep writing that prices are too low for producers to make a profit, for all of the fossil fuels.

      It doesn’t matter how oil was made.The issue is that we cannot get it out cheaply enough. Also, governments are depending on taxes on fossil fuel extraction to operate their governments. This is a big deal.

      See for example this news article:

      It says: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/rio-olympics-olympic-games-public-calamity-financial-crisis-a7088821.html

      The state of Rio relies heavily on tax revenues from the oil fields off Brazil’s south eastern Atlantic coast. However, the tumbling price for oil has hit state finances, causing Rio to inch further and further into the red.

      It is the negative impacts on governments that causes a major problem. The story that oil is heavily subsidized is just that—a story. It is really a very major payor of tax revenues in oil producing countries.

  27. In terms of timing, lets firstly go back to the origins, modern int bond marker established ~1818:

    Bonds, debt financing, deep state governance over sheeple, as new cohesive religion identified as early as 1830 by Heinrich Heine (same vid ~25:20).

    So, historically speaking roughly 230-250yrs span of such cycles we are getting closer to flushing phase of the current dominant system, but it could be few decades earlier, who knows..

  28. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    I had this dystopian sleeping dream last night about post collapse. I’m not saying this is what will happen or is even plausible to occur, it’s just what happened in the dream. People were riding buses (no passenger cars) to abandoned agricultural fields to gather/hunt for rats (to cook and eat them).

    I know, strange, but just thought it may be interesting to some.

    • Ed says:

      Better off raising rabbits. Walk to field to gather rabbit feed. Maybe use cobbled bicycle wheeled cart to carry home bulky rabbit feed.

    • Tim Groves says:

      After the collapse, I may go vegan.

      I may even try a long fast.

      I may not have much choice.

      Maybe I should read this book about people who seldom or never eat. Then I can plonk it down on the doomer/survivalist bookshelf right next to Living the Good Life.

      One of these amazing people claims to have not eaten food or drunk water in six years. (Does he dine exclusively at MacDonalds?) Another has apparently survived for the past 18 years on a bowl of miso soup a day.

      Tabenai Hitotachi — Fushoku ga Hito no Kenko ni Suru
      (People who don’t Eat — Not Eating Makes People Healthy)


  29. Stefeun says:

    ** Inequalities **


    The above graph is from a post by French economist Jean Gadrey (http://alternatives-economiques.fr/blogs/gadrey/2016/05/05/croissance-negative-aux-etats-unis-depuis-40-ans/#more-1266).

    The source, linked in the post, is a report by the NY. Levy Institute (20 pages with some more detailed charts):

    • Thanks! The period with rising energy per capita appears to be the period with falling wage inequality–that is what web would expect, as well.

  30. Tim Groves says:

    I’ve been reading this blog for over six months and I’ve read the majority of Gail’s archive, You don’t need to advise me on what to post and what not to.

    If you’ll just read through this thread you’ll see plenty of absolute trivia and joking banter that 95+% of the readers have very little interest in seeing. Yet strangely I don’t see you hovering over them and hen pecking. Why have you selected my post for special treatment?

    There is precious little that is new under the sun, and it does no harm to repeat themes of general interest. Gail does this all the time in her articles and “95+% of the regulars” do it in their comments. And nobody bata an eyelid. And why should they? There are always a few regulars who might not have seen something, or want to revisit it, not to mention occasional visitors, who might be interested. Do you really feel you have sufficient knowledge of what the vast majority knows and what everybody might find interesting?

  31. obnoxious says:

    Nah, not even reading. Just take a walk in the concrete jungle for a moment and the conclusions are there for everybody to be seen.

    Japan have taken this concrete obsession and cranked it up to 11. They have been busy little bees in the 80’s and 90’s, this stuff has been poured in the most weird places. The locals hate it because it is ugly and reeks of corruption and waste.

    And now it is fairly obvious that it is decaying, rusting and eroding. It looks a bit crusty everywhere.

    • Tim Groves says:

      Obnoxious, you’re right. The Japanese have indeed poured a lot of concrete these past few decades. And much of what they’ve done with it looks very ugly. Much of It was done for obvious functional reasons like providing wider roads, railways, bridges, tunnels, sewers, drains and embankments, and it succeeded in giving people the kind of quality of life that most of them said they wanted. The japanese are much less NYMBYish that any of the Europeans. There were major local objections to Narita Airport and to a number of nuclear power plants, incinerators and landfill sites, but by and large, the Japanese welcomed things like bridges, tunnels and motorways. The didn’t regard them as eyesores. Rather, to a people who remembered bicycling to school or work on gravel roads as recently as the 1960s, these infrastructural developments represented progress, convenience and affluence.

      However, there was another, usually unstated, reason for pouring all this concrete, and that was to maintain the economy by supplying the construction industry with a constant supply of public works projects. Even if this meant building roads, bridges, levees and tunnels and reclaiming land from the coast that nobody really needed, the economic value of construction lay in stimulating the overall economy and thereby sustaining BAU. And so, it went on and on. Even at a time when some of the American states could no longer afford to repair potholes and were switching some roads from asphalt to gravel, the Japanese went on building new roads.

      For instance, there’s a new road 300m road tunnel half a mile from my homestead that was completed in September 2014 after being in various stages of planning and construction for 20 years. It hasn’t opened yet because the approach roads aren’t finished yet. In the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, the Construction State shifted a lot of its manpower and resources to rebuild the devastated area, leaving less available for projects elsewhere. But that’s OK. We can wait a year or two more for the new tunnel to open. Nobody really needs that road anyway. It will probably only get four or five vehicles an hour going through it apart from during rush hours.

      • I have always wondered what the Japanese government did with all the money they borrowed, besides provide construction jobs. You filled in some more pieces of the picture. Next question: why should all of this borrowing be expected to have a positive return? Or is it part of the reason for the recent negative rates?

        • Stefeun says:

          NIRP would -partly- pay back the cumulated maintenance costs of these unproductive investments?

          By speeding up their destruction, or ..?
          (think I need some explanations, here, I don’t get the logic)

        • Tim Groves says:

          I have always wondered what the Japanese government did with all the money they borrowed, besides provide construction jobs. You filled in some more pieces of the picture. Next question: why should all of this borrowing be expected to have a positive return? Or is it part of the reason for the recent negative rates?

          Gail, I’m no expert, but as I see it, Japanese government spending isn’t aimed at achieving a positive return. Although of course it would be nice for the government if it could do this. The main aims seem to be to support overall economic activity by providing affordable essential services and building infrastructure that the private sector can’t fund commercially and maintaining close to full employment when the economy isn’t booming.

          Japan, after loosing the war, was given a new constitution that made it difficult to build up a military industrial complex on a scale commensurate with its economic size. But being a land of mountains and islands with flat land at a premium, it pursued a strategy of aggressive infrastructure development that led to the establishment of what has been called The Construction State.

          As you’d expect, first they built roads and bridges and dams that were needed and useful and which contributed greatly to the economy. Later, when they ran out of useful things to do, they continued by constructing things that were only of marginal use, and eventually went on to build things that were essentially useless. (There is a parallel with oil exploration here.) However, by keeping everybody busy and productive, even though a lot of the productivity produces nothing of value, a high degree of social stability and psychological security is maintained, and the economy keeps running, albeit in low gear, generating taxes that partially fund the system. But as you are aware, for many years there has been a huge shortfall in tax revenues vs. spending, which has had to be made up by issuing government bonds, leading to a steadily increasing national debt.

          Worried about the growth of the debt, the Liberal Democratic Party (Jiminto) Koizumi Administration in the opening years of this century took a stand by limiting the issue of new government bonds to ¥30 trillion per year over several years and making major reforms including the reform of the Japanese postal savings system, which was and probably still is the world’s largest savings bank, as well as the amalgamation of hundreds of small municipalities into larger entities and a slimming down of the huge public works budget to cut down on ineffective spending.

          Koizumi’s public works policy upset some powerful vested interests,and when their people got back in the driving seat, they turned the public works spigot back on. Then there was a public backlash that led the LDP to loose power to the Democratic Party (Minshuto) in 2009, who turned it back off. Then came the massive Great East Japan Earthquake, which was a traumatic event for the country but a windfall for the so-called Construction State. Since then there has been very little talk of trimming down the public works budget. The reconstruction of roads and towns in the disaster areas will take decades, has drawn in resources and contractors from across the country and absorbed significant amounts of government spending. The economic cost or payback on these public works is of secondary consideration. The important thing for the government is not to abandon the affected communities. The roads and towns and waterways and levees and sewage systems and rice paddies must be restored, or, like the Six Million Dollar Man, made better than they were before.

          So far, most Japanese public debt has been financed from within the country. Working people saved or paid in for their pensions, and the government borrowed the savings. The aging society and the inability of younger people, many of whom lack full-time well-paid jobs, to save as much as their parents did, is putting a stop to this arrangement. The public purse is going to be called upon to pay out a lot more in pensions and other social security services while its tax collection capabilities remain inadequate. What is required is a magic hat from which flows unlimited amounts of free money, or else a black hole into which unlimited amounts of debt can be dumped into and forgotten, or maybe both. It’s said that the American Government gets away with maintaining an unsustainable debt because the petrodollar is the world’s reserve currency. How the Japanese Government manages to live so far beyond its means while Venezuela and Zimbabwe fail so spectacularly, I have no idea.

          • Thanks! Your explanation fills in some details I hadn’t heard. Internationally, funding for pension plans plays a big role in the market for debt.

            Even if the massive debt is mostly owed to its own people, there is a real problem if there is a default on this debt. There would also be a problem if payments of this debt don’t really lead to a situation where pensioners can buy sufficient goods in the international market, particularly food. One way this could happen would be through a falling Yen. It could also happen through some crisis that causes international banking problems.

  32. Tim Groves says:

    Ever wondered how long our concrete infrastructure is going to last. According to this article, probably not nearly as long as the original builders were expecting. Damn that rebar! And of course, concrete is something else that is going to be in very short supply once we no long have enough cheap energy to manufacture and transport it.


    By itself, concrete is a very durable construction material. The magnificent Pantheon in Rome, the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome, is in excellent condition after nearly 1,900 years. And yet many concrete structures from last century – bridges, highways and buildings – are crumbling. Many concrete structures built this century will be obsolete before its end.

    Given the survival of ancient structures, this may seem curious. The critical difference is the modern use of steel reinforcement, known as rebar, concealed within the concrete. Steel is made mainly of iron, and one of iron’s unalterable properties is that it rusts. This ruins the durability of concrete structures in ways that are difficult to detect and costly to repair.

    While repair may be justified to preserve the architectural legacy of iconic 20th-century buildings, such as those designed by reinforced concrete users like Frank Lloyd Wright, it is questionable whether this will be affordable or desirable for the vast majority of structures. The writer Robert Courland, in his book Concrete Planet, estimates that repair and rebuilding costs of concrete infrastructure, just in the United States, will be in the trillions of dollars – to be paid by future generations.

    • Ert says:

      Yepp… there are already lots of problems with that for example in Germany. Here is a German link of the “German Building Magazin”, titled “Concrete is no material for the construction of bridges”: http://www.db-bauzeitung.de/aktuell/diskurs/beton-ist-kein-baustoff-fuer-bruecken/

      Will be funny to watch how fast all that concrete Stuff in China will collapse or needs maintenance. Its all fairly new (from 2000 onwards) and probably build all to the best standards in the worlds (haha 😉

      Then the maintenance produces cost – but no real economic expansion/benefit anymore. The developed OECD states are already in that trap…. and in Germany its so bad, that “we” can’t even build a train-station of a airport anymore (at least not under one or two decades).

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Interesting comments regarding rebar…. gives new meaning to rotting from the core

      • Tim Groves says:

        These days rebar is too cheap to meter! They are literally giving the stuff away.
        I just bought 100 six-foot-long 16mm diameter lengths of brand-new Chinese rebar for about 50 yen each to use as posts for fencing and poles for the veggie garden. Once I get them painted they should last me forever. Certainly, they’ll keep better under rust-proofing paint than they would encased in concrete.

    • Thanks! Rebar rusting is an excellent point.

  33. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Here’s an article that was on the automatic earth about rising bankruptcies:

    “..central banks in their infinite wisdom have made the cost of money so cheap that it has created an environment that forces a complete misallocation of capital in the market ..”

    • Default Cycle: ‘It’s Only A Matter Of Time Before Many Of Them Blow Up’

    It’s been a tough year for traders and bankers alike, as layoffs have gripped firms due to difficult trading environments and an overall sluggish economy. However, there is one area that is starting to actually pick up. As the number of bankruptcies begin to increase, firms are expanding their turnaround teams in order to handle all of the work headed their way – bankers with experience in turnarounds and restructuring are now in high demand. “Firms are hungry for experienced restructuring professionals, who are increasingly in short supply. You need to reach deep into your Rolodex to find people you know who are capable, and you need to move fast.” said Richard Shinder, hired by Piper Jaffray in March to help build out its restructuring team.

    Both the number of bankruptcies and the amount of liabilities associated with them have picked up significantly, as Bloomberg points out. With the amount of companies in distress, firms such as Lazard, Guggenheim, Perella Weinberg and Alix are all hiring in anticipation of even more bankruptcies. “Cycles come and go, but when a wave hits, you want to make sure you are in the right seat with the right group of people. We are putting the band back together.” said Ronen Bojmel, who is helping to build the restructuring team at Guggenheim. Moody’s is forecasting high default rates in sectors that are largely expected given commodity prices, such as Metals & Mining and Oil & Gas, however trouble looks to be spilling over into other sectors such as Construction, Media, Durable Consumer Goods, and even Retail.

    As we have discussed for quite some time, central banks in their infinite wisdom have made the cost of money so cheap that it has created an environment that forces a complete misallocation of capital in the market as the search for yield continues down every rabbit hole it can find. This will (and already is) inevitably catch up to the economy in the form of defaults and bankruptcies. “The wave is already here. Many risky debt deals have been done as people chased yield, and it’s a matter of time before many of them blow up.” said Tim Coleman, head of PJT Partners.”

    I think the fancy fiscal follies are beginning to unwind.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      The Titanic is sinking …. and their sending out distress calls for additional trumpet players for the band…

      Rather amusing….

  34. Fast Eddy says:


    Now I see why my previous request a few years ago was not responded to… and my Australian buddy who was to join was accepted very quickly…

    They must have suspected that I was a Canadian James Bond character (man of mystery etc…) and were denying all…

    And since then they have introduced a chaperon…. for the likes of me…. along with a 45 day wait period ….

    That’s what you get when you sign on as the newest state of America 🙁

    Regarding your request according to the rules announced by MFA British, Canadian and American passport holders need to travel to Iran on tour and one guide should be with them.

    They also need to book all of their needed services through one agency from the first day you enter Iran till the departure day.

    Their visa process also takes a bit much time than other nationalities about 30 to 45 working days.

    Note that this guide is not kind of guardian. The point is as there is some special political situation between the countries, Iran government prefer to support your nationality from the arrival till departure to avoid any unexpected problem.

  35. psile says:

    Deaths, arrests as looting erupts in Venezuela

    Caracas (AFP) – Residents barricaded their shops Friday in a Venezuelan city hit by violence after the country’s food crisis erupted into deadly looting.

    The unrest came days ahead of a new key stage in the opposition’s bid to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office: the authentication of signatures calling for a recall referendum.

    Police arrested hundreds of people in the latest unrest, which heightened hardship and political uncertainty in the impoverished oil-producing nation.

    Some shop owners welded their shutters closed in the old colonial city of Cumana, where dozens of stores were looted on Tuesday.

    The Caribbean coastal city is the latest flashpoint in a crisis that has killed at least five people so far.

    “It ended in total ruin because the businesses had not only their stock pillaged but also their furniture. It was total destruction,” said Ruben Saud, president of the Cumana Chamber of Commerce.

    The army was sent in to keep order in Cumana after Tuesday’s outbreak of looting, which erupted during a protest against food shortages.

    The chaos started when gangs of looters on motorcycles raided trucks transporting supplies.

    “They were beating and robbing drivers. They pillaged trucks, bakeries and supermarkets,” Saud told AFP.

    The state governor said more than 400 people were arrested in Cumana…TBC…

    Of course when real collapse comes there won’t be anyone there to arrest you. The ex-cops will be too busy joining in with the looters…


  36. Siobhan says:

    Rio state declares ‘public calamity’ over finances
    The Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro has declared a financial emergency less than 50 days before the Olympics.
    Interim Governor Francisco Dornelles says the “serious economic crisis” threatens to stop the state from honouring commitments for the games.


    • Fast Eddy says:

      Last Olympic Games — pretty much certain

      • Great Game - Well Played says:

        Professional sports: The battle of doping doctors.
        Soon with the bread gone, only the circuses will be left for the plebs.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          100% — any sport involving speed and power is rife with dope….. which means all sports except curling and darts are rife with dope…. of course they make good use of beta blockers….

          ‘whatever it takes’

        • Stilgar Wilcox says:

          The rest of society has become a free for all of scamming. Even Bill Gates has taken the gloves off by pirating computers (he doesn’t own) into making the change to Windows 10 (whether people like it or not). So from the high seas of Somalia to the posh offices of Seattle, pirating, scams of all sorts, franken-food, on and on into the night with all sorts of sorbid ways to bilk people instead of providing an actual service or product, we might as well toss out the notion of controlling people’s bodies and just say anything goes when it comes to enhancing our bodies to compete in sports. No drug testing, no questions, just results from doped up competitors. Pass the pills and needles around and let the games begin!

          • Tim Groves says:

            Is Bill involved in very much in the running of Microsoft these days? I thought he was busy passing the needles around to vaccinate children across the Third World against nasty bugs and viruses. It’s my fond hope that his medical vaccinations are safer and more effective than his PC anti-virus software has been over the years.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              We really need to eradicate malaria so that we have have an even bigger population overshoot.

              Maybe Bill can even eradicate death. Death to Death!

            • The population overshoot problem is one Bill Gates and other miss.

            • Ed says:

              FE, exactly! Ending malaria just leads to more deaths down the line. The one and only issue is over population.

            • you are quite right of course

              until it’s your kid threatened with malaria.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Alas — I have no children …. but I get the point….

              Every life is precious — even a baby born with half a brain that will never walk talk or think — must be saved — and a fortune spent to allow it to live a ‘normal life’

              In the jungle if that happens… the jackals step in ….

              We are violating the laws of the jungle….

            • agreed again—-insoluble problems have a nasty habit of solving themselves

            • obnoxious says:

              Fast Eddy, the cuteness and feel-good industry are being sponsored by Saudi Aramco and the MIC.

              And now to a news report from RealitySTAN:

              At tonight’s show, a satori of sorts; your dumb emotions, bread and circuses all fossil fueled. Now how about that you mindless little TV watching consumerist fake empathy and sympathy dwelling ignoramus.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              And my meals, car, truck, tools, restaurants, vacations, wine, whiskey, heat, bed linens, clothes, police, hospitals, roads … are sponsored by fossil fuels.

              I’d like to give special thanks for my bounty to the like of Exxon, Aramco, BP, Shell, Total…

              I could never have lived large without all you.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Guys, do you think should people still be having babies today or should we collectively call a halt to it as a damage limitation exercise? Or on the other hand, should we be promoting pregnancy and childbirth in a Babies for BAU campaign?

              Like Eddy, I have no kids, so like the Buddha and Mr. Chips, I see all the world as my children, even the naughty ones. I find it impossible to judge or even to advise individuals over their choice to become parents or not. At the same time, I’ve never contemplated bringing a child into the world.

              Personally, I’m glad to see Japan’s population aging and shrinking. Although this is usually portrayed as a negative trend, I suspect it will be a mercy come SHTF time. The elderly, myself included, can let go of life much more easily than the young can. We can all keep working at something useful for as long as we are able, enjoy the roses, and then bow out gracefully at the appropriate time. Also, we oldsters are better prepared to meet the demands of fate psychologically. We already know deep in our bones that Mr. Death will come for us like a thief in the night. Some of us are even aware of his constant presence at our left shoulder. We just hope he’ll be friendly.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Of course the answer is that we need more babies — we need more consumers — the Beast adores babies… he wants MORE

              We need 10 billion then 20 then 30 then 50…. cancer either grows or it dies…. we are cancer… we want to consume the host…

            • OP says:


              “Personally, I’m glad to see Japan’s population aging and shrinking.”
              Yep, me too, it’s kind of a positive thing I consider. Though, it indeed put a strain on the society. Though, there are lots of long since retired oldies here still working for some extra money and purpose in life.

              Where I currently am (Okayama area), retirees sell their city dwellings and move to smaller villages on the outskirts. With the change they buy a fancy house, with a cute rice field near by, and of course a tractor. Keeps them busy, healthy and less dependent on the Monster.

            • Tim Groves says:


              Good to make your acquaintance. I’m located not too far from Okayama, out in the sticks in the part of Kyoto that boarders Hyogo. My neighbor’s daughter married into a farming family in northern Okayama and they have got a barter system in foods running between them that would be the envy of Helen and Scott Nearing. I agree the countryside is filled mostly with older people these days. Lots of smaller settlements are being abandoned to return to forest land like ancient Cambodian or Maya ruins. But the oldsters who keep active tend to stay pretty fit and they produce a lot of food that doesn’t get included in the national statistics. Rice production is officially recorded here, but how many potatoes, onions and other greens people are growing is anyone’s guess.

              A question: Do you think Japan will be any better able to handle the end of BAU than the Western world will?

              My perspective: With 125 million people in a country not a lot bigger than the UK or New Zealand that only produces half its food even in these chemical farming days, the situation seems hopeless. But when I see how the Japanese don’t riot or loot stores during disasters and how they practice the art of cooperation, almost as if they know what to do without being told, I also think there must be a glimmer of hope that they can jerry rig some kind of subsistence society, so the future here will probably be more like Shogun than Mad Max.

            • OP says:

              Here’s one for you Fast Eddy:
              Birth Rate and Economic Growth. What conclusions do you draw from it?


            • I have looked at population growth rates as well. My conclusion is that birth rates don’t go down nearly fast enough. The number of deaths prevented by modern medicine pushes up population greatly, even with the modest birth rate reductions we are seeing. Even China has been experiencing population growth.

            • GGWP says:

              Gail, I also interpret the graph in a way that the less births there are, the higher the economic output. The common interpretation is that a high GDP results in less births. I think there is more than one dynamic going on here.

              Speaking from anecdotal evidence, most of my current and past colleagues with children are far less productive and energy efficient than myself and my other colleagues without kids.

              Creating complex machinery and software takes a lot of effort and to be any good at it requires at university level engineering or scientific studies and then on top of that some 10 years of dedication at work. Most people have families way before that, lose interest and just stop caring way before that, ending up as the generic corporate drone.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Speaking from anecdotal evidence, most of my current and past colleagues with children are far less productive and energy efficient than myself and my other colleagues without kids.

              That’s very insightful. I never thought about this before, but now you come to mention it, I’ve seen the same phenomenon over the years — with plenty of exceptions, of course.

              Also, it isn’t just kids. Since adopting a dog last November, I’m basically tied into a schedule of walkies two hours a day. It’s good exercise but it represents about 15% of the waking day that can’t be used for productive work, unless you count pondering the latest speculations of theoretical cosmology.

    • psile says:

      Never fear. The media will gloss it over and paint the games as a great sign that Brazil’s best days still lie ahead of it.

      They will continue to say the same thing even as the coffin of that country is being lowered into the grave!

    • Thanks! The important point is this one in the article you link:

      The governor has blamed the crisis on a tax shortfall, especially from the oil industry, while Brazil overall has faced a deep recession.

      Low oil prices, so less oil taxes. I am sure that there have been a lot of layoffs from the industry as well.

  37. Yoshua says:

    Venezuela Says Oil at $50 Enough to Avoid PDVSA Default


    State oil company’s average output cost around $12 a barrel

    • Yoshua says:

      According to figures released by the Venezuela Ministry of Petroleum and Mining, the average price of Venezuelan crude sold by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) during the week ending June 10 was $40.52, up $1.49 from the previous week’s $39.03.


    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      $12 buck a barrel is great. They should increase production and hand out some chickens – lol.

      • Yoshua says:

        Venezuela’s fiscal break even price for a barrel of oil might be $120.
        Venezuela’s oil company’s break even price might be $60.
        Venezuela’s oil company’s marginal cost or what ever it’s called(pumping) might be $12.

        If WTI is $50 then Venezuela’s heavy oil is $40 per barrel on the market.

        They can still have a positive cash flow if they pump for $12 and sell for $40 per barrel… at least until Haliburton and Schlumberger send them the bills for exploration and drilling the wells.

        So it must be very tempting for Venezuela to let Haliburton and Schlumberger explore and drill the wells… to be able to maintain a positive cash flow… and then start negotiating with the oil service companies when they send the bills for their services.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        How about this:

        Countries that do not matter – Conthdonmat – but that have significant oil reserves such as Brazil Venezuela Iraq Saudi Arabia Syria Libya etc….

        Get bombed into the stone age by Countries that do matter (OECD) …

        Then — OECD countries ring fence the oil facilities — because there would no longer be functioning governments in these places that need oil profits — the break even on this oil falls dramatically…

        Take Saudi Arabia for instance —- well head break even must be will under $50 —- stop supporting the house of saud and let the various factions incinerate each other…. regularly lob artillery shells from ships in the gulf and drop mega bombs from the air just to stir the pot a little …. fill the bombs with pork blood to really get things going….

        Meanwhile — get the Exxon boys onto the wells — put special forces in place for security — and have fighter jets strafe and napalm anything that moves in a 10 mile radius of any oil production site….

        Conthdonmat countries are irrelevant to the global economy — they are too insignificant — they can drop into failed state status without the rest of us even noticing…

        What this does of course is keep BAU going a little longer…. we eradicate some useless feeders — we get more cheap to produce oil on the market….

        Of course the details need to be worked out but this concept is like the cavalry riding to the rescue — it does allow us to continue the fight…

        If someone will pass this along to the people in Mission Control I would be more than happy to meet a private jet at the Nelson airport and fly to HQ to provide a more thorough briefing.

        What’s that Mrs Fast?… we’ve already done this in Iraq… Libya… Yes I suppose we have … I suppose we have….

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Fiscal Breakeven Oil Prices: Uses, Abuses, and Opportunities for Improvement


      An oil-exporting country’s “fiscal breakeven” oil price is the minimum price per barrel that the country needs in order to meet its expected spending needs while balancing its budget (figure 1).

      Oil prices below this level should result in budget deficits unless government policies change. Breakeven prices have become popular among analysts and decision-makers in public and private sectors as indicators of oil-producing countries’ economic and political stability and as ingredients in oil price forecasts.

      In recent years, for example, analysis based on fiscal breakeven prices was used to forecast instability in Russia and Iran, and—driven by an assumption that Saudi Arabia would cut its production in order to prevent prices from falling below its fiscal breakeven—to predict that oil prices would never fall far below one hundred dollars a barrel.

      There are, however, sharp limits to the insights that fiscal breakeven prices provide, and dangers in relying on them narrowly. Based on a review of public discussions around breakevens, interviews with officials in the U.S. government and international institutions, and an examination of methodologies used to estimate breakeven figures, the CFR Discussion Paper “Fiscal Breakeven Oil Prices: Uses, Abuses, and Opportunities for Improvement” assesses the potential value and most important pitfalls involved in using fiscal breakeven oil prices.

      It also reviews the track record of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—the source of the most widely used fiscal breakeven price figures—in estimating fiscal breakeven prices and recommends improvements for them and for all analysts who produce breakeven figures.

      This is a summary of a CFR Discussion Paper. Download the full report here.



      • Yoshua says:

        Venezuela’s fiscal break even price for a barrel of oil might be $120.
        Venezuela’s oil company’s break even price might be $60.
        Venezuela’s oil company’s marginal cost or what ever it’s called(pumping) might be $12.

        If WTI is $50 then Venezuela’s heavy oil is $40 per barrel on the market.

        They can still have a positive cash flow if they pump for $12 and sell for $40 per barrel… at least until Haliburton and Schlumberger send them the bills for exploration and drilling the wells.

        So it must be very tempting for Venezuela to let Haliburton and Schlumberger explore and drill the wells… to be able to maintain a positive cash flow… and then start negotiating with the oil service companies when they send the bills for their services.

  38. Fast Eddy says:

    Pension Funds Pile on Risk Just to Get a Reasonable Return

    An investor used to get a 7.5% return by holding safe bonds. To earn that now, research finds, takes a more volatile mix

    What it means to be a successful investor in 2016 can be summed up in four words: bigger gambles, lower returns.

    Thanks to rock-bottom interest rates in the U.S., negative rates in other parts of the world, and lackluster growth, investors are becoming increasingly creative—and embracing increasing risk—to bolster their performances.

    To even come close these days to what is considered a reasonably strong return of 7.5%, pension funds and other large endowments are reaching ever further into riskier investments: adding big dollops of global stocks, real estate and private-equity investments to the once-standard investment of high-grade bonds. Two decades ago, it was possible to make that kind of return just by buying and holding investment-grade bonds, according to new research.

    In 1995, a portfolio made up wholly of bonds would return 7.5% a year with a likelihood that returns could vary by about 6%, according to research by Callan Associates Inc., which advises large investors. To make a 7.5% return in 2015, Callan found, investors needed to spread money across risky assets, shrinking bonds to just 12% of the portfolio. Private equity and stocks needed to take up some three-quarters of the entire investment pool. But with the added risk, returns could vary by more than 17%.

    Nominal returns were used for the projections, but substituting in assumptions about real returns, adjusted for inflation, would have produced similar findings, said Jay Kloepfer, Callan’s head of capital markets research.

    The amplified bets carry potential pitfalls and heftier management fees. Global stocks and private equity represent among the riskiest bets investors can make today, Mr. Kloepfer said.

    “Stocks are just ownership, and they can go to zero. Private equity can also go to zero,” said Mr. Kloepfer, noting bonds will almost always pay back what was borrowed, plus a coupon. “The perverse result is you need more of that to get the extra oomph.”

    More http://www.wsj.com/articles/pension-funds-pile-on-the-risk-just-to-get-a-reasonable-return-1464713013

    • Somehow I can believe this. I have never been a pension actuary, but I know that plans have been put together, assuming that the very high yields in the past would be available. Fund managers have to try to get those yields, eve if they are basically unreasonable.

Comments are closed.