Energy limits: Why we see rising wealth disparity and low prices

Last week, I gave a fairly wide-ranging presentation at the 2016 Biophysical Economics Conference called Complexity: The Connection Between Fossil Fuel EROI, Human Energy EROI, and Debt (pdf). In this post, I discuss the portion of the talk that explains several key issues:

  1. Why we are right now seeing so many problems with respect to wealth disparity and low commodity prices (Answer: World per capita energy consumption is already falling, and the energy/economy system needs to reflect this problem somehow.)
  2. Why the quest for growing technology leads to growing wealth disparity (Answer: The economy must be configured in more of a hierarchical pattern to support growing “complexity.” Growing complexity is the precursor to growing technology.)
  3. Why rising debt is an integral part of the energy/economy system (Answer: We could not pay workers for making long-lasting goods and services without using debt to “pull forward” the hoped-for benefit of these goods and services to the present, using debt and other equivalent approaches.)
  4. Why commodity prices can suddenly fall below the cost of production for a wide range of products (Answer: Prices of commodities depend to a significant extent on debt levels. A major problem is that when commodity prices rise, wages do not rise in a corresponding manner. Rising debt levels can mask the growing lack of affordability for a while, but eventually, debt levels cannot be raised sufficiently, and commodity prices fall too low.)
  5. The Brexit vote may be related to falling energy per capita in the UK. Given that this problem occurs in many countries, it may be increasingly difficult to keep the Eurozone and other similar international organizations together.
  6. My talk also touches on the topic of why a steady state economy is not possible, unless we can live like chimpanzees.

My analysis has as its premise that the economy behaves like other physical systems. It needs energy–and, in fact, growing energy–to operate. If the system does not get the energy it needs, it “rebalances” in a way that may not be to our liking. See my article, “The Physics of Energy and the Economy.”

An outline of my talk is shown as Slide 2, below. I will omit the EROI and Hubbert model portions of the presentation.  

Slide 2

Slide 2

Peak World Coal Seems To Be Happening, Right Now

In the view of most of the researchers I was talking to at this conference, oil is likely to be the first problem, not coal. And the issue is likely to be high prices, not low. So peak coal now, as shown in Slide 3, doesn’t seem to make sense. Yet, my analysis of recent data strongly suggests that peak coal is exactly what is happening, right now.

Slide 3. World and China appear to be reaching peak coal.

Slide 3. World and China appear to be reaching peak coal.

I will show later in this presentation why peaking coal production does seem to make sense–price levels of all fossil fuels seem to vary together. The extent to which debt levels are growing seems to be a major factor in price levels. When the debt level is not growing rapidly enough, “demand” is not high enough, and prices for all fossil fuels tend to fall simultaneously. A related issue is the extent to which the world economy is growing; if world economic growth is too slow, this will also tend to hold down demand, and thus energy prices.

China’s rate of growth in coal production started falling back in 2012, which is when coal prices started falling. This is before China’s new leadership took over in March 2013. We know that coal production in China is likely to continue falling, because China’s energy bureau is reporting that China plans to close over 1000 coal mines in 2016, because of a “price-sapping supply glut.” See my article, “China: Is peak coal part of its problem?” for additional information.

World Per Capita Energy Consumption Seems To Have Already Started Falling

Slide 4. World per capita energy consumption may have reached a peak

Slide 4. World per capita energy consumption may have reached a peak

The reason why I say that world per capita energy consumption may have reached a peak in 2013 is partly because coal consumption appears to have peaked. If coal has peaked, it will be hard to make up the shortfall using other fuels, such as renewables, or even natural gas. Furthermore, recent world figures (shown above) already show a small drop in per capita energy consumption. If world coal production continues to drop, we can expect world per capita energy consumption to continue to drop.

Energy Consumption Trends for a Few Countries

The figure below is not actually in the presentation–I thought I would add it now, to show energy consumption varies for a few economies. The upper chart in the Supplemental Slide shows the trend in per capita energy consumption in UK, Japan, Spain, and Greece. We know that Japan, Spain, and Greece have been experiencing economic problems for several years, something that perhaps should not be too surprising, given their falling energy consumption per capita. The UK shows a similar pattern to these three countries. Such a pattern is likely to lead to rising wage disparities, for reasons we will discuss later in this presentation, when we talk about “complexity.”

Supplemental information showing how trend in per capita energy consumption seems to reflect health of economies

Supplemental slide. Per capita energy consumption trends for four advanced economies and for China, based on BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy and 2015 UN population data.

China’s energy consumption shows a contrasting pattern. China experienced rapid growth in energy consumption after it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Recently, China’s growth in energy consumption has been slowing, suggesting slowing growth in the economy–perhaps even more than reported in official GDP reports.

Why Peak Per Capita Energy Matters

In Slide 5, I give an overview of why peak energy per capita matters. My view is the second one shown on this slide. It is not that every segment of the economy will necessarily have problems. Instead, un-favored segments are likely to be first to have problems. Most conference attendees came with the first view.

Slide 5. Two views of peak energy per capita.

Slide 5. Two views of peak energy per capita.

How the Economy Is Affected by Growing Complexity

Joseph Tainter in the Collapse of Complex Societies tells us that the way economies that are in danger of reaching limits can sometimes solve their problems is through increased complexity.

Slide 6. Complexity introduction

Slide 6. Complexity introduction

Economists today seem to believe that technology will solve our problems. I see complexity and technology as being related, with complexity being a precursor to technology. Economies that hope to adopt higher levels of technology need to take steps in the direction of growing complexity, to achieve this goal.

When I thought about what makes up complexity, this is the list of elements I came up with:

Slide 7. Basic Elements of Complexity

Slide 7. Basic Elements of Complexity

Regarding concentration of energy, the use of concentrated energy seems to be what sets humans apart from other animals.

Slide 8. Early use of concentration of energy

Slide 8. Early use of concentration of energy

If we want a steady-state economy, “all” we need to do is set aside our use of concentrated energy, and live like chimpanzees. I am not sure how we keep our bigger brains adequately nourished. A couple of slides related to this are Slides 9 and 10.

Another type of concentration of energy is capital goods. Capital goods are all of the goods that we expect to last for a fairly long time–things like homes, vehicles, and factories. The big issue is how to pay for capital goods.

Slide 11. Capital goods-- more recent examples of concentrations of energy

Slide 11. Capital goods– more recent examples of concentrations of energy

The problem is that we need to pay workers now, but the benefit of these capital goods is spread over many years in the future. Somehow, the future benefit of these capital goods must be “pulled back” to today. The obvious answer to this predicament is the use of debt (or debt-like instruments) to fund capital goods. We will get back to the issue of debt later.

The next few slides (12 to 14) show other ways that concentrations of energy can be developed. One way is through the creation of businesses. Even larger concentrations of energy can be formed by creating bigger businesses, including international businesses. Governments can also be used to concentrate the use of energy resources, because of government’s ability to build roads, schools, and many other projects. International organizations can also act to concentrate wealth, by easing trade among members (Eurozone and World Trade Organization) and by lending money to member countries (International Monetary Fund and World Bank). All of these organizations can benefit from the use of debt to fund their growing organizations.

We said that concentration of energy was the first element of complexity (see outline at top). The second element of complexity is pure elements and compounds. In many ways, this requirement is similar to concentrations of energy, in the way it allows technology to work.

Slide 15. Why pure elements and compounds are needed for complexity

Slide 15. Why pure elements and compounds are needed for complexity

The third element of complexity (see outline at top) is leveraging of human energy through hierarchical organization. In many ways, this is the idea of concentrated energy, as applied to humans.

16. Leveraging of human energy through hierarchical organization.

16. Leveraging of human energy through hierarchical organization.

Historically, the big problem has been populations that grew too large for their resource bases. In a way, we are reaching a similar predicament. Not too surprisingly, when this happens, it is the people at the bottom of the hierarchy who tend not to receive enough.

Slide 17. People at the bottom of a hierarchy are most vulnerable.

Slide 17. People at the bottom of a hierarchy are most vulnerable.

Why Debt Is Required

Slide 18 - Why add debt?

Slide 18 – Why add debt?

One of the fundamental benefits of debt is time shifting.

Slide 19. How debt allows time shifting.

Slide 19. How debt allows time shifting.

Of course, the value of these capital goods is speculative, when debt is used to price them in advance. As long as capital goods, and other uses of debt, provide sufficient benefits to the economy so that debt can be repaid with interest, the system tends to work as planned.

Slide 20. Debt makes the economic system work more smoothly.

Slide 20. Debt makes the economic system work more smoothly.

One key aspect of debt is its ability to determine demand, and thus prices, of commodities such as oil and natural gas. The reason why debt has almost magical power is because if a potential buyer is given a loan for any kind of capital good, say a house, or car, or factory, the potential buyer can purchase the capital good far sooner than if he or she needed to save up for it. Each of these capital goods requires commodities of various kinds, such as steel, copper, oil, coal, and natural gas. Thus, we would expect rising debt levels to raise the prices of a broad range of commodity prices, simultaneously.

21. Debt helps determine prices of commodities

21. Debt helps determine prices of commodities

We can think of the situation as follows: An economy that keeps growing is (in energy terms) an out-of-balance system. Rising debt levels help maintain this out-of-balance condition by providing ever-higher commodity prices. These higher prices encourage greater extraction of energy products, even when the cost of extraction is rising because of diminishing returns. Even if extraction costs keep rising, the situation of ever-rising commodity prices cannot go on endlessly. At some point, prices become too high for workers to afford. Demand tends to fall at some point because workers at the bottom of the hierarchy find themselves “priced out” of buying goods such as houses and cars that would help maintain commodity demand.

What causes debt levels to stop rising? One reason why debt levels stop rising is that debt reaches absurd levels, making it difficult to repay debt with interest. Several examples of absurd debt levels are given in Slide 21. An additional example is excessive use of student loans. If incomes after student loans are not high enough, student debt may create a huge burden, preventing former students from buying homes and cars and starting families. The problem is that incomes after the educational experience are not sufficiently high to both pay back debt with interest and leave adequate funds for other needs.

Growing wage disparity can also lead directly to falling energy prices:

Slide 22. Growing wage disparity tends to lead to falling energy prices.

Slide 22. Growing wage disparity tends to lead to falling energy prices.

Both growing wage disparity and lack of growth in debt are signs that an economy is not growing very fast–in some sense, that the economy is not hot enough. Some of the would-be workers tend to drop out of the system, because wages are not high enough to cover commuting and childcare expenses. In some sense, they “condense out,” similar to the way that water turns to ice when there is not enough heat in the system.

The situation with prices of fossil fuels is similar; low prices are a sign that the economy is not growing fast enough. The system is forcing a reduction in the production of many kinds of commodities, including fossil fuels, by reducing prices below the cost of production for quite a few producers. This situation can be thought of as some of the production “condensing out,” because the energy products consumed are not causing the world economy to grow fast enough to maintain a “hot” demand level.

More Thoughts on Energy Prices and Debt Levels

Slide 24. Use of debt permits two different valuations of worth of commodities.

Slide 24. Use of debt permits two different valuations of worth of commodities.

The thing that is confusing is that for many years, energy and commodity costs were very similar to energy and other commodity prices. It has been only very recently–when prices rose too high for consumers to afford–that the difference has appeared.

Slide 25. Possibility of different price compared to production cost appears very late.

Slide 25. Possibility of different price compared to production cost appears very late.

Looking at historical data in Slide 26, we can see two recent sharp drops in oil prices. Both occurred when debt levels were no longer rising.

Slide 26. Connection of debt with oil prices is shown by two sharp declines.

Slide 26. Connection of debt with oil prices is shown by two sharp declines.

In fact, prices of oil, coal, and natural gas tend to rise and fall together–just as we would expect, if they are all responding to the same changes in debt levels, and indirectly, the same changes in world economic growth rates.

Slide 27. Prices of oil, call and natural gas tend to rise and fall together.

Slide 27. Prices of oil, call and natural gas tend to rise and fall together.

If energy prices are based on debt levels, our concern should be that all fossil fuels will peak within a few years of each other. The cause of the peak will be low prices, not “running out” of energy products.

Slide 28. Concerns if energy prices are based on debt levels

Slide 28. Concerns if energy prices are based on debt levels

In fact, the problems of the economy may be quite different from “running out.”

Slide 31. Candidates for what really brings the system down.

Slide 31. Candidates for what really brings the system down.

Supplemental Information on Income Disparity

A few slides giving additional information on income disparity are shown as slides 38-40. Please check the end of my presentation for these.


One topic I did not specifically discuss in this presentation is the possibility of slowing world economic growth. If we are seeing falling world energy consumption per capita, it should not be surprising if world GDP growth per capita is falling as well. I have talked about the link between energy consumption and GDP growth many times, including in my paper, Oil Supply Limits and the Continuing Financial Crisis.

It was not until I sat down to write up this presentation that I realized how closely the timing of the recent sharp drop of world oil prices corresponds with the decrease in world per capita energy consumption shown on Slide 4. World per capita energy consumption hit a peak in 2013, and dropped slightly in 2014, with a greater change in 2015. Mid-2014 is when oil prices began their major slide, so the timing of the two events matches up almost precisely. Thus, the drop in coal consumption may be resulting in low world economic growth, which in turn is holding down both oil and natural gas prices.

The apparent coincidence in timing may simply reflect the fact that the same forces that cause falling commodity prices are also causing low economic growth. Growing wage disparity and lack of growth in debt seem to be factors in causing both. If workers at the bottom of the hierarchy could better afford the output of the world economy, with or without additional debt, the world economy would have a better chance of growing.

I don’t see much hope for fixing a world whose economy is moving in the direction of shrinkage. Instead, the situation is likely to get worse, until the financial system collapses, or one of the issues shown on Slide 31 starts to become too great a problem.

I see the big push for renewables to be mostly a waste of time and resources. The major exception is perhaps hydroelectric, in parts of the world with good locations for new installations. EROI analyses are often used to justify renewables, but in my view (shown in the part of the presentation not discussed), EROI is too “blunt” a tool to properly evaluate resources that differ greatly in quality of output and in debt requirements. A major goal needs to be to maintain the functionality of the electric grid; evaluations of intermittent renewables should consider real-life experiences of other countries. For example, current pricing approaches seem to exacerbate the problem of falling wholesale electricity prices, and thus falling fossil fuel prices. (See this or this article.)

A major impediment to getting a rational discussion of the issues is the inability of a large share of the population to deal with what appears to be a potentially dire outcome. Textbook and journal editors recognize this issue, and gear their editorial guidelines accordingly. I was reminded of this again, when the question came up (again) of whether I would consider writing a book for a particular academic book publisher. The main thing I would need to do to make the book acceptable would be find a way of sidestepping any unpleasant outcome–or, better yet, I should come up with a “happily ever after” ending.


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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.

1,725 thoughts on “Energy limits: Why we see rising wealth disparity and low prices

  1. The police state cometh .. and it will be welcomed!–german-police

    I didn’t see the Trump speech because politics are fake — but I did see the headlines — death, destruction etc were mentioned multiple times apparently … since Trump is an actor who is fed his lines by the priests… this is of interest

    The High Priests are preparing America for the next phase of ‘how long can we keep BAU alive doing whatever it takes’

    • Trump Accused Of “Apocalyptic” Fearmongering In Speech Promising “Security And Prosperity”

      In one of the most dramatic, polarizing, (and longest ever) convention speeches, Donald Trump claimed the Republican presidential nomination with a highly charged text in which he promised to be “the voice” of disenfranchised Americans and the guardian of “law and order.” And while most republicans loved it, the speech was roundly panned by democrats everywhere as ominous “doom and gloom” fearmongering, one which painted a picture of an America on the verge of an apocalyptic ending.

      Don is the man! Very convincing….

    • Unfortunately I think you are correct…

      Martial law in France and Turkey … and lots of developments in that direction in the last years… from my point of view all preparation in direction of the end of BAU. We will see the next days how the stuff in Munich played out.

      Still.. if you think of 80 million people in Germany alone… I wonder that not more happens…. (or being reported)…. as more and more people come under stress by degrading society, bad paying jobs, family problems and the like.

      Always wonder what will happen if we would have real problems… not enough food or gas/oil for heating and the like.

    • I’m really wondering what is the plan here after this wave of attacks, either prepare people psychologically for the option of nuking MENA megacities (aka that’s our oil and gas afterall) or for enacting eternal marshal law across western countries, or both..

      • Interesting suggestion. Prepare the world for the possibility of nuking the Middle East.

      • Maybe this wave of attacks is just camouflage? Maybe make the western authorities think that these AK-47 shoot em’ up is “this is all they’ve got”?

    • German Police Are Too Soft, Really

      Leonid Bershidsky

      “Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has called for more video surveillance in public places, and Germany can probably no longer get away with keeping a relatively small police force — about 300 officers per 100,000 people”.

      That would be something like 3000 officers to look after 1.2 million refugees that arrived last year. No wonder “the situation is out of control” as a German police officer said.

      They can’t even catch the killers in Munich. A anti-terrorist group was called in to Munich from god knows where.

      Are the Germans now looking back at the times with Gestapo and Stasi with a sense of nostalgia ?

      • That white phosphorus video from Syria is apocalyptic. I really think Fast Eddy is right. Whatever it takes. The world is over populated and running out of resources so lets just burn people up. It is so sad. The veneer of civilization is really just that, a very thin veneer.

        • Interesting how much coverage each attack in Europe gets in the MSM…. and zero coverage of our atrocities in MENA…

          Control of the money supply and media are the cornerstones of modern empire

      • Yep, speaking about “public cameras”, the IT technology advanced so much, that they can now in real time process your facial features and individually unique bodily movements patterns (incl. change of hair line, beards, etc.) so an individual can be easily tracked for the entire day, traffic cameras, shops, security circuits etc. In fact this software has been implemented years ago. This is all very much playing into hands of the scenario stressed several times here, but apparently not enough, namely there will be no instadoom at many western places for at least next 2-3decades. Before going down, they will just launch North Korean style regime or beyond: total control, no cash, energy consumption-food allowance digital credits, martial law, little individual travel.. Very much dystopian nightmare as long as they can keep some of the core infrastructure running, most of the consumerist addon fluff will be triaged and erased away as we progress along..

        • Worldof,
          This is heavy infrastructure, which requires resources and energy to run efficiently.

          For example, in Nice there are more than 1200 (some say 2000) of those “public cameras”. The guy circulated with the truck in center town although it was forbidden, the 2 days before Bastille Day, for spot-pinpointings, and was never arrested.
          The good old methods of totalitarian state might work better…

          • I agree with Stefuen, surveillance doesn’t work (at least not as advertised). Even if a killer announces on Facebook: tomorrow I’m gonna go to X to kill people with my new guns (picture attached). The odds is in his favour he won’t be arrested.

          • Yes, the old methods: the old woman who cleans the floors and deals with the rubbish is the block spy. No better method ever invented……

            • In DDR half spied on the other half.

              That could work again, if we could only find out how to feed, clothe and shelter the population with only 50% working. And no fossil fuel.

  2. I’m telling anybody who will listen, the energy and resource constraints are not the immediate problem. It’s a problem yes, but not a problem in the sense that a “solution” such as new forms of energy, more drilling, etc. will work.

    What the world faces is a demographic problem. There are simply too many of us of all sorts of varying nations/religions/languages etc., all competing for a shrinking pie. When this happens, people tend to coalesce around their tribal entities.

    In Europe, it actually is the various nations against each other, and all of them against the Islamic and African migrants!
    In America, it actually is the Whites/Blacks/Mexicans/Asians/Jews/Muslims etc. against each other!

    You are so blind if you cannot see this. Your corporate, multicultural programming is really, really strong if you cannot see that human beings are tribal by nature. Race, nationhood, religion, language, are all strong tribal indicators, because the individual human being must be a part of a group for survival, not just immediate survival, but also cultural survival after death.

    Without a solution to this problem, and there doesn’t seem to be one, because one tribe’s expansion and success is another’s failure, there is only one outcome…conflict and war as far as the eye can see.

    • “…one tribe’s expansion and success is another’s failure, there is only one outcome…conflict and war as far as the eye can see.”

      True or not, this is a perfect description of a “zero sum game.” Futile or not, America seems to be dedicated to the exalted goal of unity despite (or even through) differences.
      As far as I can tell, it is the only country that is significantly populated by all nationalities and races of the world. Simultaneously, it has seen itself as a white country…

      I understand that hundreds of years ago, black and white “indentured servants” identified themselves on the basis of their homeland, not on the basis of race. I further understand that the new emphasis on race was a means of separation and control by the master class. It was an invention. As a sidebar, one notes in the gradation of pigmentation and features in some parts of the world that considerable racial mixing has been occurring for millennia.

    • my point exactly

      in term of severe stress you will look to, attach to, and rely on, the person(s) closest to you who looks like you—ie one of your tribe.

      no racism involved here, merely increasing chances of survival

      • And lower the chances of any global agreement,
        actually when we should urgently change paradigms.
        Perfect recipee for a crash.

  3. My comments are being deleted out.

    Scared of the truth much?

    We will end up in a racial WW3. The world is not big enough.

  4. The American economy is a beautiful machine. Warren Buffet

    The European economy is a steam engine. Yoshua

    That’s it for me today.

  5. Hi Gail!

    Thank You for nother excellent presentation.
    The graph showing the small world increase in energy consumption per capita says it all.
    Since the growth is so small and not distributed equally I guess more people will find their standard of living decreasing and not increasing. That is life is simply getting harder and harder for most of us.

    Where do you think the cut off is? How high do you think the growth in energy consumption per capita has to be if we want to increase standard of living for average Joe?


    • Right now, energy consumption per capita is decreasing. I expect it is getting worse this year, with all of the coal mines being closed in China.

      I am not sure that the per capita consumption needs to be increasing a whole lot. To some extent, we have technology making more efficient use of energy products on one side. This helps hold down the required increase to close to flat. But there is still the problem with of growing hierarchy (and the hierarchy stealing more of what is available, and growing debt obligations. These will gobble up more of what energy is available.

      I looked at US energy consumption. In the period between 1983 and 2000, per capita energy consumption was increasing by about 0.9% per year, and the economy was doing reasonably well. The world in total averaged energy consumption per capita growth of about 1.0% between 2000 and 2013. So perhaps about 1.0 percent per year per capita would be about enough to keep things going. Over time, I would expect this percentage to rise, because of lower quality mineral ores and issues related to growing hierarchy.

  6. OK, so more economic activity. The problem I see with that is that “economic activity” can’t distinguish between what is restorative and what is destructive. Just one well worn example:

    Oil spills are counted as economic activity, and provide a lot of jobs. So let’s create more oil spills so growth occurs. But the oil spills destroy fisheries and put fishing communities out of work. If this is not a desired outcome (bearing in mind that just about all growth enterprises destroy economic resources of one sort or another) what is the rationale for unspecified growth.?

    Also, when people talk about economic growth and improving economies, they are talking of a networked global economy. But isn’t it clear that this global economy has finally met with limits? If it hasn’t met with limits (or won’t or can’t) how is this explained?

    • @Artleads

      GDP is a fuzzy number – as your example explains.

      But every (virtual) transaction, resource consumption, physical transport, whatever consumes energy, has people involved. The available net-energy in term of outputs relative to inputs goes down (ERoEI). We may assume that also the total quantity of surplus energy is somehow reaching its limits (Net-BTUs). With sinking ERoEI and the same BTUs generated or excavated the Net-BUTs sink and sink….

      This sinking of the Net-BTUs or even sinking ERoEI puts the system under stress, as it runs on those Net-BTUs. We will see when it goes critical.. how log the embedded energy in the system can be tapped to prolong it (e.g. infrastructure weardown).

      So the question of limits is a fuzzy one.. limits within a year range? A decade range? Limits where? In Nigeria? In Greece? In Spain? In Germany? In the US? For 50 million Food-Stamps receiver in the US? For Apple selling iPhones?

      I think its a gradual process… it takes time…. sucking on the embedded energy…. letting the periphery collapse first.. then the different (lower) layer in the societies. Timing is a bit**….

      • Thanks a lot, Ert

        I understand this part best:

        “I think its a gradual process… it takes time…. sucking on the embedded energy…. letting the periphery collapse first.. then the different (lower) layer in the societies.”

        And I see that Gail responded to Henrik too.

        I think Don Stewart’s recent research have been suggesting that some aspects of nature know how to use “contraction” to create more channelled force, and more work. But maybe he’s saying something else, little as I know.

  7. The tribal war has already started in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Ukraine. The tribal war is still only in its infancy in Europe between Europeans and Muslims. Europeans are divided in many tribes and so are the Muslims in Europe and we are all today united in a collapsing European Union. The Iranians, Kurds, Turks, Arabs and Africans in Europe are divided by sectarian and tribal lines and hate one another too.

    I read yesterday that Latinos and Afros in the U.S have already decided to vote for the Democrats. The battle now is for other minority votes and for the white vote. Democracy is just a race vote and politics of race ?

    Globalization was the natural path to access energy resources on a global scale by tearing down all borders and integrate the world. Who would have thought that this bacteria culture would suck up everything in such a short time ? The time has now come to devour each others.

  8. KGB captures a CIA agent in Moscow. But this diplomat decided to make Ivan work for his rubles.

    • What if the Russian’s and the American’s are working together under the disguise of a New Cold War. The just play good cop and bad cop.
      They work together in the Middle East by spreading murder and mayhem and confusing everybody on which side to stand.
      The war in Ukraine gives Russia a perfect alibi to modernize the Russian army while the Russian population sinks deeper into poverty. After all the defence against the Empire comes first.
      Kerry visits Sochi every month and gives a cryptic interview about what was discussed with the enemy.
      Sure. They are still two mafia organizations who are in a turf war. They spy on each others since they don’t trust one another and they would gladly cut each others throats… but that’s just business as usual.

  9. SLOW Times in the Bakken. I worked here as a petroleum geologist during the 80s in both boom and bust. But this bust has hit way harder than that of the 80s…. Of course at that time we viewed the Bakken as just a curiosity with a nice big gas show- but nothing that would produce. We just ignored those bleeding oil shows from the the sand deposits under the lower Bakken because there was no way to produce the stuff at that time…

    “The fracking party is over, and a quiet desperation has descended on the state’s once-booming communities and the thousands of people who were drawn to them.

    “By 2014, the U.S. energy boom, supercharged by the revolution in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, had made North Dakota’s economy the fastest-growing in the nation. Its unemployment rate was lowest among states. Its gross domestic product of roughly $50 billion that year was more than double 2002 levels.

    “The pain for much of last year was mitigated as aggressive price hedges and similar maneuvers kept the industry profitable. But those tactics have stopped working. North Dakota’s economy shrank 3.4 percent in the third quarter of last year, the weakest performer in the nation. Worse numbers for the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 are expected in a federal report to be released in June.

    “All facets of the oil boom – including the people, like Van Assche, who supported it – are now in retreat. It’s a stunning reversal of fortune for a state whose governor, Jack Dalrymple, vowed in 2014 that he would not blink in the fight with OPEC for global oil market share.

    That future has evaporated. Those who haven’t packed up and left the Bakken are facing a new reality of smaller budgets, fewer residents and the physical detritus of a building boom that left behind hundreds of empty apartments.

    “Now, Continental and others have stopped fracking altogether in North Dakota. Statewide, there are only eight crews fracking new wells for the few companies still willing to pay for the service. Two years ago, there were 45, a peak for the teams that pump water, sand and chemicals deep underground to extract oil and natural gas.

    “The slowdown has also inflicted pain on community budgets. Williston’s debt and other liabilities nearly quadrupled from 2008 to 2014, to $158 million, as the city sought to keep pace with growth.

    “Yet the city’s sales tax receipts fell 47 percent in March from a year earlier, according to the state treasurer.

    “Moody’s Corp, the credit rating agency, downgraded Williston’s general obligation bonds in March to junk status, citing the city’s reliance on those sales taxes to repay debt.

    “Until recently, oilfield roughnecks were making more than $100,000 a year on average. Few command those salaries today. Many of those roughnecks used to line up outside Heartbreakers every day for its 4 p.m. opening, regardless of the weather, which plumbs 0°F (-18°C) in the dark of winter.

    “Williston’s 2nd Avenue West, the main thoroughfare nicknamed “Million Dollar Way,” is pockmarked with vacant storefronts and empty parking lots. Aaron’s Rent-To-Own, a retailer of televisions and video game consoles, shuttered two months ago. Prices for industrial real estate – warehouses and the like – have dropped nearly 40 percent in the past year.

    “If frigid temperatures and the risk of violence couldn’t keep them away, the economy can: One recent evening, Heartbreakers attracted only three customers. Since then, the club’s owner, Jared Holbrook, has closed Heartbreakers and is planning to reopen the venue in coming days as Williston’s first gay bar.

    “””No one has any money to spend here anymore,” said an exotic dancer at Williston’s Heartbreakers strip club. She estimated that tips had gone down more than 60 percent since last fall.

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