Fossil Fuel Production Is Reaching Limits in a Strange Way

Strangely enough, the limit we seem to be reaching with respect to fossil fuel extraction comes from low prices. At low prices, the extraction of oil, coal, and natural gas becomes unprofitable. Producers go bankrupt, or they voluntarily cut back production in an attempt to force prices higher. As the result of these forces, production tends to fall. This limit comes long before the limit that many people imagine: the amount of fossil fuels in the ground that seems to be available with current extraction techniques.

The last time there was a similar problem was back in 1913, when coal was the predominant fossil fuel used and the United Kingdom was the largest coal producer in the world. The cost of production was rising due to depletion, but coal prices would not rise sufficiently to cover the higher cost of production. As a result, the United Kingdom’s coal production reached its highest level in 1913, the year before World War I started, and began to fall in 1914.

Between 1913 and 1945, the world economy was very troubled. There were two world wars, the Spanish Flu pandemic and the Great Depression. My concern is that we are again headed into another very troubled period that could last for many years.

The way the energy problems of the period between 1913 and 1945 were resolved was through the rapid ramp-up of oil production. Oil was, as that time, inexpensive to produce and could be sold for a very large multiple of the cost of production. If population is to remain at the current level or possibly grow, we need a similar “energy savior.” Unfortunately, none of the alternatives we are looking at now yield a high enough return relative to the required investment.

I recently gave a talk to an engineering group interested in energy research talking about these issues. In this post, I will discuss the slides of this presentation. A PDF of the presentation can be found at this link.

The Low Oil Price Problem

Oil prices seem to bounce around wildly. One major issue is that there is a two-way tug of war between the prices that citizens can afford and the prices that oil companies require. We can look back now and say that the mid-2008 price of over $150 per barrel was too high for consumers. But strangely enough, oil producers began complaining about oil prices being too low to cover their rising cost levels, starting in 2012. Prices, at a 2019 cost level, were at about $120 per barrel at that time. I wrote about this issue in the post, Beginning of the End? Oil Companies Cut Back on Spending. Oil prices now are in the $40 range, so are way, way below both $120 per barrel and $150 per barrel.

Interest rates and the availability of debt also play a role in oil prices. If interest rates are low and debt is readily available, it is easy to buy a new home or new car, and oil prices tend to rise because of the higher demand. When prices are too low for producers, central banks have been able to lower interest rates through a program called “quantitative easing.” This program seems to have helped oil prices to rise again, over a three-year period, after they crashed in 2008.

OPEC producers are known for their low cost of production, but even they report needing high oil prices. The cost of extracting the oil is reported to be very low (perhaps $10 per barrel), but the price charged needs to be high enough to allow governments to collect very high taxes on the oil extracted. If prices are high enough, these countries can continue the food subsidies that their populations depend upon. They can also sponsor development programs to provide jobs for the ever-growing populations of these countries. OPEC producers also need to develop new oil fields because the old ones deplete.

Oil production outside of the United States and Canada entered a bumpy plateau in 2005. The US and Canada added oil production from shale and bitumen in recent years, helping to keep world oil production (including natural gas liquids) rising.

One reason why producers need higher prices is because their cost of extraction tends to rise over time. This happens because the oil that is cheapest to extract and process tends to be extracted first, leaving the oil with higher cost of extraction until later. 

Some OPEC countries, such as Saudi Arabia, can hide the low price problem for a while by borrowing money. But even this approach does not work well for long. The longer low oil prices last, the greater the danger is of governments being overthrown by unhappy citizens. Oil production can then be expected to become erratic because of internal conflicts.

In the US and Canada, oil companies have been funded by bank loans, bond sales and the sale of shares of stock. These sources of funding are drying up, as many oil companies report poor earnings, year after year, and some are seeking bankruptcy protection. 

Chart 6 shows that the number of drilling rigs in operation has dropped dramatically in both the United States and Canada, as oil companies cut back on drilling. There is a lag between the time the number of drilling rigs is cut back and the time production starts to fall of perhaps a year, in the case of shale. These low drilling rig counts suggest that US and Canadian oil production from shale will fall in 2021.

Of course, unused drilling rigs cannot be mothballed indefinitely. At some point, they are sold as scrap and the workers who operated them find other employment. It then becomes difficult to restart oil extraction.

How the Economy Works, and What Goes Wrong as Limits Are Reached

Slide 7 shows one way of visualizing how the world economy, as a self-organizing system, operates. It is somewhat like a child’s building toy. New layers are added as new consumers, new businesses and new laws are added. Old layers tend to disappear, as old consumers die, old products are replaced by new products, and new laws replace old laws. Thus, the structure is to some extent hollow.

Self-organizing objects that grow require energy under the laws of physics. Our human bodies are self-organizing systems that grow. We use food as our source of energy. The economy also requires energy products of many kinds, such as gasoline, jet fuel, coal and electricity to allow it to operate.

It is easy to see that energy consumption allows the economy to produce finished goods and services, such as homes, automobiles, and medical services. It is less obvious, but just as important, that energy consumption provides jobs that pay well. Without energy supplies in addition to food, typical jobs would be digging in the dirt with a stick or gathering food with our hands. These jobs don’t pay well.

Finally, Slide 7 shows an important equivalence between consumers and employees. If consumers are going to be able to afford to buy the output of the economy, they need to have adequate wages.

A typical situation that arises is that population rises more quickly than energy resources, such as land to grow food. For a while, it is possible to work around this shortfall with what is called added complexity: hierarchical organization, specialization, technology, and globalization. Unfortunately, as more complexity is added, the economic system increasingly produces winners and losers. The losers end up with very low wage jobs, or with no jobs at all. The winners get huge wages and often asset ownership, as well. The winners end up with far more revenue than they need to purchase basic goods and services. The losers often do not have enough revenue to feed their families and to buy basic necessities, such as a home and some form of basic transportation.

The strange way the economy works has to do with the physics of the situation. Physicist Francois Roddier explains this as being similar to what happens to water at different temperatures. When the world economy has somewhat inadequate energy supplies, the goods and services produced by the economy tend to bubble to the top members of the world economy, similar to the way steam rises. The bottom members of the economy tend to get “frozen out.” This way, the economy can downsize without losing all members of the economy, simultaneously. This is the way ecosystems of all kinds adapt to changing conditions: The plants and animals that are best adapted to the conditions of the time tend to be the survivors.

These issues are related to the fact that the economy is, in physics terms, a dissipative structure. The economy, like hurricanes and like humans, requires adequate energy if it is not to collapse. Dissipative structures attempt to work around temporary shortfalls in energy supplies. A human being will lose weight if his caloric intake is restricted for a while. A hurricane will lose speed, if the energy it gets from the warm water of the ocean is restricted. A world economy with inadequate energy is likely to shrink back in many ways: unprofitable businesses may fail, layers of government may disappear and population may fall, for example.

In the discussion of Slide 7, I mentioned the fact that if we try to “stretch” energy supply with added complexity, many workers would end up with very low wages. Some of these low wage workers would be in the US and Europe, but many of them would be in China, India and Africa. Even though these workers are producing goods for the world economy, they often cannot afford to buy those same goods themselves. Henry Ford is remembered to have said something to the effect that he needed to pay his workers enough so that they, themselves, could buy the cars they were making. To a significant extent, this is no longer happening when a person takes into account international workers.

The high interest rates that low-wage workers pay mean that loans don’t really help low-wage workers as much as they help high-wage workers. The high interest on credit card debt and personal loans tend to transfer part of the income of low-wage workers to the financial sector, leaving poor people worse off than they would have been without the loans. 

COVID shutdowns are extremely damaging to the world economy. They are like taking support sticks out of the dome on Slide 7. They produce many more unemployed people around the world. People in low wage countries that produce clothing for a living have been particularly hard hit, for example. Migrant workers and miners of various kinds have also been hard hit.

We Seem to Be Reaching a Major Turning Point

Oil production and consumption have both fallen in 2020; oil prices are far too low for producers; wage disparity is a major problem; countries seem to be increasingly having problems getting along. Many analysts are forecasting a prolonged recession.

The last time that we had a similar situation was in 1913, when the largest coal producer in the world was the United Kingdom. The UK’s cost of coal production kept rising because of depletion (deeper mines, thinner seams), but prices would not rise to compensate for the higher cost of production. Miners were paid very inadequate wages; poor workers regularly held strikes for higher wages. World War I started in 1914, the same year coal production of the UK started to fall. The UK’s coal production has fallen nearly every year since then.

The last time that wage disparity started to spike as badly as it has in recent years occurred back in the late 1920s, or perhaps as early as 1913 to 1915.  The chart shown above is for the US; problems were greater in Europe at that time.

With continued low oil prices, production is likely to start falling and may continue to fall for years. It is hard to bring scrapped drilling rigs back into service, for example. The experience in the UK with coal shows that energy prices don’t necessarily rise to compensate for higher costs due to depletion. There need to be buyers for higher-priced goods made with higher-priced coal. If there is too much wage disparity, the many poor people in the system will tend to keep demand, and prices, too low. They may eat poorly, making it easier for pandemics to spread, as with the Spanish Flu in 1918-1919. These people will be unhappy, leading to the rise of leaders promising to change the system to make things better.

My concern is that we may be heading into a long period of unrest, as occurred in the 1913 to 1945 era. Instead of getting high energy prices, we will get disruption of the world economy.  The self-organizing economy is attempting to fix itself, either by getting more energy supply or by eliminating parts of the economy that aren’t contributing enough to the overall system. Conflict between countries, pandemics, bankruptcies and economic contraction are likely to be part of the mix.

Coal Seems to Be Reaching Extraction Limits as Well 

Coal has essentially the same problem as oil: Prices tend to be too low for producers to extract coal profitably. Many coal producers have gone bankrupt. Prices were higher back in 2008, when demand was high for everything, and again in 2011, when quantitative easing had been helpful. 

There have been stories in the press in the past week about China limiting coal imports from Australia, so as to make more jobs for coal miners in China. The big conflict among countries relates to “not enough jobs that pay well” and “not enough profitable companies.” These indirectly are energy issues. If there was more “affordability” of goods made with high-priced coal, there would be no problem.

Coal production worldwide has been on a bumpy plateau since 2012. In fact, China, the largest producer of coal, found its production stagnating, starting about 2012. The problem was a familiar one: The cost of extraction rose because many mines that had been used for quite a number of years were depleted. The selling price would not rise to match the higher cost of extraction because of affordability issues.

The underlying problem is that the economy is a dissipative structure. Commodity prices are set by the laws of physics. Prices don’t rise high enough for producers, if there are not enough customers willing and able to buy the goods made with high-priced coal.

We Have a Major Problem if Both Coal and Oil Production Are in Danger of Falling Because of Low Prices

Oil and coal are the two largest sources of energy in the world. We can’t get along without them. While natural gas production is fairly high, there is not nearly enough natural gas to replace both oil and coal.

Looking down the list, we see that nuclear production hit a maximum back in 2006 and has fallen since then.

Hydroelectric continues to grow, but from a small base. Most of the good sites have already been taken. In many cases, there are conflicts between countries regarding who should get the benefit of water from a given river.

The only grouping that is growing rapidly is Renewables. (This is really Renewables Other than Hydroelectric.) It includes wind and solar plus a few other energy types, including geothermal. This grouping, too, is very small compared to oil and coal.

Natural Gas Has a Low Price Problem as Well

Natural gas, at first glance, looks like it might be a partial solution to the world’s energy problems: It is lower in carbon than coal and oil, and it is fairly abundant. The problem with natural gas is that it is terribly expensive to ship. At one time, people used to talk about there being a lot of “stranded” natural gas. This natural gas seemed to be available, but when shipping costs were included, the price of goods made with it (such as electricity or winter heat for homes) was often unaffordable.

After the run-up in oil prices in the early 2000s, many people became optimistic that, with energy scarcity, natural gas prices would rise sufficiently to make extraction and shipping long distances profitable. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly clear that, while prices can temporarily spike due to scarcity and perhaps a debt bubble, keeping the prices up for the long run is extremely difficult. Customers need to be able to afford the goods and services made with these energy products, or the laws of physics bring market prices back down to an affordable level.

The prices in the chart reflect three different natural gas products. The lowest priced one is US Henry Hub, which is priced near the place of extraction, so long distance shipping is not an issue. The other two, German Import and Japan Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), include different quantities of long distance shipping. Prices in 2020 are even lower than in 2019. For example, some LNG imported by Japan has ben purchased for $4 per million Btu in 2020.

The Economy Needs a Bail-Out Similar to the Growth of Oil After WWII

The oil that was produced shortly after World War II had very important characteristics:

  1. It was very inexpensive to produce, and
  2. It could be sold to customers at a far higher price than its cost of production.

It was as if, today, we had a very useful energy product that could be produced and delivered for $4, but it was so valuable to consumers that they were willing to pay $120 for it. In other words, the consumer was willing to pay 30 times as much as the cost that went into extracting and refining the oil.

With an energy product this valuable, a company producing it would need virtually no debt. It could drill a well or two, and with the profits from the first wells, finance the investment of many more wells. The company could pay very high taxes, allowing governments to build roads, schools, electricity transmission lines and much other infrastructure, without having to raise taxes on citizens.

Besides using the profits for reinvestment and for taxes, oil companies could pay high dividends. This made oil company stocks favorites of pension plans. Thus, in a way, oil company profits could help subsidize pension plans, as well.

Now, because of depletion, we have reached a situation where oil companies, and in fact most companies, are unprofitable. Companies and governments keep adding debt at ever lower interest rates. In fact, the tradition of ever-increasing debt at ever-lower interest rates goes back to 1981. Thus, we have been using debt manipulation to hide energy problems for almost 40 years now.

We need a way to counteract this trend toward ever-lower returns. Some people talk about “Energy Return on Energy Investment” or EROEI. I gave an example in dollars, but a major thing those dollars are buying is energy, so the result is very similar.

I think researchers have set the “bar” far too low, in looking at what is an adequate EROEI. Today’s wind and solar don’t really have an adequate EROEI, when the full cost of delivery is included. If they did, they would not need the subsidy of “going first” on the electric grid. They would also be able to pay high taxes instead of requiring subsidies, year after year. We need much better solutions than the ones we have today.

Some researchers talk about “Net Energy per Capita,” calculated as ((Energy Delivered to the End User) minus (Energy Used in Making and Transporting Energy to the End User)) divided by (Population). It seems to me that Net Energy per Capita needs to stay at least constant, and perhaps rise. If net energy per capita could actually rise, it would allow the economy to increasingly fight depletion and pollution.

Conclusion: We Need a New Very Inexpensive Energy Source Now

We need a new, very inexpensive energy source that buyers will willingly pay a disproportionately high price for right now, not 20 or 50 years from now.

The alternative may be an economy that does poorly for a long time or collapses completely.

The one ray of hope, from a researcher’s perspective, is the fact that people are always looking for solutions. They may be able to provide funds for research at this time, even if funds for full implementation are unlikely.

This entry was posted in Financial Implications by Gail Tverberg. Bookmark the permalink.

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.

2,885 thoughts on “Fossil Fuel Production Is Reaching Limits in a Strange Way

    • “The UK also scored eight out of 10 for factors such as human rights and liberties, economic policies and healthcare, among others, according to the index.”

      Presumably they mean that UK has shown the ability to trash civil liberties with curfews and to have practically the worst per capita f atility rate and economic damage in the world. Spain may have done slightly worse.


      • Oh Dear

        Worse per capita deaths. Which country is doing better in your opinion?

        Since June when the UK government limited the recording of Covid 19 deaths to those within 28 days of a positive test, excess deaths over the 5 year average is 23 in total. I would say that is a pretty stunning result really.

        • Most deaths in all countries were in the initial wave, and England and Wales had the worst excess deaths in Europe.

          UK economy was down 20+% in Q3, year on year, far worse than other countries.

          There is no jingoistic capital to be gained from any of that, and none of it can be ignored.

          The Tories have lost 30 points in their poll lead, and it is only surprising that they have not fallen further.

          The performance has been absolutely appalling.

          The situation in care homes will not be forgotten, with c 19 positive patients dumped back into them. Also the refusal of spare ventilators to the over-60s.

          > England & Wales had most excess deaths in Europe’s covid-19 first wave

          England, Wales and Spain suffered the biggest increases in deaths by all causes during the first wave of the covid-19 pandemic, while countries including New Zealand, Norway and Poland appear to have escaped relatively unscathed.

          The three worst-hit countries each saw around 100 “excess deaths” per 100,000 people between February and May, which researchers say was probably due to governments being slow to implement lockdowns and scale up testing and tracing….

          • There were likely a lot of deaths from depression related to the lockdown. Also, from not getting treatment for other illnesses, such as heart attacks and strokes. People were afraid to go to the hospital.

            I am not convinced that lockdowns are very helpful. They were horribly expensive to the economy, and the illness came right back. The only way they work is before an illness has spread extensively. China did not tell us about the illness until a huge number of plane flights from China had distributed Chinese travelers with the illness widely around the world. By then, it was too late for lockdowns to make any measurable difference, over the long term.

      • @dear me, The UK has been trashing civil liberties since Tony Blair. The temporary curfews are a trivial infringement compared with the UK’s infringements on free speech, gun rights, and other matters. Look at how they railroaded Tommy Robinson and coercively shut down any publicity in the UK media. The government might was well be run by nazi’s. The Brits should be rebelling against those very real sorts of tyranny rather than fixating on curfews that will pass when the epidemic dies down, as all epidemics do, with or without vaccines.

        • The situation doesn’t seem to be any better in the US, unless you consider the right to own a firearm some sort of progress

          Standing back gives different perception

        • >>rather than fixating on curfews that will pass when the epidemic dies down

          If society becomes broken enough, curfews may well become a permanent feature. A scared society won’t mind if they believe it is for their own good.

  1. Re: IQ and ethnicity

    There has been some talk on here of ethnic differences in average IQ.

    UK has many ethnicities, 33% of kids are of a minority ethnic background, and so the school exam results are quite interesting. Presumably there is some correlation between academic attainment and IQ, although socio-economic factors are likely to still have some effect.

    Figures below are for the percentage of pupils, of each broad ethnicity, who attain at least 3 A grades at A level (high school exit exams).

    Clearly there are disparities in attainment, and Chinese, Indian and Irish kids do better than ethnic British kids, while other South Asians and those of African descent do worse. Gypsies and travellers still seem to ‘drop out’.

    Socio-economic factors are still likely in play. Non-Indian South Asians were concentrated from the outset in old ‘mill towns’, now run down old industrial areas and local conditions, culture and expectations likely have some effect. There may also be an element of, which caste the groups were drawn from, with Indians predominantly drawn from higher, and others from the lower. Africans also tend to be concentrated in lower class, urban areas with similar issues of local culture and expectations.

    UK economy is highly regionalised, with economic investment and development concentrated, over generations, mainly in London and the SE, so it is unclear how seriously the British state takes regional educational outcomes. The capitalist state still needs lots of workers to do less intellectually demanding work.

    UK schools provide an interesting snap shot of ethnic disparities in educational attainment, but obviously it is not a clinical, controlled environment with a parity of conditions.

    Anyway, these are the latest figures. (The trends broadly mirror those for average income of ethnic groups for the under-30s, but Irish earn 40% more than ethnic British, the highest of any group listed. Clearly they have not included all groups.)


    Percentage of students achieving at least 3 A grades at A level, by ethnicity, 2019 – ONS 2020

    Chinese 25.7

    Unknown 23.4

    All 13.0

    Mixed 11.2
    Mixed White/Asian 15.3
    Mixed other 11.8
    Mixed White/Black African 8.3
    Mixed White/Black Caribbean 6.2

    Asian 11.0
    Indian 15.5
    Asian other 11.8
    Bangladeshi 7.8
    Pakistani 7.3

    White 11.0
    White Irish 13.8
    White other 11.5
    White British 11.0

    Gypsy/Roma 0.0
    Irish Traveller 0.0

    Other 10.2

    Black 5.5
    Black African 6.1
    Black other 5.4
    Black Caribbean 3.4

    • Oh Dear.
      Thanks for sharing this. I would suggest that the primary school results would be a better guide than secondary since the year six SATs are basically IQ tests. Have you come across any ONS data on this?

    • I am a casualty actuary. In the US, becoming a casualty actuary requires passing a series of about 10 examinations, over a period of years.

      When a person looks at those who pass the exams, Chinese seem to be over-represented; Blacks are underrepresented. We do have a number of actuaries of Indian ancestries. I don’t know how they would come out relative to population.

      I expect the results wouldn’t be too different from what you are showing, relative to the number of people of these races in the population.

    • @oh dear, “although socio-economic factors are likely to still have some effect.” — Once IQ is controlled for, SES influences are more or less undetectable. And that is not because SES is determining IQ. That has been controlled for too. For example, performance is pretty much the same (on average) for children of the same IQ but different SES. Going to a high quality school doesn’t make much difference either after heredity is controlled for. As long as all the schools meet a certain minimum level of quality, student achievement is thereafter determined by the students’ abilities and interests.

      @kowaleinan, Family Guy notwithstanding, in real life you cannot brow beat children into becoming smart. Working harder, yes (so long as they are under your roof), but no amount of psychological pressure will raise their ability.

      • Nehemiah, yes.

        I think it is a mild form of child abuse.

        Schooling, yes, 8h/day and weekends off. Play and entertainment is equally important for new discoveries and creative minds than a mindless churn reading books.

        How many astronomers, physicists, engineers hasn’t been spawned out of pop culture and just having fun with modern day myths (Star Wars, Jap anime, sci-fi books, fantasy books, video games, etc..) toys and friends. I would dare to say that most of the good ones carry the myths of pop culture and stories with them.

        And of course the greatest influence of them all NASA and all the other agencies pushing the narrative. Why? Because it is awesome.

  2. Re: Brexit deal, USA elections

    Boris may be waiting to see the outcome of the USA presidential election on Nov. 3 before he decides whether to go for a no deal Brexit.

    There is a feeling that a DP government would tell UK to ‘go do one’ about a trade deal.

    There are various reasons for that. DP is committed to GFA and will strike no deal with UK if UK endangers that. Also they liken Boris to Trump, ‘populism’ (or one strand of it) and destabilising trends in West. DP sees EU as the more important partner and UK as diminished in influence by Brexit. And Boris r acially slurred Obama. (UK establishment has largely covered up Boris’ overt ‘r acism’ but DP does not see it that way.)

    In reality, the USA lower chamber would block any USA-UK trade deal anyway, if UK endangers GFA, as has been made clear, so it is not clear that Boris is really thinking it through. It would make no difference on that count who wins in Nov.

    Besides, Brexit is a long-term project and it seems perhaps short-sighted to base it on a single four year presidential term. Maybe Boris fancies that he knows something that we do not about future USA voting trends, maybe about a future DP dominance due to demographic shifts. He may see Trump as his ‘one chance’ to not deal with DP in the foreseeable.

    > Johnson will wait for US election result before no-deal Brexit decision

    Senior figures in European governments believe Boris Johnson is waiting for the result of the US presidential election before finally deciding whether to risk plunging the UK into a no-deal Brexit, according to a former British ambassador to the EU.

    Ivan Rogers, who was the UK’s permanent representative in Brussels from 2013 to 2017, told the Observer that a view shared by ministers and officials he has talked to in recent weeks in several European capitals, is that Johnson is biding his time – and is much more likely to opt for no deal if his friend and Brexit supporter Donald Trump prevails over the Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

    Rogers said: “Several very senior sources in capitals have told me they believe Johnson will await clarity on the presidential election result before finally deciding whether to jump to ‘no deal’ with the EU, or to conclude that this is just too risky with Biden heading for the White House, and hence live with some highly suboptimal (for Johnson) skinny free-trade agreement.”

    …. The prime minister would therefore be more likely to conclude he could strike a quick and substantial post-Brexit US-UK trade deal than if Biden emerged as president after the 3 November poll. By contrast, a Biden administration would prioritise rebuilding relations with the EU that have been damaged by Trump.

    …. “They believe him to have been an early and vigorous supporter of Trump, and that Brexiteer thinking – which they think has damaged the unity of the west – has many parallels with Trumpism. So I really doubt there will be much warmth in the personal relationship. And Biden’s would simply not be an administration which viewed European integration as a negative.

    …. Darroch said: “Whoever wins in November the bedrock of the relationship – defence, security and intelligence collaboration – will remain as strong as ever. But if it’s Biden, there are likely to be some issues. The Democrats don’t like or support Brexit. They may prioritise trade deals with the Pacific region or the EU over a UK/US deal. They will block a trade deal with us if they think we are putting the Good Friday agreement at risk. And they remember and resent Johnson’s comments in 2016 about ‘the part-Kenyan president’ having ‘an ancestral dislike of the British empire’ – not to mention Johnson telling US diplomats that Trump was ‘making America great again’.”

    … He said: “Biden is very proud of his Irish antecedents. He has always been active on Northern Ireland since before I was in Washington. He takes a close interest in the Northern Irish peace process and sees it as an outrage that Johnson has in his cavalier manner threatened peace in Northern Ireland for so little reason. So that is going to be chalked up against him.”

    In Washington there are plenty of foreign policy advisers around Biden who worked in the Obama administration and have not forgiven Johnson for his “part-Kenyan” comments. The camp sees Johnson as part of the same populist phenomenon that brought Trump to power. And from the Democrats’ point of view, the UK outside the EU will make it less important as a partner on the world stage.

    • More pressure on Boris.

      > UK-US trade deal cannot happen if Brexit talks fail, ex-official says

      US presidential candidate Joe Biden says the UK must honour the Good Friday agreement in EU negotiations

      Britain is highly unlikely to secure a US trade deal unless it first strikes an agreement with the European Union, a former top American official has warned.

      A prized tie-up between London and Washington will be off the table if talks with Brussels break down, according to former assistant US trade representative Barbara Weisel.

      She added that any agreement is also likely to be delayed if the Democrats win the White House next month, in a major blow to Boris Johnson’s Government.

      Ms Weisel’s warning comes ahead of a fifth round of US-UK talks ending this Friday, with senior sources at the Department for International Trade saying they have set July next year as a “benchmark” for when a US agreement should be concluded.

      That is when Congress-granted powers that allow the president to fast-track free trade agreements – the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – are due to expire.

      But Ms Weisel, now managing director of economic policy consultant Rock Creek Global Advisors, an international economic policy advisory firm, told a webinar hosted by the transatlantic lobby group British American Business that this would be a difficult time frame to stick to if Democratic candidate Joe Biden, sweeps to power on Nov 3.

      Donald Trump’s trade representative Robert Lighthizer is almost certain to be ousted by Mr Biden, she said, adding: “Putting people in place who are going to do the negotiations [means] the whole thing’s going to get delayed.”

      Ms Weisel said: “Absent a Brexit deal, it becomes very difficult to conclude the US-UK negotiations.

      “The truth is, the relationship between the UK and the EU is going to be the dominant consideration.”

      Mr Biden said last month that if he were president, there would be no US trade deal unless Britain honoured the Good Friday Agreement in its negotiations with Brussels….

    • UK NI secretary has gone into denial mode.

      This all increases the ‘pop corn’ element to Nov. 3.

      > Joe Biden presidency wouldn’t derail hopes of post-Brexit trade deal, Cabinet minister insists

      Frontrunner Joe Biden has warned he would not sign a free trade deal with the UK if the Good Friday Agreement is undermined

      Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has played down suggestions that relations with the US could be damaged if Joe Biden is elected president because of concerns over the impact of Brexit.

      Mr Biden, the frontrunner in the 3 November US election, has warned he will not sign a free trade deal with the UK if the Good Friday Agreement is in any way undermined by the decision to leave the EU.

      Senior Democrats have widely criticised legislation going through Parliament giving ministers the power to override elements of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland. The Government has admitted it could breach international law.

      Mr Biden was vice president when Barack Obama warned in 2016 that the UK would go to the “back of the queue” for a trade deal if it left the EU and – unlike the incumbent Donald Trump – is opposed to Brexit.

      But Mr Lewis insisted Britain would continue to work closely with the US, whoever won the election, and said the UK Internal Market Bill was designed to protect [!] the peace process in Northern Ireland.

      “We absolutely protect and abide by the Good Friday Agreement. It is absolutely key,” he told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show….

  3. the key to survive whats coming over the next decade is stock up in physical silver coins ,lots of long life food such as white rice canned goods and avoid the vaccine when it finally gets released.

    • You still need a supply of drinkable water. In many places, this may be a challenge. You also need a way of cooking the food. With fuel and a pot, perhaps sterilization will help whatever water supply you have.

      In cold parts of the world, you need a way to keep warm, as well.

    • adonis,

      Maybe, but one needs a group and it must have a very common set of rules, there are examples, Amish, Hells Angles.

      Dennis L.

        • My understanding was adonis was thinking more on a tribal scale, Common Law is more of a civilizational level as I would think of it.

          Dennis L.

          • Why wouldn’t BCL be applicable on a small scale?

            Clean out the cruft and worst legalese from the text and fill it up with examples making it comprehensible.

            • A guess: There is far less energy throughput in a tribe hence much less variety of situations and thus less need for a considerable book of law.

              E.g. Did my wife have sex with my friend and is this child mine? Lengthy custody hearings and child support would most likely be satisfied more simply and probably somewhat on the relative power status of the two males.

              Really don’t have answers, question is beyond my expertise.

              Dennis L.

        • Until it was high-jacked by minoritarianism. In a high school in my state, the principal was fired because of a BLM brou-hah-hah that began with a student painting an American flag as part of senior display. A minority individual objected to having to look at the American flag, and then all hell broke loose.

    • When the crunch comes, I’ll still have my comic book collection with all those polybagged, mint-condition first issues. Talk about resource scarcity!

    • filled with persons who, when alive, were most likely older and unhealthier with various comorbidities.

  4. “Anger in Egypt continues to rise as state authorities move ahead with the demolition of houses constructed illegally inside cities or on farmland.

    “The campaign has the blessings of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who threatened on 29 August to order the army to raze villages constructed illegally, which is eating away at the country’s agricultural land and turning it into concrete jungles”

  5. “The NBA, which was the first pro league to suspend play amid the COVID-19 pandemic, made $1.5 billion less than it projected last season due to the pandemic and other factors, according to an Associated Press report”.

    • There are a huge number of types of businesses that have been adversely affected by the response to the pandemic. Clearly, fewer people drove to the games, reducing fuel demand. Vendors seeking to sell food at the games lost income. Fewer people were hired to guide traffic, reducing a different type of income.

      All of these reductions rippled through the economy, as the people who received less income spent less.

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