Don’t expect the world economy to resume its prior growth pattern after COVID-19

Most people seem to think that the world economy is going through a temporary disruption, caused by a novel coronavirus. As soon as COVID-19 goes away, they expect the economy will be back to normal. I think that this assessment is overly optimistic. The way I see the situation, the world economy was already having severe growth problems, caused indirectly by resource problems, even before COVID-19 hit.

In a growing world economy, a person might expect that workers would be getting richer, so that they could afford an increasing quantity of goods and services. What we really see is something very different. The number of new automobiles sold was falling in many major countries long before COVID-19 hit, even as population was generally rising. Clearly, something was seriously wrong.

Figure 1. Auto sales for selected countries, based on data of CarSalesBase.com.

As I see the situation, the world has a resource problem. Resources of many kinds, including fresh water, energy products, and minerals of many kinds were becoming more difficult (and expensive) to extract, even before 2020. Substitution might have worked if the problem were only one or two resources, but not with several major resources. Cutting back was the only answer.

Thus, the shutdowns for COVID-19 came at a convenient time, allowing economies that were already doing poorly to shut down. Needless to say, there was no world leader who was willing to explain this hidden issue to the world population. Instead, world leaders used standardized code words such as “we need to move to renewables” or “we need to reduce carbon use by 2050 to prevent climate change.” Unfortunately, the ability to move to alternatives in this time frame is simply an illusion, allowing world leaders to avoid mentioning the serious resource issues that the world economy is really facing.

I expect that within a few months, a new crisis of some sort (perhaps financial) will come along, further reducing resource use. This will happen, whether or not the problem of the novel coronavirus is solved. In this post, I will try to explain the situation.

[1] The world’s economy is a self-organizing system, powered by the laws of physics. It requires a mix of resources, including energy resources, to operate.

The laws of physics require that energy be “dissipated” whenever activities we associate with generating GDP take place. For example, if a person is to drive a truck, he/she will need to eat food for his/her own personal energy. This food is “dissipated” by digestion. If the truck is to transport goods, it will need to burn some type of fuel, such as diesel. This fuel is dissipated by burning. If a computer is to operate, it will need to dissipate electricity. If a room (or a liquid) is to be heated or cooled, some sort of energy dissipation will be required.

The world economy grows in a very orderly manner. It gradually adds population, as more babies are born than people die. All of these people need food and fresh water; they also need some type of housing and clothing to protect them from the elements. Ideally, they need some type of transportation in addition to walking. Businesses are formed to enable access to goods and services that fill these needs. Governments are also formed to provide services used by all and to regulate the system. A financial system is formed to facilitate transactions, among other things.

The world economy cannot slow down and quickly restart. This is especially the case for an economy that had already started slowing, even before the 2020 pandemic. If not enough resources of the right kinds were available to enable true economic growth before the pandemic, it is hard to see how the situation would be very much improved a year later.

One key to understanding how a self-organizing economy works is to understand that the economy is multi-sided. Businesses need to make an adequate profit, to continue in operation. Workers need to earn an adequate wage to raise a family. Customers need affordable prices. Shortages of inexpensive-to-extract resources can lead to many different problems: lack of profitability for producers, or too much wage disparity among workers, or too high prices for customers. Resource shortages can also lead to people with inadequate wages wanting to migrate. They can also lead to empty shelves in stores.

[2] Depleted coal mines near population centers in China have adversely affected the Chinese economy more than it tells the outside world.

China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2001. The Kyoto Protocol mandated that 37 industrialized nations cut their greenhouse gas emissions. More than 100 developing countries, including China and India, were exempt from the treaty. This combination of events allowed China to greatly ramp up its economy, building many new roads, factories and housing units from concrete, with little competition from the 37 industrialized economies.

China had very large coal resources, which it ramped up (Figure 2). Of course, this greatly increased world coal consumption, an effect precisely the opposite of the stated purpose of the Kyoto Protocol–to reduce world CO2 emissions.

Figure 2. World and China coal consumption, based on data of BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2020. China imported 7.4% of its coal supply in 2019, so China’s coal production would be similar, but it would hit limits a bit sooner and harder.

The problem that China ran into about 2013 was that its coal mines, especially those near population centers, began depleting. The cost of extraction started rising because the thickest coal seams, closest to the surface, were badly depleted. In theory, there was still a great deal more coal available from those mines if the price would rise sufficiently high. Coal from new mines that were more distant from population centers might also be used if the price would rise high enough to include overland transport costs.

Coal prices didn’t rise to match the higher cost of production. If they had risen, they would have raised the cost of many goods manufactured for export, making these industries less profitable. Because coal prices stayed too low for coal producers, over 70% of China’s coal companies were reported to be unprofitable by the first half of 2014.

China closed unprofitable mines and added new mines at more distant locations. China’s coal production has struggled in recent years. A constant problem has been keeping coal prices high enough to cover the rising cost of extraction and delivery to population centers. There are recent indications that coal supply is inadequate: Parts of China experienced rolling blackouts in the winter of 2020-2021, and warnings have been given to expect possible electricity shortages this summer. China has been accepting few coal imports, largely because it wants to keep its local prices sufficiently high that its own coal producers can be profitable.

China uses coal in many ways, including generating electricity, making steel, and manufacturing cement, which is the most important ingredient in concrete. Concrete is used in producing roads, bridges and buildings of all types, including high rise buildings used in many places in China.

Figure 3 shows that China’s cement production fell at a time similar to that at which coal production “flattened out.” This would not be surprising if a shortage of coal led China to cut back on its use of cement in order to save coal for electricity production.

Figure 3. Cement production for the World and China based on USGS data.

China, like other countries, has been seeing its population rise. Figure 4 shows coal and cement amounts for China on a per capita basis. This approach shows that, viewed on a per person basis, both coal consumption and concrete production have been falling since about 2013-2014. In fact, coal consumption began to fall slightly before cement production, suggesting that the fall in coal consumption is the cause of the fall in cement production.

Figure 4. Cement production from the USGS and coal consumption from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2020, divided by population from the World Population Prospects 2019 by the United Nations.

[3] A decrease in new home building in the United States after 2008, as well as the recent difficulty in ramping construction back up again, are further evidence that the world is reaching resource limits of some kind.

Figure 5. New US privately owned single-family housing units divided by US population, multiplied by a constant. This gives a measure of per capita growth in new single-family housing units. Chart prepared by the St. Louis Federal Reserve.

Figure 5, above, shows that the number of new single-family housing units, relative to population, dropped dramatically after late 2005, early 2006. (This was when US Federal Reserve target interest rates rose, leading to higher borrowing costs for both builders and purchasers.) New home building plunged before and during the Great Recession. Building of new units has not ramped up very much, since then.

Even in 2020 and early 2021, the number of new units being started is very low by historical standards. It certainly wouldn’t be surprising if a lack of resources is part of what is depressing new home production. It may also be causing the spurt in resource prices (for example, lumber and copper) when new-home production does try to ramp up.

[4] World oil production seems to be falling for the same reason that China’s coal production stopped growing: Prices are too low for producers because of depletion issues. Oil producers cannot make an adequate profit, so they are reducing production.

Figure 6. World oil production through 2020 based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

World crude oil production was at its highest level ever in 2018. It has fallen ever since.

Figure 7 shows that oil production has been falling in many parts of the world in recent years.

Figure 7. Crude and condensate oil production for selected areas of the world, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

The shining star of crude oil production, at least until recently, has been the United States with its shale oil production.

Figure 8. US crude and condensate oil production for the 48 states, Alaska, and for shale basins, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

Unfortunately, with low prices, US shale oil is unprofitable. Shale production fell in 2020, and indications for the year 2021 are down as well.

Worldwide, the oil industry seems to require a price of $120 per barrel or more to make investment in new production profitable, and current prices are far below this. Part of this high price is required to provide adequate tax revenue for oil exporting countries that are dependent on this revenue.

[5] Relative to population, worldwide oil and coal consumption reached its highest level in 2007. It has fallen recently.

Figure 9. World per capita energy consumption, separated between “oil + coal” and all other. Data for 2019 and prior based on BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2020. Figures for 2020 reflect percentage changes anticipated by the International Energy Agency in its Global Energy Review 2021.

Figure 9 shows that on a per capita basis, combined oil and coal consumption reached its highest level in 2007 and dipped during the Great Recession. It reached somewhat of a plateau in the 2011 to 2013 period, but started slipping in 2014 and had fallen ever since. Those who follow oil prices closely will notice that combined oil and coal consumption per capita tends to be high when oil prices are high relative to other goods; consumption tends to be low when oil prices are low. The lower per capita oil and coal consumption since 2007 would be expected to hold back the production of “goods” of many kinds, including houses, automobiles, roads and electrical transmission lines.

The “All Other” category is really not a stand-alone category. It depends on oil and coal for its pipelines and electrical transmission, among other things. Without concrete bases, it would be difficult to have wind turbines. Solar panels without steel supports wouldn’t work well either. In theory, if a huge amount of transition were done, perhaps steel and concrete could be produced in reasonable quantities with only the “All Other” types of energy, but someone would need to figure out precisely how this could be accomplished, including the timeframe required.

[6] Inadequate fresh water supplies are a problem in many parts of the world.

The standard approach to getting fresh water has been to tap underground aquifers and tap them at rates far greater than they are refreshed. In some places, this leads to saltwater intrusion; in others, it leads to a falling water table. Some examples of areas with water problems include California, Saudi Arabia, India, China, and Cuba.

There are ways to work around these problems:

  • Digging deeper wells
  • Piping fresh water from a distance, nearly always uphill
  • Desalination

Implementing any of these workarounds for water shortages takes energy of different kinds, mostly coal (to make steel) and oil (for transporting goods and extracting metal ores). These workarounds make the cost of fresh water higher. Higher water costs are especially a problem for agriculture and for poor families, struggling with budgets that cover little more than the price of food and water.

If fixes for the fresh water supply problem cannot be found, irrigation will need to be cut back. Such a change would likely lead to a fall in world food supply.

[7] We are probably kidding ourselves if we think that production of semiconductor chips can be ramped up significantly in the future.

China is now a major producer for rare earth minerals, and it is practically the only processor of rare earth minerals. Semiconductor chips are created using rare earth minerals, water and huge amounts of heat in an exceptionally clean environment. The leading producer of chips is Taiwan, using raw materials from China. There is a long lead time required for building new factories. My concern arises because of the resource issues China and the rest of the world is facing.

We use semiconductor chips in many things, including computers, cell phones, automobiles and “smart” appliances. Without a ramp up in semiconductor chip production, many high-tech dreams for the future will likely remain only dreams.

[8] With a falling supply of coal and oil per capita and inadequate fresh water in many parts of the world, we have already reached the point where some types of “optional” activities need to be cut back.

An early optional activity that was cut back on was recycling. Oil prices fell in 2014, making the recycling of many types of goods, especially plastics, non-economic because the resale value of recycled products dropped with oil prices. China cut back greatly on its recycling efforts, effective January 1, 2018. Other countries have followed suit. China’s cutbacks on recycling allowed it to save its coal supplies (which were no longer growing, see Figures 2 and 4) for other activities that had the possibility of being more profitable.

In early 2020, cutbacks associated with the pandemic gave the world economy some “breathing room” with respect to resource shortages. Cutbacks in travel left more oil for other uses. Oil prices could drop back. This was especially helpful to countries that are big importers of oil, such as those in Figure 10, below. It is not surprising that some of the countries with the biggest oil import problems have been the most enthusiastic about travel cutbacks related to COVID-19.

Figure 10. Quantity of oil imported for selected countries, calculated in barrels of oil per person per year. Oil imports determined based on data from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2020; population is from World Population Prospects 2019 by the United Nations.

[9] The world economy has a very serious resource problem. There seem to be three different approaches to hiding the problem, none of which will really solve the problem.

The serious problem that the world economy is encountering is the fact that the supply of both coal and oil are running short, especially when viewed on a per capita basis. The world is also very short of fresh water. China is affected as much, or more than, other countries by these problems. As a result, China’s future growth prospects are likely quite low, even though few are expecting this change. Without a continued strong forward “pull” from China, the world economy may be headed for “collapse,” a condition which has affected many civilizations in the past.

There seem to be three different approaches to doing something about the world’s resource limits problem, without mentioning the nature of the real underlying problem:

[a] Develop a “fear of future climate change” story by creating models that assume we have huge amounts of fossil fuels that can be burned in the future, even though the evidence is very much the opposite: We are “running out” of coal and oil right now, but in a different way than economists have theorized (low price, rather than high price). At the same time, argue that a transition to renewables (particularly intermittent wind and solar) is possible in the next 30 years. The fact that essential minerals for such a change, including copper and lithium, are themselves in short supply relative to the incredibly large quantities required, is overlooked. No one stops to calculate the true cost, measured in energy products and other materials, required by such a transition, either.

[b] Create a “fear of the coronavirus” story, and use it to keep people inside and away from traveling as much as possible. Emphasize the possibility of mutations. If people cut back on traveling, it saves oil. If they cut back on eating out and large celebrations such as weddings, it reduces food wastage. If a pandemic takes place, politicians can use it as an excuse to mitigate problems of many kinds:

  • Reduce the need for imported oil, by keeping citizens at home
  • Keep factories closed, without disclosing that the factories could not really operate at full capacity because of inadequate orders or missing raw materials
  • Use shutdowns to keep order in areas disrupted by uprisings related to low wages
  • Hide the problem of many failing stores and businesses behind a new “temporary” problem
  • Give the politician a new sense of control with new rules related to the epidemic

It is disturbing that back in 2010, the Rockefeller Foundation was looking at using pandemics to control people when the foundation was examining possible workarounds for too large a population relative to resources.

[c] Hide the existing resource problem with more debt, to the extent possible. In fact, having a circulating coronavirus has assisted in this effort because everyone can see the need for more debt on a temporary basis, “until this problem goes away.” Of course, the resource problem is not going away, which means the world is likely headed for serious financial problems when the economy tries to ramp up again. See my post, Headed for a Collapsing Debt Bubble.

[10] My expectation is that the world economy will try to bounce back from this pandemic, but it won’t really be able to bounce back.

There really aren’t enough resources of any kind to pull the world economy much farther forward. A day of reckoning seems to be coming, probably in the next few months. The financial system looks like it is the weakest link. If the world economy dramatically slows, borrowers will not be able to repay debt with interest. There may be rapid shifts in currency relativities, disrupting derivatives markets. International trade will become less and less possible, perhaps taking place only among a few trusted partners.

We seem to be headed for a rapidly changing world economy, and unfortunately not for the better.

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 China coal, economic growth, oil prices, resource shortages. Bookmark the permalink.

3,576 Responses to Don’t expect the world economy to resume its prior growth pattern after COVID-19

  1. Yoshua says:

    WTI 71.09 !

    Maybe a weekly chart at 75 is resistance? Or technical charts no longer work?

  2. Numerous important stories are interlacing today in NI lol. The Tories are to meet with NI party leaders this evening to discuss whether Westminster will impose the Irish Language Act on NI, which legislation was agreed to revive Stormont, and which the DUP’s Poots refuses to pass during the present mandate.

    SF has already said that they will collapse Stormont if ILA is not passed, or at least imposed; it remains to be seen whether Poots says that he will collapse it if WM intervenes. Will Stormont survive the current evening, is it down for the foreseeable? Or it could fall in a few days, if a party refuses to endorse the new first or deputy first minister.

    If DUP collapses it, then it would take some other ‘unionist’ party that accepts the ILA, to become the largest ‘unionist’ party at the called elections, in order to revive it – and that is not a given. NI politics are like one long soap opera with unlimited episodes. Will WM impose ILA? Will SF collapse SM? Will DUP collapse SM? Is this the end for SM? Or is it the beginning of a new relationship? Stay tuned for the next episode.

    > [Tories] criticise Leo Varadkar over united Ireland comments

    The British government has rebuked Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar, for saying he believed there could be a united Ireland within his lifetime.

    Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, told the Commons on Wednesday the comments were “unhelpful and ill-advised”.

    The blunt reprimand came amid a fresh effort to defuse a political row in Northern Ireland that threatens to collapse its power-sharing government.

    Boris Johnson told the Commons that people in Northern Ireland wanted a “stable, functioning and mature executive”. The prime minister said a deal in 2020 that revived the region’s assembly and executive – and included a commitment to Irish-language legislation – should be implemented.

    Lewis is to meet the region’s party leaders in Belfast later on Wednesday to discuss an impasse over Irish-language legislation that has hobbled the executive and could trigger early elections.

    Sinn Féin wants the British government to bypass the executive and assembly at Stormont and to pass the legislation at Westminster, but some unionist leaders have warned London to not intervene.

    The language row has aggravated tension over a separate flashpoint – the post-Brexit Irish Sea border – that has fuelled loyalist street protests and rancour between London and Brussels.

    Varadkar, 42, made a pointed intervention on Tuesday night in Dublin when he told the annual conference of his Fine Gael party that both sides of the island could be united in his lifetime.

    “We should be proud to say that unification is something we aspire to. It should be part of our mission as a party to work towards it. We can do so in many ways,” he said.

    “Unification must not be the annexation of Northern Ireland. It means something more, a new state designed together, a new constitution and one that reflects the diversity of a binational or multinational state in which almost a million people are British. Like the new South Africa, a rainbow nation, not just orange and green.”

    Ireland’s deputy prime minister said the views of unionists must be understood and respected but that no one group had a veto on Ireland’s future. He said Fine Gael may start to organise, but not contest elections, in Northern Ireland.

    Varadkar’s comments – unusually limpid for a centrist party accustomed to woolier sentiments about a united Ireland – followed a surge in support for Sinn Féin, the main opposition party in the republic….

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/16/uk-criticises-leo-varadkar-over-united-ireland-comments

    • kulmthestatusquo
      kulmthestatusquo says:

      De Gaulle was smart to avoid dealing with a similar problem in Algeria by abandoning all the Pied Noirs to their fate.

      • The British state basically lost all nous in the early 20th c., and it had completely lost the British Empire within another two decades. It did not have a clue what it was doing. It also managed to squander all of its lion’s share of the Marshall funds after WWII on a failed attempt to maintain the Empire, while the continent invested their shares on rebuilding and modernising the economy – UK never regained its competitiveness. We are still living with the consequences of their foolish decisions. Then they kept begging to be let into the EU – and then they left, and they are still playing up about it, and refusing to enact the withdrawal agreement. Whatever!

  3. StarvingLion says:

    The Pump-n-Dumpers are laughing in your face…what will the serious “economists” say about this? I guess the Big Dump in the SP500 is imminent.

    “Ordinary investors would still do well to … put long-term savings into an S&P 500 or broader index fund.”

    “Brace for a summer rally.”

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/saddle-up-for-a-summer-rally-in-the-stock-market-11623786354?mod=mw_latestnews

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Maybe. Interest rates are down, and countries will want to pump available money/credit like crazy. Oil may be up, but only if everything else (except wages) are up. This is a formula for recession, unless somehow all of the debt defaults can be stopped.

  4. StarvingLion says:

    US import and export prices rose more than expected in May (+1.1% MoM and +2.2% MoM respectively).

    This pushed Export prices up by 17.4% YoY – the highest on record (since 1984) and import prices rose 11.3% YoY – the highest since 2011…

    https://www.zerohedge.com/economics/us-export-prices-explode-fastest-pace-record-airfares-soaring

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Wow! “This pushed Export prices up by 17.4% YoY – the highest on record (since 1984) and import prices rose 11.3% YoY”

      Sounds like impact of a falling dollar.

  5. StarvingLion says:

    Guess what, your EV is a worthless piece of shit.

    https://anewspost.com/electric-cars-useless-in-cold-weather/
    .
    According to recent studies, cold temperatures significantly reduce the performance of electric cars, especially when it comes to battery life.

    One study by AAA suggested that cold temperatures can reduce the range of the batteries in most electric cars by over 40 percent. It was also noted that the performance can be even worse when the interior heaters are used.

    However, even electric car owners who live in hot regions are not safe, because high temperatures can also reduce battery range, although to a far lesser degree.
    .The researchers found that the driving range for these vehicles fell by 12 percent while driving in 20 degree temperatures. When the interior heater in the car was used, that range dropped to an incredible 41 percent of its normal capacity.

    Meanwhile, when driving in 95 degree heat, the battery life for these vehicles dropped 4 percent on average. However, these numbers got worse if air conditioning was in use. When air condition was used in 90 degree heat, the expected battery life for these cars was reduced by 17 percent.

    Tesla responded to the results in a statement, suggesting that the data they collected from their customers shows that there was only a 1 percent drop at 95 degrees, but the company refused to release their data for cold weather.

    AAA stands by their results, saying that the study followed test procedures drawn up by the auto engineering trade group, SAE.

    To mitigate the reduction in range caused by severe temperatures, AAA suggests that electric car owners warm their vehicles up while they are still plugged in. …. Really???
    .
    .
    Looks like a “junker” will be needed in winter around here. – Add using the heater plus all your lights, a radio & defroster (front & rear) and you’d be lucky to get out of your driveway.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      An electric car is simply a second or third vehicle for rich families that want to appear “green.” It can be used on short trips and perhaps longer trips, when temperature permits. Subsidies for electric vehicles are a case of the poor subsidizing the rich.

    • Dennis L. says:

      Average length of an auto trip is less than 30 miles, have noticed a tank of gasoline degrades very rapidly, when it is gone it is a useless tank.

      Running diesel engines in cold weather is not that easy either, stuff gels, plugs everything – tried the diesel car gig. Want to start a diesel? Plug it in, warm the oil even in normal weather, easier on the engine.

      Air conditioning? Don’t really know, some debate on auto channels, rapidity of cooling vs volume. Seems like 5K to 12K btu, depends on climate, Phoenix needs more than Minneapolis, etc.

      I have noticed many cars now have remote starters, warm car in winter before driving, with a garage, that should not be an issue with EV.

      In the old days, heater did not warm car until one arrived at destination, air conditioning worked immediately with a hand crank of a window, or maybe even all windows.

      Purchase what you want and be happy, generally it beats walking and some type of ride is probably better than none.

      Dennis L.

  6. StarvingLion says:

    The Crypto Cowboys are moving to Texas…yee haw…the wild west 2 is here.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/15/chinas-bitcoin-miner-exodus-.html
    .
    China has long been home to more than half the world’s bitcoin miners, but now, Beijing wants them out ASAP.

    In May, the government called for a severe crackdown on bitcoin mining and trading, setting off what’s being dubbed in crypto circles as “the great mining migration.” This exodus is underway now, and it could be a game changer for Texas.

    Mining is the energy-intensive process which both creates new coins and maintains a log of all transactions of existing digital tokens.

    Despite a lack of reserves that caused dayslong blackouts last winter, Texas often has some of the world’s lowest energy prices, and its share of renewables is growing over time, with 20% of its power coming from wind as of 2019. It has a deregulated power grid that lets customers choose between power providers, and crucially, its political leaders are very pro-crypto – dream conditions for a miner looking for a kind welcome and cheap energy sources.

    “You are going to see a dramatic shift over the next few months,” said Brandon Arvanaghi, previously a security engineer at crypto exchange Gemini. “We have governors like Greg Abbott in Texas who are promoting mining. It is going to become a real industry in the United States, which is going to be incredible.”

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      An industry that finds a use for otherwise useless wind and solar electricity, when it is not needed. Is that a plus or a minus?

      Bitcoin indirectly adds a few jobs, some of them in illegal industries.

      Bitcoin’s use of unneeded wind and solar means that, given the pricing structure, the fossil fuel industry is increasingly subsidizing wind and solar. The pricing structure of the electricity is woefully inadequate; bit miners take advantage of the absurd pricing structure.

      With all of the wind and solar, the lifetime of the grid is likely shorter, rather than longer. For one thing, the total amount of funds collected is inadequate to maintain the grid. For another, other electricity providers, particularly nuclear, are driven out of business by the negative wholesale rates.

      • Dennis L. says:

        Gail,

        I believe in technology, but if nuclear really were cost effective, where? It didn’t work very well in the former Soviet Union, they had a very expensive incident at Chernobyl, it has had issues in Japan. Fukushima certainly was intermittent. It seems very difficult for anyone to build these things and not have very expensive issues. We lost Three Mile Island, operator error after a gauge or some such device stuck, oops.

        Meanwhile the idea of charging distributed batteries in cars with RE at periods the vehicles are not in use is dismissed as nonsense.

        Dennis L.

  7. StarvingLion says:

    Forget about wearing masks. Full hazmat suits will soon be required for the non complying dissidents.

    China Insists Taishan Nuclear Plant Radiation Levels Normal

    Beijing says the safety of its nuclear power plant in southern China is “guaranteed,” following alarming reports about a fission gas leak in recent weeks. Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, told reporters on Tuesday that the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong province met all technical requirements. “No abnormalities in radiation levels have been detected in the surrounding environment.” “Its safety is guaranteed,” he said. Concerns surrounding one of the facility’s two reactors emerged on Monday, after a CNN report revealed that the plant’s French joint operator Framatome had written twice to the U.S. in June in order to obtain approval for technical assistance. The Taishan plant’s majority stakeholder is the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), which was placed on the U.S. entity list by the Trump administration. To assist in what Framatome described as an “imminent radiological threat,” …

  8. StarvingLion says:

    Gail: “The Economy is self-organizing based on the laws of physics”
    SL: “The Economy is a Pump-n-Dump Joke based on scumbags devising ponzi schemes”

    Inflation and Deflation and Debt are meaningless words in such a context.

    It won’t be long now before the Alberta Tar Sands is shut down completely because of all the fraud. All the money will go into oil meme stocks and crypto instead.

    Jerkoff from the ‘FED’ will be speaking today as if it matters. The countless trillions of off-book USD currency creation will continue as usual.

    • Xabier says:

      Starving Lion.

      Your bad manners to Gail are simply not welcome here: either amend them, or fuck off.

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        I have a fairly thick skin. Thanks for thinking of me, though.

    • el mar says:

      The scumbags are a part of the self-organizing economy!
      Like flies on shit!
      No shit – no fly!
      No dissipation – no beeings: law of physics!
      Got it?

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        Right: “scumbags are a part of the self-organizing economy”

        Also, “No dissipation – no beings: law of physics!”

      • Heathen
        Jack S. says:

        el mar, you posted this on another site:

        “Future or climate killer?”

        https://abload.de/img/klimakilleroeje9.jpg

        A comment from Mike H. on YT is more apropos to the current situation:

        “It is obviously a concern that climate change predictions overshadow uncontrolled population growth’s contribution to overshoot (& famine) & the crashing of Earth’s biodiversity, both of which are probably more “immediate killers” of huge swathes of humanity . . . “

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      I sort of agree with Starving Lion here. How do we talk about inflation, when leaders everywhere are using funny money to get rid of debt and trying to raise all prices simultaneously?

      I keep saying that this can’t continue, but I don’t know for certain long the central banks and politicians can keep the whole thing going. I am hesitant to say, this will break down by 6:00 pm on such and such a date. At this late date, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot that can be done to fix the situation.

      • Sam says:

        I guess funny money is an understatement… they are moving things around is more like it… I think the idea of the FED printer is a misnomer they can’t print money but it is all the same

  9. Some think that oil is headed to $100 over the next few years – due to a lack of investment, a decline in reserves, and a shortage of supply. This may be a case of prices rising because they are too low to make investment profitable – which is leading to a shortage. Prices are rising, but the real issue is their low price relative to what companies need to supply enough oil to the entire market – they are too low for energy companies, and too high for other companies.

    The question is what happens to the companies that cannot afford energy prices that high – the ones for whom there will not be enough oil. Higher energy costs are liable to eat into the profitability of all companies – in a scenario in which economies are already ‘zombiefied’ with unprofitable companies that rely on state support and easy debt to survive. ‘Zombies’ may be about to begin to expire because they cannot compete for the energy? Of course, it is all presented as a snag in the voluntary transition to ‘green’ energy.

    > Oil likely to hit $100 a barrel, say top commodity traders

    The world’s top commodity traders have forecast a return to $100-a-barrel oil, as investment in new supplies slows down before demand has peaked and before green alternatives can take up the slack.

    Executives from Vitol, Glencore and Trafigura and Goldman Sachs said on Tuesday that $100 crude was a real possibility, with prices already reaching their highest level in two years this week as Brent crude moved above $73 a barrel.

    The prediction comes at a time when concern about inflation is rising and many commodities, such as copper, have already reached record highs, boosted by supply shortfalls as the economic recovery gathers pace.

    Jeremy Weir, executive chair of Trafigura, one of the world’s largest independent oil traders, told the FT Commodities Global Summit on Tuesday that he was “concerned” by the lack of spending on new supply because the world was not ready to make the leap to clean energy and complete electrification.

    “I actually think that there is a chance for oil to get up to those numbers,” he told the summit. “The issue for oil is not demand… the supply situation is quite concerning. We’ve gone from 15 years of reserves to 10 years. We’ve seen capital expenditure go from five years ago at $400bn a year to just $100bn a year. So therefore, there is a concern on the supply side… that I think will probably drive prices higher.”

    Alex Sanna, the top oil trader at Glencore, also said that $100 oil was looking more likely.

    “If you’re cutting supply without at the same time addressing your demand that is when you can get price dislocations,” Sanna said. “You’re really only one or two events away from a material spike in oil prices.”

    Oil has not traded above $100 a barrel since 2014, when a surge in supplies from the US shale sector brought the last so-called supercycle to an end. At the start of this century oil prices rallied from near $10 a barrel to reach above $100 in 2008, boosted by growing Chinese demand. Prices, while volatile, averaged around $100 a barrel for the next six years.

    https://www.ft.com/content/b27ac2bb-69c9-4e06-94e5-f7373b4de5ba

    • postkey
      postkey says:

      “Art Berman
      @aeberman12
      Every expert is confident that oil markets are stronger than ever and prices are going higher.

      Time to short oil.”
      https://twitter.com/aeberman12/status/1405159332673642498?s=20

    • I am thinking through how to express this. How are prices ‘too low’ at $100?

      The foreseen shortage of oil is the first thing to notice. Oil companies can profitably produce so much oil at $100 – but not enough to supply all, which leaves a shortage and unmet demand. They could profitably produce more oil, enough to meet all demand, if the oil price were higher, say if it were $150. Thus $100 is still ‘too low’ for them to meet all demand. Oil companies could perchance produce enough oil to satisfy all at a higher price, say $150, but that would be ‘too high’ for companies to buy the energy.

      The mismatch is the point, between what price oil companies would need to provide oil to all, and what other companies can afford to pay. If companies could afford energy at $150 for oil, then there would be no shortage, oil companies could profitably produce enough oil for all. But companies cannot afford energy at that price, and so oil prices cannot go that high – they can go high enough only to be ‘adequate’ for the oil companies to meet the needs only of some. Oil prices are ‘too low’ to meet the needs of all.

      There is no ‘high’ price for oil companies now, there is only a price that is ‘adequate’ to allow them to produce a certain amount of oil, and to meet the demand of some companies, while it is ‘inadequate’ to allow them to meet the need of all. Prices are now ‘too low’, even at $100, for them to produce enough oil to satisfy the needs of all. $100 is ‘too low’ for the oil companies to meet the needs of all – it is ‘adequate’ for them to meet the needs of some, and ‘inadequate’ for them to meet the needs of all.

      There may be no ‘high’ price for oil companies now, but there are still prices that would be ‘too high’ for companies who wish to purchase energy. ‘High’ has meaning now only in so far as it limits the price to what is ‘too low’ for oil companies to meet all demand. There is no ‘historical’ price that is absolutely ‘high’ or ‘low’ in abstraction from the present mismatch between the price that oil companies and other companies need for more oil to flow. The ‘height’ of the price is now indicative of how ‘adequate’ it is to meet demand – which is to say that it is ‘too low’ to meet all demand.

      That analysis seems to ‘make sense’. Prices cannot be ‘high’ for companies now, they can only be ‘adequate’ for them to meet some demand yet ‘inadequate’, ‘too low’ for them to meet all demand – they are ‘too low’, even at $100 and thus there is a foreseen shortage.

      • * That analysis seems to ‘make sense’. Prices cannot be ‘high’ for [oil] companies now, they can only be ‘adequate’ for them to meet some demand yet ‘inadequate’, ‘too low’ for them to meet all demand – they are ‘too low’, even at $100 and thus there is a foreseen shortage.

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        Even before the current price run up, I was saying that oil companies need at least $120 per barrel, in order to have adequate funds for reinvestment in new fields. That number is probably higher now. That reinvestment will take years to actually produce oil. There is no way to bridge the gap in reinvestment that a long period of low prices has created.

        For example, there is a lot of very heavy oil in Venezuela, Canada, Saudi Arabia and many other countries. Oil companies could do a lot of reinvestment at high prices and use heat to melt the very heavy oil. It might need special refinement techniques as well, leading to a need for new refineries as well. Governments need more and more tax dollars from oil companies. The need for tax dollars goes into the required oil price as well. I would not be surprised if the required price for oil reinvestment is $150 per barrel. In some cases, heated pipelines are needed to transport heavy oil. This would be another cost and time factor in developing these resources.

        A person might also think about the problems in Venezuela already. They need incredibly high tax dollars to fix those problems.

        • people have come to expect oil benefits like they were in the American (fantasy) dreamtime of the 60s

          those times are over.

          but we have a long way to go before truth overtakes denial

        • You have a very nice handle on the present dynamics of the oil situation. Perhaps you might do another article on it sometime to bring us up to date?

        • Sam says:

          Also are you taking into account of the falling dollar?

          • 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.
            Gail Tverberg says:

            Exactly! I should have said, even before the recent drop in the dollar, relative to other currencies, . . .

  10. Tim Groves says:

    And now for something completely different — or maybe not quite.

    An awesome video entitled Chemical Farming & The Loss of Human Health, this video looks int o the connections between the food we eat and the modern diseases that are affecting more and more people as a result..

    “Zach Bush, MD is triple board-certified physician specializing in internal medicine, endocrinology and hospice care. He is the founder of Seraphic Group, an organization devoted to developing root-cause solutions for human and ecological health in the sectors of big farming, big pharma, and Western Medicine at large. He is also the founder of Farmers Footprint https://farmersfootprint.us/​, a non-profit coalition of farmers, educators, doctors, scientists, and business leaders aiming to expose the deleterious human and environmental impacts of chemical farming and pesticide reliance — while simultaneously offering a path forward through regenerative agricultural practices.”

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Sorry, I don’t have time to listen to this today. I would agree with the beginning of the video, talking about the importance of the food chain to deliver health.

      I know I spend quite a bit of time running to the grocery store and buying a lot of fresh food or single ingredient dried or canned items (like peas or beans). I end up cooking most of our food from scratch. With respect to animal products (including eggs, cheese, and yogurt), it try to make certain that I stay away from antibiotics in food. I try to limit animal products, particularly meat (although I eat fish, if it hasn’t been farmed with antibiotics).

      Our health has been much above average, at least partly because of this strategy.

      • Elribla says:

        What you said, in a nutshell:

        – Eating healthy is expensive in terms of money and time.

        – Common people comes back to work at 17:00 PM, is obligated to buy “plastified” food, put it in the microwave, and feed the children.

        • “…is obligated to buy “plastified” food, put it in the microwave, and feed the children.”

          We had two kids and never did that. Then again, we did not have a tv when the kids were younger.

    • Xabier says:

      Notice how it’s the vile, WFH, old fart academics who just love the idea of ‘Lock-down For Ever’? I have come to detest these complaisant old creeps even more than Boris & Co.

      They no doubt think their pensions will be fine, too, despite destroying whole sectors of the economy and ruining millions of lives.

      Oh, and their healthcare from the good old NHS.

      Just wait until they too are culled as the Plan culminates.

      It will serve the callous bastards right.

      May they suffer horribly as the true owners of the system discard them as so many ‘inessentials’, the useful idiots who did their job.

  11. Fast Eddy says:

    hahahaha BBC reporter called a f789 c678 by anti lockers

    https://twitter.com/i/status/1404744590649921541

    • Xabier says:

      Good to see, he should be ashamed, the BBC is disgraceful, full-salaried ‘essential’ workers, spewing official lies daily: but as with the Nazis, only the small fry can be reached……

    • Rodster says:

      Protests and blowback is increasing by the Non-Covidiots. That’s a good thing especially as word gets out in the alternative media of all the injuries and deaths these toxic cocktails created by Big Pharma. Eagerly anticipating and awaiting the eventual, revolution.

  12. Covid vaccine to be compulsory for England care home staff
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-57492264

    Time to look for a new job?

    “In a survey of about 1,000 of its carers, the GMB said, more than a third indicated they would quit their jobs if vaccines were mandated.”

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Good – they should all walk out and let the disease bags shit and piss all over the floors… Boris can clean it up!

      • Xabier says:

        It’s a win-win for the Rothschilds: either the care workers buckle and get injected, are inducted into the extermination and control Plan, or the care system goes into crisis and the elderly inessentials die.

        Lord Rothschild feels like a little pink champagne this afternoon, it’s all going so well!

        • Student says:

          In Italy the Parlament created a law to make vaccines for medical staff mandatory.
          Many Doctors and nurses protested.
          We are living in a nightmare…

          • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
            Ed says:

            Student agree. We are running down to the end of FFs. Now all rules are gone. It is everyone make up anything you can get away with.

            Time for local oranizations to spring up. Might call them the mob but they might better serve the community.

            • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
              Ed says:

              If the mob out reach coordinator examples to the hospital president how staff feels, well, things may run more smoothly.

            • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
              Ed says:

              explains

            • Student says:

              Ed, you are right. At this regard a friend of mine recently said that actually he is convinced that things can change only for wrong reasons, something like the mob you mentioned (for instance in case they realize that their interests are hit) or for ‘ their ‘ mistake (because this manipulation and deception plan is unfortunately well organized). Other reasons are not possible, because he thinks that people are not able to rebel now (or not enough people), at least in EU.
              I think he is right.

  13. Bei Dawei says:

    Help shame the Peace Corps!

    The “PeaceCorps” subreddit is having a contest to answer the question “Should I join the Peace Corps?” Five entries were accepted–four positive and one negative (you’ll know the one). Please vote by “liking” the response(s) you prefer:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/peacecorps/comments/nzzz2q/should_i_join_the_peace_corps_voting_segment/

Comments are closed.