Merry Christmas to All

I plan to write a new post in a few days. For now, I will just leave an open thread.

I hope everyone has happy holidays of whatever type you celebrate. This is a good time to be with family and friends.

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.
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3,944 Responses to Merry Christmas to All

  1. Michael Le Merchant says:

    China’s Blue-Sky Plan for Olympics Is Stifling Fertilizer Output

    (Bloomberg) — China’s urea plants are getting caught up in Beijing’s drive to ensure blue skies for the Winter Olympics, which includes ordering factory shutdowns to curb air pollution.

    Three plants in northern Shanxi province were asked to begin operating at 50% capacity due to pollution, driving up domestic prices for the nitrogen fertilizer, said Scotiabank analyst Ben Isaacson. Futures in Zhengzhou rose almost 5% on Friday to the highest since October, but have pared gains this week.

    As Beijing ramps up pollution controls in the lead up to the winter games in February, more urea factories could be asked to suspend or cut output. China, a key supplier of urea, sulphate and phosphate to the global market, has curbed fertilizer exports since late last year to protect domestic supplies, a move that worsened a global price shock and risked stoking food inflation further.

    • Michael Le Merchant says:

      Why the cost of fertilizer is rising

      It’s not just anhydrous ammonia prices on the rise. Phosphorus, potash and urea are experiencing the same unprecedented increases.

      At the end of December, phosphorus (diammonium phosphate — DAP, and monoammonium phosphate —MAP), potassium (potash) and urea prices were near or above $800 per ton, with urea and monoammonium phosphate topping $900, according to the Illinois Production Cost Report by USDA’s Agricultural Market Research. Those prices are well off the $350 to $500 range for all three products during this same time in 2020, making it the highest level for the year.

      While the overarching reason for rising fertilizer prices remains the high price of coal and natural gas, there are other issues affecting the markets.

  2. Michael Le Merchant says:

    President says it will be impossible to continue with fuel subsidies

    President Luis Abinader affirmed this Wednesday that if oil prices continue to rise, it will be impossible to maintain the fuel subsidy in the country.

    “It is impossible to continue. We subsidized the price of oil, of all hydrocarbons, last year by some 13 billion (pesos)…. It is impossible to continue with that. It is impossible”, said the President during an interview in the morning program Hoy Mismo, which is broadcast by Color Visión (channel 9).

    The President explained that the Government is not prepared to rise a lot per barrel. “We are prepared for it to go up a little…” he admitted.

    He referred that the Brent oil barrel was quoted at 83 dollars and West Texas at 81. He added that the cost of natural gas and coal has also risen, impacting electricity generation.

    He said that if oil continues to increase, there will come a time when he will have to talk to the country to see what can be done, especially to avoid higher inflation because the inflationary effect of oil is transversal in the whole economy. He stated that this is why fuel prices are his most significant concern.

  3. davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    Basilashvili played his match, though he lost.

    I wonder what aspirin/painkiller/meds they gave him prematch.

    “… there is no harm in getting vaccinated in order to fit in with the governmental views and be able to get around more easily than the unvaccinated.”

  4. Michael Le Merchant says:

    Biden Administration Making Lists of Religious Vaccine Objectors

    A tiny administrative agency in the District of Columbia announced a new policy Tuesday that will likely serve as a model for a whole-of-government push to assemble lists of Americans who object on religious grounds to a COVID-19 vaccine.

    The Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia—a federal independent entity that assists officers in the District of Columbia courts in formulating release recommendations and providing supervision and services to defendants awaiting trial—announced a new records system that will store the names and “personal religious information” of all employees who make “religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement.”

  5. Michael Le Merchant says:

    China buying hundreds of millions of barrels of sanctioned oil

    (Bloomberg) –China doubled down on imports of Iranian and Venezuelan crude in 2021, taking the most from the U.S.-sanctioned regimes in three years, as refiners brushed off the risk of penalties to scoop up cheap oil.

    Crude processors in the world’s biggest importer were observed to have bought 324 million barrels from Iran and Venezuela in 2021, about 53% more than the year before, according to data from market intelligence firm Kpler. That’s the most since 2018, when China took 352 million barrels from the two nations.

  6. Michael Le Merchant says:

    Used To Free Electricity, Kosovo’s Bitcoin Miners Are Now Facing Difficult Times After Ban

    Dragan says he makes up to 2,000 euros ($2,270) a month mining cryptocurrency in a mostly Serb enclave in the north of Kosovo, about five times the average monthly income in one of Europe’s poorest countries.

    Making it all the sweeter is the fact Dragan pays nothing for electricity, used in abundance in such energy-demanding operations involving complex computer calculations to verify transactions.

    But now Dragan, who didn’t want to use his real name, tells RFE/RL’s Balkan Service that he is putting a halt to his cryptocurrency mining activities.

    His decision came after authorities in Kosovo announced on January 4 a blanket ban on cryptocurrency mining amid an energy crisis in the Southeastern European country of some 1.8 million people. Kosovar police have carried out raids in recent days, confiscating hundreds of high-tech devices used in cryptocurrency mining.

  7. Michael Le Merchant says:

    Aluminum Climbs With Output Facing Pressure in Europe, China

    (Bloomberg) — Aluminum climbed as investors weighed fresh signs of pressure on production, with Alcoa Corp. planning to shut a European smelter and Beijing vowing to cut carbon emissions from China’s huge army of aluminum smelters.

    The metal closed in Shanghai at a two-month high, and rebounded in London. Alcoa will halt a Spanish plant for two years amid soaring energy costs in Europe. In China, the government said it wanted carbon emissions from the aluminum industry to fall 5% in the first half of this decade.

    Both developments highlight how aluminum’s supply is at risk of tightening into next year and beyond as the energy-intensive industry faces higher costs and more climate regulation. Citigroup Inc and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are among banks that forecast a deeper deficit in 2022. Prices in London are up more than 40% this year.

  8. Michael Le Merchant says:

    Europe Faces $1 Trillion Energy Bill This Year, Citigroup Says

    (Bloomberg) — Europe will get stung this year with the biggest energy bill in a decade as hyperinflation in natural gas and power prices hits homes and factories across the continent, according to Citigroup Inc.

    Using current forward prices, the region’s total primary energy bill will come in at about $1 trillion, the bank said in a report. While previous peaks were largely driven by surging oil prices, this time it’s about the cost of heating and powering everything from homes to transport and big industrial plants that will help reduce carbon emissions.

    “It is gas and electricity that is becoming prohibitively expensive in Europe,” Citigroup analysts including Alastair Syme wrote. “Consumers and industry across the region are likely going to have to make some tough choices about their energy consumption.”

  9. Michael Le Merchant says:

    Sweden to help households as electricity prices soar

    “This is an exceptional measure in an exceptional situation, it is unusual to go in with support when prices fluctuate in markets,” said Finance Minister Mikkel Damberg.

    Sweden’s one-party, minority Social Democratic government is expected to get majority backing for the plan in the 349-seat Riksdag.

    Home owners in Sweden have already started adopting strategies to lower their consumption — turning down the heating, closing off rooms, using alternative heat sources like wood log burners and wearing thick woolly socks.

    “It’s a crazy situation to be in,” said Hannah Hall who lives in an old wooden house in Kristinehamn, a small town in central Sweden. “I was aware it would be an expensive winter, but it feels unprecedented.”

    • Oddys says:

      I live in Sweden and ca testify that absolutely EVERYONE is shell-shocked by these energy prices. It was not on anybodys map. The last thing we remember before lockdowns it was just Greta and “green-blabla” all day long.

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “… but it feels unprecedented.”

      because it is!

      the decline of IC will bring with it so many more unprecedented events.

  10. Michael Le Merchant says:

    Uzbekistan completely stops natural gas export to Russia

    Now all gas is directed to cover the seasonal peak of domestic demand.

    Uzbekistan ends gas exports to China, abandons price increases at home

    • Oddys says:

      I expect many more “covid” lockdowns in China. I also expect a very surprising revolt in China – like they have done so many times before.

      • I think you are right. COVID cannot be controlled. This will lead to more lockdowns. Also, China is very short of fuel. Lockdowns help with the fuel situation. But all of this makes the people very unhappy. A revolt sound very possible.

  11. Michael Le Merchant says:

    79.5% of COVID19 deaths in Scotland are now amongst the vaccinated

    In an astonishing publication by PHS last week there were MORE COVID deaths amongst those boosted – than unvaccinated!

    8 deaths unvaccinated
    1 death 1 dose💉
    21 deaths 2 doses💉💉
    9 deaths 3 doses 💉💉💉

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “… there is no harm in getting vaccinated in order to fit in with the governmental views and be able to get around more easily than the unvaccinated.”

  12. Ian says:

    A truly excellent and profound article about “mass formation”.

    Begins, “One of the most confounding aspects of the Covid phenomenon has been the difficulty in getting people to acknowledge any facts other than the ones made up by the authorities.

    In the UK, it has resulted in the voters trusting the government narrative, too; the same government (literally the same political party) that they distrusted so comprehensively in 2016 that they ignored a propaganda campaign waged against them using their own money and voted to leave the EU. This time around, they’ve absorbed the fear porn and cowered in their homes, leaving only to queue up to get an injection like so many lemmings.

    So what changed? How did people become so docile and trusting?”

    Ends, “Enough people are in closed off panic mode, behaving as cult members do, to sustain the push towards totalitarianism. We are not yet there, though. We are not yet in a position where we are facing years of societal torpor (which is what usually follows a takeover such as this), waiting for the narrative to implode and for enough people to grow tired of the living lie to escape the trap. There is advantage in understanding their next moves and encouragement in acquiring knowledge of how others have triumphed over tyrants in the past. It’s knowing what to do to win that’s the key.”

  13. Student says:

    Luckily I see that Italian origins are kept in good health with DeSantis, while are really very down with Fauci and De Blasio.

    All the best to Desantis whose origins come from Avellino a nice place in the south free of M+fi+ (guess the word)

  14. Michael Le Merchant says:

    Huge Number of Vax Deaths & It’s Getting Worse – Dr. Pierre Kory

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “… there is no harm in getting vaccinated in order to fit in with the governmental views and be able to get around more easily than the unvaccinated.”

  15. Michael Le Merchant says:

    Pfizer will be able to manufacture between 50 to 100 million doses of its Omicron variant-specific Covid vaccine, the company said Monday.

    The company’s vaccine – which is a joint effort with the German company BioNTech – is the most popular in the U.S. and in much of the world.

    The rise of the Omicron variant, which can evade protection provided by the existing crop of vaccines, has sent pharmaceutical companies and vaccine manufacturers into a race to produce a shot that is effective against the mutant strain, same as what occurred when Covid first emerged.

    Pfizer believes it will be able to start testing of a new Omicron-specific vaccine as early as late-January, and could have the jab ready for use by March.

    • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:


      just in time for the next dominant variant!!!!!!!

      • davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        “… there is no harm in getting vaccinated in order to fit in with the governmental views and be able to get around more easily than the unvaccinated.”

  16. Michael Le Merchant says:

    What War with Russia Would Look Like

  17. Student says:

    Ok, Omicron is everywhere, but is there anyone who remember that in July 2021 CDC invited labs to find another diagnostic intrument because current ones where not able to differentiate Covid from influenza.
    Why no one is talking about that anymore?
    Do we have lost influenza for another year in a row?
    Very strange.

    ‘CDC encourages laboratories to consider adoption of a multiplexed method that can facilitate detection and differentiation of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses’

  18. Van Kent says:

    While somewhat entertaining, the Covid scare should be reaching its crescendo by early March and pretty much be over with by April. And then we might get on with the bigger picture.. with the collapsing part again..

    After a sharp spike in Covid cases in January and February, and some levels of government shitfkkry never seen before.. against the unvaccinated.. life will go on.. and there will come a spring.. and people will start to forget these last two years and how all western governments sold our freedoms and created fascist states with peoples consent and all their best wishes.

    But.. April will come.

    And as the world economy starts to rev up its engines.. unbridled consumerism will lift its head again.. two years of Covid lockdowns over.. and a chance to live again.. all new levels of investments in sustainable technologies by the governments.. optimism and hope for the future.. so what Im expecting are record breaking orders of solar panels, tvs, smartphones, cars, consumer electronics, airplanes, wind turbines, hybrid cars, EVs.. record breaking orders of almost everything high tech and Star Trek..

    But during the summer something interesting should be happening..

    Everything high tech and everything clean tech are actually made with energy and rare earth minerals.. and.. well.. we live on a finite world. There simply isnt enough of non renewable finite resources, like rare earth minerals to go around..

    We can print money.. we can make a digital dollar.. we can switch to SDGs and CB backed cryptocurrencies.. sure we can..

    But during the summer something interesting should be happening.. no matter how much money you have.. CB printed funny money cant buy you something that is not there..

    So.. what I am expecting is firstly a crescendo of madness by March. A new hope and optimism by the start of April.. and lots of confusion about our Star Trek future by August.. and finally when farmers dont get enough crops.. the start of a financial meltdown by early winter.. it doesnt matter how much money you got.. things start to go sideways when money cant buy you something that isnt there.. like goods and foods..

    Food riots by christmas, starting in the poorer and smaller countries..
    If in doubt of the big picture.. check out Chris Clugston

    Sure there still might be some more inertia in our brothers and sisters who suffer from a bad case of normalcy bias. But the big picture doesnt change.. we are 7.9 now.. and in decade or two we will be 0.1 at the most.. and then.. well then the real fun starts..

    • Yes, I am afraid you are right.

    • JesseJames says:

      I see a food crisis later this year. Russia and China have halted exports of urea. A chemist I know works for a coal mining company that uses sodium nitrate (I think) exported from Russia…for explosives used in their mining operation. He is worried they cannot continue to get it. With Natural gas shortages and pricing affecting production of ammonia and fertilizer, we may see unprecedented food shortages. Of course it will be all the collapsing nations in the third world paying the largest prices…starvation.
      Just a little cherry of a problem on top of all the other problems…inflation, energy shortages, economic collapse. Watching Europe navigate these problems will be entertaining.
      Regardless, the current nuts in the White House are hell bent on starting a war. They will try to arm Ukraine and place offensive missiles there, and Russia will have no choice but to take them out. THese phsycopaths love to start wars. They will do so.

      • Oddys says:

        Yea, war it will be when covid cant be used anymore. The do absolutely ANYTHING to blame resource issues on something else. I predict a very short war but with terrible consequences. A freezing and starving Europe next fall and winter and broken down production in many areas. The company ASML in Netherlands produce the litographic equipment for all major chip fabs for example, using Zeiss optics from Germany among other things.

    • JonF says:

      Chart of the Fed Assets over the past year:


      It’s gonna be interesting….how crazy will price inflation get?

      I would expect CPI to be “adjusted” moving forward….

      • The tapering of new purchase is starting this month, I remember. Only half as much as in the past, I believe. That cannot help the stock market. Interest rates will tend to rise, because there will not be enough buyers for government debt, I would expect.

        • Sam says:

          They have nothing left but to slow the economy down… otherwise the sheeple might start asking some real questions

          • Slow economy = energy supplies close to adequate, but stock market may tank. Higher interest rates are likely to lead to debt defaults. In fact, the world has a huge debt bubble that it is having trouble keeping up.

          • Oddys says:

            I dont think the economy CAN be slowed down in a controlled manner by monetary policy. The degrees of complexity and interconnectedness are so far beyond what any person or group of people can comprehend. Any attempt to “slow down” will lead to cascading bankruptcies and complete loss of all higher organization like National State, banks and corporations.

        • JonF says:

          I will be shocked if they make drastic moves, and stay the course….

        • Dennis L. says:

          As always, where does the money go? Stocks are the only option that is partially tied to reality, dollar debt is huge with many off sheet liabilities, e.g. SS.

          There seems to be no place to run/hide; corollary to the idea of a “bug out bag.”

          Dennis L.

  19. Michael Le Merchant says:

    Protesters against the health pass forced a police cordon and attempted to storm the Bulgarian parliament in Sofia.

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