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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Income Inequality

The 1% are getting all the economic gains while the 99% are getting squeezed. This report summarizes:
... The economic recovery so far has only boosted the incomes of the rich, and it has yielded no improvement for the bottom 99 percent of the distribution. After adjusting for inflation, the average income for the richest 1 percent (excluding capital gains) has risen from $871,100 in 2009 to $968,000 over 2012 and 2013. By contrast, for the remaining 99 percent, average incomes fell by a few dollars from $44,000 to $43,900.

Looking For An Escape Hatch

With inequality seemingly growing without bound, the 1% are getting serious about planning their escape routes. It's a sign of the times that things are only going to get worse. The Guardian has a good article on the subject: As inequality soars, the nervous super rich are already planning their escapes:
With growing inequality and the civil unrest from Ferguson and the Occupy protests fresh in people's mind, the world's super rich are already preparing for the consequences. At a packed session in Davos, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. "I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway," he said.
Johnson, who heads the Institute of New Economic Thinking and was previously managing director at Soros, said societies can tolerate income inequality if the income floor is high enough. But with an existing system encouraging chief executives to take decisions solely on their profitability, even in the richest countries inequality is increasing.
Johnson added: "People need to know there are possibilities for their children — that they will have the same opportunity as anyone else. There is a wicked feedback loop. Politicians who get more money tend to use it to get more even money."
Global warming and social media are among the trends the 600 super-smart World Economic Forum staffers told its members to watch out for long before they became ubiquitous. This year, income inequality is fast moving up the Davos agenda — a sure sign of it is poised to burst into the public consciousness.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. A powerful rally is building now and a breakout is expected very soon.

Reversing Aging By Extending Telomeres

Stanford scientists have announced a method to extend cellular telomeres by a thousand nucleotides. This is significant in reversing aging as the reason why cells eventually stop dividing is the loss of sufficient telomeres. Scientists extend telomeres to slow cell aging reports:
Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a new procedure that uses modified messenger RNA to quickly and efficiently increase the length of human telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that are associated with aging and disease.
Treated cells behave as if they are much younger than untreated cells, multiplying with abandon in the laboratory dish rather than stagnating or dying. Skin cells with telomeres lengthened by the procedure were able to divide up to 40 more times than untreated cells.
The procedure will improve the ability of researchers to generate large numbers of cells for study or drug development and may lead to preventing or treating diseases of aging, the scientists say.
Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes, which house our genomes. In young humans, telomeres are about 8,000—10,000 nucleotides long. They shorten with each cell division, however, and when they reach a critical length, the cell stops dividing or dies. This internal "clock" makes it difficult to keep most cells growing in a laboratory for more than a few cell doublings. Turning back the internal clock' "Now we have found a way to lengthen human telomeres by as much as 1,000 nucleotides, turning back the internal clock in these cells by the equivalent of many years of human life," said Helen Blau, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford and director of the university's Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology. "This greatly increases the number of cells available for studies such as drug testing or disease modeling."

Helicopters on Mars

JPL engineers are working on a small helicopter that could ‘scout’ a trail for future Mars rovers, but getting a chopper that could fly in the Martian atmosphere is tricky.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Stocks soared on Monday as the Sweet Spot in the market took the rally baton.

Solar Power Infographic

From CleanTechnica:

How much money can you save with solar?

How much does solar cost?

Lower 48 oil production outlook stable despite expected near-term reduction in rig count

By Troy Cook and Jack Perrin, EIA.gov:
The sharp decline in oil prices over the last quarter of 2014, which has continued in January, is already having a significant effect on drilling activity in the United States, as shown by the 16% decline in the number of active onshore drilling rigs in the Lower 48 states between the weeks ending on October 31, 2014 and January 23, 2015, according to data from Baker-Hughes.
Moving from what has happened to forecasting the future is challenging, in part because market expectations of uncertainty in the price outlook have increased as reflected in the current values of futures and options contracts. When the latest edition of EIA's monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) was issued on January 13, the 95% confidence interval for market expectations for prices in December 2015 was extremely wide, with upper and lower limits of $28/barrel (bbl) and $112/bbl, respectively. The growing uncertainty surrounding oil prices presents a major challenge to all price forecasts. EIA's January STEO forecasts Brent crude oil prices averaging $58/bbl in 2015 and $75/bbl in 2016, with annual average West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices expected to be $3/bbl to $4/bbl lower.
Should its price forecast be realized, EIA projects that the number of operating rigs will decrease by approximately 24% from January to October 2015 before beginning to rebound in November 2015. However, the outlook for Lower 48 production reflects more than just the rig count. Other key factors include the efficiency of drilling, which EIA tracks in its Drilling Productivity Report, the rate of decline in production from existing wells, and changes in the amount of time between the start of drilling (called spudding) and the completion of the well.
As discussed in a previous Today in Energy article on the effect of declining crude oil prices on U.S. production, permits and drilling in North Dakota declined during the financial downturn of 2008-09, but production rates did not decline as substantially. At the time of the July 2008 oil price peak, drilling activity in the Bakken-Three Forks formations outpaced well completion activity as increasing numbers of wells were drilled. Averaging about 70 days before the oil price peak, spud-to-completion times almost doubled within two months, reaching more than 130 days. This increase created a backlog of wells that had been drilled but not yet completed. As fewer wells were drilled during the subsequent drop in oil prices, the spud-to-completion times decreased. Increased drilling activity in the Bakken since 2011 has once again increased spud-to-completion times, which have stabilized at more than 120 days per well, almost twice previous minimum levels. s more than just the rig count. Other key factors include the efficiency of drilling, which EIA tracks in its Drilling Productivity Report, the rate of decline in production from existing wells, and changes in the amount of time between the start of drilling (called spudding) and the completion of the well.
As discussed in a previous Today in Energy article on the effect of declining crude oil prices on U.S. production, permits and drilling in North Dakota declined during the financial downturn of 2008-09, but production rates did not decline as substantially. At the time of the July 2008 oil price peak, drilling activity in the Bakken-Three Forks formations outpaced well completion activity as increasing numbers of wells were drilled. Averaging about 70 days before the oil price peak, spud-to-completion times almost doubled within two months, reaching more than 130 days. This increase created a backlog of wells that had been drilled but not yet completed. As fewer wells were drilled during the subsequent drop in oil prices, the spud-to-completion times decreased. Increased drilling activity in the Bakken since 2011 has once again increased spud-to-completion times, which have stabilized at more than 120 days per well, almost twice previous minimum levels.
This backlog of wells acts as a cushion for production rates, offsetting the more immediate decreases in drilling and permitting activity. At most major plays in the United States, the backlog currently ranges from three to seven months. When drilling activity remains at reduced levels long enough to outlast the cushioning effect of the well-completion backlog, the number of new wells brought online will begin to decrease, which can eventually reduce production rates.
While the cushion provided by the well-completion backlog changes from formation to formation, EIA's forecast of rising crude oil prices in the second half of 2015, if realized, is expected to be accompanied by a stabilization of drilling activity that would be sufficient to prevent a substantial production decline in the Lower 48 region. Different outcomes are entirely possible under other price scenarios.

A Buying Opportunity in Solar

Recently, clean energy stocks such as SunEdison (SUNE), FirstSolar (FSLR), Opower (OPWR) and SolarCity (SCTY) have been trading well off their recent highs. This is a sympathy move to the 50%+ crash in oil prices. It's also a case of the dumb herd not understanding that oil and solar don't move to the beat of the same drummer. The smart money is doubling down on alternative energy. They know a great bargain when they see one.

As David Waserstein writes in What Does The Collapse In Oil Prices Really Tell Us About Alternative Energy?

If oil stays near $50/bbl, what happens to the alternative energy stocks — solar, wind, biofuels, etc? Let me give you a hint: most of them don't play the same sport.
In the developed world, oil is used primarily for one purpose — transportation. Coal, natural gas, hydro and renewables are used for electricity generation — the other primary method of energy consumption. The one overlap is heating when you have oil, gas and sometimes even electric competing. So as oil drops 50%, the knock-on effect on demand for things like wind and solar is negligible.
In the developing world, things are a little more complicated. Diesel gensets are used more frequently, especially for remote power applications and backup power when the local power grid is unreliable. With configurations like that, the equivalent rate per kWh is estimated at $0.44/kWh. While a drop in oil prices may lower that marginal cost, it's still pretty pricey power. And let's not forget that diesel gets stolen. So ultimately, solar is still in demand.

This is how the smart money wins—at the expense of the dumb money.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Friday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes #WeekendAnalysis have been updated on the website. Our Lead Dog Index blazes a trail in equities.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thursday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Some indices are showing signs of life, while others are lagging. We tell which in today's update.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wednesday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Lead dog may be leading the next run in equities.

Connecting the Dots Between the Fermi Paradox and Climate Change

Enrico Fermi postulated it, which is why it's called the Fermi Paradox: “The apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilization and humanity's lack of contact with, or evidence for, such civilizations.”

The evidence supports the idea that technological life is so rare in the universe that we may very well be alone. And, the reason technological life may be so rare is that sustainability issues could be the stumbling block. Adam Frank writes in Is a Climate Disaster Inevitable?

The defining feature of a technological civilization is the capacity to intensively "harvest" energy. But the basic physics of energy, heat and work known as thermodynamics tell us that waste, or what we physicists call entropy, must be generated and dumped back into the environment in the process. Human civilization currently harvests around 100 billion megawatt hours of energy each year and dumps 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the planetary system, which is why the atmosphere is holding more heat and the oceans are acidifying. As hard as it is for some to believe, we humans are now steering the planet, however poorly.
Can we generalize this kind of planetary hijacking to other worlds? The long history of Earth provides a clue. The oxygen you are breathing right now was not part of our original atmosphere. It was the so-called Great Oxidation Event, two billion years after the formation of the planet, that drove Earth's atmospheric content of oxygen up by a factor of 10,000. What cosmic force could so drastically change an entire planet's atmosphere? Nothing more than the respiratory excretions of anaerobic bacteria then dominating our world. The one gas we most need to survive originated as deadly pollution to our planet's then-leading species: a simple bacterium.
The Great Oxidation Event alone shows that when life (intelligent or otherwise) becomes highly successful, it can dramatically change its host planet. And what is true here is likely to be true on other planets as well.
But can we predict how an alien industrial civilization might alter its world? From a half-century of exploring our own solar system we've learned a lot about planets and how they work. We know that Mars was once a habitable world with water rushing across its surface. And Venus, a planet that might have been much like Earth, was instead transformed by a runaway greenhouse effect into a hellish world of 800-degree days.
By studying these nearby planets, we've discovered general rules for both climate and climate change. These rules, based in physics and chemistry, must apply to any species, anywhere, taking up energy-harvesting and civilization-building in a big way. For example, any species climbing up the technological ladder by harvesting energy through combustion must alter the chemical makeup of its atmosphere to some degree. Combustion always produces chemical byproducts, and those byproducts can't just disappear. As astronomers at Penn State recently discovered, if planetary conditions are right (like the size of a planet's orbit), even relatively small changes in atmospheric chemistry can have significant climate effects. That means that for some civilization-building species, the sustainability crises can hit earlier rather than later.
Even if an intelligent species didn't rely on combustion early in its development, sustainability issues could still arise. All forms of intensive energy-harvesting will have feedbacks, even if some are more powerful than others. A study by scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Jena, Germany, found that extracting energy from wind power on a huge scale can cause its own global climate consequences. When it comes to building world-girdling civilizations, there are no planetary free lunches.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Why our "booming" economy is still in recession after eight years of sham "recovery."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

That Was Easy: In Just 60 Years, Neoliberal Capitalism Has Nearly Broken Planet Earth

Pair of new studies show how various forms of human activity, driven by a flawed economic system and vast consumption, is laying waste to Earth's natural systems

by Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams
The conclusion that the world's dominant economic model—a globalized form of neoliberal capitalism, largely based on international trade and fueled by extracting and consuming natural resources—is the driving force behind planetary destruction will not come as a shock, but the model's detailed description of how this has worked since the middle of the 20th century makes a more substantial case than many previous attempts. (Photo: NASA)

Humanity's rapacious growth and accelerated energy needs over the last generation—particularly fed by an economic system that demands increasing levels of consumption and inputs of natural resources—are fast driving planetary systems towards their breaking point, according to a new pair of related studies.

"It is difficult to overestimate the scale and speed of change. In a single lifetime humanity has become a geological force at the planetary-scale." —Prof. Will Steffen

Prepared by researchers at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the first study looks specifically at how "four of nine planetary boundaries have now been crossed as a result of human activity." Published in the journal Science* on Thursday, the 18 researchers involved with compiling evidence for the report—titled 'Planetary Boundaries 2.0'—found that when it comes to climate change, species extinction and biodiversity loss, deforestation and other land-system changes, and altered biogeochemical cycles (such as changes to how key organic compounds like phosphorus and nitrogen are operating in the environment), the degradation that has already take place is driving the Earth System, as a whole, into a new state of imbalance.

"Transgressing a boundary increases the risk that human activities could inadvertently drive the Earth System into a much less hospitable state, damaging efforts to reduce poverty and leading to a deterioration of human well-being in many parts of the world, including wealthy countries," said Professor Will Steffen, a researcher at the Centre and the Australian National University, Canberra, who was lead author for both studies.

In addition to the four boundaries that have already been crossed, the study looked at five other ways in which the planetary systems are under assault by human activity. They include: stratospheric ozone depletion; ocean acidification; freshwater use; atmospheric aerosol loading (microscopic particles in the atmosphere that affect climate and living organisms); and the introduction of novel entities into ecosystems (e.g. organic pollutants, radioactive materials, nanomaterials, and micro-plastics).

"I don't think we've broken the planet but we are creating a much more difficult world," Sarah Cornell, another report author, told Reuters.

In this interview with Wired last year, Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, described the idea about planetary boundaries in details:

Related to the findings of the first study, the second report examines what it calls the "Great Acceleration" and is an assessment of the speed and influence that specific factors have had in damaging the planetary systems described in Planetary Boundaries 2.0. Using a series of indicators, the study compares the relationship, over time, between 12 'socio-economic factors'—including economic growth (GDP); population; foreign direct investment; energy consumption; and water use—on one side with 12 'Earth system trends'—like the carbon cycle; the nitrogen cycle and biodiversity—on the other.

Using what it calls a "planetary dashboard," the research charts the spread and speed of human activity from the start of the industrial revolution in 1750 to 2010, and the subsequent changes in the Earth System – e.g. greenhouse gas levels, ocean acidification, deforestation and biodiversity deterioration. The analysis found that increased human activity—and "predominantly the global economic system"—has unseated all other factors as the primary driver of change in the Earth System, which the report describes as "the sum of our planet's interacting physical, chemical, biological and human processes." The most striking, i.e. "accelerated," changes to that system have occurred in the last sixty years.

"It’s clear the economic system is driving us towards an unsustainable future and people of my daughter’s generation will find it increasingly hard to survive. History has shown that civilisations have risen, stuck to their core values and then collapsed because they didn’t change. That’s where we are today." —Prof. Will Steffen"It is difficult to overestimate the scale and speed of change. In a single lifetime humanity has become a geological force at the planetary-scale," said Steffen, who also led the Acceleration study.

The conclusion that the world's dominant economic model—a globalized form of neoliberal capitalism, largely based on international trade and fueled by extracting and consuming natural resources—is the driving force behind planetary destruction will not come as a shock, but the model's detailed description of how this has worked since the middle of the 20th century makes a more substantial case than many previous attempts.

"When we first aggregated these datasets, we expected to see major changes but what surprised us was the timing. Almost all graphs show the same pattern. The most dramatic shifts have occurred since 1950. We can say that around 1950 was the start of the Great Acceleration," says Steffen. "After 1950 we can see that major Earth System changes became directly linked to changes largely related to the global economic system. This is a new phenomenon and indicates that humanity has a new responsibility at a global level for the planet."

The paper makes a point to acknowledge that consumption patterns and the rise of what has become known as the Anthropocene Era does not fall equally on the human population and its examination of the economic system which is underpinning planetary destruction is one rife with inequality, in which certain populations consume at vastly higher levels than others.

According to the report, "The new study also concludes that the bulk of economic activity, and so too, for now, the lion's share of consumption, remain largely within the OECD countries, which in 2010 accounted for about 74% of global GDP but only 18% of the global population. This points to the profound scale of global inequality, which distorts the distribution of the benefits of the Great Acceleration and confounds international efforts, for example climate agreements, to deal with its impacts on the Earth System."

A worrying trend, notes the paper, is how a growing global middle class—exemplified by those in the BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—is an increasing threat to the planet as the consumer mindset established in the OECD nations, particularly the U.S., spreads.

In an interview with the Guardian, Steffen spoke clearly about the overall impacts of the two new studies as he sounded the alarm over humanity's trajectory. "People say the world is robust and that’s true, there will be life on Earth, but the Earth won’t be robust for us," he said. "Some people say we can adapt due to technology, but that’s a belief system, it’s not based on fact. There is no convincing evidence that a large mammal, with a core body temperature of 37C, will be able to evolve that quickly. Insects can, but humans can’t and that’s a problem."

"It’s clear the economic system is driving us towards an unsustainable future and people of my daughter’s generation will find it increasingly hard to survive. History has shown that civilisations have risen, stuck to their core values and then collapsed because they didn’t change. That’s where we are today."

What increasing amounts of strong evidence shows, he said, is that there are "tipping points" the human race should simply not "want to cross."

Friday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes #WeekendUpdate have been updated on the website. Big changes coming soon to equity and bond markets!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Solar Gains Outpace Fossil Fuels

The massive growth in solar is leading to more jobs and less pollution. It's important to keep in perspective those gains. Solar Included for First Time Ever in State of American Energy Report highlights the fact that some oil companies are actually considering getting out of the fossil fuel business to go solar in a very big way.

At this point in time, solar is growing the economy:

Most importantly, the report predicted strong, continued growth in all sectors of the U.S. solar industry—residential, commercial, utility-scale and solar heating and cooling—over the next two years.
"The United States is in the midst of a new era in domestic energy abundance characterized by rising use of renewable energy and increased oil and natural gas production that is strengthening our economic outlook and enabling America to emerge as a global energy superpower," said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. "It's a remarkable transformation that has been made possible because America is uniquely rich in energy resources, a talented workforce and cutting-edge energy technologies."
Solar energy is one of America's great success stories. Last year, solar installations were 70 times higher than they were in 2006—and today there's nearly 30 times more solar capacity online nationwide. We've gone from being an $800 million industry in 2006 to a $15 billion industry today. The price to install a solar rooftop system has been cut in half, while utility systems have dropped by 70 percent. It took the U.S. solar industry 40 years to install the first 20 GW of solar. Now, we're going to install the next 20 GW in the next two years. In fact, during every single week of 2015, we're going to install more capacity than what we did during the entire year in 2006. Any way you look at it, solar energy is paying huge dividends for the economy, our environment and America's future.
Moreover, with solar going down in price along with storage, the growth of solar is likely to accelerate this year. It's no wonder that we'll see at least one major player in fossil fuels selling their fossil holdings and buying into solar+storage. It's already happening in Germany and it's only a matter of time before in happens here and elsewhere.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thursday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Seasonals are saying to look for an important top in a favorite security real soon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wednesday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Oil's ABC rally.

Cap-and-Trade: A Liberal Boondoggle Which Won't Stop Climate Change

When a politician tries to convince you that we need Cap-and-trade to stop Climate Change, the first thing you should wonder is who's stealing from the public. Cap-and-trade simply will not stop Climate Change, but it's going to make some group rich at the public's expense. As James Hansen, who first alerted us to the dangers of Climate Change way back in the Eighties, says:
Liberals accept the reality of climate change, but then propose remedies that are ineffectual and confirm the fears of conservatives. Liberals refuse to give up on the "cap-and-trade" approach of the Kyoto Protocol, even though it was completely ineffectual.
Cap-and-trade will never be accepted by conservatives, who can characterize it as cap-and-tax. Liberals in Australia adopted a cap-and-tax, and, as expected, when conservatives took power they threw it out. Fee-and-dividend, in contrast, would stick, as most people come out ahead financially and all witness the benefits to the national and global economy and the environment.
Read more about fee-and-dividend here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. The Dow futures fell more the 400 points on Tuesday, a real mini-crash intraday.

Social Cost of Climate Change 6X Greater Than Government Estimates

R&D Magazine reports that the government is underestimating the social cost of Climate Change by a factor of 6×::
The economic damage caused by a ton of carbon dioxide emissions—often referred to as the "social cost" of carbon—could actually be six times higher than the value that the U.S. now uses to guide current energy regulations, and possibly future mitigation policies, Stanford Univ. scientists say.
A recent U.S. government study concluded, based on the results of three widely used economic impact models, that an additional ton of carbon dioxide emitted in 2015 would cause $37 worth of economic damages. These damages are expected to take various forms, including decreased agricultural yields, harm to human health and lower worker productivity, all related to climate change.
But according to a new study, published online in Nature Climate Change, the actual cost could be much higher. "We estimate that the social cost of carbon is not $37 per ton, as previously estimated, but $220 per ton," said study coauthor Frances Moore, a graduate candidate in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources in Stanford's School of Earth Sciences.
Based on the findings, countries may want to increase their efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, said study co-author Delavane Diaz, a graduate candidate in the Dept. of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford's School of Engineering. "If the social cost of carbon is higher, many more mitigation measures will pass a cost-benefit analysis," Diaz said. "Because carbon emissions are so harmful to society, even costly means of reducing emissions would be worthwhile."
There's a lot of talk coming out of DC, mostly from Democrats, that new taxes are called for. This higher social cost of carbon is certain to amp up that talk. But, higher taxes are always and everywhere a bad idea. Some are worse than others, though. James Hansen has the best idea about carbon taxes: collect the taxes and distribute them directly to taxpayers via debit cards. This would help prevent the politicians from diverting those taxes and create a net positive monetary benefit for the average consumer. According to Hansen's formula, parents would receive full credit and children half credit for taxes paid by oil companies. Here's what he says in his latest blog:
Current low oil and gas prices present a golden opportunity to solve the climate problem.
Today we could jump-start a carbon fee at a large rate, say $100 per ton of CO₂, collected from fossil fuel companies on the first sale at domestic mines and ports-of-entry. This initial fee generates more than $600B per year in the U.S., which should be 100% distributed electronically (to bank accounts or debit cards) to all legal residents. With half a share for children up to two per family, a family of four or more would receive about $6000/year. Subsequent increase of the carbon fee would be slow, e.g., $10/ton per year, to allow people and entrepreneurs time to make changes and investments, as we move toward carbon-free energies and energy efficiency.
$100/ton would increase the price of gasoline at the pump about $1/gallon. However, such a price rise will occur in the near future anyhow. It is only a matter of whose pocket the added money will go into: the fossil fuel industry's pocket or the public's pocket.
The ultimate price at the pump will be similar in carbon-fee and no-carbon-fee cases. In the carbon-fee case, fuel demand falls over time as fuel use declines, in the U.S. by more than 30% in 10 years and 50% in 20 years. Thus conventional fossil fuels will suffice to carry us beyond fossil fuels. Expensive unconventional fossil fuels such as tar sands and deep Arctic oil would mostly be left in the ground, regardless of pipelines.
Technology development is crucial to move us to a clean energy future, but it will be rapid only if there is a carbon fee that entrepreneurs and business people can count on to continue to rise. Government R&D was once a prime driver of technology progress, but not today. I speak from experience and understanding of how government bureaucracy has grown and now slows technical progress in even the most "can do" of agencies. Yes, it is worth reforming present agencies, but primarily so they can facilitate progress in private enterprise, rather than impede it.
This is a good idea, but only if we can find a way to keep the crooked politicians' hands out of the cookie jar. Unfortunately, Hansen makes the common mistake environmentalists make in assuming that keeping the oil in the ground is a positive—it's not. Oil that is not burned makes a great feedstock for plastics, fertilizers and pesticides. There would need to be a mechanism for crediting oil companies for oil which is ultimately not burned. Otherwise, Hansen has a great idea for carbon taxes. Most folks would see a net credit under his scheme and that's something the consumer isn't going to complain about.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Monday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. The bearish trend in Tesla.

Grid Electricity Prices Continue To Rise

While oil prices are plunging back to earth, grid electricity prices, mostly generated by the burning of fossil fuels, continue to rise across the USA according to a new report from EIA entitled Wholesale power prices increase across the country in 2014.
Electricity prices were highest in the Northeast, driven by record-high natural gas prices early in the year during a very cold winter. Spot natural gas prices at the Henry Hub averaged $4.38 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2014, an increase of 17% from 2013, and prices at other major trading points were up 16%-40% in 2014. Electricity prices were the lowest, and increased the least (only 3%), in the Pacific Northwest, where abundant low-cost hydroelectric generation often leads to the lowest prices in the nation.
A major factor for electricity prices in 2014 was the extreme weather system that covered much of the United States, resulting in heavy snowfall and bitterly cold temperatures during the winter of 2013-14, which strained the energy grid in several ways.
Of course, these extra cold winters are a direct result of Global Warming. While it might seem counter-intuitive, it's clear that the polar vortex is being periodically displaced from the North Pole by warm air reaching the Arctic, spilling air to the south that would have normally been bottled up in the high latitudes. This spillage south causes frigid air to blanket much lower latitudes in the winter. If you thought we might have better winters from Global Warming, you thought wrong.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Friday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes #WeekendAnalysis have been updated on the website. What do seasonals tell us about January?

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Friday, January 09, 2015

December Employment Report: Economy Still in Recession

Everybody treats the monthly labor confessional as news, but in truth, the government's report runs 4-6 months behind the actual economy. Last month's report shows that wages for employees were actually falling in the following industries:
  • Mining and logging
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Wholesale trade
  • Retail trade
  • Utilities
  • Information
  • Financial activities
  • Professional and business services
  • Education and health services

With income falling in the majority of categories, the rise in GDP simply means that more and more of the wealth being created is going to the managerial class, squeezing the middle and lower classes. That's a recessionary environment because the majority of workers are not participating in the so-called “economic advance.”

Today's employment report is confirmation that the US economy is still effectively in recession for most of the country.

Grid Defection Looms

Terry Tamminen writes that it's Time to cut the cord on global power grid:
Think how quickly we evolved from landline phones, that took weeks to install, to cellphones that take a few minutes to buy and activate. Some of the same dynamics are about to force traditional energy utilities and grids to cut the cord and evolve to a 21st century customer-driven distributed energy market. Here is a summary of the why-what-when for cutting the old-school cord.
Do a Google search for "power outages" and there's never a day that goes by without one, somewhere in the world. In early November 2014, for example, 13,500 homes lost power to a storm in eastern Massachusetts at the same time that Bangladesh suffered a nationwide blackout when its grid experienced a "technical glitch."
Then there's the true cost of massive power plants connected to aging grids. Take nuclear power, for example. According to one UN report, some 80 nuclear power reactors will have lived their useful lives and need to be decommissioned in the next ten years. One reactor creates an average of 566,400 tons of radioactive waste and the average costs of decommissioning in the U.S. is about $500 million or up to 15 percent of the initial capital cost. In France, decommissioning their smaller reactors costs closer to 59 per cent of the reactor's initial cost. Add to this the risks and costs of disasters such as Fukushima, Japan at $100 billion and Chernobyl at $15 billion of direct loss plus an estimated $235 billion for Ukraine and %201 billion for Belarus in the thirty years since, and it's clear that something needs to change.
He's talking grid defection:
Change doesn't always happen swiftly or smoothly, but in a world where people want more control over their entertainment, communication, and transportation, utilities that rely on operating a grid for profits may want to observe those precedents, then follow the old Apple slogan and start to "think different" in 2015.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Thursday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. What goes down must go back up ... and down again, no wonder it's called yoyo!

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Climate Change Deniers Serengeti Strategy

The anti-science crowd as lions? Michael Mann, noted climate scientist, writes about The Serengeti strategy: How special interests try to intimidate scientists, and how best to fight back. These anti-science climate criminals use ad hominem attacks to confuse the public about the facts of climate change.

If you're in a theatre when a fire breaks out, it's the same situation: Those who recognize the fire and try to alert the other patrons are being attacked as not credible by those who wish to see the theatre burn down and everyone die within. In truth, those who deny the fire are the criminals and deserve to die. But, their goal is to make sure no one believes the idea of a fire. The climate deniers are not trying to help patrons survive. They are simple nefarious agents whose real goal is mass suicide.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Wednesday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Is the stock market chained to oil and will the next plunge pull eqities down?

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Fukushima Radiation Arrives

Arrival of the Fukushima radioactivity plume in North American continental waters documents the first arrival of sea-borne radiation from the Fukushima meltdown in 2011:
The radionuclide results in this report represent the first systematic study, to our knowledge, of the arrival of the Fukushima radioactivity signal in continental waters off North America. The present time series results are critical to an understanding of the circulation of Fukushima tracers in the eastern North Pacific and to the tuning and validation of ocean circulation models that are being used to predict the future evolution of this signal. They are also important for informing the public of the magnitude of the Fukushima radioactivity signal in North American continental waters and enabling a science-based assessment of the significance of its potential effects on human health and the environment.
It will be interesting to see whether the newly-elected members of Congress who are clearly anti-science are going to start denying the arrival of Fukushima radiation off our shores. Maybe they'll pass a law prohibiting scientists from measuring that radiation?

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Tuesday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. A correction in stocks and bonds is coming soon.

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

A Diet Pill With Great Promise

Fexaramine Tricks Mice Into Losing Weight

Monday, January 05, 2015

Monday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. As the financial system slowly collapses, energy gets cheap again!

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Friday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes #WeekendUpdate have been updated on the website. The plunge in energy is felt in all markets—and changes much.

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Maximizing Shareholder Value: the Dumbest Idea of All

James Montier of GMO may have hit on the reason why our economy remains in the dumps despite many trillions of central bank stimulus. The problem is that the idea of maximizing shareholder value is the dumbest idea ever.

Montier writes in The World's Dumbest Idea that Shareholder Value Maximization (SVM) has been a complete failure and has contributed to some worrisome economic outcomes. In fact, it was not Montier who came up with that “dumbest idea” moniker, it was Jack Welch, the revered former CEO of GE who first said it in March 2009. Montier shows that SVM is a very bad idea indeed.

He illustrates some of the problems with the bad performance in IBM. “In many ways that bluest of blue chips, IBM, represents a perfect microcosm of the general pattern of obsession with SVM.” In 1973, IBM's goals were:

  1. respect for individual employees;
  2. a commitment to customer service; and
  3. achieving excellence.

By 2010, IBM had narrowed their goal down to just one: doubling earnings in five years. To do that, they went on a tear buying back their stock to shrink the float and spread their earnings over fewer and fewer shares. This propped up earnings per share, but meant that capital investments languished—IBM was like the locomotive running down the tracks with the railroad engineer ordering train cars to be stripped of their wood and thrown into the fire to speed the train up! It's not a sustainable strategy at all.

It's no coincidence that IBM was the worst performing Dow stock last year, losing 20% of its value. Montier contrasts IBM's dismal performance with another Dow stock, Johnson & Johnson, which has stuck with an enduring set of goals:

We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products… We are responsible to our employees… We are responsible to the communities in which we live and to the world community as well… Our final responsibility is to our stockholders...When we operate according to these principles, the stockholders should realize a fair return.
Montier says:
The contrast between the two firms couldn’t be much greater. Whilst IBM targeted SVM, Johnson & Johnson thought shareholders should get a “fair return.” Yet, Johnson & Johnson has delivered considerably more return to shareholders than IBM has managed over the same time period.
The real problem comes from aligning managerial pay to stock performance. This is something we've been saying for some time now. When managerial pay comes from stock performance, managers will focus on the very short term and abandon strategies which bolster long term performance and hurt short term profits. The stock market is the sole focus for managers when this happens. Investments in plant and equipment, as well as research and development are avoided in order to buy back shares and distribute dividends to investors. Given this “pay me a lot now” attitude, the length of time corporate management sticks around the executive suite is dropping—”take the money and run” becomes the ongoing mantra.

Montier argues that SVM shares responsibility for the following negative trends:

  • declining and low rates of business investment;
  • rising inequality; and
  • a low labour share of GDP.

The fact that private firms invest twice as much as public firms simply confirms the pernicious trends in public companies. Public company management is returning capital to shareholders at a rate more than twice the historical average (50% versus 10-20% before the Global Financial Crisis). That returned capital is foreclosing the future for public companies. Capital returned to shareholders isn't going into the kinds of investments we need for a better future. In a very profound way, SVM is setting our economy up for long term failure.

If shares were undervalued, buybacks would make sense. But Montier writes:

Now, if one were feeling charitable, one might choose to suggest that there just weren’t many new investment opportunities, and thus this return of capital was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. If this were the case, one might hope that the buybacks were done at prices that were below intrinsic value (since this would have genuinely improved the lot of shareholders). However, as Exhibit 14 shows, this hasn’t been the case. When market valuations were high (prior to the financial crisis) a record number of buybacks were conducted. Conversely, at the market lows, firms were hardly doing any buybacks at all. As Warren Buffett said in his letter to shareholders back in 1999, “Buying dollar bills for $1.10 is not a good business for those who stick around.”
Income inequality is one of the biggest long term problems. Montier demonstrates that SVM is a primary contributor to the problem:
We can see this has been a driving force behind the rise of the 1% thanks to a study by Bakija, Cole, and Heim (2012). The rise in incomes of the top 1% has been driven largely by executives and those in finance. In fact, executives and those in finance accounted for some 58% of the expansion of the income for the top 1%, and 67% of the increase in incomes for the top 0.1% between 1979 and 2005. Thus, there can be little doubt that SVM has played a major role in the increased inequality that we have witnessed.
Montier comes to the following conclusions:
Shareholder’s Lesson

Firstly, SVM has failed its namesakes: it has not delivered increased returns to shareholders in any meaningful way, and may actually have led to poorer corporate performance!

Corporate’s Lesson

Secondly, it suggests that management guru Peter Drucker was right back in 1973 when he suggested “The only valid purpose of a firm is to create a customer.” Only by focusing on being a good business are you likely to end up delivering decent returns to shareholders. Focusing on the latter as an objective can easily undermine the former. Concentrate on the former, and the latter will take care of itself. As Keynes once put it, “Achieve immortality by accident, if at all.”

Everyone’s Lesson

Thirdly, we need to think about the broader impact of policies like SVM on the economy overall. Shareholders are but one very narrow group of our broader economic landscape. Yet by allowing companies to focus on them alone, we have potentially unleashed a number of ills upon ourselves. A broader perspective is called for. Customers, employees, and taxpayers should all be considered. Raising any one group to the exclusion of others is likely a path to disaster. Anyone for stakeholder capitalism?

Biggest Challenge To the Dominance of Electric Vehicles? The Battery.

According to Tony Seba (quoted in How Solar Power Could Slay the Fossil Fuel Empire by 2030) the only big obstacle to the dominance of Electric Vehicles (EVs) will be the battery:
Seba's forecasts are being taken seriously by some of the world's most powerful finance, energy, and technology institutions.
Last November, Seba was a keynote speaker at JP Morgan's Annual Global Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference in Asia, held in Hong Kong, where he delivered a stunning presentation on what he calls the "clean disruption."
Seba's JP Morgan talk focused on the inevitable disruption in the internal combustion engine. By his forecast, between 2017 and 2018, a mass migration from gasoline or diesel cars will begin, rapidly picking up steam and culminating in a market entirely dominated by electric vehicles (EV) by 2030.
Not only will our cars be electric, Seba predicts, but rapid developments in self-driving technologies will mean that future EVs will also be autonomous. The game-change is happening because of revolutionary cost-reductions in information technology, and because EVs are 90 percent cheaper to fuel and maintain than gasoline cars.
The main obstacle to the mass-market availability of EVs is the battery cost, which is around $500 per kilowatt hour (kWh). But this is pitched to fall dramatically in the next decade. By 2017, it could reach $350 kWh—which is the battery price-point where an electric car becomes cost-competitive with its gasoline equivalent.
Seba estimates that by 2020, battery costs will fall to $200 kWh, and by 2024-25 to $100 kWh. At this point, the efficiency of a gasoline car would be irrelevant, as EVs would simply be far cheaper. By 2030, he predicts, "gasoline cars will be the 21st century equivalent of horse carriages."
Yes, we are still on the tip of the 20th century, but it's fading fast. Within a short period of time, we will see the announcement of huge breakthroughs in batteries and in solar power. 2015 may go down in history as the real turn of the century as far as energy is concerned.

The Energy Revolution

From Damn the Matrix: The End of Endless Growth: Part 2:

As I’ve shown ​elsewhere, the fossil fuel system is already in its death throes. Costs of production have rocketed for oil, gas and coal, and the market simply cannot afford to pay prices high enough for the big fossil fuel majors to sustain increasing profits.

Mark Lewis, former head of energy research at Deutsche Bank, points out that the industry is investing “at exponentially higher rates for increasingly small incremental yields of energy.”

This year the US Energy In​formation Administration found that as a consequence of this shift to expensive energy, the world’s leading oil and gas companies were sinking into a debt ​trap even before the latest oil price crash. Their net debt increased by $106 billion in the year up to March, while they sold off $73 billion of assets to cover surging production costs. “Alarm bells are ringing. Investors can see that this is unsustainable,” Lewis recently told the Telegraph. “They are starting to ask whether it wouldn’t be better to return cash to shareholders, and wind down the companies.”

As the fossil fuel empire crumbles, in contrast, the cost of renewable energy technologies (especially solar and wind) is dramatically falling even as efficiency gains are rapidly increasing. According to Silicon Valley entrepreneur and Stanford business studies lecturer Tony Seba, who forecasts the dominance of solar within just 15 years, the Energy Return On Energy Investment or EROEI of solar is far superior over the long-term than fossil fuels.

Seba told me that conventional EROIE calculations are potentially misleading because they ignore critical costs and externalities, especially in land and water usage, waste and pollution. Applying the concept of Energy Payback Time (EPBT) to photovoltaic (PV) solar panels—where EPBT is how long it takes to produce the same quantity of energy that was used to create and install the panels—Seba notes that recent thin film technologies will payback this energy in around just one year. After that point, effectively, energy is generated for free. If a thin film panel produces energy for 25 years, then its EROEI is 25. “This is far higher than the published results for most forms of energy today, including oil, gas, wind, and nuclear,” Seba said.

But Seba also pointed out that PV panels are likely to last many decades after 25 years. Panel performance degrades at around 0.5 percent per year, which means that even after 60 years, they would produce at 70 percent capacity. EROEI would therefore be on the order of 50 or 60. Given that by 2020, PV costs are expected to drop by another two thirds or so, this suggests that by then EROIE for solar would be even higher, potentially as much as 150. And as the efficiency and capacity of PV technology continues to improve (at a rate of 22% every 2-3 years), EROEI of solar PV technology is pitched to reach triple digits and exponentially improve, rather than degrade.

Fossil fuels simply cannot compete with this. As costs continue to drop, businesses and communities are already shifting rapidly to cheaper, decentralized solar, where post-EPBT energy is literally free. When combined with the fast emerging storage solutions diminishing prices, the old model of being dependent on expensive, centralized and dirty oil, gas and coal will be increasingly displaced by the relentless momentum of cheap, distributed clean energy.

Peter Dykstra writes in It's not the heat, it's the stupidity:
The new Congress may be the most boldly anti-science body since the time of the Scopes Monkey Trial.
The 114th Congress convenes this week. The last time a Congressional anti-science caucus was this strong may have been during the Scopes Monkey Trial ninety years ago. But that's not the worst part of it: The folks who want to gut government research and deny climate change are virtually guaranteed perpetual re-election and jobs for life.
Let's get straight to the moral of this story: Entrenched anti-science isn't going away. Not soon, maybe not in our lifetimes. Every one of the most ardent congressional climate deniers who chose to run won re-election, mostly by runaway margins, and probably have jobs for as long as they want them. A landscape of gerrymandered "safe" districts and wide-open campaign cash spigots make their futures even safer, even as their behavior helps make our own a little more bleak.
What we need is an SAT (Science Aptitude Test) to hold a Congressional seat. Anyone who can't demonstrate a basic knowledge of science should be denied a seat in Congress. But, since these very simpletons are the ones making our laws, it will never happen—until there's a revolution, that is.

Friday, January 02, 2015

10 Energy Stats From 2014

Condensed and revised from Remember These Energy Numbers From 2014:
  1. Renewables are outpacing coal 50× faster.
  2. It takes 47¢ of electricity to charge an iPhone 6 per year.
  3. Laptops use 14× more electricity than an iPhone 6 per year.
  4. 2014 was the warmest year ever recorded in human history on the planet.
  5. China says their carbon pollution will peak in 2030.
  6. Brazil spent $5.1 billion to make sure the lights stayed on at the World Cup.
  7. Energy demand in Demark has dropped 4% per year since 1990. At the same time, their economy has been growing.
  8. It costs half as much to save energy via efficiency rather than producing more.
  9. Tesla “jumped the shark” breaking ground on a $5 billion bet that the Gigafactory won't be obsolete before it's built.
  10. 9 out of 10 solar arrays face south, but west is the most favorable direction for most.
  11. LED lighting will revolutionize the lives of 1.5 billion people.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Good News on Forests and CO2

Starting the new year off on a positive note, a new NASA-led study shows that tropical forests may be absorbing far more carbon dioxide than many scientists thought, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas. The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion -- more than is absorbed by forests in Canada, Siberia and other northern regions, called boreal forests.

NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wednesday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. After energy markets reverse course, how will the stock market react?

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tuesday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Is gasoline nearing our target for an initial low? You bet it is!

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Is Obama Outsourcing Our Government To China?

Sure looks like it. The latest report on GDP was an astounding 5% gain in Q3. And, if the government hadn't overestimated—yes, you read that right—inflation, the economy would have grown at a 6.6% rate (using the Billion Prices Project data on inflation). That's some smokin' hot economy we have here.

Or do we? Tony Sagami writes that the government's figures look an awful lot like the Chinese government's GDP reports.

Maybe Obama has found a new way to lie—just outsource the GDP report to the government of China!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Monday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. The most massive bubble in history is bursting. Look at a chart of oil for proof.

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Friday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes #WeekendAnalysis have been updated on the website. It was a forced march in the stock market last week.

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

It's Going to Get Warmer

Skeptics like to pick random data to “prove” their point, such as declaring that Global Warming stopped in the late Nineties. Of course, that only fools other deniers. Certainly, it is the case that air temperatures have had a flat period from 1998 to 2014. But, overall global temperatures have continued to rise in the oceans, which have absorbed the excess heating of Global Warming for the past seventeen years.

That's coming to an end, however. The oceans are beginning to give us back all that heat in a big way. The reason is that the Pacific Ocean has been in the negative (cool) phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The PDO tends to run a couple of decades in the negative phase, then another few decades in the positive (warm) phase. It has been studied extensively and its current negative phase is powerful enough to suppress El Ninos. It also brings extensive drought to the American Southwest. We've certainly seen quite a bit of drought in the last several years.

Theodor Landscheidt studied cycles of the PDO before he passed away several years ago. He was particularly interested in understanding how the cycles of the sun affected our weather. He created a model of the PDO and published it online in Long-Range Forecast of U.S. Drought Based on Solar Activity. In that paper, he predicted that we would be suffering drought under the influence of the negative (cool) phase of the PDO until early 2016. He was correct in that prediction to date—but is his prediction of 2016 on target still?

We may be seeing a phase transition in the PDO from negative to positive right now, almost two years earlier than his prediction. Axel Timmermann of the University of Hawaii and Kevin Trenberth of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research are suggesting we may be seeing the PDO turn positive in Warming Pacific Drives Global Temperatures:

Both men stress that there are a number of different factors at play. However, the sequence of events that has contributed to the current situation is becoming clear. The negative IPO phase in place since the late 1990s led to very strong equatorial trade winds – which are separate from the classical trade winds that blow across the Pacific north and south of the equator. “These cooling equatorial trade winds were so strong that they sucked up water from the eastern equatorial Pacific and moved it west,” said Timmermann.

The result was that equatorial Pacific cooled and the sea level in the western Pacific rose much faster than the global average rate – and the cooling Pacific sea surface waters cooled the atmosphere above them and so caused the pause. “So the trade winds intensified, the equatorial Pacific cooled, sea levels in the west rose and this all goes together with the global warming hiatus,” explained Timmermann.

This period of strong equatorial trade winds came to an end at the beginning of 2014 resulting in a warming in the northern Pacific and especially along Alaskan coastal waters.

Next, a series of waves of warm water – known as Kelvin waves – moved across the Pacific from the west near Indonesia to the east and these were interpreted as signs that an El Nino Pacific Ocean warming event may be about to take place. Trenberth explained to reportingclimatescience.com that, as a result of this movement of water, sea levels rose in the central and eastern Pacific and fell back in the western Pacific. However, this warm water did not trigger the expected full blown El Nino.

Instead, the warm water moved across the Pacific until it hit the western coast of the Americas and moved north and south – warming coastal waters along the west coast of North America as far north as Oregon and causing a warming of the north eastern Pacific Ocean waters from April through to September.

Finally, over the last three months or so the classical trade winds started to weaken too. Normally they act to cool the ocean. This time the trade winds weakened considerably and the cooling ceased almost completely. This intensified warming in the central Pacific.

Results

So during 2014 the waters of the northern, north eastern and central Pacific have all warmed significantly. This has had the effect of raising the global average surface temperature to record levels which will almost certainly result in 2014 being reported as the warmest year on record.

Trenberth explained that there have been widespread impacts on the weather as storm systems – such as the recent Typhoon Nuri - moved further northwards than usual, drought conditions in California persist while a mass of cold air moved south across central and eastern North America in November.

Meanwhile waters off the coast of Hawaii reached 29°C or 30°C through the summer, according to Timmermann, causing corals to die and bleach. “We have seen temperature anomalies of 4°C in some area – very extreme. This warming is bad news for salmon fisheries and also for coral. Fish and sea life are experiencing this year what we are projecting for 100 years time,” said Timmermann.

The hiatus in global warming of air temperatures is either over now or will be over very soon. This will cement public opinion concerning Global Warming and create a consensus that we have to do something about the problem, rather than letting it fester as we have for the last few decades.

The good news? Fighting Global Warming will create many new jobs and will stimulate the economy. We've all heard about the bad news of Global Warming. Take heart that the effort to rollback the warming will create many, many jobs to boost the economy in coming years.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tuesday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Low volume and little to move the market resulted in drift on Tuesday.

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Stock Market Performance Table

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Never short a dull market? We beg to differ!

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Stock Market Performance Table

North Korea Attacks, But So Do the Chinese

Much of the news about Sony concerns a so-called “crack attack” on the firm. It's even garnered comments from Obama.

The real news should be that the Chinese have stepped up their attacks on American websites. This emphasis on North Korea seems to be designed to divert attention from the real thrust of the attacks from China.

China probably pays American politicians too well to criticize.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Friday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes #WeekendAnalysisPDF have been updated on the website. The bear market is insidious, creeping up on its victims.

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Stock Market Performance Table

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Yes, indeed, the best rallies occur in bear markets!

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Stock Market Performance Table

The Faces of the Enemy

The enemy is running scared. They are appealing to the basest of emotion and it's really hard to think that anyone would see their ads as anything other than a capitulation to the fact of Global Warming and Climate Change. Here are the ugly faces of the climate deniers, funded by the Koch brothers in large part:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wednesday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Rallies in bear markets are great, cover a lot of price ground and are great for traders.

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Stock Market Performance Table

Free Report on Oil

By Elliott Wave International:

Today, there is no shortage of opinions about oil.

So why should you bother reading this one?

Because 99% of oil forecasts out there are based on so-called fundamentals. The same "fundamentals" that back in June, when oil cost $107 a barrel, promised even higher prices due to:

  • The rising threat of Islamic State in Iraq
  • Weak U.S. dollar and
  • Strong U.S. job growth

Now that oil has fallen to $54, the same sources are giving you "reasons" why it should fall even more.

You can see what's happening: Too many analysts simply extrapolate yesterday's trend into tomorrow.

That's like saying that because it's sunny today, expect sun tomorrow, too. That's not forecasting.

Elliott Wave International prides itself on being bold with its forecasts. They have just released a new report from their in-house Energy expert giving you a unique look at the trend in Crude.

Special Report: "Oil: What's Next?"

EWI's Chief Energy Analyst, Steve Craig, has lived the oil market for close to 30 years. In this free report, Steve shares his take on where oil has been -- and where it's going.

Access your free oil report today and get a fresh perspective on crude oil.

Bonus: On Thursday, December 18, we will expand the report to include a clip from Steve's brand new video forecast for crude oil.

U.S. household gasoline expenditures in 2015 on track to be the lowest in 11 years

By EIA:

The average U.S. household is expected to spend about $550 less on gasoline in 2015 compared with 2014, as annual motor fuel expenditures are on track to fall to their lowest level in 11 years. Lower fuel expenditures are attributable to a combination of falling retail gasoline prices and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks that reduce the number of gallons used to travel a given distance.

Household gasoline costs are forecast to average $1,962 next year, assuming that EIA's price forecast, which is highly uncertain, is realized. Should the forecast be realized, motor fuel expenditures (gasoline and motor oil) in 2015 would be below $2,000 for the first time since 2009, according to EIA's December 2014 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).

The price for U.S. regular gasoline has fallen 11 weeks in a row to $2.55 per gallon as of December 15, down $1.16 per gallon from its 2014 peak in late April and the lowest price since October 2009. Gasoline prices are forecast to go even lower in 2015. Gasoline prices are falling because of lower crude oil prices, which account for about two-thirds of the price U.S. drivers pay for a gallon of gasoline.

EIA's latest STEO forecasts that Brent crude oil prices will average $68 per barrel (bbl) in 2015, with prices up to $5/bbl below that annual average early in the year. The forecast for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil spot prices averages $63/bbl in 2015. However, the current values of futures and options contracts show high uncertainty regarding the price outlook. For example, WTI futures contracts for March 2015 delivery traded during the five-day period ending December 4 averaged $67/bbl. Implied volatility averaged 32%, establishing the lower and upper limits of the 95% confidence interval for the market's expectations of WTI prices at the expiration of the March 2015 contract at $51/bbl and $89/bbl, respectively. Last year at this time, WTI futures contracts for March 2014 delivery averaged $96/bbl and implied volatility averaged 19%, with only a $30/bbl spread between the corresponding lower and upper limits of the 95% confidence interval.

Increases in fuel economy are also contributing to lower motor fuel expenditures, as cars and trucks travel farther on a gallon of gasoline. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the production-weighted fuel economy of cars has increased from 23.1 miles per gallon (mpg) for model-year (MY) 2005 cars to almost 28 mpg for MY2014, an increase of about 21%. Similarly, the fuel economy for trucks has increased 19%, from 16.9 mpg to 20.1 mpg in the same time frame.

In recent years, gasoline expenditures have accounted for about 5% of household expenditures. In the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) Consumer Price Index, gasoline accounted for 5.1% of consumer spending, as of October 2014. Reductions in the gasoline price ultimately impact the relative weight of gasoline compared to other expenditures (shelter, clothing, food, entertainment, and so on) in price indices compiled by BLS and the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The demand for gasoline is very price inelastic over short time periods, meaning changes in price have little impact on the number of gallons used. Falling gasoline prices allow households to spend their income on other goods and services, pay down debt, and/or increase savings.

Principal contributors: Tom Doggett, Russ Tarver

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Bellwether Tesla has confirmed its bear market trend.

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Stock Market Performance Table

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Will oil rebound here? Could be a gusher of a rally!

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Stock Market Performance Table

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Friday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes #WeekendAnalysis have been updated on the website. What happens when oil stops crashing?

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Stock Market Performance Table

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tesla’s Stationary Storage Strategy: ‘Everywhere We Look, There’s an Opportunity’

This week's Energy Gang podcast looks at storage and Tesla's plans to sell batteries for use not only in Tesla's electric cars, but also for storing electricity for use on the grid:

Tesla is just beginning to expand beyond EVs and move deeper into grid-scale storage, behind-the-meter storage and solar-battery combination systems, potentially making it more than just a boutique automobile producer.

“Everywhere we look, there's an opportunity for storage,” said Mateo Jaramillo, Tesla’s director of powertrain business development, speaking on this week’s Energy Gang podcast.

In this week’s podcast, we’re live at Greentech Media’s Solar Market Insight conference. Tesla’s Jaramillo and California Public Utilities Commissioner Michael Picker join us to discuss the emerging markets for battery storage, including synergies with the solar industry.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thursday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website.

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Stock Market Performance Table

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. The Dollar Index may be the key to one last rally in equities this month.

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Stock Market Performance Table

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Tuesday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. Energy prices are controlling the market now, and are heading lower.

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Stock Market Performance Table

Gasoline Prices

The government's EIA has released the following projection for gasoline prices:
Driven largely by falling crude oil prices, U.S. weekly regular gasoline retail prices averaged $2.78/gallon (gal) on December 1, the lowest since October 4, 2010. U.S. regular gasoline retail prices are projected to continue declining for the remainder of the year, averaging $2.61/gal in December. EIA expects U.S. regular gasoline retail prices, which averaged $3.51/gal in 2013, to average $3.37/gal in 2014 and $2.60/gal in 2015.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Monday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes have been updated on the website. As December unwinds, successive tops end individual bull markets.

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Stock Market Performance Table

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Why Batteries Pose a Threat to Electric Utilities

Bloomberg explains Why Elon Musk's Batteries Scare the Hell Out of the Electric Company:
Here's why something as basic as a battery both thrills and terrifies the U.S. utility industry.
At a sagebrush-strewn industrial park outside of Reno, Nevada, bulldozers are clearing dirt for Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA)'s battery factory, projected to be the world's largest.
Tesla's founder, Elon Musk, sees the $5 billion facility as a key step toward making electric cars more affordable, while ending reliance on oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At first blush, the push toward more electric cars looks to be positive for utilities struggling with stagnant sales from energy conservation and slow economic growth.
Yet Musk's so-called gigafactory may soon become an existential threat to the 100-year-old utility business model. The facility will also churn out stationary battery packs that can be paired with rooftop solar panels to store power. Already, a second company led by Musk, SolarCity Corp. (SCTY), is packaging solar panels and batteries to power California homes and companies including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) "The mortal threat that ever cheaper on-site renewables pose" comes from systems that include storage, said Amory Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Snowmass, Colorado-based energy consultant. "That is an unregulated product you can buy at Home Depot that leaves the old business model with no place to hide."
Ah, but there's a bigger threat than that. And, it's coming soon to sign the death warrant for electric utilities.

Friday's Results In The Wall Street Bucket Shops

#SubscriberNotes #WeekendAnalysis have been updated on the website. The bear market has begun in some sectors, but not all.

Note: a bucket shop is an unofficial and usually illegal betting operation in which the prices of stocks and commodities are posted and the customers bet on the rise and fall of prices without actually buying stock, commodities, or commodity futures. Today's stock trading has been divorced from its connection to true valuation of securities and is equivalent to a bucket shop operation.

Stock Market Performance Table

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Is Feudalism the Natural Social Order?

David Brin asks Is feudalism the natural social order?
We know that bullying cabals of cheaters have conspired to dominate others and steal and wreck markets across 99% of societies for at least 6000 years and probably 250,000. Across all continents and wildly varied cultures, this universal pattern perfectly "correlates" with Darwinian advantage to the bully-cheaters. It is the broad fact known about human societies ... and those who would shrug it off — in favor of following incantatory gurus — are in no position to lecture us about "science."
An honest libertarian — even a "theorist" would recognize and accept the burden that this long and lamentable pattern lays upon our feet. If 99% of societies were feudal pyramids of hierarchy and inherited status, it suggests that our own — with its emphasis on individualism, rights and competitive creativity is a rare exception. Not an outgrowth of "natural law" but instead an invention, spectacularly clever, complex and needing perpetual maintenance, lest it slump back into older, more entropic ways.
...
Only one society ever systematically evaded this attractor trap. Its methodologies included moderate regulation to keep competition flat, open and fair. Not perfectly! But vastly better than any other society... by orders of magnitude. We moderate Smithians know that this revolution is the best thing that ever happened...
...beyond engendering vast wealth and science and reducing ancient mistakes like racism and sexism, it also made more libertarians than any other society ever!
It was not built by platonist theoreticians whose incantation mantras pile high "logic" that is endlessly refuted by actual human experience. Nor will it be extended by indignant, simplistic snits, or raging counterfactuals like "all government is bad and no concentration of wealth is ever toxic." That mantra is exactly what oligarchs want sock-puppets to recite, as they rebuild a feudal order.
We've got an opportunity to escape a trap that may have held back hundreds of other sapient species out there, perhaps millions. In the main article I ask what possible societies might arise from descendants of — say — pack carnivores, like wolves? Or solitary hunters, like tigers? Or solipsistic omnivores (bears), or herd herbivores? Or ants? But here's a funny thing. Not one of them seems guaranteed safety from the feudal attractor-state.
...
We seem to have found a way if we don't blow it, by betraying the pragmatic enlightenment invention—experiment in favor of theories. But so many are pushing to abandon the experiment! So many yearn — even in fantasy tales and films — for a return to old ways.
In the end, we may be kept from the stars by a simple flaw — our habit of delusion and self-hypnosis.
Read the main article here.