Rising geopolitical tensions and high oil prices are continuing to help renewable energy find favour amongst investors and politicians. Yet how much faith should we place in renewables to make up the shortfall in fossil fuels? Can science really solve our energy problems, and which sectors offers the best hope for our energy future? To help us get to the bottom of this we spoke with energy specialist Dr. Tom Murphy, an associate professor of physics at the University of California. Tom runs the popular energy blog Do the Math which takes an astrophysicist’s-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth.
In the interview Tom talks about the following:
Why we shouldn’t get too excited over the shale boom
Why resource depletion is a greater threat than climate change
Why Fukushima should not be seen as a reason to abandon nuclear
Why the Keystone XL pipeline may do little to help US energy security
Why renewables have difficulty mitigating a liquid fuels shortage
Why we shouldn’t rely on science to solve our energy problems
Forget fusion and thorium breeders – artificial photosynthesis would be a bigger game changer
How long will this last?
Guest Post: Welcome To The United States Of Orwell, Part 3: We Had To Destroy Democracy In Order To Save ItSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/28/2012 10:48 -0500
The dominant narrative of our so-called 'National Security State' seems to be: we were surprised by a treacherous, shadowy, sinister enemy and we have to set aside the niceties of democracy and civil liberties to combat this new and terrible foe. It's actually very simple: whatever the National Security State does anywhere on Earth is legal. Whatever action you take to protect your civil liberties is illegal. The State holds all the hammers, and you know what happens to raised nails.
There is noise and fluff and soap bubbles floating in the wind but don’t be distracted. Like so many things connected to the European Union it is just hype. In the first place do you think that any nation in Europe is actually going to put up money for the firewall no matter what size that they claim it will be? Let me give you the answer; it is “NO.” The firewall is just one more contingent liability that is not counted for any country’s financials, one more public statement of guarantee that everyone on the Continent hopes and prays will never be taken too seriously and certainly never used. Any rational person knows that some promise to pay in the future will not solve anything and it certainly won’t create some kind of magic ring fence around any nation. Think it through; what will it do to stop Spain or Italy from knocking at the door of the Continental Bank if they get in trouble and the answer is clearly nothing, not one thing. The firewall is just a distraction to lull all of you back to sleep and all of the headlines and discussion about it makes zero difference to any outcome and so is nothing more than a ruse. “Look this way please, do not look that way, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, put up your money to buy our sovereign debt like a good boy and everything will be just fine.”
- Greece's Fringe Parties Surge Amid Bailout Ire (WSJ)
- ECB fails to stem reduction in lending (FT)
- More Twists for Spanish Banks (WSJ)
- Banks use ECB cash to buy bonds, lend less to firms (IFR)
- UK still long way off pre-crisis growth – King (Reuters)
- Dublin confident of ECB deal to defer payment (FT)
- Goldman's European derivatives revenue soars (Reuters)
- Japan Faces Tax Battle as DPJ Finishes Plan on Sales Levy (Bloomberg)
- Insurance Mandate Splits US Court (FT)
Bad news is once again good news. Asia sells off on Monday's weaker profit news; the Bank of Spain says that the Spanish economy is expected to see a negative print in Q1 which if confirmed will ensure a fresh recession while the budget statistics released by the Spanish government yesterday showed further deterioration in its fiscal situation, per DB. The deficit for the first two months of the year was €20.7bn and this does not include state and regional governments’ budgets; lastly American housing slump accelerates as MBA mortgage applications drop for the 7th consecutive week with applications down 2.7%, on the back of a 4.6% decline in refi applications, the lowest since December 7. And futures are...green. Which is to be expected, since good news is good news, and bad news is, thanks to the Fed, and in this case uber-dove Rosengren, who said more stimulus is on the table, better news. It is now obvious that the Fed will not rest until the market is at fresh all time distorted, manipulated, nominal highs.
Dylan Ratigan, Eliot Spitzer, Matt Taibbi, Van Jones: Superstar Lineup Tackles Financial Crisis and Congressional Collusion. An unprecedented live-streaming event March 27th 7pm EST brings together some of the hottest critics of our political and economic system.
Guest Post: Welcome to the United States of Orwell, Part 2: Law-Abiding Taxpayers Treated As CriminalsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/27/2012 09:40 -0500
Law-abiding taxpayers are treated like criminals while the criminal class of financiers and State apparatchiks are free to loot and pillage muppets and taxpayers alike. It's actually very simple: whatever the state or Federal government does to you, that's legal. Whatever action you take to protect your rights is illegal. In case you have any doubts about where our "leadership" is taking us, please review these Assorted quotes by Fascists or about Fascism.
All you need to read and some more.
Any and all negative overnight news are now completely ignored as the scramble for risk hits the usual fever pitch following Bernanke's latest attempt to transfer cash from safe point A to ponzi point B, aka stocks. First, China's industrial firms suffered a rare annual drop in profits in the first two months of 2012 mainly in petrochemicals, metals and auto firms, the latest signs of weakness in the world's No. 2 economy and reinforcing the case for policy easing, according to Reuters. This was the first Jan-Feb profits downturn since Jan-Aug 2009. Profits fell 5.2 percent so far in 2012, according to the industrial profitability indicator, published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) every month. The last period that China reported nationwide industrial profit fall was in the first eight months of 2009. Then there was the German GfK Consumer Confidence which unlike yesterday's IFO, missed: nobody cares. Also on the negative side was an earlier auction of Spanish Bills which sold EUR 2.58 billion, just barely off the low end of a target issuance of EUR 2.5-3 billion. As noted however, neither this, nor the series of US disappointments which looks set to end March with 15 of 17 estimate misses is relevant. To wit: French consumer confidence soared to 87 on expectations of 82, as the easiest and lowest common denominator to boost risk assets is now abused everywhere, by UMich, by Germany and now by France. And why would people not be confident - stocks everywhere are higher despite fundamentals. After all if something fails, there is a central planner to fix it. Never forget - the taxpayer credit card has no limits. Net result - green across the board.
Spain, Europe, China - The Generational Opportunity to get hit head on by a Black Swan
Bernanke’s argument that he can push demand harder to reduce unemployment is based on the notion that unemployment is more cyclical than structural. Unfortunately that seems like a bad bet given the evidence. The greatest bulge in unemployment in this cycle is from not-temporary unemployment instead of from temporary unemployment. And that category’s contribution to the unemployment rate is larger than in this expansion at this point than in any previous expansion at the 32-month mark since at least the 1970s. Ben seems to be rolling the dice on a bad bet. But it’s a bet that gives him a rationale for postponing tightening which is what his Great Depression lesson tells him to do. Right now all we really know is the ‘what’ of his policy ‘not the ‘why.’
Taking Bernanke’s statement to indicate that QE is coming in April is wishful thinking at best. Bernanke’s actual words imply, if anything, that the Fed may have failed to fix the US economy. This is more of the Fed playing damage control because the reality is that Bernanke is well aware of this: by the Fed’s own data we’re clearly in a structural Depression, NOT a cyclical recession.
Short term, the bulls will probably remain in control.
Earlier we presented the view by one of the TBAC's co-chairmen, Goldman Sachs, former employer of such NY Fed presidents as Bull Dudley. Now we present the only other view that matters - that of Fed boss (recall the JPM dividend announcement and how Jamie Dimon pushed Ben B around like a windsock) JP Morgan, and specifically chief economist Michael Feroli who is a little less sanguine than the market about interpreting Bernanke's promise to always support stocks, using the traditional stock vs flow obfuscations which is about as irrelevant as they come. To wit " How one views the word "continued" in this context depends in part on whether it is the stock (or total announced amount) of asset purchases that matter for financial conditions, or whether it is the monthly or weekly flow of those purchases.... according to the stock effect view the end of Twist purchases in June does not amount to a tightening, but rather is a continuation of the current accommodative stance of monetary policy. Thus, "continued accommodative policies" for a stock effect adherent would not necessarily imply an extension of asset purchases beyond June." That said, all of this is semantics. Recall that the US has $1.4 trillion in debt issuance each and every year. Unless the Fed steps in to buy at least a material portion, this debt will never be parked, rendering all other plot lines, narratives and justifications for QE moot.