Guest Post: The Circling Black Swans Of 2012

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of

The Circling Black Swans of 2012   (January 2, 2012)

The Imperial hubris of America's Elites offers up a tempting target for black swans, as suppressing the sources of instability only increases the odds of disruptive instability.

Longtime correspondent (and Oregon resident) R.S.D. recently made this observation about black swans:


I notice that a number of predictors for 2012 never mention the flock of black swans that are currently circling in the murk before us. While I appreciate their anonymity, I was reminded of their presence last night about 10 PM while working in my shop. I had the door open to an almost Springlike night when I heard quite a flock of Canadian Geese passing over, heading north. In December!

Well said, R.S.D. For an example of the Status Quo's confidence that the odds of a financial or political black swan disrupting their Empire are essentially zero, let's turn to "conservative" pundit George Will, one of the Status Quo's leading proponents of bloviated smugness.

Mr. Will begins his syndicated New Year's column by hugging himself with Imperial self-satisfaction: America is a net exporter of energy products for the first time in 62 years!

The unwary consumer of Mr. Will's self-congratulatory prose (he has a corner office in the sprawling Ministry of Propaganda) might wrongly interpret this to mean that America is a net exporter of energy: it is not. The U.S. is a net importer of over 9 million barrels of oil a day.

How dependent are we on foreign oil? (U.S. Energy Information Administration)


The United States consumed 19.1 million barrels per day (MMbd) of petroleum products during 2010, making us the world's largest petroleum consumer. The United States was third in crude oil production at 5.5 MMbd. But crude oil alone does not constitute all U.S. petroleum supplies. Significant gains occur, because crude oil expands in the refining process, liquid fuel is captured in the processing of natural gas, and we have other sources of liquid fuel, including biofuels. These additional supplies totaled 4.2 MMbd in 2010.

In 2010 the United States imported 11.8 million barrels per day (MMbd) of crude oil and refined petroleum products. We also exported 2.3 MMbd of crude oil and petroleum products during 2010, so our net imports (imports minus exports) equaled 9.4 MMbd.

Apparently Mr. Will is incapable of performing either simple math or a basic web search to confirm the breezy implications of his carefully vague confidence in a future of never-ending, low-cost surplus energy.

If he'd performed five minutes of journalism instead of spewing propaganda, he might have stumbled upon this report, which suggests that U.S. dependence on imported energy will rise going forward: US Oil and Gas Import Dependence: Department of Energy Projections in 2011

Much propaganda has been issued over the years about the hundreds of years of supply of energy the U.S. possesses, but journalism is supposed to ferret out the current facts as its foundation rather than begin with self-satisfied pontification.

If we consult the facts, we find the storied Bakken oil/gas formation currently produces 445,000 barrels a day, certainly a substantial quantity of energy but a mere sliver of America's daily consumption of 19 million barrels a day. According to the EIA report Bakken formation oil and gas drilling activity mirrors development in the Barnett, Bakken production, which averaged just over 2 thousand bbl/d in 2000, averaged more than 260 thousand bbl/d in 2010. This rise in production is the result of hundreds of horizontal wells being drilled and brought online.

Is this new source of domestic energy welcome? Of course. Will it some day replace the 9 million barrels imported from elsewhere? A variety of sources suggest reaching 1 million BPD would be an extraordinary accomplishment, and that projecting the recent growth to millions of barrels a day is more fantasy than fact.

If we had to summarize the Status Quo's confidence that no black swans will threaten its control in 2012, we might begin with its faith that the system's self-regulation will resolve all systemic challenges. Just as the Status Quo has placed all its chips on a single bet--that "growth" from debt-based consumption can be resumed with vast public borrowing and saving the predatory financial sector--it also bases its confidence on the system's self-regulation.

If the banking sector is riddled with fraud and embezzlement, then some minor tweaking of regulation will solve all issues. If demand for debt has collapsed, then the solution is for the Federal Government to borrow 10% of GDP every year to compensate for the decline of private debt and spending.

The faith is that extending and pretending will magically restore the "growth" the Status Quo needs to support its ballooning debt. Extending and pretending offers up the compelling illusion that the system's broken self-regulation is up to the task of fixing systemic problems.

The essence of Talib's "black swan" insight is that instabilities that are written off by the Status Quo as "extremely low probability" become high-probability when low-level systemic instabilities are suppressed by extend and pretend and endless propaganda.

The Status Quo has suppressed instability with brute force and propaganda for four long years; while the Elites are patting themselves on the back and confidently predicting they can safely navigate 2012 with more extend and pretend, the odds are increasingly favoring the emergence of "unlikely" disruptions.

Mr. Will is supremely confident that whatever happens in 2012 will be a mere "pebble in the river of American history." In the darkness overhead, we can hear the beating of unseen wings that promise to make a mockery of the Status Quo's supreme Imperial hubris.


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gangland's picture

Ron Paul & Soros Connection??

just caught this not sure what to think. and seem to be very conservative.


front page mag is connected to this is their board of directors from their site:

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Officers Presiding Co-Chairs
  • Rev. Damon Lynch, Jr., Pastor, New Jerusalem Baptist Church
  • Mr. John Pepper, former Chairman & CEO, The Procter & Gamble Company
  • Mr. Marty Dunn,Esq., Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP
  • Mr. Mitchell Habib, Chief Operating Officer, The Nielsen Company
  • Mr. Mark Casella, Founder/CEO Coopertree Ltd
  • Mr. Chuck Brown, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc
Honorary Co-Chairs
  • Mrs. Francie S. Hiltz, Honorary Co-Chair, Community Advocate
  • Hon. Nathaniel R. Jones, Honorary Co-Chair, Of Counsel, Blank Rome, LLP
  • Mrs. Marian Spencer, Honorary Co-Chair, Community Advocate,
  • Mr. Edwin Rigaud, President and CEO, Enova Partners, LLC
  • Mr. Ken Robinson, Vice President, Finance & Accounting, The Procter and Gamble Company
President and Cheif Executive Officer
  • Mr. Kim Robinson, The Freedom Center
  • Mrs. Shakila Ahmad, Director, Allergy & Asthma Specialty Center
  • Mr. Robert Blackwell, Founder and CEO, Electronic Knowledge Interchange
  • Bishop E. Lynn Brown, Retired Bishop CME Church
  • Dr. John Bryant, Community Advocate
  • Mr. Phil Castellini, Chief Operating Officer, Cincinnati Reds
  • Mr. Alfonso Cornejo, President, Hispanic Chamber Cincinnati USA
  • Mr. Thomas S. Crain, Retired Managing Director, Scudder Stevens & Clark
  • Mr. Bruce Gordon, Retired Executive, Retail Markets Divison of Verizon
  • Mrs. Beverly Grant, Vice President, The Procter & Gamble Company
  • Mr. J. Phillip Holloman, President & COO, Cintas Corporation
  • Mr. Peter Kaufman, Chairman & CEO, Glenair, Inc.
  • Mrs. Leslie Kreines, Community Advocate
  • Mr. Mitchell Livingston, Vice President for Student Affairs, University of Cincinnati
  • Hon. Walter H. Rice, United States District Court
  • Mrs. Lois Rosenthal, Community Advocate
  • Ms. Marilyn Shazor, Community Advocate
  • Dr. Thomas J. Schneider, President & CEO, Restructuring Associates Inc.
  • Ms. Susan Taylor, Founder and CEO, National CARES Mentoring Movement
  • Mr. Charles Whitehead, Retired President, Ashland Oil Foundation
  • Rev. Darryl Woods, Pastor, Revelation Baptist Church



buyingsterling's picture

When I clicked the link I saw two faces, Soros and David Horowitz. That told me all I needed to know.

gangland's picture

I still don't know what to make of it...

knukles's picture

Anti-Paul propaganda.
Look at the board and senior representatives.  Lotta entrenched special interests go bye bye with Ronnie.

gangland's picture

thanks, that's why I posted it here, for the input. it's like a gotcha piece connecting Paul with Frank on the eve of Iowa caucuses. now it makes sense.


certainly Cintas, P&G and Glenair would lose big pentagon money. definitely making sense now.

To wit:

according to FEC data John e Pepper former ceo of P&G was a campaign donor to Mitt Romney in 2007. 

We can assume he still is and we can further assume he represents super-pac Romney supporters whose donations would not be available via FEC today.


The GOP establishment is using & as a sort of 'legitimate' conservative and religious conduit, catered to iowa voters, to publish a hit piece on Paul right before the Iowa caucuses.

This point is further underscored in that john E Pepper, at least according to FEC data, has never donated money to the Paul campaign.


Oh regional Indian's picture

The end of the age of oil.

It does not matter one whit what is done at this point. Bio-fuels or otherwise.

The Age of Oil as primary mover of humanity is closing fast. It will of course power the coming war, Oil's last hurrah.

Thank goodness for that. Other people/ways will get some breathing room. Till then, all you logicians here can sit and fire blanks at people like me who have the keys to the other side.




gangland's picture

Aerosolized Fukushima Plutonium In Europe At Levels 4X Lower Than Chernobyl

Only 4 times lower despite the distance from Fuku vs Chernobyl.


YBNguy's picture

Dont be a rube. Do your own research. Paul has been pushing for this cut back 3 years before the panel was assembled. Of course he (and several other republicans) back such a strategy. This does not mean he's in bed with Soros, only that he will use any means nessecary to get this country fiscally back on track. As one of the comments on that webpage said: its like the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon when relating to folks in that field. Add to this that many military cut-back people are left leaning types with similar assoicates....

I despise Frank but he was spot on in saying:

"It is very clear that a very serious debate on this issue [military spending] has to take place”


Read Ron Pauls take on this:


gangland's picture

thanks, appreciate it, that's why I posted it, wanted to sort of crowd source it in here.

so according to FEC data John e Pepper former ceo of P&G was a campaign donor to Mitt Romney in 2007. 

We can assume he still is and we can further assume he represents super-pac Romney supporters whose donations would not be available via FEC today.


The GOP establishment is using & as a sort of 'legitimate' conservative and religious conduit, catered to iowa voters, to publish a hit piece on Paul right before the Iowa caucuses.

This point is further underscored in that john E Pepper, at least according to FEC data, has never donated money to the Paul campaign.


tempo's picture

There will be no "black swans" as long as the US$ remains the world's reserve currency. This will continue as long as the Saudi's price their crude in US$ which will continue as long as the US maintains the world's largest and most effective military force. The US can and will run trillion $ deficits as rates drift lower and lower. He who has the biggest military makes the rules and the US rules. The trillion dollar military budget passed w/o desent. The Saudi's just purchased $50 billion in fighter jets. Get over it. Nothing matters except the US military power which allows for continued dollar dominance and deficits. BTW all other currencies are also crap.

akak's picture

Let us know when you wake up from your neocon-induced militaristic wet dream --- or nightmare, as the case may be.

Bicycle Repairman's picture

You do not have to be a neo con to realize that the whole pyramid has the US military at its base.

CompassionateFascist's picture

There's a ginormous Black Swan circling over the Straits of Hormuz. Gettin lower and lower...INSTANT post-peak oil.

Oh regional Indian's picture

If you can see it , it isn't black and probably not a swan either.


roccman's picture

peak oil bitchez - da biggest swany of dem all!'s picture

Belle: So, Swanny...

Benjy Stone: Ma, he's an actor, not a river.

francis_sawyer's picture

The unwary consumer of Mr. Will's self-congratulatory prose (he has a corner office in the sprawling Ministry of Propaganda) might wrongly interpret this to mean that America is a net exporter of energy: it is not

Will's logic is akin to the "Black Friday" logic in which "loss leader" sales, would eventually add to the bottom line by being made up in volume of sales...

fbrothers's picture

We do not see many black swans here in Virginia. But a lot of people mistake our brant for geese. And, there is a lot of difference at the dinner table.'s picture

Tell me about it. Those brants have no manners at all.

Manthong's picture

"America is a net exporter of energy products for the first time in 62 years"

Maybe Mr. Will was referring to the non-existent Red Bull market in the 1950's when he was a fledgling commentator. 

akak's picture

I always wanted to smack that smug fucker George Will in the face if I ever actually met him --- just before I shove his prissy bow tie down his marionette-like, pouty little mouth.

nmewn's picture

I got dibs already...from a long time ago...he has an aversion to my right to protect myself & family as I see fit.

philipat's picture

He is probably netting out all the Vampire Squid derivatives? I find that paper oil is difficult to get into the gas tank and doesn't run very well?

xela2200's picture

Red bull gives you wings.

akak's picture

Yes, but in doing so it has unfortunate side effects.


spiral_eyes's picture

a short note for those who should know better:

black swans are not identified before they happen. we are sitting here identifying things that could happen. great. but none of these things are black swans, because they are part of the conversation. true black swans were part of no conversation at all, or a conversation totally obscure to the mainstream.

but just for the sake of argument, the collapse of american imperialism under its weight is the biggest white/grey swan. 

fonzanoon's picture

So would it be a black swan if the market(s) just go uo this year and no bad shit really happens?

knukles's picture

Precisely kinda, getting closer but no cigar, yet.  Maybe.
Sure would be one helluv an outlier, eh?

xela2200's picture

The BP oil spill was a black swan event.

francis_sawyer's picture

Yeah... Just like the Exxon Valdez...

roccman's picture

most 'merikans think oil is forever - to them - peak oil is a BIG FUCKING BLACK SWAN (BFBS).


'member - most at ZH have IQs slightly higher than room temp - we be special crazies...



xela2200's picture

Are they the same people that don't think global warming is happening? That we have 7B people in the planet with absolutely no effect to the environment?

The weather in 2011 was more active than in the whole decade of the 80's.

CH1's picture

The weather in 2011 was more active than in the whole decade of the 80's.

LOL... you're actually serious?

Those of us who lived through that decade know otherwise.

Global warming is bullshit.

roygbiv's picture

Wow, since you put it like that, it must be true
Just got back from India. Impressive, Fascinating place. But clear evidence, at least to me, that humans can fuck up the environment.
Lemme guess, you live in a populated place like Oklahoma? "I don't see no 'fect of people's on the Vironmeny"
(And for the record, I remember even part of the '60's)

CH1's picture

So, my speaking the truth is somehow stupid, pushy, or ridiculous? Because you say so?

I've lived lots of places, and yes, the global warming religion IS bullshit.

I said nothing about making a mess - you pulled that out to change the subject.

roygbiv's picture

umm, and I should believe you speak the truth because....


I think I'll stick with the conclusion drawn from the National Academy of Sciences. You know, the same guys that analyzed and found the 9/11 report wanting.

OOooh, such cognnitive disonance I am causing you now.  Government-paid scientists - are they good guys or bad guys?  Mommy, my  brain hurts.

Tell you what - you stick with the paid for "truth" pedlled by the paid-for-Industry-shills. 

The ones that told you cigarattes are harmless, the Pinto won't explode, and snort all the Asbestos you want.  Oh yeah, and the BP Oil Spill never happened.


Bicycle Repairman's picture

Global warming is BS, and I'm sorry that your green stocks are going to $0

francis_sawyer's picture

Global warming is so yesterday... Nowadays it's called "climate change"...

I remember in the 70's they were worried about the next ICE AGE fast approaching... I guess the research grants for that ran out...

Rick Masters's picture

The ice age would be the effect of melting the ice caps on the north pole by diverting fresh water down and disrupting the flow of the gulf stream. if you can't see the climate is changing you must be looking at a different world. i dont see why this is a political issue? I mean look at china's air, you really think that activities such as that will have no effect on the long term  health of the climate whatsoever. really? i'd like to know why increasing co2 levels will never, ever have an effect, like it does, on say, the planet venus. i'm really interested to know why the climate isn't changing, like it appears to be.

francis_sawyer's picture

Let me put it to you this way...

I'll go by what SCIENCE tells me that the Earth is roughly 4.5 BILLION YEARS old... It has survived plate tectonics, asteroid bombardments, snowball earth, probably countless coronal mass ejections & God knows what else...

I didn't say the climate wasn't changing... WHAT I DID allude to is that the puny contribution to what modern man has added to the list is insignificant when you consider the larger picture...

The Earth was here a long time before humans were... It'll LAUGH AT US for many aeons after we've done away with ourselves...

NidStyles's picture

the argument is whether it's man-made on a glodabl scale. There's no evidence saying that it is.

Rick Masters's picture

I didn't say the earth wouldn't survive. But the argument that it has survived doesn't mean we will. And saying there is no evidence is just a cop out, sorry and ignores the ice caps melting, ignore various weather phenomena, and ignores the rise in temperature, which very well could be due to things we don't understand. But it could be us too. Care to play Russian roulette much? But forget all that. We shouldn't pollute the earth and the atmosphere because I don't want to live like i'm in Beijing where its harmful to breathe. There is evidence of that.

spdrdr's picture

Rick M,

You seem to be an inquisitive fellow.  I will provide you with some scientific answers to your plainative query:

"i'd like to know why increasing co2 levels will never, ever have an effect, like it does, on say, the planet venus. i'm really interested to know why the climate isn't changing, like it appears to be."

I'm doing all this by memory, so don't expect references.  If anything concerns you, remember, "Google Is Your Friend!"  I'm sure that they would have taught you that in Elementary.  Anyway, here we go:

(1)  Venus. Consistently held up by the Warmists as the fiery Hell that we fossil-fuel users are consigning every member of humanity towards, with blatant disregard as long as we receive our monthly stipend from Big Oil.   "Runaway greenhouse!!!"   Eeek!  It's HOT on Venus!  (Yes, 870 degrees Farenheit on the surface). EEEk!  We're all going to DIE!!!!!1!!1!!!.

OK, Rick, just calm down a bit - take some Ritalin if needs be.  Here are the scientific facts about Venus:

*  The atmospheric pressure of Venus is 93 bar - i.e. 93 times the Earth's atmospheric pressure.  No big deal?  This is equivalent to being 930 metres below the ocean surface.  Lots of pressure....

*  The pressure (i.e. the "weight") of the atmosphere of Venus makes it so dense, that 1 cubic metre of the atmosphere at ground level weighs 67 kilograms.  This is 6.7% of the density of water!  Try breathing this atmosphere without gills....

*  Even if the Venusian atmosphere was 100% oxygen, at this density and pressure, the surface temperature would be HOTTER with 100% oxygen than it is with 96.5% CO2.

*  The level of CO2 in the Venusian atmosphere is 96.5%.  On Earth, it is 0.038%, having risen from 0.028% at the "pre-industrial" wet dream timeline prior to the 20th Century.  This is wayyyy less than Venus.  On my rough calculation, Earth's present 0.038% concentration is one 2,500th of the Venusian concentration. Even if it doubled, quadrupled or whatever, it would not come anywhere near the Venusian concentration or density.

* Bottom line:  CO2levels have no effect on Venusian atmospheric or land temperatures.

(2)  The climate is changing. 

Secondly, as per Rick M: " i'm really interested to know why the climate isn't changing, like it appears to be."

*  Rick, Rick, Rick ......  the climate IS changing, it ALWAYS has changed,and it will CONTINUE to change in the future.  The extraordinary, almost quasi-religious belief by Warmists that the climate is a static system (and only being "upset" by mankind), is beyond rational belief. 

*  We are still emerging from the Little Ice Age (Google it) of the 16th/17th century, which followed the Medieval Warm Period of the 10th/14th century, when it was hotter than it is at present, despite the fairly apparent lack of SUVs and coal-firedpower stations. 

*  For your homework, research the Viking Norse settlements in Greenland.  The Warmists shriek all day long, tear their hair out, and scratch at their faces while howling at the moon when you confront them with the scientific evidence of Viking settlements in Greenland from about 1200 to 1500, which had to be abandoned as a result of encroaching cold and ice sheets.   This, Rick, is evidence, not supposition, nor hiding the decline as so-called "climate scientists" are inclined to do. 

Rick, a seemingly smart fellow like yourself will soon embrace the logical conclusion that cold=bad, warm=good, at least as far as it extends to human survival. 

Think science, not psuedo-religion, and you will soon find yourself on the path to the Truth.....


CH1's picture

I guess the research grants for that ran out.

More or less, yeah.

And, yes, "Global Warming" has been replaced for the scammers' convenience. I just don't want to let them off the hook.

Rick Masters's picture

Why is it a scam? I don't get that either. I find it hard to believe all these scientists are in some nefarious plot.

spdrdr's picture

The "nefarious plot" is of elegant simplicity - hypothesise disaster scenarios (without one scintilla of the Scientific Method being employed) and be paid huge sums of money for out-shrieking the other doomers.

Simple, really.....