Monday, April 04, 2011

Random Monday Links

1. Gloom and doom from Robert Reich: "The Truth About the Economy that Nobody In Washington Or On Wall Street Will Admit: We’re Heading Back Toward a Double Dip."

2. Senators Bacus and Kerry argue in the WSJ that Congress should pass the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Colombian products have nearly complete access to U.S. markets, while U.S. farmers face an average tariff of 30% in Colombia, and manufacturers face a 14% rate. The Colombia FTA will eliminate tariffs for U.S. exports.  Seems like a no-brainer.

3. The Mackinac Center reports that Michigan’s recent economic revival of late can be traced in part to two little-known sources – China and Saudi Arabia. Michigan’s international exports increased 36.3% from 2009 to 2010, the third-largest increase in the nation. 

4. Daniel Yergen writes in the WSJ on the promise of shale gas: "Estimates of the entire natural-gas resource base, taking shale gas into account, are now as high as 2,500 trillion cubic feet, with a further 500 trillion cubic feet in Canada. That amounts to a more than 100-year supply of natural gas."  

5. Oregon cops hope classical music deters loiterers, vagrants, vandals and ne'er-do-wells who loiter near a busy transit stop.

6. Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez meets Jimmy Carter in Havana. 

7. Market-driven concierge medicine is expanding significantly, but its spread could worsen the shortage of primary care doctors when Obamacare brings in more than 30 million newly insured patients.  (Thanks to Steve Bartin.)

21 Comments:

At 4/04/2011 10:16 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Imagine that! Government interference in the market place is going to skew services...

'The spread of "concierge medicine," where doctors limit their practice to patients who pay a fee of about $1,500 a year, could drive a wedge among the insured'...

Well it wasn't like the politicos pushing ObamaCare weren't warned in advance...

December 17, 2009 The Medicus Firm Physician Survey: Health Reform May Lead to Significant Reduction in Physician Workforce

From Investors Business Daily dated 12/09/201: New Poll Confirms IBD's '09 Finding Of Doctor Exodus Under ObamaCare

 
At 4/04/2011 11:06 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Well maybe just maybe Reich might have a point...

Consider the following from Zer0Hedge with the short 60 minutes video segment to bolster the case that there will be more problems...

Thanks To 60 Minutes' Report On Fraudclosure, US GDP Is About To "Soar" By $50 Billion

 
At 4/04/2011 11:16 AM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"America’s combined energy resources are, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service (CSR), the largest on earth. They eclipse Saudi Arabia (3rd), China (4th) and Canada (6th) combined – and that’s without including America’s shale oil deposits and, in the future, the potentially astronomic impact of methane hydrates."

"... if the White House is in any way serious about impacting the economic Black Hole that is the burgeoning national debt, reinvigorating business big-time, creating real jobs and restoring ebbing national wealth, the best shot by a distance if you’re American ... well, you’re standing on it, or rather above it."

U.S. Has Earth’s Largest Energy Resources, Energy Tribune

 
At 4/04/2011 11:18 AM, Blogger Che is dead said...

The only thing standing between us and energy independence is the Democrat Party.

"While America is often depicted as possessing just 2 or 3 percent of the world’s oil – a figure which narrowly relies on America’s proven reserves of just 28 billion barrels – CRS has compiled US government estimates which show that America, the world’s third-largest oil producer, is endowed with 163 billion barrels of recoverable oil. That’s enough oil to maintain America’s current rates of production and replace imports from the Gulf for more than 50 years."

"Further, CRS noted that the 2009 assessment from the Potential Gas Committee, which estimates America’s future supply of natural gas is 2,047 trillion cubic feet (TCF) - an increase of more than 25 percent just since the Committee’s 2006 estimate."

"At today’s rate of use, this is enough natural gas to meet American demand for 90 years. The report also showed that America is number one in coal resources, accounting for more than 28 percent of the world’s coal. Russia, China, and India are in a distant 2nd, 3rd, and 5th, respectively."

"CRS said America’s recoverable coal reserves to be 262 billion short tons. For perspective, the US consumes just 1.2 billion short tons of coal per year."

US holds largest recoverable energy resources on Earth, The Saudi Gazette

 
At 4/04/2011 12:46 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Natural gas can be converted into methanol, and is currently at about $1.28 a gallon (see Mathanex website). Cars can run on methanol.

Methanol has less energy per gallon than gasoline, but we have plenty of natural gas. There are also CNG vehicles.

Domestic oil appears trickier, and oil prices are set on global markets. It may not make business sense to recover domestic oil, although I am all for it.

The key point is we can produce energy domestically, and should, and draw down our bloated, coprolitic obscenely expensive military-foreign policy archipelago. Ron Paul is right.

Paying down debt has to be a priority in the next 10 years.
Some other concerns, such as welfare or homeland secuity, will just have to backseat it for a while.

 
At 4/04/2011 1:34 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Benji,

Speaking of coprolitic, did you just add "archipelogo" to your 50 cent word macro key?

 
At 4/04/2011 6:33 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"That's probably more realistic than the continual cheerleading from this blog that frequently uses misleading data and biased charts to "prove" that our economy is just swell"...

Well Dr. T then how about this from the TaxProf: IRS helping Obama implement his wealth redistribution scheme?

 
At 4/04/2011 6:47 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Paul-

Actually, that is "archipelago." Watch your spelling.

I like that word, at least when properly spelled.

In general, I am in love with English. Add that to my sins.

 
At 4/04/2011 7:49 PM, Blogger aorod said...

Baucus and Kerry are really doing ideological sommersoults on this one.

 
At 4/04/2011 9:59 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

4. Daniel Yergen writes in the WSJ on the promise of shale gas: "Estimates of the entire natural-gas resource base, taking shale gas into account, are now as high as 2,500 trillion cubic feet, with a further 500 trillion cubic feet in Canada. That amounts to a more than 100-year supply of natural gas."

He should have a chat with Aubrey McClendon, who has shifted his company's focus away from shale gas to shale liquids because he could not make any money from shale gas. For Yergin to be correct producers have to figure out how to get a much greater return on the total energy invested. Given the energy density (about the same that of a baked potato) shale is not a solution at this time.

 
At 4/04/2011 11:59 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> 5. Oregon cops hope classical music deters loiterers, vagrants, vandals and ne'er-do-wells who loiter near a busy transit stop.

Duh. About 20 years ago there was a store in Fla that had an even better choice -- they played Barry Manilow music 24/7 outside the store.

 
At 4/05/2011 12:03 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

I personally suspect that the Really Rich Bastards (not that there's anything wrong with that) are holding off on actually developing Our Stuff until the rest of the world's stuff is gone.

THEN they'll develop it and charge the rest of the world an arm and a leg for it, not only reversing the current financial outflow, but eclipsing it by a large margin.

 
At 4/05/2011 7:17 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

I personally suspect that the Really Rich Bastards (not that there's anything wrong with that) are holding off on actually developing Our Stuff until the rest of the world's stuff is gone.

Our stuff? Do you really think that if someone develops the last bit of good oil reserves s/he will give you the profits? There is no WE and OUR in this case. What belongs to the producers is theirs to do with as they wish and what is purchased by consumers is their business. To you it makes little difference if the oil you produced came from Canada, Saudi Arabia, or California because as a consumer in the world market you are paying the same price for the crude oil.

THEN they'll develop it and charge the rest of the world an arm and a leg for it, not only reversing the current financial outflow, but eclipsing it by a large margin.

They will also charge you a very high price. And THEY will invest the proceeds in similar ways as current producers do.

 
At 4/05/2011 9:35 AM, Blogger Sean said...

VangeIV,

They will also charge you a very high price. And THEY will invest the proceeds in similar ways as current producers do.

Likely, but not guaranteed. People don't always act in rational self-interest, because they're not always rational. And personal allegiance to cause, country, or religion has caused people to make very interesting decisions about where to put their money in the past (and present).

 
At 4/05/2011 12:13 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Likely, but not guaranteed. People don't always act in rational self-interest, because they're not always rational.

So you are betting that oil companies will be irrational and giving a big break to American consumers by not selling their oil for the best price that they can get in the world market? And that shareholders will be fine with that as they see their precious reserves being depleted and potential profits are used to subsidize marginal users by distorting the price of domestic oil? Good luck on that utopian vision playing out. Perhaps we will all be holding hands and singing Kumbaya and peace will break out in the Middle East.

And personal allegiance to cause, country, or religion has caused people to make very interesting decisions about where to put their money in the past (and present).

You are dreaming. Delusions are common but they do not last very long because the fools that fall for them do not tend to last all that long. Look to your military recruiting. If allegiance to cause, country, or religion were as strong as you claim the military would not have had to increase pay, bonuses, and benefits or lower standards to attract recruits.

 
At 4/05/2011 1:59 PM, Blogger Sean said...

VangeIV,

So you are betting that oil companies will be irrational and giving a big break to American consumers by not selling their oil for the best price that they can get in the world market?
First, I said "likely". I'm not "betting" against oil companies doing as you say, just noting the possibility that individual investors and CEOs do act unpredictably. But companies are far more predictable than individuals.

What is somewhat possible is that certain agents will get to stand earlier in line for supply. I've seen *that* kind of favoritism employed within and between companies.
But peak energy is a bad bet... you could lose a ton of money in opportunity costs waiting for energy to get scarce.
But if *were* to get scarce, governments stealing the rights are at least as likely as companies peacefully profiting.


If allegiance to cause, country, or religion were as strong as you claim the military would not have had to increase pay, bonuses, and benefits or lower standards to attract recruits.
If it were that weak, they would barely be able to recruit at all. How desperate would you have to be to ship off to an Afghanistan firefight for a military paycheck alone?

 
At 4/05/2011 2:11 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

First, I said "likely". I'm not "betting" against oil companies doing as you say, just noting the possibility that individual investors and CEOs do act unpredictably. But companies are far more predictable than individuals.

You ignore incentives. There is no chance that investors will demand that their companies give away product for a low cost when a much higher price could be had. The logistics fail because a company that was that stupid would see its shares at a lower level than its competitors who could make a bid by paying a premium that would be justified by the increased profit that would be available once the true market price were realized by the company.

You also ignore the arbitrage that will take place. Instead of having the 'investors' realize the profits you will see the company's customers buy the product at the discounted price and sell it at the going market price.

What is somewhat possible is that certain agents will get to stand earlier in line for supply. I've seen *that* kind of favoritism employed within and between companies.

How does that help anyone other than the 'agents' who get to profit by playing the arb game. And why would investors stand for it when they could make the profit instead?

But peak energy is a bad bet... you could lose a ton of money in opportunity costs waiting for energy to get scarce.

It already is scarce.

But if *were* to get scarce, governments stealing the rights are at least as likely as companies peacefully profiting.

I agree. That is why you have to take steps to profit from government theft.

If it were that weak, they would barely be able to recruit at all. How desperate would you have to be to ship off to an Afghanistan firefight for a military paycheck alone?

A lot of people are desperate. And they do not think that they will be the ones who will take the big risks. Given the fatality statistics the assumption is true because your troops tend to get the cushier and safer jobs while your allies suffer far greater casualty rates as they do the dirty work.

 
At 4/05/2011 2:27 PM, Blogger Sean said...

VangeIV,


How does that help anyone other than the 'agents' who get to profit by playing the arb game. And why would investors stand for it when they could make the profit instead?
Those are the primary beneficiaries. But I think the question equates to: why is there corruption?

It already is scarce.
Compared to what? Oil prices are not at inflation-adjusted highs. Nuclear power and coal are still high-volume alternatives if we get desperate. For clean and politically viable energy we are supply limited, but that may change.

A lot of people are desperate
In other threads, weren't you saying that there are always opportunities for those with some talent and a willingness to work? Which is it?

Given the fatality statistics the assumption is true because your troops tend to get the cushier and safer jobs while your allies suffer far greater casualty rates as they do the dirty work.
Yes, there's always the lottery effect. But the structure of the sentence confuses me: who is doing the dirty work? Are you referring to the Afghans in this case?

 
At 4/05/2011 2:29 PM, Blogger Sean said...

VangeIV,

To clarify on this line:
Those are the primary beneficiaries. But I think the question equates to: why is there corruption?

My point was that that some agents are willing to take a monetary loss for a gain in political power or other forms of influence. People do deals that don't seem to make sense because the real payment is under the table.

 
At 4/05/2011 5:55 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

My point was that that some agents are willing to take a monetary loss for a gain in political power or other forms of influence. People do deals that don't seem to make sense because the real payment is under the table.

It is still delusional to think that the consumer comes out ahead. Even if someone were willing to take a loss, and that cannot happen when investors and markets are looking to get as much as possible, rational players would step in and take the profit by playing an arbitrage game that will still ensure that the consumer winds up in the same position regardless of where the oil came from.

 
At 4/05/2011 8:26 PM, Blogger Sean said...

VangeIV,

It is still delusional to think that the consumer comes out ahead.
True, I wouldn't expect the consumer to come out ahead.

 

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