Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

Finding Our Way Out of the Pit

Monday, February 7th, 2011

I’ve been giving some thought to the way the discussion about our present and future are engaged in online especially, also of course in print. A few things have struck me after tracking the main authors and sites (see right sidebar for some fo the better representatives of this genre) for a few years, most started by a sneaking suspicion that there is something wrong in the mindset that is driving the discussion. Some of these problems are somewhat obvious, for example authors who benefit from attracting attention to themselves, which in turn sells books. Others are less obvious, and quite a bit more insideous, since they actually make it hard for us to even see what the problem is.

Given the degree of the problem, one thing is becoming more obvious: any changes to come are going to happen in totally unexpected ways. Why? Because we are entering into uncharted territories when it comes to how we believe the world works versus how the world actually works. The key word here of course is sustainability. If you can come to understand this word, you are pretty much most of the way home.

Near term it’s hard to see anything positive happening politically in the USA, unless you consider a non-stop barrage of instigation to violence from the neo-con far right, resulting in, surprise, violence, as a positive. That model is tried and true, admittedly, worked well for the brown shirts too. Personally I’d suggest anyone with any integrity distance themselves from such types, unless that’s the future you want of course.

Or the idea that force-feeding even more capital into large corporate systems (aka, health care ‘reform’ [pray tell, how is forcing more money into the HMO system, thus making it stronger, reform?], military outsourcing, etc) is somehow going to help actually solve our problems.

The main structural problem the EU will face is lack of domestically produced resources. The main positive the core European nations possess: a reasonably coherent political system, and reasonably rational voters who actually understand things when pushed, and of course, a sense of place, of history, mental, linguistic horizons broader than the local walmart parking lot or corporate funded tv/radio shows…

Almost the opposite of the US, oddly.

Watching the peak unfold – small jets become non-viable economically

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Sometimes it’s useful to stop thinking abstractly, and to stop guessing on a future we can as of yet only faintly make the outlines of in our daily lives, and to just see what’s going on here, now, today.

I like as a news site, because it aims at capitalists, and the USA is a capitalist country, so news pointed at them tends to be more accurate than most standard corporate mass media. This doesn’t mean you can turn off your critical thinking, but the news there is often real, and points to larger trends, since such trends are exactly what businessmen need to have a solid understanding of in order to hope to make good decisions.

So it struck me when I read Airline Era Ends as Carriers Cull 50-Seat Jets ‘Nobody Wants’ .

The 50-seat jets once prized by carriers such as Delta Air Lines Inc. are being culled from U.S. fleets as higher fuel and maintenance bills make them too expensive to fly.

By 2015, U.S. airlines will have about 200 jets with 50 or fewer seats, down from about 1,200, said Michael Boyd, president of consultant Boyd Group International Inc. in Evergreen, Colorado. More than 80 have been scrapped in 2010, he said.

Got that? I don’t know if you followed the airline industry when oil went to $147 a barrel, in 2008, but one prominent airline CEO stated that the global airline industry becomes non-viable at oil prices over $100 per barrel. This is because of economies of scale certain pricing models enable. In other words, airlines have basically three fixed costs: 1. the physical airplane, 2. fuel, and 3. labor/corporate. Debt costs would mainly be centered around the cost of the aircraft.

Ponderings on finance, BP, and various other topical matters…

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

There’s been a few interesting financial stories in case you’ve forgotten that the world is teetering on the edge of some major changes / failures in the currency mechanisms we have come to take for granted as being both stable and real. While the mechanics of the BP spill and attempts to fix it prove riveting reading, it’s worth a look stepping back from the live ROV footage to check out what the rest of the world is doing in the meantime.

So without further fuss, here’s a few tidbits to chew on while you contemplate where to put your retirement or kid’s college fund money…

Money, Capital, Credit, and Bubbles… and what really does happen to Capitalism when growth fails?

I don’t want to get too far into this matter here, but this first article I think really demonstrates a point I’ve come to believe explains our use of money much better than anything else can. In other words, it shows the largely illusory nature of what we believe to be a fixed thing, money, cash, banking, flow of funds, etc.

Bloomberg, Currency Collapse May Stimulate Economic Expansion, BIS Says – June 14

Currency collapses tend to spur a resumption of economic growth rather than fueling a decline in gross domestic product, according to the Bank for International Settlements.

The positive effects of a weaker currency on GDP, including making local products cheaper than imported goods, may outweigh the negative ones, such as rising inflation. Currency collapses occur when the annual exchange rate drops by about 22 percent, according to the BIS, which identified 79 such episodes, “more commonly in Africa than in Asia or Latin America,” since 1960, Tovar said.

I don’t know about you, but to me this is just weird. It’s like, we’ve created a house built on air, and when we don’t like how high or low our house is, we lower or raise it by huffing and puffing a bit (ie, deflation/inflation of money supply). Again, this is weird. I get the strong feeling I am looking at the Emperor’s New Clothes, ie, there’s actually nothing there at all in that entire global flow of funds, balance of payments, etc.

But I’ve had a sneaking suspicion for a while now that since all this finance stuff is actually just an abstraction, at some point, if the game looks like it’s about to blowup, they might just change the rules of the game. That can look a lot of ways, but it will probably have to happen more or less in relative harmony with the other major players in the first world. In other words, if everyone owes everyone so much money they can’t possibly pay it off, maybe it’s just time to start over. They won’t say this of course. And China will certainly continue on its global buying spree before those dollars lose their value.

My guess is the above story is a trial balloon for some re-evaluation of values. That certainly won’t help you any, but it might stretch this global financial collapse story out a bit longer than it should have run.

And while that story unfolds, hovering around the most elevated parts of the economic stratosphere, there’s a few guys who more or less thought they had a handle on the entire financial game, and thought they could surf any wave that came. Not a bad assumption, by the way, given past performance. I know most of these guys understand that money, capital, is primarily a tool to achieve one’s goals, but especially with Soros lately, it looks like he’s actually getting a bit worried, or confused.

Bloomberg, Soros Says ‘We Have Just Entered Act II’ of Crisis (Update2) – June 10

Billionaire investor George Soros said “we have just entered Act II” of the crisis as Europe’s fiscal woes worsen and governments are pressured to curb budget deficits that may push the global economy back into recession.

How to really fix the problem of deep water drilling? Stop consuming it

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

If you don’t like the cost of deep water drilling, if you don’t like what you are seeing on your TVs, if you are shocked by the massive environmental costs of this BP Deepwater Horizon blowout, then push your representatives to establish far more powerful regulations on it. And by all means, do your part as well, stop driving so much. Less demand translates directly to less need to do deep water drilling. At least for now.

The real problem, of course, is that most currently producing large fields are in a state of decline, forcing oil companies to go offshore to get new sources of oil. Drill baby Drill simply allows a tiny bit more high risk offshore drilling to take place. Remember, initial estimates of the recoverable reserves in the Macondo reservoir (the one that is spewing out oil into the Gulf of Mexico now, that is) put them at about 50 million barrels. That’s 2.5 days supply for the USA, give or take, or about 0.6 days supply for the planet.

BP spokesman Jon Pack said it’s still possible there will be oil produced in the area. The reservoir may have held about 50 million barrels of crude, he said.


BP Blowout video footage

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

You can check out what BP is putting out in video and other media a their Gulf of Mexico Response section of their site (see left navigation bar for various formats available, video, image, etc). For video feeds and other video, check out their Response in Video section.

Here’s a site with multiple live camera shots from different sources, Same site, their wall of ROV videos (takes a long time to load, click on any video to see it full size, esc to return).

Some of these are I think windows media, not sure, some are flash.