Daily Digest

Daily Digest 2/24 - 5 Ways To Conquer Investment Worries, Japan Orders Pension Fund Suspension, Not Long To Wait For Hydrogen

Friday, February 24, 2012, 11:40 AM


  • Mass Resignation of the Proxies: Why Are So Many Key Financial Figures Waiving the White Flag?

  • Investors: Five Savvy Ways To Conquer The Wall of Worry

  • Janet Tavakoli: Financial Sector Executives Commit Fraud, Avoid Prosecution, and Make Certain Future Crises

  • Japan Orders Pension Fund to Suspend Operations

  • U.S. Postal Service to Cut 35,000 Jobs as Plants Are Shut

  • Eric Sprott On Unintended Consequences

  • Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Not Long to Wait Now

  • The Peak Oil Crisis: Technology Update

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Economy



Mass Resignation of the Proxies: Why Are So Many Key Financial Figures Waiving the White Flag? (Thatchmo)


Usually two or three resignations from heads of troubled companies, is not much to balk out, but recently, 6-7 heads of very important financial institutions have resigned. High level resignation is normally reserved for a few situations: those who have made a big mistake, expect a big mistake to be made, or formally, don’t want to deal with a mistake that was made long ago and soon must be faced.



Investors: Five Savvy Ways To Conquer The Wall of Worry (David B.)


Even though both would be the proper way for free markets to bleed out the excesses of the past, they are essentially political nukes and nobody has the willpower to touch either one of them.


The third, austerity, is being tried but only halfheartedly. Our leaders have no idea what this actually means. Since they remain completely unaccountable, there is no true incentive.



Janet Tavakoli: Financial Sector Executives Commit Fraud, Avoid Prosecution, and Make Certain Future Crises (Jaime)


On how CFO's and CEO's have used campaign contributions to place themselves above the law: They have bought off Congress through campaign contributions - in order to prevent investigations and prosecutions. We should be seeing multiple thousands of indictments - not just people at the bottom - the people at the top who were in charge of our largest banks during the financial crisis.



Japan Orders Pension Fund to Suspend Operations (guardia)


Japanese financial authorities ordered a Tokyo-based pensions manager (AIJ) to suspend operations Friday after public investigators discovered that the company may have lost the bulk of about $2.3 billion in funds it managed for its clients.



U.S. Postal Service to Cut 35,000 Jobs as Plants Are Shut (June C.)


The service is shutting post offices and seeking congressional approval to end Saturday mail delivery as more people use the Internet to correspond and pay bills. Mail volume fell 6 percent in the quarter ended Dec. 31 and may drop 14 percent by 2016, led by declines in first-class mail, the most profitable, the Washington-based service said this month.


“We have capacity in our processing plants to process about double the letter mail we have in our system now,” Donahoe said.



Eric Sprott On Unintended Consequences (Phil H.)


The first major maneuver took place on November 30, 2011, when the world's G6 central banks (the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank [ECB], the Swiss National Bank, and the Bank of Canada) announced "coordinated actions to enhance their capacity to provide liquidity support to the global financial system".1 Long story short, in an effort to avert a total collapse in the European banking system, the US Fed agreed to offer unlimitedUS dollar swap agreements with the other central banks.



Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Not Long to Wait Now (James S.)


The reality is as attractive as zero-carbon-emission vehicles are: if the vehicles are prohibitively expensive in the first place and there is not a robust, widespread refuelling infrastructure in place, the public will not buy. Just witness sales of all electric vehicles — barely 1,000 plug-in vehicles were registered in Britain last year out of a market for some 2 million cars.



The Peak Oil Crisis: Technology Update (Doug)


This situation may be changing, however, for one of these two companies, a Greece-based organization called Defkalion, say they have arranged for teams of outside investigators to come in later this week and test their device. If this series of tests by outside scientists do take place, we should at least have some sort of independent verification that these "cold fusion" devices are for real, and not a scam as many believe.


Article suggestions for the Daily Digest can be sent to dd@PeakProsperity.com. All suggestions are filtered by the Daily Digest team and preference is given to those that are in alignment with the message of the Crash Course and the "3 Es."

21 Comments

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
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SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
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re: Japan orders pension fund to stop operations

This caught my eye as I read (in an article over at ZH) an Eric Sprott piece about how the Fed's "Forever ZIRP" policy has had several unforeseen consequences -- among them, making life impossible for pension funds.  Here's a bit of it:

Eric Sprott wrote:

The problem with central bank intervention is that it never works out as planned. The unintended consequences end up cancelling out the short-term benefits. Back in 2008, when the Fed introduced zero percent interest rates, everyone thought it was a great policy. Four years later, however, and we're finally beginning to appreciate the complete destruction it has wreaked on savers. Just look at the horror show that is the pension industry today: According to Credit Suisse, of the 341 companies in the S&P 500 index with defined benefit pension plans, 97 percent are underfunded today. According to a recent pension study by Seattle-based Milliman Inc., the combined deficit of the 100 largest defined-benefit plans in the US increased by $236.4 billion in 2011 alone. The main culprit for the increase? Depressed interest rates on government bonds.

Let's also not forget the public sector pension shortfalls, which are outright frightening. In Europe, unfunded state pension obligations are estimated to total

$39 trillion dollars, which is approximately five times higher than Europe's combined gross debt. In the United States, unfunded pension obligations increased by $2.9 trillion in 2011. If the US actually acknowledged these costs in their deficit calculations, their official 2011 fiscal deficit would have risen from the reported $1.3 trillion to $4.2 trillion. Written the long way, that's a deficit of $4,200,000,000,000,… in one year.

Near as I can discern, this is a complete YIKES situation. 

Zero Hedge piece can be found here:  http://www.zerohedge.com/news/eric-sprott-unintended-consequences

rjs's picture
rjs
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re: Japan orders pension fund to stop operations

to take nothing away from sager's point, i read that as another MF Global type situation...

Don Levit's picture
Don Levit
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Unfunded pensions

Sager:

I share many of your concerns.

While the states have gotten a lot of press about unfunded pensions, the federal employees have a huge liability on their hands.

And, this is an actual liability, listed on the balance sheet, at almost $6 trillion.

What I assume that means is that the government would need almost $6 trillion today to fully fund their pensions into perpetutity.

What I am trying to discover is from a cash perspective  -  does the cash outgo exceed the cash income, as is the case with Soicial Security?

Don Levit

dps's picture
dps
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Unfunded pensions

Sounds to me like it's executing EXACTLY as planned.

Move the pain from the banks over to the public.

Let the savers pay for our choice to live beyond our means at the government level.

Maybe I missed something ... dons

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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On the status of CF

On the Cold Fusion issues, the way I see things standing at the moment is that the NiH reaction is real but we are having problems with temperatures above 120 degrees centigrade. (you may convert C to F if you are unfamiliar with the metric ).

It is not clear to me the reason for the lack of a higher and therefore more useful temperatures. Either the conditions for CF are delicate or higher temperatures requre pressure vessels or a combination of these issues.

Stirling motors can use 120 Cent. to produce motive power.

The story is not over till the fat lady sings.

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
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Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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Entrophy , Suicide and Reality.

Iran is one of those issues that I would rather not think about, if you don't mind.

I would as lief  go down fighting entrophy than on a suicidal act of nuclear holocast.

Then again Patriotism is not my forte. Nor Communism, nor Capitalism. Distributism has merit.

The Road to Reality by Sir Roger Penrose defeated me on pp 145 with the Riemann hypothesis. So I guess that I am no great shakes on Reality. Then again neither is Sir Roger by his own admission.

Hey Ho. I am off to establish a date plantation.

Back later, Inshallah.

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Arthur - Reading your posts

Arthur -

Reading your posts is almost better than listening to the Dark Star from 6 December 1973 in a loop...........

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Peter Smith
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Entrophy , Suicide and Reality.

Interesting concept!  No where do I read comments, even from Chris, about the role and goals of the owners of the central banks!  People, take back the power of money creation from the bankers!  ALL these economic issues stem from the debt money system!   The on-going implosion of the world financial system is a planned event designed to bring us all to a position of debt serfdom if not debt slavery!  Check this out, http://still2012.com/ 

Mirv's picture
Mirv
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Go back to your shopping because Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Not Long t

This is more misleading nonsense from the oil industry.  Burning (oxidizing) hydrogen WHICH IS PRIMARILY MADE FROM FOSSIL fuel has never been a real problem and already is fairly easy now.  The problem is generating/sourcing the hydrogen.  So this article from the oil industry exhorts that we have a little better or little cheaper hydrogen burner/oxidizer (great! we can consume more fossil fuel!).  All that means is that we can might burn more fossil fuel derived feedstock (but we already have motors that can do this and burning/oxidation of hydrogen is not a limitation).  An improvement in solar energy or electricity production of hydrogen would be newsworthy, but dont expect such news to be  trumpeted by the oil industry. Why is  this oil industry news brought to our attention? 

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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Hi Dogs do you have a link?

Reading your posts is almost better than listening to the Dark Star from 6 December 1973 in a loop

I do have a copy of The Whole Earth Catalogue.

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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We repeal the Law of Conservation of Energy.

The one announcement that seems to be of more than normal interest was made by the University of California, Berkeley where a team of chemists have come up with a catalyst that produces hydrogen from water without heat.

from Energy Update

So we dont put energy in, but we do get energy out. That is quite a big deal. Especially if you consider that matter is another form of energy.

This is an act of Devine creation. Something is created where nothing existed before. It has been a long time since that last happened.

Silly me. Of cause. They must be useing some other energy, not heat.

truenorth's picture
truenorth
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Despite second bailout, Greece is still a time bomb

Greece is a crisis postponed, not eliminated. The country’s economy and its social fabric are unravelling at an alarming pace and the second bailout, combined with a sovereign bond haircut, will do next to nothing to stop the horror show.

www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/commentary/eric-reguly/despite-second-bailout-greece-is-still-a-time-bomb/article2349487/

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Arthur Robey and Light Into Ashes

Arthur Robey wrote:

Reading your posts is almost better than listening to the Dark Star from 6 December 1973 in a loop

I do have a copy of The Whole Earth Catalogue.

I have a soundboard tape copy of this show transferred from cassette (2nd generation) to CD if you would be interested in a B&P?

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Jim H
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Catalysis and H2 generation... Arthur

Arthur,  you guys need to do more due diligence with root source data before making jokes about repealing the laws of thermodynamics.  This is not quack science being practiced at Cal. Berkeley, and the article I read on their own website does not imply that no energy (heating?) is used.  In fact, this is about efficiency (or yield) of electrolysis.  

source:  http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/02/09/breakthrough-in-designing-chea...

Note my bold below... and the FACT that ELECTRICITY is ENERGY;

"When lots of these single-molecule catalysts were dumped into acidic water and even seawater and electrodes inserted to provide electrical current, they generated hydrogen for several days without letup.

In future research, Chang hopes to assemble billions of these molecules on a thin, ridged wafer, maximizing the number of catalytic sites for a given volume and boosting ultimate efficiency. He also hopes to provide the electrical input from the sun.

“There are many other types of materials out there for which people might want to generate edge-site fragments rather than use a bulk material with just a few edge or defect sites,” Chang said. “With hydrogen being touted as a clean burning fuel that generates no CO2, creating cheaper and better catalysts has become a big and important field now. The main push is toward more earth-abundant materials than the rare metals like platinum.”

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
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Stockton may suspend bond payments

Google news search link

Mirv's picture
Mirv
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efficiency is the important fact

I did not read the article, or better yet read the science behind the mangled and misinformed media story,  so what is the efficiency of electricity energy input to hydrogen energy output?  (this of course is the most important fact of the entire story) .  is is  greater than 3%?

Mirv's picture
Mirv
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Hope for hydrogen

I finally read the article, and now can go back to my shopping secure in the knowledge that some scientists "hope" to make an advance in making hydrogen  replacement for oil.  The article is about an idea that might work to improve efficiency (and therefore possbily solve the problem of making a hydrogen economy  some day) and says: "hopes to assemble billions of these molecules on a thin, ridged wafer, maximizing the number of catalytic sites for a given volume and boosting ultimate efficiency. He also hopes to provide the electrical input from the sun."  I HOPE that he succeeds  with his hopes.  His dream and news release (these are usually timed to coincide with requests to the feds for research money) is more honest than other articles I have seen from the oil-inebriated news media and I thank Arthur for bringing an idea of hope to the discussion.  When I worked as a scientist for the U of California we  had a big news  release about our research that coincided with a major request for more  money from the feds.  I remember talking to news  agencies who called us and one reporter I talked  to made a fart joke about  the research (selenium chemistry, smells  like garlic), probably the  only thing that a glassy eyed listener could understand from the conversation.  Interesting that no one actually  gives hard data about THE ISSUE of EFFICIENCY OF CONVERTING ELECTRICAL ENERGY TO FREE  HYDROGEN  ENERGY since such facts get in the way of dreams.  I HOPE that the hydrogen  economy  comes someday partly because I am so *** cold in the Winter and look forward  to the global greening  effect of the secondary greenhouse gas  hydrogen  released  into the atmosphere,  which increases  ozone and methane accumulation.  Actually I am optimistic about sealed system  hydrogen  storage combined with solar electric generation, but such kind of real advance does not fit into the oil paradigm and receives little funding.  I wonder why  we are spending so much precious time discussing so many disjointed  concepts that often  are unmoored  from  reality.  Better time would  be spent learning some basic science; MIT has  some wonderful  physics courses  (video lectures,  hand  outs,  exams the whole nine  yards)  for free that I recommend and am trying to study myself. Oh well, back into the car (or train, actually since I am in Japan this week) for more shopping.  

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
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H2 hopium

If you had an absolutely perfect system - free of any inefficiencies - it would take you no more energy to split water than the amount of energy you would gain from the recombination of hydrogen with oxygen to form water. That energy level is 142 J/g. So EVEN AT 100% efficiency.....  you make zero energy gain.

The amount of energy gained from the recombination of hydrogen with oxygen to re-form water (in effect, "burning" the hydrogen) is 142 Joules per gram of hydrogen. In an absolutely perfect system it would take 142 Joules of electricity to form a gram of hydrogen from water. Since inefficiencies exist in any energy-conversion system, your mileage will vary.

Actually, it's going to take about 50% more energy to split the water than you're going to get back out of the system - depending upon your system. There are systems in laboratories and other experimental systems which are more efficient than the "50% more" mark quoted, but you won't find any of them on the shelves at Wal*Mart.

For a homebrew system, however, start your calculations at about 200 Joules per gram of hydrogen extracted from the water. Remember that depending upon the inefficiencies inherent in whatever system you build that it may take more or less energy than 200 J/g to extract the hydrogen you seek.

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Mirv
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Hopium, a new element made at U of Cal.

thank you Matrix damner
I see that fairly high efficiency processes (as advertised anyway) for electricity to hydrogen power conversion have been developed and a number of machines have been sold. So the problem seems to be cost and system capital/operating (economic) efficiency rather than chemical efficiency.  A good summary of what seems to be the best on the market is at http://www.hydrogenics.com/assets/pdfs/Industrial%20brochure_English.pdf

Details of that summary include: this requires pure (demineralized) water, which is mixed with 30% KOH, and that a 10kw to 50w size unit (power supply circuit breaker is maximum 100kw) (generates less hydrogen energy than the energy output of my car engine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) consists of a very complex machine that weighs over a ton and is installed in its own separate building.  OK, this may have a high efficiency (but I could not find efficiency in terms of specific kw hours in vs Hydrogen or other unit out, NOT given?) may be possible.  Also, they use membrane separation which I understand wear out and need expensive replacement (often?)).  It seems that something the size of a small garage/out building and the cost of something more than a garage (cost of a house?) is required to produce hydrogen energy on the scale for use of ONE small car (neglecting the consumable expenses and the electricity).  Way  too complex, way too small power, and way too expensive for practical use now, even though development has occurred from 1948 to 2012 and over a thousand units sold for industrial processes that can benefit from very expensive hydrogen.  OK, I will load up on more of that Hopium from the U. of California. 

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