Daily Digest

Daily Digest - May 22

Saturday, May 22, 2010, 10:53 AM
  • Stormy Seas on the Atlantic
  • 32 States Now Officially Bankrupt: $37.8 Billion Borrowed From Treasury To Fund Unemployment; CA, MI, NY Worst
  • Vermont Is A Lifeboat
  • Richard Sears: Planning For The End Of Oil
  • Cheese-Powered Fuel Cells: The Whey To Greener Electricity
  • More Than Just An Oil Spill

Economy

Stormy Seas on the Atlantic (pinecarr)

The European Union's debt crisis, the threatened collapse of its fledgling 'euro' currency, and the uncertainties created by the UK elections may seem very far removed from the American ship of state, but, in reality, this turbulence threatens to capsize our fragile economy.

32 States Now Officially Bankrupt: $37.8 Billion Borrowed From Treasury To Fund Unemployment; CA, MI, NY Worst (pinecarr)

Courtesy of Economic Policy Journal we now know that the majority of American states are currently insolvent, and that the US Treasury has been conducting a shadow bailout of at least 32 US states.

Energy

Vermont Is A Lifeboat (littlefeatfan)

What you will see here is explosive and controversial. I guess you could say I’m really back now. It’s time to bring this to a head because there is no more time to waste. From now on I will refer to the Peak Oil/Sustainability movement only as the Lifeboat Movemement, because that’s what it is. It belongs to all mankind.

Richard Sears: Planning For The End Of Oil (Marc H.)

Cheese-Powered Fuel Cells: The Whey To Greener Electricity (jdargis)

The organic content of whey can pose an environmental hazard and many governments now impose strict regulations requiring factories to pay for its treatment before disposal. Whey constitutes about 70% of the volume of the milk used to make cheese. So, just one small feta facility will need to dispose of as much as 4,000 tonnes of whey in a single year, says Dr Antonopoulou. Microbial fuel cells could help, and not just in the cheese-making industry. Breweries, pig farms, food-processing plants and even sewage works could gain from the technology.

Environment

More Than Just An Oil Spill (VeganD)

The response of the Obama administration and the general public to this latest outrage at the hands of a giant, politically connected corporation has been embarrassingly tepid. We take our whippings in stride in this country. We behave as though there is nothing we can do about it.

The fact that 11 human beings were killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion (their bodies never found) has become, at best, an afterthought. BP counts its profits in the billions, and, therefore, it’s important. The 11 men working on the rig were no more important in the current American scheme of things than the oystermen losing their livelihoods along the gulf, or the wildlife doomed to die in an environment fouled by BP’s oil, or the waters that will be left unfit for ordinary families to swim and boat in.

Please send article submissions to: [email protected]

19 Comments

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22

"BEIJING: US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner tried to reassure China, ahead of his talks in Beijing, that the United States will get its deficit in order.

In an interview released on Saturday, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported Geithner as saying that the Obama administration is ``going to tackle its deficit issue seriously.''"

"Last year, the US government borrowed $1.4 trillion, nearly 40 cents of every dollar it spent. US deficits that continue well in excess of 4 percent of the nation's total economic production are unsustainable, most major economists say. "

"Figures show Canadian household debt is now at record levels, hitting $1.41 trillion in December, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). That puts Canada at the top of 20 OECD nations in terms of debt-to-financial assets, it said.

The high household debt levels are raising alarm bells among policy-makers as a potential drag on economic growth, given interest rates are expected to rise later this year. "

""I've reached a point where I feel the only asset I have confidence in is gold," Mr. Kaplan said in an interview at Tigris's midtown Manhattan headquarters."

"The Democratic governor continues to push a borrowing plan to make the $3.7 billion contribution. Lawmakers have been cool to the idea and it would require at least some Republican support.

The Senate passed a budget that would delay making the pension payments while the House has rejected borrowing."

"May 21 (Bloomberg) -- The Harrisburg Authority, operator of a trash-to-energy incinerator in the capital of Pennsylvania, will miss $3.6 million in debt payments due June 1.

The bonds are backed by Dauphin County and an Assured Guaranty surety, Michele Torres, the authority’s executive director, said in an interview today. "

"Harrisburg, a city of 47,000 and the seat of government for the sixth most-populous U.S. state, has considered bankruptcy as it faces $68 million in debt payments for the incinerator this year -- four times what the city raises in property taxes, according to its budget. "

"The benefit extensions are included in a roughly $190 billion bill that would also renew a series of tax credits aimed at businesses and individuals. These include allowing individuals to write-off state income taxes and providing businesses a tax benefit to spur investment in research and development."

......................6A) Jobs Bill With Buyout Tax Faces Friction Over Deficit

"May 21 (Bloomberg) -- A jobs bill that includes provisions to more than double taxes on managers of buyout firms would add $134 billion to the federal budget deficit, according to a report likely to sharpen debate on the measure’s price tag."

"Fitch downgraded its rating on Woonsocket’s $112 million in general-obligation bonds from ‘A’ to ‘BBB-,’ just one notch above junk status. Last month, the agency put the same rating on Central Falls, which a judge placed into receivership this week after its leaders declared insolvency."

"In an interview with Reuters on Friday, Mayor Chuck Reed said San Jose -- California's third largest city and the biggest city in Silicon Valley -- faces a daunting challenge from its pension funds.

"In our next fiscal year our pension obligations will be $200 million, compared to our general fund revenue of about $700 million -- and it's going up the following fiscal year and the following fiscal year and the following fiscal year," Reed said.

Public pension reform is "high on the list of taxpayers,' voters' concerns," he added. "This year will be a breakthrough year on it."

Former California lawmaker Joe Nation hopes so. Now a lecturer at Stanford University he oversaw a study in April through the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research that estimated the state's three biggest public pension funds face a collective shortfall of more than $500 billion over the next 16 years.

"The numbers are finally coming home," Nation said."

"Fishing boats stand idle in Venice Louisiana as they await uncertain fate from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. "

...............9A) Fried Brains (Video)

  • Other news, headlines and opinions:

An Asian credit crisis could force US debt sales: book

As businesses shift locations, office vacancy rate nears 12 percent (Portland)

Lower bailout estimate assumes higher stock prices

Europe set to hit debt-ridden nations in the pocket

The Pension Elephant (Los Angeles...Opinion)

Padded Pensions Add to New York Fiscal Woes

national debt

 

...................Back on Monday.

vital's picture
vital
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Richard Sears - techno-fix wacko

Here is your simple solution to every imaginable energy, food scarcity, resource depletion, pollution, overpopulation or any other problem - just rearrange the molecules!

Chris, how come you, and the rest of us here, missed this one?

All our problems are solved. It is time to close this website. It was fun while it lasted.

Take care all

... off to the kitchen to attend some molecule rearrangement.

jpitre's picture
jpitre
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Re: Richard Sears - techno-fix wacko

Yet another wacko -- He sounds intelligent, but I wonder which cog is missing in the drive train. Maybe he is the one who has been advising our government for the last 30 years.

 

Jim

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maxnigh
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22

Rearrranging molecules is a very energy consuming  process.     Having other processes that release energy, are infinitely more difiicult.  Might be a long time to achieve that process. Sorry I cannot wait for it, as I will  be gone.

leo0648's picture
leo0648
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22

I am glad I am not the only one who feels like they wasted time listening to that guy.

I really thought he was going to offer something at the end, especially since he seemed to have a good understanding of the problem...

But then, his answer was no answer at all.  No wonder we are where we are.

idoctor's picture
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22

Vital wrote:

Take care all

... off to the kitchen to attend some molecule rearrangement.

Funny.....yes Vital this is all very old news...Captin Kirk rearranged molecules all the time in the transporter room & that was years ago. It always worked for him so it MUST work for us because we are after all entitled & really need a good old miracle anyway.

I wouldn't rule out mans inventivness but when it is more rewarding these days to sit down and watch Opra reruns while chowing down on a big old bowl of Govt grub...well one never knows LOL.

guardia's picture
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22
leo0648 wrote:

I am glad I am not the only one who feels like they wasted time listening to that guy.

I really thought he was going to offer something at the end, especially since he seemed to have a good understanding of the problem...

But then, his answer was no answer at all.  No wonder we are where we are.

I've not watched it yet as it seemed to me like more snake oil, but now you've just convinced me to watch it. It sounds too hilarious to miss out Laughing

EDIT: Not funny at all... I agree idoctor, watching Oprah might just be more interesting :( When people keep saying stuff like "we can do this that that, etc. ad nauseum... we just need to plug in any form of energy and it works!" Ok, what energy? I mean, what the hell do they think the problem is exactly?

Samuel

idoctor's picture
idoctor
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22

A good interview with Peter Schiff....mainly about the Fed & PM.

http://www.kingworldnews.com/kingworldnews/Broadcast/Entries/2010/5/22_Peter_Schiff.html

r's picture
r
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22

I regularly get an e-mail from the IBM Smart Planet blog with interesting ideas under development.   Each article is only a few paragraphs long.

Aerogels: 'Frozen smoke' can soak up oil: http://www.smartplanet.com/business/blog/intelligent-energy/aerogels-fro...

Georgian brings dream of cheap hydrogen closer
"Dopp’s GridShift Inc is now backed by Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla’s  Khosla Ventures, He told SmartPlanet his unit can produce hydrogen for $2.51 per kilogram, using catalysts that cost just $58 per ounce. Most current units use platinum ,which costs $1,700 per ounce."
http://www.smartplanet.com/technology/blog/thinking-tech/georgian-brings...

The rise of molecular robots: http://www.smartplanet.com/technology/blog/thinking-tech/the-rise-of-mol...

Why the Gulf cleanup might be more damaging than the oil spill itself: http://www.smartplanet.com/people/blog/pure-genius/why-the-gulf-cleanup-...

Can viruses help make hydrogen fuel? http://www.smartplanet.com/business/blog/intelligent-energy/can-viruses-...

Pokeberry power:  new solar cells from fibers and fruit: http://www.smartplanet.com/business/blog/intelligent-energy/pokeberry-po...

Can U.S. farms produce food without relying heavily on fossil fuels? http://www.smartplanet.com/business/blog/intelligent-energy/farming-for-...

Accenture:  U.S. stimulus may have slowed down smart grid projects: http://www.smartplanet.com/business/blog/smart-takes/accenture-us-stimul...

Also there is this story related to the sad state of our oceans.
Billionaire banking heir David de Rothschild plans a remarkable journey in a plastic boat to highlight the enormous 'garbage patch' caught up in the swirling Pacific Ocean currents
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/12/david-de-rothschild-pl...
http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/explore/plastiki

presentmoment's picture
presentmoment
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22 - Balance Sheet Recession?

 

Richard Koo, Chief Economist at Nomura Research Institute talks about "Balance sheet recession".

Can anyone critique his theory about this systematic economic downturn worldwide?

presentmoment

 

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presentmoment
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More on Balance Sheet Recession

 

Here is another presentation on "Balance Sheet Recession".  I am curious what other folks on this site think of this interpretation.

presentmoment

piquod12's picture
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22 - Balance Sheet Recession?

Hi presentmoment

Good link thanks although a shame the camera remains focussed on the speaker and you don't get a chance to see the slides as well.

If you listen to the likes of Niall ferguson (I posted a link on the debt board) then you get the other side of the argument, i.e. that public deficits need to be cut without delay. But of course there are others, Martin Wolf economist at the FT for example, who support Koo's pov. Here in the UK cutting the deficit quickly seems to have won the day with the Tory/Lib coalition (take a moment with that!) ousting Gordon Brown who was arguing for no cutting yet. So it really is very interesting at the moment with different schools of economics fighting for the high ground and with what seem like sensible arguments on both sides.

One thing I would question about the presentation concerns the scale of asset price falls (the source of the balance sheet problem) in Japan vs US/Eurozone. He mentions 87% peak-trough for Japan and also points to slides (not visible in the link) showing similar house price curves in the US and Japan. But asset prices haven't fallen anything like this far (at least not yet) in the US and seem to be defying gravity here in the UK. So presumably the degree to which private sector balance sheets are still underwater is nothing like the extent to which they were in Japan and consequently deleveraging may be less painful and prolonged?

One thing though, with top economists disagreeing so fundamentally it's a fair bet that the majority of us will also be guessing as to what happens next or what the best policies are. Uncharted waters, interesting times, and all that.

 

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VeganDB12
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22

Presentmoment's link died fyi. :(

Re: Oil cleanup being more expensive than the spill-that is total spin.  Dispersants, as it was explained on another thread recently, really just sink the oil to the bottom of the ocean. The more BP can hide the damage the better off they are-so I think it is really PR damage control, not real cleanup. Although I have a decent science background I am obviously not in the oil industry so it is technically hearsay, but certainly makes sense to me.

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VeganDB12
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22-oil well video feed-wierd change

LATOC was following the feed all night, saw sparks early this morning, now in the last five minutes the feed has gone from a gusher to a bunch of debris and black with a few lights peaking out. now the LATOC page will not load either. I think maybe something has happened there.

 

bp video feed:

http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/ho...

VeganDB12's picture
VeganDB12
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22-now the feed is black

who knows?

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22-oil well video feed-wierd change
VeganD wrote:

LATOC was following the feed all night, saw sparks early this morning, now in the last five minutes the feed has gone from a gusher to a bunch of debris and black with a few lights peaking out. now the LATOC page will not load either. I think maybe something has happened there.

bp video feed:

http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/ho...

Here's a video feed from the AP.  The gusher's still there, still spewing...

http://video.ap.org/

(click on the "live pictures of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico" banner @ top of page...

idoctor's picture
idoctor
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22

VeganDB12's picture
VeganDB12
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22-oil well video feed-wierd change

Thank you for responding Sager

The feed looks normal again, it was a period of a few hours where it went black and a bunch of debris (small stuff) floated around, then a mechanical arm came and fixed a metal box with metal tubes running out of it. The metal box had a pressure guage on it and was leaking green fluid, then it went black  again and now it is back to the gusher, I guess they were just doing some kind of repair.  The guys at LATOC thought it was significant but I cannot say.

Take care

Denise

guardia's picture
guardia
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Re: Daily Digest - May 22-oil well video feed-wierd change

Awesome! Thanks for the link! I didn't know they had this... I'm putting this on my desktop wallpaper... ! It will be my constant reminder of the mess we're in and who knows, I might catch something interesting live

Samuel

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