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Daily Digest 3/6 - Police probe death of Bitcoin exchange's young CEO, Solar Industry Has Record Year in 2013

Thursday, March 6, 2014, 12:43 PM

Economy

Signs The Economy Is Heading Toward Another Recession

Is the U.S. economy steamrolling toward another recession?  Will 2014 turn out to be a major “turning point” when we look back on it?  Before we get to the evidence, it is important to note that there are many economists that believe that the United States never actually got out of the last recession.  For example, data compiled by John Williams of shadowstats.com show that the U.S. economy has continually been in recession since 2005.

Police probe death of Bitcoin exchange's young CEO (gillbilly)

Autumn Radtke, the young CEO of a small Bitcoin exchange, was found dead last week in her home in Singapore. The circumstances or her death are still unknown.

Radtke, 28, joined First Meta as CEO in the beginning of January 2012 to help build a "next generation" exchange for virtual currency. The company posted a statement on its Web site regarding Radtke's death.

Fed's Fisher raises concern over stock values

Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, on Wednesday said he was concerned about "eye-popping levels" of some stock market metrics, and said the central bank has to monitor the signs carefully to make sure another bubble isn't forming. In his speech in Mexico City, Fisher said some indicators like the price-to-projected forward earnings, price-to-sales ratios and market capitalization as a percentage of GDP, are at levels not seen since the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. He noted that margin debt is pushing up against all-time records.

Russia Threatens To Abandon The U.S. Dollar

The Obama administration and the hotheads in Congress are threatening to hit Russia with “economic sanctions” for moving troops into Crimea.  Yes, those sanctions would sting a little bit, but what our politicians should be made aware of is the fact that Russian officials are promising “to respond” if economic sanctions are imposed on them.  As you will read about below, one top Kremlin adviser is even suggesting that Russia could abandon the U.S. dollar and start dumping U.S. debt.

Renewed Indian Demand Driving Gold Prices Higher?

One advantage to the government in allowing the current restrictions to persist is that the costs of smuggled gold are not added to ‘official’ figures when calculating the Current Account Deficit, giving the impression that it is dropping, when the reality is that it is not.

But the second reality is that the restrictions are not keeping much more than 10% of demand for imported gold back. In itself this is a defeat for government. Hence, there is little point in maintaining restrictions on gold imports.

For Bitcoin, Secure Future Might Need Oversight

Nearly half a billion dollars has gone missing, and nobody knows how. Some say there was outright theft. Others suspect fraud. Many blame lax controls, poor oversight and, above all, a reckless, globe-spanning, Wild West culture — a culture that everyone agrees is ripe for wholesale reform.

I’m not talking about Bitcoin. I’m talking about Citigroup, which disclosed last week that its Mexican banking unit lost $400 million in a contracting swindle involving a shaky oil services company.

Energy

Shale, the Last Oil and Gas Train: Interview with Arthur Berman

How much faith can we put in our ability to decipher all the numbers out there telling us the US is closing in on its cornering of the global oil market? There’s another side to the story of the relentless US shale boom, one that says that some of the numbers are misunderstood, while others are simply preposterous. The truth of the matter is that the industry has to make such a big deal out of shale because it’s all that’s left. There are some good things happening behind the fairy tale numbers, though—it’s just a matter of deciphering them from a sober perspective. 

Solar Industry Has Record Year in 2013

The U.S. solar industry had its best year ever in 2013, growing 41% from a year earlier. A new report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research show that a record 4,751 megawatts of photovoltaic solar power were installed last year.

Solar energy was the second largest source of added capacity in 2013, with only natural gas installing more generation. Wind energy accounted for most renewable energy installations in years past, but 2013 may have marked a point at which the market switched over to solar. As it stands, the U.S. has over 12 gigawatts of installed solar power.

U.S. Hopes Boom in Natural Gas Can Curb Putin

The crisis in Crimea is heralding the rise of a new era of American energy diplomacy, as the Obama administration tries to deploy the vast new supply of natural gas in the United States as a weapon to undercut the influence of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, over Ukraine and Europe.

The crisis has escalated a State Department initiative to use a new boom in American natural gas supplies as a lever against Russia, which supplies 60 percent of Ukraine’s natural gas and has a history of cutting off the supply during conflicts. This week, Gazprom, Russia’s state-run natural gas company, said it would no longer provide gas at a discount rate to Ukraine, a move reminiscent of more serious Russian cutoffs of natural gas to Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

Environment

China Declares War on Pollution

On March 5th China’s Premier Li Keqiang declared war on pollution, outlining significant steps the Chinese government will take to improve air quality. China has suffered from truly epic smog over the last two winters, choking its cities’ inhabitants and cutting off visibility. The pollutants in the air have surpassed hazardous levels, at times jumping beyond the index that measures particulate matter.

"We will resolutely declare war against pollution as we declared war against poverty," Li Keqiang told the legislature, according to Reuters. The central government’s top concern has always been social stability, and the Premier’s announcement that China will take some drastic measures to improve the environment indicates that the government is beginning to worry that air pollution may spark unrest around the country.

Need Clean Drinking Water? Just Add Wood

One way to clean harmful bacteria from river water is to pump it through costly man-made filters. But scientists may have discovered much more affordable technology, fully developed and ready for use, beneath the bark of an ordinary tree.

Obama Seeks to Boost Resilience to Climate-Driven Drought, Fires

President Barack Obama, who has vowed to make fighting global warming a focus of his remaining years in office, yesterday unveiled initiatives to mitigate what aides say are the effects of an already changing climate.

The proposals, spread throughout Obama’s 2015 budget blueprint to Congress, include an overhaul of the way the government pays for fighting wildfires, more money for satellites to track extreme weather and a $1 billion resiliency fund to help communities deal with heavier rainstorms, higher storm surges or more intense droughts.

Gold & Silver

Click to read the PM Daily Market Commentary: 3/5/14

Provided daily by the Peak Prosperity Gold & Silver Group

12 Comments

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 30 2009
Posts: 4147
Poet's picture
Poet
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Joined: Jan 21 2009
Posts: 1891
Why The Ukrainians Got Fed Up

A Ukrainian man describes in sordid detail the history of corruption and theft and crime that has led to his people being fed up, fueling the enormity of the recent uprisings.

Via Reddit.com:

http://www.reddit.com/r/self/comments/1znh5e/ukraine_how_and_why_we_ended_up_here_all_the/

Seems we're still quite a ways from that here, if it is to happen here...

Poet

FreeNL's picture
FreeNL
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Joined: Mar 27 2013
Posts: 112
Imagine what horror

Imagine what horror stories theyll be able to tell in three years time when the IMF tears them a new one...or three...

 

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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Posts: 3936
It's a Jungle out there.

The USA has 13 GW of solar cells installed. That is a big number, but I would like to see it expressed as a percentage. (Of cause that figure can only mean the theoretical max output. The real output would depend on the position of the sun.)

However, if we are in the business of picking a winner- what would it be, 19th century ICE motors or something growing at 41% pa? The subtleties of this question are beyond the mental powers of our Dear Leader, Tony (Budgie smugglers) Abbot. I must give him credit though- he has started a carbon fiber factory in Geelong to absorb some of the skills tossed out on the street by the failed automobile industries.

You Yanks should wind up that mighty powerhouse in the industrial belt to produce rotating gear. Windmills. Will they save you? No- but they ameliorate the situation. And boy, does the situation need amelioration!

And another piece of gratuitous advice to all peoples- Make it a castration offense to even think about passing a law that might give some section of the economy an advantage.The Law should be all about leveling the playing field. It is not an instrument of power. It is a Jungle out there- Or at least it should be in order for competition to work it's magic.

Meanwhile the kids are busy tapping away on their iPhones trying to find the latest funny situation. Ha, ha farnarkeling ha!

Lookit that, I got through a whole passage without mentioning once the magic promise of Cold Fusion. I have got to get some praise for that.

 

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
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solar power production

Dug out some data put out by the EIA on solar power production in the US.  Solar production is growing pretty well, its true.  But so far, its a drop in the bucket.

Coal, our most popular electric power source, is at the top - hidden by the description box.

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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Posts: 3936
Thanks for the graph Dave.

 With a doubling time of 1.7 years solar cells will surprise us. It is all about the exponential function.

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
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solar power growth

If solar power continues to grow at 40% per year, then we'll generate all electricity from solar within 20 years.  Life will be Grand.  :-)

Hopefully we won't have a massive crash between then and now that wipes out the ability of people to deploy solar at the current rate.

"There's many a slip twixt cup and lip."

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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Posts: 3936
Keep That Press Oiled Janet.

Yup. You are right Dave. Let us hope that they can keep the show on the road by any means. Fair or foul. We need that energy shift. I wonder what the ERoEI of solar electricity is and how bad the pollution per joule? I cannot be worse than fossil energy, surely?

At the rate at which oil is generated my fair share is one cupful. 

Will it be all beer and skittles if we make it? It could be, but we will also need some Grand Vision to strive for otherwise we will start being naughty again.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
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Posts: 5729
Actually, what will surprise us...
Arthur Robey wrote:

 With a doubling time of 1.7 years solar cells will surprise us. It is all about the exponential function.

Actually, what will surprise us will be shortages in key elements unless the technology changes enormously between here and there.

Just for fun... current solar panels require about 0.1 grams of silver per watt.  Doesn't sound like much.  But  consider that in 2008 global power consumption was 144,000 terawatt hours

I ran the numbers and assumed 6 hours of sunlight each day and 365 days of sun (very generous assumptions) and came the conclusion that even then the amount of silver required was 212 billion troy ounces....which is far more than exists or could be scrounged up under the most dire of circumstances.

So we're left hoping that the tech team of the future figures something else out that doesn't use silver.

And don't even get me started on gallium, indium, or any of those much rarer substances....

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 3936
Oh the challenges of Peak Prosperity.

 I would not lean too heavily on Silver as an unsubstitutable element. I have been reading over on Physorg that Carbon nano tubes might step up to the plate.

Here is an example. There are others.

(Phys.org)—Stanford University scientists have built the first solar cell made entirely of carbon, a promising alternative to the expensive materials used in photovoltaic devices today.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-10-all-carbon-solar-cell.html#jCp

Mots's picture
Mots
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Posts: 196
Solar exponential function is not limited by silver etc

I reviewed the restriction of silver on solar manufacturing with a large scale manufacturing expert (I constantly review this field from the technology/manufacturing side as part of my job): at 35$ per troy ounce as much as 10% of total manufacturing cost is silver (which has many great attributes for simpler manufacturing of solar cells). But already two companies have learned to replace silver with copper (one Korean, one German).  Solar electric  already can be made 100s of different ways  and replacing silver is not catastrophic. Technology, particularly for semiconductor devices continues to advance rapidly and the progressive decrease in costs is not expected to suddenly or even slowly reverse due  to silver constraints.  The exponential function brought us Moore's law.  the Solar Exponential Function appears real and can continue despite silver restriction  

Mots

 

cmartenson wrote:
Arthur Robey wrote:

 With a doubling time of 1.7 years solar cells will surprise us. It is all about the exponential function.

Actually, what will surprise us will be shortages in key elements unless the technology changes enormously between here and there.

Just for fun... current solar panels require about 0.1 grams of silver per watt.  Doesn't sound like much.  But  consider that in 2008 global power consumption was 144,000 terawatt hours

I ran the numbers and assumed 6 hours of sunlight each day and 365 days of sun (very generous assumptions) and came the conclusion that even then the amount of silver required was 212 billion troy ounces....which is far more than exists or could be scrounged up under the most dire of circumstances.

So we're left hoping that the tech team of the future figures something else out that doesn't use silver.

And don't even get me started on gallium, indium, or any of those much rarer substances....

Bytesmiths's picture
Bytesmiths
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 29 2008
Posts: 220
The assumptions of exponential growth!
davefairtex wrote:

If solar power continues to grow at 40% per year, then we'll generate all electricity from solar within 20 years.

And in another 70 years, all human conversation will consist of the word "sustainable," uttered over and over...

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