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Gail Tverberg: The Coming Energy Depression

The math is straightforward, but cruel
Sunday, January 7, 2018, 4:52 PM

As most PeakProsperity.com readers know, we fully agree with the statement: Energy is THE master resource.

Without it, nothing can get done.

Energy analyst and professional actuary Gail Tverberg returns to the podcast this week to revisit the global energy outlook. And fair warning, Gail warns it's quite grim.

To her, it's a simple math problem. We have too many people placing too much demand on the world's depleting energy resources. The cost of energy is rising, which we are compensating for in the short term by using financial gimmicks to make "affordable" -- when all we're really doing is creating future promises that cannot possibly be repaid.

The increasing cost of energy is manifesting in higher prices (for everything, not just fuels) and lower real wages, a divergence she sees only worsening from here. This path leads to another Great Depression-style crisis from which she does not see a clear path out of:

What we really live on is what we pull out of the ground each year, in terms of oil or coal or natural gas or whatever. So what we have is just what we pull out.

Now, you accurately point out that we're making too many claims on the future using debt. We're actually doing this via a couple of different ways, which are pretty much equivalent. One of them is by issuing equity. This has the equivalent effect as using debt because what you're saying is I'll pay you dividends, and you're going to get a higher price in the future. This is simply different kind of claim on the future. Another way to borrow from the future is through government promises. While debt is the one that most people focus on, shares of stock and government promises have the same effect. They all are promising more and more future stuff. So unless we truly have more stuff in the future, we won't be able to make good on these promises.

But oil prices higher than $20 per barrel are putting too much pressure on the economy. The cost of everything goes up at the same time. You use oil to get your metals out because you're using that in your extraction process. Also, the same things that cause oil prices to rise cause natural gas prices and coal prices to rise, too.

So what happens is everything has to go up in cost at the same time. Though people's wages are the one thing that don't. So what happens is they get squeezed. They get squeezed badly, and they start defaulting on their loans; auto loans and student loans first. We probably will soon see more business loans default, too. But it's also the individuals who are getting squeezed the worst. This will only worsen as oil prices rise and as other prices rise, too.

The crisis we're likely to face is going to look like the Great Depression. It's going to look like people being laid off from their obs. It's going to look like banks closing. And it's going to be that kind of crisis.

We simply don't have nearly enough affordable energy to support today's population. This should be very disturbing to every one of us. Apart from taking increasingly desperate short-term measures to put the crisis it off a little bit, it's hard to see a solution.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Gail Tverberg (63m:24s).

Transcript: 

Chris: Welcome, everybody, to the very first Peak Prosperity podcast of 2018. I am your host, Chris Martenson. It is January 3, 2018. Now, before I begin, I need to note that 2018 marks the 10th year anniversary of the Crash Course, the very first chapter of the online video series called the Crash Course. That went up in May of 2018, and as Adam and I have already mentioned, there will be a Peak Prosperity seminar in May of 2018 to mark that anniversary. That will be out, as we talked about, in Sebastopol, California. But, wow, ten years in, and there are certainly many successes along the way, but also some notable failures. Perhaps none larger than I personally take - the loss of focus on oil that society at large has undergone, lured by this false promise of shale oil, which to me is a flash in the pan, low net energy enterprise.

Many people have wrongly turned their attention away from energy and the role of energy in creating everything that we either hold dear or take for granted. No energy, no anything else. That's the formula. Said differently, without primary wealth you can't have any secondary wealth. And without secondary wealth, all the stocks, bonds, currency and derivatives, all of those expressions of tertiary wealth have no value. But, even as people were not paying attention to oil, the biggest news of our lifetimes was rather quietly snuck out and it's this: oil discoveries have been abysmal in each of the past four years. 2014 was bad. 2015 worse. 2016 was abysmal, and 2017 we now know was the lowest of them all. Now, those lack of discoveries sets the stage for future oil shortages that will absolutely, positively create massive damage to the tottering tower of tertiary derivative claims upon which so many unmet promises and dreams are perched.

And that's why we're starting out 2018 on the all-important topic of energy. Oil energy specifically, and how energy and the economy, debt financial markets, all the rest of those items, how those all interact. And who better to discuss this with us than Gail Tverberg? Gail has been on the program before several times. It's time to welcome her back. Gail is a professional actuary who applies her risk assessment expertise to finite world issues: oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages and climate change. Now, for years Gail authored some of the most informed analysis on the global net energy predicament in her post at theoildrum.com published under the pen name Gail the Actuary. And today she runs the very popular blog ourfiniteworld.com, and there you will find both really hyper intelligent articles and intelligent comments as well. Gail, thank you so much for being back on the program with us.

Gail: Well, thank you for inviting me. Happy New Year.

Chris: Thank you. Happy New Year to you. Now, in my introduction, I made the assertion that the lack of oil discoveries is really big and really underreported news. Do you agree?

Gail: Well, yes, and no. I think it's hardly – you know, we've got an awfully lot of discovered unconventional oil that if we could get the price up high enough we could get out. But it's the fact you can't get the price up high enough that means that the stuff stays in the ground. So, if you look at the forecast of all of these other agencies, they're looking at it from a point of view of we already know about a lot of unconventional oil. If we could just get it out, all we have to do is get the price up higher, or at least that's their view of it. And so, if we could get the price up higher we could get the unconventional oil out, and we could probably get more even of the conventional oil out because we could use secondary and tertiary techniques. So I tended not to focus quite as much on that.

Chris: Now, the reason I'm focusing on it is because you have to find it before you can pump it, and the types of projects that have not been prosecuted, if that's reflected in those low discovery numbers, are the big, long running and long lag time sorts of projects: the deep water, the ultra-deep water, the very expensive capital intensive things that we might do in tar sands or in Orinoco Belt or the infill drilling that's required out in the North Sea, those sorts of things. Now those tend to be fairly high flow rates sorts of phenomenon and projects that can be run. So, I think we're in agreement around the idea that since those projects will not be coming online, the only way we're going to coax more out of the existing oil that we know about, in particular the shale oil, is much higher oil prices.

So, in your mind, what's the intersection of higher oil prices and the largest amount of debt that the world has ever seen? In my view, I love something that Jim Puplava said many years ago, which is that the price of oil is the new Fed funds rate, meaning that a big hike in the price of oil will operate in the same way that a hike in interest rates used to operate, which is it will slow down economic expansion. We might think about this more simply as the top selling cars in the United States these past four years have been the F 150 truck, the Silverado, and the Tahoe. Now, these are all big, giant gas burning vehicles. These have been purchased by people, in many cases, who live in exurbs, say, very far from where they work, and so of course, a price hike in oil leading to a price hike in gasoline in going to be very difficult for those people to endure. It will translate into a loss of purchasing power for other things as they spend that money on gasoline instead, and that's how it operates. So would you agree that the future has an oil – needs to see higher oil prices in order to remedy that discovery shortfall? And if so, I want to talk about what those higher oil prices will mean, given the level of debt we have in the world today.

Gail: Well, I agree with you that as soon as you start getting higher oil prices, that definitely puts pressure on the economy, and I think if you look at it, it's not – everything goes up at the same time. You use oil to get your metals out because you're using that in your extraction process. And you're also – the same things that cause oil prices to rise cause natural gas prices and coal prices to rise, too.

So what happens is everything has to go up at the same time. And people's wages are the things that don’t go up. So what happens is they get squeezed, and they get squeezed badly, and they tend to default on their loans. Auto loans are probably one of the first ones, so the student loans – we probably should be seeing more of the business loan defaults, too. But it's also the individuals who are getting squeezed. And I think we can expect to see more defaults as oil prices rise and as other prices rise.

Chris: One way that I look at this is 2008, right, and popularly in the United States press at least, we say oh, that was a housing bubble that burst, and there were these credit default swaps and other derivative things like CDOs and whatnots, and that was the problem. But when I look at why Greece toppled and failed, Greece didn’t have any exposure the US housing industry. What Greece had exposure to was the fact that it's a 100 percent oil importing nation, and in July of 2008 oil went to $147 a barrel. This created an enormous balance of payments problem for Greece, and suddenly Greece was exposed as a country that was insolvent fundamentally. And that led to the whole Greek crisis, which they are still fully enmeshed in.

Here we are a full decade after the onset of that, and Greece is in what I would call a capital "D" depression with no end in sight. They’ve had extraordinary austerity imposed upon them by Brussels, which is a whole different discussion, but fundamentally, when I look at that I say, here's a textbook example of what happens when you're even an entire nation, you produce no oil of your own, and you get exposed to a big oil price shock, and the rest is what happens when we see debt and oil prices combine.

Gail: Right. A different way of thinking about is it's very much dependent on tourism. Tourism depends on people flying by airplane and those airplane tickets cost a whole lot more when the price of oil goes up, or the price of boats, also the cost of running them, operating them goes up when the price of oil goes up. So, Greece was very much exposed to rising oil prices because it is such an oil dependent nation. It also has all these little tiny islands, and those islands it's hard to generate electricity except using oil. And that's another thing that tends to raise their prices. Anyhow, but that's part of the reason why Greece is in such a fix.

Chris: Well, absolutely, and that would be sort of my prediction going in. Now, we're going to see this again, and it's my view that these aren't just the worst oil discoveries. It's not like the headline for 2017 said, wow, we haven't discovered this small amount of oil since 1940. But the truth is, in my data series, Gail, I cannot find any four-year period – I couldn't find any three-year period – but four really cements this – that is this low in the entire history of my oil database which goes back to the '20s. So this is the worse four-year period of discovery, and so we have to believe one of two things is true; oil companies have been wasting a lot of money in trying to discover oil, and turns out that was an unnecessary enterprise that they, for many, many decades running, just were wasting money on, or it does matter.

And so, when it does matter, we're going to see oil shortages in the future, and under that scenario we will see oil price spikes. And this is why it's so important to talk about energy and the economy because of that linkage. I know it gets a little – it's tricky with the prices and all of that, and how much debt there is, all that, but let's just back up for a second. You do a lot of research and develop charts showing what appears to be a very tight linkage going to the economy and energy or GDP growth and energy consumption. What's the relationship there as you’ve determined it?

Gail: Well, I think of the situation being kind of like a bicycle. You have a front wheel and a back wheel, and actually you probably have the frame as well. And the debt is the front wheel. It's what makes it – pulls it forward. It makes it go. And the frame is all of these technologies that allow you to use this energy. And the back wheel is the actual energy itself. And in order for the economy to keep rolling along, you need to have this whole bicycle operating properly. And once – if you don’t have enough debt pulling the bicycle forward, the bicycle tends to fall over just as your bicycle would fall over if you stopped – if you slowed it down too much.

But it needs the real energy for the back wheel as well. And it needs additional technology. And of course, it needs the buyers for all of these goods and services, and they have to be – have enough money to be able to afford things. And usually the way you get that income down to the buyers is through debt. The businesses borrow some money, and they use that to hire workers. Our governments borrow money, and they use that to pay Social Security payments and such things. And it's this debt that enables this whole process.

Chris: Well, I want to get to debt in just a second. The charts, as I see them, on one axis we have GDP growth. On another axis there's energy consumption. And it's not like this is a scatter plot where we have to squint at it and say we think we see some sort of relationship. These two things come together into a series of dots that you can draw a darn straight line through, and it's a very, very high degree of linkage between the two, meaning that however many more units of GDP you're going to get, you can see that it requires a few more units of energy consumption. So it's a really – I've not come across, Gail, in my economic research yet, any tighter data series than this one. It seems pretty robust. It goes back many, many decades, and it simply says that economic growth requires growth in energy consumption. Would you agree?

Gail: Yes. Very much so.

Chris: So that's something that I'm interested in. Before we get to the, I think, the really interesting part which is what this means going forward - and we have to understand that in terms of per capita energy consumption, and then we'll get to debt as well. So bookmarks on both of those. There's this idea of decoupling. I read about it all the time, and I want to know if you have any evidence of decoupling which is this – decoupling is the idea that as we get more efficient or we increase productivity in economic parlance, that we will end up with more units of economic output for a given unit of energy consumption.

And if we were talking about this chart which has a really straight line, dots between energy and economic growth, decoupling would say we would see some wobble in that line. That over time it would, depending on how we oriented our axis, we would see us getting more units of GDP for a given unit of energy. That is, the line wouldn't be straight any more, it would begin to flatten, whichever direction you’ve drawn your axis in your brain. But that's what we would see. We would see this decoupling. Gail, do you have any evidence of decoupling in your data yet?

Gail: Well, we've got a couple of places where things looked like they got better temporarily. We'll say in the 1970s, you know, we went to some smaller cars, we took our oil-fired furnaces, and we replaced them with something else, at least more efficient furnaces. So there was some places where we used a huge amount of debt, and we managed to get a little bit of what could be interpreted as decoupling.

But what I've noticed, when we get something that looks flat, it's not a good situation. The flat per capita energy use is something that happened between about 1920 and 1945. Well, that wasn't a real good period of time. You had the Depression. This is what you get with flats per capita energy. We had, later on, there was a flat period which indirectly resulted from the greater efficiency of these automobiles and such things, so we really didn't need quite as much oil. But that was when the Soviet Union collapsed.

So there's indirect effects. Part of the world economy ends up collapsing, or at least that's what's happened. We've had different kinds of collapses, not really a complete collapse in terms of the Depression, but we had the collapse of the Soviet Union. So this is the kind of thing you get when you have flat energy per capita. If it actually goes down, this is not a good sign.

Chris: So let's talk about why energy per capita, if that's going down, that's not a good sign. And by the way, one of the charts that I've got that I've been talking about for a while that I think is really relevant and important – there's a mystery out there. Here's a mystery, an economic mystery which is, gosh, today it seems like people have a hard time getting by on minimum wage. In fact, it's impossible as far as I'm concerned. In fact, two wage earners earning minimum wage, not enough to support a household in a lot of communities and most major cities. And so we've gone from a situation in the 70s where we had this so called traditional nuclear family in the United States with one breadwinner supporting a household, and now it seems like even two breadwinners not quite enough. Gosh, such an economic mystery. Is it related to globalization, what is it?

Well, in my view you could do worse than to pull up a chart that shows per capita oil production in the United States, and discover that that peaked somewhere around 1970s, and it started to trundle down ever since. And it's only recently come back with shale oil, but that's not a high net energy oil as the original discoveries we were living off of back many decades ago. So, to me, it's an explanatory factor that says, wow, this per capita energy that we're developing as a nation, that somehow factored through very – in a lot of complex ways into the general prosperity of the nation. And there was enough that it could be shared broadly with this thing called the middle class. And that ever since that time, what we've seen is just a general sort of a steady erosion of that middle-class standard, certainly a hollowing out. And along the way, coincident with that, was the Federal Reserve couldn't figure out anything else to do besides continually drop interest rates lower, lower, lower, lower, across the entire 35-year timeframe to zero because we need more debt. We need that front wheel of the bicycle you said. We need more debt.

And all of that sort of comes together in this moment in time. Here we are in 2018 which is why I think this is really actually – I know it's complex and there's a lot of moving parts – but it's probably, nah, it's the most important thing that needs to be talked about and discussed because for me, let me back up to my introduction. Energy is everything. Everything else is a derivative of that. All the complexity, all the debt, the derivatives, bitcoin, new technology, all that stuff. None of that matters if you don't have energy.

And so we're here at this point in time where energy per capita is really probably an easier and maybe has more explanatory power. It's a better way of looking at this all than saying, tell us about the net energy of a situation because how much net energy shale is producing versus coal versus all that stuff. It's interesting, it's good, but maybe we could get a better glimpse at things by understanding that it's the number of people we have, and the amount of energy they have available to them that, in very complex ways, combines into what we might call our general experience economically, financially and all of that in the world. Is that – am I close to how you're looking at it, or is there more I need to understand here?

Gail: Yeah. I think you're right. And you know, the straight-line correlation you see is a straight line with total energy. It's not with oil, it's with total energy. And so, if somebody says, great, we closed down all this coal, you got to say okay, but what are we going to replace it with? You know, this is not a great outcome. It's pretty much equivalent to not discovering oil. Maybe it's worse because even if you voluntarily shut it down, the economy needs energy to grow. To get jobs we need energy. They depend on energy. Your employer wouldn't be able to hire people if they did not have fairly inexpensive energy. So I think this is the thing that people sometimes miss.

Chris: Yeah. And so, not just people but economists. I don’t know of any mainstream economists that have really factored in the idea of energy at all at this point. They just have this assumption that the lowest people – oh look, there's all this shale oil. But, of course, once you peel back the shale oil story you discover a number of kind of uncomfortable things, including the data that in no year running since 2008, which encompasses a very wide range of both financial conditions and oil price circumstances with oil over 100 and under 30 and everything in between, and under none of those years has the shale oil industry returned positive, free cash flow. In every possible regime, it's been a money burning enterprise. And that's okay, as long as there's more and more debt that's willing to be thrown into that, and you’ve got enough liquidity so that people don’t what else to do with it and, so they’ll support the equity issuances of these companies. But anyway, hundreds of billions of dollars have been thrown at this, and none have been returned yet.

So I think that's a really false promise at this point in time. I think there will be a lot of discovery around the idea that a money burning enterprise is not a healthy one at heart. I think shale could be a money generating enterprise, Gail, but at prices that are a lot higher than this. And then we have to broaden the understanding of that shale oil a between further to understand that it's also publicly subsidized in the sense that in Texas, for instance, I know in 2015 they gathered around 1.2 billion in severance taxes, and suffered about four billion dollars of road and bridge damage from all the trucks driving around given the fracking and whatnot. So the public subsidized that industry in that one year to the tune of a little over $2 billion. So once we factor in the total cash flow of shale, I think it's an energy and money positive adventure at oil prices that are twice what todays are. And it's around $60 today. So that's my personal analysis.

Gail: Well, it wasn’t positive cashflow before when the price was close to double what it is today. So I think we probably are causing – we have to cross our fingers. What they’ve been pulling out right now it the easiest-to-get-out oil. And so, by the time it goes back to double this amount, assuming it could, they're going to be working on oil that's that much harder to get out. So it's not all that clear that it would make money at double the current prices.

Chris: Yeah. And in fact, it's the reason they’ve been negative cash flow through every regime is because as the price of oil goes up, oops, so does the cost of getting it out of the ground because of normal economic pressures such as supply shortfalls of workers, and sand costs go up, and as the price of oil goes up all derivatives of oil go up which includes the steel used to produce – needed to produce the piping and all that stuff. So you're right. It's an open question mark as to whether if oil actually goes up in price, whether or not this will actually be a money-making enterprise. It might be that it's not. It might be that there's no combination of factors that will allow shale to actually be a money-making enterprise.

And so that bring us to something we bookmarked, which is this idea of debt. This front wheel of the bicycle, as you said. Now, our economy, it's intricately wedded to the form of money we've adopted, and that money is debt based. Every unit of currency. Be that a euro, a yuan, a yen, dollar, doesn't matter. All of them are loaned into existence. And therefore, what we can say is that all of our money is backed by debt. Debt is, therefore, it's a claim on future money. We borrow money today, then we back it with debt, and then we pay that back later. So, Gail, those claims on the future have been compounding in a faster rate than the economy for nearly five decades. And zero mainstream economists see any problem with that. Do you?

Gail: Well, what we really live on is what we pull out of the ground each year in terms of oil or coal or natural gas or whatever. So what we have is just what we pull out. Now, you point out that what we're doing is we're making claims on the future from debt. We could do it a couple of different ways, which are pretty much equivalent. One of them is that we could sell shares of stock. Now, this isn't what we call debt, but it has the equivalent effect because what you're saying is I'll pay you dividends, and you're going to get a higher price in the future, and somehow or another this is different kind of claim on the future.

And there's a second way beside the debt, and that's government promises. You know, you can say, when you retire we're going to give you Medicare, we're going to give you Social Security. we're going to do all these good things for you. But we don’t actually set it up so it's a liability on our balance sheet. So while it's a promise, there's no debt associated with it because tomorrow Congress could vote and say well, we decided to get rid of Social Security and Medicare, and so there's no liability there. So there's a lot of ways that the same thing results. I know debt is the one that people look at and say oh, that is just terrible. But in fact, shares of stock and government promises are the same things. They all have, in fact, are promising more and more future stuff which unless we really have more future stuff we cannot actually make good on these promises.

Chris: Well, thank you for making that point – both those points – because I support them just wholeheartedly. One is real wealth is the stuff we pull out of the ground and whether – and it begins with energy because without energy it's very, very difficult to mine anything or grow anything. So one of the other derivatives of a higher oil price is a higher food prices because of the degree to which fossil fuel energy is so intricately wedded to our current way of farming which involves creating nitrogen through Haber-Bosch process, and then using that nitrogen to put it into soils that have been fundamentally depleted of nitrogen, and then harvesting that, and then bringing that on to a plate, and then flushing the result out into the ocean eventually is the model.

So as we look at this, it's really important to understand the time series in all of this. So yeah, the original source of wealth is the stuff in the ground. Obviously, you can't get more and more and more out forever and ever and ever. That's called infinite growth on a finite planet. Bad model. Doesn't make sense. But what you're noting here is that debt is a claim of the future, yeah, but so is equity. Issuing shares – that's a claim on the future, and so are government promises. And we've been seeing those promises already buckle, and in some cases, fracture under the weight of zero percent interest rates have destroyed pensions. It's really ruined the idea of future compounding and growth. We already see the troubling warning signs there, but when we add it up we really have to say, look at all these – everything's a claim on the future. And we have all these independent, very large things, any one of which is too much already. Too much debt claiming of the future, too much equity claiming of the future, too many promises, combine all that and we have too many claims.

Gail: Even think about health insurance programs. If you have some kind of a program where you could somehow or other make everybody live to be 100, but it's going to cost you $10 million per person, and we're going to charge everybody health insurance premiums for that. The catch is you can't really afford it. You end up with a health insurance program, but it is a promise of future benefits which is not affordable and it, in a way, becomes just like all of these other things – the Medicare and the Social Security. But it becomes a promise of some kind of benefit that's just not payable with what we actually have available.

Chris: So how do you, in your mind when you look at this – a lot of your writing is around this idea of intellectually saying hey, people, here's some data. Look how this data comes forward. This was a really interesting period humans came through. You know, we went from one or two billion to seven and a half billion. We went through all the easy stuff in terms of fossil fuels. We're through the easy stuff. We're down to slightly harder stuff, and we're mixing that in with former easy stuff, so it's a blending process as we kind of blend in higher net energy stuff from the past with this new lower net energy stuff. So as you look at that where we are in this particular part of history, if you had to, Gail, set a dial, sort of an alarm scale, like one is nothing to worry about, ten is oh my gosh, we really have to be doing things differently right now to begin to confront this, where would you set that dial personally?

Gail: I think that once we left $20-barrel oil we had problems. We had to add more and more and more debt, more and more promises to try to cover up the problems. And you know, when we took our eye off the ball, when we started lowering our sights and saying oh, but maybe it's okay if it just sort of – it's not really a substitute for oil, and it's kind of expensive. Well, we could probably get along with that. I think when we didn't stop to realize that $20 a barrel oil in inflation adjusted terms is really all we could live with. And the coal and gas have to be low priced, too. And we've been covering it up with more and more debt and more and more promises. But it was very long ago that we left the what-we-could-afford kind of situation.

Chris: Yeah. And I guess that's been my main critique of the Central Banks, which I think they've got two fingers crossed behind their back. One set of cross fingers is because they're hoping, and the other is because they're lying to us about everything. And so what they're hoping for is that somehow miraculously rapid economic growth would return. And so under this model you just described, once you leave $20 a barrel oil in the past with coal and natural gas being derivatives of that price of oil, that once we left that in the past, the form of growth that we got addicted to during the heyday of high net energy or high per capita energy, that growth was no longer possible.

So we took actual organic growth that was fundamentally based and rooted on the idea of people organizing around extractable, economically extractable resources – energy and then everything else – and we replaced that with using debt as sort of a whipping – a horse whip to keep everything going. So debts been going up like crazy, but you know what we're got? These last ten years, Gail, are the lowest ten-year average global growth economically of the past sixty years. It's a really bad ten-year stretch. And so you're saying maybe we could understand that by just looking at the price of energy.

Gail: It has to be really cheap, and we have to be able to grow it really fast to keep the whole system going. And it's not affordable unless it's down under $20 a barrel. And we lost sight of the fact that you have to keep the cost low enough. I think what happens over time is that the cost of energy products has to go down. We become more and more efficient at using the energy we have. And so the way a world economy can grow is by spending less and less on energy related costs. Food becomes a smaller piece of the total cost of an economy, but so does oil for operating the cars and all of the other energy needs. But this is a long-term pattern – is a lower and lower cost so that other parts of the economy can grow.

Chris: Well now, people like to have hope, and right around now I'm sure some people are thinking hey, this is good news, Gail, because the price of solar has been dropping like crazy, and so has the price of wind power. So when I say alternative energy I'm talking solar and wind. I don’t' want to talk about hydro – separate topic – all of that. So alternative energy, solar and wind, do you see those as really viable replacements at this stage for the fossil fuels that we've been living on?

Gail: No. I think they're close to worthless. People have not stopped to figure out that intermittent electricity doesn't do much for you. In fact, it wrecks your system. It wrecks the pricing system for the electricity. And they haven't stopped to figure out that you really have to make it dispatchable. You really have to make it non intermittent, and fit in with the rest of your electricity production. What it tends to do is push out the types of electricity production that you really need to run your electrical company.

And so what happens is your nuclear power plants say they need subsidies, or they will go out of business. And that's right because you can't pay them negative amounts for the electricity they create. And you get the same problem with coal. I think it even artificially reduces the price of natural gas. So there's really a real problem for the electrical grid, and people have not stopped to figure out that you just cannot run your system on these things, on intermittent electricity.

Chris: Well, as well to that, one of my favorite videos – it a beautiful video – it's a time lapse of a wind tower going up – and what I like to do when I watch this is just see if I can spot any place where fossil fuels might be silently embedded in this. And the first thing you see is these giant CAT D9s show up to sort of level the space. And then the backhoes show up to dig out a spot. And then that spot dug out is where they're going to put in the 100 thousand pounds of steel into a multi-ton concrete base. And of course, concrete is formed from cement, and cement production requires – usually it's either natural gas or coal – it provides the heat that reduces the lime to create the concrete, the cement mix. On and on and on. Every single part of putting that wind tower up was an expression of either diesel, coal or natural gas at some point along the way. And then it produces electricity.

And my observation about that is that's cool, but it's only great if you use the electricity from that wind tower to manufacture entirely all the components for the next wind tower that's going to replace that when, not if, when, it finally becomes obsolete, it falls apart, it's no longer worth maintaining, whatever happens, right. And we don’t have any closed loop system like that, and I don’t see any plans for that at this point. I see people loving the idea that we can start to park these wind towers around and claim, wow, look at the cost of electricity that comes from that. But it's a subsidized, heavily subsidized number that has no actual bearing to the full life cycle replacement cost of that tower if we're using the energy from it to create a sustainable replacement pattern for that tower. It doesn't seem like that's too complex of an idea, but boy, you run across that almost never in print.

Gail: It's the fact that you have to somehow or other subsidize this whole system with other fuels that makes the thing such a problem. You have to have other fuels sitting there idly, and actually getting paid negative very often while – in anticipation of the time that they are needed to put out electricity to balance the wind and solar. And we don't have that built into they system. People say, oh, it's only costing four cents a kilowatt hour for wind or solar or whatever it is. Well, that isn't the cost of the dispatchable electricity. It's just of this electricity not necessarily when you need it. So it becomes a problem given the way the prices are.

Chris: Well, indeed. And the thing that would give me hope that I could say, wow, all right, I could see a path through this possibly – obviously, I don’t see a path that doesn’t require a future of less, right. I don't think 2,500, 3,000 square foot McMansions with one or two people rattling around with 38 very efficient, but each independently phantom load electricity sucking devices, so that what we see is – we can't persist with the same amount of per capita energy consumption. We'll have to make do with less. But the thing that would sort of change this for me to say – to move this from predicament to this is a problem. Predicament is not having any solutions. Problem is okay, we can do this is some form of storage.

And there's not that many opportunities for storing electricity. There's some low probability sorts of things or let me say low circumstance. There's not that many places to put in pumped water storage, and there are not that many places to put in air and cavern sort of solutions. So those will be kind of localized. But generally, we need batteries. And I still don’t see the battery thing coming along. I know people are all excited. Oh, Elon Mush, he put in a 100-megawatt plant down in Australia, but when I look at the battery chemistry, the full life cycle of how many cycles you can run a lithium battery through and how much lithium there is in the world, it just doesn’t seem to me that the chemistry of lithium at this stage is even remotely scalable to what we really need to see. I would be excited, Gail, if we had some new chemistry come along that could really change this. I haven't seen it yet. Are you at all familiar with this area? Do you look at this, and do you have a sense of whether or not that if we came up with the right kind of batteries that that could be a way to get through this?

Gail: Well, basically, I think the whole idea is silly. What happens is that you need to store the solar energy from summer to winter. So how much do you really have to set aside, and how much do you have to lose between summer and winter if you're going to store this stuff? I mean, this is just not going to work. Think about it – you know, the North Pole or the South Pole – you have a problem because it's not – it's just an hour or two difference in the timing. It's a time of year problem. And people don’t realize what a big difference it is.

I know that big battery out in Australia. They said, oh, it could provide the equivalent of the electricity for 30 thousand houses for an hour. Well, it turns out if you actually put the businesses with it that go with the houses, it would include the electricity for 10 thousand houses plus the associated businesses. So we're not talking huge amounts. We're just talking one hour for a smallish city – a smallish town probably. So the size they're talking about and the cost – it's absurd. It's not something you can do.

Chris: Well, and that's if you were willing to run the battery all the way down to zero, I bet, and you never do that with a battery because it destroys its overall lifecycle. A lithium battery run to zero has around 500 cycles in it, and if you run it to only 30 percent of its drawdown you can get up to 5,000 cycles. You would never do that because you would be damaging the battery. And of course, yes, this is the part that I find – when I said there have been some failures out there – and to me I consider it a little bit of a failure that there's not a more widespread general recognition of really how serious this energy predicament is, and that we're going to have to make some fairly serious tradeoffs over time, and we're not there yet.

And I'll give you my local example. I see houses going up in little housing developments, and they're not well insulated, and they're not oriented south, and the glazing of the windows is inappropriate, and all kinds of things which are very simple. Stuff we knew back in the 70s that if we were serious at all about this we would say every house would be facing the right direction to capture what solar is available here in Massachusetts passively. And we'd probably put some active systems on there including solar hot water which is a fantastic energy device over time – huge net energy returns on that as an idea because guess what? The sun heats stuff up brilliantly - making electricity out of it a little more complex, right. And so on and so forth. So it just doesn’t feel to me, Gail, like we're that serious about this yet, but you write a blog, and you go to conferences, maybe you have a different perception of this. Where do you think we really are in this story in terms of awareness of these issues?

Gail: Well, I think that the issue is not that you can suddenly save all of this energy, and it somehow or other will keep your system going. Even if we built all of the handful of new houses that we're building more efficiently, and even if we drove more efficient cars, it wouldn’t do much of anything. But the issue that happens is that we're facing – the crisis we're likely to face is going to look like the Depression. It's going to look like people being laid off from jobs. It's going to look like banks closing. It's probably going to look like low oil prices, low natural gas prices. And it's going to be that kind of a crisis. And even if people have a solar hot water heater, it's not necessarily going to help them that much if they have really no services, if the electricity goes off. I'm not sure what all is connected up, but there gets to be so many things that are interconnected, they may not have any water system that's working, for example.

So it becomes hard to know what you could do. How does this whole thing play out? Can we restrict it so it's only certain parts of the world economy that fall apart and not the whole world economy? But the concern is that what we're facing is not – there may be a spike in oil prices, but the general direction is down, not up. And it's not something that you can build you way out of, I don’t think. If you think about the 1930s, and that's the kind of thing that we're up against, I think.

Chris: So you're talking about a deflationary outcome, and this is a very easy to predict thing. Just economically, when you have too much debt deflation is the normal clearing mechanism for that. But in this story what's different this time is that whole world has gone on an extraordinary debt binge. So the overhang from that is likely to be extreme. As that gets worked through and goes into a deflationary spiral, low oil prices are just going to absolutely destroy the oil industry. Which the already did – we see that in four years of dismal discovery data. At some point, without additional equity and debt flowing into the shale business, we discover that that's a busted business and those companies all stop operating. So that's, I think, the model you're talking about is that they way this "resolves" itself here is by ringing out all the prior excesses. But there's so many in this story, Gail.

We discovered that our farming system was really a subsidized enterprise, and when you pull the subsidies away it collapses to a far lower state of output then it currently is. And we discover that cities are subsidized adventures in their giant resource consuming centers. They don’t produce anything, they consume, and that comes from an understanding that primary wealth and secondary wealth – from the land – those are the resources. That's the stuff that counts. So we've really been subsidizing a lot of things, probably the most important of which is this delusion, and we've been subsidizing it heavily as seen in the great signaling mechanism of the rising equity markets that signal to everybody that everything's okay. We're good. We'll put a few stories about Elon Musk out there and some big batteries and blog and feel good about this.

But the data say that what we've really been doing is borrowing heavily from a future that not only can't be larger, but may well be smaller, and that the sorts of solutions that we've been somewhat half seriously sort of poking toward which might include alternatives or one tiny home development in a giant city region that the zoning people can conceive of allowing, or whatever these things are, they're not serious given this time, the scale, the cost of what we're up against. And so what you see coming is that basically – would this be unfair to characterize it as the second Great Depression? Is that fair?

Gail: Yeah. I think that's the closest analogy we have is the Great Depression. Yes.

Chris: And so, as you mentioned, that's bank closures, entity failures, maybe a couple of sovereign defaults tossed in, a lot of people out of work. Not everybody I assume, but a lot of people, of course, because the frivolous jobs that were unnecessary go away. They no longer can be supported, so we get back down to the basics at that point. And I'm sorry this isn't the most upbeat possible way to start the year, but this is reality. So how do we go about getting people to face that reality? The data seems to work on a relatively few people. What do you think works? How do we get this across to more people going forward?

Gail: Well, if there was something that you could actually do I think it would be - people want a story with a happy ending, even if it's a made up happy ending. And that's why all of this stuff about renewables will save us is so popular is you’ve got to have some kind of a happy ending. And I haven't been able to come up with anything. Depression is just not a good outcome. And you don’t get enough energy from cutting down your forest. This is not a good idea to begin with, but that gets to be the only kind of renewable that really works when you lose the fossil fuels because you can't even maintain your hydroelectric without fossil fuels.

And so you don't have nearly enough energy to support today's population. So this becomes very disturbing. And we can party like it's 1929, but it's hard to come up with something. I'm hoping I'm not seeing something. I would like to think there's something – maybe there are little pieces that can break off that don't do well. The Yemen's of the world, even the Mexico's of the world that are not going to do well, and maybe the rest can kind of hang on for a little bit longer. But apart from putting it off a little bit, it's hard to see a solution.

Chris: Well, that's because predicaments don’t have solutions, the have outcomes. So we're at that stage where we have to manage this, and you and I haven't discussed the ecological side of this, but the data there is disturbing and increasingly disturbing. In fact, accelerating disturbing as we go into this with amphibians collapsing worldwide or reptiles as well or…

Gail: Insects.

Chris: Insects and coral reefs and phytoplankton. I mean, really bottom of the food pyramid kind of stuff which any sane, intact culture would say time out. We need to figure this out and stop doing whatever is causing that because that's not a good idea.

Gail: Well, clearly, one thing we could have done quite a while back is go to pretty much a plant based diet instead of so much animal food because that would reduce our pressure on the world ecosystem. But, of course, it would allow more people to live, so it really wouldn't do anything. It would allow the population to go from 7.5 billion to 9.5 billion or something. But that would be one way. I think that would be a more likely way of reducing pressure on a system then wind turbines and solar panels, for example.

Chris: Well, I'll tell you the way I use this macro data, which I agree, it's a predicament. I don't see any clear way through it. But the way I use it in my own personal life is to begin reducing my own energy dependence, begin growing my own food to begin preparing for the idea that many jobs may disappear, including my own. That is that I'm not taking today for granted, and I'm understanding that how things are currently arranged is unlikely to persist, and that there's a new world coming along, and that however this shakes itself out that in a thousand years there will still be people, there will still be something called an economy. All of that will be true. It will be vastly different from today.

My little waggish comment, Gail, that I tell people is I say, oh, I have every confidence that we're going to go into 100 percent renewable energy. But if you unpack that it really means that we may end up looking like people did in the 1700s which was entirely based on renewable energy. It's just whatever sun lands on your field, that's called the energy you got in that next year. So maybe we're going there, but the reason that I do what I do and think you do what you do is because there is a different path here, that we can understand these things, that we can craft a different narrative, that we could come up with something that we could believe in, but we'd have to begin doing things very, very differently. And if only we lived in a culture which valued making decisions based on available data, I think we'd be doing things very differently than we currently are.

So thank you for doing what you do. And I love your blog. People can find it, again, at ourfiniteworld.com. And Gail, it's wonderful talking with you and starting out the new year here with you. So thank you very much for being of the program. And is there anything else you'd like to tell people about where they can follow you or maybe see you speak any time in the future?

Gail: Just ourfiniteworld.com I think is what I'd suggest.

Chris: Well, fantastic. Well, thank you, Gail, so much for your time today and for the work that you're doing.

Gail: Well, thank you.

About the guest

Gail Tverberg

Gail Tverberg is an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to inadequate supply.

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110 Comments

AKGrannyWGrit's picture
AKGrannyWGrit
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2011
Posts: 459
ThankYou

Quercue bicolor

Thank you for articulating the point I was trying to make.  As a high school graduate my ability to express in great detail thoughts and concepts is not a strength.  However, I know unfairness, apathy, nonsense and the difference between good and evil and I give my opinions a good effort. There are many, middle class folk like me out there and when people talk about how good everything is it's an insult to each of us who are struggling.  The motto is "my life is good so it must just suck to be you".  Chris does a good job about talking about fairness.

Catherine Austin Fitts says we are in a spiritual war, which I believe. And so in this war it's important to point out unfairness, to realize that even if our life is good and our neighbors isn't, which includes our feathered, furry and insect neighbors, then our lives are diminished as well.  When we lose our love and empathy we lose our power in this war.

My favorite prayer-

King Aurthor - God grant me the wisdom to discover what's right, the will to choose it, and the strength to endure it.  Doing what's right is a lonely road to travel.  Unfairness is indeed frustrating.

Anyway a hug to you from Granny

MKI's picture
MKI
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 12 2009
Posts: 70
empathy and hubris

QB: what seems to be your lack of awareness of the terrific costs to ecosystems, human culture and those who have been left out in increasing numbers from this fantastic life style.

First, I'm very aware, but we disagree, on the both facts and merits, regarding the "situation of our ecosystem". But I really don't want to turn this thread into that debate. Yes we disagree, but I don't disparage your morals or intelligence (although you & AKG decry mine). OK, I get it. Please let it go.

Second, Re undeclared wars! working conditions! environment! and whatever else: sheese. What's next to pile on? I could think of a thousand areas of moral concerns I have but I sure don't think I have a right to demand (you or anyone else) share them or you "lack empathy" and are racked by "hubris" or ignorance. Look, people have different experiences, values, eduction, and brainpower. They should have the freedom to formulate their own opinions and lifestyles and suffer the rewards and consequences of doing so. This  "you must think like me or you are a "_____" IMO prevents learning, growing, changing, and understanding. YMMV.

Third: The "gang up with friends" technique of discussion is not generally effective at persuading people. Certainly not empirical types like me.

Sure we disagree. That's OK. I'm merely replying to be polite and let you know you have been read and heard. Yes I remain unconvinced of your positions. And yes I'm unperturbed that you (and others here) don't agree with my POV.  I harbor no ill to those who disagree with me. Heck, I was having these same arguments way back in the 1980s; my position then was a fairly accurate prediction of today, and I believe it remains so. But only the future can tell; a good Black Swan or war could make mincemeat of anyone's predictions. I can assure you my POV is not hubris. It's caution and humility. Sadly, I don't see much of that here.

westcoastjan's picture
westcoastjan
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 4 2012
Posts: 566
hahahahaha

I can assure you my POV is not hubris. It's caution and humility. 

That is truly hysterical MKI, thanks for the great laugh of the day!!

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 19 2008
Posts: 465
No hard feelings.  I am just

No hard feelings.  I am just trying to understand what leads you to think the way you do - partly because it might help my view point evolve, partly because it might help me to be more empathetic towards you and partly because it might help me understand how to better explain my point of view to you and others who think similarly.

MKI wrote:

QB: what seems to be your lack of awareness of the terrific costs to ecosystems, human culture and those who have been left out in increasing numbers from this fantastic life style.

First, I'm very aware, but we disagree, on the both facts and merits, regarding the "situation of our ecosystem". But I really don't want to turn this thread into that debate. Yes we disagree, but I don't disparage your morals or intelligence (although you & AKG decry mine). OK, I get it. Please let it go.

There is quite a bit of hard data about things like topsoil depletion, reduction in ocean fish, insect and large (wild) mammal biomass, reduction in forest area, increasing wealth gap, increasing deaths from opioid overdoses, etc.  The environmental trends in particular are huge and point convincingly to a near term extinction crisis/ecosystem collapse.  Are you aware of these trends?  Can you explain them away?

MKI wrote:

Second, Re undeclared wars! working conditions! environment! and whatever else: sheese. What's next to pile on? I could think of a thousand areas of moral concerns I have but I sure don't think I have a right to demand (you or anyone else) share them or you "lack empathy" and are racked by "hubris" or ignorance. Look, people have different experiences, values, eduction, and brainpower. They should have the freedom to formulate their own opinions and lifestyles and suffer the rewards and consequences of doing so. This  "you must think like me or you are a "_____" IMO prevents learning, growing, changing, and understanding. YMMV.

Forget moral concerns.  A few simple questions to ask 1) "Are these problems big enough that they are reasonably likely to cause a reversal in this trend towards easier lives in the near future?"  If so, then it's wise to consider or them.   2) "The way I and a minority of wealthy people on the planet live today is unprecedented in human history even as recently as a few decades ago.  It is also unique even today when considering humanity as a whole.   But there are significant consequences to this lifestyle both ecologically and to people in other parts of the world (and in my own country).  After considering this, are the benefits of this life style it really worth it?" Or maybe you don't buy the part about significant consequences.

MKI wrote:

Third: The "gang up with friends" technique of discussion is not generally effective at persuading people. Certainly not empirical types like me.

I agree.  It's unlikely to be effective.  Please forgive our venting our frustration with what we perceive to be naivete or hubris on your part.   Yes, there is value in being empirical.  Where do you stand on allowing emotions to inform the thinking process?  My take is that emotions developed over millions of years of evolution for a reason.  When used in conjunction with intellect, they can help us determine what is important.

MKI wrote:

Sure we disagree. That's OK. I'm merely replying to be polite and let you know you have been read and heard. Yes I remain unconvinced of your positions. And yes I'm unperturbed that you (and others here) don't agree with my POV.  I harbor no ill to those who disagree with me. Heck, I was having these same arguments way back in the 1980s; my position then was a fairly accurate prediction of today, and I believe it remains so. But only the future can tell; a good Black Swan or war could make mincemeat of anyone's predictions. I can assure you my POV is not hubris. It's caution and humility. Sadly, I don't see much of that here.

Yes, the future is unpredictable. 

Perhaps your POV can be interpreted caution and humility if your goal is to best position yourself to maintain/increase ease and comfort in the near to mid-term.  What if your goal was assess the most significant risks to the ongoing project of civilization as well as the comfort or even survival of our offspring and then act in a way most likely to mitigate these risks?  I think that is the goal of many/most of us here at PP.  It leads to very different actions than the first goal.  Perhaps that is where the misunderstanding comes from.  

Pipyman's picture
Pipyman
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 24 2011
Posts: 56
Thanks

Yes, but for the record I'm not putting myself on a pedestal here, MKI and I likely are more similar than we are different. But, I ask on a daily basis, as Stephen Jenkinson so eloquently put it "to which planetary being can I turn to say, I'm sorry, I had no idea". I suspect MKI's reaction to such a question would be...

Huh?

An understanding of the question certainly isn't evident in his comments...... And yes, I do detest the hubris inherent in MKI's POV. Just as I detested my own hubris during the "fear" stage of waking up to our predicament, and I payed the price. And as for gratitude, I'd love to know where MKI's gratitude comes from, I personally am deeply grateful for my privilege because I know the price to others; including the natural world.

And on the technology issue, I'm certainly not going to put my faith in it as a saviour from OUR Hubris. For some reason, my first more lengthy response was eaten..... Seems to be something wrong with the Robot checker!!!!!!!  Lol, it gets better :-) It took 24 hrs to post....

Mars here we come!!!!!

 

Snydeman's picture
Snydeman
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2013
Posts: 496
MKI wrote: QB: what seems to
MKI wrote:

QB: what seems to be your lack of awareness of the terrific costs to ecosystems, human culture and those 

Third: The "gang up with friends" technique of discussion is not generally effective at persuading people. Certainly not empirical types like me.

Empirical types would back up their assertions with actual empirical data, not superfluous (and often spurious) fluffy statements like you do. You, sir, are no engineer. You are a person behind the keyboard pretending to be one.

 

If I am wrong, prove it. Post data, source that data, and negate the points Chris and others have posted one by one, empirically and scientifically, and maybe people here will actually take you seriously again. Until then, you are merely a charlatan conjuring unsubstantiated illusions, opinion, and fru-fru.

 

-Snydeman

Andy_in_Hawick's picture
Andy_in_Hawick
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2009
Posts: 12
newsbuoy's picture
newsbuoy
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 10 2013
Posts: 244
interview with Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen

Good supplimental interview with Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen about the latest in Trump administration energy policy

Mohammed Mast's picture
Mohammed Mast
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: May 17 2017
Posts: 145
Some data

Having been reading this site off and on mostly off since the beginning I have found one thing to be absolutely rock hard solidly consistent. It is the propensity of the owners to frame interviews and conversations in certain ways.

I remember a podcast with Jim Rogers , who I like a lot. He would have nothing to do with the frame that was presented to him. I found it quite refreshing.

One other observation I have along with frame, is that the podcasts serve almost entirely as platforms to present the resident paradigm. I make no judgement whether the paradigm is correct or not, as we shall all see.

I have read Gails work from back in her oil drum days and subscribe to her blog. I was looking forward to hearing what she had to say. Unfortunately the "interview " was mostly Chris's platform to present his perspective. he did this by not only framing the discussion but by also taking up most of the time. This is a regualr occurrence on these podcasts which is why I rarely listen (or rather read as my hearing is not so good). But she is a fave so I gave it a shot.

Having measured the number of inches in the transcript I found that Chris occupied approx. 46.5 inches as opposed to 26.5 for Gail. certainly as the owner of the site that is his prerogative. I would probably do the same. However as a consumer I can get his perspective all over the site whereas Gail is only on for a short time. 

The skill of interviewing I believe lies in being able to draw new and revealing information from the interviewee. There was nothing new here for me

Snydeman's picture
Snydeman
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2013
Posts: 496
Mohammed Mast wrote:Having
Mohammed Mast wrote:

Having been reading this site off and on mostly off since the beginning I have found one thing to be absolutely rock hard solidly consistent. It is the propensity of the owners to frame interviews and conversations in certain ways.

I remember a podcast with Jim Rogers , who I like a lot. He would have nothing to do with the frame that was presented to him. I found it quite refreshing.

One other observation I have along with frame, is that the podcasts serve almost entirely as platforms to present the resident paradigm. I make no judgement whether the paradigm is correct or not, as we shall all see.

I have read Gails work from back in her oil drum days and subscribe to her blog. I was looking forward to hearing what she had to say. Unfortunately the "interview " was mostly Chris's platform to present his perspective. he did this by not only framing the discussion but by also taking up most of the time. This is a regualr occurrence on these podcasts which is why I rarely listen (or rather read as my hearing is not so good). But she is a fave so I gave it a shot.

Having measured the number of inches in the transcript I found that Chris occupied approx. 46.5 inches as opposed to 26.5 for Gail. certainly as the owner of the site that is his prerogative. I would probably do the same. However as a consumer I can get his perspective all over the site whereas Gail is only on for a short time. 

The skill of interviewing I believe lies in being able to draw new and revealing information from the interviewee. There was nothing new here for me

 

There is merit to your criticism to some degree, and I felt like Chris was covering for Gail’s lack of insight with his own words in places. Yet, I don’t this this is often nor always the case. Hear the latest podcast with Art Berman? Chris is on the mic maybe 20% by comparison to Art. It depends on the interview. Mish, fo instance, likes to talk a lot. Charles and Chris seem balanced in most ones they do; same with interviews with Axel.  

 

That at being said, I can’t imagine that generating enough original content at the rate Chris and Adam do, and on a weekly basis at that, can be all that easy.  So, I’m wondering where you find constant “new”insights from on a weekly basis?

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