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Why there will be no meaningful social response in the West by wisconsin_cur on Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:23 pm
True Story:

A friend of mine once went to a "company meeting" where many many cuts were announced. The presenter from the front office brought charts and graphs. My friend brought a legal pad, a pencil and a basic understanding of math.

After the presentation, when all of the cuts were announced, my friend preceded to ask questions. The questions were good. The questions illustrated that neither the truth of the cost to the employees was made clear nor were the reasons given forth-coming. Through the use of percentages (instead of whole numbers) and vast oversimplfications ("this part of the budget includes things like the Christmas party" when it is 10% of the budget being cut and no one would say what else was in that part of the budget and being cut). The fact that the employees were not being told about many cuts to their insurance and salary and that there were to be salary increases for top management was met by crickets.

After my friend's presentation...

[ Continued ]

1 Comment Viewed 53587 times
Enron writ large? by wisconsin_cur on Tue Dec 01, 2009 5:45 am

Enron was the financial scandal that kicked off the decade: a giant energy trading company that appeared to be doing brilliantly—until we finally noticed that it wasn’t. It’s largely been forgotten given the wreckage that followed, and that’s too bad: we may be repeating those mistakes, on a far larger scale.


Nomi Prins dissects the opaque origins of the record profits that have been recorded by the big banks recently, delving in to the accounting of Citibank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. My favorite quote comes in relation to Wells Fargo and sent me into a giggling fit:

Separately, Wells states in its filing that its management accounting process is “dynamic” and, not “necessarily comparable with similar information for other financial services companies.” This statement should give lawmakers pause...

[ Continued ]

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Bodies piling up? by Jack on Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:10 pm
Yes - because neither the county nor the families can afford to bury them.

More Details

Granted, this is Detroit. But it notes that bodies are abandoned in LA as well.

If we, as a society, cannot afford to bury the dead, we face the harsh question of whether we can put together the substantial capital to mitigate peak oil. IEEE Spectrum calculated that to replace oil, the world would need to build about 52 nuclear power plants a year - every year - for 50 years.

Diagram Here

Will the economy improve such that capital formation is solved by some miracle? Probably not. We had a 25 year bull market, and it seems to have broken down. Normal outcomes suggest a decline of about 6-8 years, and to levels lower than we say in March. Much lower.

And that means - forget...

[ Continued ]

2 Comments Viewed 11226 times
We must unlearn what we have learned by wisconsin_cur on Sun Nov 22, 2009 1:59 pm
If you are under fifty you have benefited from a long period of “price stability.” Since the stagflation of the 1970's we have experienced low single digit inflation as normal. For large parts of our population this is the way things have always been and, by extension, the way it always will be. Experience governs our view of the world, from our sense of morality to our sense of cultural propriety. Along with the stories we have heard from our parents and grandparents; it also is the toolbox for the management of our personal finances and home. As a culture, however, we have discounted the value of the stories of our elders and, as a result, our toolbox is limited. It is not too late, however, to listen to those stories and learn from them.

The experience of relative price stability has led to an assumption of further stability. Money may still “burn a hole in our pocket” but this springs from a desire to consume; not an evaluation of the possibility that the dollar will be wort...

[ Continued ]

2 Comments Viewed 57860 times
How close to peak? by wisconsin_cur on Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:25 am

I want to take a step back from the details from the switch to nuclear because it seems to me that there is a more fundamental difference of opinion which undergirds each of our outlooks. You are concerned about what I think can fairly be called "undue alarmism." In contrast, I am more concerned with what I see as "undue ease" in the presence of a real threat. Both alarmism and undue ease are often emotional reactions to situations and, depending upon the individual and event, will be rooted in fact to one degree or another. I would like to make my case on why I think we are closer to peak and the need to begin mitigation efforts are, at least, more immediate or way past due.

Before I do that, however, I would just like to quote Matt Simmons on the issue of when we KNOW that decline is a fact,

"peaking is one of these fuzzy events that you only know clearly when you see it through a rear view mirror, and by then an alternate resolution...

[ Continued ]

1 Comment Viewed 51717 times

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