Friday, 28 June 2013

09:53 – I try not to pay attention to the economic news nowadays. It’s just too depressing. Europe is beyond salvaging, with the PIIGS in worse shape than ever, France going quickly down the tubes, and even Germany starting to show cracks in its foundation. The UK isn’t much better off, and would now be a basket case had it been foolish enough to join the euro. We’re watching as China and the rest of the BRICS implode, and Japan under Abenomics has lit a fuze that will almost certainly lead to the destruction of its economy.

Among major first-world nations, only the English-speaking trio of the US, Canada, and Australia seem likely to get through this mess, albeit not unscathed, and it’s no thanks to their politicians. And I have my doubts even about Australia, which has allowed itself to become far too closely linked to China’s tanking economy. Ah, well. As I’ve said before, the US and Canada can produce everything we need, so I think it’s unlikely that things will get really bad here. As for the rest of the world, I fear that the next five to ten years will see increasing poverty, rioting, revolutions, and wars. And there’s not a thing we can do about it other than get used to a lower standard of living and isolate ourselves as much as possible from the rest of the world.


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45 Responses to Friday, 28 June 2013

  1. Miles_Teg says:

    I almost hope the Labor Party gets re-elected, that way there will be no one they can share the blame with when China’s economy tanks, followed closely by ours. When the ALP came to office in 2007 the economy was in pretty good shape, now, even with the resources boom, we’ve been running big deficits, not saving for a rainy day. When it all goes pear shaped it will not be pretty.

    I could never be an anarchist but more and more I see the attractions.

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’ll say the same thing I’ve been saying about the US and Canada: you have a lot of smart, hard-working, get-it-done people there. Ultimately, if push comes to shove, they’re the only ones that matter. Throughout history, they’ve been the only ones who ever mattered.

  3. Lynn McGuire says:

    Like you, I worry about the international scene. But the USA and Canada are solid. Both have solid economies built on real work, not passing around doilies.

    People should thank George Mitchell profusely. His fracking methodology (took him 30 years to perfect), has caused an energy resurgence in the USA. In the 1970s and 2000s, we had less than 10 years of natural gas reserves in the USA. Now the official amount of natural gas reserves in the USA is 97 years and I am hearing 200 to 400 years in the engineering circles that I frequent.

    BTW, all the fracking on pure vapor natural gas has stopped. Only those plays that have liquid hydrocarbons in them are being drilled right now. The USA is back up to seven million barrels of oil per day production and is heading towards ten million barrels of oil per day in the next couple of years. Some people are even starting to say 15 million barrels of oil per day which will cause the USA price to sag down into the $60/bbl. Also, the USA is now exporting natural gas to Mexico and Canada. I never thought that I would see this.

    However, there is wild card in all this. Obummer is thinking about banning fracking in the USA until the EPA can study it properly. If so, he will cause the loss of roughly one to three million jobs. This man is foolish to say the least. Very typical lawyer, just throw money at a problem until it goes away. This does not work for public policies, the problems just grow geometrically.

    BTW, the head of API is saying that we can create three million more jobs if drilling and fracking is allowed on public lands. Obummer has shutdown all drilling and mines that he can on public lands. He would like to shutdown all drilling offshore also but does not have enough guts to do so.

  4. ech says:

    Shell and some other companies are starting major natural gas fracking operations in Australia. Huge reserves were found there.

  5. OFD says:

    One would think that the powers behind the “throne” would get O-Bummer off his kick of punishing businesses and energy producers; I wonder WTF?

    I really hope Bob is right about the mass of right-doing worker bees in North America and sort of feel in my haht that he probably is; but I worry about the effects of the culture over the past half-century; I also have anecdotal evidence that most decent people will try to do the right thing when faced with hard times and decisions. But I also see a huge lot of apathy and sloth and indifference and of course, illiteracy and innumeracy and no regard for history whatsoever.

    Let’s hope he’s right.

    @Lynn; is there any online intel resource for ongoing energy news such as you describe that a layman could grok? We never see any of this in the MSM, shockingly.

  6. JLP says:

    But how to prepare for the inevitable collapse? I keep thinking I shouldn’t buy gold but rather a couple of tons of copper and a few hundred pounds of tin. Just in case we drop back to a bronze age level. Plus it would be very hard for someone to steal.
    A month or so back I asked you guys recommendations on a first gun. I ended up with a used Ruger Single Six. With the slower pace of a single action revolver I’m definitely learning shooting fundamentals of sighting, breathing and trigger control. Plus I’m just having a grand ole time shooting a cowboy gun.

  7. SteveF says:

    banning fracking in the USA until the EPA can study it properly

    And I’ll bet Ogabe’s EPA will never determine it to be safe because there’s no proof that it’s safe. Of course, studying the effects of fracking on drinking water requires fracking, so with a total halt to operations there’ll never be evidence to support a resumption of operations.

  8. brad says:

    Fired up the wood stove yesterday. End of June, and well under 20C all week (and, yes, in the northern hemisphere). Meanwhile, reading about Obama’s climate plan, and how global warming is such a threat. Man, what does it take? Even the Wikipedia page shows global warming to be a farce, if you are willing to look past the first chart.

    The coming collapse – I’m more and more convinced that it’s going to just be a continued slide down the slippery slope. It seems that the politicians really can just keep kicking the can down the road. If we get poorer from generation to generation, well, maybe if it happens slowly enough, no one will notice. Anyway, the politicians have theirs, so what do they care?

    I was on the Swiss site of Credit Suisse today, and noticed that all of their web-pages now carry a footnote that they comply with the “Global Patriot Act”. Bloody embarrassing. What the devil are they doing, bragging about complying with the laws of a foreign country?

  9. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I was on the Swiss site of Credit Suisse today, and noticed that all of their web-pages now carry a footnote that they comply with the “Global Patriot Act”. Bloody embarrassing. What the devil are they doing, bragging about complying with the laws of a foreign country?

    Switzerland can’t afford to risk losing its status as Friend and Ally of the American People.

  10. OFD says:

    The Swiss have gone downhill in recent years; they used to be neutral; now they cave at whatever our regime wants. They ought to tell our regime to go straight to hell and break out those rifles Just In Case. If they could stand off the Nazis they oughta be able to tell us to sod off.

    @JLP; you could not have picked a better first handgun; that is what I got for Mrs. OFD a while back, her first, too; and when she brought it up in conversation with law enforcement and military types during several of her gigs across the country, they said the same thing, no better for a first-timer and for exactly the reasons you cite, the basics. Check out the YouTube videos put out by Ruger on single-action revolvers; there is a current series on self-defense with SA revolvers. Yes, it can be done.

  11. Lynn McGuire says:

    @Lynn; is there any online intel resource for ongoing energy news such as you describe that a layman could grok? We never see any of this in the MSM, shockingly.

    I get a daily email from http://www.hydrocarbonprocessing.com/ . I am in the oil and gas biz so I like to know what is going on.

    Also, the Houston Chronicle, http://www.chron.com , is a startlingly good place for it’s business news. The front page is very liberal though, just like all other Hearst newspapers.

  12. Lynn McGuire says:

    But how to prepare for the inevitable collapse? I keep thinking I shouldn’t buy gold but rather a couple of tons of copper and a few hundred pounds of tin. Just in case we drop back to a bronze age level. Plus it would be very hard for someone to steal.

    If things go totally crazy then I am beginning to think that small objects made of lead with copper or steel jackets will be good trading objects. Otherwise known as bullets. Hopefully to trade them at one mph instead of one thousand mph. I have been collecting .44 specials lately ($40 for a box of 50 at Academy) but .22 LR should be just fine also. If you can find them.

  13. Lynn McGuire says:

    How do you protect yourself and your loved ones against this piece of trash?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvvHMM6TF50

    Always carry, even in the house? My wife refuses to even shoot a gun, much less carry.

  14. SteveF says:

    In our household, if there’s any shooting to be done it’s pretty well down to me. Son#2 can do what needs to be done, but he’s here only a few weeks a year. Son#1 may be willing but has no interest in shooting and therefore lacks the skills and probably wouldn’t even be able to find the safety on the shotgun.*

    * That is, if I had a shotgun, which I don’t, because it fell into the Hudson River. Which, unlike the Training Brassiere River or whatever Lynn lives near, is more than 1″ deep.

    And my wife… -sigh-. Some time ago I was trying to get her to practice a bit with the shotgun, just in case, but she says she won’t shoot anyone no matter what. There’s nothing in the house worth killing someone for, she says. I disagree, but it’s a morally defensible position. However, I said, what if they feel like a little rape on top of theft? She’ll survive, she said. OK, I said, our daughter is very pretty.** In just a few years someone might consider her ripe for rape. How can you even think of that? she asked. What’s wrong with you? -sigh-

    ** Surprisingly. My wife was cute when she was younger and is now just average. Not homely or anything, but was never markedly pretty. And me… well… Mostly I don’t scare too many dogs or small children.*** It makes me wonder sometimes if my daughter got her looks from, say, the mailman.

    *** Funny but true: I recently smiled and waved at a baby in a supermarket line and after a moment’s consideration he burst into tears. This is not the first time it’s happened.

  15. OFD says:

    Thanks for the links, Lynn; I bookmarked the Chron’s biz page for now, looks like they cover that stuff pretty well.

    The Northeast media rarely reports that type of crime shown in the YouTube vid for obvious reasons but I see it was in north-central NJ, not fah from where I served a 3.5-year sentence with first wife while she clerked for the Appellate Division and I went to grad skool at Rut-jizz. (the guys running the grease-wagon out front had more on the ball than the profs at the English Department or my fellow grad students, I kid you not.)

    Perps convicted of crimes like that should get actual punishment sentences at hard labor in places like Death Valley and Antarctica for decades, assuming the Mr. and/or Mrs. Homeowner did not dispatch them on the spot. Meanwhile release all the nonviolent prisoners to make room for these animals. And shut down the current prison industry and forget about “rehab” bullshit.

    OFD carries 7×24 and otherwise there is stuff always within arm’s reach at home or outside. And we live in a really safe ‘hood, but near roads down which any sort of riff-raff can travel. To top it off, the local paper put a nice little story on its FB page yesterday with a dozen nice photos; all about a meth house raid on a street within walking distance of here. Not the first in this area, either. So I don’t feel silly packing heat all the time.

    It’s pretty hard, though, when members of one’s immediate family can’t or won’t prepare to defend themselves and other family members with lethal force if necessary, knowing full well that when you need help in seconds the cops are only minutes away, etc. Some of these perps are not satisfied with a simple A&B, robbery, or rape; they really do a job on some of their victims, as I have cause to know. The victim in that video got off fairly easy, believe it or not; I’ve seen victims who’ve been pretty much destroyed yet still alive. OK, so you don’t mind getting mangled for life and having to piss in a bag for the duration; do you mind watching your children get the same or worse treatment in front of you? It boggles the mind.

    @SteveF; don’t feel bad about scaring babies and toddlers; I’ve had that marvelous ability for many years, and now have moved on to adults, who actually, even in groups of three or four, young men, even, cross the street ahead of me to avoid coming near, I guess. This has happened repeatedly up here; shit, I thought I looked like a college professor. Middle-aged women and old men are not afraid, however; and of course young and nubile cuties are amazingly indifferent to my existence.

  16. Lynn McGuire says:

    * That is, if I had a shotgun, which I don’t, because it fell into the Hudson River. Which, unlike the Training Brassiere River or whatever Lynn lives near, is more than 1″ deep.

    Sigh, I tried to put water in my north pond today. It is only two to three foot deep now. Ran the fricking well dry! Not good, not good, not good at all. Turned off the water and let the pressure tank start recovering until it got back up to 20 psi, took about 10 minutes. Then I had a little water but the pressure went to zero almost immediately. I have a bad feeling that the well pump is sitting right at the water table. We can use a little water but not much. And no water in the ponds!

    It is the Brazos River of effluent. Also, I have never owned a shotgun and only fired one a couple of times. I would like to get one or two for fun.

    And we are suppose to be 106 F tomorrow.

  17. OFD says:

    Interesting. We have a well, too. Our water table is WAY up. But we could also easily have a heat wave and drought here. And I was just looking at a catalog of emergency items, mostly food, and saw various-sized food-quality drums to hold water, with spigots and hoses, etc. Thinking about having a couple of these handy and filled. Also looking into the best way to get water from the well if the juice is out; it’s currently via an electric pump.

    Hope your wottuh situation gets better real fast down there, Lynn.

    As for shotguns I consider the Remington 870 the gold standard for affordable and reliable and modifiable, and also in extremely wide use worldwide, like AK’s. YMMV. Mossberg, Benelli and Winchester also make good shotguns.

  18. Miles_Teg says:

    OFD wrote:

    “I went to grad skool at Rut-jizz. (the guys running the grease-wagon out front had more on the ball than the profs at the English Department or my fellow grad students, I kid you not.)”

    Dave, hasn’t our host said that the language of this site is English? Translation please!

  19. Miles_Teg says:

    “…adults, who actually, even in groups of three or four, young men, even, cross the street ahead of me to avoid coming near…”

    I haven’t noticed that happening to me since the late Seventies. I was out for a walk, carrying a dog chain (I left the dog at home), and a late middle age couple approaching me on the footpath crossed the road. About a minute after I passed them I turned to have a look at them, and, sure enough, they’d crossed the road back. WTF?

  20. Miles_Teg says:

    OFD wrote:

    “As for shotguns I consider the Remington 870 the gold standard…”

    Wow! I looked up the Wikipedia page for the 870, that’s an impressively long piece. If you tried to concealed carry it I’m sure you’d gets lots of young and nubile cuties wanting to know “is that an 870 in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?” 🙂

  21. brad says:

    I’ve been following the news on the immigration bill out of self-interest. Immigration is apparently a very elastic term, because some Congresscritters are trying to include an amendment that would affect expats who have renounced their citizenship.

    The amendment basically introduces punitive measures, in an attempt to prevent people from renouncing their citizenship. Also, a (potentially lifetime) ban on visiting the US. At the moment with thresholds high enough that I’m not personally affected, but that can change.

    The really grotesque bit: The law would take effect 10 years retroactively. What fun!

    The US Constitution explicitly prohibits retroactive laws (“No ex post facto law shall be passed”), but no one pays attention to that dusty document.

  22. Ray Thompson says:

    I have a bad feeling that the well pump is sitting right at the water table.

    As a former resident of Live Oak Texas, just north of San Antonio, close to Universal City and before Shertz on I-35, I remember the aquifer quite well. Some of the best drinking water I have used but the level fluctuated quite a lot.

  23. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    *** Funny but true: I recently smiled and waved at a baby in a supermarket line and after a moment’s consideration he burst into tears. This is not the first time it’s happened.

    Back when beards were not yet mainstream, on more than one occasion a toddler would see me, shout “Daddy!” and start toddling toward me. Very disconcerting, and yet more evidence that eyewitness identification of men with beards is unreliable.

    I don’t remember anyone crossing the street to avoid me. Well, for some reason, I’ve never been accosted by homeless people or winos, who do avoid me. And women do frequently jump and scream when I approach them from behind, because I move very quietly.

  24. Miles_Teg says:

    Get a cat bell for yourself.

    I rarely see winos but beggars accost me a lot. I never under any circumstances give them anything. I figure they’re on drugs, booze or gambling. One guy in particular kept asking me for about 15 years on and off. Don’t these people have memories? He was a gambling addict – as soon as he had enough dough he’d head for the nearest off course gambling shop. I detest the people who give them money almost as much as the beggars themselves.

    I’ll have to admit that no child has ever mistaken me for its father.

  25. OFD says:

    “The amendment basically introduces punitive measures…”

    We have no shortage of people here, in government and out, who would make wonderful brownshirts or Stasi. They evidently work overtime dreaming up ways to hurt and punish other people who do not ‘get with the program,’ which is some variant of neocon/neo-Marxist imperialism, coupled with their wild enthusiasm for our corporate fascist oligarchy. All they need is a guy with a funny mustache or somebody sent in from another country in a sealed airplane or railway car.

    People who leave the country and ‘renounce’ their citizenship are clearly nefarious traitors who should be forever banned from ever again setting foot on Holy American Soil, and in future years, may well end up being shot on sight rather than merely imprisoned in our labyrinthine industrial gulag. A word to the wise, and so forth…

  26. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    If I wore a cat bell, it wouldn’t make any noise. Part of my martial arts training those many years ago taught stealth and silent movement. That became so ingrained that it’s still second-nature for me, even though I now carry a four-foot cane (which is actually a pretty useful weapon itself). If I’m going to make noise while moving, I have to do so intentionally.

  27. SteveF says:

    I also am about silent when moving. It’s not directly from martial arts training, it’s more a matter of being in complete control of my body, or as near as I can manage. And I scare the crap out of people (not literally, thankfully) all the time. However, most people are unobservant dodos, simple animals even dumber than sheep. Sheep are at least alert enough to keep an eye out for threats.

  28. Miles_Teg says:

    I walk so slowly that I almost never startle people. They pass me, I rarely pass them.

  29. Lynn McGuire says:

    “I went to grad skool at Rut-jizz. (the guys running the grease-wagon out front had more on the ball than the profs at the English Department or my fellow grad students, I kid you not.)”

    A grease wagon is a roach coach (food truck). Otherwise known as a converted bread delivery van (long) that sells hot food, drinks, etc:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_truck

    I’m guessing that Rut-jizz is Rutgers University.

  30. Lynn McGuire says:

    The US Constitution explicitly prohibits retroactive laws (“No ex post facto law shall be passed”), but no one pays attention to that dusty document.

    I am beginning to think that Obummer will be known as Mr. Executive Memo by the historians writing about him in the future. I can see the Wickipedia 2750 entry right now, “Second in a long line of failed Presidents starting with Jimmy Carter who felt the people’s pain and tried to correct all of societies ills simultaneously, not realizing that his solutions conflicted with each other and causing unemployment and more societal ills.”

  31. SteveF says:

    See also “Unintended Competition for Worst President in American History”.

  32. OFD says:

    “I’m guessing that Rut-jizz is Rutgers University.”

    Good guess. Yes, the grease-wagon is aka a roach-coach. They did a bang-up biz day and night there in front of the main campus. Behind them is a row of frat houses, many with towering mountains of empty kegs in their driveways. The University is a very large and sprawling campus on the banks of the Raritan River, and its humanities departments twenty years ago were hotbeds of Maoism and its infamous repression of anything the Party considers counter-revolutionary. During my grad student sentence there, they had the course distribution requirements set up so there was just no way you could avoid having to take one of their neo-Marxist indoctrination sessions, such as French Feminism and Transgender Manifestations of Textual Interrogatories. Between their clever working of the number of such courses and how they showed up in each semester’s schedule, I ended up having to take a course in Feminist Critical Theory and another one in African-American Poetry, even though my special field of study was Medieval and cross-disciplinary. The poetry course wasn’t bad; the actual class sucked, and naturally the professor was black and gay and his regular gig was at Columbia, but the readings were cool and I got to know some pretty good stuff from the Harlem Renaissance. The rest of the time on campus, when I wasn’t overseeing two or three sections of Freshman English, mostly remedial and ESL, and having to look at a hundred lousy student papers a week, was walking on eggshells in a super-heated PC atmosphere. I managed eighteen months in that gulag, while my first marriage disintegrated (a lawyer and now one of New Jersey’s “100 Super Lawyers” according to New Jersey Monthly Magazine, where I also worked, briefly) and my dad was dying of early-onset Alzheimer’s back in MA. It then took four round trips back to MA for the same job interview before I was finally hired at EDS, while they took a couple of far less experienced drones ahead of me. Then 2.5 years on the midnight shift, commuting past a bleak and desolate industrial park winter landscape that first year as the divorce (amicable) ground through the systems.

    And I know full well that the dudes on the grease-wagon had a far better empirical grasp of reality than the airhead Marxists in the English Department there.

    I am yet another fairly large male primate who generally moves extremely quietly most of the time, not really trying to, just happens. But it don’t pan out real well in this creaky old hobbit house. Still, I walk up behind Mrs. OFD all the time and she jumps a foot, which is partly what SteveF says; most folks walk and drive around all day in Cooper’s Condition White. If that.

  33. SteveF says:

    Maybe there should be a Condition Black: Eyes closed, or may as well be.

  34. OFD says:

    Word.

    Then there’s Condition Pink: the color of one’s face after showing up with a knife to a gunfight.

  35. Chuck W says:

    I am the only one I know who unconditionally accepts that gold is the primary, first, and absolute touchstone of value that all other commodities follow. IMO, it is not ‘just another commodity metal’ as most others accept. (Well, an outfit in the Berkshires, American Institute for Economic Research, used to propound that, but over the decades, their positions have deteriorated to unacceptable for my book.) When you see the value of gold “changing”, it is not gold that is changing, it is the value of the currency it is denominated in. Gold is ever the absolute constant touchstone of value over the eons. That has been made much harder to see by the abandonment of both fixed currency redeemability for gold and fixed currency exchange rates in favor of floating rates, that floating supposedly more truly reflecting ‘market values’.

    In fact, both are a total red herrings, because irredeemability and floating exchange rates mean that the signals for the investment value of things is distorted on a daily basis. During the significantly deflationary times of 1995 to 2001, this became quite evident as the price of gasoline fell to 99¢/gal in Boston—cheaper in other places. Now while the price was falling, the fact is that consumption was increasing. But the dramatic fall in prices, sent a signal to the investment community, that further investment in sucking oil out of the ground and refining it, was unnecessary. Price said there was too much oil, so investment was curtailed, precisely when it should have been increasing.

    When the deflationary binge, caused by Mr. Money Expert, Alan Greenspleen, came to an end, the fact became evident that there had been years of not enough investment in oil production, and the price shot up dramatically. It took significant time to build up the infrastructure that was not being built during the half-dozen years of deflation, as measured by the dramatically falling price of gold. In fact, it does not look like refinery processing reserve has even yet caught up with demand, as we in the Midwest have had serious shortages causing price increases well above the national average—all due to the fact that current refineries are dilapidated and not capable of producing consistently reliable quantities.

    IMO, copper is not going to have the value it once did as time marches on. Only the other day, I was just talking with a fellow who has the gig of going around the country, pulling copper telephone wires out of service as they are replaced with fiber. He was just in San Francisco, where they have pulled $41 million out of the city’s manholes and sold it. Some cables, he told me, had held 3,600 copper pairs. The world is figuring out how to get along without using so much copper.

    Here’s the deal in overview. Over ninety percent of the world’s debt is denominated in US dollars. When business is proceeding apace, and economies are producing, huge amounts of debt is being repaid, and that money is retired from circulation by banks every single day—additionally, we have reports from many quarters that banks are not lending anywhere near the rates they were prior to 2007. So that whole scenario is terrifically deflationary.

    What Bernanke has done to inflate the economy for QE is actually a massive undertaking. He recently announced that they gave up those QE efforts. And what has happened? Since the end of March, gold has fallen from US$1613/oz to US$1192/oz yesterday. Commodities are following. When businesses around the world are successful in paying their bills and their bank loans, it is tough—without fixed convertibility and exchange rates—for currencies not to appreciate in value.

    I have never bought this explanation that there is a run on gold and a “flight to quality” when you see the price of gold increase these days. I have looked, and nobody has produced figures that demonstrate that significantly more gold is being bought during crises, thus justifying demand-driven price increases for gold. It is my contention that what is happening is a fall in the value of the currency, thus indirectly raising the price of gold, independently of the volume of gold demand and purchase transactions. It only takes one purchase to re-price gold for the day, and there is always at least one of those daily. Demand for gold is not causing this price rise; the falling value of the floating currency is. Same with other commodities. The demand and transaction volume for those are often going in the opposite direction of the price. This is why, IMO, floating currencies and irredeemability against gold is a bad, bad idea. It is the reason business has invented hedge funds. No one needed hedge funds before Tricky Dick Nixon closed the gold window, and exchange rates between currencies were still fixed. Thank you John Maynard Keynes for convincing world policy authorities to believe the exact opposite of what is actually true.

    I don’t want to persuade anybody to do something because it is a sure thing, but for myself, I do not believe commodities always represent the best investment for the future. Since the end of March, holding dollars would have been better than holding either copper or gold. The only thing that is certain IMO, is that this will change at some point.

  36. Miles_Teg says:

    Ah, I see that Chuck actually does have a religion:

    “In Gold We Trust.”

  37. OFD says:

    I mainly agree with Chuck on gold. Just can’t afford to buy any. Will make do with silver.

  38. Lynn McGuire says:

    In fact, it does not look like refinery processing reserve has even yet caught up with demand, as we in the Midwest have had serious shortages causing price increases well above the national average—all due to the fact that current refineries are dilapidated and not capable of producing consistently reliable quantities.

    Nope. Your refineries are buying crude oil at the world price (Brent). The gulf coast refineries are buying crude at the west texas intermediate price because of the glut in cushing. There is a price difference between the two, it was $20/bbl, is it now $6/bbl.
    http://www.oil-price.net/

    In fact, it is even worse than that. The gasoline demand in the USA is dropping at 3% per year for the last several years. This is causing a major crisis in the USA refineries and about 30 to 50 (I am not sure at all) have closed in the last four years. There is about 80 or 90 refineries left in the USA, mostly on the gulf coast where they can get the cheap WTI oil and plentiful cheap natural gas for boiling the crude with (crude oil fired heater). If their crude oil fired heater uses oil, then their cost of making gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, kerosene, naptha, asphalt, etc is higher by 20% and it is cheaper to barge up the Mississippi. What costs you are seeing is the cost of transporting the gasoline from the gulf coast to other parts of the USA.

    The prices for oil and natural gas peaked in 2008 at $120 and $14. They are now $95 and $4 respectively. Oil is not down that much, natural gas is off by 2/3 and will stay that way forever. There is truly a revolution happening in natural gas usage. Those who cannot adapt to it (and a crude oil fired heater using natural gas is a huge expense, as much as a billion dollars with severe environmental issues) while close their doors. Competition is tough, especially in commodities like gasoline and diesel.

    You are also competing with Europe for the diesel. Much of the gulf coast diesel is now being sold and transported to Europe. Over a million gallons/day now and rapidly climbing. The USA is now the largest finished products (gasoline, diesel, kerosene, naptha, etc) supplier in the world.

  39. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    It doesn’t really matter if the basis of a currency is gold, silver, copper, petroleum, or grain, or indeed anything else that is both universally useful and meets the definition of economic scarcity. If you want to produce actual money (as opposed to paper currency), the historical choices have been gold, silver, and copper because they are coinable, durable, and provide useful units of value in a coin-size package. But there have been societies that have used such things as iron pigs, and before the Hall Process there was some serious consideration given to producing high-value coins of aluminum. (When they capped the Washington Monument with aluminum, that amount of aluminum cost more than the same amount of gold would have.)

  40. Miles_Teg says:

    “…before the Hall Process there was some serious consideration given to producing high-value coins of aluminum.”

    Ironic then that the only aluminium coins I have ever encountered were minted for the late, unlamented DDR.

  41. MrAtoz says:

    “Ironic then that the only aluminium coins I have ever encountered were minted for the late, unlamented DDR.”

    I still have some aluminum 1 won coins from my trips to S. Korea.

  42. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Of course, the DDR and Korean “coins” are actually tokens rather than coins. But back when gold was $20/ounce and aluminum $50/ounce, an aluminum coin would have been a real coin in the sense that the intrinsic metal value equaled or exceeded the face value.

  43. Chuck W says:

    Personally, I do not care what coins are made out of, as long as they are redeemable in gold. Other commodities come and go and their value swings over decades as technologies and style affect them. I would prefer that coins have intrinsic value that will never exceed the minted amount so they cannot become a commodity themselves and subject to hoarding; but then that means I am advocating trusting the government never to close the convertibility window.

    I am not a gold bug, and based on the past 3 months of its losing value, this is not the time to buy, IMO. Don’t know about where you live, but it seems at nearly every strip mall, there is a guy standing near the street waving a sign “We Buy GOLD” for some flaky-looking business back in the strip. Conventional investment wisdom is that it is always better to accumulate when the price is appreciating, than when it is falling, like now—unless you know you have a long, long life yet ahead of you. Those guys waving the signs encourage theft, IMO. An elderly couple related to me in a distant city (not my aunt and uncle) had the husband’s gold wedding ring stolen by someone on the staff of the assisted living place where they reside. He has early Alzheimers and is very pliable to requests. He has no idea what happened to the ring, but he has never taken it off since the couple were married over 70 years ago.

    My desire is to see economic policy in place that preserves the purchasing power of the money we hold, so buying hedges, like gold, are totally unnecessary. Inflation is nothing but theft by the government and economic policy-makers.

    Austerity itself is deflationary—although we don’t have much austerity going on in the US. All through their crisis, the euro has been holding its own against the dollar, in spite of their woes, and in part, because of their deflationary austerity. The shift in US bonds and recently rising Fed interest rates are also deflationary. Looks to me like deflationary forces are stacking up. Does not look good for gold in the near term.

  44. SteveF says:

    but then that means I am advocating trusting the government never to close the convertibility window

    Hahahahaha! That’s a good one. Know any others?

  45. Ray Thompson says:

    An elderly couple related to me in a distant city (not my aunt and uncle) had the husband’s gold wedding ring stolen by someone on the staff of the assisted living place where they reside.

    Happened to my aunt at the nursing. She had her wedding band on when I visited her before she died 4 hours later. When they transported her body to the funeral home there was no jewelry on her. Someone had stolen the ring. I know the funeral director so I don’t think it was him. I think it was the nursing home but had no proof.

    So another word to the wise when placing relatives in a care facility. Document the jewelry and have the place sign a document the item(s) was(were) present. Not sure what you can do later on except file theft charges against the facility. Too many of those and the facility will lose state certification.

    The assisted living was stealing diapers that we purchased for my aunt. We would purchase enough for two and 4 days later the place would call and say she was out of diapers. Someone was using the diapers for someone else whose family chose to not provide such items. We put our foot down and made one of the staff members sign for the next and subsequent deliveries of diapers. No more stolen diapers.

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