There’s a lot of noise, many charts, too many bullies, and Mike Stathis continues to separate his points:
Throughout this debacle, I have made accusations against the executives of the major financial institutions, claiming they intentionally made bad loans and sold them off to naive investors.
They did this of course to boost earnings, which automatically boosted their bonuses.
Let me reiterate. The executives of every single large financial institution (as well as some medium-sized ones) engaged in shareholder and securities fraud. And due to the response from Washington, one could argue that our political leaders are guilty of taxpayer fraud.
Connect the dots.
Opinion is increasingly pointing to much more than mere regulation. Many are calling for the dismantling of centuries of banking chicanery.
In The Quiet Coup, Simon Johnson points out that the United States is no better than a banana republic:
The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States.
If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform.
And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.
Johnson is a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund.
Though not scholarly, this 2007 post, American Plutonomy, is one of the most popular on this site with readers popping in worldwide, most often from schools or colleges.
I’ve often said a banker has silver in his hair, gold in his teeth, and lead in his ass.
To describe today’s finance executive, we truly must update this ditty.
The air value over our roads is a trillion dollar frontier.
Who owns this right of way?
I propose the monorail.
The technology is simple.
Any region, any scale.
Nothing costs less.
Monorail & monobeam links here at the University of Washington. Texas Transportation Institute offers a 136 page .pdf study here.
[image, Bilger Monorail, BH ©]
Every 1 kg of gold in your hand required 540,000 kg of raw material input, more than 99 truckloads. There’s not enough coffee in the world to help me calculate how many buckets of materials were moved for a typical watch or wedding band.
Polyethylene only requires 5 pounds of resources per pound of end material. Copper needs 356 kg/kg, stainless steel 23 kg/kg. Virgin aluminum’s 66 kg/kg; recycled aluminum is just 1.2 pounds per pound.
WorldChanging has published a detailed article about resource utilization and how we rely on a basket of elements each day, Your Stuff: If It Isn’t Grown, It Must Be Mined. The USGS (United States Geological Survey) quoted these measurements showing that each American is using over 48,000 pounds of minerals each year:
* 12,428 lb. of stone
* 9,632 lb. of sand and gravel
* 940 lb. of cement
* 276 lb. of clays
* 400 lb. of salt
* 302 lb. phosphate rock
* 639 lb. of nonmetals
* 425 lb. of iron ore
* 77 lb. of bauxite (aluminum)
* 17 lb. of copper
* 11 lb. of lead
* 10 lb. of zinc
* 6 lb. of manganese
* .0285 T oz. gold
* 29 lb. of other metals, as well as,
* 7,667 lb. petroleum
* 7,589 lb. coal
* 6,866 natural gas
* 1/3 lb. uranium
If we’re near peak oil, what about minerals and ore?
Though necessarily crude, this timeline and article from NewScientist posted a (full version here) is an attempt to audit elements we need and their rate of use. A larger version of the graphic below is here.
Corn farmers will produce a record crop this year.
A quarter of the US corn crop will be used for ethanol. Corn prices are at a 10 year high – $750 an acre compared with $420 for soybeans. Planting more than 90 million acres, the US agricultural landscape is transformed as soybeans, cotton and wheat are displaced.
Animal feed prices are rising while ingredient supplies are under pressure. To use ethanol plant waste called distillers grain, feedlots are being relocated. To raise cash, feedlots are building power plants to capture cattle urine and manure. By-product markets are changing as oil crops, wood waste, grasses, sugar-cane stalks and citrus waste are moving toward fuel production. [Financial Times]
Corn Belt not required
Irrigation and fertilizer use is way up. Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta report that engineered seed sales bring high margins and record sales. For the next rotation, planting marginal land is likely with the use of patent seeds – potentially a one-third increase in total acreage. [Financial Times]
The United States surpassed Brazil last year as the world’s largest ethanol producer with around five billion gallons compared to some 4.3 billion gallons produced in Brazil. But the United States needs around 14 billion gallons just to provide enough for a 10 percent blend in this country’s gasoline supply. [Miami Herald]
Adjustments are global. Traditional US grain-belt exports are down. Feed and food shortages are expected to spike prices. Clearing new acreage, Brazil hopes to increase exports of food. Indonesia and India are under heavy pressure. China stopped licensing projects that use food grains for ethanol, causing sweet potato and sorghum demand to skyrocket as the next choice for fuel production.