Coal World

Coal Boy

The November issue of Gregor.us Monthly, Coal World, has now been published and it carries an unhappy message. I am forecasting that the world will not successfully transition from oil to a broad basket of renewable energy and power sources over the next twenty years. Instead, I strongly favor an outcome in which oil, the construction fuel for the global buildout of new power generation, becomes so expensive that the world becomes energy poor, and turns instead back to coal. In case you hadn’t noticed, the process of energy impoverishment has already begun.

Those who would propose a successful energy transition over the next 20 years have failed, on a number of fronts, to produce a holistic model that pays respect to both the history of previous energy transtions, and to all (not just some) of the hurdles that lay before us. For example, one group of transitionists will lay out the technical feasibility of running the world exclusively on clean power. But they ignore the construction phase, or the energy required to fund it. Other transitionists will appear to address the construction phase, but instead will elide over crucial engineering details by invoking historical examples of national will–like the space program, or the retooling of Detroit during WW II. Most neglected however is the history of previous energy transitions. And here we find the largest hurdle of all. For, in humanity’s last two transitions, from wood to coal and then coal to oil, the trajectory each time was to a higher power density energy source. Energy transition is disruptive enough, but much less so when you are gaining energy density. And how do you suppose transition will be this time, going in the opposite direction, to lower density sources?

Last night I was on the phone discussing some of these issues with a journalist out of San Francisco. Once you begin to comprehend that 60% of the world’s oil supply is now in well delineated decline, and you understand the unchangeable fact of power density, then drilling offshore California in order to transform high energy oil into vast solar, wind, and grid infrastructure sounds less like a creative idea and more like an urgent necessity. This is precisely what I have been advocating this year here at Gregor.us and in TV and print media.

Today I’ll be making a presentation that speaks to these issues at the Agoracom Online Gold and Commodity Conference, broadcasting out of Toronto. Anyone can watch for free. In addition, while the recently published Gregor.us Monthly newsletter mentioned above has more detail on this issue, I intend to compose a much longer paper on the subject that will quantify my thesis and will attempt to bring all of the moving parts together.

From my newsletter:

Here in the West, I think we already have an excellent example of how well we confront and then treat large scale problems in the example of the 25 year credit bubble which burst two years ago. We did not admit to the problem as it was being constructed. And now, that the problem is laid bare, our chief policy makers will still not admit to the problem…If we agree that it’s hard for the Developed nations to solve large problems, whether of a financial nature or with regard to energy, then how likely is it that the Developing nations of the world will conduct energy transition any better? In the same way the Developed world is hooked on oil, the Developing world is hooked on coal…The developing world meanwhile is not likely to enter into onerous climate and carbon control agreements. Even if the BRIC countries were to do so, I could envision a decade (at least) in which year after year passed with widespread Climate Treaty compliance failure…It’s hard to beat coal. Coal is both slippery in price, and versatile in use. Coal burns either with big infrastructure, or, without much infrastructure. You can load up large ships with coal or you can carry coal in a basket. Here’s the problem: Coal often prices itself just below other energy sources.

When confronted with the task of our current energy transition, I include the potential of innovation, breakthroughs, and behavioral choices as highly influential mitigating factors. But they do not have primacy. In truth, a good dose of deterministic thinking is precisely what’s called for now, and it should not be avoided. I’m not sure what color is the pill marked Determinism but swallowing a few of these would hardly be injurious. It might even be motivating. Because unless we get serious about using the remaining oil to fund the 25 year construction phase for a new class of power generation, the world will become ever more energy impoverished. And when you’re impoverished, you don’t burn expensive oil.  And you certainly don’t build out vast wind power and solar capacity. When you’re impoverished you burn coal.

-Gregor

Photo: Library of Congress: This circa 1908 photograph shows a trapper boy at Turkey Knob Mine in Macdonald, W.Va. Trapper boys were paid 85 cents a day in Monongah, W.Va., to operate the wooden ventilation doors known as traps that controlled the flow of air inside the mines.

  • http://www.worldofwallstreet.us/ Douglas M Dillon

    Would like to subscribe, but it seems too expensive. Would sign up for a 50% discount.

  • gregor.us

    Thanks Doug. A less expensive way to gain exposure to my ideas is via http://www.gregorweekly.com

    I agree that Gregor.us Monthly is expensive for many individuals. However, the length of issue (16-20 pages), the amount of data that is addressed, and the hours devoted forms the basis for what is actually an attractive price. It's true, alot of my subscribers are hedge funds and pro money managers. I think for them, 130/month is tactically advantageous considering what's available. It's very rare that I “bang my own drum” so to speak but I see alot of the energy analysis out there that comes from the “best” research teams and frankly it's nothing special.

    But some of my subscribers also take the gregorweekly subscription too. That is more broad, but, it actually offers actionable ideas.

    Thanks for writing. Hope this helps.

    Best,

    G

  • burkbraun

    “…drilling offshore California in order to transform high energy oil into vast solar, wind, and grid infrastructure sounds less like a creative idea and more like an urgent necessity. This is precisely what I have been advocating this year here at Gregor.us and in TV and print media.”

    I have to say that this seems irresponsible, in view of human nature. For the moment, oil is still cheap and half the culture is in denial about making this transition at all. Encouraging continuing oil addiction in the media is not advancing the primary goal, which is to commit ourselves to the transition for the wide array of policy reasons and necessities. So the horse needs to be put before the cart, which is to say that full commitment to new energy future needs to be made at the requisite scale (100%), and the old energy needs to be made unattractive (by carbon taxation) before we should even think about using remaining oil sources “for” the transition, rather than “for” continuing in SUV-driving denial.

  • gregor.us

    Perhaps I've misunderstood you, but it almost sounds like you require that society have an epiphany before you would advise getting on with the transformation of high energy density oil, into new clean powergen capacity. Overall, you do seem to have understood that my approach is to end BAU–especially with regard to the car. However, I am not sure why you refer to oil as cheap.

    I suspect we agree quite alot about human nature and are coming at what is admittedly a very complex problem–an mix of materialism and social psychology–from different angles.

    Could you say more about how you see it playing out? Have I got you mostly correct that you want to see a shift in public understanding, first, lest any transition energy and capital be spent on a non-appreciative public?

    Do say more!

    G

  • Rick Gresham

    I'd be curious to learn the results of your applying your analytical skills to evaluating a transition to dimethyl ether (DME) and bio-DME in particular. With the exception of aviation, I haven't found a combustion application yet that couldn't be relatively inexpensively converted to DME distributed through a modestly upgraded existing infrastructure. While energy density may be a bit more than half that of gasoline or diesel on a weight basis, on a volume basis it compares a bit better and it's every bit as convenient to use as propane. And it can be produced from pretty much anything containing carbon inlcuding wood, garbage, scrap tires, biosolids, brown coal, petcoke and so on. Look to China for inspiration.

  • burk

    Hi, Gregor-

    It is not whether the public is appreciative or not, but whether policy incentives are place to productively direct those last drops of oil. Right now, oil remains cheap enough to burn for pleasure- powerboats, escalades, you name it. That is where it is going, and in this current climate, urging policy makers to drill for more only prolongs the addiction.

    My primary focus is on climate mitigation, not saving the oil industry or our cheap energy ways. So I have a slightly different angle, as you say. You are certainly right about China- that China is going to use coal for a very long time to tide themselves over both to development and to a new energy system. I find that deeply disturbing, but that is the way it is going to go. We, on the other hand, can get rid of coal in very short order, with the right incentives. We are financially and technically capable of that step if we have the policies for it.

  • gregor.us

    Thankyou. Would you address therefore my very clear reccomendation to drill for oil to create the capital needed to build Alt E (dollar for dollar) as I assume you understand I have zero interest in creating more oil for BAU (business as usual).

    Cheers,

    G

  • cougar_w

    Jumping in uninvited…

    “Drill off-shore to fund Alt-E” wouldn't work, but only because of politics. As soon as the fields open, the citizenry will demand (and receive) that oil for BAU and the Sacred American Way of Life. Period.

    Nobody will accept pain in the near-term for benefits in the long-term. If they did the gyms would be packed to the gunwalls with people grunting and wheezing to add 10 more quality years to their lives. Not going to happen with the “yeast people” as they've been aptly named. They'll die 10 years too soon and complain that nobody helped them.

    Politically, we require transcendent leadership. We need leaders now of a kind not seen on the North American continent since Teddy Roosevelt. We need leaders who will take up the clue-stick and hit people with it. Hard. Lots of times. And when that leader fails to win election (as everyone would predict in advance) then another comes along and picks up the very same clue-stick and starts hitting people all over again. Repeat that over 6 or 8 election cycles and people will eventually get the idea that the LEAST painful thing to do is just go ahead and make the changes these leaders are demanding on the observation that the leadership is actually leading and not just fawning for reelection.

    And until that sea-change happens we cannot drill for more oil. We should leave the oil in the ground and — dare I say it — just burn the coal for a while, until the suffering begins in earnest. And when people have the religion and are willing to do what is required — pull out the oil and use every last drop of it to try and save our sorry asses via Alt-E development or whatever else we've come up with in the meantime.

    cougar

  • krichardson

    Hi Gregor,

    I agree, that without a deterministic attitude, we could be sooting in our energy pants.

    However, we shouldn't discount the trajectory of technological innovation as a mitigating factor. Contrarily, I believe it is a leading factor as demonstrated by our accelerated embrace of technological solutions to just about everything – even things which weren't perceived as problems. We couldn't eat without technology.

    Quite incidentally, you might be blogging via typewriter ribbon, blue carbon paper and Xerox machine through a postal network – if we hadn't perceived the advantage of the evolution of the transistor to the microchip and taken it to the street with some thanks to ARPAnet.

    Solar cells aiming at 40% efficiency are now beyond theory – expensive, sure – but so was the first 8080 processor.
    http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/23/sharp-solar-

    The time to implement smart technological energy sources on massive scale is the issue of course, but as usual, the bumps in the curve are the most interesting. A coal retrograde implies that real go-getters are on very, very long hiatus – and that probability is in the minority – in my opinion.

    I can't burn coal or oil on my roof, but I can put up solar panels, especially if my government helps me. Simple, a deterministic attitude!

    KR

  • http://biophilic.blogspot.com/ burk

    That is very good to hear. Then please advocate Alt E, not BAU/drilling.

    Also, we have plenty of capital- we are awash in capital, as the recent housing unpleasantness illustrated. What we lack are rational economy-wide incentives toward Alt E.

    Best wishes -B

  • gregor.us

    Very respectfully this is a common misunderstanding that we have plenty of capital. It's illuminating that you would point to a credit bubble (not a capital bubble) as evidence that we have plenty of capital.

    More broadly, I would be a strong supporter of radically altering the budget of the US to devote tax revenue to build Alt E. But I find that the scale of these problems is often not dealt with quantifiably but that is very understandable once one starts dealing in Quads of energy, and Trillions of debt.

    Drilling is not BAU per se. Drilling to create capital to build Alt E actually would be something new. By the way, California is broke, and in debt. And so are many other states. But hey, we could decimate the size of government, decimate services, jack taxes to try and create capital but no one is going to choose that pain.

    Again, I find that Americans (my fellow Americans) continue to believe we have lots of choices, time, and capital.

    Thanks for all the great comments! I do not claim ownership of the answers. I only claim that I have studied the magnitude of the problem from both a historical side, an economic side, and an energy source side.

    Cheers.

    G

  • gregor.us

    See my presentation today at Agoracom, and also see the MIT group's work on solar buildout. BTW, I am an advocate of massive deployment of solar. But I take it seriously when someone tells me we will need manufacturing floor space the size of the state of Rhode Island, and 20 years to convert the BTU demand in the country to solar.

    And yes, I am a big fan of incrementalism and I think one has to look at Energy Transition as both one big event, and then as a series of millions of smaller events.

    But I am negative on the prospect for economies to do what is necessary. We shall see.

    Cheers,

    G

  • gregor.us

    I like your attitude!

    G

  • burk

    Very respectfully, I have to ask where does credit come from? It represents the flip side of capital. One business's credit is another business's capital (improperly leveraged, I'll admit!). Some of our banks were certainly caught short of capital, but overall, we've got plenty, when you include the ability of the government to print it. Isn't Exxon still making money hand over fist? What are they using it for?

    I'm no macroeconomist, or an economist at all, but money is the token of overall productivity, which remains high. Additonally, interest rates are zero, also indicating that there is no shortage of capital/credit for those who want (to lend) it, however reluctant banks are to lend into current conditions. So gearing for Alt E is a matter of incentivizing the new use of capital, not creating capital. And the most significant aspect of that is penalizing carbon to make Alt E an economic proposition. I take your estimates of overall costs for the change to heart, but the power of the capitalist system is that it can bring formidable forces to bear when properly incentivized.

  • gregor.us

    How did you come to your view of penalizing carbon, rather than redirecting carbon? Or, are they perhaps fused/linked for you. I ask this question because I really want to understand the “penalization of carbon” model as a key driver of energy transition. Where does this idea come from, and why does it have validity? I don't ask in a mere socratic way, I really want to know what you think.

    Best,

    G

  • burk

    Hi, Gregor-

    What is keeping silicon valley from investing more in Alt E? What is putting solar projects on the back burner in California? The economic downturn has brought down the price of oil, and weakened the cost advantage (if any) of Alt E. The economic model has been damaged, as they say. I think it is pretty mainstream economics that argues that far better than a cap-and-trade system would be a straight carbon tax, if one wants to transition to new energy as quickly as possible. As you point out, coal is still too cheap relative to Alt E. Coal especially needs to be subject to taxation to prevent its use, which you seem to be interested in as well.

    On a very macro level, I agree with your thread that it is going to be tough and expensive to do this full transition. But Alt E is right now on the cusp of commercial competitiveness- especially wind and concentrated solar. For all the concentrated-ness of the carbon fuels, Alt E can do the job in many ways, given the large scale of solar and wind sources, the use of biofuels for liquids, and the transition of much of transportation to straight electricity (or perhaps fuel cells for larger units).

    As for the “redirection” concept, that seems rather unclear to me. We do not run a Soviet system where central planning gins up 5 year plans of inputs and outgoes. Rather, we run a metabolic system whose central energy currency is fossil reduced carbon. Whatever is economically favorable will be done, and whatever is not, will not. So it is all a matter of adjusting incentives in a world of fungible energy currency, not a matter of assigning the outputs from one pipe into the intakes of another pipe. Capital will find the Alt E sector, if the prospects of growth and returns are there rather than in the carbon sector, and nothing could make that clearer than a substantial and rising carbon tax. And the government could use the income as well.

    Some of this view comes from the climateprogress blog, other bits from scientific american, science magazine, and so forth. But the basic utility of carbon taxation is mainstream from what I gather. Perhaps once we are further down the peak oil path, carbon taxes will no longer be required to encourage this transition. At that point things get quite a bit more stringent, perhaps a bit scarier, as you focus on. But there seems to be many years of gas, oil, and coal remaining, so I'm not holding my breath!

    Thanks and best wishes -B

  • http://biophilic.blogspot.com/ burk

    Let me cite a recent mainstream discussion by Martin Wolf:
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1f6c42fc-dead-11de-ad

  • bobsagetfanatic

    Fantastic conversation in all of these comment threads, and tremendous post by Gregor. However, it appears it is all moot now:
    http://money.cnn.com/2009/12/03/news/economy/ch

  • http://economic-undertow.blogspot.com steve_from_virginia

    Good discussion and apt. Unfortunately, nothing will be done until there are bodies in the streets.That's just the way it is in this country, Beavis and Butthead Nation.

    Funny thing is the road to solving both the energy and economic probs is simple: a substantial and escalating gasoline tax – $3 to $5 to start. Gas should be as expensive here as in Turkey or Finland.. People wouldn't like it but would put the public in a mindset that would allow further steps toward conservation.

    A gas tax would knick OPEC on its ass. Step #2, declare OPEC a criminal organization. (If I was in charge I would order Americans to throw away their televisions, but that is another topic.)

    A lot of the problems orbit around the perception of 'sticky demand' which is true to a point. Declining demand would make matching infrastructure to service requirements less onerous. A gas tax would pay for transit, cut traffic congestion, cut fatalities, cut smog and carbon gases, cut repair costs, put the world on notice the USA has started to take the real problems seriously. After the first baby steps are taken, the rest of the journey becomes both clear and a lot easier.

    National driving license, medallions for all motor vehicles to be sold at auction, mandatory energy use targets for 3 and 5 year periods (backed with stiff curtailment measures if targets aren't met such as gas rationing), natgas usage priorities; gas for home heating, nitrate fertilizer and base-load electric ONLY (no gas cars), standard rail, streetcars and trams nationwide w/ New York- style subways in big cities (that alone would employ millions) and organic agriculture nationwide (ban industrial and confinement agriculture).

    End the wars and bring the military back to the US, saving lotsa fuel.

    None of this is hard, I'm sitting here coming up with this extemporaneously. It's all easy. In fifty years we have a nicer country, no fuel problems, skinnier people and nature not on the edge of the abyss holding us humans by the shirttail.)

    We just refuse to take the easy steps, trying every sort of evasion and folly in an attempt to support the insupportable. Consequently, we will suffer the insufferable.

    Funny thing is, the entire auto/industrial agriculture operating system – the source of the energy and finance problems – has fallen on the high fuel price sword and is disintegrating on its own. The establishment will have to reorient away from the adorable and wonderful automobile regardless.

    Until then, more and more folly, more and more waste, more and more suffering .. Too bad, so easy, but whaddya gonna do!?

  • BrianSJ

    Good post once again.
    Do you mean *burn* coal? The Victorians saw burning coal as a terrible waste of a wonderful chemical cocktail, hence coal gas.
    Now that the feet of clay of the false gods of AGW have been seen, things might get a bit better. There may be an opportunity for a rational conversation before the next nonsense comes along.

  • burk

    And if I may go on slightly more, every Sierra Club magazine issue bemoans how cheap coal is. That is not news. The issue is how we get ourselves off of coal ASAP. Do we “use” cheap coal to build an Alt E infrastructure whose business rationale is nonexistent? Or do we activate the business rationale for Alt E directly by penalizing carbon (which is to say, charging for its externalities)? Bootstrapping Alt E will work if its business rationale is in place, and if the transition is gradual, not catastrophic.

  • gregor.us

    Steve, how did the power grid become the first system to address, among those who list climate change as their highest priority? I am wondering if you can answer this. Is it a cultural phenomenon? Am I wrong in my assessment that the global automobile complex only mildly registers among those who presume to design carbon reduction policy?

    What's your view of the landscape?

    G

  • gregor.us

    But surely anyone who advocates a carbon tax has redirection as their aim, yes? Carbon taxes, or de-carbonizing–as voluntary or mandated policies — I am suddenly quite befuddled as to how this premise became so entrenched, and that it was ever launched in the first place and so widely embraced. I advocate carbon redirection, because I think that's possible. Carbon reduction? Who thought this idea was possible among humans? I'm not even convinced it's possible operationally.

    I suddenly feel as though I have stumbled upon a gargantuan assumption: that human economies and societies can voluntarily de-carbonize, through mandated incentives. It seems so obvious at first glance that this would work. However, my reading of history, of previous energy transition and of our current moment gives me pause.

    Has anyone considered, for example, that the world has already turned to coal to escape the rising cost of oil? I have spent 7 years looking at the data. And as a result I have some early answers.

    Thanks again.

    PS: I have also done very extensive research into the history of climate and air quality pricing. The idea that air was part of the commons and that there should be a tax on those who would abuse it can be traced at least as far back as the late 1890's to two British economists. So, I get the idea. Very much so.

  • http://economic-undertow.blogspot.com steve_from_virginia

    Wow, in twenty- five words or less?

    I thing it's cultural to the degree that utilities have to extend their investment return horizons a lot farther out than other industries do. I'm not an expert, but utilities are public about they way they plan to meet perceived future consumption.

    I read an article not too long ago where an advocate suggested reducing greenhouse gases by a large amount by using gas combined- cycle turbines now idled except for peak loads as replacement for base load coal plants, which would be then taken out of service. I can probably find the article, I pasted it onto Oil Drum a few months ago. It wasn't a utility proposal, but it certainly isn't a controversial idea. The plan would cut CO2 emissions by 30% or more, without a loss of capacity.

    I suspect in most industries, the engineering professionals understand that climate and energy shortage issues are real. The managements are out of step as are the marketing programs. What's changing attitudes is the increasing likelihood for massive liability claims against polluters. Tobacco litigation is a harbinger.

    I instinctively feel that the real problem is the faltering of the narrative; modernity's 'all out war on everything'. It's a Buck Rogers, Marvel Comic World out there, everyone zooming through space and blasting enemies.It's all so unbelievable and silly it's taken for granted as a kind of alternate reality: Kunstler's Kartoon Kountryside.

    Relieved of any obligation to think by a drama this is increasingly one sided, people cease doing so.

    The auto industry has a) had its head up its ass for decades,or, b) is completely realistic about the future of personal transport in the country and the world and is following the lead of finance and cashing out and leaving town. I vote for a) and b). I personally cannot see the auto industry existing in any semblance of its current form in five years; I suspect auto industry insiders feel the same way I do but won't say it.. The sunk costs are exorbitant and are morphing into much more burdensome stranded costs every day. I tell people, “Oil isn't just something you put in your car, it's a platform.” The platform includes everything that is used by the car or relies on the car or the car relies on in turn. America designed the platform around $20 oil where there is a profit returned to commerce on the oil consumed.

    There is decreasing return on the consumption at the higher price levels; meaning declining relative energy productivity. . @ $75, the commodity value of oil is greater than the value of the commerce leveraged from it.

    This is our current and long running economic crisis in sixteen words. The platform needs complete replacement every ten years or so as a matter of maintenance and repair. The platform is unaffordable @ $75 a barrel .or even $40 a barrel. You can see for yourself the outcome, everything from roads to overpasses to stores and housing developments are falling apart.

    Here's an interesting nugget on energy productivity from Stuart Staniford:

    http://earlywarn.blogspot.com/2009/12/leage-tab

    IMO, Electric cars won't be produced in great numbers as they need internal subsidies from sales of large, gas guzzling pickup trucks and SUV's in order to be profitable; this is as true for Honda and Toyota as for other makers.. No guzzlers means that electrics are too expensive to produce and too pricey to sell well. Consequently, electrics generate more carbon and excess fuel use than standard ICE vehicles.

    Oops, 25 word limit is reached.

  • BrianSJ

    A carbon tax seems a much simpler thing to do than Alt E incentives. The UK has abused wind power as a subsidy scam, which is typical for such an incentive scheme. The wierd dreams of those proposing world government at Copenhagen presumably are aimed at making such a carbon tax enforceable on a global basis (good luck with that). As you say in the previous post, we overshoot. The energy overshoot is going to be very unpleasant, and your pessimism on this seems justified.

  • zmoore

    Natural Gas used to be dirty. In fact much of the production has
    considerable amounts of toxic hydrogen sulfide (H2S), CO, CO2 etc.
    These used to be pumped down the pipes to customers right up to the 70s.

    Yellow kitchens, acid rain, rotting pipelines, sick people all resulted
    from dirty NG.

    In this time frame governments forced Oil to clean up the Gas.
    Oil responded by blackmailing each jurisdiction with the threat of
    higher costs or pulling out of production. Never the less the sweet
    gas has been getting scarcer and sour g as is being exploited.
    NG is now much dirtier than coal as sour gas sometimes has 25% H2S etal.
    Yet it is economic to produce and sell NG at these levels of input contaminates.

    What happened? the Oil companies caved and the Goverments won.
    Also Oil found markets for the stripped products, sulpher for
    fertilizer etc and now makes more money of NG.

    Coal could be made clean but only if forced to be. Industry will never by
    itself do such a thing. The inherent BTU advantage, Gregor's point,
    of coal could make up for the extra cleanup costs.

    This of course doesn't address the carbon issue but it could help the cost
    side.

  • BrianSJ

    http://www.nationalgasmuseum.org.uk/index.asp?p
    The above is how we used to have clean coal. The 'tar' condensed out was used for all sorts of products.
    There was the problem of piping CO into people's houses, but there has to be a solution to that these days.

  • Militiades

    Of all the commentators I have come across you are my favorite. I hope someday you publish a book on your thoughts of our energy future. Personally I would suggest the optimistic scenario alongside the more likely (pessimistic) scenario. If it is anything like the material you publish on this website it will be a best seller.

    Unless this civilization is lucky enough to find our way out of the carbon trap we will most certainly end up like those cited in the Jared Diamond book “Collapse”.

    My hope is that government has some foresight and archives the knowledge we have learned over the past hundred centuries.

  • Mike

    I said it before, and I am going to say it again: What we need in this country is vigorous economic growth. If other countries can grow at 10% a year, so can we! It is all a matter of putting in place the right policies and tax incentives.

    This is the only way out of this mess that we are in. Strong growth reduces unemployment. This is a prerequisite for homeowners to have a paycheck to pay the mortgage, so that real estate stabilizes and the banking crisis abates.

    It will also increase company profits and help the stock market move higher to help people's retirement plans catch up. Why don't we do it? Wish I knew. All the focus has been on irrelevant issues and not on this important one. Hopefully it will be addressed soon.

    By the way, with all the volatility in the stock market, it is important to know when to get in and when to get out. Timing signals can help an investor enhance their investment returns.

    Consider http://invetrics.com

    Its daily DJIA index trading signal is up a respectable 77% for the year (as of December 2, 2009) and it is free of charge for individual investors.

  • john

    Gregor—why do you think California would have the dicipline to spend the income from offshore oil development on energy saving infrastructure instead of pissing it away on higher pay for prison guards or better retirements for government workers. Past history of a dysfunctional state do not give me any optimism that it would not go to raise K-12 pay rather than pay for a rail network. jmho

  • john

    Gregor—why do you think California would have the dicipline to spend the income from offshore oil development on energy saving infrastructure instead of pissing it away on higher pay for prison guards or better retirements for government workers. Past history of a dysfunctional state do not give me any optimism that it would not go to raise K-12 pay rather than pay for a rail network. jmho

  • john

    Gregor—why do you think California would have the dicipline to spend the income from offshore oil development on energy saving infrastructure instead of pissing it away on higher pay for prison guards or better retirements for government workers. Past history of a dysfunctional state do not give me any optimism that it would not go to raise K-12 pay rather than pay for a rail network. jmho