Thursday, March 26, 2009

Oil Prices Up, Demand for Oil Down . . . . Why?

Recent upward trends in oil prices -- in the middle of a recession's low demand for oil -- can cause questioning persons to squint their eyes and mouth, "WTF?!?" Here is one easy to understand explanation:
Oil prices have been rising steadily over the past few weeks, and are up 20% since the start of the year. Yet US oil inventories have also been rising, and are now at their highest level since July 1993. Stocks have risen in 22 of the last 26 weeks....

....The rationale for the disconnect between weak oil market fundamentals, and higher prices, lies in financial market sentiment. Traders continue to believe, as they have all year, that demand is just about to recover. A clear sign of this is the forward premium in futures markets, where the March 2010 WTI futures contract is $10/bbl above today's high price. _Source
This is the same type of trader - led upsurge in prices that created a lethal shock to the global economy last summer. Oil traders are thrashing about for some way to take a profit -- any profit.

The fact that rising prices in a time of naturally low demand will create an even deeper demand destruction than currently exists, is not relevant to the traders' thought processes.

Understanding how susceptible markets are to trader psychology is important for investors trying to see through the fog to near-term and medium-term economic trends.

The US Congress is responsible for much of the chaos in financial markets -- so don't look to Congress for any quick (or even slow) fixes. Congress is in the business of taking bribes and helping its friends. The interests of the people really do not signify.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Obama Driving Up the Debt Unvelievably Quickly

Image Source

President Obama has no real world expertise or experience. So it is no wonder that he is turning a cyclical downturn into a once in a century financial disaster. Welcome to perpetual trillion dollar deficits. The fallout will be severe, and will probably hit much sooner than either Obama or the CBO believe.

Incompetence such as Obama displays has been mercifully rare at the highest levels of government. Unfortunately, Obama is joined by Pelosi and Reid at the pinnacles of power. A perfect storm of incompetence. What are the odds?

H/T Instapundit

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Leftist Journalist? No Such Thing. Propagandist

Leftists are constitutionally incapable of presenting a balanced, objective look at anything with the slightest political overtones. Have you ever wondered how the leftist message stays so tight, and is able to turn on a dime? You wonder about that because you don't know about the ECHO CHAMBER ... Echo Chamber ... echo chamber ...
For the past two years, several hundred left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics have talked stories and compared notes in an off-the-record online meeting space called JournoList.

... it’s hard to trace JList’s influence in the media, because so few JListers are willing to talk on the record about it.

POLITICO contacted nearly three dozen current JList members for this story. The majority either declined to comment or didn’t respond to interview requests — and then returned to JList to post items on why they wouldn’t be talking to POLITICO about what goes on there.

...“There is nothing comparable on the right. E-mail conversations among bloggers, journalists and experts on our side tend to be ad hoc,” Goldfarb said. “The JournoList thing always struck me as a little creepy.”

Kaus, too, has seemed put off by the whole idea, once talking on BloggingHeads about how the list “seems contrary to the spirit of the Web.”

“You don’t want to create a whole separate, like, private blog that only the elite bloggers can go into, and then what you present to the public is sort of the propaganda you’ve decided to go public with,” Kaus argued.

But Time’s Joe Klein, who acknowledged being on JList and several other listservs, said in an e-mail that “they’re valuable in the way that candid conversations with colleagues and experts always are.” Defending the off-the-record rule, Klein said that “candor is essential and can only be guaranteed by keeping these conversations private.”

And then Klein — speaking like the JLister he is — said there wasn’t “anything more that I can or want to say about the subject.” _politico
Very, very creepy. The fact that most of the idiots on the list actually get paid for their ideas is a sorry measure of the state of intellectual life in the US.

Another interesting tidbit about leftist fat heads: Jon Stewart of the Daily Show has a brother who's an insider on Wall Street. Guess who prepped the glib poseur on how to confront Jim Cramer on the air? Not the tooth fairy.

And doesn't it seem weird how leftist pundits have jumped on the bandwagon en masse to deny that the Community Reinvestment Act had anything to do with the credit crunch. Very odd, and very untrue. But then, the ECHO CHAMBER has to stay on message, to keep all the right people in power and in control of public policy and disbursals.

You see, the ECHO CHAMBER is on a holy crusade to transform America into a new Europe. They seem to think they are going about it the right way. Seize the government, seize the media, demonize the opposition, and emerge triumphant and beyond reproach or accountability.

Interesting plan indeed. Let's watch it unfold, shall we?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

South African Police Look The Other Way When Black Men Rape Babies and Lesbians

In South Africa, men superstitiously believe that raping young virgin girls will cure them if AIDS. They also believe that raping a lesbian will cure her of her "disease."
Lesbians living in South Africa are being raped by men who believe it will 'cure' them of their sexual orientation, a report has revealed.

Women are reporting a rising tide of brutal homophobic attacks and murders and the widespread use of 'corrective' rape as a form of punishment.

...A statement released by South Africa's national prosecuting authority said: 'While hate crimes – especially of a sexual nature – are rife, it is not something that the South African government has prioritised as a specific project.' _DailyMail
This is what happens when the average IQ of a nation is 72, after the market-dominant minority loses political influence and is forced to flee the country.

Whatever happened to the prosperous South Africa that gave hope to Sub-Saharan Africa? All that is left is violence and an inability to run a complex technological infrastructure that was inherited from an alien culture.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Having A Clown for President Would be Better if He Were At Least A Little Bit Funny

A lot of people tried to warn the American voting public that electing an incompetent narcissist would come back to haunt them. And now it is just beginning to come true:

Obama's 12 Step Plan to Destroy An Economy

Obama's Brave New Debt that will never be paid off

Just one way that Obama has set out to destroy employment in the US

Obama's IQ is probably less than 115. And maybe a lot less. After all, the average IQ of attorneys has been going down (and not just because Obama and his wife became attorneys)

No matter what the good intentions Clown President Obama may have, he is most certainly paving a road to hell.

The only ones more ineptly clownish than Clown Obama, are the voters who pulled the lever for the bozo.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Pres. Obama On Verge of Nervous Breakdown

Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president's surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.

"Obama is overwhelmed. There is a .... tension between his ability to attend to the economic issues and his ability to be a proactive sculptor of the national security agenda.

"That was the gamble these guys made at the front end of this presidency and I think they're finding it a hard thing to do everything." Telegraph
The simple fact is that Barak Obama was not prepared to be US President. He was not prepared to be US Senator, for that matter, but in the Senate a member can spend most of his time running for president -- occasionally sparing the time to vote "present" on important issues -- and still be considered a US Senator in good standing. A president is expected to stay on top of things, and to actually ... you know ... make decisions.

Up to this point, Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel have been making almost all of the decisions for Mr. Obama. Obama makes decisions about vacations, parties, eating out, and setting the thermostat near 80 degrees F. Or perhaps Michelle makes those decision -- who knows?

White House insiders say Obama may not be getting enough sleep. What -- twelve hours a night is not enough? Perhaps a bit of modafinil might help, but I suspect that a nice long vacation is what the president really needs. Say, a forty year vacation in Hawaii? Perhaps he could run for president of the Honolulu Marxist Association? That might suit him to a tee.

Image h/t Rob's No Bull Zone

Previously published at Al Fin

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Obama to Lift Clinton Ban on Stem Cell Research

The reason newspapers are dying is because they lie to the public. As the public catches on to newspapers' dishonest agenda, they quite the papers in disgust. Take the example of reporting on Obama's lifting of regulations restricting embryonic stem cell research that date back to the Clinton administration. Most newspapers worldwide are reporting Obama's pending action as a reversal of a "Bush ban on stem cell research." In reality there was no such Bush ban. In fact, Bush opened up embryonic stem cell research that had been banned by the congress during the Clinton administration. Bush maintained the Clinton era ban on destroying embryos to obtain new stem cell lines. But he made vast new funding available for other types of stem cell research.

Obama is touting the reversal of a Clinton era ban that Clinton could not bother himself to deal with. But Obama's action will have a minimal effect on stem cell treatments for human disease, since such treatments will almost invariably utilise a person's own stem cells -- induced stem cells that have no danger of rejection by the immune system. That is the type of research that has been wide open for several years, thanks to Bush.

Here's more on the rest of the story of Clinton's stem cell ban

Here's an interesting pictorial primer on the financial meltdown

Check out this example of "buyer's remorse" from a liberal legal scholar who is suddenly uneasy about Obama's aggressive leftism that is destroying the economy.

Who Is Messing With the President's Brain?

Image Source
Barak Obama's addiction to the teleprompter is becoming a sore point with White House insiders. Not the addiction itself, but rather the fact that people are beginning to notice. In fact, Mr. Obama cannot give a simple four minute announcement without spoon-feeding from a teleprompter.

This unseemly dependency has prompted White House aides to pursue a less conspicuous way of feeding the president his lines. That is how the idea of a brain implant for Mr. Obama came up in conference recently. Caught between a rock (Mr. Obama's inability to speak publicly without prompting) and a hard place (the fact that Mr. Obama's handicap is being noticed beyond deniability), the White House Office of Perpetual Campaigning is considering the technology option. The only question now seems to be, "how to do it?"

A bionic eye implant may seem at first glance a plausible plan. But a few moment's thought should make it obvious that the "camera glasses" Mr. Obama would have to wear to make the bionic eyes work would be an unsightly obstacle to the president's facial expression magic.

When faced with the shortcomings of plan A, one White House counsel suggested a brain implant without the glasses. But there was the problem of how the implant would receive the signal transmitting the president's speech to his brain. Would he wear an antenna on his head? "No," scoffed another aide, "The president's hair is too short to conceal an antenna and power supply for the implant."

"Then what about using an implant that uses photoelectrodes instead of electrical signals? You could covertly beam the speech to an array of fiberoptics cunningly concealed in the president's hair!" yet another aide enthused.

"I've got a better idea," interjected Rahm Emanuel over the intercom. "How about using a focused ultrasonic brain stimulator? You wouldn't need any kind of receiver or antenna then!"

Everyone turned to look at the only scientist in the group, a neuropsychologist on loan from MIT. What did he suggest? "Well, there have been some embarrassing side effects from brain implants in the past. If the president started to ... you know ... in the middle of a State of the Union Address, or in high level talks with the Chinese Premier ... "

For a moment, there was only silence in the room. Then, over the intercom came the voice of WHCOS Emanuel: "we could always include a 'kill switch'." The suggestion was greeted with gasps and moans. "No, no, not that kind of a kill switch. Just a type of 'reset switch' that causes him to lose consciousness temporarily so that a medical team can rush him out, in case he starts to do something too embarassing."

With that explanation, the tension blew out of the room like from an unleashed free flying balloon. They were all in agreement, it would be done. Just how it would be done, and who could be trusted to do it secretly was another matter, for another conference. But that is how government works. That is just how government works.

Previously published at Al Fin

Friday, March 06, 2009

Russian Foundations Rocked by Economy

Putin could have continued propping up his Potemkin power vertical and his Potemkin democracy for many more years if the petrodollars kept pouring in. That money was crucial to keep Putin's "circus lions" -- that is, the various elite surrounding him -- well-fed and docile. But now the money is running out, and it is frightening to consider the consequences. It is well-known that even the best-trained circus lions have been known to turn on their trainers unexpectedly, even when they are well-fed. Just think of what could happen if those lions are hungry -- and angry. We have already heard the first menacing roars from Putin's lions. They are gritting their teeth and salivating at the mouth. I am sure that Putin sees and hears all of this. _MoscowTimes_via_LaRussophobe
Russian autocrats were counting on $95 a barrel oil, at the lowest. They were hoping for $150 to $200 a barrel oil, to perpetuate their lavish lifestyles and greedy acquisitions of power and influence. Who are these "circus lions" of Putin, these inner circle autocrats that Putin was hoping to be able to keep happy?
A former KGB officer, Putin has always been close to the "siloviki," the tight-knit clan of security service veterans he brought to power. It includes First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, military procurement chief Viktor Cherkesov, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov and Federal Antinarcotics Service head Viktor Ivanov.

But Putin has always balanced the power of the siloviki with the technocrats like Medvedev and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and the civilian reformers on their staff. In the boom years, there was enough in the state budget to satisfy everybody. But with the economy now shrinking at an annualized rate of 6 percent and the state budget facing a 42 percent revenue shortfall, the budget has become a political battleground. And the political battle is emerging into the open. _Walker'sWorld
Russia is not like the US, where thousands of people routinely scramble over each other for more power, always aware that after the next election they may be sent home to recover for their next battle. In the US, political losers go home to prepare for better luck next time.

In Russia, the inner circle holds power in a death's grip, understanding that a fall from power may very well mean their lives. Putin has succeeded in bringing something like the atmosphere of the Stalin Kremlin back to Russia. Russian citizens have only fond memories of their autocratic past. It is the way they suppose governments should be run, with an iron fist. Like the abused wife who assumes that her husband doesn't love her unless he is beating her.

Russian men die in their 50s of TB, AIDS, alcoholism, suicide, or just complications of living in Russia. Russian women flee the country to marriages in western Europe, North America, or Oceania -- if they are lucky. Otherwise they stay home, have far more abortions than births, and watch the population of their country shrink as its depleting wealth concentrates in the hands of a few powerful Kremlin men.

Always remember that Russia has enough nuclear weapons to destroy most of the world's cities and industrial centers. Russia's economy depends almost exclusively upon oil, gas, and mineral exports, because Russia's government is hardly more sophisticated than the sheikdoms of the middle east and North Africa. Russia has to drive up the price of oil and gas to save its current government. What do you think Russia will do?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Winter of 2008-2009 Sets Millenium Record!

Despite the prediction from the UK Met Office that this winter would be "milder than average", this winter is instead proving to be the coldest of the millenium.
Winter will return with a vengeance today, with a band of heavy rain and snow due to sweep across Britain.

More than a week's rainfall is forecast to deluge parts of England and Wales in just a few hours this afternoon, bringing the risk of flash-floods.

The heavy rain will be followed by hail and sleet over the next few days as temperatures plummet back to a few degrees above freezing.

Scotland will see heavy snow showers, with up to a foot expected to fall on higher ground. _DailyMail_via_GreenieWatch
The UK's climate center is making of habit of predicting the polar opposite weather from what actually occurs. Only NASA GISS is more fanatically attached to the idea of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) than the UK's Met Office. Such foolish predictability is causing official governmental climate offices to lose credibility with the public.

But not with the media. The media is every bit as in love with the phantom climate catastrophe as are the climate modelers whose government paycheck may very well depend upon the ability to maintain a "climate of fear" -- at least among government officials and budgeting offices.

Climate disaster from anthropogenic CO2 is a steamroller losing its steam. Climates are cooling rather than warming, despite ever rising levels of atmospheric CO2. As the oceans themselves show more cooling, the atmospheric rise in CO2 itself may begin to reverse itself. That would be most difficult for James Hansen and Al Gore to explain.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Economic Slapshots From Slapstick Players

It is difficult to mistake the absolutely amateurish nature of today's government interventions in corporate, national, and international economies. How did things get the way they are?
How did a drop of a percent or two in US home prices cause whole countries in Europe to go bankrupt?

Actually, how do we know the bad thing spread from the US to the rest of the world, and not vice versa? I invite you to look at the data. If you do, you will find that Europe's economic decline started before, and is deeper than, the US's.

Look at the 2nd quarter of 2008, for example. In that quarter, the US economy grew 0.7%. Yet the economies of France, Germany, Italy and Japan all shrank by 0.3% to 0.9%. In fact, the average for the Euro area was an economic shrinkage of 0.2%.

Those European economies that shrank in the 2nd quarter also shrank in the 3rd. By that time, so did the US's economy - but by just 0.1%. The Euro area's average shrinkage was twice that. The economies of Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom shrank five to six times as fast. _AmThink
Suggesting that the economic disease may be coming to the US from Europe, rather than the other way around. Not so unreasonable, that, given the full speed rush of the Obama reich to nationalise the economy -- just like in Europe.

Is it really such a good idea for government to get so deeply involved in the running of corporations?

Is Obama's plan to stabilise the mortgage markets a stroke of genius, or the brain stroke of a feeble mind?

Should we look at historical housing booms and busts to get a better feeling of what the home markets are doing?

Everyone in Washington DC appears to be in the handwringing mode to "do anything, even if it's catastrophically wrong!!!" In the case of Obama and his congressional cronies, you can almost bet on his remedies being much worse than the disease they are meant to cure. At least, that seems to be his plan.

Jolly Green Messiah Takes From Producers and Gives to Friends and Supporters

Perhaps it is time for America to tell Obama and his zombies that we get the joke. He won. His zombie-handlers in the Senate and the House won. It's their party and they can re-distribute and make their payoffs to cronies if they want to. But somewhere in all the trillion dollar deficits, you would hope that the zombie-masters would apply some genuine stimulation to the real economy. Not paybacks to big Democratic Party donours and supporters. Not an expansion of welfare back to pre-reform levels. Not an economy-killing energy policy that drives us all even deeper into recession.
Image Source
We have too much of that from the Jolly Green Messiah already. The real economy is being choked out of existence in the midst of unprecedented government spending -- of other people's money, and of money that does not even exist.
Federal policy is damaging the economy’s prospects. It fails to provide the needed tax incentives for investment in factories and equipment, incentives that were central to efforts to revive the economy during the Kennedy-Johnson era and under Ronald Reagan. But government spending can’t lead the way to sustained recovery, because its stimulating effect will be offset by anticipated higher taxes and the need to finance the deficit.

Heavy-handed federal intervention into the management of companies from banks to auto makers will also delay recovery. And misguided efforts to help distressed homeowners by permitting courts to rewrite the terms of mortgages will cause banks to limit mortgage lending, which will prevent housing from contributing to the recovery. _NYT
The US economy is nothing like it was in the 1930s. In some ways, it is much worse. When confidence in the US dollar finally erodes away, there is nothing to stop the economy's fall but a vast vacuum created by trillion dollar deficits -- courtesy of Dear Leader Obama-Messiah. These are the times for making alternative plans. Hope for the best. Plan for the worst.

Meanwhile, China is sinking billions of dollars into investments in the Caribbean and Latin America, building influence in the backyard of Obama and his zombie horde. Russia is likewise solidifying military alliances with Venezuela and Cuba. Weak presidents -- like Carter was and Obama is -- open the door to their country's enemies. China and Russia would be no kind of enemy at all, were they to turn down this opportunity. And despite significant problems at home, neither Russia nor China would dare pass up a chance to weaken the influence of the mutual bane to their individual dreams of world hegemony.

Previously published at Al Fin