Quick Roundup of News

Here’s a few things I thought readers might be interested that I’ve picked up on my web wanderings recently…

  • The Strib ran an article today laying out what many of us already know: wages are falling behind inflation. Even if you get a small raise every year, you’re still losing money. No wonder, then that consumer confidence took a hit in August as well.
  • For another reason why consumer confidence is shaky, I would refer you to the housing market. The NY Times has a nice graph showing how home values have exploded in the last decade. When things revert to the mean, it’ll be ugly for a lot of homeowners, including myself. Hat tip: Ran Prieur
  • If that hasn’t ruined your day, Mr. Chris Skrebowski, editor of the respected industry journal Petroleum Review, spoke at the ASPO 2006 conference in Lisbon last month. His message? We’ve got approximately 1500 days until the peak in global oil production. So,we’ll be in the throes of the oil price whipsaw for another 3/4 years until production flows of oil will fall permanently behind demand. Then we’ll move from the economic slow squeeze we’re starting to feel now and into a situation where declining oil production cannot be denied. If we will end up being lucky enough to hold off economic crisis and resource wars until then, we should count ourselves as having been lucky. All bets are off at that point.
  • I keep hearing reports that drought conditions across much of the US mean that ranchers will be taking their cattle herds to market early this year to avoid them dropping dead from lack of food and water in the field. If this comes to pass, expect a glut of meat products this fall, followed by rising prices next year. If you have a chest freezer, and you like beef, I would stock up soon.
  • Both Mark Kennedy and Amy Klobuchar are coming out with ads attacking big oil. Interstingly, Kennedy has been the recipient of over $80,000 worth of campaign contributions from big oil… I wonder how they like how their money is being spent? On the off-chance he does win the senate seat, I’m sure his anti-oil campaign rhetoric will be quickly and quietly dropped. Based on recent polling numbers, though, it looks like he’ll be back to his accountant job soon enough. I’m not a huge fan of Klobuchar or the Democratic party in general, but things seem to function better when there’s gridlock at the national level.
  • In a rare breach of professional ettiquette, Jimmy Carter has ripped Tony Blair a new orifice, more or less calling him Bush’s lap dog. I can’t wait to see if he’ll take the next logical step and go after Bush.
  • It’s been a year since hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Most of the affected homeowners there still have not gotten much if anything in the way of the promised relief from the government. Administration officials have noted that it may cost upwards of $200 Billion to put the Gulf Coast back together. There’s only been a trickle of money getting into the area, and more hurricanes will be hitting the USA this year and beyond. Add the $200 Billion figure to the over $300 Billion we’ve spent on our Iraq adventure, and it’s becoming easier to see that the people in charge are either spending wildly since they know the game is coming to an end sooner or later, or they’re simply lying about the aid, and it will never get to the people who need it. The new FEMA reconstruction plan for New Orleans seems simple: plan on living somewhere else. With more and more coastal development going on throughout the gulf region, you can’t help but think that this same scenario is going to get played out over and over and over again in coming years.

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