Are We Reliving the 1930s?

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Posted on 6th December 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Those who forget the past are condemned to relive it. The Greater Depression will lead to an all encompassing total war. It’s happened before and it will happen again. The signs are clearly evident to anyone with their eyes wide open. It will be Russia and China against the declining western powers. There will be no winners. Get your house in order. Be prepared to die.

If you haven’t read The Fourth Turning, I strongly advise you to buy it for Christmas and read it.

Guest Post by Neil Howe

This editorial originally appeared in Forbes.

At the close of last week’s G20 Summit, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron warned that we’re on the verge of another global recession, citing problems like looming deflation, falling prices, and rising protectionist sentiment. This list evokes a sense of déjà vu: not about the Great Recession, but the GreatDepression. That was the last time we ever seriously worried about disinflation, along with every practically other aspect of economic performance raising alarm bells today: low interest rates, weak investment, slow productivity growth, and chronic labor force detachment.

To be sure, this isn’t an easy comparison to swallow. The Great Depression is the ultimate measuring rod of economic catastrophe to which every other downturn is compared. But as time goes by and forecasts of full recovery keep getting deferred like an ever-fading mirage, it’s one worth examining. How does the Great Depression of the 1930s compare with the Great Recession of the 2010s? Let’s look at the GDPs of the U.S., U.K., and continental Western Europe from 1929 on and from 2007 on, using the base year as an index.

Great Depression v. Great Recession, United States GDP

Great Depression v. Great Recession, United Kingdom GDP

Great Depression v. Great Recession, Europe GDP

A few contrasts stand out. First, the Great Depression triggered much deeper drops in GDP and employment rates in the United States than in any major European country. The peak-to-trough drop in the United States from 1929 to 1933 was a stunning 26 percentage points of GDP, versus only 11 points in Europe and 6 points in the U.K. The employment drops were similar. Second, in both Europe and especially the United States, the depth of the Great Depression was much greater than the depth of the Great Recession. Only in the U.K. was the GDP loss roughly the same.

Yet these figures don’t mean that the Depression was definitely worse. Though it was deeper, it was also shorter than the Great Recession in the U.K. and in Europe—and it likely will be shorter than the Great Reces­sion in the United States. The recovery in the ‘30s occurred much faster than it has in recent years. In the U.K., GDP was already back above its 1929 level by 1934, five years after the recession began. Europe met that milestone by 1935, six years after their recession began. Today, Eur­ope is going into its seventh year of recession and still has not regained its 2007 GDP level. In the United States, we remain better off today (relative to before the crash) than during the Great Depression, but that’s due to the severity of the early drop.

What’s more, from 1933 on, U.S. GDP grew at a blistering average rate of over 8% per year for the next eight years. And that includes one recession year: 1938. By 1941, 12 years after the Great Depression began, U.S. GDP was 41% higher than its pre-downturn figure. This is almost certainly a much higher level, relative to 1929, than the United States will see by 2019, relative to 2007.

My point is not to diminish the magnitude of the Great Depression. It was certainly more terrifying, especially in its early years and in the social restlessness and political radicalism it spawned. But we can no longer think of it as longer-lasting: Bad times are shaping the temperament of a new rising generation around the world today just as surely as the original Great Depression did back then.

So perhaps a new nomenclature is in order. Instead of calling this the “Great Recession,” maybe we should call it the “Long Depression.” Paul Krugman, who has often pointed how much worse Europe is doing today than it was in the 1930s, coined the term “Lesser Depression” for our post-2007 experience. Brad DeLong, Krugman’s kindred spirit at UC Berkeley, also adopted this expression—until inventing yet punchier ones, like “The Second Great Depression” and “The Greater Depression.”

For Krugman and DeLong, such dire relabeling has (at least in part) one very specific objective: to shock voters and leaders into supporting the sort of massive fiscal stimulus they have long advocated. But you don’t have to be a militant neo-Keynesian to see the numbers for what they are—and to appreciate that the world has entered an era of grinding economic crisis since 2008 whose social and political consequences have yet to fully unfold.

Seeing the two “depressions” as historically and generationally comparable, makes it easier to recognize other similarities between the 1930s and the 2010s. Many are economic, as we have seen. But others are demographic (falling fertility, migration, and mobility). Still others are social (growing localism, income inequality, and distrust of elites; stronger families; and declines in personal risk-taking). And still others, ominously, are geopolitical (rising isolationism, nationalism, and authoritarianism, and the unraveling of any “world order” consensus).

The confluence of all these trends is not accidental. In general, each trend happens because most of the others are happening at the same time. The era as a whole, therefore, has its own internal logic, which doesn’t allow the component pieces to change much until the whole system changes and transforms into a new era. In my writings on generations and history, I call these sequential eras “seasons” or “turnings.” And right now, America and most of the rest of the world is in the winter season or the “Fourth Turning.”

These parallels between eras are so numerous and striking that they are hard to miss once we look broadly at the direction of events. That’s why connecting the economic challenges of the 1930s with those of the 2010s, and seeing them as comparable in some respects, makes a difference. When we are connected to history, we can comprehend better what else is happening in the 2010s, predict better what is likely to happen next, and to figure out, if necessary, how we can avoid an outcome that we regard as especially dangerous.

EITHER YOU’RE THE BUTCHER OR YOU’RE THE CATTLE

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Posted on 16th October 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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I know many people have no interest in watching the boob tube because 99% of the programming is either mindless drivel or government sanctioned propaganda. It’s the 1% that reflects the deeper themes and moods engulfing our society. Television shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead reflect the darkening mood of this intensifying Fourth Turning. I wrote one of my more pessimistic articles called Welcome to Terminus in April regarding the season four finale of the Walking Dead series. I essentially argued we are approaching the end of the line and the world is going to get real nasty.

twd-s04e16-06

In the six short months since I wrote that depressing article, we’ve seen men beheaded on Youtube videos by terrorists no one had ever heard of at the beginning of this year. Somehow a ragtag band of 30,000 Muslim terrorists, using American military equipment supplied to fight Assad in Syria and taken from the Iraqi Army when they turned tail and ran away, have been able to defeat 600,000 Iraqi and Kurd fighters with air support from the vaunted U.S. Air Force. Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan descend into never ending religious based warfare. We’ve even had passenger planes mysteriously disappear in Asia with no trace.

Crimea seceded from Ukraine and rejoined Russia, initiating a plan to punish Russia by the western powers. America supported and planned the overthrow of a democratically elected government in the Ukraine, with a predictable push back response by Russia, leading to a bloody civil war in the Eastern Ukraine. We’ve had a false flag shooting down of an airliner over the Ukraine by the Ukrainian government, blamed on Russia and Putin by Obama and his EU co-conspirators. The American corporate media mouthpieces have ignored the cover-up of missing controller transmissions, black box recordings, and physical evidence regarding the murder of hundreds of innocent people by western politicians. Israel and Hamas resumed their endless religious war in Gaza, with thousands of casualties and destruction.

UK fear mongering and financial threats barely averted the secession of Scotland from the UK. Cantalonia continues to push for a secession vote to leave Spain. Violent protests have broken out in Spain, Italy, France and even Sweden. Turmoil, protests and riots in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and Mexico have been driven by anger at political corruption, high inflation, and general economic dysfunction. Saber rattling between China and Japan has increased and young people in Hong Kong have been protesting the lack of democratic elections being permitted by China. The world economy, undergoing central bank monetary stimulus withdraw, is headed back into recession as Germany, China and the U.S. join the rest of the world in economic decline. And now the Western Africa outbreak of ebola has gone worldwide, with predictions of an epidemic potentially causing worldwide economic chaos.

What’s happening in the real world makes the dystopian zombie world of Walking Dead seem almost quaint. The writers of this show brilliant use of symbolism and imagery captures the violent, chaotic, inhumane, darkening, brutal world we inhabit as the Fourth Turning crisis period we entered in 2008 deepens on a daily basis. There is a good reason why the first episode of their fifth season drew the biggest cable TV audience in history. The show is clearly tapping into the mood of the masses. Early in the latest episode you realize Terminus has become a processing center run by cannibals. The line between victim and criminal, killer and prey, good and evil, madness and sanity, and moral and immoral is blurred. Everything is relative in the post-pandemic world of the Walking Dead.

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Seeing Wall Street cannibals walk away unscathed after devouring the worldwide economic system in 2008 with their fraudulent financial schemes, corrupt politicians enriched by throwing taxpayers under the bus, militarized police forces trampling the Fourth Amendment, the NSA spying on every American, a private central bank enriching their owners by funneling trillions into their bank vaults, a president trampling on the Constitution by issuing executive orders to bypass the other branches of government, and billions of welfare and tax fraud from the urban ghettos to the penthouse suites in NYC, has convinced a large swath of Americans that everything is relative and nothing matters in our warped dystopian world. Right and wrong no longer matter. Morality is an antiquated concept. Adhering to the Constitution is an outmoded notion. Our society celebrates and condones our dog eat dog economic paradigm. Or zombie eats anything world in the case of Walking Dead.

The Terminus complex is reminiscent of the concentration camp in Schindler’s List. It is complete with railroad cars to hold the prisoners, gates with barbed wire, armed guards, and extermination facilities to “process” the prisoners. Thick black smoke belches into the air. There is a room stacked full of booty, teddy bears, watches, clothes – everything except the gold fillings.The Nazi like precision and attention to detail is reflected in the almost business-like method in which the Terminus administrators go about gutting their prey. The bone chilling efficiency and antiseptic processing facility evoke memories of the holocaust gas chambers. The opening sequence when Rick, Daryl, Glenn and Bob are among a group of men lined up to be gutted like pigs over a trough in place to collect their spilled blood, might have been the most brutal scene ever put on non-premium cable TV.

The callous and dispassionate way in which the prisoners (cattle) are lined up in front of a stainless steel trough is disconcerting and bone chilling. The victims are hit with a baseball bat and then their throats are slit over the trough by men in protective suits. They have become nothing but cattle to be butchered and consumed by the Terminus cannibals. You see another part of the processing plant where human remains are hanging from hooks like sides of beef. Gareth, the leader of Terminus, supervises the operation like a CEO, berating the butchers for not meeting quotas and following standard operating procedures. Not much different than how our mega-corporations are run today.

thewalkingdead_season5_trailer

The other fascinating similarity between the dystopian “nightmare of want” setting of Terminus and our modern day dystopian “empire of excess” is the use of false advertising and propaganda to lure “customers” into their web. Their version of billboard advertising was plywood with the hand written messages of “Sanctuary for All”, “Community for All”, and “Those Who Arrive Survive”. The Terminus cannibals would have fit in well on Madison Avenue with the highly paid spin artists, propagandists, and whores for the corporate oligarchs.

The signs along train tracks and radio transmissions from a call center like facility showed the calculated business-like efficiency of the cannibals in systematically and methodically luring victims to their slaughterhouse. It is the same techniques used by the apostles of Edward Bernays to consciously and intelligently manipulate the habits, opinions, tastes, ideas and actions of the masses, in order to control and influence their buying habits, voting decisions, and support of their rulers. The unseen men who constitute the “invisible government” use these techniques to keep the cattle docile, fed, and ignorant, as they are led to slaughter.

The government and lack thereof is always lurking in the murky background of how and why the United States has devolved into an infected world of the walking dead. This episode provided some clues about government labs producing viruses as weapons to be used against some unexplained enemy. The insinuation is that the government somehow lost control of the virus and the ensuing pandemic destroyed our modern world and left the survivors to battle the biters and each other for the remaining scraps. The Federal government caused the societal collapse and is nowhere to be found in rebuilding the nation.

It is unclear how the apocalypse went down, but you can assume it began with fear, which led to panic, chaos, economic collapse, violent upheaval, war, and total breakdown of governmental authority and control. It is ironic that today fear of a worldwide ebola pandemic is coinciding with an inevitable economic implosion, wars raging in the Middle East, violent protests raging around the globe, and trust in governmental authority plunging to all-time lows. The Walking Dead has wittingly or unwittingly captured the ambiance of our turbulent times.

When you are faced with desperate circumstances you can either do whatever you need to survive or you can submissively accept your fate and die. Gareth and his cannibalistic cohorts had been in the same situation as Rick and his posse, but they had somehow turned the tables on their captors. Gareth’s survival of the fittest creed was “either you’re the butcher or you’re the cattle”. Human beings react to intense pressure and life threatening situations in different ways. Some people snap and turn into monsters, like Gareth. Some people snap and lose their minds. Others, like Rick and Carol, summon an inner strength to do whatever it takes to survive while barely maintaining their humanity. Others turn into blind followers of a strong forceful leader, not questioning the morality, legality or humanity of what they are ordered to do. The line between right and wrong, necessary versus unnecessary, vengeance versus justice, and butcher versus cattle is blurred in a world without rules, government or accepted norms.

I believe the “butcher or cattle” analogy is sadly a valid meme for the world we currently inhabit. In the Walking Dead world, individuals must choose to be butcher or cattle. It’s a Darwinian world of kill or be killed. Like minded individuals with common values and goals form communities to protect themselves, provide for themselves, and attempt to bring a semblance of order in a chaotic world. The community of Westbury, led by the governor and the community of Terminus, led by Gareth, are founded upon a foundation of evil and ultimately destroyed. Rick’s community of liberty minded freedom fighters do whatever is necessary to survive, but retain their humanity, decency and desire to create a better world.

Our present day world may not be as brutish as the Walking Dead world, though the line between reality and fiction is often indistinguishable when you turn on the news, but the distinction between butchers and cattle is clear. The elected and non-elected rulers of the deep state are the butchers, sending young men off to die for oil companies and arms dealers, impoverishing the masses through inflation and their control of the currency, and enriching themselves through their complete control of the political, financial, judicial, and economic systems. This establishment, or invisible government as Bernays described, is committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. Its scope, financial resources, and global reach put it in a predator class all by itself.

The common people are the cattle being led to slaughter. We are kept docile with incessant propaganda from the mainstream media; marketing messages to consume from Madison Avenue; filtered, adjusted, manipulated economic data fed to us by government agencies; an endless supply of iGadgets and other electronic distractions; government education designed to keep us ignorant; 24/7 reality TV on six hundred stations to keep us entertained; corporate toxic processed food to keep us obese and tame; and an endless supply of Wall Street supplied debt to keep us caged in our pens with no hope of escape. The butchers of the deep state have maintained control for decades, but we’re entering a new era.

Fourth Turnings result in the tables being turned on the butchers. Some cattle are awakening from their stupor. They can see the bloody writing on the slaughterhouse wall. Anyone who isn’t sensing a dramatic mood change in this country is either a mindless zombie or a functionary of the deep state. The financial shenanigans of the ruling class are again being revealed as nothing but a Ponzi scheme built on a foundation of debt and propped up by delusions and ignorance. When the house of cards collapses in the near future, the tables will turn. When people have nothing left to lose, they will lose it. The butchers will become the cattle. There will be no sanctuary for these evil men. Their reign of terror will be swept away in a whirlwind of retribution, death and destruction. It might even make the Walking Dead look like a walk in the park.

 

 

 

TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN

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Posted on 13th October 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Mood and perceptions are what drive Fourth Turnings. Can you tell this Fourth Turning began in 2008?

The mood of the world is darkening. Storm clouds are just over the horizon. It’s going to be a bitterly cold stormy Winter.

Are you ready?

Infographic: Europe Views China As World's Leading Economic Power  | Statista

China and not the United States is viewed as the world’s foremost economic power by Europeans, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. Back in 2008, before the financial crisis, a European median of 44 percent considered the United States the leading economic powerhouse worldwide. In that year, 29 percent considered China the world’s leader.

China raced into the lead for the first time in 2010, and today, it’s viewed as the foremost economic power by 49 percent of Europeans compared to 34 percent for the United States. Interestingly, the shift in peception concerns America’s premier European allies – France Germany, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

You will find more statistics at Statista

ALL IS WELL IN HONG KONG – RIGHT?

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Posted on 4th October 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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I’m sure this Fourth Turning will de-intensify any time now. Right?

DO YOU KNOW YOUR UPRISING?

9 comments

Posted on 2nd October 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Do you think Fourth Turnings just fizzle out? Have you been paying attention? Most of the protests/riots pictured below have all happened during 2014. Do you think the number and level of violence will increase or decrease over the next few years? Do you believe your government and their mainstream media mouthpieces when they tell you things are getting better? Are you awake yet? Are you prepared for the shitstorm of the century?

Now for a rare TBP test.

Can you identify the protest with the location in the pictures below?

The first person with all the correct answers will win an all expenses paid trip to Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine on a Malaysian airliner.

The location options are as follows:

  1. Thailand
  2. Denver, CO
  3. Spain
  4. France
  5. Ukraine
  6. Egypt
  7. Tunisia
  8. Turkey
  9. Naples
  10. Hong Kong
  11. Brazil

 

A.

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B.

C.

D.

E.

F.

G.

H.

I.

J.

K.

THEY CAN’T KILL US ALL

51 comments

Posted on 30th September 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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This Fourth Turning will not be led by old people. This Crisis is developing into a generational war. The corrupt social order is run by older generations for the benefit of themselves. Young people across the globe are the ones being screwed. Over 70% of young people voted for Scottish Independence. The ongoing protests in Hong Kong are solely young people who don’t want the corrupt Chinese oligarchs to be running Hong Kong. Millions of young Americans have been lured into over a trillion dollars of student loan debt, with only crappy service economy jobs available, and kept from buying houses by Wall Street bankers looking out for their own selfish interests. The tension and anger is growing by the minute. The youth across Europe, Asia and the U.S. are pissed off and will be the ones doing the dying in the forthcoming storms. They are young and have nothing to lose. The oligarchs around the world are worried. They are outnumbered. They can’t kill us all. Or can they?

RESOURCE WARS

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Posted on 28th September 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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The two articles below reflect the desperate times that lie ahead. Despite the propaganda and misinformation about the wars in the Middle East and in the Ukraine being about terrorism and the noble spreading of democracy, they are solely being fought over energy resources. Iraq has the 5th highest proven oil reserves in the world, behind Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Canada, and Iran. They have 6 times the reserves of the United States. We aren’t going to war against 30,000 ISIS terrorists. We are protecting “our” oil. The Israeli/U.S. fear mongering and sanctions against Iran are to weaken a country that sits on top of 151 billion barrels of “our” oil. A nuclear Iran could not be invaded without potential dire consequences for the invader.

The war against Syria is about a gas pipeline that Saudi Arabia and Qatar want to build across their land to Europe. This is because Russia has complete control over the fate of Europe with their gas pipelines through the Ukraine. The America/EU engineered overthrow of a democratically elected government in the Ukraine was simply because the president was moving closer to Russia and away from the EU/U.S. alliance. The propaganda about evil Putin and the false flag shooting down of a Malaysian airliner are nothing but chess pieces in the global resource war.

Russia has the 8th highest level of proven oil reserves on the planet. The new discovery in the arctic could up those reserves dramatically. This would really throw a monkey wrench into the U.S./EU plan to try and make Putin bow to their economic pressure. The U.S. leadership knows the shale oil and shale gas “miracle” is essentially a Wall Street engineered fraud that will peak out in the next few years and then decline precipitously. They are desperately seeking a solution, but Russia and China have begun to foil their plans.

The various competing factions and ideologies in the U.S. are setting us up for a nasty turn of events. The neo-cons, military industrial complex, and greenies have blocked all rational methods of expanding the use of safer, cheaper, and smaller nuclear energy technologies. The military like the existing nuclear power plants because they provide the uranium needed for their weapons. Meanwhile the Chinese are treating nuclear power solutions like a Manhattan Project. Obama shuts down coal powered plants, even though we have ample supplies of coal under our feet. While we fiddle, our future burns.

As worldwide peak cheap oil becomes more expensive, the worldwide economy will continue to slow. As the shale boom goes bust, we produce less energy from coal, and our nuclear expansion wallows in cost overruns and bureaucracy, the only option will be war. The oligarch billionaires will use their control of the media and politicians to peddle stories of imminent threats, terrorists, and evil empires, as their excuse to go to war. But the wars will be about energy resources, as they have always been. This Fourth Turning will end with a showdown between the U.S./EU and Russia/China. I have a feeling their won’t be any winners.

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” ― Albert Einstein

 

Russia Discovers Massive Arctic Oil Field Which May Be Larger Than Gulf Of Mexico

Tyler Durden's picture

In a dramatic stroke of luck for the Kremlin, this morning there is hardly a person in the world who is happier than Russian president Vladimir Putin because overnight state-run run OAO Rosneft announced it has discovered what may be a treasure trove of black oil, one which could boost Russia’s coffers by hundreds of billions if not more, when a vast pool of crude was discovered in the Kara Sea region of the Arctic Ocean, showing the region has the potential to become one of the world’s most important crude-producing areas, arguably bigger than the Gulf Of Mexico. The announcement was made by Igor Sechin, Rosneft’s chief executive officer, who spent two days sailing on a Russian research ship to the drilling rig where the find was unveiled today.

The oil production platform at the Sakhalin-I field in Russia,
partly owned by ONGC Videsh Ltd., Rosneft Oil Co., Exxon Mobil
Corp. and Japan’s Sakhalin Oil and Gas Development Co. on June 9, 2009.

Well, one person who may have been as happy as Putin is the CEO of Exxon Mobil, since the well was discovered with the help of America’s biggest energy company (and second largest by market cap after AAPL). Then again, maybe not: as Bloomberg explains the well was drilled before the Oct. 10 deadline Exxon was granted by the U.S. government under sanctions barring American companies from working in Russia’s Arctic offshore. Rosneft and Exxon won’t be able to do more drilling, putting the exploration and development of the area on hold despite the find announced today.”

Which means instead of generating billions in E&P revenue, XOM could end up with, well, nothing. And that would be quite a shock to the US company because the unveiled Arctic field may hold about 1 billion barrels of oil and similar geology nearby means the surrounding area may hold more than the U.S. part of the Gulf or Mexico, he said.

For a sense of how big the spoils are we go to another piece by Bloomberg, which tells us that “Universitetskaya, the geological structure being drilled, is the size of the city of Moscow and large enough to contain more than 9 billion barrels, a trove worth more than $900 billion at today’s prices.

The only way to reach the prospect is a four-day voyage from Murmansk, the largest city north of the Arctic circle. Everything will have to shipped in — workers, supplies, equipment — for a few months of drilling, then evacuated before winter renders the sea icebound. Even in the short Arctic summer, a flotilla is needed to keep drifting ice from the rig.

Sadly, said bonanza may be non-recourse to Exxon after Obama made it quite clear that all western companies will have to wind down operations in Russia or else feel the wrath of the DOJ against sanctions breakers. Which leaves XOM two options: ignore Obama’s orders (something which many have been doing of late), or throw in the towel on what may be the largest oil discovery in years.

And while the Exxon C-suite contemplates its choices, here is some more on today’s finding from Bloomberg:

“It exceeded our expectations,” Sechin said in an interview. This discovery is of “exceptional significance in showing the presence of hydrocarbons in the Arctic.”

 

The development of Arctic oil reserves, an undertaking that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars and take decades, is one of Putin’s grandest ambitions. As Russia’s existing fields in Siberia run dry, the country needs to develop new reserves as it vies with the U.S. to be the world’s largest oil and gas producer.

 

Output from the Kara Sea field could begin within five to seven years, Sechin said, adding the field discovered today would be named “Victory.”

Duh.

The Kara Sea well — the most expensive in Russian history — targeted a subsea structure named Universitetskaya and its success has been seen as pivotal to that strategy. The start of drilling, which reached a depth of more than 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), was marked with a ceremony involving Putin and Sechin.

 

The importance of Arctic drilling was one reason that offshore oil exploration was included in the most recent round of U.S. sanctions. Exxon and Rosneft have a venture to explore millions of acres of the Arctic Ocean.

But what’s worse for Exxon is that now that the hard work is done, Rosneft may not need its Western partner much longer:

“Once the well is plugged, there will be a lot of work to do in interpreting the results and this is probably something that Rosneft can do,” Julian Lee, an oil strategist at Bloomberg First Word in London, said before today’s announcement. “Both parties are probably hoping that by the time they are ready to start the next well the sanctions will have been lifted.”

And here is why there is nothing Exxon would like more than to put all the western sanctions against Moscow in the rearview mirror: “The stakes are high for Exxon, whose $408 billion market valuation makes it the world’s largest energy producer. Russia represents the second-biggest exploration prospect worldwide. The Irving, Texas-based company holds drilling rights across 11.4 million acres in Russia, only eclipsed by its 15.1 million U.S. acres.”

Proving just how major this finding is, and how it may have tipped the balance of power that much more in Russia’s favor is the emergence of paid experts, desperate to talk down the relevance of the Russian discovery:

More drilling and geological analysis will be needed before a reliable estimate can be tallied for the size of the oil resources in the Universitetskaya area and the Russian Arctic as a whole, said Frances Hudson, a global thematic strategist who helps manage $305 billion at Standard Life Investments Ltd. in Edinburgh. Sanctions forbidding U.S. and European cooperation with Russian entities mean that country’s nascent Arctic exploration will be stillborn because Rosneft and its state-controlled sister companies don’t know how to drill in cold offshore conditions alone, she said.

 

“Extrapolating from a small data sample is perhaps not going to give you the best information,” Hudson said in a telephone interview. “And because of sanctions, it looks like there’s going to be less exploration rather than more.” In addition, the expense and difficulty of operating in such a remote part of the world, where hazards include icebergs and sub-zero temperatures, mean that the developing discoveries may not be economic at today’s oil prices.

Maybe. Then again perhaps the experts’ time is better suited to estimating just how much longer the US shale miracle has left before the US is once again at the mercy of offshore sellers of crude.

In any event one country is sure to have a big smile on its face: China, since today’s finding simply means that as Russia has to ultimately sell the final product to someone, that someone will almost certainly be the Middle Kingdom, which if the “Holy Gas Grail” deal is any indication, will be done at whatever terms Beijing chooses.

 

Technology revolution in nuclear power could slash costs below coal

A report by UBS said the latest reactors will be obsolete by within 10 to 20 years, yet Britain is locking in prices until 2060

A general view of the security fence at Heysham Nuclear Power Station on March 17, 2011 in Heysham, United Kingdom

Scientists have already designed better reactors based on molten salt technology that promise to slash costs by half or more Photo: Getty Images

The cost of conventional nuclear power has spiralled to levels that can no longer be justified. All the reactors being built across the world are variants of mid-20th century technology, inherently dirty and dangerous, requiring exorbitant safety controls.

This is a failure of wit and will. Scientists in Britain, France, Canada, the US, China and Japan have already designed better reactors based on molten salt technology that promise to slash costs by half or more, and may even undercut coal. They are much safer, and consume nuclear waste rather than creating more. What stands in the way is a fortress of vested interests.

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report for 2014 found that 49 of the 66 reactors under construction – mostly in Asia – are plagued with delays, and are blowing through their budgets.

Average costs have risen from $1,000 per installed kilowatt to around $8,000/kW over the past decade for new nuclear, which is why Britain could not persuade anybody to build its two reactors at Hinkley Point without fat subsidies and a “strike price” for electricity that is double current levels.

All five new reactors in the US are behind schedule. Finland’s giant EPR reactor at Olkiluoto has been delayed again. It will not be up and running until 2018, nine years late. It was supposed to cost €3.2bn. Analysts now think it will be €8.5bn. It is the same story with France’s Flamanville reactor.

We have reached the end of the road for pressurised water reactors of any kind, whatever new features they boast. The business is not viable – even leaving aside the clean-up costs – and it makes little sense to persist in building them. A report by UBS said the latest reactors will be obsolete by within 10 to 20 years, yet Britain is locking in prices until 2060.

The Alvin Weinberg Foundation in London is tracking seven proposals across the world for molten salt reactors (MSRs) rather than relying on solid uranium fuel. Unlike conventional reactors, these operate at atmospheric pressure. They do not need vast reinforced domes. There is no risk of blowing off the top.

The reactors are more efficient. They burn up 30 times as much of the nuclear fuel and can run off spent fuel. The molten salt is inert so that even if there is a leak, it cools and solidifies. The fission process stops automatically in an accident. There can be no chain-reaction, and therefore no possible disaster along the lines of Chernobyl or Fukushima. That at least is the claim.

The most revolutionary design is by British scientists at Moltex. “I started this three years ago because I was so shocked that EDF was being paid 9.25p per kWh for electricity,” said Ian Scott, the chief inventor. “We believe we can achieve parity with gas (in the UK) at 5.5p, and our real goal is to reach 3.5p and drive coal of out of business,” he said.

The Moltex project can feed off low-grade spent uranium, cleaning up toxic waste in the process. “There are 120 tonnes of purified plutonium from nuclear weapons in Britain. We could burn that up in 10 to 15 years,” he said. What remained would be greatly purified, with a shorter half-life, and could be left safely in salt mines. It does not have to be buried in steel tanks deep underground for 240,000 years. Thereafter the plant could be redesigned to use thorium, a cleaner fuel.

The reactor can be built in factories at low cost. It uses tubes that rest in molten salt, working through a convection process rather than by pumping the material around the reactor. This cuts corrosion. There is minimal risk of leaking deadly cesium or iodine for hundreds of miles around.

Transatomic Power, in Boston, says it can build a “waste-burning reactor” using molten salts in three years, after regulatory approval. The design is based on models built by US physicist Alvin Weinberg at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s, but never pursued – some say because the Pentagon wanted the plutonium residue for nuclear warheads.

It would cost $2bn (overnight cost) for a 550-megawatt plant, less than half the Hinkley Point project on a pro-rata basis. Transatomic says it can generate 75 times as much electricity per tonne of uranium as a conventional light-water reactor. The waste would be cut by 95pc, and the worst would be eliminated. It operates in a sub-critical state. If the system overheats, a plug melts at the bottom and salts drain into a cooling basin. Again, these are the claims.

The most advanced project is another Oak Ridge variant designed by Terrestrial’s David LeBlanc, who worked on the original models with Weinberg. It aims to produce power by the early 2020s from small molten salt reactors of up to 300MW, for remote regions and industrial plants. “We think we can take on fossil fuel power on a pure commercial basis. This is a revolution for global energy,” said Simon Irish, the company’s chief executive.

Toronto-based Terrestrial prefers the “dry tinder” of uranium rather than the “wet wood” of thorium, which needs a blowtorch to get started and keep going, typically plutonium 239. But it could use either fuel.

A global race is under way, with the Chinese trying everything at the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear and Applied Physics, reportedly working under “warlike” pressure. They have brought forward their target date for a fully-functioning molten salt reactor – using thorium – from 25 to 10 years.

Ian Scott, at Moltex, originally planned to sell his technology to China, having given up on the West as a lost cause. He was persuaded to stay in Britain, and is talking to ministers. “The first stage will cost around £1bn, to get through the regulatory process and build a prototype. Realistically, only the government can do this,” he said.

A state-venture of such a kind should not be ruled out. The travails of Hinkley Point show that the market cannot or will not deliver nuclear power on tolerable terms. The project has degenerated into a bung for ailing foreign companies. We have had to go along with it as an insurance, because years of drift in energy policy have left us at an acute risk of black-outs in the 2020s.

There is no reason why Britain cannot seize the prize of molten salt reactors, if necessary funded entirely by the government – now able to borrow for 10 years at 2.5pc – and run like a military undertaking. A new Brabazon Committee might not go amiss.

The nation still has world-class physicists. The death of Britain’s own nuclear industry has a silver lining: there are fewer vested interests in the way. We start from scratch. The UK’s “principles-based” philosophy of regulation means that a sudden pivot in technology of this kind could be approved very fast, in contrast to the America’s “rules-based” system. “I would never even think of doing it in the US,” said Dr Scott.

It would be hard to argue that any one of the molten salt technologies would be more expensive than arrays of wind turbines in the Atlantic. Indeed, there is a high likelihood that the best will prove massively cheaply on a kW/hour basis.

Such a project would kickstart Britain’s floundering efforts to rebuild industry. It would offer some hope of plugging a chronic and dangerously high current account deficit, already 5pc of GDP even before North Sea oil and gas fizzles out. It is fracking on steroids for import substitution.

Britain split the atom at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge in 1911. It opened the world’s first commercial reactor at Calder Hall in 1956. Surely it can rise to the challenge once again. If not, let us cheer on the Chinese.

SOMETHING IS HAPPENING HERE & THERE

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Posted on 21st September 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Scotland. Ukraine. Catalonia. Texas?

Anyone who can’t see or refuses to see the worldwide mood change since 2008 is either brain dead, entrapped in a bubble of normalcy bias wrapped in cognitive dissonance, or they are part of or dependent upon the Deep State.

Something is happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear.