Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How is This Going to Work?

From the FT today:
The auction came as Mario Monti, Italy’s new prime minister leading a caretaker government of technocrats, appointed the rest of his team, with three deputy ministers and 25 under-secretaries sworn in on Tuesday morning. Vittorio Grilli, director of the Treasury, becomes deputy minister for the economy. None of the appointees are politicians.

Mr Monti said his government was “slim and strong” and was acting out of a spirit of “national interest”. However, he still depends on the support of the main centre-right and centre-left parties in parliament – who refused to join the government – in order to pass his planned reforms and budget-cutting measures.
Emphasis mine.  For all that a lot of us love to bash politicians, it seems to me that being a politician is actually a very demanding job requiring a lot of particular skills, knowledge, and personality traits (we can tell that it's a difficult job by the fact that so few of us are happy with the performance of our politicians).  The effect of picking a government of non-politicians will be a government that largely lacks those skills and traits.  It would seem that the predictable consequence will be a government that quickly angers the populace and lands itself in new political crises that it will be poor at managing.

I cannot conceive of a large business stating of its new executive management team "None of our team have prior business experience".  Shareholders would panic and defect in droves, and rightly so.  And yet somehow this is supposed to be a way to run a country?

Fall Surge in World Trade Missing

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

PIGS Inflation Continues Strong

I am at an exec offsite for my employer yesterday and today and cannot blog properly.  However a quick note that October inflation figures are out for the Eurozone, and the mystery of moderately strong inflation in the PIGS countries continues.

Overall, the Eurozone had 3% inflation over October 2010, with all the PIGS countries coming in near or above the average: Greece 2.9%, Spain 3%, Italy 3.4%, and Portugal 4%.  Ireland continues to be the main exception at 1.5% - the only one of the troubled peripheral countries with lower inflation than Germany at 2.9%.  So the idea that these peripheral countries have deeply depressed economies and will slowly disinflate their way to competitiveness doesn't seem to be working out.  I continue to be mystified as to why sellers have enough leverage to increase prices here.

Across the Eurozone, transportation continues to be the strongest component at 5.8% with housing a close second at 5.1%.  Inflation without unprocessed food or energy was 2.0%

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Google Reader Disaster

Count me with Tyler Cowen, Bruce Bartlett, and Brad DeLong - the new Google Reader is an absolute disaster.  Details here.  This has certainly soured me on the whole cloud/software-as-a-service thing.  One morning the provider just ups and decides to upgrade me to something much worse than what I had before.  I get no notice, no choice, and no recourse.  What on earth where they thinking?

Update: Hallelujah: a solution! (h/t Paul Kedrosky)

US Oil Consumption

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Peak Oil for Economists

A few quick thoughts on Jim Hamilton's new magnum opus.  The paper is essentially a summation of Jim's current thinking on the evidence that peak oil is near enough to care about and that it's likely to be quite economically disruptive.  It is thoroughly researched, superbly argued, and very clearly written, as one would expect from this author.  I hope and expect that it will be quite influential in getting economists to take the whole subject more seriously.

In terms of the content, long-time readers of mine will probably find a limited amount they didn't already know and little to disagree with.  Six years ago, when I first began exploring and blogging about peak oil, Jim and I had some spirited debates on his blog as well as at The Oil Drum (see here for a flavor).  However, I like to think that we are both empirical and pragmatic and six years of additional data have been enough to cause our views to increasingly converge.

The one thing that I think is sad (though perhaps understandable) is that one will search the references in vain for names like Hubbert, Campbell, Laherrere, Hirsch, Hall, etc.  The argument is couched completely without reference to the line of thinkers about peak oil that stretches back over the last fifty years.  Given the enormous walls of incredibility that prevent diffusion of thought between academic disciplines, that is arguably necessary to make a persuasive case to macroeconomists.  However, from the standpoint of giving intellectual credit where it is due, it's unfortunate that it's not possible to recognize that a number of thinkers had earlier come to quite similar conclusions using their own methods (even where one might disagree with aspects of those methods - disagreements one is free to note).

Housing Inflation in the Euro Periphery

Tuesday, October 18, 2011