The Crash of 2015: Vultures vs. Jackals

So. How have you frackers been feeling, lately? Just checking. (Photo by docentjoyce/Flickr)

So. How have you frackers been feeling, lately? Just checking. (Photo by docentjoyce/Flickr)

The crash of 2015 has been paused temporarily by a curious circumstance: a brawl among the financial scavengers who by now should have carted away the body parts of the great American fracking boom. Against all logic, financial vultures are fighting with financial jackals for possession of the corpse, and while doing so are pumping transfusions into it even though decomposition is already well under way. Here’s what’s happening:

The Vultures believe the decline of American oil fracking is only temporary, a product of the sudden decline in oil prices that struck last fall, and that with the inevitable return to $100-a-barrel oil, the frackers will return to profitability. Continue reading

TIME: What You Don’t Need to Know (About Refugees)

A typically overloaded boat carries Libyan refugees toward Europe. (Photo by notenoughgood.com)

A typically overloaded boat carries Libyan refugees toward Europe. (Photo by notenoughgood.com)

The TIME website headline said: “What You Need to Know About the E.U.’s Refugee Crisis.” It was, of course, a follow-on to the deaths Sunday of nearly a thousand desperate refugees whose boat capsized off the coast of Libya, on its way to Italy. It was one of a series of accidents that killed 3,500 last year and 1,500 so far this year, a fatality rate that testifies to the size of the human tsunami that is crashing into the south coast of Europe. All we have are guestimates of the size, but one of them places the current flow at 10,000 per week. Continue reading

Credit Scoooooooooore!

Don’t worry about the bill, we’ll think of something. In the meantime, please, keep spending. Your country needs you to.  (Photo by Jason Rogers/Flickr)

Don’t worry about the bill, we’ll think of something. In the meantime, please, keep spending. Your country needs you to. (Photo by Jason Rogers/Flickr)

I don’t know why we worry so much, when American ingenuity has always risen to the occasion, every single time, to snatch victory from the jaws of success. Once again, American financial engineers have analyzed the problem — the central problem of the American economy — and after having a couple of beers have come up with the solution. Brilliant. Prosperity is at hand.

These particular engineers are employed by Fair Isaac, who is not a handsome English squire, but the oddly named company that assigns the credit scores upon which 90% of all personal lending decisions — from credit cards to car loans to rental contracts — are based. Continue reading

Forbes: “Shale Oil Boom Goes Bust”

This happy fracker -- a Halliburton employee at a site in North Dakota’s Bakken play -- obviously hasn’t got the memo yet. It’s over. (Wikipedia photo)

This happy fracker — a Halliburton employee at a site in North Dakota’s Bakken play — obviously hasn’t got the memo yet. It’s over. (Wikipedia photo)

Yes, Forbes, the magazine of the Masters of the Universe has uncharacteristically published some discouraging words about the only good news the American economy has had to celebrate in many decades.

Oil output from the most productive U.S. shale fields is expected to drop off next month by 57 million [sic — they mean thousand] barrels of crude daily from April to May, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Monday. That would represent the first monthly decline in more than four years, according to Reuters.

And then there’s Bloomberg Business, a more objective reporter of what’s going on in American industry, with the headline: “Shale Oil Boom could End in May After Price Collapse.”

Output from the prolific tight-rock formations such as North Dakota’s Bakken shale will decline 57,000 barrels a day in May, the Energy Information Administration said Monday. It’s the first time the agency has forecast a drop in output since it began issuing a monthly drilling productivity report in 2013.

Yet even after admitting that it’s over in the shale patch, the Pollyannas insist that it’s only for a while, until reduced supply brings prices back up and everybody starts doing exactly what they were doing before. How shall we put this? Continue reading

The Ten Commandments, 2nd Ed., Rev. 3

There’s nothing wrong with the original Ten that a little updating can’t fix. (Photo by George Bannister/Flickr)

There’s nothing wrong with the original Ten that a little updating can’t fix. (Photo by George Bannister/Flickr)

People keep saying, “Why are you so negative all the time, why don’t you help fix things?” Oh, all right. Here are ten laws (or amendments to laws) that will fix everything. Now leave me alone. Continue reading

Chaos Theory Proven Again

The use of some new software that was going to make posting to this site much, much easier has pretty much blown it up, attaching recent comments and podcasts to the wrong posts, messing up links, etc. Sorry for any confusion. Now if you will excuse me I am going to go Google “justifiable homicide.”

US Repeals Laws of Mathematics

mathematics.jpg

“And so this proves that, for purposes of the U.S. economy, one plus one no longer equals two, but a seasonally adjusted, annualized integer to be announced and subsequently revised.” (Photo by Ed Brambley/Flickr)

It’s official: As we do not believe in climate change, because to do so would expose us to unacceptably harsh expectations, so we have ceased to believe in arithmetic, for the same reason. This mindset (can we call it that, since the “mind” part seems to be absent?), once the province of right wingnuts, has been adopted by the government of the United States so that, unfettered by the iron logic of numbers and their former, simplistic relationships (you know, addition, subtraction, that sort of thing), the government can proclaim its own brand of creationism — job creation, wealth creation, money creation and above all creation of the myth of the robust and immortal recovery. Continue reading

California Crisping: But Business as Usual

California-drought-Laguna.jpg

The Lake formerly known as Laguna, now in the Great California Desert, where a new — and very short — era of lawn watering, car washing and almond growing has just begun. (Photo by docentjoyce/Flickr)

In the face of a drought whose implications have moved from awesome to cataclysmic, California Governor Jerry Brown has proclaimed a “new era” of water conservation in his afflicted state, an era in which, he said, ‘The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past.” He proclaimed a Draconian cut of 25% (wait — a quarter? That’s all?) in the use of water for watering lawns and washing cars (wait — they’re still watering lawns and washing cars?). If all the myriad water boards and commissions ever figure out how to implement and enforce these limitations, and they work as intended, they will cut 25% of 20% of the state’s water usage. The 80% that agriculture uses was not included.

Continue reading

The Crash of 2015: Reckoning Day

You have a perfect plan. Then things begin to go south and before you know it, a day of reckoning. (Photo by motorkid.com/google images)

You have a perfect plan. Then things begin to go south and before you know it, a day of reckoning. (Photo by motorkid.com/google images)

 

The next phase of the Crash of 2015 begins today. The first quarter of the year is now complete, and that means two things for the debt-logged companies trying to stay alive in the U.S. oil fracking patch: it’s time to report the value of their assets to the issuers of their lines of credit; and it’s time to repay or roll over a bunch of the debt with which they are logged.

That first one is the killer. These companies, virtually every one of which has had negative cash flow from the beginning of the so-called “oil revolution, have sustained themselves first with stock issues, then with junk-bond issues, then with subprime loans. As slack as the underwriting of those loans has been, they do actually require the existence of assets whose value at least approaches the amount of the loan. Continue reading

The Theory of Everything Stupid

To be a success in today’s America, it helps to either dumb or dumber. Why is that? (Photo by insomniacuredhere/Flickr)

To be a success in today’s America, it helps to either dumb or dumber. Why is that?
(Photo by insomniacuredhere/Flickr)

Let me be clear: the headline of this piece is to be read, “The theory of everything (that is) stupid,” NOT “The theory of everything, comma, stupid.” It’s my intention to insult a lot of people here, but if you are reading this without benefit of a forefinger, not you.

America is subsiding into a new Dark Age. Its leaders are more ignorant every day, its authorities more brutal, its people more supine. To remain ignorant when the availability of information is greater than it has ever been in human history, to govern viciously and intrusively when the government is more powerful and the governed more subservient, than ever, defies comprehension. Until we formulate a theory of everything stupid. Continue reading