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

Old King Coal Stricken; Prognosis Grave

A coal train once supplied the city of Holland, Michigan with fuel for its electric generating plant. They converted the plant to natural gas. Their costs are down, their emissions are down, and coal is down for the count.  (Photo by wsilver/Flickr)

A coal train once supplied the city of Holland, Michigan with fuel for its electric generating plant. They converted the plant to natural gas. Their costs are down, their emissions are down, and coal is down for the count. (Photo by wsilver/Flickr)

After bestriding the mountains of Appalachia, among many other places, like the proverbial Colossus for a century and more, the U.S. coal industry has been taken to hospice, a pathetic wasted shadow of its former self, its physical condition terminal, its thought processes derailed by dementia. It’s not a pretty sight (except perhaps to the survivors of the ruin, destruction and death it has brought to thousands upon thousands of helpless people) and there are those who say its fate foreshadows that of the oil fracking  industry, which is now in the ICU, and the legacy oil bidness, which has started to have dizzy spells and occasional sudden hemorrhaging. Continue reading

First They Came for the Sardines…

The fish held a meeting, and decided to spread the alarm, but it was too late. They were all dead. (Photo by James Palinsad/Flickr)

The fish held a meeting, and decided to spread the alarm, but it was too late. They were all dead. (Photo by James Palinsad/Flickr)

You see the stories here and there, usually in local West Coast papers and on specialized websites. One has a gross picture of a dissolving starfish, another a heart-tugger of a starving sea lion pup. Then there are the stories that have no pictures  because they are about something that isn’t there, such as sardines and krill. Or something that is happening but cannot be watched, like the slow impassive death of oyster beds. It takes a while for it to begin to dawn on you: Holy Crap! Everything on our Pacific Ocean coast seems to be dying! Continue reading