THE BLOG
08/19/2007 02:32 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Energy & Bubble & Other Stuff

Read the links.

Goes to show you... if you reject the underlying assumptions and look into things on your own, you can be a better predictor of events than mainstream journalists, think-tank denizens, CIA analysts, economists, or computer modeling.

It's Sunday; I'm tired; so I am going to engage in some plain old I-told-you-so's, not caring if it comes off wrong. Given the rest of the predictions we might base on past successful ones, I'd love to believe these were luck. My prognoses are not celebratory. I see hard, hard times ahead... and lots of sadness.

In August last year, I published a piece on Balochistan. In that analysis, I claimed that the Pakistani army attack that killed Bolochistani Nawab Akbar Bugti may have been another invisible historic bifurcation -- a small event that could have wide-ranging implications as its ramifications spread into the future. The person who was standing under that creaking ledge was Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

This is the Law of Unintended Consequences point; or the "sensitivity to initial conditions" point.

Musharraf has lived in political purgatory ever since 9-11. On the one hand, Pakistan has a substantial population of Pashtuns who are sympathetic to the Taliban who remain hostile to Musharraf for his acquiescence to the US. His own security and intelligence apparatuses are full of political Islamists; and the two attempts on his life in December 2003 were almost certainly inside jobs, or his locations during each would not have been known. The attack that killed Bugti, speculates Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief, was intentionally committed by members of the Army, against orders, with the goal of destabilizing Musharraf.

Already, a state of virtual martial law has been imposed, as protests have spread to Karachi. The American FBI, that was operating in Balochistan, has been effectively neutralized; and there are suggestions that well-armed Balochi nationalists will soon be assisting in a fresh Taliban offensive against NATO occupation forces.

That was the prediction... not by a professional, but by one of us feral types.

Recently the mainstream press was surprised by the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) incident, as if it were suddenly born under a cabbage.

In September last year, I published a piece on India that went into Russian machinations in Central and South Asia. In it, I quoted Henry Liu, on the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the oil-backing of the Russian currency (ruble):

Russian oil denominated in rubles will create a global demand for the ruble to make it an alternative reserve currency for international trade, given that Russia is the second-largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia and the Russian economy, unlike that of the Saudis, is big enough to absorb huge amounts of rubles the Russian government can print. This will transform Russia overnight into a global financial power.

Since then, the ruble (or "rouble," as some spell it) has leaped in value, and the SCO just completed a summit (as member states conducted a joint military training venture) where Russia and Khazakstan made mention of an "Asian Energy Club."

In 2004, I had written in an article on liquidity-crisis-imperialism:

[T]his system is itself now exhausted, as was indicated by the Asian meltdown's unintended threat to the US economy and by the dot-com bust of 2000. This same debt-liquidity crisis is re-forming now in the US as a real estate bubble that will just as certainly burst.

That was when the mainstream press had plenty of articles calling us "housing bubble chicken littles."

Now the New York Times headlines a story Waking Up to the Real Estate Nightmare.

For the last few years, any of us who have suggested that there is such a thing as "peak oil" are pretty much members of the tin-hat crew.

Now, Michael Klare's latest at Asia Times shows that the energy companies and our energy-company government are quietly revising their views:

Recently, however, a spate of high-level government and industry reports have begun to suggest that the original peak-oil theorists were far closer to the grim reality of global oil availability than industry analysts were willing to admit. Industry optimism regarding long-term energy-supply prospects, these official reports indicate, has now given way to a deep-seated pessimism, even in the biggest of Big Oil corporate headquarters...

...Read deep into the report, though, and these optimistic words begin to dissolve as its emphasis switches to the growing difficulties (and costs) of extracting oil and gas from less-than-favorable locations and the geopolitical risks associated with a growing global reliance on potentially hostile, unstable suppliers.

Again, the numbers involved are staggering. According to the NPC, an estimated $20 trillion in new investment (that's trillion, not billion) will be needed between now and 2030 to ensure sufficient energy for anticipated demand. This works out to "$3,000 per person alive today" in a world in which a good half of humanity earns substantially less than that each year.

These funds, which can only come from those of us in the wealthier countries, will be needed, the council notes, in "building new, multibillion-dollar oil platforms in water thousands of feet deep, laying pipelines in difficult terrain and across country borders, expanding refineries, constructing vessels and terminals to ship and store liquefied natural gas, building railroads to transport coal and biomass, and stringing new high-voltage transmission lines from remote wind farms". Adding to the magnitude of this challenge, "future projects are likely to be more complex and remote, resulting in higher costs per unit of energy produced". Again, think tough oil.

So there are a few things, one tin-hat lunatic to the next.

Let the denials begin! Make me feel good! Take Valium! Vote!