Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday -- 17th Day Of The Government Shutdown; Should Be The Last Day; Workers to Return To Work Today; Corporate Germany Looking Overseas Where Energy Is Less Expensive -- How's That Solar Energy Working Out?

Active rigs: 184

RBN Energy: the golden age of natural gas -- history, recap, and looking forward --
All of this natural gas regulatory stuff can be complex (and boring) enough to be confined to the interested and the nerdy.  But here’s all you really need to know in just one paragraph. 
In the first period (1954-70) prices were legally held too low to bring enough gas to market.  That cheap gas caused a lot of demand to grow, especially after the Clean Air Act got a lot of coal plants to switch to natural gas, but the nation ran out of gas. 
In the second period (1970-79), end-users were legally told whether or not they could use gas, having to go to Washington to get permission.  You can imagine how well that worked out.  
Then in the third period (1979-93), Congress tried to fix things, didn’t quite know what they were doing, and ended up with a huge, complicated, subsidized pricing structure.  And the way pipelines bought gas under that structure led to an artificial oversupply (a lot of gas had been developed because a legal tilt of the playing field let it be sold for much more than it was really worth).  We called that the gas bubble.  
Then, as the government/legal side of things got fixed finally, in the early 1990s, the market took advantage of that oversupply without recognizing that the oversupply depended on the tilted pricing structure that didn't exist anymore--so supply wasn't being replenished.  Basically, it was like living on savings instead of income, and predictably it ran out.  That’s when we had the price run-up and volatility everyone remembers in the early 2000s.  

The world is completely different now.  Today we have a demand market that is free to use gas to the extent it wants, at a given price.  We have producers who are free to develop more by drilling and completing as the demand market asks for it, enabled by technology (shale development) to do so in a smoother, more immediate response than was possible in the days of the monster offshore fields.
 The Wall Street Journal

The shutdown is over; everyone won a little something. I'm thrilled how it all turned out.

Cancer: same mutations tied to 12 cancers.

Since about 1960, some very smart folks have kept copyrights on names to be used for marketing marijuana once it became legal. That day has come, at least in Washington State, and some folks will begin to cash in on those copyright names.

The ObamaPhone folks just got slapped in Georgia. Georgia has become the first state to charge a fee to low-income people who receive free cellphone service through the federal Lifeline program, saying the move would combat fraud.

Rich countries see long-term joblessness continue to increase.

Asylum-seeking man says "it's here": A Pacific island man told a court on Wednesday that rising seas and environmental risks caused by global warming made it too dangerous to return to his homeland of Kiribati.


Huge story: corporate Germany looking to invest overseas -- not at home -- after you get through all the preamble:
Feeble investment in Germany by the country's own business sector is one of the biggest economic headaches facing Chancellor Angela Merkel as she forms a new coalition government for her third term, following last month's elections.
Companies' anemic appetite for investing at home has been puzzling German officials and economists this year. Many hoped that investment would pick up once the outcome of September's election was clear. But a Wall Street Journal survey of German blue-chip companies indicates that the problem runs deeper.
Lack of sales growth in Germany and Europe, now and in companies' expectations for coming years, is deterring many corporations from increasing their investment spending in Germany, where capital expenditure has sunk to near-historic lows as a share of gross domestic product.
You find the reason:
High production costs—especially high energy prices in Germany compared with the U.S. and some European or emerging economies—and lingering uncertainty about the longer-term cohesion of the euro zone are also commonly cited reasons for holding back on domestic investment.

This was predictable: Apple hoped to broaden its appeal with a cheaper version of the iPhone. But that effort appears to be faltering after a few weeks. Fanboys knew "cheap" iPhones would fail. Years ago I told my wife that Apple was a fashion company, much like Gucci. Gucci doesn't sell cheap leather goods to attract a lower socioeconomic customer.

How orchids got so cheap: The once-rare orchid has become a mass-market commodity. Behind the shift are Taiwan entrepreneurs, who have brought to orchid-breeding the energy and methods applied to making consumer electronics like iPads. I posted this because my granddaughter loves flowers, and particularly enjoys orchids. 

US wheat climbs as exports surge. The US has shipped 40% more wheat abroad this season than a year earlier, fueled by surging demand from Brazil and China. Winners: North Dakota farmers, and Warren Buffett (owns BNSF).

Yellen + government shutdown: the combo ends talk of Fed's plan to taper. What's not to like?

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