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Wednesday's Top 10 with NZ Mint: Debunking the Harvard report that debunked Peak Oil; Beijing's congestion charging plan; Chinese property tax trials; An American aristocracy of the elite; Dilbert
Here's my Top 10 links from around the Internet at 10.30 pm today in association with NZ Mint.
As always, we welcome your additions in the comments below or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My must read today is #1. I'm on my bike.
1. Still on the slippery slope to peak oil - New Scientist says peak oil is still a reality, despite the much-touted research released from Harvard in June suggesting otherwise.
This piece is a comprehensive takedown of the Harvard research, saying it has 'glaring mathematical mistakes'.
It also cites an IMF paper saying real oil prices are likely to double permanently over the next decade.
Is New Zealand ready for US$200/barrel oil and a petrol price north of NZ$3/litre?
How are you arranging your business and personal affairs for this?
Got a car running around 5 litres per 100 kms?
Planning on cycling and walking a lot more?
The recent hysteria rests heavily on the rise of shale oil in the US, which was unforeseen and is significant. After four decades of decline, US oil production turned in 2005 and has generated the bulk of the global supply growth since then. But to brand this a "paradigm-shifter", as Maugeri does, is wrong.
He forecast that this boom will lead to an astonishing 4 mb/d of additional US shale production capacity by 2020. By contrast, the US Department of Energy, usually optimistic, predicts total US shale oil production will peak at just 1.3 mb/d in 2027.
One reason Maugeri's forecast is so high is that he assumes production from existing shale wells will decline by just 15 per cent per year.
Industry consultant Art Berman puts decline rates at around 40 per cent. Analysis by Bob Bracket of US market analysts Bernstein Research shows similarly steep declines, and also that the average shale well takes just six years to become a "stripper well" - producing just 10 to 15 barrels a day. Such declines are far higher than for conventional wells, effectively meaning the industry must drill furiously just to stand still. It is this factor that will limit future production growth.
2. Chinese property tax - Shanghai Daily has the latest on this trial. This could take the top off the Chinese property boom.
THE central provinces of Hubei and Hunan may be next to implement a property tax trial as detailed rules are being drafted, a newspaper under the Ministry of Land and Resources said yesterday, citing unnamed sources at the State Administration of Taxation.
The expanded program in the two provinces may impose a tax on second homes, whether newly bought or not, owned by local families, the paper said.
The European Project is a wooly-headed idea with no compelling political or economic rationale, which is threatening to condemn half of the continent to penury and intractable indebtedness. The idea that the “loss of political significance” is worse than a depression is not only fallacious, but also elitist. It is better that the people of Southern Europe have jobs and houses, than it is that “Europe” succeeds.
4. Britain's mess - Paul Krugman points out yet again the austerity prescription isn't working in Britain, which last night reported a suprise budget deficit.
The New Statesman had a good idea — it went to 20 British economists who signed a letter back in early 2010 calling for immediate austerity and asked them whether they still supported the Osborne policies now that Britain is in double-dip recession. Only one of those who replied said yes, while nine urged Osborne to reconsider his opposition to stimulus.
circumstances really haven’t changed; the UK had a depressed economy then, and it still does now. Fiscal austerity while the economy is depressed, and in particular when conventional monetary policy has reached its limits, was an obviously bad idea from day one.
MSNBC host and author Chris Hayes in a new book called Twilight Of The Elites, America has become a self-perpetuating aristocracy, in which the small percentage of Americans who benefit from the power and wealth imbalance do what they need to do to ensure that they and their friends and families cling to power.
Importantly, this new aristocracy crosses racial and gender lines--it's not the "old white boy" network of prior generations.
But it's just as insidious in terms of removing the meritocracy that is part and parcel of the now-rare "American Dream" and replacing it with what amounts to an old-world aristocracy. Even President Barack Obama, Hayes argues, succumbed to this trend when he gained power. Although his own story represents the epitome of the old American dream, Obama's policies now seem designed to preserve the power of the elites, a class in which he is now firmly entrenched.
So how do we fix this? In Hayes' view, we should start by raising taxes on high incomes and raising the minimum wage.
For all its valuation, the social network is just another ad-supported site. Without an earth-changing idea, it will collapse and take down the Web.
7. Baby drought - Bloomberg reports on the economically stifling effects of a US baby drought.
“Consumption bumps up when families have children,” said Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc in New York, who worked at the Federal Reserve from 1995 to 2000, and researched household finances. “The fact we are seeing fewer births is something of a drag onconsumer spending. To the extent this turns out to be a persistent trend, it is something to be worried about.”
The population increased by 0.92 percent, or 2.8 million people, to 311.6 million from the end of the decennial population count on April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2011, the slowest rate over a similar period since the mid-1940s, the Census Bureau said.
8. Chinese congestion charges - Bloomberg reports on the communist state's plan to charge for road use to reduce congestion and pollutions. How very green-red.
Beijing plans to build a system for imposing road-congestion charges on motorists, adding to caps on vehicle registrations as China’s capital seeks to ease traffic jams and cut emissions.
The municipal government will also accelerate the expansion of the subway network, increase dedicated bus lanes and encourage the use of bicycles for short commutes, according to a five-year development plan by the city’s transportation commission posted on its website.
9. Spanish political strife - Reuters reports the political pain in Spain is getting ugly as the austerity pressure goes on.
Two Spanish government ministers traded public barbs on Tuesday, clashing over implementation of tough austerity measures demanded by the European Union as Spain's borrowing costs soar, pushing it toward needing an international bailout.
Treasury Minister Cristobal Montoro said in an interview that he would veto new taxes on energy firms proposed by Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria, saying that addressing the budget deficit was a bigger priority than energy sector reform.