Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Government Shuts Down Wind Mills and Shell Takes a FL*NG at Sea

The Wind May Blow, But the Power Does Not Flow

Pipelines and/or transmission are the choke point of energy policy. Getting energy from there to here is a big problem. Wind energy is useless if there is no transmission to get it to market. This summer, the Bonneville Power Authority is periodically disconnecting wind power from its grid. (See "Tilting at Windmills" in the Economist.)  Why?  There is so much excess melt water that the Authority is giving away hydro power for free and even paying utilities the cost of getting that power from there to them.  Unfortunately there is not enough transmission to fully share the Pacific Northwest's bounty with the rest of America.  Hence the idle windmills.    Ludwig von Mises's ghost must be experiencing schadenfreude as it mutters "another triumph for socialist planning!"

Getting Natural Gas from There to Here

Natural Gas coming out of the ground does little good unless it can be captured and transported to markets. So what do you do if you find natural gas way out at sea? Your project is in deep water economically and financially (pun intended) and will thus be dead in the water because you can not get the gas to market.  (Sorry.)

John R. Hays, Jr. is fond of reminding me how high tech the oil and gas industry is.  Shell now gives us more evidence of just high tech it is.  Six hundred engineers from around the world have worked on the world's first floating liquefied natural gas facility (FLNG).  Watch the video below to learn about the development phase of the Prelude FLNG Project to define, design and evaluate plans for the facility.  They built a scale model of the FLNG facility and tested it in tanks in artificial marine conditions to see if it would withstand wind and high waves.  The plan is to capture gas from a field far off of Broome, Western Australia, liquify it at sea, and ship the liquified natural gas (LNG) to markets.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

FT interview with Carmen Reinhart, co-author of This Time is Different, about the crisis in Greece

This Time Is Different:
Eight Centuries of Financial Folly
Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff

Joseph Count de Maistre once wrote of "history, which is empirical politics."  I find it makes for good empirical economics and finance as well.  Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff have written a history of eight hundred years of financial crises.  I am remined of the Pete Seeger song, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"  The refrain is:

"When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?"

On May 5, 2010, Aline van Duyn, the Financial Times' U.S. Markets editor, interviewed Carmen Reinhart, co-author of This Time is Different In this first video, they talk about the history of financial crises and their patterns (4m 41sec).

Then the hangover

What happens after a crisis has happened?  In this second video, they talk about the aftermath of financial crises  (4m 55sec)  To my simple-minded ears, the consequences of financial crises sound awfully much like Austrian unemployment rather than Keynesian unemployment.  How heretical!

I Owe, I Owe, It's Off the Cliff We Go!

In this next video, the discussion turns to the role of debt and monetary policy. (3m 13sec) Maybe the economy hasn't read the textbooks?

Was it a Greek who said there was nothing new under the sun?

And then, in this last video, they turn to the crisis in Greece, and the possibility for contagion and restructuring .(4m 11sec) Note this was done over a year ago.