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December 20, 2014 12:03 AM UTC

Weekend Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

"All the president is is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway."

–Harry Truman


95 thoughts on “Weekend Open Thread

  1. It is too bad no one anticipated this wink…..


    Who Will Get Caught When The Oil Debt Bubble Pops?

    by Christopher Hellman

    America’s oil and gas boom was enabled by a huge pile of cheap financing. Many of the leading players in the boom, such as Chesapeake Energy CHK +3.76% and Continental Resources CLR +5.46% have for years been making capital investments at levels far surpassing the cashflow generated from operations.

    The mountain of debt advanced to drillers in recent years is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $500 billion — some $300 billion in leveraged loans and another $200 billion in high yield debt. That’s about 16% of the U.S. high yield debt market, quadruple its share a decade ago. That’s a lot, even when weighed against the roughly $1.6 trillion in annual investment required to provide the people of the world with energy.

    No surprise, as oil prices have plunged, yields on risky oil company debt have surged in recent months to three times their original yields at issuance. In September, the average energy high-yield issue yielded 450 basis points above Treasuries, according to Bloomberg Bloomberg. Now that premium has increased to nearly 950 bps. As a result, high yield funds have taken it on the chin. The Blackrock Corporate High Yield Fund, for instance, is down 8.25% in six months. According to S&P Capital IQ, leveraged oil and gas loans were trading above par as recently as June, but have since plunged to around 92 cents on the dollar on average, with some issues far lower. Analysts at CreditInsights see a jump in defaults from about 4% to around 8% of issues.

    Oil companies had little trouble convincing lenders that these great tight oil plays like the Bakken and Eagle Ford and Permian are so vast, with so many thousands of drilling locations, that all they have to do is to keep drilling and drilling and drilling until eventually they will accelerate their oil volumes to enough of an “escape velocity” where they will finally have sufficient free cash flow to pay down debt and fund capex from operations.

    2770193028_68edc662a9_bIt was a good plan, as long as oil prices stayed high. But now, with oil prices half what they were six months ago, there’s tremors in that debt mountain, and concerns that an avalanche could quickly take out the weakest oil companies, which simply won’t be able to generate sufficient revenues to service their debt. Not only that, their collateral is evaporating as well. Goldman Sachs analysts figure that $1 trillion of oil investments are virtually worthless as long as prices stay this low, because marginal fields are simply not worth drilling.

    1. Oh, Duke. I had to look up basic economic terms like "leveraged loans" and "high yield debt" to understand the Forbes article. You're forcing me to become economically literate. Better late than never.

      So, in essence, oil companies have been spending borrowed money in hopes that infinite drilling will bring them profit, and it is all about to come crashing down.

      I've been asking around in Greeley about this possibility, since it's in oil boom mode now, and most seem to be in denial about it. "It won't be that bad". "The little companies will go down but the big ones will just diversify".

      Most of the families I work with are employed in meat processing, not oil, and that has been the mainstay of Greeley forever, so perhaps it "won't be that bad". 

      1. Like most mineral booms the real money is made off those seeking to make money off the latest mineral boom.  See PJ Barnum and Chesapeake Energy

        The boom and bust mentality has always encouraged risky investments and over-leveraged loans looking for the big strike.  It is the nature of the very economics of volatile commodities traded in future guesswork.  That anyone expects it to behave differently ''this time' is the height of human arogance (and ignorance).  They say 'hope springs eternal' but PJ's more famous quip about one being born every minute is probably more applicable.  

        But shale, tight oil, unconventional—whatever you call it—is particularly risky and suspect.  First, the nature of the resource requires incredible amount of capital, fracking, re-fracking, mile long horizontal bores two miles deep; and it has a steep decline in its production rate, almost immediately.  This is sometimes referred to as  the ‘Red Queen effect’ as drillers have to drill more and more and more just to keep the same amount of gas or oil in the pipeline.

        Shale is not a resolution, it’s a retirement party.  What appears to be abundance is really the dregs—the oily reservoir of shale becoming oil trapped still within layers of rock, over centuries and eons migrates up to fill ‘pools’ from which conventional (vertical straws) development once sucked it out (and still does in Saudi Arabia, for instance).  Now we are mining that reservoir and like any addict the new stash when we are jonesing looks copious indeed.  But it’s still the last stash, or getting there.  More like scraping—a big old ‘resin’ hit for all you stoners following along.       

      2. From Bloomberg:

        Oil Investors at Brink of Losing Trillions of Dollars in Assets

        What a moment in time; we've developed just enough of our own fossil resources to create a panic in the Middle East.  Will we capture the moment and understand the value of our soft power?  And by that I don't mean we continue to prop up the high-cost fossil resources on our continent – but to augment what we have with building our supplies of domestic, advanced biofuels.  How about an American Liquid Fuels Institute instead of the American Petroleum Institute? How about an Open Fuel Standard, Senator-elect Gardner? 

        Our time to keep Putin, Iran and Venezuela on a leash is now – and our nation's rural communities are here to build that alliance and be real patriots.  We've established floor prices and counter-cyclical payments for our agricultural commodities to advance our agricultural export agenda; let's use that successful program and apply it to our domestic energy resources.  All of them.  Not just the dead dinosaurs. 

      3. Greeley would be in a bad way if the oil field workers disappeared. A lot of the new commercial construction is to accommodate the oil boom– new hotels whose parking lots are filled with company pickup trucks, new fast food places that are clustered around the new hotels. There's a residential real estate boomlet, but it seems like most of that is wannabe landlords picking up properties to rent since the rental market is so tight.

        The meatpacking plant hasn't noticeably upped production in years, and the biggest employers in town that aren't the city, university, or school district are now as more to be call centers or retail than anything that pays reasonably well.

        1. It's when not if. The oil workers will one day disappear.  That's a given in a boom and bust industry. Long term solution is transition to a boom and bust free new energy economy.

        2. Tom, you're right in that the artificially high rents will have to come down, and that the hospitality industry will take a hit, if some of the smaller "boutique" oil developers pack up their toys and go home.

          But Weld County oil and gas jobs are a distant 4th in terms of real jobs, coming in behind insurance claims processing, meat packing and animal production, and wind energy blade manufacturing. See the chart below from, and economic development consortium.

          If our politicians would wake up and smell the manure wafting on the northbound breeze, they might become less enchanted with the fracking drillers.

    2. It is dramatically out of play financially, I would think with the recent nose dive of oil prices, as tar sands extraction is energy & capital intensive, with bare yields, compared to conventional drilling. Look no further than the empty suited bankers who peril the financial world with top heavy loans to the energy drilling sector (IMHO), as to who is calling the tune, absent a coherent energy policy for the US – See more at:

      Sometimes my "shorthand" does me no credit. Blackstone (above) hedge fund is Peter G. Peterson, another one of those oligarchs who feel that $$ makes them qualified to lead the underclass who have been fleeced by them


      1. Dan, your link doesn't work.  I'd look up "top heavy loans" but I'm still trying to get my mind around "high yield bonds". No fear, I won't run out of ignorance anytime soon. 

        1. MJ that "link" was a tag along from me copying & pasting from a recent "comments by DaninDen" archive, while reading thru a scant few, no wonder I am not given ticker tape parades- I almost needed to break out the decoder ring to read my own stuff. Here isa link to similar writings about the relationship of capital & energy extraction, a wealth of posts- bring your own aspirin, will make any head hurt ha ha Also an older Gail Collins NYT, "Rs love the keystone"

          1. Eight Pitfalls in Evaluating Green Energy Solutions by author;

            About Gail Tverberg

            My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues – oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to inadequate supply

            1. I'll start my response with the front page story about Panasonic's announcement this morning on the front page of TNTSNBM.  Despite our recent obsession with dead dinosaurs and destroying Front Range air quality, they still consider Colorado 'their choice' out of 20 cities vying to be their choice.  Congrats to the State of Colorado and the City of Denver for converting our past successes in the New Energy Economy to this opportunity. 

              Now, back to Ms. Tverberg…

              1. Beating the corn ethanol horse to death.  Corn ethanol production is capped.  All future increases in biofuel production will come from advanced resources (ie: waste).  And it's a better argument that every kernel of corn destined for animal feed that doesn't first go through an ethanol plant is a wasted resource.  The Food v. Fuel debate has been thoroughly debunked.  If we simply converted 1/7 of the known, organic waste streams we create annually in the US. (in total, 1.4 billion tons) to advanced biofuels, we would create three times the liquid fuels proposed to come down the KeystoneXL.  We're drowning in resources – while simultaneously being suffocated by lobby dollars of the oil and gas industry.

              2. Lots of work being done on organic replacements for rare earth metals.  (perhaps Ms. Tvberg missed the point that 'rare' doesn't mean they are 'rare')  And while she laments that very little is being recycled, that only highlights a failure in public policy.  Just because it isn't doesn't mean it couldn't  be.

              3. Solar power today is competitive in many US markets without subsidies; ditto for wind power.  The problem?  The externalities of coal and natural gas generation aren't considered by utilities when doing their resource planning.  (she really should make Google her friend).

              4. Patently false.  (Seriously, honey, make Google your friend). The worlds foremost superlab for testing these scenarios is in our backyard at NREL.  CSU-developed 'Spirae' has been managing very diverse grid operations for years. 

              5. Nothing in her paragraph that couldn't be resolved with sound public policy and a national energy plan.

              6. Ah, yes – repeating the lies of Germany's 'Energiewende'.  Once again, debunked.   (seriously, 'Google').  In fact, the real falllacy is the 'Baseload' argument promoted by the current utility sector.

              7. May be in the running for the 'Lie of the Year'.  In fact, Germany and Denmark, who have some of the highest concentrations of renewable energy in the world also have the most reliable grids.  Once again, her argument is 'upside down'.

              8. We are literally drowning in solar resources; over 30,000 times more energy falls on this planet every day than we consume.  For every project she mentions that underperforms – there are probably 100 that meet or exceed their projections.



                1. A slow day in Wray!  🙂  Corn's picked.  Combine is washed and put away.  Shop floor is swept.  Mom's making her famous caramel crunch and the two CSU games (CSU at 1:30 and CSU-Pueblo at 2:00) are just about queued up for an afternoon with Dad.  It's not Norman Rockwell…but close!

                2. PS:  We'll probably discover someday that Ms. Tverberg is the grandmother of that nice young ranch lady who reminded us every day during the election cycle that she had 'studied' fracking and found it to be safe. 

              1. Thanks for the point-by-point rebuttal. I had to laugh at the "almost the entire periodic table of elements is being used!" as grounds for having grave concerns about renewables. 

    1. I can't see what Thingy 1 and Thingy 2 contribute to these discussions, but I'm betting, based on the responses so far, that this is an appropriate post for today.

      1. Pretty brutal collection of come backs to pathetic AC. Oh and two more things. When policy gets you nowhere in over 50 years doesn't that tell anyone with more sense then a fence post something? And why no rightie outrage about the lack of democracy and freedom in Saudi Arabia and and in the rest of our Arab/oil power allied countries?

        My mom in Florida says  l the southern Florida news coverage shows that, besides pols like Rubio, it's only the oldest Cubans who don't think it's about time. Everybody else wants to send money to their families still in Cuba, visit, make life better for the people. Naturally, they've noticed that the only ones suffering from our policies are their loved ones and friends and that if the policies haven't done a thing to bring down the Castros they aren't likely to do so now. And the Castros aren't going to be around for another 50 years no matter what.

        Of course we all know how righties feel about facty stuff. Objective reality is just a commie plot.

        1. Sorry about sloppy editing! Not surprised the response is a cartoon that has nothing to do with any points I made.  AC clearly has nothing to say to the fact that we have long had relations with repressive states, both communist and non-communist, that are no more democratic o better on human rights than Cuba or to the fact that our policies have failed to make the slightest progress toward forcing regime change in Cuba in over 50 years or to the fact that so many Cuban Americans are completely on board with normalizing relations with Cuba. Guess he's just doing the covering the ears and singing la la la thing while searching for stupid cartoons.

          I'm surprised any rightie who supports throwing people in black prison sites and torturing them with no habeas corpus or due process of any kind has the nerve to share the cartoon AC chose. Having chosen the path we have and that AC so strongly endorses we have lost all moral standing to criticize others for how they treat those they consider to be an existential threat.

          According to AC locking up and torturing those who threaten us or even those we merely suspect of threatening us is fine. I'm sure Cuba's excuse would be that dissidents are a threat to their way of life. Exactly what Cheney and AC and all their rightie friends say about the people they insist we have not just the right but an obligation to torture and keep locked up forever with no opportunity for any kind of legal process. In fact I'm sure every repressive regime on the planet uses the same excuse, an excuse AC claims is perfectly legit. 

          AC, you're pathetic. Can't wait for your next non-response cartoon. Actually, I can. Every once in a blue moon I can't help responding but I see no reason not to go back to my usual practice of scrolling right past all AC contributions. See ya'. 


          1. Toadies like AC would be the first to cheer if we lived under the most repressive fascist regime imaginable.  Dick Cheney always envied banana republic dictatorships, considering how "efficient" they were at keeping the "right" people in power, and controlling the unwashed masses.

            1. Isn't banana republic the destination they've been pushing for ever since Reagan? And considering the shrinking and impoverishing of the middle class, who haven't gained a thing since the 70s, coupled with the concurrent  gargantuan growth in the wealth of a tiny elite that they've achieved since then, they're doing a damn good job of it.  Such highly concentrated wealth naturally creates the kind of equally concentrated power that is only compatible with regimes of repression and privilege, not with societies characterized by the empowering of  a prosperous majority enjoying egalitarian rights with a meaningful voice in determining their own destiny via a fully functioning democratic process. 

    1. Thanks, Dave.  That editorial inspires me to subscribe to the Sentinel, and I don't live in Aurora.  My favorite quote:

      "For this woman [Oklahoma Congresswoman Sally Kern], and so many others in Oklahoma, it’s all about putting the “Christ” back in “Christmas” instead of putting it back into “Christianity”."

    2. That was great, Dave. Best laugh all day. I laughed. My wife laughed, I even think it gave my cat a chuckle. He started yowling about something while I was reading.

    1. Senior administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, the subject of an arms embargo.[3] Some U.S. officials also hoped that the arms sales would secure the release of several hostages and allow U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the Nicaraguan Contras. Under the Boland Amendment, further funding of the Contras by the government had been prohibited by Congress.

      The scandal began as an operation to free the seven American hostages being held in Lebanon by a group with Iranian ties connected to the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution. It was planned thatIsrael would ship weapons to Iran, and then the United States would resupply Israel and receive the Israeli payment. The Iranian recipients promised to do everything in their power to achieve the release of the U.S. hostages. The plan deteriorated into an arms-for-hostages scheme, in which members of the executive branch sold weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of the American hostages.[4][5]

      or to sum up,

      secretly selling arms to a hostile nation, to secretly fund an outfit that Congress had specifically prohibited funding because of all the nun-raping 


  2. So here's a sincere question for one of the trolls.  

    If you're a conservative candidate how do you answer the 'most influential person' or 'role model' question?  Jesus or Ronald Reagan?  

    If one picks Reagan does that mean they hate Jesus or maybe are a secret humanist believing in such nonsense as evolution and finite resources?  

    On the other hand, if one picks Jesus does that mean they don't recognize the Greatest Pure 100% Perfect Republican Awesomnest Action Figure President Evah!–who even defeated Soviets single handedly with his Star Wars machine? 

      1. Neither one of which could make it through a GOTP primary today. JC was too lefty and Reagan raised taxes too many times, compromised too much with evil Dems and had gay Hollywood friends.

            1. From that raging liberal, Dwight Eisenhower:

              “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”

              Poverty among school-age kids is above pre-recession levels in 30 percent of US counties

  3. Here's exactly what so many of us here have been saying! Can you imagine Rs not taking credit ?

    I actually laughed out loud when I saw this headline:

    Good Economic News, but Democrats Differ on Whether to Take Credit

    And that, my friends, really says it all.  

    The article notes a handful of positive statistics:

    The jobless rate, at 10 percent at its peak after Mr. Obama took office, is down to 5.8 percent with nearly 11 million new jobs. The annual deficit, which reached 10.1 percent of the gross domestic product, the measure of the economy, has fallen below 3 percent of G.D.P., the level most economists consider acceptable. Gasoline is less than $3 a gallon on average, as the United States has become the world’s top energy producer. Exports are up, and so are consumer and business confidence.

    Nevertheless, the article also observes that:

    voters preferred Republicans to Democrats, 39 percent to 30 percent, to deal with the economy, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll before the Nov. 4 midterm elections. This comes just a year after congressional Republicans forced a government shutdown that hurt economic growth, private forecasters said.

    Hmm, I wonder what possible reason could there be for the voters giving no credit to the Democrats.   Allow me to make one modest suggestion: if one side is hammering a negative story, and the other side remains silent, then perhaps it makes sense that the public will credit the negative story.  

    Now, I understand that for many people, the economy is still lousy.  And I recognize that politicians who paint an unrealistically rosy picture risk being viewed as out of touch.  

    But this does not mean that Democrats should cower from taking credit for real, quantifiable improvements that are demonstrably related to Democratic policies.  It is possible to take credit and simultaneously acknowledge that there is more work to be done.  Can't Democrats chew gum and walk at the same time?

    And this is not a recent problem.  The article notes that Democrats have always had trouble balancing these messages.  In the first paragraph, though, the article says:

    Democrats would like some credit for the run of good economic news. Yet the better those reports are, the more divided the party has become over how — even whether — to take any.

    1. That's because some of them are [i]former[/i] Republicans who do not know how to stay on the message. Those are those who needs to be trained on how to give proper messaging.

      RIght now the election is all about graft.


    2. That article nails the problem.  Two years ago we had an interesting convergence of celebrations: the 150th anniversaries of Lincoln establishing USDA, the Morrill Land Grant Act, the Homestead Act and Willie Nelson's 80th birthday.  Willie and Lincoln are both in the National Agricultural Hall of Fame, and this administration has been second-to-none in their support of the new energy economy.

      As a White House Champion of Change I was able to propose a 'Lincoln BioEnergy Highway' celebration, starting in New York City's Time Square and ending at Lincoln Park in San Francisco – the beginning and ending points of the Lincoln Highway.   Willie had agreed to do a concert in Colorado (where we also planned two days highlighting the many green energy achievements here).  We had a variety of alternative-fuel cars, a 100% biodiesel school bus and a biodiesel-powered general aviation airplane queued up for the cross-country celebrations.

      The White House bought off on the idea, established a planning roundtable with input from USDA, DOE, DOE, EPA and DOT and we were one-month in to the planning process.   Then, fear set in.  A combination of bureaucrats and politicos decided this would turn in to a Fox News bonanza yacking about 'Solyndra' (thoroughly debunked) and fears of a drought, giving the nut jobbers an opportunity to perpetuate their completely debunked 'food v. fuel' stories and horror stories about green energy subsidies (again, thoroughly debunked).  In a matter of days, the celebration was killed…all from fear and an unwillingness to take credit for their achievements.  What a wasted moment – all from political cowardice.

  4. Progressive Race Hustlers cause Police Deaths

    Sharpton-De Blasio race incitement against police claims lives of two Cops in NYC:


    Vernon Geberth, a retired NYPD homicide lieutenant who wrote what is considered the detective’s bible, “Practical Homicide Investigation,’’ was unmoved.

    “De Blasio’s comments have given license to the anti-police activists and thugs to attack the police,” he said. “His comments have been absolutely despicable. Telling his son he should be afraid of the police? I’m not surprised these two police officers have been assassinated as a direct result of de Blasio’s comments.”

    1. The prospect of trolling some recently murdered bodies is just too arousing for you to stay in your crib I guess?  Couldn't you just wank it in privacy–thinking of killed people you can drag out in hopes of making a political game–and keep your perversions to yourself?  Gotta get up early to smear your shit.  What a despicable, loathsome creature you are.  God, if I were such a one I would be so ashamed of myself, being such an odious thing.  

    2. Thanks, AC – for providing a local reminder of just how sick and morally depraved Republican Party hacks have become.

      Thanks, too, to Rudy Giuliani and others in the Republican Party who would rather blame protesters than the guy with a long criminal history with apparent mental problems who shot his wife before committing this atrocious act against two (non-white, which kind of minimizes the ties to protests thing) NYPD officers who had done nothing to deserve their fate.

  5. McConnell needs to perform but he is going to be stymied by the Ego Caucus doing battle with itself for personal glory.  Mario is hoping that Cuba can be his come-back, Ted the Canadian has decided there is still some gain to be milked from batshit, and Rand Paul is trying to figure out how to triangulate between batshit, daddy's supporters, isolationists, and anyone that might take him seriously and not as a punch line.  

    And that's just the Senate wing of the Clown Car Caucus, toss in Huckabee, Frothy The Santorum, and a few RINOs, and its definitely time to buy popcorn stock.  

    Republicans fighting to hang onto Senate _ in 2016


    1. But Rubio cast the first stone and it was one hell of a big stone:  He referenced the Obama-Paul Cuba policy!  Anytime a Repub equates a fellow Repub with Obama, it means war.

    2. Raul Castro has opened a Twitter account.  (yes, I'm following him.  Might want to sell him some red beans or wheat!  Can a bitcoin for Cuba be far behind?)

      Let the exploding heads commence…

      1. I'm looking forward to a little 'Rubiu v. Raul' Twitter action.  Just how will the cretins control their message now that a little freedom has penetrated Havana via social media?

    1. Unfortunately the number of Republican pols holding office who share this state senator's views has dwindled to next to nothing. There are too few remaining for them to have any power or influence. Voting for them just contributes to R majorities.  It would make more sense for them to become Dems since most of today's elected Dems now are center to center right while almost all elected Rs range only from far right to Tea Party nut case. 

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