Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Here is a class-action showing how such things are settled but this time actually put a few dollars in the pocket of the class members

You can carry around hundreds upon hundreds of books inside that little device. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

You can carry around hundreds upon hundreds of books inside that little device. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I have long been amused by the way class-action lawsuits are settled. The members of the group receive very little and often it is a credit for your next purchase of the same item. At the same time, the attorneys involved get a huge payout.

One settlement I recall gave members of the class a coupon worth a few hundred dollars off their next purchase of a brand-new automobile. Since very few people will run right out and buy a new car that means very few of those coupons will ever be redeemed. In the meantime the attorney lucky enough to claim credit for the lawsuit walks off with millions upon millions of dollars.

An entertaining illustration of the dynamics is visible this week. Heat Street on June 21 explains Apple’s E-Books Lawsuit Yields Minuscule “Credits” for Readers, $50 Million for Lawyers.

Read more…

Rig count in North Dakota in first half of 2016

One small part of the legacy of Aubrey McClendon. Photo by James Ulvog.

Photo by James Ulvog.

Here is a recap of the North Dakota rig count, all from Million Dollar Way. Focus is on the first half of 2016. Some older data repeated for recent context: Read more…

Update on marijuana regulation: #24

Image courtesy of DollaPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollaPhotoClub.com

Not much that I’ve noticed in the news about regulation of the recreational marijuana market. Here are a few things of interest. Reminder: Reason I’m following this issue is to watch a natural experiment on whether over-regulation will crush a new industry.

4/20 – Kelly Phillips Erb at Forbes – On 4/20, It’s High Time to Think About Taxes, Revenues & Marijuana Great survey of how we got to the place we are today.

How the marijuana laws have developed, the Department of Justice’s effort to look the other way when states have legalized either medical or recreational marijuana, and the IRS’ stand that most costs of running a marijuana business are non-deductible.

 

Also, some discussion on how likely Congress is to make changes to federal law. Current assessment: not likely. Doing so would appear to be soft on crime. Current mess with opioid abuse would make any efforts to legalize marijuana appear to be bad.

6/16 – MarketWatch – Microsoft gets into the weed business One of the requirements in those states where recreational marijuana is legal is the need to track every bit of marijuana from the seed that germinated into a plant all the way to the specific end product the marijuana went into.

Read more…

Accelerating collapse of the Venezuelan economy – 9

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The economic devastation and human suffering in Venezuela is getting worse by the day. Every article I see shows the economy has taken one more step towards utter collapse.

6/9 – Washington Post – As hunger mounts, Venezuelans turned to trash for food – A man who used to work at a bakery now searches garbage cans for food because he will starve if he doesn’t find something to eat in the trash.

He is joined by small business owners and retired people in the search for enough food to merely stay alive.

Number of people below the poverty line has skyrocketed from 52% as recently as 2014 up to 76% today.

I wonder what could have caused that devastation?

In the 535 word article, the only hint of the reason for this human suffering is citing the government’s claim that the political opposition is intentionally causing this suffering in order to throw the president out of power.

While the WP reporters are incapable of seeing the cause, at least they are able to see the suffering.

6/10 – AFT at Yahoo News – Venezuela lets Maduro recall advance, with threats – Article reports looting is increasing and more protests involve violence.

A protest by opposition legislators resulted in several of them getting beat up. Yes, legislators are getting beaten when they protest.

Read more…

2013 construction costs for different energy sources

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Construction of the above is four times as expensive as natural gas, but at least this won’t incinerate birds. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Million Dollar Way pointed me to EIA data for 2013 on the costs for construction and amount of new capacity for wind, solar, natural gas, hydro and biomass. As expected, the non-reliables have extremely high construction costs.

The data can be found here

Since the graph is public information, I will post it below:

Source: Energy Information Administration

Source: Energy Information Administration

Read more…

Yet another reason I am so optimistic when I take my eyes off the political news of the day: the energy revolution that keeps gaining speed.

One more illustration of the energy revolution currently underway. BTW, flaring is down to about 11% of all natural gas produced. Photo by James Ulvog.

One more illustration of the energy revolution currently underway. BTW, flaring is down to 9.2% of all natural gas produced. About 91% is captured, which shows great progress. Photo by James Ulvog.

When I look at the political news and the headlines in general news every morning, I get so discouraged. When I look away from those areas I am so optimistic.

Consider what the two following articles suggest about how bright our economic future could be: an abundant supply of oil and gas at increasingly lower cost to produce.

6/13 – JH at The American Interest – Resilient Shale Producers Get Their Second Wind – Article mentions a Financial Times article which indicates there is some increase in drilling, which is driven by prices a few weeks ago. Since then oil prices have come up further. Discussion speculates if prices remain in the $50 range there will be even more drilling.

The small-scale and short development time of shale wells creates a soft ceiling on prices. Shale production can increase quickly which will put supplies on the market quickly, which will counter a surge in prices.

A quoted analyst says his expectation is a long-term price of oil around $60. There will be fluctuations up to $80 and down to $40, but the price will tend toward $60. Drillers needing a price higher than that to be profitable will have a rough time.

Read more…

News from Bakken – 6/15

Whether a boom time or slow down, all the oil activity has disrupted life in North Dakota. Photo by James Ulvog.

Whether a boom time or slow down, all the oil activity has disrupted life in North Dakota. Photo by James Ulvog.

Two reports on the issue of whether transitory housing will remain in Williston: one court case closed with one remaining; city allows another year and a half to remove the camps.

Young guys who moved to North Dakota and decided to stay have brought their wifes to the area and guess what? Lots of them are having babies. By the way, our son is in that category, our daughter-in-law is someone who moved as well, and our grandson is one of the following statistics.

Finally, an indicator why people in North Dakota don’t like all the changes. I get it. Really, I get it: there are ugly sides to economic expansion.

6/8 – Amy Dalrymple at Oil Patch Dispatch – Williston Wins One Crew Camp Court Case, Another Looms – There are two cases and process against the city’s plan to shut down all crew camps. The case in state court has ended with the judge refusing to issue an injunction.

The federal case is still pending.

Read more…

Is the oil market ready to turn?

There is room for a few more wells on that site when the price is right. Photo by James Ulvog.

There is room for a few more wells on that site when the price is right, which may be soon. Photo by James Ulvog.

Daniel Yergin thinks so.

Bargain hunters who are hunting bargains think so.

Increase to $50 has some producers completing DUCs, which tells us those producers think so.

Oh, USGS estimates a field in Colorado has 40 times more natural gas that previously estimated. The field is almost as large as Marcellus.

6/5  Calgary Herald – Oil recovery is on its way after two-year-long rout, says energy economist – As one of many comments at a conference in Calgary, Daniel Yergin said he thinks the oil industry at the start of a recovery.

Read more…

Great news on the open frontier, private space exploration edition

Amazing news on the open frontier of private space exploration:

SpaceX recovers another two boosters at sea.

What to do with all those warehoused ICBM boosters?

Another investment in mining asteroids.

5/6 – NPR – SpaceX Lands Falcon 9 on a Barge at Sea (Again) – This is the second successful recovery of a Falcon 9 booster at sea. Another successful recovery was on land. After several failed efforts to recover on a floating barge, SpaceX has two successes in a row. Very cool.

5/27 – Florida Today – SpaceX lands fourth booster after successful Falcon 9 launch – This is the third consecutive recovery of a booster. These three recoveries were on a platform out at sea. One previous recovery was on land.

4/14 – Behind the Black – The history of Falcon 9’s recoverable first stage – Check out this cool video showing the less-than-four-year history of going from the first tiny test by Grasshopper to successful recovery of the Falcon 9 booster at sea:

Robert Zimmerman says:

Read more…

Cool stuff on the open frontier of technology, drone edition

photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Amazing things happening in the use of drones. Maybe only major powers have the capacity to conduct extensive drone operations. Think about bee-sized drones and drone swarms.

First, a small tangent. 4/13 – Wall Street Journal – What Children Learned From the Shared Family Phone – What I learned from the article is that almost half of households in the US do not have a landline.

That is up from around 27% back five years.  For the 25-34 age group, only around one-third have a landline.

4/22 – Press Enterprise – Inland agencies deputize drones for crime, rescues Four specific city police agencies in the Inland Empire (the area in San Bernardino county that is east of LA) are planning to start using drones in operations.

Read more…

Follow-up on the death of Aubrey McClendon

One small part of the legacy of Aubrey McClendon. Photo by James Ulvog.

One small part of the legacy of Aubrey McClendon. Photo by James Ulvog.

I’ve previously discussed the unexpected death of Aubrey McClendon, a pioneer in the fracking revolution that is changing the world. You can find my posts here. Two official reports were released this week on his fatal accident.

6/7 – Wall Street Journal – Police Probe Finds Nothing to Suggest Aubrey McClendon Committed Suicide – Two months of research by the Oklahoma City police, including criminal and accident scene investigators found no indications or hints that Mr. McClendon killed himself in the accident. Read more…

Are you richer today than John D. Rockefeller was in 1916? The answer is, um, yes.

Would you trade your place in life today for life occupying the Gould-Guggenheim mansion when it was completed in 1912? Even if a billion dollars was tossed into the trade? Photo by Adobe Stock.

Would you trade your place in life today for life occupying the Gould-Guggenheim mansion when it was completed in 1912? Even if a billion dollars was tossed into the deal? I would not make the trade.  Photo by Adobe Stock.

I suggest you are in fact richer today than John Rockefeller was 100 years ago. If it were possible for Prof. Don Boudreaux to switch places with John Rockefeller’s life and even if he could have a billion dollars after he arrived back in 1916, he would not make the switch. He would rather live as a comfortable professor today than be a billionaire 100 years ago.

I agree.

Here are three posts to explain this strange idea: first, what life was like 100 years ago, why Prof Boudreaux would not make the switch, and then why Coyote Blog wouldn’t either.

(Cross-post from Attestation Update. This post supports my conversation on ancient finances at that blog and also fits the discussion of how much life has improved over the last 200 years here.)

An article in The Atlantic on 2/11/16 describes America in 1915: Long Hours, Crowded Houses, Death by Trolley. The article is drawn from a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: The life of American workers in 1915If you enjoy this brief discussion, I heartily recommend you read the full BLS report. It is a fun read, but then, I am an accountant.

I will update a few of the stats in the Atlantic article where the author took a shortcut. When I browsed through the BLS report, I noticed some sentences which were repeated nearly verbatim in the article, which is okay since the report is a public document.

A few highlights:

Workers in factories averaged 55 hours a week. The fatality rate across the economy was 61 deaths per 100,000 compared to about 3.3 per 100,000 today.

Read more…

Continuing human suffering in Venezuela due to government policies

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Just in case you think I’ve been too hard in my description of the devastation in Venezuela or I’ve been too blunt in laying blame for the suffering at the feet of socialism, just check out Prof. Mark Perry’s column:  Venezuelan apocalypse: Some updates on the epic failure of socialism in oil-rich Venezuela.

Keep in mind this human suffering is taking place in a country that has more proven oil reserves that Saudi Arabia.

Here are a few tidbits from the article:

5/4 – Pan Am Post – Hungry Venezuelans Hunt Dogs, Cats, Pigeons at Food Runs Out – Yes, cats, dogs, and even pigeons are disappearing. As I’ve said before, it is a sign of a famine-in-progress when dogs and cats start to disappear from the streets.

5/15 – BBC News – Venezuela crisis: Maduro threatens seizure of closed factories.

I must quote the professor: Read more…

Oil prices edging up and OPEC won’t cap production, so how soon will shale drilling increase?

How soon do you suppose these things will again blossom on the plains of North Dakota? Photo by James Ulvog.

How soon do you suppose these things will again blossom on the plains of North Dakota? Photo by James Ulvog.

Oil prices are moving up and OPEC isn’t planning to do anything to hold down production. Completions appear to be slowly increasing. What price will it take for drilling to increase? Price drop has forced improvements in shale oil and the technical knowledge will not go away when drilling increases.

5/31 – Energy Media Group at Bakken.com – Oil prices set for fourth-straight monthly gain – Oil prices have been moving up slowly for several months. Currently oil is in the range of $50.

6/2 – AP at Bakken.com – OPEC states fail to reach deal on production – At the scheduled meeting on 6/2, OPEC members did not reach an agreement to cap production.

Copying a line out of an old Monty Python skit, the secretary-general insisted that OPEC isn’t dead yet.

6/1 – Daily Caller – US Fracking Poised for Comeback, OPEC Continues to Flounder – Speculation of different  people is fracking to take off again when oil is above $50, others think it will take around $60 for sustained increase in drilling.

Read more…

Guesses on long term impact of shale revolution

Just one of many thousands of reasons OPEC is in distress. Photo by James Ulvog.

Just one of many thousands of reasons OPEC is in distress. Photo by James Ulvog.

A guess on what price will keep the shale revolution going in the very short-term. Background discussions of the impact from the shale revolution:  cheap oil era is upon us, oil prices won’t hit $100 again, and OPEC has lost its pricing power. Interview with Daniel Yergin is a must read.

4/28 – The Million Dollar Way – Lifeline for Oil Companies – Here is a guess on the framework for oil pricing, courtesy of Rigzone:

  • $40 – lifeline for US shale oil
  • $50 – most shale companies survive
  • $60 – all thrive

5/4 – Reuters at Dickingson Press – DUCs in a row: Oilfield servicers to gain as more wells completed – Halliburton and Baker Hughes expect a number of Drilled but UnCompleted wells (DUC) to be fracked now that prices have recovered somewhat. They expect the gross number of DUCs to decline.

5/3 – Scientific American – The Age of Cheap Oil and Natural Gas is Just Beginning – Authors see two revolutions that will continue to spread.

Read more…

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