Russian Oil: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

High oil prices earned Russia the tax revenue to renationalize its oil companies as oil prices fell.

High oil prices served Russia well - financing a military buildup and allowing it to build big cash reserves from tax revenues. But now prices are low, Mr. Putin is using its cash to renationlize the oil companies (along with steel, iron and other firms) in another dangerous step towards
rebuilding the Soviet Union. His next step?

We Need Global Auto Standards

The Renault Espace and Fiat 500 are just two of the cars that could be built in the US IF government regulators are serious about helping our auto industry turn around.

An insightful recent
New York Times article points out that the US auto industry could transition to more efficient vehicles quickly IF the US government transitioned to more efficient regulations.

GM and Ford both produce outstanding and efficient vehicles in Europe. These vehicles could be produced quickly in the United States if (already similar) safety and emissions standards were “harmonized” (at least temporarily) to allow European-spec. vehicles to operate here.

This would allow European-spec. vehicles to be built and sold in the U.S. - AND cut the cost of government regulation. Let’s see if our government figures what’s good for the goose (US auto industry ) is good for the gander (government regulatory organizations.)

Bolder, less “Americanized” versions of non-US cars have recently been selling briskly: Audi’s range is the fastest growing in the luxury sector and Nissan and VW have also seen success with more stylish & less Americanized versions of their products.

Beijing: Indoor Smog - An Export Industry

Until yesterday, I had never seen indoor smog... Below is the vast Norman-Foster designed arrival hall at Beijing’s new airport - its soaring roof supported by dozens of chimney-like columns fading away into the coal smoke in the distance...

As we drove downtown in one of Beijing’s ubiquitous minibuses, visibility decreased to about 1km as you can see from (click below to continue)Read More...

China Ends Fuel Subsidies - Will Others Follow?

China, the world’s #2 oil consumer behind the US, has demonstrated a remarkable show of economic force:
it eliminated fuel subsidies and let oil prices float. Better yet, it increased gasoline tax 500% and diesel tax 800% to about $0.14 per liter ($0.50 per gallon.)

OPEC predictably reacted allergically but the real question is will other fuel subsidizing countries like India, Mexico and Indonesia follow? Here’s why they can and should now.Read More...

Alt-E: Crossing The Valley of Death

We admit Alternative Energy isn’t our usual topic - however it is a crucial component of the energy equation. Alt-E companies from startups to General Electric wind turbines have three new challenges which is not good news unless you’re a fossil fuel company.

1. Project Finance has largely dried up. The construction & operating loans that builds wind farms, solar arrays or biofuel refineries that sell electricity (or biofuel) to electric utilities or fuel distributors are gone to the twin victims of credit-crunch, lower energy purchase prices and lower energy demand...Read More...

Federal Loans For Tesla Motors?

The New York Times announced today that Tesla Motors, the pioneering Silicon Valley electric car company, wants a $400 million (1.6%) slice of the $25B federal government loan program for building efficient cars. We think the government has no choice...Read More...