Saturday, March 24, 2012

Nice map of Oil and Gas Pipeline Infrastructure in the US. They are EVERYWHERE! Is there room for one more??

Here is a map and key for existing pipeline infrastructure in the US.  The debate over the Keystone pipeline makes it sound like this is a new development breaking new ground and territory.  I look at this map and ask "Where is there NOT a pipline already?"...

Source: Econbrowser

How much water does it take to produce some of your favorite foods/drinks? You will be shocked!

For my US readers---to get an estimate in gallons take the number of liters and divide it by "4" (1 liter = 0.264 gallons, so there are approx 4 liters to a gallon)  (HT: Big Picture Agriculture)

Cereal, 1 cup = 130 liters (example: 130L divided by 4 = 32.5 gallons)
Orange Juice, 1 cup =170 L
Coffee, 1 cup = 140 L
Cheese, 1 portion = 250 L
Rice, 100 g = 140 L
Milk, 1 glass = 200 L
Tea, 1 cup = 35 L
Sugar, 1 piece = 10.5 L
Lettuce, 1 kg = 130 L
Apple/Pear, 1, 70= L
Chicken meat, 150 g = 615 L
Pork meat, 150 g, 690 L
Egg, 1, 135 L
Banana, 1, 70 L
Olives, 100 g = 250 L
Oats, 100g = 237 L
Onions, 100g = 17 L
Soybeans, 100g, = 275 L
Pineapple, 100g = 42 L
Chocolate, 100g = 2,400 L
Cucumber, 100 g = 24 L

Source HERE

Nice Graphic on the Top 10 Tax Deductions individuals can take. I am STILL bothered by one I benefit from but find least justifiable...

Here is a chart showing the Top 10 tax deductions/tax credits individuals are eligible to take how much they "cost" the government in terms of foregone tax revenue.  This chart comes for a VERY easy to read report (HERE) from the Congressional Research Council.  If you want to learn more about this important issue I encourage you to look at it.

Of all these deductions/credits the one I find LEAST justifiable (it is relative and I understand if there is disagreement) is the Mortgage Interest Deduction. I have written about this before HERE.  I say this even though I am a beneficiary of this break.

I am allowed to reduce the amount of income tax I pay by deducting from my taxable income the amount of interest (in a year) I pay on the loan I recieved to buy my house.  I do understand the benefits and costs of this deduction. I just don't see the compellling reason for it.  Someone, please educate me on an objective basis, not a personal one.
Source: Wall Street Journal

Friday, March 23, 2012

Good intentions are not enough when it comes to helping people---results matter more...

Good intentions are not enough.  They only make the GIVER feel good and says nothing about the welfare of the recipient. 

There is no reason for the victims of famine to perish. There is adequate food aid, the problem is corrupt/non-existent national institutions in the recipient countries to make sure people receive the food.  This is from a recent report on last years famine in Somali...Sad:
""A large amount of food sent by the U.N. to the Somali capital during last year's famine never reached the starving people it was intended for, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Some of the World Food Program supplies went to the black market, some to feed livestock. One warehouse full of rations was looted in its entirety by a Somali government official. And across the city, feeding sites handed out far less food than records indicate they should have...."" Aricle HERE

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Attention Steve Patty and Will Johnson: Nice graphic showing the amount and cost of food we throw away every year..

With Food Prices High, There's Guilt About Waste But Dread of the Reheated Dinner
The average U.S. family of four spends from $500 to $2,000 a year on food they never eat, according to researchers' estimates. 
Food is the second-largest component in the U.S. solid waste stream, after paper and paperboard. Once paper and paperboard are removed for recycling, food ends up as the largest component in U.S. landfills and incinerators, weighing in at 33 million tons in 2010, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.  
Source: Wall Street Journal

China is poised to be the largest new car market for years to come. Let's have trade peace and not a trade war...

China WILL be a major destination for new cars in the coming years/decades.  Smart companies (and forward thinking students) will be laying the groundwork for exploiting this huge market.

From the Financial Times:

Carmakers: it’s all about China

""Three bits of proof on Wednesday, if more were needed, that for most carmakers China is crucial to survival – let alone success.

First, Jaguar Land Rover announced a joint venture with Chinese manufacturer Chery. Then BMW and Volkswagen took hits to their share prices on negative comments about their China sales. And finally, Skoda (a VW unit) announced a boost in profits, driven by Russia and India – and China.

The JLR tie-up with Chery is good news for Indian parent Tata Motors. According to the FT’s John Reed, the UK brands sold 42,000 cars in China in 2011, a 60 per cent rise on 2010 and equivalent to 17 per cent of the group’s global sales, up from just 1 per cent in 2005.

The joint venture allows the company to make cars in China – most JLR cars are made in the UK and Land Rover 4x4s are proving very popular with Chinese customers.

Skoda’s sales in China show a similar pattern. They increased by 21.9 per cent last year from 2010. China now represents over a quarter of Skoda’s sales with 220,000 units, nearly 100,000 more than Germany, its next biggest market.

Skoda, which is the Czech unit of Volkswagen, also saw high growth in Russia and India – 62.5 and 49.9 per cent, respectively, but this from a much lower starting point than in China. Overall, the company saw a 66 per cent rise in operating profit last year.

And yet it was a bad news day for Volkswagen. The company and BMW were the biggest fallers on the FTSE Eurofirst 300 after worries that their sales in China would struggle to meet forecasts – news that knocked the entire automotive sector.
From the FT:
The German carmakers sank after an official from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers admitted that sales growth in China might fail to reach forecasts. Volkswagen closed the session down 4.4 per cent at €133.05, while BMW shed 5 per cent to €68.22.
Carlos Gomes, auto analyst at ScotiaBank, told beyondbrics that even with a slowdown, China would remain the driver of growth in the market for the next decade. “In China, there are around 58 vehicles per 1,000 people. In the G7, the average is around 600. There is still a huge rise in incomes occuring where people can now afford their first car.”

The rise in China’s auto industry tells the story. Gomes points out that in 2000, China produced 2m cars. In 2011, that figure had risen to around 19m.

For carmakers, China simply can’t be ignored.""

Are gas prices on their way DOWN? I guess there IS a world leader who can control the price, but not the one you think...

Saudi Arabia moves to calm oil market (HT: Moneybox)

''Saudi Arabia is taking steps to calm the oil market, boosting exports, filling up strategic oil stocks overseas and tapping oilfields to expand production capacity.
The moves by the world’s largest oil producer would be welcomed by the White House as it battles the negative impact of rapidly rising fuel prices. They come as oil prices surge above $125 a barrel, the highest since the crisis of 2008, and set record highs in a number of currencies, including the euro and sterling.
The Saudi measures include a sharp boost in exports to the US for April and May. Vela, the shipping arm of the state-owned Saudi Aramco, has hired the largest number of supertankers in years to move oil from the Gulf to the US.
Omar Nokta, of Dalham Rose & Co, a specialist investment bank in the energy sector, said that so far this month Vela had hired 11 very large crude oil carriers, each capable of shipping 2m barrels, to deliver oil to US-based refiners.''
“In 2011, Vela fixed one VLCC to the US every other month,” he said in a note to clients. “This is the first time in several years for Vela to hit the market with such volume – and in such a short timeframe,” he added.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The state of US manufacturing in one easy chart...The Blue Collar Blues just keep getting bluer...

The state of US manufacturing in one easy chart...Productivity (output per labor hour) soaring but employment in that sector falling dramatically. However, it appears to have bottomed out (right side of chart).  The use of technology in the workplace has eliminated a lot of these jobs.  Many of the jobs are performed by skilled workers with advanced education.  The traditional blue collar "works down at the plant" job is rapidly disappearing.  Another source of inequality. 
Source: The Big Picture

Nice graphic showing the Growth of Foreign Ownership of US National Debt...Is this a bad thing?

I lost track of the source for this graphic....It shows the size of the "Public" portion of our national debt in the past 40 years.  The other portion is "Private" debt---money borrowed from other US government trust funds (i.e. Social Security, Medicare, etc) and the Federal Reserve. 

 Public debt is money owed to US citizens, corporations, state/local govts, foreigners, foreign Central banks, and foreign governments. 

Foreign holdings of the debt is approaching 50% and roughly half  of that is owed to one country, China.  Problem?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Gasoline is consumed locally but priced globally...Nice graph showing the price of gas over time between the US, Britain and France...Very informative!

Gasoline prices tend to move in tandem with each other regardless of the nationality of the gas (yes, that is meant to be funny). 

The graph below shows a pretty tight relationship at the retail level.  The gap between the lines for Britain/France and the US is the difference in taxes assessed.  Factor those out and they pretty much run together over time. 

The lesson: Gasoline is consumed locally but priced globally (Hey, I think I just made that up--not bad...)
Note: Yes, I know you can find gasoline in many places MUCH cheaper, but that is because of heavy government subsidies which distort the price at the pump.
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