Bloggers Block… items of 2006

Call it fatigue.. call it New Years blaahhhgs.. call it laziness.

The meat of the matter is that I just haven’t felt compelled to blog recently. Th news lately has been particularly uninspiring. The Ukraine and Russia… in a tiff over gas delivery at market prices… threatened to destabilize gas supplies for a large part of Europe… oil and gas prices go up.. peak oil’s spectre draws a little closer.

Russia and Iran… meeting to figure out what to do with Irans nuclear enrichment program… but not much is really expected from it. Iran will continue to pursue nuclear technology no matter what, their oil fields have peaked, and they know it. So they’d rather sell their remaining oil (to China and India) and have nuclear power for their citizens (and a bomb for their enemies). The only thing we don’t know is how the western powers, and Israel will react.

Ariel Sharon. Likely on his deathbed. And with it perhaps this round of optimism for a solution in Israel and Palestine. For all his many many many faults, Sharon is the only Israeli leader to have actually given back Palestinian territory. That says a lot. With him gone, and an election forthcoming… I don’t think anyone knows what’s going to happen.

Iraq… still a quagmire… now “a high chance for all out civil war“. Nobody predicted that (*snort*). The UK wants out. The US wants out (but won’t admit it) and will now get out without paying for rebuilding. The Iraqis don’t know what they want… welcome to “representative” government… please pass the AK-47.

Global Climate Change. Still happening. Still being ignored. 2005 was the 2nd warmest year on record. Ice roads in Northern Alberta, Canada are thawed.. the Northwest Passage is opening for business. Yet Canada still pumps tons of CO2 into the atmosphere at a rate worse than the United States. But hey.. at least Canada is willing to lie about their contribution to the problem… and put on a brave face right?

Canadian Election… 2 weeks to go. The Conservatives are now leading in the polls, including a few ridings in Quebec. Barely… will they hold on? Are the polls correct? Will the Liberals be decimated ala Mulroney, by a Conservative/NDP pairing? Will a Conservative Minority last more than 2 months?

Welcome to 2006 everyone. It’s more of the same…. but the screws are tightened down just a little tighter… and my head is pounding just a little harder.

Here’s a question for you people out there…

What will be the overriding news item of 2006?

Last Year it was the price of oil, Hurricanes/Weather/Climate Change, and Iraq

Notice I didn’t mention the bombings in London? They weren’t at the top of my mind… were they on yours?

Will Al Qaeda pull off another major attack in the US? Does it matter?

Personally… I think oil and gas prices, supplies and demand will be the ongoing and overriding story of 2006 because everything ties into it. Gazprom/Russia will continue to flex it’s monopolistic muscle in the former Soviet Bloc and Europe. Iran will threaten to cut off or blockade oil shipments from the Middle East. Iraq will still not reach it’s pre-Invasion output of oil for more than days at a time. Saudi Arabia will (or will be forced to) finally admit that their production has peaked. Venezuela, Iran, Bolivia, and Cuba will form a new “Axis of Oil” trading in Euros and threatening US Oil imports and foreign debt. OPEC will admit they cannot raise production any higher. The US Economy will start to feel the pinch of limited oil supplies and limited cash… the monthly oil related stock market drops will turn into weekly events… which is actually a good thing. It will spare us a huge crash.

2006 will be the warmest year on record. There will be fewer hurricanes, however, two Category 4 or 5 hurricanes will impact the US… further disrupting oil/gas/refinery flow. Plans to drill in ANWR will again be pushed through Congress, but fail as more US lawmakers realise it is not the answer.

As I saw on another prediction site (I think it was the BBC) the most important event of 2006 will be the one that nobody can predict. Be it a terrorist attack or natural disaster… these things happen. However, the difference in 2006 will be the vunerability of the world at large and the worlds economy to the slightest of shocks. With oil and gas supply and demand running on a razor thin margin, it won’t take much to make a big impact on your lives and mine.

Wow.. I think that’s the most pessimistic I have ever been…

6 thoughts on “Bloggers Block… items of 2006”

  1. My predicitions for 2006:

    1) Conservatives will govern Canada “briefly”.

    2) The US Congress will continue to carry a Conservative majority in both houses.

    3) Iraq will form a unified government.

    4) No Iraqi civil war will happen.

    5) The birthrate in Western Europe will continue to drop as umemployment continues to rise everywhere but the UK and a few smaller countries. France, Germany, Italy and Spain will continue the economic spiral downward well beyond 2006.

    Cheers

  2. I’d be interested to know your reasoning behind #2 and #5… #5 especially considering the US (and Canada, and every other country involved in WWII) is facing the same explosion of Senior age baby boomers. (including China… which has a massive health care problem on it’s hands)

    According to the outlooks in the Economist… unemployment has fallen in both Germany and France and all the countries you mentioned are forecast to have growing economies… between 1.5 and 2.8%… the UK is projected to contract by 1.7%… Canada to grow by 3.6 and US grow by 4.3

    http://www.economist.com/countries/index.cfm

  3. # 5) The last I heard, Germany and France both have double digit unemployment and nothing has changed much in either country to really have an impact on that fact. Germany exceeds it’s EU budget limits consistently and France is still run by unions that refuse to believe that a 35 hour work week will sustain their economy. You can read all the economist predictions you want, I’ll believe it when I see it (that France and Germany have turned the economy around). Plus the low birthrate impact is especially important to countries that have an unsustainable social contract for more and more government services. For instance, how will Canada pay for day care? – for decades into the future? You Liberals don’t seem to get it. It’s all idealism with no practical formulas for sustaining your insatiable demand for more and more reliance on the government to take care of all your life’s requirements.

    #2) Easy, we are more conservative than progressive here in the US. The conservatives are far from finished and my gut instinct tells me that the congress will stay in the hands of the GOP. Most of the issues raised by the Dems are so much hype and voters are more astute than you might like to think. My “gut” (like yours) tells me that newspaper headlines and left wing blogs don’t tell the truth and the voters will not be convinced by what is being said and hyped at the moment.

  4. “France is still run by unions that refuse to believe that a 35 hour work week will sustain their economy.”

    Correction:

    France is still run by unions that continue to believe that a 35 hour work week will sustain their economy (and their government social contract).

  5. Yes… German unemployment is still 11% but most analysts are saying this year will be an improvement for Germany. Here’s a BusinessWeek article from today.

    Also, if you take the time to look at The Economist website for the countries in question, you would see that between 2000 and 2003 (inclusice), the “labour costs per hour” for France and Canada is consistently lower than the US (by as much as half in the case of France). So I’m not sure where you get this “social welfare is destroying the economy” stuff.

    What’s destroying the economy in all western economies, is, in my opinion, cheap labour and production in foreign lands. The US is losing out to Canada for new car plants for example… the Europeans are losing out to Asia/China… etc etc.

    As far as the Canadian economy is concerned. We’ve had surpluses for the past 7 years and counting… so I fail to see how our social programs are all of a sudden going to jump up and destroy our economy.

    As for birth rates. yes, the United States is among the highest in the industrialised world. However, this doesn’t by any stretch mean the US will somehow escape the senior Baby Boomers. As I pointed out above… the increase in $$ spent on labour per hour is directly correlated to health care increases. The US is already higher than many European “socialist” governments in terms of health care costs… just like at the fiasco at the major car makers over health care.

    This is a problem the US, Europe and Canada will all have to deal with for the next 20-30 years.

  6. I’m not saying that social welfare has destroyed any liberal Euro economies…YET. I’m saying that in the next decades it will be increasingly unsustainable to provide the same level of social benefits to people who see themselves as entitled to be taken care of while they live the “good life” of short work weeks and long annual holidays and labor contracts which make it impossible to lay off workers when demand is down. The unemployment among youthful workers is hit the hardest by such unrealistic practices, by the way.

    In the US, our problem is (defense…we gotta give up that habit of protecting Europe pronto IMO and) social security which according to the liberals is in quite good condition…duh, I guess they are math challenged. We need to keep control of defense spending and government waste (aka pork barrell spending) while we keep n social programs at the current level. (Scary thought, Chris, the Red States have a much higher birth rate than the Blue. The crazy right-wing red-necks are reproducing themselves like “fundalmentalists” in the ME, heh.)

    You are quite correct that cheap foreign labor undercuts most developed nation’s economies. That is not going to change. The world now has a “global” economy and it’s not going to get any better. The underdeveloped nations are seeking a piece of the pie – now Asia, but soon, in this century, African nations will join in. South America is already making lots of noise about social justice which means they believe that if they fight capitalism, they will get ahead economically…duh, fat chance.

    There is an awful lot of “denial” goin’ on in liberal mind set. You, yourself, are not a fan of cheap foreign labor, etc but it’s all part of the social justice equation that you guys are always goin’ on about. I believe in justice too, to some extent, but I’m a realist in seeubg that the labor unions of any nation are not going to stop this labor competition. You might as well have out-lawed motor cars in the early 20th century because it was putting buggy manufacturers out of business not too mention black-smiths and buggy whip makers. You cannot stop technology and you cannot take western economies back to the 1950s. We have to learn to live in a different manner and run our social management in light of the economic realities imposed upon us by a force bigger than any one leader or nation or super-power.

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