Monthly Archives: April 2010

How terrible Arizona’s immigration law really is

There is a lot that needs to be said about how wrong the new immigration law is in Arizona, but nothing like these demographics bring to light how even worse it will really be. From the Real Time Economics:

Hispanics make up roughly a third of Arizona’s 6.6 million people, according to the Census Bureau.

But while half of the state’s older Hispanics are immigrants that came to the U.S. either legally or illegally, about 90% of those under 18 were born in the U.S., according to analysis of Census data by Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute.

It seems that the only thing that families value in Arizona is to rip them apart.

If you missed the webcast…

…you can find the recording here, http://webcasts.everest.edu, and click on the Second Annual Washington State Workplace Confidence Survey link.  It went fairly well.  It was a first for me, so please be mindful. It definitely is a great experience and should help for the future.  Now, about those ums and uhs…

Come listen to a live webcast I am in, April 28th 1:00 PM EST (10:00 AM PDT)

WHAT:  2nd Annual Washington State Workplace Confidence Survey Results/ Panel Discussion

WHO:

Professor Paul Sommers

Seattle University – Albers School of Business and Economics

Steven Frable

Economist for IHS Global Insight

David Nelson

Founder and President of David Nelson Associates

Wendy Cullen

Vice President Employer Development for Corinthian Colleges, Inc.

WHEN:

Survey results issued – Wednesday, April 28 at 8 a.m. PDT, via wire service, email

Live panel discussion – Wednesday, April 28 at 10 a.m. PDT

WHERE: To listen live, please go to http://webcasts.everest.edu and click on the Second Annual Washington State Workplace Confidence Survey link.

World Bank Opens New Public Data Initiative

At data.worldbank.org, access to all the world bank’s data is now available for free.  Included are easy to use ways for accessing and presenting the data, as well as giving you tools to analyze the data for every country, anytime.  For those who are proponents for open data sets, this is a big moment.  See the youtube video for an overview of the program:

The Capacity for Fuel Economy Already Exists

According to James Hamilton’s post in Econbrowser, research done by U.C. Davis economics professor Christopher Knittel found that given today’s production techniques for cars, fuel efficiency can already be gained at an amount of 50%.   Most of this was a consequence of a rising correlation between a cars horsepower, torque and weight, all of which continued to increase while fuel economy remained around the same levels.  The fact that the capacity already exists to make fuel efficient cars puts the burden on car companies design teams and the consumers who would demand them.  Europe already forces certain fuel economy standards, while the U.S. does not.  The rise of eco-conscious consumers should help a little, but a jump in gas prices past a consistent $4.00 a gallon may help consumers start making decisions towards more fuel efficient cars when they see money begin drying up in their wallets.

Latest IMF World Economic Growth Predictions

The End of Cheap Coal

One of the reasons why the push for Cap and Trade was a good idea was it would not only internalize the cost of carbon emissions, but it would also raise the price of energy created from coal.   With higher prices for kilowatt per hour from coal energy, cleaner energy sources would become competitive.  Currently, cleaner energy sources can barely compete with coal, with exceptions of course.  But if legislation wasn’t going to push up the price of burning coal, then in the long-term, rising international demand would.  That time is now.

In 2009, China has ceased to export coal and has now began to import it.  According to the financial times, in 1993 the same happened to oil.  China’s oil imports exceeded what was being imported and the consequence was a climb in the average oil price, all too well known thanks to oil spiking at $150 a barrel in 2008.  China had been using more oil than it could produce in order to fuel its large amount of economic growth, and oil wasn’t the only commodity.

China isn’t the only player.  India as well as the emerging markets have offered its heavy share of the demand, tipping trade balances toward imports and helping to drive up commodity prices for oil and building materials.   The same is expected for coal.

This is good news for America, which contains the largest coal reserves in the world.  This is also good news for the coal industry, as it will be able to profit from an uptick in prices.

This is not so good for the coal power industry, especially in America.  While the coal industry will benefit in developing nations who have already increased the capacity to burn coal for energy and produce steel from coke, the developed world already faces pressures for pursuing greener technologies instead of burning coal.  And the coal power industry should be scared: the only thing keeping them from not succumbing to the powers of green energy is price, which is now soon to change.  With coal prices higher translating into higher per kilowatt hour energy costs that begin to be on par with greener technologies, the coal power industry will have a tough fight.

Green technologies already have the leg up of being green and renewable.  Obama’s recent moves to push for nuclear energy, which would already be competitive given Obama’s plan, and the ARRA’s subsidizing of renewable resources like wind and solar significantly put the government against the coal power industry.

The government’s backing of renewable energy certainly distorts what the market wants when providing energy, but a needed distortion nonetheless.  The only hope for the coal industry is to level the playing field by either removing green energy subsidies (not likely) or becoming green it self.  The industry’s only hope is going for clean coal. And now, it doesn’t have the luxury of waiting anymore.

Before one says that clean coal isn’t viable, I disagree.  It is possible, given recent developments in innvoation.  I blogged recently about Thomas Friedman’s catch about clean coal:

If you combine CO2 with seawater, or any kind of briny water, you produce CaCO3, calcium carbonate. That is not only the stuff of corals. It is also the same white, pasty goop that appears on your shower head from hard (calcium-rich) water. At its demonstration plant near Santa Cruz, Calif., Calera has developed a process that takes CO2 emissions from a coal- or gas-fired power plant and sprays seawater into it and naturally converts most of the CO2 into calcium carbonate, which is then spray-dried into cement or shaped into little pellets that can be used as concrete aggregates for building walls or highways — instead of letting the CO2 emissions go into the atmosphere and produce climate change.

If this can scale, it would eliminate the need for expensive carbon-sequestration facilities planned to be built alongside coal-fired power plants — and it might actually make the heretofore specious notion of “clean coal” a possibility.

With coal prices expected to rise, you can bet this will scale. With clean coal on the horizon, subsidizing greener technologies won’t be needed anymore or vice versa, coal won’t be dirty anymore. Either way, whether a Cap and Trade bill , favorable legislation towards green technologies or the sheer power of the market was going to force it, switching towards less CO2 intensive energy was inevitable. Now, about those mountain tops…