There is something wrong when people who have solar panels can’t use them when regular power is down. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:
When it comes to the U.S. economy, the “con” part offers the best description of the current relationship between business, government and the preyed upon consumer. The way things work in early 21st century America is large businesses bribe politicians in a variety of ways at both the local and federal level, and the end result is laws that are designed to increase corporate profits at the expense of the wellbeing and freedom of the American public. Politicians end up with financial war chests to run their next campaign, while bureaucrats see a lucrative opportunity to swing through the ever spinning revolving door should they play ball with lobbyists and their patrons. Yes, there’s always some degree of corruption within any society of humans, but there are peaks and valleys in such cycles. I’d argue we are somewhere in the peak corruption phase.
Today’s article focuses on one of the most highly regulated industries in the country, electric utilities. It’s one of the most boring businesses in America. I know this because it fell under the umbrella of my responsibilities during my last Wall Street job, and I could barely read a utilities research report without immediately falling asleep. Nevertheless, as you’ll see in today’s piece, the industry still finds a way to generate large profits while simultaneously harming the people it’s supposed to service.
When I think about solar panels, it’s not just the use of a renewable resource I find appealing, but also the potential to take energy generation into your own hands; something that can prove quite useful in a major global crisis, or even something more minor like Hurricane Irma’s impact on Florida. The latter could’ve been a lifesaver for some Florida residents recently, but a local electric utility has done everything in its power to deny its customers such freedom.
To continue reading: In Florida, You Can’t Use Your Own Solar Panels in a Crisis
Start toting up the rebuilding costs for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and you come up with a big, unpayable number. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:
A number of people have argued over the past few days that Hurricane Harvey will NOT boost the US housing market. As if any such argument would or should be required. Hurricane Irma will not provide any such boost either. News about the ‘resurrection’ of New Orleans post-Katrina has pretty much dried up, but we know scores of people there never returned, in most cases because they couldn’t afford to.
And Katrina took place 12 years ago, well before the financial crisis. How do you think this will play out today? Houston is a rich city, but that doesn’t mean it’s full of rich people only. Most homeowners in the city and its surroundings have no flood insurance; they can’t afford it. But they still lost everything. So how will they rebuild?
Sure, the US has a National Flood Insurance Program, but who’s covered by it? Besides, the Program was already $24 billion in debt by 2014 largely due to hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. With total costs of Harvey estimated at $200 billion or more, and Irma threating to cause far more damage than that, where’s the money going to come from?
It took an actual fight just to push the first few billion dollars in emergency aid for Houston through Congress, with four Texan representatives voting against of all people. Who then will vote for half a trillion or so in aid? And even if they do, where would it come from?
To continue reading: America Can’t Afford to Rebuild
The second big natural disaster in three weeks threatens America’s financial system and what remains of its social cohesion. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:
Further proof, as if more were needed, that God is rather cross with the world’s number one exceptional nation: Hurricane Irma is tracking for a direct hit on Disney World. In the immortal words of the Talking Heads: This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around.
Houston is still soggy and punch-drunk, with a fantastic explosion of breeding mosquitoes, and otherwise it’s not even in the news anymore. This week, the cable networks had their scant crews of reporters scuttling around Florida, asking the people here and there about their feelings. “What’s gonna happen is gonna happen….” I think I heard that one about sixty times, and there’s actually no disputing the truth of it.
For the moment, though (Friday morning), it’s a little hard to calculate the effect of a complete scrape-off, wash, and rinse of the state of Florida vis-à-vis the ongoing viability of the US economy. There’s going to be a big hole with dollars rushing into it and that will likely prompt the combined powers of the US Treasury, congress, and the Federal Reserve to materialize tens of billions of new dollars. Overnight the DXY plunged to a new low for the year.
Am I the only observer wondering if Irma may be a fatal blow to the banking system? The mind reels at the insurance implications of what’s about to happen. Urgent obligations triggered by an event of this scale can’t possibly be serviced. Look for it to snap the chain of counterparty leverage that has been propping up the banks, insurers, and pension funds on mere promises for years on end. Finance, both private and public, has been feeding off unreality since well before the tremor of 2008. The destruction of Florida (and whatever else stands in the way up the line) will be as real as it gets.
To continue reading: Swamp Fever