How much is 1.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas?

Sounds like a helluva lot to me.

That is the amount of recoverable natural gas that has been declared “off-limits” by a bill which just cleared the Senate.

But don’t worry, America.

The Senate is now holding hearings on how college football teams are chosen to compete in the BCS.

Don’t you feel better now?

I thought you might.

Now, back to sleep.

Filed under: Liberalism Is A Mental Disorder, News and politics, liberal agenda | Tagged: , , , ,

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Breakthrough Battery can recharge in seconds!

Scientists in the United States have invented a battery that can charge in seconds, promising a revolution in power storage that could also help green cars and renewable energy.

The advance allows lithium-ion batteries, the standard variety used in consumer electronics and cells for electric or hybrid vehicles, both to charge and discharge stored energy more quickly than at present.

This should lead to smaller, lighter batteries for mobile phones and other devices, which can be fully charged when plugged in for a few seconds.

Lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged in a fraction of the time … this is truly a game changer. Imagine an electric vehicle that can be re-charged in minutes, rather than hours. This new process effectively removes the greatest obstacle to widespread acceptance of electric vehicles.

Scientists at M.I.T. say that the new batteries could be ready within 2 or 3 years.

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cross-posted at Nuke’s

The end of the boom

This article from Michael Lewis is a really great read.  Have a cup of coffee or two, and get your head around what George Bush described as “Wall Street got drunk.”  I think after you read Mr. Lewis’ account, you’ll agree that this is quite the understatement.

To this day, the willingness of a Wall Street investment bank to pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars to dispense investment advice to grownups remains a mystery to me. I was 24 years old, with no experience of, or particular interest in, guessing which stocks and bonds would rise and which would fall. The essential function of Wall Street is to allocate capital—to decide who should get it and who should not. Believe me when I tell you that I hadn’t the first clue.

I’d never taken an accounting course, never run a business, never even had savings of my own to manage. I stumbled into a job at Salomon Brothers in 1985 and stumbled out much richer three years later, and even though I wrote a book about the experience, the whole thing still strikes me as preposterous—   read it all.

Friday Financials

Selling pressure is very strong in pre-market activity this morning. Futures trading is halted until 9:30 am Eastern.

Hang in there folks. It’s going to be a crazy day.

Here are the headlines from cnbc.com

Continue reading

The Bailout Bill To Nowhere

(Why we’re not out of the woods yet)

The $700+ billion bailout bill has passed through Congress and has been signed into law by the President. The debate, the stock market volatility, and the lack of cogent reporting of events has left many of us wondering what in the world we have just witnessed.

While our government pats itself on the back for avoiding financial Armageddon, I wonder if they realize that the drama of the past few weeks is only the first layer to be peeled from this onion.

The next layer will begin to be pulled away next Monday, as settlement of credit derivative trades involving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are unwound.

On Friday, the Lehman auction is scheduled. WaMu follows one week later. That is, if anyone is left standing.

How many billions will have to come off the balance sheets at settlement? As interesting and unsettling as the past few weeks have been, we haven’t seen anything yet.

cross-posted at NN&V

FASB 157 gets “clarification”

The much maligned accounting principle of “mark to market” accounting has received an important clarification today from regulators at the SEC.

“When an active market for a security does not exist, the use of management estimates that incorporate current market participant expectations of future cash flows, and include appropriate risk premiums, is acceptable.” source

FASB 157 came about as a result of the Enron scandal and subsequent regulations contained in the onerous Sarbanes Oxley Act.

Hopefully this is a first step toward its full repeal.

It is important to note that the SEC is NOT saying that cooking the books is now an acceptable accounting practice. That would be the last thing that corporate America needs in order to restore public confidence. Transparency is necessary, and the SEC’s clarification will help investors to see a much truer picture of the financial health of the corporate balance sheet. Perhaps, after the debacles of Bear Stearns, Lehman, Merrill, Wachovia, Wamu, and AIG, the SEC sees this as a way of acknowledging that many of the weaker players and their related toxic assets have been identified and dealt with, and it’s time to protect the healthier players that remain.

It becomes crucial as the Treasury anticipates buying some $700 billion in mortgage-backed securities, and in effect, establishing a market price for illiquid assets. A direct consequence would be that the remaining banks would have to take a write down on their assets to reflect the new market price.

This is an important clarification from the SEC. It will have an important and immediate impact.

ex-AIG head rejects severance deal

Robert Wilumstad, the former CEO of insurer AIG said no to a $22 million dollar severance package that he was entitled to under the terms of his employment contract. After being ousted as a condition of the Federal takeover, Willumstad’s decision to reject the deal is a bright spot in an otherwise cloudy situation.

Willumstad didn’t take the money because his three-month tenure ended before he could unveil a turnaround strategy and because investors and employees had lost so much on AIG stock, said the person, who declined to be identified because the refusal hasn’t been announced yet. Willumstad informed AIG of his decision in an e-mail to new CEO Edward Liddy, the person said.

read more at Bloomberg